NIGHTSHADE ON ELM STREET
A Flower Shop Mystery


By Kate Collins

Obsidian, 2012 ($7.99)

ISBN-13: 978-0-451-23850-4

Reviewed by Shirley Wetzel

Abby Knight's plate is full to overflowing. She's running Bloomer's, her successful flower shop, planning her wedding to hunky Marco, also planning the wedding shower, and attempting to keep both his and her mother out of it. When her ex-fiancé, wealthy attorney Pryce Osborne, asks for help in finding his latest fiancée, Melissa, she urges Marco to turn down the request. Their private investigation company has plenty of business, they don't need that of a man who broke her heart.

When her slightly ditzy cousin Jillian, who is married to Pryce's brother, pleads with her, and twists her arm, she finally agrees. Jillian and her husband were part of the house party at the Osborne beach "cottage" from which Melissa disappeared. Also in the party were Pryce, his broker/neighbor and dipsomaniac wife, a local restaurant mogul and her deadbeat husband. Trying to get the truth out of this motley crew is like pulling teeth, and nasty secrets and unpleasant truths are uncovered along the way.

Abby is a take-charge kind of gal, and it drives her nuts that her mother-in-law-to-be is turning Blossoms into an Italian restaurant and that her own mother keeps bringing her atrocious art projects to the store to be sold. She hates that Jillian is trying to make her over, urging her to wear ruffles, upswept hairdo, and mile-high heels. Even her employees want to lend a hand with the shower, when all she wants is for them to leave her alone to do everything, including solving the case of the disappearing fiancée and a murder. To no one's surprise but hers, she can't.

Abby is a charming, gutsy, resourceful woman, but it is nice to see her calm down and chill out a bit by the end of the story. She needs to save her strength with that wedding coming up, after all. Both moms are wonderful characters who adore their children. Marco is a dream man, and Abby is actually grateful to Pryce and his snooty parents for rejecting her so that she could find him. This is the thirteenth Flower Shop mystery, and it is an engaging and colorful addition to the series.

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