Cover Image: Dead on the Vine

Dead on the Vine

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The first book in the Finn Family Farm Mystery series by Elle Brook White is Dead on the Vine.  Charlotte has inherited her uncle's produce farm, and her only plan is to sell it.  Her quick sale plan goes off track when a dead body is found in the tomato patch.  Charlotte is now investigating a murder in addition to running the family farm.  The longer she stays the more attached she becomes.  When I first started this book, I thought I was going to hate it.  I was not sure that a character who thought a 1996 car was "classic" would ever be likable.  The more I read the more I liked Charlotte, her friends, and the farm fixtures.  By the end I found myself looking forward to the next book.
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Cute first installment of a new mystery series.  Well written with good characters and a good mystery.  I would absolutely recommend this book, and I can’t wait to read more by this author!
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Dead on the Vine is the first Finn Family Farm cozy mystery by Elle Brooke White. Released 7th April 2020 by Crooked Lane, it's 336 pages and available in hardcover, audio, and ebook formats.

This is the first book in a small town whimsical cozy (including a pig and ladybug who "help" solve the crimes. It doesn't go full Rita Mae Brown and narrate from the pig's (and ladybug's) points of view, but it edges pretty close). The city-girl-in-the-country trope is in full force although to the author's credit, the humor at her expense isn't mean spirited or mocking.

Some of the characterizations are vague and a bit two-dimensional. I had some trouble keeping her friends' dialogue clear in my mind as I was reading...they felt a bit tacked on and just showed up and disappeared when their scenes were done. The action and plot developments were somewhat strongly foreshadowed, so there was never an *aha* denouement.

I was fully expecting the handsome lawman to show up in the first book (setting the stage for the inevitable romance in future books), and I was totally 100% off base. The lawman is a law-woman and proves to be a surprisingly good friend and sounding board to Charlotte as she attempts to unravel the death of a young man on her property as well as the vandalism which threatens to shut down her dream of making a go of her late uncle's farm before it really has a chance to get off the ground.

The writing is uneven, and some of the dialogue is a bit rough, but as a first novel, and series starter, it's engaging and fun and worth a look for fans of very light cozies with anthropomorphic animals. There is no really overt violence (including the main murder) or sexual content and the language is very clean.

Three and a half stars.

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.
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I enjoyed this one. I didn't want to put it down once I picked it up. It was well written and held my attention until the very end.
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This was a really cute start to a new cozy series! It sometimes fell into the trap that first books do of over-explaining, but I forgave some of the faults because I really enjoyed the story overall.

The premise is a fun one: girl inherits farm (in gorgeous California) but distant relative and leaves her city life behind to start fresh. At first she considers selling the place because what does she know about farming? Especially when they stumble upon a dead body on her land! But soon Charlotte falls in love with the land and, in addition to determining to solve the murder, decides to make a go of it on her farm. She's not alone, of course. The local farmhands are at the ready and she's got her two best friends by her side. Not to mention her adorable sidekick, a pig named Horse, and her pet (!) ladybug Mrs. Robinson!

The premise was intriguing for sure but to me it's the supporting characters that make this book sing. Her besties are a lot of fun - ESPECIALLY Beau! I was laughing out loud at his antics. And outfits. I also loved the Sheriff and look forward to seeing more of her. The love angle was a good one but they didn't rush into it, which I liked. Plenty of time to develop that relationship.

