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Saturday, September 14, 2019

Murder in the Mill Race by E.C.R. Lorac

I got my computer working again and it makes writing reviews so much easier!
I'm slow on the Ipad with reviews.

The British Classic Crime series is a style apart from the myriad excellent mystery/murder/thrillers which abound. There is a sort of slowness and a quiet deduction, which has its own attraction.

Dr Raymond Ferens is taking over a practice by a doctor who lived in the village for decades. It will be a very long time, however good Ferens is , to be totally accepted by the village as one of their own. There are several fixtures of village life from the gossipy post mistress, to the lady of the manor who seems to rule everyone with her ways, and then there is the spinster caretaker of the local orphanage who is strict, gives no quarter, but not a single word will be spoken against her.

When she is found dead, drowned in a nearby stream the consensus is determinedly that she slipped and fell despite the local Constable having his suspicions of it being a murder. He is not merely shut up, but to the extent that he calls on higher powers that be because he realises very early on that the village has decided to gang up against him and not give him any clues as to what really went on.

The story takes on from there and slowly the plot unravels. Very little will surprise me when dealing with villagers in England or otherwise. Human beings are all complicated and this story illustrates this in full measure.

Sent to me by Netgalley, for an unbiased review, courtesy of Poison Pen Press.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris by Jenny Colgan

I've been to Paris just once. I want to go again. What Colgan does is that she makes me want to now. Just up and go because there seems to be a myriad things I've not experienced.

Anna lives a humdrum life. In her little world,  to her family and friends she has it all. Tight knit family, few friends, nights out at the local, blokes interested in her. Till a freak accident makes her ill, despondent and depressed and her former French teacherdecides to step in and send her for a kind of apprenticeship to a chocolatier in Paris. There she discovers another world of taste and luxury, of fine distinction between mediocre mass produced chocolates and chocolates produced with so much passion. She also discovers discreet good taste, a palate for the finer things and love as well.

With its ups and downs Anna comes to terms with life and love, reconciling two people who've left it very late to find the love they once had (this part was sad. Of what might have been if things were different). But Anna finds out she is stronger than what she thought she was to face a future alone, if the path of love does not run smoothly for her.

Descriptive of Paris, and very matter of fact about relationships this was an excellent read.

Sent to me by Netgalley courtesy of Sourcebooks Landmark, for an unbiased review.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Beyond The Moon by Catherine Taylor

We have it all in this story. Time travel, a good deal of history, a love affair, the tragic workings of a mental hospital in the present century. This book was good. The story fascinating. Almost too good to be true. So though you know its a bit of fantasy, deep down you'd like it to be true.

1916 Captain Robert Lovett is convalescing at Coldbrook Hall. He cannot see though doctors have assured him that there is no physical impediment to him getting his sight back.
In 2017 Louisa Casson through a number of sheer coincidences, finds herself in a mental health institution called Coldbrook Hall. The premises is their connection and one day Louisa disappears and turns up as Rose Ashby a Volunteer Nurse. Her stay as Rose is not permanent as she keeps going back and forth to 2017, until she realises she wants to be with Robert despite him returning to the Front, and so goes back to Amiens to the battlefront herself.

The two time frames are both intense - not everyday life. One is an institution run like a prison with Victorian attitudes to mental health and brutality and cruelty to match. Then we have both England and Europe in the grip of WWI , Robert a POW the harshness of life at the front, and the sheer numbers one is faced with in the hospitals. In the midst of this the love story is the only hopeful, bright spark amongst the misery.

Characters spot on, descriptiveness very good, fascinating story.

Sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of  The Cameo Press.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Snap Shot by Marilyn Todd

1895. London is rather strait laced at least on the surface. Taking risqué photographs is not the occupation you'd expect a young woman to follow, but photography is her passion and if this is the only way she can achieve her dream to travel, see the world and photograph it, then so be it.

When her models start dying one by one, in the most awful manner however, Julia knows she is being set up. Despite her covering her back at every turn, she knows the law in the shape of the canny Detective Collingwood is going to catch up with her. To top it all, she really likes the detective, and hoodwinking him is not going down well with her personally.

This was Victorian England, veiled in hypocrisy as to the way one should live and Heaven help you if you were discovered not keeping to the straight and narrow.
I enjoyed the contrasts in the story - the character of not just Julia but the other models as well and their very matter of fact approach to the photography which was very unusual for the times.

Ending was a complete turn around for me. Never saw it coming.

Sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Sapere Books.

Friday, September 6, 2019

Death on a Summer Morning by Betty Rowlands

Arthur Soames missed his footing on the stairs and died. Retired school teacher living a quiet life in this rural village his death seemed straightforward enough. But we have his youthful fiancée and angry young daughter both insisting that the Police investigate the death, as they suspect foul play.
They cite the other party as suspects with reasons to support their arguments.

The Police dutifully follow up but Arthur had no enemies, no colorful past history to hide or so it seems, until Sukey on her own, with no reference to her seniors starts an investigation into the case and she really unravels a can of worms. With each fact being uncovered, as to who could be responsible for his death widens. The final outcome is totally surprising.

Set in a beautiful rural area, the descriptiveness of both the geography and the characters is old fashioned but spot on.

Love this series of old fashioned detective work.

Sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Bookouture.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

The Daughter of Hardie by Anne Melville

Lucy and Gordon had a big family of boys and one girl. Lucy was intrepid and courageous and daring. She ran away to be with Gordon who was in "trade" despite being in the wine business, still below Lucy's background. She adapted to her life of being wife and mother though what she longed for was the expeditions to China, looking for that elusive specimen.

Their daughter however was mild, subservient and at times for want of a better word a plodder. Despite changing times, WW almost upon them, the position of women becoming more and more important, conscription into the military depriving her of her brothers, Grace seemed to be cocooned into a small world of her own. She did not hanker for change, for excitement, she felt that marriage and children would naturally follow and when a "suitable" partner appeared she accepted his proposal.

Grace came into her own much later as a young woman. Single, independent, determined to make her own way and save the family firm almost single handedly. From being a wishy washy individual she became a confident person.

Though Grace's story was rather simple, the setting and accompanying background was anything but simple and this carried the story till the adulthood of Grace came about. Then it became all systems go and almost beamed with anticipation for what the next page would bring.

Sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Agora Books.

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Grave Expectations by Heather Redmond

This book deals with several aspects of Charles Dickens personality apart from his superior writings. Dickens was a champion of the under dog and the marginalized part of society and suffered much personal trouble as a result of constantly being embroiled in others affairs. In this case the story starts with the murder of an elderly, reclusive lady in unusual circumstances and then begins a rather complicated story going back decades and involving long lost relatives and lovers.

Dickens despite penury was supported by his very patient fiancée who saw with every episode her chances of having a wedding sooner rather than later fading away. Dickens had to maintain his newspaper job, whilst balancing his detective work and trying to cope with a family who tried his patience and was a huge burden on his purse.

The sleuthing was one aspect of this book. I enjoyed very much the exposure of the person Dickens was and for me, this was the real story.

Sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Kensington Books.