Set in the fictional English county of Calleshire, Catherine Aird’s Dead Heading features the police duo of DI Sloan and DC Crosby. On a frosty night in March, two separate orchid growers have their greenhouses sabotaged, and the orchids inside are killed. Is there someone out there with a grudge against the growers – a business rival, perhaps – or with a grudge against the customers expecting the plants? (Strange how orchids attract both crime and detectives in a way that, say, marigolds, do not. Nero Wolfe grew orchids.)
At the same time, an elderly woman, Enid Osgathorp, has gone missing, and as DI Sloan investigates, it becomes clear she was involved in blackmail. But there may be more than one blackmailer around Berebury. And what is Benedict Feakins hiding in his bonfire?
This is a lively read, with a complex series of characters with overlapping lives, and plenty of gardening talk. I was a little thrown by some seemingly random upper-casing of common plant names, but apart from minor editorial glitches it is a well-plotted tale by an author with a strong track record.