Retro Reading: Town in a Blueberry Jam by B.B. Haywood
Mystery Series is a Little Sticky
If you're going to follow this cozy mystery series, be sure to pay attention since all of the following installments come back to this. Author B.B. Haywood makes a note at the end of the fourth installment that they could be stand alones, but don't take the author's word for it.
It's time for the annual Blueberry Festival in Cape Willington, Maine and blueberry farmers Candy Holliday (yes, I know it sounds like a stripper name) and her father, Henry "Doc" Holliday are hoping for a great turnout. Unfortunately, there's a murder to contend with as the body of aging playboy, Jock Larson is found at the bottom of a seaside cliff. Thus begins Town in a Blueberry Jam.
Not only is Larson found murdered, but a few days later, the community columnist for the local newspaper, Sapphire Vine (yet another stripper sounding name) is found murdered in her home.
Both murders have the town buzzing since Jock was rumored to have fathered several children in town and Sapphire's decision to enter into the Blueberry Queen contest had tongues wagging due to the fact that she was at least 20 years older than most of the other contestants. Also, as a community columnist, Ms. Vine had kept secret files on many of the town residents.
Candy and her best friend, Maggie, begin to investigate Sapphire's murder and discover those files. With an open position at the paper, Candy is approached by the editor, Ben Clayton, to replace the dead columnist. After thinking it over (and with no journalism experience) she accepts. Of course in the real world that would never happen.
I have to say that I'm really on the fence about this series. While the characters are likeable, the story itself drags at a horrible pace. A lot of the story is continuously repeated which really causes the slow flow.
The plot lines with the festival and pageant have been done to death and if you've read previous mysteries in this genre, you'll know what I'm referring to.
On the plus side, the prologue sets up the story nicely and after the prologue is a quick column by Sapphire. I thought this added a nice touch and gave a sense that this was a "real" hometown newspaper.
Also, if you're a blueberry lover, there's some blueberry recipes at the end of the book. The blueberry pretzel recipe is something I just might try!