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Monday, December 30, 2019

Confessions by Nicholas Rhea

Two unconnected events. Detective Pemberton is witness to a fatal car crash and assists the victim of the accident. Whilst dying, the man confesses to a murder. The rest of what he says is heard by a priest who has been a passenger in the Detective's car. The priest considers this as a confession and refuses to give any further information which he received.

Eleven young prostitutes have been murdered - every year around Midsummer. All strangled, raped violently and freakishly their sandals taken away.

With the victim's confession Pemberton is determined to find out what the murder is. He only knows that it is a woman who was murdered and no idea when, how or where. A proverbial needle in a haystack search. Investigating James's life is also a strange one - he is a likeable young man, with no social life and only had a passion for vintage motor cars. There is no history of violence, or crime and his background is quite normal.

Investigating further, the entire team work together to connect the faint dots they do have working backwards over a period of eleven years trying to get to grips how this man could have hidden his criminal tendencies so very cunningly and evaded arrest. The final outcome was surprising.

Well paced,  good for those who like procedures and orderly detection, this was a good read.

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

Saturday, December 28, 2019

A Fatal Assignation by Alice Chetwynd Ley

London 1816 and Justin Rutherford is asked for his help in finding out who murdered Lord Jermyn. His niece Anthea is roped in to help. This is my second book in the series and I found it all delightful.

Reminscent of a Georgette Heyer mystery murder with bits of Agatha Christie thrown in set in an era where everyone pretended that things were right when they weren't and everything was a matter of form and etiquette is good to read (and know that we do not have to conform to this lifestyle at all!)
Lady Jermyn knows her husband has a roving eye, he has had several mistresses over the years and she has grown accustomed to this fact. He has however been considerate to the extent that he does keep her informed of his whereabouts and when he goes missing for five days, not even taking his valet with him she knows something is amiss. His death however has to be investigated and rather than leaving it in the hands of Bow Street Runners alone, she seeks Justin Rutherford's help.

Many husbands would wish Lord Jermyn dead but whether they would actually deal with the actual murder has to be seen and apart from them, his dealings have been murky and they slowly unravel to reveal some unsavoury acquaintances who would dearly like him dead.

Lots of descriptive writing with regard to society at the time, along with touches of romance, this was a very pleasant read.

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

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Underr The Guise of Death by Vivian Conroy

Set in the 1920s, we have beautiful secretive Venice with all its character, and then we have a British cast. Most of them arrogant, rich and confident with it. All with secrets to hide and histories they wish they could get rid of.

A retired Scotland Yard detective with murder following him wherever he goes. At a masked ball the reappearance of a woman who was supposed to have died in a fiery car accident three years ago sets the cat amongst the pigeons. For the present Lady Bantham, does it mean she is married to a bigamist if his first wife is not dead, for Lord Bantham with many secrets to hide does it mean his life is going to come to an end to Lovelane who is Olivia's father who had a love hate relationship with his only daughter what is the future and to everyone around the implications are enormous. The mysterious lady disappears in a flash but her dead body turns up on a bridge the next day and now the search starts.

The setting of Venice was detailed and descriptive.  This alone is enough for me. Then the British characters were so on point - their colonial attitude does not die does it?? It added to the piquancy of the story which was a straight forward mystery as to who had actually died in the earlier car crash and who killed Olivia now and why. It was the story surrounding it that added to the flavour of the book.

I've read just one Vivian Conroy before this one and she is an author I will be looking out for.

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

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Mercy Road by Ann Howard Creel

WWI and American Mercy Hospital is the background. Women still not allowed to operate in the theatre of war despite a huge demand for them so they do whatever they could to alleviate suffering.

Arlene has been brought up in a comfortable home with money and loving parents. Losing her home and her beloved father to a fire, she now finds herself bankrupt and without a roof above their heads. Leaving her brother to look after the family stud business, Arlene takes on a courageous new role of ambulance driver in France. Working in the heartland of the war, and doing the best she can in very hard circumstances she did not expect to find a stalker in the form of an American officer, who would not take no for an answer and who proved dangerous when thwarted.

The story of the officer, finding romance with someone else was just part of the story. The more important part was the role that these female American surgeons and ambulance drivers played in the War. They did an important role of bringing relief to the villagers in the perimeter of the actual action who were neglected in the bigger picture of the actual battle. On top of that they also worked with wounded soldiers, ferrying them to the camps at much personal danger to themselves.

I have not read of this service before and maybe it is a hitherto ignored part of American history. Something that has not been given much prominence maybe. Which is a pity.

