Show me a book with ‘garden’ in the title and a picture of a garden on the cover and I immediately want to read it, so I seized on this title when it was available from NetGalley. I read it ages ago but the publisher embargoed reviews until publication day.
Pru Parke is from Texas and is obsessed with gardening. Thanks to her English mother, English gardens have become her Mecca and inspiration; to her, gardening means ‘England’. In a life-changing experiment, she decides to spend one year in England to see if she can make good as a gardener there after her previous experience working in the Dallas arboretum. Living in London, Pru builds up a client list but all the work is routine, such as any jobbing gardener could do, not the landscaping and restoration work she hopes for. The book is punctuated by rejection letters from private gardens where she’s applied for work. So much for her dreams of featuring at The Chelsea Flower Show.
When her year is nearly over and she’s ready to give up, she’s asked to work in a garden which is overgrown and needing complete renovation. She’s mystified by instructions ‘not to look in the shed’ (aha!) but can’t keep her nose out and finds part of a Roman mosaic inside. Then, very inconveniently, she finds a dead body there. Pru is quite sure the kindly garden owners have nothing to do with this and, in the way of such heroines (or where would the story be?) she can’t resist following up her own lines of inquiry and putting herself in danger. This brings her into conflict with DCI Christopher Pearse, who seems to worry about her a lot. But then, he’s rather dishy …
This is a described as ‘a debut mystery’ by Marty Wingate and I hope there will be more as it’s an ideal cosy mystery with the added interest of the gardening theme. Will Pru and Christopher become another Daisy (Dalrymple) and Alec? I’d like to find out.
Out today, published by Alibi
Edit: only £1.49 for the Kindle.