The Red Book of Primrose House by Marty Wingate – Review

About the book, The Red Book of Primrose House The Red Book of Primrose House

Publisher: Alibi (November 4, 2014)
Sold by: Random House LLC

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.

Buy, read, and discuss The Red Book of Primrose House

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About the author, Marty Wingate Marty Wingate

Marty Wingate is the author of The Garden Plot and a regular contributor to Country Gardens as well as other magazines. She also leads gardening tours throughout England, Scotland, Ireland, France, and North America. More Potting Shed mysteries are planned.

My Thoughts

Marty Wingate’s first Potting Shed Mystery, Garden Plot fell into my life last spring, just when I needed it, and I absolutely loved it, so when I was offered the chance to review the sequel, I jumped at it.

I’m glad I did.

The Red Book of Primrose House picks up a few months after the end of the first novel. Pru Parke is still dating Christopher, and has taken up her post as head gardener of Primrose House. I love that their relationship has grown, and that Pru’s job has also been developed.

Of course, it’s not all smooth sailing. Navigating a relationship is never easy, but Pru and Christoper live many miles apart, and must balance work and distance, with the need to actually spend time together, and author Wingate handles it with humor and grace, and just enough romance to keep things moving.

As well, there’s a mystery to be solved: Ned, a village institution in his own right, is brutally murdered (as if murder is never NOT brutal) and Pru can’t help but investigate, especially since she seems to be a target. This plot, the A-plot, is also handled with grace. Author Wingate spins a good story, and keeps us just enough unsure of the perpetrator that when they are finally revealed we are not disappointed that were right, but relieved we weren’t wrong.

Of course I loved every word Marty Wingate wrote, and even wanted to be holed up in Pru’s tiny cottage with my own Christopher (my husband’s actual name, I swear) building a fire, but what I find really compelling about these novels is that all of the elements – gardening, history, romance, mystery – are perfectly blended with each other to form a coherent whole that is both entertaining and thoroughly engaging.

I really hope there are more Potting Shed mysteries in the future, because Marty Wingate has, in me, a fan for life.

Goes well with Buttery roast chicken, spring vegetables, fresh strawberry shortcake, and a nice white wine, followed by cups of hot tea.

Marty Wingate’s TLC Book Tour

TLC Book Tours

This review is part of a virtual book tour hosted by TLC Book Tours. For the complete list of tour stops see the list below. For more information, click HERE.

Monday, November 3rd: Bibliotica

Tuesday, November 4th: No More Grumpy Bookseller

Wednesday, November 5th: A Chick Who Reads

Thursday, November 6th: A Bookish Way of Life

Thursday, November 6th: Luxury Reading

Friday, November 7th: 5 Minutes for Books

Monday, November 10th: Reading Reality

Monday, November 10th: Omnimystery News – guest post

Tuesday, November 11th: Kahakai Kitchen

Wednesday, November 12th: Patricia’s Wisdom

Thursday, November 13th: Under a Gray Sky

Friday, November 14th: Back Porchervations

Monday, November 17th: Sharon’s Garden of Book Reviews

Tuesday, November 18th: Dwell in Possibility

Wednesday, November 19th: From the TBR Pile

Thursday, November 20th: Open Book Society

Friday, November 21st: 2 Kids and Tired Books

Monday, November 24th:  A Book Geek

Tuesday, November 25th: Brooke Blogs

Review: The Garden Plot, by Marty Wingate – with Giveaway

About the book, The Garden Plot

The Garden Plot

Publisher: Alibi (May 6, 2014)
Sold by: Random House LLC

In an entirely appealing mystery debut, Marty Wingate introduces readers to a curious Texas ex-pat whose English gardening expertise on occasion leads her to unearth murderous goings-on.

Pru Parke always dreamed of living in England. And after the Dallas native follows an impulse and moves to London, she can’t imagine ever leaving—though she has yet to find a plum position as a head gardener. Now, as the sublet on her flat nears its end, the threat of forced departure looms. Determined to stay in her beloved adopted country, Pru takes small, private gardening jobs throughout the city.

On one such gig in Chelsea, she makes an extraordinary find. Digging in the soil of a potting shed, Pru uncovers an ancient Roman mosaic. But enthusiasm over her discovery is soon dampened when, two days later, she finds in the same spot a man’s bludgeoned corpse. As the London police swarm her worksite, ever inquisitive Pru can’t quite manage to distance herself from the investigation—much to the dismay of stern Detective Chief Inspector Christopher Pearse. It seems that, much as he tries, even handsome DCI Pearse can’t keep Pru safe from a brutal killer who thinks she’s already dug up too much.

Read and discuss The Garden Plot

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | Add to Goodreads

About the author, Marty Wingate

Marty Wingate is a regular contributor to Country Gardens as well as other magazines. She also leads gardening tours throughout England, Scotland, Ireland, France, and North America. The Garden Plot is her first novel. More Potting Shed mysteries are planned.

My Thoughts

There are books that fall into your life at exactly the right moment. For me The Garden Plot was one of them. It was a murky weekend, I was sick in bed, and I needed something light enough that I could focus on, but with enough substance to keep me interested. This novel delivered that in spades – spades of rich, loamy, literary soil.

First, I loved that the main character, ex-pat Texan Pru was not some twenty-something girl with no life experience. I also liked that she was independent, often to her detriment, but that she also knew her stuff, with regard to her chosen field. I’m not single, but I still have moments when running away to live in another country is incredibly tempting, and I really identified with her.

The supporting characters are also amazing. DCI Christopher Pearse could have been a by-the-book detective, but morphed into a well-rounded character and love interest in a way that felt completely organic. Similarly, Pru’s friends and clients were all three-dimensional.

But for all it’s romantic elements The Garden Plot is also a mystery, and I found the plot to be well-crafted and compelling. While it’s possible my semi-drugged state made me less able to predict the outcome, I prefer to believe it was author Wingate’s talent for storytelling, because this novel has all of the traditional English cozy mystery elements – a fish-out-of-water protagonist, upper-class locals with secrets and hidden connections, and a dashing detective, and instead of feeling at all trite, The Garden Plot feels fresh – as fresh as the first sprouts of new plantings after a spring rain.

Goes well with Hot tea, cucumber sandwiches, and scones still warm from the oven.

Enter to Win

This tour includes a Rafflecopter giveaway for a Grand Prize of a $30 egiftcard to the ebook retailer of the winner’s choice, and a First Prize Mystery Prize Pack of three mystery mass market paperbacks and a gardening title from Random House!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

TLC Book Tours

This review is part of a blog tour hosted by TLC Book Tours. For more information and the complete list of tour stops, click here.