My Blog List

Saturday, November 30, 2019

Death in Room Five by George Bellairs

A very mixed bunch of people go on a trip to France. They are all from one town of Bolchester from mixed backgrounds and many of them do not actually like each other. When Alderman Dawson is found murdered the French police are called in along with Detective Littlejohn who is on holiday at the time.

When the French police discover the true identity of Dawson who worked with the French resistance for a time (and who was found to be a traitor) the whole attitude and significance of the murder changes and it is upto Littlejohn to try to find the actual murderer and not just think this is an act of revenge from a long hidden French resistance avenger.

Depicting French and English detective methods this is a rather slow process of trying to find a murderer when so many of the actual people on the trip have had ample reasons to murder the Alderman. On the surface he seemed liked, but beneath it all simmering tensions were there and to try to weed tensions out from an intent to murder is hard. When two more murders take place the investigation becomes urgent and Littlejohn has his work cut out to prevent the police from very conveniently holding on to the first available suspect so that the entire investigation can be done and dusted.

In true detective fashion, it is only through a long process of deduction and elimination that the final suspect is found.
A slightly old fashioned detective series.

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

Friday, November 29, 2019

The Paris Girl by Natalie Meg Evans

Tatiana is from the Russian aristocracy and she seldom forgets that. Now that she has escaped the Revolution and is forced to work for a living, albeit a model in a fashion house which is a comfortable job but she seems to attract and make trouble wherever she goes.

Engaged to a stuffy Frenchman Tatiana looks at Gerard her fiancee as a means to an end. To not have to work, to not have to do anything but just to live a life of comfort and idleness. (Not very likable upto now) The problem arises with Gerard's brother who has an obsessive adoration of Tatiana and in one horrible incident rapes her and she becomes pregnant. Seeing the end of her dreams Tatiana is willing to do anything to continue with the facade of her marriage to Gerard which she is determined to follow through. You should feel sympathy for Tatiana for the trauma as sadly her focus was only on a good marriage and nothing else but actually I began to dislike her almost from the beginning!

There are side characters in the story which add much more interest to the main, from Regan the American photographer who is aware of Tatiana's plight and is willing to help to Katya and to Una all who play pivotal roles in this story. The story of Katya and Harry trying very hard to get their sister Verna out of a Russian prison in a bribery and pay out was a story in itself.

Descriptive of the workings of a fashion house, this part of the story was good and interesting.
I loved the cover too.

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

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Beyond The Storm by Diana Finley

The setting is a familiar one. Anna born in Vienna has escaped to the West but the trauma of being persecuted as a Jew has not left her even decades later. The story however, is about relationships and the problem that happens when secrets are allowed to be kept hidden. These are secrets that have to be told but Anna is not happy with the timing of airing the secrets of her past, not knowing how it will effect her life as it is now.

Anna is now 100 years old and in celebrating this day the story goes back in sections to her life, which was tumultuous and frightening in turns. It also deals with stories of people who lived in her past and how they have all had an influence on Anna. The biggest secret of all which has eaten into Anna and which now needs to be told.

This was another story set in the backdrop of WWII, the slow but sure denouncement and elimination of Jews and the few stories of the survival of some who lived to tell the tale. 

Very emotional, very effective and good reading.

Sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of HQ Digital

Monday, November 25, 2019

The Poor Relation by Susanna Bavin

1908 England must have been a very tough time for females. Subservient to either husbands or fathers, governed by outlandish ideas of knowing your place in society and not trying to rise above it which was obviously a cardinal sin is not easy when you know you are capable of doing better and are more intelligent than most of the men around you.

Mary was a clerk at the local council office but she was never going to get promoted even though her boss considered her a treasure. The boys who were inane and silly kept on getting promoted till finally she took matters into her own hands and found a job. Convincing her father that it was a respectable job was one matter but also trying not to annoy the family that they were connected to and who were the big wigs in the town they lived was harder to manage.

Mary's life went from hard to harder to downright unfair and crushing. That she was able to come out of it with her head held high, and to maintain her happy spirit showed courage and considerable determination. With very little support from family, she finds support from an unlikely outsider who sees herself in the young woman and is determined to help her sort out her life.

It was a hard read for someone living in present times to even accept the total unfairness of what was dealt out to women at the time. A well written story with rounded characters and a very good story line set in Manchester.

Sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Allison & Busby.

In the Shadow of Power by Viveca Sten

Set on an island in Sweden the residents are established old hands at island life. They are not happy with the newcomers who have built a monstrosity of a house on this island, ignoring local rules and regulations.  There is a feeling of unrest running through the community at the brashness and overpowering aggression of the newcomers but notwithstanding that a house warming party ensures that everyone attends to gawp and look at how the other side lives.

When on the opening day itself a fire breaks out in the guest house adjoining the main house and the charred body of a man is found, it is no longer simply a matter of grumbling neighbours. The police called in no that the owner Carsten has many enemies - he is rude and overbearing even to the police and not co operative at all. Unknown to the islanders Carsten is facing his own demons and is facing financial ruin.

The story develops slowly but it is very apparent that Carsten is heading for a breakdown mentally and with that he will take his family down as well. His wife Celia is not the most loved of people either but the two young children are in danger and the story builds up to a crisis very well. The characters are well rounded and believable and the island is described simply and well.

My first read of this Nordic author but I will be looking out for her in the future as well.

The book was sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Amazon Crossing.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Death Beside the Seaside by T E Kinsey

The series is a new one for me and one which is mix of Agatha Christie as well as one of the Classic Crime series.

Lady Hardcastle and her companion Flo have been partners in crime and have supported each other through thick and thin. They have endured hardships together, solved crimes, escaped from prisons but this time all they seek is a peaceful seaside holiday of their own choosing (which is what they thought) complete with donkey rides, Punch & Judy shows and all the attractions of a British seaside holiday.

They did not think they will end up in a hotel where guest by guest gets murdered (or abducted) one by one - at the end it is both of them and the two American ladies (also involved). Told in a matter of fact manner, the detection of the victims as well as the suspects continue in a very understated tone complete with high teas, entertainment and dinners as scheduled.

I loved the tongue in cheek humour, very reminiscent of a British comedy. Not a style of reading found often nowadays.

I found the cover fabulous too.

The book was sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Amazon Publishing UK

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Secrets and Suitors by Joanna Barker

After a diet of mystery murders, psychological thrillers et al I did need this kind of Regency setting to keep me on an even keel.

Twenty one year old Nora is in a quandary. She is attracted to James, her father is pushing her towards Mr. Weston who is ultra rich, respectable and what he hopes for and there is Lord Worthington who has shown interest in the quiet, reserved Nora which is very unlike him. James has never actually spoken of his feelings, Mr. Weston is wooden and Lord Worthington makes it obvious he likes her. What is a girl to do.

Add this to a Season in London, her sister Susanna also making her debut despite the elder sister not being married and in her third season, a very distant and reserved set of parents who seem to want to keep their children at a distant length from them and you have the making of a very good story of not just love and romance, but how a family can distance itself from each other through sheer stubborness and at the same time get together with all the warmth imaginable when a crisis strikes.

The book was an interesting read of these times and morals (thank the Lord I live now!).

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

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Penny For Your Secrets by Anna Lee Huber

Verity and Sydney Kent are a formidable pair and when they team up in solving a mystery, there are no holds barred and you do know that the end result will be exciting (apart from being solved of course).

1919 WWI is over but dangers abound and the Secret Service is still alive and kicking with political intrigue everywhere. Mystery and murder seem to follow Verity and when her friend Ada's husband is found shot dead in his own house, after a strange dinner party where his wife points a revolver at him and says she wants to kill him, there is little doubt who the murderer could be.

Between Inspector Thoreau and Verity it is decided early on that the facts are not what they seem and a plot is afoot to make use of Ada to screen the actual killer. Unfolding a plot which goes back decades and involves many of the aristocracy is not going to be good for politics and many a peer will use his powers to shut the investigation down.

Unfolding the details of the murder, going back into various scenarios seemingly unconnected to the main the story is descriptive and there is a lot of detail. Particularly of the historical kind. I loved it!

The settings are descriptive whether it is the Isle of Wight, France or London of 1919. The main characters are strong willed and so very clever. Add to that the history of the period and you have yourselves a wonderful story.

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

Sunday, November 17, 2019

A Pretty Folly by Charlie Garratt

1939 England is not pretty. War is coming. There is much to worry over and James Given just after one episode of finding Jew baiters is now faced with many episodes in his home town.  Tracking down the brothers Demma who are behind the attacks, fueling hatred amongst ordinary folk is one of his goals. When a young woman's body is found in a crypt, after several months of lying there, Given knows he has a task on his hands.

