Anywho. Sometimes even when I am really looking forward to a book, it gets shifted through the TBR pile until, well, until much, much later than I intend. And that's what's happened to A Twist of Orchids. In the midst of a slump, though, it was kind of nice to have Wan's title waiting for me. And if you're at all apprehensive about starting these thanks to the strange distribution/printing, trust me it's well worth it just to read the first two.
To catch you up, and since I did post a brief little something about Wan's debut, Deadly Slipper, in my previous post, I decided that today would be a good time (late but better than never) to post some info on Wan's second book, Orchid Shroud.
Let me stress again just how much I truly enjoy this series. Yes, it would seem that a series set around orchid enthusiasm might be more cozy than the majority of the titles I usually comment on, but such an assumption would be a mistake. Which is not to say that if you are fond of cozies that you would not like this series. Quite the opposite actually. I think it's a nice bridge between the cozy mystery and the non-cozy. And, the orchid theme is not as cute as it would seem either. In fact, apparently orchidologists can be quite, erm, well Susan Orlean's Orchid Thief wasn't a massive hit for nothing. Neither is the orchid theme as prevalent as you might think. It's an underlying theme throughout the series, but as my info on Orchid Shroud will attest, Wan is quite adept as weaving other sorts of mysteries.
So back to Michelle Wan, and here is my review of Orchid Shroud, the second book in Mara and Julien's series, from the BB archives:
Mara, Julien, and the entire cast return in this follow up to last summer’s Deadly Slipper. While renovating the de Bonford estate, two workers discover the desiccated remains of a baby boy hidden in the wall. In an attempt to protect the family name from subsequent media fallout, Christophe de Bonford enlists Mara’s help to find out who the child is and clear the de Bonford name. Meanwhile, animals and villagers are being savagely attacked by what is described as a giant beast. On the outset, Wan presents the beauty and tranquility of the Dordogne region. As she draws readers in, however, she scratches away at this façade to reveal the darkness that lurks in the corners of this sleepy French region.
Shroud is a winning combination of history, mythology, and orchidology. I'm about a third of the way through Twist now and this time it looks like the sleepy Dordogne is facing some nasty drug dealers as well. See, not just orchids! Although, Julien's search for the illusive and rare orchid he viewed in Mara's sister's film is a great running story and the development of both Mara and Julien as individuals and as a couple keep me coming back for more.