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Winner of the Mary Higgins Clark Award
One of Publishers Weekly‘s Top Ten Fall Mysteries
Minneapolis Star Tribune‘s Summer Reading List
One of The Washington Post‘s Five New Thrillers & Mysteries for the Beach
One of Amazon’s Best of the Month
One of Christian Science Monitor’s Ten Best Books of the Month
One of LitHub‘s Five Books You May Have Missed This Month
From the author of the acclaimed Li Du novels comes Elsa Hart’s new atmospheric mystery series.
London, 1703. In a time when the old approaches to science coexist with the new, one elite community attempts to understand the world by collecting its wonders. Sir Barnaby Mayne, the most formidable of these collectors, has devoted his life to filling his cabinets. While the curious-minded vie for invitations to study the rare stones, bones, books, and artifacts he has amassed, some visitors come with a darker purpose.
For Cecily Kay, it is a passion for plants that brings her to the Mayne house. The only puzzle she expects to encounter is how to locate the specimens she needs within Sir Barnaby’s crowded cabinets. But when her host is stabbed to death, Cecily finds the confession of the supposed killer unconvincing. She pays attention to details–years of practice have taught her that the smallest particulars can distinguish a harmless herb from a deadly one–and in the case of Sir Barnaby’s murder, there are too many inconsistencies for her to ignore.
To discover the truth, Cecily must enter the world of the collectors, a realm where intellect is distorted by obsession and greed. As her pursuit of answers brings her closer to a killer, she risks being given a final resting place amid the bones that wait, silent and still, in the cabinets of Barnaby Mayne.
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The ideas that would become the foundation of this book were still in that chaotic, twisty-turny stage prior to being tamed by a plot when Doug Holland, the Library Director at the Missouri Botanical Garden, showed me the Garden’s rare book room. As I marveled over the volumes, I felt for the first time that my as yet unnamed protagonist was sitting somewhere in time and imagination, concentrating on the details of a plant, ready to be pulled into an adventure. I am grateful to the Garden for that moment, and for the wealth of resources that were available to me later in the writing process, from biographies to herbals to herbarium specimens.
Established in 1673 by the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries, the Chelsea Physic Garden still sits at the edge of the River Thames in London, and still educates visitors on the uses of plants. The hours I spent wandering its paths making scribbled notes and sketches not only supplied essential historical details for writing The Cabinets of Barnaby Mayne, but inspired its final scene.
Publishing a novel is a group effort, and I am fortunate to have the guidance and support of a fabulous editor, Kelley Ragland, and agent, Stephanie Cabot. I’m also lucky to have a mother willing to turn her keen eye to tricky sentences, and a brother willing to share his insights into story structure. Finally, a way-too-big-for-a-sentence thank-you to my husband, Robbie, for talking through murder methods on weekend walks, for brewing experimental posset, and for reminding me always that words and imagination can transform one thing into another, no occult magic necessary.
- On Sale
- Aug 4, 2020
- Page Count
- 320 pages
- Hachette Book Group