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by Anthony Eglin
St Martin's Minotaur, April 2006
304 pages
ISBN: 0312328729

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

We first met Dr Lawrence Kingston, retired botany professor, in THE BLUE ROSE, the author's first book in the series. Dr Kingston has been hired by a young woman who has inherited a large property in Somerset. Jamie Gibson was born and raised in Northern California. Wickersham Priory, she tells Kingston, had some of the finest gardens in England in the early years of the 20th century. She wants to hire him to help her transform her new property back to its former glory.

Unable to resist the challenge, Kingston accepts and goes to work for Jamie. Although her inheritance came from a total stranger, Jamie is blissfully uncurious about James Grenville Ryder, her mysterious benefactor.

When a skeleton is discovered in an old well, Kingston can't resist his tendency to investigate. The police can't determine the cause of death and estimate the body has been there for at least 45 years. There are also rumors that the house was built on an old priory and many treasures were hidden by the monks. Jamie isn't interested, but Kingston is and he continues to investigate the background of the former owner and the history of the house.

The author fills the novel with delightful details of gardening, plants and facts about some of the great gardens of England. I loved the tidbits, they were fascinating even to me, and I am no gardener. Dr Kingston is a great character; I loved him in the previous book as well. All of the author's characters are very well drawn. Jamie, too, is extremely interesting and she has great plans for Wickersham, which I hope would mean another book with Kingston, Jamie and the gardens of Wickersham.

It is very obvious that Eglin is an expert on gardening, and he does quite well with writing suspense as well. Anyone who loves British country houses, mysterious doings, secret passages and good storytelling will want to read THE LOST GARDENS.

Reviewed by Lorraine Gelly, March 2006

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