Every few months, Mary Saums (one of the super-talented Femmes Fatales) and I get together at a restaurant halfway between our homes to catch up on the details of each other’s lives. The conversation is seldom linear.
Inevitably we wind up talking about books we’ve read recently – what we loved, what we hated. At our meeting last week, Mary suggested that I share some of my favorites here on this blog. That was perfect timing, because I’ve just had one of those ‘I wish I’d written that’ moments.
The book is A Tine to Live, A Tine to Die, first in the Local Foods mysteries by Edith Maxwell. Maxwell’s protagonist, Cam Flaherty, is in her first season as a full-time organic farmer. She’s got the CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) members on their way to pick up the first baskets of produce when she catches her hired hand planning to spray toxic poison on the crops (because that’s easier than hand-picking the critters off the plants). Naturally she fires the dimwit, and his vow to make her regret the decision is overheard by some of the customers. So when the hired hand is found dead with Cam’s pitchfork in his chest….
The reason that this book grabbed me, of course, was the background in the world of small farms and sustainable agriculture. Those who wonder why organic food is “so expensive” will find the explanation in Maxwell’s depiction of Cam’s life as a farmer – weather, insects, blights, and (in this case) sabotage all affect the outcome of the harvest. It also becomes clear that Cam, like her customers, have a sincere dedication to the health of the community.
A Tine to Live, A Tine to Die manages to present a solid mystery with the seamlessly-integrated backdrop of Cam’s agricultural education, yet it never gets preachy or bogged down in the details of either story.
I’m giving this one Five Clucks!