Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Garden Bloggers' Book Club Aug.-Sept., 2007

Like the garden bloggers' bloom day, I have been following and reading the selected books on the garden blogger's book club started by Carol over at Maydreamsgarden.blogspot.com for several months now. I haven't contributed a review yet, but this month I'm on time. I have carefully avoided reading the other reviews so as not to influence my opinion.

A Hoe Lot of Trouble by Heather Webber, 2004:
When Carol suggested a gardening mystery for the August/September selection of the Garden Bloggers' Book Club I was thrilled. I was beginning a long vacation at the beach and a mystery was perfect escapist reading. I ordered two selections by Heather Webber, A Hoe Lot of Trouble, and Digging Up Trouble. I also ordered two additional mysteries by Susan Wittig Albert: Bleeding Hearts and Thyme of Death. I read them all. Webber's books were terrible!
They were formulaic, predictable, and very light on horticultural information. Here's the formula: a strong woman with an over developed and unbelievable sense of curiosity finds herself unexpectedly in the middle of a murder case. She has either been dumped for another woman and thus has a chip on her shoulder or has just started a relationship with another strong man (pick a cop for either). Her children, family members,or friends generally get involved and have to be rescued. Everyone survives and the murderer is usually someone you do not care for in the first place. The protagonist's career changes from author to author. Caterer - Diane Mott Davidson, English Professor and musician - Virginia Swift, Bounty Hunter - Janet Evonovich, Ex lawyer turned Herbal Shop Keeper - Susan Wittig Albert, Failed law student turned Florist - Kate Collins just to name a few. Some like Davidson, Swift, Evonovich are successful primarily because they are witty and down right hysterical at times. Others like Webber and Collins should find another profession. Webber's heroine is a landscape designer whose company specializes in "surprise garden makeovers". She hires an interesting group of ex offenders and has a parole officer as a best friend. Her husband the cop has left her for his squad partner and his son is a teenager on the edge. Forget the murder situation - I get them mixed up between her two books - they are not compelling. Webber has the ingredients of a good yarn but she falls short on the delivery. Susan Wittig Albert's China Bayles series is better written and includes more horticultural information. I would place her in the middle of the pack. Webber and A Hoe Lot of Trouble - don't bother reading. There are better authors and yarns in the genre. I may have had beach brain and just wanted a beach read for vacation but A Hoe Lot of Trouble and Digging Up Trouble came up very shallow.


Carol said...

Thanks for contributing a review for the Garden Bloggers' Book Club. I agree with you on the Webber books... shallow. I couldn't even finish the first one in the series (the official club "selection") and finally gave up and wrote about another series of garden mysteries. I'll include your review in the virtual meeting post.

And your blog is new to me but looks quite interesting. I'm going to explore it some more.

Carol at May Dreams Gardens

bill said...

I completely agree with you about the Webber book.

farmingfriends said...

You have certainly read alot of garden mystery books, I am interested to read the authors you have mentioned.
Sara from farmingfriends