Finding out who the young lady is, was not an easy task because no one seems to want to come forward with any clues and what there is seems to be those of a misleading kind. By slow deduction, and the detective work of the slow, plodding kind Inspector Givens is able to see the bigger picture of the whys and wherefores of this murder.

Classic British crime. Good characterization. Very descriptive of the settings.

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

Friday, November 15, 2019

Coached to Death by Victoria Laurie

Catherine is a wealthy woman. She is also going through a nasty divorce where custody of her two sons is hanging in the balance. Returning to a quiet coastal community seems to be a good option. To get out of the limelight since the sale of her million dollar business and try to recoup her life and her sons who have voluntarily decided on boarding school rather than reside with either of their parents.

Her new career as a life coach for the adrift does not seem to be going well and when her neighbour with an axe to grind with Cat dies in disastrous circumstances, Cat becomes the first suspect. Extricating herself from the nightmare she finds herself in and settling matters right, apart from being amateur detective and finding the murderer with the help of good friends is Cat's aim. That she tramples too many toes in the process is part of the fun part of this book.

Cat is funny and over confident. She sparkles and gets into trouble unwittingly. The story is fast paced and engaging. Characters are colorful.

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

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

The Poison Garden by A J Banner

The Poison Garden

Elise seems to be well settled. An idyllic marriage, a beautiful home, gorgeous settings and tranquil lifestyle. In an instant her world is turned upside down, when she discovers her husband having a relationship with a girl in her own home.

Faced with such a situation Elise finds that she does not seem to be able to think rationally.
Disturbed and distraught Elise reverts to sleep walking and seems to be unaware of what she is doing at the time. Forces around her want her to imagine that she is losing her mind and Elise falls into the trap very easily.

Who is her enemy and who is her friend. Did she imagine she saw her husband dead, is her ex husband who is constantly on the scene actually concerned for her or is it put on and what is it with a caring neighbour who we know is not quite right. Is Elise herself in a proper state or is she slightly off balance and mentally not stable?

I found the background of the story a bit disconcerting till its conclusion. I felt there were too many strands that had to be woven together. The descriptiveness of the setting of this island was very good.

This was a bit too much of a complicated story for me though I did read to the end.

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

Monday, November 11, 2019

Uber Alles by Robert Arthur Neff

WWI and WWII have brought forward a plethora of stories, most of them excellent. The perspectives have been from various angles - even from the German one portraying the German people as not villains but just people trying to survive in Hitler Germany.

This one is set against the backdrop of Poland, Czechoslovakia and Germany and the story of courage, bravery, spirit of survival, nationalist tendencies and the patriotism that arose amongst the ordinary men and women of the time to protect what was theirs. In this case the fact that the characters were Jews or Romani was separate from their Polishness or their German ancestry. It was important for the aggressors so that it gave them a foothold to turn their race against them but for the victims their race was just another thing.

The story was written in a very precise manner, the characters were perfect and the political intrigue that marked both the Resistance as well as the Gestapo was detailed and intriguing.

If you are person who likes history this is a must read. The personal saga of a family is well detailed and sadly reflects many of the lives of that era in that setting.

Sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Old Stone Press.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Her Last Whisper (Detective Katie Scott No. 2) by Jennifer Chase

Katie has just been assigned a new assignment. Taking over cold cases is something she looks forward to and in a day she is assigned one which is unusual. Just six months old and already consigned to being a cold case because the "victim is not co operative".

Taking it from there trying to find out what and why Amanda is so terrified is not easy and when she fails and her body is found, Katie is more than determined to find out parallel links to other cases in the county and bring justice to the victims.

When another girl goes missing and then another Katie knows she has her work cut out for her because the suspect is someone who is in plain sight, and none of the detectives seem to be able to see it.

Twisty in the nicest possible way, not very complicated where your head turns in trying to connect the dots, this was a good mystery thriller read.

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

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Bed, Breakfast & Beyond by Jo Ann S. Dawson

After a steady diet of mystery murders this was a good change of pace! There are many of us who feel that running a B&B is idyllic. This story gives us the inside information on how idyllic it is!

