The Serpent in the Garden
By (author) Janet Gleeson
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Serpent in the Garden by Janet Gleeson
Book DescriptionSummer, 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.
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Book DetailsISBN: 9780553815245
(198mm x 127mm x 23mm)
Imprint: Bantam Books (Transworld Publishers a division of the Random House Group)
Publisher: Transworld Publishers Ltd
Publish Date: 1-Sep-2004
Country of Publication: United Kingdom
Books By Author Janet Gleeson
Aristocratic Affair, Paperback (February 2013)
The life of Harriet Spencer, Countess of Bessborough, was one of both respectability and high scandal. The aristocracy of the eighteenth century were the A-list celebrities of the day; their lives, loves, fashions and misfortunes avidly reported in the press.
Moneymaker, Paperback (October 2011)» View all books by Janet Gleeson
Presents a tale of fortunes won and lost, of paupers made rich and lords losing all. Telling this tragi-comic story, this title introduces two fascinating characters who together would change the way the world worked: the inscrutable John Law, and mercurial money itself.
US Kirkus Review » Switching from cabinetry to portraiture, 18th-century specialist Gleeson (The Grenadillo Box, 2004, etc.) continues to dabble-successfully-in detection by the artistically gifted. In 1763 Georgian England, it is apparently up to clever artisans to solve capital crimes. And why not? The luxury trade brought these early meritocrats into intimate contact with the moneyed consumers of their goods, giving them unique access to a rarified world. And with their artists' eyes, they were much better equipped than their aristocratic employers to observe closely the world in which they scrabble to succeed. Gleeson's proto-cop on the upper-crust crime scene, then, is successful artist Joshua Pope. Pope is in residence at Astley, the suburban London estate of Herbert Bentnick, when a vomit-stained corpse is discovered among the pineapple plants in the hothouse. The audibly horrified discoverer of the death is Sabine Mercier, also in residence at Astley. Sabine is the Barbadian double widow who snagged Mr. Bentnick when he traveled to the Indies to inspect the family plantations. There was also a Mrs. Bentnick on the voyage, but she took ill shortly after meeting Sabine, who nursed her unto death. Sabine, then, who knows an unusual amount about horticulture, including poisonous plants, is engaged to Herbert, a union celebrated in Pope's nearly complete joint portrait. The corpse is identified from letters in its pocket as John Cobb, an attorney and, like Sabine, from Barbados. Pope is put off by the family's seemingly cavalier lack of interest in the late Mr. Cobb, and he makes it his responsibility to get to the bottom of things. But his detective work is instantly complicated by the disappearance of Sabine's prized emerald necklace, a theft blamed on Pope. Clearing his name will require the artist to flirt a bit, pop in and out of London, and consult with the greatest of landscapers, Capability Brown. Agreeable. Like living in a Constable scene with a little excitement. (Kirkus Reviews)
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Author Biography - Janet Gleeson
Janet Gleeson was born in Sri Lanka, where her father was a tea planter. After taking a degree in History of Art and English she joined Sotheby's, and later worked for Bonhams Auctioneers. In 1991 she joined Reed Books, where she was responsible for devising and writing Miller's Antiques and Collectibles. She is the author of the Sunday Times non-fiction bestsellers The Arcanum and The Moneymaker. She is also the author of three novels, The Grenadillo Box, The Serpent in the Garden and The Thief-Taker.
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