Review: Dead in the Garden by Dahlia Donovan

Posted December 26, 2018 by Lola in Mystery, Review / 6 Comments

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Dead in the GardenDead in the Garden (Grasmere Cottage Mystery #1)
by Dahlia Donovan

My Rating: 3 stars

Genre: Cozy Mystery/ Mystery
Age Category: Adult
Type of romance: MM

A Romantic Cosy Mystery.

Join bestselling author Dahlia Donovan on a cosy mystery adventure in Grasmere Cottage Mystery book one. With love, wit, and a murder to solve, life for Valor and Bishan is about to get bloomin’ complicated in this sweet gay romance.>

Dead body in the garden? Check.

Mystery to solve? Check.

Police focused on the wrong person? Not good.
All grown up and graduated, Valor Tarquin Scott, son to Earl and Countess Scott, owns The Ginger’s Bread, a biscuit shop, in Grasmere in the Lake District. The love of his life, Bishan Tamboli, has turned his music studies into a successful career playing with the London Symphony Orchestra. It’s a perfect life with their cat, spending evenings watching Poirot on the television.

The nightmare begins with one dead former schoolmate, leading police to believe Bishan is responsible.

Valor struggles to solve the cryptic puzzles left behind in a race to prove Bishan’s innocence.

He can’t help wondering how far the body count will rise before they manage to stop the killer.

My Review

When I saw this book and found out it was a cozy mystery with a gay couple as main characters I immediately knew I had to read this one. I am pretty sure this is the first cozy mystery I heard of with a gay couple and the story sounded pretty interesting too. I would categorize it more as a cozy mystery first and a romance second as the romance doesn’t get as much focus due to certain events.

Dead in the Garden is a pretty unique cozy mystery. The set-up doesn’t follow the common pattern of a cozy mystery and I kinda liked the different approach. I had read a few reviews before I started this one so I already knew the murder wouldn’t be solved in book 1 and I think this helped adjust my expectations. The pacing of the mystery makes a lot more sense if you know there are two more books before things get resolved.

There isn’t a clear pool of suspects that you get to know early in the book like with most cozy mystery. In fact the main suspects you only meet toward the end and even then you don’t get to know that much about them and the motive isn’t clear. But as the mystery isn’t resolved yet I find it hard to say much more about it at this point. The progressing was different from most cozy mysteries, which I liked, but it did take some time before we got some suspects and it doesn’t quite feel clear who is doing this and why.

It made sense how Valor got involved in the murder, but at times it didn’t feel like they were progressing much or that he was doing much. The biggest clues and changes actually were because of what the murderer did. Part of the puzzles he had friends help solve, which was nice to see he had help, although the puzzle wasn’t as interesting as it got basically solved off screen and you couldn’t solve it yourself. There wasn’t as much snooping or talking with people, but more research and thinking about who would be behind this and piecing some clues together.

I thought it was a bit weird how they arrest someone without much evidence and continue to keep him for 3 weeks, I think it was, while the evidence keeps building and it seems clear he isn’t the culprit. It also was just sad how this affected all the parties involved. There were also parts where things seemed to move a bit slow and it didn’t fully keep my attention at times. For the most part it was a fun read tough.

I am not sure if I like how the story is broken up into three parts, as now you can try out the first part for cheap, but at the same time the story doesn’t feel quite complete. And I am not sure if I am curious enough to buy the other two parts.

I liked the romance. It’s an already established romance, which works here. Valor and Bishan seemed like a great couple and I liked how much Valor cared about Bishan and also worked with his autism well. We don’t get Bishan’s point of view, but he seemed to care about Valor a lot too, even tough he doesn’t quite articulate it in the same way other do. i thought his autism was handled well form what I can tell. It also was a nice touch how Bishan was Indian and there are some mentions of his close knit family. And it’s actually Valor’s family who don’t like him being gay and now don’t speak to him anymore. The focus isn’t really on the romance tough, due to events in the book they aren’t together as much, but even with them separated it was clear how much they cared about the other.

I liked Valor as a main character, although I would’ve liked to get a better feel of his personality. It was a bit hard to get a full idea of his personality. I did like how he had a bunch of people who helped him and supported him. There are a bunch of fun side characters, who come alive to varying degrees. I felt like some of the side characters could use a bit more depth as I had sometimes trouble remembering who as who at times.

To summarize: all in all this was a fun start to this cozy mystery series. I liked how it had a gay couple as I haven’t seen many cozies with a gay couple before. The mystery and how it progresses doesn’t fall in the traditional cozy mystery pattern, which I kinda liked for the most part. The story is split in 3 parts, do the mystery doesn’t get resolved here. It also takes some time before we get some suspects, which we don’t get to know too well and the motive is still unclear too. The story didn’t fully grab me at times, but for the most part I had fun reading this one and I am curious how the mystery will progress. the romance was sweet and well done, but the couple is apart for most of the book, so there aren’t as many scenes with them together. I did like them both and they seemed to care about each other. I would recommend this if you’re looking for an unique cozy mystery.

3 Stars


You can also read my review on Goodreads and Amazon.

Tell me about a book you recently read that gave an unique twist on a genre?

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6 responses to “Review: Dead in the Garden by Dahlia Donovan

  1. I’m glad to get your thoughts on this one. I was curious as well when I saw it in your haul a while back. That is good to know that this is the first part of a three-part story rather than a separate mystery in each story. Sounds like it wandered around a bit even if some elements like their backgrounds, relationship, and situation was interesting. Maybe I’ll try it later.
    Sophia Rose recently posted…Review: Jumper’s Hope by Carol Van NattaMy Profile

    • I think it’s good to know it’s a three part story in advance. It still didn’t quite work for me, but knowing things wouldn’t get resolved here did help adjust my expectations. It does wander around a bit even with the interesting elements, i would’ve liked a slightly faster pace.

  2. It’s great to see LGBT+ characters in all different genres! And it sounds like this book had a lot of inclusivity since the other character was Indian and autistic! That is a bit odd that the mystery takes multiple books to solve. I can see how that would feel incomplete, and only getting part of a story usually frustrates me too. Well I hope that you do enjoy it if you decide to continue 🙂
    Kristen @ Metaphors and Moonlight recently posted…Bookish Musings: Top Ten Books I Read in 2018 (+ Some Non-Bookish Things)My Profile

    • It was so fun to find a cozy mystery with LGBT+ characters as I haven’t read many cozies with LGBT+ character before. And it was great how one of the characters was also Indian and autistic. I just wished the mystery would be resolved in one book or all the parts would be published as one book instead.

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