Willow McQuade is a naturopathic practitioner and the owner of Nature’s Way Market and Café. For someone who promotes gentle, natural lifestyles, Willow manages to get herself tangled up with a lot of very brutal murderers.
In the first book of the Natural Remedies series, her Aunt Claire (the previous owner of Nature’s Way) was murdered soon after Willow arrived for a visit. If you missed that series debut, no need to worry— Scent to Kill is filled with spoilers to bring you up to date. This time around it’s Willow’s ex-boyfriend’s girlfriend’s ex-husband who meets his demise at the hands of person or persons unknown, and Willow is again compelled to take on the role of amateur sleuth.
Willow and her current beau, ex-police officer Jackson Spade, are invited by Simon Lewis, Willow’s ex-boyfriend, to attend a party at the Bixby Estate where a new reality show is being filmed. As she mixes and mingles, Willow gets to meet the crew and cast of the new show about paranormal activity, which will star psychic MJ McClellen and follow her attempts to communicate with those who have passed on. While MJ often senses the presence of one entity or another, she is as stunned as anyone when Roger Bixby—estate owner and show producer—is murdered. Opting for the easy suspect, local detectives immediately suspect Simon because, you know, he’s dating the dead guy’s ex-wife. Willow knows firsthand that Simon isn’t perfect, but she’s convinced he would never kill anyone.
Bolstered by her successful foray into sleuthing after her aunt’s death, Willow decides it is up to her to find Roger Kirby’s killer. You might think that the police would be better equipped to investigate a murder than would a naturopathic doctor, but the detectives in this book really do seem to be exceptionally dim-witted. They don’t even notice as Willow commits various criminal acts during her investigation, including trespassing, mail tampering, and removing evidence from the scene of a crime. Despite the occasional complaint from former police officer Spade, he still goes along with Willow’s schemes. Fortunately, the disability that allowed him to retire from the police force doesn’t hinder him at all; he even scales a wall to help Willow in her pursuit of justice.
Scent to Kill is a pleasant-enough read, with a nice variety of suspects and motives for those who enjoy a puzzle. Willow’s terse blog posts about aromatherapy introduce each chapter and readers who are new to the concept will find those plus random tidbits about healthy lifestyles both interesting and informative.