Killer Flowers

Book Cover: Killer Flowers
Part of the Christie's Flower Shoppe series:

Christie O'Mara is thrilled to finally be living her dream of running her own flower shop. With her grandmother's legacy guiding her, she sets out to create beautiful floral arrangements and unique gifts for the small town she calls home. But little does she know that her grand opening will be overshadowed by a decades-old murder mystery.

While preparing the shop for its first day of business, Christie stumbles upon a long-lost note hidden within an antique desk. The cryptic message hints at a connection to a murder that took place in the same small town years ago. Intrigued, she begins to dig deeper, hoping to unravel the truth behind the mysterious note while also juggling the demands of her newfound business.

Just as she starts to make progress, Christie receives devastating news: one of her special "flowers with a message" bouquets has been delivered to a customer who is found dead shortly thereafter. Suddenly, her business is under scrutiny, and Christie finds herself at the center of a murder investigation. Determined to clear her name and prove the innocence of her Killer Flowers, she embarks on a quest for the truth with the help of her beloved Aunt Doris and shop cat, Stormy.

KILLER FLOWERS, the first cozy mystery novel in the Christie’s Flower Shoppe series.


A Christie’s Flower Shoppe Novel © 2023 PJ Peterson

~ ~ ~



The wind howled outside on Friday afternoon in late October, and the lights flickered off for a moment while Christie O’Mara floated around the flower and gift shop. She flicked an imaginary wisp of dust off an antique cherry writing desk. She straightened a ribbon bow on the gigantic vase of fresh flowers sitting on the glass table next to her order station. A bouquet of balloons danced in front of the fan that she had placed strategically behind the display. 


Christie clasped her hands together and smiled at the transformation before her eyes. She was ready for the grand re-opening the next day of the florist shop which had belonged to her grandma. Because it was the week before Halloween, she had decorated with a ghostly theme using witches and pumpkins against a purple and orange backdrop.

Six weeks ago, her mother had called with the sad news that Grandma Maude O’Mara had died unexpectedly. Christie recalled the many happy hours she had spent helping her grandma and Aunt Doris in the shop, and she grieved the loss of this special person in her life. She was thankful that she had been able to have a long conversation with her a week before her death, not knowing it would be the last.

Christie had spent weekends and summers at the shop. She had been fascinated to learn both the flowers’ names and their meanings. Her aunt, who was actually her great-aunt, her grandmother’s younger sister, had patiently taught Christie how to arrange flowers in beautiful bouquets and displays. One summer, Christie took a class in the Japanese art of ikebana, and reveled in the simple yet elegant designs she learned to create. 

But as a teenager, she had dreamed of living in a big, exciting city and being on her own with a brilliant future in business ahead of her. So, she’d headed out of her small hometown to college and earned a degree in business with a minor in accounting. However, the reality of her job and the big city was something totally different from her fantasy. 

She had been passed over a couple of times for a higher-level position, possibly due to her refusal to get “better acquainted” with her male boss. An attempt to file a sexual harassment suit at her work was strongly discouraged by the company’s head of Human Resources — another male. She had been seriously looking for a position in a new company when she learned of her grandmother’s death.

When her mother called a few weeks later to inform her that if she didn’t want to take over the shop, it would be sold or closed, all those fond memories of their times together in that shop flooded back yet again — but this time with joy. Christie made the decision to leave her job and San Francisco and become a florist shop owner instead. The very next day, she turned in her notice at the furniture store chain where she worked as the lead accountant. 

And now Christie was back in her hometown of White Castle. She looked forward to being her own boss and making her own mark in the world. And there would be no one in her way holding her back. She would have the help of her Aunt Doris, who had been her grandma’s right-hand “man” for years and who was thrilled that Christie would continue the business. Sometimes, Christie thought her aunt was a little goofy, but she certainly knew the language of flowers and was bound to be helpful for continuity with the community when her grandma’s longtime customers came through the door.

Christie would continue the basics of making and selling floral bouquets, of course, but she also planned to expand the gifts section that she thought could use some freshening up. When she surveyed the space, she was intrigued to find a dozen or so pieces of vintage and antique furniture begging to be polished up and displayed. They had been stored in a large closet in the back of the shop. Aunt Doris had told her that Grandma Maude hadn’t gotten around to doing anything with them, although she’d talked about selling the items as another means of bringing in customers and money. It felt good to know she was completing a plan her grandma had not gotten around to fulfilling. 

During the previous week, Christie and her mother had spent several afternoons cleaning up the dainty desks, small tables, and even a tall, freestanding vintage radio. Her mom explained that she had listened to radio shows on it as a child when she visited her own grandparents. She had been enthralled to listen to the stories being told over the air while drinking hot chocolate and eating homemade cookies.

On the eve of the grand reopening, one last piece remained to be readied for sale: the writing desk. It was a lovely piece, and she felt almost sad that she had decided to sell it, but she didn’t have any emotional attachment to it and hoped someone would love it enough to pay its price. She stood next to it with her arms crossed for a moment and took a big breath before doing a final inspection. 

She checked to be sure the legs were secure, polished the entire piece, and pulled out each of the drawers one at a time. She shook out the dust and other bits that had collected over the years of use or disuse. When she inverted the last one, the bottom drawer on the right, she found an envelope taped to the underside. 

