A Botanist’s Guide to Parties and Poisons

A Botanist’s Guide to Parties and Poisons by Kate Khavari was a fun historical detective tale. Saffron wants only to get her professor set free from false accusations of murder.

From Goodreads:

Saffron Everleigh is in a race against time to free her wrongly accused professor before he goes behind bars forever. Perfect for fans of Deanna Raybourn and Anna Lee Huber, Kate Khavari’s debut historical mystery is a fast-paced, fearless adventure.

London, 1923. Newly minted research assistant Saffron Everleigh attends a dinner party for the University College of London. While she expects to engage in conversations about the university’s large expedition to the Amazon, she doesn’t expect Mrs. Henry, one of the professors’ wives to drop to the floor, poisoned by an unknown toxin.

Dr. Maxwell, Saffron’s mentor, is the main suspect, having had an explosive argument with Dr. Henry a few days prior. As evidence mounts against Dr. Maxwell and the expedition’s departure draws nearer, Saffron realizes if she wants her mentor’s name cleared, she’ll have to do it herself.

Joined by enigmatic Alexander Ashton, a fellow researcher, Saffron uses her knowledge of botany as she explores steamy greenhouses, dark gardens, and deadly poisons. Will she be able to uncover the truth or will her investigation land her on the murderer’s list?

All quotes are from an advanced reader copy and may or may not reflect the published edition.

“He didn’t miss the flush on her cheeks, nor the smile on her face.”

This was a really fun historical thriller. The start is a bit slow, and there are quite a few characters to keep up with. While this is a personal pet peeve of mine, there were times it worked really well in the favor of the book. Saffron is a wonderful main character, and I appreciated her sticking to her morals the entire time. Even with the romance story, she maintained who she was all the way through.

“It was rather intoxicating, playing detective with Saffron. Dangerous, to be sure, with lethal plants and almost getting caught by Berking…but intoxicating. But he could hardly have told her that.”

The pacing did have moments where it was a bit rough. There were times where we would switch from detective work to romance without much “foreplay”. This made the romance aspect a bit unbelievable, for me. It also made the mistakes Alexander made in communicating with Saffron much more jarring. It felt as though we never got to know Alexander the character. We only met Alexander, the semi-love interest. This makes him fall a bit flat for me within the context of a love interest.

“If the police wouldn’t believe the written account, he didn’t see why they would believe the report of a woman who felt strongly enough about Dr. Maxwell to administer poison to herself to prove his innocence.”

The mystery in this murder mystery was solvable within the first 25%, as well. This really took away from the enjoyment of the story, as there wasn’t much left to solve. If you want a fun, quick beach read- this is the one you should pick up! It’s fun, and not too heavy or difficult to read.

“If you don’t like it, Alexander, don’t be so easily manipulated.” He was allowing himself to be manipulated.

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for giving me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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