The Body In The Garden by Katharine Schellman

The Body in the Garden (Lily Adler Mystery #1)Barbara’s rating: 4 of 5 stars

Series: Lily Adler #1
Publication Date: 4/7/20
Number of Pages: 327

This book was an excellent debut for new author Katherine Shellman. The writing was excellent, the research impeccable, the storyline very cohesive, fast-paced, and interesting, and the mystery – well – very mysterious. You’ll think you know who the villain is – but do you? I was up well past my bedtime to finish the read because I just had to know…

Lily Adler was very much in love with her husband, Freddy, and she is still mourning him almost two years later. She’s spent her mourning time with Freddy’s family in the country since Freddy’s death, but they have encouraged her to return to London so she can begin to live her life again – read that as remarry. She’s returned, but she isn’t happy about it – but then she’ll not be happy wherever she is with Freddy. She and Freddy had such plans for their lives – for doing something that would matter to the world – and now he’s gone. She has to find a new path for herself – alone.

Navy Captain Jack Hartley is in London while his ship is in for repairs. He’s not happy about that because Napoleon is on the loose and he’d much rather be in the thick of things. However, his time in London will give him the opportunity to catch up with and offer any assistance he can to the widow of his best friend, Freddy Adler. He and Freddy had grown up together and had always remained closer than brothers. He is also filled with guilt because he was unable to be at Freddy’s funeral services because of the war.

As Lily reconnects with old friends and begins to attend the societal events, she realizes that she doesn’t enjoy those activities as much as she did before she married. Imagine her shock – and dismay – when, on her very first day back in London, she discovered the body of a murdered man in the gardens at her best friend’s ball. She even heard the shots.

When Bow Street decides not to pursue the case, Lily cannot stand to just let it go. There must be some justice for the poor, unidentified young man who had his life taken from him. As Lily investigates, she draws Jack into her investigation, and she also draws a new friend, Miss Ofelia Oswald, in as well.

Who is the young man who was murdered? Why was he, an uninvited guest, in that garden? With whom was he arguing? Why is Bow Street dropping the case? So many questions, so few answers. Can her friend or her husband be involved? As suspects mount, clues are investigated and more bodies added to the count, Lily and company are in the thick of the investigation.

This could have easily been a 5-star read for me. The story was compelling, the pacing was perfect, the historical details were spot on, etc. However, I just had a hard time warming up to Lily and Jack often annoyed me. I’m not sure why, but so many authors who want to write strong, independent female characters think that they have to make them angry, acerbic, domineering, selfish, etc. and that they have to pair them with milksop male characters. Lily and Jack were those characters. Jack, a war hero, a Naval Captain, was always apologizing to Lily and bowing and scraping to her. Why couldn’t they form a partnership as two equals who worked together, respected each other, and were on equal footing? Toward the end, I saw a slight glimmer of perhaps her softening somewhat, so I’ll certainly try the next book to see where it will go. As it stands, if I were to meet Lily in person, I would not like her and we certainly wouldn’t become friends – so I certainly can’t like her in a book. I’ll look forward to seeing where she goes from here.

I voluntarily read and reviewed an Advanced Reader Copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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Avid reader/reviewer of historical romance and historical mysteries.

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