USA Today bestselling author Marty Wingate’s Potting Shed series continues
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 Potting Shed series can be enjoyed together or separately, in any order:
THE GARDEN PLOT | THE RED BOOK OF PRIMROSE HOUSE | BETWEEN A ROCK AND A HARD PLACE | THE SKELETON GARDEN | THE BLUEBONNET BETRAYAL | BEST-LAID PLANTS
Marty, welcome back to Island Confidential! Can you tell us a little bit about your protagonist, Pru?
Life took a turn when Pru Parke had her 50th birthday. That’s when this single, middle-aged American gardener from Dallas, Texas picked up and moved to England to live in her mother’s homeland. Now, in Best-Laid Plants – only three years after her arrival, she’s confident in her profession and her relationships. For the most part.
Are you and Pru alike at all?
Pru has a lot of me in her (as does the protagonist in my other series – Birds of a Feather – although they are entirely different characteristics). I’m a gardener, I love England. Pru doesn’t cook, and I do – that’s a huge difference, and one I have fun with.
Do your characters change and evolve throughout consecutive books in the series?
Indeed they do! (See above comment about Pru not cooking.) That’s an integral part of a series to me – I believe the recurring characters need to change in some way. So Pru’s life situation has changed, and she’s gained more confidence in some areas. She’s met some of her own goals for moving to England, and I’m proud of her for doing that.
Have you ever thought of killing someone that you know in real life–on the pages of a murder mystery, I mean?
The thing about my victims – and my murderers, too – is that I like them. Even the bad ones! To me, they all have some redeeming quality. And remember – the murderer always thinks he/she is the hero of the story. However, I do, enjoy taking someone I know or have known and adding a few (more) quirky characteristics and sticking that person in a story. No one ever recognizes him or herself!
How realistic is your setting? Do you take liberties, or are you true to life?
Totally realistic! That’s my excuse for traveling to England and Scotland, in order to carry out research for my mysteries. Now, having said that, Glebe House (in Best-Laid Plants) is not a real place, but it’s based on a famous Arts and Crafts garden and I’ve even used part of the real garden’s history and woven it into my own story. So, I suppose you could say I weave threads of fiction into real places. What fun!
When the movie or TV series is made, who plays the major parts?
A: This is the perennial debate, isn’t it? I’m open to suggestion for Pru, but I’d like Clive Owen for Christopher (he’s a year or two shy, but by the time he signs the contract, it’ll be fine).
My first choice is Michael Kitchen (from Foyle’s War), but unfortunately he’s a bit too old now. But many readers see that certain quiet, steely, sexy quality in Christopher Foyle as they do Christopher Pearse. And that’s no accident.
But Pru? I’m stuck – although Reese Witherspoon has come to mind (again, she needs only a few more years on her).
What’s the worst and best advice you’ve heard or received as an author?
The absolute worst advice is when an author (beginning or not) gets told how to write. “You must start with an outline!” “You must write a zero draft and never look back until you’re finished!” “You must use sticky notes on a white board!” It’s up to each author to find the right method for her. I am constantly going back over what I wrote the day before – it primes the pump for me, so that I can go on. It’s my way, but that doesn’t mean it needs to be everyone’s way.
About The Author
is the author of the Potting Shed mysteries and the Birds of a Feather Mystery series. Wingate is a regular contributor to Country 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.