Published May 8th 2016 by Midnight Ink
Synopsis: March on Barton Farm can only mean one thing: maple sugar season. To combat the winter slump, resilient director Kelsey Cambridge organizes a Maple Sugar Festival, complete with school visits, pancake breakfasts, and tree tapping classes. Kelsey hires curmudgeonly maple sugar expert Dr. Conrad Beeson to teach the classes, despite misgivings over his unpleasant demeanor. It’s a decision she ends up regretting when, before the first tree can be tapped for sap, Dr. Beeson turns up dead.
The maple sugar expert’s death threatens to shut down not only the Maple Sugar Festival, but also Barton Farm itself. Kelsey must solve Dr. Beeson’s murder to escape the increasingly sticky situation.
My Review: Amanda Flower is a new author for me, but she has written several different series and they all seem to be well received. This is the second book in the Living History Museum series, but the first I have read. The Living History Museum Mysteries are set in modern times, but the Barton Farm which is the setting for the stories, is a historical site that focuses on the Civil War years. Kelsey Cambridge, who is the curator of Barton Farm, is getting ready for the first annual Maple Sugar Festival. As part of that festival, she had invited Robert Stroud to teach a class on how to tap trees and make your own syrup, but as he was ill, she substituted Dr. Conrad Beeson to teach the class. When Beeson has a heart attack and then is stabbed on the farm property Kelsey is drawn into the investigation as Gavin, one of her employees is a prime suspect. There are suspects galore, red herrings and a lot of intrigue. I did not figure out the killer until it was revealed in the book, which to me, makes for a good mystery.
Kelsey has been having a rough patch in her life lately, with a murder earlier in the year ([book:The Final Reveille|23364538]), the Cherry Foundation giving her a rough time about having Jason, the animal husbandry expert that works on the farm, living in a trailer on the property, her ex-husband wanting more time with their son, vandalism on the farm and her own confusion over a possible relationship with Chase, a local EMT she has a lot on her plate. When her ex-husband’s fiancee throws a wrench in the works asking to have their wedding at the farm, Kelsey has had enough and refused. She is a very strong character with a lot of great friends and co-workers helping her out when it is needed. The other characters in the story all add another dimension to the story as well as allowing the reader to see other sides to Kelsey.
Throughout the book there are many references to how maple syrup was made, the uses for it and why it became such a necessary product at the time. The research on the subject was excellent. The description of making maple syrup was detailed so one could see and smell the end result as it happening. I definitely recommend this book to cozy mystery lovers as well as historical mystery lovers.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher via netgalley in exchange for an honest review.