The Bulrush Murders: A Botanical Mystery

Rebecca Rothenberg, Author
Rebecca Rothenberg, Author Carroll & Graf Publishers $18.95 (235p) ISBN 978-0-88184-749-9
Mass Market Paperbound - 978-0-446-40404-4
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While this first novel has a satisfying mystery at its center and enough potential villains to keep both its heroine and readers guessing, its real charm lies in the less-than-perfect romance that blossoms between microbiologist Claire Sharples and her often enigmatic co-worker Sam Cooper. Claire flees her stifling life as a research scientist at MIT for a job at an agricultural research center in central California, a region she soon concludes is a cultural outback. Her growing attraction to Sam, a field scientist who seems to resent her, is also frustrating, but their relationship becomes warmer as they try to solve the problems of a Mexican farm family whose crops seem immune to any chemical remedies for the natural disasters of the San Joaquin Valley. When the Mexicans' young son is murdered, Claire and Sam begin piecing together a complicated tangle of sabotage and greed. All is very nicely resolved, as is Claire's ambivalence about Sam and her work. (Dec.)
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