Review: “Town in a Sweet Pickle” by B.B. Haywood

Town in a Sweet Pickle by B.B. HaywoodA review by Danielle.

It’s the day of the amateur cooking contest in Cape Wellington, Maine. For months, Candy Holliday and Wanda Boyle have planned this event down to the last detail so on the day of when Wanda is a no show, Candy is both annoyed and concerned. Wanda essentially came up with this idea, never one to miss out on an opportunity to be in the spotlight, soaking in all the glory, it is very out of character for Wanda to not even call to say she is running late. As the contest gets underway, a mysterious late entry is discovered by Candy and the judges: a jar of pickles labelled Sweet Deli. While this is supposed to be an amateur contest for the town’s residents to showcase their own skills the judges can’t resist adding the pickles to the contest, anxious to try them and see if they really are the pickles from the Sweet Deli that mysteriously closed down overnight several years ago. The best pickles anyone had ever eaten, all the judges agree.

Suddenly, a member of the crowd collapses, stopping the judging and tasting. It is discovered that several jars of The Sweet Deli pickles are showing up all over town and they are tainted with poison. Panicked and scared, the town’s people turn both to and on Candy, seeing that she is again at the center of another murder mystery in their sleepy little coastal town and hoping that, like all the other tragic events that have happened over the last five years, Candy can solve this mystery too. Now Candy must find out who is behind this latest attack, to clear her name and dig deeper to see if all these murders are part of a bigger plot for the town and quickly before anyone else gets hurt.
I am a huge fan of B.B Haywood and all of the Candy Holliday mystery books, but I have noticed that as the series gets closer to a big reveal of a deeper storyline that each individual book works toward, the series has become more predictable and boring. I am sad to say the quality of the last two books in this series have really fallen compared to the first four. Town in a Sweet Pickle was not only dull with minimal action, but the suspect list for the murderer was as shallow as a kiddie pool. I guessed the murderer’s identity before the second body hit the floor and the twists I usually don’t see coming in this series were lackluster and more of a curve into a dead end plot than a corkscrew in a literary metaphorical roller coaster. I’m not entirely sure how many books are slated for the remainder of the series but given all the background knowledge and foreshadowing dropped over the span of the six books, I’d wager I already know who the real masterminds are behind all of Cape Wellington’s misfortune and why they are so keen on destroying the little town. I will keep my fingers crossed for the next book to not only end the series, but also return the quality to its original glory. Also B.B., can we please get Candy a solid love interest for all of us single girls’ sake?

My rating: 2.5 /5 stars.

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BOOK TOUR: Review: “You Can’t Get Blood Out Of Shag Carpet” by Juliette Harper

You Can't Get Blood Out of Shag Carpet by Juliette HarperA review by Maria.

I’d like to thank author Juliette Harper for letting me read and review her novel, You Can’t Get Blood Out of Shag Carpet: A Study Club Cozy Murder Mystery.

Wanda Jean’s husband died on their shag carpet with a knife in his chest. Now local police are looking only at Wanda Jean as the killer. But not if her friends in the Study Club can help it. Club President Carla Wyler sets the club to work trying to find the real killer in their small town.

This book was a short read but it went slowly. There were was a huge cast of characters to keep straight, a different time period as the setting, and many, many different mysteries and secrets kept in town.

The novel was set in the 1960s and the differences in the time from then and now were amusing to read. I thought the author did a good job capturing that time period down to the smallest details from whispering about the Kennedy elections and cross-dressing, to perms and cat-eye glasses.

This was a southern mystery. The town seemed very backward, but it also could have been the time period. Carla and the club are very pro feminist rights and have quite a bit of futuristic ideas, but are also easily shocked by “bedroom activities” and the subject of homosexuality. It was interesting to watch these women uncover all of the mysteries in their small town.

Carla was a fascinating forward thinking character. She wasn’t afraid to stand up for her rights and the rights of other women. Even though her Study Club didn’t actually study anything, they still explored a vast range of political, social, and religious issues. I liked how much she educated other members, but never tried to change them, and applauded who they were – hairdressers, nurses, and housewives alike.

This book was very different from other Juliette Harper books I have read in the past. Where most of those were romantic suspense books, this was very much a novel for women and about women, with a mystery tying it all together.

I enjoyed this book and look forward to more mysteries in this series.Blog-Tour-You-Can-Get-Blood-out-of-Shag-Carpet

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars.

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Book & Author details:

Wanda Jean Milton discovers her husband, local exterminator Hilton Milton, dead on her new shag carpet with an Old Hickory carving knife sticking out of his chest. Beside herself over how she’ll remove the stain, and grief-stricken over Hilton’s demise, Wanda Jean finds herself the prime suspect in the case. But she is also a member of “the” local Study Club, a bastion of independent Texas feminism 1960s style. Club President Clara Wyler has no intention of allowing a member to be a murder suspect during her administration. Aided by her younger sister and County Clerk, Mae Ella Gormley; Sugar Watson, the proprietress of Sugar’s Style and Spray; and Wilma Schneider, Army MASH veteran and local RN, the Club women set out to clear Wanda Jean’s name — never guessing the local dirt they’ll uncover in the process.

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Juliette Harper is the pen name used by the writing team of Patricia Pauletti and Rana K. Williamson. You Can’t Get Blood Out of Shag Carpet is the first installment of Harper’s debut cozy Study Club Mysteries, an hilariously funny look at the often absurd eccentricities of small town life. The second book, to be released in coming months, is called You Can’t Put a Corpse in a Parade.

The droll series, set in the 1960s, is a light-hearted spinoff of Harper’s Lockwood Legacy a nine-book chronicle of the lives of three sisters who inherit a ranch in Central Texas following their father’s suicide. Three of the novels are currently available: Langston’s Daughters, Baxter’s Draw, and Alice’s Portrait. The fourth book, Mandy’s Father, will appear in Summer 2015.

And don’t miss Harper’s first foray into the world of the supernatural, Descendants of the Rose, Book 1 in the Selby Jensen Paranormal Mystery series. The second Selby Jensen book, Lost in Room 636 is also scheduled for a Summer 2015 release.

Pauletti, an Easterner of Italian descent, is an accomplished musician with an eye for art and design. Williamson, a Texan, worked as a journalist and university history instructor before becoming a full-time freelance writer in 2002.

One (1) winner gets a $50 Amazon Gift Card (INT), one (1) winner gets Langston’s Daughters, Baxter’s Draw and Alice’s Portrait in paperback (US) and one (1) winner gets Descendants of the Rose in paperback (US)
Ends June 29th

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