The Body in the Back Garden By Mark Waddell: Review/Giveaway/Interview

Nov 4, 2023 | 2023 Articles, Cynthia Chow, Mysteryrat's Maze

by Cynthia Chow

This week we have a review of the first in a new series by Mark Waddell, along with an interesting interview with Mark. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of the book and a link to purchase the book from Amazon.

The Body in the Back Garden by Mark Waddell
Review by Cynthia Chow

Former investigative journalist Luke Tremblay plans to stay in Vancouver Island’s Crescent Cove only for as long as it takes to sell his late aunt’s cottage and antique shop. He hadn’t ever planned on returning to the place where he spent his summer vacations, as his beloved Aunt Marguerite had abruptly cut off contact with him at the same time he was disowned by his parents. The unexpected inheritance of her entire estate after her death by a hit and run accident has Luke back in Crescent Cove though, and things immediately go sideways when he is abruptly confronted by his aunt’s dissatisfied customer. An infuriated Joel Mackenzie demands entry into Marguerite’s property, asserting that she was still holding an item he bought. When Joel’s combative demands turn physical Luke is forced to push him down the stairs, something he later regrets when he finds Joel’s body facedown in his aunt’s ornamental pond.

Luke’s welcome back to Crescent Cove doesn’t improve when it turns out that the investigating Mountie is Sergeant Jack Munro, who still feels the resentment from being abandoned by Luke’s abrupt departure from the island years ago. So Munro’s warning to Luke to not leave town feels very personal, even though he was already the main suspect due to the fight with Joel being witnessed by a grocery delivery girl. Even if Luke wasn’t being forced to stay he would be determined to know who left Joel’s body on his aunt’s doorstep, especially when Luke learns that her death may also have been an act of murder. Clues to finding those responsible may lay within the Forget-Me-Not Antique shop, although Luke’s going to have minimal assistance from the jealous staffer Barnabus Delacruz. It doesn’t take long for Luke’s investigative journalist instincts to kick him, resulting in a little light breaking and entering, impulsive trash stealing, and possible evidence tampering. It’s only with the very reluctant aid of Jack Munro that Luke may manage to keep himself out of prison – or worse – as it’s looking as though a killer is becoming ever more desperate to keep secrets hidden. Permanently.

This first in the series does an outstanding job at introducing readers to the very likable and relatable character of Luke Tremblay. While his coming out to his parents devastatingly resulted in their complete rejection of him from the family, the Luke we meet seems confident in his sexuality and his identity. What he’s less certain of is his readiness to enter into another relationship, something very much understandable considering that he was cheated upon by his last boyfriend. So it’s a little ironic that back in his tiny hometown he now has two suitors vying for his attention, although only one truly appeals to Luke. Readers will be charmed by the rom-com movie moment when Luke is forced to don a tuxedo to investigate suspects at a gala, with the results sparking attraction and igniting rivalries. There is a slow-building romance that promises so much more in the future, while the well-crafted mystery delivers with a genuinely surprising conclusion. Humor, engaging characters, and an appealing lead character should place this at the top of cozy readers’ to-be-read-next pile.

Cynthia Chow is the branch manager of Kaneohe Public Library on the island of Oahu. She balances a librarian lifestyle of cardigans and hair buns with a passion for motorcycle riding and regrettable tattoos (sorry, Mom).

Interview with Mark Waddell:

KRL: How long have you been writing?

Mark: I wrote stories as a kid, and I published two books in my former life as an academic, but I’ve been writing fiction for something like three or four years now — less than two years full-time.

KRL: Have you always written mysteries, and if not, what else have you written?

Mark: The Body in the Back Garden is my first mystery. I tend to write more in the realms of fantasy and speculative fiction.

KRL: What brought you to choose the setting and characters for your book and will it be a series?

Mark Waddell

Mark: I’d just moved to Vancouver Island when I began writing the book, and I decided to set it in a fictional town here because it’s such a beautiful place to live. There also aren’t a lot of cozy mysteries set in Canada, and I wanted to add one! As for the characters, they just popped into existence in my mind. I set out to write a deliberately diverse and inclusive book, with characters from a wide range of backgrounds.

The book was conceived as the first in a series, but my publisher may have other ideas.

KRL: Why did you decide to write a cozy mystery?

