Pearl Nolan, Whitstable resident, restauranteur and detective is in for a surprise. Well, more than one surprise. The first one is being whisked away by her mother, Dolly, for a week away at the Villa Pellegrini, a manor house at the side of a river that has been newly converted into a luxury hotel. The second, slightly more unwelcome, surprise is that the hotel is hosting a cooking course – as a chef herself, the last thing she wants is being told how to cook, not least by “celebrity chef” Nico Caruso, a chef whose reputation as… well, a bit of an arse, seems well deserved.
The third surprise though, needless to say, is the appearance of a dead body, as someone is found (too late) locked in a freezer. As Pearl finds herself distracted both by Nico and by the reappearance of her sort-of boyfriend, DCI Mike McGuire, she needs to track down a killer before they strike again.
It with great pleasure that I get to open the blog tour for Murder On The Pilgrims Way, book four in the “Whitstable Pearl” series – following The Whitstable Pearl Mystery, Murder On Sea and May Day Murder. The series fits under the “cozy” umbrella, which while attracting some readers, can put off other, more serious-minded, mystery readers. Which is a real shame, as like some other series that have that label thrust upon them – Chef Maurice, for example – this is well worth your time.
Pearl and her retinue – mostly represented here by Dolly and MacGuire – are fine constructions, all of which have well-thought out backstories. Pearl is a single mother who, now that her son is at university, has returned to her original dream of crime investigation, and both her and McGuire are dealing with the fact that the road to romance – or wherever they are heading – has obstacles along the way, one of those being Nico himself. You can add in Whitstable itself as a character, I suppose, as certainly I’m becoming much more inclined to visit it since reading this series.
We are very much in the traditional set-up here, with a smallish group of suspects, all of whom have motive and opportunity. We gather the suspects for the finale and the solution is not a straightforward one, despite there being enough hints for the alert reader to put bits and pieces together.
It’s an easy, entertaining read, as are all of the other books in the series, and guess what? You can read it too. For free! If you’re lucky, of course.
This is only open to UK residents, I’m afraid, but I have two copies of the book to give away, absolutely free of charge. Just leave a comment below, or share the review on Twitter, and I’ll draw the winners one week today. Many thanks to Constable for giving me the opportunity to open the blog tour and, obviously, for the free books. See below for the other stops on the tour.
So, as I said, leave a comment or a tweet and I’ll be in touch in a week or so, if you’re the winner.
Oh, and as I didn’t mention it, this is Highly Recommended.