The Red Book of Primrose House by Marty Wingate

  • Publish Date Nov 4
  • ISBN 9780804177719
  • Price $2.99 e-book only

The Red Book of Primrose House, book #2 in the A Potting Shed Mystery series, nicely follows the first book, The Garden Plot, by starting just where we left off. If you’ve not read the first book, it’s okay, but you may not get the nuance of the heroine, Pru Parke. In this book, Pru seems to have grown up a bit in her actions, taking difficult circumstances that arise and working through them on a more intellectual level than a frantic, and sometimes childish, pace as in the first book.

For readers not familiar with this series, it’s based on not just gardening, but English gardening. As in the first book, a reader can look up plants, sites, and historical events to fully immerse themselves in the book or you can read it as another quirky, lively murder mystery in which Pru has started her first real gardening job in England working for the unconventional owners of Primrose House- which is like a small dower house which was once located as part of a larger estate. As Ms. Wingate explains in this book, The Red Book is a historical reference to Humphry Repton who was known as the last great English landscape designer of the 18th century and which several elements of the story are wrapped around. Other English things you’ll find are the small town life with a good depiction of what village life would be like, vivid descriptions of English countryside and Pru’s struggle with long distance relationships.

What continues to draw me back to this series is the Englishness that radiates from this series. As currently I’m unable to make the journey to England, this is the next best thing to being there with details which are sometimes washed over in other series; Wingate is a vivid writer and will keep you engaged with descriptions of landscape, gardening details, architectural details of buildings and of course English history for the area in which the book takes place.

Lastly, in The Garden Plot I fell in love with DCI Pearse and was happy to find he’s back, but a little disappointed that his character through this book is not only low key, but a weak character considering he’s a police inspector. Yes, I understand that he’s not a main character in this book, but when he’s re-introduced on several occasions, he’s not as engaging as he was in the last book–which for me is a disappointment. I hope in the next book, to which I’m assuming he’ll be more prominent, he’ll be more manly than mousy.

Overall, I love this series and will re-read this book again as I’m still re-reading the first book just for the enjoyment of it–definitely worth the $2.99!


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