Cover Image: Gardening Can Be Murder

Gardening Can Be Murder

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Member Reviews

Very informative and interesting book. I highly write recommend it. Very educational. Very enjoyable

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I enjoyed this so much that I bought two copies and gifted one to a friend I kept one for myself, of course. This is a beautiful book and a nice conversation piece if you like something a little morbid on your coffee table.

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A wonderful addition for every literary and garden lover! Let's start at the beginning by saying this cover is fabulous and the hardcover details were a beautiful surprise. Next comes the inners. These pages are packed with stories, examples, history lessons, and more. All information is easy to access thanks to a chapter list and index. I absolutely love how this author compiled images and facts to mash together into a wonderfully wrote story lesson of how plants have been used for generations within the literary world. My favorite part is the book list. McDowell not only sites all her information and images, but she also compiles and entire list of every story mentioned in this book, which allows us readers to dive into the world's that McDowell has just taught us about. My only negative reaction is to the actual pages of the book, not the words written, but the type of paper choosen. It us lightweight which makes it more of a scratchy vs the luxurious smooth stock pages this book truly does deserve.

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Love this book, it provides a wonderful meander into the gardens of mystery writers, and garden lovers within the scope of murder mysteries. Many favorites are amongst these, such as as Miss Marple, Cadfael, Nero Woolfe, Patricia Wenthworth, Poriot, and more. Some mysteries are set in beautiful gardens based on the designed by people like Gertrude Jekyll and the White Garden at Siissinghurst. Others provide a link to a motive from the aspect of the garden, and of course many provide the means of a tasty murder for the writer.
There is plenty of garden history and information in this book, as well as the impetus of a great story. Thanks you NetGalley and the publishers for the DR

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❥ 2 stars ☆

This book is about how gardens and plants have inspired mystery and crime writers for centuries. It might be an interesting read for anyone who likes mystery, crime and gardens.

❝A gardener, like a detective, needs to be observant.❞

❝There are more detectives, both amateurs and pros, that are or have been devoted to plants. Perhaps, it is because plant people—I put myself in this category—lean toward the obsessive, a definite plus for investigators.❞
━━━━━━━━━━━ ♡ ━━━━━━━━━━━

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First, I have to admit that I’m not usually a mystery reader. But I am a gardener. And though I’ve only read a few mysteries, this book has intrigued me to try some more. As a cozy mystery reader, gardening seems like a good match. The book has chapters like “Gardening Detectives”, “Means”, and “More Means”. There is also a chapter called “Mystery Writers and Their Gardens”. The inclusion of the mystery detectives is fun, especially when you include Miss Marple and Brother Cadfael. These non-traditional detectives are the type that I like. People that just get involved because they are there. There is a lot covered in this book. I think it’s good for mystery readers and even gardeners. I’ve been inspired to read some more mysteries to pay attention to the gardening aspect and maybe do something more with my garden.

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Dear Reader: If you enjoy tucking into Mysteries and your Gardening Shed is full to bursting: READ THIS BOOK!

By sending out her latest, Gardening Can Be Murder, Marta McDowell has provided a catalog of mysteries related to all things gardening - with delicious excerpts, and in helpful categories:

*Gardening Detectives
*More Means
*Mystery Writers and Their Gardens
*The End

And, Huzzah and Hurray, she has done herself proud with Endpapers Aplenty, including a list of all books mentioned!!! GCBM is a mystery-garden-lovers dream come true. I went through this book with two screens, and grew my TBR list by 60+! I dare you to open this book and NOT walk away with at least 10 new-to-you reads. . .and hours of petals, leaves, dirt-under-your-nails and twigs in your hair as you read this new offering.

Every plant-based star (certainly more than five)

*A sincere thank you to Marta McDowell, Timber Press and NetGalley for an ARC to read and independently review.*

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This is a great exploration on the connection between gardening and crime, mystery, and thriller novels throughout the modern times.

This probably isn't for every reader, but as someone who enjoys both crime, mystery, and gardening; I was highly immersed in this read.

I do recommend it highly.

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Do you read mysteries? Do you garden? If your answer to either is yes, then Marta McDowell has a book for you! She has taken time out from her gardening to indulge in her other passion - murder mysteries! In Gardening Can Be Murder, she combines both by looking at how these two passions intersect.

McDowell opens with a chapter on detectives known for their gardening starting with Willkie Collins' Sergeant Cuff, meanders to Agatha Christie's Miss Jane Marple, darts back in time to Ellis Peters's Brother Cadfael, Heads into the present with Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe and his orchids, and finishes with Susan Wittig Albert's China Bayles,

Besides individuals, McDowell provides a look at various mysteries that are set in a garden; use garden tools or objects for the murder; plants as means of the murder, gardens/plants as clues in the murder and an interesting look at mystery writers who garden. Another nice feature is the list of all the authors and titles she mention through the book along with various source material used.

So if you are interested in mysteries and or gardens, do check out Gardening Can Be Murder for your enjoyment and enlightenment!

