Thursday, October 26, 2017

Best-Laid Plants by Marty Wingate | Blog Tour with Guest Post

Best-Laid Plants by Marty Wingate
Series: A Potting Shed Mystery, #6
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Publication Date: October 17, 2017
Publisher: Alibi / Random House
Print Length: 294 pages
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The Blurb

A trip to the English countryside turns into a brush with death for Pru Parke, the only gardener whose holiday wouldn’t be complete without a murder to solve.
Pru and her husband, former Detective Chief Inspector Christopher Pearse, are long overdue for a getaway. So when Pru is invited to redesign an Arts and Crafts garden in the picturesque Cotswolds, she and Christopher jump at the chance. Unfortunately, their B&B is more ramshackle than charming, and the once thriving garden, with its lovely Thyme Walk, has fallen into heartbreaking neglect. With the garden’s owner and designer, Batsford Bede, under the weather, Pru tackles the renovation alone. But just as she’s starting to make headway, she stumbles upon Batsford’s body in the garden — dead and pinned beneath one of his limestone statues. 
With such a small police force in the area, Christopher is called upon to lead the investigation. Pru can’t imagine anyone murdering Batsford Bede, a gentle man who preferred to spend his time in quiet contemplation, surrounded by nature. But as her work on the garden turns up one ominous clue after another, Pru discovers that the scenery is more dangerous than she or Christopher could have anticipated. 
Marty Wingate’s captivating mysteries can be enjoyed together or separately, in any order. 
The Potting Shed series:
The Garden Plot
The Red Book of Primrose House
Between a Rock and a Hard Place, Five-Kitty Review here
The Skeleton Garden
The Bluebonnet Betrayal
Best-Laid Plants

The Guest Post

by Marty Wingate

People, Places, and Things – what’s real and what isn’t

Lizzy Sprackling is a slight woman who wears trousers in a sunflower print, Wellies rimmed with pink plastic flowers, and a hat with a brim as wide as a tablecloth. Pru Parke — my protagonist in the Potting Shed series — meets Lizzy in the village of Upper Oddington in the Cotswolds, the setting for Best-Laid Plants. Is there truly a Lizzy Sprackling or is she merely an offbeat figment of my imagination?

She is real — even parts of her dialogue are true — although, she isn’t called Lizzy Sprackling and she doesn’t live in Upper Oddington. There are some characters that stick with an author — I keep a small notebook with the descriptions — and so I jotted down a few choice details when I met “Lizzy,” because I knew there would come a story where she belonged. And here it is.

Readers who love mysteries for the puzzle as well as the setting and the characters can’t help but wonder how much is real and how much is made up — from village and pub names to people to houses and gardens. In Best-Laid Plants, number six in the Potting Shed series, I can say unequivocally, that garden and growing techniques in addition to plants and their names are real — so if you are a gardener, you can rest easy. But after that, all bets are off.

We authors delight in twisting facts in various ways until they fit properly into our fiction. There is an Upper (and Lower) Oddington and it’s in its proper place in Best-Laid Plants — not too far from Chipping Norton — and there truly is a fantastic farmshop nearby. I don’t name it in the book, but here it is: Daylesford. I highly recommend a visit when you are in the area.

The Horse & Groom pub does exists in Upper Oddington, although I’ve never been inside and the sign doesn’t look like my description. (I’ve grown quite fond of pub signs and will make them up at the drop of a hat — the Robber Blackbird in The Skeleton Garden, Potting Shed number four, being one of my favorites.)

Grenadine Hall? A figment of my imagination — but it made its first appearance in The Garden Plot, and I enjoyed bringing it back (as well as a few characters from that first Potting Shed mystery, too).

Pru’s encounter with the bull? Let’s just say I’ve been in a field occupied by a few cows and a bull. He didn’t chase me, but I make as quick an exit as I possibly could.

Those readers who traveled around England years ago, staying in local bed and breakfasts, will no doubt recognize Mrs. Draycott’s place. I had such fun writing about Pru and Christopher finding their room because I’d experienced just such places. I still love to stay in old coaching inns and B&Bs, but I also appreciate that these days each room is en suite — with its own bath.

Glebe House gardens — real or is it fake? I stole the Thyme Walk in Best-Laid Plants from Prince Charles’s garden at Highgrove, which I’ve visited. It’s lovely, but no one is allowed to take photos, and so I’ve preserved my memory this way. But most of Glebe House was inspired by another Cotswold garden that is open to the public. It’s one of my all-time favorites, and I’ve even borrowed a few stories from its past. The difference is that the real garden, unlike Glebe House, has not been neglected, and is, in fact, looking better than ever. There’s a mystery for you — can you guess which garden it is?

The Author

About Marty Wingate

Marty Wingate is a Seattle-based writer and speaker who shares her love of Britain in her two mystery series. The Potting Shed books feature Pru Parke, a middle-aged American gardener transplanted from Texas to England, and Birds of a Feather follows Julia Lanchester, bird lover, who runs a tourist office in a Suffolk village. 

Marty writes garden articles for magazines including Country Gardens and the American Gardener. She is a member of the Royal Horticultural Society, Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and the Crime Writers Association. 

She leads garden tours to England, Scotland and Ireland, spending free moments deep in research for her books. Or in pubs.

Find Marty on the web at

Follow the tour, to read other Guest Posts, plus reviews and Author Interviews!


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October 19 – Reading Reality - REVIEW

October 20 – Christa Reads and Writes – REVIEW

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