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Feature book: The Giving Tree

9 June 2021

The Giving Tree by Phillipa Nefri Clark

Series: Charlotte Dean Mysteries #5
Subgenre: Australian small town mystery
Release date: 8 Dec 2020
Publisher: self-published
Format: ebook and print
Length: 150 pages
RRP: $4.99 (ebook); $16.85 (print)

A year has passed in Kingfisher Falls since the first book in this series (A Deadly Start, originally known as The Christmas Tree Thief). Everyone is hopeful for a crime-free Christmas season. Unfortunately, because of said crime spree over the last year, takings are down at the local shops and Kingfisher Falls isn’t getting anywhere near the normal number of visitors over the festive season. People are a bit worried about coming to the town.

Charlotte and her employer Rosie—who is Trev’s mother—come up with a lovely scheme to entice people in, as well as something that can give back to the community. They organise for every business to have a small Giving Tree, whereby people who buy the goods and services of each shop can also contribute a small gift donation for someone in need. The gift card is written out and hung on a little tree, often placed near or on the front counter.

At first this seems to work beautifully. People are in a giving mood, and over the first week hundreds of dollars of donations are written on the lovely gift cards.

Then, disaster! Someone begins to steal the gift cards (how low can you go?!), and the shops are reluctant to keep them going as a result. They’re worried the thief will keep coming back—and that they’ll actually find some way to spend the money on the stolen cards. Not a desired end result.

The odious local mayor (with suspect criminal connections) is the first to point the finger at a local, Henry, recently tangled up in a crime. But Henry, only just back in town, is horrified. He claims he’s innocent. Will the town believe him? Maybe not as the evidence piles up …

Meanwhile, poor Trev is trying to find the right time to propose to Charlotte. Every time he thinks it’s a great time for the Big Moment, something happens. And then even more events get set in motion from Charlotte’s past, which make him hesitate—again—as Charlotte struggles with her personal issues. Will the proposal happen at all? Will Charlotte achieve some inner peace and finally be able to put the past behind her?

This book is the end of the series, so you’ll be happy to note everything comes to a conclusion, but with quite a few surprises along the way. The climactic armed show-down is totally worth the read!
I don’t want to tell you any spoilers, just dive in and relish another satisfying romantic cosy mystery.

Reviewed by Malvina

A review copy of this book was provided by the author.

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