Natural Thorn Killer

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 27 Apr 2018

Member Reviews

Thank you to the publisher and the author, for an ARC of this book, in exchange for an honest review.
I thought it was a great start to a new cozy mystery series.
It was fast paced, had great characters and the floral design shop setting was very interesting.
I can’t wait to read the next book in the series
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Great start to this new series. Britta has moved back home to and decides to help her Aunt at the flower store as she opens a new addition. Just as they are gearing up for the grand opening they find a dead body in the shop with them being the main suspects. Well of course she has to start asking question to find out what really happened. Instead she find a bunch of secrets and puts herself in danger. The identity of the killer was a nice surprise. This book is a pleasant combination of personality, flower details, murder clues, and more all placed until an eclectic small town to give it a nice flair. I highly recommend it to fans of cozy mysteries that have a floral flair to them. I really enjoyed it so I give it 5/5 stars.
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A fun first in series. If you're a fan of this author's other cozy mysteries then you won't be disappointed. A fast paced mystery with an interesting setting. The characters were engaging and I can't wait to see what happens to them in the next book in this series! The author delivers a well planned cozy where you will be guessing until the very end!
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A welcome new series by a familiar author, Set in Dyer-Seeley favorite Pacific Northwest area. the Blooma shop where Britta lands after returning to town is a great setting. Aunt Elin is a good character, and one worth saving when she might be a suspect.
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This is a new series by Kate Dyer Seeley.  Its centered on a floral shop in Portland and the main character comes back to help her aunt run it after leaving her unhappiness in her relationship behind. The main character, Britta, has a gift in creating beautiful floral arrangements, and everything about designing flowers is just what she needed--until a dead body shows up in her aunt's flower shop.  Now she must deal with a cop eager to pin it on her and her aunt, plus hold the business together and turn out orders for their customers, as well as reconcile her own personal crossroads she has arrived at with the support of her aunt.  An intriguing read into what the daily tasks and maintenance are of a flower shop plus a cozy whodunit.
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Natural Thorn Killer:  A Rose City Mystery
By Kate Dyer-Seeley
April 2018

Review by Cynthia Chow

Britta Johnston used to find her moment of Zen when working amidst flowers, allowing her creative vision to flow through her as she created beautiful, customized arrangements.  She sacrificed her passion for floral artistry in order to support her selfish husband, and when it is ironically a bouquet that exposes his philandering, Britta leaves him to return to her beloved home of Portland, Oregon.  Riverplace Village is the location of Blomma, her Aunt Ellin’s unique flower and wine shop that continues to uphold the traditions carried over from Sweden.  Britta barely has a chance to settle back into the fulfilling floral world before she encounters Frank Jaffe, a developer intent on buying the village and converting it into luxury condos.  When the lecherous businessman is found murdered in Blomma’s adjacent cottage house, the pair of engraved shears in his chest place Ellin first on the suspect list.

At least it’s a rather long list, with most of the Riverplace shop owners having good reason for wanting Frank dead.  His own nephew seems more than eager to take over the business, and a personal assistant is acting decidedly squirrelly.  Britta may feel at a loss as to why she wasted much of her life on an unworthy spouse, but she is certain that she will do everything she can to prove her aunt’s innocence.  In this age of #MeToo, the Jaffe men tiptoe over the line of appropriateness, with nephew Kirk taking up his creepy elder’s legacy through unwanted nicknames and the refusal to believe in rejection.  If only the investigating Detective Pete Fletcher was as clear with his own intentions, as even if Britta was ready to date again she’s unable to decipher if Pete is flirting or interrogating.  

Britta is a much different character than Meg Reed, the exuberant heroine of Kate Dyer-Seeley’s Pacific Northwest Mysteries.  Britta’s misjudgment over her husband has her questioning all of her actions, and her lack of confidence has her tentative and distrustful of everyone’s motives.  Everyone in Riverplace Village does as some point become a suspect, especially when even Britta’s own aunt hides secrets and refuses to talk about a stalker and trail of dead roses.  The author is outstanding when highlighting Portland’s unique quirkiness, eclectic cuisines, anti-Californian attitude, and Britta’s Swedish heritage.  Flower-lovers will find much to love and learn about in this debut series, including a secret formula of preserving “love juice” with the surprising ingredient of bleach.  Britta’s vulnerability at the start of the novel is why she is so relatable and likeable, but it is the more reassured one who emerges who ensures that readers will return for more.
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Natural Thorn Killerby Kate Dyer-Seeley is the first book in the Rose City Mystery series.  Britta leaves her lazy, cheating husband to return to Portland and her aunt Elin who raised her.  Elin owns a floral shop called Blooma and is thrilled to have the extra help at the shop.  When a sleazy real estate developer is found dead in Blooma, Britta is determined to find the killer before Elin winds up in jail.  I enjoyed this start to a new cozy series.  The characters were varied and charismatic.  I felt like I was right in the middle of the story.  I enjoyed the information about flowers, but it did not overwhelm the mystery.  I am already looking forward to the second book.
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First in the series.

