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The Scarlet Pepper

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As the White House's organic gardener, Casey Calhoun is up to her elbows in dirt. But when someone starts tampering with the Presidential vegetable garden, embarrassing the First lady-and a hard-nosed investigative reporter is found dead, Casey realizes that the next thing buried in the dirt might just be her... As the White House's organic gardener, Casey Calhoun is up to her elbows in dirt. But when someone starts tampering with the Presidential vegetable garden, embarrassing the First lady-and a hard-nosed investigative reporter is found dead, Casey realizes that the next thing buried in the dirt might just be her...


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As the White House's organic gardener, Casey Calhoun is up to her elbows in dirt. But when someone starts tampering with the Presidential vegetable garden, embarrassing the First lady-and a hard-nosed investigative reporter is found dead, Casey realizes that the next thing buried in the dirt might just be her... As the White House's organic gardener, Casey Calhoun is up to her elbows in dirt. But when someone starts tampering with the Presidential vegetable garden, embarrassing the First lady-and a hard-nosed investigative reporter is found dead, Casey realizes that the next thing buried in the dirt might just be her...

30 review for The Scarlet Pepper

  1. 5 out of 5

    Dawn

    ****UPDATE*** For a book I thought I would never go back to,not to bad. I am glad I decided to pick this book up again and give it another chance. From were I picked up at to the end of the book,it definitely made up for the first half of the book. Rating: 3 Stars Although the first book in this series was alright I just found this book, too much blah, blah, blah and not enough action in the storyline for me. I only made 130+ pages in before called it quits. Such a bummer. Not rating

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Oberth

    I really love the characters. I like Casey's story. I find it increasingly interesting to read about some PTSD/childhood trauma in a cozy. It feels right somehow. Sure it was annoying that characters would disappear at inopportune moments and when they showed up again, Casey did not press them as to where they disappeared to or indeed what she'd needed to ask them in the first place, but the heart and optimism of the story makes up for these and other minor irritations. I really love the characters. I like Casey's story. I find it increasingly interesting to read about some PTSD/childhood trauma in a cozy. It feels right somehow. Sure it was annoying that characters would disappear at inopportune moments and when they showed up again, Casey did not press them as to where they disappeared to or indeed what she'd needed to ask them in the first place, but the heart and optimism of the story makes up for these and other minor irritations.

  3. 5 out of 5

    LORI CASWELL

    Casey Calhoun works at The White House as the assistant gardener. In this installment we are focused on the First Lady’s Kitchen Garden. It hasn’t been classified as an “organic garden” yet, but Casey is using organic procedures as they work toward that goal. There are rumors running rampant in the media about the garden. It is being said that Casey is replacing plants to make it seem that the plants are growing faster than they actually are and that the ground is full of lead making the vegetab Casey Calhoun works at The White House as the assistant gardener. In this installment we are focused on the First Lady’s Kitchen Garden. It hasn’t been classified as an “organic garden” yet, but Casey is using organic procedures as they work toward that goal. There are rumors running rampant in the media about the garden. It is being said that Casey is replacing plants to make it seem that the plants are growing faster than they actually are and that the ground is full of lead making the vegetables grown there dangerous to eat. Casey thinks it is funny that with all the issues the nation is facing the vegetable garden is such a high priority with the press. There definitely is something going on in the garden as red peppers are popping up where green peppers are supposed to be and cabbage is growing where lettuce was planted. Casey is very confused when in addition to the different plants the garden is being vandalized during the night. Then an investigative reporter is found dead with Casey’s name in his notes. She doesn’t haven’t much time to dig into all the details as the first harvest of the garden is right around the corner and it is going to be another big press event. There is much more going than a few garden incidents. Someone seems to think Casey is the key and knows who the killer is, she is having one close call after another. She’d better hurry up and figure out what’s going on or she may find herself planted right between the eggplant and cauliflower. Dollycas’s Thoughts When I reviewed Flowerbed of State I said couldn’t wait for the next Casey Calhoun story and it was well worth the wait. Who knew a little kitchen garden for The White House and a pesky reporter could cause so much trouble? Its got all the makings of a fabulous mystery especially in the hands of this author. I love a strong female protagonist and Casey fits the bill. If the Secret Service Training Sessions don’t make her want to quit her job there is no way a murderer running around the gardens is going to either. She is right in the dirt with this one. I loved it!!!! St. James writes a fast paced cozy mystery with more twists than all the varieties of bell peppers. Toss together a little humor, romance, a pregnant first lady, and some Secret Service Agents with some unpredictable volunteers, an organic garden expert, a few secrets and a dead body and you are in for a bountiful feast for your reading pleasure. This cozy gets my highest recommendation, a perfect escape, and it should be in your in your hot little hands as you prepare your own gardens. Definitely a must “seed” story!!!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Fred