Curious, Christie loosened the yellowed tape and carefully lifted the envelope from the drawer’s wooden surface. The envelope read “Missy.” There was no street address. She guessed it must have been given to Missy in person instead of being mailed. The glue had long since dried, so the flap opened readily. She gently removed from the envelope the single piece of fragile stationery embossed with the letter ‘M’ that had been folded in half, and opened it. She read:

My dear Missy,

I hope you will understand that circumstances have arisen that cause me to leave town immediately. I do not know when I can return or if I will ever be able to see you again. 

I hope you will ignore any rumors that I killed anyone. I swear it wasn’t me. There were a bunch of guys involved in the fight, but I didn’t know any of them. Maybe the sheriff will figure out the truth.


She asked herself aloud, “Who are Missy and B? And who died? I wonder if Aunt Doris would know.” She folded the letter and put it back in the envelope, then placed it in the drawer of her work desk. “Maybe she’ll remember how Grandma Maude got this desk, and then we could figure out who Missy was.” 

Christie took one last look around the shop and sighed happily. She picked up her tote bag, an umbrella and the shop keys and went out the back door. As she stepped out, she almost tripped over a black lump in the middle of the single step. “Meow,” the black lump cried as it stood up, arching its back. 

“A kitty! A black kitty,” Christie exclaimed, grinning at the thought of discovering it so close to Halloween. Without any superstitious inclinations, she bent over to get a closer look. “You’re all wet.” She picked up the small cat and went back inside, where she found a towel and dried it off. The kitty started purring and licked Christie’s chin. “I wonder if Grandma had been feeding you, and that’s why you’re hanging out here. Let’s check for cat food in the closet.” Christie checked the cabinet in the bathroom and, sure enough, found a partial bag of cat kibble, confirming her suspicion. She grabbed a couple of plastic flowerpot saucers from the supply cupboard to serve as dishes for food and water. 

Christie stood with her hands on her hips and watched as the cat ate hungrily. She would check around to see if it belonged to someone nearby, but by the way it scarfed down the food, she doubted it had a home. She recalled a favorite mystery series in which a bookstore owner had a cat named Agatha in honor of Agatha Christie. “Hmm. Would you like to be my shop cat? I would expect you to be polite to the customers and clean up after yourself. Of course, that is unless someone else claims you.” She made a mental note to drop by the grocery store in the next block and pick up a litter box and kitty litter. She figured she would be spending more hours at the store than at her home for the first few weeks anyway, and the cat would provide company while she was there.

Her cell phone buzzed in the tote bag sitting on the counter. Aunt Doris’s name popped up. “Hi, Aunt Doris. Hey. Did Grandma feed a black kitty at the shop?”

“Did that scrawny thing show up again? I kept shooing it away, but I know she was sneaking food to it when she didn’t think I would notice.”

Christie chuckled. That sounded like something her grandma would have done. “Yes, it’s probably the same kitty. I thought I would let it be a mascot for the shop. You wouldn’t mind, would you?”

Aunt Doris snorted. “You’re just like your grandmother, you know. She had the softest heart.” Her voice softened. “I don’t mind. It’ll keep us company when business is slow. I suppose you’ve named it already.”

“Not yet, but ‘Stormy’ comes to mind, seeing as it’s a black cat and it’s ‘a dark and stormy night’ outside. I hope Charles Schulz would agree that she fits that line from his Peanuts cartoons.”

“That’s a good name, honey. Are you ready for the big day tomorrow? I saw the event posted on Facebook, and there was a copy of the newspaper notice posted at the pharmacy.”

“As ready as I’m going to be. I thought I’d come over about eight thirty. Can you be here that early?”

“Sure. I’ll bring a coffee urn,” replied her aunt. “I’ve ordered pastries and frosted cookies that say ‘Christie’s’ from the bakery to be delivered when we open. I thought we could have them at the front table where customers sign up for email. I kept telling Maude that she should get modern and do that.”

“Good idea, Auntie. An email list is important these days, even for a small business like the flower shop. I’ve saved a space on the table for the coffee and goodies.” 

“Are you going to leave that cat at the shop alone tonight?”

“I thought I would take the kitty home with me and pick up cat stuff on the way there.” The cat snuggled and purred loudly in Christie’s arms. “I think Stormy likes that idea. She’s already adopted me. See you in the morning.”

“Will do. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that everything goes well for you tomorrow.”

Christie smiled as the call ended. Crossed fingers weren’t her way of handling things. She liked good planning and logical approaches. “I don’t think crossed fingers bring good fortune any more than a black cat crossing my path means bad luck. Right, Stormy?”


Reedsy Discovery Review Snippet

"Peterson pens a great piece that is as cozy as it is entertaining. I cannot wait to see where things are headed with this series."

"With a strong narrative base, Peterson is able to weave a story without all the violence, sex, and bloodshed that seem to be appearing all throughout the genre."

A new series means a number of new characters to handle, which Peterson does with ease. Christie O’Mara is central, but there are many who help flavour the piece and offer their perspectives, all building on the larger themes of the story. Peterson is able to do this without getting too gritty or leaving the reader wondering what is to come. I enjoy her character creation and development, though she has surely left a great del for the reader to ponder until the next book in the series emerges,

"Peterson has a stellar career in other professions, but her time as an author is surely deserving of a bouquet, particularly for this piece."

"Kudos, Madam Peterson, for another success."

 - Review by Matt Pechey, Read the Full Review on Reedsy Discovery

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