Cover Image: A Botanist's Guide to Flowers and Fatality

A Botanist's Guide to Flowers and Fatality

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Member Reviews

The second in a series, this title sees Saffron assisting the police with a series of murders. It had been some time since I read the first book, but I didn’t have trouble picking off where things had left off. I really liked the inclusion of the language of flowers in this plot, and it was interesting to see some slices of life from the 1920’s. I partially guessed the mystery’s resolution but not entirely, and though I did feel the book could’ve been a bit more concise, I appreciated the twists it took to the full reveal.

Thanks to Net Galley and the publisher for the complimentary digital review copy of this title.

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I did not realize this was book 2 so I had to quick go and read book 1. I am so glad I did as Saffron is wonderful! This second outing sees Saffron and Alexander separated by Alexander's trip to Brazil. Saffron has continued on with her work at the University College but has gotten herself a research appointment, a project and a new partner, Dr. Michael Lee. Saffron's expertise in poisonous plants gets her involved with Inspector Green again and she and Dr. Lee end up undercover in order to find answers. High jinx ensue and Alexander returns at an inopportune moment. I can't wait for book 3!

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Kate Khavari immerses Saffron Everleigh in a second set of murders that require her knowledge of botany and the language of flowers in A Botanist's Guide to Flowers and Fatality. Saffron and her colleague Dr. Lee join the1925 jazz and cocaine consuming club crowd to find who is killing and being killed. Lots of red herrings. A new romantic interest bumps against her former colleague and friend who explored the Amazon. Read this intriguing and intricate mystery.

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Like the first, this was delightful. I wasn't sure about the addition of Lee, but he grew on me but he still hasn't completely won me over yet. I was however disappointed that Alexander was absent for most of the book.

I saw the whodunnit it towards the end but it was still a good mystery and I will still continue to follow Saffron on her next journey.

I am loving this new trend of Victorian cozy mysteries, but when they ultimately become too saturated this will be the series I will stick with.

Thank you to the publisher for my gifted ecopy. All views expressed are my own.

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With Alexander off on the expedition to the Amazon, Saffron has spent her summer working at the university on a project with the annoyingly charming, Dr. Lee, a medical doctor, dealing with reports of poisonings across the city and in the neighboring countryside. Saffron can hardly believe it when Detective Inspector Green walks through her office door, requesting her assistance on an active murder investigation. Still coming off her high of solving the university related murder from the last book, she is sure she can get to the bottom of these new murders.

Bouquet of flowers, most of which are poisonous, were found at the crime scenes of three different murders. They seem unconnected otherwise. When her own knowledge of flowers falls short in coming up with answers, Saffron delves into the old Victorian practice of floriography, in which each flower holds a special meaning. Dr. Lee is eager to help despite Saffron's initial misgivings. The two of them go undercover, befriending the high society group of suspects, taking them into a dark jazz club and exclusive parties. Dr. Lee definitely seems to have the gift of fitting in and drawing people out, where as Saffron is more awkward at it. Perhaps it is the rules of society for women during that time period, or just her trying too hard to be accepted so she can get the answers she's seeking. This only makes her more relatable as a character for me.

Like in the first book, the reader gets a glimpse of how difficult it is for a woman in the world of male academia, especially one in Saffron's position. One of the reasons I especially liked this second book was the amount of growth Saffron does over the course of the book in finding her own voice and standing up for what she wants. Not only with her work, but in her love life too. There definitely was a darker overall plot line in this installment. I found the mystery fascinating, from the historical aspect as well as the complexity of the characters and their possible motives.

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The first half of this is pretty solid. We have a lot of reminders about how the last book ended (is critical to read this series in order); which was good for me, but could be annoying for anyone who just came from book 1.
The interpersonal relationships were well done and interesting. Our characters remainder engaging and had good narrative voice. However the overall plot was dull. Initially the poisonous flowers were kind of neat; and a great way to excuse why the Inspector went to Saffron about them. As time went on I got bored by the constant nagging of why Saffron shouldn’t be doing what she was doing. To the point of actually putting the book down in annoyance.
Which is probably what led to the ending just dragging on and on for me. The ‘twist’ is not really that twisty (or good) and so I was done with this one before it was done telling me the story.
All that said I will still read the next book in the series as I do love the characters and think the plot was the issue here for the most part. Not the characters, setting or narrative voice.
Additionally the little teaser at the end (that I would normally hate) actually worked for me.

