A Plain Vanilla Murder (China Bayles Book 27) by Susan Wittig Albert
English | 2019 | Mystery/Thriller | ePUB | 1.8 Mb
A Plain Vanilla Murder: China and Ruby Wilcox are presenting their annual “Not Just Plain Vanilla Workshop,” always a huge hit with customers at Thyme & Seasons Herb Shop. But someone involved with the workshop is driven by a deadly motive, and China soon finds herself teaming up with the very pregnant Pecan Springs police chief Sheila Dawson to solve a vanilla-flavored murder.
Sheila, happy to get out from behind the chief’s desk, is investigating the death of a botany professor, a prominent researcher specializing in vanilla orchids. China is trying to help a longtime friend: the dead professor’s ex-wife and a prime suspect in his murder. However, there’s no shortage of other suspects: a betrayed lover, a disgruntled graduate student, jealous colleagues, and a gang of orchid smugglers. But the lethal roots of this mystery reach back into the dark tropical jungles of Mexico, where the vanilla vine was first cultivated. At stake: a lucrative plant patent, an orchid that is extinct in the wild, and the life of an innocent little girl.
“And don’t forget Fusarium wilt,” Logan Gardner adds. A tall, muscular graduate student in his thirties, he is working with the professor on a plant breeding project—something rather secret, it seems, for it is never discussed in class. He also helps by making the arrangements for the field trips. “In fact, Fusarium poses a grave threat to the world vanilla crop. Which is why we are attempting to develop—”
“Which is why,” the professor interrupts abruptly, “disease-resistant cultivars are sorely needed.” He gives Logan a sharp, cautioning glance.
Puzzled by the exchange but attempting to ignore it, Aguado smiles at Shelley. “The señorita is indeed correct. Farmers must be on continuous guard against the threat of Fusarium oxysporum, especially in dense plantings.”
Another of the girls, Beth Craig, points to a uniformed guard. “Is that why you’ve got him?” They all turn to look. The guard wears a holstered gun on his hip and cradles an assault rifle in his arms. “To protect against Fusarium wilt?”
The students laugh, but Aguado has lost his smile. “Disease is not the only threat our vanilla farmers face, señorita. Sadly, there are many thieves. Last week, on the mountain, two workers were shot and wounded by robbers. The week before, a farmer was murdered.”