All in all a really fun book and I definitely look forward to continuing this series!
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A good cozy mystery, fun to read and engrossing.
I liked the quirky cast of characters, the lovely setting and the solid mystery that kept me guessing.
I look forward to reading the next instalment in this series.
Recommended.
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine.
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Charlotte Finn has come to a crossroad in her life when her marketing career goes pear shaped. As she says, she feels like a character in the tv show, Green Acres. She is going from a Chicago penthouse to a produce farm in a small town - Acorn, California. Trouble is, she hasn't got the proverbial clue how to run one. Her great-uncle Tobias has willed it her and it's her best choice given her current lack of them.
Joining her two childhood friends, Diane and Beau, she sets out to claim her inheritance only to discover that it's more than a produce farm....it's a money pit. Next move, find a realtor to find out its actual worth and sell it. Well, the place is a bit run down but she had no idea it would include a dead body with a pitch fork in its neck. It's a lot to take in almost from her first moment in town. Who wanted the young man dead, on her property and, by the way, who has been doing the sabotage and why? With the help of Diane, Beau, the farm caretakers, Joe and Alice and a couple of extra special helpers - a little pig named Horse and a hitchhiking ladybug she has christened Mrs. Robinson. All in all this is the perfect escape reading and I will be adding the series to my TBR series.
My thanks to the publisher Crooked Lane and to NetGalley for giving me an advance copy in exchange for my honest review.
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This was a really fun whimsical mystery. It reminded me a little of an adult version of Charlottes web with a really good mystery woven in. I always love stories of people coming from a big city to a small town and this was a great version of that. I loved the characters, the setting and I thought the mystery was very well done. I would recommend this lovely cozy mystery.
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A great start to a new series!  Charlotte inherits a farm from a relative and finds that it may be the best and most dangerous thing that's ever  happened to her!  After leaving her marketing job (not her choice) Charlotte teams up with two of her childhood friends to turn her inheritance into a successful farm.  All is going well until the dead body shows up!  

I enjoyed the pace of the book and the whimsical spirit of the book.  The red herrings in the book were entertaining and I thought I knew "whodunit" but I was wrong.   I'm looking forward to their next adventure!   A ladybug, teacup pig and a charming and determined amateur sleuth make an engaging team!

I received an ARC from NetGalley and the opinions expressed are my own.
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4.5 stars. Delightful! Terrific mystery and a cast of characters - both human and animal - that I enjoyed spending time with.

This is a great series launch. Charlotte is a great protagonist - realistically questioning how to proceed with her inheritance while still having the sass and gumption to not put up with the garbage folks try to dish out. Horse the pig and Mrs. Robinson the ladybug were a fun, quirky addition to the story as were the other animals on the farm.

The mystery was great - I was cycling through my villain choices until about 3/4 of the way through when I decided on a culprit. I loved how the capture/wrap up worked out, too.

This was a perfect blend of characters and character development story along side a well-plotted and satisfying mystery. Looking forward to reading a lot more about the Finn Family Farm!
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This is such a charming debut cozy mystery ! I love the farm theme and the adorable baby pig.  Well done to the author who has created a fun interesting series that every cozy lover will adore. Thank you to the publisher and to Net Galley for the opportunity. My review opinion is my own. 

We are introduced to our protagonist  Charlotte who is home on her families produce farm in California with only one goal,  to sell it as soon as she possibly can. Her plans are thwarted when a murder occurs on the farm with their farm tools. Charlotte wants to solve the murder as the victim is one of her relatives and as soon as she can to put the farm on the  market and start her life over.  She is soon knee deep in soil, manure and clues as well as suspects.  Along with her adorable baby pig who is helping in the investigation, her caretakers who she is suspicious of  and a cantankerous nearby farmer who does not like her or her family farm.  The clues come together to a very pleasing conclusion. 

I enjoyed the setting, the charcters, the animals and the fun sleuth. I look forward to the next in series. 
Very well done to the author.. Cross posted.
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Dead on the Vine is a delightful beginning to the Finn Family Farm series.  White has created a charming cast of what one hopes will be the regular characters, both two- and four-legged.  The story moved quickly and kept my attention throughout.  There were multiple red herrings and twists that kept me engaged in the mystery and wavering between multiple suspects until I was about 2/3 done with the book, and settled on a suspect.  Hopefully there is a follow-up book in the future, because I look forward to continuing with the series.
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Dead on the Vine earns 5/5 Heirloom Tomatoes...Delightfully Engaging!

