Saturday, January 29, 2011

Review: Town in a Blueberry Jam, by B.B. Haywood (2010)

Town in a Blueberry Jam by B. B. Haywood:
But the fact remained that Sapphire Vine was dead. Someone had killed her. And though Candy found it not only absurd but also literally painful to think that Herr Georg could have plunged a hammer into the back of Sapphire's head (not to mention how painful it must have been for Sapphire herself) the fact remained that he had an excellent motive for doing just that.

Synopsis: Debut of yet another culinary mystery series, this time set on a blueberry farm in Maine, but with bonus "if it weren't for you meddling" middle-aged divorcees speech and deus ex homine handsome.

Does anyone here really investigate their friends and neighbors?

By now I think we are all familiar with the setup: girl with awesome big-city career and husband determines Something's Missing and chucks both items to move back to a smalltown with a family connection and open some type of foodery, where she finds her true calling and oh yeah, a bushel of dead bodies.

Now, if I was the police chief in a small town, I think I'd be watching very carefully to see if any women fitting that description moved in, because they're like the barometer for a murderstorm.

Candy Holliday (please note: everyone in this book has a fairly awesome name. Sapphire Vine, Herr Georg, Judicious F.P. Bosworth, Jock Larson. Work with me.) has moved to a blueberry farm in Cape Willington, Maine with her aging father (Doc...Holliday. See, I told you.) and that right there would be your cue for a homicidal maniac to take over the town. Aging playboy Jock Larson falls suspiciously over a cliff! Gossip columnist Sapphire Vine is blunt-trauma'd in the back of the head! And our girl Candy's immediately on the case.

Lo does she investigate. She investigates so much and so well, in fact, that the police chief of Cape Willington goes from being horrified by her actions (breaking into a crime scene and yoinking key evidence, for a start) to offering her a job at the end of the book. And frankly, I cannot tell you the number of times that has happened to me.

Now, despite all the piss-taking in this review, I do have to say: this is a pretty fun book. It's easy and sunny and likeable. Candy is not wholly terrible and not wholly likeable. Her motivations are sometimes murky, and she's kind of officious and awkward at times, making her both complicated and interesting.

She has a best friend/sidekick who basically steals the book with her one-liners and her sass and her random tearing-aboutness, and I kind of want the two of them to scandalize their town by getting together like the women in Jae's Second Nature but without the werewolf thing.

There were, however, two things that got up my nose.

(Only two, you ask? I know. I feel like I am growing as person.)

Thing the First: There seems to be a terrible trope in these books where the author takes a moment for the heroine to describe herself in detail. And the details are always glowing and the heroine always looks way better than any mortal has a right to look. To wit:
The sun had added some color to her high, full cheekbones this summer and a touch of rosemary honey to the tips of her hair. It contrasted nicely with her eyes, which were a light shade of blue but bright--"the color of forget-me-nots in spring" her mother used to say.

Okay, am I the only person who has never thought of their hair in terms of whether it looks like it's been dipped in honey or not?

Dear authors,

Please stop doing that.

Thank you.

Thing the Second: During the book's thrilling conclusion (which I am not going to spoil for you because it was both thrilling and kind of kick-ass) there's a moment where you think that Candy and her sidekick are about to be saved by the town's Awesomely Handsome Man. They are not, in fact, which is fantastic, but then afterwards they both make a point of going up to said man and cooing at him repeatedly how wonderful it was that he saved them. Um, no. No. That is twaddle on a particularly poky stick. I do not want that.

Overall, though, the book's a darn good read, and I'll definitely be stalking the library for the second in the series, Town in a Lobster Stew.

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