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Joanna Trevor

Hale £17.99

Reviewed by Gewn Moffat


A cosy whodunnit set in a Costwold garden with no indulgence in the intimate details of sex and violent death; suggestions of incest and child abuse kept well in the background. The plot is as traditional as the beautiful garden, the only concession to the 21st century being that the gardener is a television celebrity. On the other hand the fact that she has three children by her second husband, that her companion was secretary to the first and mistress of the second, that the gardener's old lover (and father of her first child) turns up at the start - all is a familiar embarras de richeness. This is a family drama.

The story is told from one angle, that of DCI Simon who commutes between his partner and his mother (also gardeners) and the occupants of the country house belonging to the garden where the murders occur. There are no horrors and scarcely any reference to the agonises that accompany poisoning by monkshood, oleander and lily of the valley.

The story relies on interviews rather than action, consequently everyone appears manipulative. More of a puzzle than a novel then with some annoying mistakes and typos, although misuse of "pristine" and "reciept" (sic) pale before the fast-track promotion of one Detective Sergeant Longman who the following day is Superintendent. Heads should roll.