Thanks Netgalley and Timber Press for the chance to read this title!

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4.5 stars

Gardening Can Be Murder is a comprehensive analysis of plants and their influence on various murder mystery authors and novels. It’s a unique topic to read about especially since it’s well researched.

It was sadly dry at times and I felt like there was too much info dumping in some pages. For some chapters, the author talked about the influence of plants and gardens in one novel and then suddenly went on to discuss another work. Although it does not affect the actual content of the book, I wished the prose and writing style were less monotonous. Despite this, I absolutely loved learning about how plants and gardens have inspired classic authors such as Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie. I’m also going to check out the author’s other works. The one about Emily Dickinson’s gardening life seems very interesting!

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nonfiction, gardening, poisons, science, botany, books, book-within-a-book, writers, murder, historical-research, history, history-and-culture, nature-study*****

What a marvelous read. I am hurrying to have a copy sent to my sister who really is a gardening geek (I'm the mystery geek)!
In well organized chapters the use of garden plants (and weed killers) by a plethora of specific and often well known mystery writers over the past few centuries is put before the reader in the manner of a very well thought out smorgasbord. With specific references to the greats and which of their books utilized garden menaces, to current popular authors given the same attention to detail. I LOVED it!
I requested and was fortunate to receive an EARC from Timber Press via NetGalley. Many thanks!

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This book looks at the intersection between mystery novels and gardening and I find the concept brilliant. The author is a long-time gardener and mystery reader and decided to write a book that brings the two pastimes together. She details topics ranging from fictional detectives with a penchant for gardening to mystery novels that involve gardens to murderous plants to the real-life gardens of mystery writers. Along the way, she sprinkles in relevant facts about various plants that show up in the books she describes.

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I liked the idea behind this: a look at gardens and gardening in cozy mysteries. I didn't really think it through what that would mean. This book is about gardens and gardening, not so much about cozy mysteries or sleuths. It read like a treatise.

I loved the artwork in the book.

Unfortunately, I read this book in the NetGalley App on my phone. The book was not adapt to device, which meant I was dealing with very tiny print.

Though the book was not to my taste it was well-researched and well-written.

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This was a fun and interesting book that is perfect for gardeners and book readers alike. It was really informative and I learned a lot while reading this. While it was very western-author centric, I feel like a lot of people would get a lot out of learning about some of their favorite literary characters in the mystery genre. I feel like there is ample opportunity to do a second book expanding more in a non-western mystery literature lens, but overall, this book was a good breakdown. I loved the images and graphics included in this book as well, they added a little something extra to the overall enjoyment of reading this.

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As a life long murder mystery lover, I jumped at the chance to read this ARC. Finding out the history of how plants are used as inspiration for mystery authors was a very interesting premise to me! Gardening Can Be Murder by Marta McDowell breaks down murder plots into sections to study one at a time including clues, means, suspects, settings, etc. I liked McDowell's writing style and recognized many of the stories she used as examples! While very interesting, I was looking for more of a botanical background on the plants and not just what plants were used in which stories. Still very informative and fascinating though!

Thank you to NetGalley and Timber Press for sending this book in exchange for an honest review!

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Thank you to the author, Timber Press and NetGalley, for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

A book with murders and gardening: hard to imagine something more squarely in my wheelhouse. The author brings together a collection of on the one hand books that contain some configuration of the two topics, and on the other hand crime authors who are avid gardeners. And yes, there is definitely overlap were this a Venn diagram. Overall the text is quite dense, and each chapter brought new discoveries of book suggestions, and I loved the illustrations as well. A huge plus were the references and reading lists at the back of the book.

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Aptly titled Gardening Can Be Murder by Marta McDowell is a spectacularly researched and gorgeously-written book which seemed custom designed for those of us who are passionate gardeners and rabid murder mystery readers. The illustrations are beautiful, fresh and laden with meaning.

I am grateful to travel extensively and visit gardens in every country/region I'm in whether an arboretum, botanic or cottage garden or literary-themed garden. Toxic gardens are equally fascinating. Whether loved by authors or fictional characters, gardens can be murder scenes or boast nooks and crannies for hidden letters or bodies, toxic plants themselves can be used as the murder weapon and can also cause irritation when handled so beware of swarthy thugs brandishing knives on a garden tour who are sporting murderous rashes. Gardens can be settings for theatre and fetes and gardening tools can be used as sharp (or blunt) objects. Though usually wonderful, gardens in books can belie nefarious goings-on.

Whether you enjoy digging into murder mysteries or the soil (or both!), this fun, quirky, charming and informative book could easily be your wheelhouse. Never a dull moment. Not only does the author include how gardens influence(d) writers such as Agatha Christie, Daphne du Maurier, Rex Stout, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, P. D. James, Ruth Ware or Dorothy L. Sayers but also how gardens and/or plants figure prominently in their mystery books. Amongst my favourite fictional gardeners include Miss Jane Marple and her cottage gardens and Nero Wolfe's obsession with his orchids which he prefers to people, prioritizing four hours a day caring for them and propagating them. Understandable as plants and gardens are certainly therapeutic.

