A Fatal Obsession by Faith Martin

26th September 2021.

The story, set in 1960, starts slowly with a murder connected to a past death. Ryder, a trainee coroner, sat in at the original inquest, convinced witnesses were lying. Now, as a coroner, he wants to investigate the original death to uncover the truth, but he needs a police officer to assist him. WPC Loveday, a fresh but ambitious officer, is assigned to help him.

As soon as they start working together, the story moves up a gear and develops into an intriguing double investigation. Both characters grew on me as they uncovered a somewhat gothic plot that didn’t pan out as I expected, which is always a bonus.

It’s always enjoyable to return to the days before DNA, forensics and computers dominated investigations. Detectives had to use their wits, experience and intelligence to deduce and solve crimes.

The novel is a worthy start to a new series that offers something different from the usual police procedural novels that seem to follow the same old well-worn tracks.

Description

Oxford, 1960. There’s a murderer on the loose and two unlikely heroes are poised to solve the case.

Meet Probationary WPC Trudy Loveday – smart, enthusiastic and always underestimated.

In the hope of getting her out of the way, Trudy’s senior officer assigns her to help coroner Clement Ryder as he re-opens the case of a young woman’s death. She can’t believe her luck – she is actually going to be working on a real murder case.

Meanwhile, the rest of the police force are busy investigating a series of threats and murders in the local community, and Clement can’t help but feel it’s all linked.

As Trudy and Clement form an unlikely partnership, are they going to be the ones to solve these crimes before the murderer strikes again?

A Fatal Obsession by Faith Martin

Murder in the Garden by Faith Martin

23rd August2021.

In the ninth outing for Hillary Greene, she’s got two investigations on the go. After two months compassionate leave following the murder of her boss and friend, she returns to find there’s no progress with the investigation. There’s worse to come as his pregnant widow seeks revenge and threatens to destroy the career she’s built.

But there’s no rest for Hillary when Edward Philpott is found murdered in his garden. She throws herself into this enquiry even though she’s not at her best. From here on in, things get complicated as she tries to juggle two investigations, putting her own career on the line.

It’s another enjoyable and thrilling mix of everything that’s good about this series. The murders are complex and intriguing, but it’s the characters and the backstory that demand attention in this novel. There’s a new boss with an axe to grind and a new DS with her eyes on more than Hillary’s job.

Then there’s the murder of her old boss. The killer seems to have got away with it, but Hillary can’t accept that, even though she’s not allowed to get involved in the investigation. As she treads a difficult tightrope, the killer threatens to strike again with another police officer in his sights.

The tension is expertly maintained as the investigations develop with more than a few surprises and heart stopping moments, making this one of the best books so far in the series.

I love this series.

Description

Edward Philpott is found bludgeoned to death with his own spade in his beautiful garden. He lived with his daughter Rachel and his two grandchildren.

Hillary’s only lead is a rival from the village flower show who used to argue with the victim about the size of their vegetables. But what dark secrets from the past and present does this village hold?

Hillary has returned to work after the slaying of her boss and is desperate to track down his murderer. His pregnant widow is even more determined to get revenge, but will she go too far?

Can Hillary cope with two complex investigations full of extreme emotions, one of which is very close to home?

Murder in the Garden by Faith Martin

The Winter Mystery by Faith Martin

The second book in the series sees roving caterer Jenny Starling taking a Christmas booking at a remote farm run by Stan. He’s an aggressive bully who rules with a rod of iron, keeping the rest of the family in check. His brother, Sid, who’s the rightful heir to the farm, is ill and in no position to fight.

When Sid’s found dead with a knife in his chest, the police arrive to investigate. The local inspector finds himself out of his depth and reliant on help from Jenny Starling, who’s already solved a few murders along the way.

It’s a very cosy mystery that’s well told with the usual red herrings and false trails to keep the reader guessing. Jenny Starling holds centre stage, slowly piecing together the clues to identify the killer. There’s a healthy helping of humour to lighten the mix and some well-drawn characters.

One of my pet peeves is police officers shown as incompetent or behaving unprofessionally to allow an amateur sleuth to shine. While it didn’t spoil my enjoyment of the story, I felt the portrayal of the police could have been handled better.

Description

Jenny Starling is spending Christmas in a snowed-in country house cooking all the traditional food she loves. But the family she’s working for are not full of the seasonal spirit. In fact, they seem to hate each other.

On Christmas Eve, someone is found dead on the kitchen table. And the head of the family is blaming Jenny!

But with an incompetent detective called in, and seemingly no motive for the murder, Jenny will have to give the police a hand.

She will stop at nothing to clear her name and find the real murderer.

The Winter Mystery by Faith Martin

Murder in the Mansion by Faith Martin

2nd August 2021.

