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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Book Review: The Red Book of Primrose House by Marty Wingate

This is a thoroughly warm and engaging cozy mystery.
The Red Book of Primrose House
by Marty Wingate
  • File Size: 1890 KB
  • Print Length: 273 pages
  • Publisher: Alibi (November 4, 2014)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
Genre: Cozy Mystery
My Rating: 4.25 of 5.0

Book Description
Publication Date: November 4, 2014
In Marty Wingate’s charming new Potting Shed Mystery, Texas transplant Pru Parke’s restoration of a historic landscape in England is uprooted by an ax murderer.

Pru Parke has her dream job: head gardener at an eighteenth-century manor house in Sussex. The landscape for Primrose House was laid out in 1806 by renowned designer Humphry Repton in one of his meticulously illustrated Red Books, and the new owners want Pru to restore the estate to its former glory—quickly, as they’re planning to showcase it in less than a year at a summer party.

But life gets in the way of the best laid plans: When not being happily distracted by the romantic attentions of the handsome Inspector Christopher Pearse, Pru is digging into the mystery of her own British roots. Still, she manages to make considerable progress on the vast grounds—until vandals wreak havoc on each of her projects. Then, to her horror, one of her workers is found murdered among the yews. The police have a suspect, but Pru is certain they’re wrong. Once again, Pru finds herself entangled in a thicket of evil intentions—and her, without a hatchet.

Pru Parke has landed a great job as head gardener to restore the garden at historic Primrose House in Sussex. An extra special bonus is that they have discovered the valuable “Red Book” of the historic landscape artist who detailed and sketched the garden plans for the manor house. Pru is excited about the impressive restoration opportunity even if it means that she is separated from her new “fellow”, London Detective Chief Inspector (DCI) Christopher Pearse. Pru will also have the chance to meet other Parkes as she has a lead in her desperate search for connections to her mother’s English family.

Pru has to work with a mixed crew which consist of two brothers who provide brawn, a special, handicapped young man who provides gentleness and holes, and a difficult old gardener who begrudgingly provides history. Pru also has to resist the suggestions of her employer who sends in changing ideas by email or notes every few weeks and wants to host a grand open house in seven months. Things are going on fairly well until accidents happen and it appears there is sabotage in the garden. Then one of the staff is found murdered. The local Detective Sargeant (DS) is a nice officer and a friend of Christopher. However the local DCI is loud and rough and doesn’t want Christopher sticking his nose into his case.

Christopher was glad when Pru did not return to Texas after they met over another murder case. (See The Garden Plot.) He drives up for weekends to visit and is anxious to keep her safe, especially now that troubles are increasing. He suspects that Pru will have a hard time staying impartial in the investigation as she will want to protect her friends/staff and make inquires on her own.

I totally enjoyed the gardening details and life issues that were shared until the mystery began. There were several side interests that kept the book moving along well, including the mature romance between Pru and Christopher with their warm, and often lightly humorous, dialogue. The primary and secondary characters are well developed with distinct traits that add depth to the story. There are clues threaded in different encounters that help Pru (and the observant reader) to figure out the murderer, but will it be in time?

The length was good to make this an easy, fast read. This is a fine cozy mystery and I will soon return to Ms. Wingate to read The Garden Plot (Potting Shed Mystery Book 1) which I happen to have in my Kindle Library. I highly recommend this to fans of cozy mystery and to those who enjoy working in a garden!

I received this book from Random House through NetGalley.

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