The Blue Rose

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Kate and Alex Sheppard move into the Parsonage not only because the Wiltshire cottage is their dream home but because the elaborate grounds offer Kate the chance to create the garden she has always wanted. Soon after their arrival, they discover a beautiful blue rose bush tucked away in a corner of the garden. Such a species is thought to be impossible, and rose concerns have spent millions trying to develop it.

The Sheppards enlist Lawrence Kingston, a noted professor of botany, as their advisor to solve the mystery of how the rose was developed and what to do with it. Kingston promises them that they will make millions from their discovery. The trio soon finds that the rose was created by the late husband of the cottage’s former owner. A retired army officer who served as a code breaker during World War II, Major Cooke, and a former colleague described their process in several journals in a code only the military can crack. Soon Mrs. Cooke’s greedy nephew, a Japanese adventurer, and a ruthless American businessman are after the rose. Several deaths and a kidnapping ensue as the rose’s deadly secret is slowly revealed.

The Blue Rose is the first novel by Anthony Eglin, an internationally renowned gardener who received Garden Design magazine’s Golden Trowel Award for Best English Garden in 1995. While Eglin’s effort has sufficient gardening details to mollify the specialist, the emphasis is on the mystery of the rose and its consequences. The tale is well paced, building smoothly to an action-packed finale. Eglin shows his lack of experience only with a weakness in character development, with Kingston being the sole character to rise above the one-dimensional.