Death in the Garden

by Elizabeth Ironside.  First published in the U.K. in 1995, I have a 2005 Felony & Mayhem edition.  The first line in the book… Today at half-past two in the afternoon I was acquitted of the murder of my husband. 

This mystery involves two time periods. There isn’t a lot of switching back and forth though. It starts off in 1925 and soon moves to the present. The return to the past is then done through diaries and letters and personal recollections.

In 1925 beautiful, bohemian, photographer Diana Pollexfen was celebrating her 30th birthday with a party at the family’s country estate, but the celebration turned sour when her husband is found dead, poisoned by a cocktail laced with Diana’s photographic chemicals. Sixty years later, her grand-niece is turning 30, but with less fanfare. An overworked attorney in London, Helena’s primary social outlet is an obsessive love affair with a married man. Upon Diana’s recent death, Helena discovers her great-aunts secret and becomes distracted with her papers and diaries and finds a new obsession: Finding out who did kill George Pollexfen in that lovely, sunlit garden between the wars.

A rich, multi-layered tale, with war intrigue, love affairs, broken relationships and betrayal. I enjoyed it and will look for more of her work. ‘Elizabeth Ironside’ is the pseudonym for Lady Catherine Manning, wife of a British Ambassador to the U.S.