For more information on
Rebecca Rothenberg's earlier books, check your local library, or
Murders, Carroll & Graf, 1991,
Agatha and Anthony Award Nominee
The Dandelion Murders,
Mysterious Press, 1994
The Shy Tulip Murders,
Mysterious Press, 1996
The Bulrush Murders
Often those people with scientific
minds make great detectives. Think of Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock
Holmes or Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe with his consuming interest in
orchids. Microbiologist Claire Sharples is one such sleuth.
Claire is beginning to feel like
a caged laboratory rat, working in MIT's ivory tower research
facilities. In a daring moment of decision, she accepts an agricultural
research job in California's dry but fertile San Joaquin Valley,
only to discover that the bleak region is most notable for its
absences of rain, decent conversation, jazz music, and good Thai
restaurants. Worse still, Claire can't figure out why she is attracted
to her new coworker Sam, a taciturn, ill-mannered field scientist.
But when a young Mexican friend drunkenly
plunges his motorcycle into the reservoir, Claire is drawn to
investigate the circumstances surrounding his strange death-and
suddenly finds her own life in danger form more than boredom.
And as she and Sam probe the tangled politics of California agriculture,
their partnership blossoms into an equally complicated romance.
Ultimately it is Claire's scientific intuition that will unlock
the truth and blow the lid off a vicious land war of murder, sabotage,
spellbinding first mystery ...[an ] intricate and action-rich
plot. ...At the story's center, always, is an affecting and
insightful portrait of a bright woman struggling for simple
equality in an environment as prickly and hostile as some of
the wild grasses the author describes so well."
Charles Champlin, Los Angeles Times Book Review
atmospheric sense that permeates Tony Hillerman's indian country
With The Bulrush Murders, author Rebecca Rothenberg
began her highly praised mystery series featuring microbiologist
Claire Sharples. A prickly, sharp-witted sleuth transplanted from
Boston, Claire enthusiastically pursues puzzles like the source
of brown rot on peaches and ruinous mold on almonds in lush central
California-when she's not practicing her secret talent for snooping
Alpine hulsea, a yellow dandelion-like flower,
doesn't grow in the citrus groves and vineyards of the San Joaquin
Valley. It belongs in the High Sierras-only it's found on the body
of the unidentified corpse Claire Sharples stumbles upon in a local
drainage ditch. Claire knows death is no stranger to the fields
and farms of California's agribusiness. Tempers run short in the
local cantinas. Migrant laborers make fatal mistakes when they toil
for seventy hours a week. Then, too, some common pesticides used
all too often here have a lethal dose of three or four drops. But
when Claire's dead man is added alongside the bodies of two Mexican
nationals also found drowned in this water-scarce region, she realizes
the rash of "accidents" may be more than a tragic coincidence.
Urbane, former MIT scholar Claire can't resist her
natural inclination to find out as much as she can about the victims
and how they died. The more questions she asks, the more she feels
like a stranger in a strange land amid the Stetson-wearing growers
and agri-businessmen. Unfortunately, she's feeling the same way
at her lover Sam Cooper's house, now that his two baseball-playing
sons are spending a month with their dad.
Soon Claire is running into trouble with both nature
and nurture as her personal relationship starts wilting and her
investigation uproots some dangerous secrets. Her instincts, honed
sharp by her scientific training, are telling her to watch out for
little white lies and some big black ones. And a woman's gut emotions
are warning her about passions that run deep and dark through the
and the yellow wildflower that may lead to catching
a killer or to her own dusty death.
is knowing and exact
and her tale is twistier than mile-high
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A botanist specializing in blight, wilt, and rot,
Claire Sharples has just the right credentials for investigating
the dirty business of homicide. Back for a third outing in this
highly acclaimed mystery series, the thorny-tempered detective puts
down roots in the High Sierras of central California and finds fertile
ground for old growth trees, die-hard environmentalists, and a bumper
crop of murder
Calochortus invenustus subspecies westii,
or the Slate Mountain mariposa tulip, is an exquisitely beautiful
wildflower also called the "shy tulip" because of its
rarity. For the Friends of the Redwoods, a group of environmentalists
in a small California community, the shy tulip is their last hope
for saving a precious mountain forest from loggers-and they're counting
on Claire Sharples to find this endangered bloom among the groves
of giant sequoias.
Already suffering from a stunted love life and a
lack of cross pollination herself, Claire is afraid the hunt for
the tulip will lead to a painful encounter with her former boyfriend,
flower expert Sam Cooper. But Sam isn't the only one Claire should
fear. A flower- napper has stolen the plant before Claire can verify
its growth amid the timber stand, while her jaunt into the woods
ends with the shocking discovery of a mortally injured environmentalist.
Now Claire Sharples believes everyone trying to
save the trees is in danger. No longer sure if the motive is timber
money or a far different passion, she's digging for answers as elusive
as the shy tulip that grows in the hidden places of the wild...answers
that reside in the secret places of the heart.
of the freshest, most gracefully modulated new voices in crime fiction.
This is brainy, opinionated, enjoyable mystery writing, with
one of the most believable heroines to show up in years."
Richard Lipez, Washington Post Book World
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