cover image The Sea Garden

The Sea Garden

Sam Llewellyn. Headline Book Publishing, $17.95 (377pp) ISBN 978-0-7472-7373-8

Victoria, a young American, and Guy, a young Englishman, meet, fall in love and get married in the first few pages of this stylish tale of crime and passion. Soon thereafter, Guy inherits his family's estates and properties, on the condition that he and his bride change their surname from Farrer to Blakeney-Jones. They move to a mansion on Trelise, his family's island off Cornwall, which the author, a native of the Isles of Scilly, lovingly evokes. After purchasing Trelise in the 1840s, Joshua Jones, the famous medicinal herbalist, immediately began to turn the island into one large garden. When Victoria discovers some buried bones, Guy thinks they must be those of some long-ago monk. Victoria disagrees, so she begins to research the history of Trelise, consulting letters, invoices, diaries and other documents stored in the mansion. She learns that Joshua Jones was followed by James Blakeney-Jones; James's daughter, Harriet; and Harriet's son, Harry, as family leader over the years. From this point on, the book presents a clever interweaving of past and present, with the different stories told as if they were occurring contemporaneously. The mystery turns out to be thoroughly modern, however, involving many of the present-day staff at Trelise. Victoria's insights and her personal failings play a strong part in her deductions and conclusions in this intricate tale of sex and death over the generations. (Sept.)