The Skeleton Garden (Potting Shed Mystery Series #4)

The Skeleton Garden (Potting Shed Mystery Series #4)

by Marty Wingate

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USA Today bestselling author Marty Wingate’s Potting Shed series continues as expert gardener Pru Parke digs up a Nazi warplane—and a fresh murder.
Texas transplant Pru Parke has put down roots in England, but she never dreamed she’d live in a grand place such as Greenoak. When her former employers offer Pru and her new husband, former Detective Chief Inspector Christopher Pearse, the use of their nineteenth-century estate while they’re away for a year, she jumps at the chance. Sweetening the deal is the prospect of further bonding with her long-lost brother, Simon, who happens to be Greenoak’s head gardener. But the majestic manor has at least one skeleton in its closet—or, rather, its garden.
Working on renovations to the extensive grounds, siblings Pru and Simon squabble about everything from boxwood to bay hedges. But when the removal of a half-dead tree turns up the wreckage of a World War II–era German fighter plane and a pile of bones, the arguments stop. That is, until a rival from Simon’s past pays a surprise visit and creates even more upheaval. It’s suddenly clear someone is unhappy their secrets have been unearthed. Still, Pru’s not about to sit back and let Simon take the fall for the dirty deed without a fight.
Marty Wingate’s captivating mysteries can be enjoyed together or separately, in any order:

Praise for Marty Wingate
“Marty Wingate plants clever clues with a dash of romantic spice to satisfy any hungry mystery reader.”—Mary Daheim, bestselling author of The Alpine Yeoman
“Classy, clever, and utterly charming . . . Brew a pot of tea and settle in with this immensely enjoyable mystery.”—Rosemary Harris, author of Pushing Up Daisies and The Bitches of Brooklyn, on The Garden Plot
“Put the kettle on and settle into a well-crafted village mystery with a delightful new sleuth.”—Connie Archer, bestselling author of Ladle to the Grave, on The Rhyme of the Magpie

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781101968055
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 03/15/2016
Series: Potting Shed Mystery Series , #4
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 301
Sales rank: 68,143
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

USA Today bestselling author Marty Wingate is the author of three previous Potting Shed mysteries—The Garden Plot, The Red Book of Primrose House, and Between a Rock and a Hard Place—and the Birds of a Feather Mystery mysteries: The Rhyme of the Magpie and Empty Nest. Wingate is a regular contributor to Country Gardens and other magazines. She also leads gardening tours throughout England, Scotland, Ireland, France, and North America. More Potting Shed and Birds of a Feather mysteries are planned.

Read an Excerpt


8 July 1944

The full moon washed all color from the landscape, rendering trees in shades of pale silver relieved only by the inky blackness on the ground beneath them. White lilies glowed in the middle of the border, their heavy perfume a siren’s call as he passed. Mounds of geraniums and lady’s mantle appeared as small contours in the landscape, distinguished from rocks only when a slight breeze stirred the summer air and the leaves danced silently in some midnight fairies’ rite.

Will gave only the briefest glance at the house. The old man would be away to the back, sitting in the kitchen over his hot cocoa, all the windows well covered. No witnesses for this meeting apart from the badger stealing across the lane. No temptation to violate blackout regulations and pull out a torch—the moon gave all the light needed. But bright moonlight meant they could be caught out by a night raid. Will glanced up into the sky and decided he didn’t care. He had to have it out, and this was as good a place as any. Better, in fact. It meant something, this—at least it did to him.

He stepped up to the edge of the pit, his feet crunching on the chippings under his boots, and looked down at the jagged sheets of metal sticking up at awkward angles. The plane had come down right inside the old man’s walls, and it had been the talk of the village for a fortnight. The German pilot had bailed out and was found with a broken leg in a wood a mile away, then afterward, shipped off to a far-flung prisoner-of-war camp in Cumbria. The pilot would heal and be put to work in the fields, Will thought, as he kneaded his own shoulder, still stiff months after being shot down over Malta. They’d be wanting to send him back up in the air soon.

For a week, small groups of villagers had gathered in the lane at all times of day chatting among themselves, pointing to the sky and describing the imagined arc of the Messerschmitt’s path. The plane lay in a heap in the yard of the house, and no one seemed bothered to move it. The Home Guard out of Romsey had posted security for a few days, until it, the town, and the army lost interest. Worn down by four years of bombs, the villagers turned back to what really mattered—the day-to-day struggle of doing without. What had they expected, that Winnie Churchill would make a personal appearance to inspect the damage?

