May Day is a day of celebration in Whitstable, Kent. Pearl Nolan, detective and restauranteur, was planning on spending time at her allotment, but her best friend Nathan has other plans – Hollywood actress Faye Marlowe, a Whitstable native, has been lured back to open the fete at Whitstable Castle and he needs Pearl to handle to catering. But that’s not all she’ll have to sort out…
People in Whitstable have long memories when it comes to Faye (or Frankie as she was) and not everyone is pleased to see her. But one person in particular seems to have passed beyond simple dislike – as on May Day Morning, Faye is found tied to the maypole, stabbed through the heart. Pearl finds herself, along with would-be paramour DCI Mike MacGuire, hunting a murderer with a long memory…
It’s a pleasure to be part of the Blog Tour for May Day Murder, the third in Julie Wassmer’s Whitstable Trilogy – although see my interview with Julie for some news on that front. I reviewed the second book a week or so ago although I read this one first. Very confusing, but luckily it’s not a series that needs to be read in order. But the reason that I read the second one was that enjoyed the third one. Of course I still haven’t read the first one… I do hope that’s clear.
The inspiration of Agatha Christie is evident throughout the book. The central plot element of the the film start returning to her home town sounds like an Agatha Christie plot, even though she never wrote it. And while the body-tied-to-the-maypole is a wonderful visual.
Pearl is an engaging character, and while her two careers seems at odds, her motivations for sleuthing are convincing – Julie has created a genuine character here and, apart from the drawn-out when-will-they-get-on-with-it romance with MacGuire (which does gain some forward momentum here), Pearl is charming company throughout the book.
As for the mystery, armchair sleuths beware. The more experienced among you will probably guess part of the solution quite early on. I certainly did and was feeling rather smug about it – it was obvious who the murderer was… And while I was right about part of it, I was quite wrong about the big picture. I’ll say no more, but as with Murder On Sea, Julie managed to pull the wool over my eyes.
Julie mentioned something interesting to me in a tweet following the review of Murder On Sea – namely that I was the only male reviewer of that book so far. I presume that the combination of a female sleuth and the “cozy” tag (ugh) may out some readers off. I urge those blog readers who like a good mystery to check this out – just as with Chef Maurice, you may be pleasantly surprised. Highly Recommended. May Day Murder is out now from all good bookshops (and some bad ones too).