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            Bleeding Heart
            Mary Freeman
            Review posted: 7/20/03

            The third book in Mary Freemanís Rachel OíConnor gardening mystery series, Bleeding Heart takes readers from small town Blossom to Portland, OR, when Rachelís company, Rain Country Landscaping is commissioned to restore the gardenís of famed botanist Eloise Jackson. Things are going well until Eloise winds up dead one dark and stormy night. Foul play is instantly suspected and suspects abound.

            Enter Carey (Icarus) Spiros, homicide, whose obsession with the case makes Rachel every bit as nervous as the murder. if an overzealous homicide detective wasnít enough, Rachel is forced to deal with a womanizing state representative, who oozes charm and something slightly more sinister from every pore, a son who is furious to discover his mother has left her vast estate to a nature conservancy and not to him and a mysterious personal assistant with a past history of drug abuse.

            All of Rachelís amateur sleuthing skills are put to the task in this intriguing mystery, but the closer she gets to the answer, the closer the murderer gets to her. To make matters worse her motherís acting strange, and itís up to Rachel to figure out what the problem is.

            Bleeding Heart takes the town of Blossom and the characters from Freemanís Gardening Mysteries to a new level, drawing the characters in greater depth than either of the seriesí previous entries. Rachel and Jeff struggle to sort out their love life as they unravel the tangled trail of the mystery and Rachelís assistants, Beck, the eccentric but basically harmless woodcarver and Julio are both shown in greater detail than ever before.

            A great entry into an already strong series, Freeman is on the right track.