More than rock and stone

Title: The Bluebonnet Betrayal by Marty Wingate
4 Stars ****

Publisher: Alibi (Random House) August 2016

Genre: English mystery, cozy, series,

Author:  Marty Wingate is the author of The Potting Shed mysteries: The Garden Plot, The Red Book of Primrose House, and Between a Rock and a Hard Place. Her new mystery series, Birds of a Feather: The Rhyme of the Magpie was published In 2015.

Marty writes about gardening in the PNW and travel (she also gives European garden tours). She can be heard on A Dry Rain (, a free podcast available on iTunes. Wingate is a member of the Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime, as well as the Royal Horticultural Society and the Garden Writers Association. 

Story line: This is the latest in the Potting Shed mysteries featuring Texas transplant Pru Parke and her very English detective husband Christopher Pearse. Each story develops the characters and has a great sense of place, while being filled with gardening tidbits and the odd clue. These are fun cozy reads, good for a perfect summer day or beach read.

This time we are at Chelsea for the world famous flower show held every spring by the Royal Horticultural Society. Having been several times, and being an avid gardener, I am happy to report that Wingate’s portrayal of behind the scenes drama, weather and crises are spot on. I was ready to get on a plane, or make reservations for next May. 

Pru sets out to help fellow Texans from the Austin Rock Garden Society create their native display, complete with blue bonnets. (Don’t miss the delightful chapter headings as minutes or notes from their meetings!) Pru is only supposed to be supervising and helping the team settle in, but instead delays, weather, mishaps and murder nearly prevent the show. I like seeing more of Christopher, here off duty, but providing great support. Their heartwarming relationship is charming. Enjoy English pubs, flower descriptions, walkabouts, and please send me some custard tarts. 

Read on: If you like Rosemary and Thyme, Agatha Christie, MC Beaton (Agatha Raisin), Charlot King (Cambridge), or Jean Davis (Dorothy Martin).

Quotes: (Not supposed to quote until the book is published, but these are good indicators of the descriptive writing style, the flavor of English location and the interesting characters.)

Simon was chuffed that his sister would be involved in a garden at Chelsea. “Are you joking? You can’t say no to that!”

—but here, in front of her, lay the eleven empty acres that would become the Chelsea Flower Show…..The crowds of people strolling the avenue with their flutes of champagne and glasses of Pimm’s, the men in their striped jackets and boaters, women wearing skimpy summer dresses and impossibly high heels even though May weather in London could be iffy at best.

The Austin Rock Garden Society—those were her rocks. She already felt the responsibility of being the only American on-site.

“Let me introduce you,” Ivory said. “You don’t know any of these women, but they sure do know you.

friendship measured in minutes, not even weeks or months.

He dropped me at a B&B.” “Where is it?” Pru asked. “Somewhere in the 1970s, I think,” he said, and she laughed. “Orange plaid duvet and a bath down the corridor.”

She sighed, leaving him to pick up on the subtext- I can manage just fine, but I wish with all my heart that you were here.

Received as an ARC ebook from Netgalley. Thanks!