By Barb, who is spending her Memorial Day helping her kids pack to move
Happy Memorial Day, everyone! I hope you are all reading and relaxing. Today as my guest, I’m happy to have my friend Edith Maxwell, who tells us about the Maine connections in her latest Local Foods Mystery.
I’m delighted to be a guest here again today. Thanks for inviting me north, Barb. Mulch Ado About Murder, my fifth Local Foods Mystery, comes out tomorrow. And I’ll give away my last ARC of the book to one commenter here today.
Here’s the cover text:
“It’s been a hot, dry spring in Westbury, Massachusetts. As organic farmer Cam Flaherty waits for much-needed rain, storm clouds of mystery begin to gather. Once again, it’s time to put away her sun hat and put on her sleuthing cap when a fellow farmer is found dead in a vat of hydroponic slurry—clutching a set of rosary beads. Showers may be scarce this spring, but there’s no shortage of suspects, including the dead woman’s embittered ex-husband, the Other Man whose affair ruined their marriage, and Cam’s own visiting mother. Lucky for Cam, her nerdy academic father turns out to have a knack for sleuthing. Will he and Cam be able to clear Mom’s name before the killer strikes again?”
This is the fifth book in the series and it has at least one connection to Maine and another to today, Memorial Day. Originally I wanted to have my organic farmer head up to the Common Ground Fair for a book. The fair isn’t until September, though, and that would be too long in book time since book four, Murder Most Fowl, which took place in March. Maybe we’ll have a Maine setting for book six!
Throughout the series, Cam has been referring to her peripatetic academic parents, to whom she isn’t particularly close, but we’ve never met them – until this book. Right away Cam’s mother Deb gets involved in a public protest against a new hydroponic farmer, and she was seen going into the farmer’s greenhouse. So when Nicole turns up dead, you know the police want to talk to Deb.
The end of May is a super busy time on a small organic farm in New England. A few days after the murder Deb and Cam’s father William decide to get out of her hair for the day and head to Maine. Here’s a snippet from the next morning:
“Oh, yes,” William said, looking relieved at the change in topic. “We popped into a couple of Maine beaches on our way north. Old Orchard was very charming, wasn’t it, dear?” He patted Deb’s hand.
“Very.” Deb ate her last bite of omelet and sat back in her chair.
“And then we spent quite some time in Portland,” William went on. “Lunch at a brewpub, the afternoon in the Portland Museum of Art. And dinner and a stroll in Portsmouth on our way back. Very much a New England experience.”
You can squeeze a lot of two states into a day when you start at the New Hampshire border!
Of course, today is Memorial Day. This series is set in a town modeled on West Newbury, in the northeast corner of Massachusetts, where I had my own small certified organic farm a couple of decades ago. One of the annual spectacles is the Memorial Day parade, with all the quirks and color only a small town can present. I knew I wanted to include it in a book. Cam, her parents, her great-uncle Albert, and his girlfriend, Marilyn (who is modeled directly on my mother, also named Marilyn) all head to Main Street with folding chairs and good cheer.
I had fun giving parade cameos to the core members of a long-standing Flick Chicks group I’m part of. We all started out as West Newbury moms more than twenty years ago. When you read the parade scene, look for the woman on the horse, one in the volleyball group, a Civil War reenactor, and a Girl Scout leader, and you see Deb Hamilton, Kim Wegryzyn, Judy Smith, and Janice Valverde, respectively.
Naturally (hey, it’s a murder mystery), at the end of the parade Deb gets involved with two of the people of interest in the murder – and another body drops.
I love writing this series and immersing myself back in the farming life without having to do all the hard work. Lots of readers have written me saying how much they learned about small-scale farming. I hope you like it, too.
Oh, and please join me in a fifth book birthday celebration for all five books on Facebook on June 1 from 6:30-9:30 pm! There will be prizes, and Barb will be one of the cozy authors visiting. More details here.
Readers: What’s your favorite quirky Memorial Day parade? How about the small farm where you like to buy produce? I’ll give away my last ARC of the book to one commenter.
2017 double Agatha-nominated and national best-selling author Edith Maxwell writes the Local Foods Mysteries and the Quaker Midwife Mysteries; as Maddie Day she writes the Country Store Mysteries and the Cozy Capers Book Group Mysteries. Her award-winning short crime fiction has appeared in many juried anthologies and journals, and she serves as President of Sisters in Crime New England.
A fourth-generation Californian and former tech writer, farmer, and doula, Maxwell now writes, cooks, gardens (and wastes time as a Facebook addict) north of Boston with her beau and three cats. She blogs at WickedCozyAuthors.com, Killer Characters, and with the Midnight Ink authors. Find her on Facebook, twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and at www.edithmaxwell.com.