Slugfest by Rosemary Harris is the fourth book in the “Dirty Business” mystery series. Publisher: Minotaur Books, April 2011

When Paula Holliday agrees to act as exhibit manager for a reclusive artist she’s expecting a laidback weekend picking up gardening tips. She doesn’t expect to be knee-deep in horticultural sabotage, beheaded gnomes, homicide, and something called The Javits Curse. Then an overeager attendee is found floating in the river and Paula realizes she accidentally holds a clue to his murder—that’s when the garden gloves come off and this flower show turns into a real Slugfest!

This time out Paula is joined by a colorful cast that includes Rolanda “Fort” Knox, a no-nonsense security guard; Guy Anzalone, Brooklyn’s Tumbled Stone King; Jamal Harrington, a high school kid with a black belt and a green thumb; JC Kaufman, a feisty lady who hates leaving home without her weapon of choice; and a slick marketing guy hawking the hottest new product at the show, a foolproof pest repellent that people are dying to get their hands on.

With limited means and her ragtag crew, Paula must solve her toughest mystery yet and root out a killer before she finds herself pushing up daisies.

They always say the first line is the hook and boy did the first line hook me. “Rolanda Knox was formidable.” This cleverly-written and light-hearted story kept my attention from that first line. We are introduced to many characters that are as quirky and eccentric as the city the story takes in. Paula is in the city working the Big Apple Flower Show when a young man approaches her looking to get into the show without a badge. Having been stalled by Rolanda, Paula agrees to hold his backpack. Little does Paula know that that accidental meeting will have her searching for clues when a body is found in the river. Working with security guard Rolanda and bouncing off thoughts with downstairs neighbor JC, Paula will unearth clues to bring this evenly-paced story to a justifiable conclusion. The author had me stumped throughout most of the book and every time I thought I knew who the killer was, the author veered towards a different direction. This is my first book by the author and it certainly won’t be my last and I can’t wait to read the next book in this terrific series.

FTC Full Disclosure – The author sent me an ARC of this book

previously posted on the Cozy Chicks blog

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