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The Trail of the Wild Rose (2009)

by Anthony Eglin

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523390,634 (3)2
The hunt for an ancient Chinese rose turns deadly in this latest English Garden Mystery featuring Dr. Lawrence Kingston. A plant-hunting expedition haunted by tragedy leads to a perilous trail of greed, larceny, and deceit. Has Peter Mayhew, the man who plunged to his death on a mountain in China, come back to life? Which of the expedition members is hiding an explosive secret? Why are some being targeted for murder? Once again, Dr. Lawrence Kingston--retired professor of botany and reluctant sleuth--finds himself at the center of a baffling case like none he has ever encountered. Following an ambiguous trail with only scant clues, he must find the hidden meaning dormant in a cache of valuable Chinese antiquities, shadow a ruthless assailant through London's teeming Underground, and travel the length and breadth of Britain, from a hospital ward in Oxford and an anonymous rendezvous in a Hampshire garden, to a remote farm in Dorset and the mystical Cornish coast--even to the mountains of Wales--in his search for the truth. Even the most likely suspects are becoming victims themselves, and the stakes rise exponentially as each lead comes to a dead end...literally. Racing to save the lives of the remaining plant hunters and not become a victim himself, Kingston discovers the extreme lengths to which desperate men will go for riches, recognition, and the thrill of the hunt. Clever and chilling, "The Trail of the Wild Rose" effortlessly combines Anthony Eglin's horticultural knowledge and literary skills to create an innovative and riveting new mystery.… (more)
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An interesting story with an over-complicated solution and hamfisted botany lessons that were informative but often out of place. ( )
  aurelas | Dec 23, 2016 |
Standard mystery. Not enlightening. At first I resented that the retired botanist didn't have anything better to do with his time than help a friend dig a garden--the retired botanists I know are in high demand to do plant surveys for endangered species on lands threatened by mining or on lands put into land trust, or to recommend native restoration plantings. But I guess England is different. There is nothing in the tale that utilized the botanist's special knowledge. At least they mentioned Kew's Millenium Seed Bank. And I learned a little background on "Hal n Tow", a folk song I've always loved, and the 'Obby 'Oss. Funny that Morris Dancing wasn't mentioned in the quaint ethnic May Day review. ( )
  juniperSun | Feb 3, 2014 |
First Line: They walked more slowly now.

A party of plant hunters who journeyed to the remote corners of China and are now dying off one by one supply Dr. Lawrence Kingston with his fourth mystery.

A colleague at Kew Gardens enlists Kingston to go to an Oxford hospital where a member of a recent horticultural expedition to China lies very seriously injured. The patient's unconscious ramblings raise questions about what happened on that expedition, about the group's objectives, and about the man's own identity. After the patient's death, Kingston interviews other members of the party, gradually uncovering a nasty conspiracy.

I have greatly enjoyed the other books in this series, but this one had a few elements that got right up my nose. Kingston's fastidiousness and vanity were emphasized a bit more in this book, and with his penchant for haring off to interview and investigate-- with and without the prior knowledge of the police-- led me to believe that the man thought of himself as a silver-haired John Steed. He also lost several Brownie points by obsessing over whether or not to be seen with a female character because she didn't wear makeup.

Kingston's friends always want to fix him up with a female so he'll be happy. With his attitude, I hope for the females' sakes that they never succeed. Speaking of friends, several times throughout the book, Kingston went to lunch with a friend to new restaurants. The result of this made the book feel more like a gourmet's tour of southern England than a mystery.

The Trail of the Wild Rose began with such promise in a biologically diverse and remote corner of the world, but it devolved rapidly into a bumbling investigation in which a former professor told the reader much more than what was shown. I sincerely hope that in the fifth book in this series, Kingston's opinion of himself is not nearly so high.

You can read this book out of order without becoming confused; however, I would suggest that, if you've never read a book in this series before, you try one of the first three. They are very enjoyable. ( )
  cathyskye | Jan 20, 2011 |
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Good God. When I consider the melancholy fate of so many of botany's votaries, I am tempted to ask whether men arfe in their right mind who so desperately risk life and everything else through the love of collecting plants.
--Carl Linnaeus, Glory of the Scientist (1737)
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for Russ and Sherry
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They walked more slowly now.
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The hunt for an ancient Chinese rose turns deadly in this latest English Garden Mystery featuring Dr. Lawrence Kingston. A plant-hunting expedition haunted by tragedy leads to a perilous trail of greed, larceny, and deceit. Has Peter Mayhew, the man who plunged to his death on a mountain in China, come back to life? Which of the expedition members is hiding an explosive secret? Why are some being targeted for murder? Once again, Dr. Lawrence Kingston--retired professor of botany and reluctant sleuth--finds himself at the center of a baffling case like none he has ever encountered. Following an ambiguous trail with only scant clues, he must find the hidden meaning dormant in a cache of valuable Chinese antiquities, shadow a ruthless assailant through London's teeming Underground, and travel the length and breadth of Britain, from a hospital ward in Oxford and an anonymous rendezvous in a Hampshire garden, to a remote farm in Dorset and the mystical Cornish coast--even to the mountains of Wales--in his search for the truth. Even the most likely suspects are becoming victims themselves, and the stakes rise exponentially as each lead comes to a dead end...literally. Racing to save the lives of the remaining plant hunters and not become a victim himself, Kingston discovers the extreme lengths to which desperate men will go for riches, recognition, and the thrill of the hunt. Clever and chilling, "The Trail of the Wild Rose" effortlessly combines Anthony Eglin's horticultural knowledge and literary skills to create an innovative and riveting new mystery.

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