Elle Brooke White [insert lightbulb...E.B. White?] has penned a delightful first-in-a-series! She is a new author to me, and how fun it is to have found her and her well written story. I love the farm setting with all the ins and outs of managing a farm and animal antics. Charlotte Finn, a marketing expert, inherited the Finn Farm from her great-uncle, and although she moves from Chicago to Little Acorn, California, the condition of the farm and her limited knowledge of farming makes her seriously consider putting it on the market and moving on. However, the dead body in the tomato vines, sabotage of the farm, and break ins put a hold on her thoughts of selling. She has close friends, the farmhands, and a childhood friend who holds a grudge to support her amateur detecting, but her teacup pig is quite the companion. White’s well-paced drama, descriptive language, and entertaining dialogue made this an excellent read. It was not lost on me the author E. B. White, character Charlotte, and a helpful baby pig seemingly reminiscent of a childhood favorite. I love puns, twists on classics, and clever quips. For me it added to my enjoyment.
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This is the first in a new series of cozy mysteries. Charlotte Finn has inherited a farm in California and has plans to sell it. However, a murder occurs and the body is found on the farm. She finds herself increasing of a mind to keep the farm and make a go of it.

There are a number of side characters, my favorite of which is a pig. Yes, a real pig but one who is smarter than many of the other two-legged characters.

While the story was fun and the mystery interesting, there were some problems with some of the dialog. The characters would try to sound like farmers but sometimes came across more like ranchers. Note – these are not the same. While it was distracting, I still overall, enjoyed the story.

I was provided a digital advance reader copy of this book by the publisher via Netgalley.
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Synopsis:

Perfect for fans of B. B. Haywood and Peg Cochran, Ellie B. White's whimsical series debut is full of farm fun, complete with a helpful baby pig.

Reluctant farmer Charlotte Finn needs the help of the livestock to sleuth a mysterious death.

Charlotte Finn never wanted to inherit the family's produce farm--much less plow a heap of money into it. Her plan is to hammer a great big FOR SALE sign into the farm's fallow furrows--but Charlotte's sunny hopes of a quick sale succumb to a killing frost when she finds a dead body entwined supine in the tomato vines. The poor man, it seems, was run through...with a pitchfork?

Now, Charlotte is stuck with running the farm in the midst of a murder investigation. Charlotte's knowledge of farming is smaller than her bank balance, so she relies on caretakers Joe and Alice Wong and their farmhands. Can she trust them? She doesn't know them. There's also farmer Samuel Brown, who still carries a childhood grudge. But the case gets personal when Charlotte learns that the victim might have been her own kin--and seeds of suspicion grow into a fertile field of suspects.

Charlotte turns to the farm's baby pig to help root out the killer. Soon, the goats, geese, and horse join in, but will Charlotte harvest a murderer--or buy the farm?  (Goodreads)


Review:

The characters are well rounded and well developed.  Charlotte, Diane and Beau have been friends for a long time and now they have to figure out a murderer before their dream of farm life gets thrown away.  They can also count on Joe, Alice and Sam to help them figure it out.  And the best sleuth of all is Horse, Charlotte’s pig and his sidekick, Mrs. Robinson.  No killer stands a chance when Horse is on the case.

The author is very talented in her descriptive writing and these descriptions pulled me into the story from the very beginning.  The writing style flows smoothly and the book is an easy read.  The mystery was well plotted and there were enough clues to sift through and suspects to consider.  I did not know who the killer was for sure until it was revealed at the end.  

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a well crafted cozy mystery.  If you give it a try, I think you will enjoy it.

I voluntarily reviewed an ARC of this book provided by the publisher, Crooked Lane, and NetGalley, which I greatly appreciate.
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Dead on the Vine by Elle Brooke White is the first installment in A Finn Family Farm Mystery series.

Charlotte has inherited a farm from her uncle which came as a blessing as she was eager to leave her old life behind. 
She is still not sure whether to sell or keep. Her two best friends decide to join her and visit for a while.
At the farm they meet the rest of the workers and are trying to figure out how to save the farm when the body of a young man is found.

