After her romantic idyll with the debonair Detective Chief Inspector Christopher Pearse culminates in a marriage proposal, Pru Parke sets about arranging their nuptials while diving into a short-term gig at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. At hand is the authentication of a journal purportedly penned by eighteenth-century botanist and explorer Archibald Menzies. Compared to the chaos of wedding planning, studying the journal is an agreeable task . . . that is, until a search for a missing cat leads to the discovery of a dead body: One of Pru’s colleagues has been conked on the head with a rock and dumped from a bridge into the Water of Leith.
Pru can’t help wondering if the murder has something to do with the Menzies diary. Is the killer covering up a forgery? Among the police’s many suspects are a fallen aristocrat turned furniture maker, Pru’s overly solicitous assistant, even Pru herself. Now, in the midst of sheer torture by the likes of flamboyant wedding dress designers and eccentric church organists, Pru must also uncover the work of a sly murderer—unless this bride wants to walk down the aisle in handcuffs.
Marty Wingate’s captivating mysteries can be enjoyed together or separately, in any order:
The Potting Shed series: THE GARDEN PLOT | THE RED BOOK OF PRIMROSE HOUSE | BETWEEN A ROCK AND A HARD PLACE | THE SKELETON GARDEN | THE BLUEBONNET BETRAYAL | BEST-LAID PLANTS
The Birds of a Feather series: THE RHYME OF THE MAGPIE | EMPTY NEST | EVERY TRICK IN THE ROOK | FAREWELL, MY CUCKOO
Praise for Between a Rock and a Hard Place
“Pru Parke is one of my favorite cozy mystery heroines.”—Michelle’s Romantic Tangle
“If you enjoy cozies and gardening this is a great series for you.”—Babs Book Bistro
“Between a Rock and a Hard Place is a really fun read with a really good murder mystery. Plus there’s a catnap, a great ending, and a wedding! Who doesn’t love a wedding?”—Jane Reads
“The story will keep you captivated and intrigued right to the last page.”—Shelley’s Book Case
“Between a Rock and a Hard Place, the Potting Shed mysteries as a whole . . . and, okay, anything written by Marty Wingate are on my list of favorites. And I’m leaving space on that shelf for her next novels.”—Back Porchervations
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Three boys in school uniforms, their ties askew now at the end of the day, edged their way over the imaginary line drawn on the pavement by the police constable. “Stay there,” the PC had said only minutes before as he pointed to an invisible spot on the ground. “Don’t come any closer to the bridge.” The boys, none of them more than ten years old, did as they were told.
It was a stone bridge only ten feet above the Water of Leith— not the Forth Road Bridge that connected Edinburgh to the north of Scotland—but it wasn’t the bridge that concerned the PC, it was the soaked corpse that the boys had pulled out of the shallow water.
The PC watched as Detective Sergeant Tamsin Duncan climbed the steps up from the bank below, all the while furiously chewing on her piece of nicotine gum. The gray stones of the bridge matched the bleak sky—a dreich day, he had said to his sergeant when they arrived on the scene, and she had nodded in return.
The boys had stumbled upon the man’s body lying facedown in the water. The ambulance workers, first on the scene, had given way to police forensic specialists. The boys now jostled for a closer look and hoped to claim credit for the discovery. They’d not stopped asking questions since the police arrived.
“He’s dead, isn’t he?”
“I knew he was dead, I saw him first.”
“Is there blood? Can we see?”
“Wheesht!” the PC hissed at them.
The boys did as they were told and fell silent, except for the littlest one who was bold enough to complain, “You sound like my granny.”
“It’s your granny we’re waiting for,” Duncan said, “so that she can take you all home.”
Across the road, an older woman sat stiffly upright on a stone bench, cup of tea in hand. “That isn’t their granny, is it?” Duncan asked the PC.
“No, that woman is the one who came across the body first, actually, but the boys were just after her. Someone helped her ring us, and a neighbor gave her tea, and she’s been waiting for us since. She was quite shaken at first, kept saying she was looking for something she lost. As soon as we arrived, we diverted the rest of the schoolchildren, made them walk up to Saxe Coburg and down Hamilton Place.” His eyes shifted back to the body. “How does it look?”
“Head trauma—we’ll take a close look at the steps—could be he slipped. That’s all we have at the moment—so, we’d better get to it.”
The boys had started to squirm again. “Right now, lads,” the PC said, “it’s ice creams for you if you can hold still until your granny arrives.”
