Lindy Blanchard’s family pecan farm is known county-wide, but it’s the goodies her grandmother sells at their store, the Nut House, that really bring in the crowds—until someone turns one of her tasty treats deadly…
The “Most Original Pecan Treat” contest at the Ag Fair is the talk of Riverville, Texas, especially when it’s clear that Miss Amelia Blanchard’s Heavenly Texas Pecan Caviar will take home a blue ribbon. Which is why everyone is amazed when her dish doesn’t even place—and even more shocked when one of the judges, Pastor Jenkins, keels over dead, right after taking a second taste of Miss Amelia’s food.
No one in town truly believes that Amelia would even hurt a fly, but all the evidence points to poor Pastor Jenkins’ death being caused by poison in the caviar. Now, unless Lindy figures out who wanted to frame Amelia for murder, her meemaw may have baked her last famous pecan pie.
You know how you've been around a guy forever and then one day you get mad at him and your whole world seems to blow up? That's what happens to Lindy Blanchard when even Deputy Hunter Austin, her sometimes lover and sometimes adversary, and sometimes plain pain-in-the-neck, comes to suspect that her meemaw, Miss Amelia, who runs The Nut House in Riverville, Texas, could've been the one who poisoned Pastor Jenkins at the Riverville Agricultural Fair.
Suspect her Meemaw? The love of her life? The woman who sets standards for everyone in the Blanchard family? The greatest cook in all of Riverville, who just happened to lose an important blue ribbon because of a contrary vote from the pastor?
So what if it was Miss Amelia's Heavenly Pecan Texas Caviar that killed the man? (In the recipes at the end of the book Miss Amelia renames this famous dish Socrates Favorite Texas Caviar in a kind of ghoulish attempt to make people forget that poison killed the good pastor.)
Anybody could have slipped the poison into Meemaw's dish, especially since a hog got loose from one of the barns right about then and Hunter, police presence at the fair, was out trying to rope the scared animal, then was dragged through the red Texas dirt for his trouble. And nobody was watching the entries in the food tent.
It doesn't help the two of them, trying to make up later, when, on a trip to Tupelo to interview a possible suspect, Meemaw keeps calling to make sure they have separate rooms when they stop for the night in New Orleans. She may be the number one suspect in a murder, but Miss Amelia will be damned if her dear granddaughter will be called a "loose woman" by town gossips like her friend, Ethelred Tomroy.
Once in Tupelo, they are all business, interviewing this ex-huband who got religion since he hurt his first wife so bad and swears he didn't have anything to do with hurting the pastor. They'd been hoping this was the murderer, but they both know the man is telling the truth - and has an alibi from his current wife - they were in church all that day.
Even a stop at Elvis' original home in Tupelo and a tour of the grounds doesn't lift the depression they're sharing:
"Poor Meemaw. What do we do next? You have any ideas?" Lindy asked.
He shook his head, glanced down at the speedometer and slowed. "One thing's still bothering me though. I hate to bring it up. Probably it doesn't have anything to do with anything, but it's about why Miss Amelia dished up more of her Texas caviar for the parson? It's the only solid thing I know of that doesn't fit anywhere and it's driving me crazy."
I thought a minute. "I asked her."
"What'd she say?"
"Something about wanting him to taste the real thing."
That doesn't cure a thing between them. Things go from bad to worse (you could say) when Treenie, Meemaw's helper at The Nut house sticks her finger in a jar at the store, puts in her mouth and lands in the hospital - poisoned by the same poison that killed the pastor.
There's this thing about Texas women, they may be sweet as molasses but they can also be as tough at rattlers. When the women of Riverville muster around Miss Amelia - knowing a killer from a sweetheart - Deputy Hunter either gets with the program or is out of Lindy's life forever. Doesn't matter how much a woman likes or loves a man, when it comes to allegiance to him or her meemaw, there's no contest.
Thank goodness for Hunter Austen (and me, the writer) things look like they'll work out all right. They still have to find the real murderer to get Meemaw off the hook, then find the poison - which comes from a surprising place - and they still have to face down a couple of serious threats from the people behind it all. The wonderful part of all of this is that when a relationship is tested in this way, there's not much more that can ever tear it apart again. Well, that is until I get the two of them tied up in another murder and their stubborn natures come out again. I love writing books about people I like as much as I like Hunter Austen and LIndy Blanchard, and all the other folks in Riverville - good, bad, mean, testy, or angelic. Everybody's got a story for me. Makes my work so easy.
Elizabeth Lee, (pseudonym for Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli) lives far back in the woods where nobody can find her unless they call first and she decides to answer. Mostly her life is about deer and fox and bear and raccoons - oh my! Part of her life is about a bunch of kids - she thinks the number's up to nineteen as of now - that's original kids and then grandkids. She writes murder mysteries because it's a great way to let off steam. Get mad at a clerk in McDonald's? Ooops, do her in the next book. You'd never know she's sweet as sugar most of the time. Just watch your back if you get invited to visit. Even her husband, Tony, is nervous - with all those books on poisons and guns and forensics sitting on their bookshelves.
This book was hilarious! I absolutely LOVED it! This was my very first book written by Elizabeth Lee, and it most certainly will not be my last. She has created a wonderful town in Riverville, Texas, that has all of the southern charm that grand state has to offer. Her characters are larger than life, and a few of them are just as nutty as her Heavenly Texas Pecan Caviar! They were great for a few laughs :) The story was also very well written with a great mystery (and a Pecan Treat festival to boot!).
Having not read the first book in the series, I didn't feel like I'd missed out on much, which is always nice when you begin a series in the middle. This will definitely be a series that I'll be looking out for in the future. It was very much worth the read! :)
Rating: 5 stars
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All conclusions reached are my own.
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