Hemlock for the Holidays by Paula Darnell

Hemlock for the Holidays (A Fine Art Mystery #3)
By Paula Darnell
August 19, 2021
★★★★ 4 stars

Thank you to Netgalley and Campbell and Rogers Press for providing me with an ARC. All opinions expressed in this review are my own.

Artist Amanda Trent is preparing for the holiday season in Lonesome Valley when tragedy strikes. A local man dies after eating carrot bars sold at the high school arts and crafts fair – was this food poisoning gone wrong, or was there a more sinister reason behind his death?


The characters of Lonesome Valley seem like people you’d meet in many a small town. The town is charming, yet flawed, adding a realistic touch to the story. Darnell does a good job of creating interesting storylines and relationships for her characters, even if they’re only background characters. These characters help make the mystery more interesting. I didn’t see the mystery ending in the way that it did!

However, if there’s one thing that could be improved, it’s the dialogue (particularly Amanda’s internal dialogue). At times, it seemed a little stilted and unnatural.

It should be noted that the mystery is not always the focus of the story. I’d describe it as being only one of the major storylines that runs through this novel, the others being Amanda’s slowing art sales and Amanda’s first Christmas as a divorcée in Lonesome Valley. I liked the insight that we got as a reader into Amanda’s life as it helped to flesh her character out, but readers who are more interested in the detective work behind a mystery itself may not find the other storylines as entertaining.

I read this book as a standalone, so I may have missed some of the character backstories. However, I don’t think you need to have read the other books in the series to enjoy this one. I give this book ★★★★ 4 stars.

5 thoughts on “Hemlock for the Holidays by Paula Darnell

  1. Mystereity Reviews August 19, 2021 / 6:42 am

    I just finished this one and saw your review. I love the line about “The town is charming, yet flawed, adding a realistic touch to the story” and that’s so true of this one. Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mint August 19, 2021 / 2:25 pm

      Thank you! I totally agree with what you said on yours – the people absolutely outshone the plot. Which is difficult to do, because the mystery was interesting and offered something different than most cozies.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Carla August 21, 2021 / 5:54 pm

    I read two books in her DIY Diva series and enjoyed them. This sounds like it is a good one as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mint August 21, 2021 / 6:59 pm

      I might have to check out that series, thank you for mentioning it! DIY Diva sounds like an intriguing title…

      Liked by 1 person

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