My sincere thank you to Timber Press and NetGalley for providing me with a digital copy of this stellar book, one which combines two of my (many) favourite hobbies, gardening and murder mysteries. A killer combination.

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At the risk at being put on a watchlist somewhere I requested this book as I find natural poisons fascinating and I would love to visit The Alnwick Garden. No none needs to worry though I have a black thumb and can’t grow anything. I also love looking the influence that gardens and gardening have had on mystery novels and their authors call me odd, but it was a cosy read.

It is clear Marta has researched authors, mystery books involving plants and botanical murders. Marta is a writer and a keen gardener its wonderful seeing her passion for both subjects. This book highlights the fact that writers commonly find inspiration in their daily lives. Marta points out how many writers have used gardening and their knowledge to write sinister mystery novels.

Slight spoiler dear Reader I had no idea that Arthur Conan Doyle studied medicine and botany. I enjoyed the books set up and enjoyed how each chapter looks over different aspects of the world of mystery novels. At no point did the book feel overwhelming or information dumpy and was a cosy informative read.

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A surprisingly delightful read, considering the subject matter is murder. I’m always hesitant to read nonfiction because memories from uni have left me imagining dry and impossibly small text. But fear not! Marta McDowell’s writing has such wit, her passion for gardening infectious. I snickered over lines detailing a gardener’s homicidal intent towards slugs. There are also illustrations scattered throughout the book that add a wonderfully whimsical touch.

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Nestled within the pages of Gardening Can Be Murder: How Poisonous Poppies, Sinister Shovels, and Grim Gardens Have Inspired Mystery Writers by Martha McDowell lies a captivating exploration that intertwines the allure of gardens with the appeal of mystery. As someone who might be more inclined to commit ‘planticide’ than nurture a thriving garden, I found myself ensnared by the relatable title and the enchanting premise that this book presents. So, whether you’re a green-thumbed horticultural virtuoso or a mere enthusiast, this book promises to transport you to a world where sinister secrets are buried amidst the petals and leaves.

Gardening Can Be Murder by Martha McDowell

Gardening Can Be Murder masterfully grafts together two seemingly disparate worlds — the serenity of gardens and the gripping intrigue of mystery novels. This unlikely pairing, expertly curated by Marta McDowell, offers readers a unique lens through which to view both. McDowell’s deft penmanship charts a journey into the historical tapestry where gardens have played a pivotal role in inspiring mystery writers and their tantalizing narratives.

It’s not just the concept that thrills; it’s the execution that truly flourishes. The wonderful illustrations by Yolanda V. Fundora that punctuate the chapters are like dewdrops on petals – they add a layer of elegance and visual splendor that resonates harmoniously with the book’s essence. The slow-paced rhythm of the book mirrors the gentle pace of tending to a garden, making it a perfect companion for a rainy afternoon accompanied by the soothing companionship of herbal tea.

One of the most delightful aspects of Gardening Can Be Murder is how it becomes a garden of literary recommendations, where each chapter unfurls like a new varietal waiting to be explored. McDowell deftly introduces a catalog of books that embody the intricate dance between gardens and mysteries. As I turned each page, I felt like a curious visitor wandering through an expansive garden, discovering hidden nooks of stories waiting to be unraveled.

The Perfect Gift for Gardeners and Readers

While the book pays homage to classic literature where the whispers of poison-laden petals and ominous topiaries have stirred the imagination of generations, it also unearths contemporary gems that seamlessly weave modern garden elements into their tales. The chapter on poisonous plants serves as both a guide and a warning, revealing the eerie beauty of these botanical villains and their literary exploits.

McDowell’s prowess in research is obvious, her dedication evident in the seamless transitions between the historical origins of this narrative tradition and the modern renditions that keep it alive. She shines a light on the intimate relationship between authors and their gardens, from Agatha Christie’s Japanese garden musings to Sherlock Holmes’ scientific flirtations with poisonous flora.

As I delved into the rich soil of this book, I found myself echoing the sentiment of the reader who confessed, “How many should I buy for Christmas presents?” This is indeed the ideal gift for bibliophiles who cultivate gardens and gardens that cultivate mysteries. Just as a well-tended garden brings forth vibrant blossoms, Gardening Can Be Murder yields an abundance of literary blooms, each one waiting to be plucked and cherished.

Final Thoughts

In a world where narratives are often compartmentalized, McDowell’s creation is a harmonious fusion — a tale of two worlds converging to create something wholly enchanting. So, whether you possess a green thumb or a penchant for puzzling mysteries, Gardening Can Be Murder promises a reading experience that is as exciting as the title suggests, leaving you with a flourishing garden of books to explore and a newfound appreciation for the mysteries that lurk amid the leaves.

Gardening Can Be Murder is set to Publish September 13, 2023!

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