A Gardening Year

The adventures and misadventures of an heirloom gardener

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Garden Bloggers' Book Club

If you ask me what kind of books I like to read, I will tell you that I usually read non-fiction, mainly history and gardening. When I do read fiction, it’s likely to be Victorian novels. Dickens and Trollope are among my favorites.

Everyone has secret vices, though. My secret vice is mysteries. I can’t get enough of them. Particularly good ones are devoured in two days. The internet has facilitated my addiction. I can log onto the website of the consortium to which my local library belongs and order up the entire output of any mystery writer, gleaned from the shelves of the libraries in surrounding towns. Thanks to the Garden Bloggers’ Book Club, I’ve been outed.

“A Hoe Lot of Trouble” by Heather Webber is a well-plotted mystery. The central plot revolving around the murder of a local farmer whose farm is the target of a greedy real estate developer is not revealed right away. We are allowed to get to know the main characters and their lives first. Those details become integral to the solution of the mystery. The heroine of the series, Nina Quinn has to also deal with two other sub-plots, one of which neatly ties in with the central plot at the end of the book.

Like all good mysteries, an obvious suspect is offered up. I held my breath hoping Ms. Webber was one of those clever writers who writes in a “villain” whose actions are eventually explained but who is not the real murderer. I was not disappointed. When the final revelation was made, I could go back over the story and see all the clues that had been woven into the story like a trail of bread crumbs leading to the solution of the mystery.

The structure of the story is impressive for a first effort. The characters, however, are over-written. This is probably due to the fact that Ms. Webber also authors romance novels. I am hoping that in her subsequent books in this series that she has adopted the attitude that “less is more” when it comes to character development. One detail that rang false with me was the small amount of time that the heroine, the owner of a nursery, actually spends working. The small business owners that I have known, put in 18 hour days every day. They don’t have time for “stake-outs” or tours of new homes in the guise of a buyer.

As a gardener, I would have liked more horticultural details in the story. There is a brief addendum about eradicating poison ivy. It was quite timely in my case. Last weekend, I found a patch of poison ivy in my yard the hard way. I scratched my way through “A Hoe Lot of Trouble”.


At 9:43 PM, Blogger Carol said...

Hey, OldRoses, you're the best for taking time to post a review for the Garden Bloggers Book Club. Thank you!

I've been reading this book and am about halfway through. I agree with you, maybe a wee bit too much time on character development? I didn't realize the author also wrote romance novels, which I never read, so that indeed might explain it.

Watch for the virtual meeting post on September 30th!

Carol at May Dreams Gardens

At 1:21 AM, Blogger Yolanda Elizabet said...

I like a well written mystery novel too but I hate it when the villian is pulled out of a hat (like the proverbial rabbit) at the end. In this book that's not the case, so bonus points for that. :-)

How's your hip? Less painful I hope.

BTW there's kitties at Bliss, very cute and tiny ones.

At 11:52 PM, Blogger LostRoses said...

OldRoses, I used to be a huge mystery buff too. I don't think I read anything but mysteries for years and then suddenly it was like a plug was pulled and I was done! I rarely read one now, and only did this one in the spirit of Garden Bloggers book club. I was less than thrilled, but I'm glad you enjoyed it!

Definitely not enough horticultural details.

At 9:51 PM, Anonymous bill said...

Well, I didn't like it as well as you did. Not enough horticulture for sure.

At 1:37 AM, Anonymous farmingfriends said...

I enjoyed it like you did but I agree there wasn't enough about gardening, but I will certainly read the others in the series. Sara from farmingfriends

At 3:11 PM, Blogger Entangled said...

I'm going to echo what others said about "not enough horticulture". My impression was that Heather Webber got the idea for Nina Quinn's profession by watching Ground Force or Surprise Gardener, and then tried to write a book around it without having much personal knowledge of the subject or even doing much research.

I'm with you on Dickens and Trollope though, but I haven't read either one of those authors for quite some time.


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