Death at the Day Lily Cafe
by Wendy Sand Eckel
Review by Gayle Surrette
Minotaur Books Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9781250058614
Date: 26 July 2016 List Price $25.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
When Rosalie 'Rose' Hart first moved into the 200 year-old farm house that her Aunt Charlotte bequeathed to her, she was depressed and struggling to move on from her divorce. Doris Bird was one of the first to welcome her to town and help her become part of the community.
Now, about a year later, Rose is opening her own business--a café that will use organic produce and eggs from her farm. She and Tyler Wells, her neighbor who rented the farm's acreage from her Aunt Charlotte, have formed a partnership to grow organic produce, raise chickens, and have planted some fruit trees. The café is about to have its grand opening--to say Rosalie is excited and a bit anxious would be an understatement.
On the big day, Doris comes to congratulate Rose and ask for her help. Doris' sister, Lori Fiddler is being accused of killing C.J., her husband. Doris wants Rose to look into the case since Sheriff Wilgus seems to have his mind made up. Rose feels she can't say, "No." Not when Doris helped her so much when she was new to town.
Once she starts looking into the case, Rose learns that C.J. wasn't liked by a lot of people. In the weeks before his death, he'd been laid off from the construction site at the college along with the other local contractors because of the theft of the cash payroll. He'd also been drinking heavily and starting fights at the local bar. Rose was also very sure that Lori was hiding something.
Throughout the rough first week of the café's opening, and the search for clues to lead to a killer, Rose begins to believe that the payroll theft is somehow involved. She's also concerned to find her daughter, Annie, dating her cook, Custer, who is Tyler's nephew. Even things at the farm are not going smoothly since Tyler hired Bini Katz to help out since Rose is beginning to realize how much she'd looked forward to Tyler's company.
Throughout, Rose keeps thinking of her past relationship with her father, as well as her relationships with Annie, her ex-husband Ed, the people she works with, and the new and old friendships she's developed.
In gathering clues to C.J.'s murder, Rose also unravels some well kept secrets that explain a lot of the undercurrents and tensions that she's noticed. Some of these secrets could be worth killing to keep hidden, and others could be why C.J. was killed.
There's plenty of twists and turns before the murderer is revealed, however the journey is just as important. Rose becomes more comfortable with her new life and the family and friends she's gained. Her self-examination of her own past has allowed her to recognize that what she had previously believed was not necessarily the only way to interpret events. There's as much philosophy as mystery in Death at the Day Lily Café and good reason to look forward to another story in this series.