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Farm to Trouble: 05/08/21
Farm to Trouble by Amanda Flower is the start of the Farm to Table mystery series. Shiloh Bellamy has returned home to her failing family farm after fifteen years of a successful career in Hollywood as a producer.
Set in fictional Cherry Glenn, a small farming town near Traverse City, Michigan, it's not only Bellamy farm that has seen better times. Shiloh has carelessly gotten herself and her family farm embroiled in a deal with an unscrupulous developer who has been buying up the town.
Before Shiloh even sees a penny from him, she finds the developer murdered. She and her elderly father are now the prime suspects. Shiloh needs to clear their names before she can begin trying to save the farm.
I've been reading Amanda Flower's novels since her debut, Maid of Murder (2010). While I have read every single book, I've read enough to see a marked change in tone for this series. In the other books and series I've read, Flower's characters tend to be young and optimistic even when facing challenges and solving murders.
Shiloh Bellamy is thirty-eight, while still younger than I am by ten years, she's had a career and has decided it's time to go home. She spends much of this first volume feeling defeated by the enormity of the task before her. She also has to face the reality that her eighty-something year old father has become frail during her time away. There is also the fact that half of the original farm has already been sold off, so her half may very well be headed to a similar fate.
With her age, her experience, and her loss (a fiancé), Shiloh reminds me of Merry Wynter of the Merry Muffin series by Victoria Hamilton. The only difference between the two is that Merry has had more time to come to terms with with twists and turns of her life and has put together a support team in the form of a found family. Shiloh in a book or two will get there too.