I had read previous series by this author, and liked them. So when I found this book on NetGalley, I happily requested it. It honestly surpassed my expectations. For a first book in a series, the author did a wonderful job fleshing out the main characters. Britta and Elin are likable, and have a lovely relationship. Their floral design business is interesting and I love the Portland setting. Everything just jelled for me, making it a fun, fast read, with an interesting mystery.

I am absolutely looking forward to more books in this series.
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Pacific Northwest (Portland), small business owner, flowers, multi-generational family

First in the Series
No need to worry about feeling left behind – this is the first book in the series an your chace to catch the story from the very beginning.

If You Like …
Amanda Flower’s Magical Bookshop Mystery Series, you’ll enjoy this book.

Kate Dyer-Seeley has a way of painting scenic locations with her words that you just can’t help but fall in love with and this book is no exception. Britta and Aunt Elin are charming characters with so much potential to blossom in future books. I can’t wait to see where they go next!
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Britta Johnston discovers her wannabe writer husband Chad is cheating on her so she leaves him and Minnesota behind to move back to her hometown of Portland, Oregon to work in her aunt Elin’s floral boutique/wine bar, Blooma.  But all is not well in the neighbourhood.  Someone is leaving dead black roses on Blooma's property.  And sleazy real estate developer Frank Jaffe is pressuring the Riverplace Village business owners to accept his offer so that he could raze their businesses and build luxury condos on the waterfront property.  After a contentious meeting of the local business owners, Frank is found dead at Blooma, stabbed with Elin’s garden shears. Detective Pete Fletcher and Officer Thomas “Tomo” Iwamoto are investigating Frank's murder but Britta decides to starts looking into things on her own.  

This was a fun debut mystery that showcases Portland (the Rose City) and the close-knit relationship amongst the Riverplace Village business community.

I received an eARC via Netgalley and Kensington with no requirements for a review.  I voluntarily read this book and provided this review.
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Wow!  What a wonderful start to a great new series!  In Natural Thorn Killer, we're introduced to Britta, a talented florist, who returns to her hometown of Portland to recover from the breakup of her marriage.  She goes to work at Blomma, a lovely flower shop owned by her Aunt Elin.  However, when a greatly disliked property tycoon is murdered at Blomma, Britta gets to work in ferreting out suspects - and boy, are there a lot!

Natural Thorn Killer is such a neatly woven mystery.  I really enjoyed how well plotted and paced the entire book was.  This carried right through to the ending which was very satisfying and thoroughly tied up.  Blomma also helped to make the book.  The shop itself was fascinating - wearable flower jewelry, custom arrangements for every client, and a wine bar - how AMAZING. It's clear that the author put so much thought and detail into creating such a beautiful and imaginative shop.    

Also making Natural Thorn Killer an excellent read are the wonderful characters.  Of course Britta is fascinating, but I loved her Aunt Elin.  Elin is such a strong character and her Swedish background and mysterious relationship also add interest to the story. The Blomma neighborhood is also fantastic and the author does a great job of introducing us to all the local shop owners and building the characters for future stories.  All I have to say is, "Hurry up and write the next book!"  I can't wait to read it!
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Dollycas’s Thoughts

Blooma, a flower/wine shop in Portland Oregon is where Britta Johnston finds herself after leaving her lazy husband and job behind. Her Aunt Elin’s shop is expanding and she is thrilled Britta is bringing her artistic talents home. Soon after Britta arrives she learns that a real estate developer wants to buy out all the local business owners so he can tear everything down and rebuild a marketplace with housing on the waterfront. Most of the owners are refusing to sell, but the developer gives one last push and that push may have caused his demise. Britta arrives at Blooma and discovers the developer dead surrounded by dead roses and her Aunt Elin’s garden shears pushed right into his chest. When the police decide Elin is their main suspect Britta decides to sow a few seeds of her own to find the real natural thorn killer.

