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by Heather Webber
Avon, June 2004
256 pages
ISBN: 0060723475

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

This story commences as Nina places her husband's picture down the garbage disposal. He is a fine-looking man but not a very good guy. A respected police detective, Kevin is no longer welcome in Nina's bed after she learns he was cheating on her.

Nina's teenage stepson Riley also can be a handful. He cuts school occasionally and Nina has concerns about some of his friends. As well, there is his pet snake loose in the house. This theme was particularly well done. I was even looking for the snake! Nina has a tough love approach with Riley that is realistic. She is in his corner even when she does not have to be. Theirs is an interesting relationship.

In A HOE LOT OF TROUBLE, the first mystery in this series, author Heather Webber introduces an inventive and creative theme. In a media saturated with make-overs, this is the garden and landscaping theme. Nina owns a landscaping business called Taken By Surprise, Garden Designs. Her mentor, Farmer Joe Sandowski, died recently under strange circumstances.

The Sandowski family is comprised of Joe's wife, his son Tim and daughter-in-law, Bridget. Bridget and Nina have known each other since kindergarten. How pleased Nina is for Bridget to learn she is pregnant as Tim and Bridget have wanted a baby. Unfortunately the happiness is coupled with the sad occasion of Joe's sickness and then his death.

Nina wants to discover what really happened to Joe. She is able to use her business as a cover and already knows that the Vista View Project was trying to purchase the Sandowski property without success. Is there a connection between Joe's murder and this? Nina knows she is getting closer when she starts being jeopardized and threatened.

Four problems confront Nina. Her unfaithful husband is playing footsy with his work partner. Farmer Joe has been murdered. Riley (her stepson) has had a change in his behavior as well as misplacing his pet snake. Work items (especially hoes) are stolen from the business. Mysteriously, sometimes they are returned.

There is a surprise ending that this reader did not see coming. I enjoyed the format and will anticipate the next book in this series.

Reviewed by Rita Ratacheck, August 2004

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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