Donna Rose and the Roots of Evil
Norma Tadlock Johnson
Five Star, Jan 2009, $25.95
In Cedar Harbor, Washington retired schoolteacher Donna Galbreath looks for some quiet after she and her neighbor Cyrus Bates captured a killer (see DONNA ROSE AND THE SLUG WAR). She does expect incompetent police chief William Doniker to be replaced by superstar cop Jake Santorini so when the City Council announces an award ceremony for the former, Donna and Cyrus are stunned. An upset somewhat intoxicated by alcohol and prescription drugs Jake comments he wants to kill William and sneezes into the man’s food.
At the gala, William abruptly dies. The autopsy reveals he was poisoned by Monkshood previously used by the killer behind bars in the Slug War case, and stolen from the police evidence room. Jake is arrested as he had motive, means, and opportunity. Donna and Cyrus begin to investigate leading to a strange Cincinnati connection between the deceased, Tim the new owner of the Cedar Harbor Post, and Alvin a vagrant gardener, but how the latter two and Mayor Oliver with his “buddy” system tie to the chief’s homicide remains unknown and consequently so does the killer while the cop in charge of the investigation continues to focus solely on Jake,.
Although the story line is a bit thin, fans will enjoy Donna Rose’s second amateur sleuth due to a strong cast who bring alive the Puget Sound area. The pairing of Donna and Cyrus is terrific as they believe Jake is innocent and should be chief so they seek the “roots of evil” in their community who murdered the chief. This is a fun Washington State cozy.