Arsenic in the Azaleas – Lovely Lethal Gardens Book 1 by Dale Mayer

Arsenic in the Azaleas
Lovely Lethal Gardens Book 1
USA Today Bestselling Author
Dale Mayer


Winter Blog Blurb

After her ex-husband leaves her high and dry, former socialite Doreen Montgomery’s chance at a new life comes in the form of her grandmother, Nan’s, dilapidated old house in picturesque Kelowna … and the added job of caring for the animals Nan couldn’t take into assisted living with her: Thaddeus, the loquacious African gray parrot with a ripe vocabulary, and his buddy, Goliath, a monster-size cat with an equally monstrous attitude.

It’s the new start Doreen and her beloved basset hound, Mugs, desperately need. But, just as things start to look up for Doreen, Goliath the cat and Mugs the dog find a human finger in Nan’s overrun garden.

And not just a finger. Once the police start digging, the rest of the body turns up and turns out to be connected to an old unsolved crime.

With her grandmother as the prime suspect, Doreen soon finds herself stumbling over clues and getting on Corporal Mack Moreau’s last nerve, as she does her best to prove her beloved Nan innocent of murder.

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Winter Blog Review

This book was such fun! In spite of a rather nasty divorce that leaves Doreen with no home and no money she falls nicely on her feet thanks to her Grandmother ‘Nan’. Nan is moving into an assisted living facility in her town and gives Doreen her home.

Doreen has a dog Mugs, and the house comes with two pets as well, Goliath a very large Maine Coon Cat, and Thaddeus, a Gray African Parrot. These pets are a hoot.

As Doreen starts to get settled, Mugs comes running with something in his mouth.

This is a favorite scene.

Doreen’s previous life seemed so far removed from where she’d landed now. Although this house was paid for, she still needed to find a way to make a living to pay her monthly bills and to put food on her table as well as to pay for the dog’s food. According to Nan, the water bill here was horrific, and the power companies were thieves. Doreen had not worked the whole time she had been married. Her controlling husband had deemed it “demeaning.” So Doreen had job searches and job applications and job interviews to look forward to as well.

But what did she really want to do with the rest of her life?

She sighed, shook her head. Those were tomorrow’s messes to deal with.

Today was about getting moved in and settled for the night.

Mugs walked over and sat down beside her.

He had something in his mouth, but she had no idea what. When he crunched it with a bone-breaking noise, she bounded to her feet and stared at him, aghast. “Where did you get that?”

A bit of grass stuck out one corner of his mouth.

Whatever it was had come from outside the house. But, since Mugs hadn’t been in the garden in the front yard or in the backyard yet, chances were that the cat had brought it inside. And that could mean all kinds of horrible things. Doreen had no experience with cats, but she’d heard the horror stories… “Mugs, that’s disgusting. Drop it.”

When he didn’t, Doreen’s face twisting in distaste, she leaned over for a closer look. Was it a bone? But what kind of a bone? “Mugs, give it to me. Let me look at that.”

He gave her a grunt and backed away.


She got on her hands and knees to peer closer. A bone wouldn’t be so bad, but something appeared to be sticking out the end of it. She tried to grab it from him, only Mugs backed up again.

Slowly she followed him on all fours. “Come on, boy. You don’t want that nasty bone. Give it to me, and I’ll get you some proper dinner.” Inspired by the idea, she hopped to her feet and ran inside to his stash of goodies, found his treats, shaking the bag as she ran out the back door.

Immediately Mugs dropped the bone and raised his nose to sniff the air. When Doreen held out a chicken twist for him, he smelled it, then decided he preferred the bone at his feet.

“No! Wait, Mugs. No.” She shoved the treat into his face a second time.

He gave her an offended look but slowly took the treat, dropping the bone once more.

Instantly she snatched it out of his reach. She turned it over and screamed, tossing the small fleshy thing to the wooden floor of the veranda. Mugs raced for it, but she shooed him away. Using a piece of old cardboard found on the side of the veranda, she scooped up the bone and placed it on the little outside table. Gasping, her heart pounding, she peered closer.

The bone had skin on it— and a fingernail at the end. A nicely manicured man’s nail.

Mugs had been chomping on a human finger.
Dale Mayer. Arsenic in the Azaleas (Kindle Locations 145-169). Valley Publishing.

The hilarity ensues from this discovery on. From the initial interview with the police, to her first interaction with Corporal Mack Moreau I couldn’t help laughing at her naïveté. In spite of that she does manage to find additional clues that lead to the murderer. Much to Mack’s chagrin.

So many little twists and turns as she does her best to prove her Nan had nothing to do with the murder. The animals are so much fun as is her Nan. This book is pure enjoyment and I can’t wait to see how her relationship with Mack develops in this series.

5 Contented Purrs for Dale!

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Winter Blog About Author

Dale Mayer

Dale Mayer is a USA Today bestselling author best known for her Psychic Visions and Family Blood Ties series. Her contemporary romances are raw and full of passion and emotion (Second Chances, SKIN), her thrillers will keep you guessing (By Death series), and her romantic comedies will keep you giggling (It’s a Dog’s Life and Charmin Marvin Romantic Comedy series).

She honors the stories that come to her – and some of them are crazy and break all the rules and cross multiple genres!

To go with her fiction, she also writes nonfiction in many different fields with books available on resume writing, companion gardening and the US mortgage system. She has recently published her Career Essentials Series. All her books are available in print and ebook format.

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