What joy to be back in Kidlington and in the company of DI Hillary Greene and her team. Okay, there’s a sniper shooting police officers in the county, making everyone wary, but otherwise it’s business as usual.

In this case it’s the brutal stabbing of Mattie Jones in the hall of her upmarket home. Investigations soon reveal she upset or antagonised most of the people she met, including a bitter sister with a grudge. It also means plenty of suspects for the team to interview.

There are also the usual conflicts and issues within the team. Fast track Gemma has her eye on a fortune salted away by Hillary’s former husband. Keith Barrington’s worried his lifestyle choices will become public knowledge. Then there’s Hillary’s friend and superintendent, Mellow Mel, who’s watching a court case fall to pieces on a technicality.

It’s this backstory, with its twists, turns and humour, which adds an entertaining dimension to the novels. The investigation has all the twists you’d expect but is overshadowed by the failing court case. Even the capture of the sniper fails to provide more than a brief respite.

It all adds up to an exciting climax with a jaw dropping ending.

What more could you wish for?

Description

Mattie Jones is found brutally stabbed to death in her palatial home. Hillary Greene is called in to investigate the murder of this wealthy woman. Who wanted her dead and why?

Hillary discovers that Mattie’s snobby attitude had made her many enemies. Mattie was also going through a messy divorce and had a secret lover.

Meanwhile, in a terrifying turn of events, police officers are being gunned down outside their stations. A sniper is on the loose. Who will come under attack next?

Can Hillary cope with the enemies within, a complex case, and the whole force under attack?

Murder in the Mansion by Faith Martin

The Birthday Mystery by Faith Martin

25th June 2021.

Jenny Starling is catering for a 21st birthday party for twins Justin and Alicia in their parents’ country mansion in the Cotswolds. On the day she arrives, a worker from the estate is already dead, having drowned in a pond.

It soon becomes clear that all is not well in the house or between the twins, whose bitter rivalry and fighting comes under the spotlight when one of the guests dies at the party, poisoned by weed killer. The police arrive and begin an investigation, aware that Jenny is no slouch when it comes to solving murders.

Will she solve the case before the police, or will she hamper their investigation and land herself in hot water?

This light-hearted cosy mystery begins slowly, setting the scene, introducing the characters and the key relationships. Whether Jenny Starling is in the garden gathering herbs, checking out her sleeping accommodation in the house, or simply enjoying the country air, she’s never far from trouble, eavesdropping like a young Miss Marple to gather vital clues.

While some of the main characters seemed a little caricatured at the start, the story soon settled into a steady, entertaining rhythm, with plenty of humour to season the mystery. The competition between Jenny and the detective leading the enquiry was an enjoyable battle of wills as the cook pieced together the clues to solve the case.

This is an enjoyable first book in a series that features an excellent amateur sleuth, who’s more than a match for the police and killers. I look forward to reading the next in the series.

Description

Jenny Starling is catering the twenty-first birthday party of upper-class twins, Alicia and Justin.

She arrives at their parents’ country house and is immediately met by the police. A young man has drowned in the pond. Was it an accident or murder?

But the birthday party goes ahead. Then just after midnight, everyone gathers for a champagne toast . . . and one of the guests falls down dead. The police are baffled and there is a whole party full of suspects.

When it comes to someone adding the extra ingredient of poison to her own precious recipes, Jenny isn’t going to take it lying down. She has a reputation to protect.

Jenny Starling won’t stop until the murderer is found.

The Birthday Mystery by Faith Martin

Murder at Home by Faith Martin

30th May 2021.

The murder of Flo Jenkins appears motiveless. This elderly lady is well loved and close to dying from cancer. Why would anyone stab her in her own front room?

This is the mystery facing DI Hillary Greene and her team in their fifth outing. Problems at headquarters also muddy the waters with a stalker sending nasty messages to Janine, who is about to marry the Chief Superintendent, Mel. Then there’s the new detective constable, transferred out of London after an incident.

And a former chief superintendent, who left under a cloud threatens to cause trouble for Hillary.

It’s all in a day’s work for Hillary as she rallies the team, deals with the internal problems and gets down to solving the murder with an inspired bit of lateral thinking. The murder is intriguing, the relationships within the team fascinating and laced with humour, and at the heart of it all, Hillary Greene shines, even though her love life is getting complicated.

This is another excellent and exciting episode in the series. Like all the books in the series so far, it can be read as a standalone, but then you’d miss out on the character development and relationships that are an integral and delightful part of stories.

Highly recommended.

Description

Flo Jenkins is found murdered in her armchair, a paperknife sticking out of her chest. The old woman was well liked and nothing seems to have been stolen from her home. And it was common knowledge that she only had weeks to live.