    The Scarlett Pepper is the second book in The White House Gardener Mystery series. And a very enjoyable addition it is. The time is getting close to the day that the First Lady will be harvesting from the Kitchen Garden, with the press in attendance. Casey Calhoun, along with the White House Garden volunteers are busily doing last minute work in the garden. One of the volunteers, who is also the wife of the Press Secretary for the President is very concerned about an article that is being written The Scarlett Pepper is the second book in The White House Gardener Mystery series. And a very enjoyable addition it is. The time is getting close to the day that the First Lady will be harvesting from the Kitchen Garden, with the press in attendance. Casey Calhoun, along with the White House Garden volunteers are busily doing last minute work in the garden. One of the volunteers, who is also the wife of the Press Secretary for the President is very concerned about an article that is being written Griffon Parker. Casey then has a heated discussion with Parker, in front of witnesses and that evening Parker is found dead. Then out of the blue a Scotsman who has an organic gardening show is brought on board without consulting Casey, bringing further doubt to her organic methods. There are also mysterious happenings taking place in the garden, too. Signs of digging going on which of course the First Dog is being blamed for, but then red peppers are growing where green ones should be. Casey has to be careful, as she is not sure she can trust some of those people she has in the past, including Jack a Secret Service member assigned to the White House. But Casey and Jack soon start to trust each other more and begin to work together to solve the mysterious events taking place on the White House grounds. I enjoy reading mysteries that take in and around at the White House, as I can only imagine that things are much more difficult than is portrayed in the books. Which is very understandable for security reasons. Looking forward to reading the next book to she how Casey and Jack handle becoming "better friends", if Casey can begin to get closure on her parents deaths when she was a child and of course being a dog lover, looking forward to more tidbits on the First Dog.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Liz

    I enjoyed this second book of the White House Gardener series, but a few things about it bothered me and by the time I finished it, I was less interested in reading more in the series. It just doesn't work for me. The characters are not developed well. The pace is plodding. It takes forever to get to the resolution which you feel is long overdue by the time it arrives. It has a few unnecessary twists to the plot that really do nothing to move the story along. The relationship between the main ch I enjoyed this second book of the White House Gardener series, but a few things about it bothered me and by the time I finished it, I was less interested in reading more in the series. It just doesn't work for me. The characters are not developed well. The pace is plodding. It takes forever to get to the resolution which you feel is long overdue by the time it arrives. It has a few unnecessary twists to the plot that really do nothing to move the story along. The relationship between the main character and a supposed love interest just never develops to a believable or interesting relationship. I just found myself thinking that I'm used to reading authors who are masters at their craft and that this author was more of an amateur in comparison. It made me think about how difficult it has to be to produce a book. It was okay, it kept my interest but I'll be looking for an author I enjoy more.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Eileen

    Casey is the official organic gardener for the White House. She loves her work. However, when someone starts tampering with the vegetable garden she is really upset and is determined to find out what is happening to change all her hard work. When a dead body is found in her garden there is much to be discovered. Someone is trying not only to destroy her but also the First Lady. There are quite a bundle of clues to solve and she finds she is in grave danger and needs to be more cautious . Good my Casey is the official organic gardener for the White House. She loves her work. However, when someone starts tampering with the vegetable garden she is really upset and is determined to find out what is happening to change all her hard work. When a dead body is found in her garden there is much to be discovered. Someone is trying not only to destroy her but also the First Lady. There are quite a bundle of clues to solve and she finds she is in grave danger and needs to be more cautious . Good mystery and lots of action.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jill

    Second in series. Casey Calhoun continues to work in the White House gardens and still manages to find herself in trouble. The series is an easy read and I find it interesting to imagine the setting from visits to DC.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Crissy

