Review: A Botanist’s Guide to Parties and Poisons by Kate Khavari

This book has me written all over it! The cover, the title, the summary! I couldn’t wait to check this one out and start reading it! I loved that it was set in post WWI England, though to be honest I missed in the summery that it was set in 1923 when I read it. I spent the first 10-20 pages of the book trying to figure out of it was the Victorian era or post WWI!

At any rate, the setting was great and it had a very ‘adventurer,. explorer, intellectual’ vibe from the very first page and I was eager to see how the story panned out. If you enjoy books with a fiesta female sleuth then you will find a lot to love in Saffron Everleigh! Saffron was fun, relatable, and intelligent and I really liked getting to know her throughout the book.

This is author Kate Khavari’s second book and even though I haven’t read the anything else by her, I would be happy to read another historical fiction by her as this was enjoyable and generally good. If you enjoy a ‘whodunnit’ with intelligent characters and a lovely setting then you don’t want to miss this one! Plus look at that cover y’all! It’s so pretty!


Saffron Everleigh is in a race against time to free her wrongly accused professor before he goes behind bars forever. Perfect for fans of Deanna Raybourn and Anna Lee Huber, Kate Khavari’s debut historical mystery is a fast-paced, fearless adventure.

London, 1923. Newly minted research assistant Saffron Everleigh attends a dinner party for the University College of London. While she expects to engage in conversations about the university’s large expedition to the Amazon, she doesn’t expect 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, having had an explosive argument with Dr. Henry a few days prior. As evidence mounts against Dr. Maxwell and the expedition’s departure draws nearer, Saffron realizes if she wants her mentor’s name cleared, she’ll have to do it herself.

Joined by enigmatic Alexander Ashton, a fellow researcher, Saffron uses her knowledge of botany as she explores steamy greenhouses, dark gardens, and deadly poisons. Will she be able to uncover the truth or will her investigation land her on the murderer’s list? (summary from Goodreads)


There was plenty to like in this book—-spunky heroine, science, a love interest I loved the science parts. There was a lot about botany but not so much that it was overwhelming and boring. It held my interest and kept me reading and I loved learning about the academic process when it came to putting together an expedition. I thought that was probably the most interesting part of the book. I never really put much thought into what it would be like to put together a big research expedition literally half a world away. It didn’t overwhelm the story but it gave readers some insight into the inner workings of early university research and exploring. I also loved learning about all the plants and research that went into a program like botany in the early days of the field. It was interesting without being overwhelming so overall that was one of my favorite parts of the story.

I also loved Saffron, at times she was impetuous and acted a little rashly but I think overall she was a likable and intelligent main character. Reading her was fun and I really liked how relatable she was. I think that fans of Deanna Raybourn’s Veronica Speedwell series will find lots of enjoy in this book for sure. I liked Alex as a romantic interest as well. He was supportive of her from the very beginning and even if she made some questionable judgements, he was still there to be supportive as a friend and colleague. I did think they needed a little more chemistry between them though. I felt like their chemistry was a little wanting and I had hoped for a little more ‘fire’ between the two to really make them more believable as a romantic couple.

This book was a nice quick read. The chapters were mostly short and and I thought the story progressed well. And while I liked the book I felt like there was something missing at times and I can’t quite put my finger on what exactly! I liked it but I just felt like the characters were a little one dimensional and I know that the secondary characters were forgettable. After the initial dinner party where the poisoning occurs, the reader is introduced to a host of potential characters and I forgot many of them and found myself having to go back and try to recall certain characters when referenced again later in the book. So I guess that’s what made this one more of a 3 star read for me. It was good but needed a little more substance for it to be a solid 4 stars from me.

Book Info and Rating

Format: 304 pages, paperback

Published: June 7, 2022 by Crooked Lane Books

ISBN: 9781639100071

Free review copy provided by publisher, Crooked Lane Books, in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and in no way influenced.

Rating: 3 stars

Genre: cozy mystery, historical fiction


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