In Flowers and Foul Play by Amanda Knox, Fiona Knox moves to Scotland from her home in Nashville, Tennessee after losing her flower shop business and being dumped by her fiance. She has just learned that her godfather, Ian MacCallister, has left her his entire estate of Duncreigan in Belwick, Scotland, and she intends to move there to make a new start on life. Upon arriving at Duncreigan, Fiona is happy to be greeted by an old friend, Hamish MacGregor, the longtime gardener of her “Uncle Ian’s,” who lets Fiona into Ian’s cottage. But soon after Fiona enters the house, Duncan the tame squirrel, sort of a pet of Hamish’s, darts in through the window and takes off with the large, ancient key that opens the house.
Fiona and Hamish chase after Duncan, who leads Fiona towards the walled garden that was Ian’s pride and which is always kept locked. But this time it is not, and Fiona lets herself into the garden to be halted in shock at the sight: The garden is fully dead. Catching up to Fiona, Hamish tells the young heiress that the garden began to die the moment that Ian was killed in combat in Afghanistan. But as soon as Fiona landed in Scotland, the rose at the standing stone in the middle of the garden started blooming again and is now bright yellow. Now that Fiona is home, the garden will return to life, something Hamish learned from a letter sent to him upon Ian’s death and that includes mention of a letter intended for Fiona, a letter she has never received. As the pair look in the garden, Fiona spots a boot, and the boot is attached to the leg of a dead man. Alastair Croft, the solicitor who had called Fiona to tell her of her inheritance from her Uncle Ian, lies dead in the garden.
As Detective Inspector Neil Craig starts his investigation, it soon becomes apparent that he is focusing on Hamish. Certain that her godfather’s close friend cannot have murdered the lawyer, especially since Alastair was killed before being brought to the garden, Fiona does her own investigating, finding numerous other suspects for Neil.
I am not usually drawn to books with magic, but I really enjoyed Flowers and Foul Play. The magic here is gentle, friendly, and truly sweet. The mystery plot has some interesting details as it travels through the windy paths it takes to reach its final destination of a solution. The book kept me drawn to the plot, and I really appreciated the fun details.
The main characters have plenty of life to them, giving plenty of delight as we get to know them. We find ourselves wanting to fight with Fiona for Hamish MacGregor because we have come to appreciate the gardener. Duncan proves to be a really cute sidekick, and this is the first squirrel I can recall as a tame character in a book. Further, I appreciated the slow, gentle romance that starts to develop between Inspector Neil Craig and Fiona, taking things slowly. I appreciate the slow pace of the romance, given the fact that Fiona has just been dumped by her fiancee.
I was impressed by the performance of Eilidh Beaton in the audio edition of this book. She handles the numerous accents deftly, moving smoothly between Fiona’s Nashville accent, Alastair’s partner’s London accent, Precia Kapoor’s Indian accent, and the many other characters’ Scottish accents. Besides her gift with the accents, Beaton does a fantastic job of creating voices that cleverly suit each one. Beaton transports us to the world that Flower has so beautifully created in Belwick, Scotland, making the pair of women an effective team.
Flowers and Foul Play turned out to be a fun, creative book that I enjoyed listening to. It kept me highly entertained throughout with both its mystery plot and flavorful haracters. I look forward to the next book’s getting released in this new series. I give the book five stars.
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