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339 pages


Ellen King Rice delivers a new thriller set in the woods of the Pacific Northwest — a story of suspense, mushrooms, alternative economies and dark forest dwellers.

Retired botanist Dr. Oh rejoices when he finds an enormous specimen of a rare shelf fungus, a species nicknamed the "Fuzzy Sandozi." Unfortunately there is a dead body lying next to the magnificent polypore. His granddaughter, Jasmine, insists they must report the murder, despite the danger of revealing the location of the rarity. 

Just a few miles away, twenty-year-old Elspeth Dwerryhouse has mushrooming problems of her own. After time in prison for selling psychoactive fungi, she is now working multiple jobs to earn money for college. Her stint selling emergency preparedness supplies brings her to the attention of a backwoods family, the Fickhams, known for trading in chainsaws and abusing women. As Elspeth juggles transcription for a mycologist, busing tables and cat minding, she must also avoid the lusty Fickhams, support her cousin Carmen's medicinal mushroom research, and negotiate the management of a sweet-but-wild high-energy dog that has been dumped into her house-sitting gig.

The Fickham men are cunning and dangerous. None more so than Henry, who is dealing in fentanyl while his father, seventy-year-old Russell, is a master of rape, intimidation and body disposal. Henry wants out and Russell wants Jasmine, Carmen and Elspeth "tenderized" in a dark shed filled with glowing mushrooms. 

Fungi in this story include polypores, liberty caps, waxy caps, morels and more. 

Part thriller, part ecology class and totally fungi friendly, Undergrowth takes the reader deep into the woods of the Pacific Northwest. 

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