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Dandelion Murders Mass Market Paperback – December 1, 1995

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The romance that blossomed between plant pathologist Claire Sharples and botanist Sam Cooper in The Bulrush Murders begins to wilt, scattering its dreary debris throughout Rothenberg's second novel. Claire, hassled by the visit of Sam's preteen sons, escapes to the agricultural field station where she and Sam work, where she discovers an even better distraction: a dead journalist in an irrigation canal. It's the third corpse, following the bodies of two field laborers, found in a San Joachin Valley canal in three weeks. Claire's curiosity is fueled by a sense of responsibility to the journalist; when relations with Sam further deteriorate, she moves from his house to the run-down motel the writer shared with the families of field workers. While tracking the journalist's story, Claire learns how death lurks in fields dedicated to life and growth. Although some of the botanical detail slows the pace like tangled undergrowth and Sam has all the appeal of crabgrass, Claire struggles quite convincingly with her own personal development while solving the mystery behind the deaths.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Rothenberg tries to cover lots of bases in her second book. Besides presenting a convoluted murder plot, she works in women's rights, the plight of migrant workers, botany, biology, the problems of single parents, fruit-growing, ecological awareness, the environment, the negative effects of pesticides, the perils of step-parenthood, poverty, the role of women in the workplace, and infidelity. If she had successfully woven all of these minithemes into a single coherent story--a near-miraculous feat--readers and reviewers alike would be full of accolades. As it is, the story doesn't hang together very well, even though Rothenberg gets credit for her lofty ideals. Biologist Claire Sharples, who's in California on a temporary research assignment, finds herself caught in a confusing love triangle with a coworker. Then two migrant workers and a reporter are killed, and Claire's natural curiosity gets her involved in helping the local sheriff solve the puzzling murders. Better than the local cops at figuring out whodunit, Claire is less successful at resolving her love problems. Mildly interesting, but only for large collections with extra book bucks. Emily Melton --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Mysterious Press (December 1, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446403784
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446403788
  • Product Dimensions: 4.1 x 0.6 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,912,913 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By C. A. Rockwell on March 8, 2011
Format: Mass Market Paperback
(Contains mild spoilers)

There was much in this book that I found entertaining. As someone with a background in agriculture and botany, I found that aspect of the story fascinating. The author is also good at poking fun at the foibles of scientists and academicians (such as boring your dinner companions to death by going on and on about your narrow field of interest). The book also sympathetically raises the consciousness of readers regarding the hardships endured by migrant workers. Unfortunately, the book has a number of weaknesses that detract from it.

To begin with, the "dandelion" of the title really has nothing to do with the story. The author tries to relate it to the time and place of one of the deaths, but the explanation is so convoluted it just ends up confusing the reader, and it was in no way essential to the story. I suppose the author wanted to continue the botanical theme in her title, but "grapes" would have been much more logical, since the story revolves around the cultivation and harvest of that fruit.

Secondly, the main character, Claire Sharples, is so immature and self-centered it is hard to empathize with her, even if she does have an interesting career. The story opens with her being in a snit because her boyfriend's two young sons are visiting for the summer. Much is made of the fact that she is "not a mother" - but come on now. One doesn't have to be a mother to be a tolerant if not gracious hostess. Her boyfriend doesn't earn high marks for maturity either; he copes with Claire's discontent by jumping into the arms and bed of a former lover.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Clare O'Beara on May 24, 2013
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Excellent botanical mystery.
The protagonist Claire Sharples from Boston lives in California and works at a research station assisting with crop diseases and pests. Weedkiller is a serious issue given that the migrant workers are expected to use pesticides lethal at three drops. However it wasn't weedkiller which killed a journalist Claire finds dead in a drainage ditch on the valley floor. He is wearing a small dandelion-like flower in his buttonhole which is one of many very similar flower varieties. Local taciturn botanist Sam Cooper is called upon to identify it and pronounces that this is Alpine Hulsea - which only grows above ten thousand feet. Where had the man been, and what had he seen or investigated which led to his murder? If you like an intelligent mystery where altitude, soil type and growing conditions are as important clues as the local hardworking and exploited people, this is for you.
At only four books, this series is far too short.
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By Andrea Aufieri on June 26, 2013
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
The first of her books I ever read was Bulrush Murders. I thoroughly enjoyed it and had to get the rest of her works.
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