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Friday 7 October 2016

‘May Day Murder’ by Julie Wassmer

Published (HB) by Constable,
7 April 2016.
ISBN: 978-1-4721-1895-0
Published (PB) by Constable
1 September 2016.
ISBN: 978-1-4721-1644-4

Pearl Nolan runs the popular Whitstable Pearl Restaurant with help from her mother, Dolly; but Pearl has another business, she also runs a detective agency. Pearl had always dreamed of being a detective, but her ambitions were cut short when a teenage pregnancy meant that she had to leave the police force and bring up her son, Charlie, without support from his father. Now Charlie has grown up and left home and Pearl is free to follow her dream, despite the disapproval of her mother and the doubts of DCI Mike McGuire, who feels that it would be easier to follow up on his wish to have a relationship with Pearl if she was not a Private Investigator.

It is the week before May Day and Pearl is fully occupied with work at her restaurant as the Whitstable May Day celebrations get under way. Pearl's friend, Nathan, and his helper, Purdy, have persuaded film star Faye Marlow to return to Whitstable to honour the celebrations. Faye had been born and brought up in the town before she moved to Hollywood. Although Faye is no longer a top-ranked star, it is still a great coup to have convinced her to come back.

Not everybody is happy about the star's return. Dolly's predicts that she will be 'trouble' and when Faye and her entourage arrive, these dire warnings are soon proved to be correct. Faye is charming but demanding and capricious. Before she left Whitstable she had been involved with two young men, both of whom still live in the town but now they are middle-aged, respectable and married. Faye's flirtatious ways soon cause trouble and after an unfortunate incident at a reception she disappears. Everybody assumes that she has run away but her body is discovered tethered to the maypole in the grounds of the castle that was to have been the hub of the celebrations. It is clear that she has been murdered.

DCI Mike McGuire is placed in charge of the case. He likes and admires Pearl and longs for a closer relationship with her, but he is aware that his hostile superior is waiting for him to put a foot wrong in order to bring him down. This time Pearl and McGuire must investigate separately. Pearl protests that she is not investigating the murder, that is a job for the police, but when you have lived in a town all your life snippets of information simply come your way. Pearl knows that until the murderer is discovered the town cannot start to recover. Anyway, she cannot resist investigating a mystery.

This is the third of the Whitstable Pearl mysteries. As a series, it gets better all the time, and it was very good to start with. The descriptions of the town and its history are skilfully drawn without slowing the action, the plot is neat and the characters are delightful. It is a thoroughly enjoyable read, which I would recommend.
Reviewer: Carol Westron

Julie Wassmer is a television drama writer who contributed for almost twenty years to the popular BBC series EastEnders. She published her autobiography More Than Just Coincidence in 2010, in which she describes finding her long-lost daughter after an astonishing twist of fate. It was voted Mumsnet book of the year. The Whitstable Pearl Mystery is the first in her series of crime novels, involving multi-tasking private detective-come-restauranteur, Pearl Nolan. Julie lives in Whitstable and is well known for her environmental campaigning.

Carol Westron is a successful short story writer and a Creative Writing teacher.  She is the moderator for the cosy/historical crime panel, The Deadly Dames.  Her crime novels are set both in contemporary and Victorian times.  The Terminal Velocity of Cats is the first in her Scene of Crimes novels, was published July 2013. Her latest book The Fragility of Poppies was published 10 June 2016.


  1. How lovely to read this review of my third novel in The Whitstable Pearl Mystery series. I'm so pleased you enjoyed the book and I do hope you enjoy the fourth book in series, Murder on the Pilgrim's Way, when it comes out in spring 2017. Thank you so much. Julie Wassmer

  2. Hi Julie
    I have greatly enjoyed your first three books and am deighted to hear that you have a fourth coming out in 2017. I will look out for it