Phoebe Eldridge, a short-tempered woman who lives alone, has sold the family land to a developer who made an offer that seemed too good to resist. She never planned to leave it to her only relatives—a granddaughter she dislikes intensely and a son who disappeared some years ago, and whose name she won’t even mention.
The Conservation Trust enlists Victoria to search that land for an endangered plant, any endangered plant, because the state prohibits bulldozing rare-plant habitats. Victoria is delighted to add another purpose to her daily walks. With an eleven-year-old after school assistant, and with the “endangered” list in had, she begins her search.
Her first find, though, is the body of one Montgomery Mausz, the developer’s rather dubious attorney.
Victoria is also rewarded, however, by the discovery of a little nest of cranefly orchids. In the course of the botanical detection, Victoria and her assistant are treated to adventures that delight the ninety-two-year-old as much as the preteen, even though they both get ore scares than they bargained for.