Gardening catalogs and offers have begun to fill my mail box (and my inbox). But anticipating the delight in the arrival of my new plants and gardening equipment just isn’t enough. I can’t go outside and actually get my hands dirty so I need to do something else.
What could be better than a mystery with a gardening theme? If you are interested in combining a cozy mystery with the delight of gardening, here are some books to consider.
One of my all time favorite characters is Ellis Peters’ Brother Cadfael, a crusader-turned-monk in twelfth century England. His role as monastery herbalist allows him to roam outside the cloister. In doing so, he can satisfy his curiosity about events (and plants) around him. I especially enjoy the author’s mix of information about the religious, political, cultural and lifestyle of the medieval times.
If you are not interested in a historical aspect to your gardening-themed books, there are other suggestions:
Anthony Eglin features a retired botany professor as his amateur detective. Dr. Lawrence Kingston is as intrigued by the challenge of a mystery as he is of lore and mysteries of plants. Eglin, who is himself a rose expert, sprinkles horticulture details throughout his writings. Try The Blue Rose which introduces Dr. Kingston when he is hired by new homeowners, Alex and Kate Sheppard, to investigate the mystery around the ‘impossible’ blue rose bush that is blooming in their walled garden.
Rosemary Harris writes the Dirty Business Mystery series. Harris’ sleuth is Paula Holliday, a transplanted New York media executive, who has started a landscape design company in Springfield CT. Author Harris is herself a master gardener and lives in CT! In The Big Dirt Nap Paula ‘smells’ something funny when she travels to an exclusive hotel where a rare (if odiferous) plant called the titan arum, aka the corpse flower (which really exists!) is about to bloom.
River City, Missouri resident, Bretta Solomon, is the florist-sleuth in author Janis Harrison’s gardening mystery series. Bretta’s flower business doesn’t seem to suffer when she gets involved in murder investigations. The debut novel in the series is Roots of Murder when Bretta unearths the murderer of her flower supplier.
And finally there are the two series by Susan Wittig Albert: “Darling Dahlias” and the “China Bayles” mystery series. Both series are set in small towns. Darling refers to a town in Alabama where the garden club members band together to solve mysteries and murders. Set in the 1930s Alabama, The Darling Dahlias and the Naked Ladies involves the ladies digging up clues about some newcomers with a past, possibly as (gasp!) dancers in the Ziegfeld Frolic. China Bayles of Pecan Springs, Texas is an herbalist and an amateur detective. She runs the herb shop, Thyme and Seasons, while dabbling in the occasional mystery. In the Mistletoe Man she investigates and solves the murder of her principal supplier of the popular herb, mistletoe.
So, enjoy these mysteries as you anticipate spring and summer, the gardens and flowers!
– posted by Brenda, Reference Services