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Saturday, May 15, 2021

An American In Paris by Siobhan Curham

This was a story on many levels. The present and the past brought together by a journal of 1937 Paris and found on a simple farm in Arkansas, USA. Florence is our original stalwart who has come to Paris as it has always been a dream of hers to live the Parisian life and savour it to the full. Meeting Otto was a life changing event for her - it was simply asking directions to her pensione! and everything changed. The story goes on to document the changes in Paris and Florence's own life when Otto decides to go back to his country in Austria (with a very dire future) with what we know happened in Austria. Florence pursues her life in Paris in a different style - still entertaining people at the club she originally joined, but now her clients are the upper rank Germans whom she despises but whom she must patronize if she is to glean any information which will be useful for the British for whom she clandestinely works. The story is complicated and the journal is written as a memoir of Florence as a much older lady. Her grand daughter Sage escaping an internet trolling goes to Arkansas to try to leave her influencer background and followers behind. It is she who is given the journal and then discovers the background of her grandmother, and her mother and the relations she never had. Always believing that she was unwanted and abandoned, she now finds a family. History in the form of historical fiction well told, with a poignant love story told and two distinct time lines as well. Sent by Bookouture for a unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Thursday, May 13, 2021

The Unkindness of Ravens by M E Hilliard

I was attracted by the title, and then I went and looked it up! I did not know that a group of ravens is known as an "unkindness" meaning a sort of conspiracy. A murder mystery, setting is a library and Greer Hogan who has a habit of finding murdered bodies on her doorstep literally opens a door and a body falls out. The story takes off from there with theories abounding as the body count rises and Greer has to also take a step back and think carefully, whether her previous testimony actually sent an innocent man to jail. This was a good debut novel. Quirky characters and the library setting was particularly good. This was no modern library but a rather character filled scenario with a long history. Sent by Crooked Lane Books for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

The Truth About Unspeakable Things by Emily A. Myers

This was not an easy book to read, but it is a subject that people avoid. Like the elephant in the room, it should be addressed more. Rape - an ugly subject, marital rape almost glossed over and then rape in a committed relationship which is so hard to move away from, when you've trusted someone and hope that you are going to be together for a long time. This is what happened to Emma. Engaged to be married to flashy, bright Beaux she did not see the violence just simmering below the surface. When it exploded, she had the courage to break off the relationship but she did keep it all bottled inside. Her parents were the last people she could talk to on the subject - her mother particularly came across as being vacuous, selfish and an egoist. Till Emma met her knight in shining armour in the form of Julian Cole, next door neighbour who was an answer to a damsel in distress! The story flows from the abuse and is very well handled. Like most abused women, Emma hid her hurt and her fears. Sent by the Independent Book Publishers Association for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Monday, May 10, 2021

Mystery At The Abbey Hotel by Clare Chase (Eva Mallow Book No. 5)

Eve has won a stay at the luxurious and very private Abbey Hotel and she is thrilled to be there. When the owner Debra is found murdered in the gardens, just minutes after being seen by Eve, everyone who was present is suspect. The suspects include an ex husband, a sister from whom she has been acrimoniously separated for years, a young protege and her husband (whom Debra is sponsoring) and a Manager who appears to be more than just a manager, and several friends. . There are several other characters on the fringes of this story as well and they are all suspect, including Eve. Eve who has solved mystery murders before, much to the chagrin of DI Palmer who views Eve with suspicion because death seems to follow her where she goes, works in close tandem with Robin who is working undercover as it were. Eve who found Debra to be charming is determined to get to the bottom of the mystery, especially when a second murder takes place in a very similar fashion. Pursuing clues, she is flummoxed by a third murder and it is only after that the strands are put together to catch a very clever murderer who has covered his tracks so very well. Sent by Bookouture for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Saturday, May 8, 2021

The Car Share by Zoe Brisby

A ninety year old lady with Alzheimers, also one with decided views and opinions and a mild young man whose heart is broken go on a trip to Brussels, sharing a journey which is rife with so many ups and downs, quirky incidents and eccentricities which add to the story. The book combines Maxine (Max) who is a thirty year old in an older body. Confident, sassy and bold she is going to Brussels to be euthanized. All this without informing the Retirement Home where she was resident. Alex is escaping the humiliation of a rejection and finds in Maxine a fascinating character who in turn attracts him (for her confidence and sass) and frightens him when he becomes a wanted character for abduction and kidnapping! The book is charming (for Maxine's malapropisms) her way of handling situations and Alex's manner of a sort of "follow the leader". Amusing read. Sent by Hodder & Stoughton for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

The Last One Home by Victoria Helen Stone

Lauren is estranged from her mother. She does not want to have anything to do with her because she believes that it is her false testimony that put her dad in prison for years. Now exonerated, he lives a good life with his new wife and family and has a good relationship with Lauren as well. Lauren has been gifted a ranch house by her grandmother and she is presently renovating this and is very happy in her surroundings. When her mother contacts her after years, Lauren is reluctant to even talk to her but against her judgement she does indicating to her that she does not want past history dug up and dissected again. Disaster strikes when the man she was in love with, indicates that it is all over and that she was just a casual love affair but that it is now history. Demolishing walls in anger, she comes across proof of what her mother said all along was true - her father was actually a murderer and her grandmother was complicit in the murder. The story of tracking the lives of Lauren, her mother, her grandmother (scheming and vicious), and her father (irresolute and easily influenced) and unravelling strands of a decade old story is very well told in this suspense detection read. Sent by Lake Union Publishing for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

The Custard Corpses by M J Porter

Described as a historical mystery, it has a good deal of police procedural work involved and would interest readers of that genre as well. Set in the 1943 period the story involves a decades old unsolved murder of a little boy which troubles the Detective at the station. When he gets the go ahead to further investigate from his superior officer, Detective Mason and his constable O'Rourke start a systematic search of all possible clues and come up with missing information, wrong procedures followed and then link up with a stream of other cases across Scotland, Northern Ireland and England with a very similar form of death. Putting the pieces together and bringing closure to several families was an act of mercy and though justice could not be meted out as the murderer had already died, the story was a good, methodical piece of detection work. Sent by BooksGoSocial for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Saturday, May 1, 2021

The Art of Betrayal by Connie Berry (Kate Hamilton series)

Eve is an American working for her friend Ivor in his antiques shop, managing the business while he recuperates from an illness. She loves the quaintness of this village she is working in, gets on well with its inhabitants and has found someone whom she loves. She is also a detective and murder and mystery seem to follow her wherever she goes. This does not endear her to one particular Detective Inspector who looks on all her actions with suspicion. Meeting Evelyn who brings in a very expensive piece of Chinese pottery and indicates there is much more to follow makes Eve sit up and take notice but when Evelyn is murdered in the shop almost immediately after sets off an investigation which has to go back eighteen years to find out where is Evelyn's daughter the heir to everything. Lucy disappeared years ago and has not been heard of since. Investigations reveal so many suspicious links that getting to the murder is one thing, and getting to the robbery of the Chinese antique is another. The story was set in beautiful surroundings, the characterization was interesting and varied and the story had different strands to be brought together - which was done well. Sent by Crooked Lane Books for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Until Vienna by Heather B. Moore

Gina is accompanying her aunt to Vienna on the luxurious Oriental Express. There are another two older ladies, friends of her aunt travelling with them and Gina is expected to be an additional partner for whist and card games and a sort of travelling companion. The actual story of why Gina was chosen is more complicated. Aunt Rowena was instrumental in driving away Gina's former boy friend and has now set her sights on the present guide for their tour the enigmatic and handsome Professor Clyde Haskins. He has all the attributes which the Aunt considers necessary and it is only a matter of time she feels, before it all comes together neatly. The settings of all the various cities through which the journey takes them is glorious. The descriptions are really good and the journey itself on the Oriental Express is detailed and descriptive. I enjoyed this part of the story more than the actual romance and its ups and downs. Sent by Covenant Communications for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Home Front Lines by Brenda Sparks Prescott

A military base and the year 1962. The restrictions, the divisions of color demarcate every part of the women's lives. So many rules, written and unwritten and all equally humiliating to these women who strive to live within the rules, uphold their dignity and at the same time not endanger the jobs of their husbands who are totally beholden to the white folk (particularly the wives) The story opened an aspect of life that was hitherto not even thinkable to me - the American women planned evacuation of their children, the Cuban women planned the same to send their children across the waters but this was the important part - without the knowledge of their husbands. Taking their children's lives into their hands they planned all this meticulously. Not that the husband's did not have their own secrets as well. All cocooned in their little worlds. The story was intriguing, and revealing. People put together will not follow rules however much rules are in place and indiscretions and breaking of these rules will happen. Consequences always follow. The book sent by Bookouture for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Revelations by Mary Sharratt