The story was a good one highlighting another aspect of one of the Great Wars.

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

Sunday, December 22, 2019

In Her Eyes by Sarah Alderson

A home invasion in a house which is properly secured. An excellent location, a fabulous house, nice family - when the robbery goes wrong and Ava's daughter is hurt badly Ava's whole world is turned upside down.

Her husband whilst taking out the trash had not re-armed the security device which led to the invasion. Detectives unraveling the case turn up clues which devastate Ava. Her husband is bankrupt, he has swindled her out of all her inheritance, they are going to be left homeless, her daughter is in critical care,  her step son who is always zonked out is in a worse place than before and above all her husband refuses to even talk to her whilst in prison.

A vicious cycle of debt, drug deals gone bad, a home invasion that was not supposed to go the way it had and will Ava ever get her life together again. The family is split and even Hannah her elder daughter in college seems to be going away from her for reasons of her own.

Finding out who is responsible in a series of connected events if heart breaking for Ava.  Whom to trust in her life is limited as everyone around her has proved to be lying.

This was a twisty tale.

Sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Hodder & Stoughton

Friday, December 20, 2019

A View Across the Rooftops by Suzanne Kelman

1941 Amsterdam is not a very safe place to be. You need not be a Jew to feel unsafe. Professor Held is a quiet man. He lost his wife years ago and since then leads a solitary life, attending to his university job with care and diligence but not with any great passion.

When he unexpectedly offers shelter to Michael a Jew on the run, it is completely out of character and something he never envisaged. When this hiding of the fugitive continues for years, it becomes a game of deadly hide and seek with the omnipresent Nazis using neighbours, relations and friends to rout out Jew and Resistance sympathizers.

When his own niece, his only relative becomes intimately involved with a Nazi officer and turns informant he knows he is risking it all as everything and the network can be blown sky high. Michael needs to get back to Elke his Dutch partner and to keep Michael alive Josef Held has to use all his powers of serenity and good sense to keep matters on an even keel.

Another excellent story on this turbulent part of all our lives set in Amsterdam highlighting unheard of heroes.

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

Thursday, December 19, 2019

An Equal Justice by Chad Zunker

David is ambitious and clever. A Stanford graduate his background leaves a lot to be desired. Grinding poverty, a mother who died young and a sister who made sure he did not lose track is his history which he has not forgotton. In the heady atmosphere of a swanky law firm, with untold riches and a bright financial future ahead of him David knows the path is competitive and hard but he is determined to get to the top.

What David did not get is that within the hard work, there is a dark thread of intimidation, corruption, even murder and conspiracies by the dozen. Getting embroiled in them was easy, getting out of it was hard and when the murders hit close to someone who has got close to him, the whole story starts unraveling.

Depicted as a legal thriller, this is also a coming of age story and a rags to riches story. All well told.

Sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Thomas & Mercer.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

The Old Success by Martha Grimes

The body of a woman washes up on the Cornish coast. Quickly identified as a Frenchwoman are found by two little girls who seem to be reticent as if they have been slightly warned off talking too much.

Detective Macalvie is on the case and he is confused. When two more murders occur though in far off locations Tom Brownwell is called in although he is retired. He is convinced that the three deaths are connected but there does not seem to be any evidence linking the dots.
One of those cozy crime series (this is No. 25) which keep you going one with its location which is beautiful, the characters which are spot on and its very British sense of humour.

This was sent by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Grove Atlantic books.

Monday, December 16, 2019

A Transcontinental Affair by Jodi Daynard

May 1870 and this is history in the making. The first train to travel coast to coast is about to begin its journey and on board are myriad characters all going to San Francisco.

Two women Louisa and Hattie are also on the train. Louisa as a governess to two children along with their strange parents, and Hattie on a mission to marriage where Leland is waiting for her at the other end. Hattie is different for her times - bold, brash, innovative and clever. Louisa is sensitive, reserved and with a club foot with a marked limp she is very conscious of tends to keep to the background. How these two women forge a bond of friendship and love amidst the travails of travelling and the excitement of this journey is the story.

Add to this accidents on the way, encounters with Indians, deaths, and a massive cover up by the train authorities themselves add to the story. The book though very factual was a bit of a slow read and you had to pursue it to the end to understand the nuances of the LGBTQ connections in this story.
Being a history buff, this part of the story interested me more.

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

Sunday, December 15, 2019

The Afternoon Tea Club by Jane Gilley

This book is a timely reminder for anyone getting old (and who isn't) to be cautious about your temperament and character because you might end up all alone, curmudgeon ly and a total bore!