Mark: I grew up reading Agatha Christie novels and watching Murder, She Wrote, so I’ve always had a fondness for amateur sleuths and cozy settings. When I began writing The Body in the Back Garden, we were just beginning to emerge from the pandemic and the world seemed like a pretty scary place. I wanted to spend my time imagining a little town where there were no pandemics, no climate crisis, no politics — just the occasional murder. It was a form of escapism for me, really.

KRL: I think we can all relate to that. Do you write to entertain or is there something more you want the readers to experience from your work?

Mark: Primarily, I want people to have a good time while they read my stories, but I also want to make them think. This particular book has characters who have dealt with homophobia and racism, for example. If I can encourage readers to empathize with those experiences, even a little, then that’s great.

KRL: Do you have a schedule for your writing or just work whenever you can?

Mark: I have the luxury of being able to write every day.

KRL: What is your ideal time to write?

Mark: I’m a morning writer. I go to a nearby coffee shop and consume large amounts of caffeine to kickstart my brain.

KRL: Do you outline? If not, do you have some other interesting way that you keep track of what’s going on, or what needs to happen in your book when you are writing it?

Mark: I’m more of a pantser — that is, I write by the seat of my pants — than a plotter. I’ll sometimes create a very broad outline, but most of these stories live entirely in my head. (That’s tough to do with a mystery, I found!) Oddly, I do most of my mental plotting either while I’m walking the dogs or lying in bed at the end of the day.

KRL: Did you find it difficult to get published in the beginning? Did being a queer writer make that any more difficult?

Mark: Getting your work published is tough, but my own experience was very atypical. I wrote The Body in the Back Garden in four months and then started querying agents. I had both an agent and a book deal four months after that.

I don’t think being a queer writer made things more difficult. Lots of agents and editors are eager to hear from authors from underrepresented communities and identities.

KRL: Do you have a great rejection/critique or acceptance story you’d like to share?

Mark: My now-agent, the incredible Melissa Edwards, offering to represent me was pretty incredible. A ton of possibilities opened up for me in that moment, and it was very exciting.

KRL: What are your future writing goals?

Mark: Besides becoming rich and famous? I just want to keep telling stories and sharing them with people who are excited to join me in these fictional worlds.

KRL: Who are your writing heroes?

Mark: There are too many to list here, but I’ll mention Guy Gavriel Kay, Neil Gaiman, and TJ Klune in particular.

KRL: I love TJ Klune! What kind of research do you do?

Mark: I used to be an academic, so I do a lot of research. Nothing removes me from a story faster than an author who clearly hasn’t done their due diligence. That’s why I try to ensure that even the smallest of details are correct — for example, for this book I researched everything from shade-tolerant perennials to Canadian inheritance law.

KRL: What do you like to read?

Mark: I read pretty widely across genres, but I especially enjoy fantasy, mysteries, and M/M historical romances.

KRL: What are your favorite TV shows or movies?

Mark: I love British comedies (Absolutely Fabulous is a particular favorite), and I also consume a lot of British mysteries (at the moment, I’m loving the new series Mrs. Sidhu Investigates). I have so many favorite movies, but at the very top is The Princess Bride.

KRL: I loved Mrs. Sidhu Investigates, we recently reviewed it here in KRL. What is something people would be surprised to know about you?

Mark: I spent two years training in Muay Thai (also known as Thai boxing), and I can still throw a mean right hook.

KRL: Do you have any pets?

Mark: My husband and I have two dogs, Daisy and Lucy. They’re adorable monsters who keep us on our toes.

KRL: Is there anything you would like to add?

Mark: Thank you for reading!

KRL: Website? Twitter? Facebook? Instagram?

Mark: You can find updates, and sign up for my newsletter, at

To enter to win a copy of The Body in the Back Garden, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “garden” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen November 11, 2023. U.S. residents only, and you must be 18 or older to enter. If entering via email please include your mailing address in case you win. You can read our privacy statement here if you like.

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. Also listen to our new mystery podcast where mystery short stories and first chapters are read by actors! They are also available on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, and Spotify. A new episode goes up next week.

You can use this link to purchase the book. If you have ad blocker on you may not see the Amazon link. You can also click here to purchase the book.

Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.


  1. New author to me. Sounds like a great start to a new series. Adding to my TBR list.

  2. Mary Holshouser
    Sounds like a new series I’ll want to follow.
    thanks txmlhl(at)yahoo(dot)com

  3. This book cover is so eye catching! lindaherold999(at)gmail(dot)com

  4. Sounds like a great start to a new series. Will definitely look forward to reading!

  5. This is a new author to me but would love the chance to win to check him out

  6. We have a winner!


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.