They all grew weary of this reminder of the Führer, but hauling it away involved too many logistics. Instead, the old man decided to bury it. “Put it out of sight,” he said. He had a mountain of gravel squirreled away behind the hedgerow as if he had feared they’d start rationing rock chippings along with the tea and bread. Using it to bury a German fighter plane seemed right enough. The plane, cut into several large pieces, lay only half covered—they’d almost run out of the chippings and had started to mix in the soil that had been dug out.

“Not thinking of jumping in there yourself, are you?”

Will turned, saw who it was, and stuck his hands in his pockets. “You’d be free and clear if I did, now wouldn’t you?” He shook his head. “Who would’ve thought you’d be a spiv?”

“The Ministry of Food made their own problems with this rationing—a few tins of beef, a bit of sugar—who’s going to miss that? Do you know how far four ounces of bacon goes every week? No, you wouldn’t—RAF has all it wants, now doesn’t it, Lieutenant?”

“Puts a few extra bob in your pocket—the both of you. Just how much do you make on the black market?”

“It’s every man for himself in war.”

“No, it isn’t.” Had Will thought confrontation would work? “Look, I’m giving you fair warning. You were kind to me when I arrived here and you’ve been good to my girl, so I won’t say anything this time. But you’d better pull out of it while you can.”

“Or you’ll do what?”

It was just a shove—meant to knock him down, nothing more, but it landed on his injured shoulder. Will recoiled from the pain that shot down his arm. It threw him off balance, but instead of slipping on the gravel at the edge of the pit, the blow sent him toppling in headfirst. His neck landed eight feet below on a ragged piece of the metal wing left uncovered.

Silence, apart from a few loose rocks as they rolled down and tapped against the propeller.

“Will?” He stepped closer to the edge and jumped in. “Will—you all right?” Will lay facedown in the black shadows, only his legs sticking out into the moonlight. He took hold of his hair to turn him over—wouldn’t it be just like Will to scare him on a lark—but Will’s head came back too easily, a wide slit in his throat that cut deep. Blood poured out of his neck, soaking into the gravelly earth, creating an inky black shade of its own.

