A Botanist's Guide to Parties and Poisons [REREAD]

- Kate Khavari


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?



Light poured from the windows of the grand house, illuminating the front steps and graveled drive.


enjoyable/easy to read:


I figured A Botanist's Guide to Parties and Poisons warranted a reread as a refresher before tackling A Botanist's Guide to Flowers and Fatality, which I was very excited to receive as an ARC.

I remembered very little about my first read of A Botanist's Guide to Parties and Poisons besides blue lightning and some clumsy detective work. I still find it pretty frustrating that Saffron has her research and university work so belittled when she is so obviously gifted in these areas while also working incredibly hard. Paradoxically, she may be the worst amateur detective, yet almost everyone is falling over themselves to give her credit for her Sherlock cosplay.

Saffron is a newborn deer bumbling throughout the department, blindly stumbling over clues and suspects, making wild accusations, and forming theories out of sideways glances. She misinterprets every shred of evidence, and even in the end, Alexander is more aligned with the inspector despite being dragged into the investigation against his will by the lure of a pretty face and a shred of chivalry. And yet, Saffron still gets all the credit!

I hope there’s more character development in A Botanist's Guide to Flowers and Fatality.

Where Berking and Blake were truly dark characters playing both ends of the chaotic/controlled criminal spectrum,

Saffron and Alexander have potential but have so far been a little stereotypical. I’d like to see more than ‘smart, rich girl disowned by family but is devoted to her studies and is out to prove everyone wrong’ falls for ‘strong silent war hero who uses surprisingly modern meditation and breathing techniques to combat PTSD and substance abuse but is more lonely than he realised before bookish girl stumbled into his life’. Since A Botanist's Guide to Parties and Poisons was the first of a series, I’m happy with the level of detail we’ve gotten so far, but would like to see some growth if this is going to develop into a worthwhile series.

It would also be nice to see Saffron actually interpret clues with some level of accuracy and get a little closer to cracking a case on her own…


enjoyable/easy to read:

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

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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