A day in the life with Cam Flaherty by Edith Maxwell

Hi there. Cam Flaherty here. I’m a small farmer, a tall independent businesswoman, and so far my organic Attic Hill Farm tucked in the northeast corner of Massachusetts has been doing pretty well. I’ve been selling veggies, herbs, and small fruit for a year now, and I have a loyal following of customers. But May is a crazy busy time, as you can imagine. I have a zillion seedlings to plant out in the fields now that the frost-free date is past. I need to harvest asparagus, rhubarb, and scallions, start more seedlings, weed the potato field, and much more.

So I definitely don’t need my quirky, peripatetic academic parents hanging around my farm and the small town of Westbury where it’s located. One town in from the coast, two towns south of New Hampshire, as I like to tell prospective customers. But they said they wanted to come visit on their way to their summer anthropology research site abroad, so what could I do?

How my mom got herself involved in a public protest against a new hydroponic farmer is anybody’s guess, but it just added to my headache when the farmer turned up dead – and I found her. Then my gangly, intellectual, and entirely unhandy dad decided to “help” out on the farm. His help ended up doubling my work. When I got home from telling the police about poor Nicole, Dad proudly showed me the pile of “weeds” he’d pulled up. Yeah, those were my month-old sweet pea shoots.

Anyway, things only went downhill from there. A suspicious couple from out of town, a spurned lover, someone lurking around my barn, and an attack at a vacation house got all mixed in with the Memorial Day parade – small town at its best – a couple of secrets from my mom’s past, and the everyday work of a farmer.

Giveaway: My author says she’ll give away a signed hardcover edition of Mulch Ado About Murder to a commenter here, so ask her a question! She loves talking to readers.  US entries only, please. The giveaway ends May 26, 2017. Good luck everyone!

Now, back to that potato patch.

You can read more about Cam in Mulch Ado About Murder, the fifth book in the “Local Foods” mystery series.

It’s been a hot, dry spring in Westbury, Massachusetts. As organic farmer Cam Flaherty waits for much-needed rain, storm clouds of mystery begin to gather. Once again, it’s time to put away her sun hat and put on her sleuthing cap . . .

May has been anything but merry for Cam so far. Her parents have arrived unexpectedly and her crops are in danger of withering away. But all of that’s nothing compared to the grim fate that lies in store for one of her neighbors. Nicole Kingsbury is the proud owner of the town’s new hydroponic greenhouse. She claims the process will be 100% organic, but she uses chemicals to feed her crops. To Cam’s surprise, her mother embarrasses her by organizing a series of loud public protests against Nicole’s operation.

When Nicole is found dead in a vat of hydroponic slurry—clutching another set of rosary beads—Detective Pete Pappas has a new murder to solve. Showers may be scarce this spring, but there’s no shortage of suspects, including the dead woman’s embittered ex‑husband, the Other Man whose affair ruined their marriage, and Cam’s own mother. Lucky for Cam, her father turns out to have a knack for sleuthing—not to mention dealing with chickens. Will he and Cam be able to clear Mrs. Flaherty’s name before the killer strikes again?

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About the author
National best-selling author Edith Maxwell is a 2017 double Agatha Award nominee for her historical mystery Delivering the Truth and her short story, “The Mayor and the Midwife.” She writes the Quaker Midwife Mysteries and the Local Foods Mysteries. As Maddie Day she writes the Country Store Mysteries and the Cozy Capers Book Group Mysteries. Her award-winning short crime fiction has appeared in a dozen juried anthologies, and she serves as President of Sisters in Crime New England.

Maxwell writes, cooks, gardens north of Boston with her beau and three cats. She blogs at Wicked Cozy Authors, Killer Characters, and with the Midnight Ink authors. Find her at edithmaxwell.com and elsewhere.

All comments are welcomed.

53 responses to “A day in the life with Cam Flaherty by Edith Maxwell

  1. Jody McGrath

    Well this sound absolutely hilarious! You seem to know a lot about organic farming. Do you hobby farm or more? Or were you able to bring out such amazingly rich detail with only research?

  2. This is my ‘usual’ 1st question:
    Who was your celebrity crush???
    Thank you for the giveaway….

  3. Christi King

    Since you write multiple series and they are all so different, I’m sure there are times when the creative process overlaps. How do you keep all of them straight? I enjoy the local foods series and am looking forward to reading this new book!

    • I do my best to work on one book at a time Christi. And the characters are all so real to me I truly don’t get them confused. Thanks for loving the series.

  4. This sounds great.
    What was your inspiration behind the organic farming theme?

  5. The reason I do not garden is that I am more like the Dad in this story. I go to farmer’s markets instead.

  6. That works for me, Gram! I get half my produce from a local farm stand, myself – things like corn, potatoes, and other things I don’t have room (or energy) to grow in my small garden.

  7. I want to make sure everybody knows they are invited to my fifth birthday party for this series next week! You could win a signed hardcover complete set of the books, and twelve authors will be joining me with giveaways, too. https://www.facebook.com/events/1513998715337207/

  8. This sounds like a hoot!
    Thank you for putting a new book in my TBR pile 🤓
    Kelly Braun

  9. kat87622017

    I love this book…do you garden? Have you tried any natural gardening techniques like organics or hydroponics? What research did you do?

    • I have had an organic garden since I was in college (a long time ago), and had a small organic farm twenty-five years ago – when I wrote the first draft of the first book in this series!

