Shade Grown, by Heather Day Gilbert (WoodHaven Press, 2023)
A peaceful garden tour turns to trouble when Macy Hatfield finds the body of a reclusive movie star among the hostas. Warned by her brother Bo, the town’s new mayor, to leave investigating to the police, Macy can’t resist helping the dead man’s sister find answers.
As always, the story includes scenes in the Hatfields’ coffee shop with the rescue dog section as well as the friendly West Virginia small town setting. The mysteries are good puzzles, and it’s fun to watch the characters’ relationships unfold. I appreciate both the clean nature of the content and the light tone. Yes, someone was murdered and crime abounds, and yes, Macy may end up in danger, but there’s no thriller-level intensity to make us afraid to turn the page.
Shade Grown is book 8 in the Barks and Beans Café series. It will appeal to lovers of clean cozy mysteries set in small towns, to coffee- and dog-lovers, and to gardening enthusiasts.
A reader new to the series could start with this book and find all they needed to understand the characters and this story, but this is a fun series and worth reading from the beginning. While each story is complete in itself, relationships grow and change over the course of the series.
Heather Day Gilbert writes contemporary mysteries and Viking historicals. For more about the author and her work, visit heatherdaygilbert.com.
[Review copy provided by the author with no obligation to write a review.]