St. Martin's, Jan 2004, 23.95, 272 pp.
In River City, Missouri, florist Bretta Solomon prepares the floral arrangements for the "wedding of the year", at least in the narrow mind of the mother of the bride. What should be an easy time for Bretta is a primrose path to the nether world as nothing satisfies customer Evelyn Montgomery who expects her daughter's nuptials to rank with that of Luke and Laura from over a decade ago.
Meanwhile Dan and Natalie Parker, owners of Parker Wholesale Greenhouse, host their annual Customer Appreciation Day, but instead of a gala event Dan finds the corpse of Marnie Frazier in the midst of his greenhouse. Though estranged from her dad Dan, Bretta joins Sheriff Sid Hancock's investigation. Since a resolution would immensely serve him well as he runs for reelection, Sid welcomes the amateur who has had success solving the case of A DEADLY BOUQUET. As others die, Bretta uncovers lab assistant Marnie's research that targets her dad's greenhouse where apparently a rose is not a rose while the culprit targets Bretta.
The latest Garden Mystery combines an amateur sleuth with a police procedural, but the opportunist paid professional sheriff is more the amateur while the fabulous amateur florist acts more the experienced professional. The story line is superb because Janis Harrison lays out her clues so that the audience receives a delightful straight forward murder mystery with evidence available for fans to find while avoiding the wild weird meandering to fool the reader with an unnecessary final twist. Those who enjoy cracking the case as a partner to the heroine will step into the garden.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner