In the latest addition to the White House Gardener Mysteries, White House organic gardener Casey Calhoun and her friends embark on an adventure that takes them into the shadowy world of spies and secrets.
While gardening hints and tips are peppered throughout all three of my White House Gardener Mysteries, these books have never been exclusively about organic gardening. My goal in writing them was to provide a lighthearted getaway for both readers who love getting dirt under her nails and readers who would much rather be inside tucked under a blanket with a book in hand.
With OAK AND DAGGER, I was able to combine my love of history, spy thrillers, romance, and gardening. At first I worried if I could pull it off. I mean, this is a cozy mystery, not an international spy thriller.
As a child, I memorized lines from the James Bond movies and dreamed of owning some of those fabulous gadgets and sleek cars. I would often imagine that a super-spy like Scarecrow (from Scarecrow and Mrs. King) would stumble into my life and whisk me off into a harrowing adventure where the future of the free world depended upon our success.
I watched and read so many spy thrillers during my tender years that I think cloaks and daggers became entwined in my DNA. So it seemed natural that Casey Calhoun should stumble over a spy or two as she tended the gardens at the White House.
After all, haven’t popular books and movies taught us that at least half the population in the D.C. area is actively involved in the high-stakes spy business?
Adding a spy element to the book, sometimes felt like I was juggling prickly balls of nettles while trying to type. After all, I wanted the book to stay true to the tone and feel of a lighthearted cozy mystery. Luckily, the spy thriller genre is as varied as the cozy mystery genre. So instead of the gritty edge of the Bourne Identity, OAK AND DAGGER comes across with the playfulness of Get Smart.
There’s still the same cast of quirky characters keeping Casey on her toes. And the President’s naughty puppy, Milo, is back digging up trouble in the White House lawn.
And yes, the romance is back as well, turning up the heat with Casey’s favorite (albeit reluctant) sidekick, Secret Service Special Agent Jack Turner.
Do you love spy thrillers as much as I do? What are some of your favorites?
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OAK AND DAGGER by Dorothy St. James
Available April 2, 2013 from Berkley Prime Crime
Despite cooler fall temperatures in Washington, D.C., tempers flare at the White House when important historical documents go missing from the curator’s office and the gardeners are blamed. As if that isn’t bad enough, Casey has started receiving death threats, the president’s pooch is digging unsightly holes all over the South Lawn, and the curator has been found dead. All evidence for the murder points to Gordon Sims, the chief gardener. His fingerprints are on the murder weapon, and witnesses saw him arguing with the curator shortly before her death.
With the help of Special Agent Jack Turner, her reluctant sidekick, Casey works to clear Gordon’s name. Along the way she finds herself in a deadly race against time to discover if there’s a link between the stolen papers, the dog’s holes in the South Lawn, and a rumored two-hundred-year-old treasure-before the killer strikes again...
Praise for OAK AND DAGGER:
"...another nail-biter from St. James, who combines a dandy whodunit, a courageous heroine, a budding romance and a rich dose of White House history and horticulture in this clever outing. And she continues to reveal more about Casey's troubled family history, all of which makes "Oak and Dagger" a treasure for readers." - Richmond Times-Dispatch
"Hang on tight! This story is a wild ride! I loved it!" - Escape with Dollycas into a Good Book Blog
Mystery author Dorothy St. James was born in New York but raised in South Carolina. She makes her home on an artsy island community in South Carolina with her husband, two crazy dogs, and a fat cat (she’s all fluff!). Though writing has always been a passion for her, she pursued an undergraduate degree in Wildlife Biology and a graduate degree in Public Administration and Urban Planning. She put her educational experience to use, having worked in all branches and all levels of government including local, regional, state, and federal. She even spent time during college working for a non-profit environmental watchdog organization. You can read more about Dorothy and her work at her website: www.DorothyStJames.com