Review for Roots of Murder, by Janis Harrison

A cozy small-town murder mystery centered around flowers. Not really gardening, as the cover states.

Bretta Solomon has recently lost her husband. She runs one of the small town's flower shops with a friend named Lois. When her flower supplier, an Amish man named Isaac, whose brother bought Bretta's family farm in the next town, dies under mysterious circumstances, Bretta is both saddened and alarmed. Isaac's brother, Evan, begs her to find out what happened, and Bretta is pulled into a mystery where half the people involved are Amish, with customs she doesn't understand, and the other half have their own host of secrets.

I loved the characterization in this book. Everyone from Bretta, who can't open the door to her old bedroom she shared with her late husband and face the memories inside, to Leray, the redneck who wants in on the flower industry, to Margaret, the quiet woman who scavenges for pumpkins and subscribes to an Amish magazine to keep in touch with that part of her community, really stood out as unique and individual. I also enjoyed some of the minor characters: Sam, Cecil, Cleome and Lois. Everyone was vivid.

The plot felt a little simple, in regards to what Bretta did to learn who did what, etc. The actual killer and their motive was well done, but it was ridiculously easy to see coming due to some poor foreshadowing. Bubbles' intro into the story felt highly random, and yet since it was there, it couldn't be random, so overall the Bubbles story line felt forced. I highly enjoyed the side-plot that dealt with what Isaac had in his grow house, and the glimpse of Amish life was well-presented with both pros and cons that realistically affected the characters.

The writing was very good. I enjoyed the clear description that took time to involve me fully without making the plot drag. Small details were effortlessly included throughout, making every setting vivid. The details of running a flower shop and of the Amish characters' lives were made both informative and interesting.

4 of 5 stars!

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