I really enjoyed the first book in the Julia Bird series by Katie Gayle, An English Garden Murder, so didn’t hesitate to join the tour for book two, Murder in The Library. My thanks to publisher Bookouture for the advance copy and for including me in the tour. Here’s what the book is about:
About the Book
Julia Bird’s picturesque Cotswolds life is everything she’d dreamed of. Until, that is, she discovers a dead body in the library…
Julia Bird had imagined the quiet of rural life would be soothing after years in the city, but she finds she can’t just sit still. Determined to throw herself into village activities, she joins the library just in time to attend a talk by celebrated local author Vincent Andrews.
Charming, devilishly handsome and talented, Vincent teases the crowd with a reading from his forthcoming novel. Set in a village bearing strange similarities to Berrywick, with characters the audience start to recognise, Vincent hints of dark secrets to be revealed, to gasps of outrage from the room. The meeting ends in uproar, and, just hours later, Vincent’s dead body is discovered behind the bookshelves…
As one of the last people to see him alive, Julia feels morally bound to help the police investigate. With her trusty Labrador, Jake, at her side, she decides to do her own sleuthing and quickly discovers that Vincent’s personal life is messy, his finances are in disarray and his book sales are declining. But most of all, remembering her neighbours’ faces at the book reading, Julia wonders if one of them could have lost the plot enough to kill…
As Julia interrogates the suspects, she walks straight into another scene of murder and mayhem, and realises Vincent’s manuscript is now missing. There’s someone out there who’s deadly serious about keeping their secrets unpublished. Will Julia be able to stop them, before anyone else gets hurt?
Brilliantly twisty, this completely thrilling cozy mystery is perfect for fans of M.C. Beaton, Helena Marchmont and Clare Chase.
I like English country villages. They are picturesque, many have charming or quaint shops and lovely coffee shops selling to die for cakes and the like. Not that I think the phrase ‘to die for’ is one I would bandy around if I was visiting a town like Berrywick as they have had more than there fair share of death on the doorstep or, in this case, behind the well stacked library shelves. This time around it is local born celebrity novelist, Vincent Andrews who meets an untimely demise, as discovered by our favourite amateur sleuth, Julia Bird and her best friend Tabitha in the clean up following his appearance at a specially organised author talk.
Actually, I’m not sure if the bad luck charm is Berrywick or Julia herself, a woman with a rather Miss Marple like habit of finding herself in the middle of murder investigations. Much like St Mary Mead’s most infamous resident, Julia also manages to ingratiate herself with the local Detective charged with the case, being equal parts irritating and a source of very useful information, having a vested interest in solving the case given that it is her almost partners family who are in the spotlight.
I really like Julia. She is a smart and savvy woman whose simple existence, an almost ‘Good Life’ tribute with chickens, home grown veggies and wayward dog Jake, belies the keen intuition that she always manages to show. A former Social Worker, she has experience of the law, knows how to spot a wrong ‘un, but isn’t beyond making the odd mistake. She is perhaps a little more blatant about her ‘snooping’ than Miss Marple would have been, more open in her observations of others, if a little underhand in her methods os obtaining evidence, but she is a thoroughly likeable character and her relationship with Sean and friendship with Tabitha always bring a smile to my face. The banter and back and forth between Julia and DI Hayley Gibson is a source of amusement too, Hayley accepting of Julia in a begrudgingly Japp to Piorot kind of way.
This is a wonderfully plotted mystery, the killer hiding in plain sight but the motives and the truth of the story remaining anything but obvious. The narrative twists and turns with various suspects falling in and out of favour and motives being cast around like vegetable peelings to Julia’s chickens. I was completely hooked to the story, trying to work out who might has done it as each likely suspect is excluded for various reasons and surprises in the story throw any viable solution right out of the window.
If you like a fun, fresh, witty and mystery laden cosy crime story, then you really do need to read these books. They’re fab stories, with wonderful characters and a colourful and vivid setting that I’d still be willing to visit, in spite of the rate of attrition for people in the vicinity … Recommended for anyone who likes their crime stories on the lighter side.
About the Author
Katie Gayle is the writing partnership of best-selling South African writers, Kate Sidley and Gail Schimmel. Kate and Gail have, between them, written over ten books of various genres, but with Katie Gayle, they both make their debut in the cozy mystery genre. Both Gail and Kate live in Johannesburg, with husbands, children, dogs and cats.
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