A trip to the English countryside turns into a brush with death for Pru Parke, the only gardener whose holiday wouldn’t be complete without a murder to solve.
Pru and her husband, former Detective Chief Inspector Christopher Pearse, are long overdue for a getaway. So when Pru is invited to redesign an Arts and Crafts garden in the picturesque Cotswolds, she and Christopher jump at the chance. Unfortunately, their B&B is more ramshackle than charming, and the once thriving garden, with its lovely Thyme Walk, has fallen into heartbreaking neglect. With the garden’s owner and designer, Batsford Bede, under the weather, Pru tackles the renovation alone. But just as she’s starting to make headway, she stumbles upon Batsford’s body in the garden—dead and pinned beneath one of his limestone statues.
With such a small police force in the area, Christopher is called upon to lead the investigation. Pru can’t imagine anyone murdering Batsford Bede, a gentle man who preferred to spend his time in quiet contemplation, surrounded by nature. But as her work on the garden turns up one ominous clue after another, Pru discovers that the scenery is more dangerous than she or Christopher could have anticipated.
Marty Wingate’s captivating mysteries can be enjoyed together or separately, in any order:
The Potting Shed series: THE GARDEN PLOT | THE RED BOOK OF PRIMROSE HOUSE | BETWEEN A ROCK AND A HARD PLACE | THE SKELETON GARDEN | THE BLUEBONNET BETRAYAL | BEST-LAID PLANTS
The Birds of a Feather series: THE RHYME OF THE MAGPIE | EMPTY NEST | EVERY TRICK IN THE ROOK | FAREWELL, MY CUCKOO
Praise for Marty Wingate
“Marty Wingate plants clever clues with a dash of romantic spice to satisfy any hungry mystery reader.”—Mary Daheim, bestselling author of the Emma Lord series
“Pru Parke is one of my favorite cozy mystery heroines.”—Michelle’s Romantic Tangle
Customer ReviewsSee All
Gardeners Rejoice! A Cozy for You!
Best-Laid Plants by Marty Wingate is a thoroughly entertaining and enjoyable entry into her Potting Shed Mystery series, which features professional gardener Pru Parke. Marty Wingate calls on her own expertise in the gardening field to add depth and color to the book with each chapter prefaced by an excerpt from the journals of the fictional Batsford Bede, whose expansive gardens at Glebe House Pru has been hired to restore to their former glory. These excerpts not only foreshadow some part of the chapter but offer enlightenment to the art of building a garden or information about a particular plant. I enjoyed and appreciated these snippets very much.
After a long absence, Coral Summersun has returned to Glebe House, located in the Cotswolds, to care for the aging and ailing Batsford Bede and it is she who hires Pru to restore the gardens. Bede is murdered before Pru is able to confer with him, but fortunately Pru has been given full access to his writings, including the three logs he kept during the garden’s creation. These journals feature insights not only into garden design and plant selection but into life at Glebe House during those years when he lived there with Constance Summersun (long deceased) and her daughter, Coral.
This book is a throwback to the classic cozy, filled with often eccentric or colorful characters, some of whom are clearly suspects, others filling different roles. Coral is both annoying (sometimes too much so) and sympathetic. . While I was greatly entertained by the book, I did feel that some of the “color” was a bit overdone. Mrs. Draycott and her unusual bed and breakfast being cases in point. I appreciate the warm relationship between Pru and her husband Christoper Pearse.
There are plenty of red herrings to keep the reader guessing and to muddy the waters. I strongly and accurately suspected who the murderer was, though couldn’t say why. That didn’t matter in the least when it came to my enjoyment of the book.
I highly recommend this entertaining read, especially for those who enjoy cozy mysteries. Four stars for mystery lovers, four and a half stars for gardeners who love mysteries.
I was given a free copy of this book by NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I was not compensated nor was I required to write a positive review. The opinions stated are solely my own.
Best gardening mystery series I’ve had the pleasure of reading.
Love gardens in England. The characters (except for the bad guys) are all great. The author has a deft hand with characterization and dialogue. I love the garden descriptions and the stories of gardening history. Please keep writing the series and consider traditional publishing so that we can use the books in our mystery book club. Many of our members do not have access to ebooks.