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Mary Minor “Harry” Harristeen is on the hunt for a killer with a deadly green thumb when a day in the garden turns fatal in this exciting new mystery from Rita Mae Brown and her feline co-author Sneaky Pie Brown.
Spring arrives in northern Virginia, and as the ground thaws and the peonies begin to bloom a bright magenta, the women of St. Luke’s Lutheran Church prepare for a Homecoming celebration like no other. Harry, Susan Tucker, and their friends are busy planting flowers and trimming hedges to get the church grounds in shape for the big day.
But a note of a menace mars the beautiful spring: The brewery owned by Janice Childs and Mags Nielsen, two members of the gardening committee, gets robbed, with hundreds of dollars in merchandise taken off their delivery trucks in the dead of night. Is this the work of a random thief? Or is something more sinister afoot?
When Jeannie Cordle drops dead at a charity auction, poisoned by a fatal weed, Harry’s worst suspicions are confirmed: a killer lurks in their midst, one with a keen understanding of poisonous plants. Although she can’t yet prove it, Harry knows the murder is related to the thefts at Bottom’s Up Brewery.
With help from her feline sidekicks, Mrs. Murphy and Pewter, as well as Tee Tucker the corgi and sweet puppy Pirate, Harry sets out to find the weed in St. Luke’s garden—and stop a killer before they can strike again.
Two stories centuries apart entwine in bestseller Brown's meandering 29th mystery featuring Mary Minor "Harry" Haristeen and her pets (after 2019's Whiskers in the Dark). In 2019, Harry, who's in charge of building and grounds at St. Luke's Lutheran Church in Crozet, Va., and her pals ponder the identity of an unknown woman who was interred in someone else's tomb in the church's graveyard around 1786. They speculate on the life she might have lived and exchange gardening tips, muse about social issues, and express wonder at the shenanigans of their pets. Eventually, Jeannie Cordle, who volunteers for every church and community aid program, is poisoned, and Harry, nudged in the right direction by her animal companions, looks for clues to explain Jennie's death. Of far more interest is the story of the slaves and their owners who lived on two plantations in the area in the late 18th century. Too many characters (both human and animal), abrupt shifts between the two periods that interrupt the flow of each narrative, and digressions on incidental matters (such as gardening tips) will try the patience of many readers. This one's only for diehard fans.