The Garden Plot – Marty Wingate

I constantly complain about cozy mysteries – and I keep on reading them. Anyone wanting to bring up the “definition of insanity” quote can just pipe down, thank you.

And see, this book is why I keep trying them. I was cautious at first, and only downloaded a sample at first – but I liked it. And then I spent more than I really expected to to buy the complete book (I tend to resent any Kindle book that costs more than about five dollars), but … I liked it. (Insert very old Life Cereal commercial here.)

The tale concerns an American expatriate, who has in her early 50’s walked away from her life in Texas to start over in her mother’s homeland, England. That was a big step toward winning me over, since I plan on doing the same thing one day, though not, as she does, as a gardener. And right there are some of the reasons why this works where other cozies fall flat: Pru Parke is a unique heroine (in other words, she’s not a lovely blonde twenty-something, and yet she’s also not in any food service industry). While it’s still so unlikely as to be statistically impossible that she will run into enough corpses to constitute a series, at least her occupation leads her into varied settings and allows for easier suspension of disbelief.

More to the point, I liked her. I liked her worries about how she was going to pull off her dream, which begins to look less and less likely. I liked her work. I liked the whiff of ineptitude in her detection – it’s annoying when an ordinary citizen turns out to be a better detective than the pros on her first time out.

And it’s also rather nice that I learned something: I never really picked up on the fact that there is a difference between American and English robins.
“American robins are blackbirds,” she said, and added to explain, “Well, what Americans call robins are quite close to blackbirds here, only with red breasts. We don’t have these little guys.”

– And she’s right. English blackbirds are identical in silhouette to our robins. English robins are so very much cuter…

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3 Responses to The Garden Plot – Marty Wingate

  1. Helen says:


    About robins & the difference:) Our late mum used to feed a pair of (Canadian) robins every spring & summer; the male, the one with the red breast, sat himself on the window sill in the morning & chatted with her. The spring after we lost Mum, my sister, who lives several hundred miles west of here, suddenly had a pair of robins nesting in her garden; she has moved once or twice and each spring she has had robins, even now when she lives in a townhouse with only a patio. We, of course are firmly convinced that Mum is keeping her eye on the family. A year or two ago, I commissioned a small painting of a robin as a gift and without a thought, sent a sample of the little British robin; this year I did a cross-stitch bookmark, with British robins. I have been in Canada for over 60 years but a robin will always be short, plump & cute as a button :)

  2. stewartry says:

    Hi! Happy New Year! What a wonderful story, thank you.

    I never really understood the love of robins; here in Connecticut it’s all American robins, and they’re just not that attractive. But my goodness the little round English ones are marvelous.

    I’m so glad to “see” you!

  3. Helen says:

    and a Happy New Year to you! We choose to see our robins as “little round”s , the native ones are tall & rangy, not conducive to cuteness :)

    glad to ‘see’ you as well

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