Review: An English Garden Murder by Katie Gayle

Description (from cover): “Meet Julia Bird: recently single, reluctantly retired, and… an amateur sleuth?

Julia Bird has left London for a fresh start in a picturesque Cotswold 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-wife, 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?”

My Thoughts:

This book really reminds me of the Agatha Raisin and Hamish Macbeth series by M.C. Beaton. This book takes place in the Cotswolds just like Agatha Raisin and well the Cotswolds seems to be such a lovely place. I have always wanted to visit there and I love it when I can read a mystery that is set in such an idyllic place. I adore the small English village murder mystery as they seem so relatable for some reason. The small town where everyone knows their neighbors and gossip runs abound seem to always get my attention. In this book, newly single Julia Bird has left London to start a new life in Berrywick after retirement. Not much information is given about Julia’s mysterious past and why she left her job as a social worker, but I am hoping that the author expands a little on this back story in the upcoming books in this series. There seems to be a hint of a story there, but the author decided not to give too much away in this book.

Julia is new to Berrywick and quickly sets about exploring her new village. She meets some new friends and adopts a Labrador puppy. She befriends the local contractor and sets about tearing down an old shed on her property to build a chicken coop. During this process, a body is found and it appears that the body has been there for many years. No one in the town remembers anyone missing and they have no clue who could have been murdered. Julia is determined to find out who the body belongs to and why they were buried under a shed on her own property. When Julia stumbles across two more bodies during her investigation, she becomes concerned that her new idyllic village might not be as peaceful as she hoped.

I really enjoyed reading this book and thought that the author did a great job of setting the scene of a small village and village life. I felt the ending was a little rushed, but overall this was a great quick read and I am glad that I had the opportunity to read it prior to the publication date. If you love Agatha Raisin, Midsomer Murders, Hamish Macbeth, and like series, this is probably a new series you do not want to miss. Julia’s character is hard not to like and I am curious to see what trouble she finds herself in moving forward with the series and how her new life in Berrywick plays out.

Overall Rating: 4.5 stars

Author: Katie Gayle

Series: Julia Bird Mystery #1

Publisher: Bookouture

Publication Date: May 5, 2022

Pages: 262

Genre: Cozy Mystery

Get It: Amazon

Disclaimer: This book was given to me by the publisher, through NetGalley, in exchange for my honest review. I reviewed this book without compensation of any kind. All thoughts and opinions are solely mine.

Review: Death in Disguise by Emma Davies

Description (from cover): “Francesca Eve thought she was prepared for anything at the events she caters for in her pretty little Shropshire village. Missing canapes? No problem. Burnt brownies? A piece of cake…But a dead body? Now that’s a recipe for disaster.

Francesca is nervous about catering her first ever murder mystery party, but it’s clear from the clink of champagne flutes and piles of empty plates that the evening is a roaring success. The guests look spectacular in their disguises, whispering and giggling as they try to identify who killed beautiful young Becky. But days later the game takes a sinister turn when Becky is found poisoned, and all the signs point to the culprit being a party guest.

From the woman having an affair to the guest hiding her true identity, everyone had a secret–and it turns out that Becky knew them all. As Fran finds herself centre-stage in a real-life murder mystery, the finger of suspicion points at each guest in turn. And Fran starts to wonder, were any of these secrets dangerous enough to kill for?

Then the body of a second guest is found, and it becomes clear a deranged killer is going off-script. It seems anyone who was involved in the game that night is in their sights, even Fran. Can she unmask the murderer before the final curtain falls?

A page-turning cozy mystery packed with twists. If you love Clare Chase, M.C. Beaton and The Thursday Murder Club you’ll absolutely adore this unputdownable whodunnit.”

My Thoughts:

I am always on the hunt for new authors and new mystery series to read. I love reading series for some reason. I enjoy watching the characters evolve throughout series and come to love them as friends. A series that keeps me on my toes is one that I am sure to love and follow through the years. I was able to get an advance readers’ copy of this book from Netgalley and I decided to give it a chance. I was pleasantly not disappointed. Usually the first book in the series is my least favorite, but this one was incredibly engaging and interesting.

Fran is a caterer in a small English village. She has been hired to cater a local woman’s party and the theme is a murder mystery. Everything goes off without a hitch and when the victim from the murder mystery party, Becky, actually turns up dead poisoned by a mushroom days later, Fran cannot help but investigate. It seems everyone at the party had secrets and that Becky was blackmailing everyone. Everyone is a suspect and Fran doesn’t know who to trust. When the party host’s son Adam comes to Fran to tell her that something isn’t quite right with the entire situation, the two of them decide to investigate.

This book had many twists and turns and just when you think you’ve got it all figured out, the other shoe drops and nothing is as it seems. I just love a mystery that is going to keep me guessing until the very end. At the conclusion when the murderer is revealed, I was shocked as I really didn’t see it coming and I was impressed with the author’s ability to keep this reader in the dark until the conclusion. This was a delightful read in what I hope is to become a wonderful cozy mystery series.

Overall Rating: 4.5 stars

Author: Emma Davies

Series: Adam and Eve Mystery #1

Publisher: Bookouture

Publication Date: February 9, 2022

Pages: 357

Genre: Cozy Mystery

Get It: Amazon

Disclaimer: This book was given to me by the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for my honest review. I reviewed this book without compensation of any kind. All thoughts and opinions are solely mine.