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A Botanist's Guide to Parties and Poisons
Cover of A Botanist's Guide to Parties and Poisons
A Botanist's Guide to Parties and Poisons
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The Lost Apothecary meets Dead Dead Girls in this fast-paced, STEMinist adventure.
Debut author Kate Khavari deftly entwines a pulse-pounding mystery with the struggles of a woman in a male-dominated field in 1923 London.
Newly minted research assistant Saffron Everleigh is determined to blaze a new trail at the University College London, but with her colleagues’ beliefs about women’s academic inabilities and not so subtle hints that her deceased father’s reputation paved her way into the botany department, she feels stymied at every turn.
 
When she attends a dinner party for the school, she expects to engage in conversations about the university's large expedition to the Amazon. What she doesn’t expect is for 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 and evidence quickly mounts. Joined by fellow researcher—and potential romantic interest—Alexander Ashton, Saffron uses her knowledge of botany as she explores steamy greenhouses, dark gardens, and deadly poisons to clear Maxwell's name.
 
Will she be able to uncover the truth or will her investigation land her on the murderer’s list, in this entertaining examination of society’s expectations.
The Lost Apothecary meets Dead Dead Girls in this fast-paced, STEMinist adventure.
Debut author Kate Khavari deftly entwines a pulse-pounding mystery with the struggles of a woman in a male-dominated field in 1923 London.
Newly minted research assistant Saffron Everleigh is determined to blaze a new trail at the University College London, but with her colleagues’ beliefs about women’s academic inabilities and not so subtle hints that her deceased father’s reputation paved her way into the botany department, she feels stymied at every turn.
 
When she attends a dinner party for the school, she expects to engage in conversations about the university's large expedition to the Amazon. What she doesn’t expect is for 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 and evidence quickly mounts. Joined by fellow researcher—and potential romantic interest—Alexander Ashton, Saffron uses her knowledge of botany as she explores steamy greenhouses, dark gardens, and deadly poisons to clear Maxwell's name.
 
Will she be able to uncover the truth or will her investigation land her on the murderer’s list, in this entertaining examination of society’s expectations.
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About the Author-
  • Kate Khavari is the author of fiction ranging from historical mysteries to high fantasy epics. She has her parents to thank for her fascination for historical mysteries, as she spent the majority of her childhood memorizing Sherlock Holmes’s and Poirot’s greatest quips. A former teacher, Kate has a deep appreciation for research and creativity, not to mention the multitasking ability she now relies on as an author and stay at home mother to her toddler son. She lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area of Texas with her husband, son, and a lovely garden that contains absolutely no poisonous plants.
Reviews-
  • Kirkus

    April 1, 2022
    A woman fights for recognition in 1923 London. Saffron Everleigh is following in her late father's footsteps as a botanist at University College London. Though she's alienated her family and been sexually harassed by department head Dr. Berking, she refuses to give up her job as assistant to Dr. Maxwell, who's supported her ambitions. At a party for faculty, wives, and donors, she meets the attractive and accomplished microbiologist Alexander Ashton. The party features all the obligatory backbiting, but Saffron hardly expects to overhear a conversation about the various affairs of Dr. Henry, one of the professors, or watch as Mrs. Henry collapses, quite possibly poisoned. When the police seize on Dr. Maxwell as the killer, Saffron begins poking around with some help from Ashton. Noticing that someone has taken a cutting from a dangerous plant Dr. Maxwell brought back from Mexico years ago that's taken over a large part of one of the greenhouses, she does the same, drinks an infusion made from the cutting, and blacks out just as Ashton enters the office. They both watch in fascinated horror as the symptoms described in Dr. Maxwell's journal slowly appear. Saffron refuses a doctor, even as paralyzing blue lines travel up her body, since the journal says the plant's effects will be temporary. Even more determined to prove Dr. Maxwell innocent, the two sleuths look for a motive connected to his expedition and find more than they expected. An exciting debut with a determined protagonist whose future is sure to contain romance and mystery.

    COPYRIGHT(2022) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Publisher's Weekly

    April 25, 2022
    Set in 1923, Khavari’s appealing debut and series launch introduces Saffron Everleigh, University College London’s only female botanist researcher. One evening, Saffron attends a dinner party hosted by Sir Edward Leister, the donor supporting the biology department’s forthcoming Amazon expedition. At one point amid the small talk, Mrs. Henry, the wife of the expedition’s leader, collapses. When it turns out that Mrs. Henry was fatally poisoned by a rare plant-based toxin, Saffron’s mentor, Dr. Maxwell, who’s a rare supporter of women’s right to higher education, becomes the prime suspect. Saffron sets out to find the killer to save Dr. Maxwell and the Amazonian expedition, assisted by fellow botanist Alexander Ashton, a battle-fatigued WWI veteran. The duo investigate rancorous academic rivalries, libidinous faculty members, and gardens and greenhouses filled with lethal plants. Meanwhile, Saffron discovers an intriguing research paper written by her late father, a well-respected botanist, but will she survive long enough to learn more? The potpourri of fascinating botanical lore and the vivid London setting more than make up for some uneven pacing and awkward plotting. Khavari is off to a promising start.

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Kate Khavari
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