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Crescent Blues Book ViewsImage:three and a half moon gifSt. Martin's Minotaur (Paperback), ISBN 0-312-97725-5
Christmas means parties and joy, right? Well, not for Bretta Solomon, recently widowed owner of the Flower Shop. Still in mourning, renovating the historic Beauchamp mansion she recently purchased and getting ready for the busy season, Bretta hosts a gala party for some of River City's leading citizens. Murder crashes the party right after Cameo Beauchamp announces one of Book: Janis Harrison, Murder sets seed Bretta's guests has been blackmailing her. The lights go out. When they come back on, the guests discover Cameo's corpse, strangled by a string of Christmas lights.

The second book in an interesting new series, Murder Sets Seed features Bretta, her vast fund of horticultural knowledge, her employees, her personal problems with weight and abandonment issues, her "get on with life attitude" and her inability to stop detecting, getting into trouble and falling into the clutches of life-threatening danger. Not to mention her tendency to run afoul of the local law. (The sheriff finds her less than helpful.)

I compliment Harrison on her intricate plot, her use of fascinating and arcane flower and plant knowledge, and her complex, if somewhat quirky, characterizations. Murder Sets Seed kept me reading when I was supposed to be cooking dinner. Luckily, I didn't burn anything or distill any of the evil potions Bretta found in her investigations. Potions with a multigenerational history, I might add.

Book: Janis Harrison, lilies that festerWhat does the title mean? I can't say, because that would be telling part and parcel (or maybe I should say, root and branch) of the parasitic nature of the crime(s) and criminals. But I will tell you that the title doesn't symbolize Christmas and kissing at all.

If I could, I would send Harrison a posy or two for a few smiles, a great read and the introduction to a protagonist I know I will meet again soon -- if only because my to-be-read pile includes the next book in the series. Bretta Solomon might not be entirely wise, but she qualifies as feisty, determined and no slouch when it comes to detecting.

Patricia Lucas White

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