*I received a free ARC of this book with thanks to the author and Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources blog tours. The decision to review and my opinions are my own.*
Blurb: MURDER, MYSTERY…AND MARROWS
Some people would describe Beattie Bramshaw as a pillar of the community. Many would applaud her numerous successes in the bakery competition at the annual village show. A small number might say, if pushed, that they find her a little on the bossy side. And one or two might just whisper the words ‘interfering’ and ‘busybody’ behind her back.
But no-one would have her down as a murderer.
So why is she being questioned in Dreighton police station after being found in the local allotments, at the dead of night, wielding a kitchen knife just yards away from where local lottery winner, Yvonne Richards, was found stabbed to death? And what does all of this have to do with Doug Sparrow’s prize marrows?
Marrow Jam is a comedy crime caper in the spirit of Agatha Raisin. It will have you chuckling all the way through many a cup of tea.
Part cosy mystery and part slapstick rom-com, Marrow Jam is a delightfully chaotic romp through a small village murder investigation.
We first meet Beattie Bramshaw in an unusual and compromising state in a police interrogation room. Completely unflappable in the face of DI Grayson’s accusations and exasperation, she proceeds to take us back seven weeks to the village fete and the start of the whole vendetta. The vendetta being related to Beattie’s nemesis, Doug Sparrow and his incredibly large marrow, of course. The murder of the competition judge is barely a sidenote in Beattie’s account of her increasingly demented escapades!
We don’t just get Beattie’s view of events though. Susan A. King allows some of the side characters, most notably Beattie’s faithful – if frustrated – sidekick and best friend, Phyllis. Phyllis has problems of her own that keep her from devoting her full attention to Beattie’s marrow madness; her husband has taken up with another woman and left Phyllis all alone, except her unenthusiastic dog and her over-enthusiastic friend. But can anyone find love in Elmesbury, or are they stuck with walnut loaf and wishes? And what, or who, exactly is that despicable Doug Sparrow wishing for?
At first I found Beattie amusing but also fairly irritating… an experience which I am sure many members of the Elmesbury WI would be all too familiar with. As the story unfolded, however, and she let slip snippets of information about her childhood, and showed real concern and loyalty for her friends, Beattie grew on me. This effect applied to all of the characters in the book, as the author cleverly duped us into judging them on first appearances, then revealed their warm hearts, soft feelings, witty tongues and open minds. By the time I turned the last page, I was thoroughly invested in, and attached to, the little village and its eccentric inhabitants.
Plus, there is a well-written and thoroughly intriguing murder mystery to unravel as well, between Beattie’s recklessly impulsive crusade and Phyllis’s search for companionship (preferably someone who won’t get her thrown in prison). Whilst I did get to the bottom of the mystery before Beattie – to be fair, her mind was on many, many other things – that didn’t affect my enjoyment one bit, as I followed the comedic romp of the characters from speed-dating disasters to allotment rendezvous.
Marrow Jam is a standout standalone of a wacky rom-com cosy mystery that left me longing for more from Beattie Bramshaw and her unique approach to amateur investigation.
Beattie studied Phyllis’ slumped shoulders and her heart went out to her. Having resigned herself to the solitary existence of spinsterdom many years ago, it was now an effort to recall the deep-seated pain which had accompanied the break-up of her own engagement. The unhappy event had been life changing; the catalyst which had driven her to dedicate her life to the honing of her skills and become the undisputed Elmesbury WI crafts aficionado. The diversion had served its purpose well, material objects having an undeniable element of reliability. She could always depend on a generously-filled shortcrust pie to elicit the required congratulatory comment but people, she had come to discover, were a source of constant disappointment — so much better to live one’s life vicariously and avoid the inevitable regret.
– Susan A. King, Marrow Jam
Don’t forget to stop by the other blogs on this tour (see the poster below for details) for more great content and reviews!