    Love the series! Rereading again!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Diane

    3 - Good

  10. 5 out of 5

    Colleen

    I liked this book. The characters were engaging and the twists and turns of the plot held my interest. It was fun to read a story set in Washington DC. I plan to read more from the series.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Linda Lugar

    This is a great series. I love the underlining story and how you learn more each book about Casey's childhood and her parents. This is a great series. I love the underlining story and how you learn more each book about Casey's childhood and her parents.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Virginia Adi

    Enjoyed this one!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Ronna

    The is the second book in the Casey Calhoun, White House gardener series. The story line is terrific, and the mystery is mixed in with numerous clues. The back story of Casey's murdered Mom, and murderer Dad, adds a lot to the emotions of the story. BUT, the editing is not as good in this second book. I would love to give this 5 stars because of the characters and story line, but the average editing causes me to go 3 stars on this second outing. That being said, I'm definitely looking forward to The is the second book in the Casey Calhoun, White House gardener series. The story line is terrific, and the mystery is mixed in with numerous clues. The back story of Casey's murdered Mom, and murderer Dad, adds a lot to the emotions of the story. BUT, the editing is not as good in this second book. I would love to give this 5 stars because of the characters and story line, but the average editing causes me to go 3 stars on this second outing. That being said, I'm definitely looking forward to reading book three--OAK AND DAGGER. In this book, Casey is being plagues by reporters who never seem to get their stories straight, causing Casey to seem like a less than terrific gardener. Then a mystery murder party plan becomes a reality and Casey was the inventor of the means of the murder. Unfortunately, one of the main reporters plaguing Casey, is actually found murdered as the murder mystery party was planned. When more intrigue is caused by other pesky, and physically attacked reporters, Casey finds herself caught between being the murder suspect and being a potential murder victim herself. Because of her past with her parents, she has definite trust issues which interfere with the help others are offering her. Lots of who's and whys add great interest to this mystery in the White House gardens!! Presidential quotes heading each chapter, and interesting guard ending tips within the story line, add much to the enjoyment of this book also!

  14. 4 out of 5

    ❂ Murder by Death

    I really liked this book - it's a nice blend of gardening, mystery, and a hint of romance. The Washington D.C./White House setting makes for a fun backdrop to the story as well. I guessed the culprit about 2/3 of the way through, but that didn't detract from my enjoyment of the story or the characters, all of whom are well written, lively and likeable. What did detract from my enjoyment, and the reason I didn't give this book 5 stars, is the way the main character, Casey, latched on to a suspect I really liked this book - it's a nice blend of gardening, mystery, and a hint of romance. The Washington D.C./White House setting makes for a fun backdrop to the story as well. I guessed the culprit about 2/3 of the way through, but that didn't detract from my enjoyment of the story or the characters, all of whom are well written, lively and likeable. What did detract from my enjoyment, and the reason I didn't give this book 5 stars, is the way the main character, Casey, latched on to a suspect and was just silly about it - as the reader you know she's wrong - the real killer is never suspected to early in the book, so watching her constantly accusing the wrong person adds nothing positive to the story whatsoever, is just an irritant to the reader, and makes the protagonist look stupid. I also thought the angst over family history was a tiny bit overplayed, but that was a trifle compared to the silliness of having to spend half the book reading about Casey making an idiot of herself with her false accusations. I'll look for the next book with the hopes that Casey will have learned some restraint and objectivity in time for the next murder investigation.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Harvee

    Though I found the White House gardener Casey Calhoun a little giddy and off centered when it comes to solving mysteries, she clearly is a dedicated gardener, devoted to excellence in tending the vegetables in the First Lady's organic garden. Casey thinks she has discovered the killers of two reporters in the White House Press Corps and pursues that trail relentlessly. In the meantime, she tries to find out who is sabotaging the vegetables in the White House garden, discovers the secrets of anot Though I found the White House gardener Casey Calhoun a little giddy and off centered when it comes to solving mysteries, she clearly is a dedicated gardener, devoted to excellence in tending the vegetables in the First Lady's organic garden. Casey thinks she has discovered the killers of two reporters in the White House Press Corps and pursues that trail relentlessly. In the meantime, she tries to find out who is sabotaging the vegetables in the White House garden, discovers the secrets of another female reporter who narrowly escapes death in a hit and run, and attempts to put all the facts together, putting her own life in danger. Far from being the crafty sleuth, however, Casey seems to fall into the solution to the crimes by accident. An enjoyable cozy if you don't mind being exasperated with the main character at times. I enjoyed reading about the White House garden itself, the Secret Service personnel, and the press corps, assuming that the details are true to life - their duties, methods of work, volunteers at the White House, etc.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jeannie and Louis Rigod

