I attended a recent celebration for authors at the Guelph Public Library’s 125th anniversary. It was a delightful evening where an astonishing amount of local talent was gathered. At one point in the evening the authors were called forward to stand in front of a raised platform. By the end of this long process there was very little room and it seemed that the audience was eclipsed in numbers by the crowd of authors. I felt somewhat embarrassed for them.
One of the authors who was called up the red carpet was Michelle Wan. I was intrigued by the short blurb about her in the pamphlet. She writes botanical mysteries. That’s right up my alley: I love good mysteries and think orchids, which she especially targets, are among the most beautiful plants in existence.
I found her 2005 novel called Deadly Slipper: A novel of death in the Dordogne at the Bookshelf the following week and bought it. It was a highly enjoyable read with a very interesting setting in the south-west of France. The tension/attraction between the two main characters Mara Dunn (a french Canadian from Montreal) and Julian Wood (an English botanist from England) moves the plot on with intensity and speed. Michelle has also published two sequels in the “Death in the Dordogne” series:
- The Orchid Shroud
- A Twist of Orchids
I look forward to reading them too!
Wan is particularly adept at characterization. I found the characters in Deadly Slipper to be colourful, spirited and very interesting. Some of the memorable: Gerard, Loulou, Vrac, La Binette, Patsy and especially Mado and Paul at their delicious sounding Chez Nous restaurant.
I do have one criticism. I think the jacket on the Doubleday hard cover book would have benefited from a picture of a true Cypripedium or Lady’s Slipper orchid. It plays an important enough role in the book that it deserved front billing. I have pictures of the extremely rare but gorgeous small white lady’s slipper orchids that I took years ago on Walpole Island (near Windsor Ontario) that would have done nicely if they had to have a white slipper. And I have lots of the more common yellow slipper too. Oh well.