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Down the Garden Path

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  551 Ratings  ·  34 Reviews
Orphan Tessa Fields seeks her origins helped by two endearing elderly spinster Tramwells and reluctant secret love, Harry Harkness. Tessa feigns amnesia to recover in the Tramwell ancestral home. But the butler creeps around in his socks, and in her closet. How does the coquettish maid know all about Tessa and Harry? Why are the Misses Tramwells so good at cards?
Paperback, 275 pages
Published 1991 by Bantam (first published 1985)
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Sep 25, 2016 rated it liked it
Inconsistent - a bit like driving in stop-start traffic. It motors on for a bit, and then comes to a shuddering halt and drags for a while, before setting off again. Moreover, while the main plot seems okay, it's nothing special, plus, I'm not sure the murder actually added anything to the overall "finding her roots" story, which was actually more interesting before the body turned up. All-in-all, the Tramwell sisters and Butler are probably the best thing about the book, and are the main reason ...more
May 01, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After a slow start I thoroughly enjoyed this story. I'd picked it from a list of books that are supposed to be humorous so wasn't expecting a "mystery" and I suppose it was a bit dry in a British sort of way. Lately, I've been reading a few fast-paced novels with page-turning gimmicks (that I always fall for) so it took a little time for me to find my way back to a descriptive meandering path of a story. Now I don't want to leave the grand old houses with their eclectic gathering of stuff, rambl ...more
P. G. Wodehouse meets Agatha Christie with a pinch of Northanger Abbey.
Maureen Brooks
Oops. I received recommendations to read the book, Down the Garden Path. So I ordered it and started to read it. Call me a reading snob, however when a book has misspelled words and incorrect grammar, I just lose interest. The book is a bit choppy and I almost broke my promise of when I start reading a book that I am going to finish the book. However I just kept with it. This book was a murder mystery with no reference to gardens. How can this book have been a highly recommended book for me. Did ...more
Harry Addington
Aug 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Entertaining cozy. Reminded me of arsenic and old lace.
Pamela Mclaren
This is a light, silly romance-mystery. Its OK but I like my lead characters to be a bit smarter and not so ditzy. I guess you could say that this is a sort of "Lucy" book but Tessa isn't as funny as Lucille Ball.

A baby found on the door step of a vicarage is raised to adulthood in a loving home by the minister and his late wife. She is in love with a young man who, once she is grown, falls for her but when he proposes (with a ring she herself admired), she spurns him, then when she decides that
May 04, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ironically, I've ended up reading two "motherless" daughter books in a row. In Down the Garden Path, Tessa Fields is an adoptee raised by wonderful parents, but her adoptive mother has died, & Tessa has left home first to study and then to work. Her father and his housekeeper are moving to a new vicarage in another village, so she leaves her post and takes a break before joining them. In her quest to find her birth mother, she talks her friend and love, Harry Harkness, into helping her stage ...more
Jean Boobar
Jan 25, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 18, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: just-for-fun
Liked it alright; not as engaging as The Thin Woman, and I can't quite figure out why. Perhaps it was the more distinctly-English vocabulary, which I'm not fluent in, or maybe it was the heroine, who wasn't as instantly relatable... but it was a good read, at any rate. :) The beginning is very densely-written, as well, so there are what feels like a dozen or so names bandied about, most never to return, and it was difficult to keep track of them in my mind (since one never knows *who* might make ...more
Aug 17, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Goodreads has the book listed as an Ellie Haskell mystery, which it most definitely is NOT. While I like Dorothy Cannell's writing style as always, I did not like the leading character, Tessa. The whole thing was a bit too much like a formula romance for my taste. The characters of Godfrey and his mother are stereo-typed to the sky and back and not in a pleasant way. Dorothy Cannell is better than this.
Arlene Downey
The old ladies were wonderful!

The butler was interesting, the rest of the characters were very strange. I was not fond of Tessa and Harry - Tessa was either very young and self centered or TSTL! Harry was a little flat with no dimensions.

Primrose and Hyacinth were fun and interesting!

