Colleen J. Shogan
Colleen J. Shogan
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.
Sebastian, Doug, and I drifted back to the sidewalk outside the butterfly garden. “Tell me more about your friend Meg,” said Sebastian. His eyes sparkled with interest.
“She’s not dating these days,” I said quickly. “Let’s not go there.”
“Meg is attractive,” said Doug. “But I’m not sure she’s your type. I don’t see her taking to the streets anytime soon to protest the world’s injustices.”
“Not unless the protest was taking place inside Nordstrom’s,” I said. “If you could arrange that location for a demonstration, then you persuade her to make an appearance.”
Doug and Sebastian both chuckled. But their laughter was interrupted suddenly by a bloodcurdling scream from inside the conservatory.
“That sounds like Meg!” I exclaimed. “Come on.”
We rushed over to the entrance, pulled open the door, and entered the garden court. Meg was standing next to the blooming corpse flower. I didn’t even notice the odor because I was fixated on her terrified face.
I ran to her and put my hands on her shoulders. “Meg, what’s wrong? It looks like you’ve just seen a ghost.”
“Worse than that,” she sputtered, gesturing wildly behind her.
“Is something wrong inside the tropical rain forest?” I asked.
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.
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4 out of 5 stars
Gore in the Garden by Colleen J. Shogan is Book 5 in the ‘Washington Whodunit’ series that feature Kit Marshall, Congresswoman Dixon’s chief of staff. An exclusive opportunity to see the rare blooming of the plant known as the corpse flower becomes all too apropos when Kit’s best friend and fellow staff member discovers a body. This time, even more of the family gets involved in the investigation as Kit’s husband, brother, and dog all become embroiled in the case.
This fun cozy mystery truly gives an insider view of Washington D.C. and the machinations of some of its denizens. As usual, Kit tries to navigate the delicate pathway between appeasing those in power, refraining from antagonizing anyone who could become (or already is) an important player, and maintaining a harmonious personal life while solving a murder mystery. Although I appreciate the authenticity of the details that permeate the story, at times I felt a bit overwhelmed by them and would rather have had a bit more connection to the characters. I like that Kit is growing in confidence, although I was a bit surprised that the detective who she is always thrown into contact with during the course of her investigations has evidently given up and welcomes her interference, ahem, assistance. Despite the widespread influence of the players in this environment, this still has the small town feel of a cozy mystery, and I was happy to read another tale from this series. Those who are unfamiliar with the series may want to read one or two (or four) of the previous stories to get a bit more oriented, but you can probably get by reading this as a stand-alone story. I look forward to seeing what other complicated situations Kit gets into in the future, as well as learning about other obscure locations in the nation’s capital.
A copy of this title was provided for review