Meet Julia Bird: recently single, reluctantly retired, and… an amateur sleuth?
Julia Bird has left London for a fresh start in a picturesque Cotswolds village, and the rustic charm and cosy fireplaces of her little cottage are everything she’d hoped for. But when she tears down the old garden shed to make way for a chicken coop, she unearths much more than she’d bargained for… the body of a young woman, apparently buried for decades, thrusting Julia into a baffling mystery.
With only one copper on the case in Berrywick, Julia decides to solve the who and whodunnit herself, taking her wayward puppy Jake along for the ride. And so begins a whirlwind tour of the village – from the dotty 90-year-old to the delightful doctor and the village gardener, it seems everyone has something to hide.
Soon, Julia is convinced she has discovered the killer’s identity, until Jake, a true Labrador, finds a new love of the local lake’s waterfowl and instead ends up catching her chief suspect… drowned. Back at square one, with potential culprits galore, Julia – newly nicknamed the Grim Reaper – despairs at ever solving the murders.
But as Julia ruffles feathers village-wide, the clock is ticking. There is someone in the village who has killed twice already. Will they be prepared to make it third time lucky to keep their secret safe?
What I Thought:
I am very much in favour of the current trend that sees older people becoming a focus in fiction. In An English Garden Murder, Julia Bird is a recently retired, recently divorced townie, hoping to make a fresh start in a country village. Unluckily for her, her plans are derailed by the discovery of not one, but two bodies; is there a serial killer running amok in rural England?
Luckily for us, Julia is a smart, professional woman who, rather than being unnerved by this state of affairs, feels compelled to use her former professional connections and do a little bit of digging into things – why not give the police a helping hand, whether it’s wanted or not?
I liked Julia very much as a capable, professional woman who has been forced to make changes in her life due to things outside her control. The retirement she envisaged for herself over many years has been blown out of the water, but she is determined to face new challenges and carve a good place for herself. As so many women find themselves in this position in later life, it’s great to see her grasp the nettle and find a hopeful future, rather than live in doom and gloom.
The murder mystery itself is really creative and unravels at a great pace, giving nothing away until the right moment. Having one author keep track of all the twists and turns is surely hard enough, so for the co-authors here it must have been quite a feat!
I’ve enjoyed the Epiphany Bloom novels from these authors and, where that series has far more comedy in Pip’s adventures, Julia’s story has a more serious tone, but both of these series (I hope Julia’s story will continue into a series!) have a huge amount of heart and are skillfully written crime novels.
An English Garden Murder is published by Bookouture.
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. Unlike their sleuth Epiphany Bloom, neither of them have ever stolen a cat from the vet.
This post is part of a blog tour celebrating the publication of An English Garden Murder. Keep an eye on the blogs below for more reviews and exclusive content.
Please note: I was sent a copy of this book, via Netgalley, for review. All opinons are, as ever, my own.