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Wednesday, January 30, 2019

They Found Him Dead by Georgette Heyer

The Kane family has a lot of controversies and family squabbles going on. Even in Silas Kane's professional life there are differences with his partners over a new investment. Silas Kane has steered the firm in a middle path, not given to extravagances and he intends to continue in the same way. Everyone is not very happy with that. Most people want quick riches and are not willing to wait ages to get their hands on the money.

The morning after Silas Kane's sixtieth birthday, his body was found dashed on the rocks. He had set out for his usual walk after dinner (a fact known to everyone) and it seemed like an accident. Not to the youngest member of the family who said it looked like murder. Clement Kane takes over as the heir, much to the joy of his wife Rosemary who only wants the money the position will bring. She was on the verge of throwing her husband over for her lover, but now all is forgotton with the newfound wealth brought by her husband! Clement's death by shooting in his study a few days later brings forth an unexpected heir - young Jim who was unaware of being the heir. He thought it was the female cousin living in Australia but apparently it was only if there was no male around that it went to her.

When a series of accidents coincidentally happen to young Jim, the police begin to suspect that even Silas's death may not have been an accident and enquiries commence. There are many suspects including the present heir and it has to be slowly whittled down one by one, till a most unsuspected  one emerges.

Nice old fashioned setting of a comfortable family, and all kinds of different characters to add to the interest, this is a very good comfort read.

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

Sunday, January 27, 2019

The Beantown Girls by Jane Healey (WWII setting)

It amazes me that each time I read a book with the setting of the world wars, it always shows me another aspect of the wars which was unknown to me.

Most times poignant and emotional, it also shows human beings at their best (and worst). The Beantown Girls depicts a group of young women - fresh out of college, no experience of life or the world thrust into the grim reality of war on a scale that would be unimaginable to them from the homes they came from and the country they came from.

The stories of Fiona, Viv and Dottie who volunteered for the Red Cross, joined the Clubmobile group all with the idea of bringing cheer and support to the American troops on the ground are inspiring. Never faced with hardships, never having made to go without they led comfortable lives and now find themselves in an atmosphere of hard work, uncomfortable living conditions and still expected to be bright and cheery.

I loved how the stories panned out, each finding love (it had to be with the shortage of girls on the ground in comparison to the men!) but it also brought out the way each of them met their obligations of their jobs, not shirking from what was expected of them.

The characterizations were spot on, the settings were descriptive and the story was a good one.

Sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Lake Union Publishing.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Murder at Larkfield Barn by Betty Rowlands

Murder at Larkfield Barn

One does not associate murders with close knit village communities in idyllic Cotswolds but a series of murders of old age pensioners, doing no harm to anyone has shaken the entire area plus has left the Police confounded.

When one hits the village of Thanebury and Melissa herself is the one who finds the body, she is shaken enough to try to solve the murder herself. A crime writer by profession always out for fresh information and ideas, the fact that this old lady was found with a clown's smile on her face was outrageous and ludicrous. It is also not known to the general community at large.

Chance encounters with several people in the village all get noted down as suspects both by Melissa and her boyfriend an ex-Policeman who has not let go of his investigative instincts. The suspects however have very strong alibis and reasons as to why they should not be suspected from a group of precocious teenagers to a charismatic, flamboyant preacher, even someone who was going to be blackmailed for her past.

The final suspects were totally unexpected and typical in the style of Agatha Christie were revealed at the very end.

If you like good characterization, idyllic village settings and murder this is for you.

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

Monday, January 21, 2019

Sisters of Arden by Judith Arnopp

Medieval times was a harsh time. Not just for women but for men as well. I can see how the life in a monastery or a nunnery would appeal to many. For those men who had nothing to inherit, for women who were not married for whatever reason, these would have provided safe sanctuary and for the most part it did.

This book however deals with the not safe part where Cromwell egged on by King Henry VIII and this time around Cromwell was looking to close every abbey and monastery there was in the Kingdom and ruthlessly take over whatever possessions they had. In this case, it was pitiful. Their possessions were meagre, the nuns themselves were permanently starving, they were always cold as they lived in a very wind swept part of Britain and they were all homeless. When the abbey closed, some of them got placed in other abbeys but three of them - the three most vulnerable were literally put out on to the streets to fend for themselves.

