Between a Rock and a Hard Place, by Marty Wingate (2015)

Mystery
Adult
Between a Rock and a Hard PlaceLooking for a quirky new cozy mystery series? How about a Texan garden historian transplanted to the U.K., where she falls for a Detective Inspector and solves murder mysteries as easily as she can reel off the Latin names of your favourite English perennial? Pru Parke is the 50-something protagonist again appearing in what is the third entry in the Potting Shed Mystery series. It can be read as a standalone, but there are enough distracting references to past events that you might want to seek out Book 1 first. This title opens not with death but with love, as Pru accepts a surprise marriage proposal from her beloved, Christopher Pearse. Soon afterward, the two lovers head in opposite directions – Christopher returns to his policing post with the Met in London, and Pru settles on a short-term gig doing historical research on real-life botanist Archibald Menzies, best known for introducing the monkey puzzle tree to Europe. Pru is paired with Iain Blackwell, a disagreeable man who clearly considers her inadequate to the task. It takes a full third of the book for death to befall a character, and Pru is quickly tagged as a suspect. This is a lightweight mystery. Clues abound for alert readers to sift through, and I identified both murderer and motive well before the reveal. There are a couple of surprising twists which added to my enjoyment. For my tastes, I would have preferred more gardening and less wedding planning – the shared wedding cake woes between Sergeant Duncan and her prime suspect is jarringly out of place even in a cozy. But for those who like their murder mysteries essentially bloodless, delivered neatly wrapped with a bit of romance, this will do the trick nicely. My thanks to NetGalley for the advance reading copy in exchange for an honest review.
More discussion and reviews of this novel: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25300885
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About Michelle Mallette
I'm just trying to keep track of the books I've read - what I liked and what isn't worth re-reading. My work as a librarian has included youth services so you'll find a wide range of interests from picture books and teen dystopia to adult sci-fi, road trip novels, and nonfiction. Comments and communication is always welcome.

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