I bought Gay Kinman’s short story collection because I have visited the location (as well as the Botanical Gardens) many times and love it’s beauty, art, historical exhibits, and plants. Each of these stories covers one or more of these aspects.
In the first five stories Jane Jillson – the new investigator for the Huntington Library – examines (and solves) murders involving rare books, rare plants, wild life, and some pretty shady people. The murders are all “off stage” and the tone is very light; very family friendly.
The next four stores are about a bumbling, softhearted thief who attempts to steel rare plants, rare art, rare “teeth” and a rare earth “sculpture.” Most of his tales – his name is Spyder – are written with a bit of slapstick. He’s actually, well, kind of lovable. Two of Spyder’s stories are written in rhyme. They are a tiny bit hard to read, but unique as a story form.
The last two stories are puzzlers, involving clues discovered by two clever college library students when (1) their cataloging instructor is found with a scaled-down replica of a civil war sword in her back (She deserved it because she was always backstabbing others!), and (2) and when the head of acquisitions is…. “scarfed” to death!
I recommend this book for some light reading, to tuck in your bag or briefcase and enjoy while having lunch, or coffee, or even Tea at the Huntington.