Saturday, October 21, 2017

Review: Best-Laid Plants

Best-Laid Plants
By Marty Wingate
A Potting Shed Mystery #6
Alibi, 2017


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

My thoughts

English village setting, quirky characters, lots of dry humor, and a murder, of course … Best-Laid Plants is the perfect cozy mystery. From the beginning, I was enveloped in idyllic village life as Pru and Christopher blend business and vacation in the Cotswolds. Wait, did I say Cotswolds? Yes! While most people would fangirl over celebrities, I fangirl over the Cotswolds with its thatched-roof cottages, village lanes, and flower gardens. The story is well written, dialogue snappy, and setting vividly conveyed. Those who love flower gardening will especially enjoy all the bits of detail the author weaves into the narrative.

In addition to the setting, what makes this series so appealing to me is simply Pru – loving wife, loyal friend, dogged investigator, intuitive, gardener extraordinaire, and a great sense of humor. That she and Christopher are in their fifties, very much in love, and good at what they do, whether it be floral design or crime solving, is wonderful. She can come to my home and cook her apple/pork chop dish any time (great opening scene, by the way).

Suspects are plentiful, but fairly easy to keep up with. It was fun to use my detecting skills right along with Pru, but was still surprised at the resolution. I thoroughly enjoyed Best-Laid Plants and hope for many more stories in the series.

I was provided a free copy of this book through Great Escapes Tours. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own.


Marty Wingate is a Seattle-based writer and speaker who shares her love of Britain in her two mystery series. The Potting Shed books feature Pru Parke, a middle-aged American gardener transplanted from Texas to England, and Birds of a Feather follows Julia Lanchester, bird lover, who runs a tourist office in a Suffolk village.

Marty writes garden articles for magazines including Country Gardens and the American Gardener. She is a member of the Royal Horticultural Society, Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and the Crime Writers Association. She leads garden tours to England, Scotland and Ireland, spending free moments deep in research for her books. Or in pubs.

Amazon author page

Purchase Links:
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