Please note: I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This is an honest and unbiased review.

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Is a review valid if all I say is “this is one of my absolute favourite mystery series i hope there’s 100 planned”



This is absolutely one of my favourite series though, even with only 2 installments so far I’m just in love with the world and the characters so much! It had been a while since I’ve read the first book and I was worried that I wasn’t going to remember enough to dive back in but it took no time for me to fall right into the story and to remember the important parts of the first book.

I love Saffron as a main character, she has such a lovely personality while also being a total badass and doing exactly what she needs to do. I love reading from her perspective and seeing where she takes us! I also love the side characters, both old and new, the different relationships all feel so genuine and organic and I enjoy seeing how they all interact with each other.

I also really enjoy the academic setting of this series, it feels very different from other historical mysteries that I’ve read and I love that we get that aspect while still having a female main character.

If you like cozy mysteries with a fantastic side of romance then you need to check out this series! The third book comes out in June and I cannot wait to get my hands on it.

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What a fascinating novel of deadly plants sorted out by a clever heroine. The study of Victorian language given by flowers is really clever to spell out a murderer.

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It's easy to be misled by a slightly above-average start to a series, as it creates an impression that the series will only improve from there. While sometimes this may hold true, as in the case of the Plated Prisoner series, on other occasions, it leaves you pondering over where everything went wrong after finishing the second book.

Alexander spends all his time collecting specimens and completing research for Saffron, who is fixated on shiny things and has the memory of a goldfish. Saffron thinks they never put any labels on their relationship, while Lee annoys and pesters her. Saffron deserves some of his treatment as she is condescending and patronizing towards him. Lee suddenly decides he's interested in Saffron, and all it takes is paying attention to her and not leaving the country.

The story lacked character development and growth as most of the interesting dialogue happened in the characters' heads. Lee was self-centered and only showed personality in his private thoughts. Saffron thought deeply but failed to express her thoughts. Alexander was the opposite of Saffron, only speaking the worst possible things in the worst way.
I was disappointed that an outside character purposely included to make Lee look like a good person was given such a limited and self-serving role. Romesh knows what it is to be discounted, overlooked, and discriminated against in his chosen field of work, yet he’s awfully quick to believe hurtful gossip about Saffron and pile on. But don’t worry, Lee was nice to him a few times while they were studying together, so at least Lee is a good person. Romesh honestly shows up for a few pages, but it really stuck out to me that Khavari chose to include a person of colour, and instead of making him an empathetic and understanding voice of reason in his one interaction with Lee, she made him part of the system that so devalued and belittled him.

It's strange how Saffron spends so much time with someone, yet doesn't give them a heads up about her past and the way she's treated by colleagues. It would have been easy to say, "I'm Saffron. My mentor was wrongly involved in a murder mystery, which I got caught up in. I'm a woman, so I've struggled to get respect from men at the university. Also, my boyfriend's away on a work trip. Let's keep this professional." Writing a strong female character requires commitment.

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I am loving this series. It's like Agatha Christie, but fancy. It's a historical mystery but with acknowledgment of the problematic treatment of women back in an idolized historical period.

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I was very excited for this novel as it had a badass heroine, plants, and poisons. What could go wrong? The muddle apparently. There was an attempt at a love V (triangle 🙄) and it was so silly and poorly done. (Similar to book 3 of Kerri Maniscalco's Stalking Jack the Ripper series.) The plot/mystery itself flat lined for so long that I just skimmed through to climax just to find out if I was right about the outcome. (I was 50% right.) There was a small twist and that was nice. I did like how it ended for Everly. Alexander however, it left open for a third book/spin off that I'm not sure I'm interested in. We will see.

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A Botanist's Guide to Parties and Poisons may not have been my favourite book, but I was expecting more from A Botanist's Guide to Flowers and Fatality.

A slightly above-average start to a series can be misleading because it makes you think that the series can only get better. Sometimes that’s true and things only get better (for example, the Plated Prisoner series), and sometimes you’re left at the end of the second book trying to figure out where everything went wrong.

