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After her boss narrowly escaped political defeat, Kit Marshall is settling into life as a busy congressional staffer. While attending an evening reception at the United States Botanic Garden, Kit’s best friend stumbles upon the body of a high-ranking government official. The chairwoman of a congressional committee asks Kit to investigate, and she finds herself once again in the thick of a murder investigation. The complications keep coming with the unexpected arrival of Kit’s younger brother Sebastian, a hippie protestor who seems more concerned about corporate greed than the professional problems he causes for his sister. To make matters even worse, the romantic lives of Kit’s closest friends are driving her crazy, diverting her attention from the mystery she’s been tasked to solve. The search for the killer requires her to tussle with an investigative journalist right out of a noir novel, a congresswoman fixated on getting a statue of James Madison installed on the Capitol grounds, and a bossy botanist who would do anything to protect the plants he loves. When the murderer sends a threatening message to Kit via a highly unusual delivery mechanism, Kit knows she must find the killer or risk the lives of her friends and loved ones.
You know I have “giggled” a little about Colleen Shogan’s series being a political cozy. It just struck me odd when I realized that was the subject in the first one I read. But you know what? It works. This is Book 5 of a series titled “A Washington Whodunit”. I have reviewed 3 books in this series. I’ve enjoyed everyone of them. Oddly enough this book gives a somewhat clear picture of what is probably the give and take of Washington DC politics. While I don’t like it, I do realize the reality of it. The politics don’t take away one bit from the cute mystery and the characters involved.
I have gotten to know Shogan’s characters and to like them. I said in a previous review that I felt maybe I didn’t have enough background on them. It’s most certainly not true here. In fact I know enough about them to get their humor, their oddities, and the jokes involved between them. I think I enjoyed Kit’s brother being involved a little this time. It gave a little lighter picture to the story. The give and take between them added a little humor.
There was one thing very different in this story, almost a character theme or a dialog change. I think the change was a good thing. It made it more readable for me and quite possibly made the story a little more grown up. Shogan made her characters have their quirks which is a very necessary part of writing to define them. But this time each habit, each mannerism, was more of a perspective type of description. Just like in real life; you recognize certain things about your friend. You laugh about them but it’s just their way; not really a bad thing.
I know I’m not verbalizing this very clearly. It seemed in the earlier books as if Shogan dwelt on certain habits of specific characters too often, almost making the character seem silly; maybe in an attempt to define them. But now, those same silly habits or even the annoying ones (we all have them) are just “asides”, cute funny things in passing. It makes the book a little more serious while still making it a light, fun book to read.
read an excerpt...
“So, why are we going to a garden to drink beer tonight, Kit? Has Doug’s trust fund dried up?” Sebastian gave me a playful punch on the arm to let me know he was yanking my chain.
I sighed for the umpteenth time before responding. “It’s my job, Sebastian. I’m the chief of staff for a member of the House of Representatives. She’s been assigned to a relatively obscure committee called House Administration. It oversees the legislative branch agencies and the Capitol Grounds.”
Sebastian considered my answer for a few moments before speaking. The snide tone was gone. “That’s actually kind of cool. So, your boss helps run Congress?”
“Partially. The Speaker appointed her to this committee because she’s smart and asks intelligent questions. The nice part about the assignment is that she gets invited to the best events on Capitol Hill. Like tonight.”
We’d just driven past the Washington Monument, on our way due east toward the Botanic Garden, which was situated at the base of the Hill between the Hirshhorn Museum and the Capitol Building.
“Why is tonight so special again? There’s a special flower you want me to see?”
I punched his arm playfully. “Trust me, Sebastian. Aren’t you a fan of the Earth and everything natural? You’ll be right at home at the Botanic Garden,” I said. “But you’re right. You’ll see something amazing at the reception this evening.”
He cleared his throat. “And what exactly is this awe-inspiring specimen of the plant kingdom?”
In my most ominous voice, I answered my brother. “The corpse flower. We’re going to see the corpse flower.”
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Colleen J. Shogan has been reading mysteries since the age of six. She conceived of the plot of her first novel one morning while taking a walk in her suburban Washington, D.C. neighborhood. A political scientist by training, Colleen has taught American politics at numerous universities. She previously worked on Capitol Hill as a legislative staffer in the United States Senate. She’s currently a senior executive at the Library of Congress.
Colleen lives in Arlington, Virginia with her husband Rob and their beagle mutt Conan. She is a member of Sisters in Crime. "Stabbing in the Senate" was awarded the Next Generation Indie prize for Best Mystery in 2016. "Homicide in the House" was a 2017 finalist for the RONE Award for Best Mystery. “Calamity at the Continental Club” was a 2018 finalist in the “best cozy mystery” at Killer Nashville.