‘Blueberry Jam’ offers intriguing new sleuth

Posted March 27, 2010, at 3:14 p.m.

At last, an amateur sleuth based in Maine who is struggling to make ends meet like many residents.

In “Town in a Blueberry Jam,” the Cape Elizabeth team of Beth and Robert Feeman, writing under the pen name of B.B. Hayward, introduce readers to Candy Holliday.

The thirtysomething Candy is from away, but it’s hard to hold that against her. When her marriage falls apart, she moves from Boston to her father Doc’s blueberry farm in Cape Willington, Maine. (It’s somewhere on the coast in Washington County, not that far from Machias.) She creates all manner of items using blueberries, raises hens and even works part time for the beloved local baker. She adds the title of gossip columnist for the local weekly paper in the course of the novel.

You wouldn’t think that she has any time for investigating. But there are strange doings in Cape Willington. First the town’s most famous resident, a former Olympic athlete, falls to his death. Then the newly crowned Blueberry Queen, Sapphire Vine, is blungeoned to death, and Candy’s friend, a simple handyman, is arrested for Vine’s murder.

So Candy decides to look into the crime herself, aided by her friend Maggie Tremont, Doc and his circle of cronies at Duffy’s diner. She quickly finds out that many in town had reason to loathe Sapphire, some enough to kill her. Yet it takes Candy most of the novel to make the connection between the two deaths.

The pair that are Hayward have introduced an interesting cast of characters in a quaint Maine town. It’s not Cabot Cove, and thank God for that. Candy Holliday is an intriguing new sleuth in the lighthearted mystery genre.

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