MURDER, MYSTERY…AND MARROWS
Some people would describe Beattie Bramshaw as a pillar of the community. Many would applaud her numerous successes in the bakery competition at the annual village show. A small number might say, if pushed, that they find her a little on the bossy side. And one or two might just whisper the words ‘interfering’ and ‘busybody’ behind her back.
But no-one would have her down as a murderer.
So why is she being questioned in Dreighton police station after being found in the local allotments, at the dead of night, wielding a kitchen knife just yards away from where local lottery winner, Yvonne Richards, was found stabbed to death? And what does all of this have to do with Doug Sparrow’s prize marrows?
Marrow Jam is a comedy crime caper in the spirit of Agatha Raisin. It will have you chuckling all the way through many a cup of tea.
The story jumps straight in with Beattie being arrested after having been found brandishing a knife on the allotments. Unfortunately for Beattie, a body has also been found nearby, the victim stabbed to death by a weapon similar in size to her knife. The police officer in charge is adamant Beattie is the killer, and when during her rambling account of events she admits to not liking the victim, then jealousy seems the most likely motive for her crime.
In an attempt to prove her innocence, Beattie insists on giving a full and frank account which involves steering off topic so many times as to test the police officer’s patience.
I’ll be honest, I was ready to lock her up and throw away the key – not for the murder, but for simply being so annoying! As Beattie’s explanation unfolded, she didn’t endear herself to me until very close to the end when the reasons for her pernickety, prudish and determined nature was clarified.
The nostalgia of 1999 was lovely to reflect on, especially right now, and the author came up with some of the best metaphors I’ve seen in a long time that so depicted the era and took me right back.
I’m a big fan of cosy mysteries. You might say “it’s my jam”, and while this was entertaining overall, it didn’t quite resonate with me in the way most mysteries do. The constant timeline changes, while clearly marked at each chapter’s start, meant I had to flick back a lot to double-check where the story was. Maybe I wasn’t concentrating hard enough! The pace began well, faltered a little in the middle but then picked up again towards the end – there was a lot going on in that village.
Marrow Jam is more of a funny story than a real mystery in my eyes, the humour often bordering on slapstick, Set in a typical English village with the ubiquitous annual fête, it offers a cast of quirky older characters with huge personalities. A charming story with plenty of laughs thrown in.
About the author:
The inspiration for her first novel, Marrow Jam, came from her long experience and observation of competitors at the local Romsey Show, where she regularly aspires to win Best in Show with her floral arrangements.
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