Walpow brings back Joe Portugal of The Cactus Club Killings to unravel the mystery behind the sudden death of Albert, an orchid grower in Los Angeles. Portugal, more of a succulent plant enthusiast, rarely mingles with orchid growers but happens to attend the spring social of the Palisades Orchid Society, where he meets the accused, Laura, whom he fondly remembers from his past. Attracted to the thrill of playing detective--and to Laura--he assumes the role of investigator, enlisting the help of his best friend, Gina. This time around, Walpow ups the ante, tossing more bodies in the protagonist's way; soon Portugal is wondering whether he's too involved for his own good. Despite the predictable romance between Gina and Portugal and the lackluster horticulture details, Walpow's quirky cast of characters enlivens a satisfying mystery.
Los Angeles actor Joe Portugal can't seem to stay away from trouble. Joe finds himself at the home of orchid lover Dr. Albert Oberg to attend the spring social of the Palisades Orchid Society. When Dr. Oberg winds up dead later in the evening, the prime suspect is an old acting friend of Joe's who asks him to find the real murderer. The mystery that follows is a good one, interspersed with lots of interesting gardening trivia about growing orchids and cacti.
Author Walpow does a great job of setting the Los Angeles scene, and the characters are quirky and lovable. A very enjoyable aspect of the story is Joe's love life (or more exactly, his lack of a love life).