Charlotte is a nice character, friendly and nice but possibly too optimistic in her given situation. Her previous troubles were not sufficiently explained but it may happen later in the series.
It is a nice, light read with interesting characters and great animals. I really wouldn't let pig sleep with me though.
Enough red herrings to keep readers guessing but I felt that some clues were hidden by the author.
Even though is was a solid read I simply didn't feel that the story has grabbed me enough so I read it in few sittings.
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Dead on the Vine by Elle Brooke White has Charlotte Finn heading to Little Acorn, California after inheriting Finn Family Farm from her great-uncle Tobias.  Charlotte has fond memories of a magical summer she spent there as a child.  While touring the property with a realtor, they find a man dead with a pitchfork in his neck.  Charlotte also learns that someone has been sabotaging the farm and two local yokels claim the farm should belong to them.  Charlotte works with her two best friends plus a pig named Horse and a ladybug named Mrs. Robinson to catch the culprit and save Finn Family Farm.  Dead on the Vine is the debut of A Finn Family Farm Mystery series.  I enjoyed this engaging cozy mystery with an interesting cast of characters.  Charlotte Finn has been living in Chicago working in advertising.  She has thoughts of putting the farm up for sale, but Charlotte quickly falls under the farms spell.  Her two best friends, Diane and Beau (brother and sister) are joining her at the farm.  Diane is a chef who loves all the fresh produce available and Beau is a flamboyant event planner (imagine Beau picking produce in a blue speedo with the score to Oklahoma blaring in the background).  Alice and Ben Wong are the farm’s caretakers and Samuel Brown is the hunky farmer.  My favorite character is Horse, the adorable and intelligent pig who follows Charlotte around the farm.  Horse is an smart little fellow who has Mrs. Robinson, the ladybug, traveling on his head.  There are other animals on the farm who add humor to the story.  There is a barn scene with goat yoga that had me laughing out loud.  Dead on the Vine is well-written and moves along at a steady pace.  I dived into the story and stayed up very late to finish it.  The mystery is interesting with a variety of suspects.  The whodunit suited the story and the characters.  Dead on the Vine is a cute cozy mystery that made me laugh and smile (a rarity).  I look forward to the next A Finn Family Farm Mystery.  Dead on the Vine is a witty whodunit with a precious pig, a little ladybug, sneaky sabotage, a pointy pitchfork, fun friends, and a family farm.
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Dead On The Vine is the first book in the A Finn Family Farm Mystery series.

Charlotte had a successful advertising job until one bad ad, she finds herself jobless. Then she finds out that she has inherited her great-uncle Tobias produce farm in California. So she packs up her belongings and heads for the farm. Charlotte has no idea what it takes to run a farm and decides that she will sell the farm and settle down in California. Her childhood friends, Diane and Beau, meet her at the farm shortly after her arrival. They meet the farm’s caretaker, Joe Wong and his wife Alice and farmhand Sam Brown. When Charlotte is in town, she is approached by a real estate agent who wants to list her property schedules a meeting at the farm to appraise the farm. When the agent arrives at the farm they head out to the fields to survey the crops and the land he stumbles over the body of a young man with a pitchfork. Police Chief Goodacre arrives to investigate and it is soon learned that no one knows who the victim might be. It is also learned that someone has been trying to sabotage the farm by disabling the ingratiation system and infecting the tomato fields with aphids.

Charlotte, Diane, and Beau set out to find the killer and hopefully remove the stigma attached to the farm by the murder. Two bullying brothers who live on the next farm are high on her list, as is the agent who is selling their produce to the local market and others.

I enjoyed this new series a lot. It’s well-written plotted and moves at a nice pace. It has an interesting cast of well-developed and believable. The characters that I enjoyed the most, are Mrs. Robinson, a ladybug and Horse the pig. They both helped Charlotte sort out the clues to the killer, particularly Horse.

I will be watching for the next book in this very interesting series.
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What a fun story. City girl goes country because of memories and an inheritance. Thank goodness Charlotte has her two BFF’s Beau and Diane to help her through some of the situations that arise when they arrive in the small town of Little Acorn. Being greedy and spiteful are not good qualities to have. Charlotte has some decisions to make but just how will she gain the trust of her now employees? I want to visit this farm and see the animals in action. Who wouldn’t want a friend like Horse? I giggled at times at the antics that were going on. It was refreshing to read a story where law enforcement didn’t hate the person helping them solve the cases. I enjoyed this story line and loved the characters. I hope I can join them on Finn Family Farm again sometime. I received this book from NetGalley, but my opinion is my own.
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It was a good, quick read. I enjoyed the story and the writing style. I would recommend it to others.
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