China Bayles and Ruby Wilcox are offering their popular "Not Just Plain Vanilla" workshop when, across town on the campus of Central Texas State University, a botany professor (an expert on the vanilla orchid) is found dead in his greenhouse-an apparent suicide. Summoned to the scene, police chief Sheila Dawson (now in her last few months of pregnancy) wonders whether there's something more to his death and opens an investigation into the many rivalries that have splintered CTSU's plant sciences faculty. But the dead professor is also the ex-husband of China's friend Maggie, owner of the local garden center and manager of an orchid-sitting business. When suicide becomes murder, suspicion falls on Maggie. But China learns that there are many more suspects in this complex, vanilla-flavored affair. Does this story begin with a passionate desire for an exotic flower and its costly, delectable fruit? Does it start in a corrosive desire for revenge? Or is the professor's death the result of a bizarre black-market orchid-smuggling scheme gone awry? Once again, prize-winning author, herbalist, and amateur naturalist Susan Wittig Albert draws on history, legend, science, and the culinary arts to craft a botanical mystery that will entertain and enlighten mystery fans, gardeners, and nature lovers alike.
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by Susan Wittig Albert
"Narrator Julia Gibson introduces listeners to the sordid world of orchid laundering in this mystery involving the murder of a professor who specializes in the vanilla orchid. As police chief Sheila Dawson investigates the crime, listeners learn much about the growing, processing, and use of vanilla, mostly through the eyes of China Bayles, a former criminal lawyer and now the owner of the Thyme and Seasons herb shop. Taking listeners to small-town Texas, Gibson uses a gentle Southern drawl for the Texans and a more neutral accent for other characters, including the story's narrator. Overall, Gibson's narration adds to the authenticity of this audiobook and makes listeners feel a connection to its characters. V.M.G. © AudioFile 2019, Portland, Maine"
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