I like the convent/monastery settings in books. Must be my Catholic convent background I guess. This story dealing with almost the mystic "Margery Kempe" and Julian set in the 15th century deal with the prejudices faced by women in their daily life as housewives, wives and mothers and more importantly if they sought a spiritual life as well. Lollardy was a feared aspect of life and anyone found preaching, or even out of the ordinary in a spiritual sense was suspect and Margery Kempe ticked off all the boxes. A mother of fourteen children, leaving her husband on pilgrimage to the Holy Land and all alone was thought to be mad and someone who should be brought in line. She faced persecution of the worst kind but her faith was strong and she pursued a journey which was so fabulous, so fraught with danger at every turn that even today most people would have given up at the first hurdle. The story was a fascinating one of a woman who was definitely different and who sought the spiritual freedom she thought was her birthright. This was a fabulous read. Sent by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Friday, April 23, 2021

Duchess if You Dare by Anabelle Bryant

The Regency period is not filled with independent, non judgemental women and when one meets the Maidens of Mayhem one is filled with admiration that they do what they do in the face of steadfast opposition from men from all walks of life - their fathers, brothers, husbands will all oppose what they are doing, not just out of an idea of protecting them, but also with the idea that women should not get ideas above their station and that all decisions should be in the hands of the men in the family (even in fact if it leads to their ruination). Scarlett is one such woman. A misty, shady past which she never enlightens one very much and meeting Lord Ambrose in the middle of an investigation where they are both seeking one woman is a meeting which will end in a burst of fireworks. Ambrose has not met women of Scarlet's ilk and she is usually distrustful of all men. She hasnt met very many who are straight and honest and when she does meet one, she does not trust him at all. A mix of detection, a lot of sparks and romance all add to a light hearted Regency story. Sent by Kensinghton Books for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

A Beautiful Blue Death by Charles Finch

This was my first foray into the world of Lenox and Charles Finch. I am sorry I never got to it earlier. I loved the style of writing, the slower pace of vintage detection and the overall atmosphere of cleanliness, style and a certain innocence which is certainly lacking in the present detective genre. Lenox just wants to relax as a gentleman in his library with his books, his maps, his travel plans but this is not always to be. His lifelong friend Lady Jane, living next door appeals for his help in finding out the murderer of a maid who worked in her employ and who then subsequently worked for another. The other is a very high up in the present government, wants to shush the whole thing up for the most unbelievable of reasons and wants the murder to pass as a suicide. Despite so many things written oddly in this book (the geography, the americanisms, the mistakes of addressing aristocracy, even the odd title) I found the overall story to be unbelievable but charming, and Lenox though I have seen so many criticisms of his character - totally loveable! I will be looking out for more Charles Finch books but the cost even for the Kindle versions is astronomical! Sent by St Martin's Press for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Monday, April 19, 2021

Transient Desires by Donna Leon (No 30 in the Commissario Brunetti series)

The thirtieth in the series and still the interest in Brunetti and of course Venice never dies. Crimes abound and the past is very much alive in all present crimes with family links and old history and activities very much part of the present day scene. In this one as usual the setting of Venice takes a predominant part in the story (for me anyway) and Brunetti comes a close second! Two injured American girls have been left on the dock of a hospital. One is with a broken arm, the other is unconscious for days. There is no sexual assault and the CCTV cameras distinctly shows who was responsible. A little sleuting on Commissario's part and the culprits are identified. This is where it begins to get complicated. One of the boys is connected to a businessman who has been on the radar of the police for sometime, but with absolutely no proof of any wrong doing. He is doing very well, has risen from the ranks but there is no indication of how he gets his money. When Brunetti stumbles upon some clues leading to human trafficking, the detectives know the story is linked to their suspects but now they have to connect the dots, and get foolproof evidence to obtain a warrant and an arrest. Described as crime fiction with a dose of culture, I could not describe it better. Sent by Grove Atlantic for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Every Last Fear by Alex Finlay

Matt is a student at university. Life has dealt him some very hard knocks. His brother David has been convicted of murder and is presently in prison. Living in a small town was hard, the aggression faced by the family was difficult to take and they have all moved far away. The disruption to his sister Maggie and to their parents particularly was hard. Fortunately Tommy who is very young, never faced the brunt of the negativity. When Matt is given the devastating news that his entire family (other than David) have been wiped out in what looks like an accident (gas poisoning) in the town of Tulum in Mexico in what appeared to be a holiday, Matt accepts it for it is until he is told that the authorities in Mexico are not willing to hand over the bodies to the US Consulate but insists on a member of the family identifying the bodies. A series of events makes Matt realises that someone in Mexico badly wants him out of the way. Going back further he finds that Maggie has in her dying moments sent a photo which identifies people who are known to the authorities and his mother's interactions with the new governor (who was her former boyfriend) also uncovers a plot which is so long standing and so convoluted. There were many strands in the story and they had to be brought together to make a whole. It centred around David's conviction for a murder where he was innocent, and only Evan the father believed it was so. It was Evan who set the ball rolling to their deaths when he decided to follow a false lead which took them to Mexico, and then to their death. A good story though a little complicated. Sent by Aria and Aries for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Thursday, April 15, 2021

The Girl from Berlin by Kate Hewitt

The story covering the traumatic period of 1936 to post liberation of Berlin encompasses the most evil period of the Nazi regime and their determination to get rid of what they called aliens from society. They did this not just in Germany but in every country they took over. So much has been written from every perspective possible, but each new story we find comes up with another angle and this one is just it. Liesel Scholz lived a protected, very comfortable life in the German hierarchy. Her father was a chemist who had made important discoveries. He was not blind to the faults of the Nazi regime, but was comfortable to turn a blind eye as long as his own family were not affected by any of what was happening around. The detention of his son was a turning point in his life and one which was a pivot for him as he became more and more ensnared by the system. Friedrik had a deformed foot and the family thought the protection of their father was enough to prevent his detention and his death. Fast forward to 1946 and Liesel now changed her name to Anna seeks employment with the Americans. One of a few with good English and with a calm demeanour she gets the job of assisting Sam Houghton with finding out Nazis living in plain sight and then more importantly chemists. Unknown to Sam, Anna's entire focus was to get justice for her family by finding her father and showing his betrayal and then his punishment by the Americans for his role in the destruction of German society. Very emotional, fairly descriptive in the workings of the Nazis, not a soothing read but nevertheless something we should not forget that happened in our lifetime and something that is most probably happening in many parts of the world right now, as we speak. Sent by Bookouture for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

The Postscript Murders by Elly Griffiths

A 90 year old dying in a care home should not be considered suspicious. Detective Harbinder Kaur does not think so, until Peggy's carer Natalka uncovers whilst clearing out the room a lot of information which seems slightly askew for a ninety year old. Apart from heaps of crime novels and detective stories, she discovers cards indicating that Peggy was a "murder consultant" and that many of the books in her room had acknowledgements and recommendations to Peggy, who apparently helped with ideas and suggestions to many authors re murder. The idea that Peggy was murdered is without foundation until Natalka and Edward another inmate are confronted by a masked gunman who only takes a single book from them and disappears. This has to be taken into account, and Harbinder reluctantly joins forces with Natalya and Edward, especially since an author was also found shot dead. He was one of Peggy's admirers and now several links pop up. The story told in a series of unconnected links all gradually link up to form a cohesive whole, giving the whole thing an unrealistic air. Harbinder's personal story linked with Natalka along with Edward's adds so much added interest to all Sent by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Mystery by the Sea by Verity Bright (Eleanor Swift series No. 5)

Eleanor Swift has returned to England in 1921 and she does not quite fit in with the other ladies of the aristocracy. She is modern, non judgemental and willing to look at everyone on an equal platform. Quite unlike other people of her status of the era. When she decides to take her full domestic entourage and encamp to Brighton for a holiday, she did not think she will encounter dead bodies almost as soon as she arrived, and worse the body of her husband whom she thought had died six years before. She also did not think she would be the prime suspect in the murder despite no evidence to connect her with the murder. Unravelling why Hilary was murdered at Brighton at the very same hotel she was occupying was too much of a coincidence and trying to put the clues together with her very efficient major domo was this story. Beautiful setting, excellent detective skills, and a vintage historical feel to the entire story. Excellent reading. Sent by Bookouture for a unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Friday, April 9, 2021

Beginning French by Les Americains (travel memoir)

This is in the realm of Frances Mayes and makes me very envious (the only time Americans make me feel envious) that you can just up and go and buy a farmhouse and live without visa issues (or rather visa issues that can be sorted out!) and have the best of both worlds. Eileen and Marty first took French lessons. Eileen persevered and was good at it and Marty failed! then they thought about a house in France and they did it. They bought a dilapidated stone farm house and the story of their travails of one of them at a time attending to the million things that old houses entail including a burst boiler and the destruction it resulted in amongst many others. At the end they did have a beautiful second home, memories and a place to call home. Excellent story telling skills made this memoir really good reading. Sent by Biographies & Memoirs/Travel for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

An Earl, The Girl and A Toddler by Vanessa Riley.

