The first book in the Yellow Rose Mysteries series, published May 2004.
Out of school, out of work, and out of motivation, Abby Rose is contemplating her life and wondering what to do next. It's the kind of situation that would get some girls down, but luckily Abby's got a heart the size of Texas-and a bank account to match.
When Abby discovers her gardener, Ben, dead in the greenhouse one afternoon, the emptiness of her own life hits her like a glass of ice-cold Texas tea. Ever since her father died, she’s been mooning around the pool, making herself as useful as a June bug on a daisy. When the sexy detective from the Houston P.D. tells her it was poison that killed Ben, Abby realizes what she needs to do with herself: solve a murder. Little does she suspect that the answers to her questions about Ben’s death will unlock secrets about her own past – and might change her entire future…
When Abby Rose discovers the dead body of her gardener in the greenhouse, she is shocked. She just spoke to him that same afternoon, and he needed to talk to her and her twin sister Kate about something very important. And now she will never know what that was about!
When she realizes she doesn’t even know Ben’s last name, she is ashamed off herself. And determined to find out why he came to work for them, under a false name.
The Houston P.D. isn’t making much headway, even suspecting Abby herself as the murderer! And they won’t tell her anything about the case. Her sisters’ boyfriend is working as a consultant for the police, so it is very easy for Abby to hack his computer, and into the Homicide Files to find out what the police knows and has done so far. She is determined to find out as much as she can about Ben. And she absolutely refuses to believe Ben has murdered his own wife with cyanide all those years ago. Especially when she speaks to his widow who tells her the two of them were so much in love, she refused to marry Ben at first as he still loved Cloris so much.
Bit by bit Abby unravels the past, finding out about Ben and Clovis, and how she was an unwed mother who had to give up her baby. She comes to the conclusion that Ben came to Houston not to find his wife’s murderer, but her child. And as she and Kate were adopted too, she can understand that. But also bit by bit she is coming to dread the outcome of the investigation, as it comes so very close to her own past.
Inspector Jeff Kline is not the only one to warn Abby off of the investigation, her greedy aunt Caroline, her lawyer Willis and even her ex-husband Steven think she should let things rest. But they all seem to know more than she does, and she hates being told what to do. And so Abby stumbles on, getting her self into (and out) of dangerous or compromising situations. With an ex-husband who wants her back, and the handsome Inspector who keeps appearing in her way, Abby has enough to think about.
A really great first book in a series of five. I liked Abby. I was afraid at first that she was a spoiled rich girl and nothing else, but she has character. She has also a degree in computer science, and is a little bit involved in the company her father has left them. But yes, it is different when money is no object, and there is no day job to interfere with the investigation. She is very smart, but also impulsive, and doesn’t think much about her own safety when pursuing a lead.
Abby loves her sister dearly, even though they are as different as could be. Kate is a macro-biotic nut, everything has to be healthy, and not tasty, and she is afraid of what Abby is getting herself into. With a good reason, that is, as Abby is a bit accident prone.
Then there is the aunt, who is very greedy, and always talking Abby down. In her sixties, and still going out with handsome young men, but she is rich enough in her own way.
And Willis, the lawyer, who keeps putting his nose in Abby’s progress, and whom I suspected along with the aunt.
Steven, her ex-husband, is trying to stay away from alcohol, as that was one of the mayor things that ruined her marriage. And his infidelity, and his … and …. So now they are working together on an old Victorian mansion in Galveston, to renovate it so Abby and Kate can sell it. Which means a lot of contact between them, discussing what needs to be done and such. But Abby really doesn’t love him anymore, and wants nothing to do with him romantically. Steven does not give up however.
I liked Leann Sweeney’s writing style, a lot. It is fast reading, and takes places in just a few days time, but I got to know Abby really well in that time. There is a lot of humor, and especially what I guess are typical Texan sayings and expressions. I loved that. Okay, I was sometimes ahead of Abby with the plot, but in the end Leann Sweeney still surprised me, and that is always a good thing in a mystery.
I am curious what will happen next with Abby, as she has chosen what she wants to do with her life at the end of the book, so I will go straight on with A Wedding To Die For, the second book in the series. And if there comes anything of a relationship with the handsome detective Jeff.