While I was hoping we would get more character development to help the new relationship between Alexander and Saffron feel more grounded, I was not expecting Saffron to have the memory of a goldfish and the fixation a crow has for shiny things. Alexander has barely left the country and is spending all his time collecting specimens and completing research for Saffron. He's also writing her letters, despite the limited mail service, sending pictures, and writing unnecessary postscript. Meanwhile, Saffron walks around thinking they never put any labels on their relationship, so farewell kisses and forlorn looks in dark gardens could mean anything. I'm not saying Saffron wasn’t technically free to explore a flirtation with someone else; I’m just not going to bend over backwards to pretend I believe the lies she’s telling herself. I might be less critical if her supposed new love interest was even a little appealing. Shallow and self-serving, Lee went out of his way to annoy and pester Saffron - who, it has to be said, was incredibly condescending and patronising right back and so probably deserved some of this treatment. But then, something happens ‘as a lark’ - and suddenly Lee has decided he’s interested in Saffron. Which is convenient since, apparently, the only thing you have to do to get Saffron interested in you is to pay a little attention to her. And, I guess, not leave the country.

Most of the interesting dialogue took place in the characters’ heads and was never spoken aloud. Because of this, there didn't appear to be any character growth. Who needs strong interpersonal or romantic relationships?! It’s the 1920s! The only time Lee showed any personality beyond ‘snobbish flirt looking for a good time’ was in his POV moments; he never lets the mask fall or reveals any truth through words or actions. Lee very clearly puts himself first and only spares a second thought for Saffron when he’s got some free time. But then we get a glimpse inside his head and... well, okay, it’s not much better. He’s still incredibly judgmental and dismissive. Saffron is the queen of thinking the important stuff and saying either nothing or the most useless alternative, only to be dethroned when Alexander returns as he only ever says the worst possible thing in the absolute worst way while thinking the sweet, heartbreaking things that Saffron is too superficial to be able to read from his actions.

I was disappointed that an outside character purposely included to make Lee look like a good person was given such a limited and self-serving role. Romesh knows what it is to be discounted, overlooked, and discriminated against in his chosen field of work, yet he’s awfully quick to believe hurtful gossip about Saffron and pile on. But don’t worry, Lee was nice to him a few times while they were studying together, so at least Lee is a good person. Romesh honestly shows up for a few pages, but it really stuck out to me that Khavari chose to include a person of colour, and instead of making him an empathetic and understanding voice of reason in his one interaction with Lee, she made him part of the system that so devalued and belittled him.

I also don’t understand how someone so surrounded by gossip at all times, and so sensitive to it, could spend months with someone - hours and hours together every single day at work and travelling and in the library and doing fieldwork and writing reports and sharing an office - and not give them a heads up about their recent history and the treatment they tend to receive from their colleagues. It would’ve been so easy. ‘Hey, I’m Saffron. I'm new to this office, but I'm so excited we'll be working together on this interesting assignment. I was a research assistant for my close friend and mentor, but he was wrongly involved in a murder mystery, which I got way too involved in. I don’t want to get into it because it was pretty traumatic, but all's well that ends well! Oh, and I’m a woman, so it’s been a bit of an uphill battle getting a basic level of respect from the men at the university, so I’d appreciate your support. Just so you know, my boyfriend-not-boyfriend is away on a work trip, but he’ll be back soon, so let’s keep this professional.’ Saffron so often lets others define her and then gets angry when she doesn’t like the story they tell about her. If you want to write a fiercely independent and intelligent female character in history, it would be nice to commit.

I could probably write more about so many things that rubbed me the wrong way, ignored exposition from the first book, or weren’t explained properly, but I’d never get to bed, and no one would ever read it all.

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A Botanist's Guide to Flowers and Fatality is the second mystery by Kate Khavari featuring botanist research assistant Saffron Everleigh. Released 6th June 2023 by Crooked Lane Books, it's 336 pages and is available in hardcover, audio, and ebook formats. Paperback format due out from the same publisher in second quarter 2024. It's worth noting that the ebook format has a handy interactive table of contents as well as interactive links and references throughout. I've really become enamored of ebooks with interactive formats; super useful for checking things easily in the text.

This book (and series) incorporates so many favorite cozy tropes: intelligent female protagonist, an academic setting, with all the jealousy and subterfuge that entails, historical setting (1920s London), some danger and intrigue and "fair play" well constructed mystery plot.

Saffron Everleigh is a botanist and research assistant, with all the misogyny and difficulty that entails at the time at a large research university. Honestly, it's *still* not a walk in the park for female academics in the sciences. She's a legacy in academia, her late father was also an academic.

It's a character driven mystery, and the author is quite talented at descriptive prose without descending into overwrought passages or overly contrived dialogue. The author does nod to period formality without decreasing readability at all.

