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  • Gardening Can Be Murder

  • How Poisonous Poppies, Sinister Shovels, and Grim Gardens Have Inspired Mystery Writers
  • By: Marta McDowell
  • Narrated by: Elisabeth Rodgers
  • Length: 5 hrs and 10 mins

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Gardening Can Be Murder

By: Marta McDowell
Narrated by: Elisabeth Rodgers
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Publisher's Summary

This fun, engrossing book takes a look at the surprising influence that gardens and gardening have had on mystery novels and their authors.

With their deadly plants, razor-sharp shears, shady corners, and ready-made burial sites, gardens make an ideal scene for the perfect murder. But the outsize influence that gardens and gardening have had on the mystery genre has been underappreciated. Now, Marta McDowell, a writer and gardener with a near-encyclopedic knowledge of the genre, illuminates the many ways in which our greatest mystery writers, from Edgar Allen Poe to authors on today’s bestseller lists, have found inspiration in the sinister side of gardens.

From the cozy to the hardboiled, the literary to the pulp, and the classic to the contemporary, Gardening Can Be Murder is the first book to explore the mystery genre’s many surprising horticultural connections. Meet plant-obsessed detectives and spooky groundskeeper suspects, witness toxic teas served in foul play, and tour the gardens—both real and imagined—that have been the settings for fiction’s ghastliest misdeeds. A New York Times bestselling author herself, McDowell also introduces us to some of today’s top writers who consider gardening integral to their craft, assuring that horticultural themes will remain a staple of the genre for countless twisting plots to come.

“This book is dangerous. A veritable cornucopia of crime fiction and gardening lore, it faces the reader with multiple temptations—books to seek out, plants to obtain, garden tours to book.” —Vicki Lane, author of the Elizabeth Goodweather Appalachian Mysteries

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.

©2023 Marta McDowell (P)2024 Timber Press

Critic Reviews

“What could be more intriguing than a murder in the garden? In her newest book, Marta McDowell takes us on a delightfully diabolical romp through the role of horticulture in crime fiction. From deadly seeds, to menacing pruning shears, to suspicious groundskeepers, the garden has always provided both the motive and means to commit the perfect crime. Gardening Can Be Murder belongs on the shelf of every Agatha Christie fan—and every gardener who enjoys a little mischief and mayhem.”—Amy Stewart, author of Wicked Plants
“This book is dangerous. A veritable cornucopia of crime fiction and gardening lore, it faces the reader with multiple temptations—books to seek out, plants to obtain, garden tours to book. It’s a delightful wander through the mystery genre from Poe to Penny and its surprisingly numerous ties to gardening. Presented in McDowell’s elegant and accessible prose, it’s completely captivating.”—Vicki Lane, author of the Elizabeth Goodweather Appalachian Mysteries

“McDowell looks at gardens from the darker side of human nature—after all, gardening and obsession have long been willing bedfellows. You’ll meet gardening detectives and find out what happens when sharp tools and toxic potions fall into the wrong hands and which gardens, real or imagined, might prove to be the setting for a perfect crime. From Agatha Christie to Elizabeth George, Louise Penny to Ruth Rendell, Dorothy L. Sayers to Raymond Chandler, the reading list at the back of the book is to die for.”—The Seattle Times

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In the spirit of reconciliation, Audible acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of country throughout Australia and their connections to land, sea and community. We pay our respect to their elders past and present and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples today.