Set amongst a group of people growing old lonely, some quite bitter and mixed up, a social gathering of an Afternoon Tea Club tries to get this group of very disparate people to forget their troubles of the past and move forward in the best way they can. Whether it is beginner computer studies or art studies or even a simple trip to the beach this is indeed a start for all of them.

The progress of each of our characters was a very good study of human behaviour. The setting and story were rounded and matter of fact.

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

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Her Perfect Lies by Lana Newton

Her Perfect Lies

Claire has been in an accident. She was supposedly with her father who has also been hurt but in Claire's case she has no recall of the accident or what happened prior to that at all. She wakes up with a blank slate.

Her husband is a stranger to her, her best friend is unknown to her, her house is unfamiliar, even the housekeeper or even her closet feels alien as if it belongs to someone else. It is only the little glimpses of music and ballet which is not strange to her. She has to work with what she has to try to claw back her memory because those around her are determined to keep their information to themselves (I did not understand why) and keep her blundering more and more to try to put the pieces of her life together.

Even her personality has changed, from being arrogant and distant to someone who does not want to be condescending and patronizing and she needs to find out what made her click.
Unravelling this with no help from her husband, whom she now begins to see as enemy No 1 is not easy especially since you feel you are under surveillance and inspection at every turn.

This is classified as a psychological thriller. It was but the ending was tame and more romantic than anything else.

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

Thursday, December 12, 2019

It's Complicated by Michele Paul (online dating for the middle aged)

The subject of online dating is almost unknown to me. I was curious. I wanted to know the system, how it affected both sides and what were the outcomes! I was also curious because in this book we are dealing with much older people so I felt I could empathize as well. (I couldn't!!) but thats another story.

Michele is a single mother of two middle aged, left alone by a cheating partner. Nothing extra ordinary there. Her adventures though in the field of online dating were numerous and hard, just showing human nature at its worst most of the time, how selfish people could be only seeing their own needs, their own worlds and insular and narrow minded to the last. The book did not leave me with a good taste of what online dating could be, because the joys of companionship, partnership, finding a soul mate is offset by the pettymindedness you have to go through to get there.

Most of the time reading this I felt for Michele who was trying to keep an even balance whilst in her search. Why she needed to search so much was also beyond me completely, but then that is a personal whim of mine and does not detract from Michele's story one whit. I found it hard reading about a woman who put so much into her search, was willing to see the good side of everyone she dated, was willing to give a second chance to all - for what??

This was a good book, matter of fact, precise and exposed warts and all of the many facets of humans seeking relationships. The fact that I couldnt understand the whys and wherefores is not the authors problem.

Sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of The Book Guild.

Monday, December 9, 2019

Death on a Quiet Day by Michael Innes

To get away from it all, and his fellow students David goes into the country. What he did not expect to find is a body with a bullet through his head. What becomes even worse is that when the police are called in there is no body and David is left looking foolish.

Like most mystery murders set in an older time frame, the story only gets going much later in the book which is not to everyone's taste. In modern mystery murder books the action seems to start from the first page, and this difference is something one has to get used to and understand that it is part of the build up of the story.

The setting is very good, the detective work is spot on and the characterization is good.

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

The Unexpected Past of Miss Jane Austen

This combined the best of several genres - history, English literature, time travel, modern romance. The combo worked very well, each one complementing each other, not jarring and not out of place despite the huge differences in time, and naturally everything was different from food to drink to dress to attitudes.

Rose and Aiden are transported back in time along with Jane Austen who was living in modern times to her (JA) own time. Going back 300 years so they are aware all of them of the future of Jane Austen, her popularity, her death (at this time she had only four years to live). Rose discovers her father who disappeared when she was two. He was on a boat and his body was never found. He is also part of the time travel saga. He now appears in JA time as a much married man with a family. It is Jane who discovers the fact of Rose's father and then convinces Rose herself.

That is the main story but it is the little tidbits about the actual living conditions in Jane Austen's time of the 1800s which were fascinating. The food (horrible), the water (undrinkable), the bedding (uncomfortable) and the clothes (difficult). The standards of behaviour not easy for a 21st century miss and one had to conform.

The book and its story and characters were both entertaining and educative.

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

Saturday, December 7, 2019

These Little Lies by Gretta Mulrooney

This was a page turner.

Detective Inspector Siv Drummond is facing demons of her own. Just back and on her first day, two murders come up. Seemingly random the two victims found close to each other by a river in an isolated spot are not connected to each other at all. One a young woman a nursery school teacher and the other a Polish immigrant working as a carpenter.

