I‘ve been reading and calling it research! The only thing to do is post the reviews so I can justify all the time I’ve spent sitting in the dark with only the flickering light from my trusty Kindle and a cup of cinnamon tea with honey.
This book will not be released until June of 2022 but you can pre-order Here. I got a copy from NetGalley and appreciate the opportunity to take a sneak peak. If you are a historical mystery buff, put this one on your list for a spring read.
A Botanist’s Guide to Parties and Poisons by Kate Khavari is a charming mystery set in the world of academia in London, 1923. Saffron Everleigh hopes to follow in her father’s footsteps as a research assistant for Dr. Maxwell, a famed botanist at University College of London.
When philandering Dr. Henry’s abrasive wife keels over at a cocktail party, Saffron’s kindly mentor is accused of murder. Never one to stand on tradition, Saffron launches her own investigation to prove his innocence aided by the mysterious Alexander Ashton. The story vines and twists through the stuffy college, discovering jealousies, indiscretions, betrayals, and greed. Red herrings and tendrils of suspicion abound among the faculty, staff, and families of the cast of characters.
Saffron is a woman ahead of her time, but I thought the author dealt quite well with the difficulties of being female in a university setting during this era. The plot moves along at a leisurely pace curling and twining around a crazy and rabidly loyal roommate, a burgeoning romance, a wrongly accused professor, a mysterious toxin, and at least one desperate murderer.
A Botanist’s Guide to Parties and Poisons is a solid 4 out of 5 for me.
I have to deduct for some minor meandering and repetition which I think one more editing pass would have done away with. I’d also love to have found more botanical secrets and a better build up to the attempted murder. My editorial advice (It’s free, which might indicate how much it’s worth) is to slow down and build the atmosphere even more—build relationships with a few scenes before you tear them all apart with suspicions and back-biting. Explore the social issues you touch on more thoroughly. These were interesting times, but I felt the potential to delve a little more deeply was largely unrealized.
Having said that, I did enjoy the book and look forward to the next. Ms. Khavari’s debut novel is a light-hearted tale delightfully described. Perfect for a cozy read on a spring afternoon. You’ll find attempted murder, infidelities, and sexual harassment along with a suspenseful ending that I thought was pretty well done. No steamy sex and no gorey violence.