The Whitstable Pearl Mystery by Julie Wassmer / Book Review

10 mar
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The Whitstable Pearl Mystery by Julie Wassmer


Publisher: Constable

Publishing Date: 5th March 2015

Source:  Received from publisher, thank you!

Genre: Crime, Literature/Fiction (Adult)

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback



An intriguing debut mystery novel combining seafood, murder and a multitasking heroine in a gorgeous seaside location!

Pearl Nolan always wanted to be a detective but life, and a teenage pregnancy, got in the way of a police career and instead she built up a successful seafood restaurant in her coastal home town of Whitstable – famous for its native oysters.

Now, at 39, and with son Charlie away at university, Pearl finds herself suffering from empty nest syndrome . . . until she discovers the drowned body of local oyster fisherman Vinnie Rowe, weighted down with an anchor chain, on the eve of Whitstable’s annual oyster festival.

Is it a tragic accident, suicide – or murder?

Pearl seizes the opportunity to prove her detection skills and discover the truth but she soon finds herself in conflict with Canterbury city police detective, Chief Inspector Mike McGuire. Then another body is discovered – and Pearl finds herself trawling the past for clues, triggering memories of another emotional summer more than twenty years ago . . .

Rating: 4/5


Every once in a while you feel a need to read something different to your usual reads, and as I am growing very fond of a genre called cosy crime, I was more than happy to see „The Whitstable Pearl Mystery” to land on my doorstep. I started reading it almost immediately and found it an incredibly quick and – yes! – cosy read. It is my second book that centres around oysters and oh my word, I really had no idea that oysters can elicit such extreme feelings and action in people. But I think no matter how many books about oysters I’m going to read, I will never in my life try one. No way. No matter how much effort the authors put to convince me that they’re delicious. Thank you, but no thank you, to the oysters, and big, fat YES to the book itself.

Pearl Nolan, almost forty, single mother, always dreamed of being a private detective, but – as it usually is – life got in the way and instead of setting an agency, Pearl found herself pregnant. Now her son is at the university and Pearl owns one of the most popular oyster restaurants in Whitstable and she feels it’s time to pursuit her dream, so she opens a detective agency and is looking forward to her first client. Unfortunately, the first one is not the case she can follow. Soon Pearl finds not only a body of her old friend and local oyster – catcher Vinnie, but also, quickly after that, her never – to – be – client. Pearl wants so much to try her detective skills but this, of course, put her in conflict with a newcomer, Chief Inspector McGuire. Pearl is sure she can help him. Can she really?

Pearl was a real heroine of the book. She was a main character, that’s true, but I think there was so much warmth in her that it would always have put her in the centre of attention. She, of course, had this incredible ability to be in the right place in the right moment, to hear everything and see everything, and add two and two and always get four, but oh well, let’s just go with the flow, right? Nevertheless, she felt like a real woman, working hard and bringing up her son by herself, and she did a great job of this. If I were to describe her in one word it would probably be: warm. She has actually stole the show and she was really the centre character in the book, all the other being just an addendum to her. I adored her mother, she was so lively and full of enthusiasm, and she made me laugh so often, and I guess I’d love a little more of McGuire, or „Flat Foot”, as Pearl’s mother called him… But I liked his attitude and life approach.

Everything in the book is very neatly tied up, every T is crossed and every I’s dotted. It left me with no questions open and well, it kept me guessing all the time to be honest. I may have my suspicions, and as the author had a tendency to emphasise some actions, words, events, characters that might have not be seen as significant, but they left me with the feeling they may indeed be important, and so I focused on one person or the other more than on the others, but well, I haven’t guessed, and this is why I have enjoyed the ending so much.

It was told in a very warm, engaging way and I read the story comfortably, feeling as if someone was reading it to me on a hot, summery day. This is a crime, but really cosy crime, and we have two people murdered but everything is written with a lot of tact and subtlety, although the descriptions of the victims themselves were very vivid and felt extremely realistic, so if you are a softie don’t eat when reading those passages :D

This book is written in a wonderful, engaging way and I was hooked from beginning to the start. What bothered me a little was the fact that Pearl really was always in the right place, she knew the right people and had no troubles at all with any access to information. There are too many strokes of luck, coincidences, too many hints, too many clues. On the other hand, I totally enjoyed this slow tempo of the story (please, do not confuse this slow tempo of the investigation with the absolutely right pace of the story, it was fast – paced and there was always something new and interesting happening in Whitstable, let it be the Oyster Festival, being rushed to the hospital or finding the bodies), and it really had this cosy feeling to it. Julia Wassmer writes in such accessible, down – to – earth way and there is a real warmth to her writing style, I just had a feeling this book embraced me and I felt very comfortable in the company of the characters and the story.

The setting for this story couldn’t be better, and the descriptions of Whitstable, its inhabitants, history, Oyster Festival felt wonderfully realistic. Pearl felt herself really at home in Whitstable and wandering through the town and discovering all the secrets with her felt great, with all those vivid descriptions.

So altogether, I’d say if you are into cosy crime, absolutely give this book a go. It’s hooking, it’s captivating, vivid, witty, clever and not too demanding, not too complicated (and it’s a compliment!). I wouldn’t perhaps say that I was on my tenterhooks but I happily followed Pearl in her investigations and enjoyed the way the story developed and closed. There was so much potential in this book, I would really love to see Pearl again with new adventures and new cases to solve. Julie?

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