Home and office—Windsor, MO.
Writer, florist, and businessperson. Owner, with husband, of a greenhouse and flower shop in Windsor, MO.
Flame in the Wind, Dorchester Publishing (New York, NY), 1981.
Bittersweet Storm, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1985.
"GARDENING MYSTERY" SERIES
Roots of Murder, St. Martin's Minotaur (New York, NY), 1999.
Murder Sets Seed, St. Martin's Minotaur (New York, NY), 2000.
Lilies That Fester, St. Martin's Minotaur (New York, NY), 2001.
A Deadly Bouquet, St. Martin's Minotaur (New York, NY), 2002.
Reap a Wicked Harvest, St. Martin's Minotaur (New York, NY), 2004.
Bindweed, St. Martin's Minotaur (New York, NY), 2005.
Janis Harrison is mystery writer who has taken her career as a florist and garden shop owner and applied it to her "Gardening Mystery" series. The first book in the series, Roots of Murder, introduces readers to the recently widowed Bretta Solomon, a flower shop owner in River City, Missouri, whose husband was a detective. When one of her suppliers, an Amish farmer, dies mysteriously, Bretta starts investigating and learns that Issac had been cultivating a plant secretly that was worth millions of dollars. GraceAnne A. Decandido, writing in Booklist, called Roots of Murder "a nicely composed debut cozy with a fine lead character." A Publishers Weekly contributor commented that the author "gives readers a winning look at what promises to be an intriguing cozy series."
In her follow up to Roots of Murder, titled Murder Sets Seed, Harrison has Bretta on the trail of the person who murdered one of the guests at a dinner for the prominent residents of River City. The victim, Cameo, is found dead in her wheelchair after the lights temporarily go out. Bretta has plenty of suspects to choose from since Cameo was badgering and belittling the guests and claiming that someone was blackmailing her. A Publishers Weekly contributor wrote that the author "pulls everything together for a satisfying finale." Writing in the Library Journal, Rex E. Klett called the mystery an "entertaining tempest in a small-town teapot."
A florist convention in Branson, Missouri, is the setting for Lilies That Fester. When a series of murders occurs during the convention, Bretta sets out to discover who is killing the florists and why. Carol Haggas, writing in Booklist, noted that Lilies That Fester "further establishes Harrison's budding character as an amateur sleuth with a fertile imagination." A Kirkus Reviews contributor wrote that the author "maintains her strong ear."
A Deadly Bouquet finds Bretta under pressure as she arranges all the flowers for a huge outdoor wedding, deals with her long-lost father moving in with her, and becomes disappointed when an ex-federal agent and potential love interest named Bailey Monroe buys a cottage that Bretta also wanted as part of her plans for a bed-and-breakfast and wedding chapel. When the local hairdresser's murder is followed by a local gossip's death, Bretta investigates to find a long-held secret involving many of the professionals working on the wedding. "The complexities of her budding relationships with Bailey and her dad still don't eclipse Bretta's skills as a detective, or as a florist," wrote a Kirkus Reviews contributor. A Publishers Weekly also praised the book, noting that "the suspenseful, twist-filled plot accelerates toward a fitting climax."
Bretta is on the case of a dead female employee at the Parker Greenhouse in the fifth book in the "Gardening Mystery" series, titled Reap a Wicked Harvest. As the investigation progresses, Bretta discovers that previous young women who worked at the center had suspiciously quit their jobs after becoming pregnant. Bretta eventually uncovers a baby-selling scam that involves the young girls without their knowledge. Carol Haggas, writing in Booklist, noted that Reap a Wicked Harvest has "more twists and turns than a creeping vine." A Kirkus Reviews contributor referred to the mystery as "a clever and well-clued puzzle."
Bindweed focuses on the murder of a mentally-challenged young man named Toby who did odd jobs at various businesses in River City, including Bretta's flower shop. The murder itself is striking in that someone put a hornet's nest inside Toby's bedroom, resulting in his being stung to death. As Bretta investigates, she links the murder to the theft of some mysterious and possibly valuable flowers grown by Toby's late mother. "Intricately interlaced clues make Harrison's latest a real page-turner," wrote a Kirkus Reviews contributor.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, May 15, 1999, GraceAnne A. DeCandido, review of Roots of Murder, p. 1673; May 1, 2001, Merle Jacob, review of Roots of Murder, p. 1607; September 15, 2001, Carol Haggas, review of Lilies That Fester; December 1, 2003, Carol Haggas, review of Reap a Wicked Harvest, p. 651.
Kirkus Reviews, June 1, 2000, review of Murder Sets Seed, p. 755; September 1, 2001, review of Lilies That Fester, p. 1248; November 15, 2002, review of A Deadly Bouquet, p. 1659; November 1, 2003, review of Reap a Wicked Harvest, p. 1295; September 1, 2005, review of Bindweed, p. 944.
Library Journal, August, 1999, Rex E. Klett, review of Roots of Murder, p. 145; April 1, 2000, Dean James, review of Roots of Murder, p. 160; August, 2000, Rex E. Klett, review of Murder Sets Seed, p. 166; November 1, 2001, Rex E. Klett, review of Lilies That Fester, p. 135; December, 2002, Rex Klett, review of A Deadly Bouquet, p. 183; January, 2004, Rex E. Klett, review of Reap a Wicked Harvest, p. 164; August 1, 2005, Ann Kim, review of Bindweed, p. 58.
Publishers Weekly, June 14, 1999, review of Roots of Murder, p. 54; July 10, 2000, review of Murder Sets Seed, p. 47; October 1, 2001, review of Lilies That Fester, p. 40; November 18, 2002, review of A Deadly Bouquet, p. 45; December 15, 2003, review of Reap a Wicked Harvest, p. 57.
Crescent Blues,http://www.crescentblues.com/ (March 21, 2007), Patricia Lucas White, review of Murder Sets Seed.
Missouri Authors,http://authors.missouri.org/ (March 21, 2007), brief profile of author.
Mystery Authors Online,http://www.mysteryauthorsonline.com/ (March 21, 2007), brief profile of author.
Mystery Reader,http://www.themysteryreader.com/ (March 21, 2007), Jennifer Monahan Winberry, review of Murder Sets Seed.
Who Dunnit,http://www.who-dunnit.com/ (March 21, 2007), Alan Paul Curtis, review of Reap a Wicked Harvest.