First published: UK, Michael Joseph, 1959; US, London House, 1959
Two deaths by drowning were followed by verdicts of Accidental Death, but neither the heir to the estate involved nor Dame Beatrice Lestrange Bradley was satisfied with these verdicts.
Suspicion fell on several people: on a local farmer, for instance, and on a woman whose son had a title to the estate: and there were others.
Set in East Anglia, with excursions for salmon fishing into Scotland, The Man who Grew Tomatoes is undoubtedly one of the best and most exciting of Miss Mitchell’s novels and likely to prove one of the most popular.
Observer (Maurice Richardson, 8th November 1959):
The Parcae are out in treble strength this month. Dame Bradley in deepest Norfolk, strongly supported by her chauffeur. What looks like a complex inheritance case; two drownings; tomatoes crossed with deadly nightshade. You will have to bear with the solution. If only Miss Mitchell narrated as well as she writes.
Times Literary Supplement (Philip John Stead, 20th November 1959):
Inheriting a country house and estate leads inevitably to involvement in a labyrinth of crime, if detective-story tradition is to be trusted. The Man Who Grew Tomatoes bears this out, for the new heir soon finds it necessary to embark upon an investigation of the deaths of the two people who had previously stood between him and the property. In this he is assisted by Dame Beatrice Lestrange Bradley, whose acumen and eldritch cackle are features well known to readers of Miss Mitchell’s stories. The East Anglian scenery and background characters are amusingly touched in—the dialect with special relish—but it is by no means easy to take a sufficient interest in the search for the killer.