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The Skeleton Garden (Potting Shed Mystery Series #4) 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 43 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
[ I received this book free from the publisher through NetGalley. I thank them for their generousity. In exchange, I was simply asked to write an honest review, and post it. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising] "She hated to argue and usually avoided confrontations at all costs . Why did she have to stand her ground with Simon? “You’re too much alike,” Christopher had said to her one evening, after overhearing a squabble about when to fertilize the fruit trees. She’d narrowed her eyes at her husband, but smiled. “You mean we’re both stubborn.” Christopher had pulled her close. They were newlyweds and subject to sudden physical acts— something she hoped they would never lose. “Stubborn?” he had asked. “Never. You’re”— he made a show of seeking the right word—“ strong-willed.” Pru and Christopher are newlyweds. Simon and Polly have been married many years. Pru and Simon: brother and sister Parke— both used their mother’s maiden name— might not always think alike on gardening, but looked, if not alike, at least related. A decade apart in age, they were still trying to get to know each other. Christopher is a new hire with the local constabulary. He and Pru were offered a place to stay at Greenoak, where she and Simon worked together building and rebuilding the gardens. While replacing a dying tree, they find the remains to a WW2 German plane buried in the gardens apparently by the former owner during the war. Further exploration finds something chilling: a skeleton who is not the pilot as he was arrested years before. Former Detective Christopher stands by watching the local police official bumble through the investigation since Martin is his boss. Add Christopher's teenaged nephew religated to Greenoak as punishment for computer hacking, and the mix is at least...interesting. Wingate's work again hits the mark as her delving into "local" history and legends brings a human interest to the past, so different for Brits over us in America. She also has a deft way of drawing readers in and keeping us interested in the complex, believable story. Highly readable and strongly recommended.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Like the other stories,it started slow. But when it found second gear,it was off running like the races. Good book in bed on cold nights. I would recommend it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
An enjoyable cozy mystery series!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Liked the characters and the English country setting.
ksnapier475 More than 1 year ago
This is part of the cozy mystery series, A Potting Shed Mystery. Pru Parke has moved from Texas to a plush place in England called Greenoak. Offered this estate, Pru and Christopher Pearse, her new hubby and former Detective Chief Inspector, said yes. While there she decides to connect with her brother, Simon. While working on the grounds, Pru and her brother, the grounds worker, found a WWII German fighter plane and some bones. This did not thrill everyone and some blamed Simon. This did not sit well with Pru so she fights for him. This was such a fun read. I enjoyed the garden talk and the connection with WWII. The development of the characters was well done. I had not read a book in this series before so this aspect was important to me. The predictability factor was pretty high but it was still enjoyable. I received this book from NetGalley and Random House Publishing in exchange for an honest review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not only 'til the end do you know who dunnit.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Couldn't put itdown. Love this author.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Terrible nothibg like the rest of the series only got thru forty pages and could not take anymore of this boring dribble it deserves no stars
KarenSue More than 1 year ago
I've enjoyed the series.
InspirationalAngel531 More than 1 year ago
Title: The Skeleton Garden - Potting Shed Mystery 4 Author: Marty Wingate Published: 3-15-2016 Publisher: Random House Publishing Group/Alibi Pages: 294 Genre: Mystery, Thrillers & Suspense Sub Genre: Amateur Sleuths; Cozy Mystery; International Crime ISBN: 9781101968055 ASIN: B00ZNE45FO Reviewer: DelAnne Reviewed For: NetGalley Rating: 5 Stars . Pru returns in this fourth installment now married to DCI Christopher Pearce and staying in the home of her former employers, Greenoak, while they are a way for a year. Add in the advantage of getting to spend time with her long lost brother Simon and his wife Polly, who is the head gardener on the estate. (For some reason Pru went with her parents to the states while Simon was left behind to be raised by their English Grandparents who told him his family had died in an accident.) While arguing over what should be planted where as they renovate the large gardens. When an old dying tree is dug up a WWII Nazi plane is unearthed along with the bones of its pilot. Then an old antagonist from Simon's past shows up and begins causing problems. Like most siblings they may squabble amongst themselves, but will not tolerate the same from outsiders so Pru stands up for her brother and then the trouble starts. Christopher helps in the investigation to identify the bones and Christopher's nephew is sent to stay with them after getting in with a bad crowd and getting into some legal trouble at home. Orlando shows little interest in gardening until a dead body shows up then he is right there Johnny on the spot. Now Chris' involvement shifts from dead bones to dead bodies. Of course Pru cannot stop herself from "helping" her husband investigate. Something Chris is not enthusiastic about nor is the killer. As always Ms Wingate has written a cozy that is plotted well with characters that are likable and believable. There are many different things happening in this story and I could not put it down. I somehow missed book three and will have to go back and read it for my own enjoyment, but know that The Skeleton Garden is easily read as a stand-alone with not problems. I just hate missing a book in a series and I want to see where Simon and Pru meet and why they were not raised together. My rating for The Skeleton Garden is 5 out of 5. I thought it the most involved and interesting story in the series thus far. for those following the series I remind you that book five, The Bluebonnet Betrayal is due out August 2, 1016.
GratefulGrandma More than 1 year ago
