A Botanist’s Guide to Parties and Poisons by Kate Khavari

A Botanist's Guide to Parties and Poisons (Saffron Everleigh Mystery #1)

Barbara’s rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Series: Saffron Everleigh #1
Publication Date: 6/7/22
Period: George V / Interwar Period (London)
Number of Pages: Audiobook – Narrator Jodie Harris

Woohoo! I think I have discovered a new must-read historical mystery author. This is her debut novel and I can honestly say it is better written, better plotted, and has character development that is right up there with the stars of this genre. I can’t believe I almost passed it by because the period is a bit later than I normally prefer. Whew! So glad I didn’t. Being a romantic at heart, I must have a romance in my historical mysteries – either a married couple or engaged couple, etc. – and this book appears to hint that will be the case in this series. However, that said, the next book is featuring a different male lead and I’m anxious to see where that might go.

Saffron Everleigh has worked hard to be where she is and she has to fight every day to stay. Not only does she have to do her job twice as well, but she has to constantly contend with snide remarks, sexual harassment, and rumors. Mostly she can ignore it because her boss and mentor, Dr. Maxwell, has always been her champion. He encourages her to stay the course, not be discouraged, and not let the good-old-boys win. What would she do without him? Unfortunately, when he is arrested for attempted murder, she might have to find out. She knows he isn’t guilty and is determined to find out who is and clear him.

I love that there are a lot of red herrings and a plethora of suspects. All of those suspects have credible reasons for wanting to commit murder and you’ll just have to work through the plot with the author to find out who the culprit is. Is it – Dr. Lawrence Henry? Or Eris Ermine? Or Harry Snyder? Or Dr. Berking? Or Richard Blake? Or Alexander Ashton? Or could it be that Dr. Maxwell is the guilty party? Oh! My goodness, Saffron has her hands full with this one.

She drags Alexander Ashton into the investigation even though she’s not sure she can trust him. There are so many plots-within-plots and undercurrents and rivalries at the university, they may never unravel it all. As they draw nearer and nearer to the solution, both Saffron and Alexander find themselves in a mortally dangerous situation. Can they thwart the villains and live to tell about it? You’ll just have to read this fast-paced, exciting novel to find out.

I listened to the audiobook version and enjoyed the narration. Jodie Harris’s voice is smooth and pleasant, her delivery is nicely paced with appropriately delivered emotions. She does a credible job with the male voices, but, if you were listening to a conversation in real life, you’d quickly identify those voices as female. However, in the world of audio and stories, it works just fine.

I liked the way the author chose not to make the police seem like bumbling incompetents as is so often the case. They did jump the gun in arresting Dr. Maxwell, but they were continuing to investigate rather than just looking for reasons he’s guilty. I like Alexander Ashton as the ‘hero’ in the series because we came to see his flaws and how he is managing to cope with them. Then, he is supportive of Saffron, but very worried about her recklessness as well. Yes, Saffron can be reckless and has some TSTL moments. I will look forward to her becoming more circumspect in her actions in future books. If Ashton isn’t to be the ongoing romantic lead, I hope that role will be quickly settled because I do not enjoy the romantic lead changing from book to book.

I can recommend this excellently written and well-plotted historical mystery. I’m already breathlessly awaiting the next installment in the series – A Botanist’s Guide to Flowers and Fatality.

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Avid reader/reviewer of historical romance and historical mysteries.

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