Title: The Castle Mystery (Jenny Starling #4)
Author: Faith Martin
Published on: 27th February 2019 (republished by Joffe Books)
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Jenny Starling, the Junoesque cook, is back in action! This time, she’s hired as a full-time cook at the Avonsleigh Castle. Lord George Avonsleigh and his wife, Lady Vivienne Margaret are happy to meet Jenny – after all, the husband-wife duo are foodies and Jenny promises to cook delicacies that makes one drool.
The Avonsleighs have guests for a high tea the next day and Jenny is busy preparing drool-worthy dishes. One of the staff members is found dead in the conservatory, killed with a priceless, heavily-jewelled dagger. When the Avonsleighs hear of Jenny’s previous adventures, they ask her to help the police in solving the murder case.
The castle Mystery is the fourth book in the Jenny Starling series. Unlike the first three books where Jenny is present/discovers the scene of the crime, in this story, she isn’t aware of the crime until the police call her in. Also, this story was a tad slower than the first three. Jenny usually plays a major part in the crime-solving part of the story, with poking her nose where it doesn’t belong and all, but in this case, I found her to be a tad less curious than before.
Characters: Lord and Lady Avonleigh; Lady Roberta (their granddaughter); Malcolm Powell-Brooks – Roberta’s art teacher; Ava Simmons – Roberta’s governess; Meecham the butler; Gayle Meecham – lady’s maid (and butler’s daughter); Janice Beale – parlor maid; Elsie Bingham – kitchen maid;Detective Inspector John Bishop and Sergeant Myers.
As in any typical Jenny Starling mystery, there were many characters and a pet. In this case, the pet was a tortoise named Henry. There are many fun adventures related to Henry. First, when Jenny is interviewed by the Avonsleighs, she sees that the teapot is moving by itself. She thinks that the castle is haunted by ghosts. It turns out to be Henry – no, he’s not a poltergeist! Then, in the kitchen, Jenny almost makes a pie out of him! She accidentally sits on him too. Ouch!
The pacing was a bit slow but it didn’t ruin the mystery. In fact, there were too many things going on that I wondered if Jenny would manage to solve this case. From no suspects to many suspects, Jenny slowly discovers the truth. It so happens that the staff is not as innocent as they look. With so many hidden skeletons in the closet, the reader is given a list of suspects and all of them had a reason to harm the victim.
Roberta is a sixteen-year-old girl who loves art. Her school-girl crush on her art teacher – Malcolm – disappoints Jenny. I found Jenny’s thoughts to be a bit old fashioned here and it was a tad disappointing! The frequent references to Jenny’s size were unnecessary. Also, the man at the gallery forms a mental picture of her as a model (naked one, this) to paint, which again was totally uncalled for!
Since I am comparing this book to the first three books in this series, I would also like to say that, in the first three books, Jenny was a guest cook. That is, she was either there for the weekend or for a week. But in this case, she joins the Castle as a full-time cook. And I was wondering, if this is the case then The Castle Mystery might be the last in Jenny Starling Series. The whole series is based on Jenny, the travelling cook, you see. The ending is pretty entertaining because Jenny is disappointed! Why you ask? Nopity, nope. Revealing this ‘secret’ makes this review a spoiler.
The identity of the murderer was kinda obvious in the end – before the perp is arrested, that is. As things become clearer, it wasn’t very difficult to put all the clues together and guess the identity of the murderer. But how was the murder committed was something that only Jenny could explain so hats off to her for that.
Overall, this was an entertaining book but I didn’t enjoy it as much as I did the first three books in the series. I am looking forward to reading the other books in this series. I love Jenny Starling and one slightly disappointing read is not going to change my decision about this series.
JJ says ” If you’re interested in the lighter end of mystery fiction then dive in, these peccadilloes will likely vex you less than they do me and you’ll be able to enjoy the good elements far more as a result.” Read his review here.
You can read my reviews on the first three books in the Jenny Starling series here:
I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest and unbiased opinion.