Praise for The Tumbleweed Murders

by Rebecca Rothenberg, completed by Taffy Cannon

"It's been a long wait for this, the final entry in Rebecca Rothenberg's critically-acclaimed Claire Sharples mystery series. It is thanks to the generosity and persistence of many people, including Rothenberg's family and agent, publisher Meredith Phillips of Perseverance Press, and Rothenberg's friend and colleague Taffy Cannon, that the unfinished manuscript Rothenberg left behind at her death in 1998 has been completed and made available.

"And what a blessing that is. The Tumbleweed Murders is an absolutely beautiful book-beautifully written and beautifully plotted. Botanist Claire Sharples is starting to feel at home in California's San Joaquin Valley, so different from her native New England. Her life revolves around her job at the Citrus Cove Agricultural Field Research Station; she has no love life, few friends, and nothing for family but a brother back East.

"When Claire meets former country singer Jewell Scoggins Bonebrake, aka The Cherokee Rose, she is instantly fascinated by the old woman and her memories of Bakersfield in the '50s. This chance encounter, this opportunity for Claire to step outside herself, to take in someone else's stories, not just dwell on her own, soon leads to more than Claire ever anticipated. From Claire's changing relationship with Ramon, the County Small Farm Advisor, to her encounters with denizens of every level of local society, Jewell's effect on Claire's life is inestimable. The story never flags and every detail rings true. Ramon's cousin Yolie, in particular, is one of the most memorable characters you'll ever find.
The Tumbleweed Murders perfectly captures life in the Valley, then and now. The sense of place is so powerful that the landscape could be another of the perfectly limned characters. Fascinating botanical esoterica are woven seamlessly throughout the story. Best and most touching of all is the inclusion of lyrics from songs written by Rothenberg herself.

"This is a book that stands well and proudly on its own; knowing the story behind its completion only adds to its impact. Taffy Cannon undertook a difficult, no doubt intimidating, project. She succeeded impressively. Together and yet separately, she and Rebecca Rothenberg have given us a lovely coda to a beloved series."

— Susan Anderson, Copyright © 1996 - 2001, BookBrowser (

"A complex blend of romance, science and ingenious clues. Rothenberg, who died before completing the fourth in the series, is well-served by her friend Cannon, who finishes the tale with brio, intelligence and a respect for the biota of California's unadmirable San Joaquin Valley. "

Kirkus Reviews

"The Tumbleweed Murders," by Rebecca Rothenberg (Perseverance, $12.95), repairs another kind of damage: the untimely death of Rothenberg in 1998 and the heroic, highly successful completion of her last book in the popular Claire Sharples series of botanical mysteries by her friend and fellow mystery writer Taffy Cannon.

— Dick Adler, Copyright © 2001, Chicago Tribune (

"Once again, Rebecca Rothenberg has taken the improbable mis-en-scene of southern Kern County and with realism and deft intelligence transformed it into classic detective country. All her fans are grateful to Taffy Cannon for completing the last and in many ways the best of the Claire Sharples botanical mysteries. A brilliant finale to a sadly shortened career! Yet, Rebecca Rothenberg remains with us, her many fans, in appreciation and memory. She has left both the mystery novel and California much better off than when she first found and fused them together in the alembic of first-rate detective fiction."

— Dr. Kevin Starr, State Librarian of California

"Taffy Cannon has completed Rebecca Rothenberg's last novel with such skill and love that the blend of their talents is seamless. Here is the superb writing, the wit, the extraordinary sense of environment, the suspense and familiar flavor of Rebecca's work, one more time. It's a tribute to her and a gift to her fans. I hope it introduces many new readers to the work of both of these fine writers."

— Nancy Pickard, author of The Whole Truth

"This is western writing at its best, and mystery at its most satisfying. Rothenberg captures the feel of California's Central Valley so clearly that you can taste the dust and hear the voices of the people who live there. In Claire Sharples she's created an engaging and thoroughly original sleuth whose expertise in botany turns up clues in the most unlikely places."

— Linda Grant, author of Vampire Bytes

"... cotton, oil, botany and country music all come together in The Tumbleweed Murders (Perseverance Press), the last of the Claire Sharples series by the late Rebecca Rothenberg, and completed by Taffy Cannon. Set in fictional Kaweah County (Tulare) and the not so fictional city of Bakersfield and Kern County, Claire discovers an old skeleton in an orchard and proceeds to unravel a fifty year old mystery, helped by her colleague Ramon Covarrubias and his eccentric paranoid journalist cousin Yolanda. It is an entertaining unraveling which brings together a diverse group of people with diverse interests, putting some of those people in grave danger."

— Charles West, author of The Sacred Disc (Salvo Press)

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