Not surprisingly, the garden tour--which Louise is televising for her PBS show, "Gardening with Nature"--turns out to be a busman's holiday. First the elderly hostess at the upscale Litchfield Falls Inn meets with a suspicious though miraculously not serious accident right after the bevy of bluestocking guests have introduced themselves. Next, an undercurrent of barely hidden lusts and professional resentments breaks loose when a tempestuously charming botany professor has a fatal fall while climbing a local mountain. Suspicion falls immediately on the Gasparras, a plant-breeding couple who have accused the professor of stealing their research into the creation of a red iris, and on Mark and Sandy Post, former students of the professor who are clearly hiding a puzzling ménage à trois. But Louise barely has time to scan the guests for guilty expressions before another body is found. Naturally, there are a number of dead-end garden paths that Louise and her cohorts must wander down before the identity of the killer--or killers--is revealed.
Ripley's series appears to be picking up steam. Her characters haven't quite come to full life, but the plot of The Garden Tour Affair is tight and interesting. If the cogent gardening essays scattered throughout the book are meant to be indicative of the tone of Louise's TV show, she must be a dynamo onscreen. The essays are punchy and fun, covering topics from potagers to genetic engineering, and illuminating seemingly minor plot points nicely. --Barrie Trinkle -- From Amazon.com Amazon.com Review