Monday, October 30, 2017

Best Laid Plants (A Potting Shed Mystery #6)

Author:  Marty Wingate
Genre:  Mystery

Audio CD; Digital Book; Audiobook
ISBN #:  9781515962700; Tantor Audio
Alibi Publishing
281 Pages
October 17, 2017


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.


When Pru Parke, master gardener, and her husband Christopher Pearse, are invited to the Cotswolds for a working vacation (for her), it seems like an easy job.  She is there to help out with the renovation of the decaying gardens of Glebe House and is looking forward to it.  But she's more than surprised at the condition of the B&B she's been booked into - soon after arriving she finds the body of Batsford Bede, owner and designer of the once-lovely place.

Although it looks like an accident at first sight, Pru knows better - especially since the heavy statue that was set to look like it fell over on him hasn't touched his body.  And with the local police force short-handed, Christopher is dragooned into Chief Inspector once again, taking over the investigation.

But who would want to kill an old man who was already ailing?  At first the signs point to Coral Summersun, who grew up there and whose mother Batsford was in love with; but then others begin to enter the picture - others who might have had a better reason to want him dead.  What reason?  Who would want a decaying garden badly in need of renovation?  Christopher and Pru have more than enough suspects, and with a killer still on the loose, it's up to them to dig deep and weed out a killer...

 I can't tell you how much I enjoyed reading this book.  Each chapter is headed with a fictional entry into Batsford's gardening journals, which Pru has borrowed to read.  We are given information on numerous plants, which I always find interesting, and a glimpse of life into an English garden. 

We begin with Pru and Christopher thinking they're going to have a nice getaway at a local B&B only to find it's rather a nightmare, but since the proprietor is an elderly woman and very nice, stay, rather than feel guilty about going somewhere else.  They're also there to help out at an autumn fete at the home of old friends who also live in the area.

I enjoy watching the relationship between Pru and Christopher.  Their affection for each other is apparent, but never over the top.  There's a nice scene or two where Pru is having to deal with a tad bit of jealousy, but it's done more with humor than anything else; and there's also humor in the fact that the B&B owner is a horrible cook.

But the murder definitely changes things, and the renovation is put on hold as Christopher brings Pru into the investigation as an assistant, knowing her keen eye for detail will be invaluable.  While there weren't tons of red herrings thrown about, there were still quite a few suspects, even though the reason for someone wanting Batsford dead wasn't immediately apparent.

When we come to the end and the murderer is revealed, it's a reason as old as time itself.  I'm never surprised what a twisted mind is capable of.   The story is well written, the characters believable, and the journey to the end was was quite fun and interesting as well. 

   This is the sixth book in the series and can be read as a stand alone, but I enjoy the series more having read them from the beginning.  A delightful book that can be read in one sitting, and I look forward to the next in the series.  Highly recommended.


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