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Sunday, August 2, 2015

Between a Rock and a Hard Place by Marty Wingate

Between a Rock and a Hard Place: A Potting Shed Mystery
(Potting Shed Mystery series Book 3)

Cozy Mystery
Publisher: Alibi (August 4, 2015)
Random House LLC

Perfect for fans of Laura Childs, Ellery Adams, and Jenn McKinlay, Marty Wingate’s enchanting Potting Shed Mystery series heads to Scotland as Pru Parke plans her wedding . . . all while a vengeful murderer is poised to strike again.
After her romantic idyll with the debonair Detective Chief Inspector Christopher Pearse culminates in a marriage proposal, Pru Parke sets about arranging their nuptials while diving into a short-term gig at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. At hand is the authentication of a journal purportedly penned by eighteenth-century botanist and explorer Archibald Menzies. Compared to the chaos of wedding planning, studying the journal is an agreeable task . . . that is, until a search for a missing cat leads to the discovery of a dead body: One of Pru’s colleagues has been conked on the head with a rock and dumped from a bridge into the Water of Leith.
Pru can’t help wondering if the murder has something to do with the Menzies diary. Is the killer covering up a forgery? Among the police’s many suspects are a fallen aristocrat turned furniture maker, Pru’s overly solicitous assistant, even Pru herself. Now, in the midst of sheer torture by the likes of flamboyant wedding dress designers and eccentric church organists, Pru must also uncover the work of a sly murderer—unless this bride wants to walk down the aisle in handcuffs.
What I Thought:
This book started out kind of slow, but picked up in the middle.  It was well written and I enjoyed the banter between the characters.  Pru takes a new job in Edinburgh doing some research on a famous botanist.  Little did she know she would have to prove the she is innocent of murder.  Needless to say, she doesn't have time for any of this, because she is preparing for her wedding.  And her wedding plans are stressful enough, sometimes hilarious.  This was a great book that kept me guessing till the very end.
I received a complimentary copy of this book for my honest review.
About the Author
Marty Wingate is the author of two previous Potting Shed mysteries, The Garden Plot and The Red Book of Primrose House. Her new Birds of a Feather Mystery series debuted with The Rhyme of the Magpie. Wingate is a regular contributor toCountry Gardens and other magazines. She also leads gardening tours throughout England, Scotland, Ireland, France, and North America. More Potting Shed and Birds of a Feather mysteries are planned.
Guest Post:
In the company of writers
Alexander McCall Smith, Ian Rankin, J.K. Rowling, and me – quite a quartet, wouldn’t you say?
True confession – we aren’t all in the same writing group, but we do share this one important fact: We all live in and/or love Edinburgh. The “or love” part would be me. It’s why I set Between a Rock and a Hard Place, the third Potting Shed mystery, in that fantastic city. I sent my main character, Pru Parke (American gardener in Britain) off to do research at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh ( so that I would be forced to do my own research there. This is the third move for Pru, although all within Britain. She began in London in The Garden Plot, moved to Sussex for The Red Book of Primrose House, and now here she is in Edinburgh. Consider the series a cozy/mystery/travelogue.
So, for the travelogue portion of this latest mystery.
Pru lands a temporary gig at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (known as the Botanics). The garden lies just beyond New Town, which is north of the city center. New Town, in true British fashion, was built in the late eighteenth century. (Case in point: The New Forest in Hampshire, was created by William I in 1079.)
The Botanics is near the Stockbridge neighborhood. Stockbridge,which used to be its own village, is home to the Colonies (, which are several streets of stone terraced cottages built in the second half of the nineteenth centuries. I’ve stayed there, and so that’s where Pru stays.
I’ve spent many a day walking round the Botanics, peering in Caledonian Hall, having coffee at the East Gate and tea in the Terrace CafĂ© and wandering through the glasshouses (no pots fell on my head). I want my settings to feel real to the reader, because they are real to me. I even got a behind-the-scenes tour – when I told my contacts what I was researching (a murder mystery), they were happy to show me around and said they had several names they would like to recommend as victims. (This isn’t an uncommon occurrence – I’m sure that other mystery writers have had the same offers.)
Edinburgh is divided by Princes Street Gardens in the city center. Looming over the gardens to the south is the castle. You can walk from the castle down the Royal Mile to the Palace of Holyroodhouse. But before you get all the way down there, turn right at South Bridge street and walk just past the central library. On the right, you’ll see a coffeehouse – the sign is a cutout of an elephant. Yes, that’s where Harry Potter was born.
And speaking of authors, I’ve read somewhere that it shows what an amazing place Edinburgh is when you can walk into a coffee shop in New Town and see McCall Smith, Rowling or Rankin. I’m still trying to track down just which coffee shop that is – I intend to try every one of them. I’ll let you know.


  1. Scotland (in general) is at the top of my TBV (to be visited) list! I am very, very glad that Pru is back on the prowl. :O)

  2. I like learning about a new series with a location different from what I'm used to...Scotland is a favorite locale for my BBC America/PBS detective dramas and sitcoms. Thanks for an honest review about the tempo, but I'm very interested. thanks.

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