The mystery was interesting and had lots of twists and turns. The murderer was unmasked and the motivation explained.
Apr 07, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Nowhere near as good as the first one. Confusing and story drags. No interest in the characters. I skipped the last couple chapters and just read the ending so I cold find out who did it and the answer to the other mystery within the mystery. Do not recommend reading this book. I am going to read the next in the series with the hope that it is as good as her first book
May 15, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Tessa Fields is trying to find her birth mother to discover her true origins. Her friend and secret love, Harry Harkness agrees to help her with a scheme she dreams up of pretending to have amnesia so that she can recover at the Tramwells' ancestral home. A wonderful cast of eccentric characters.
The Flooze
A tidy tale of murder, family secrets, card sharps and antiques, all taking place in the Cotswolds.

Although not as amusing as Cannell's Ellie Haskell mysteries, this tale of Tessa Fields and the Tramwell sisters is still worthwhile. The spinsters and their reformed Butler seem well suited to a life of deception and snooping, so I'll be happy to revist them in the future.
Oct 15, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mysteries
another great mystery in the quirky british genre. i have read other ones in this series, but stumbled upon this one recently and had to read it. it is the first one of the tessa fields series and i enjoyed it immensely.
Sep 02, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: chick-lit
I'm not sure why the title says "Ellie Haskell Mystery, #2"... Ellie is not in it... but anyway, super cute! Funny, charming mystery. The main love interest was a little annoying at times, but not unlikeable. I love Tessa's masquerade plan and the trouble it brings! Fun read.
Oct 15, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved "The Thin Woman" so I picked this one up. It is Dorothy Cannell's second mystery novel. It doesn't have Ellie Haskell in it, but it is equally fun, wacky, and witty. Makes you wonder what the author is like as a person if her characters are so delicious. This was fun to read.
It was a nice read but not as enjoyable as the Ellie Haskell mysteries (this is NOT a book of the series!). The writing and the setting were good but the story itself was a bit too slow-going, even for a cozy mystery.
Betsy Panayides
Too much lunacy. Advertised as part of Elli Haskell Series but had neither Ellie Haskell or any other characters in her previous book. Didn't finish.
Jul 01, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Very choppy writing, confusing yet predictable love interest, and the protagonist is always annoyingly making assumptions about everyone with very little to base them on.
May 15, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mysteries
Okay, confession. I lost this book several times in midread and haven't really finished it. Sometimes the time is just not right for a particular book. I'll go back to this some other time, perhaps.
Leslie Angel
this is not an ellie haskell mystery; it's a standalone. reads like an earlier work, many of the same themes, but not as polished or as funny. still, it's an entertaining read.
Katie Powell
Oct 02, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love the Ellie Haskell books - None of them are as fun as the first in the series, The Thin Woman, but they all are quick, snappy reads. Highly recommend the series.
Lana Sims
Sep 21, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Normally, I like this author, but this novel was tedious. I frequently lost the book. The plot was entirely predictable, the characters only marginally likable.
Jennifer Bills
Didn't enjoy this one as much as The Thin
S.E. Gilchrist
Not quite in the same rating as the Thin Woman series, but a great read nevertheless.
Sep 21, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ms. Cannell's characters are always a treat.
Jan 31, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book description says this is the second book in the Ellie Haskell series and yet Ellie Haskell never appears in it! Still good though.
Jan 17, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Funny, but not quite so much as "The Thin Woman".
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Goodreads Librari...: Additional Information on edition 6 114 Sep 06, 2016 01:38AM  
  • (Arly Hanks, #12)
  • Murder Can Run Your Stockings (Desiree Shapiro Mystery, #13)
  • False Premises (Domestic Bliss Mystery #2)
  • Murder Runs in the Family (Southern Sisters, #3)
  • The Flaming Luau of Death (Madeline Bean, #7)
  • Preaching to the Corpse (Advice Column Mystery, #2)
  • Buying Time (Aspen Moore, #1)
  • That Way Murder Lies (Mitchell and Markby Village, #15)
  • Murder Most Crafty
  • Death at Buckingham Palace (Her Majesty Investigates #1)
(from Fantastic Fiction online)

Dorothy Cannell was born in London, England, and now lives in Belfast, Maine. Dorothy Cannell writes mysteries featuring Ellie Haskell, interior decorator and Ben Haskell, writer and chef, and Hyacinth and Primrose Tramwell, a pair of dotty sisters and owners of the Flowers Detection Agency.

(from Internet Book List)

Dorothy Cannell, a mother of four, grandmother of te
More about Dorothy Cannell...