Fruit of All Evil (A Farmers' Market Mystery)
by Paige Shelton
Cover Artist: Dan Craig
Review by Mel Jacob
Berkley Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780425240229
Date: 01 March 2011 List Price $7.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Paige Shelton's second Farmers Market Mystery, Fruit of All Evil, has Becca Robins, a farmer's market vendor, determined to find the killer of banker Madeline Forsyth, the prospective mother-in-law of Becca's best friend, Linda McMahon. The last time Becca investigated murder, she ended almost dying. The memory of that slows her down a bit, but doesn't stop her.
Anxious to ensure Linda's wedding to Drew Forsyth takes place as scheduled, she questions everyone and gathers clues. The bank had been sending out foreclosure notices to a lot of people, some of whom didn't even have loans. Besides that, some of the nephews she raised have a grudge against her. With so many suspects, Becca relies on her instincts to catch a killer.
She submits to a pedicure to get close Madeline's niece, Sally McNeil. The niece fills Becca in on the family relationships. Of the three nephews, Becca distrusts Alan Cummings the most. He's been talking to farmers in the area to buy their property. Mid and Shawn, Sally's brothers, own the Loder Dairy courtesy of Madeline, which Becca remembers fondly from childhood. Shawn has a gorgeous smile that makes Becca like him.
Both police officer Sam Brion and Ian tell Becca to leave matters to the police. Instead, she gets in deeper and deeper. Even Drew Forsyth, Linda's fiancÚ becomes a suspect. Like a heroine in a gothic romances, Becca takes foolish chances which strains the reader's credibility at times.
Shelton prolongs the search, but ramps up the ending in a violent climax. A few characters are not well developed, and some of the best are Becca's dog and a young calf.
Like other Berkley mysteries featuring a woman in an unusual profession nosy enough to solve a crime, this one includes recipes for foods mentioned in the novel. The preceding novel is Farm Fresh Murders. Others are sure to follow. Shelton also has a new series, Gran's Cooking School Mysteries debuting with If Fried Chicken Could Fly (2011).