Why kill a dying woman? This is going to be one of the toughest cases yet for Hillary to solve.

Hillary also has to deal with a new colleague who has a terrible temper and a rocky past.

With no forensics, no leads, and only a drug-addict nephew as a suspect, will this be Hillary’s first failure to solve a murder case?

Murder at Home by Faith Martin

Murder in the Village by Faith Martin

28th March 2021.

Having read and enjoyed the first three novels in the Hillary Green series, I settled into this one, not realising what a great and gripping story it was going to be. When I say story, there are actually two stories here – the murder in the village and a much bigger, far reaching battle with the local drugs baron.

Despite the title, the murder of a politician at home is not the main plot, though it still has to be investigated by the team and resolved. The new superintendent has bigger fish to fry and mounts a raid to catch the local drugs baron accepting a shipment at his remote farm. While Hillary wonders how her boss has managed to get such a tip off so soon after taking up his post in Oxford, she’s part of the team that carries out the raid.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t go quite to plan.

Alongside the two investigations, the backstories featuring the team members provide plenty of lighter moments and humour, together with some additional conflict that take this series to a new level. Well-developed and realistic, the characters add depth and interest to the novel as you watch their various desires and issues play out.

While I’ve enjoyed the first three books in the series, this is certainly the best story so far.  With a number of running issues brought to a head and resolved, I can’t wait to see how Hillary and the team develop and take on some new challenges in the next murder investigation.

Highly recommended.

Description

A would-be politician is found battered to death in the kitchen of his expensive home in a lovely Oxfordshire village. His wife’s alibi is full of holes and there’s another woman in the background. And what about his seemingly mild-mannered political rival?

DI Hillary Greene tries to get to the bottom of this perplexing murder. She certainly doesn’t think the prime suspect is as guilty as everyone thinks.

Just as she’s about to make a breakthrough, everything is turned upside down by a fatal development in another case she is working on . . .

Can Hillary find the murderer and will she survive a brush with one of Oxford’s most dangerous criminals?

Murder in the Village by Faith Martin

A Narrow Victory by Faith Martin

3/5 stars. I liked the intriguing murder and plot, which was well developed, offering little in the way of suspects, but plenty of frustration for the investigators.

Description

Once again, ex-DI Hillary Greene is delving into the archives, trying to discover who killed an interior designer at a swanky New Year’s Eve Party in 1999.

Somebody clearly didn’t want Felix Olliphant to enjoy the momentous occasion of seeing in not only a brand new year, but a brave new millennium. The trouble is, the more she learns about her murder victim, the less likely it seems that anyone would want him dead – he was a genuinely decent human being, and she can’t find anyone with a bad word to say about him.

To add to her woes, it seems her lover and immediate superior, Detective Superintendent Steven Crayle, is being lured away from her team with offers of a promotion elsewhere.

Can she keep her mind on the job, and find out who killed Felix? Or is this the first cold case that will defeat even her?

My thoughts

I first came across the author in a review and rather liked the sound of the series, featuring Hilary Greene. If I’m not mistaken, this is #15 in the series, so I’ve missed a lot, which might explain why Hillary Greene sounded like Wonderwoman when I began reading. Clearly, she’s been through the mill and back in her previous adventures as a detective inspector. Though she’s now a civilian officer in a cold case squad, she’s still treated as a DI by her superiors and colleagues alike.

It didn’t matter as A Narrow Victory works as a stand alone, though you know reading the previous books would give you a fuller and better understanding of the characters. That said, there were two new, and very different, recruits to the cold case squad. One is a young, enthusiastic Goth, the other a successful millionaire from the dot-com era, wanting to put something back into society. Or does he?

This is one of two subplots that adds to the intrigue of a story that starts slowly, burdened by rather too much physical description of the characters and work for this reader. Once the cold case concerning the death of Felix Olliphant kicks off, the pace moves up a gear. The team track down witnesses and interview them once more, hitting dead ends at every turn.

It’s somewhat leisurely, with the bulk of the action confined to journeys in an E-type jaguar and lots of conversations over cups of tea. And then suddenly, there’s a breakthrough, an arrest and the story’s wrapped up, somewhat abruptly.

Overall, I enjoyed A Narrow Victory. I liked the intriguing murder and plot, which was well developed, offering little in the way of suspects, but plenty of frustration for the investigators. The characters were well-drawn and kept me engaged. Hillary Greene seemed a little too clever and almost too good to be true, which was a shame as she had the dogged determination and resilience needed to be an effective detective. But the story ended with a welcome note of intrigue, preparing for the next novel.

If you like a cosy mystery with likeable characters, and you don’t mind a gentle pace and lots of description, this should be right up your street.

3/5 stars

A Narrow Victory cover