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by Kate Collins
Obsidian, April 2011
336 pages
ISBN: 0451233018

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

In her previous mystery-solving adventure, florist Abby Knight sprained her ankle. This is, as anyone who has done the same, not life-threatening but most certainly a pain in the posterior. Trying to run a store while on crutches is no picnic, no matter how willing the help. Complicating her life are two things, both connected to her boyfriend, bar owner Marco Salvare. First of all, he's more than a boyfriend: they are engaged. Only one other person knows that, Abby's roommate. The second item is that he is being recalled to active duty . . . soon.

While Marco is gone, a buddy of his is going to be running the bar. Vlad from Romania, an army pal who draws women like flies. Vlad, who orders a lot of unusual plants from Abby. Vlad, who looks (and kind of acts) like a vampire.

This doesn't really present a serious problem until Lori Willis is found dead, exsanguinated, with two small holes in her jugular. The police leap to the blatantly obvious conclusion that Vlad is the killer, and don't do any more than a cursory investigation. Abby leaps into the fray. First of all, Marco is investigating and she won't let him do it without her. Secondly, if Vlad is in jail, who is going to run the bar while Marco is gone?

It turns out that Lori Willis had more than a few people upset with her. So motive isn't hard to find. Most of those same people had the opportunity, and the means. Why are the police ignoring all these suspects? Why is Vlad making it so very easy to believe that he IS a vampire?

This is the eleventh in the Flower Shop Mystery series. Collins knows her characters, knows how to give enough back-story without boring the reader. She can plot as well as anyone. There are amusing moments in this book. She's not Tolstoy or Elizabeth George, but she doesn't pretend to be. DANDELION is an amusing cozy with characters most readers will be comfortable with. The whole vampire thing, and how New Chapel reacts to Vlad, is a little much, but not enough to ruin the book. Kudos to Collins for keeping the series interesting and enjoyable.

P.J. Coldren lives in northern lower Michigan where she reads and reviews widely across the mystery genre when she isn't working in her local hospital pharmacy.

Reviewed by P.J. Coldren, February 2011

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