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Farm Fresh Murder: 11/22/17
Farm Fresh Murder by Paige Shelton is the first of the Farmers' Market mystery series. Becca Robins is an organic farmer who spends her time either on her land or at the farers' market. That is until she discovers the body of one of the other local farmers.
Becca makes the discovery in the first chapter, practically on the first page of the book. It's all rather sudden and jarring. There's no establishment of anything — just farmers' market, boom, murdered person.
Usually in a mystery — especially in the first of a new series, time is taken to introduce the main character, their occupation, their supporting group of either friends or family, or to give an explanation by they are somewhere new, cut off form kith and kin. Then the supporting characters for the particular book are introduced.
Next up a conflict is established — some reason for the person to be murdered. It could be that they are an unlikable person. Maybe they own something valuable. Maybe they've seen something they shouldn't. Maybe they were unfaithful.
I realize that the mystery — especially the cozy — sounds formulaic but the formula sets up a series of expectations — an unspoken contract that the reader and the book have. It's not that every piece of the formula has to be followed in a specific order or even at all, but they are good shortcuts, when establishing a new series.
Farm Fresh Market lacks most of these conventions. Sure some mysteries seem to take forever to get to the murder (using up a third of the book, or roughly one hundred pages of a three hundred page book) on side plots, the things that the main character is supposed to be doing before their life is once again interrupted by an untimely death. I know, I know, I've complained in the past about mysteries taking too long to get started. But this book is just the opposite. It jumps right into killing someone off, and I don't even know the person yet. He's just dead and I'm like, so?
The rest of the book suffers from the strange timing. There's a lot of time wasted on Becca going back and forth across the different farms to look at stuff and talk to people. Since none of them were established at the get-go, it's impossible to remember who everyone is, or even care how the were related to or associated with the deceased.
Having read reviews of the second book in the series, I see others complaining about continuing timing issues. With that in mind, I won't be pursuing the second book.