The Azalea Assault
by Alyse Carlson
Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime
Released: June 5, 2012
Source: Review copy from the publisher.
Book Description from Back Cover:
Roanoke, Virginia, is home to some of the country’s most exquisite gardens, and it’s Camellia Harris’ job to promote them. Camellia Harris has achieved a coup in the PR world. The premier national magazine for garden lovers has agreed to feature one of Roanoke’s most spectacular gardens in its pages—and world-famous photographer Jean-Jacques Georges is going to shoot the spread.
But at the welcoming party, Jean-Jacques insults several guests, complains that flowers are boring, and gooses almost every woman in the room. When a body is found the next morning, sprawled across the azaleas, it’s almost no surprise that the victim is Jean-Jacques.
With Cam’s brother-in-law blamed for the crime—and her reporter boyfriend, Rob, wanting the scoop, Cam decides to use her skills to solve the murder.
The Azalea Assault is a cozy mystery, and it's the first in a series. After an incident about halfway through the book, the murderer seemed pretty obvious to me, and I was correct. Perhaps because the murderer seemed so obvious to me, it bothered me that Camellia was so quick to accuse anyone of the murder as long as it'd get her best friend and sister's husband out of jail. One thing I like about mysteries is the pursuit of the truth of who really committed the crime, and I didn't feel like that was the goal in this story. Cam only kept looking because she couldn't find enough proof on anyone to get them arrested instead.
And her sister's husband and her best friend should never have been arrested in the first place. Suspected, yes, but not arrested. They were arrested and put in jail on circumstantial evidence before the crime scene was even processed. This would never happen in real life (unless witnesses actually saw them do it). I also had a hard time believing that Cam is normally a very law-abiding person. She hardly thinks twice about illegal behavior in pursuit of proving her suspects guilty, and her reasons for being law-abiding apparently aren't based on "because this is wrong" but "what might happen if I'm caught?!"
Though there were no actual sex scenes, I also wasn't entirely comfortable with how physical the characters were and how casual they were about it. It wasn't graphic, but the best friend had sex with a casual acquaintance, and Cam frequently had groping sessions with her boyfriend to "keep him happy." And that relationship seemed to primarily be a physical, using one rather than one with long-term and emotional commitment.
There was a minor amount of explicit bad language and some fake and "he swore" style bad language. Overall, I didn't really care for the characters and the mystery of whodunit wasn't there to keep me hooked anyway, but people that are more comfortable with the characters will probably enjoy the story.
If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.
Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.