A Stolen Orchid by RJ Coons

“A Stolen Orchid” by RJ Coons.

Local writer RJ Coons stopped by the Venice Gondolier recently with a copy of his latest book — hot off the press.

He was hoping for a review. He got it then and there.

‘”It is another good read,” I said. “I read it about a month ago — on the Kindle app on my phone.”

In addition to involving park ranger Blaine Sterling in another challenging adventure, this story also involves the extremely rare ghost orchid. I had actually seen one some years back at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary near Naples.

To see it involved walking about a mile on the park’s board walk — in the heat of summer — and then looking through a telescope aimed at the orchid which was about 50 feet off the ground, high up in a tree at least 100 feet from the boardwalk. That plant seems to bloom each summer — possibly because it is in a location where it is about as safe from various predators as it can be.

According to online sources, this rare breed of orchid is found only in Southwest Florida. It sometimes blooms for as long as 80 days and sometimes there may be more than one blossom but this is not a plant that is likely to take over even a tiny bit of the area where it was discovered.

Thanks to Coons’ imagination, this orchid species has found a happy home at Osprey State Park where there is practically a forest of these rare flowers.although there is no boardwalk noir any other means of easy access.

Botanist Dr. Payne Waterhouse discovered a veritable orchid forest while carrying out an inventory of the park as a volunteer. His discovery costs him his life and also could cost assistant park manager Sterling her job — or more.

A wonderful assortment of characters ranging from Sterling’s young daughter, other volunteers, the park manager and several more devious types, plus sightings of many of these folks in local restaurants that are real and well-known in the general Venice area, make for a a good read that is a page-turner without being a brain burner.

That the park is a wonderful place for pleine aire painters as well as a place to which someone might donate $100,000 to provide access to an orchid forest, adds to the adventure/

Coons, a retired middle school teacher and former principal on Long Island, has adopted the greater Venice area, its sites and even its people as the setting for his Blaine Sterling series.

“Stolen Orchid,” by RJ Coons, is available on Amazon. ISBN 9780999899328 (paperback) $12.95 and on Kindle ($2.95)

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