The Red Book of Primrose House is quite a verbose title, but is aptly named. Marty Wingate’s Potting Shed mystery will enthrall gardening enthusiasts, especially those who are steeped into the history of gardens of yore. Set in a small Sussex village, this British mystery has the working class, middle class and the rich and famous, all involved in a gruesome murder.
Prue Parke, no, her name is not short for Prudence, is A Texan in Britain. She has got the job of head gardener restoring the gardens of Primrose House, in a small village in Sussex. The original gardens were designed by famous artist Humphry Repton. Prue has his highly illustrative Red Book in hand which has numerous sketches and notes, and she is stoked about recreating all that in the garden. Ned is a cranky old man who assists her, and who acts suspicious. Liam and Fergal are the muscle, helping Prue in the garden. Robbie is a special young man who is happy digging holes and playing Robinhood. Prue has her dream job and her only regret is being away from her beau, Detective Chief Inspector Pearce who is over in London.
All the labor and love put in the garden is threatened when random acts of vandalism start happening. The yew is chopped down, roses are scattered, and everyday brings a new problem. Until one day Ned is found with an axe in his head. Seargeant Hobbes is methodical in his investigation but the local DI is crass, and he certainly doesn’t want Pearce meddling in his case. Prue is determined to start her own line of investigation.
Apart from what’s happening in the gardens, Prue has a personal mystery to solve. She wants to find her mother’s family, and wonders if she might have any cousins in England. Her search unearths quite a few skeletons that were resting in the closet.
The Red Book of Primrose House has a lot happening. There are crossed lovers, more than one couple in fact. There is a protective mother who will do anything to spare her son. There is a persistent employer in the form of Davina who comes up with new outlandish ideas every few days, and leaves emails and notes that irritate Prue. There is Inspector Pearce who is worried about Prue’s well being. Prue herself has a vision, and she doesn’t mind getting into the muck and dirtying her knees. She also doesn’t cook and can barely boil water for tea. But she never takes off her antique necklace, a gift from Christopher.
It seems that almost everyone might have something against Ned. And judging by the attempts on Prue’s life, maybe against her too. The twists and turns might remind you of a garden maze, but I am sure you will have a good time by the time the mystery of the red book, The Red Book of Primrose House is solved.