The Serpent in the Garden by Janet Gleeson

The Serpent in the Garden by Janet Gleeson.  Although this is Gleeson’s second mystery set in mid-18th-century London, none of the characters from The Grenadillo Box appear here.  The basic plot is the same however.  A craftsman-artist travels to the home of his current patron and soon dead bodies appear. Unfortunately, the painter Joshua Pope of “The Serpent” is not nearly as interesting as cabinetmaker Nathaniel Hopson from the first story.  Pope is residing at the home of Herbert Bentnick and his fiancée, Sabine Mercier, commissioned to paint their marriage portrait.  I find it extremely unlikely that they would be co-habitating given the social mores of the time, but perhaps because both are widowed, this was an acceptable arrangement.  An unknown man is discovered dead in the greenhouse by Sabine, and for some reason, the local authorities are not called in, but the visiting artist, who has no knowledge of the family or the area, is asked by the bride-to-be to investigate.  And when Sabine’s emerald necklace in the shape of a serpent disappears, Pope is suspected as the thief and must also investigate this crime in order to save his reputation.  Pope is a pompous, self-centered, imbecile who is always late for any appointment.  It is beyond belief that he would successfully ferret out the solution to this once-again overly-contrived murder.  There is one more tale by Gleeson in her non-series trilogy, but since there are so many more worthy mysteries out there, I will not be reading it.


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