Murder On The Downs (2020) by Julie Wassmer

Whitstable would seem the ideal place for a new property development – unless you live in Whitstable of course. The greenery of the downs is under threat, both with regards to local wildlife and the influx of Londoners buying the property for weekend getaways.

Needless to say, a campaign begins against the development, but Pearl Nolan, local restauranteur and private detective is approached by the developers to work for them. But when one of the developers ends up dead in the stocks, Pearl finds her relationship with DCI McGuire under strain (again) as she is determined to find the killer before they strike again…

First of all, an apology. Well, a few. First to Julie and Little, Brown who sent me the book to review and it’s a bit late – the book was released ten days ago. Second, to you readers, who I know have been desperately refreshing my home page minute by minute hoping for a new review (humour me here, please) but it’s been a while. Basically, I haven’t been reading that much and writing about the books that I have read even less. Why? Well, as a teacher, I’ve been teaching remotely from home which means staring at a screen for eight hours a day and so going back to the screen to have a bit of a blog hasn’t been that enticing a prospect. It looks like it will get worse, as somehow I might have to teach some classes remotely and others face to face (although only small classes, not my actual ones) while others stay at home due to Boris Johnson’s cack-handed half-arsed lifting of lockdown procedures. And while I’m here, the Daily Mail can f**k right off too. If you haven’t seen their incredibly insulting, both to teachers and to the general intelligence of their readers, front page from a few days ago, then lucky you.

That's quite enough of that, get on with the review!
That’s quite enough of that, get on with the review!

So, a week has gone by but I’ve got a small window. Rant out of the way, onto this book, the seventh in the Whitstable Pearl mysteries, set in Whitstable, with a sleuth called Pearl. Definitely fitting into the cosy crime genre, this is the seventh of the series. I started it when I was asked to review May Day Murder, the third and it impressed me a lot, causing me to go back and catch up and I’ve been reading them ever since. Yes, I’ve been sent review copies of all of them, but I’d have read them anyway.

This is a good entry into the series. I’d say there are perhaps some pacing issues as it takes a while to set the scene and present the first body, although for a “cosy” mystery, it’s got a fairly impressive body count. Once the first body is found, it kicks into high gear and the plot accelerates with plenty of twists and turns along the way. The relationship with Pearl and her nearest and dearest is well done, with the steady romance with DCI McGuire moving forward at a decent pace. The author does address the problem of the policeman relying on his girlfriend to solve his mysteries for him, by the way.

It does fall prey to the murderer being deduced by the subtle clue of “you’re trying to kill me, I guess you’re the killer” but there’s a line of logic going through the actions of the killer that makes a satisfying sense.

So, another entertaining mystery for fans of the series and gentle mysteries in general. A shame about the source of the quote on the front cover…

11 comments

  1. I feel you, PD! Two months in lockdown, and I’ve managed to read two and a third books, as well as virtually stifle the education of over a hundred high schoolers. I’m sure that I’m glad I don’t read The Daily Mail! Meanwhile, my president seems determined to kill us all off. It’s crazy, I tell you! Be well. Stay safe. Avoid the beaches and the hydroxychloroquine. That’s all I got!

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    • OK, I’ll drink bleach instead. Our lot are just as bad, just not quite so obviously so. In the meantime, lessons are actually OK remotely, but Maths is probably one of the easier things to teach remotely, but having to prepare everything I would normally write on the board basically doubles the length of lessons and planning on top of that…

      But many people have it a lot worse than me – I still have my job and my wife keeps me closer to sane that I would have been. Unfortunately the Daily Mail is determined to drive schools to reopen despite, well, science…

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  2. I didn’t make it to the actual review part because I was turned off by all the political talk in the initial paragraphs. SAD! 🤣

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    • Well, if I have offended anyone by adding in a sentence about how I would like some control over how I risk my life… I don’t remotely apologise. This blog has always had a personal element to it – that’s not going to change.

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  3. I absolutely understand, PD. I’m in the education field (though not an actual teacher) and I definitely feel for all of you who have had to adjust to online instruction. I was never enthused about the Zoom meetings I had to attend before this all started and I can’t imagine having to do every little thing through Zoom. I had a very difficult time getting motivated to read during the first half of this stay-at-home business, but wasn’t sure why. [I spend most of my day in the office on a computer, so I knew it wasn’t the amount of screen time.] Had to start rereading a fluffy little cozy series to get things started.

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    • Hence my re-read of The Nightingale Gallery – just what I needed. There’s probably going to be more familiar authors coming soon. To be honest, though, it’s the reviewing that I’m finding it hard to get motivation for – more and more screen time… ugh.

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  4. Like Laurie, I actually enjoyed your half-paragraph mini-rant. It was not too long, it was not offensive, it was highly pertinent to your blogging activities, and gave the blog some extra heart.

    I do not even understand what multiple paragraphs (sic) Sam Karnick is referring to. Either one of us cannot count, or his comment was clear hyperbole not to be taken seriously.

    Liked by 1 person

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