As Lonesome Valley kicks off the holiday season with its annual parade, artist Amanda Trent embraces the Christmas spirit, happy that her family will be coming to town to celebrate the season with her and her loyal pets, Laddie, a friendly golden retriever, and Mona Lisa, an independent calico cat.
Amanda has just one nagging concern: her art sales have stalled, so her checking account is starting to look a bit puny. Her financial woes pale, though, in comparison to her concern when several people eat carrot bars laced with hemlock at the high school’s arts and crafts fair, resulting in one unlucky man’s death. Was the poisoning an accident, or did someone with evil intent deliberately spike the sweet baked goods?
Leads the police follow don’t pan out until Amanda puts the puzzle together. But, sometimes, knowledge can be a dangerous thing. . .
Amanda Treat is getting ready for the Christmas season in Lonesome Valley. She is a fairly new resident, divorcée, and starving artist. She is expecting both her parents and her children for the holidays and looking forward to a high school arts and crafts fair, in which she participates with her co-op Roadrunner Gallery. A slump in her sales, she is sweating having enough income to get through the next couple of months.
Amanda has a golden retriever named Laddie and a “mercurial” calico cat named Mona Lisa and interaction with her animals, their feeding, playing, and pet sitting is featured in the narrative as well as the struggles for sales of both her landscapes and pet portraits, with the mystery the other third of the novel. I’m thinking that was part of my problem with this one, the third in the series. My first.
Several high school students are poisoned at the art fair and a few days later there is a death, which becomes her focus when not dealing with the other two. I could not relate well to Amanda and felt few of the support characters stood out. Dialogue was awkward at times, but worse (for me) was the excessive description of minutia.
While the novel was well-plotted, I found the pace slow and had difficulty retaining interest. I just couldn’t get immersed sufficient to care which character was dog-sitting and I’m not a person looking for recipes at the end. Not a cozy for me, but I’m sure there are many who will enjoy.
I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the publisher and NetGalley and these are my honest thoughts.
Rosepoint Rating: Three point Five Stars
Genre: Cozy Crafts & Hobbies Mystery, Cozy Craft & Hobby Mysteries, Cozy Animal Mystery
Publisher: Campbell and Rogers Press
Print Length: 192 pages
Publication Date: August 5, 2021
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
The Author: An instructor at five colleges over the years, Paula Darnell most often taught the dreaded first-year English composition classes, but she’s also been happy to teach some fun classes, such as fashion design, sewing, and jewelry making. Paula has a Bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Iowa, Iowa City, and a Master’s degree in English from the University of Nevada, Reno.
Like Laurel, the main character in Death by Association, Paula enjoys all kinds of arts and crafts. Some of her memorable projects include making a hat and a cape to wear to Royal Ascot, sewing wedding gowns for both her daughters, exhibiting her textile and mixed-media artwork in juried art shows, and having one of her jewelry projects accepted for inclusion in Leather Jewelry, published by Lark Books. She sells some of her jewelry and hair accessories in her Etsy shop.
Paula’s interest in DIY craft projects and fashion led to her writing hundreds of articles for print and online national publications.
She is the author of the cozy mystery series, DIY Diva Mysteries, and a historical mystery, The Six-Week Solution. Her new cozy mystery series, Fine Art Mysteries, is in the works for 2021.
Paula lives in Las Vegas, Nevada, with her husband Gary and their 110-pound dog Rocky, whose favorite pastime is lurking in the kitchen, hoping for a handout.
©2021 V Williams