Garden of Deadly Delights (1996) by Cynthia Manson (ed)
Manson has put together a bouquet of nineteen deadly blossoms taken from the gardens of Ellery Queen and Alfred Hitchcock (or at least from their mystery magazines). We get classic authors like Agatha Christie & G. K. Chesterton and Eudora Welty, Nathaniel Hawthorne & Lord Dunsany. Mixed among these well-known names are quite a few that I didn't recognize. And, as with all anthologies, some of the mix works and others don't. I could have done without Lord Dunsany's "Three Men in a Garden" and neither Eudora Welty's "A Curtain of Green" nor "The Ghost in the Garden" by Dan Crawford strike me as mysteries. Although...it is a bit of a mystery at the end of the Welty story whether a death has occurred at the end or not. But, taken as a whole, A very enjoyable collection. ★★★★
"How Does Your Garden Grow?" by Agatha Christie: "How Does Your Garden Grow?": Poirot receives a letter from a woman needing someone with discretion. She dies before being able to meet with him to explain. And he goes to investigate--he finds the nursery rhyme in the title very informative. Similar beginning to Dumb Witness and notable for the appearance of Miss Lemon. [one poisoned]
"The Cop Who Loved Flowers" by Henry Slesar: Captain Flammer's love of flowers leads him to the proof that will convict the man who killed the woman the captain loved. A woman who loved flowers too. [one shot]
"Garden of Evil" by Carol Cail: What if plants were sentient--would they take revenge on those who prune and cut and eat them? [5 deaths = one fell from height; one natural; one strangled; one rabies; one shot]
"Clubbed to Death" by Donald Olsen: A man retires early so he and his wife can travel like they always dreamed. But he finds she's too tied to her clubs to make time for travel. What's a man to do? [one poisoned]
"The Garden of Smoke" by G. K. Chesterton: Inspector Traill of Scotland Yard discloses the solution to how a woman was killed with her own rose. [two poisoned]
"The Price of Tomatoes" by William Bunce: A man used to winning the prize for tomatoes each year at the garden show is disgruntled when his new neighbor begins taking first place. He'll do anything to come in first again. Anything. [one stabbed]
"Early Retirement" by Frances Usher: A man forced into an early retirement on a very small income comes up with a plan to fund the garden of his dreams. He soon finds another little hobby to help keep his garden blooming splendidly. But what if his wife thinks he's spending too much time on his little hobbies? [5 deaths =one heart attack; four strangled]
"Venus Fly-Trap" by Ruth Rendell: Two old "friends"* wind up with flats in the same building. Merle has hers made up like a little hothouse--plants everywhere, including a venus flytrap. Unfortunately, there's more than death than just flies at the end of this one. (*I honestly don't know why Daphne wants to associate with Merle again) [one strangled]
"The Puzzle Garden" by Edward D. Hoch: The Garden of the Apostles holds a secret--treasure buried before the communists took over. It also holds death..[one heart attack; two stabbed]
"One Last Picture" by Sherita Saffer Campbell: An old rival's grandson comes to visit Sadie Mae. He wants to take a picture of her to take back to his grandma. Sadie insists he take the picture before they sit down and have a nice glass of lemonade... [not clear if anyone drinks it]
"A Curtain of Green" by Eudora Welty: When Mrs. Larkin's husband is taken from her (through a freak accident--a tree crushing him in his car), she takes to her garden. She plants and weeds and plants until the yard becomes jungle-like and she seems lose herself in the curtain of green. [one accident]
"The Scent of Murder" by Frances & Richard Lockridge: Ronnie Beede, a killer, has escaped the psychiatric ward of an upstate hospital, killing two on his into Captain Heimrich's territory. A housewife is killed while her husband is over the hill in their garden. It looks like Beede has claimed another victim. [one shot]
"Three Men in a Garden" by Lord Dunsany: The mystery of the murder in an Irish garden--and the real mystery to me is why it's been included in this collection. There's no mystery--we know who did what. But we never learn the "why" behind the initial set-up. [one shot]
"The Ronnie" by K. D. Wentworth: In the future, there are things called VegeTots--a bit more than pets and somewhat less than children. They are animated vegetables with a life of their own. When Ronnie's owner is threatened by her abusive husband, the VegeTot takes matters into is own leaves. [one natural; one suffocated]
"The Ghost in the Garden" by Dan Crawford: Not strictly a mystery--there is ghost haunting the ancient garden at the palace in Merodale. The townspeople, though very hungry and knowing that fruit trees grow there, are afraid to enter because of the ghost. Then a magician comes along who can break the spell.
"Rappaccini's Daughter" by Nathaniel Hawthorne: A medical researcher grows a garden made up entirely of poisonous plants. He trains is daughter in the care of of the deadly flowers and vegetation and she becomes immune to their effects. In fact, she begins to take on the characteristics of the plants...even her breath can be deadly. Can the young man who sees her and falls in love with her save her from her deadly destiny? [one poisoned]
"Parrots in My Garden" by Dorothy B. Davis: A woman is let go from her job just a week before her husband tells her he's leaving her for another (younger) woman. Eileen decides she's not going to take the matter lying down... [two shot]
"The Azalea War" by Wyc Toole: What begins as a feud between neighbors over a row of azalea bushes, a German shepherd, and a property line ends in deadly tragedy. [three shot]
"The Mushroom Fanciers" by Lawrence Treat: When a well-to-do family's butler puts together a tell-all book that gets the attention of the Attorney General, the butler begins to fear for his life...with good cause. [one stabbed]
First line (1st story): Hercule Poirot arranged his letters in a neat pile in front of him.
Last line (last story): We miss Ella and her mushrooms.