Another Review at MyShelf.Com

Oak and Dagger
White House Gardener Mystery #3
Dorothy St. James

Berkley Prime Crime
April 2, 2013/ ISBN 978-0-425-25203-1
Mystery/Cozy/Amateur Sleuth


Reviewed by Laura Hinds

Casey Calhoun works as an assistant gardener at the White House. She loves her job and most of her co-workers. Excitement about President Bradley planting trees to honor his newborn twins turns to dismay when the president's shovel strikes an irrigation line, thus soaking himself and those around him.

The incident only serves to add to the tension amongst the White House staff. The curator says that important documents have been stolen from her and she blames Gordon, the chief horticulturist and Casey's boss. There are grumbles amongst the First Lady's staff, a mysterious new assistant curator, and an interior decorator who seems more interested in the gardens than in the interior he is supposed to be decorating. Add in the older sister of the First Lady, and how she insinuates herself into things that aren't her business, including reorganizing Casey's desk, and you just know the chaos is going to escalate.

Casey soon finds the curator's body, and the hospitalized Gordon appears to be the likely culprit. Knowing that Gordon is not a killer, Casey sets out to find the truth, and to solve a White House mystery that goes back to the days of Dolley Madison.

I enjoyed this smart and fast-paced mystery. I love how even the First Dog has a role in the day-to-day life in the White House gardens. Casey is a clever character, and I appreciated the pacing of her romance with Special Agent Jack Turner. As a reader of the first two books in the series, I enjoyed learning a bit more about Casey's past. Author St. James also delighted this reader with the quotations from previous real-life First Ladies, most of which were new to me.

You can't go wrong with a cozy mystery that is played out with the backdrop of the world as a stage, while merging storylines from the past and the present, and with likable characters and dastardly villains. Highly recommended to fans of Julie Hyzy's "White House Chef" mystery series.

Reviewer's Note:
Reviewed 2013