It was always JoAnn and to a lesser extent her husband Ted's ambition to own a place of their own. Running a horse(y) type of business offering services to trainers and owners is quite a different kettle of fish to running a B&B but when they found an acreage and a house which would offer them both there was little hesitation in taking it on.

A massive reconstruction and salvage operation on the house to make it habitable, running the horse business as well saw them at their full potential. The stories on a day to day basis are matter of fact, tongue in the cheek humour as well as a lot of love and affection for their livelihood and the business they run.

Anecdotes of guests (both good and strange!) are all part of the human interest of the story. Very down to earth and hilarious at the same time this was excellent reading.

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

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Death at Sycamore House by Betty Rowlands

In Betty Rowlands fashion this is a good one. We have a very genteel elders care facility with a rather tense Mr and Mrs Seaton in charge. We have a block of flats equally high falutin with very nice tenants. When one of them is found murdered and dumped in the bins,  Sukey and the team backing her up are called in for the investigations.

Nothing is what it seems in murder and the links are slowly being put together but it is a puzzling sequence. The one suspect who seems to be the only one around has iron clad reasoning as to why he is not the murderer and though everyone assumes it is him, Sukey is always in doubt though he is an unlikeable character who has got under everyone's skin. Everyone would like him to be the culprit and then the case is closed.

When a second accidental death occurs, also someone linked to our victims and suspects and when a third victim seemingly random is also linked to the case, it is thrown wide open.

I never got it till the very end and then only because it was so very obvious!

Superb detection work very well written.

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

The Christmas Card Crime & Other Stories by Martin Edwards (Must read)

A mix of the very best of classic mystery murders, this was a wonderful set of stories set during the heart of winter. Freezing conditions, some harsh, some not so but all with winter as its backdrop and snow and winter played a great role in some of the murders.

From the Christmas Card one with two halves of a card held to solve a murder, to the jewellery heist which was discovered only through the shoe shine man who recognised a pair of shoes, from a party where a murder is expected and takes place right in front of a detective's very own eyes the stories from a collection of both well known and lesser known writers this was such a good collection to get one into the holiday mood despite the mayhem and scheming that went into murders!

Classic Crime stories never fail to make me very happy and this collection was no exception.

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

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Bella Toscana by Nanette Littlestone

Bella Toscana

I am a sucker for covers and this one just drew me in. The other attraction was the setting and background. Chocolate, baking, and to top it all Tuscany. Could one ask for more. You then add in doses of romance a bit of time travel and you have a lovely story.

Toscana is the owner of a shop selling brownies. Not just brownies. These seem to be artisanal brownies. With an Italian heritage and going to Tuscany after decades she decides to try her hand at the export business of bringing brownies to Italy - a country that does not know what brownies are.
Her task is straightforward. Attend a Chocolate Festival, do her best to sell her product to three leading chocolatiers, visit her uncle and aunt and cousins and then return to Jackson her husband who at the last minute cannot join her on the trip.

What she didnt account for was meeting Flynn, a Professor of History in Rome, being instantly attracted to him and to top it all, having visions and dreams of a very disturbing nature - being part of ancient Rome involving Vestals, Roman soldiers, a very torrid love affair all set in ancient Rome.

The visions and going back in time are very matter of fact but the falling in love part was anything but!      Descriptive of both Tuscany, the chocolate and baking fields which formed the main part of the story and then returning to America to Toscana's life before Flynn was well told.

Whether it is rebirth or a soul's eternal travels this is a good way of handling some people's experience of a previous life.  Trying to make an explanation of this is not easy but this book handled it very well.

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

Friday, November 1, 2019

The Patient by Steena Holmes

The Patient

Danielle is a reserved woman. She is a therapist and seems on edge. She is worried that out of her three clients, one of them is a serial killer.

Cheshire a rural area has been plagued with murders. Parents are killed but the children in those homes are left untouched. Though we were told several times in the story that these parents were abusive ones, the police (according to what we read) never cottoned on to the fact that this was the common thread connecting the murders. We have detectives on the story and one of them is a good friend of Danielle's but this is never mentioned.

At the end of course it becomes obvious as to why so many salient facts that should have been noticed were not.  Like most reviewers I knew very early on that the plot revolved around Danielle herself but I could not figure out how.

My first read of this author. This is a genre I like though I did find this particular story a bit too convoluted.

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