Sunday, March 18, 2007

Acts of Violets - Kate Collins

Acts of Violets
A Flower Shop Mystery
Kate Collins


It seems like the annual Pickle Festival in little New Chapel, Indiana would be a fun time. Unless you’re not so into clowns, like Abby Knight, owner of Bloomers flower shop, and survivor of childhood clown-induced terror. So when a Snuggles the Clown first bumps into her, then tells her “paybacks are murder,” she’s startled, but not entirely surprised. But that’s not the only thing to spoil her morning. Across the square, she sees her boyfriend of 3 months, ex-cop turned bar owner and occasional PI Marco Salvare, in a deep conversation with a woman. A gorgeous woman.

Temporarily mollified with the explanation that the woman, Trina, is a childhood friend, Abby explains about Snuggles. Marco, over Abby’s protests, takes off in pursuit. The following day, the newspaper headlines say that Marco is being held on suspicion of the murder of one Dennis Ryson, a disreputable mechanic. Marco is the prime suspect, since the neighbors witnessed him enter Ryson’s home and fight with him; Marco has the bruises to prove it. The prosecutor, facing reelection, wants a slam-dunk conviction, and it looks like he’s going to get it. Marco begs Abby to look into the case. There’s only a week before the grand jury convenes and the circumstantial case is more than strong enough to indict him. Abby embarks on her first solo investigation, knowing that Marco has put his life in her hands. What Abby discovers may shake her faith in Marco to the core.

First of all, clowns are evil. That’s a fact. So I feel for Abby and her distaste of them. And it gives nothing away to say that Ryson did a bit of moonlighting on the weekends as Snuggles the Clown. There’s plenty more in Ryson’s background that Abby needs to discover, and she does it in her own way, without police help. The author provides plenty of suspects, from Trina, who claims Ryson was terrorizing her, to neighbors who hated him. There is one glaring piece of annoyance here, and that is that a secondary character speaks with a lisp, and it’s all typed out, phonetically, with “th” for “s” in long passages of dialogue. It’s incredibly distracting to read, and made me want to skip over those sections. Since the character provides information that moves the plot forward, readers would be advised not to give into this temptation.

Other the phoentic lisp, which, admittedly, is most likely just a personal preference of mine, and not shared by other readers, ACTS OF VIOLETS is probably the most intricately plotted, and possibly the best overall story in this series to date. In this one, we finally get a glimpse at Marco's past and family. I look forward to more of Abby and her wonderful shop assistants, Lottie and Grace, in the future.

Rating: 7 ½
March 2007
ISBN# 978-0-451-22074-5 (paperback)


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