To Catch a Leaf (Flower Shop)
by Kate Collins
Review by Mel Jacob
Signet Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780451235237
Date: 01 November 2011 List Price $7.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
To Catch a Leaf, the twelfth Flower Shop Mystery, continues to follow the life and crime solving activities of flower shop owner Abby Knight and her fiancÚ Marco Salvare, a former Special Ops Army Ranger turned bar owner and private investigator. When a close friend of Grace Bingham, one of Abby's employee, dies and she discovers the corpse, the police suspect her of killing the wealthy woman, especially after they learn Grace gets a stipend of fifty thousand a year for looking after the woman's cat Charity.
On her way to work, Abby almost runs over a yellow tabby cat in the road. The skinny cat has a broken hind leg so Abby bundles it up and takes it to the vet. Once the leg is set and a cast in place, she takes the cat home. Her roommate Nikki already has a white male cat with strong territorial instincts, so Abby leaves the sedated tabby home to rest and recover and takes Simon, the other cat, to Bloomers, her flower shop. Simon is a master at creating havoc and enjoying the results. He eats greens and climbs on the armoire to cause havoc below.
When the dead woman's will is read, Grace discovers she is the guardian of the woman's cat who has inherited a house and its contents. The home contains a priceless art collection of Victorian paintings. The woman left most of her money went to various charities and cut her children out of the will while the chauffer gets a Bentley and the housekeeper all the silver. However, the wealthy cat is missing. The family plans to contest the will.
Grace begs Abby and Marco to investigate the murder. They ask her for the names of all the people living in her friend's house so they can begin to ask questions. None of the family work. The son has had several wives and is now on his fourth wife who has a roving eye. His son is a quasi-academic who writes scholarly papers. The divorced daughter paints. None of the family takes kindly to Abby and Marco as investigators.
Complications arise for Abby from her mother who brings in crazy artwork she created for Abby to sell and from her new mother-in-law-to-be who insists on helping with both a shower and the wedding. Both women are forces of nature that Abby cannot ignore. In addition, her cousin Jillian constantly offers advice. Meanwhile, cat owners descend on Grace claiming they found the wealthy cat.
When an appraiser insists some of the Victorian paintings are forgeries, the family claims to be shocked. Abby believes the thefts might be a motive for the murder, but first she and Marco have to figure how the switches took place and who helped the thieves.
The cozy has no overt sex and profanity is largely absent. Abby is able to piece together miscellaneous bits in interesting ways. However, at times the way both Abby and Marco worm information out of people doesn't seem quite realistic. Most of the important information comes from what they force the family members to tell them. Another aspect that causes questions is the appearance and assistance Abby gets from a mysterious friend of the fourth wife.
Coincidences abound, but build to the ultimate climax. Collins even introduces a ghost/angel to help Abby. In the end, only one item remains as proof such a person existed because no one else ever saw her. The next in the series is Night Shade on Elm Street scheduled for November 2012.