No Farm, No Foul
Peg Cochran     

Genre: Cozy Mystery
Series: Farmer's Daughter
Book: 1


First in the Farmer’s Daughter mystery series set on a picturesque farm in Michigan, where Shelby McDonald runs a popular lifestyle and cooking blog, from the national bestselling author of the Cranberry Cove Mysteries.
On her blog, The Farmer’s Daughter, Shelby McDonald is growing her audience as she posts recipes, gardening tips, and her experiences raising two kids and running Love Blossom Farm in the small western Michigan town of Lovett.
Working the farm is demanding but peaceful—until that peace is shattered when the minister’s wife is murdered on Shelby’s property during a fund-raiser for a local church. But the manure really hits the fan when Shelby’s good friend veterinarian Kelly Thacker emerges as the prime suspect. Shelby decides to dig in and find the murderer by herself. As more suspects crop up, she’ll have to move fast—before someone else buys the farm. . . .


Widow Shelby McDonald has a busy life working on her farm in rural Lovett, Michigan, writing a cooking blog, and raising two children. She's not quite ready to date, but is happy with her life on Love Blossom Farm. Shelby agrees to host a fundraiser for the local church and is shocked when the minister's wife is murdered. Shelby is trying to get over this terrible event, but then her best friend, veterinarian Kelly Thacker becomes the prime suspect in the murder, Shelby adds "catch a killer" to her already full to-do list.

This book is the first in a new series and there are things I really liked about the book and think the series has promise. However, with a few minor changes, future books could be a lot more enjoyable. Shelby writes a blog with recipes and stories about her life on the farm, reminiscent of television's and cookbook author "The Pioneer Woman." Including the blog entries is a nice touch and the descriptions of Shelby's everyday farm chores, from feeding the chickens to tending her crops, are excellent and make Shelby come alive as a character. However, I was often confused over the things written as blog entries and wondered if they were really supposed to represent what Shelby posted online for the whole world to see. On day she mentioned how her friend Kelly was acting strange and later when she is investigating Prudence's death, she speculates on the various murder suspects on what seems to be her blog.

The investigation is another part of the book that is well-done. Kelly mentions that people confide in Shelby, so once she starts digging, she is able to get a lot of information about Prudence, who isn't the innocent pastor's wife she first appears. Unfortunately, Kelly does too good of a job and discovers a major clue, but doesn't share this information with the authorities, which puts her life in danger.

There are a few inconsistences in the narrative, such as stating she had been riding horses since she was a young girl and then turning right around and saying she didn't know anything about them), but those I could overlook. One of my major complaints about the book is how Shelby's not quite thirteen-year-old daughter behaves and how Shelby reacts. Amelia repeatedly lies and sneaks off to meet a boy and nobody seems to think there is anything wrong with this. In fact, some accuse Shelby of over-reacting when she becomes concerned. When she finally addresses the situation by grounding her daughter, Amelia leaves the house anyway. The situation with Amelia became so irritating, it distracted me from the main plot of the mystery and what Prudence had done to make so many enemies. I was able to guess part of the solution of the murder, but there were still some surprises, which was good. Overall, this is a good cozy mystery that could be the start of a new fun series.

~ Christine