I've not read anything in this series, so I was confused here and there but I soon got the gist of the story. Daniel our hero, a lawyer upright but hiding secrets of his own. A little daughter whom he is determined to protect at all costs. Jemima who has a fascination for Daniel and vice versa, suffering from amnesia, knows she was married, had a child and was incarcerated at Bedlam by her husband's family for two years. Also a group of ladies known as the Widow's Grace - finding support and succor for women in need especially those who are cheated by family and society of what is rightfully theirs. A very intriguing setting with characters not normally found amongst women of that age, this was a mystery well told. Sent by Kensington Books for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Monday, April 5, 2021

The Dog Share by Fiona Gibson

Paula and Suzy have a happy go lucky relationship. He seems to be a gadfly, nothing interests him for long, but since Suzy is happy she just goes along with whatever he does. In her mid 40s Suzy maybe should have questioned his motives a bit more, but after investing in a distillery in a remote Scottish island Paul just absconds, Suzy is left literally holding the baby. There is a lot of antagonism amongst the islanders to this newcomer who has run a perfectly run business to the ground in just two years through bad marketing, sheer indifference and horrible management. Suzy now decides to take on the distillery on her own, trying to salvage the business and the jobs for her employees. This is how Scout the dog comes into the picture. An abandoned dog he wins her heart and mind, and despite never having had a dog (even when her children begged her for one) she now finds herself totally at peace with this dog. How Scout finds friends for Suzy who is right now, bereft of any support is a lovely comforting story. This is a real feel good story, and though may be a bit cheesy fits the bill for when one is feeling down. Sent by Avon Books UK for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

A Plot For Murder by James R. Callan

A writers conference and workshop organized for a number of years and several writers attending and looking after the general workings of this conference. Maggie was one of them. She did not expect to find Rod Gravet the man who robbed her of her book, being a guest speaker there and she openly denigrated him, saying he should get what he deserved. When his body is found the next day, Maggie becomes the prime suspect for Detective Bark of the local police, who seems to have a personal grudge against both Maggie and her brother the local priest at the Catholic church nearby. Father Frank is concerned for his sister because she has a fiery temper and does not moderate her speech. However his private enquiries and working with the Texan Rangers he does uncover many people who had a grudge to face with Rod Gravet. His womanising had left several victims behind and the net could be spread wider but still Detective Bark was only focussed on Maggie. The story involves the priest's moral dilemma of using information given to him not as a confession but as a conversation to protect his sister as against another girl's fiancee. A story nicely told with good characterization. Sent by Books Go Social for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Friday, April 2, 2021

Nocturne for a Widow and The Poisoned Chocolates Case (Amazon downloads)

Nocturne for a Widow Sybil is an actress on the London stage but she does know that her allure is now on the decline. Accepting a proposal from a wealthy American she decides is a good option and she goes ahead with her journey to America. Arriving there, she finds her bridegroom a travesty of what he was, and although the marriage takes place, he dies on their wedding night. She also realises he is bankrupt and a house left to his widow in the far countryside is her only option as a residence. Taking up residence in an isolated place is not Sybil's idea of living but with no choice, she does so. What she did not plan for was the emergence of an antagonistic step son, nor the dislike of neighbours to "foreigners" and "actresses" who in their opinion were more or less common prostitutes. The story involving hidden fortunes, a fountain of youth, avaricious lawyers, neighbours and romance is a lighthearted read. A free download from Amazon. The Poisoned Chocolates Case by Anthony Berkeley Another free download from Amazon. Five "people interested in crime" a sort of a book club but whose main interest is crime. Amongst them leading lawyers, detective story writers and others. Handling a recent crime of murder by poisoned chocolates where it seems that the victim was not the one supposed to eat these chocolates is puzzling. The story builds up with basic facts and each member is given a day and time when he builds his case. Surprisingly all five of them come up with different scenarios, they do take snippets from each others accounts but the suspects, the methods, the scenarios are widely different. However what does come up is that there are common strands between all the suspects and the victims and supposed victim as well and that is how the story ends. An unusual take on crime detection.

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Murder Between The Pages by Amy Lillard

This Book Club is comprised of three feisty older ladies and one younger one. When they solve a murder apart from book reading activities, they are all alert to solve another - the one which happened in their own backyard. A missing woman, over fifty years old, and the Police could not care less. When another murder happens in their very presence, it is far too much for them to accept meekly and they seek not only to find out the why's and wherefore's of this one but also to find an answer to what happened fifty years ago. How Arlo (the youngest) tries to keep a leash on the older ones not to break the law (you cant just walk into someone's house, pilfering their stuf, you cant break into a car and walk away with a diamond necklace) but these ladies cannot be stopped and in between investigating a murder, there is a touch of romance as well as a lot of cross talk and action going on! A fun detective novel, nice characters as well in a small town. Sent by Poisoned Pen Press for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

The Dressmaker of Paris by Georgia Kaufmann

Rosa is an icon in the fashion industry. She has built an empire and now she is relating her story, going back, back to being a sixteen year old raped by a Sergeant in Hitler's army which was bad enough but what was totally unimaginable and horrifying was that her father actually traded her virginity in, in a game of cards which he lost. Finding herself pregnant and alone, Rosa's story takes on from there. It was a tumultuous beginning and the story had its share of ups and downs. Rosa was very focussed and this led especially in her younger years to decisions which were looking back clinical and selfish, but she had her reasons and she successfully turned her life around. The story was riveting, a rags to riches story, of a determined woman out to make good. The times were hard Hitler's Austria and then Switzerland, then Paris. A page turner, unputdownable! Sent by Hodder & Stoughton for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Serpentine by Jonathan Kellerman

Ellie is reclusive and a self made millionaire. She lost her mother as a toddler and after so long is wanting to reopen this cold case with the help of Detective Milo Sturgis. Working with Alex Delaware as in all his cases, the psychologist and the detective start uncovering a startling history totally unlooked for and in the process opening a can of worms that many wanted to remain untouched. There are too many slick endings, too many sudden deaths even amongst the people investigating the case. The characterization was good, the writing was smooth and polished and moved easily depicting the Los Angeles area nicely. The book was sent by Random House UK Cornerstone for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Sunday, March 28, 2021

The Bodies At Westgrave Hall by Nick Louth

In the heart of the Surrey countryside, you dont expect to find a construction like Westgrave Hall. It sounds like a country manor and that was what it originally was. Now owned by a Russian oligarch it is hosting a party for a thousand people, the likes of which this quiet village has not seen. Fortunately for all, the police were always in attendance when complaints started pouring in regarding the noise, the blocked street and when the shooting started, amidst the fireworks, three of the principal people were left dead with no trace of how the murderer got in or got out. Trying to work their way through a thousand reluctant guests, the Russians trying to outwit and hide all information possible, the hierarchy in the British intelligence not wanting to start a war and hindering the local bobbies from doing their work, was never going to get the job done of finding our murderer. Shades of humour in plenty, lots to ogle at of how the other half lives, and a clever, scheming murderer who almost got away. Sent by Canelo for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Friday, March 26, 2021

