For more information on Rebecca Rothenberg's earlier books, check your local library, or e-mail Martha Rothenberg

The Bulrush 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, and revenge.

"A 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

"The atmospheric sense that permeates Tony Hillerman's indian country mysteries."

Fresno Bee

The Dandelion Murders

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 into murder.

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 valley…and the yellow wildflower that may lead to catching a killer or to her own dusty death.

"Rothenberg is knowing and exact … and her tale is twistier than mile-high blacktop."

— Kirkus Reviews

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The Shy Tulip Murders

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.

"One 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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