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Three and one half moon gifWilliam Morrow & Co. (Hardcover), ISBN 0380977354
Jane Jeffrey and her friend Shelley yearn for glorious beds of bright floral delight -- perhaps bordered by dainty water features. But even Jane's and Shelley's loved ones describe their yards as garden disasters. Believing the problem lies with a lack of know-how instead of the hand of fate, the friends sign up for a botany class.

Book: Jill Churchill, Mulch Ado About NothingIt sounded like a great idea until Jane and Shelley decide to deliver a misdirected floral arrangement to the class professor, Julie Jackson. Shortly before they arrive, someone attacks and seriously injures Julie. Retreating not so gracefully from the wrath of love interest, Detective Mel Van Dyne, Jane trips on the curb and breaks her ankle, necessitating crutches and leg cast.

Despite the hot weather, a leg cast that itches like mad and a daughter recently returned from France with a bad case of Francophila, Jane ponders Shelley's wild driving and the interesting but strange botany course. Instead of teaching them about pansies and peonies, replacement teacher Dr. Eastman regales them with the complicated ins and outs of developing a new plant variety, patenting it and bringing it to market while reaping excellent financial rewards. In the process Jill and Shelley learn that Julie, a noted microbiologist, decides who wins in patent disputes.

Book: Mill Churchill, A Groom With A ViewAfter Dr. Eastman's body is found in his own compost pile, Jane and Shelley can't help but view their fellow classmates as possible suspects. Could the murderer be Ursula Appledorn, a conspiracy nut who keeps bringing Jane naturally grown and prepared goodies that Jane won't even feed to the dog? Or could it be Ms Winstead, who freely admits to hating Dr. Eastman and stalking him? What about Stefan, a charming man pursuing his own agenda?

While Mel Van Dyne does his police thing, Jane and Shelley visit their classmate's gardens, inspecting garden paths even as they go about detecting motive.

For sheer delight be sure to read Mulch Ado About Nothing.

Suzanne Frisbee

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