Cozy Mystery Adds Herbal Detection to Handwriting Analysis Kat Everitt, the handwriting analysis sleuth, teams up with top herbalists to uncover a killer in “Murder Most Floral.” A bouquet of flowers, and a handwritten note with hidden meaning invade the victims’ homes. The third book in this cozy mystery series again features brain over brawn as Kat races to find the killer of two friends while trying to protect another. The setting in the Pocono Mountains may seem idyllic, but suspects abound and the mystery requires the help of friends to follow numerous paths to find the killer. Handwriting analysis provides leads and eliminates suspects for our sleuth as she examines notes from friends and enemies in this cozy area of the northeast. The meaning behind the flowers adds dimension and sometimes confusion to her conclusions. Who warns with a bouquet of flowers? Handwriting clues reveal characteristics that lead to red herrings as well. Kat keeps the police informed of possibilities while they pursue other avenues to solve the crimes. Typically, Kat doesn’t capture the killer but paves the way for those who do. And so it is in “Murder Most Floral,” though Kat reveals new skills in stopping assailants. As in the first two books of this traditional, yet cozy, mystery series, readers can follow written clues to learn more about the suspects . . . or themselves. The first victim in “Murder Most Floral,” Margaret, is the owner of Kinney Farms, an herbal supply farm, and co-owner of the Bittersweet Herb Shop. The second victim in this cozy mystery, Rosalyn Bromfield, is an employee of both places. The third victim, Agatha Kinney, received a bouquet like the others and was a life-time friend of Margaret. Agatha is co-owner of the farm and the herb shop. When Kat is called to her aid, she’s whisked away to a safe haven before she can be attacked. “Murder Most Floral” includes some of the earlier cast in the series, including Kat’s husband, Nick, and the Petingill and Donnelly Security Agency. Nick, a former operative with the Defense Intelligence Agency, adapts his skills to finding the bad guys on the local scene while assisting Kat in her defense of friends. His scheme to ensnare ruthless developers in a trap intertwines with Kat’s efforts to find the secret admirer sending herbal bouquets to his/her victims. Kat’s former sidekick, Maddy Gerard, from the first books in the series, takes a secondary role this time. She’s off on the sidelines with her boyfriend Ted, but comes to the rescue when called. Rita Mae Dobbs reemerges as a budding detective, while a new addition, the sisters of herbal fame, Lizzie and Delia, come to the forefront. In “Murder Most Floral” is the killer a crazed developer seeking land? A Bittersweet Herb Shop customer or employee? Or a shady character from the past? When the murders don’t seem to point in the same direction, what trail does Kat need to follow? Can she pinpoint the killer by analyzing the written clues, while the best local herbalists decipher the sinister meanings behind the flowers in time to prevent a third murder? Handwriting analysis identifies hundreds of qualities such as coping ability, work drive, and reliability. Taken as a whole, these characteristics form a mosaic that a certified analyst like Kat can use to draw significant conclusions. This technique is one of many methods Kat uses to unmask a killer in “Murder Most Floral.”
BIOGRAPHY Judith Mehl parlayed her writing experience and handwriting analysis expertise into a series of mysteries. As former editor of the journal for the American Association of Handwriting Analysts, she learned an appreciation of mind-to-pen revelation that became an important tool in her books.
Protagonist Kat Everitt relies on that science with deceptive charm in the handwriting mystery series, while Mehl’s long-time interest in nature and medicinal plants came to the forefront in the third mystery, Murder Most Floral. A new character, Lizzie Ort, assists Kat in her detection work. Lizzie charged forward off the pages of the book and found murder in her own series, beginning with "Fountain of Death." Second in the series, "The Way Out," debuts May 15, 2018.
Mehl has published numerous newspaper and magazine articles prior to her move to fiction writing. Her novels are peppered with gardening and medicinal herb information. A former university publication manager, her fictitious characters are colored with the quirks of her real life world. She lives in the mountains where she explores the relationship of woodland plants to their environment and their medicinal value for humans. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, Pocono Writers, and the Greater Lehigh Valley Writers Group. She is also active with the county Children and Youth agency, the Pocono Herb Club, and the Pocono Mountain Quilters Guild.