Cover image for Mulch ado about nothing : a Jane Jeffry mystery
Mulch ado about nothing : a Jane Jeffry mystery
Churchill, Jill, 1943-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : William Morrow, [2000]

Physical Description:
216 pages ; 22 cm
Geographic Term:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks
X Adult Fiction Popular Materials-Mystery
X Adult Fiction Mystery/Suspense
X Adult Fiction Mystery/Suspense

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No one could ever accuse Jane Jeffry or her equally green-thumbless best friend Shelly Nowack of being modern reicarnations of Luther Burbank. Their ineptitude in all things vegatative has inspired them to sign up for a botany class at the local community center, even though the gods of gardening seem to be warning Jane to steer clear.

Jane trips on a curb and badly bangs up her foot, but his gamely hobbles to class on crutches and in a cast, only to learn that the glamorous and celebrated microbiologist teacher, Julie Jackson, has been beaten into a coma by a person or persons unknown. But the class must go on, even though the substitute teacher, Dr. Stewart Eastman, is the arrogant creator of his patented plant species and more interested in his personal ambition to achieve botanical fame and fortune than imparting knowledge or a love of gardening. He's propaganding only his ego and his latest floral coup.

When a murder occurs, there's and abundant crop of suspects in the class, Is the perp who plants a body in Dr. Eastman's compost pile the conspiracy nut Ursula Appledorn, who's' convinced that they are being stalked by a cabal involving the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Queen Elizabeth, and the French Dauphin? Or maybe the obsessively tidy computer nerd Charles Jones? Or the milquetoast widoer Arnold Waring? Perhaps it's the terrifying knowledgeable Miss Martha Winstead with her strong opinions on gardening?

Jane's beau, police detective Mel VanDyne, who admits to a secret longing to drive dieselpowered earth-moving equipment, is on the case, but hasn't seen the gardens the classmates have created -- wherein flourishes the floral clue to the grimy crime. Jane's afraid he'll pluck out the wrong suspect.

And Jane, her nuisance injury ignored, is willing to get her gardening gloves, and Shelly's as well, dirty to uneath the gardener who's responsible for one bashing and one buried.

Author Notes

Jill Churchill (born Janice Young Brooks) on January 11, 1943 in Kansas City, Missouri. She earned a degree in education from the University of Kansas in 1965 before teaching elementary school. Between 1978 and 1992, she was book reviewer for the Kansas City Star. She published several historical novels under her real name before introducing a new series in 1989. This mystery series follows Jane Jeffry, a widow with three children in Chicago. With her neighbor and best friend, she gets involved in murder cases. The novel titles are puns on literary works and reflect Jeffry's cozy domestic life which she leads between crime-solving episodes.

Churchill is the winner of the Agatha and Macavity Awards for her first Jane Jeffrey novel and was featured in Great Women Mystery Writers in 2007.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Jane Jeffry is definitely a cozy sort: her best friend, Shelly, lives next door, and her kids are adolescent but adorable. In this latest adventure, Jane's boyfriend, Mel the detective, is mostly offstage. Shelly and Jane sign up for a gardening class, but their lecturer, a plant researcher, is severely beaten before it begins. The class goes forward anyway, with a supercilious replacement and an assortment of broadly drawn but vivid types: a take-no-prisoners elderly librarian, a martinet whose pant creases match his tortuous garden geometry, a befuddled fellow who can't get over the death of his wife, a conspiracy freak, and so on. When the offensive replacement lecturer is found dead in his own garden, Jane and Shelly find digging up the connections among these folks to be irresistible. Jane is only slightly hampered by a broken foot, and this time she even treats herself to a TV in the bedroom. --GraceAnne A. DeCandido

Publisher's Weekly Review

The title of this 12th Jane Jeffry gardening mystery from Macavity and Agatha Award-winner Churchill (Grime and Punishment; A Farewell to Yarns; etc.) says it all, as the crime element is almost an afterthought. When Jane and neighbor Shelley Nowack sign up for a gardening class at their local community center, they end up with a substitute, the pompous Dr. Stewart Eastman, after an unknown intruder sneaks into the home of the regular teacher, Julie Jackson, and knocks her out, leaving her in a coma. Suspects in the attack include everyone taking the gardening class: fastidious computer programmer Charles Jones, persnickety librarian Martha Winstead, lonely widower Arnie Waring and loony aging hippie Ursula Appledorn. But in this leisurely, talky tale, Jane is less concerned with crime solving than with visiting the gardens of her classmates, tending to her injured foot, worrying about her teenage son's unsuitable girlfriend and buying herself a new TV for her bedroom. Only near the end does a murder occurDDr. Eastman is found strangled with green twine in a compost pileDafter which Churchill brings the plot to a tidy conclusion, with the killer's motive turning on Dr. Eastman's patented pink marigolds. While Jane and Shelley make plenty of wry social comments, there's too little sleuthing going on for this cozy to appeal to anyone except gardeners and already established fans. (Dec. 1) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved