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jenn

Murder by Death

I read cozy and historical mysteries, a bit of Paranormal/UF, and to mix it up, I read science and gardening books on occasion.

Reading progress update: I've read 33 out of 320 pages.

The Scent Of Scandal:  Greed, Betrayal, And The World's Most Beautiful Orchid - Craig Pittman

I started this last night and I think it's one of those books you have to have a connection to in order to really get into it.  My connection is actually two-fold: I am a Florida native, born and raised in the Sarasota area, where this story takes place, and my father was an orchid grower and hybridiser who did a lot of work for, and with, Selby Botanical Gardens, the 'scene fo the crime'.  His health by the time this story takes place had deteriorated enough that he was in no way a part of it (nor would he have been anyway; his interest was creating hybrids, not obtaining rarities), but he would have known most of the players.

 

So far, Pittman's writing is straight-forward investigative journalism and reads like it.  This is fine - he's a journalist, after all - and I've read one of his other books and enjoyed his style well enough.  He started out writing for the Sarasota Herald Tribune, so he knows the area well (and is also a native); this is a bonus to a native Sarasotian - he's got the atmosphere pretty well nailed.

 

The other part he has nailed is the obsessive, fanatical, competitiveness of orchidists and orchid hobbyists.  I'd say you have to see it to believe it, but I lived my whole life with it and I still can't believe the lengths they will go to in order to obtain new specimens, or hoard the ones they have.  Whatever 'secrets' they develop to raise them successfully are just that - jealously guarded secrets.  When my father wanted to learn about orchids (in the 50's or 60's, I think) - nobody would tell him anything beyond the basics about water, food and light.  When he wanted to start hybridising - forget it; he might as well have been asking for CIA documents.  My dad being my dad, he just did his own research, experimented, created his own glove-box, tested it out, and when it worked, gave the plans and specifications for it to anyone who asked for it.  My dad was the best!

 

Still a long way to go in this book, and it's not going to be an easy, breezy read, but so far it's exactly what this native Florida girl living on the other side of the world needed.  A true virtual trip home.