Title: The Birthday Mystery by Faith Martin
Publisher: Joffe Books
Date Published: 11th December 2018
Genre: Cosy Mystery
Discover a new series of whodunits by million-selling author Faith Martin. These classic-style mysteries will have you scratching your head to work out who the murderer is. Meet Jenny Starling: travelling cook and reluctant amateur detective.
Please note this book was first published as “BIRTHDAYS CAN BE MURDER” under Faith Martin’s pen name JOYCE CATO.
Jenny Starling is catering the twenty-first birthday party of a pair of posh twins, Alicia and Justin.
But when she arrives at their parent’s country house, she is immediately met by the police. A young man has drowned in the pond. Was it an accident or murder?
Then just after midnight everyone gathers for a champagne toast. But one of the guests falls down dead.
The police are baffled and there is a whole party full of suspects. But when it comes to someone adding the extra ingredient of poison to her own precious recipes, Jenny isn’t going to take it lying down. She has a reputation to protect.
Jenny Starling won’t stop until the murderer is found.
This is the first of a series of enjoyable murder mysteries with a great cast of characters and baffling crimes which will keep you in suspense to the final page. Perfect for fans of classic whodunits by authors like Agatha Christie, LJ Ross, TE Kinsey, and J.R. Ellis.
In her late twenties, Jenny Starling is an impressive woman. Physically, she stands at 6ft 1inch, and has shoulder-length black hair and blue eyes. Curvaceous and sexy, she’s a modern single woman, living the lifestyle that suits her – that of a travelling cook. Her famous (and now very rich) father, is a ‘celebrity’ cook, divorced from Jenny’s mother. Jenny drives a disreputable cherry-red van, and is happy travelling the country catering events and cooking great food. She is on a one-woman crusade to bring back ‘real’ food. And definitely doesn’t like having to divert her attention from achieving the perfect Dundee cake or creating a new sauce recipe by having to solve a murder. She finds crime very distracting, especially when there is chocolate to temper or pike to poach. Nevertheless, she is very good at reading people, and with a quick and agile brain, becomes very good at unmasking killers. And her always-undaunted sense of humour goes a long way in keeping her sane when all around her people are dropping like flies.
FAITH MARTIN is the best-selling author of the DETECTIVE HILLARY GREENE mysteries, which have sold over 1 million copies globally in just over a year.
Jenny Starling is a famous, or should I say infamous, travelling cook. She’s invited to The Beeches, a beautiful country house, to cater the 21st birthday of twin Alicia and Justin Greer but before she arrives the body of young gardener Jimmy Speight is found dead in a pond in the grounds of the house.
It’s ruled an accident but Jenny has her doubts especially as one of the guest falls down dead and another is taken ill during the birthday party.
Warned not to meddle by the police Jenny can’t resist snooping but can she figure out who the killer is before anyone else gets hurt?
So this is the first in a new series by Faith Martin (her of DI Hillary Greene fame) but unlike her other novels this is a little more of a classic cosy mystery focusing on an amateur sleuth.
The Birthday Mystery is a novel you can really get your teeth into, with a tasty mystery and sumptuous sounding food which made me feel very hungry while I was reading it!
The setting is also a little nod to the likes of Agatha Christie with a large country house complete with a resident cook, gardener and even a butler. It’s even near a small village where everybody knows everybody else’s business!
I feel like Jenny Starling is one of those Marmite characters, you’ll either love her or hate her. She’s an impressive and intimidating figure at six foot one and doesn’t suffer fools or militant vegetarians! Her dad is also a famous chef and her mum an eco warrior who is constantly getting arrested. I’d love to see a guest appearance from them in the future novels, I think they sound hilarious!
I did unfortunately figure out who the killer was quite quickly. Also I know this is an updated version of the original book but I felt there could have been a bit more done to bring it to the here and now as aspect of the story felt a little old fashioned and dated.
Overall The Birthday mystery a good cosy whodunnit that I’d recommend for those who love classic style mysteries.
About The Author:
Faith Martin was born in Oxford, and has spent all her life within twenty miles of the university city, even working at Somerville College for five years before turning to writing full-time. The author of the popular DI Hillary Greene novels, she also writes more classic-style ‘whodunits’ under the pen name Joyce Cato, but began her writing career as Maxine Barry, winning an award for penning romance novels! A popular writer for over 25 years, she has had nearly 50 novels published so far. Her hobbies include walking her now ageing dog, wildlife-watching, reading and (reluctantly) gardening.