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Animal, Vegetable, Murder by Judy Dailey
Review by Mel Jacob
Five Star Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9781432826918
Date: 19 April 2013

Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /

Sunny Burnett, an urban organic farmer, struggles in Laurelmere, an exclusive enclave, in Seattle to keep her grandmother's house and make a living from her hens' eggs and organic vegetables. Pregnant and recently widowed, her life is further disrupted when she finds a dead man in her garden. He has a picture of her dead husband in drag. She hides the picture, but the police suspect her of the murder anyway.

Unknown persons blow up the fancy house of a prominent lawyer Harold L. Pennington III, aka Ace, who lives in the enclave near Sunny. The explosive used is one favored by terrorist and draws the FBI's interest. They take over the case.

Ace offers to help Sunny with the police and prevails on her to provide him shelter until he can make other arrangements. She hasn't the resources to repair the damage caused by the police and the dead man to her garden. Ace has her house cleaned and the damage caused to her house and land by the destruction of his home repaired. Reluctant, she finally accepts his offer and lets him stay.

Sunny still believes someone killed her husband. Now, when she learns others in Ace's poker club have been killed, she insists the police re-investigate his death. They refuse. She hesitates to tell the police the true nature of the poker club.

Angus MacDougall, Mac, a retired Scottish policeman, lives next door to Sunny and keeps a protective eye on her. He knows about the poker club so Ace calls on him to find the murderous explosives expert. Pete, Mac's teenage grandson is a first class hacker and technology guru. His mischief may have caused the murder. Mac is determined to reform the boy and save him from the police.

This debut mystery, published by Five Star, is similar to others published by Berkeley Prime Crime. It has quirky characters that at times verge on stereotypes, plenty of humor, and enough red herrings to satisfy most cozy readers. Sunny appears too na´ve at times and blind to the motives of others.

Dailey leaves at least one mystery unresolved. The resolution to various events may surprise some readers. It will be interesting to see what Dailey does about Sunny's love life, her overbearing mother, Ace, Mac, and Pete. The citizens of Laurelmere had best watch out.

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