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Wednesday, April 1, 2020

One Way To Venice by Jane Aiken Hodge

Five years ago Julia was in love and expecting a child. Living in an overpoweringly gothic kind of house with a full family of her husband's relations was not what she had expected. However, he refused to budge saying that it was his responsibility to take care of it all. When she was almost hounded and killed Julia decides to run away and make a life for herself.

Julia was now in a state of almost being at peace. In very turbulent circumstances, a bad decision of giving away her infant son for adoption has derailed her life since. She has come to terms almost with this bad decision until she starts receiving mail and a photograph of her son along with instructions to come to Venice.

The story becomes quite complicated with her arrival in Venice. Despite being instructed to be cautious with strangers Julia seemed overly naïve and open especially in a cloak and dagger situation. It became farcical with the number of coincidences that happened to Julia one after another but she kept doggedly on in her search.

The fact that it ended well despite the danger and histrionics of a mad family hell bent on money added to this mystery.

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

Monday, March 30, 2020

Writers & Lovers by Lily King

Being on lockdown, the reading and reading and reading is going on apace. At least I hope I will be able to finish my March reads to be a bit upto date on what I have undertaken to do.

Casey cannot get to grips with her mother's unexpected death and to top the disasters up a break up of a relationship. She has also not been able to get a proper job commensurate with her qualifications because she wants to write and finish her novel. She gets this time by waitressing and uses her free time in trying very hard to make sense of what she sees as a good story just waiting to be written.

Falling in love with two different men, holding down a difficult job though it was only waitressing the undercurrents were huge! and trying to make sense of insurmountable student debt was too much for Casey who was breaking down under the strain.

I could get where Casey was coming from. In her mid twenties, all her friends are either getting married or having babies. They are all career girls balancing homes and careers or either married well with husbands who take care of all the problems of money. In Casey's case she is all alone and with a brother three thousand miles away she feels so alone, and so burdened by her life that she is literally cracking up.

The book touches on all the subjects that most modern women are subject to - the having it all theory, the beautiful balancing act of home and career, the glamour of looking well at all times and the effort it takes to get there, to have well behaved children because somehow it is your fault if they turn out to be jerks, fertility or rather lack of it can also be a women's problem it doesn't seem to end. Casey suffered from most of it at various stages in the story and this resonates with a lot of young women.

A well written thought provoking story.

Sent by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Grove Atlantic.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

A Reasonable Doubt by Phillip Margolin

The book had a very nice background to it which was unusual. It was magic and illusion at the very highest level.  Chesterfield considered himself the very best, but he was greedy - he came from a very poor and harsh background and he made up a story that he was from an aristocratic home. He married well and was determined to get his hands on a fortune as well.

He also had a gambling problem which he thought he could wish away but would not go away with increasing debts. When he was indicted for murder he turned to a law firm and the lawyer who had got him free on two previous charges of murder. It seemed so suspicious when he was indicted for the third time. There seemed to be a pattern for the murders but Robin Lockwood was clever and the defense was very poorly prepared and so Chesterfield got away with it once again.

But his end was coming soon and when he was killed in front of a huge audience with no clues as to how it was done and by whom, Robin was again in charge of the case and through a clever process of detection and deduction the trail was found and followed.

The story runs between two time lines - that of Regina's defense of Chesterfield years ago and then coming to Robin's defense of today. It was not exactly confusing but may have been done with less of the past and more of the present.

The story is a quick read and the final outcome was a surprise.

Sent by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of St. Martin's Press.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

The Liberation of Brigid Dunne by Patricia Scanlan

Having studied in a convent from the age of four plus, I have a liking for anything convent or monastery like and this one fitted the bill.

Starting in Toronto Marie Claire seems to have it all - a career going places, a very handsome boyfriend with whom she sees a steady future ahead and everything looks rosy until she overhears a telephone conversation and her world is shattered. Determined to go out with chin up she moves away from Toronto back to Ireland to the comfort of what she knows best. Her family.

The timing is right - her beloved grand aunt's eightieth birthday and her retirement from the nunnery and the religious life and getting to meet her mother and father who will return to Ireland and meet up with her grandmother irascible though she is.

Woven into the strands of Marie Claire's life is also the life of Brigid (the nun) and Imelda her grandmother. Both are complicated lives with secrets hidden deep for decades. Then there is Marie Claire's mother and father with plenty of secrets of their own. At the eightieth birthday party with friends and religious present Imelda's viciousness holds no bounds and she lets it all rip apart destroying all pretense of family togetherness.

How to calm everyone down and bring some kind of peace to the family is the work of Brigid who wants to end the festering bitterness and animosity hidden. This is done in a particularly remarkable pilgrimage which was totally new to me (I am now looking into that aspect as it was a fascinating one).

A family saga with lots of history thrown in especially the role of the Church in the lives of Irishwomen and what disadvantages they faced as women by being part of the Church which was an intrinsic part of their lives.

This was a wonderful novel to read.

Thanks to Netgalley who sent it to me for an unbiased review, courtesy of Atria Books

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Dennis Bisskit and the Basset Hound from Beacon's Bottom and Continental Crimes by Martin Edwards (vintage detective stories)

This was a fun read and what both Dennis and Stinky do so well is that they are good detectives and now they are getting a bit of notice and action. The chance to protect an aristocratic dog at the best dog show in town is a plum assignment but have they bitten more than what they could chew.

Hilariously funny and a good read for all ages.

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

Always a favourite of mine the British Classic Crime series. I think it should be classified as a separate genre. Dignified even in murder, detectives slowly go about their daily work with precision and class.

