Minotaur, Apr 12 2011, $24.99
Professional gardener Paula Holliday travels from Springfield, Connecticut to Manhattan to attend the Big Apple Flower Show at the Wagner Center. For Paula the return to New York is a bittersweet reminder of when she burned out as a TV producer, but flowers should make for a fun event. Allegra Douglas strongly opposes vendors like Paula selling trashy sculptures by Primo Dunstan at the horticultural gala while director Kristi Reynolds believes they are a necessary evil if her show is going to hit the big time.
However, Reynolds’ smooth show starts off ugly when someone murders Connie Anzalone's prized veronicas. That is followed by Otis Randolph a worker falling down an elevator shaft to his death. Soon afterward student attendee Garland Bleimeister is found dead in the nearby Hudson. Paula, who met the victim when she took his bag to her table, teams up with security guard Rolanda Knox and investigates who had the motive to kill Bleimeister as many participates had the opportunity. They narrow the suspects down to Reynolds, school botanist Jamal Harrington, and the Javits Curse pranksters while NYPD leans toward local student Jamal Harrington.
The latest Dirty Business amateur sleuth (see Pushing Up Daisies and Dead Head) is an amusing tale as the heroine’s return to New York is loaded with pranks, murder and a cute hunk. The whodunit is clever, but takes a backseat to the gardeners’ invasion of Manhattan; who would have thought The Big Dirt Nap crowd could be so out of control as any moment grateful readers will expect Lou Costello to arrive holding Mrs. Crumbcake’s perforated bucket (see the TV show’s “Jail”). Rosemary Harris writes an enjoyable jocular mystery.