Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Publish Date: 21 Apr
Reviewed by: E
How I got this book: ARC from the publisher
The Kern Secretarial Agency provides reliable professional services to its wealthy clientele, and Anne Clifton was one of the finest women in Ursula Kern’s employ. But Miss Clifton has met an untimely end—and Ursula is convinced it was not due to natural causes.
Archaeologist and adventurer Slater Roxton thinks Mrs. Kern is off her head to meddle in such dangerous business. Nevertheless, he seems sensible enough to Ursula, though she does find herself unnerved by his self-possession and unreadable green-gold eyes….
If this mysterious widowed beauty insists on stirring the pot, Slater intends to remain close by as they venture into the dark side of polite society. Together they must reveal the identity of a killer—and to achieve their goal they may need to reveal their deepest secrets to each other as well…
This blurb came from the author’s website.
BOOKPUSHERS NOTE: Thanks to the generosity of G.P. Putnam’s Sons we are able to giveaway three hardback copies of Garden of Lies. Instructions on how to enter the giveaway are at the end of the review.
I have been a fan of Quick’s writing for a very long time and I tend to follow her under three different names. So when I was contacted about her upcoming release I was extremely excited. Garden of Lies does have a few trademark character traits easily recognizable to longtime readers BUT she added some twists resulting in an enjoyable read with just enough familiarity for me to slip into the story easily but also requiring a constant update of my suspicion for the villain’s identity.
Slater had always lived his life a bit differently than most society men but after a series of unfortunate events, he was considered even more out of step with society and potentially a danger to those around him. What kind of danger depended on if you were a lady looking for a bit of illicit or perhaps unusual excitement or if you were an individual intent on possessing a valuable item belonging to someone else. In addition to his personal oddities, his household to include his staff was just as unusual. This combination made it difficult for him to retain a normal secretarial employee so Slater eventually resorted to employing the owner of the Kern Secretarial Agency for part-time work. Mrs. Kern appeared able to take the unusual in stride so when she abruptly needed to stop working for Slater he was not at all pleased.
Mrs. Ursula Kern, was very proud of her business the Kern Secretarial Agency. The business provided her with the means for an independent living as well as being a way for women who had otherwise fallen on a rough patch to receive some training in a useful occupation and earn money without resorting to selling themselves. The Agency was known as a premier agency since not only were ladies well trained but they used the latest new-fangled typewriters so they were able to accomplish a lot of work in a short period of time. Ursula cared about her employees as more than just workers so when her good friend and employee Miss Clifton suddenly died she decided to look into matters herself. However, her investigation required filling in for Miss Clifton and therefore she needed to end or at least pause her work for Slater. Only Slater and his household were not willing to lose her.
I had a lot of fun watching Ursula and Slater dance around each other as they negotiated an equal partnership in the investigation and discovered their mutual attraction. Not only were their interactions entertaining but Slater’s household and his mother were a hoot. They added a nice touch of humor and comedic relief to the otherwise entangled and potentially deadly investigation. The number of dead bodies and the variety of unsavory activities uncovered made this story the darkest I have read by Quick and I do wonder if this indicates a shift in her writing. It was still an enjoyable read, this was just one of the differences I noticed.
I found I rather enjoyed the additional complexity of determining “whodunit” and “why” in Garden of Lies. My usual suspicious character types in Quick’s writing were not entirely or even all together accurate in some cases. I loved how she resolved one particular thread in a way that completely blindsided me while fleshing out some of her characterization at the same time. She also rather neatly nipped in the bud an additional guess about the identity behind Miss Clifton’s death and left me floundering but provided clues, which led me to come up with a few more suspects. Quick tied up all of her loose threads satisfactorily and when the final reveal occurred I could mentally trace the trail she laid from the beginning. In addition to the primary romance between Ursula and Slater, she provided a sweet secondary flirtation and I think laid the ground for other stories set in this particular world.
I give Garden of Lies a B
Thanks to the generosity of G.P. Putnam’s Sons we have three hardback copies of Garden of Lies to giveaway. US ONLY. The winners will be announced on Thursday 23 April. To enter leave a comment talking about an author whom you have followed through different genres/subgenres or pseudonyms even if the change didn’t work for you. Good luck!