It’s a pleasure to take part in the BlogTour Murder on the Downs by Julie Wassmer.
Julie Wassmer was born in the East End of London, studied at Kingston University and had a variety of different jobs before she finally settled down to become a professional television drama writer.
She worked on several TV series, including ITV’s London’s Burning, C5’s Family Affairs and the popular BBC soap, EastEnders, which she wrote for almost 20 years.
In 2010, her autobiography More Than Just Coincidence was published by Harper Collins/True. The book entered the Sunday Times Best Selling Non Fiction Top Twenty and went on to become Mumsnet Book of the Year.
In 2015, Julie’s debut crime novel, The Whitstable Pearl Mystery, was published by award-winning publisher, Little, Brown Book Group. Six other books have since followed in the series with more on the way, and the television rights to the series have been optioned by the TV production company, Buccaneer, the makers of Marcella, starring Anna Friel.
Julie moved to Whitstable twenty years ago where she shares a home with her husband, Kas, and three cats, Charlie, Lily and Maisie. She also spends a great deal of time campaigning on environmental issues.
Murder on the Downs is the seventh book in the Whitstable Pearl Mystery series.
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About the book
A controversial new property development is planned in Whitstable which will encroach upon the green open space of the downs, to the dismay of Whitstable residents who view this as the thin end of the wedge with regard to local wildlife conservation.
A campaign springs into life, spearheaded by a friend of Pearl’s family, Martha Laker. A committed environmentalist, Martha is no stranger to controversy herself. She has also managed to divide opinion across town, with the locals viewing her as their fearless champion while establishment figures seeing only an interfering agitator.
Tensions escalate between the developers and Whitstable residents, straining Pearl’s close relationship with London-born police officer, DCI Mike McGuire, who harbours concerns that the local campaign will spiral out of control. Pearl’s loyalties are torn, but the protest duly goes ahead – and newspaper headlines claim a moral victory for the residents in this David and Goliath battle.
But the victory is short lived when Pearl discovers a dead body on the downs…
Pearl is thrown into the middle of a fight between a property developer and the locals in Whitstable. She doesn’t really want to take sides, especially because she is trying to focus on her budding relationship between herself and DCI Mike McGuire. Her hand is forced, although perhaps more due to nostalgia as opposed to admitting the practicality of more people needing affordable housing. That twinge of nostalgia places her firmly on one side. It’s all fun and games, and a bit of rebellion, until somebody turns up dead.
Wassmer captures the essence of rural and coastal smalltown mentality and definitely hits the nail on the head when it comes to the gentrification of areas perceived as perfect by those with second homes. If you happen to live in one of those areas it’s easier to understand the more negative implications for the locals. DfL’s (down-from-London) don’t help the local economy because their holiday homes are empty for the majority of the year. They tend to be key figures and string-pullers when it comes to environmental and conservation protests. It makes them look good. Yes, I am a wee bit cynical.
Wassmer knows exactly how things roll between locals and second home holiday dwellers. The plot is built around the same kind of tension, disgruntled opinions and energy the two sides tend to evoke. Combined with a cosy mystery crime vibe and a blossoming romance this is the kind of read you need when you want distraction and a bit of smalltown quirkiness.
Buy Murder on the Downs ( Whitstable Pearl Mysteries) at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Constable; pub date 7 May 2020 – £8.99 Paperback/eBook. Buy at Amazon com.