Cover Image: The Plot Thickets

The Plot Thickets

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Lilly and the members of the beautification committee set out to work on the town cemetery.  They quickly suspect some shady things are happening at the cemetery.  Their investigation starts with the new funeral home owner.  This book has quite a bit going on.  The mystery is not the strongest.  I do love the dynamics of Lilly and her friends.  It makes up for any lacking mystery.
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⭐⭐⭐ -- Pretty cover on this one!

So this one was okay. I enjoyed the setting. The mystery kept me guessing. The characters were likable. Really my main issue with it was it was SO slow and drawn out. The murder doesn't even take place until 50% into the book. The first half is just a bunch of boring conversations about back pain, memory loss, and boyfriend issues.  🤷🏻‍♀️ I feel like it could have done with a good edit...

**ARC Via NetGalley**
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this is book 5 in the Garden  Squad coy series.  It can be read as a stand alone.  I like this series because the main characters are all older and have lived rich full lives.  They experience aches and pains and have realistic abilities for people their age.  Lily andDelia are looking at beautifying the local Cemetary when they find some strange differences about where graves are supposed to be. Dead bodies are turning up and local friends are under suspicion.  A nice small town cozy set in New England where folks enjoy their various seasons and gardening..
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My first Julia Henry novel, this focused on senior citizens at the forefront and also focused on funerals and everyone's impending death. While not the most happiest of topics, I did enjoy this new perspective through a senior's eyes and realizing the mental and physical obstacles one goes through when aging. The mystery was good but I felt that pacing was a bit too slow and too much emphasis on little details that didn't matter. This is a definitely a plot driven novel and will be perfect for those who love them.
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Princess Fuzzypants here:  Gardening whiz Lilly stops by a dying neighbour’s home so she can enjoy looking out in her final days.  Before long, Lilly is deeply involved in a scandal that will delay her burial and will upset the Jayne family mausoleum.  It seems there are some dastardly schemes afoot, including reselling of burial plots and using the Jayne crypt for nefarious purposes.  It is distressing and alarming until it becomes deadly.  It appears whoever is behind the crimes will stop at nothing.  First there is one suspicious death and then a second one,  pretty soon everyone from top cop Brash to Lilly and her comrades know there is a killer on the prowl.  The question is who will be next and can the authorities unravel a very convoluted series of crimes before the evidence is buried for good.

Lilly is a lovely character.  She is generous and kind.  It is no wonder her friends rally to her and want to help out.  She reflects many of the things that plague people as they age but she does it with great grace.  There were lots of sub-twists and turns in the plot but by the end, they all interconnected and things ended up where they should.  Five purrs and two paws up.
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First time reading this series, but I didn't feel lost jumping in on book 5. I liked the characters and the setting.
The mystery kept me guessing. 

Thank you to the author, publisher and NetGalley for my eARC in exchange for an honest review.
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With spring's arrival in Goosebush, Lilly Jayne and the Beautification Committee begin cleaning the historic cemetery. But Lilly and her friend Delia find that multiple plots are sorely neglected and inexplicably rearranged. And someone has messed with the Jayne family mausoleum. Maybe one of the Bradford Funeral Home employees is responsible. So, Lilly and her Garden Squad friends start an informal investigation and seek to help Chief of Police Bash Haywood solve the mystery. The clues keep getting more interesting as the group digs deeper, though. 
I enjoyed the garden information in this book. And the story flows well. 
I wasn't eager to finish the book, though. This book is my introduction to the Garden Squad Mystery series, and I feel like I entered in the middle of a movie - I'm not exactly sure what's going on and never connected to any of the characters. Even the pets played a minor role. The content sometimes gets repetitive, too. Plus, everyone seems upper class, which isn't relatable.
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This was a cute, gardening cozy mystery which didn't launch right into the murder but let the plot naturally develop. I like this because so many cozy mysteries start with the death and then fill in the reasons why. In this book, the mystery started before the murder and was complicated through it. 

I haven't read any of this series before, so was pleased that it gave me enough to make the necessary connections when I started reading. The characters were all very well developed and unique enough that I never had trouble remembering who was who, even without really knowing the history of their relationships. All in all, a great quick read.

