Sometimes a book review doesn’t need any additional blog information. Of course, since we just celebrated my husband’s birthday, it seems appropriate to talk about this particular novel. Fortunately, we didn’t throw a fancy party where one of the guests is murdered. Maybe I should consider that as support for not throwing any type of party at all.
Anyway, for what it’s worth, here’s my review of The Birthday Mystery by Faith Martin. Not to give anything away, but I really enjoyed this book and hope you will, too.
From the first sentence of Faith Martin’s new novel, The Birthday Mystery, you are immersed in the world of Jenny Starling, supersized chef extraordinaire who is completely comfortable with herself. That comfort level translates to a woman who exudes confidence and sex appeal without even trying, an unusual feat for a woman who is 6’1” tall with curves in places other women don’t even have places.
Of course, Jenny’s size has nothing to do with her ability to solve a murder, that is left up to her exceptional mind and her ability to interpret situations, clues, etc. and reach the correct conclusion. This ability is recognized early on by the detective in charge of the case and his sergeant, although they are reluctant to actively involve Jenny in solving the murder. As the story moves forward, however, they begin to recognize the value of Jenny’s intelligence and abilities which leads to Jenny being able to share information and ideas with them without any sense of resentment or attempts to thwart her ability in order to preserve all the glory for themselves.
For her part, Jenny is not intent on becoming the next amateur sleuth to be covered in accolades. In truth, she would much prefer to spend her time in the kitchen, baking the perfect cake and cooking up other delightful dishes using plenty of butter and fresh ingredients. That is somewhat more difficult as, being contracted to prepare the meal for a very fancy birthday party, she is resented by the regular household staff and finds herself functioning almost completely without help. No matter, nothing seems to bother this unflappable woman who cheerfully accepts apologies and seems to be exactly the person she presents to the outside world.
In this, the first book of a new series, Jenny is hired to cook for the twenty-first birthday party of Alicia and Justin, twins to a wealthy family. Alicia has planned every portion of the party, down to when the champagne for the birthday toast will be uncorked. Not surprisingly, it is a mystery after all, the party is marred by the death of Justin during the toast. This gives rise to Jenny’s suspicion that the first death that occurs, that of Jimmy Speight, was actually murder and not an accident as it was designed to appear.
There are suspects galore, clues a plenty and red herrings to be found throughout the book. The difficulty for the reader will be determining in which category to place each of the facts in order to reach the correct solution. This was a thoroughly satisfying read and while I solved the mystery correctly, I often found myself with the same questions Jenny had, at the same time and only reached the answers at the same time as Jenny. The answers required both an understanding of the clues and the personalities involved and it was the need to understand personality that created the biggest stumbling block for the police.
This is a book I highly recommend, and I look forward to reading the next one in the series. My only regret is the story which Jenny references as having happened prior to the invents in this book only exists in the author’s mind and isn’t a book I can obtain and read. I am reluctant to give specifics of the story as I think the book is best enjoyed by slowly getting to know Jenny and the other characters in the setting in which they find themselves. I look forward to additional books in this series. My thanks to NetGalley and Joffe Books for providing me an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
That’s it for now, so, until next time, I’ll simply say Happy Reading.