18 May 2011

Just finished reading...

Flowerbed of State by Dorothy St. James.*

Cassandra "Casey" Calhoun has been an Assistant Gardener at the White House for only a few months. Hired to create an organic garden for the First Lady, Casey has prepared a detailed report for her and the Garden Committee. On the way to the White House the day of the presentation,she sees some nasty weeds overtaking some recently planted tulips. Eager to have something to keep her mind off the upcoming meeting, drops off her things in her office and heads back out to remove them, heedless of the suit she's wearing for the occasion.

She wakes up face down in the flowerbed, apparently having been hit on the head with an object heavy enough to leave a wound. She sees a person running towards her, and thinking that it's her attacker, she grabs the pepper spray from her backpack and blasts him. The man turns out to be a Secret Service agent coming to her aid, and he hurries her back inside.

On the way, Casey finds a woman's shoe lying on the ground. Taking it to a nearby trash can, she is startled to find that there is a body stuffed inside it, the body of a woman who has obviously been strangled.

The woman turns out to have been the girlfriend of Lorenzo, another assistant gardener, who becomes the main suspect. Lorenzo asks Casey if she will help prove his innocence and she agrees.

As an avid mystery reader, Casey tries to proceed as her hero Miss Marple might, but that method just doesn't seem to work for her. To say that Casey is accident-prone is an understatement, and even when she's not sleuthing, she gets into trouble.

Casey's misadventures tend not to be as humorous as Lucy Ricardo's or Stephanie Plum's (and often result in someone getting hurt), but the young gardener is an appealing protagonist, passionate about her work and the people she cares for.

Gardening tips are included at the end of the book.

*FTC Full Disclosure: Many thanks to the publisher, who sent me a copy of the book for review purposes.

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