The Trail of the Wild Rose: An English Garden Mystery by Anthony Eglin
Published April 14, 2009; Minotaur
There is a lot to like about this mystery by Anthony Eglin. In The Trail of the Wild Rose, plant lovers will like Eglin's discourses on the history of the modern rose; travelers will like the descriptions of gardens around England, and mystery lovers will like the elaborate plot.
The plot has plant hunters mysteriously dying off, the first during an expedition in the mountains of Yunnan, China, and the second in a hit and run four years later. Will similar "accidents" happen to the third, fourth, and fifth persons who were on the plant expedition with the first victim? What is behind the deaths, and does it have any relation to their plant gathering in China?
The plot has lots of red herrings, false leads, and more than a few culprits who go out of their way to obscure the truth. Readers will find the main character, retired botanist and teacher Lawrence Kingston, very British and quite charming as he goes about sifting out facts, smelling the roses, and helping the police come up with solutions. I enjoyed the novel for the detailed history on roses and their propagation,and for the descriptions of historic places Kingston visits - Oxford, Dorset, Cornwall, London, and Wales.
I thought the plot in this book better than the previous one in the series, The Water Lily Cross, which had a plot that was unbelievably close to sci fi - a waterlily hybrid that desalinates sea water, turning it into fresh water over time! Wouldn't that be a prize piece of genetic engineering if it were true!