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.
When I began reading The Garden Plot, the first of the Potting Shed Mysteries, something told me I was holding a very special book. It was more than the sum of its parts, and The Red Book of Primrose House (Book 2) is like a younger sibling with the same familial allure.
In truth, the intrigue of The Red Book of Primrose House begins in the previous novel. When Pru goes to Primrose House for her interview, one of the staffers tell her that she won't get the job. Turns out there is a local that also wanted the position, and Pru suspects him of sabotaging her efforts to restore the garden and grounds.
One of the house staff has a son who is mentally-differently-abled. Unfortunately, this young man is being framed for the latest crime, that of the death of one of the garden crew, which was definitely not of natural causes. Pru does not believe he could be involved, and of course sets about finding out who really 'dunnit'.
As Pru gets closer to the truth, she gets closer to Christopher, (which is not a bad place at all to be). As the mystery deepens, Pru gets deeper in danger. Finally, the more you get to know about Pru and her acquaintances, the more you will want to know.
While The Red Book of Primnrose House more than satisfies as a standalone novel, reading both books (and any future installments, assuming naturally that they will be just as good) will enrich your mind and your library.
(Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the author and publisher via TLC Book Tours in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.)
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