This is a great mystery series. This is the second in this series I have read and enjoyed them both. I love how the author really lets us get to know the characters. The story is not just about the mystery, but the people in the book as well. Pru Park and her husband, Christopher, are staying at Greenoaks while the owners, former employers of Christopher, are away on an archealogical dig. Simon, Pru's brother, is the gardener and she wants to get to know him better (they did not know each other existed until they were adults). They had learned they were siblings separated by the end of WWII, when their mother left Simon with distant relatives and headed to the U.S. While digging up a dying tree in the middle of one of the gardens they come across the remains of a WWII German fighter plane. This was a mystery, but it became a crime scene when they also uncovered a skull and other bones. Christopher takes a backseat in the investigation and is assisting/training Martin to be the lead investigator. While all this is going on, the locals are planning a Christmas fete using a WWII theme. This causes people to check out attics, basements and whatever for memorabilia. Meanwhile, another body is discovered in the garden and Pru finally gets to investigate with Christopher's blessing. Who was the body found with the plane? What is causing the recent break-ins in the village? Why was Jack killed, or did he die of natural causes? There are secrets to be revealed, but someone goes to great lengths to keep them hidden. A great mystery with a lot of interesting details about the war as well as gardening. Any cozy mystery buff would love this book. I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
LauraMHartman More than 1 year ago
Long lost brother and sister, Simon and Pru are reunited in adulthood. Pru was raised by their parents in the United States, while Simon was left behind in England to be raised by his mother’s relatives, Birdie and George Parke. He was told his parents died in a car accident. Even though he was brought up in a loving home, to find out his family left him behind had a devastating effect on him to say the least. Pru and her new husband Christopher move to Chelsea to spend a year house sitting and working on a proper English garden. The current gardener is actually her brother, and she is thrilled to share her love of gardening with him, but everything isn't coming up roses. She and her husband settle in, she in the garden, Christopher working with the local police but there are skeletons in the garden, both figuratively and literally . Things are not always sweetness and light between brother and sister, they are learning to get along as siblings and gardeners. Simon is thrilled to be chosen to show off the garden in an upcoming issue of a very prestigious gardening magazine, but Pru has a bad feeling about the whole idea. There is so much to do the pair wonder how it will be possible to get done. Then Christopher’s teenage nephew is sent to live with them because he got in a bit of trouble and his parents want him to be removed from the situation. Orlando isn’t too keen on working in the garden. As a matter of fact, Pru spends more time fixing the problems he creates by taking short cuts. Things change for everyone when a plane from the war and a skeleton is found buried in the garden. Christopher is working the investigation to see if they can find the identity of the bones. Then one of the locals winds up dead in the garden, this crime casts suspicion on almost everyone in the village. Pru can’t help herself – she has too many questions and not enough answers so she quietly talks to the people she has become close to hoping to help Christopher crack the case. But will this happen without more murders? This is the fourth Potting Shed Mystery, but the first one I’ve read. It worked perfectly well as a standalone novel. I was not confused about the characters and their relationship to each other. I love the cast of characters. They were interesting and well developed. Pru’s relationships with her husband, brother, friends and cook brought so much life to her character I felt like having a cup of tea with her telling her everything would be ok! Evelyn, the cook, has a hard shell, but inside she is a soft, caring woman who loves her husband Peachey. I want her to cook for me, the recipes she whipped up while the other characters moved in and out of her kitchen sounded delicious. Wingate wrote a solid mystery with as many twists and turns as an English garden maze. I enjoyed every minute of this book and will seek out the previous books in this series. Copyright © 2016 Laura Hartman DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION: I have a material connection because I received a review copy that I can keep for consideration in preparing to write this content. I was not expected to return this item after my review.
weluvdopey More than 1 year ago
Great Book! This is a great book; this is the fourth book in the Potting Shed Mystery series by Marty Wingate. Pru Parke is a Texas transplant who has put down roots in England. Her former employers offer Pru and her new husband the use of their nineteenth century estate while they’re away for a year. She is excited to spend some time with her long lost brother, Simon who happens to be the head gardener at the estate. When Pru and Simon find a wreckage of a World War II era German fighter plane with a pile of bones they realize that someone is not happy now that their secrets have been found. If you are looking for a great mystery that will keep you guessing until the end, then you need to read this book. I am looking forward to reading the next book in this series. A Review copy was provided to me in exchange for a fair and honest review. The free book held no determination on my personal review.
BookladyBA More than 1 year ago
FTC Disclosure: I received an advanced E-copy from the publisher via ChatterBox and NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. The Potting Shed Mystery series is a new series for me. Though this is the 4th book in the series, it was easy to follow the story without having read any of the previous books. I truly enjoyed this book and would like to read the others in the series. The characters are very likable, even curmudgeonly Simon. The pace is a bit slower than some mysteries, but it works very well for this story. I enjoyed how the story included events and information from WWII mixed in with current day events. There was a touch of humor that added to the story as well. Sonia the duck and Pru’s attempts at cooking helped lighten the atmosphere quite a bit. I was able to “solve the mystery” before the end of the book, but it took me a bit longer than some mysteries do. This was one of my Spring Break reads, a good choice for my leisure time reading. I highly recommend this book for anyone who enjoys mysteries, English gardens, stories set in WWII.
StudentofParables More than 1 year ago
