Shadow Dragon Press

Kinkajou Press


Book Information



Distributor Button

Amazon button
Bookshop Butotn

Apple Button
Barnes and Noble Button

Kobo Button

Death in a Desert Garden

Death in a Desert Garden

Death in a Desert Garden

Author: Marty Eberhardt
ISBN: 9781951122225 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781951122300 (ebook)
Publication Date: October 5, 2021
Price: $14.95
Pages: 216

Bea Rivers' new job at Shandley Gardens seems to be idyllic; a stimulating career at a desert garden full of botanical wonders. But a slow rot has spread within Shandley Gardens as financial woes add stress to the small board of directors, putting Bea's job at risk. When one of the Gardens' founders, Liz Shandley, is killed in what appears to be a tragic accident, the immediate worry is the survival of the Gardens. But then the police determine that Liz was murdered, and suddenly Bea's job is less than idyllic. The tangled web of relationships is almost as confusing as the enigmatic botanical clues someone keeps dropping. Bea struggles to balance her life as a committed single parent dating a struggling writer while she's drawn further into the investigation of Liz's death. As Bea tries to decipher the strange clues to find the murderer, she uncovers deep secrets and surprises among the staff and board that will forever change the Gardens.

Read the first chapters!


"Marty Eberhardt creates a tale full of endearing characters, alluring landscapes, and local flavor. Just when former teacher, single mom, nature-loving Bea Rivers finds her niche in a job she loves at Shandley Botanical Garden, a murder on the grounds threatens not only her job but the future of the garden. Bea isn't going to let this Tucson gem close, nor let a self-important jerk take over, much less let her co-workers take the fall for the baffling crime. Seeded with native plant lore, Death in a Desert Garden had me guessing right to the end. If you can't get enough of good mysteries with southwest settings, make Death in a Desert Garden the very next book on your reading list."
Vicky Ramakka, Author, The Cactus Plot - Murder in The High Desert

"Take a peaceful desert botanical garden, add a small, dedicated staff, and a quirky board of directors with decades of hidden simmering resentments. When a partially severed tree limb kills the widow of the founder of the garden, everyone is a suspect. The lush descriptions of the plants and the ecological considerations involved in running a desert garden are the canvas on which the investigation unfolds. You'll keep turning the pages until the totally unexpected conclusion."
Carolyn Niethammer, award-winning author of eleven books on the food and people of the Southwest.

"Combining a determined sleuth who skillfully navigates all levels of Tucson society, with such a vivid sense of the Southwest you feel the blistering summer heat from the page and see the unexpected beauty of the desert, with a mystery that will keep you guessing until the final pages - makes Marty Eberhardt's Death in a Desert Garden a first-rate addition to the ranks of debut mystery novels. Brava!"
Kris Neri, NM-AZ Book Award-winning author of Hopscotch Life

"Marty Eberhardt expertly draws the reader into the beauty and danger of the desert, weaving elements of the traditional mystery into the story along the way. The result is a great read!"
Marty Wingate, author of the First Edition Library mysteries and the Potting Shed mysteries

"I invite readers to survey shelves of new paperbacksfor so-called detective or thriller fiction. These are the days of cruel drug gangs threatening detectives whose own backgrounds are shady. Or the plots rely on “serial killers” who inspire page turning by shoving menace closer and closer to the protagonists. Mayhem rules! Twisted psyches reappear with a frightening regularity. If you are weary of gory violence filling pages and of narratives that stagger from one dead body to the next, Marty Eberhardt, a Silver Citian with her premier detective novel, offers relief. In fact, Eberhardt’s “Death in a Desert Garden” destroys more than one bloody formula of modern mysteries.

Eberhardt recalls that her teen reading followed the grand dame of mystery, Agatha Christie. Though Christie suggested basic techniques, “Death in a Desert Garden” lies far from a cozy English village crowded with deadly eccentrics. Familiar suspects do inhabit the Tucson garden, however. With her skillful dialogue, the author convinces a reader that a governing board for a nonprofit can be as ominous as a Mafia family. Is the egocentric professor, the board’s only professional botanist, capable of murder? With sly details Eberhardt convinces us that if he isn’t the villain, he should be. Perhaps the board chairman, a driven restaurateur, bore an ancient urge for revenge against the East Coast snob, the garden’s founder, who fell victim to a justifiable homicide. Maybe another ancient wrong, fostered in a tony Virginia private school, led to vengeance?

It’s up to Bea Rivers, the garden’s volunteer coordinator, to sift through the crime and its motivesbefore the police come to a wrong conclusion. It’s with Bea — and her precarious hold on a job in an underfunded nonprofit — that “Death in a Desert Garden” finds its center. She’s no Sherlock Holmes or Hercule Poirot, whose little gray cells deliver the key to unlock an enigma. She’s a single mom beset by a philandering ex, two very vibrant kids, and a new boyfriend who may not be a new boyfriend.

Oppressed by Tucson’s heat and at social loose ends, Bea stands in front of her closet deciding whether to toss a garment into the Goodwill bag. Just as she uncovers scheming, backbiting and messages from flowers, she receives from the summer care program the stern note every parent dreads — she must treat her kids for head lice. Single parenthood requires, if not a village, then at least a corral full of cooperative friends.

Often puzzled, Bea remains our trustworthy guide to the heart of this mystery. It’s a remarkable feature of this novel that we seek “the solution” because Bea Rivers wants the true answer, not because a plot confection demands it.

Bea and the knowledgeable exposition of Southwestern flora are why I’m anticipating witheagerness the next desert garden mystery, already scheduled for a 2023 release."
Tom Hester, Silver City Independent


2022 Winner First Place Western Fiction - Firebird Book Award
2022 Second Place Cozy Mystery - Firebird Book Award
2022 Bronze Winner CIPA EVVY book awards - Mystery/Crime/Detective
2022 Finalist New Mexico/Arizon Book Awards - Fiction - Cozy Mystery and Cover Design (<6x9)

All material on this website is © Copyright Artemesia Publishing, LLC, All Rights Reserved.

Artemesia Publishing, 9 Mockingbird Hill Rd, Tijeras, NM 87059