Set in cities, idyllic countrysides and in the Riviera the stories change the tone with the change of scenery.

A lovely read for all seasons.

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

Sunday, March 22, 2020

The Girl On The Roof by Debra Moffitt

For a couple of pages into this book, I did not quite get the entire gist of what was happening.

Annecey like most French towns under the yoke of Nazi brutality are trying their best to live. To just survive. In this scenario we have an ordinary family - one young daughter working for the Nazis in town - hates them but pretends to be subservient just to get as many secrets as she could to help the resistance. A young brother working for the Resistance and a little sister who gets murdered by a sadistic paedophile who is a Nazi but where it cannot be proved that he is the murderer.

Aurelie is the restless spirit in this story who for sometime has to be convinced she is dead and that none of her beloved family can actually see or hear her. Those like her sister Claire and her best friend Ginny sense her presence and what she says to them in a dream but then they brush it away as a figment of their imagination.  Aurelie is one of the girls found dead but then other bodies also come up and Aurelie senses that Ginny is next.

The focus of the book then shifts as to how Aurelie is going to protect and warn Ginny of the danger she is in from the Nazi officer who has befriended her and whom Ginny is infatuated with. The dangers of espionage in Nazi occupied France are also highlighted in the story and this also forms the backdrop to the suspenseful tale.

Unusual storyline, the background of occupied France and rural Annecey all add to a very good story.

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

Friday, March 20, 2020

Lost at Sea by Erica Boyce

Living in a small town everyone knows everyone else's business. There is no secret that can be kept quiet for long. Eventually it may not be gossiped about, but its known. The good thing is that there is a line of invisible support and in this small town it is more than most when fishermen's wives are left suddenly bereft with the loss of a husband.

The story revolves around the sudden disappearance of John Staybrook from his fishing boat and as to why he took the boat out in very difficult circumstances. His little daughter Ella refuses to accept that he is dead, believing he is still missing and somewhere out there waiting to be found. Apart from the basic heart break of sudden loss the story goes into many, many stories such as adoption, alcoholism, drug addiction, relationships, family ties.

It seemed overwhelming to be faced with many issues in one straight forward story but little by little the book settled into an easy reading pace and proved to be a good, interesting story.

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

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

The Silent House by Nell Pattison

This was my first foray into reading intensively about the deaf community, about signing language and the intricacies that lie behind actually living in a deaf household. It was a fascinating story.

Lexie a toddler is found bludgeoned to death in her bedroom sleeping beside her siblings. All little children. Her stepmother was sleeping next door, the father of the children after a night out on the couch downstairs. No broken windows or doors, no forced entry. The step mother discovers the child and the investigation takes on from there.

An interpreter has to be called in as this is household which needs help in the investigation. The story is told from mainly the angle of the interpreter who is emotionally involved with the family from the beginning. The detectives find it hard going through a third party but the story unravels slowly - going through the lives of normal people like anyone else, having secrets in plenty to hide but which you know will come out eventually.

I guessed who the murderer was three quarters through the story but I was non plussed as to the reason why and this was revealed at the end. It was a tense, emotional, gruesome story but very well told.

Extremely good characterization and an unusual story line. The difficulties of step families.

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

Monday, March 16, 2020

This Won't End Well by Camille Pagan

This book is mainly about relationships and though I am not a fan of delving too much into the emotional issues of such, the writing in the form of emails for the most part interspersed with chapters of the story added a variance to this book.

Annie is left nonplussed by her fiancée. He telephones her on the way to the airport, saying he is going to be away for a month in Paris (he loves everything French) and also says he does not want communication from her for this period. This is in the midst of them planning a wedding. To everyone it seems as if he has got cold feet but Annie surprisingly unlike others decides to take him at face value at what he says and thinks she should continue as before.

Ignoring his instructions not to write, she continues a series of emails to him outlining her views, her feelings on all matters to which there are no replies. When he does reply almost at the end of the month with entreaties for her to join him because what he wants to explain can only be done in Paris (!!) Annie herself is beginning to doubt her feelings for him and whether this relationship is going anywhere or whether she has just got used to him. The fact that there is another man with whom she is very comfortable with and can easily converse on any subject also adds to her change of feeling.

Going to Paris eventually, and returning with her relationship restored. It is after this that she realizes that the spark has gone from their relationship and decides to end it. Definitely better late than never in Annie's case. It seemed to be a relief for Jon too!

The ups and downs of modern relationships - in this case all amicably settled. It actually ended very well.

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

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Charles Finch's two books - The Vanishing Man and The Woman in the Water

I am doing two reviews of books by the same author in this post. Charles Finch is a new author for me and the Charles Lenox series is also new. I only hope there will be more in this series as I did enjoy reading both books very much.

Lenox is from the aristocracy. His forays into detective work have not found favour with the high and mighty and he has in fact suffered direct snubs as well as even invitations given and then withdrawn for social events. Lenox feels that his family also suffers the indignity of having one of their own doing a job as it were as this is beyond the pale for members of their kind, but on the contrary his father and mother are proud of his achievements and understand his feelings that he wants to use his analytical mind and seek logical conclusions for problems that he tries to solve.

In this story in the 1850s, the Duke of Dorset seeks his help in finding a lost painting. The painting itself does not amount to much - one of the ancestors - but Lenox soon finds that there is much more than the missing painting that meets the eye and the Duke has not been very honest in seeking Lenox's help. Unraveling a mystery painting, plus in the meantime trying to find one of the lost works of Shakespeare amidst red herrings thrown their way Lenox and his faithful valet Graham, even more capable than Lenox try to solve the mystery.

Methodical and systematic, the story will appeal to a logical mind and it did to me!

Sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of St. Martin's Press.

In this book Lenox is disillusioned. His efforts do not seem to be appreciated by Scotland Yard who deride his position as an aristocrat and do not seem to be able to see the man beyond that. On the other hand his own kind the aristocrats themselves look on him as some kind of aberration and an insult to their kind doing a job which is demeaning. This was London in the 1850s.

When one woman is found dead, followed by another one quite swiftly Scotland Yard themselves realize that action will have to be taken quickly to prevent rising hysteria amongst its citizens. Lenox and Graham are up against a very skilled and manipulative killer who is clever if not cleverer than all the detectives put together.

Descriptive of London in the 1850s both within the upper and the very lower classes of society added much interest to the whole story. Characterization was spot on and the entire book was a delight of the mystery/detective genre.

Sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of St. Martin's Press.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

The Burning Men by Will Schindler

One man died in a fire, but now the fire fighters who helped to put out that blaze are being targeted systematically and it is very personal. They are all being burned to death and in the most horrific ways imaginable.

All the clues point out to one major blaze in the city, and of course to money in some form. Four of the men seem to have money much more than their means - fancy weddings, posh cars and lifestyles way beyond their pensions. It is upto the detectives trying to solve the first burning to find out who and why this is happening.  The killings do not affect anyone else - the murderer is very careful to see that the fire does not spread and it only affects one man at a time but time is running out for the other remaining men.

Very well written both from the story line as well as the detective side this was a book you could not put down till it was done.

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

Monday, March 9, 2020

A Country Dilemma by Sasha Morgan

This was the ideal book to read after a dose of two or three rather strong detective novels!

Set in Trewenham the setting is idyllic. The history of the characters if turbulent but that is a previous story. Right now we have the heir to the Castle being the apple of his parents eyes, then we have a fairytale wedding of Matt and Finula, we have the sad breakup of Christie and her husband almost on the eve of their setting up a new home and then devastating news of Sebastian's illness and how to cope with it, then Daniel facing his marriage breaking up and fighting a desperate custody battle for his little girl Emily.

These are the stories which form the backdrop of this book and each one is dealt with in a way which is very pleasant to read.

It is a light hearted read, though the subjects of child custody, divorce, multiple sclerosis are not happy subjects. All dealt with very well.

I enjoyed the story telling in this novel.

Sent by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Head of Zeus.

In Plain Sight by Marion Todd

A toddler goes missing during a crowded day at the beach, just before a marathon takes place. At the same time a protest against the setting up of a plastic bottling plant is also taking place. In the ensuing crush no one has noticed how this toddler went missing.

Claire is the Detective in charge working against time to find the baby as in this case the child Abigail has a heart complaint which needs medication. Whilst the whole team at her local police plus teams drawn from the area work against the clock putting clues together, the child's mother falls under suspicion but there are no obvious signs of any collusion. Putting together the pieces of a puzzle where the pieces are all there, but how do they fit together to form a cohesive whole is this story. There are drugs, there are dealers, there are itinerant rogues and car jackers, there are former drug addicts and persons on the fringe. Are they all linked to this missing baby?

Add to that people pulling rank in the Detective's own office trying to gain popularity, trying to get and lobbying for the senior positions coming up all adding more stress to an already stressful situation.

Very well written, with just the correct amount of  being politically incorrect adds interest to the story. Tense and a page turner.

Sent by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Canelo

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Answer in the Negative by Henrietta Hamilton

Sally and Johnny Heldar are requested by a friend to check out some anonymous letters sent to a colleague which are steadily becoming more vitriolic and descending into utmost vulgarity.

At the National Press Archives Frank Morningside is someone who is not particularly liked or disliked. A rather tedious person he has many enemies and but when he is found bludgeoned to death the investigation takes a more serious turn.

Negatives are missing and whether these lead to particular instances where people could be blackmailed is the question. When a second death occurs made to look like an accident the Heldars know there is a murderer who will not stop at anything to cover his tracks.

It was a good detective story with a well planned story line.

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

Thursday, March 5, 2020

Above the Bay of Angels by Rhys Bowen

Another riveting read from one of my favourite authors.

Set in Victorian England in the Palace itself and then moving on to Nice this relates the story of Isabella a girl of good family, thrust by an uncaring father into service - a drudgery of the worst kind and one she is definitely not suited for. Isabella is adaptable, quick thinking and it is this that lands her the job at the palace as an undercook. It is also the reason why she can get blackmailed, having taken on the name of someone else.

The story interspersed with tales of the Royal Family - gossip and innuendo aside the doings of Victoria and her son Prince Albert were numerous and how she kept her hand on the tiller till the end is amazing.

The best part of the book for me however was the food. Victoria had an enormous appetite for good food and so did the royal party who travelled with her and the descriptions of the food is mouth watering.

The side story of Isabella alias Helen and her romances are also piquant and add a touch of interest to a historical fiction tale.

The book was sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Lake Union Publishing.

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

The Waxwork Corpse by Simon Michael

In a vast reservoir whilst on a dive a tightly wrapped body is found. Whilst a young woman has been missing, it is discovered this is not that woman. The woman whose body is found is someone who went missing thirteen years ago - a wife of a Judge and one who is very eminent now.

Judge Steele is a pillar of the community - three young children, stellar character and there is no one who will talk ill of him. On the other hand, there is no one either personal or professional who will talk well of his late wife - the stories are lurid and ugly and each one is worse than the other. That he stayed in the marriage "for the sake of the children" is the theory flouted but even that wears thin.

