The first book in the Flower Shop Mystery series, published November 2, 2004.
I don’t meddle, honest! But can I help it if my nose for injustice is as keen as my green thumb? Now I, Abby Knight, law school dropout, am the proud new owner of Bloomers, my hometown flower shop. I’m devoted to making my business grow, but I’m no shrinking violet if someone needs my help to right a wrong – even if that person is already dead!
A thorny predicament.
So maybe Abby’s life isn’t the bed of roses she was hoping it would be. She adores her job, but a new low-cost competitor is killing her profits – and a black SUV just rammed her vintage Corvette in a hit-and-run. Determined to track down the driver, she accepts the help of hunky ex-cop Marco Salvare. But their budding relationship is threatened when the trail turns deadly. Now Abby is caught in a tangle of menacing phone calls, police corruption and murderous road rage. If she’s not careful, the next flower arrangement might be for her own funeral…
When Abby witnesses a big SUV bumping into her beloved yellow vintage Corvette, she is furious that the driver just goes of! The police don’t appear to be able to solve it soon, even though she has a partial numberplate, and there won’t be that many SUV’s in their small village. Abby’s father was a cop until he became disabled when chasing a drugdealer, who shot him. Which is one of the reasons Abby hates drugs, and drugdealers. So when she finds out, that the man she saw come running out of the ally, into his SUV and hitting her car in the process, might have been involved in a drug related murder, she intends to find him. She knows most of the cops in town, which ones are good cops, and which ones are not. And she just knows that one of them knows who that number plate belongs to, and won’t do anything about it. The police is certain that the murderer is a well known homeless man, by the name of Elvis, and set their caps for him, not listening to Abby when she tells them what she saw that morning.
With a little help of the new owner of the Bar and Grill next door, who is a retired cop and private eye (and veritable eye candy!), she sets out to find the person responsible for hitting her car, and who might also be the murderer, herself! Marco keeps trying to dissuade her from her “meddling” and to leave things to the cops, but Abby just won’t give up. If he cannot help her, she will investigate herself!
Then the harassment begins. Parking tickets for bogus reasons, nasty phonecalls in the middle of night, and it escalates when her brakes are cut, and when someone tries to run her off the road into the river. But still, Abby won’t give up.
There is also a second storyline involved, when Lottie’s cousin Pearl needs legal advice. Even though Abby warns Lottie (who used to own the flower shop first, and now works for Abby) warns her that she is not a lawyer, and not qualified to give legal advice. As it happens the woman, Pearl, and her handicapped son Tommy are abused by her husband. He does not hit them, but he punishes Pearl for every little thing. Taking away her grocery money, or her car. She knows absolutely nothing about their finances, her husband deals with all that. She doesn’t even own a creditcard or has a bankaccount herself. Pearl doesn’t want to go to a real lawyer, until Abby sets her up with Dave, the lawyer she was interning for while in law school. The husband of course doesn’t let go easily, he threatens Abby every time they meet, and he keeps pestering Pearl to come back home, and give up this foolish divorce (even though he has another girlfriend he is staying with).
Of course, there is a romantic element involved as well. Lottie fancies herself a matchmaker, and she wants to fix Abby up with the cute assistant DA on the case, who also happens to be Abby’s secret crush in high school. But he quickly looses his points when she is acting just like her former fiancée. Too full of himself, and he does not even remember her from high school! But she will need to be nice to him to find out what the police has as evidence against Elvis.
And there is the handsome Marco, the PI. He has a bad history with the police, which made him resign, and he hates dirty cops. Which is why he keeps helping Abby and of course because she is landing in too much trouble on her own already.
I have been looking forward to reading this series very much, as I love the Cozy Chick Blog, and Kate Collins is one of the lovely ladies on that blog. Unfortunately, I am a bit disappointed with this first book. I had the story figured out pretty soon, but our heroine could not even see the clues right in front of her. Only at the very last moments of the book, where she might have been killed, did she learn the truth, because she was told what happened. Not even that she figured it out herself. I really do like my heroines a fit smarter and faster!
I also really disliked that Marco kept harping on her “meddling” ways. Because she is a girl, she is meddling instead of investigating? Abby does have the right ideas, even if she cannot see the plot.
Abby also has her father, whom she loves, and a mother, who is extremely disappointed that Abby is not a lawyer or a doctor like her older brothers, but “just” a flowershop owner. But her mother still expects Abby to sell her very ugly pottery/art products in her shop. And she is expected for Friday dinner at the country club with the whole family. She reminds Abby of that multiple times a week, like she could forget. She hates those dinners, with the sisters in law who look down on her, and of course her ex-fiancé and his family having dinner there as well. Of course her mother still tries to bring them back together which is not something that will happen, ever.
Still, I did like the writing style a lot. Kate Collins has a nice style; it keeps flowing and never gets boring, even though Abby does some stupid things. It is never over the top. Abby is a nice heroine, she does whatever she can to help Pearl, even when it gets dangerous. She likes working with flowers, and doesn’t care what her mother thinks of that. I also liked the secondary characters, but I will have to get some feeling for Marco yet. Yes, he does save Abby in the end, but that is not enough in my book to fall for him.
I already mentioned Lottie, but there is also an older English lady who runs the coffee/tearoom that is part of the flowershop, as Abby keep trying new things to lure more clients.
I will read the rest of the series, as those are already on my shelf, but I do hope Abby gets a bit smarter in the next books. I like to be surprised by the plot, and not figure it out in the first half of the book.