Review of A Botanist’s Guide to Parties and Poisons
This historical Jazz Age mystery features botanist Saffron Everleigh. She is the research assistant to a Professor Maxwell. As the only woman in the department, Saffron struggles to make her mark in an academic world where women are not overly welcome, and must put up with bias, and even sexual predation.
Alexander Ashton, is a microbiologist. (That means, he is into bacteria.) Both Saffron and Alex attend a party where a murder occurs. When it is determined to be poison, Dr. Maxwell is the prime suspect because of a poison plant he discovered on one of his expeditions.
Saffron will make it her mission to make sure the true culprit is found. Alex comes along for the ride, I suspect because he has a thing for her. The investigation leads the pair to several suspects and takes them on all sorts of adventures, otherwise known as exercises in snooping. One of my favorites was when, under cover of darkness, they sneak into a garden to obtain a plant that may or may not be the source of the poison. You may imagine this is not a dirt-free exploit.
A large cast of characters made it a little challenging to follow, especially since I was listening to the audiobook. But soon, the major players sorted themselves out. As Saffron and Alex investigate, they uncover all sorts of secrets and shady academic types. Which means there are multiple suspects in the murder. I loved the mystery and the adventurous mystery solvers.
The book has a little bit of romance and lot of mystery, adventure and danger. Historical mystery readers might want to check this one out. Kate Khavaris is new to me, but her next Saffron Everleigh books is on my TBR list!
A Botanist’s Guide to Parties and Poisons by Kate Khavari
Newly minted research assistant Saffron Everleigh is determined to blaze a new trail at the University College London, but with her colleagues’ beliefs about women’s academic inabilities and not so subtle hints that her deceased father’s reputation paved her way into the botany department, she feels stymied at every turn.
When she attends a dinner party for the school, she expects to engage in conversations about the university’s large expedition to the Amazon. What she doesn’t expect is for Mrs. Henry, one of the professors’ wives, to drop to the floor, poisoned by an unknown toxin.
Dr. Maxwell, Saffron’s mentor, is the main suspect and evidence quickly mounts. Joined by fellow researcher–and potential romantic interest–Alexander Ashton, Saffron uses her knowledge of botany as she explores steamy greenhouses, dark gardens, and deadly poisons to clear Maxwell’s name.
Will she be able to uncover the truth or will her investigation land her on the murderer’s list, in this entertaining examination of society’s expectations.
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