Gardening Can Be Murder

What is it about the garden that suits it to literary murder? Perhaps it is the poisonous plants, sharp tools, shady corners, and ready-made burial sites that make gardens a mainstay in the mystery genre. Perhaps it is the gardeners (and writers) themselves, with their “natural malice toward weeds, rodents, and other garden undesirables. Rare is the gardener who can approach a slug without homicidal intent.” No matter the motive, gardening and writing are enduringly linked. In her new book, New York Times Best-Selling author Marta McDowell explores this deeply rooted connection between gardens, writers, and mystery novels in GARDENING CAN BE MURDER.

From Edger Allan Poe to Agatha Christie to modern bestsellers, hundreds of our greatest mystery writers have found inspiration in the sinister side of gardens. Gardening Can Be Murder is the first book to explore this genre’s many surprising horticultural connections. Following the path of a great mystery novel, Marta introduces readers to the detectives and scene of the crime, then explores the motive, means, and clues before gathering the suspects and solving the case of why gardening can be murder. As she says, “for writers of horticultural crime fiction, their expertise with plants fits hand-in-gardening-glove with their prolific pens.” As she shares her conversations with modern day writers like Ruth Ware, Karen Hugg, and Cynthia Riggs, who use their own gardens to find creativity, Marta reveals how horticultural themes will remain a staple of the genre for countless twisting plots to come.

Marta McDowell lives, gardens, and writes in Chatham, New Jersey. She consults for public gardens and private clients, writes and lectures on gardening topics, and teaches landscape history and horticulture at the New York Botanical Garden, where she studied landscape design. Her particular interest is in authors and their gardens, the connection between the pen and the trowel.

GARDENING CAN BE MURDER How Poisonous Poppies, Sinister Shovels, and Grim Gardens Have Inspired Mystery Writers – “Gardeners and mystery lovers alike will delight in Marta McDowell’s charming bouquet of gardening mysteries—a botanical encyclopedia of horticultural crime”—Susan Wittig Albert, author of Hemlock.

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