I’ve written about the Jenny Starling series by Faith Martin before, and now there is a new, never before published book in the series, so I wanted to write about it, and the series, again. Every once in awhile I will discover a series that I enjoy so much I’m watching for the next book to come out almost as soon as I’ve finished the one I’m reading. That’s the way this series is for me.
Maybe some of my attachment to the series is because I started with the first book and I’ve read all the subsequent ones. I kinda doubt that, because the books completely stand alone, with no on-going secondary storylines of relationships developing, characters aging, etc. It would be easy to pick up any of the books in the series in any order and read them.
So, if there’s not an on-going storyline that has me hooked, what is it? My thoughts are that it has much more to do with the fact that the author has an excellent ability to lay out the pertinent information for you, the reader, to solve the puzzle of “who done it”. The clues are liberally sprinkled through the books, so that the information you need to solve it is right under your nose. Of course, there are always lovely red herrings as well, so you can get tangled up concentrating on the wrong information if you aren’t careful.
That is certainly part of the attraction. I’ve been reading mysteries since my Daddy introduced me to Agatha Christie’s book when I was in third grade. Actually, I’ve been reading them longer than that since he only introduced me to Agatha Christie because I had already read everything in the Nancy Drew books and fallen in love with the mystery genre. My preference are the classic mysteries that are short on blood and gore and long on the puzzle aspect of the story. My favorites are those that also have great characters, people I would love to spend time with if it were possible.
I think that defines the Jenny Starling series for me. First off, she’s a cook who loves to prepare food and I get that. The creative aspect of cooking is enjoyable for me, although I’m not nearly the accomplished chef Jenny is. Then there’s the fact that, unlike so many stories both in books and television, Jenny is not some petite twenty-four year old who wears a size four and acts like she’s in her late teens. Yes, she’s young, in her late twenties, but the similarities stop there. She’s described as junoesque and beautiful, with huge panzy blue eyes. Even with this definition and the idea of her being gorgeous, she is delightfully down to earth, coming across as a woman who is kind and principled, oh, and observant and adept at figuring out mysteries as well.
So, what’s there not to like? I haven’t found it if there is anything, at least not yet. I just finished the latest book in the series and it was as delightful for me as the others have been. Jenny was her same, smart, observant, kind self who, as always stays one step ahead of the police in solving the murder. For my full review, read on.
THE COUNTRY INN MYSTERY by Faith Martin is the seventh in the Jenny Starling series. All of these books stand alone and there is no need to read them in any particular order. In this book, Jenny has accepted a two week cooking position to fill in for her friend who is going on her annual vacation. The setting is a lovely picturesque country inn where the owners have created a Regency Extravaganza for the weekend, complete with costumed participants from the local amateur dramatics society. Guests who’ve booked in for the weekend are invited to wear costumes and join in the festivities while they are entertained with scenes from a local love story from the Regency period when a young woman, married to an older man, falls in love with a young man. Of course, tragedy ensues and that provides the acting troupe with the scenes they can perform for the guests, including a duel between the two men, one of whom is less than honest in his participation, and the resulting tragic death of the young woman.
When Jenny goes to settle into the room she has been given for the next two weeks she overhears an argument between two people who later turn out to be part of the acting troupe for the weekend. This conversation, as well as other hints, etc. set the reader up to expect someone to get murdered before the weekend is out, with expectations for who the unlucky victim will be based on information gathered from conversations and behaviors.
As in other books in the series, Jenny is identified early by the Detective Inspector assigned to the case. Her reputation for solving crimes continues to circulate in police circles, and he decides early on to involve Jenny in his investigation, rather than creating an adversarial relationship between Jenny and the officials involved in the investigation. Once again, Jenny is shown to have observed and drawn conclusions that help draw the case to a successful conclusion.
The reader is given all the clues they need to solve the murder in this book, but once again they must recognize them and then give them their appropriate significance. I did figure out who the guilty party was, but then changed my mind toward the end of the book, following right down the path of one of the red herrings. The book is filled with characters who are enjoyable to meet and the location is idyllic. My thanks to Joffe Books and NetGalley for providing me with an Advance Reader Copy in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.
Can you tell I really like this series? I think one of the things I like most is the total believability of the stories. Jenny’s involvement doesn’t strain the readers senses as some cozy novels might. In part that may be due to the fact that it is a cozy type murder mystery that involves a police procedural aspect. Because Jenny is a travelling cook, the person who reads the series doesn’t have to suspend disbelief when it comes to how many murders can happen in one small town, or how a person who has no knowledge of detective principles can suddenly solve murder after murder.
This is a book, as well as a series, I highly recommend. I am always on the watch for any new book out from Faith Martin. For me, reading is a way of relaxing as well as a way to entertain myself. Hopefully you will find a book or series that does the same for you. For now, Happy Reading.