Reading is a prime source of both relaxation and entertainment for me. I’ve always been an avid reader, having gotten hooked on mystery books when I was in elementary school, probably because my father liked them so much. I have fond memories of going to our local library branch, wandering through the shelves and coming home with an armload of books.
The hardest time I had was when I started to need glasses. Although it was always correctible to 20/20; my vision deteriorated quickly at first, prompting the eye doctor to try all sorts of things, including forced “resting” for my eyes. Where I had been reading about five books a week, I was suddenly limited to reading only one a week. It felt like cruel and unusual punishment to me.
Now, my eyesight has stabilized, although I still can’t see the big E on the eye chart without my glasses. Fortunately, no one tries to slow my reading, and I’ve found a way to both feed my reading habit and, hopefully, pass along some suggestions for good books to others who wander across this blog.
My latest book is by one of my newly found (for me) favorite authors, Faith Martin. She has written several series, three of which I’ve been able to read from the start. One of these series is the Monica Noble series featuring Monica Noble a widow who has remarried an English vicar. In addition to Monica returning characters include her romantically handsome husband, her gorgeous teenage daughter and, so far, the Chief Inspector who has been called in to investigate the murder.
These characters provide substance and depth to Monica’s world. Her husband has the heart and soul of a gentle man who offers calm caring support to people in need. Her teenage daughter is typically self-absorbed with a typical teenagers tendency to make decisions that may not be the most well thought out, although deep down we see glimmers of a really good person. Then there’s the Chief Inspector who has an unexpected attraction to Monica which is fights at every turn, unaware that she has a similar attraction to her which she denies, even to herself. These relationships add just enough tension to make the books interesting while they are still firmly in the genre of cozy mystery which means little blood, guts and gore and more emphasis on characters and location. They are written in the style of the classic English cozy mystery which are the books I first started reading. Is it any wonder I’m drawn to these books, especially since the writing is so good?
I’ve just finished reading the second in this series, which is the latest one to be published. Here’s my review, along with a firm recommendation to anyone who likes to read cozy mysteries, this is a series to try.
The Flower Show Murder is the second book in Faith Martin’s series featuring the vicar’s wife, Monica Noble. In this book, Monica and her husband have traveled to a nearby community to enjoy the annual fete and participate in judging the accompanying flower show as well as visit with James, the local vicar and his wife Wendy. Monica is particularly tuned in to the stresses Wendy has been experiencing for the past nine months as she grieves the death of their son and still strives to help James in his responsibilities, stresses Monica recognizes as being part of a vicar’s wife.
Monica, Graham, and James are all pressed into judging the flower show, even though Monica and Graham profess to know little about the flowers they have been assigned. Unknown to the show organizer, James has been pressured by the local business magnate to switch responsibilities so James is now judging the roses. As he bends over to breathe in the scent of a particularly lovely rose entry James falls to the ground and Graham, who rushes to his side, discovers he is dead.
Chief Inspector Dury, who was also investigator in the first book of the series, is once again called in to investigate this suspicious death. He is surprised and perplexed to arrive and discover Graham and Monica there, made more bothersome by his unspoken attraction to Monica. Monica, who married Graham several years after the death of her first husband, also feels a confusing pull toward Dury, although she is happily married to Graham.
As Dury investigates the murder, Carol-Ann, Monica’s teenaged daughter, who is intent on becoming a high fashion model wanders the fete in her mini-skirt and revealing blouse in search of a local photographer who was intrumental in another young woman becoming a super model. Carol-Ann’s behavior and the insights into her thought process are an excellent counterpoint to the investigation in to James’ murder as Carol-Ann exhibits the egocentricity of a teenager who is totally self absorbed and who hasn’t quite matured enough to make the wisest of choices.
Although the second in the series, this stands alone as a mystery and Martin does an excellent job of describing the emotional pull between Monica and Dury in a way that makes it possible to readily understand without having read the first book in the series. The book is reminiscent of the classic British mystery complete with the bucolic English village and inhabitants that are both individual and somehow classically British. Highly recommended for any reader who enjoys the classic British cozy mystery.
My thanks to Joffe Books and NetGalley for providing me with an Advanced Digital Read copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review.
I hope I’ve piqued your interest in this series. If you think it might be interesting, but you would prefer something that has a slightly harder edge, you might investigate one of her other series such as one featuring Hillary Greene or Ryder and Loveday. My personal favorite has been the series featuring Jenny Starling, but it may be in danger of losing its place to the Monica Noble series, time will tell. Both of these are more firmly placed in the cozy category than the two mentioned above.
No matter what type of book you prefer, I hope you’ll find something in the pages of this blog that motivates you to pick up a book and read. As always, I wish you Happy Reading.