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Forbidden Fruit: A Nell Forrest Mystery 3 by…
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Forbidden Fruit: A Nell Forrest Mystery 3

by Ilsa Evans

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It will not come as any surprise to readers of the Nell Forrest series that she's found another body. In a small town like Majic there's an astonishingly high murder rate, even though this unfortunate victim seems to have been in Forrest's backyard for a very long time. About the time that her estranged father disappeared in fact – make of that coincidence what you will. Goodness knows Forrest's going to.

If there is such a thing as a preferable time to find a skeleton buried in your backyard, now is definitely not it for Forrest. She's finally moved into her new home (she's redone the butcher shop that had been her father's); she's also dealing with her ex-husband's return to town, along with new partner and baby daughter. Two of her own daughter's are about to give birth – one with a difficult decision which seems made from the outset and her own new relationship appears to be teetering somewhere a little too close to rocks.

So situation normal as far as Nell Forrest and the town of Majic are concerned.

Needless to say there's a level of lunacy about these stories which may (or may not) connect with the reader. Somehow, for this reader, the lunacy works. Perhaps it's because of Forrest's level of self-awareness. She's really under no illusions that her life is normal, that what happens around her is par for the course, and that she's in anyway even slightly in control most of the time. Once in a while she might draw breath and have a red hot go at a bit of order in the chaos but it just never seems to last. In this outing, there's also the added poignancy of the return of her father who deserted the family when Nell and her sister were very small.

His return to the fold is complicated by the discovery of the body with it's connections in time to him; with the ups and downs of Nell's daughter's lives; and with some startling revelations about the past in Majic. The discovery that not only did your parents have a sex life (which we all know we'd often prefer to deny) but that the sex life might have been a bit more risky than anybody ever wants to hear about a parent is a surprising development. Even when it goes a bit of the way to explain some of the complications of her own mother's love life.

All of this topped up by a street renaming that has everyone laughing about Nell Forrest Close being a warning, and a lot of amateur sleuthing along with a very personal threat and there's quite a lot to FORBIDDEN FRUIT.

Delivered as always with a lighter touch, and a keen eye for life in Australian country towns FORBIDDEN FRUIT is number 3 in a series on the cozier, light-hearted, slightly madcap and extremely humorous side. Definitely one that fans of that style of crime fiction should be clamouring to read, and most definitely something that Australian readers should be seeking out.

http://www.austcrimefiction.org/review/review-forbidden-fruit-ilsa-evans ( )
1 vote austcrimefiction | Nov 5, 2014 |
Forbidden Fruit is the third fabulously entertaining book in Ilsa Evans’ cozy mystery series set in the small fictional Australian town of Majic, featuring the middle aged accidental sleuth, Nell Forrest.

Forbidden Fruit picks up not long after Ill-Gotten Gains left off. Nell has moved into her newly purchased and renovated home, once the storefront for her absentee father’s butcher shop, and is digging a hole to plant an apple tree in her backyard when she uncovers human remains. The body is eventually identified as a young wife and mother who once lived in the adjoining premises and disappeared in the early 1970’s. The police suspect Nell’s father murdered her, prompting his return from England where he has been living for over thirty years, but Nell is convinced they have it wrong and sets out to prove his innocence.

Nell has her hands full in Forbidden Fruit what with two of her five daughters about to give birth, new in-law’s-to-be to entertain, her part time lover, Detective Ashley Armistead, demanding a commitment, and her ex husband parading his newborn daughter around town, yet she can’t help but get involved in the investigation when her father is charged with murder. Aided by her sister, Petra, and with clues provided by the gossipy residents of Majic (including Grace June Rae – the character I won naming rights to), Nell uncovers some disturbing secrets about the early years of her parents marriage, and unmasks a killer.

The mystery is well plotted with a trail of red herrings and surprising twists. It was well over halfway before I figured out the identity of the real killer, though not their motivation until the final scenes.

I have loved the humour in this series, from the ‘fan’ letters (Nell writes a syndicated newspaper column called Middle Aged Spread) that preface each chapter, to the exasperated snark Nell mumbles under her breath. The barely restrained chaos of Nell’s family life is a real feature in all three books, as is the eccentricity of the residents of Majic.

Forbidden Fruit, like the entire series, is a delightful blend of mystery, humour and domestic drama. Sadly this will be the final installment in the Nell Forrest Mystery series unless Nell finds a stronger audience. I implore readers whose interest is piqued to purchase a copy from your favourite ebook retailer. ( )
  shelleyraec | Nov 4, 2014 |
I got a free copy of this book from Netgalley. It's the third in a series set in a small town in Australia. I don't imagine I would have bought it if I had seen it in a bookstore -- the cover and title are a bit uninspired. But I enjoyed Forbidden Fruit far more than I expected to. It definitely fits the "cosy mystery" genre in a good way. Evans' detective, Nell, is a great character surrounded by a somewhat eccentric and interesting family -- especially her five daughters (two of them pregnant) and her mother. The mystery itself was interesting enough, but it's really Nell's common sense -- yet funny --character that pulls the book together and made me want to keep reading. Nell's lightheartedness and humour reminded me a bit of Janet Enanovich's Stephanie Plum, but I think I enjoyed Nell more. I have already found and bought the first two books in the series, and look forward to reading them. I expect they too will be good quick reads for times when I am in the mood for something lighter. ( )
  Eesil | Oct 20, 2014 |
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This time it's personal... The last thing Nell Forrest expected when she tried to plant a tree was to unearth the skeletal remains of a former resident. Now her new backyard is swarming with police, there's a television news crew camped next door, and once again she is smack in the middle of a murder investigation. And the timing is dreadful. Two of Nell's daughters are about to give birth and she is surrounded by new in-laws with agendas of their own. But it soon becomes clear that this time the investigation is personal - so personal that enquiries bring her long-estranged father back into the family fold, and the answers shed some very uncomfortable light about the proclivities of her parents when they were young. Who would have thought that the little country town of Majic had ever been such a swinging place to live?… (more)

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