This was an honest NetGalley review.
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Not what I was expecting, but very enjoyable.  As I am new to this series, I didn't realize the main characters were older (think Murder, She Wrote).  I rather enjoyed the older cast and found them to be a hoot.  I thought the plot was interesting and the twists along the way enjoyable.  I do wish the story would have moved faster, but all in all in a good read.
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Julia Henry is one of my favorite cozy authors. I love the protagonist and that she is older. I love the gardening theme of this series, and the mystery was excellent!
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I really like Lily and her friends in the Garden Squad but this mystery was slow and difficult to get into. I found the cemetery aspect fascinating and learned so much. The writing in this one was a chore to get through. There were so many passages where “said” is repeated constantly; answered, replied, stated, anything else would have been welcome but the continual use of the same word took me out of the story and got annoying. I know it seems petty but if the author couldn’t be bothered to try, then why should I? It made it difficult for me to stay involved in the story and I don’t think I’ll continue with the series.
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I have really enjoyed the books I have read in the Garden Squad series. The characters are well developed and I have fallen in love with Lilly, Delia, Bash, Ernie, and Roddy. The mystery is always intriguing and has you guessing until the end. The gardening tips sprinkled throughout the book is a plus. The setting of the book, Goosebush, Massachusetts, is a delightful town. There are the usual people you don’t care for, but I love how the majority of the citizens are so caring and supportive of each other. I would love to visit this friendly town.

Thank you to NetGalley and Kensington Books for my advanced review copy. All opinions and thoughts are my own.

For more reviews, please visit my blog at: https://www.msladybugsbookreviews.com/. Over 1000 reviews posted!
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The Plot Thickets is the 5th book in the Garden Squad Mystery series by Julia Henry.

Lilly is doing some research for the Beautification Committee at the cemetery where her family is interred in a mausoleum.  She notices changes. Is her memory failing her or is something amiss? 

I love spending time with Lilly and the Garden Squad.  Lilly dealing with the aches and pains, the memory concerns, not bouncing back immediately are realistic.  The mystery was complex but it was interesting how it wrapped up.  I really liked the side stories and can’t wait to see what happens next!

Thank you to the author, Kensington, and NetGalley for the Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) copy of this book and I am voluntarily leaving an honest review.
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Ohhhh I love when a series that has had an off-book gets back on track and delivers and excellent story. This was like getting a warm hug from old friends and I was so happy to have that comfort back. 

This was an interesting story that I have not really read in a mystery before [that I remember anyway LOL] that involved the typical tropes of a mystery;  greed, deception, bitterness, and then add grave robbing, weird cemetery shenanigans and ultimately murder and you have a really excellent mystery and some serious food for thought [like making sure all your final plans and such are 100% in order]. Plus you get to hang out with some of the coolest people currently solving crime in the cozy world. Lily and Co. are loving, caring, generous people who love where they live and are willing to do what they can to ease the burdens of those around them that have less, are struggling or just need a good friend and some plants/flowers. I love how they work together to get stuff done and how they are so content to hang out at Lily's to eat and tear apart the cases they are involved in and just be with each other. It is so refreshing. I wish more people could learn from how this fictional group of friends treats each other. 

I never saw the killer coming until almost the end, and only because of something someone said so it was mostly a surprise and the why just left me shaking my head. I also like that nothing is tidy in these books, just like real life and sometimes not everything is wrapped up; I have a feeling that should there be another book, these will be situations from this book that will carry over. And I will be the first one in line to read all about it. 

Thank you to NetGalley, Julia Henry, and Kensington Books for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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EXCERPT: 'I haven't been here in years,' Lily said, getting out of the car with her new routine of gently unfolding herself, moving her hips and arching her back. She didn't mind getting older. Most of the time. But the slight aches and pains that came along with the extra years - those she could live without. 'I used to come here a lot when I was young.'

She was waiting for Delia to close her door before she hit the lock door button on her fob. Her final stretch done, she hit the button, but the door still wouldn't lock. She looked over at Delia, who was staring at her, her door ajar.

'What's the matter, Delia?'

'What do you mean, you used to love coming here when you were young?' Delia said. 'Sometimes you freak me out, you know that? This is a cemetery, Lily. Who hangs out at a cemetery?'

ABOUT 'THE PLOT THICKETS': Ever the quintessential New England town, Goosebush, Massachusetts, truly shines in springtime, but when an underhanded undertaker digs herself an early grave, only Lilly Jayne and her Garden Squad can unearth the cryptic killer . . .

With spring's arrival in Goosebush, Lilly and the Beautification Committee turn their eyes to new projects. A cleanup of the historic Goosebush Cemetery may be in order, after Lilly and Delia find the plots there sorely neglected and inexplicably rearranged. Lilly soon discovers that Whitney Dunne-Bradford snapped up custodianship of the graveyard once she inherited Bradford Funeral Homes. But before Lilly can get to the bottom of the tombstone tampering, she stumbles upon Whitney's body at the Jayne family mausoleum . . .