The mystery and resolution are self contained in this book, so it works well enough as a standalone. There are references to the first book, so readers who choose to read them out of order should expect some spoilers.

The unabridged audiobook has a run time of 11 hours 19 minutes and is expertly read by Jodie Harris. She has a well modulated classically trained voice and does a great job with a number of disparate regional accents, and a range of character ages of both sexes and various socioeconomic strata.

Four stars for both print and audio versions. It would make a nice short binge/buddy read.

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.

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I didn't read the first book but I love a woman in history making her own way (and having a love triangle of her own making! *gasp*). The mystery was interesting and not as predictable as I thought! I'm going to track down the first book!

Thank you to NetGalley for this ARC; all opinions expressed in this review are my own.

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Unfortunately, I just wasn't able to get into the writing. When I had requested it, I hadn't known it was book #2, so perhaps I would've been more engaged had I already read book #1.

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When 1920s London women start receiving poisonous bouquets, it’s up to Saffron to figure it out and show her male counterparts how it’s done. The second in a series, this book will keep you up late waiting for the next chapter.

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It's been several months since Alexander Ashton left on the Amazon expedition, and Saffron Everleigh looks forward to his letters, and tracks the group's progress on a map.

She hasn't been sitting around pining or bored, though. Saffron is one of two on a research study, her first, to determine and document poisonous plants and their effects. Saffron is paired with Dr. Michael Lee from the nearby hospital.

She is frustrated with him as he's messed up her office with all his papers, and he flirts with her shamelessly and constantly. Interestingly, he fully respects her, unlike the rest of the biology department, which, not being party to the details of the criminal behaviour Saffron unearthed in book one, continue to sneer at her and assume she only kept her position because she has something on the dean.

Saffron and Lee' poison research becomes particularly important when wealthy women in town are found dead, with beautiful bouquets found with them. Inspector Green asks for Saffron's help as he has no leads, and no ins with the wealthy crowd.

Saffron immediately begins researching the meaning of the flowers using the Victorian system of floriography (a.k.a "the language of flowers", or coded meanings of each type of bloom) and informs the Inspector that the sender seemed to be pointing to particular failings in each dead woman.

Saffron and Lee also begin going to Jazz clubs as a way to insert themselves into the lives of the dead women's friends, leading to revelations about the pervasiveness of drug use, thwarted hopes and jealousy.

I was a little surprised when I started this to find a new possible love interest, but I enjoyed Saffron's and Lee's sparring and working together. I also liked how we see the professional repercussions of Saffron's actions in book one, and though there is continued resistance from her colleagues, Saffron is still in London at the university, doing what she loves, rather than back home as her family demands.

As a bit of an aside, Elizabeth is wonderful, and I love Saffron and her relationship.

Saffron's use of floriography immediately reminded me of Nancy Springer's Enola Holmes' mother's sly use of the Victorian code. It proves vital to Saffron ability to decrypt the murderer's bouquets, as well as leading her to the identity of the killer. Which was a bit of a surprise.

What was also a surprise, and a good one, was even though Ashton returned partway through this book, there was no prolonged, annoying love triangle (thank goodness!) In fact, Saffron makes an interesting choice, and I am anxious for the next book, particularly with that surprise ending.

Thank you to Netgalley and to Crooked Lane Books for this ARC in exchange for my review.

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The second book in the Saffron Everleigh series does not disappoint. This time the botanist turned sleuth is helping the police figure out who's killing people with bouquets of flowers. Since Alexander is still on his research trip through South America, her new office partner Dr Lee has to help Saffron with the investigation. The two make a marvellous team and there is more than just the regular/scientific chemistry between the two.

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- Good storyline
- didn’t see ending coming; came out of nowhere- not enough clues in the storyline-only two vague clues mentioned
- sets up next book in series
-slow burn read until end; picks up fast
-some descriptions not clear; felt I missed half the story
-enjoyed learning facts about different flowers, how they can be used, and their symbols
-Audiobook ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️- loved the narrator's voice and all the different character voices used!

Thank you to NetGalley and Crooked Lane Books for the ARC in exchange for my honest review!

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I really like Saffron as a character. Shes smart and funny, almost gives me like Hermoine vibes. I felt the mystery was better in this one than the first, a better plot to say the least. I am a Biology major and have taken lots of plant classes (my fav being one about how plants can help/harm people) and I recently learned in New Orleans how in the early 1900's people would send specific flowers to send messages, it made me happy to see all of these references and information being used in this book.

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