Title: Murder in Fulbridge Village (Henry Fleming Investigates #1)
Author: Jay Gill
Published on: 24 July 2022
Genre: Cozy Mystery (Historical)
Murder in Fulbridge Village is the first book in Jay Gill’s Henry Fleming Investigates series.
Henry Fleming decides to visit his dear friend Lily Riley who lives in Fulbridge. Lily was in her late thirties and still unmarried when she started publishing her writing under a male pseudonym. Her books were successful. Fortunately for Lily, when her real identity was revealed, her popularity increased.
It was on her trip to Scotland that Lily met William. They married soon after. But years later, William fell sick and passed away soon after. Lily could never write another book after that. Instead, she started to make jams and chutneys, which gained fame locally.
Fast forward to the present, Valerie discusses about an offer from Whittingworth Foods. They want Lily’s jams and chutneys in every high-end grocers in London and New York. Lily does not want fame – she’s had enough of it. She’s quite rich too. But she feels sad about Valerie’s situation and agrees. Valerie’s husband emptied her bank account and ran away with a young woman. Valerie is struggling financially.
Henry arrives just in time for the fete. One of the competitors picks up a fight with another and steps out of the competition. Lily wins a prize or two. When the fete ends, she tells Henry to go home while she would stay back and help the others in cleaning up. But hours later, Lily does not return so Henry goes in search of her. He finds her walking out of the church, looking pale. When questioned, she says she found Valerie dead in the church – murdered.
When the local inspector Carp arrives at the scene, he recognizes Henry Fleming. Henry and Lily return home and a few minutes later, they hear someone at the door. It is Inspector Carp. He arrests Lily for killing Valerie. Lily asks Henry to prove her innocence.
This is the first book in the series and quite an impressive debut, I must say. I enjoyed reading Murder in Fulbridge Village by Jay Gill. The story is supposedly set in 1920s but it didn’t have a historical feeling. Nevertheless, small village setting is a favorite of mine so I didn’t mind this non-historical feel.
A fish and chip shop is mentioned. The author has written a side note at the end of the book, saying that fish and chip shops gained popularity rapidly between 1910 and 1930. Interesting inclusion. What say?
We have a lot of character introductions. I am not sure if all the characters from this book (except the killer, of course) appear in the next book. If not, I suppose their (detailed) introduction wasn’t all that necessary.
It’s been days since the murder and Lily’s arrest but Henry is still trying to find the missing piece of the puzzle – the motive for murder and the identity of the killer. Red herrings are plenty and most of the suspects in Henry’s list had a valid reason to kill Valerie.
I felt Henry was, what I would call, a know-it-all and too proud of himself. He also reminds you of Poirot. I am not a fan of detectives who have a track record of solving all the cases they have ever been assigned. A bit of failure is necessary to grow and learn, right?
Also, I would have loved to learn more about Henry’s background. His life at the military, as a detective and probably a few of his past cases. There is no Mrs. Fleming on the scene but there is a mention of a lost love. I wish we were given some more information about this.
The red herrings makes it difficult for ‘amateur’ and ‘wannabe’ sleuths like you and I to find the killer. I absolutely loved the denouement. Poirot style. Gather all the suspects, tell them what went wrong and then… point finger at the perp and let the story unravel on its own.
Overall, Murder in Fulbridge Village by Jay Gill was an impressive, interesting and entertaining start to a brand new cozy mystery series. I loved the storytelling. I am looking forward to knowing what’s next for Henry Fleming.
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