The Proof in the Pudding – Rosemary Shrager

Published By: Constable/Little Brown
Pages: 336
Released On: 23/02/2023

Preparing a midwinter’s feast for all hundred residents of the little Yorkshire village of Scrafton Busk is exactly the kind of challenge Prudence Bulstrode adores. A chance to show off her muffin-topped winter stew, lamb shank hotpot and Scarborough woof – and, of course, her famous figgy pudding – is just the thing to shake off the winter blues.

But on the night of the feast, local vagabond Terry Chandler is found dead – his body entombed in the pristine snowman standing pride of place on the village green. Who could have wanted Chandler dead? Why would they stow his body in such strange circumstances? And what is the meaning of his last enigmatic message, directing his brother to Mystery Hills, a place of which no one has ever heard?

*****

Thanks to NetGalley and Constable for the advanced copy of this title in return for an honest review.

Rosemary’s first novel “The Last Supper” was a delight surprise of her year. I really love her presenting, and so was really thrilled to see she could turn her hand to writing too. It’s cosy crime and delightfully so.

I don’t know why I’m so surprised with the excellence of these books. It’s not like I expected her to be a bad writer, but it’s been a joy to read these books. They’re so accomplished. And whilst the stories may be a little out there, it totally works and it’s a pleasure. I’m not sure how much of what she does Prudence would get away with in real life. There’s certainly a sense of artistic licence here, but it totally works.

There’s strong very Midsomer Murders about it – and that’s no bad thing. It’s exciting and riveting, with a glorious main character and fabulous supporting characters, but it’s safe. It’s not blood and guts, but it still has twists and turns for you to get stuck into. It has all the elements you would expect from a murder mystery book. I’d love to see the books made into a TV series or movie, I think they’d be really popular.

I love that Rosemary hasn’t lost her passion for food and cooking. All the food-related scenes are described so delectably you can almost taste the food. Only someone with that much experience can write food like that.

Yes, I know there’s a murder investigation going on, but overall, it’s very cheerful and friendly and funny, but it doesn’t lose any of those elements we want from a mystery.

She’s got the pace just right. It’s not rushed, nor is it slow. It gives you time to enjoy the little nuances, the exciting clues; it gives you time to work out the murderer, before it arrives at its very satisfying conclusion. So far, I haven’t been able to confidently guess the killer in either book, and I think that makes for a very entertaining mystery.

Prudence Bulstrode is an excellent addition to the classic fictional female sleuths such as Miss Marple and Nancy Drew. She more than holds her own on every page.

I’m so happy to see there’s a third book coming out in 2024. I’m not quite ready to leave this world she’s created.

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