On discovering blood in the ceiling and on the floorboards of their former house the Judge is taken into custody and then the trial emerges. The prosecuting lawyer Charlie has his own demons - Jewish and not comfortable in an orthodox household he has broken away from family and has a bitter relationship with his mother. He puts together the pieces of Judge Steele's marriage and the final breakdown where he murdered his wife. The Judge however due to clever lawyering and an epic display of emotion masterfully crafted swings a jury for his acquittal.

It is only after the acquittal that Charlie puts together pieces of a puzzle which he knows is incomplete upto now and the final piece is very surprising. 

Well written, masterfully played out by the two main characters of Judge Steele and Charlie and the supporting cast of family this was a very good book.

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

Sunday, March 1, 2020

The Measure of Malice by Martin Edwards (Short Story - Detective)

An excellent collection of short stories in the detective genre in the style of Sherlock Holmes.
The opening one is actually a Sherlock Holmes wonderful story and sets the tone and elegance of writing which is so characteristic for all the writers.

Apart from the style of writing which is calm and collected and not frenzied in the least despite the goriness of the actual murders, there is a great deal of intelligent detective skills utilized throughout and a measure of scientific deduction which adds to the interest.

Another great publication under the Classic Crime category.

Thanks to Netgalley for the book sent for my unbiased review, courtesy of Poisoned Pen Press.

Saturday, February 29, 2020

The Italian Villa by Daniela Sacerdoti


Callie's world is torn apart when her parents die accidentally. She is further stunned when she gets to know that she is adopted, originates from a small town in Italy - Montevino and has inherited her mother's house there.

Nonplussed as to what to do, she pulls up her roots and flies to Italy to discover what life may have to offer there. She finds a community all of whom knew her mother, her aunt still living there maintaining the house immaculately and particularly upsetting her aunt is very antagonistic towards her. Stories and rumours abound as to why her aunt behaves in this manner but it is a story that unravels slowly.

The journey to this village, the beauty of a rural Italian countryside coupled with the story of Callie who is trying to come to grips with the suddenness of the change,  is this story. The change in lifestyle from being all alone in the world in America and practically penniless to owning a house and being surrounded by friendly faces was a very nice feature of this story. The saga of loneliness is a hard thing to bear and this story shows how good it is to be surrounded by loving people.

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

Friday, February 28, 2020

The Thief of Lanwyn Manor by Sarah E Ladd

The Thief of Lanwyn Manor (Cornwall, #2)

Regency England was not very kind to its womenfolk. At least not from my opinion! the only way forward was to make an advantageous match and this had to be planned and maneuvered by female relatives who were past masters at the game.

The Langbournes and the Blakes are two mining families in a small village. But the similarity seems to end there. Mr. Langbourne is a businessman first and foremost and the livelihood and life of his miners does not affect him. It is a matter of profit only. Of the Blake brothers the eldest seems to be disinterested in the mine he has inherited and leaves the working and management of it to his brother Isaac.

The closure of the mine owned by the Langbournes has brought about a lot of hardship, resentment and anger amongst the community but the owner is not bothered by this at all. Into this comes Julia their niece, escaping a romance which went wrong at home and being a companion to the daughter of the house who is presently pregnant and rather ill.

The story is not just a romance, which was nice as it is but it also gave one a descriptive story of the mines and how these formed the backbone of the community and how the entire village depended on it for their wellbeing. Added to the story is a tale of treasure, of debts and deals within deals which go horribly wrong and you have a very interesting story set in Regency England.

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

Similar to a Georgette Heyer.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

A Irish Country Family by Patrick Taylor

An Irish Country Family by Patrick Taylor

This is a book that is quite nostalgic for a slightly older reader, and for the younger ones may be a book that will make them question whether places and people like this actually existed. Set in a not very far off time of the 1960s Ballybucklebo (the name itself sounds quirky) seems to be idyllic place peopled by very fine upright characters with just the odd man out to throw a spanner in the works literally.

Set amidst for the great part in a doctor community both in a hospital and outside the hospital the story covers freshman during their internship and how they plan their futures and how best to integrate into the Irish community at large. The question of migration also looms because promotion is painfully slow in Ireland and those wanting to make their mark in the world seem to be looking elsewhere.

Add to the hospital background which even to a layman was not very technical and quite interesting was the vagaries of life and death which faced everyone in this small village.

Very well told, unfolding gradually, with its ups and downs this was a very pleasant read.

Sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Macmillan Tor Forge.

Monday, February 24, 2020

Adoring Abigail by Chalon Linton

A Regency romance which was very important after all the mystery suspense books I've been reading. It was so necessary to get me back into the spirit of reading.

Abigail is living with her grandmother. Abigail also stutters and for this era it is considered a disability and a huge liability in the scheme of finding a marriage partner and considering that this was considered the sole purpose of young women it did pose a handicap for Abigail. Under strict instructions not to talk because when she did, she was described as simple or worse stupid.

We have the local manor and a new occupant - a complete outsider to the village a man who was a Captain in the Army, just back from the Napoleonic wars and one not conversant with running a grand house in the manner it should be done. He has his mother and sister with him and he knows that despite his wealth, he has to find acceptance within the community if he is to make a happy life for himself.

Falling for Abigail was not part of the plan and competing with the local vicar for her attentions was also not in his plan. How the romance proceeds and eventually comes to a lovely end is this story.

Light reading, with the accent on Abigail's stutter was a bit unusual and highlights society which only accepted the norm.

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

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Holy Blood by Kim Fleet

16th century England was not just medieval it was also on the road to inquisition. Catholics were persecuted and despite this Catholicism prevailed in pockets. Such was faith. The punishment for even having a holy book was horrendous and you'd think that people would be more cautious of having priests around and having mass but this they did.  The 16th century part of the novel set in Hailes Abbey and its subsequent surroundings and inhabitants dealt with exactly that.

