Murder Sets Seed

Janis Harrison, Author
Janis Harrison, Author Minotaur Books $22.95 (256p) ISBN 978-0-312-20382-5
Reviewed on: 07/31/2000
Release date: 08/01/2000
Hardcover - 248 pages - 978-0-7090-6819-8
Hardcover - 347 pages - 978-0-7862-3351-9
Mass Market Paperbound - 259 pages - 978-0-312-97725-2
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Soon after buying and partially restoring historic Beauchamp Mansion in River City, Mo., florist Bretta Solomon finds herself back for more horticultural sleuthing in this pleasant Yuletide cozy (after Roots of Murder). At the request of the former owner and last matriarch of the family dynasty, Cameo Beauchamp-Sinclair, Bretta puts on a preview dinner for a few of the city's more prominent citizens. From the moment the guests arrive, the atmosphere heats up and the tension escalates. Queen bee Cameo antagonizes each of her handpicked invitees, alleging that one of them is blackmailing her. Then the power suddenly goes out. When it returns, Cameo is sitting in her wheelchair, strangled by a string of Christmas lights. Unfairly pegged as the chief suspect, Bretta has to contend with Cameo's irascible housekeeper, Inez, and difficult daughter, Topaz, as well as with the hated local gossip columnist and an overeager librarian. Meanwhile, the days are getting shorter and the mansion staff edgier with all the holiday deadlines. Bretta concludes that the solution to the murder lies in the past--in particular, in the diary that Cameo had kept in emulation of her ancestors. Searching for the now-missing journal propels the intrepid flower lady into greater peril. While her tale is overwrought at times, Harrison pulls everything together for a satisfying finale, besides sowing seeds for another sequel. Agent, Lori Pope, Faith Childs Literary Agency. (Aug.)
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