St. James's breezy debut introduces Cassandra "Casey" Calhoun, a new member of the White House gardening staff who has the First Lady's approval "to transform the White House gardens into the White House organic gardens." While preparing for the annual Easter Egg Roll, Casey notices an invasion of weeds in some of the newly blossoming tulips. As she pulls the intruders, someone knocks her on the head. When she regains consciousness, she's lying in a flowerbed next to a dead body. The Secret Service and other law enforcement agencies investigate, taking the reader to places in the White House not on the usual tours. Credible characters, a fast-paced plot, and a light look at political life in Washington, D.C., will delight cozy fans. St. James is also the author of Birds in Paradise, a mystery short story available only as an e-book. (May)
Cassandra (Casey) Calhoun hasn't been working at the White House for very long, so she's anxious to please and works exceptionally hard. Unfortunately, while gardening in the predawn hours, Casey is mugged. Once she's out of the tulips, she realizes there's a dead woman in a nearby trash can. Secret Service agents converge, and Casey begins to puzzle out why a pretty bank auditor would die this way. Her own inner turmoil helps explain her dogged determination to help solve this case despite her itty-bitty physical presence. Think Reese Witherspoon at the White House. VERDICT This spunky new romantic suspense series is an obvious pick for readers who enjoy Julie Hyzy's "White House Chef" series (Buffalo West Wing), but also think of gardening mystery series such as Rosemary Harris's (Slugfest). Margaret Truman fans might also try. Gardening tips included.