We then move on to modern Cheltenham 2015 and a bunch of archaelogists, forensic scientists and a TV personality dealing with the discovery of a skeleton and a vial described as Holy Blood. The trail of murder and mystery surrounding this discovery and the unraveling of a sordid personal history is the second part of the story.

My second read from this author - Paternoster was very good, this was also excellent reading taking you into two time lines both intriguing.

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

On another note, since weather seems to be a prevailing topic these days, we are having blindingly hot weather - going out after nine am seems precarious. I try to do any chores early returning as quickly as possible to the cooler haven of my flat.  Its dangerously hot out there.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

The House at Silvermoor by Tracy Rees

1897 and 1905. In 1897 things were engrained in a system. One knew "one's place". Most people were very happy with the arrangement. You were born into an occupation, however hard, however overbearing your superiors you just went on. You lived in the same village, married someone from the same village and the whole pattern is repeated. Once in a while you get a changeling. Someone who questions, who wants a better life or a different life and then things get very tough for that person. Surprisingly the worst was from the family itself who could not understand why you wanted to bring the wrath of your betters on your entire clan, by wanting something better for yourself.

This was the hard part of the book, but was a fact of life in 1897. Josie was a bright spark and with Tommy also within a coal mining family in Yorkshire wanted education, wanted to see what the world could offer other than the mundane. This did not sit well with either family and this story chronicles their life story, their adventures, their search into their ancestry not always with favourable results and their life and happy future.

I loved reading about the various characters of this book, the lifestyle of both the rich and the grindingly poor. Surprising that revolutions did not happen more often given the condition of the majority of the people.

This was history as well as a saga of a village and family.

Sent to me by Netgalley for an honest review, courtesy of Quercus Books.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

The Liar's Daughter by Claire Allan

Joe McKee lay dying. The last stage. He had a daughter and a step daughter. Ex wife, sister all around but the atmosphere was so dark, so heavy, so ominous that from the first page you knew that everything was awry.

For atmosphere you can give this book a hundred percent. For deep down anger and sadness and the inability to throw these feelings off was very hard to read about. I almost gave up mid way as the book made me angry and mad at family who were blind, and in the end not just blind but actually wicked.

Ciara and Heidi are the two girls involved and their story is told in alternate chapters. They detest each other, with and without reason. Despite being adults the feelings of animosity and hatred have not gone away. The story builds up to a crescendo between these two with plenty of emotion provided by secondary characters.

This was sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Avon Books UK

Sunday, February 16, 2020

The Beach House by P R Black

It was going to be their dream holiday and when Cora's fiancée sold his business for an eight figure sum it was the icing on the cake.

Little did they know that many eyes were following their path. Many people knew about the sale and the money involved and even if it meant murder, they meant to get their hands on it. Befriending Cora and Jonathan till it came to the point that they did not know who their friends were and who were their enemies, the story unravels slowly taking you to a point of almost no return.

I was not a fan of any of the characters, but having said that the characterization was spot on. The island's beauty and sleaze were both depicted in equal measure and the bad guys were really bad!

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

Dreamland by Nancy Bilyeau

The year 1911 in America was hard for progressive women and Peggy was different from the other young women of her class. She was an heiress and though she was pretty naïve about money, she knew her position and family invariably brought restrictions of every kind.

When she was coerced to accompany the family to Coney Island to one of the most aristocratic hotels in the holiday atmosphere, it was with reluctance she went. Mainly to please her mother, and because it seemed that her younger sister's marriage to the heir Henry Taul depended on this trip.

The trip gives Peggy the chance for freedom of some kind where she gets to mingle with normal folk and in time she meets up with a small time Balkan origin entertainer cum odd job man who very unlike her she falls deeply in love with. She knows that this will not be tolerated by the Family at all and it does not bode well as you know how it is going to turn out.

Things take an unexpected turn when bodies of young women turn up, and when the Police try to pin it on either Stefan (Peggy's love interest), him being Balkan and hot headed and Peggy herself. Will the Batternberg money be able to spin a web to cover up the actual murderer and will Peggy have the courage to uncover the actual murderer.

Descriptive of a period long past, of a culture in America which was very distinct and the problem of immigrants (still existing) and how America dealt with it then. Very good reading.

It also showed the machinations of a manipulative scheming family where respectability was paramount even though everyone knew what everyone was upto!

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

Friday, February 14, 2020

Murder in Rat Alley by Mark de Castrique

My first read of this author - this book is fine as a stand alone as well.

We have a pair of private investigators ex Veterans who somehow find themselves surrounded by the mystery of dead bodies and in this case the body is decades old. Missing from his work station, Frank was a quiet, hard working man a computer geek at the time of the computers infancy, he had no enemies and was an unassuming man. When body parts were discovered in the grounds of a space station the odds of a murder being committed there were very high what with security being tight but slowly unraveling the mystery we find it connected to a murder in Vietnam of another veteran and the involvement of a family and current criminal activities, the pace hots up.

Very good characterization, a fast pace and well thought out plot and story this held my interest throughout. I will be looking out for this author in the future as well.

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

Thursday, February 13, 2020

The Man She Married Alison James

This is another one of those stories that is so improbable that it is actually quite possible. It is quite feasible for someone to copycat or what they call identity theft nowadays and become someone else.

Alice was trusting. She was a bit naïve. Not overly so. Brought up by loving parents and with a very normal sibling there was no reason to distrust people. When Dominic came into her life, despite that there were certain twinges of misgivings she over rode those feelings. She also knew distinctly that her best friend had reservations about the relationship but once she knew Alice was in deep, she put them aside and gave her the support she needed.

