Auntie M has to admit she has a certain fondness for Rebecca Tope, as the British author of several series kindly gave her a blurb for one of her own mysteries, The Scarlet Wench, set in the Lake District.
So it was a great delight to return to the Lake District in the newest in Tope’s series, The Coniston Case. It’s almost Valentines’ Day in Windermere and florist Persimmon–Simmy–Brown is feeling a bit overwhelmed. There are far too many red roses being ordered, she decides, and to add to her feeling of urgency, she’s suddenly being given a few anonymous deliveries that are sent without signatures to their cards, and which meet with unexpected unhappy explosions toward Simmy from their recipients.
An out of the way delivery to Coniston, which has its own florist and leaves Simmy wondering just why Persimmon’s Petals was chosen, bring DI Moxon to her shop. The unsigned bouquet for a Mr. Hayter of Rosebay Echoes has been found in his house, never put in water. And there’s no sign of Mr. Hayer himself until his bod is found on the fells, an apparent suicide.
Sammy’s upset by the rash of these anonymous orders. In the middle of trying to figure out this muddle comes her Worcester friend, Kathy, for a visit. Kathy’s daughter is in the area and Simmy agrees to put her up so Kathy can figure out what her daughter is keeping from her. Worcester is Simmy’s old hometown, and Kathy’s appearance adds to Simmy’s disquiet. As happy as she is to see her old friend, Kathy reminds her of her lost baby and marriage.
Running a floral shop, Simmy has learned flowers can be sent for reasons other than niceties, apology or revenge among them. “A florist put herself in the line of fire simply by being associated with major life events where emotions were heightened and families forced to confront disagreeable truths.”
Then a second man, a housemate of Mr. Hayter, is found murdered at Rosebay Echoes, and once again, Simmy finds herself involved in crime, against her better judgement.
With her helper, Melanie, and young friend Ben on the case, it will be up to Simmy to help DI Moxon figure out just what’s going on, and how climate change experiments and caves figure into the situation. It’s a perplexing mystery, almost a perplexing as Simmy’s feelings towards local potter, Ninian, and DI Moxon.