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Sunday, May 15, 2016

Final Tap by Amanda Flower

The Final Tap (A Living History Museum Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
2nd in Series
Midnight Ink (May 8, 2016)
Paperback: 288 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0738745138


March on Barton Farm can only mean one thing: maple sugar season. To combat the winter slump, resilient director Kelsey Cambridge organizes a Maple Sugar Festival, complete with school visits, pancake breakfasts, and tree tapping classes. Kelsey hires curmudgeonly maple sugar expert Dr. Conrad Beeson to teach the classes, despite misgivings over his unpleasant demeanor. It’s a decision she ends up regretting when, before the first tree can be tapped for sap, Dr. Beeson turns up dead.
The maple sugar expert’s death threatens to shut down not only the Maple Sugar Festival, but also Barton Farm itself. Kelsey must solve Dr. Beeson’s murder to escape the increasingly sticky situation.

What I Thought:

This is the second book in the Living History Museum Mystery series and it was just as good as the first one.  I find a series set on a living history fam to be very interesting.  Kelsey always seems to be embroiled in a murder investigation. It doesn't help that the lead investigator doesn't like her because her ex-fiancĂ© is interested in Kelsey.  This time, there is a Maple Sugar Festival at the farm and a teacher of maple sap tapping is found with a drill in his chest.  When one of Kelsey's workers in accused of the crime, Kelsey has to prove he is innocent.  On top of the murder, she has to contend with a possible suitor, the Cherry Foundation, which funds the farm, breathing down her back, and her ex-husband and his fiancĂ©e wanting to get married at the farm, that is a lot for anyone to handle.  This is a well written book that kept my attention from the very beginning.  If you like history and you love a good cozy mystery, then this is the series for you. 

I received a complimentary copy of this book for my honest review.


About This Author

Amanda Flower, a two-time Agatha Award-nominated mystery author, started her writing career in elementary school when she read a story she wrote to her sixth grade class and had the class in stitches with her description of being stuck on the top of a Ferris wheel. She knew at that moment she’d found her calling of making people laugh with her words. She also writes mysteries as national bestselling  author Isabella Alan. In addition to being an author, Amanda is an academic librarian for a small college near Cleveland.
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Purchase Links
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Guest post

Maple Sugar and the Civil War

By Amanda Flower

In The Final Reveille, a murder takes place during a Civil War reenactment at a living history museum in northeast Ohio called Barton Farm. The Civil War reenactors and their many quirks were so popular with readers in the novel that I knew when I returned to Barton Farm for book two, The Final Tap, I would have to bring them back. I just wasn’t sure how because my publisher and I already agreed that The Final Tap would be set during a maple sugaring festival on Barton Farm. What on earth does maple sugar have to do with the Civil War?

As it turned out, maple sugar had quite a lot to do with the War Between the States. During the American Civil War maple syrup was heavily used as a sweetener in the North. Sugar cane, which makes white sugar and molasses, grew in the South, and when the war broke out, the South cut off the North’s supply of sugar cane. Northerners had to use something to sweeten their food, so they turned to maple syrup, which is made from maple sugar. Sugar maple trees are plentiful in the north, especially in the northeast and eastern Midwest states of the country, including Ohio.

The act of collecting the sap or maple sugar from the trees is called tapping the trees, and it was a practice done long before the Civil War and long before Christopher Columbus hopped on a boat and sailed west. Native Americans have been tapping trees for centuries. They’re original method to gather sap was to cut a small wedge out of a maple tree, no bigger than an inch or two, and to use a piece of bark to funnel sap into a bowl. During the Civil War, Northerners used hand drills to drill into the tree, metal spiles that look like tiny facets to funnel the sap, and galvanized metal buckets to collect the sap. Today, there is much more sophisticated method with power drills and plastic tubing that connects the trees to a huge plastic barrel where the sap is collected.

Imagine my delight when I discovered maple sugar’s connection to the Civil War, I could stick with the maple sugaring idea that I had and still give the readers the Civil War reenactors that made them laugh. The end result was a richer novel because it interwove a little known fact of American history into an exciting mystery.


  1. Amanda Flower aka Isabella Allan, guarantees her readers books that will hold their interest page after page. I loved the first book in this series and would love to have Final Tap. Thanks for the opportunity.

  2. It's great to get these extras like guest posts to go along with a book. It's like peeking behind the scenes on a movie set! :O)

  3. Enjoy Amanda Flower's books and historical mysteries. Can't wait to read.

  4. This cozy sounds like a great read! Thank you for the review.

  5. This cozy sounds like a fun read.