Title: The Oxford Mystery (Jenny Starling #5)
Author: Faith Martin
Published on: 5 April 2019
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Jenny Starling, the traveling cook, is back! This time, she’s assigned to work at the Oxford college. Whom is she going to cook for? The Medical Sciences delegation? Nah, she’s here to cook for the Taxidermists association.
It is a well-known fact that wherever Jenny goes, murder follows. No, the poor thing doesn’t carry bad juju wherever she goes. Every time a murder or a crime happens around Jenny, she manages to solve it before the police and this has gotten her a name. Amateur Sleuth. She’s well-known in the police-circles for her Miss Marple-like intellectual skills.
Maurice Raines, a ladies’ man and the taxidermy society president, is found with a knife in his neck in the dining hall. With some in classes and some watching ‘how to remove fur off a baby seal’ ( Ouch!!) in the movie hall, who could have killed Maurice?
Meanwhile, his wife, Laura, is off to a vacation with her lover Simon. The duo seem to have some hushed-up secret of their own. Jenny finds herself a partner – yes, Jenny is in love! With the handsomely dashing man around, will Jenny be able to solve the murder?
The Oxford Mystery is the fifth book in Faith Martin’s Jenny Starling Mystery series. Jenny Starling is a junoesque cook – tall and medium built woman. She’s a traveling cook and her dishes are to die for! I have followed this series from the first book and I find Jenny Starling series interesting.
The surprising change in this book was Jenny having the hots for a handsome taxidermist named James Raye. James is been given the task of looking after his nieces’ pet – Norman. If you think Norman is a dog or a cat, then think again. Being surrounded by stuffed animals, Jenny is amazed to see a stuffed lizard. She picks up the green thing and observes it. The taxidermist has done an excellent job in getting the scales and the skin texture exact… And the lizard moves its eye. Uh Oh! Not a stuffed lizard this! Jenny soon learns that his name is Norman. (No, the lizard doesn’t tell her his name!)
In the previous books in this series, Jenny forms a bond with an animal. In the Winter Mystery, there is this nasty goose that seems to nip people in their bums. But the goose is scared of Jenny. Well, any goose would be, if they are told that they will be cooked for Thanksgiving! In The Castle Mystery, Jenny encounters a ghost – a moving teapot. She then realizes that there is a tortoise below the teapot! In this story, she finds a friend in Norman.
If you have read my review of the previous book in this series – The Castle Mystery – you would remember that I spoke about Jenny being a tad dull in her detective skills. The trend continues in this book too. I remember reading about a lot of dishes (names only, not recipes) that Jenny prepares. She takes her time to intricately plate the prepared dish or religiously marinate the meat and so on. But since The Castle Mystery, this particular cooking ritual of Jenny has taken a backseat and I wonder why!
The police are surprised and shocked by Jenny’s amazonian figure. (There were far too many mentions of her junoesque figure which I felt was a little unnecessary.) As usual, Jenny solves the mystery and when the police do not have a clue, she says “Oh, I know who is the murderer. What I do not know is the reason for killing this person.” Typical Jenny! Though the story was a tad dull and there was not much of sleuthing, Jenny’s romantic adventure was a welcoming change.
When Laura and Simon’s roles were introduced in the story, I was confused. What did they have to do with the murder? As the story proceeded, things got murkier. Did Laura have to do something with the murder? But how could she? She was miles away when her husband was murdered? The police are baffled too about this and then Jenny explains it all.
Overall, Jenny Starling series is an interesting cozy series. Though a bit old-fashioned or slow, I love Jenny’s adventures. These books were published a couple of years ago and are now being republished. I am very curious to know how it all ends. Will Jenny and James end up together? What about Jenny’s career as a traveling cook? Well, I hope my questions will be answered in the next book!
Thank you, Joffe Books and NetGalley for the ARC. This is my honest and unbiased review.
If you have missed my reviews of the first four books in this series, you can read them here: