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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.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

The Hardie Inheritance by Anne Melville

This is my second read on the Hardie family and it is as interesting as the first one was. It is sadly the final one too.

Lucy Hardie is contented with her lot. Having had one love affair when she was very young, she is now content to look after the property bequeathed to her and live peacefully with her mother and her brother Phillip. Though there is no money (not even for shoes!) she survives very well off the fruit of their own labour.

When four visitors turn up on one single day, it is a turning point for all three of them and how. Ellis brings about the world of photography and art and sees in Lucy's primitive sculptures something which will appeal to art enthusiasts everywhere. He brought with him his very young daughter Trish, who was going to be a major change in Lucy's life in the future, Rupert is the long lost cousin from the side which discarded her mother when she married into trade, Andy is the long lost love from times past.

The story described as historical fiction, is also a family saga and most importantly for me a story of a house and the history behind the house is also a story in itself. Apart from Lucy, the story of each of the characters is very well developed and a story in themselves and Lucy is though the centre of the story is definitely not the entire whole.

History and a family saga which will appeal to many.

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

A Long Way Down by Randall Silvis

Ryan de Marco is trying to get his head clear to look into any future he has.  A estranged wife, a dead son is his history and he finds it hard to shake off the memories of a difficult marriage. Jayme his partner has his dark memories to contend with in trying to forge a future together.

Faced with a triple murder by someone who seems to enjoy torturing and decapitating his victims and then another victim totally different to the others is the dilemma faced by the detectives trying to solve this crime.

Bringing in Jayme and de Marco was not a popular choice as outsiders to try this old crime but they set to, to try to find one common factor linking these diverse victims. When they do, they uncover a ring of academics, drugs and sex orgies combined with a wild philosophy which drives someone to murder.

The characters are very well developed and the pace is intense. Looking forward to my next read from this author.

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

Monday, January 6, 2020

Invitation Only Murder by Leslie Meier

A private island owned by a millionaire is opening its doors for a welcome party for the mainland village. Lucy and her husband are invited too. Further as a reporter, she is invited to interview Mr. Newman on the island spending a few days with the family to get his ideas and views how he has discarded all modern appliances including telecommunication facilities and even cooking facilities wanting to live off the grid as it were.

Lucy approaches the break from her usual routine happily. There is much tension at home with her daughters and especially one of them has a new boyfriend who is anything but acceptable. Lucy feels the break will do all of them good.

The discovery of a teenager's body on the second day of her stay - the twin daughter of the owner is unexpected and when it is confirmed that it is not an accident but murder it becomes even worse. There are only two families on the island. The caretakers who have been there for generations and the only people who refused to leave the island and now the present owner.

When Scott Newman becomes more irrational, more drunk and not quite in his senses, his wife seems to be also losing control of reality. With two twin boys to look after and neglected by their mother who seems to be living in a world of her own,it is upto Lucy and the remaining older sister to be caretaking the two kids. When they disappear too, it is too much to be a coincidence and you need to try to reach the mainland in one way or the other. Waiting for the weekly steamer to come is far too long a wait with a family living on the edge.

The story was long, but the island was very well described. The characters were peculiar, but they added substance to a very odd dysfunctional family.

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