Sunday, March 9, 2014

New Reviews for Farm Fresh and Fatal


From Mystery Scene Magazine and Amazon.

In Judy Hogan’s Farm Fresh and Fatal, a small group of North Carolina vegetable farmers take their organic wares to Riverdell Farmers’ Market. Well, make those wares mostly organic. There are a few outlaws among the crowd, such as Giles, who has raised a genetically altered crop, and Kent, an obnoxious poultry inspector who never saw a hormone additive he didn’t like. While the characters in this mostly easygoing mystery couldn’t exactly be described as eccentric, some are definitely odd—especially the argumentative Herman, who describes himself as a “paleo-conservative.” As a group, they embody a small village of mainly like-minded people, but when Kent is poisoned on market day, the infighting begins. Told from the point-of-view of Penny Weaver, who spends part of the year in Wales, with her Welsh husband, we watch this formerly close-knit group fall apart. This mystery is fascinating for several reasons. One, the personal and political infighting that takes place after a murder are indicative of how society at large functions. Two, although the reader first looks at the community as a whole, individuality quickly emerges. And three—but definitely not last—is the fact that vegetables turn out of be a lot more interesting than we’d ever guessed.

—Betty Webb, Small Press Columnist, Mystery Scene Magazine, Winter 2014

On Amazon: Five stars.

We live in a changing world whose threats are like nothing experienced in another time. Author Judy Hogan crafts a tale that is at once traditional mystery and exploration of ecological themes. The author's intimate knowledge of farming practices and threats shines through in every word, but it's Hogan's finesse with her characters and the crime they must deal with that makes this mystery rise above the rest of the flock.  –Jenny Milchman, Author of Cover of Snow.


5.0 out of 5 stars I could not put this book down!!, February 26, 2014  By Cheryl Green (North Potomac, MD United States)

Penny Weaver and her husband Kenneth Morgan have gotten involved with the neighborhood farmers. They are growing their own lettuce and other vegetables. Now Penny and Leroy will be selling their wares at the new local Riverdell Farmers’ Market. The first market the rains came down and they met all the people selling their goods. The second market started with Penny and Leroy opening the market so the farmers could get set up. Then the board members and the county Poultry agent, Kent Berryman, started fighting because Sibyl Kidd did not get the selling spot she wanted. A lot of pushing and shoving and George moved his plants next to Penny. The market manager, Nora, is making sure this is the last time Kent will be at the market. The third market had Penny and Leroy opening again and hoping all the farmers would abide by the rules. Kent showed up even though he was told to stay away, Nora spots him and tells him to leave or the sheriff will be called. She sets up her stand which includes punch. The sale of the punch will go to buying an ad for the farmers’ market in the local newspaper. That night the Sheriff pays Penny a visit. It seems Kent Berryman is dead. He was poisoned. He got sick right after leaving the farmers’ market. Let’s hope Penny finds the killer before the Riverdell farmers’ market is closed for good.

Things to ponder: What was Kent talking so intently about to Abbie at the first Riverdell famers’ market? Will Penny ever approve of any of Sarah’s boyfriends? Will Penny and Kenneth figure out how to split their time between North Carolina and Wales? Who poisoned the punch?

This was the first book I have read by author Judy Hogan. I can honestly tell you – it will not be my last. The story pulls you right from the beginning. The author brings together a quirky band of characters with only a farmers’ market in common. Penny Weaver is a great protagonist. She likes to find out why things happen and doesn’t let anything stop her. This was a fast-paced fun read. I could not put this book down - I needed to know whodunit. So if you like your mystery with an organic taste, then you should be reading Farm Fresh and Fatal.

I received this title for free in exchange for an honest review.


Four stars:  

Judy Hogan presents a mystery with an exciting and surprising final twist, entertaining and highly individualistic characters, and insights into issues facing farmers’ markets today. Knowledgeable as she obviously is about the rewards and pitfalls of such community endeavors, she uses the market setting as a backdrop and keeps the mystery in the foreground.
--Carolyn Mulford, author of Show Me the Deadly Deer.


Here is the photo of real vegetables from Rocky River Farm (photo in last blog) at the Pittsboro Farmers Market several years ago (2008).  I sent it to Mainly Murder Press to help design the cover above.


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