Nightshade on Elm Street (Flower Shop)
by Kate Collins
Review by Harriet Klausner
Signet Mass Market Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780451238504
Date: 06 November 2012 List Price $7.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
In New Chapel, Indiana, Bloomers Flower Shop owner Abby Knight and local bar owner and private investigator Marco Salvare are marrying. When her former fiancé wealthy Pryce Osborne II of the affluent Osborne money frantically calls her several times over a short period, Abby is taken aback. She knows she flunked Osborne family osmosis so she never expected to hear from Pryce though she still feels some hurt from the rejection.
Pryce pleads with Abby for her and Marco to investigate the disappearance of his current more acceptable fiancée, Melissa. He further explains he was hosting guests including Melissa at his beach house for the weekend when she vanished. She should refuse because she has a florist shop to run, a bridal shower, and wedding to plan and besides he dumped her for being unworthy of him and his upper crust Kentucky blue grassed family. Still she cannot refuse so she agrees to help him and obtains Marco's assistance too. As the engaged couple make inquiries at the beach house into the disappearance of Melissa with no cooperation from the guests, a drowning occurs that looks like a homicide committed by Pryce.
The enjoyable latest Flower Shop Mystery (see To Catch a Leaf) is a warm cozy. Abby keeps the storyline focused as she juggles work, wedding, and sleuthing. Her relationships with family and friends are caring, which is why Pryce was certain she would say yes as he knows she is a nice person willing to help anyone even someone who decided she was not up to the Osborne quality level. Her teaming with Marco on the investigation and in life is a prime reason that this series is consistently fun to read. On the other hand, her pregnant cousin Jillian, who can send Mother Teresa seeking escape, manages to drive the normally patient florist crazy with her insane over the top of Hoosier Hill baby names; fans will enjoy this side humor that brings further insight into the empathetic heroine without distracting from the mystery.
The engaging investigation is cleverly devised with solid red herrings and neat twists as the wealthy guests feel they are above the "pay grade" of Marco and Abby. In turn the lead couple use reverse psychology to obtain information from the snooty snobs. Fans who relish a lighthearted whodunit will want to know what happened to Melissa in delightful Nightshade on Elm Street.