Book Review: Jess Castle and the Eyeballs of Death by M. B. Vincent

Jess Castle and the Eyeballs of Death by M.B. Vincent

Title: Jess Castle and the Eyeballs of Death
Author: M. B. Vincent
Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK
Publication Date: 18 October 2018 
Jess Castle is running away. Again. This time she’s running back home, like she swore she never would.

Castle Kidbury, like all small towns, hums with gossip but now it’s plagued with murder of the most gruesome kind. Jess instinctively believes that the hippyish cult camped out on the edge of town are not responsible for the spate of crucifixions that blights the pretty landscape. Her father, a respected judge, despairs of Jess as she infiltrates the cult and manages, not for the first time, to get herself arrested.

Rupert Lawson, a schooldays crush who’s now a barrister, bails her out. Jess ropes in a reluctant Rupert as she gatecrashes the murder investigation of DS Eden. A by-the-book copper, Eden has to admit that intuitive, eccentric Jess has the nose of a detective.

As the gory murders pile up, there’s nothing to connect the victims. And yet, the clues are there if you look hard enough.

Jess Castle and the Eyeballs of Death has kind of flown in under the radar, and yet it is certainly one that fans of fun crime fiction, such as Midsomer Murders, Death in Paradise and Agatha Raisin, would enjoy. I like the title of the book as it instantly warns the reader that this is going to be somewhat of a madcap affair!
After several years’ absence, Dr Jess Castle PhD arrives back in Castle Kidbury, an idyllic West Country market town, with her tail between her legs. Moving back into the family home with her father, the respected retired Judge, James Castle QC, and his new housekeeper, Bogna, Jess isn’t exactly thrilled to be back, even less so when her return re-awakens an old childhood nightmare that she can’t seem to shake off.
Small English villages tend to have a reputation for nosy neighbours, petty gossip and peculiar residents – Castle Kidbury is certainly no exception! As the town is hit by a spate of crucifixions, Jess’s academic interest in pagan symbolism and rituals, along with her link to a local hippy cult, proves to be very useful. With nothing else to do, she finds herself in the thick of the police investigation. As the murder count begins to rise, can Jess and DS John Eden work together to link the victims and catch the dastardly killer?! 
The plot balances on the line between cosy and gory. The language is quite light-hearted, yet there are some grisly moments in the book which pull it back from being overly comical. It is well-plotted and flows at a good pace, resulting in a very entertaining crime novel.
In addition to a decent plot, this novel provides a great collection of quirky and eccentric characters.  The main protagonist, Jess, certainly has a chip on her shoulder, yet she is kind, intuitive and brave. Her madcap friend Mary is certainly unpredictable and the kooky Bogna adds some great comic moments to the story. I did feel a bit of sympathy for James Castle, DS Eden and barrister Rupert Lawson, being surrounded by such a horde of zany women!  Despite their individual idiosyncrasies (or maybe because of them), they make a great team! The supporting cast of villagers are another delightful touch.
The book is written by a husband and wife team who apparently wrote alternate chapters. I would not have guessed this as the voice is so consistent throughout. A great piece of teamwork!
Jess Castle and the Eyeballs of Death is a quirky, entertaining and rather charming crime novel that doesn’t take itself too seriously, a dark comedy verging on a parody of a classic whodunit. With a healthy dose of intrigue and just enough grit and gore to grab the reader’s attention, this book is the perfect choice for a winter night curled up in front of the fire.

*The Kindle version of the book is on sale for 99p as at 21 February 2019*
About the Author

M.B. Vincent is a married couple. She writes romantic fiction; he writes songs and TV theme tunes. They’ve even written musicals together. They work at opposite ends of the house, and they meet in the middle to write about Jess Castle and Castle Kidbury, the West Country’s goriest market town. When they’re not making up books, tunes, and mysteries, they cram head out in an open- top car and explore. They particularly like West Country market towns …


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