Secrets At The Last House Before The Sea by Liz Eeles

Rosie returning to Devon from her job in Andalusia is filled with remorse. Her mother has passed away and she feels she has let her mother down. Driftwood House a living memory of her mother remains but she discovers that her mother was not actually the owner of the property and that it reverts to the Eppings who have given her a month to clear the property. Clearing out her mother's effects, Rosie comes across documents which now throw up a greater mystery. Who was the mysterious J in her mother's life who was obviously the great love of her life. Rosie now feels that she hardly knew her mother, and now even her father seems a rather distant figure for her. Unravelling the mystery of her mother's past and her future, Rosie is also faced with the unravelling of her love life with her boyfriend returning to Devon only with an eye to the main chance of cashing in on her inheritance! The setting of Devon was glorious. It adds so much to the story when the setting is so very well described. I enjoyed the story and the setting very much. Thanks to Bookouture for this book sent for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Ask No Questions by Claire Allan

Doing an anniversary special on a murder that happened thirty five years ago does not seem a very good idea, when the so called murderer has just been released because of a bungling of the case. The little girl who was killed left behind a host of memories for the small town and no one has forgotton. No one wants Ingrid, the journalist reviving the case with interviews to find the former murderer not guilty. The boys who discovered the girl's body are themselves strange in different ways and their parents even more so. The more Ingrid digs up, more difficulties are faced by all and uneasiness settles all around. The case was complicated and everyone wants to let sleeping dogs lie but now that it has been thrown into the spotlight, there is no going back and everyone seems to be in danger throughout because a certain section do want the case closed and forgotton. A very tense thriller. Well written and taut. Sent by Avon Books UK for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Monday, March 22, 2021

Venice by Cees Nooteboom (translation by Laura Watkinson)

This was a treatise on Venice - not just a travel memoir. It dealt with history, geography, philosophy and the social interactions of not just present times but also those of the past. The story of Venice, its people, the tourists, those who work for the tourists but are grudging in their appreciation of what they bring, the feeling that it is all in "their" favour and actual Venetians are being ignored. It is all there. Then you get to the actual Venice, the islands, the outer islands, the lesser known canals, the lesser known churches (my gosh there are churches and churches). I doubt I'd get anything done at all. I'll be going from one to another, because each one has its own history, its own riches of paintings, its own saint and followers. I could go on. The book was a fascinating one. On of course a fascinating subject. Sent by Yale University Press for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Friday, March 19, 2021

Charades by Jean Stubbs

1989 Christmas in the Malpas family. A reunion of sorts. The family is gravely dysfunctional and it does not augur well to have them around - together - for a very long time. The addition of three unexpected visitors does not add to the harmony. Blanche the eldest daughter has a baby and the father is unknown to the immediate family and Blanche wants to keep it that way. She wanted a baby and now that she has one that is all she wants. We have Lydia the youngest bringing Freddie home (a lady) and it is obvious from the start that their relationship is an intimate one. Not to the parents who live in a world of their own. We then have their only son with an estranged wife turning up, wanting to resolve permanently the rift in their marriage and talk about divorce and custody of two very very interesting children. It was a family story more than a Christmassy one but it was interesting nevertheless. A lot of cross currents, personality clashes galore but all adding to the story and the way it turned out. Sent by Sapere Books for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Hadley & Grace by Suzanne Redfearn

Grace and Hadley are both escaping. They know of each other but they never imagined that their lives would be so linked together that they become the Thelma and Louise of the time crossing all boundaries and doing stuff they never imagined they'd do. The two women once they decide to stay with each other both know that risks face them ahead and they need always to use their wits to be ahead of the pack following them - whether family or the police. By the end of the story, both characters have changed immensely. The children other than the baby have also changed (for the better) and the story has a nice ending. Sent by Lake Union Publishing for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Monday, March 15, 2021

Nighthawk's Wing by Charles Fergus

Gideon is just 23 years old and Sheriff of Colerain county. It is 1836 and he is not popular as he is of Dutch extraction and other officials are sour over his appointment, especially his superior Fish. Apart from his official problems, he faces personal problems as his wife True has not recovered from the loss of their baby and is in deep depression most of the time. Balancing his official life with his personal one, Gideon is now drawn into the murder of a young woman Rebecca - someone whose reputation is colorful (having been in prison for murdering her husband) and also the more complicated reputation of being a witch. Trying to solve this takes all his effort as he is battling amnesia after a severe fall from a horse, and not able to recollect events, dealing with migraine and loss of vision and having no one to confide in as well. It is a slow moving story reminscent of the times and detection takes much longer than it would today. However, well documented, well told and was interesting to read. Sent by Skyhorse Publishing for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Saturday, March 13, 2021

Before You Were Gone by Sheila Bugler

Children going missing or dying suddenly is always traumatic. Especially if you live in a small town where everyone is affected by this. Kitty drowns in an accident and then another girl goes missing. The town and the families are never the same. Fast forward twenty years and Dee is almost a hundred percent certain a person she glimpsed at a station was her long dead, drowned sister Kitty. Scoffed at by many Dee knows what she has seen, and is adamant that her sister is alive. Joining hands with her cousin, who also wants to know where Lucy's body is buried, the two embark on an investigation which is so twisted that one never knows who is hiding what. The story is complicated because not one person is what they seem. All seem to have hidden agendas and it is not easy to discern the truth to find the way forward. You had to focus on this story and not get sidetracked as it can get confusing but overall a good story. Sent by Canelo for an honestreview, courtesy of Netgalley.

Thursday, March 11, 2021

High Treason At The Grand Hotel by Kelly Oliver

1917 Paris seems very exciting to Fiona Figg. Sent to pursue the Black Panther, she has been given strict orders which she immediately flouts. A light hearted spy mission sending a file clerk from London (very condescending male bosses by the way) who treat her as just someone available and not a very good one at that and keeping with the times, Fiona herself is just grateful for the opportunity knowing fully well, she is quite capable of handling the assignment with a few distractions of course! This was a story full of dry wit and humor (very reminscent of British wit) and was a entertaining story told. Based on a lot of actual facts - the Black Panther did exist in spy networks, Mata Hari was in reality a female spy and these are woven into the story very well. Sent by Level Best Books for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Capturing the Earl by A S Fenich

Four young ladies, two married, one widowed all very well established financially. The only single girl is Mercedes of a respectable lineage but unfortunately with very little money. The four girls developed a deep friendship whilst schooling in Switzerland, sent there by their families for various reasons. Aurora, the widowed girl has eschewed marriage ever again after escaping a monster who tormented her throughout the marriage. Now being pursued by Lord Castlewick she is determined not to marry him but he though determined to marry her, with the sole intention of obtaining some land which was lost to his family, is nevertheless attracted to Mercy in a way that he does not seem to be able to waive off. The story which ends happily for Mercedes and neatly, had a degree of sexual violence which jarred slightly with the rest of the book. This story is of course just one and I now want definitely to read what happened to bring Poppy and Rhys together. Sent by Kensington Books for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

In the Beginning There was A Murder by P C James

1953 Northern England. Despite it being after a World War and women coming out in full force into the work environment, things were still quite rigid where behaviour and what was expected from women. Pauline was someone with ambition. She worked in an armament factory, not on the floor but on the secretarial side but was hoping for advancement. When her friend Marjorie gives her details of her love affair with a rich, married man Pauline really does not want to know very much. Sadly when Marjorie is found murdered, Pauline realizes that she should have paid closer attention to what her friend was saying because other than for a name, she does not know anything else of what went on in Marjorie's life. Approaching the police with whatever information she had, Pauline is left frustrated because she feels that what she says is disregarded because the Inspector has problems of his own with the hierarchy who want the first possible suspect arrested and charged without going into detail. The story goes on from there how Pauline follows up on clues, with the help of a relative working for a newspaper. (how we rely on the internet for information is really emphasised here because everything is so very slow!!!) The news of the loss of Pauline's fiancee in the Korean War adds to her distress but also helps her to focus on her findings. A bit slow but reminiscent of the times the story was set in, this was an old fashioned detective story. Sent by BooksGoSocial for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Sunday, March 7, 2021

