It took time to gel with "Pretty Poison". I plodded because I love plants, flowers, and a protagonist over 30. Too many `young adult' novels hold 20+ year-olds back. When there is adult material, characters are either this age, or bitter divorcées. This series starter has great components but delivery felt faint. I saw the mechanics of a book, instead of the mini world created. All movement felt deliberately plotted, as if the author's outline were published instead of the life that ignites fiction. I could almost hear: "First we'll do this, next those things happen, then we'll take the character there"... The dialogue especially felt planned; odd as that sounds because writers do plan manuscripts. The best explanation is advice I received from an author as a kid, Martha Brooks: "Don't tell a story. SHOW A STORY".
Like weather delays buds, colour emerged later. The tense love between Mom and son drew in reality. The clerks goofed around like co-workers do. Peggy Lee's heritage house made an interesting focal point. After she was attracted to a veterinarian, I enjoyed the novel. In the latter half the mystery got going, about the bank executive found in her florist shop, with multiple mistresses willing to kill him. Peggy Lee, a policeman's widow with a son in the precinct, feels invested because an innocent vagabond is apprehended and her friend's daughter is an alternative suspect.
The internet tipper adds a dose of fright but if an `all-knowing eye' keeps up throughout the series, I see this angle getting cheesy. Information should go to police, not be unrolled like a prize to a 56 year-old civilian. Two schemes raised excitement with humour and intelligence: goading police to test for poison and a daring, morgue break-in caper; preventing the evidence from being labelled inadmissible!