Filled with skillful suspense, humor and even romantic tension, author Kate Collins keeps the plot and plants fresh in NIGHT OF THE LIVING DANDELION, the 11th installment in her Flower Shop Mystery series.
"Collins’s irony over the vampire craze adds another layer of enjoyment to a book with characters who are somehow both extreme and believable."
After she flunked out of law school, Abby Knight bought flower shop and café Bloomers in small town northern Indiana and is barely managing to keep it going in the midst of economic issues. She also puts her natural nosiness to work solving local murders. NIGHT OF THE LIVING DANDELION finds Abby curtailed with crutches from a high heel incident. Maneuvering the crutches and wheelchair around her small shop is challenging but becomes even more so when her fiancé Marco’s friend and employee is accused of being both a vampire and a murderer. Abby and Marco are determined to clear him. In addition to the stress from that, they are keeping their engagement a secret from their ever-present family members, and Marco just received a letter restarting his military active duty. Their time together is ticking away.
Vlad Serban certainly seems to be casting a spell over the women who come into Marco’s bar, Down the Hatch, and several guys are taking issue with him. His love for working at night, his past work experience in a hospital lab, and his secrecy inspire a website proclaiming him to be a vampire. As protests rise, local nursing director Lori Willis is discovered dead. It seems easy for local police to pin this on Vlad, as puncture wounds were found on Lori. But Macro knew Vlad during deadly military missions and trusts him beyond doubt. He and Abby begin talking to everyone who knew the unpopular Lori and uncover blackmail, violence and career-ending secrets.
Abby’s cousin, Jillian, returns as comic relief in this series, this time insisting she is becoming a vampire and eating raw meat. She disappears only to be rescued by Vlad, and Abby does not know what to think about the dark stranger, despite Marco’s trust. But the last thing she wants is to fight with him before he goes on a secret assignment. Abby’s mother and co-workers also provide loving and humorous support on Abby’s capers. The presence of Marco’s troubled brother at the bar adds conflict and possibly sets up the next book in the series. Even while engaged, the romantic tension between Abby and Marco stays exciting.
Readers of Laura Childs’s Tea Shop mysteries or Rosemary Harris’s Dirty Business series will also enjoy the Flower Shop novels, which weave in good plotting and characters. Collins’s irony over the vampire craze adds another layer of enjoyment to a book with characters who are somehow both extreme and believable.
Reviewed by Amy Alessio on August 25, 2011