“Gardening Can Be Murder” by Marta McDowell appealed as I am a lover of both murder mysteries and gardening and especially books those two together! There is something in knowing that the correct amount of a specific plant crushed is deadly, all that power cheerfully lurking in a herbaceous border!

The book is made up of sections, each focusing on a different angle of murderous gardens including detectives who garden; garden crime scenes; gardening as a motive in a plot; a gardening element as a murder weapon; gardening clues; gardeners as suspects and mystery writers and their gardens!

With a decidedly tongue-in-cheek tone, Marta McDowell covers a broad range of books, from old to new, well-known to rare, and all the ones in between. With a synopsis of each book referenced, it is a great resource for finding new books and authors!

Whilst I didn’t gain huge insights, I enjoyed the steady supply of interesting tidbits about stories with a gardening bend and how it can be used in literature. All in all, an enjoyable read! It is a four out of five on the enJOYment scale.

I received a complimentary copy of the book from Timber Press through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

From the back cover:

This fun, engrossing book takes a look at the surprising influence that gardens and gardening have had on mystery novels and their authors.

With their deadly plants, razor-sharp shears, shady corners, and ready-made burial sites, gardens make an ideal scene for the perfect murder. But the outsize influence that gardens and gardening have had on the mystery genre has been underappreciated. Now, Marta McDowell, a writer and gardener with a near-encyclopedic knowledge of the genre, illuminates the many ways in which our greatest mystery writers, from Edgar Allen Poe to authors on today’s bestseller lists, have found inspiration in the sinister side of gardens.

From the cozy to the hardboiled, the literary to the pulp, and the classic to the contemporary, Gardening Can Be Murder is the first book to explore the mystery genre’s many surprising horticultural connections. Meet plant-obsessed detectives and spooky groundskeeper suspects, witness toxic teas served in foul play, and tour the gardens—both real and imagined—that have been the settings for fiction’s ghastliest misdeeds. A New York Times bestselling author herself, McDowell also introduces us to some of today’s top writers who consider gardening integral to their craft, assuring that horticultural themes will remain a staple of the genre for countless twisting plots to come.  

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