Portrait of Peril (Victorian Mystery) Laura Joh Rowland

1890 Victorian London. For Sarah Bain who was very different from the usual woman of the times, it was not a comfortable place to be. She resided with three men for a start, she was a crime photographer as a second and she was getting married to the love of her life. Detective Sergeant Barrett was a good man - but he could not stand up to his mother who disapproved of all of the above. Not a very good start anyway and when a murder happens at the very church where the wedding is being solemnized and Sarah runs off to start her work and her husband goes off in the middle of the party to attend to his, it does not add for much family harmony anyway. Spirit photography is popular with the Victorians and seances and people who can talk to spirits is all the rage. The dead man is one of these spirit photographers and uncovering who could have murdered him is not easy as there are many who felt cheated by these charlatans who preyed on the weakness of those left behind. Add to the story a deep seated antagonism by Barrett's boss to Sarah who he felt bested him in a previous investigation, and quite a bit of history added to the story this was a good Victorian type of mystery murder. The unconventional lifestyle of Sarah added interest too. Sent by Crooked Lane Books for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Friday, March 5, 2021

Bloodline by Jess Lourey

Joan is happy to return with her fiancee to his hometown in Minnesota. It is a far cry from the bustling city life she is used to but after her recent mugging she thinks she should give it a fair trial especially as she is now pregnant. The neighbours and her in laws are welcoming but it seems rather strained. Joan cant put her finger on what troubles her, but having being used to being independent she sets out on first finding a job at the local newspaper, a one man show which nevertheless welcomes her and she tries to put her misgivings aside and get on with her life. When she feels that every step she takes is being monitored and then relayed back to her family especially to the elders of the community, she knows that things are off kilter but how she is going to get out of this is the issue. What follows is slightly Margaret Atwood ish. It is also a recreation of a true story so here fact is stranger than fiction. Surreal but good reading. Sent by Thomas & Mercer for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Confessions of a Curious Bookseller by Elizabeth Green

After a spell of mystery murders, this was a good fallback. Written in a series of emails between our bookseller Fawn and various people ranging from the competitor, to a prospective suitor (disguised of course), then to her mother and long suffering sister, to her employees and to sundry people who come in and out of her daily life. Light hearted but underlying loneliness and isolation of Fawn, tempered by her inability to be diplomatic, tunnel vision in the extreme and fortunate enough to have people not call her out rudely. They do but in extreme polite language. I thought her sister and mother could have called her out in much more vivid language - it may have done a lot of good. Set around a decrepit and crumbling bookshop, specialising in Mark Twain books, Fawn tries to have a living and run a business despite terrible sales. Mainly due to her inadequacy of seeing beyond the small margins of her life, not willing to learn, adapt or depend or take advice from those who may know better. Every critique is taken in the wrong spirit and as business failure looms over, it is her fighting spirit of never saying die that keeps her going. Dealing with workmen, intricacies of online dating, competitive business practices, her deep rooted dislike of her father, and the relationship that she had with her mother and sister all are part of this story. Described as funny, but that would not be my view of this book. I'd consider Fawn a sad character, desperately needing love and support and not knowing how to either get it or reciprocate if it is shown to her. Sent by Lake Union Publishing for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Shanghai Secrets by Sulari Gentill

Sulari Gentill has done it again! Another very good book from this author. The whole story is based on a single premise. Rowland Sinclair is sent to Shanghai to represent his brother with a wool consortium, not to negotiate, not to purchase, not to sign anything but to show that by sending his brother, he gave the consortium the respect and the "face" that they deserve. Rowland is accompanied by Clive and Milton and Edna on a first class journey and then a hotel in Shanghai. Rowland did not expect to face any serious threats enroute or in Shanghai but from the word go, he was assaulted, threatened and then faced with a murder charge and imprisoned. Most unfair and very brutal and all with the idea of using blackmail to get him to sign the agreements. When Rowland knew that Nazi influenced Germans were behind the Japanese bids, nothing on earth would prevail to get him to sign. Hence the punishment which almost left him for dead. The findings were surprising. It was not just the Japanese consortium that wanted the Sinclair wool, but it was big brother Wilfred's best friend Gilbert Carmel who was desperate to get Rowland to sign and did not care if Rowland died after signing the agreement and who was the mastermind behind the whole scheme. I finished the book in one go, always sad because I have nothing else from this author on my Kindle. Thats the bad part. Sent by Poisoned Pen Press for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley, this was a delight.

Saturday, February 27, 2021

Beneath Cornish Skies by Kate Ryder

To the outsider Cassandra seems to have it all. A luxurious lifestyle and a doting husband, but it is only she who knows the controlling aspect from her husband and the fact that having children do not come into his long term plans. Cassandra always wanted a family, and she thought that ten years of marriage would have softened her husband's attitude. Unexpectedly faced with a philandering husband was the impetus Cassandra needed to make a fresh start and walk away to work as a full time nanny and general dogsbody to a family with a carefree lifestyle, horses that needed to be trained and looked after and two lovely lively children. Trying to forget the man she had loved and lived with was easier said than done but a new romance also seems to be coming up in Cassandra's life. Seamlessly told between the two lives that Cassandra led, showcasing a controlling husband on the one side and a carefree life on the other it is upto her to make a decision as to what she wants to do. Very descriptive, this was such a pleasant read. Sent by Aria and Aries for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Murder at the Mill by T A Belshaw

Set in 1939, the story set amongst the workings of a large mill in a small Kentish town begins with the murder of the owner's son. Edward was unpopular not just with the workers of the mill as he was immoral and tried to intimidate the women workers, but he was unpopular with his father despite being the only son. The detectives in charge of the case work slowly and methodically to eliminate so many people who are suspect as Edward made many enemies on the way. They were hindered in their investigations by their superiors because the big wigs in the town did not want to be interrogated or questioned in anyway, and felt that it was something below their dignity to be interviewed by the Police. The story not just a mystery murder, but set out in descriptive detail the social background and workings of a working class family life, the outlook and general day to day life of a working class girl and how they lived on a day to day basis. Amy was different from the other girls but she was also governed by the moral standards of the day and she adhered to them all. This part of the story was equally interesting as the detective part itself. Sent by BooksGoSocial for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Their Frozen Graves by Ruhi Chowdhury

Two women found by a lake and they are strikingly similar. They are also very similar to a social activist Katy who lives nearby. When the detectives go to meet the family, they are taken aback because Katy is very much alive. This is where the actual mystery starts. On top of it all, Detective Mack is facing her own personal demons. Just separated from her husband, she is completely shocked by the re-appearance of her father who was supposed to have died twenty years ago, and whose corpse she and her mother secretly buried. Mack knows she has to be personal problems aside and deal with the investigation before her because there seems to be so much history behind the two mystery women who were murdered. There are plenty of secrets that have to be uncovered both in the two murders and in Mack's personal life and these are not going to be easy to face. Told only from Detective Mackenzie's perspective, the other detectives are just on the fringe the story is puzzling, and full of suspense till it all gets sorted out. Sent by Bookouture for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Murder in the Manor (Lacey Doyle series) Fiona Grace

Venice 1720. For Sophia fresh from a English countryside village it was all what she had dreamed of but with a repressive aunt whom she was accompanying, the art and beauty of Venice was being denied her. Sophia was no frightened miss and was determined to enjoy herself in this chance of a lifetime and this she did. Henry on the other hand was sent off to the Continent to "repent" for his many transgressions! he was not repenting in the least but enjoying himself to the utmost. When his father died suddenly, he realized the depth of his responsibilities and had to return to England to face upto them. They meet up once again in different circumstances, and the effect they have on each others lives is part of this novella. The story is light hearted and since it is a very short one we are not able to see how it is going to develop further. Hopefully there will be a sequel.

Friday, February 19, 2021

Lady Sophia by Pamela Stephen (novella)

Venice 1720. For Sophia fresh from a English countryside village it was all what she had dreamed of but with a repressive aunt whom she was accompanying, the art and beauty of Venice was being denied her. Sophia was no frightened miss and was determined to enjoy herself in this chance of a lifetime and this she did. Henry on the other hand was sent off to the Continent to "repent" for his many transgressions! he was not repenting in the least but enjoying himself to the utmost. When his father died suddenly, he realized the depth of his responsibilities and had to return to England to face upto them. They meet up once again in different circumstances, and the effect they have on each others lives is part of this novella. The story is light hearted and since it is a very short one we are not able to see how it is going to develop further. Hopefully there will be a sequel. Sent by BooksGoSocial for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

No Little Lies by AB Plum

Described as a psychological thriller, the story is more than that. Ryn runs a women's shelter and Beau runs a band. Ryn also has selective amnesia and does not remember all the details from her violent past including the murder of her mother. We have Molly living with an abusive and controlling husband Chad with no means to get out of the marriage. We have these strands continuing into the story on their own with the past death of her mother intruding into the present and one wonders where is the connection between the different strands. The story was compelling but a bit too complicated for me to read in one go. I came back to it with renewed interest and read it to the end. The characters were convoluted, the story line similar. Sent by BooksGoSocial for an unbiased read, courtesy of Netgalley.

