An English Garden Murder by Katie GayleAn English Garden Murder by Katie Gayle
Series: Julia Bird Mysteries #1
Published by Bookouture on April 28, 2022
Source: Borrowed
Genres: Cozy Mystery
Pages: 252
Format: Paperback
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Julia Bird’s picturesque Cotswolds cottage has everything she could want. Rustic charm, cosy fireplaces and, it turns out, a dead body in the garden…

Recently divorced and reluctantly retired, Julia Bird has fled London to enjoy idyllic rural life in the Cotswolds. Determined to have the perfect English garden, her first job is to tear down the old shed, where she unearths much more than she’d bargained for… A body, apparently buried for decades. But who could it be, and who killed them? The police draw a blank, and even the gossip-fest that is the local bookclub can’t remember anyone going missing in the village.

Unable to get on with her garden until the mystery is resolved, Julia decides to conduct her own clandestine investigations. So, together with her wayward chocolate Labrador puppy Jake, Julia begins a whirlwind tour of the local residents. And everyone, it seems, has something to hide in this village. As she gets closer to the truth, Julia uncovers something even more shocking… Another body, this time of someone she actually knows.

Determined to unmask the killer and find out what connects the two dead bodies, Julia – newly nicknamed the Grim Reaper – ups the stakes and hones in on the most likely suspect. But if she hasn’t deduced correctly, then there is someone else in the village who has killed twice already. Will they be prepared to make it third time lucky to keep their secret safe?

Newly-retired and newly-divorced London social worker Julia Bird has just moved to a village in the Cotswolds. Julia is working on making it her home – meeting new people, having a chicken coop built, getting a dog. No sooner has Julia hired local handyman Johnny Blunt and his grandson to tear down an old shed and build the chicken coop, than human remains are discovered under the shed’s foundation. Julia is of course curious about the identity of the body and is pretty good at reading people’s behaviors so starts asking questions. And then she discovers a second body, and she knows there’s a killer still living in the town.

The village is full of appropriately quirky people but there’s a lot going on under the surface. Julia is a good lead character. She’s kind of reinventing herself and finding her feet in her new situation. She even has a possible love interest. D.I. Hayley Gibson is in charge of the case and she and Julia get along very well, even exchanging information. I like it when our amateur detective actually cooperates with the cops and doesn’t try to keep all their information to themselves, and here the Gibson actually listens.

The mystery was put together well. We have several suspects, with legitimate motives, but the final solution was a little sad to me.

An English Garden Murder is an easy to read cozy. I’m looking forward to reading more in the series.

About Katie Gayle

Katie Gayle is the writing partnership of best-selling South African writers, Kate Sidley and Gail Schimmel. Kate and Gail have, between them, written over ten books of various genres, but with Katie Gayle, they both make their debut in the cozy mystery genre. Both Gail and Kate live in Johannesburg, with husbands, children, dogs and cats.

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