by Faith Martin
Once again, DI Hillary Greene and her intrepid team find themselves investigating a suspicious death under rather unusual circumstances. The victim is young Julia Reynolds, a guest at an anniversary party who came to a somewhat sticky end in a cowshed, dressed as a bride.
The bride part is a bit of a red herring; it was a costume party and her choice of dress was intended as a jibe to her would-be fiance.
There is no question about the fact she was murdered, but what was she doing in the cowshed and who would want to kill such a popular and lively young woman?
As with Hillary’s previous cases, nothing here is quite what it seems and she and her team soon uncover a web of jealousy and intrigue. Potential suspects begin to emerge out of the woodwork but all lack either motive or opportunity. None of it makes any sense and all avenues seem to be dead ends.
There are plot twists aplenty as Thames Valley’s finest inch ever closer to the truth, uncovering more than they bargained for along the way.
Faith Martin has created a likeable hero in Hillary Green, surrounding her with a supporting cast that is varied and colourful. Each has their unique idiosyncrasies and troubles. There is also the ongoing saga of Hillary’s now dead husband, Ronnie, and his nefarious exploits that continue to follow her like a bad smell. She may have been cleared of any wrong-doing herself, but there is still the question of Ronnie’s ill-gotten gains. One man at least, is determined to get his hands on the money, Sargeant Frant Ross. Frank is a permanent thorn in Hillary’s side, but one that has his uses which she is happy to exploit if it will help with a case.
The book also has a couple of interesting twists as part of the ongoing arc.
Murder of the Bride is a well written, well-structured crime novel that is both challenging and easy to read. I like Faith’s almost simplistic style. There is a lot of plot and character development but all done in an easily accessible way. The narrative is clean and pacey with little padding.
This being the third on the series the characters and their backstories are already well developed so there is little time spent going over old ground.
I am enjoying these books and look forward to getting into number 4.