Book Review: The Body in the Garden

I enjoy a good, classic murder mystery from time to time, so when The Body in the Garden showed up with a lovely looking cover on Netgalley, I snatched it up. I received this book from Crooked Lane Books in exchange for an honest review.

This book is different from most books I read for many reasons, on which I will elaborate in a moment.

The Body in the Garden

by Katherine Schellman
Crooked Lane Books

In 1815, the recently widowed, Mrs. Adler, just moved back to London. She is reacclimating herself to London society parties after being away for three years. At a party, while getting a breath of fresh air in the garden, she accidentally overhears two male voices arguing. She is not an eavesdropper, so she moves to another part of the garden. A gun is fired. Adler stumbles upon the body of a young man as she flees the garden.

The following day, she discovers that the case has been abruptly closed, shortly after the magistrate was given a large sum of money.

Mrs. Adler decides that she is going to solve this murder. She enlists the help of her husband’s old friend, a dashing young captain, as well as a mysterious heiress from the West Indies. Soon though, she has a murderer on hot on her heels.

How was the Story?

So how was this one different from my usual. Normally, I read faster paced novels, but I really enjoyed it. Though the pace was slow, I didn’t mind. I had to stop reading it in the middle to read and review the Brightstorm book before its deadline. I was extremely reluctant to do so. After tearing through Brightstorm, I was glad to get back to this easy pace and elegant writing.

I have a few friends that are mystery writers that I will be recommending they read this. Another reason this story is different is that the protagonist is a middle age widow. I love the subplot of rediscovering who she is and who she wants to become. She is clever a woman with confidence in herself and determination to make a difference.

My husband bought several of these Frostbeard Studio candles for me and they are divine! I can’t tell you how much I love the smell of these.

What can we Learn from Schellman?

Schellman’s strength is in writing theme. Overcoming grief is one theme that runs through this. She develops a wonderful arc for Lilly Adler’s journey through her grief.

The other theme involves spoilers, so go get the book and read it before you proceed.

Secondly is the themes relating to women. Lilly is a bit odd in that in 1815 she is investigating a murder. Women back then did not often take such bold steps. I love how the author took an idea about women and their strength, their place in society, their lack of strength, and their determination to protect themselves in a world that doesn’t afford them the power to legally protect themselves. She took these ideas and used the story to examine them from all the different angles. I think the key is to not be too heavy handed in the direction in which you point the reader. Readers are intelligent and can divine right from wrong when the facts are laid out for them.