By Vikki Walton
Backyard Farming Mystery Series #1
Morewellson, LTD, 2018
Finally healing after her heart-breaking divorce, Anne Freemont is ready to put the painful past behind her.
Discovering an old Victorian for sale in the small mountain town of Carolan Springs may be just what she needs. The beauty of Colorado beckons, so Anne heads west to start her new life.
Yet, before Anne’s completely settled in, her neighbor is found dead in his compost pile. What’s worse is that Anne’s quirky young neighbor, Kandi Jenkins, could be the killer. When Kandi begs for her help, Anne feels she has no choice but to help the young woman.
However, she finds herself quickly at odds with the local sheriff. And while she uncovers more of the community’s secrets, she’s also exploring her awakening feelings for Sam Powers, the town’s deputy coroner.
Once Anne starts looking at who could be the real killer, the suspect list keeps getting longer and longer. It seems that Carolan Springs is a place of many secrets. But who would want to murder Ralph and who’s willing to kill again to keep their secret?
I had no idea what to expect when I picked up this book, but was intrigued enough by the cover and description to try this new-to-me author, and I’m so glad I did! Chicken Culprit is uniquely different from other cozy mysteries that I’ve read and I love Vikki Walton’s fresh voice and style. With this first book in her homesteading series, she has created a setting and community of characters that feel real and I’m very eager for more. In short, Chicken Culprit is a story with lots of heart and it goes on my favorites list.
The author’s writing flows smoothly across the page, with a ready wit that I enjoyed. Carolan Springs, Colorado, has a small-town feel that is beautifully conveyed. Whether it was Anne’s Victorian house, Kandi’s home next door, or Hope’s medical practice in the town, I was quickly transported into the Carolan Springs community. I wasn’t familiar with the theme of homesteading, or backyard farming, and found it fascinating as well as informative.
The well-crafted mystery had an emotional touch and, like Anne, I pretty much suspected everybody and loved how it all unfolded. But the strength of this story is one of character depth and relationships, setting it apart from most typical cozy mysteries. Anne is a strong and appealing protagonist with a compelling backstory. And Kandi, her sweet neighbor who can’t help interjecting the word “like” into almost every sentence, is absolutely precious. The friendship between these two drives the story, making it unforgettable. There’s one scene that I found especially moving – the town’s welcome party for Anne.
I enjoyed everything about Chicken Culprit, a real gem in the cozy mystery genre, and am eager for more stories.
I received a copy of this book through Great Escapes Tours. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.
Vikki Walton is a suburban homesteader aka the Havensteader. She has chickens, gardens, and bees and is a certified permaculture designer. She’s also the author of nonfiction books.
She loves to travel, is a global house and pet sitter and when not out in the garden or hiking in beautiful Colorado, is plotting her next mystery.
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