First Line: Four magpies in their black-and-white court jester outfits strutted about on the pavement when I stepped out of my cottage.
Julia Lanchester's life is not going according to plan, and when her father remarries a scant few months after her beloved mother's death, it's just too much. Julia quits her job on her father's hit BBC Two nature show, A Bird in the Hand, and moves to Smeaton-under-Lyme where she accepts a tourist management position.
The past and her family will not leave Julia alone. Her desperate father, Rupert, tracks her down but Julia refuses to speak with him. However, when her new stepmother calls to tell her that her father has gone missing, Julia decides to investigate. Her investigation includes a partner-- Rupert's new assistant Michael Sedgwick-- and that's something she wasn't looking for. In no time at all, Julia and Michael find that they've stepped right into a nest of deceit and murder.
If you're looking for something new in the English village mystery line, I can recommend Marty Wingate's The Rhyme of the Magpie. This book has good pacing, a great "voice," a setting that invites you to come on in and sit a spell, and an engaging main character...
...although I do have to admit that I wasn't impressed with Julia Lanchester at first. Her extremely childish reaction to her father's remarriage made me want to tell her to stop acting like a brat and start acting like a caring adult. Since I'm letting you know my opinion changed quite a bit, that tells you something. Marty Wingate's main character is definitely not static or two-dimensional.
One of the things I enjoyed most was watching Julia's creative mind work on developing ideas to boost tourism in her village. It not only gave me perspective on what these places have to do in order to survive, Julia's plans made me want to participate and made me admire the way her mind works.
The mystery in The Rhyme of the Magpie is a good one. Although I did deduce someone's identity quickly, I couldn't do the same for the killer. With all of Julia's plans to boost tourism in Smeaton-under-Lyme, I'm looking forward to a brand-new crop of suspects. One observation though-- Julia had better keep her assistant very happy indeed. She would be completely lost without Vesta taking all her shifts so she can play detective!
Bring on the next one, please!
The Rhyme of the Magpie by Marty Wingate
Alibi © 2015
eBook, 281 pages
Cozy Mystery, #1 Birds of a Feather mystery
Source: Net Galley