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I am so happy to welcome Bailey Cattrell back to Escapes With Dollycas!
A Mysterious Manuscript and More in Marigolds for Malice
by Bailey Cattrell
(Provided by Publicist)
Marigolds for Malice is the third book in the Enchanted Garden Mystery series. Elliana Allbright is still running her perfume and aromatherapy shop, Scents and Nonsense, in Poppyville, California. The scent-related empathy that allows her to create custom essential oil blends to benefit her clients is developing more and more, and business is booming. She loves her work, her tiny house, her friends, and her town. In late March, the Enchanted Garden behind her shop is burgeoning, filled with spring blooming plants and the tender green shoots of new growth between the tiny fairy tableaus and gnome doors. Better yet, Ritter Nelson is returning from his research project in the Alaskan tundra, so her love life is about to pick up in a big way.
So, life is better than good … until another murder throws a wrench into things.
Ellie’s women’s business group, the Greenstockings, have been putting the finishing touches on the Heritage House Gold Rush Museum. It’s housed in a small log cabin that’s been restored and moved to the park behind the library. Retired Berkeley history professor Eureka Sanford has a special interest in the California Gold Rush and is helping out.
As the group sifts through items to put on display, they discover a time capsule from the mid-1800s. Inside are several artifacts from Poppyville’s heyday, including a gold nugget the size of an orange and a black-and-white photo of a woman who could have been Ellie’s identical twin. There’s also a mysterious manuscript that appears to be much older and doesn’t seem to be related to the other contents of the time capsule.
The manuscript, soon dubbed the Xavier manuscript, is written in several alphabets and is in a language no one understands. Eureka Sanford knows it’s rare and valuable, but Ellie senses something more about it. When she goes to find out more, she discovers Eureka dead in the museum, and the contents of the time capsule missing.
The last thing Ellie wants is to go up against Detective Max Lang in another murder investigation, but this time the chief of police is heading the investigation. He’s a busy man, though, and Ellie doesn’t quite trust that he’s giving the case the proper amount of attention. So, in the interest of justice for Eureka – and finding the Xavier manuscript, which seems to hold a key to her own past and strange scentual abilities – Ellie starts asking questions.
I’m often asked where I get my ideas. The answer is: everywhere. It’s not a constant influx of lovely ah has!, of course, and rarely do they come fully formed. Rather, there are bits from here and pieces from there, incidents of gosh, isn’t that interesting that go into the mix along with truths that are stranger than fiction. Over time, they synthesize into plot points, character development, and sometimes into the hooks upon which I hang an entire story.
A few years ago, a friend sent me a link to a Wikipedia article about the Voynich manuscript. It described, “an illustrated codex hand-written in an unknown writing system.” It was carbon dated to the early 1400s, and probably written in Italy. Codebreakers from all over had tried to decipher it with no luck. And the illustrations? Some were pretty weird, but others reminded me of the kinds of pictures Ellie’s gamma drew in her garden journal – the one which always seems to contain new information just when Ellie needs it.
I decided against using the Voynich manuscript in Marigolds for Malice per se. For one thing, I wanted the freedom for the manuscript to be what the story needed, and the Voynich is well and specifically documented. It’s also been posited to be a fraud or a hoax. And not too long ago, someone determined that the language wasn’t mysterious so much as it contained a bunch of Latin abbreviations. He concluded that it was actually a medical text written for women’s health.
True? I don’t know. It doesn’t matter, because reading about the Voynich manuscript sparked the idea for the Xavier manuscript, which may or may not be related to Ellie’s grandmother’s mysterious and magical garden journal, and which Ellie – and possibly one other person – can understand even if they don’t know the language it’s written in.
Because I really do think magic is around us all the time if we look for it…and so are ideas.
Other things that sparked aspects of this book? A picture of my great grandmother that looks exactly like my aunt was posted on my family genealogy Facebook page. That made me think about doppelgangers, and then whether Ellie might have one, and why. Watching the first episode of Deadwood again inspired me to research some of the less savory aspects of the Gold Rush in Ellie’s town. A friend’s son was working with his classmates to create a time capsule for future students at his school, and that made me wonder whether time capsules are ever misinterpreted by those who open them. And, as usual, my own interests in gardening, aromatherapy, herbalism, soap making, and, of course, cookies, were sprinkled into the book as well.
