A Sticky Situation
By Jessie Crockett
A Sugar Grove Mystery
Berkley Prime Crime
294 pages, paperback
In the third book of Jessie Crockett’s Sugar Grove Mysteries, trouble arrives in threes. About the same time Dani Greene’s eccentric Aunt Hazel comes to town for the Sugar Grove Maple Festival, Dani is called to the basement of town hall by Russ Collins, a contractor, who excels in making excuses and not working, to point out what he uncovered in the coal bin. Town Hall is the site of a former Opera House. The restoration was subsidized by Greener Pastures, the long-established Greene Family business. Russ finds a skeleton and soon the police come to the scene. The restoration comes to a halt, then word is Dani’s cousin, Jade, spoiled and perfect in every way, has purchased the old, vacant, general store in town. She works quickly to renovate the building and make it a sap wine winery. Not only is she going to pump the family’s maple tree sap for free, she’s taking over Dani’s room, as well. She’ll be interfering with sap collection for Greener Pasture’s maple syrup production and invading Dani’s privacy.
Knowing Tansey was affected by the news of the recently found remains, Dani speaks with Doc to learn why and finds out a drifter, who came to town 30 years ago, did odd jobs at Tansey’s home. His name was Gaylord, but everyone called him “Spooner” because he had a special way of playing spoons. He also got the attention of a lot of town women and because of that was not trusted.
One day after the festival, all the money raised was stolen. Because Spooner was nowhere to be found, they pinned the crime on him. There went Tansey’s opportunity for happiness and the future of the baby she was carrying. Tansey asks Dani to investigate because she’s the police chief’s goddaughter and “her” renovation project unearthed the dead man’s remains. Any help clearing Spooner’s name would be greatly appreciated.
A Sticky Situation gives you a taste of how maple syrup is produced. It introduces a tight-knit family that doesn’t fit into any character building model. They are who they want to be and that’s all that matters. I adored all but the spoiled cousin, but she did show a sign of maturity later on in the book. As for the long deceased, recently found young man, I really felt for him. Only his killer knew he was dead and to go thirty years without being found and believed to be a criminal, I can’t see him resting in peace. I’d like to know why the detectives of the past didn’t investigate further. They just assumed he was the guilty party because he disappeared. The storyline was fast paced and edited well, I only wish I read the other two books in the series to find out what led Dani to being an amateur sleuth.
Four out of five maple trees
April 11, 2015