Pumpkins in Paradise
(Tj Jensen Paradise Lake Mysteries Book 1)
by Kathi Daley
- File Size: 2124 KB
- Print Length: 293 pages
- Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
- ASIN: B00FGCV3JY
My Rating: 3.75 of 5.0
Publication Date: January 17, 2014
Between volunteering for the annual pumpkin festival, and coaching her girls to the state soccer finals, high school teacher Tj Jensen finds her good friend Zachary Collins dead in his favorite chair. When the handsome new deputy closes the case without so much as a “why” or “how,” Tj turns her attention from chili cook-offs and pumpkin carving to complex puzzles, prophetic riddles, and a decades’ old secret she seemed destined to unravel.
Tj Jensen is pretty well settled into her home town of Paradise Lake, working as a high school teacher and coach. She occasionally dreams of finding the right man and, in spite of prior attachments and the hopes of some in town, she knows that she will not get back together with her old high school flame.
As a teen Tj took a dare to inspect the home of the town recluse, Zachary Collins. Over the past ten years or so they had developed a nice friendship even though Zachary never revealed the secrets of his past that led to his bad scars - burn scars on the outside and guilt and regret on the inside. When Tj discovers Zachary dead she also sees evidence that leads her to think that it was other than natural causes or suicide as the local Sheriff is willing to quickly rule. First, there were two glasses so it is clear that had been a visitor. Second, the prized bottle of Scotch is missing.
Tj finds a gift addressed to her and uncovers a puzzle box that is part of a puzzle and code game that she and Zachary would play. She must uncover the clue to one box to find the next clue. As she unravels her clues she thinks perhaps she didn’t know Zachary as well as she thought. Yet she persists, revealing more evidence that Zachary may have been making ‘end of life’ plans but not ones that included suicide.
Tj enlists the help of Dylan, the rugged and handsome new deputy in town. Dylan helps Tj put together the pieces of puzzle while she continues her usual, uncomplicated duties at school, helping at her family’s lodge and in her volunteer activities. One of these duties includes heading a newly formed school choir.
I did enjoy several of the other quirky characters who came to the lodge as strangers but ended up being friends and part of Zachary’s mystery. I also liked the puzzle and code aspect of the story. Some of the background activity is rather mundane and unnecessary to the story. I never was sure of the purpose or direction of the school choir she was roped into leading. Perhaps it is just a set up to other stories in the small town series.
The pumpkin portion of the title seems to be a draw to the time of year as it was not really a special part of the story. The romance is a sweet early friendship for the characters that has not yet moved into a relationship. The plot and characters are not gripping but it is an easy read and I would like to see how the relationship between Tj and Dylan develops in other stories. I recommend this to those who enjoy a light cozy mystery with a light, clean, romance element.
I won this book from the author’s facebook in September.