May Day Murder (2016) by Julie Wassmer

Today’s read has a reasonably classic setup. Faye Marlow, a retired actress returns to her hometown after decades, after a request is made for to open a series of May Day events, as well as attend a special screening of one of her films. Her return unsurprisingly ruffles a few feathers and no reader should be surprised to find her dead, on May Day morning, aptly tied to a May pole stabbed in the chest. In on the action from Faye’s arrival to Whitstable, is Pearl Nolan, restauranteur and private investigator, whose personal contacts and friendships give her an inside track. Faye’s murder also brings DCI Mike McGuire back on the scene; a detective with which Pearl has shared a few sparks. They are at that well known will they/won’t they stage, though any potential romance seems thwarted by a myriad of comic mis-timings.

Overall Thoughts

This is an enjoyable light and easy read. Wassmer develops an appealing cast of characters you enjoy being around, which is helpful given how many of them are serial ones. For the reader new to the Pearl Nolan mysteries, I don’t think there will be any difficulties jumping into series at this later stage, as Wassmer is good at adding succinct but helpful backstory reminders throughout the book. The setup for this series i.e. a woman who did do some police training, went into the restaurant business and then does sleuthing on the side, did ring a few bells and I eventually remembered what it reminded me of, which was a TV series called Pie in the Sky. Though that had a retired police officer who goes into the cuisine industry.

Pearl comes by her clues and evidence plausibly enough, though she is somewhat aided by a helpful confession at the end. I did anticipate one of the surprises of the ending and the culprit’s backstory did feel like a familiar one. Nevertheless, this is a well told story, with an engaging prose style. I think one area which needed a little more emphasis was the unpopularity of Faye, as I could see the role she was supposed to fill and the type of person she was supposed to be, but I don’t think she evidenced her full potential in this quarter.

All in all though this was definitely the type of breezy read I was in the mood for, so I may well return to this series at a later date.

Rating: 4/5

Calendar of Crime: May: Other May Holiday

See also: The Puzzle Doctor has also reviewed this title and others by Wassmer.

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