This is the first Susan Wittig Albert book that I have ever read but it seemed a good place to start since it is the first book in a new series by the prolific author.
The Darling Dahlias and the Cucumber Tree is about as cozy as cozy gets. The setting for this book is rural Darling, Alabama in 1930 and a band of middle-aged (30-55) garden club members are the sleuths. The author takes quite a bit of time to actually get to the mystery (page 95 of a 280 novel) but there are several diversions that account for little side mysteries along the way. Overall, there is nothing to dislike in this book. It is quaint and cozy and moves along at a leisurely pace toward a neatly tied package at the end. The characters are varied and likable with a few quirks to keep things interesting. I'll happily pick up the second book in this series as soon as it is published. Sometimes a little fluff is exactly what a person needs when choosing her next book.
This book is probably the "coziest" cozy I've ever read. I enjoyed it. The garden club members are a diverse group of women, enough so that they each get their own personality, and the author developed each one just enough so that you liked them (or didn't) but weren't overwhelmed by one person. A number of the women were living independently; had jobs, were homeowners and business owners, not needing a man to provide for them, and, in this time period, I found it refreshing.
In addition to solving the mystery, they talk about being homeowners, sex outside of marriage, and other "taboo" subjects (for that day). I would like to see Myra May and her "roommate" come out of the closet, at least to their close friends, perhaps that will be a book or two down the road. These gals are forward thinking, independent and smart.
It was a little odd that not a one of them consulted with the police and managed to solve the entire crime, for the police, without ever talking to them, but it wasn't "bad" odd, just different from all other cozies I've read, where someone, somewhere, gets info from the police.
Looking forward to the next book.
I enjoyed the read - it was light, the period details were interesting and the cast of characters shows promise for an ongoing story line. Having a garden club of women is interesting and a little different than the BFFs the herbalist series circles around.