One link which is that Lauren one of the victims is a conservationist and objected to a signboard put up near the river which stated that no Poles allowed fishing in this area brought on her ire and she did clash with the angling club over this. But this did not connect her to the other victim in any way.
Upto the detectives to connect the dots in this seemingly inexplicable murder is not easy.

All the suspects seem to have something to hide. All of them provide false information and false alibi for the time of the murders. They give seemingly worthless information which send the detectives on a wild goose chase, but within the rubbishy conversation the DI knows that there will be one careless slip and something will be of use.

This was one of those where I never had a clue as to who the murderer was till the very end. The story and reasoning was convoluted and sick but very feasible and believable. It reiterates the fact that psychiatrists will never go out of business!

Fast paced, energetic with a good bunch of characters and descriptive surroundings this is a good one.

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

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Two mystery books. One in the present and one set in the past.

Two short reviews.

America is in a depression and entertainment is the only way ordinary people can add a bit of light to their lives.

The pair of detectives in this book are supposed to be complementary to each other. Apart from their work there is a thread of deep friendship between the two apparent in a matter of fact way.  There is a good mystery here, with a lot of historical fiction detail along with the colorful background which goes with theatre.

Reminscent of an Agatha Christie this was a good mystery detective story.

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

Children here and see things that adults think pass them over. When Scooter and Mary overhear that their great great grandfather was hanged in Dry Gulch in California their interest is piqued. They want to get to the bottom of this mystery which is not discussed in the family and swept under the carpet.

On a holiday with their Uncle and Aunt they try to uncover this mystery and clear his name. Not easy seeing that this happened in 1873 and very few clues lie around.

More like a Western than a mystery, this was different reading from the usual.

Sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Austin Macauley Publishers.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

All about Evie by Cathy Lamb

Stunning setting of an island which I had to google to find out where it was this is a lovely story of an unusual girl.

Evie has always been unsettled. Despite ample love from her parents and sisters and extended family of lovable, quirky aunts she has one trait which no one in the family has. Her ability of premonitions which has put a huge burden on her shoulders. When should she act on them and when should she ignore them (she did ignore several mainly for the benefit of the survivors).

When inevitably the secret comes out, Evie and her family are at peace but getting there was the fun. Romance, pot growining 70 year olds, a bookshop (could we ask for a better setting) and a new police chief who has his eye on Evie and is not letting go.

This was a wonderful story of family, secrets (all families do have them), and finally peace when it is all in the open.  To cap it all a beautiful setting both the bookshop and the natural surroundings.

The one criticism -the cover.

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

Monday, December 2, 2019

The Caldwell Girls by Rowena Summers

The second book I am reading about this very interesting family. The war has continued and each daughter is finding their niche and how best they can serve their country. Bristol is being bombarded and being destroyed a bit at a time and how to protect oneself if of vital importance as everyone wants to survive and come out of this intact along with their loved ones.

It is not always possible and in the family with the loss of Baz just sixteen years old, the value of life is very precious now. Elsie decides to go to Yorkshire to live with her husband's family along with her baby Faith and live out the war there as it is comparatively safe there. Daisy continues with her nursing in the burns unit of the hospital, her dream of entertaining troops temporarily dashed. She is worried over the fate of her Canadian pilot boyfriend and his safety and then there is Immy the eldest who maintains a strong facade and their father Quentin who has now found a safe haven in Mary after the tragic death of his wife Frances.

The strands of the story encompass these lives, the daily tribulations which face everyone in war time irrespective of being rich or poor and the indomitable will to survive all odds, most apparent in everyone at the time.

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

Sunday, December 1, 2019

A Reputation Dies by Alice Chetwynd Ley

I've said this before. When crime and too much mayhem gets in the way you need something like this. A hark back to simpler times. This book also involved murder and mystery but it seemed so much more acceptable if you can call murder acceptable!

Set in 1816 reminiscent of a Regency romance setting we had the Rutherfords and Justin in particular, a young man who was quite different to the other young men of the time and his niece Anthea cut form the same cloth both quite certain that justice must prevail and you must help where you can, never mind the expectations of this era.

When a murder happens and it is slowly revealed that a blackmailer is at play here, all the first round of suspects are innocent. What is Justin supposed to do to uncover the villain who has fleeced many of the aristocracy for fortunes. From just one young recently married lady, the victims go on and on and Justin realises that the blackmailer is a ruthless man who will not stop at anything to get what he wants.

This was a very nice setting, and though murder it was not gruesome nor a psychological thriller suspense kind of read. Maybe it was the era.

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