Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Scarlet Pepper-Dorothy St. James

The Scarlet Pepper

Dorothy St. James

Berkley, Apr 3 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780425247044

White House assistant gardener Casey Calhoun oversees the organic vegetable garden that First Lady Margaret Bradley loves. However Casey notices digging marks at the Kitchen Garden that she assumes the First Dog did until green pepper sprouts instead of the red she planted and cabbage rather than lettuce. Someone is trying to embarrass the First Lady as the Watercressgate scandal breaks in which Casey is accused of cheating.

Media Today investigative reporter Griffon Parker and Casey publicly argue just before he is murdered. The wife of the chief of staff, garden volunteer Francesca Dearing informs the DC police that the death matches Casey’s suggestion for a murder mystery dinner benefit. TV Scotsman Gillis Farquhar host of Gardening the Farquhar Way: Organic! is hired to save the organic Kitchen Garden. With her esteem low, Casey investigates who is behind the gardening stunts, but her inquiry places her in peril and Jack the Secret Service Agent who likes her warns her to stop investigating before an “accident” kills her.

The second White House Gardener Mystery (see Flowerbed of State) is a fabulous amateur sleuth starring a likeable woman with commitment issues except when it comes to her passion, plants. Her violent childhood allows readers to accept Casey’s investigation and her inability to deal with a relationship. Although she proves too good a sleuth as the culprit would testify, fans will enjoy this entertaining whodunit enhanced by the eccentric people who diligently work at the White House.

Harriet Klausner

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