A Botanist's Guide to Parties and Poisons

- Kate Khavari

Goodreads Book Blurb:

Saffron Everleigh is in a race against time to free her wrongly accused professor before he goes behind bars forever. Perfect for fans of Deanna Raybourn and Anna Lee Huber, Kate Khavari’s debut historical mystery is a fast-paced, fearless adventure.

London, 1923. Newly minted research assistant Saffron Everleigh attends a dinner party for the University College of London. While she expects to engage in conversations about the university’s large expedition to the Amazon, she doesn’t expect 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, having had an explosive argument with Dr. Henry a few days prior. As evidence mounts against Dr. Maxwell and the expedition’s departure draws nearer, Saffron realizes if she wants her mentor’s name cleared, she’ll have to do it herself.

Joined by enigmatic Alexander Ashton, a fellow researcher, Saffron uses her knowledge of botany as she explores steamy greenhouses, dark gardens, and deadly poisons. Will she be able to uncover the truth or will her investigation land her on the murderer’s list?

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My Review:

***Thanks to NetGalley and Crooked Lane Books for an eARC of this book. The following review is my honest reflection on the text provided.

enjoyable/easy to read:
3.5/5

I inadvertently stumbled upon a theme by reading A Botanist’s Guide to Parties and Poisons after Murder for the Modern Girl: 1920s mysteries with a sweet, slow-burn romance and a heavy science theme.

Saffron and Alexander may be the worst detectives. As with most cozy mysteries, a lot of the plot depends on them being in the right place at the right time and stumbling over evidence, mostly accidentally. I think they may have been more productive in causing themselves physical harm than purposefully solving any mysteries.

I really appreciated the slow-burn romance. It’s possible that the 1920s social norms helped keep Saffron and Alexander from jumping into things too quickly. Still, I loved that there was so much more to their relationship than just instant physical connection (although that was good too!) – the way they helped each other at work, learned from each other and supported one another was beautiful. Alexander took Saffron and her goals seriously without downplaying the adversity she faced as a woman in a predominately male field.

There are a lot of misdirects here, and I can honestly say I was pretty surprised by the outcome. I loved Khavari’s writing – it balanced the zany antics expected from a cozy mystery with a well-told story. She set the scene perfectly, recreating the 1920s naturally and easily. There may be future Saffron Everleigh mysteries, and I will be sure to watch out for them.

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