Green Living Can Be Deadly by Staci McLaughlin is the third book in the Blossom Valley eco-cozy mystery series (available February 4, 2014).
This installment finds Dana Lewis in charge of organizing a green living festival in order to help get her employer, O’Connell Organic Farm and Spa, on the radar of more eco-minded customers. Instead, she finds herself dealing with an old high school classmate, who’s delighted to belittle Dana at every turn, and the murder of another former classmate on the festival’s first day.
Wendy Hartford had been manning the booth for Invisible Prints, her company that seeks to help reverse its clients’ carbon footprints. Instead, she winds up dead in her festival booth, putting a negative spotlight on the special event. With several possible suspects, and more popping up as Dana learns more about Wendy’s business and family life, she makes it her mission to investigate, out of a desire to see justice done for Wendy and to help salvage the festival. Her reporter boyfriend, Jason, tries to discourage her, but she’s determined to figure out what’s going on herself.
“I didn’t realize you knew Kurt.”
“Not well. I used to see him all the time when I’d go over to Wendy’s house to hang out. It’s been years, but visiting him seemed like the right thing to do.”
Jason picked up his knife and resumed cutting. “Good. For a second there, I thought you were going to meddle in Wendy’s death.”
I clinched my teeth as his words instantly put me on the defensive. “I haven’t done too shabbily when it comes to solving murders.”
“You’ve also managed to almost get killed twice. Look, I don’t want anything to happen to you. I care too much.”
His concern gave me the warm fuzzies, and I momentarily got lost in the idea of how much our relationship had advanced in a few short months. We’d gone from adversaries to friends to . . . what?
Dana has a charming innocence as she delights in playing detective, even knowing that danger lurks and could soon be coming for her:
Jason retrieved his notebook and pen from an inside jacket pocket. “Anything you want to share with Blossom Valley’s citizens?”
The detective didn't blink. “The residents have nothing to fear. This was a targeted crime, not a random killing.”
Not exactly the breakthrough of the week. “Of course it wasn’t random.” I held up two fingers for emphasis. “I already know of at least two people who might want her dead.”
I probably should have kept my voice down, because more than one head swiveled in my direction, including Preston’s. He broke away from the group he’d been talking to and made his way over to our little trio.
“Who would want Wendy dead?” he asked, his eyes tearing up. He grabbed my arm in a firm grip, his tone pleading. “You have to tell me.”
My gaze darted all around as I tried to think. One of my suspects was Preston. What was I supposed to say?
Dana’s sleuthing is interspersed with the progression of her personal life, including her nerves over meeting her Jason’s parents, which leads to her impulsively blurting that she plans to move out of her mother’s home and move into an apartment with her sister. When she tries to back out of this impromptu statement, her mother surprises her by helping to gently push her out of the nest.
While this series is themed around green living, Dana is not exactly a sprouts and tofu fan, something that keeps this cozy lively and entertaining as she deals with her decidedly more nature-friendly coworkers—note her reaction to the spa's new offering of a cactus massage. Her boy-crazy sister Ashlee provides further comic relief. This is a welcome addition to a series about small town life and business that will appeal to cozy readers looking for homespun charm and occasionally goofy antics.
To learn more or order a copy, visit:
Rachel Kramer Bussel is a freelance and erotica writer, and editor of over 50 anthologies, including The Big Book of Orgasms: 69 Sexy Stories; Only You: Erotic Romance for Women; Serving Him: Sexy Stories of Submission and others. She tweets @raquelita and blogs at Lusty Lady.