Friday, June 22, 2012

The Azalea Assault - Alyse Carlson

The Azalea Assault
A Garden Society Mystery
Alyse Carlson
Berkley Prime Crime
It was supposed to be a coup for the Roanoke Garden Society and PR expert Camellia (Cam) Harris, having the world-famous photographer Jean-Jacques Georges provide photo coverage for a feature article in a premiere gardening magazine.  It all seems to well until the welcome party the night before the shoot is to start.  Jean-Jacques appears, is rude, argues, and swats the women’s rears.  This doesn’t go over too well, but well-bred Roanoke bluebloods are too polite to make public protest.
When Cam arrives for the first morning of the photography shoot, she finds Jean-Jacques in the garden.  Unfortunately, he’s face-down with a pair of pruning shears in his abdomen.  The police immediately zero in on Nick, Cam’s brother-in-law, who, with his tattoos and punk-rock vibe, seems an unlikely caterer for the event.  Cam and her sister Petunia are both sure Nick had nothing to do with it, and neither one believes the police are looking at anyone else.  With easy access to the venue and people, Cam decides to investigate.

This is the first in a new series, and it’s a bit of a rocky start.  Cam, Petunia, and Cam’s lifelong best friend, Annie, are not terribly likable for the most part.  Even in the South, there’s a line between eccentric and unstable, and these ladies seem to cross it with regularity.  Their behavior might be understandable for teenagers, but not for thirty-something professional, educated women.  On the very bright side, the mystery is intriguing, with plenty of twists and turns.  The supporting cast of characters is varied and interesting, and, since they’re part of the Garden Society, they should be returning for future installments.  If the ladies manage to mature, this could be a very solid series.

Rating: 6
June 2012
ISBN# 978-0-425-25130-0 (paperback)


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