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Murder at the Royal Botanic Gardens: Wrexford & Sloane Mystery Series,… (edition 2021)
by Andrea Penrose (Author), James Cameron Stewart (Narrator), Tantor Audio (Publisher)
Murder at the Royal Botanic Gardens by Andrea Penrose
No current Talk conversations about this book.
Set aside two days and keep a tissue handy for this complicated family-friendly Regency mystery which starts just as Lady Charlotte Sloane and the Earl of Wrexford are about to make their first public appearance as an engaged couple at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, London. An advantage of the print edition is the lovely cover, which allows one to chortle in public without raising so many quizzical eyebrows. My own ARC copy was lost for far too long in a book slide of the TBR mountain, but I am delighted to have found it and finally offer this voluntary review. ( )
It had been a while since I read a Wrexford & Sloane novel, but I had no problem jumping right back into the world. There were characters that at first I didn't remember but Andrea Penrose did a good job of reminding us and quickly moving on with the story. You could probably read this without the other ones, but would miss the background of this little put together family. Hawk and Raven are growing up and it's a joy to see them becoming little gentlemen weasels. Also the banter between Wrexford and Charlotte with a bit more romance in this book is sweet.
It is still very mystery focused as in this book we are trying to figure out who murdered a botanist who made an important discovery. The backdrop and details of the Royal Botanic Gardens is a nice change of landscape and is interesting in it's own way. You can tell a lot of research was done. There is a lot of guessing in who could have been the murder and every character introduced is fleshed out really well. The pace picks up a lot towards the middle and we get to see more of Charlotte's family and past friends. I was still guessing up till the end and found it enjoyable.
I'm one book behind, but I'm excited to pick up Murder at the Serpentine Bridge.
Thanks to NetGalley and Kensington Books for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
It is enjoyable to explore the state and history of science in this era. Education was generally accessible only to the aristocrats many of which became wastrels or dilettantes. Some founded or joined societies as well as had home labs or botanical collections. From these latter few, like Hosack in America and Von Humboldt in Europe science particularly botany was sought collected and nurtured. The plot moved a little erratically but the characters sustain your interest nicely. A little finger flick attached Americans to the Brits for putting down some slavers. Many bad guys are taken down and the team proceeds onward.
I still like this series, but what started out as a string of compelling mysteries is starting to lose its edge. Blame it on the editor, reader feedback, or change of perspective on the part of the author, but the whole narrative has become entirely too idealistic to be reasonably realistic. There was an excess of repetitive statements about the family you choose, the power of love, and an awful lot of lamenting over the death of an objectively heinous individual. All of these ideals are wonderful and worth striving for, but considering the early 1800’s setting, I doubt very much they were worked quite so thoroughly into the mindset of anybody living at the time. The result was a book that felt entirely too much like a religious genre novel. Only with murder and (light) swearing.
What I did enjoy was the botanical setting of Kew Royal Botanic Gardens, and the impetus behind the plot being the race for a game-changing medicinal plant that enhances the effect of cinchona, or quinine, against malaria (plant being entirely fictional). I really enjoyed the name drops of real historical figures, including Alexander von Humboldt – and was tickled to see the author recommend Andrea Wulf’s The Invention of Nature in the story notes.
The plot was going rather well until I neared the end, when the author suddenly felt the need to work in a slave-trade angle that felt like a bolt from nowhere. Looking at the story as a whole, it felt like the author needed to wrap up some loose ends from the previous book, needing to kill someone off while keeping the current book’s plot going. I don’t know, but it just felt super clumsy.
I’ll read a 6th, should it appear, because I really do enjoy the cast of characters, but if this idealistic stuff continues to the point of incredulity, I’ll add this series to the “done for me” list.
With their wedding less than a month away, Lady Charlotte and the Earl of Wrexford attend their first society gathering at Kew Gardens and of course someone is murdered. Wrexford is asked to take a look at the victim and the scene. Charlotte’s ward, Raven, was hiding and sketching different plants and heard the argument between the victim and the murderer. This brings all of Wrexford’s and Charlotte’s friends to help with the investigation.
Contrary to the previous reviews, I didn’t enjoy this as much as the other books in the series. I thought the first half of the book was boring -- spending too much time talking about science and plants. There was a suspenseful ending which involved all of their contacts.
" Penrose mixes well-thought out mysteries, early forensic science, great details of the era and a slow burning attraction creating a compulsive read." -The New York Public Library The upcoming marriage of the Earl of Wrexford and Lady Charlotte Sloane promises to be a highlight of the season, if they can first untangle-and survive-a web of intrigue and murder involving the most brilliant scientific minds in Regency London... One advantage of being caught up in a whirl of dress fittings and decisions about flower arrangements and breakfast menus is that Charlotte Sloane has little time for any pre-wedding qualms. Her love for Wrexford isn't in question. But will being a wife-and a Countess-make it difficult for her to maintain her independence-not to mention, her secret identity as famed satirical artist A.J. Quill? Despite those concerns, there are soon even more urgent matters to attend to during Charlotte and Wrexford's first public outing as an engaged couple. At a symposium at the Royal Botanic Gardens, a visiting botanist suffers a fatal collapse. The traces of white powder near his mouth reveal the dark truth-he was murdered. Drawn into the investigation, Charlotte and the Earl learn of the victim's involvement in a momentous medical discovery. With fame and immense fortune at stake, there's no shortage of suspects, including some whose ruthlessness is already known. But neither Charlotte nor her husband-to-be can realize how close the danger is about to get-or to what lengths this villain is prepared to go...
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Melvil Decimal System (DDC)813.54 — Literature English (North America) American fiction 20th Century 1945-1999
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