Synopsis from Goodreads: A flower show is boring duty for the Olive Branch garden crew. That is of course, until the Hosta Queen is found pushing up daisies under the judge’s table!
Is it another clue in the hunt for a serial killer? Or will this dead flower mean the end of The Olive Branch investigation team?
My Rating: 4/5 stars
**contains spoilers for previous episodes*
The final published episode of the Olive Branch Mysteries series finds the gang once again in Bean’s hospital room trying to decide what their next move will be. It’s waaay after hours and the little delinquents have snuck in with Mt. Dew and pizza – the necessary snacks needed to discuss the latest developments in their investigation. Unfortunately, the kids are unable to come up with a new course of action and are forced to break up the evening’s meeting without any clear plan.
Luckily, they have a detective on their side and he just happens to have a plan 🙂 Pone’s dad approaches the kids with the intention of having Spaz enter the Hosta Queen pageant as a contestant and the boys working in the wings to help protect her. The Hunnicut’s are big supporters and participants in the pageant and while everyone, especially Spaz initially balks at the idea, they eventually agree it is a good plan. Ollie and Bean’s mom both convince Spaz she is the ideal candidate and convince her they will be by her side throughout the entire process. For Spaz, the idea of dressing up and showing off is completely foreign but something she is willing to try of means catching a killer. The boys talk all kinds of trash about Spaz being able to pull it all off until they see her all primped and prettied up – the moments of babbling and speechlessness when the boys see Spaz in her finery are priceless.
Spaz’s entry into the competition starts out as just a means to an end but Spaz quickly figures out she has a real shot at becoming the Hosta Queen. That is, of course if she can survive the pageant. On at least three occasions Spaz is involved in a very-near-miss “accident’ which does leave at least one girl seriously injured. The near-misses make Spaz more determined than ever to get through the pageant and uncover the identity of the killer; unfortunately the pageant committee isn’t inclined to agree and cancels the competition. The final moments of episode five reveal the Hunnicut’s daughter, Val has been admitted to the hospital after an apparent overdose. The doctors aren’t sure she will recover and the gang is more convinced than ever of the Hunnicut’s guilt where the dead girls are concerned. The only problem? No one is quite sure which Hunnicut is the culprit . . . .
The Bottom Line: I very much enjoyed these short, easy-to-read episodes. Gale Borger has a smooth and easy writing style that is always infused with witty dialogue and excellent humor. Borger’s characters are realistic, relatable and, more fully developed from episode to episode. The continuity and flow of the plot is in no way negatively affected by the breaking up of a larger novel into small episodes (aka novellas). I can easily and quite comfortably recommend this series to readers of nearly every age group as the there is no bad language or naughty bits that would not be suitable for YA readers. I am quite looking forward to the conclusion of this series though, to date, there is no release date noted for the sixth episode.