Monday, February 15, 2021

The Silver Collar by Antonia Hodgson

1728 London a place for only the brave and the spirited. Thomas Hawkins and Kitty Sparks have found their peace with each other, running a rather unusual shop - selling condoms and dildos (allowed) and bawdy tracts and books (not allowed). It is a roaring success and Kitty is the sole owner and a rather wealthy woman. Enter Gonson a puritanical (supposedly) man who is out to close the shop and get rid of Thomas with an eye to the main chance Kitty. Thomas has a fiery temper which does not bode well for either of them whereas Kitty hopes to handle the situation diplomatically for the benefit of both. They did not envisage Kitty's sordid past history to come into the scene. When Thomas is attacked on the streets and discovers a price on his head, the puzzlement leads to an investigation and to the Lady Vanhook and an escaped slave Jeremiah. The lady seeks to destroy anything which is of import to Kitty and then Kitty herself. Strands of historical crime fiction, history and detection all woven into a story of interest. Sent by Hodder & Stoughton for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Home Fires Burn by Lisa Hartley

Catherine Bishop working in an overwhelmed police force is just trying to get over a traumatic attack in the past. Still under medication, she is slowly getting to grips with herself and has thrown herself headlong into the latest cases. Deaths which seem to be involving domestic violence. A young couple dead leaving behind two babies. Added to this is an arsonist in town, setting alight businesses. Now he has upped his game and set fire to a business with an inmate inside and this is now arson and murder. When investigations reveal that the victim was first murdered and then the building was set alight it adds another dimension to the recent incidents and the detectives in charge of the case, are now looking to find links between the three deaths though on the surface, no one was known to each other nor knew each other. We have arson, rapists, domestic violence, robbery and everything going in the mix to put the detectives off the scent. Every witness brought forward seems to be hiding secrets and it is difficult to find out any clues as to who killed whom. Slowly evolving, the detection work goes step by step and it is sheer plod that gets the work done. Very well told, this was a good story. Sent by Canelo for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Thursday, February 11, 2021

A Case of Blackmail in Belgravia by Clara Benson

This was a detective story of sorts which started out as being absolutely unbelievable. A blackmailer, in with all the upper crust people in London has found out secrets of the most vicious kind and is blackmailing them for years. They find it a niggling worry only and pay him off. When someone decides to poison him during a dinner party, and he dies in the taxi being accompanied by one of the guests, she decides to involve her son by dragging him in a wheelbarrow and dumping him just outside his premises. The lady in question believes that with that she has washed her hands off the whole affair and blithely involving her son in such an escapade which could probably involve a jail sentence does not seem to bother her at all. In fact all of them are not bothered by the death, other than that it is a good thing for all, but they did not expect his man servant to follow up with the profession of blackmailing his master's clients. It gets ugly and a second murder takes place. Detectives in charge know that things are fishy, that none of the characters involved are disinterested but they cannot pin it on anyone. Freddy trying to save his mother knows that the first thing is to find the incriminating letters and then save all his mother's friends. All of them were oblivious to the crime of being part of a murder cover up and the story goes on in similar strain. Read over Christmas it was the ideal light hearted read. A free download from Amazon

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Hidden Bones by Vivian Barz

Four friends on a road trip culminating in a music festival stop off at a small town. Susan and Eric both have a lot to put behind them - Susan her last episode with crime and dead bodies and Eric with his new found ability to see the dead. When Madison and Clark two of their group go missing, and when the Chief of Police in this town scoffs at the idea of there being foul play the remaining members know that it is upto them to undertake a search operation for their friends. The entire town of Clancy is downright antagonistic and in several instances dangerous. Their room has been vandalized, all their equipment damaged beyond repair, they've been threatened by goons in the town but they still are adamant they will not leave till they find out what has happened to their friends. Getting information from the FBI and using that as well to their advantage, they discover a trail of drugs, intimidation by the mayor who was not averse to using blackmail to get the town to do what she wants, they discover so much murder and mayhem and sadly the dead bodies of their two friends. The atmosphere of the book was always antaganostic and tense. The physical surroundings of Clancy added to the general weirdness weighing down the town. Sent by Thomas and Mercer for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Sunday, February 7, 2021

Murder at Kelsey Hall by Elizabeth Schroer

Set at the end of the 19th century this vintage detective novella is a charming story. Maggie is a writer of detective stories. She is slightly unorthodox and always on the lookout for fresh material for her stories. She is not popular in certain circles as she has used easily recognizable characters and their stories in her novels. Her friend and companion Anna is the more conservative type considering the niceties of society and always trying to keep Maggie on what she considers is the correct path. Their invitation to a country house for a weekend turns on its head when first one lady gets murdered and this is followed by another. The fact that both ladies were having openly acknowledged liaisons with other men was surprising in the strait laced society they belonged to but apparently not to the party in the house! Set at the end of the 19th century this vintage detective novella is a charming story. Maggie is a writer of detective stories. She is slightly unorthodox and always on the lookout for fresh material for her stories. She is not popular in certain circles as she has used easily recognizable characters and their stories in her novels. Her friend and companion Anna is the more conservative type considering the niceties of society and always trying to keep Maggie on what she considers is the correct path. Maggie is delighted, Anna less so when they are approached by Inspector Blake and Doctor MacGregor to assist them in their investigation in the house. The ending was surprising as well and rather twisted too! This was a free download from Amazon.

Saturday, February 6, 2021

The Watchmakers Daughter by C J Archer

India Steele has been cheated out of her birthright by her fiancee. A watchmaker herself she was not allowed to join the guilt of watchmakers being a female, so her father willed his shop and business to her fiancee believing he would support and look after his only child. On the day of his funeral, Eddie threw India out of her home and changed the shop name. Knowing she was destitute India was determined to find a way out of her predicament and since the only thing she knew was watches and clocks she sort a livelihood in this sphere. Meeting Matt Glass and his peculiar American entourage did not actually help India but he sought her help and paid her well with board and lodging as well to help him find a old watchmaker who could repair a very particular kind of watch. Both the watch and Matt had an odd relationship and Matt was dependent for his life on the workings of the watch which had now begun to wind down. If the watch died, Matt would die and hence the urgency of finding Chronos the original watch repairer. When India reads about an outlaw with a two thousand reward on his head, she is convinced that Matt is the outlaw and thinks that she could earn this money which will be an answer to her problems, but before that Matt is arrested and she knows that without the watch he will die in prison. The story follows on with a happy ending but with elements of magic, romance, mystery and a background of gambling and life in London during the Victorian era provided a lot of entertaining reading. Again a free download from Amazon.

Thursday, February 4, 2021

Death Waits For No Lady by Andrew James (vintage mystery read)

Lady Evelyn Wright well past marriageable age is an epitome of respectability and very high standards. When she is found murdered in her own study by the parlour maid, the whole village is set astir. Detectives called to the case, now realise that this is not a burglary gone bad, but a well thought of murder but as to why and how is the mystery. Her brother is her sole inheritor and he has a watertight alibi but further investigations throw light on a history of Lady Evelyn which is surprising and most out of character. It now appears that the lady had had several liaisons with various people starting from the priest at a local chapel (he was anyway the chief suspect since he was considered not one of "them") being not a Methodist or Anglican chaplain! there were several other men who were unearthed during the course of the investigations which really set the cat amongst the pigeons. The obvious answer was certainly not the obvious suspect and the story went on. Set in a very descriptive background of both the house (manor) and the setting of a village life the book held my interest throughout. Vintage in essence it held true throughout. This was a free download from Amazon.