Blooma is a delightful setting for this cozy mystery. Elin’s interest in wearable items made of flowers is unique and fresh as is her whole outlook on her business. Flowers grown locally is what she uses for all her creations. She tunes and really listens to her customer’s wishes to make something original and that is what set her above other florists. Plus she has a wine bar and she is opening up a cottage next to the shop for events and classes. The whole Riverplace Village sounds pretty fantastic.

We meet Britta Johnston in the middle of a cold Minnesota winter when she is fed up with her husband and realizes she will never be happy at her job. She just packs up, gets on the train and heads home to Portland. I myself would probably take the Minnesota weather over the Oregon cold rainy weather but I sure can’t blame her for changing her life and following her dream especially when her aunt’s business is the perfect place for Britta to bloom.

The mystery was well planned and plotted. I formed an instant dislike for the victim, as had almost everyone around him. That means plenty of suspects. It also means Detective Pete Fletcher and Officer Thomas “Tomo” Iwamoto spent a lot of time around the flower shop. I really enjoyed Tomo, he was so friendly and good-natured. Detective Fletcher was great too. The mystery was not easy to solve and kept me guessing right up until the end.

All of the characters we met within this story were pretty fleshed out for the first book in a series. They were very engaging and relatable. They are characters I want to get to know more about and the relationships they build together.

This series is off to an excellent start! I am excited to see what is next for Britta and Elin.
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Natural Thorn Killer by Kate Dyer-Seeley is the first installment in A Rose City Mystery series.  Britta Johnston has been putting her dreams on hold (having her own floral shop) and working two jobs so her husband, Chad can work on his novel (he needs to concentrate on it fully). When Britta discovers that Chad is having an affair, she decides it is time for a change.  Britta packs up her belongings and heads back home to Portland, Oregon where her Aunt Elin lives and has her floral boutique and wine bar combination, Blooma.   Aunt Elin raised Britta and is happy to have her return.  The timing is perfect since Elin is getting ready for the grand opening of her cottage that will feature classes/workshops on floral design (flower jewelry for example).  Britta is soon immersed in running Blooma, but not everything is rosy.  Someone is leaving dead roses at the shop and a seedy real estate developer is intent on buying up Riverplace Village (where BLooma and other charming shops are located).  Britta is opening up Blooma one morning and notices the doors to the cottage are open.  She goes inside and finds Frank Jaffe, the developer, on the floor with Elin’s floral shears sticking out of his chest and roses scattered on the floor.  Detective Pete Fletcher hones in on Elin as the killer which makes Britta determined to dig up the guilty party.

In Natural Thorn Killer I was drawn right away into the story.  I liked the author’s conversational writing style.  The book had a nice steady pace and good flow.  The two main characters of Britta and Elin are engaging and relatable.  I liked their creative energy and ideas.  I appreciated that the author gave the characters a Swedish background and had Swedish words/phrases sprinkled throughout the story.  Two side characters that added to the story were Nora who owns Demitasse (spunky) and Officer Tomo Iwamoto (great personality).  I enjoyed the descriptions of the Riverplace Village where Blooma was located.  It sounds just charming and has a nice small-town feel (even though it is in Portland).  The author included some interesting facts about Portland. I did feel that it was too soon for a romance for Britta since she just left her cheating husband.  I really hope that there will not be a love triangle (there are hints of it).   The author included wonderful descriptions of the flowers and arrangements created at Blooma along with interesting facts about the flowers.  She really brought them alive with her words. The one downfall of the book was the mystery.  There were a limited number of suspects and little investigation (just some questioning). There was a lack of action and the reveal was disappointing.  I wish the author had found a different way to wrap up the book (it was more supposition that fact).  The why part of the murder was slightly farfetched.  At the end there are tips for increasing the longevity of a bouquet of flowers, recipe for Swedish pancakes, and how to pair flowers with wine (never thought of that before).  I give Natural Thorn Killer 4 out of 5 stars.  If the mystery had been more compelling, I would have been a very happy reader.  The next book in A Rose City Mystery series is Violet Tendencies.
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The First Rose City Mystery
This is the first book in the new Rose City Mystery series set in Portland Oregon.   The author has a wonderful talent for featuring the Northwest cities and reading about Portland in this book is like visiting yourself. 
When Britta finds her husband has been cheating while she supported him to write his novel, she leaves him and moves to Portland with her Aunt. Her Aunt has a wonderful florist shop and is preparing to open a second business next door to teach floral design and crafts involving flowers. .  They are dealing with a problem real estate agent who wants their property when he is soon found dead in their new business. Britta is concerned that her Aunt is now suspect number one and begins to investigate. 
This series is a delight of flowers, Portland and great interesting characters. I loved the friendships, the love between Britta and her Aunt and all the supporting characters.  The descriptions of the flowers are sublime as the reader can almost smell the various flowers. The beautiful shop and townspeople, the quaint area of Portland with attractive small shops are all delightfully crafted in the story.  This is a winning cozy debut and I hope the publisher will continue the series ! I look forward to the next adventure for Britta and her Aunt . 
Thank  you for the opportunity to read and review this wonderful book which does not influence my review. 
Well done to the author ! A hit new cozy series has arrived.
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The First Rose City Mystery