It was only after his death, that the entire mess unraveled in stages and showed the workings of a clinical, cold blooded man who was only after one thing - himself and that anyone who wanted more from him had to go. Alice escaped with her life, after several near calamities and should be considered one of the lucky ones.

A mystery serial killer murder/thriller. Psychopathic character who literally got away with murder until he was killed surprisingly by accident himself.

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

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

The Neighbours by Nicola Gill

A book that will exasperate you, annoy you, keep you amused, make you rather prickly too.
It was entertaining.

Cassie and Ginny are neighbours. 55 and 35 respectively very un alike in ways, attitudes and characteristics but both are tenacious, both underlying the frivolity are good people and this is their story. Of hopelessness, despair, depression, relationships, the difficulty in finding (and keeping) a partner and their hopes for their futures.

It was a mish mash of feelings and basic living and trying to come to terms with life and come to terms they did - eventually. Ginny's basic fear of ending up alone without a family is shared by many and many would be able to empathise with her in this story though at times she annoyed me no end. Cassie is someone as a neighbor you'd steer well clear of - she was a pain in the butt but Ginny obviously saw beyond the façade.

The story was an excellent one and I will be looking out for this author in the future as well.

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

On a non book note, I am looking forward to visiting Melbourne and seeing the grandchildren and the children (note order of preference now). It has been too long.

Monday, February 10, 2020

The Place We call Home by Faith Hogan

A family centric story but one also of with strong historical links set in an idyllic setting of Ballycove a village in Ireland which forms the backdrop to the story.

Miranda has taken over the mills through a quirk of fate. Now with intense hard work she has brought it from the brink of bankruptcy to its present state of being one of the foremost mills in the country with a reputation for quality and innovation unmatched by other designers. With ill health dogging her footsteps, Miranda knows she has to decide on who is going to take over the mills when she steps down but with three children of widely differing personalities and capabilities she is in a quandary.

With great power and wealth the usual characteristics of greed, envy and ambition rear their heads and even in the closest of families strife and mistrust soon will appear. This family is no different. How Miranda steers the family amongst each of their own personal woes and problems is the brilliant stuff of this story.

Wonderful writing.

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

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Give The Devil His Due by Sulari Gentill

I love this author's style of writing and am very partial to a Sri Lankan origin author anyway!!!! So few of them around.

The story of Rowland Sinclair and his family - the closest we could get to aristocracy in Australia in itself is an unusual family and background. The understated riches, lifestyle and manner of Rowland is in itself admirable and a story on its own. Set him against a motley crowd of arty types like Edna who has acquired a reputation which is not fair, Communists and so called hangers on and then set an attempted murder/s in this background and you have a fascinating story.

Set on a race track with a killer reputation, we have people gunning for Rowland Sinclair. In the process others get killed which adds to the mystery. The 1930s political scene in Australia was complicated and amazing and to someone like me who did not have a clue as to what Australia was like then, the story was a revelation.

Loved the writing.

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

Thursday, February 6, 2020

I Choose You by Gayle Curtis

A very twisted lifestyle with strange characters inhabiting the story but so twisted that it has to be true. Elise and Nathaniel three kids and though life is a bit strange it all goes completely ballistic when their daughter is abducted and then found murdered.

What follows is a story of suicide, suicide watchers, promotion of suicides and with no apparent detective/police follow up as to the series of coincidences where people took their lives and nothing happened.

The book is confusing and though I thought I knew who was behind the killings, I was not absolutely sure. There are a lot of clues strewn around and the subject matter is so emotional in itself that I was floundering.

The story was a good one albeit confusing.

Sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of  Amazon Publishing UK.

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

The Marquise of O (Translation) and The Body in the Dumb River

A short review.

A different way of handling an age old problem. How to cope with an unexpected and unexplainable pregnancy. In a very conservative time. In a very respectable family.

A tragi comedy very well written.

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

The writing in this one is slow as well. But it is somewhat different. A mystery murder of an innocuous man who was known to everyone as being mild and meek and who only wanted to get on with his life.

Seemingly quiet, James lived a double life. With a wife and three daughters who disliked him and who only wanted money out of him and above all respectability, there was Martha on the other hand who was a help mate of the best kind who loved him for who he was.

Littlejohn's detective work is brilliant. Very descriptive writing of both the setting and the characters are spot on. A pleasure to read at any time.

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

Saturday, February 1, 2020

The Other Woman by Jane Isaac

Cameron Swift was shot dead by a black clad hemeted young person outside his house. It was not a robbery, neither was it random. Seemingly without any reason. DC Beth Chamberlain is put in charge of the case with the orders from high to solve this random murder quickly.

Monika is Cameron's partner and cannot find any reason why this should happen. With no enemies, a fairly low profile, a man who travels for work there are no clues. On the other side of the world in Goa, Sara is on holiday with her two daughters when she gets the news. It is with her getting the news that the whole story unravels.

How Cameron was able to maintain a duplicate life with no one the wiser, two families which he kept happy and contented but with now over riding financial woes despite an opulent lifestyle, Beth has to unravel the clues left behind to find out why and who did this.

Not just the people around him but even the victim has had secrets and they are kept closely guarded.
A typical mystery murder thriller this was well written with good characterization (especially the two women).

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

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Fell Murder by E C R Lorac

Apart from the Classic Crime bit which I love, the cover drew me in so much. It seemed to epitomise all the characters in this story. The farmers, the victims, the victim's children, the by standers, even the publican. All aloof, all minding their own business, insular and very much closed to "outsiders".

