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Book Review: Acts of Violets by Kate Collins

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Acts of Violets is the disappointing fifth entry in the Flower Shop mystery series by Kate Collins. The series features florist Abby Knight, who owns the Bloomers flower shop in (fictional) New Chapel, Indiana.

While attending the annual Pickle Fest, Abby is accosted by Snuggles the Clown. Nothing serious transpires, but when Abby mentions it to her boyfriend of several months, ex-cop and part-time private investigator Marco Salvare, he suddenly leaves the area. Abby is convinced that he's off to have a word with Snuggles, but then disappears for a day.

Abby next hears about him when he's called in as a suspect in the death of a man, one Dennis Ryson, also known as Snuggles the Clown. Marco asks Abby to help clear his name: "I need you to do what you do best. Snoop, pry, poke, eavesdrop, meddle – you know, make a nuisance of yourself." And she's off on a one-woman crusade to find the real culprit.

Ryson wasn't the most pleasant man in his neighborhood, and Abby soon narrows down the list of suspects to one of his neighbors. It's at this point in the book that one gets a sense that Collins is simply biding time with Abby, giving her things to do but not moving the story along much. Part of the problem is in the character of Marco and how Abby interacts with him. It's at times an elusive concept to be sure, but there's no chemistry between them. It goes well beyond the doubts Abby may have about their relationship; it's awkward and uncomfortable.

In the end, Collins manages to cleverly link a natural product and the flower in the title to Ryson's murder, but it all seems far too little too late. Acts of Violets is rather harmless reading and mildly entertaining but there are better choices in this genre.

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