May Day Murder

It’s springtime and Whitstable is emerging from hibernation.

While neither the restaurant nor detective agency is too busy, Pearl resolves to spend some time at the family allotment. But her best friend, Nathan, has persuaded one of his favourite actresses to open the May Day festivities at Whitstable Castle and involves Pearl in his plans.

Like Pearl, Faye Marlowe is a Whitstable native, but having left the town more than two decades ago, the star has been living in the South of France since her agent’s phone stopped ringing. Charming but ‘sensitive’, she arrives with a small entourage and though her presence in the town causes a stir Pearl’s mother Dolly remains unimpressed, choosing to remember Faye Marlow when she was plain old Frankie Murray, the daughter of a local whelk merchant.

Nathan soon realises he has made a mistake with this invitation and his doubts are confirmed when Faye is nowhere to be found on the morning of May Day. And as ‘Jack in the Green’ puts on his impressive costume to lead the parade, the actress’s dead body is discovered – tethered to the maypole on the Castle grounds . . . and so it’s left to Pearl and DCI Mike McGuire to unravel the mystery of the May Day murder.

ISBN: 978-1472116468

Publication date: 07 April 2016

Page count: 320

Imprint: Constable


May Day Murder

What Colin Dexter did for Oxford, Julie Wassmer is intent on doing for Whitstable.

A quiet, self-contained community is thrown into disarray by a vicious murder.

While Oxford had Morse, Whitstable, famous for its oysters, has Pearl, a restaurateur (there are lots of cookery tips) and part-time detective working in league with a friendly policeman whose intentions go beyond a cosy consultation.

Pearl’s latest adventure has her ranged against a killer who has dispatched a visiting movie star, a local girl made good by making profitable use of her sex appeal. Old flames and their families have good reason not to welcome her reappearance.

This, the third Whitstable mystery, finds Wassmer getting into her stride. True to the tradition of classic crime, she weaves a strong story into a setting that has more to offer than murder and mayhem. Can a television version be far behind?

Barry Turner

The Daily Mail

May Day Murder

I love this series, three books in and meeting the characters again is like welcoming old friends.
 Pearl Nolan and her eccentric mother Dolly are back at the Pearl in Whitstable, spring has sprung and they are enjoying the lull before the hectic summer months when the townies come to visit from London.
Pearl’s detective agency is quiet but things are about to change with the arrival in town of faded movie star Faye Marlow.  Originally from the town, Faye has come a long way since the days she was just plain old Frankie, she has staff, fortune and fame but she also has a past and that past is going to catch up with her.
Faye is in town for a series of events having been persuaded by Pearl’s friend Nathan, the main one being May Day but when May Day dawns the town is horrified to learn that Faye has been found dead, murdered and tied to the maypole.
Pearl wastes no time in trying to figure out the mystery, as with all good crime stories there are several possible suspects, Faye may have been a star but she had left a trail of unhappy people behind her and the murderer could be any one of them.
Of course Pearl can’t solve the case by herself, DCI McGuire comes in as in the previous books and together their shared detective skills and of course the bucket loads of chemistry they have, help solve the case.  The question is can you guess whodunnit?
May Day Murder is another great cosy crime novel by Julie Wassmer, the characters are all a delight to read about and the attention to detail is plain wonderful.  From the food to the grounds of which plays a major role in the book, well they are described to the effect that you can feel them jumping off the page at you.
The other thing I love about this is the fact I have been to Whitstable, it was a long time ago but it does help in picturing Pearl as she works to solve them murder.
Another great story and a welcome addition to my cosy crime shelf, and hopefully yours!
Heather Duff

May Day Murder

The inspiration of Agatha Christie is evident throughout the book. The central plot element of the the film start returning to her home town sounds like an Agatha Christie plot, even though she never wrote it. And while the body-tied-to-the-maypole is a wonderful visual.

Pearl is an engaging character, and while her two careers seems at odds, her motivations for sleuthing are convincing – Julie has created a genuine character here and, apart from the drawn-out when-will-they-get-on-with-it romance with MacGuire (which does gain some forward momentum here), Pearl is charming company throughout the book.

As for the mystery, armchair sleuths beware. The more experienced among you will probably guess part of the solution quite early on. I certainly did and was feeling rather smug about it – it was obvious who the murderer was… And while I was right about part of it, I was quite wrong about the big picture. I’ll say no more, but as with Murder On Sea, Julie managed to pull the wool over my eyes.

Julie mentioned something interesting to me in a tweet following the review of Murder On Sea – namely that I was the only male reviewer of that book so far. I presume that the combination of a female sleuth and the “cozy” tag (ugh) may out some readers off. I urge those blog readers who like a good mystery to check this out – just as with Chef Maurice, you may be pleasantly surprised. Highly Recommended. May Day Murder is out now from all good bookshops (and some bad ones too).

Classic Mystery

May Day Murder

What’s more appropriate reading for the merry month of May than a cosy crime book entitled, May Day Murder? In fact, finding a corpse tied to a maypole in the village of Whitstable on the Kent coast sets the scene nicely. If you feel that your neighbourhood is too full of strange or challenging characters, then consider Whitstable, where Pearl’s mother Dolly is feistier than even my mother and everyone has to be considered a suspect.  If you like the TV series ‘Midsummer Murders’, then May Day Murder should be right up your alley, except that in this book we are only dealing with one dead body.

Fetching sleuth and restaurateur Pearl investigates when fading actress Faye Marlow is stabbed to death at a party she was catering for. She has to be subtle about her enquiries though, as it’s actually DCI Mike McGuire’s job to find out who did it and he doesn’t like interference with official police business – not even if the person interfering is so attractive and can cook! By the way, if I were Julie Wassmer’s editor, I would get her to include her recipes at the back of the book). So who will succeed first in this race to uncover both the motive and the culprit?  Will Pearl get her man?

Indiana Brown

The Crime Warp

May Day Murder

The Whitstable Pearl Murder series is a great cosy crime series, similar to M C Beaton’s Agatha Raisin and Rebecca Tope’s  Thea Osborne Cotswold Mystery series.
I really enjoyed this book, travelling back to Whitstable, where actress Faye Marlow returns to home soil to open Whitstable Castle’s May Day festivities. However the day doesn’t go to plan as the actress’s dead body is discovered.
As many good series beforehand, the reader is able to catch up with Whitstable’s familiar characters in the beautiful village setting. There are fantastic characters, my favourite continues to be Pearl’s mum, Dolly.
Julie’s fantastic writing style allows the reader to loose themselves in Whitstable’s village life and I would love to see this series made into a television series – Midsummer Murder’s take two! Each book can be read as a stand alone, however I am sure readers will want to continue to revisit Whitstable once they have visited once.
I am already looking forward to my next visit to Whitstable.


Sarah Broadhurst

Sarah's Book Reviews