6th April 2017, Constable, 304 pages, Paperback, Review copy,
Content: some murder scenes, lots of suspense, some humour,
Summary from Little, Brown
Pearl receives a surprise present from her mother, Dolly - an early summer break at a riverside manor house that has been recently transformed into an exclusive hotel - the newly named Villa Pellegrini.
Pellegrini - the Italian word for pilgrims - reflects the fact that the building lies on the old Pilgrims Way into Canterbury, and Pearl is looking forward to the break, not least because DCI Mike McGuire has been neglecting her due to his work. But when she discovers that she's actually booked in for a cookery course from the Italian celebrity chef, Nico Caruso, she begins to think again . . .
Pearl doesn't welcome instruction on cookery at the best of times, and certainly not from an arrogant chef like Caruso. She goes along, intent on challenging Caruso's egotism - and a long tradition of men dominating gastronomy - but soon finds herself distracted, not only by her enchanting surroundings but by the disparate selection of guests.
She even begins to enjoy Caruso's attentions - and his cookery - until one of the guests goes missing and it becomes clear that murder is on the menu.
This is my favourite book of the whole series!! Dolly, Pearl's mother, features a lot which satisfies me as I love the dynamic between the duo. They always make me smile even when the situation gets serious. I kept wondering who was going to die and who the killer was-the end was a surprise as I had no clue whatsover. Well, not entirely true as with the location it was a bit like a Cluedo game (a board game where players have to figure out who killed the victim, where, and with what - e.g. Miss Scarlett in the kitchen with a candlestick. Ah, I have fond memories of playing it when I was little! I think that's partly why I loved this story so much, that and I love Pearl's adventures.)
In places there was a bit too much food info for my tastes, so my eyes glazed over a little, but that's evened out with the constantly changing theories of Pearl and her companions. I still don't know how she forgave a certain character's arrogance on the first night of her break for what they did to a lovely lady, but I'm not Pearl. I'm thrilled she was fascinated by bee keeping as that's a dreamlike job (totally impractical for me but love everything about it). I had no idea about why they get smoked or what produces the smoke when checking hives (bee homes, not allergic reaction skin condition). There's a multitude of suspense and drama, a combination which I love to see in a book like this. The reader gets teased with the frosty distance between Pearl and McGuire, but I promise there's some hope for them. Definitely one to reread-it's also available as an audiobook!
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You must read the others in the series: #1 The Whitstable Pearl Mystery by Julie Wassmer (Cosy, Fiction, 10E/10E, short 'n' sweet review)