I absolutely love the characters in this series, and I know it is all thanks to Ms. Wingate’s amazing ability to bring them to life for the reader – giving each their own powerful, distinct voice and letting them tell the story. The book starts with an introduction/recap of everyone in our starring cast, and a brief history of their previous adventures. This was well blended into the rest of the story, immersing the reader back into the lives of Pru and her family. And what a family! Full of love, teasing, squabbles, dysfunction and synergy by turns, this work shines in its main theme – that of relationships. Beyond the mystery, this is a book about how the interconnections of our relationships, past and present, can impact us and shape who we are. Seeing how one life, even one action, can impact those around us for generations gave me something to ponder, long after the last page was turned. I also loved actually watching Pru in her garden, and her love for it all, which we didn’t get to dive as deeply into in previous works. Getting to see that side of her was quite fun, especially with the extra adventures from her “helper”. I REALLY enjoyed this book, and I highly recommend you get all in the series!
ailema71 More than 1 year ago
I received this e-book as a free download from Chatterbox in exchange for an honest review. I have not read mysteries in quite some time and really found myself involved in this one. Some readers found the English characters and setting just so-so. I truly enjoyed the flashbacks and conversations about the World War II era. The characters came alive for me and I look forward to catching up on the other books in the "Potting Shed" mysteries series. The story was likable and well written. My interest in the "mystery" genre has again been captured by reading this book. For me this was a very comfortable read, which made me, again, want to visit England at some point in my life.
LibrarianDeb More than 1 year ago
I'm midway through this book, which I received from RH through NetGalley, and am really enjoying it! This is the first title in the series that I've read but I'm not constantly feeling slapped in the face with that knowledge. The author does a great job of filling in blanks so that even if you haven't read the other books in the series, everything flows quite well. I'm really looking forward to solving the mysteries that have come to light so far. I'll definitely be going back and checking out this author's other work.
Muttcafe More than 1 year ago
The Skeleton Garden is a captivating, multi-layered mystery with plenty of surprises in store for readers. If you are a fan of British cozy mysteries, Marty Wingate's novels will not disappoint. Her plots are original and there is always a fascinating array of characters. The story begins with an accidental murder of a British airman during WWII. The body is buried alongside a downed German fighter plane. It is only when Pru and her brother Simon are refurbishing Greenoak's extensive gardens that the remains are discovered. The unidentified skeleton proves an intriguing mystery. The importance of the remains is not realized until after a man's body is discovered where the excavation took place. As the local Detective Inspector fumbles through the investigation, Pru and Christopher start their own, digging into long buried secrets. Marty Wingate's cozies are never formulaic. Each are carefully plotted with great attention to detail. She is such a good storyteller that I didn't mind at all that the present day murder didn't occur until close to the middle of the novel. Even if you have the biggest black thumb ever, as long as you love a good mystery you will enjoy The Skeleton Garden. 5/5 I received a copy of The Skeleton Garden from the publisher and in exchange for an honest review. --Crittermom
Camarogirl67 More than 1 year ago
This book is great! It keeps you guessing right up til the end! I love this book! I am reading it again!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I received an ebook of The Skeleton Garden by Marty Wingate to read & review through the Random House Chatterbox program. I found this book really hard to get in to. I'm not that interested in gardening so that may have had something to do with it. I felt that it was very slow moving and it didn't really keep my interest.
hippycampr More than 1 year ago
This was a great read.
Jkofan_Beowolf More than 1 year ago
I was selected to be a Chatterbox participant and I received free e-book in order to give an honest review. This was a solid little cozy mystery! The clues were provided, the characters were interesting and I loved them and I enjoyed the historical background. I adore anything that is set in WWII era or background. The story was entertaining and fun to read, I really enjoyed it a lot. There is a lot of British history in this book. It is a series of books. This is the fourth in Marty Wingate's Potting Shed series, and it's a mystery to me why I haven't read the previous three. Despite it being the fourth, it's so well-written you can read it as a stand-alone. But I won't deprive myself. I plan to read the first three as soon as possible The storyline is fast-paced. It's never gory and there isn't any potty mouth (for those of you who love mystery stories but are faint-of-heart or squeamish). The characters are engaging: smart and interesting and people you'd want to hang out with (except maybe the bad guy!). There is even a very sassy duck. I heartily recommend this to anyone who loves a cozy mystery, especially one set in the lovely English countryside.
dramacjc More than 1 year ago
*As a Chatterbox participant, I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review* The Skeleton Garden is a fun, cozy mystery revolving around siblings Pru and Simon. Pru is a Texas transplant, who sets up roots in England after marrying her husband and reuniting with her long last brother. Acting as caretakers for their friends' house, Pru and Simon began restoring the garden. However, their plans come to a halt when they discover the remains of a body and a World War II plane. What follows is a mystery full of twists and turns. I enjoyed the book and I loved the English countryside setting. The author does a great job of describing the scenery and making you feel like you're there in the story. All the characters in the book are great, from the moment you meet them you're drawn to them. Pru and Simon prove to be the stars of the story, I loved their bickering, it reminds you of the real life relationship between brothers and sisters. The mystery aspect of the novel is great, it took a while to get that point, yet I loved the build up to it. I don't read a lot of cozy mysteries, but The Skeleton Garden is a nice read for any mystery buff.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago