cover image Mulch ADO about Nothing: A Jane Jeffry Mystery

Mulch ADO about Nothing: A Jane Jeffry Mystery

Jill Churchill / Author William Morrow & Company $23 (224p) IS

The title of this 12th Jane Jeffry gardening mystery from Macavity and Agatha Award-winner Churchill (Grime and Punishment; A Farewell to Yarns; etc.) says it all, as the crime element is almost an afterthought. When Jane and neighbor Shelley Nowack sign up for a gardening class at their local community center, they end up with a substitute, the pompous Dr. Stewart Eastman, after an unknown intruder sneaks into the home of the regular teacher, Julie Jackson, and knocks her out, leaving her in a coma. Suspects in the attack include everyone taking the gardening class: fastidious computer programmer Charles Jones, persnickety librarian Martha Winstead, lonely widower Arnie Waring and loony aging hippie Ursula Appledorn. But in this leisurely, talky tale, Jane is less concerned with crime solving than with visiting the gardens of her classmates, tending to her injured foot, worrying about her teenage son's unsuitable girlfriend and buying herself a new TV for her bedroom. Only near the end does a murder occurDDr. Eastman is found strangled with green twine in a compost pileDafter which Churchill brings the plot to a tidy conclusion, with the killer's motive turning on Dr. Eastman's patented pink marigolds. While Jane and Shelley make plenty of wry social comments, there's too little sleuthing going on for this cozy to appeal to anyone except gardeners and already established fans. (Dec. 1)