A Botanist's Guide to Parties and Poisons
The Lost Apothecary meets Dead Dead Girls in this fast-paced, STEMinist adventure.
Debut author Kate Khavari deftly entwines a pulse-pounding mystery with the struggles of a woman in a male-dominated field in 1923 London.
Newly minted research assistant Saffron Everleigh is determined to blaze a new trail at the University College London, but with her colleagues’ beliefs about women’s academic inabilities and not so subtle hints that her deceased father’s reputation paved her way into the botany department, she feels stymied at every turn.
When she attends a dinner party for the school, she expects to engage in conversations about the university's large expedition to the Amazon. What she doesn’t expect is for Mrs. Henry, one of the professors’ wives, to drop to the floor, poisoned by an unknown toxin.
Dr. Maxwell, Saffron’s mentor, is the main suspect and evidence quickly mounts. Joined by fellow researcher--and potential romantic interest--Alexander Ashton, Saffron uses her knowledge of botany as she explores steamy greenhouses, dark gardens, and deadly poisons to clear Maxwell's name.
Will she be able to uncover the truth or will her investigation land her on the murderer’s list, in this entertaining examination of society’s expectations.
Set in 1923, Khavari's appealing debut and series launch introduces Saffron Everleigh, University College London's only female botanist researcher. One evening, Saffron attends a dinner party hosted by Sir Edward Leister, the donor supporting the biology department's forthcoming Amazon expedition. At one point amid the small talk, Mrs. Henry, the wife of the expedition's leader, collapses. When it turns out that Mrs. Henry was fatally poisoned by a rare plant-based toxin, Saffron's mentor, Dr. Maxwell, who's a rare supporter of women's right to higher education, becomes the prime suspect. Saffron sets out to find the killer to save Dr. Maxwell and the Amazonian expedition, assisted by fellow botanist Alexander Ashton, a battle-fatigued WWI veteran. The duo investigate rancorous academic rivalries, libidinous faculty members, and gardens and greenhouses filled with lethal plants. Meanwhile, Saffron discovers an intriguing research paper written by her late father, a well-respected botanist, but will she survive long enough to learn more? The potpourri of fascinating botanical lore and the vivid London setting more than make up for some uneven pacing and awkward plotting. Khavari is off to a promising start.
On the edge of my seat!
I loved every moment of this book! It had me on the edge of my seat trying to solve the mystery. I couldn’t put it down, each chapter had me wanting to know more. The mystery was very cleverly plotted and I felt like I got to know the characters well as each chapter progressed. Would definitely recommend!