  10. Your books and writing give me a great deal of entertainment and pleasure. What travel do you enjoy?

    • Thanks so much, Ellie! I have traveled and lived overseas a great deal in my past: Brazil, Japan, France, Mali, Burkina Faso, and elsewhere. These days I mostly go to mystery conference – New Orleans last September, Toronto this October – which is a fun way to see new places. I still want to get to Italy and Australia, though.

  11. Hi, I am a longtime reader and a Beverly resident. I thoroughly enjoy placing the fictional places in the real life spots. I can’t think of a question, just wanted to say thank you for your wonderful books!! Thanks!

  12. Kit Johnston

    This was my dream life and two daughters and one granddaughter are working at it but happily no murders to solve tho that would be exciting.

  13. Doward Wilson

    I love this series & have read it from the beginning. It gives us wonderful murder plots & so much info on organic farming that you can’t help but be pulled into the story.

  14. Barbara Hackel

    What an attractive cover. I have on read a couple books in this series, but I can’t wait to read this one!! I think the “helpful” parents are a riot. Are these characters reflective of your own Edith?😁 60 years ago my grandmother was all about organic gardening, long before it became popular. I remember the loving care that went into her produce! Glad to have a series about such happy memories, even if I can’t recall any murders or mysteries.😝
    Thanks Edith for your generous offer. Thanks Dru Ann for another good blog!😊

  15. I love the series and wish we had the green thumbs that your farmer does. We can’t even plant window boxes of herbs without them dying within 3 months of planting. We buy grown plants at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden sale every year and transplant them into large boxes. They are watered when the soil gets dry and use plant food. siiiiigh. I’m pretty sure when the Apocalypse arrives we’ll have to have friends who can grow the food.

    I own the first two books in the series and would be thrilled to add this one to my collection.

  16. peggy clayton

    I love all of the books that you write and would be excited to start this series also with this book, As you know i am disabled but we do organic gardening and would love to read for tips and also your humor. I do have a raised garden right outside the door that he did for me and the pups and i go out and tend to it. Can’t wait for fresh homegrown vegis we have the asparagus right now but all of the others that make a salad. peggy Clayton

  17. Jody McGrath

    Ms. Maxwell, I already asked a question above, but the silliest/dumbest question came to mind and I thought I would throw it out there.

    Cam and her folks are in the potting shed, when suddenly zombies attack. (I know. I did prewarn you though.) Knowing their personalities, as only you can, what weapon from the shed would each person choose? Or would they choose not to fight and to do something completely different?

  18. I’m afraid I can’t even handle the thought of zombies, Jody! And you’re plotting a whole new book. What do you think they would do?

  19. Ah, you have to love your well meaning family…even when you’d like to kill them!

  20. Merry Chapman

    I have loved all of your series, both those under your name and those under Maddie Day. I love the organic farm series and can’t wait to read this new one! At one time in my life, this city girl had a farm complete with vegetable garden (I would kill them all if not for my husband), a couple of goats, sheep and two cows. I learned to bale and stack hay and was probably my strongest and healthiest at that time! It was a great experience for my daughters and taught them how they can be self-sufficient if needed. My question to you is…to get your farming details so well written in your stories, have you actually farmed? All your series are so well put together as to details, I feel you must be a super-woman or super-sleuth! Keep them coming!

  21. Julie Fetcho

    What do you like to do in your spare time when you are not writing?

    • In the summer I have a modest vegetable garden that makes me happy. I read mysteries, do crossword puzzles, and an enjoy a glass of wine – often at the same time! I also like cooking, thus the recipes in all my series excpe the Quaker Midwife mysteries..

  22. Amanda Wilcox

    How do you choose character names?
    Thanks for the giveaway!!!

    • Great question, Amanda. First, I try not to have anybody in one book whose names start with the same letter, at least within a gender, so my readers don’t get confused. Then I cast around for a name. The feel and shape of it (that’s shape in my mind) have to fit the character. The name should be as unique as I can make it. Not match any famous person. Be consistent with the person’s ethnicity. And so on. Not easy!

  23. Have you kept up wit the rules and regulations for organic farming?

    • Not in detail, no, Mary. My farm was certified back in 1990-95 or so, and I know about the new guidelines and such, but I didn’t need to delve into the particulars for this series.

  24. I love the sound of this book. I don’t have a garden, but I do go to Farmer’s Markets. Do you need to have to use special soil when starting an organic garden? Looking forward to reading the book.

    • Thanks, Dianne! I needed to have soil tests done to be sure there were no toxins where I was growing, and also to supplement the nutrients. I used a lot of compost, always. One of the principles is to increase the organic matter and not kill off beneficial insects, worms, and microorganisms that increase the health of the soil, leading to the health of the plants.

  25. John Smith

    What a beautiful cover! I love that cat! Hm–let’s ask a question: Which comes first for mystery writers: the pun or the plot?

    • For me, because I am terrible at titles, it’s the plot, John. I sometimes outsource titles to my author friends. Some people are just great at titles! But I agree about the cover. Artist Robin Moline has done all of them, and she’s brilliant.

  26. What is the most exotic locale you have used or would like to for your series?

    • I wouldn’t call either northeastern MA or southern IN exotic. But I have set a short story partly in Japan, where I lived for two years, and I’d love to set something in Mali or Burkina Faso in West Africa, where I also lived!

  27. elainehroberson

    Love the cover.

  28. Haha I love the Title. That’s great and the book sounds really good. 🙂

  29. Marilyn Watson

    My question would be how do you organize your day in writing? Morning or night? And do you set a word limit. I am always fascinated by how people organize…The Book sounds great and I am another that would love to read it.
    Marilyn ewatvess@yahoo.com

  30. **** WINNER ****
    Mulch Ado About Murder by Edith Maxwell is cyn209