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Book Review: Acts of Violets by Kate Collins

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Snuggles the Clown has been murdered! Worse: Abby Knight’s boyfriend – tough guy bar owner, ex-cop, and private eye, Marco Salvare – has been accused of the murder. Now Abby has to pull out of the stops with her team of flower shop amateur snoops to find out the real deal before Marco ends up in the clink for good! Or before Marco’s ex-flame ignites an old love torch!

Acts of Violets is the fifth entry in author Kate Collins’s delightful amateur sleuth series. The heroine is Abby Knight, a college drop-out turned flower shop owner. Although Bloomers isn’t exactly the Batcave and her two employees (Grace and Lottie) aren’t exactly Robin and Alfred, Abby has managed to solve four previous cases involving murder.

As always, despite the fact that murder is involved, the book's tone is kept light and just left of wacky. Abby puts me in mind of Janet Evanovitch’s New Jersey bounty hunter Stephanie Plum. Like Stephanie, Abby has a strange family that won’t stay out of her business or personal life. Her mother is an artist who creates the most awful statues ever imagined. In this book, Abby also has to confront Mama Salvare, Marco’s pushy mother, and the power struggle between the two women is fun to watch and realistic.

Abby wouldn’t ever have been involved in the murder if her boyfriend hadn’t tried to take up for her against the clown. During the local Pickle Fest (a truly huge homegrown affair filled with traditions), Snuggles ends up threatening Abby after a near-mishap because she’s always had a fear of clowns. Marco can’t leave things alone, though, and slips off to have a quiet word with the clown.

Before everything is said and done, Snuggles is dead and even Marco’s cop buddies agree that he’s the prime candidate for a lead suspect. Throw in the fact that Marco had trouble with the clown while he was back on the force, and you’ve got a long-standing feud that might just put Marco in prison.

Abby can’t have that. She hasn’t quite figured out what to do with Marco (and knows even less with his mom on the scene), but she doesn’t want him locked away forever either. She also doesn’t want Marco’s old girlfriend Trina granted any conjugal visits.

I’ve read earlier books in the series and enjoyed them. Abby Knight is usually a delightful heroine, full of spunk and off-the-wall ideas. Plus, it’s funny to watch her start to meddle in something even after she’s decided not to. But in this book Abby seems less confident than she ever has. Collins errs on the side of making Abby too much of a worrywart to amp up the stakes in the book. They were just fine without all the additional fretting.

I love the series’ ancillary characters. Calm, cool Grace is – literally –grace under fire. Nothing ruffles her fathers or catches her off-stride, no matter what the world-shattering-event. Lottie – with her gigantic sons to double-down as workhorses and bodyguards – is as humorous and insightful as always.

Acts of Violets is another fine addition to what looks like will be a long-lived series in the cozy mystery field. My wife and I both read the books and enjoy them a lot. We’re looking for it to Kate Collins’s next book, A Rose from the Dead, coming out in December 2007.

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About Mel Odom

  • http://philobiblon.co.uk Natalie Bennett

    This article has been selected for syndication to Advance.net , which is affiliated with newspapers around the United States, and to Boston.com. Nice work!