Summer, 1765. The renowned portrait painter Joshua Pope is eager to escape London and his unhappy past and accepts a commission to paint a wedding portrait for Herbert Bentnick and his bride-to-be, Sabine Mercier.
Joshua learns that the couple are avid horticulturalists.
Bentnick's country house, Astley, in Richmond, is famous for its verdant gardens, designed by the master landscape artist Capability Brown.
Sabine Mercier, who has lived most of her life in the Indies, is an expert in growing pineapples, the fruit of choice at the grandest dinner parties and an inspiration to artists and craftsmen.
But soon after Sabine begins to cultivate pineapples in the vast conservatory at Astley, she discovers a body among her plants.
Why, wonders Joshua Pope, is so little attention paid to this bizarre death?
Why do Bentnick's children regard their future stepmother with suspicion and fear? And what connection does Sabine's daughter Violet have with the dead man?
Outraged that any life can be valued so lightly, Joshua begins to investigate the death.
But then Sabine's valuable emerald necklace disappears, and he is implicated. His need to discover what has happened at Astley suddenly becomes more pressing.
Can Joshua solve the mystery before his reputation is ruined? And, more immediately, can he stay alive long enough to do so?
Following her acclaimed debut, THE GRENADILLO BOX, Janet Gleeson has written another compelling tale of murder and mystery set in an exquisitely and authentically rendered Georgian England.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 416 pages
- Publisher: Transworld Publishers Ltd
- Publication Date: 01/09/2004
- Category: Crime & mystery
- ISBN: 9780553815245
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Review by wyvernfriend
Joshua Pope is a painter, doing a wedding portrait for Herbert Bentnich and Sabine Mercier. Both have some adult children and the stress is quite apparent. When there's a body found in the Pineapple-growing conservatory things get more and more complicated. Pope is curious and delves into what's going on.When the emerald serpentine necklace goes missing and Pope is accused of stealing it becomes more and more important to him to find it, and find out whats going on around him.Honestly this could almost have been set in any period up to pre-world war I. Didn't really give me a great sense of place or time but was readable once I got past the first 50-or-so pages.