Britta Johnston lives a lackluster existence in Minnesota working at a mind numbing wholesale florist company to support her husband who's been writing the great American novel for years. When she discovers he's cheating on her, she stops kowtowing to him, packs her bags, and returns to Portland, Oregon and the aunt who raised her. The timing is perfect for Aunt Elin as she's getting ready to launch a new part of her floral boutique and wine bar, but not so perfect for the loud egocentric real estate developer who wants to raze the entire shopping village to make way for new development. After a contentious shop owner meeting, Britta finds him dead in Blomma surrounded by roses. Now Britta finds herself in the middle of a murder investigation while making a new life for herself.

NATURAL THORN KILLER is a delightful start to a new series. The setting is unique and described so vividly it was easy to see myself walking through the village and stopping at all of the wonderful shops. The characters are engaging with backstory evident and starting to ooze out. I especially liked how the author brought different cultures to the fore. The addition of Swedish language and culture not only brought interest, but a feeling of hygge. I also loved the character of Tomo, not only his fun loving attitude, but his Japanese culture. And I want some of his mom's noodles!

With attention to detail, well developed characterization, and a captivating plot NATURAL THORN KILLER is a winner.
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This is the first in a new series.  Britta is a floral artist who had been supporting her no good husband so when she discovers her husband has been cheating on her she packs her bag and heads back home to Portland.  Her Aunt Elin owns and operates a floral shop Blooma and is getting ready to open a new cottage next door for her floral design classes.  As Britta and Elin are preparing for the grand opening of their new venture a real estate developer attends the local business owners meeting trying to get all the businesses to sell to him to build new a retail/condo space.  The next morning as Britta is opening the business she finds Frank, the real estate developer dead in the cottage with Elin’s shears buried in his chest.  Elin and Britta become suspects and she begins to look for clues to clear her and her aunt.  Detective Fletcher and Britta begin to form a “friendship” and she shares the information that she finds.  I really enjoyed this mystery and story.  The characters were all likeable and believable and with all new series, you have to provide a lot of information about the setting and your secondary characters.  I love all the other characters especially rocker Nora and her coffee shop.  Elin and Britta have solid friends and I like that in a cozy.  Hope Britta does not spend too much time beating herself up for spending so long in her loveless marriage and moves on to her handsome detective.  Looking forward to the next in the series.
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Natural Thorn Killer

by Kate Dyer-Seeley

Kate Dyer-Seeley, author of the Pacific Northwest Mystery Series, continues to share her love of that area in her new series, Rose City Mysteries. In the first book of the series, Natural Thorn Killer, Britta leaves her deadbeat husband, freezing Minnesota winters, and several unimaginative jobs to return to Portland, Oregon, to the nurturing and creative home of her childhood and the aunt who raised her. Both women are artists with flowers and woven into the book are tips on creating floral arrangements and maintaining their beauty, a personal view of the Riverplace Village area of Portland which is “like its own little city within the city,” and Scandinavian traditions and language. Her aunt Elin owns Blomma, the only flower shop-wine bar in Portland.

Natural Thorn Killer is packed with personal exchanges, a potential romance with a cute detective, interesting characters, outstanding descriptions of food, flowers, and wine, and a taste of Portland culture. At the heart of the book and woven throughout, the main focus of this book is the mystery. Britta discovers a body in her aunt’s flower shop, and life becomes very complicated. She readily shares her findings and insights with the close-lipped detective and mutual respect develops as the story progresses.

I liked the characters in this book and learned a lot about flowers and Portland. I am looking forward to the next book in this series, Violet Tendencies, and anticipate this will be another successful series for this author.

I would like to extend my thanks to and to Kensington Books for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Mystery

Notes: 1. #1 in the Rose City Mystery Series
	  2. There are lots of floral tips in a section in the back of the book.

