I did not expect to get so attached to the characters in this book. I even waited before I started my next book to hang on to the lingering memory of this book. It's first few lines may make you think "why did I buy this".... get past it, it is worth it.
In Nipped in the Bud by Susan Sleeman, Paige Turner, landscape designer, has accepted her first big project, renovating the local park in preparation for the city's annual Pickle Fest celebration. After a confrontation with the city manager, Paige finds him dead in a mound of mulch at the job site, can provide no alibi for herself, and is considered the prime suspect in his murder. As Paige fights to prove her innocence, she finds herself distracted by the "dazzling smile" and other physical attributes of her attorney, Adam Hayes.
In addition to mystery and romance, the author weaves play-on-word humor throughout the book as Paige, host of a local radio show, gives gardening advice that is misunderstood by callers.
Paige Turner is a landscaper that is thrilled to land a contract fixing up the park for the upcoming Pickle Fest in Serendipity, Oregon. But when she finds the mayor dead in a pile of her mulch in the park, she becomes the primary suspect in his murder. Her friends hire lawyer Adam Hayes to keep her out of jail and aid her in solving the case before it's too late. With no alibi, Paige sees no way out out except to find the killer herself. Is it the pharmacist who has something to hide about their former mayor? Or is it the librarian with a secret in her past? Or does the wife have any reason to make herself a widow?
This mystery was quite the amusing one, what with the name of Paige Turner and the Pickle Festival. I was quite bemused with the opening paragraph in each chapter, and the news station Paige gives gardening advice on is always getting the strangest callers. At first, I couldn't seem to get into the story. The beginning paragraphs confused me more than interested me, and the story felt as if it was moving slow as molasses. But somewhere before the half-way mark, it finally captured my attention and kept me all the way to the end. A good read, and a good mystery.
Paige Turner returned to her hometown after receiving her degree in landscaping, and opened her own shop, The Garden Gate. She also hosts KALM's radio broadcast, Through the Garden Gate, with her producer friend, Lisa Winkle.
Paige won her first landscaping job of sprucing up the city park in time for the Pickle Fest, fencing off the area. Returning to the site, she engages in an argument with the city manager, Bud Pickleman, about the lack of a proper security fence. She screamed at Bud in a menacing way about his interference at the site. The following day, Bud was found dead in a mound of mulch at Paige's landscaping site. Police Chief Mitch Lawson, an old classmate with a grudge, is out to handcuff and jail her for Bud's murder. She hires Attorney Adam Hayes to defend her, find the real killer, and keep her out of jail.
Not only is this a good murder mystery, with a great plot and plenty of suspects, Susan throws in a quirky, humorous radio show at the beginning of each chapter to offset the seriousness of the murder investigation. The call-ins have a rare, slap-stick comedy. A unique way to downplay the tension.
The suspicious behaviors, multiple arguments, and grudges will have you guessing who the murderer is. Almost everyone seems to be suspect in some way. The plot kept me interested through the whole book. The essence of romantic tension brings another element of delight while all the while trying to solve the murder. Definitely a fun read! Way to go, Susan!
This book was provided by Susan Sleeman in exchange for my honest review.