Monday, December 28, 2009

Town in a Blueberry Jam-B.B. Haywood

Town in a Blueberry Jam
B.B. Haywood
Berkley, Feb 2010, $6.99
ISBN: 9780425232651

After her husband lost his job, emptied their savings, and dumped her for another woman; Candy Holliday returns to her hometown, the seaside village of Cape Willington, Maine; where she and her dad “Doc” manage Blueberry Acres. Local hero Olympic Gold medal winning swimmer Jock Larson falls off a cliff with his life flashing by including how he died. The townsfolk are unsure of whether it was an accident, suicide, or homicide. Candy is sad over his death, but happy that the Blueberry Festival will still occur with people coming from across the country to attend.

To the locals, the highlight of the gala is the Blueberry Queen Pageant. Five of the contestants are high school students while the other contender is gossip columnist thirty-seven years old Sapphire Vine, a flaky diva (obvious oxymoron). Everyone expects Haley Pruitt to win because of her poise; performance and responses to questions which are by far superior to that of her rivals. Thus when Sapphire wins, everybody is shocked. Soon after her stunning victory, Sapphire is found dead. The town’s handyman Ray is arrested for the murder. Candy knows Ray is innocent and intends to find the real culprit with the help of her BFF Maggie. Their investigation uncovers scandals amongst the pageant judges and other residents, but as they get closer to identifying the perpetrator, the killer watches them in case two more corpses are needed.

This is a charming and amusing Pine Tree State cozy in which Cape Willington is vividly described so that the reader feels they are attending the Blueberry festival. The cast is solid as the residents bring out the ambience of the seaside village. Although the amateur sleuthing is similar in tone to many sub-genre entries, the irony of readers knowing a lot more than the cops or the BFF detectives and the Twitter sight provide a fresh spin to B.B. Haywood’s first Candy Holliday whodunit.

Harriet Klausner