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Stolen Hearts by Marci Bolden

Alexa is a private investigator with a team known as HEARTS. She got into this line of business after her sister disappeared and despite years of heartfelt searching, has never been found. When she is approached by Dean to look for his sister Mandy whom he believes is just missing Alexa puts her investigative shoes on. Surprisingly the first few clues turn up trumps, and it seems that even Dean's father is aware of her whereabouts but has hidden the fact, the police shrug the case off as Mandy is an adult and no one simply cares. Finding Mandy is one thing, getting her out of the drugs and human trafficking pimp she was involved with is heartbreaking and another whole new issue. Mandy is so dependent on the drugs and has been brainwashed so well that this is a herculean task. The story apart from the reunion of brother and sister, highlights the vastness of the human trafficking story of young, vulnerable women taking them away from families and stability to a world of dependence on drugs, alcohol and sex which finally marks them on a downward spiral to the end of their days. Ignored by the law, lost to their families, this must be a repetitive story. The love story that developed between Dean and Alexa was just an addition. Sent to me by Pink Sand Press for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley

Sunday, January 31, 2021

The Lakehouse by Joe Clifford

Todd Norman's decision to move to the small town where his wife originated from could not have been the best idea he had. He had been cleared of his wife's murder but most people in the village felt that he was guilty of the murder and he building this enormous house by the lakeside was for them, his arrogance in the face of his guilt. For Todd it was a fulfillment of his wife's dream. Todd was fully aware of the animosity surrounding him, and when a woman's body is found very close to his house, the antipathy starts all over again with many people very angry with the police for not taking him in at once on suspicion of murder, despite the fact that he has an alibi for the night of the murder and has no connection at all to the woman who was killed. Tracey was a neighbour, trying to get back to a normal life with her young son after her cheating husband left her/she got rid of him. She did not go actively looking for a romance but meeting Todd was somewhat different and she knew she was very atracted to him, despite the reputation. The story mainly deals with a very insular community, a community where everyone has plenty of secrets they want to stay hidden, secrets if they come out will lead to the exoneration of an innocent man reviled by all. But they still want to only protect themselves and their loved ones so the secrets continue to stay hidden until it somehow all blows apart. Sent by Polis Books for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Friday, January 29, 2021

House of Shadows by Darcy Coates

During the last two weeks I've been trying to read books I have downloaded ages ago and put aside when something newer came on the scene. It is a bad policy as the books just pile up then. A touch of magical, supernatural and ghosts involved. Not genres I usually read but this one was a good story. Sophie marries Mr. Argenton in straightened circumstances. Her father is faced with bankruptcy and Mr. Argenton has offered his help and also his offer of marriage to his daughter. The gentleman is an absolute stranger to Sophie who has led a sheltered life. On arriving at his home, many things strike Sophie as very unusual. His aunt Rose, with her dire warnings not to get too close to her husband, the girl Elise, the butler and even her husband himself who absents himself with no prior warnings leaving Sophie to fend for herself in this very strange house. The house Northwood is one of the primary features of this story and its very gothic, very atmospheric manner overshadows the entire story and the characters themselves become secondary to the house. The story was fast paced and I liked the fact that Sophie despite never having envisioned a life like this, quickly adapted and was determined to protect her husband (even though she knew very little about him). Sent by Poisoned Pen Press for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Good Girl by Mel Sherratt

I've come to this series rather late as this is No. 4 but it did well as a stand alone. Grace is a Detective with the forces and is now facing an enquiry regarding the stabbing of a sixteen year old. On the surface it seems random, but further digging reveals that Erin and Molly, the inseperable friends had a long history totally unknown to their family and friends which included partying, drugs, drinking and being groomed as sexual partners for much older men. The story of grooming or rather how it starts and proceeds is dealt with methodically in this story, and how two fairly close families - these were not families where the girls were deprived of either affection, communication, support or material things - but still these two very young girls were able to pull the wool over their parent's eyes and keep their two lives totally apart. The story keeps shifting with suspects coming and going and family conflicts even amongst the suspects adds to the general mystery. The final end is surprising and I did not see it coming. Well told suspense story with a good theme. Sent by Avon Books UK for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Monday, January 25, 2021

Murder at the Old Mill by Clare Chase (part of a series but good as a stand alone)

Eve lives in a quaint, rather old fashioned village. She has an unusual occupation too. She is an obituary writer for the rich and famous and supplements her income with working for the local cafe, a job she enjoys and the camaraderie amongst locals. When Mark the mill owner meets with a gruesome end, a top magazine approaches her to write his obituary. The write up becomes more interesting when it is revealed that Mark was murdered and that there are several strands to Mark's life and story which were well hidden until now. Mark has been the face of an agony aunt, well known but giving out at times controversial and ascerbic advice. Advice which it seems has lead many people into paths of despair rather than uplifting them from their present downward spirals. This brings up many suspects who could have done away with him gladly. Eve along with her friend retired Detective Robin slowly unravel the mystery and when a second victim is found, the pace hots up to solve the crime before more victims succumb. The setting alone was very interesting, the story was good and since I had never heard of an obituary writer before, I was intrigued. Sent by Bookouture for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Aunt Ivy's Cottage by Kristin Harper

Zoey has returned to her Aunt Ivy's home as she is ill and needs help. It also helps Zoey because she is out of a job, her entire savings have been swindled by her ex lover and she is in a bit of a state. Aunt Ivy lived with Aunt Sylvia and now that Sylvia has passed away, Ivy does not seem to be able to get to grips with living again. She is depressed, always having a odd spell, severe angina and to top it all her heir apparent Mark is snooping around trying to get his Aunt into assisted living though that is not something she wants. He is using every persuasive trick in the book to get his Aunt to move but this is something that Zoey opposes. She feels her Aunt is happiest in her own home and eventually the property will revert to Mark. So why is he intent on alterations, decorations and major construction whilst her Aunt is still living and happy with the situation she is in. On top of it all, Zoey has to look after her niece who is playing truant at home after her mother's death and her father's alcoholic lapses. Managing all these is hard and trying to do what is best for everyone is not going to be smooth. Especially in the face of a determined Mark, out to get his own way. The story is about family, about money and greed and the setting of Dune Island is quaint and a very simple background setting. A very nice afternoon's read. Sent by Bookouture for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

The Case of Kitty Ogilvie by Jean Stubbs

A silly girl married to a man twenty years her senior, but this was her choice despite a lot of warnings that it may not turn out well. She was so taken up with the idea of marriage till she went to live in his home - an old deaf autocratic mother, near penury, terrible living conditions, maids who were dirty and who had no idea of how to keep a home clean and she herself not used to giving orders or managing a home. A recipe for disaster. Add to that two younger sons - one retired from the Army back from India with tales to tell, a light spirit and a yen for flirting. A husband who actually wanted his younger brother to entertain and keep his wife happy. Then there was Alexander the black sheep of the family, now married to a porter's daughter and written off the family. The main character who controlled the story - Alexander's one time mistress - Anne Clarke who looked at the overall picture coolly and clinically with the idea of making Alexander heir to all and in the process murdered, got one person hanged, one person removed from the country and the downfall of the entire Ogilvie family. Whilst the story is moving on, you know what is going to come and there is nothing to halt it to its doom. You can see it very clearly but the characters of course have no idea that anything is going to happen, till it does. It was a different style of writing, gloom and doom, aided by the desolation of the countryside in deep winter and the general decay of the Ogilvie household. Characterization was perfect for each of the main people in the story whilst it unfolded and the general descriptiveness of the era was spot on. Sent by Sapere Books for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

My Name is Anton by Catherine Ryan Hyde

This was a sad and then became a joyous story of a young boy facing tremendous odds. He lost his brother and his hand in an accident, and the worst part of it all was that he had no emotional support or affection shown by his parents. His emotional support came from a grandmother and grand uncle who were wonderful to him and helped him all along the way. Whilst being kept alone over Christmas, he observed through his telescope a scene of violent abuse in an apartment complex opposite his own. A chance encounter with the woman involved at a cafe in the neighbourhood, set off a series of events which led step by step to his own future. It was an emotional story at every stage, it also showed how randomness affects our lives - in a way our karma or destiny seems foretold and decided by some force which is totally out of our control. In Anton's case this was very much so His life was detailed in the story, ups and downs but mainly joyous once he was able to shake off his parents negative influence and ill will. Anton was vulnerable and innocent but he had a strong sense of right and wrong and this with the support of his grand mother and great uncle saw him through. This was a very emotional read throughout. Sent by Lake Union Publishing for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Death, Diamonds and Deception by Rosemary Simpson

