Genres: Adult, Fiction, Mystery & Detective, Suspense
Published by Jolly Fish Press on March 31, 2015
Amazon • Barnes and Noble • Goodreads
In the heat of the desert, Detective Cody Oliver inadvertently stumbles upon a strange garden adorned with exotic flowers. Upon closer inspection, he finds the garden is but a cover for the scores of bodies buried below. Soon, the small town of Mt. Dessicate plunges into chaos as journalists, reporters, and cameramen from across the nation descend upon the tiny, desert town to get a piece of the action.
Along with the media, a mysterious woman appears. She may be the only person who has come face to face with the killer, dubbed the Botanist, and lived to tell the tale. If Cody can't piece together a timeline of the land the crime scene is located on, decipher how the woman's mysterious past is connected to the killer, and bring the Botanist to justice, he may lose the people he values most.
*WARNING* This is probably the darkest book I have read. There are lots of descriptions of torture, violence…so if you are easily squeamish, I don’t recommend picking this book up. If, however, you love a good crime thriller, with horrible serial killers and cops bringing justice to horrid criminals, read on, you brave soul.
I don’t really read police procedural/mystery type books; I love shows like Bones and Castle, so I figured I would at least find The Botanist interesting, and I had read a book of Ms. Hill’s previously, so I knew the writing would be good.
The writing is, in fact, excellent. I was so engaged with the little crumbs the author drops as different people investigate. I thought the plot was crafted and revealed brilliantly, with things that seemed to have no relevance to each other suddenly becoming entwined by the end. Bodies keep turning up, history is investigated, clues are uncovered, but unfortunately, this serial killer’s MO is really hard to pin down. On the bright side, we have an entertaining and hard working team trying to unravel the mystery surrounding the mass graves.
Cody Oliver was a great main character; he’s a young, kind-hearted and noble detective, who has had to experience some extremely disturbing things. Our other main narrator was Alex, who has a mysterious past, and is the only person to have interacted with the killer, whom the press dub The Botanist (he plants blue tulips over the mass graves), and is still alive. Alex was brave, stubborn, and willing to stick around to try to figure what was going on, when she easily could have peaced out and not looked back.
Pretty much every bad, horrible thing you can think of a serial killer doing to his victims happens in this book. I do not recommend reading this after dark. It is very creepy, and it’s terrifying to think that there are people out there capable of doing such horrible things. On the flip side, this book is a love letter of sorts to police officers everywhere who work tirelessly to keep people safe and bring criminals to justice.
There’s a touch of romance here, a bright spot amid a cave of horrors. The police officers are a light-hearted bunch, which was nice, seeing as the events of the book or terrible.
Like I said, this isn’t my usual cup of tea, but Ms. Hill really drew me in with her excellent writing and fabulous plotting skills. I would recommend this for fans of mystery/police procedurals.
I was lucky enough to get to interview Ms. Hill, and learn even more about this awesome book. Check it out!
Tell us a little about yourself and this intense book you’re releasing.
I’m an author who writes across multiple genres. My newest book, The Botanist, is about a small town detective who unearths a body in the desert outside his town, and realizes there is a serial killer operating nearby. It deals with small towns, the pressures of a high-profile case, romance amidst chaos, and how the history of land can impact the resent.
How did you come up with the premise for The Botanist? Was there a flash of light, and inspiration just floated down from the heavens? Or was it something much more mundane?
A few years ago, I had siblings that worked on a dude ranch in southern Utah. It’s in a little town called Antimony that even most native Utahns haven’t heard of. (A blink-and-you-miss-it kind of place.) Anyway, it was a five hour drive south to that ranch, and I made the trip often to drop off and pick up siblings who were working there. So, that equals long hours in the Utah desert with only the radio and the tumbleweeds for company. I’m an author. My mind wanders. Soon enough, The Botanist was born.
What kind of preparation (if any) did you do when writing The Botanist? Did you watch a ton of CSI?
I watch a ton of CSI anyway. I love crime drama in all its forms, including TV and movies. I enjoy reading true crime, watching the Investigation discovery channel, and reading about true, unsolved cases online. Because my interest falls in these areas, I have a pretty good background for crime. Of course if I run into smaller issues I’m unsure on, I always research them. For The Botanist, I did some research on the growing of flowers in the desert and how to make them change colors. I also did some brief research on small towns and how their criminal justice setup would differ from that of larger cities.
So obviously, The Botanist is a crime thriller/mystery; what other genres do you enjoy writing?
I write in the scifi/fantasy genre, the historical fiction genre, and of course contemporary crime. I have very eclectic tastes in my entertainment. Therefore I’m also very eclectic in my writing.
What’s the main theme or message you hope readers take away from The Botanist?
While I was in the editing phase, my editors came back with a suggestion that I make certain characters turn out to be related. They felt like there were too many random characters that contributed. I pushed back against their suggestion because that was part of the theme. I’m a great admirer of the law enforcement community and I wanted to show that when a lot of really decent people come together, especially in the wake of terrible circumstances like murder, they can figure things out and be there for each other. Sometimes you can have a random person on the periphery who only contributes some small detail, but that detail breaks the case. So I wanted the story to be about a lot of people working together, even if they’d never met one another prior to the incident. Luckily, the editors were very understanding and receptive to my explanation.
Who are some authors or books that inspire you?
Oh so many! I’m big on epic fantasy, so Robert Jordan is a huge one. I really like Gary C. King’s true crime novels. Although, let me just warn you about those, if you don’t have a strong stomach. They’re very well-written, but they can be kind of graphic. I’m also big on the classics. While they’re written in a much different form than we use now, they’re classics for a reason, and the stories always inspire me. In terms of more contemporary authors, I’m always inspired by my fellow JFP and Amazon authors. They’re such amazing people!
Any cool projects you’re working on right now?
I’m always working on five or six projects. I have a crime fiction series called Street Games. (Book 1: Dark Remnants). I’m just getting book 2, Desolate Mantle finished up and sent out to reviewers. I’m also writing the third book of my dystopian series, Interchron. (Book 1: Persistence of Vision). And on the back burner I have an epic fantasy series about dragons that’s written, but needs a lot of editing. That one probably won’t see the light of Amazon until next year.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
Never give up! Never, ever, ever give up. The only difference between a published author and an unpublished one is persistence. Just keep learning, bettering yourself, and writing. Never stop writing, and you’ll get there! Writing is the best profession in the world!
Alright, now it’s time to get really serious: Italian food or Mexican cuisine?
Ooh yeah. Very serious question! And it’s a tough one. I’m not big on super-spicy food, so for that reason, I’d probably go with Italian. That said, I make non-spicy, American-type Mexican food a LOT! So…can I just choose both? 😀
AHHHHH Thank you so much Liesel K. Hill for spending time with Ramblings on Readings!