Joanne Phillips’ New Mystery Series | Murder at the Maples (Flora Lively Mysteries)

MURDER AT THE MAPLES (Flora Lively Mysteries)
by Joanne Phillips
Published: September 8, 2013
Publisher: Mirrorball Books
Genre: Fiction
Source: Personal Library


A tragic death. A reluctant sleuth. A childhood prank that went horribly wrong.

When Flora Lively inherits her father’s business she’s totally out of her depth. Shakers Removals is in trouble, and manager Marshall isn’t helping one bit – the ex-pat American delights only in winding her up. But Flora has other things on her mind, like Joy: surrogate grandmother and resident of the Maples Retirement Village. When Joy’s pet pug has a brush with death, Flora is pulled into a series of bizarre incidents at the Maples, where fear is starting to take hold.

Could harmless old Mr Felix really be the boy from Joy’s past, determined to exact his revenge, or is it Joy’s guilty mind playing tricks on her? And what about the Captain’s death? Accidents happen, even to the most careful people, but Flora’s not convinced the old man simply fell down the stairs … Playing detective seemed like a good idea at first, but before long Flora realises the stakes are far higher than either she or Joy imagined.

Full of warmth and humour, this gripping puzzle will appeal to fans of M. C. Beaton and Edie Clare.

(Synopsis from Goodreads)

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My Thoughts:

Nothing sets the tone for a good book than to find yourself immediately falling in love with the main character. In the case of Murder at the Maples, Flora Lively is the protagonist in this charming, witty, lovely and warm story of suspense, humanity and love. And Flora is easy to love as the central character in this book.

With her usual comfortable writing style, Joanne Phillips brings to the page a murder mystery full of intrigue but without the gore of the usual murder mystery. Her storytelling is a mix of Agatha Christie, Arthur Conan Doyle and M.C. Beaton, but is distinctly her own in this the first of the Flora Lively series.

Phillips has set herself apart not only by keeping down the gore but also creating Flora’s character — a young woman with a psychology degree but now operating a removal service. Through Flora’s compassion for residents moved in and out of a local retirement home, Phillips brings a strong message of care, love, loss, change — something a bit more serious to underpin the happenings surrounding this murder mystery.

Flora also has an American love interest which brings another part to the story as it weaves in and out of the inner workings of the removal company, scheduled moves to/from the retirement center and Flora’s determination to solve the mystery at The Maples.

Phillips’ has me hooked. I can’t wait for the next in Flora’s series. A gripping tale filled with humanity and humor. Don’t miss this one!

My Recommendation: 

For lovers of Agatha Christie, M.C. Beaton, Arthur Conan Doyle and others among mystery writers of this style. Add Joanne Phillips to this list of good mystery writers who don’t need blood and gore to keep the tale gripping and the reader reading!

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Meet the Author:

Joanne Phillips via Goodread

Joanne Phillips via Goodreads

Joanne Phillips lives in rural Shropshire, England, with her husband and daughter. Since leaving school she’s had an eclectic career, working as a hairdresser, an air hostess and a librarian. She now writes full-time. Joanne’s books explore life, love, loss and lies – including the lies we tell ourselves – in a light-hearted and uplifting way. She blogs regularly and records a monthly video for readers. Find out more about Joanne’s writing and sign up for her newsletter at

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UP NEXT:  I’ll be reviewing A Wilder Rose by Susan Wittig Albert, who has performed extensive research into the lives of Laura Ingalls Wilder and her daughter, Rose, and further into the collaborative writing they may, or may not, have done. Come and see what that might mean on Wed., October 2nd.


8 thoughts on “Joanne Phillips’ New Mystery Series | Murder at the Maples (Flora Lively Mysteries)

  1. Sherrey Meyer October 9, 2013 at 12:31 pm Reply

    Rebecca, you will love this book! Not heavy on the mystery side with gore and stuff. Just a really good book. I was so glad Joanne asked me to beta read for her because, like you, I don’t usually pick up the mysteries and thrillers. I will definitely continue to read about Flora Lively and her amateur detective work!


  2. RebeccaScaglione - Love at First Book October 8, 2013 at 10:22 am Reply

    This is a great review. I haven’t read many mysteries, they aren’t always my thing, but sometimes they are needed! I like to try to branch out and try new genres. 🙂


  3. tpolen October 2, 2013 at 11:19 am Reply

    When I was reading the synopsis, before I read your review, Agatha Christie immediately popped in my head. Great minds, I guess.


    • Sherrey Meyer October 2, 2013 at 3:04 pm Reply

      Terri, great minds indeed! Good to “see” you. 🙂


  4. Lindsay @ The Little Reader Library October 2, 2013 at 5:16 am Reply

    This sounds lovely, and this is an author I really want to find time to try one day soon. Nice to discover your blog!


    • Sherrey Meyer October 2, 2013 at 3:04 pm Reply

      Lindsay, if you like what I call soft mysteries (i.e. no gore, no violence to speak of, no bloody messes, very little darkness), you are going to love this book! I enjoyed every word and the pages turned so fast because of Joanna’s incredible writing.


  5. Sherrey Meyer September 30, 2013 at 2:20 pm Reply

    Tanya, glad I made the references to Christie and Doyle then. Joanne has written novels previously but not mysteries. This is her first foray into the world of suspense, and I think she’s done a great job.


  6. tanya @ moms small victories September 30, 2013 at 1:27 pm Reply

    I love Agatha Christie and Arthur Conn Doyle mysteries, sounds like this book is right up my alley. Thanks for the recommendation!


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