Things really go to seed in the newest novel in the New York Times bestselling Book Retreat mysteries...
There is a hidden garden bordering the grounds of Jane Steward’s book-themed resort—a garden filled with beautiful but deadly plants such as mandrake and nightshade. Tucked away behind ivy-covered walls and accessible only through a single locked door, as described in the pages of Frances Hodges Burnett's classic novel, the garden is of special interest to Jane’s current group of guests, The Medieval Herbalists. But when one of them turns up dead, Jane must discover whether a member of the group has come to Storyton Hall to celebrate their passion for plant lore or to implement a particularly cruel means for murder.
With thousands of books at her disposal, Jane believes she has the proper materials to solve this deadly problem. If she’s wrong, however, she may lose something far more precious than the contents of Storyton’s secret library...
From the Paperback edition.
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Murder in the Secret Garden
The problem with reading Ellery Adams' books is they don't last long enough. I have loved this series and now need to wait for another twelve months for the next installment! I suppose I could go back and read all of her books again... Delicious story, the twins are growing, love is in the air, the cast of characters are becoming better and better friends. Thank you Ellery!
Murder in the Secret Garden by Ellery Adams is the third book in A Book Retreat Mystery series. Jane Steward, resort manager, is getting ready for a wedding at Storyton Hall as well as The Medieval Herbalist group (who are all knowledgeable in poisons). The bride, Victoria Billingsley and her sister, Hannah are members of the group. In the Henry James Library, Mr. Sinclair has a rare herbal manuscript on display for the group (from their secret collection). Jane’s boys (Fitz and Hem) are excited about the inaugural rubber duck race to take place in town in the Storyton River. The race is sponsored by Storyton Outfitters, a new shop, owned by Phil and Sandy Hughes (the duck descriptions and names are humorous). When Jane’s uncle favorite hat falls into the river, Jane volunteers to capture it for him. Jane finds the hat along with the body of Kira Grace, a guest from Storyton Hall and a member of The Medieval Herbalist. Jane hopes that this does not put a damper upon the wedding festivities and rallies the Fins to investigate Kira’s death. Things take an unexpected turn when Edwin Alcott returns (just as Jane finds Kira’s body). Jane is not sure what she feels for Edwin. Is he a book thief? Why radio silence for the last four months? But Jane has a full plate and no time to speculate (rhyming unintentional). The wedding goes off without a hitch and the reception is lovely with its Hildegard von Bingen’s theme. Jane is enjoying the event until Mr. Sinclair informs her that the rare herbal manuscript they had on display has been stolen (not good). What else can happen? The next day the Medieval Herbalist take a trip into the hills to visit a druid. Claude Mason, president of the group, talked Tom Green (owns the local nursery) into taking them (despite the fact that the druid does not tolerate visitors). Jane is curious and follows along behind the herbalists. After they leave, Jane hears screaming coming from the druid’s cabin. The poor man was poisoned with wedding cake. Is his murder related to Kira’s death? Jane is even more determined to find who is responsible for the murders and theft (and deflect attention from Storyton Hall). Join Jane and the Fins on their investigation in Murder in the Secret Garden!
Murder in the Secret Garden captured my interest from the very first page, and I did not want to stop reading (I stayed up until I finished the novel). The book has developed characters, a wonderful setting (a retreat full of books), and a complex mystery. The novel is easy to read and has a good pace (flow). While Murder in the Secret Garden is the third book in the series, you can read it as a stand-alone. The author gives the reader the needed background information on Jane and her family, Storyton Hall, and the mission of the Fins. Though I highly suggest you go and read the other book in A Book Retreat Mystery series. They are wonderful. I give Murder in the Secret Garden 5 out of 5 stars (I loved it as you can tell). I was able to solve the mysteries (the two murders and the theft of the book). They were complex with lots of twists and turns. You have to pay very close attention to the details to be able to figure them out. I loved the description of Storyton Hall. The room names are all literary. If Storyton Hall was real, I would never want to leave. The Harry Potter references (and the games played by the boys) were entertaining (made me laugh) especially when the Fitz and Hem were playing with the mandrake root. I look forward to reading the next book in A Book Retreat Mystery series.
I received a copy of the novel in exchange for an honest evaluation of the book. The comments and opinions expressed are strictly my own.