A leading farmer found shot dead after a fox hunt. Hardly any suspects around and the detectives put in charge of the case are being stone walled. It is not easy to understand the laconic attitude of the people and you need a special man to get to grips with the problem. Chief Inspector MacDonald is ideal. He is trusted by the locals very fast, and quietly goes about unraveling what is a seemingly impossible task. One and then a second victim much later with no possible suspects.

This was a particularly good class crime one, definitely well above many of the others I've read.

Thank you to Poisoned Pen Press for sending it on to me. An unbiased review for Netgalley who facilitated me getting this book.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Good Girls Lie by J T Ellison

The Goode School in a tiny town in Virginia seems an anachronism. Only for the rich and influential, every girl there is a somebody. When Ash Carlisle turns up from England, she has hidden her background and beginnings well enough but not well enough it seems. Her headmistress knows of her chequered past, of her parent's sudden death but it was not generally known until someone got to know and spread the word around.

With her arrival, people around her also suddenly started dying and it seemed a little too cliche for it to be truly coincidental. You did not get to the convoluted part till almost at the end, but you did know you were in for a long, hard ride.

The story was a fascinating one and I am intrigued as to how many permutations of mystery, thriller and murder writers get up to. Apart from that the descriptiveness of the surroundings in Virginia itself, the various characters involved from the Head Mistress to the teachers, to the students themselves was so varied that it added a great weight to the story.

A must read for people who like this genre.

Sent to me by Netgalley for an unbiased review, courtesy of Harlequin - Mira US & Canada

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

The Secret Messenger by Mandy Robotham

Set in two time lines 1943 and 2017. Also set in two different cities - Venice and London, this was another stellar write up of the War and the part played by the Resistance to block, hinder and obstruct in any which way possible the Nazi advance.

We have Stella Jilani - who poses as a fascist right in the heart of the Nazi offices, secreting documents and information which would be useful in any way to the Resistance and then we have Luisa decades later trying to piece her family history after discovering a pile of documents in the attic after her mother's death. Luisa knows her grandparents are of Italian origin, who came to England during WWII but beyond that knows nothing, as her mother was not willing to reveal any history.

Luisa's yearning to know her past takes her back to the city of origin in Venice and here she slowly uncovers her grandmother's rich and convoluted past and her no small role in the liberation of Venice.

As usual WW both I and II have given us innumerable books on every aspect of the wars and the way it affected the ordinary man on the street and how these very same people were determined not to allow their countries to be taken over completely by the Nazi tide. This is another excellent read and the setting of Venice is stunning.

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

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Kit and Elizabeth by Karen Tufts

The Lady Elizabeth is facing a quandary. She was been a dutiful, obedient daughter from the day she was born. She also knows that she has been a disappointment to her parents - one for being a girl, and secondly for failing to get betrothed even after an understanding with a family has been forged. That the young man died in battle is beside the point for her father. There is a younger brother and you just switch allegiances and feelings. It did not bode well for Elizabeth.

Lady Walmsley widowed and childless takes the young Elizabeth under her wing when Elizabeth's father first absconds to the continent to escape his debtors and then subsequently dies there. Elizabeth's mother basically couldn't care less what happens to her daughter and her callousness is appalling. The story is harsh and emotional, but that it ends well is the saving grace.

I would not say that characterization is typical but marriage and benefits of a financial nature is the only view taken by Elizabeth's parents and it may have been one common amongst the aristocracy of the time. The story is descriptive and depicts the morale and behaviour of the period.

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

Friday, January 24, 2020

Death in Saint Chartier by Ivo Fornesa

Set in rural France, Laurent is wanting a quiet life but enjoys the good things in life as well.
He has a splendid home, a very nice lifestyle and a millionaire neighbour.

The chateau where the neighbour lives is under reconstruction and when it is finally open to the village it is a masterpiece. The party is lavish and everyone is invited. Despite there being many objections to the chateua's new owners, everyone is curious about the place and practically all of them attend. When Carlos is found dead in a secret passage the mystery actually starts.

The case comes to an end when the local police rule it as an accident. Laurent however has different views and is keen to see that justice is meted out for his friend who he felt met with an untimely end. He meticulously draws up a list of suspects and then interviews each in turn and then one by one they are ruled out of the running for the title of murderer.

In the style of slightly older amateur detectives, this was investigation done meticulously and painstakingly. The book is a translation and it is done very well.

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

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

A Necessary Killing Paul Walker/Paternoster Kim Fleet. History & Murder in both

1579. An exciting time for shipping and exploring. William Constable physician, inventor and now an unwitting spy is caught up in circumstances beyond his control.

Constable is a different character from the rest of the ships captains. He is simple, unassuming, kind, respectful and loves his fiancee and is keen for the voyage to be over so that he could marry. He really wishes he could get out of this voyage but does not see a way out. The purpose is to go to the New World, trade in goods and slaves, plunder ships that are sailing back and eventually become very rich.

The killings which take place adds to the delay in setting off on their journeys. The getting ready and refitting of the ships before the journey is descriptive enough for a story and the mystery and the characters involved in the story add to its interest.

This was not fast paced but it did not plod along either.

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

Though it has been done a myriad times, stories told in two time lines are fascinating for me. Invariably the first one is ancient, so there is history involved. Then the present time line brings in a modern twist to the mystery that has to be unfolded.

This is what happens here. England 1795 Rachel has lost her benefactor. She has gone back to being a prostitute and sees her future prospects dwindling.  In the brothel, she is forced to join the Paternoster Club and this is the beginning of the end for Rachel.
This part of the story was harsh, and showed the hopelessness of women in Rachel's position sans family there was no protection of any kind.