Joining a band of people in similar circumstances, the three of them hoped merely for survival. To be able to live to see another day. Sadly one died and the remaining two the indomitable Margery and Grace who was sent because she disgraced her aristocratic family by falling in love and getting pregnant, are forced together by the infant son who is ignored by his mother and lovingly brought up by Margery to join forces to just survive.

The story is an emotional one of injustice, hardship, sheer misery, intolerance and hatred. The story of Margery and Grace is a good one though.
Tough reading but this is actual history.

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

Friday, January 18, 2019

The Drowning by J P Smith

Summer Camp - for me it was interesting as we do not do summer camps. You send children on school trips for the day and are very nervous till they return! the idea of sending them for weeks somewhere without parents is a little difficult to fathom or accept.

Joey Proctor was a little boy. Little in physique as well. Seemed to have been the ideal size for bullies. Alex Mason was the swimming coach himself just a young man. He was maybe a bit without empathy and only sought to make the boys tougher, and his one goal was that at the end of the camp he would make them swim. Whatever it took. This is what he did to Joey. He left him at the end of a raft hoping he would dive in and join the other boys. He never did. He disappeared. His body never found. Left to a ripple tide of effects felt far and wide.

We go fast forward twenty one years. Alex Mason is married, very rich, very well established in one of the biggest construction companies in his part of the world. He has two young children. Things start happening to him. His pool gets filled with blood tainted water with a slogan chiseled out at the bottom, he gets snapped feeling up a girl at a bar and the photos are sent to his wife, the locks in his so called unbreakable security system at home are broken and the intruder videos the whole family sleeping and sends it to them. All connected back to the disappearance of Joey Proctor. But, and this is a big but there are no demands. It seems like a slow process of breaking Alex Mason down. From his losing an employee (again the same swimming technique he used with Joey) because he thought the young Peter was actually Joey and then covering it up to look a suicide, to the murder of an old man on a visit to the camp who tried to insinuate that he knew exactly what had happened to the slow loss of his contracts to a competitor the whole situation breaks up both Alex and his marriage and you know this is not going to end well.

This was a creepy one because it was insidious, slow and vicious. I did not know who the perpetrator was till the end.

Good characterization. You tended to look on Alex with dislike not just because of what he did to Joey but he was callous and cold hearted and distant with everyone including his family.

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

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

The Abbot's Agreement by Mel Starr

The Abbot's Agreement (Hugh de Singleton, Surgeon Chronicles #7)

Hugh de Singleton is on his way to Oxford along with his faithful retainer Arthur when he comes across the corpse of a young monk in a field.

Hugh is a bailiff himself and he reports the matter to the Abbey where the young monk was a resident. The murder was surprising and planned and it uncovers a story that is very human. That monks are also human, subject to all the feelings of love, frustration, anger, remorse and revenge that everyone else is subject to. Also subject to avarice, the love of power and prestige which is sadly most prevalent amongst many religious today.

Set in ancient times, it is most descriptive of the era and the manner in which abbeys or monasteries were run, the spartan way of life which would be unacceptable today, the fact that it was younger sons who had no assets who sought a way of life which was not always to their liking but they had no choice, and hence they were held to ransom by unscrupulous heads of the abbeys who knew the boys had no choices left to them.

Uncovering not only a felon, it also became apparent that in this particular abbey was a group of heretic monks professing a faith totally forbidden.

Though slow, I enjoyed the read very much. May not be a book with its religious theme which will appeal to all, but the style of writing, the setting, the characterizations and the descriptions were all spot on. 

Saturday, January 12, 2019

A Blunt Instrument by Georgette Heyer

Reminiscent of an Agatha Christie mystery, we have a perfect well liked gentleman found bludgeoned to death. As is usual, however we also find on further probing the gentleman was not such a perfect one after all.

Ernest Fletcher was a light hearted ladies man. When he was found murdered at his desk in his own house the investigation reveals that the root cause for the murder has to be linked to a woman. There was also a very small time frame, just a few minutes before he was murdered and his body discovered by the local bobby actually whilst on his rounds.

Conflicting reports of all those involved in the crime throw up nothing because each person sticks to their original stories and their alibis all seem to be holding up very well.

Like all good classic crime novels, this one was hard to catch. It caught me unawares.

