An English Garden Murder (Julia Bird Mysteries #1) by Katie Gayle

Published May 5th 2022 by Bookouture

About the Book: Meet Julia Bird: recently single, reluctantly retired, and… an amateur sleuth?

Julia Bird has left London for a fresh start in a picturesque Cotswolds village, and the rustic charm and cosy fireplaces of her little cottage are everything she’d hoped for. But when she tears down the old garden shed to make way for a chicken coop, she unearths much more than she’d bargained for… the body of a young woman, apparently buried for decades, thrusting Julia into a baffling mystery.

With only one copper on the case in Berrywick, Julia decides to solve the who and whodunnit herself, taking her wayward puppy Jake along for the ride. And so begins a whirlwind tour of the village – from the dotty 90-year-old to the delightful doctor and the village gardener, it seems everyone has something to hide.

Soon, Julia is convinced she has discovered the killer’s identity, until Jake, a true Labrador, finds a new love of the local lake’s waterfowl and instead ends up catching her chief suspect… drowned. Back at square one, with potential culprits galore, Julia – newly nicknamed the Grim Reaper – despairs at ever solving the murders.

But as Julia ruffles feathers village-wide, the clock is ticking. There is someone in the village who has killed twice already. Will they be prepared to make it third time lucky to keep their secret safe?

This totally addictive page-turning cozy mystery is perfect for fans of M.C. Beaton, Faith Martin and Betty Rowlands.

5 Stars: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

An English Garden Mystery is the first book in the new Julia Bird Mystery series, a delightful cozy mystery. Julia Bird has recently purchased a small cottage in the village of Berrywick in the Cotswolds, She is making a big change in her life after a recent divorce ad retiring from her stressful and emotional job as a Social Worker. One of the first things she does is adopt a chocolate lab puppy, Jake, who has failed out of Guide Dog training. Second thing is to get chickens, but she needs a coop built. When her shed is knocked down to make way for the coop, Brendan, the grandson of the builder uncovers a skeleton. Suddenly she is the talk of the village. The skeleton is old, but then she finds a second body, an older woman who has recently had some issues with some of the villagers. With her garden being a crime scene, and the local police being run ragged, Julia decides to do some investigating on her own.

This was a great start to this cozy mystery series. I loved Julia’s character. She has had some major life changes and is really adapting well. Not being used to sitting around and doing nothing, Julia is out and about walking Jake and checking out the village. She is friendly, has a keen sense of observation, and is a good judge of people. I enjoyed seeing how she and DI Hayley Gibson moved through their tentative mistrust to friendship and eventually reluctant partner. Berrywick is full of quirky characters that add to the humour in the story. Jake is a hoot. A puppy that seems to find trouble wherever he goes, but oh so lovable. There also seems to be a possibility of a romantic interest for Julia. The mystery was well developed, with several suspects, some red herrings and a surprise ending. I really enjoyed An English Garden Murder and will definitely pick up the next book in the series. The publisher generously provided me with a copy of this book upon request. The rating and opinions shared are my own.

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About The Authors: Katie Gayle is the writing partnership of best-selling South African writers, Kate Sidley and Gail Schimmel. Kate and Gail have, between them, written over ten books of various genres, but with Katie Gayle, they both make their debut in the cozy mystery genre. Both Gail and Kate live in Johannesburg, with husbands, children, dogs and cats. Sign up to be the first to hear about new releases from Katie Gayle here:

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