August 2, 2016
Pru's life in England is coming full circle. A Texas transplant, she's married to the love of her life, thriving in the plum gardening position she shares with her long-lost brother, and prepping a Chelsea Flower Show exhibit featuring the beloved bluebonnets of the Texas hill country. Technically, Twyla Woodford, the president of a gardening club in the Lone Star State, is in charge of the London event, but Pru seems to be the one getting her hands dirty. When they finally do meet, Pru senses a kindred spirit - until Twyla turns up dead.
Although Twyla's body was half buried under a wall in their display, Pru remains determined to mount a spectacular show. Twyla would have insisted. So Pru recruits her husband, former Detective Chief Inspector Christopher Pearse, to go undercover and do a bit of unofficial digging into Twyla's final hours. If Pru has anything to say about it, this killer is going to learn the hard way not to mess with Texas.
Pru Parke is a master gardener who moved from Texas to Great Britain after her father's death, in hope of connecting with her older brother Simon, whom she didn't even know she had. Now, a couple of years later, she is happily tending the gardens at Greenoak in Hampshire with Simon, while living there with her fairly-new husband, Christopher Pearce, who retired as a London DCI and now works as a local constable.
She has been contacted by a friend she once knew in Austin regarding a Texas garden at the annual Chelsea Garden Show; it seems the organizer and president of the Austin Rock Garden Society, Twyla Woodford, it isn't able to arrive for a day or so and has asked for Pru's help to oversee the installing of the garden, and knowing Pru's reputation, has asked her to fill in until then. Pru will have help from the rest of crew - Ivory, Rosette, Sweetie, KayAnn and Nell - so it's not as if she'll be on her own.
Once everything is in full swing, Pru is called to the garden one evening to finally meet Twyla. She feels an immediate bond with her, and listens to Twyla's enigmatic ramblings about the garden and some sort of danger. The next day, she arrives at the garden and sees Sweetie, who starts to scream. Looking into the hole that will become More Than Rock and Stone, she sees Twyla, buried under a pile of rocks.
Once it has been determined that Twyla was murdered, Pru begins to wonder who would do such a thing. One of the women? The contractor, Chiv, or his partner, Iris? And what connection to Twyla is there between the designer, Roddy MacWeeks, the sponsor, Forde, and Twyla's ex-husband, Damien, who is footing the entire bill? Even though she's warned right from the beginning by DCI French to stay out of it, she begins to sense that something just isn't right and decides to do a little sleuthing - along with a help from Christopher, who goes undercover - to see if she can discover who would want Twyla dead, and why...
I truly enjoyed this book. I felt the mystery was 'held back' in the way of not giving out clues right
away to the murderer, and that is a very good thing.. You had to search them out, and since the main clue was a sweatshirt the color of bluebonnets - a unique shade of blue - (I know from personal experience, since my Dad was a Texan), it didn't come easy, as the they were given to everyone on the team, which left us with quite a dearth of suspects, and leaving Pru with plenty of people who had alibis that were less than stellar.
She sifts through her list of suspects, but there is really no evidence to rely on. It all comes down to things people say and do. But with everyone keeping secrets (whether they be large or small), it makes it that much tougher for both Inspector French and Pru to find the truth of the matter. As Pru gets closer to the truth, it becomes apparent that danger also involves someone wanting Pru out of the way permanently.
When the killer is finally revealed, the answers are all given, and we are left with the satisfaction of not only finding out the truth, but also the truth that we have been highly entertained for several hours in a very good book.
As always, Ms. Wingate has given us another wonderful tale that provides us with enjoyment and is full of interesting characters. There is not only Pru and Christopher, whose love and affection for each other is apparent by something as simple as a wink, but the many of the secondary characters are worth knowing as well. You might begin not liking a character, but halfway through the book, you begin to see things as they do, and suddenly you change your impression of them. Such is the power of Ms. Wingate's writing. The characters are engaging, three-dimensional, likable, and, all in all, they grow on you.
The Bluebonnet Betrayal is the fifth book in the Potting Shed mysteries. I have given a little information in the beginning paragraph for those who have not read the previous entries in this series. If you have not, I urge you to do so; you will not be disappointed. Highly recommended.
More on Marty Wingate's books: https://www.fantasticfiction.com/w/marty-wingate/