The Garden Plot by Marty Wingate
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Summary: 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.
This was a nice, light read and I enjoyed the characters quite a lot. 3.5 stars. Pru Parke, gardening American expat in England, was easy to root for and I felt happier than I probably should have that she finally received an acceptance letter for full employ and housing than I probably should have been. The actual murder took a while to happen and get off the ground and once it did, there were the usual things that happen in cozy mysteries that string out the solution. I didn't mind. Pru was pretty active as a sleuth but admittedly she wasn't very good at it but as this was her first go round, she did well to my mind and I'd enjoy reading her adventures again. I also liked DCI Christopher Pearse as a character and liked the relationship they forged around the case as he kept reminding her that she wasn't an officer and she kept putting her spoke in. It was funny. I also loved the portrayal of the creey, nosy neighbor, Malcolm. Very vividly rendered. The culprits were pretty clear before the reveal but only because there literally couldn't have been anyone else responsible. They were well hidden in the story but it wasn't a surprise when the reveal happened. It was easy to see how Pru didn't see it coming but to the reader, who can see the whole scheme, it's clear to see that what seems unrelated is very much relevant. I would definitely read the next book in this series and would recommend it to cozy mystery fans or anyone looking for a weekend read.
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