Book review: “The Complete Monica Noble Murder Mysteries”

If you’re a fan of TV shows like Midsomer Murders, you’ll love this book series by Faith Martin.

It’s mostly because of the cold, grey and uninviting January weather that I’ve only wanted to stay in lately—a book in one hand, a nice cup of tea in the other. And this winter I’ve been very much immersed in the literary subgenre known as cosy mysteries. If you’re not familiar with it, “cosies”are a type of crime fiction characterised by absence of graphic sex and violence. They are typically set in small towns or idyllic villages, and the crimes involve small, tight-knit groups of people.

What’s cosy about these books is the setting and the atmosphere: in this genre, crime fiction meets the rustic and the bucolic. There’s crime-solving, usually done by amateur sleuths, but a big part of it has to do with extolling the virtues of small-town or rural living.

Searching for some more recent cosy mystery titles on the Amazon Kindle Store, I stumbled upon a three-book set by the title of “The Complete Monica Noble Murder Mysteries”, written by Faith Martin. All three books within it had a pretty high rating, so I decided to check them out for myself. The books proved to be real page-turners; I read them all in less than a week. Yes, they are full of tropes and stereotypes typical of the genre, but hey, that’s exactly why people love them!

The leading character, Monica Noble, is a vicar’s wife living in a picturesque Cotswolds village. In the first book, The Vicarage Murder, we get to know her, her husband and their daughter, all living in a renovated vicarage converted to flats shared by a number of other residents. When a murder happens at a garden party, everyone is under suspicion. While the police investigation goes in one direction, Monica’s independent investigation ultimately helps solve the crime.

The setting of the second novel, The Flower Show Murder, is, well, a village flower show. Again, no one is above suspicion after one of the prominent locals dies in the middle of judging the flowers. The cast of characters is different (apart from Monica, her family, and the leading police investigators who are all recurring characters). Similar to the first book, all the elements of the genre are there, but guessing who dun it is far from predictable.

Finally, the third book, The Manor House Murder, takes us to a large church conference taking place in an old manor house, attended by a number of vicars and high-ranking Church of England officials. (Actually, I don’t think CofE is explicitly mentioned at any point, but it’s very clearly implied.) After one of the women priests dies during dinner from what looks like poisoning, all kinds of secrets, tensions and resentments come to the surface. Were it not for Monica’s insights and obvious talent for connecting the dots, the police would’ve ended up completely sidetracked.

If you want to venture into the world of cosy mysteries, this Monica Noble series would be a great start. At the moment of writing, the e-book set is priced at only £0.98 on Kindle Store, which is a great bargain. Audiobook versions for all three titles are also available.


“The Complete Monica Noble Murder Mysteries” on Kindle Store

Faith Martin – the official website

The cover image shows the Cotwolds village of Bibury. Photo credit: Samuel Sweet via Pexels.

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