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The Scent of Scandal by Craig Pittman

The Scent of Scandal is a 2012 novel written by environmental journalist Craig Pittman. He is an award-winning journalist who has brought forth the issues about endangered species through his books such as Manatee Insanity: Inside the War over Florida’s Most Famous Endangered Species and Paving Paradise: Florida’s Vanishing Wetlands.

What is it about?

What happens when man’s continued lust for owning and wanting everything exotic and beautiful surpasses even the laws that are made to protect them? The Scent of Scandal is about human greed concerning the world’s most beautiful orchid.

The book opens up with a wedding being held at the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens in Sarasota, Florida. The gardens do not just offer a stunning and unique place for weddings with its lush landscape and eloquent mansion. There is something else that makes Selby gardens stand out. It attracts around 1,00,000 visitors each year due to its amazing collection of most beautiful flowers in the world. And the orchids immediately become everyone’s favorite. Their Orchid Identification Center, the first in the country, accurately distinguishes the various orchids and categorizes them.

But the most important, the most stunning orchid is missing from the gardens for ages. This has led to investigations, questions and confusions as to what happened to those species of orchids. This controversy escalated into a big scandal that cost the gardens hundreds of thousands of dollars and being subjected to search warrants and criminal charges. And in no time the gardens lost its charm and reputation just like the missing orchids. The orchid in question is Phragmipedium kovachii, which was first discovered in Peru in 2002.

Now comes in the writer, who deeply researched the scandal and the case of the missing orchids which he had featured in the book. The journalist talked and interviewed many people about their fascination and experience with orchids, slowly untangling the web of greedy humans, smugglers, scientists, and federal investigators, revealing who is the real culprit.

The writing

Craig Pittman shines with his journalistic writing. His interviews with orchid dealers, curators, experts, entrepreneurs, law officers, etc. and his unraveling of the truth gives this scientific book a mysterious appeal. The book reveals unbelievable truths about the world that is obsessed with putting a price tag on everything.


We give it 5/5 stars. The Scent of Scandal is a mesmerizing and even sad and grief worthy account of the deteriorating state of our rich flora and fauna. It is informative, shocking and contemplative. Recommended for everyone.