Marigolds for Malice includes recipes for Astrid’s Chocolate Crinkle Cookies and Ellie’s Oatmeal Milk Bath. Next up is Cookies and Clairvoyance, the eighth in the Magical Bakery Mystery series that I write as Bailey Cates. For more information about my books, please visit www.baileycattrell.com .
Thank you, Bailey, for dropping by and giving insight about this book.
Keep reading for my review.
Marigolds for Malice (An Enchanted Garden Mystery)
3rd in Series
Setting – California
Berkley (August 28, 2018)
Mass Market Paperback: 336 pages
Kindle ASIN: B078DW46M3
In the third captivating Enchanted Garden Mystery from Bailey Cattrell, Elliana Allbright will need to dig up clues from the past to weed out a killer…
Elliana Allbright is happy running her perfume shop, Scents & Nonsense, in the charming town of Poppyville, California. And she’s even happier when she can use her inherited abilities to infuse her perfumes with an extra special something that eases woes or solves problems for her customers. But she’ll need those abilities and more when murder comes to town.
Ellie and her women’s business group, the Greenstockings, are helping to open a new museum about local history, and while sorting through the collection of artifacts they discover a time capsule from the days of the Gold Rush. Among the contents is a strange botanical manuscript, recognized by local history professor Eureka Sanford as extremely rare and valuable. When the professor is found dead in the museum, Ellie has no choice but to sniff out the murderer… but this one may have roots that are as old as Poppyville.
Elliana Allbright is the owner of Scents & Nonsense where she sells items made with special oils she distills from plants in her own garden. The Enchanted Garden is right next to the shop and abuts right up to her tiny house. The garden is a relaxing place with spots for people to sit and wind down from the stress in their lives. Ellie’s dog, Dash and shop cat, Nabokov have free rein of the area so they may dish out their own kind of comfort too.
Ellie belongs to a women’s group, the Greenstockings. They are busy cataloging artifacts for a new local history museum. In their endeavor, they find want appears to be a time capsule for the 1800’s. The town quickly makes an event out of its opening. Inside they find some rare items and local history professor Eureka Sanford tells all that the items could be quite valuable. After most of the items are returned to the museum, Eureka is found dead and most of the items are missing. Ellie is quite interested in the items for a personal reason so she is determined to root out the killer and get the items back.
Elliana Allbright is a wonderful protagonist. She has a gift passed on by her Gamma of being able to match each person with the right combination of scents for them and any problem they may be facing. Her Gamma’s journal is the guidebook and has been the key to everything she knows. A magical journal that still updates itself long after her Gamma’s passing. In this story, it again plays a critical part in solving the mystery. It is fun tagging along with Ellie as she sniffs around for answers. I love the way she and Detective Lupe Garcia work together, especially this time because the chief of police has taken the lead on the case.
The mystery is not easy to solve and the killer tries to permanently stop Ellie from investigating which just riles her up even more. There are several suspects to check out. While reading along I suddenly had my “aha moment”. I read a little further and thought “no, that can’t be right”, but then after a few more pages I joyously found out I was right. The author tried hard to lead me astray but I was almost as determined as Ellie 😀
Now, I can’t finish this review without mentioning the cover. All the covers for this series have been amazing and I want to give a shout out to cover artist Adrienne Langer. She captures the beauty of Ellie’s enchanted garden perfectly. That alone should have people grabbing the book off the shelves. Then to read the story and read the descriptions the author provides of the entire garden, Ellie’s shop, and her little house provides the added imagery needed to bring the setting to life. Poppyville and Scents & Nonsense sound like somewhere I would love to visit again and again.
An enchanting place, engaging characters, and a truly entertaining mystery all come together to give readers “A Perfect Escape”. Until next time . . . I can hardly wait!!
About the Author
Writing as Bailey Cates
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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”