Cheltenham 2013 and the discovery of two skeletons halts construction at a very posh school. Much to the irritation of the Management, it becomes a crime scene though the crime was committed 200 years before. Eden Grey is called upon to sort the mystery out, but she has secrets of her own and when they start to unravel Eden herself is in grave danger.

Paternoster was an edge of the seat thriller. Combing the best of historical fiction, mystery murders and a beautiful setting with excellent and unusual characters the book had everything going for it.

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

Monday, January 20, 2020

Death at Eden's End by Jo Allen

Set in a beautiful part of the Lake District (the descriptions are marvellous), in a very posh, expensive elders home Violet is found dead. Of course at the age of 100 this was expected and so why is our detective Jude and Dr Ashleigh determined to question and probe the matter further, much to the chagrin of the authorities of the home.

The look of terror on Violet's face was enough for Ashleigh to pursue the death further and then it was proved that Violet was suffocated. Violet's life was surprising, complicated and unknown to all. Her history during WWII was little known and the part she played in it was unknown till it all had to come out during the investigation.

Surprising how one old woman's life had so many ramifications and twists and turns and eventually led to her murder. On the surface she was just an old lady, beneath it all was mystery upon mystery.

Very well written and for lovers of detective work, this was a good one.

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

Saturday, January 18, 2020

The Girls in the Lake by Helen Phifer (Book 2 in the series)

Three young women turn up dead.  The first two victims were found by people who were used the lake regularly. The third victim was unusual. She was pushed into the lake, was rescued but died a few hours later in her own bedroom. All three girls were pretty, blonde and young. All three were acquaintances of three young men.  Two of the men had unsavoury reputations, and one was just a hanger on without money or consequence, just a fellow student.

The story of three young men without any seeming purpose in life, two of them just seem to want to find an easy girl for the night or day, the other equally aimless and not doing anything constructive. The story of too much inherited money and not enough responsibilities and even consideration of others. Condescending, patronizing the worst  possible friends one could have.

Forensics in the form of Dr. Beth Adams refuses to accept that the deaths are accidental and she pushes the detectives on the force to look for anything suspicious. When she feels that the investigations are not making any headway she conducts her own. With the third girl's death, all of them combine efforts to prevent a fourth.

The end was surprising. Like all thrillers it was a twist to the tale.The characters though not likeable at all were compelling as part of the story.

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

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Barbouze by Alan Williams

Set in North Africa the story between the French Secret Service and the local population trying to wrest control from their colonial masters.

Ingleby the journalist from England is naive and only wants to do the correct thing. Something which both sides decide to use to their own advantage and he is caught in the middle. His copy to his office in London could be the best one yet of his career, but at what cost. Ingleby is not made for the betrayal and lack of loyalty and the mindless murdering that goes on and he seems lost here.

The story was fast paced, the characters were lethal and our main man was very naive. The setting could have been anywhere with a colorful and bloody history.

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

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Death at Sandy Bay by Betty Rowlands

A beautiful setting of the countryside and a stylish manor hotel. A musical weekend of like minded spirits gathering together. Something they do frequently. When Lance Rainbird is found dead in the lake, not an accident but murder the focus shifts to someone within their intimate group. It also puts paid to Sukey's planned romantic weekend.

With all eyes focused on only one suspect, Sukey thinks they are all barking up the wrong tree and an innocent man is going to be the second victim here.

The interest in this story is not just the murder mystery but the intrinsic character of Sukey who with her quiet intelligent detection and with male chauvinists aplenty has to work in an environment where her instincts and intuition are not taken much note of. This is very much part of the Betty Rowlands stories.

Very good mystery series, invariably in glorious settings.

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

Sunday, January 12, 2020

The Last Waltz by Dorothy Mack


This was typical Regency romance and I loved it. It was also very suitable for a particularly stressed out few days when I never knew whether I was coming or going!!

Location was Brussels at the height of the war with Napoleon on their doorstep. Adrienne has two young brothers and Becky who has been their protector and guide. Now without a penny to their name Becky turns to their only hope Lord Creighton whose mother was a dear friend of Adrienne's mother. Becky is also alarmed at Adrienne's insistence on changing their fortunes by going to houses where gambling takes place. Without a guardian or a male protector Adrienne is vulnerable though she is not aware of the dangers.

The story goes on with Lord Creighton's beautiful fiancee who does not wish to play second fiddle to the poor relations of her partner.  Adrienne discovers only much later her actual feelings for the Lord and thankfully it all ends well despite the ups and downs of true love!

The setting was lovely, the characters were all masterful and I enjoyed reading this book.

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

Friday, January 10, 2020

Why She Ran by Geraldine Hogan

The setting of a rehabilitation centre is perfect for this book. Rachel is a very caring nurse and she is found brutally murdered. When Eleanor Marshall is found missing from this high security centre, she is seen as the obvious suspect but to the detectives on the case this is not so. They feel that Eleanor may have been one of the victims. The fact that Eleanor has epilepsy, needs medication and is on the run does not bode well for her either.

Unraveling the case, we find a dysfunctional family in the form of the Marshalls. Eleanor is their eldest daughter and Karena their second. Kit Marshall is a powerful, influential man in the community and he can buy silence wherever he wishes (including the detective force investigating his daughters disappearance). However, when on further investigation the truth seems to strike close to home it makes the lives of several people more at risk and with the murder of their youngest daughter Karena the detectives know that Eleanor's life is now a high risk one and they should find her before the murderer does.

Very descriptive, with very well developed characters this story was well told.

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