    Casey Calhoun, Asst. Gardener and official organic gardener is excited for the up-coming harvest of the First Lady's Kitchen Garden. The Harvest is going to be done with volunteers and school children eating the first harvest under the guidance of the Whitehouse Chef's. A cloud emerges over the festivity when not only is someone destroying the garden, but also, is killing off newspaper reporters that have issues with Casey's project. Soon, it becomes clear that Casey may also be in the killer's s Casey Calhoun, Asst. Gardener and official organic gardener is excited for the up-coming harvest of the First Lady's Kitchen Garden. The Harvest is going to be done with volunteers and school children eating the first harvest under the guidance of the Whitehouse Chef's. A cloud emerges over the festivity when not only is someone destroying the garden, but also, is killing off newspaper reporters that have issues with Casey's project. Soon, it becomes clear that Casey may also be in the killer's sights. Reputations are placed at risk as well as lives and the Secret Service with DCPD must try and solve this crime wave before the harvest happens. The reader is kept busy with puzzles, hints, murders, hidden identities, and even bombs from page one until the satisfying ending.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Beth Harper

    I wanted to like this more. I love the Washington DC setting. I like that the book used that setting. There weren't any wacky friends (one of my pet peeves these days). Casey's (the main character's) behavior annoyed me in a couple major ways. One: if she'd just asked a few questions, the mystery could've been cleared up sooner. And her refusal to believe a few people also prolonged the agony. The book would've been shorter, sure, but less annoying. Maybe Casey's past was supposed to explain her I wanted to like this more. I love the Washington DC setting. I like that the book used that setting. There weren't any wacky friends (one of my pet peeves these days). Casey's (the main character's) behavior annoyed me in a couple major ways. One: if she'd just asked a few questions, the mystery could've been cleared up sooner. And her refusal to believe a few people also prolonged the agony. The book would've been shorter, sure, but less annoying. Maybe Casey's past was supposed to explain her tendency to jump to and stick to conclusions without careful consideration, but it came off more as a way to compensate for poor plotting. Also, one of the main characters was supposed to be this big-hearted person, but nothing in the character's behavior or words really showed that.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Michele

    I really like this series, the second book was just as compelling as the first, the characters had developed, te plot was tight and there were many options of who-dunnit!!!! The book is a nice read that you will not want to put down. Every time I ad to leaqve it, I did so reluctantly, eager to get back to the action. There is a little bit of everything included in the story; romance, historical fact, White House protocool, gardening tips, murder, mystery ---- all brought together by realistic and I really like this series, the second book was just as compelling as the first, the characters had developed, te plot was tight and there were many options of who-dunnit!!!! The book is a nice read that you will not want to put down. Every time I ad to leaqve it, I did so reluctantly, eager to get back to the action. There is a little bit of everything included in the story; romance, historical fact, White House protocool, gardening tips, murder, mystery ---- all brought together by realistic and likable characters. I recommend this series highly, and look forward to the tird book in the series very much.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Ireally wanted to like this book, but I just did not like the main character, Casey. She is opinionated, stubborn, quick to jump to conclusions, and just plain annoying at times. The story revolves around the White House gardens, a garden project, murder, lies, cover-ups, more murders, blackmail....you get the idea. Lots of 'stuff' going on in the book. Having finished the book, I am still not sure what one of the murders was all about. It felt like it was just thrown in to up the body count. Ireally wanted to like this book, but I just did not like the main character, Casey. She is opinionated, stubborn, quick to jump to conclusions, and just plain annoying at times. The story revolves around the White House gardens, a garden project, murder, lies, cover-ups, more murders, blackmail....you get the idea. Lots of 'stuff' going on in the book. Having finished the book, I am still not sure what one of the murders was all about. It felt like it was just thrown in to up the body count.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Theresa Norris

