Vegetables and Vengeance by Agatha Frost

Title: Vegetables and Vengeance (A Peridale Café Cozy Mystery #17)

Author: Agatha Frost

Published on: 23 May 2019

Genre: Cozy Mystery

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Rating: 5 out of 5.

Julia South-Brown is busy juggling her time between trying for a baby, having her adopted daughter Jessie move out and training for the Peridale half marathon. Julia’s neighbor, the owner of Peridale Farm, Ted Coleman is found brutally murder but Julia has no time to spare.

When Ted’s young wife Denise asks Julia to help her out, Julia cannot say no. Denise is decades younger than Ted. Ted’s three sons from his first marriage are giving her a hard time and accusing her of murdering their father. Meanwhile, DI John Christie, hasn’t solved the case yet and he could definitely do with some pointers from Julia.

Vegetables and Vengeance is the 17th book in the Peridale Café Cozy Mystery series by Agatha Frost.

Having followed the series from the start, I must say there is a lot of character development in this story. In the first sixteen books, we saw Julia take in the homeless girl (Jessie), train her to be a baker and finally adopt her. Barker was a new detective in town and with Julia poking her nose into the local murder cases, Barker and Julia fell in love, got married (their first attempt at marriage was ruined by a murder) and are now trying for a baby.

We also saw Jessie meeting her long-lost brother Alfie. Sue, Julia’s younger sister is now a mother of two adorable twins – Pearl and Dotty while Julia’s father Brian became a father again fifteen months ago. In Wedding Cake and Woes, we saw Grandma Dot find love again – she and Percy are getting married soon.

In Red Velvet and Revenge, Julia hears a shocking news – Jessie wants to move out. Though they have been together for two years, Julia is worried about her adopted daughter.

Vegetables and Vengeance is a little different from the usual trend this series has been following so far. For one, Julia wasn’t at the scene of crime when the murder occurred nor did she accidentally discover the body. Second, a week has passed since Julia heard about the murder but she’s too busy to even think about it, forget solving it. Third, Julia’s cafe is closed for renovations! The last time the cafe was closed was when Julia found the remains of Evelyn’s (B&B owner/ tarot reader) daughter in the basement. This time we have the old rusty pipe give away and flood the cafe, forcing Julia to close the cafe for renovation.

I am amazed at the amount of information Agatha frost has included in this story. We have Julia’s marathon training and cafe woes, Jessie’s moving out, Grandma Dot’s “go green protests” and domestic abuse (Denise). Vegetables and Vengeance is surely a new favorite in the Peridale cafe series.

The mystery behind the murders is well-maintained throughout the story. Ted’s three sons had a motive and so did Denise. Though Julia initially trusts Denise, she’s not sure about it later on – we see Denise in a new avatar and Julia wonders if Denise off-ed her husband in a fit of rage.

The twists are plenty and sure to keep the reader hooked on to the story. Multiple angles and reasons to kill Ted come into the limelight and Julia is confused. Can this be the case Julia would never manage to solve? Between her cafe renovation, marathon trying and dieting, Julia has less time to go around sleuthing. But she wants to help, for Denise’s sake.

The identity of the perp was a little shocking. Though I identified them at the same time as Julia’s ‘light bulb moment’, I must say their reason for the murder(s) was unexpected. Another highlight of this story is the emphasis on domestic abuse. Though Denise, the author has described how violence at ‘home’ can mold and change a person.

Vegetables and Vengeance is a completely engrossing mystery. Highly recommended for cozy fans.

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