Series Spotlight On. . .White House Gardener Mysteries by Dorothy St. James

White House, Washington, DC

photo credit: foxypar4 via photopin cc

The second entry in the White House/Washington, DC theme is another cozy mystery series.  Again, this Spotlight On was initially about just one book, The Scarlet Pepper — but, since I finished so quickly, I thought I would do another Series Spotlight On.

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The White House Gardener series is younger than its sister series.  So far, there are only two books out.  The third book will be released April 2, 2013.  Like the White House Chef series, the main character/amateur sleuth — Cassandra “Casey” Calhoun — is employed at the White House.

Casey was hired to bring organic gardening techniques to the White House gardens.  In both books, she unexpectedly ends up in the thick of things against her will:  she’s attacked in the first book because someone thought she saw something incriminating and in the second, she’s being set up as a scrape-goat/murder suspect. Casey tries not to get involved, but it’s hard to sit on the sidelines when someone’s trying to kill you or sabotage your work and career.

Looking out for her well-being is Special Agent Jack Turner of the Secret Service’s Counter Assault Team.  Casey and Jack didn’t get off to a good start.  However, she’s come to rely on him for support as well as safety.

Minor spoiler in the blurb for Oak and Dagger.

Flowerbed of State

Title: Flowerbed of State
Published: 2011
From the back: When it comes to gardening, Cassandra “Casey” Calhoun isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty. But when it comes to murder, she’s not the kind of gal to let any killer get away clean…

Casey’s passion for organic gardening and eye for detail have carried her into the most important patch of land in America — the President’s Park, on which sits the most important home in America: the White House.

But while she’s readying the final touches on an innovative cultivation program for the First Lady to inspect, she’s attacked from behind by an unknown assailant who then disappears. When she comes to, she notices some damaged foliage that leads her and the Secret Service to a dead woman in a trash can.

With the biggest opportunity of her life ready to bloom, and all the President’s men plowing up her perfect plans, Casey has to dig in and root out a killer before she ends up planted herself…

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The Scarlet Pepper

Title: The Scarlet Pepper
Published: 2012
From the back: As the official organic gardener for the White House, Casey Calhoun is usually up to her elbows in something or other. But when someone starts tampering with the Presidential vegetable garden, she soon finds herself in way over her head.

As if it wasn’t bad enough that red peppers are growing instead of green ones and cabbage is popping up where the First Lady’s favorite lettuce should be — a hard-nosed investigative reporter is found dead after targeting the President’s unpopular Chief of Staff.

Raking over the clues and rumors, Casey knows that someone is sabotaging both her garden and the First Lady’s reputation. But when she has one close call too many, Casey realizes that the next thing buried in the dirt might just be her…

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Oak and Dagger

Title: Oak and Dagger
Published: 2013
From the back: Despite cooler fall temperatures in Washington, D.C., tempers flare at the White House when important historical documents go missing from the curator’s office and the gardeners are blamed. As if that isn’t bad enough, Casey has started receiving death threats, the president’s pooch is digging unsightly holes all over the South Lawn, and the curator has been found dead. All evidence for the murder points to Gordon Sims, the chief gardener. His fingerprints are on the murder weapon, and witnesses saw him arguing with the curator shortly before her death.

With the help of Special Agent Jack Turner, her reluctant sidekick and new flame, Casey works to clear Gordon’s name. Along the way she finds herself in a deadly race against time to discover if there’s a link between the stolen papers, the dog’s holes in the South Lawn, and a rumored two-hundred-year-old treasure — before the killer strikes again…

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Inspired by the many weekly memes about books.

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Series Spotlight On. . .White House Gardener Mysteries by Dorothy St. James — 3 Comments

  1. I hadn’t heard about this series before you posted about the books – sounds interesting and I’ll have to check them out. How do you think it compares to the White House Chef books (if at all!)?

    • As a cozy mystery series, I think it holds up very well. Compared to White House Chef? It’s hard to say at this point. With each new White House Chef book, I thought the series got better — and I’m thinking it will be the same with the White House Gardener series. It would be totally unfair to compare the first book of the WHG series to, say, Buffalo West Wing, for instance.

      I took a chance with the series, even after reading unfavorable reviews. So far, I’m glad I did. Casey is just as stubborn about things as Ollie — and I did have the urge to shake her. She’s got some trust issues stemming from her past. I wouldn’t be surprised if, in a future book, her past will play a major role in the plot.

      There is one advantage Casey has over Ollie — Ollie’s job is in the kitchen, so it limits her movements in some ways. Casey not only cares for the outdoor gardens but also helps take care of the interior plants and greenery. She has more of an opportunity to be in the right/wrong place at the right/wrong time to stumble across a mystery. 😉

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