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by Catherine Bruns
Poisoned Pen, October 2022
336 pages
ISBN: 1728253934

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

When her father, Victor Khoury, is found murdered outside his office at Sappy Endings, Leila Khoury returns home to Sugar Ridge, Vermont. She discovers his new will left the family's maple syrup company in her hands to manage.

Leila decides to take a leave of absence from her teaching position in Florida to honor her father's request to manage the company for a year before selling and to search for her father's killer. According to her mother, her dad seemed worried the last few weeks before his death. Currently, Noah Rivers is managing Sappy Endings with the help of Jessica, who runs the café and gift shop. Noah becomes Leila's first suspect since he wants to buy the firm but quickly drops from the list once Leila meets his daughter, Emma, and his mother.

Another suspect surfaces when Leila learns that Wesley Dennison, the son of Victor's original partner in Sappy Endings, approached her father before his murder about needing money. Wesley tries to warn Leila that the person who killed his father years ago is the same individual that killed Victor. Leila is suspicious until police find Wesley's body – another murder victim.

For a short time, Jessica becomes a suspect when Leila uncovers the fact that Jessica loved her father. Despite no encouragement from Victor, Jessica begged him to leave his wife for her.

Then, police, acting on a tip, find the murder weapon in Simon's car. Simon is Leila's brother and a reporter for the local newspaper. Witness accounts report observing an argument between Victor and Simon over money on the day of Victor's death.

Catherine Bruns concocts an intriguing mystery with enough red herrings and twists to keep readers actively engaged in the debut of her Maple Syrup Mystery series. And for the animal lovers who enjoy cozy mysteries, Ms. Bruns introduces an abandoned cat to the mix when Leila and her mother, both animal lovers, adopt a cute, adorable stray Leila names Toast.

§ Ruth Castleberry has worked as an investigator for Pinkerton's, a city desk assistant on the Charlotte News, free-lance writer, marketing/business strategy consultant, competitive intelligence practitioner and digital marketing consultant.

Reviewed by Ruth Castleberry, September 2022

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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