As a huge fan of the cozy mystery, I’m not sure how I haven’t
stumbled on the Rose Gardner mysteries until now – but I feel like a better
person now that I have.
Denise Grover Swank has created a hilarious “fish bowl”
world here, all revolving around Rose Gardner, a 24-year-old woman who has done
absolutely nothing of note over the duration of her life.
In the first book, Twenty-Eight and a Half Wishes, we’re
introduced to Rose as a struggling DMV worker, who still lives with her emotionally
abusive mother and has never kissed a man – let alone do anything else with
There is one other thing to know about Rose: She has visions
of the future. And, when she has these visions, she immediately blurts them out
of her mouth. Often the visions are innoculous, a dog getting out of a yard, a
flower girl getting chicken pox, etc. Unfortunately for Rose, when the book
opens, she gets a vision of the man at her counter killing her.
Rose is thrown for a loop, so she leaves work early and has
a run-in with her mother. You see, sweet little Rose has never stood up to her
mother – but seeing her own bloody death has changed a few things, and an
annoyed Rose storms out of the house and leaves her mother to her own devices
for an entire day.
When Rose returns home, unfortunately, she finds the vision
has happened, but not to her. It’s her mother dead on the couch. Rose goes
across the road to use her new neighbor’s phone, which is where she meets Joe –
and the story really kicks off.
Rose is an interesting protagonist. She’s been overprotected
her whole life, by a mother she thought
despised her and a sister that wants to
protect her but goes about it like a gorilla bear. Once Rose’s mother is gone,
she’s considered a suspect, and everyone in the very small town where she
resides starts to turn on her. Her only ally seems to be Joe – who shows
interest in her but has a few shady things going on in his life, too.
As something of a loudmouth and extrovert, I don’t relate to a lot of
things that Rose has gone through in her life. I’ve never just shut up to make
someone happy. I do get blurting things out without meaning to say them, though,
and that’s really the source of Rose’s charm.
I have finished the first two books in this series and am
about to start the third tome. I can’t say enough about the country charm in
these stories. The dialogue flows from a realistic place and, even though I
figured out the truth about Joe relatively early in the first book, getting to
the end was still ridiculously fun.
The second book delves into Rose’s evolving life and growing
independence – but the strength in the book is really the relationships between
Rose and her sister, Violet – and Rose and not one but two love interests (one
of whom isn’t introduced until the second book).
Not every book has to be War and Peace or Pride and
Prejudice. Sometimes books can just be heart-warming, cozy reads – and that’s
exactly what the Rose Gardner mysteries are.
The first book, Twenty-Eight and a Half Wishes
, is available
on Kindle – so you can give it a shot without risking any money. If
you want to be charmed – I suggest doing it right away.