Whitstable Pearl Mystery series by Julie Wassmer (#1-7)
English | 0000|Cozy Mystery| ePUB | 8 MB
Julie Wassmer is a a professional televison drama writer, working on various series including ITV’s London’s Burning, C5’s Family Affairs and BBC’s Eastenders – which she worked on for 20 years. In 2010, her autobiography More Than Just Coincidence was published by Harper Collins/True.
The Whitstable Pearl Mystery (#1): 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 . . .
Murder-on-Sea (#2): It’s not the season of good will to all men…
The festive month is kicking off in style and Pearl is rushed off her feet with her restaurant, The Whitstable Pearl. She’s also busy planning her own family Christmas and providing mulled wine for a charity church fundraiser when Christmas cards begin arriving all over town – filled with spiteful messages from an anonymous writer.
Pearl’s curiosity is piqued but having pledged not to take on a case at her detective agency before Christmas, she reluctantly agrees that Canterbury’s DCI Mike McGuire should take over; poisoned pen cards are after all a matter for the police. And with only the church fundraiser now between Pearl and Christmas, she invites McGuire along as her guest. The event appears to be a great success; St Alfred’s church hall is packed and Pearl happily finds herself standing close to McGuire beneath some mistletoe . . . but then a guest suddenly collapses. Too much of Pearl’s delicious mulled wine – or could it be something more sinister?
The last thing Pearl expects for Christmas is murder but soon the bodies are piling up. Can Pearl possibly solve the mystery in time to make 25th December an unforgettable day – or will the murderer contrive to ensure her goose is well and truly cooked before then?
May Day Murder (#3): It’s springtime and Whitstable is emerging from hibernation.
While neither the restaurant nor detective agency is too busy, Pearl resolves to spend some time at the family allotment. But her best friend, Nathan, has persuaded one of his favourite actresses to open the May Day festivities at Whitstable Castle and involves Pearl in his plans.
Like Pearl, Faye Marlowe is a Whitstable native, but having left the town more than two decades ago, the star has been living in the South of France since her agent’s phone stopped ringing. Charming but ‘sensitive’, she arrives with a small entourage and though her presence in the town causes a stir Pearl’s mother Dolly remains unimpressed, choosing to remember Faye Marlow when she was plain old Frankie Murray, the daughter of a local whelk merchant.
Nathan soon realises he has made a mistake with this invitation and his doubts are confirmed when Faye is nowhere to be found on the morning of May Day. And as ‘Jack in the Green’ puts on his impressive costume to lead the parade, the actress’s dead body is discovered – tethered to the maypole on the Castle grounds . . . and so it’s left to Pearl and DCI Mike McGuire to unravel the mystery of the May Day murder.
Murder on the Pilgrims Way (#4): Pearl receives a surprise present from her mother, Dolly – an early summer break at a riverside manor house that has been recently transformed into an exclusive hotel – the newly named Villa Pellegrini .
Pellegrini – the Italian word for pilgrims – reflects the fact that the building lies on the old Pilgrims Way into Canterbury, and Pearl is looking forward to the break, not least because DCI Mike McGuire has been neglecting her due to his work. But when she discovers that she’s actually booked in for a cookery course from the Italian celebrity chef, Nico Caruso, she begins to think again . . .
Pearl doesn’t welcome instruction on cookery at the best of times, and certainly not from an arrogant chef like Caruso. She goes along, intent on challenging Caruso’s egotism – and a long tradition of men dominating gastronomy – but soon finds herself distracted, not only by her enchanting surroundings but by the disparate selection of guests.
She even begins to enjoy Caruso’s attentions – and his cookery – until one of the guests goes missing and it becomes clear that murder is on the menu.
Disappearance at Oare (#5): The Whitstable Pearl restaurant has been busy all summer while Pearl’s detective agency has brought few interesting cases – until a prospective client calls…
Christina Scott confides that seven years ago she had the perfect life with a seaside home, a confirmed pregnancy and Steven, a loving husband – until one morning she woke to find herself alone. Christina’s husband had vanished, taking nothing with him but his car – which was later found abandoned at the beautifully mysterious Oare Marshes.
Now, with the legal presumption of Steven’s death about to be made, Christina shows a photograph to Pearl. It’s not of him, but of her young son, Martin, who has grown up without his father but Christina is adamant he now deserves to know the truth. And will Pearl help her solve the riddle of Steven’s disappearance?
DCI Mike McGuire warns Pearl she’s on a fool’s errand but the case resonates with Pearl as she begins to uncover secrets and lies that take her on a dangerous journey back into her own past, as well as Christina’s…
Murder Fest (#6): Pearl’s detective agency takes a back seat as she prepares to offer a warm welcome to a group of special visitors. A local Arts Festival is being held to honour a cultural exchange visit from representatives of Borken – Whitstable’s Twin Town in Germany.
Yet very soon, personality clashes surface among the participants; local politicians try to use the festival for their own ends while others jostle for improved billing on the festival programme. Tempers flare, old feuds re-surface and on the eve of the first event, a cryptic message – Murder Fest – is received by the local police. Before DCI Mike McGuire has a chance to investigate, the festival commences with an unscheduled event when a celebrated author is found brutally murdered . . .
Soon the only ‘Arts’ on display are dark ones, as Whitstable’s celebration of local culture transforms into a real-life murder fest – offering Whitstable’s Pearl Nolan another mystery to solve.
Murder on the Downs (#7): A controversial new property development is planned in Whitstable which will encroach upon the green open space of the downs, to the dismay of Whitstable residents who view this as the thin end of the wedge with regard to local wildlife conservation.
A campaign springs into life, spearheaded by a friend of Pearl’s family, Martha Laker. A committed environmentalist, Martha is no stranger to controversy herself. She has also managed to divide opinion across town, with the locals viewing her as their fearless champion while establishment figures seeing only an interfering agitator.
Tensions escalate between the developers and Whitstable residents, straining Pearl’s close relationship with London-born police officer, DCI Mike McGuire, who harbours concerns that the local campaign will spiral out of control. Pearl’s loyalties are torn, but the protest duly goes ahead – and newspaper headlines claim a moral victory for the residents in this David and Goliath battle.
But the victory is short lived when Pearl discovers a dead body on the downs…