Death of a Political Plant: A Gardening Mystery

Ann Ripley, Author Bantam Books $22.95 (320p) ISBN 978-0-553-10778-4
Ripley's Louise Eldridge mysteries keep getting better. In her third puzzler, (after Mulch and Death of a Garden Pest), Louise, co-host of Washington, D.C., public television's Gardening with Nature, finds herself embroiled in presidential politics and overwhelmed by houseguests--and she's not sure which is worse. Clinton-esque President Fairchild's chief of staff is pushing her to feature the president's environmental initiatives on her show, while the minions of a presidential hopeful (Newtily named Goodrich) make veiled threats about pinching the funding for public broadcasting. Then an old flame, Jay McCormick, an investigative reporter digging into a sensitive political story and who needs to lie low for a couple of days, asks to stay with her. When more unexpected houseguests arrive (representatives of the Perennial Plant Society, which has just named her Plant Person of the year), Louise moves Jay to the home of vacationing friends. The next morning, she finds his body floating in the friends' water garden. Missing are his computer and disks; suddenly present is an intruder nosing around Louise's house. The disks finally turn up, loaded with enough dirt to sink one of the presidential candidates for good--and someone is perfectly willing to kill Louise to make sure they don't reach the public. If real-life political scandal has stolen some of Ripley's thunder, her well-paced tale is nevertheless peopled with fully dimensioned characters, and her gardening tips are both intelligent and relevant to the story. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 03/02/1998
Release date: 03/01/1998
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