Damson Hill Manor Farm House Gardens
2 Tumbly Hill Road
nr Quedgeley, Cheltenham
Dear Ms. Parke,
On behalf of the board, I would like to extend to you an invitation to talk with us at your earliest opportunity about the post of head gardener at Damson Hill Manor Farm House Gardens. Your knowledge of garden history in the UK, and particularly your recent work in Sussex on the Humphry Repton landscape, as well as your deep interest, expressed to us last year, in the Arts & Crafts movement and William Morris’s influence on garden design in the Cotswolds, lead us to believe you would be ideal for this post.
We hope you will ring us on (0204) 559078 just as soon as possible so that we can set up a time to meet with you.
Lionel F. Arbuthnott, director
Damson Hill Manor Farm House Gardens Charitable Trust
12 The Vicarage
Long Melford, Sudbury
Dear Ms. Parke,
On behalf of the garden committee, I would like to invite you to talk with us concerning the post of head gardener of Halstead House. Last year, you shared with us your ideas for incorporating both Saxon and Viking elements in the garden to echo Suffolk’s ancient history. I write to say that we would appreciate discussing this aspect of the garden further, knowing that your qualifications and ideas would be most suitable to our long-range goals for the estate.
We hope that your future endeavours will include Halstead House. Please ring us on (0334) 679112 at your earliest convenience.
Marietta Woods-Russell, chair
Pru watched Christopher watch the boats. He stood at one of the tall windows, steam rising from the mug of tea he held up to his face. When he noticed that she’d walked in from the bedroom, he smiled, reached down to the table for her mug, and handed it to her before slipping his arm around her waist and kissing her temple. They kept their silent vigil until the flotilla of fishing boats—looking like little windup toys from this vantage point, with puffs of white sea foam at their stern—vanished from sight over the horizon.
Just as their idyll had vanished before her eyes. Now a note of frustrated melancholy had taken the place of freedom. Six months’ leave he’d had—where had the time gone? When she’d left her head-gardener post at Primrose House, and Christopher had taken a leave from his job as detective chief inspector with London’s Metropolitan Police, the world had been theirs. Although they’d never left the shores of England, they had traveled through each other’s lives, growing accustomed to the other’s daily routines and finding new routines together. It had been the most pleasant interlude she could imagine.
They’d not been idle, but had occupied themselves with a variety of volunteer tasks, bouncing around the country as they did so. In Hastings, at the tourist office where Pru’s niece Peppy worked, they refilled racks of leaflets on topics ranging from the 1066 Norman invasion to World War II. Pru had helped with several Badger Care projects—an organization near and dear to Christopher’s heart—and worked the booth at a country fête in the Cotswolds. It was the same place that Pru and Christopher had first appeared on each other’s radar, so to speak, the year before, so the weekend was more about romance than badgers.
Christmas with the Wilsons and Pru’s brother, Simon Parke, and family. Neither Texas-born Pru nor England-born Simon had known the other existed until barely a year ago. The word “surprise” didn’t come close to their reactions—Pru in her early fifties and Simon in his mid-sixties. A freshly discovered sibling increased her family fourfold—counting her sister-in-law and two nieces. At dinner, Simon had stood, glass in hand, and said, “I don’t usually do a Christmas toast, but I want to say that we’re very happy you’re all here to celebrate with us”—he looked at Pru and Christopher—“and well . . . I give you family.” Everyone raised a glass and repeated the toast—“Family!”—except for Pru, who raised her glass but was unable to speak as tears streamed down her face.
She had arrived in England two years earlier with no actual family to speak of, but had made her own—in London, her friend Jo Howard and, by extension, Jo’s daughter, Cordelia, Dele’s partner, Lucy, and now baby Oliver. Harry and Vernona Wilson, clients in London, had moved back to their Hampshire home, Greenoak. Simon was the Wilsons’ gardener, which strengthened those ties. And there was Christopher, of course. In Sussex, she’d added Ivy Fox and son, Robbie, along with a few others. To her, they were each one family, and Pru held on to family fiercely, whether they be blood or not.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Such a fun series to read!
Great read, fun characters.
This book is utterly charming! It's the third book in the Potting Shed mystery series. Once again I happily found myself drawn into the lives of gardener Pru Parke & DCI Christopher Pearse. This time the mystery/murder/marriage takes place in Edinburgh, Scotland. I was drawn in with the couple as they planned & tried to successfully execute their upcoming nuptials with all the craziness of work & murder contributed to their stress. I really love the character of DCI Pearse. Not only did Pru feel comforted & protected, but so did I! Everyone should have a Christopher Pearse in their lives! I hope that there will be other books in this series. I would love to see what the next chapter in Pru's & Christopher 's lives brings.
Good story. A little too "cozy" for my taste, but well written and fine story.
