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Gold Rush Fever in Poppyville

9780451476906Marigolds for Malice is the third book in the Enchanted Garden Mystery series. Elliana Allbright is still running her perfume and aromatherapy shop, Scents and Nonsense, in Poppyville, California. The scent-related empathy that allows her to create custom essential oil blends to benefit her clients is developing more and more, and business is booming. She loves her work, her tiny house, her friends, and her small town. In late March, the Enchanted Garden behind the shop is burgeoning, filled with spring blooming plants and the tender green shoots of new growth between the tiny fairy tableaus and gnome doors. Better yet, Ritter Nelson is returning from his research project in the Alaskan tundra, so her love life is about to pick up in a big way.

So, life is better than good … until another murder throws a wrench into things.

Ellie’s women’s business group, the Greenstockings, have been putting the finishing touches on the Heritage House Gold Rush museum. It’s housed in a small log cabin that’s been restored and moved to the park behind the library. Retired Berkeley history professor, Eureka Sanford, has a special interest in the Gold Rush, and is helping out. As the group sifts through items to put on display, they discover a time capsule from the mid-1800s. Inside are several artifacts from Poppyville’s Gold Rush heyday, including a gold nugget the size of an orange and the picture of a woman who could have been Ellie’s identical twin. There is also a mysterious manuscript that appears to be much older and doesn’t seem to be related to the other contents of the time capsule.

The manuscript, soon dubbed the Xavier manuscript, is written in several alphabets and is in a language no one understands. Eureka Sanford knows it’s rare and valuable, but Ellie senses something more about it. When she goes to find out more, she discovers Eureka dead in the museum, and the contents of the time capsule missing.

The last thing Ellie wants is to go up against Detective Max Lang in another murder investigation, but this time the chief of police is heading the investigation. He’s a busy man, though, and Ellie doesn’t quite trust that he’s giving the case the proper amount of attention. So in the interest of justice for Eureka – and finding the Xavier manuscript, which seems to hold a key to her own past and strange scentual abilities – Ellie starts asking questions.

The other members of the Greenstockings want the professor’s killer found as soon as possible, and of course Ellie’s best friend, Astrid Moneypenny wants to help. However, she’s a little distracted by her latest beau, a newcomer who makes Ellie’s hackles rise. Maria Canto, the town librarian, isn’t a member of the business group, but she was close to Eureka and works closely with Ellie to discover the truth. Between the locals and the out-of-towners who came to see the contents of the time capsule there are plenty of suspects. And between family dynamics, a gold nugget worth six figures, and a connection to the past, there are plenty of motives between them.

The book includes recipes for Astrid’s Chocolate Crinkle Cookies and Ellie’s Oatmeal Milk Bath. Next up is Cookies and Clairvoyance, the eighth in the Magical Bakery Mystery series that I write as Bailey Cates. For more information about my books, please visit www.baileycattrell.com.