Saturday, November 29, 2014

Please Welcome Mystery Author Marty Wingate

Omnimystery News: Guest Post by Marty Wingate
with Marty Wingate

We are delighted to welcome author Marty Wingate to Omnimystery News.

Marty's second mystery in her Potting Shed series is The Red Book of Primrose House (Alibi; November 2014 ebook formats) and we asked her to tell us a little more about it, which is the subject of her guest post for us today.

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Marty Wingate
Photo provided courtesy of
Marty Wingate

Pru Parke, American gardener in England, has landed the job of her dreams in the second of my Potting Shed mysteries. She is now the head gardener of a historic landscape, one that she must restore in only a few months, because her employers plan to open it to the public for one day, when potentially hundreds of visitors will pass judgment on what she's done. While juggling her responsibilities and managing the uncertainties of her own life she — wouldn't you know it — discovers a dead body. So not so much dream as nightmare, as it turns out.

I love writing this series, which began with The Garden Plot, because it combines my interests in gardening, travel, and England. And I love my protagonist, a middle-aged woman from Dallas who takes a chance on a new life — she's got a lot of nerve, taking such a leap at her age. But although Pru's friends all thought she was crazy to move to another country, she didn't think so, because she has ties to England — her mother was from a village in Hampshire. She embraces her new country and

In a series, Pru's personal story can be an overarching arc. While each book deals with particular issues and particular murders, Pru is on her own path. Desperate for family ties to her adopted country, she embraces new friends, always thinking the best of people without quite knowing all the facts. Gullible, she admits, putting a name to her own tiny character flaw that can so easily get her into trouble; she's just like Pollyanna, her friends used to say. While trying to solve a murder, she finds her way to some sort of family and — a real surprise for her — love.

Back to that dreaded garden open day. In England, the National Gardens Scheme organizes open days for both great houses and small private gardens throughout the country; all money raised — including for tea and cake — going to charity. These special days are published yearly in the eponymous Yellow Book; on almost every day throughout spring and summer, you can see signs along the roads and country lanes: "Garden Open." These are lovely days out — a chance for gardeners to not just peer over the fence at another's property, but walk right in, judging whether the plantings and design are really worth it or not. The fact that Primrose House is based on a design by 19th-century landscaper Humphry Repton and Pru is attempting to recreate it using Repton's own Red Book which detailed his design, only adds to the pressure on her.

And you thought gardening such a mild profession. Not so — especially not in England. Gardens open through the NGS must be vetted. That's right, first someone comes through and decides if your garden is actually worthy of being open. And so, the bar is set high for any open garden.

Marty Wingate Potting Shed Mysteries
Photo provided courtesy of
Marty Wingate

Pru's employers don't bother with the usual channel of opening their garden, instead they cavalierly go about plans, expecting Pru to work miracles with a small crew while she sticks her nose the murder investigation and ends up with an irritating inspector breathing down her neck.

I prefer to do my research firsthand, and love to attend garden open days. My husband and I stayed in a bed-and-breakfast in Tunbridge Wells for The Red Book of Primrose House — not far from the fictitious Primrose House, which is set near the real Bells Yew Green. I like to feel a part of the landscape, if you will, before I feel comfortable enough to write a description that will make my readers feel at home there, too. The pubs may be part of my imagination, but those English ales are real!

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Marty Wingate is a regular contributor to Country Gardens as well as other magazines. She also leads gardening tours throughout England, Scotland, Ireland, France, and North America.

For more information about the author, please visit her website at MartyWingate.com and her author page on Goodreads, or find her on Facebook and Twitter.

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The Red Book of Primrose House by Marty Wingate

The Red Book of Primrose House
Marty Wingate
A Potting Shed Mystery

Texas transplant Pru Parke's restoration of a historic landscape in England is uprooted by an ax murderer …

Pru Parke has her dream job: head gardener at an eighteenth-century manor house in Sussex. The landscape for Primrose House was laid out in 1806 by renowned designer Humphry Repton in one of his meticulously illustrated Red Books, and the new owners want Pru to restore the estate to its former glory — quickly, as they're planning to showcase it in less than a year at a summer party.

But life gets in the way of the best laid plans: When not being happily distracted by the romantic attentions of the handsome Inspector Christopher Pearse, Pru is digging into the mystery of her own British roots. Still, she manages to make considerable progress on the vast grounds — until vandals wreak havoc on each of her projects. Then, to her horror, one of her workers is found murdered among the yews. The police have a suspect, but Pru is certain they're wrong. Once again, Pru finds herself entangled in a thicket of evil intentions — and her, without a hatchet.

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