Publication:   March 27, 2018—Kensington Books

Memorable Lines:

Usually the flowers guide me. It’s as if they tell me when they know the arrangement is complete. I liked the subtle pink tones and texture. The antique silver bowl gave the arrangement a nostalgic vibe, while the white strawberries made it feel springlike.

I was excited about the now, yet if I didn’t do some serious self-reflection I was worried that I would be doomed to repeat my past.

My instructor at the Floral Institute had shared a study that noted people who stopped to smell the roses were happier and reported being more satisfied with life. The simple act of taking a minute to appreciate a flower’s sweet scent or cheerful bloom had a direct impact on health and well-being.
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Natural Thorn Killer by Kate Dyer-Seeley is the 1st book in the new series, Rose City Mysteries.  Britta Johnston discovers her husband is cheating on her, after she has been the sole provider for years, so he can write his novel.  Fed up, she leaves him that night and goes to Portland, Oregon to help out at her Aunt Elin's florist shoppe, Bloom.  When a shady real estate developer is found dead, and Elin becomes a suspect, Britta must find the truth.  I really enjoyed this book, not only is it a good mystery, it is great to see Britta grow as a women.  I found this book to be a quick read, with a well developed plot and characters. I can not wait for the next book in the series.  If you love  cozy mysteries, I  recommend this book.  

I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.
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I was drawn to this new series by its setting. Portland - and the Pacific Northwest - are favorites of mine. Add flowers, especially roses, the flower that gives the city its nickname, the Rose City, I was hooked. The characters are well developed and fit their setting perfectly. Britta has  a talent for flower arranging and roses but she has not been able to follow her passion, stuck in a ho hum job in a floral warehouse and fully supporting her dead beat husband. When she finally snaps, she packs her bags, tosses them into her car and hits the road to return home to Portland and the comfort of her maternal aunt Elin and her floral boutique called Blomma. Feeling the stress leave her and looking forward to the start of a new chapter in her life, Britta thinks all is well...until a local developer, one who was determined to buy up the river front 'village' housing Blomma, a boutique hotel and lots of artisan businesses is found murdered in the floral workshop of Blomma. 
There is a large well developed cast of characters and a satisfying mystery all laid out at a comfortable pace. I felt the warmth and welcome of the flowers and I would love to be able to stop by and pick out flowers every week while getting a latte next door. Knowing that there will be another entry in this series in November, Violet Tendencies, I am saving a space for it on my TBR list.
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Cut down among the flowers . . .

Britta Johnston might be a late bloomer, but after leaving her deadbeat husband and dead-end job, she's finally pursuing her artistic passion at her aunt Elin's floral boutique, Blooma, in Portland, Oregon. It's on the banks of the Willamette, in a quaint district of cobblestone paths and cherry trees. The wine bar featuring Pacific Northwest vintages is a tasty bonus, offering another kind of bouquet to enjoy. But things aren't as peaceful as they look.

For one thing, someone's been leaving dead roses around--and a sleazy real estate developer who wants the waterfront property has put a big-money offer on the table. Then, after a contentious meeting of local business owners, he's found on the floor of the shop, with Elin's garden shears planted in his chest. And before the police decide to pin the crime on her beloved aunt, Britta will have to find out who arranged this murder . . .(Goodreads)


The characters are well rounded and well developed.  I enjoyed reading about the relationship between Britta and her aunt Elin.   You can tell that they love each other very much and are happy to be reunited again. Elin is a real wiz with flowers and Britta is happy to be working with flowers again.  Her life has taken a downward turn but she really wants to be happy again.  It will be hard because she lost her confidence while she was married to her jerk of a husband, but she is determined to get it back.  When, shortly after she arrives in Portland, a dead body is found, she realizes that she has to find the culprit before her aunt is sent away permanently.  

The writing style flows smoothly and the book is a quick easy way.  The author is very talented in her descriptive writing and through much of the book, I felt like I was right there in Portland being part of the community.   Her descriptions of the flowers and creations that they made made me feel like I could smell them and see them in my mind’s eye.  You can tell that the author knows a lot about flowers or she did a lot of research (I think she probably knows a lot about them).  I also liked the flower tips included at the end of the book.  

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a well crafted cozy mystery.  If you like vivid descriptions and enjoy flowers, you will want to read this story.

I voluntarily reviewed an ARC of this book provided by the publisher, Kensington Books, and NetGalley, which I greatly appreciate.
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