New Capitol Hill Murder Mystery

The Literary Hill

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A strangler fig at the Botanic Garden is put to nefarious use in “Gore in the Garden,” Colleen Shogan’s latest Capitol Hill mystery.

Murder at the Botanic Garden

Kit Marshall and her “merry band of politicos-turned-detectives” are on the case again. In “Gore in the Garden,” the latest installment of Colleen Shogan’s delightful series of mysteries that takes place on Capitol Hill, Kit and her crew are tasked with solving the murder of the first female Architect of the Capitol, who was strangled with a fig vine at the Botanic Garden. Fittingly, the dastardly deed took place at a reception celebrating the putrid blooming of the corpse plant.

Kit, whose day job involves serving as chief of staff for a congresswoman, musters her sleuth troops: her flirty best friend Meg, her husband Doug, the oddly asocial but endearing friend Trevor, and her beagle mutt Clarence. Added to the mix this time is her visiting brother Sebastian, a virtue-signaling techie with a penchant for staging noisy protests. Together with an actual DC police detective—and with the help of a crusty, out-of-work reporter—they compile a list of suspects and set about nabbing a killer.

Along the way, the crew provides an insider’s view of Capitol Hill, navigating the subterranean depths of the House and Senate office buildings, bouncing around from Mr. Henry’s to Gandel’s deli, and even making a trip to the Hill’s own speakeasy, hidden away near Eastern Market. But despite their lively gallivanting, they never forget the seriousness of their mission—or the potential danger they face if they beard the wrong suspect in the wrong place at the wrong time. As the inscription on a pen that Sebastian gives his sister reads: “Politics can be murder.”

“Gore in the Garden” is the fifth in Colleen Shogan’s “Washington Whodunit” series. For more, visit www.colleenshogan.com or find her on Twitter @cshogan276.

East of the River Book Festival

Mark your calendars for the sixth annual East of the River Book Festival, a celebration of indie writers, small publishers and independent book shops, with a focus on culturally diverse books and self-publishing. Writers may register online (the fee is $75) and are invited to participate in panels and workshops to receive advice and resources. Visitors of all ages are encouraged to dress in a costume that reflects a favorite author or fictional character. October 4, 11 a.m.-4 p.m., at TheArc West Black Box Theater, 1801 Mississippi Ave., SE. www.eotrbookfest.com.

Camelot Noir

Former DC police officer and prolific crime noir writer Quintin Peterson has had two stories published recently. “Knight Moves,” which appears in an anthology titled “Camelot 13,” takes the King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table myth one better. It stars MPDC Commander Arthur Knight, who gathers a task force (around a round table, of course) for a clandestine operation code-named Camelot. The set-up takes place in a sleazy dive in Northeast called the Ragin’ Cajun Supper Club, which specializes in “so-so pseudo Cajun cuisine and outstanding, authentic pole dancing.” Suffice it to say that double-crosses ensue, with Knight engaged in a dangerous game of chess to outwit his nemesis. www.padwolf.com

In “Broken Doll,” anthologized in “Awesome Tales #10,” detective Luther Kane once again tangles with the evil Russian criminal boss “Ivan the Terrible” Sizov. The stakes are high but Luther, a former DC cop and soldier of fortune who was maimed by a landmine, doesn’t let his prosthetic legs keep him from confronting evil wherever it rears its ugly head. www.boldventurepress.com

And stay tuned for “The Shakespeare Redemption,” Peterson’s third novel set at the Folger Shakespeare Library, where he served as a security officer. Stay updated on Facebook at quintin.peterson.56 or on Twitter @luther_kane.

To the ResQ of Endangered Species

Wheaton is pulling his cousin Stowe out of hip-deep mud when they get an SOS from Indonesia. A mother orangutan has been shot and her baby is missing. Sounds like a job for ResQ, the Emergency Service for the Rescue of Endangered Species that they founded with their grandmother, a famous wildlife photographer. So off they soar in their ECAPS solar jet with their HeliBoaJee (helicopter/boat/jeep combo) on board, both inventions courtesy of Wheaton’s crack engineering skills. But first, they have to make a phone call. Even with grandma along, an 11- and 12-year old can hardly go halfway around the world without checking with their moms, right?

“ResQ and the Baby Orangutan” is the first in a projected series of books for middle schoolers by Eva J. Pell, former Smithsonian Undersecretary for Science, that addresses the crisis of endangered animals. Illustrated by Mattias Lanas, the adventure series features futuristic high-tech wizardry—including a drone that acts like a bloodhound to track down poached animals—and exotic locations, as well as evergreen lessons about nature, science, and math. There are even fact-filled diversions on culture, language, and food.

But the educational bits, informative as they are, never get in the way of the compelling rescue mission, which finds the ResQ team—with the help of a local Indonesian boy whose skills and derring-do more than match their own—battling chainsaw-wielding illegal loggers and criminal traffickers who are trying to smuggle baby Buddi out of Borneo. It’s an exciting read with an engaging pair of precocious main characters (Wheaton has already graduated from college and is headed for grad school). They are, nonetheless, still kids, and while they are consumed with a passion for rescuing animals, they have a lot to learn about the world. “When we flew over here, I thought this would be straightforward,” muses Wheaton as they depart the island. “I guess there’s a lot more to ResQ than just a simple rescue,”

Eva Pell will be reading from and signing “ResQ and the Baby Orangutan” at the National Zoo, Sept. 14, in the pavilion across from Lion and Tiger Hill, 9:30 and 10:30 a.m. www.evapell.com

On (and Off) the Hill in September

Linda Quinlan, recent winner of the Wicked Woman Poetry Prize, will read from her latest work, “Chelsea Creek,” at the Arts Club of Washington, 2017 I St NW, Sept. 12, noon. RSVP at www.artsclubofwashington.org/events/

The Smithsonian Associates celebrates National Novel Writing Month by offering a day-long workshop titled “Write a Novel in a Month,” Sept. 28, 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Dibs on reviewing your finished product! www.smithsonianassociates.org.

Visit these websites to find listings for more local readings, book clubs, discussions, and signings: