St. Martin's, Dec 2002, 23.95, 256 pp.
It is going to be a wedding extravagance and the mother of the bride is driving florist Bretta Solomon crazy with all weird endless string of ideas. Other River City, Missouri merchants are also going certifiable trying to satisfy a woman whose plans keep changing and turning more complicated and stranger by the second. Days before the wedding, Evelyn Montgomery calls for a meeting to include Sonya the event coordinator, Dana the caterer, and Claire the hair stylist.
Before Evelyn can ever speak, Oliver dies from a heart attack while staring at the other merchants. Late that same day, Bretta visits Claire's Hair Salon because the stylist hinted she knows something about Oliver' death. Bretta arrives at the beauty shop too late because Claire is dead, the victim of a murderer. A few days later one of Claire's clients is killed in a gas explosion and Bretta thinks all the deaths are linked. Unable to keep her curiosity in check, Bretta decides to investigate not realizing that somebody will go to any lengths to stop her.
This is the fourth Solomon mystery and it is the best by far. The characters are all likable, even the pesky mother of the bride, so readers won't want any person in A DEADLY BOUQUET to be the villain. The climax is shocking, and nobody will be able to figure out what is really going on until Janis Harrison reveals the perpetrator in her cerebral puzzler that is nothing short of genius.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner