The Peggy Lee Garden Mysteries

Meet Peggy Lee: detective's widow and owner of the Potting Shed, an urban gardener's paradise in center city Charlotte, NC. Each book is set in a specific growing season and has a garden journal along with plenty of information about plants in each chapter. Peggy is an expert on botanical poisons as well as a mother, a hopeful romantic and a dutiful daughter.

Click on book covers to read an excerpt.

thumbnail image for Killing Weeds coverKilling Weeds

A Peggy Lee Garden Mystery


ISBN: 978-1511940269

Available at :  amazon's logo

It’s spring in Charlotte, North Carolina, home of forensic botanist and garden shop owner, Peggy Lee. This spring has been beautiful, as always, with flowering trees and blue skies.

But a killer is on the loose, and seems determined to destroy everyone and everything she cares about.

When her garden shop, the Potting Shed, is brutally vandalized, Peggy doesn’t realize that it is only the beginning. Her son, Paul, who has been moonlighting as a private detective to investigate the death of his father, John Lee, is suspected of murder when a mink coat lined with poison kills the woman who is wearing it.

Peggy identifies the particularly deadly blend of botanical poisons in the coat. Unfortunately, her work as a specialist with plant poisons makes Paul even more interesting to the police. When attacks against her and her family continue, Peggy must go back through her years of sleuthing to finger the person responsible . . . before it’s too late.


small cover for Lethal Lily

 Lethal Lily

A Peggy Lee Garden Mystery

ISBN-13: 978-1499295955

Available at :  amazon's logo

Part-time garden shop owner/part-time forensic botanist, Peggy Lee is trying to discover if the death of Ann Fletcher 20 years ago was an accident - or foul play. In return, she hopes to receive more information about her late husband's death. She knows John Lee was murdered, but questions have arisen as to why he was killed.  She is working with a private detective who stumbles across his own feet, but her Internet friend, Nightflyer, says that Harry Fletcher has the answers. When Harry is murdered by convallatoxin, from the lily of the valley plant, Peggy begins to understand her role in everything.  Now she has to stay alive long enough to prove her theories - and keep her son, Paul out of trouble too!


book cover for A Thyme to DieA Thyme to Die

A Peggy Lee Garden Mystery

ISBN-13: 978-1492997870

Available at :  amazon's logo

Peggy Lee and her gardening friends have managed to persuade the International Flower Show to move to Charlotte from Atlanta this year. Excited and enthusiastic, Peggy agrees to step into the role as director of the event, but on opening day, a good friend of hers is found dead in the middle of the show.

Dr. Aris Abbuto, an orchid grower from South Africa, has been shot and buried in a makeshift grave covered with pink thyme. Peggy is especially devastated since he came at her personal invitation. The presence of the pink thyme, a plant once used for ancient burial rites, tells her it’s possible one of the show’s growers may be involved in his death.

 She plans to work with the Charlotte Police on this one, in her position of contract forensic botanist, and is surprised to learn of the Charlotte FBI’s interest in the case—which means her husband, Steve is involved too.

 Peggy is focused on finding her friend’s killer and running the flower show with hundreds of sometimes disgruntled vendors. Her questions will find a devious plot with her friend and his young daughter, unwittingly, at the heart of it.

Asking the wrong questions can be dangerous, however, as Peggy knows so well. If she isn’t careful, finding her friend’s killer might also lead to a flower-covered grave for her.

Poisoned by ButtercupsBuried By Buttercups

Available at: amazon's logo

Peggy Lee, owner of The Potting Shed garden shop, is involved in another murder investigation.  After two years of being on the ‘outs’ with the Charlotte Police, new homicide Lieutenant Al McDonald, asks for her help. The choice of weapon for the killer is flower poison, starting with angel’s trumpet. No one knows botanical poisons as well as Peggy.

The investigation turns personal for her when she realizes the killer has used poison to draw her out. Two men with her dead husband’s name have already died.

Is the killer working toward getting rid of Peggy too?

A Corpse for Yew

ISBN - 978-0-425-22810-4

Berkley Prime Crime - May 2009

Peggy's mother volunteers her to look for old bones and antiques in a dry lake during a terrible drought in Charlotte, NC. She finds a corpse and a long standing feud with a group of history buffs while assisting the Charlotte police in their search for a killer. Between dodging questions about her relationship with Steve, will she find time to answer his very important question?



Perfect Poison

A National Mystery Bestseller!

ISBN-13  978-0-425-22127-3

Berkley Prime Crime - May 2008

While attending a funeral in nearby Badin, Peggy learns of more bad news: a diver performing routine work on the local dam is found dead. The police call on Peggy's new training as a contract forensic botanist to help answer questions, but her findings only raise more questions. Peggy is happy to lend her green thumb to the investigation between remodeling the Potting Shed and finding time for her relationship with Steve, but this may be the one time digging for a killer leaves her empty handed.


 Large Print available from Thorndike Press



Poisoned Petals

A National Mystery Bestseller!

ISBN-13  978-0-425-21581-4

Berkley Prime Crime - May 2007

After Peggy's friend, Professor Darmus Appleby, is killed in a fiery explosion, his brother, Luther, takes his place as the head of the global organization, Feed America. When he is found dead shortly after in the Charlotte community garden, she investigates the brothers' deaths using botanical DNA. In her quest, she learns a terrible secret. It will send her to places she never expected to visit and unite her and her son, Paul.

 In her personal life, she receives an invitation for a midnight meeting with Nightflyer that brings her closer to Steve. She finds out her visiting parents plan to move to Charlotte and competition for the Potting Shed in the form of a Smith and Hawken garden store will be right behind them.

"Cleverly plotted . . . a delightful botany mystery." ~ The Best Reviews

"An enjoyable and cozy read, perfectly suited for lounging in the garden on a summer day." ~ The Muse Book Reviews


 Large Print available from Thorndike Press


Fruit of the Poisoned Tree

A Barnes and Noble Top Pick!

ISBN: 0-425-20967-9

From Berkley Prime Crime

What made Peggy's lifelong friend Park Lamonte drive off a ramp to his death? Park's aged mother suspects his wife, Beth, killed him for the ten-million-dollar insurance policy. The police think so, too. But Peggy has a growing suspicion that there's more to the story.

She's convinced Beth is innocent -- even after Park's mother is also killed, an evidence emerges that seems to point to Beth. Can Peggy maintain her gardening business, teach her botany classes, nurture her relationship with her new man, deal with her unruly Great Dane . . . and still find time to extract the truth?

The authors do such a fine job in bringing each and every character to life, smoothly bringing them from one book to the next where you never have to play catch-up.

The characters are brimming with personality that will make you chuckle out loud or want to give them a right hook. Peggy's antics and down to earth personality just make these books go over the top in reading enjoyment; and who could resist her lovable dog Shakespeare, her  love Steve and the colorful people who work for her at her business, The Potting Shed. As in the first, the mystery that must be solved in this second book twists you around until your dizzy trying to figure it out, but why try; it's more enjoyable just to let Peggy do it.

I cannot recommend this work highly enough. It has everything, mystery, wonderful characters, sinister plot, humor and even romance. The way the authors merge plant knowledge into the storyline is great! Come on! Does it get much better than this? I am a fan for life; well done Joyce and Jim, keep-um coming!

Shirley Johnson ~ Senior Reviewer ~ MidWest Book Review

Fruit of the Poisoned Tree, in addition to being a delight for any serious gardener who also leans toward mysteries, is a real gem for murder-mystery enthusiasts. The Lavenes obviously know what they're doing when it comes to writing in this area. Nothing is left out, and the twist at the end is worthy of hoopla accorded to authors with much larger followings.

Alan Paul Curtis ~ Whodunnit

Large Print available from Thorndike Press

And don't miss the first book in the series . . .

Pretty Poison

An IMBA and Barnes and Noble Bestseller!

ISBN: 0-425-20299-2

From Berkley Prime Crime

When botanist and garden shop owner Peggy Lee finds a dead man in her shop, The Potting Shed, in uptown Charlotte, North Carolina, she takes the matter personally. Especially when her homeless friend, Mr. Cheever, is accused of the crime because he took the dead man’s shoes. Peggy knows he’s innocent, but proving it will mean following the dead man’s trail of broken hearts and lonely women to the one person capable of the act. Peggy’s life will be in danger, she’ll fall in love with a Great Dane and a younger man and manage to break a few rules before she’s done!

“Adventure, romance, humor and mystery. This is truly a read that you do not want to miss. I carry the characters with me and look forward to Peggy's next adventure with great anticipation.  Well done!” ~ MidWest Book Review

 “PRETTY POISON is the perfect book if you're looking for great suspense. Joyce and Jim Lavene pen a tale that will have you turning page after page. I can't wait for the next!” ~ Romance Junkies

“Joyce and Jim Lavene have written a fantastic amateur sleuth mystery where the protagonist goes to outrageous lengths to prove the two suspects innocent. Peggy proves life can be rich and rewarding after fifty and the beginning of a romance with a sexy younger man adds an extra ingredient to a charming story. This mystery will appeal to men and women of all ages as PRETTY POISON is a great tale.” ~ Harriet Klausner

Large Print available from Thorndike Press



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