Nothing much happens in Myrtle Grove, Oklahoma. So when prominent businessman Harry Kerr is discovered face down in his pool shortly after dawn, the breakfast crowd in Jesse Camden’s tea room is buzzing. Recognizing the name, Jesse hurries to her friend Vivian Windsor, Myrtle Grove’s resident oil heiress and great-aunt to Bliss Kerr, widow of the deceased and soon-to-be prime suspect in his suspicious death.
Clearing Bliss and finding the real murderer isn’t what Jesse meant when she offered her assistance. And wrangling an eager band of helpers while chasing a tangle of leads across the countryside, tripping over deputies and evidence along the way, isn’t her first choice for her weekend. But here she is, and here she will be, hearing secrets no one should know, and discovering betrayals no one could live with, until Jesse finds her way through the maze of deceit to uncover the real killer.
Harry Kerr was not a nice man, so it's not a huge surprise that he was face down in the swimming pool in back of his large house. It seems like many people in the small town of Myrtle Grove did not care for the man - past business partners, former girlfriends, current girlfriends, his wife.
In suspicious death cases like this one, the spouse is always the first (and the easiest?) suspect. But Vivian, the spouse's great-aunt is not about to let anyone close to her get arrested and you can tell she's used to getting her way. (The sheriff calls her a harridan in one scene and then grudgingly admits that if she were twenty years younger ... after all, she is a beautiful, strong woman - and she is a widow.) For some reason, the use of the term 'harridan' rubbed me the wrong way. Maybe that was an unsympathetic word for a character who is supposed to be one of the 'good guys'?
On the other hand, I absolutely ADORED Vivian's idea to call her circle of friends and amateur sleuths the Myrtle Grove Garden Club. It's a great cover, especially when the town's law really does not care for 'interference'.
He pulls over Jesse, who is driving Bliss (the new widow) somewhere, and they are not sure which one of them is in trouble. You see, Jesse has promised the sheriff that she will not stick her nose into his business. Bliss is thinking she is going to get arrested. But Jesse was on the hook for ducking under crime scene tape in Bliss and Harry's back yard. Big trouble. Like, do it again and you'll be arrested trouble.
The 'reveal' scene of this whodunit is very slick, and it was enjoyable to see the people who thought they would get away with greed and murder brought to justice.
I also enjoyed how devoted the Garden Club members are to each other. Many are 'excited' to get involved - at least until they find out the possible danger. But they still have each other's backs.
I look forward to seeing the characters develop and relationships deepen over the course of how ever many Garden Club Mysteries there will be. And I can't help but wondering if something will develop between Jesse and the sheriff.
A lifelong fan of mysteries and the cozy genre, in particular, Loulou Harrington began her published career in romances and is now happy to be writing what she has always loved to read—a good, old-fashioned mystery. Even better, she has the chance to incorporate her personal love of gardening, cooking, exploring quaint villages and wandering through the great outdoors in her new Myrtle Grove Garden Club mystery series. She sincerely hopes you will enjoy sharing this special world with her.
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(Disclosure: I received an e-copy of Murder, Mayhem and Bliss from the author and publishers via Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.)