To Catch a Leaf by Kate Collins.
I was struck by the parallels between this book and the one I reviewed last week on Stuff and Nonsense, The Language of Flowers. Both feature a florist as a main character, and both of the plots heavily rely upon communications using flowers as a code.
But those are the only similarities between the two. Abby Knight, the florist who is the protagonist of the Flower Shop Mysteries, lives and works in the small town of New Chapel, Indiana where she grew up. She and Marco Salvare, owner of Down the Hatch, a bar and grill down the street from her flower shop, Bloomers have recently announced their engagement, and Marco's mother is pestering them to let her help with the wedding plans.
Followers of Abby's adventures will know that she's an amateur sleuth, and is learning the finer points of private investigation from Marco, who is licensed as a P.I. Abby's aficionados will also know that Bloomers business space also houses a Victorian tea parlor run by English ex-pat Grace Bingham.
Grace leaves the shop to have lunch with a friend one day, and doesn't return. She finally contacts Abby to tell her that she'd arrived at her friend's home and discovered that she'd fallen down the basement stairs and died.
Grace is certain that Constance was actually pushed down the stairs by one of the ne'er-do-well relatives that live with her. The police eventually confirm that Constance was murdered, but Grace becomes their prime suspect. Her lawyer hires Marco (and by extension, Abby) to investigate.
The twelfth installment in this series is as fresh and interesting as the first (Mum's the Word, 2004). Abby's shop, brand new in the opening book, has made a profit for the first time. Though Abby is still outspoken and impulsive, she really has matured since the series began. With any luck, we readers will be able to accompany Abby as she gets married and becomes a full-fledged investigator.
*FTC Full Disclosure: Many thanks to the publisher, who sent me a copy of the book for review purposes.