|Pecan grove in midwinter -- no blossoms yet, but (please note) no snow, either.|
A Tough Nut to Kill, by Elizabeth Lee
NY: Berkley Prime Crime, 2014
It’s always a happy day when a Michigan writer comes out with something new, and our own Elizabeth Buzzelli, now writing under the name Elizabeth Lee, gives us additional joy this winter with A Tough Nut to Kill. The first book in a new series, Tough Nut spirits away from Up North mountains of snow, sub-zero temperatures, and treacherous road conditions, taking us into the Southern life of Lindy Blanchard, third-generation member of a Texas pecan ranching family.
The season is summer. The temperature is hot! And when Linda discovers the body of her uncle Amos, lying dead on the floor of her greenhouse with a plant stake through his chest, surrounded by viciously destroyed trees, the search for the killer begins!
As readers we can’t help suspecting just about everyone in sight, and the author doesn’t simplify our task. Lindy’s brother, Justin, muddies the waters further by insisting that Amos may be the killer’s second victim. You see, Justin never accepted his father death three years before as an accident. Amos made plenty of enemies, but who could have wanted to Jake dead? Are other family members in danger?
And why would anyone want to destroy Lindy’s project, research into developing a strain of drought- and disease-resistant pecan trees to benefit all the ranchers in the region? Church ladies, wild hogs, competition over who bakes the best pecan pie – you know you’re somewhere else, and you’re darned glad to be there, chasing down clues with Linda and her Meemaw, the redoubtable, people-smart Miss Amelia. Great fun!