Essentials of Murder

Aromatherapy Apothecary Cozy Mysteries Book 1

Fiction - Mystery - Sleuth
314 Pages
Reviewed on 05/25/2022
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Liz Konkel for Readers' Favorite

Essentials of Murder (Aromatherapy Apothecary Cozy Mysteries Book 1) by Kim Davis is the first book in a new series. Carissa thought she left her troubles behind her when she chose to start her life over in the small town where her father serves as the Police Chief. Carissa has reinvented herself after running away from a scandal and now she's living a new life with a new business that gives her a sense of purpose. The Aromatherapy Apothecary shop allows her to put the past behind and establish herself within the community. Not everyone is happy about her new business. Russ Lewellyn isn't supportive of her presence in town and hasn't been shy in vocalizing his opposition. After she finds him dead in her shop and the evidence points to her, everyone, including Russ's mother, seems to think she's the killer. Even her father – the chief of police – can't keep accusations from being aimed at her. A conflict develops with the detective on the case, who seems to be convinced of her guilt. Instead of running away from her problems this time, she chooses to stay and prove her innocence before she loses everything.

The story immediately sets up the antagonist by introducing Russ in the first line when he makes it clear that he doesn't like Carissa being in town. Setting up this friction is a clever way of making her a suspect even before the murder occurs. The small-town setting is perfectly captured as Kim Davis highlights the gossiping and assumptions of the community that switches from defending her to accusing her of murder. The reversal in the town's perception adds to her drive to prove that she's innocent and gives her the determination to investigate on her own. Twists and turns are used to expose secrets and lead her to a shocking revelation that delivers a satisfying conclusion. The relationship with her father is genuine while creating more conflict as his reputation is also at risk. Humor is woven throughout with delightful writing and dialogue. Essentials of Murder is a charming mystery with a great assortment of small-town characters, a sleuthing heroine trying to rebuild her life, and a credible portrayal of family dynamics.