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Sunday, February 19, 2017

A Death by Any Other Name by Tessa Arlen

A Death by Any Other Name is the third in this series by Tessa Arlen.  Somehow, I missed the second in this series, but perhaps the library will have a copy.

from the description: The elegant Lady Montfort and her redoubtable housekeeper, Mrs. Jackson, investigate a murder among a group of amateur rose-breeders while the idyllic English summer days count down to the start of the First World War.

The cook from Hyde Castle has been dismissed from her position when a guest dies after eating one of her dishes.  Although the inquest determined the death was a result of tainted fish, the cook had eaten of the same fish with no ill effects.  In hopes of restoring her reputation, the cook approaches Lady Montfort and her housekeeper Edith Jackson clear her name.

Lady Montfort, eager for another chance to use her skills of detection, elicits an invitation from the Haldane's to visit the rose-breeders and investigate the incident.  Her name and position alone would gain her admittance, but as the famed Gertrude Jekyll, renowned horticulturist and designer of gardens for Britain's elite, is Lady Montfort's current guest, there is no doubt that her visit will be considered a coup for the Haldane's.

Clementine Montfort and Edith Jackson are welcomed to Hyde Castle and find themselves among a diverse--and not entirely likable--group of rose-breeders whose friendships are rife with gossip and competition.   There are a number of red herrings (not all of which are satisfactorily explained) and undercurrents are plentiful.

Set in the summer of 1914, the events that signal the outbreak of the first World War are daily being reported, increasing the tension for some of the guests, not least Clementine Montfort.

I enjoyed this mystery, but found that some incidents and situations were not adequately explained.   A Death by Any Other Name did not feel as smooth and polished as the first book, but I do like the Shakespeare allusion in the title, and to quote another Gertrude, "a rose is a rose, is a rose."

NetGalley/St. Martin's Press

Historic Mystery.  March 14, 2017.  Print length:  336 pages.

Gertrude Jekyll designed some of the most beautiful gardens in England.  The following images are from Upton Grey, but images of other of her garden designs can be found here.

source:  restoration of Gertrude Jekyll's garden at Upton Grey

source:  restoration at Upton Grey


  1. What beautiful pictures! I love the purple flowers. All of them. I still need to begin this series. I met the author last year and she was interesting to listen to. Daughter of British diplomat. Anyway, I'm almost positive that I own the first book in the series.

    1. Gertrude Jekyll's gardens are unbelievable. Hard to imagine the cost of installing and the upkeep of acres of gardens would be. I liked the first book better than this one, but I need to get a copy of the one I missed!

  2. I've heard a lot of good things about this series, Jenclair. I need to check them out. And the pics are beautiful, especially the second pic! It's a perfect fit for a postcard! :)

    1. It is a good series! Aren't the pics of gardens Gertrude Jekyll designed amazing? I think I need a biography of Gertrude Jekyll. I was already familiar with her name and place in horticulture history, but know little else about her. I bet there are postcards of her gardens. :)

    2. Speaking of postcard, I forgot to tell you that I received yours last week. Thank you, Jenclair! :)

  3. I would love to walk among those gardens. They are beautiful. I think this series sounds like it has a lot of potential. Hopefully the next one is better!