    Casey Calhoun is a gardener at the White House who likes a mystery. This book has 3 mysteries to be solved, the killer, the garden and Casey's past. Every chapter starts with a quote from a former President which I loved some are funny some so true. With lots of gardening going on it's hard not to rush out and put your hands in the soil. And Casey and Jack's romance takes baby steps but it's moving forward. Casey Calhoun is a gardener at the White House who likes a mystery. This book has 3 mysteries to be solved, the killer, the garden and Casey's past. Every chapter starts with a quote from a former President which I loved some are funny some so true. With lots of gardening going on it's hard not to rush out and put your hands in the soil. And Casey and Jack's romance takes baby steps but it's moving forward.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Andrea

    This was a twisting and turning mystery where you were never sure until almost the very end who the killer was. I still feel as though these are not as "cozy" as some other books classified as "cozy". Dorothy St. James has created characters that you do want to read about and follow as well as learning about gardening and plants. I will be sure to read the next one in the series. Who knows what the next White House Gardener Mystery will bring. This was a twisting and turning mystery where you were never sure until almost the very end who the killer was. I still feel as though these are not as "cozy" as some other books classified as "cozy". Dorothy St. James has created characters that you do want to read about and follow as well as learning about gardening and plants. I will be sure to read the next one in the series. Who knows what the next White House Gardener Mystery will bring.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    The second in the "White House Gardener Mystery" series. After all the negative that has been in the news regarding the Secret Service in recent weeks, it's nice to read something good [about them] for a change. I'm also learning more about the White House and how things operate -- very interesting. The second in the "White House Gardener Mystery" series. After all the negative that has been in the news regarding the Secret Service in recent weeks, it's nice to read something good [about them] for a change. I'm also learning more about the White House and how things operate -- very interesting.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Sandy

    Casey Calhoun is a gardener at the White House. When a reporter is killed she ends up on the suspect lis. I didn't really care for Casey as a character and found the plot to easy to figure out.This book reminded me of Julie Hyzy's White House chef mysteries so if you like those you will probably enjoy this series. Casey Calhoun is a gardener at the White House. When a reporter is killed she ends up on the suspect lis. I didn't really care for Casey as a character and found the plot to easy to figure out.This book reminded me of Julie Hyzy's White House chef mysteries so if you like those you will probably enjoy this series.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Wendy

    Two books in the White House Gardener series and I'm already a huge fan. The glimpses of inside White House operations are a real treat and the gardening info is fun as well. Casey is a spunky heroine whose back story promises to get very intriguing. Two books in the White House Gardener series and I'm already a huge fan. The glimpses of inside White House operations are a real treat and the gardening info is fun as well. Casey is a spunky heroine whose back story promises to get very intriguing.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Erin

    So far, a really boring murder mystery set at the White House. Pretty much the main character is a gardener at the White House. A mean reporter gets killed and people start blaming her. Sounds a bit cliched doesn't it? Well, it is and is is super boring. So far, a really boring murder mystery set at the White House. Pretty much the main character is a gardener at the White House. A mean reporter gets killed and people start blaming her. Sounds a bit cliched doesn't it? Well, it is and is is super boring.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Natalie

    This was pretty decent. I'd read more from this series. It kept me guessing until the end and I enjoyed the characters for the most part. I did get sick of the main character's daddy issues but other than that I liked her. This was pretty decent. I'd read more from this series. It kept me guessing until the end and I enjoyed the characters for the most part. I did get sick of the main character's daddy issues but other than that I liked her.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Kathie

    I was more interested in the mystery within the mystery than the one the book is written about. I suppose in the third and last book in this series we will find out more about the mystery of Casey's parents. I was more interested in the mystery within the mystery than the one the book is written about. I suppose in the third and last book in this series we will find out more about the mystery of Casey's parents.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Nancy

    Started out kind of confusing, but got better as I continued reading.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Janet

    Not a bad little mystery. Good insight into the Whitehouse, though I don't enjoy this series as well as the books by Julie Hyzy Not a bad little mystery. Good insight into the Whitehouse, though I don't enjoy this series as well as the books by Julie Hyzy

  30. 4 out of 5

    Alice

    Not quite as good as the first book, some of the murder characters get a little confusing. I enjoyed the gardening discussions though. Beautiful cover art

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