The three most important parts of a book are: a well constructed plot, compelling characters, and a satisfying conclusion.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

THE GARDEN PLOT by Marty Wingate

The Garden Plot by Marty WingatePublisher:  Alibi sold by Random House
Expected Release Date:  May 6, 2014

Book Description:  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.

Wanda's Thoughts:  Pru Parke, an American gardener and landscape designer, has given up her former life in Dallas to live in England. Pru had recently lost her mother and had just ended a long-term relationship. Here she was a middle aged American woman in a foreign country, working in a competitive field doing odd jobs as a gardener. She desperately wants a permanent job as a head gardener at a small historic garden. She felt energized, but scared to death. A murder happens and Pru becomes very involved. And the story unfolds ---

I really liked Pru's personality, a fun character who was wonderfully portrayed. However, I wasn't able to connect to most of the other characters, finding the relationships too shallow. I did find the Chief Inspector Pearse to be rather interesting.

The author launches into the story with the prologue which immediately grabbed my attention.  Even though there is a mystery, and Pru is the one who stumbles onto the body, the momentum failed to pick up  until well into the book. The storyline fell flat and I lost interest. 

The Garden Plot was a fast and easy read and had some interesting twists along the way, with a bit of romance, and splashes of humor spread throughout. I did enjoy the gardening aspects of the story, finding them interesting and informative. Unfortunately, I found the book to be just lukewarm and not one I would enthusiastically recommend. 3 stars.

I received a complimentary copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Marty Wingate
The Author - Marty Wingate is a Seattle-based writer and speaker about gardens and travel, sharing her love of plants, gardens, and garden history along with offering tips and advice. Her fourth book will be published in December 2011.
Marty speaks at national events, and writes for a variety of publications including Country Gardens and The American Gardener. She is a weekly guest on KUOW 94.9 FM, Seattle's NPR station, which can be heard live online or on podcast. Marty and her radio colleagues won a 2010 Silver Trowel award from the Garden Writers Association for on-air talent.
Marty has a master's degree in urban horticulture from the University of Washington, and is active in several organizations including the Royal Horticultural Society and the Garden Writers Association. She leads small-group garden tours to European destinations including England, Scotland, Ireland, France, and on North American journeys. Marty doesn't believe that the thin veneer of tourism - successive one-night stops in a series of hotels - can ever replace getting to know the people, history and culture of a region, and so, when arranging her tours, she always includes time for a cup of tea, a pint of beer or a glass of wine.
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