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Mulchby Ann Ripley
Synopses & Reviews
Louise closed the book review section and looked above her half-glasses at her husband. He was a pleasant sight, thin face and lined brow relaxed, handsome in his white dress shirt and Sunday dress sweater. The family had been to church, had breakfast, and since then had burrowed into the Sunday papers with a delicious disregard for time. He looked up from the sports section as if she had sent him a telepathic signal. He grinned and looked at his watch. "I can always tell when my time is up. You want us to help now in the yard, don't you?"
Still in her blue church-going dress, she gave her husband a conciliatory smile. Despite his protestation, he liked yard work. She said, "You're right. But it won't take us long, dear. And then, if Janie has her homework under control, we can go to the movies."
Janie, sprawled on the floor, reading the funnies, said morosely, "I wonder what other kids are doing this afternoon. Going to the Smithsonian maybe, or a concert, or just being left alone to do their homework in peace. . . ."
Bill got up and, passing Janie, reached down and unceremoniously tousled her blond hair. "Grumble, grumble. Other kids are probably just like you: at home and buggin' their parents. C'mon, Janie, time to suit up for our big leaf-spreading project. Get on your most disreputable clothes."
Janie changed to her new jeans jacket and tan pants, Bill to his tattered chinos and lumberjack shirt, and Louise to her usual yard uniform, Japanese garden pants, boots, and heavy wool sweater. They went out into the crisp, sunny November day and surveyed the backyard.
"Oh boy," said Janie, "this place has turned into a graveyard for old leaves. I'm glad we're getting rid of them. The neighbors will begin to talk. What other mother on earth would swipe other people's leaves?" The big tan bags stood against each other at angles, like a platoon of slightly drunken soldiers.
Louise was all business now. "Here's what we need to do: There are about twenty-six bags here. Bill, can you take six bags--be sure they're oak leaves--to the front yard? They'll be just enough to mulch the rhododendrons and azaleas. Do that first, will you, darling?"
"Yes, ma'am," said Bill, bowing a little. "Whatever you say."
"Good. Then Janie and I will start dragging the rest to the back corner, where we will dump them. Except, Bill, will you also take two bags with oak leaves and put them near the addition, because we need to mulch the little hollies I planted along the west edge."
"Your wish is my command, ma'am," he said. He walked off, dragging a bag of leaves in either hand as if he had the Katzenjammer Kids by the scruffs of their necks.
Janie put her hands on her hips and looked at her retreating father. "Ma, why does he always tease you about gardening? What is it, anyway? Why doesn't he just do it? He's
Rooting out a killer can dig you a grave...
Amateur gardener and housewife Louise Eldridge has big plans for her family's new Sylvan Valley home, situated among the flower of suburban Washington, D.C., society. Some Japanese iris here, some skunk cabbage there...and her own cozy cabin for her horticultural writings. But barely has she turned the topsoil when her organic mulching unearths the unidentifiable remains of a murder victim. Suddenly her elegant garden is a crime scene blighted by garish yellow police tape.
And Louise--cultivating the rich and restless wives of the neighborhood and their hothouse secrets--must find out who has gone missing. For only then can she root out a rare species of killer who could soon be digging her grave.
Primed to replant her family's new home in Washington, D.C., situated in the exclusive Sylvan Hills suburb of the capital, amateur gardener Louise Eldridge unearths a murder victim in her garden-to-be and tries to root out a killer. Reprint.
Organic gardener-turned-sleuth Louise Eldridge discovers that life is not always rosy when, while mulching her yard with neighbors' clippings, she discovers body parts in some of the bags.
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