I've liked Georgette Heyer for her regency romances and now I like her for her crime novels as well.

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

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Castle on the Rise by Kristy Cambron

I like stories told in two separate time frames. They were also of separate genres though a love story was also part of the main stories.

Laine is following her friend to France to participate in her wedding there. Unexpected and totally unforeseen circumstances force the friends to forsake a honeymoon and return to the groom's roots in Ireland. Bequeathed a castle in Ireland with a history no one really knows much about, Cormac turns to Laine to help him find out what are the secrets in the castle, and how it can bring about peace in the family.

Told alongside this and linked to this castle is the story of the Easter Rising of 1916. Bloody, violent and merciless. It pitted Irishman against the detested English and the Protestant faith and it was long and tore the country apart. In sheer numbers the Englishmen fought to maintain supremacy and in the best forms of a rebellious army the Irish proved to be equally adept at outmaneuvering their masters.

There was strong characterization of women who played major league roles in 1916 in Ireland. Not easy on the women at all. There were love stories and tales of treachery and death but it did not detract from the sheer story telling of both time lines.

The present and the past stories both wove stories of love and faith, survival and family so those were common to both stories.

This was a lovely read which has to be savoured rather than rushed through.

Sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Thomas Nelson Fiction.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

The Liar's Wife by Samantha Hayes

The Liar's Wife

Ella is scared and worried. She wakes up in hospital after an accident and the nurse assures her that her husband is waiting anxiously for her to get up. Ella despite the injuries knows that she has never been married and is now terrified that her past life and the secret she carries is about to be exposed.

This is one of those psychological thrillers where you root for the party who is downtrodden and in this case it is Ella and you hope that she will be able to get out of this predicament.  It is quite a dark read and maybe not for everyone! It keeps you on edge right up to the end.

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

PS - Reviews are not very regular because hubby has been ill throughout the Christmas season and right now even, not quite right.

Friday, January 4, 2019

A Family Affair by Mary Campisi

A Family Affair (Truth in Lies, #1)

I think a story like this is only possible in a vast country like America. Here where everyone would know everyone and find a long lost connection as well, this would be implausible if not impossible.

Christine Blacksworth world is turned upside down on the death of her father. She was dearly loved and very close to him, not so close to her mother who is a very manipulative and calculating woman.
Now Christine wants to find out who the woman is and why more importantly her father bequeathed a sizeable sum on his death.

Situated in a tiny town of Magdalena, Christine discovers a mistress whom she is ready to hate with all her might but meeting up with her and her daughter Lily who has Downs Syndrome and the enigmatic Nate puts Christine questioning who was the sinned and who was the sinner here. Her father for not being able to make up his mind between his mistress and his wife, and enjoying the best of both worlds - hypocritical to himself and to his ideals, his wife who pretended she did not know of the mistresses's existence or the mistress who had her partner for just four days every month and who yearned and counted the days till he returned and this went on for over 15 years!

A complicated story with a nice ending, romance, family and survival.

This was a free download. After a very long time I found something which I enjoyed from the free titles.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

The Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffiths

This was gothic but set in modern times with very modern characters. The characters portrayed were teachers, their present day normal teenagers, single mothers trying to do their best (in their opinion!!) for their children, and like countless families actually knowing very little of what their children are upto.

Clare is writing a book on R M Holland and the mystery behind him. She also teaches at Talgarth High which is where Holland lived and his wife had a tragic end. The mystery surrounding his daughter Mariana survives to the day. When one of her dearest friends are found murdered on similar lines to the Holland stories with tag lines from his writings, Clare knows she is in some danger. When Rick another fellow teacher is found stabbed to death in Holland's study Clare has to figure out who and most importantly why people surrounding her are being targeted. The danger spirals when Herbert her pet goes missing and then her ex husband is stabbed in London in a seemingly random attack.

Are these attacks as random as they seem, what is the significance of the notes that appear in Clare's diary which is secured in her house, her daughters random reaches into the spirits - all happening at the same time, all either connected to the Holland book or is it something else entirely. The detectives in charge have to put random clues by a clever murderer together before he strikes again. Both the final almost victim and the murderer were surprises to me.

A book I couldn't put down combining murder, the spirit world, a bit of Gothic and 21st century schooling with touches of romance put together well.

Sent to me by Netgalley, courtesy of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.