Though at first it appears Whitney died by suicide, Lilly has doubts, and apparently, so does Chief of Police Bash Haywood, who quickly opens a murder investigation. Plenty of folks in town had bones to pick with Whitney, including her stepdaughter, Sasha, and funeral home employee, Dewey Marsh--all three recently charged with illegal business practices. But when the homicide inquiry suddenly targets an old friend, Lilly and the Garden Squad must rally to exhume the truth before the real killer buries it forever . . .

MY THOUGHTS: I loved this story and it's characters despite not having read any of the previous books in this series.

Goosebush, New England - I love the name of the town. I love the description. I love the sense of friendship and companionship that Lilly and her friends have. I loved the way they all muck in and support one another, both emotionally and practically. I loved all the gardening talk and work. And I adored that they were trying to beautify the old cemetery - there's definitely food for thought there, as the old cemetery in our town definitely needs some TLC.

Much of the mystery centres around the Goosebush cemetery, and what better place for it? Lilly's family has a mausoleum, and a marble seat (the bastard seat - a story on its own) outside, positioned to take in the view. It's as she and Delia are planning what needs to be done that Lilly notices that somethings about the graves surrounding the mausoleum are not as she remembers them, and then that the bastard seat has been moved, which kicks her curiosity into gear. And then the deaths begin . . .

I do like Lilly. She's kind, generous and empathetic, BUT when she's nervous or ill at ease, she tends to become quite sarcastic. She does great sarcastic. She has opened her home to Delia, a student who came to help her husband Alan when he was dying and who has stayed on, and to Ernie, owner of the local hardware store whose husband has died and who is currently between houses. He bakes when he is stressed, and I swear I could smell his bread as I read. Roddy, Lilly's new neighbour, makes up the last member of the core group.

There are several romances developing in The Plot Thickets, but they are realistic and don't dominate the storyline.

I would have loved a plan of Lilly's house - it absolutely fascinated me.

I really enjoyed The Plot Thickets. I was entertained, bamboozled, and educated. I will be reading more of this series.

⭐⭐⭐⭐.5

#ThePlotThickets #NetGalley

I: @jhauthors @kensingtonbooks

T: @JHauthors @KensingtonBooks

#contemporaryfiction #cosymystery #friendship
#murdermystery #romance #smalltownfiction

THE AUTHOR: Julia Henry lives in Massachusetts, where she sets her mystery series. As Julianne Holmes she writes the Clock Shop Mystery Series, and as J.A. Hennrikus she writes theatre.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Kensington Books, Kensington Cozies, via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Plot Thickets by Julia Henry for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com

This review is also published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and my webpage
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The Plot Thickets is the 5th book in the Garden Squad Mysteries written by Julia Henry.

I loved this fabulous cozy mystery! Set in springtime in picturesque Goosebush, Massachusetts, sixty-odd-year-old Lilly Jayne is the main character of the story and I adore the author's masterful writing. The Plot Thickets is a wonderful blend of mystery and friendships and many of the characters are great individuals. Lilly has been working on Helen Garrett's garden and she and her squad are checking out the requirements for the tidying up of the cemetery, a new project the beautification committee, a group set up by Lilly, is working on. Lilly had a fall back in January when she injured her back and wrist and has been taking things a bit easier but now she's almost back in form. Some of the hard work is undertaken by high school sports team volunteers and girl scout groups. The cemetery is run by Whitney Dunne-Bradford, the widow of Sam Bradford after she inherited his business - the Bradford Funeral Home. Lilly's father used to be involved with tours of the historic cemetery and her family has a mausoleum there. Lilly notices some irregularities such as a commemorative bench in the Jayne family name out of place. Then Whitney is found murdered...

In this scintillating instalment the author managed the pacing perfectly within the awesome and absorbing plot. With multiple suspects, there was a veritable gamut of clues and possibilities to satisfy even the most diligent of armchair detectives. A superb read, with a strong plot and characters and rich in drama, this novel is very highly recommended and well-worth five stars. I will be watching out for the next book as well as diving into this author's back catalogue.

I received a complimentary copy of this novel at my request from Kensington via NetGalley. This review is my own unbiased opinion.
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The Plot Thickets is the fifth book in the A GardenSquad Mystery series by Julia Henry.

It’s spring in Goosebush, Mass., and time for The Garden Squad to find their next beautification project.  Lilly and Delia are heading for the cemetery where Lilly’s family has a burial plot to see if it might need some sprucing up.  The cemetery certainly needs some weeding and flowers to improve its appearance.  Lilly notices that there seem to be some differences from the last time she was here.  Lilly used to go with her father when he would conduct tours of the cemetery, so she is very familiar with where families were buried.  Also, a heavy stone bench from the side of the plot to behind the family’s mausoleum.   On a later visit, Lilly finds the door to the mausoleum unlocked, and when she enters, she sees several urns on the floor and a body in one of the vaults, none of who are members of her family. 

