Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Murder in the Plot: Gardening Mysteries

Spring! My Garden is looking beautiful. The roses have totally leafed out, lots of buds (no roses yet), but lots of other flowers and flowering trees. Daffs are done, but iris are everywhere. I went to several Garden Shows in the Bay Area, and they inspired me to do more. Weeding was a first priority. Dealing with gophers and snails was next. In any case, this all got me thinking about garden mysteries.

I've moderated bookgroups on Gardening Mysteries and Mystery Readers Journal has had two issues that focused on Gardening Mysteries.  Volume 20:3 in unavailable, but I'll see if I can work on a download for this issue. Do look at the Table of Contents for titles and authors.

Let's face it, gardens are filled with poisons, poisonous plants, and all kinds of tools. Perfect place for a murder!

For the purposes of this post, I put together a list of mysteries that take place in gardens, at garden shows or have to do with plants. This is in no way a complete list. So in no particular order, just some random gardening mysteries and notes. Many of these authors have multiple gardening mystery titles, so be sure and check them out.

Ellis Peter's Brother Cadfael a medieval gardener and herbalist. Ann Ripley's Books features Louise Eldridge, host of a PBS show Gardening with Nature. Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe and his orchids. Wilkie Collins' Sergeant Cuff (Moonstone and his roses). Janis Harrison's Roots of Murder (florist). Barbara Michaels' The Dancing Floor (English country garden tour). Lora Roberts' Murder Crops Up (a community garden). Rebecca Rothenberg's The Dandelion Murders ( Claire Sharples, microbiologist, assigned to an agricultural station)

Other authors: Susan Wittig Albert's China Bayles (lawyer now herbalist), Jean Hager's Blooming Murder (Iris Growers Convention), Emma Lathen (an old favorite).. Green Grow the Dollars (a Garden Catalogue company), John Sherwood's Celia Grant Mysteries (widow owner of a rare-plant nursery in England), Charlotte McLeod's Peter Shandy (professor of agronomy at Balaclava Agricultural College), Mary Freeman's Rachel O' Connor (a landscape gardener), Rosemary Harris' Pushing Up Daisies with Paula Holliday (former media executive now in the garden business), Janis Harrison's Bindweed with Bretta Solomon (a florist),  Mark Mills's The Savage Garden with Adam Strickland (studying landscape architecture).

Other authors: Carola Dunn (Black Ship), Anthony Eglin (The Trail of the Wild Rose and others), Catherine Aird (Amendment of Life), M.C. Beaton (Death of a Witch), Krista Davis (The Diva Paints the Town), Martin Edwards (The Cipher Garden), Kate Ellis (The Bone Garden), Kathy Lynn Emerson (Face down O'er the Border), Richard Forrest (Death in the Secret Garden), Tess Gerritsen (The Bone Garden), Janet Gleeson (The Serpent in the Garden), Denise Hamilton (Savage Garden), Veronica Heley (Murder in the Garden), Naomi Hirahara (Summer of the Big Bachi).

Elizabeth Ironside (Death in the Garden), Kathleen Gregory Klein (the Deadly Garden Tour)
Joyce Lavene (A Corpse for Yew), Keith McCarthy (the Rest is Silence), George Pelecanos (The Night Gardener), Sheila Pim (A Brush with Death) Ian Rankin (The Hanging Garden), Christopher Rice (The Snow Garden), Cynthia Riggs (Death and Honesty), Heather Webber (Digging Up Trouble), Audrey Stallsmith (Rosemary for Remembrance), Gladys Mitchell (The Death-Cap Dancers), Susan Kenney (Garden of Malice), J.R.L. Anderson (Death in the Greenhouse). Nancy Atherton (Aunt Dimity and the Duke), M.C. Beaton (Agatha Raisin and the Potted Gardener).

J.S. Borthwick (The Garden Plot), Caroline Graham (Killings at Badger's Drift), Karen Harper, (The Thorne Maze), Graham Landrum (Garden Club Mystery), Mary McMullen (A Grave Without Flowers),  John Sherwood (Creeping Jenny), Richard Barth (Ragged Plot), Dorothy Cannell (Down the Garden Path), Jill Churchill (Mulch Ado About Nothing), Peter Abresch (Bloody Bonsai), K.C. Constantine (Man who Liked Slow Tomatoes), Joan Hadley (Night-blooming Cereus), Janice Harrison (Roots of Murder), Elizabeth Lemarchand (Suddenly While Gardening), Sujata Massey (Flower Master), Sheila Pim (Common or Garden Crime), Reginald Hill (Deadheads).

On TV.. I love the Rosemary and Thyme series with Rosemary Boxer, plant pathologist,  and Laura Thyme, farmer's daughter and dedicated gardener. If you watch the credits, you'll see that Peter Lovesey is a consultant, probably on the mystery, but possibly he's a gardener, too.

Check out a related post on Orchids and Orchids in Mysteries. List of orchid mysteries.

Also Stop You're Killing Me has quite a good list.

As I said, this isn't a complete list by any means. What's your favorite Gardening Mystery?


N. J. Lindquist said...

Not my favourite mystery - well, maybe in one way it is... :) But I got my idea for my first mystery, Shaded Light, from walking in a Japanese garden in Vancouver, BC, many years ago, and thinking it would be a cool place to have two feet in stiletto sandals sticking out from behind one of the beautifully manicured bush in the very peaceful setting. So, in my book, the murder takes place in - yes, a Japanese garden with a very neat fountain. There's also a rose garden.

Janet Rudolph said...

Adding you to the list, and if we do another Gardening issue of Mystery Readers Journal, you'll be asked to contribute. :-)