Monday, March 21, 2016

The Skeleton Garden by Marty Wingate - #review

USA Today bestselling author Marty Wingate’s Potting Shed series continues as expert gardener Pru Parke digs up a Nazi warplane—and a fresh murder.

Texas transplant Pru Parke has put down roots in England, but she never dreamed she’d live in a grand place such as Greenoak. When her former employers offer Pru and her new husband, former Detective Chief Inspector Christopher Pearse, the use of their nineteenth-century estate while they’re away for a year, she jumps at the chance. Sweetening the deal is the prospect of further bonding with her long-lost brother, Simon, who happens to be Greenoak’s head gardener. But the majestic manor has at least one skeleton in its closet—or, rather, its garden.

Working on renovations to the extensive grounds, siblings Pru and Simon squabble about everything from boxwood to bay hedges. But when the removal of a half-dead tree turns up the wreckage of a World War II–era German fighter plane and a pile of bones, the arguments stop. That is, until a rival from Simon’s past pays a surprise visit and creates even more upheaval. It’s suddenly clear someone is unhappy their secrets have been unearthed. Still, Pru’s not about to sit back and let Simon take the fall for the dirty deed without a fight.



I have been fortunate to have read each book in the Potting Shed Mysteries.  It started with The Garden Plot, wound it's way through The Red Book of Primrose House, and Between a Rock and a Hard Place before arriving at the latest installment, 'The Skeleton Garden'.  So I've seen Pru off the boat (plane, really) from Texas to find a body in the private London garden where she works.  Then she went to the country to rework the gardens on an estate...where she found a dead body.  After that, she went to take a job in Scotland...where she found a body in the town where she worked.  But she did get married there too.  Finally, right?  (I'm sure Christopher felt the same way.)

So, how can she top all that?  Pru gets to live in a big mansion belonging to some friends of hers (who are off on a sabbatical).  She has reunited with her long-lost brother, and is working with him on this different estate's garden.  Pru and Christopher get to see what it would be like to be parents when C's nephew Oliver comes to live with them for a while.  And she finds TWO dead bodies!  I'm sensing a theme here.

These are not the only ways in with Ms. Wingate goes above and beyond with this story.  While restoring the garden, they dig up a WWII German plane ... complete with skeleton.  Eventually, the police determine murder has been committed.  Flash forward, oh, 70 years or so, and a second (much fresher) body is found at the same site (hence the title).

Throughout the series, I have been impressed with the way the author sets the scene using descriptive language.  Some people don't use enough.  Some people use too much.  Ms. Wingate gets it just right.



Marty Wingate is a Seattle-based writer and speaker who shares her love of Britain in her two mystery series. The Potting Shed books feature Pru Parke, a middle-aged American gardener transplanted from Texas to England, and Birds of a Feather follows Julia Lanchester, bird lover, who runs a tourist office in a Suffolk village. Marty writes garden articles for magazines includingCountry Gardens and theAmerican Gardener. She is a member of the Royal Horticultural Society, Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and the Crime Writers Association. She leads garden tours to England, Scotland and Ireland, spending free moments deep in research for her books. Or in pubs.


Click on the banner to go to the tour page where you will find more reviews, as well as guest posts and interviews by the author!  You can also find out how to sign up to be a blog host for future book tours!

(Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book from the author and publishers via Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours and NetGalley in exchange for my objective review.  This post contains affiliate links.)


This book helps me fulfill the following 2016 Reading Challenges:


  1. Definitely sounds a great cosy series, LuAnn. THanks for posting and hosting Marty Wingate's creative writing!

    And for a bit of fun if you've any books you'd like a 2nd go roung, the Re-Readathon challenge begins today [on til the 31st, so lots of time yet]. Happy to tweet #rereadathon with you if you're interested :)

  2. I'm a big mystery reader as well as a gardener so I was thrilled to see this book. Already ordered for my kindle. Many thanks!

    1. Thanks for your visit, CW. I'm sure the author will appreciate it as well! :O)

  3. This sounds like a story I would enjoy. :-)