Title: Forbidden Fruit
Author: Ilsa Evans
Opening line: “…The skull sat snugly in the earth, partly uncovered, its dome curiously flat across the top and then sloping towards the indentation of one eye socket …”
Blurb: The last thing Nell Forrest expected when she tried to plant a tree was to unearth the skeletal remains of a former resident. Now her new backyard is swarming with police, there’s a television news crew camped next door, and once again she is smack in the middle of a murder investigation. And the timing is dreadful. Two of Nell’s daughters are about to give birth and she is surrounded by new in-laws with agendas of their own. But it soon becomes clear that this time the investigation is personal – so personal that enquiries bring her long-estranged father back into the family fold, and the answers shed some very uncomfortable light about the proclivities of her parents when they were young. Who would have thought that the little country town of Majic had ever been such a swinging place to live?
My thoughts: I hadn’t even got to the end of the first sentence before I know that Nell had another murder mystery on her hands – or in this case the back garden of her new home. Mind you it took Nell a couple more pages to come to the same realisation. FORBIDDEN FRUIT is the third in a series of cosy mysteries set in a small fictional country town a few hours out of Melbourne in Australia. I have read both of the previous books in this series Nefarious Doings and Ill-Gotten Gains and I can guarantee they are fabulous.
Nell has this habit of getting involved with murder investigations, then feeling compelled to investigate them herself as she is sure the police aren’t doing their job properly. In the first book a body is found at her mother’s house, in the second she finds the victim after being the last to talk to him and in this one she digs the victim up while planting an apple tree. Nell is a wonderful character who has the best of intentions but keeps getting into trouble. Her relationship with her quirky family is the centre of the story and the murder investigation is built on that. In FORBIDDEN FRUIT Nell not only has to deal with what all mothers dread – the fact that some of her innocent daughters have a sex life, evidenced by the fact that two of them are very pregnant and about to give birth any day. But she also has to deal with the fact that her parents also had sex – and were actually swingers in their day – dabbled in wife swapping – with many other members of the town, Nell is not able to look some of the elderly ladies in the eye again!!! Yep it certainly made inviting the neighbours over for a BBQ very interesting; even more so when the murder victim is identified as one of the other swingers and Nell’s father is the main suspect! Along with trying to be a good mother and exonerate her father, Nell has to deal with the wacky in-laws of her two pregnant daughters; her own eccentric mother and sister; an ex-husband who wants to be friends and show off his new baby, and an absent lover who wants commitment. Majic is a very typical country community which I could really relate to because I recognised many local characters that can be found in country towns across Australia. The sort of place where you can sneeze in the morning and the whole place has you dead and buried by lunch time – because everyone knows everyone else’s business – and what they don’t know they make up. FORBIDDEN FRUIT has humour, suspense, danger and lots of potential murderers and red herrings. I really like the time I spend in Majic and hope there will be more stories further down the track.
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A – Excellent Stuff – a real page turner and hard to put down. I carved out extra reading time just so I could finish it. This book got carted into the bathroom with me, read over meals, read at work, and/or kept me up late at night. If this author has more work, I will certainly read it.
With thanks to Momentum Books and the author via Netgalley for my copy to read and review.