This is the first of the Potting Shed Mysteries that I have read. I found the first part to be a bit boring, but I stuck with it and soon was enjoying the book. Some of the references to the previous books were a little confusing but they didn't interfere with the storyline. As far as the story, I can't imagine starting a new job and planning your wedding at the same time, but Pru seemed to be a good delegator and the story was well wtitten. The characters were well developed. I liked the fact that this is about an older couple and shows you're never too old for love. I received this arc free from NetGalley for an honest review.
Great reading and informational about gardening.
A fun combination of romance and mystery. A tight who done it with engaging characters. I enjoy this author's work.
Great Series! This is a great series; this is the third book in the Potting Shed Mystery series by Marty Wingate. These books can be read as a standalone. Pru Parke starts planning her marriage to Detective Chief Inspector Christopher Pearse. She is asked by the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh to authentication of a journal. She is enjoying the wedding planning and looking at the journal until she finds a dead body. She is determined to find out who the killer is and why. This is a great mystery that will leave you guessing until the end. It has a great story and characters. I am looking forward to reading the next book in the series. A Review copy was provided to me in exchange for a fair and honest review. The free book held no determination on my personal review.
Just released today - Between a Rock and a Hard Place! I had a lot of fun reading this book. When I received it, I didn't know it was part of a series, so it took a me a second reading of the first chapter to really understand the characters and how they all fit together. But it was worth the time, as these are characters you definitely want to meet! It's probably against some rule to giggle your way through a murder mystery, but I couldn't help it - Pru is such a fun, real character, and the situations Ms. Wingate wrote her into were so funny. I couldn't put the story down! Ms. Wingate's love for, and knowledge of, gardens comes through from the first page to the last. Yet she doesn't talk over the head of her reader, but shares her enthusiasm for the beautiful outdoors in such a clear way, I could almost smell the flowers Pru walked through in the book. It definitely made me want to get out and take a walk, once I finished reading! The mystery had many layers, and kept me guessing until the end, with surprises I didn't see coming. I definitely want to go back and check out the first few books in the series, to know these characters better! I received a review copy of this work from the publisher through NetGalley.
Between a Rock and a Hard Place by Marty Wingate is the third book in her Potting Shed mystery series. I have read the first two books in this series and was looking forward to spending time with Pru and Christopher once more. It was a lovely read and a great addition to this series. Pru and Christopher have taken some time off from work and spent time getting to know each other. The culmination of this time off together is that Christopher proposes and Pru accepts. One of the things that I enjoy about this series is that both of these characters are both older and have careers that they both love. Although Pru is a transplanted American she does have a British heritage that was explored in the previous two books. The plot moved smoothly with plenty of twists to keep me guessing. I had an idea of who the villain might be but was never sure until the end. The secondary characters were marvelous and fully developed. Many of those characters moved the mystery plot along but were also instrumental in Pru's wedding plans. Pru's adventures in wedding planning brought many laugh-out-loud moments to this mystery. There is also the mystery of why Pru was offered her current position in Scotland that runs throughout the book. I will be looking forward to the next book in this series. I was given an ARC by NetGalley and Alibi in exchange for an honest review.
This is book #3 in the Potting Shed Mystery series. The main character is 50-something Pru Parke who is a gardener now living in Britain, who solves mysteries that just happen around her. In this book, Pru takes a three-month research post at the The Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh, Scotland, hoping to authenticate a journal fro Menzies, then to publish. Recently becoming engaged to DCI Christopher Pearse, it separates her from him and causes issues while trying to plan their wedding. Unfortunately for Pru, the person she is to be working with is angry that he did not get the opportunity to do the authenication and when he turns up dead after an argument, Pru joins the list of suspects and finds herself working to discover who the killer is. other suspects include Murdo, the grounds gardener, who seems to be watching Pru and making notes in a notebook he carries. Then, there's Pru's assistant, Saskin Bennet, who seems to have secrets and a keen interest in this project. Another fun character is Mrs. Murchie, Pru's neighbour who becomes an important part of this story. The journal, murder, interesting characters, along with an overzealous wedding dress designer, makes for a very good story. I have not read the other books in this series and think it would have been a benefit if I had. I will have to go back and read them to see what brought Pru to where she is now. It was a fun and enjoyable book, even though I did figure out who did it before Pru did. I did enjoy the relationship between Pru and Christopher and it looks like the next book at least will have them spending more time together as a couple. A quick, easy and entertaining read. I received an ARC of this book via NetGalley, in return for an honest review. I was not compensated for the review and my thoughts and feelings about the book are my own.
Though more about adventure than mystery. Great story. Kitt