Friday, February 05, 2010

Sleeping With Anemones - Kate Collins

Sleeping With Anemone
A Flower Shop Mystery
Kate Collins


Keeping a small town economically viable is a balancing act. On the one hand, you need new businesses to set up shop, provide jobs, and pump new money into the local economy. On the other hand, if that new business is very big or corrupt in some way, you’re just asking for trouble. Understandably, opinions are split about Uniworld Food Corporation setting up a huge dairy farm outside of town. It’ll mean a lot of jobs for a lot of people. But, according to others, they inject their cows with growth hormones, affecting the milk and beef.

Abby Knight runs Bloomers, the local flower shop. But she’s decided to take on the fight against this corporation. At a Home and Garden Show, she uses her booth to collect signatures on a petition to keep Uniworld Food Corporation out of town. Free speech and all. Unfortunately for Abby, Uniworld owns the hall in which the show is held. Eventually, they ask her, with varying degrees of politeness, to leave.

After that, Abby is more determined than ever to stop the corporation. But, clearly, there are people working against her. It begins with your average “cease and desist” letters. Which she ignores. Then someone shoves a threatening letter under her shop door. A brick wrapped in burning paper comes sailing through a window. All of this makes Abby angry and ready to keep up the fight. Then, her teenaged niece, Tara, is taken. Possibly due to another case of mistaken identity; possibly for more nefarious reasons. The authorities wonder if perhaps, given Abby’s penchant for getting involved in murder cases, that the kidnapper might have nothing to do with the dairy farm and everything to do with revenge. Either way, Abby won’t let anything happen to her beloved niece.

The author really excels at creating situations that are new and interesting, yet still believable. That’s got to be difficult in a series set in a small town, but she makes it seem effortless. Bringing in a huge conglomerate to a small town is a fairly familiar situation for many people, so readers will be able to relate to the characters’ many and varied reactions. Abby’s reasons for getting involved come about naturally and never seem shoehorned in just for effect. Giving the story a Big Bad Corporation adds to the air of menace and provides a great backdrop.

Longtime readers of the series (EVIL IN CARNATIONS, SHOOTS TO KILL, A ROSE FROM THE DEAD, ACTS OF VIOLETS) will be pleased to see that characters continue to evolve. Abby and her boyfriend Marco have some serious decisions to make while dealing with some rather strong urgings from both families, for example. New readers will have no problems jumping in at this point in the proceedings, since the author manages to weave in pertinent history without interrupting the current plot. SLEEPING WITH ANEMONES may be the best installment of this series yet.

Rating: 7 ½
February 2010
ISBN# 978-0-451-22890-1 (paperback)


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