A Secret. A Memory. A Scent. A Death.…
While sunny gardens full of marigolds and chrysanthemums may not immediately conjure images of darkness and mystery, plants do have the very real potential to be dangerous. In fact, they have a long history of being entwined in shadow and magic. Think of the poisoned apples or cursed rose petals that bring forth the demise of characters in our favorite fairytales. A certified horticulturist, plant expert, and now author, Karen Hugg drew on her own considerable expertise – and this long-standing tradition – to tell a twisty, unputdownable Paris-set mystery with the first book in her Botanique Noire trilogy, The Forgetting Flower (Magnolia Press, 2019).
The Forgetting Flower begins with an introduction to Renia Baranczka, a woman living the life she always hoped for in the city of lights. Managing a chic plant shop, Renia ensures her rarest plant is always locked away, and unavailable to inquiring customers. Unlike the other more standard flora in her inventory, this particular plant’s flowers emit a special fragrance that can erase a person’s memory. Yet she can’t just destroy it as she promised her estranged sister she’d keep it in her care. That is until one day, when Renia’s favorite client turns up dead, she realizes the plant may be more dangerous than she thought and without her client’s business, the shop can no longer stay afloat. When a shady character from her past appears with a nefarious proposal, Renia does what she’d pledged she’d never do: sell the flowers for cash. As Renia navigates the underworld of black market mobsters, she must fend off unwanted advances, physical abuse, and intimidating threats until finally, she faces a fight not only to save the plant, but her sister, and ultimately, herself.
Vastly entertaining, the world Hugg creates is immersive and convincing, due in no small part to the real-life knowledge of plants she brings to the table.
“My overall aim as a writer is to nudge people to be more interested in the mysterious and often surprising world of plants and the environment,” says Hugg. “I hope people walk away from this story and remember just how alluring the main plant – the Violet Smoke – is.”
In addition to her impressive knowledge, Hugg’s writing chops are nothing to scoff at. Her prose is atmospheric and vivid and, like the best thriller writers, she knows how to draw out the suspense in a scene to the point that it is difficult to stop yourself from turning the next page, keeping you up far later than you intended.
Fans of smart, women-centered thrillers, like those of Tana French and Sue Grafton, will gravitate towards The Forgetting Flower and be thrilled they got their hands on the first installment of this beautiful yet deadly series.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Karen Hugg writes literary mysteries and thrillers inspired by plants. Her stories are set in worlds where plants, real or imagined, affect people in strange new ways. Born and raised in Chicago, Hugg moved to Seattle because she fell in love with the Northwest’s giant trees. There she worked as an editor, which prompted her to live for a brief time in Paris. Later, she became a certified ornamental horticulturalist and master pruner. Hugg earned her MFA from Goddard College and has been published in the Rooted anthology and other publications. When not writing, she digs in the dirt. When not digging in the dirt, she hangs out with her husband, three children, and four pets. When not doing any of those things, she sits outside and stares at the sky.
Connect with Karen Hugg at www.karenhugg.com, or on Twitter @karenhugg, Facebook facebook.com/karenkhugg, or Instagram @karenhugg.