The police will begin an investigation of the Bradford Funeral Home, which manages the cemetery’s operation.  Sam Bradford started the funeral home and, upon his passing, was left to his wife, Whitney-Dunne Bradford.  Sam’s daughter, Sasha, also works for the funeral home.  A couple of days later, Lilly visits the cemetery and finds the body of Whitney behind her family’s mausoleum with a gun in her hand.  It would appear to be a suicide, but they decide to treat it as a suspicious death.  Soon, Stan, The Star cafe/bookstore owner, will become the prime suspect.  Stan had been seen recently in a heated argument with Whitney.  The Garden Squad will need to organize and get busy to clear Stan’s name by finding the killer.

A subplot deals with Delia and Stan’s budding romance.  Since Stan’s estranged father returned to Goosebush, Stan has been reserved and challenging to communicate with.  The Garden Squad is eager to provide support for Delia.  She doesn’t believe Stan is guilty of murder and hopes they can restore their romance to what it once was.     

It was enjoyable to visit the engaging community of Goosebush once again.  The story is well-written and plotted.  Most of the regular characters are back again; they are well-developed and believable.

I’m looking forward to the next book in the series.
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The Plot Thickets by Julia Henry is the 5th A Garden Squad Mystery.  We return to Goosebush, Massachusetts where Lilly Jayne resides in her family home, Windward.  I like Lilly Jayne who is a smart, kind woman in her 60s who loves to garden.  There are beautiful gardens surrounding Windward.  She has a great group of friends who comprise the Garden Squad.  They secretly tackle gardening projects around town.  The multidimensional cast of secondary characters includes Delia, Ernie, Roddy, Tamara, and Warwick.  I love the descriptions of Windward.  This is a home that I would love to reside in.  Stan’s father, Buzz causes a scene at a local restaurant where Lilly and her friends are dining.  Stan and Buzz soon depart.  Stan rushes back inside a couple of minutes later calling for assistance.  Buzz has collapsed and is soon pronounced dead.  Lilly and Delia are checking out a project in the cemetery a few days later for the Beautification Committee.  Lilly notices some oddities among the gravestones including the moving of the Jayne bench near the family mausoleum.  Stan asks them to check out where his father is buried.  Delia and Lilly are unable to find the grave.  The ladies decide that some research is in order.  It is a multifaceted mystery which I enjoyed.  While I anticipated the resolution, I had a good time following Lilly Jayne and her friends as they dug into the case.  I appreciated the good wrap up at the end.  The ending of the book will leave fans of the series smiling.  There is a lot going on in The Plot Thickets.  This is a story that is engaging and interesting.   The Plot Thickets can be read as a standalone for those new to the series or if you have missed a book or two (like me).  The Plot Thickets is a good cozy to read in October with the cemetery theme.  There are some gardening tips at the end which includes a list of plants that are good pollinators (which is just what I needed).  The Plot Thickets is a graveyard smash with plant pruning, a displaced bench, a dead dad, a witchy Whitney, puzzling plots, a house hunt, and a bad back.
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The Plot Thickets by Julia Henry is a Garden Squad mystery and opens with heroine, Lilly, a little under the weather. At 66 her adventures are catching up with her and her body is slowing down. Thankfully she has Delia, Ernie, and Roddy, plus her cats. This mystery starts off as fraud centering around grave plots in an older cemetery and quickly de-escalates to murder. It is a good story with everyone surprised, not only at who is murdered, but who has done the murdering. Lilly first notices that a bench in her family’s plot has been moved. Then when she sees the inside of the crypt, the first thing she sees is her husband’s urn on the floor, not where it belongs, surrounded by others. They certainly had no business being there. The person running the local mortuary was a woman no one liked, but it wasn’t really necessary to like one’s undertaker, was it? 

The Garden Squad does community service around town, beautifying places that need it and help people who need it, primarily in their gardens. An area of the cemetery needs some care, which is what brought Lilly there in the first place. When she returns the overrun tombstones are gone. It gets worse from there. Delia’s boyfriend, Stan, has been going through a rough time, then his father dies, and their relationship tanks. She is have trouble reconciling herself to the breakup but has the Garden Squad to help. She is younger than they are so they have plenty of wisdom to share. Lilly is surprised by her reaction to her friendship with Roddy, who moved in next door a year or so earlier. This is a character-driven novel, as are most cozies, and so this book is as much about the lives of the characters as it is about the murder. It is a fun story.

I was invited to read a free e-ARC of The Plot Thickets by Kensington, through Netgalley. All thoughts and opinions are mine. #Netgalley #Kensington #JuliaHenry #ThePlotThickets
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