The Calleshire constabulary investigates a number of puzzling crimes that simply must be connected.
DI Sloan and his intellectually challenged helper, DC Crosby, are called to a plant nursery owned by Jack Haines. Someone has broken through a fence and left two greenhouse doors open, killing a number of valuable plants, many of them orchids. Oddly, another small nursery’s orchids have been ruined in the same way, and an expert on orchids has been reported missing. Miss Enid Osgathorp, for years the local physician’s receptionist, has failed to return from the most recent of her many trips. A landscape architect who gave Osgathorp a ride to catch her train is also suffering from the plant murders, since many of the victims were special orders for several projects he was working on. Sloan and Crosby find that two different people have broken into the Osgathorp cottage. Despite an all-out hunt, the lady in question remains stubbornly missing. But Sloan does discover that Osgathorp was a blackmailer who used the information she had garnered from her former job to supplement her income nicely. In addition, he finds a link between the greenhouse owners—a man who is stepson to one of them and ex-husband to the other—but he soon turns up dead. Someone is desperate to conceal something, but what? That’s the question Sloan must answer to please his irascible superintendent before his annual assessment.
All the dry wit of Aird’s very British police procedurals (Past Tense, 2011, etc.) is joined this time by an especially tricky mystery.