1889 New York and Prudence Mackenzie has to grind her teeth and bear with the Lady Rotherton her Aunt from England who has come to especially escort and chaperone her on a season which hopefully (in her aunt's opinion) end up with a good match. For Prudence marriage is really not on her mind, not with those whom her aunt is associating with. Having solved one murder with the Pinkerton Agency, Prudence wants to use the intelligence she has been blessed with to do something with her life rather than a life of dances, balls and basicaly doing nothing. When a diamond necklace reputed to belong to Marie Antoinette is found to contain fake diamonds, the Agency is called in to discreetly follow up because the man who purchased the necklace believes the rogues are close to home in the form of his step son. Enquiries are put in place and when death comes closer it is obvious that someone does not really want too much of investigations to take place. Murder follows murder, followed by accidental deaths which seemed too coincidental to be accident and the pace hots up. All this amidst a huge social season. Very good detective work in the format of the era, alongside a budding romance and all the glamour of a New York season rolled into one. Very riveting read. Sent by Kensington Books for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Friday, January 15, 2021

Irena's War by James D. Shipman

I think I should give WW I and II stories a break now. I've read so many of them, all of them excellent reads, all giving different perspectives of the same wars and the horrible aftermath of it all as well. The damage done to people and countries can never be calculated and will go so deep that it may take a couple of generations to even make the memories slightly less macabre. This book based on a true story of an unlikely woman who would take up the call to save over 2500 Jewish children from the gas chambers and whose descendants today must number over tens of thousands. A social worker by profession, she lived a restricted life governed by her irate mother and saw Warsar over run by the Nazis. She also saw the gradual restriction on Jews, their gathering into the ghettos and their final deportation to Treblinka and their deaths. She was also in love with another Jew but this was by the way and she was determined to save at least some families from the government sponsored starvation which some of the Nazis saw as an easier way to get rid of the Jews. The story is emotional, harrowing, harsh and realistic. You need a fun read after this. Sent by Kensington Books for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

The Kensington Kidnap by Katie Gayle

Pip seems to have all the randomness of odd things happening to her whilst at work. She seems to mix things up and oddly sometimes it is not her fault, but she has always ended up getting fired. Now at her wits end how to pay the rent, but at the same time not over anxious over it, she is so optimistic that something will turn up. Turn up it does. Going for a job interview as a filing clerk, mistakenly taken for a private investigator, she gets landed with a top job - finding a missing boy, son of two celebrities who have problems of their own and who do not want any publicity at all about the missing teenager. Not having a clue (!) how to start a search she does what lots of people do nowadays, she puts in a google search to get her started and through luck, and charisma and personal charm manages to inveigle her way out of sticky situations getting a lot of information to boot. A fun light hearted read but there was one murder in between, you can get exasperated with Pip, you'd want to murder her at times and I loved the way her sister Fliss murdered the English language!!! Part of a series this is Book No. 1. Sent to me by Bookouture for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Monday, January 11, 2021

Night Train to Paris by Fliss Chester

Fen has come back to Paris hoping to put the nightmare of her fiancee's death behind her and also to try to get on with her life. Meeting up with old friends resurrects some of her history in Paris. However when her friend Rose with whom she is staying is found murdered in a brutal fashion, Fen knows that the past is really not behind her. Rose's murder is definitely linked with her work during the War - the tracking and record keeping of all the works of art looted from Jewish homes and then either auctioned off or sent back to Germany. Rose was part of the process of getting the art back to their rightful owners. Now with her murder and Fen investigating it, Fen finds herself in the heart of the complicated history of Paris post war. The story is compelling and matter of fact. All this happened and it is another aspect of the War - the greed which over ran principles of victory over an Fen was come back to Paris hoping to put the nightmare of her fiancee's death behind her and also to try to get on with her life. Meeting up with old friends resurrects some of her history in Paris. However when her friend Rose with whom she is staying is found murdered in a brutal fashion, Fen knows that the past is really not behind her. The story highlights the greed of human nature - where spoils of the victors counted for a lot even though taken from those whom the victors were supposed to despise. Man's inhumanity and savagery to man is also shown in this story. The book is No. 2 in a series but does well as a stand alone. Not just a murder mystery but a great deal of history detailed in this book. Sent by Bookouture for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Saturday, January 9, 2021

The Forgotton Gift by Kathleen Macgurl

Set in two different time lines each story was a distinctive one. 1861 and we have George, young, innocent and somehow a misfit in his family. Parents are very indifferent to him and it is only his elder brother who keeps him moored to a family spirit. Parents act very strangely but then their inexplicable behaviour is sort of rationalised much later. George falls in love with a domestic in their house. In a bizarre set of circumstances, Lucy dies of poison and George confesses to the murder, believing he is protecting his mother. He ends up in prison but is released on the working of his brother who does not for a moment believe that George is responsible for the death. Neither brother speaks of what is uppermost in their minds and George gets on with his life. Fast forward to present times and Cassie faces a conundrum. Contacted by the child she gave up as a day old infant she is delighted that it is not difficult to bond and get to know the lovely young lady her daughter has turned out to be. Not such a good surprise is to know that the father she always knew is really not her father, and that her actual father is a shady character in a prison. Tracing your ancestors may be a good idea for some but for others it can turn out to have unpleasant surprises and for Cassie the story of George was a major one. Underlying both time lines the importance of family and the family support so important to one is seen in both stories. The lack of in one story, and the overwhelming support in another. It was an excellent read set in the two time frames both very well done. Sent by HQ Digital for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Thursday, January 7, 2021

Nothing Good Happens After Midnight - a collection of short, very entertaining stories!

This collection of short stories was nothing short of hilarious. Very witty with overlying themes of murder, mystery and general suspense it was mostly an odd sense of humour which kept the reader always wanting to know what happened next. It is quite easy to see that come midnight you should not be prowling bars, cafes, cemeteries definitely etc. Stay at home and stay safe. Very entertaining reads. Sent by Suspense Publishing for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Murder at Queen's Landing by Andrea Penrose

I have been on a Regency England sprint here in reading and enjoying so many aspects of it. Lady Cordelia and her brother just disappear overnight amongst rumours of treachery and questions over money. At the same time a murder of a shipping clerk near the docks seems just another random murder. How these two can get connected and lead to suspicion on one of the biggest companies of the time - one whose downfall would lead to the downfall of the British economy as well is this story. Charlotte and Wrexford have to go behind the scenes using their positions of authority amongst the aristocracy to find out information on the East India Company, information which will not be available to the Bow Street runners and those in charge of murder investigations. Investigations against the aristocracy are hushed up and swept under the carpet and Charlotte and Wrexford must do the best they can to clear Cordelia and her brother's names if justice is to be served. Adding a further dimension is the relationship building between Charlotte and Lord Wrexford (which bodes well for the next story that I hope will follow). Sent by Kensington Books for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

The Fallen Angel by Tracy Borman

The Stuart era was an intriguing one. The earlier times were filled anyway with intrigue and it was always a King who had to defend his throne either against foreigners trying to do away with one, or worse still within your own family or clan. King James was not a bad sort, just an indolent one. Fixated on hunting and having a good time it led to the rise of smarter courtiers amongst his household all vying for more and more benefits. The chief amongst them Somerset and Buckingham were in constant rivalry until Buckingham was able to lead the downfall of Somerset and it seemed that Buckingham would one day take the throne through the downfall of the present King's appetities. Courtiers who were on the periphery did not fare well as the entire family of the Buckinghams wanted a piece of the pie and Thomas and Frances fared very badly. Frances had a secret of her own to hide, and she knew that once this was known the end would be near for her family. Thomas held on to his position because he was badly off financially, and the investments he had made for Lord Raleigh turned out to be a huge disappointment leading to abject financial failure and the loss of his ancestral property. When Prince Charles's own position (King James's son) becomes precarious Frances decides to step in to help in whatever way she can - to bring back the treasures from France which were kept to help Charles financially and to oust Buckingham from his position at court. Frances's role precarious and extreme showed her steadfast courage and her belief in the Catholic faith, against all the persecution and odds against her. At times putting aside the well being of her husband and children she stood by what she believed in. Ideal for lovers of English history, and pageantry this was a good read. Sent by Grove Atlantic for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Sunday, January 3, 2021

A Necessary Blessing by Sarah Head

Normally the supernatural, the paranormal and unexplained happenings are not my scene. I've just realized that with the pandemic and enforced isolation, I am picking up lots of books which are uncommon, intriguing and opening my eyes to another universe. Ruth is a strange bird. She can walk through time, see people from generations past, hear what they have to say, even understand a language which she does not know. Abandoned by a horrible controlling husband Ruth has not learnt to stand up for herself. She has to now learn to do this on her own and realize her self worth for what it is. Befriended by the villagers in this small hamlet she comes across an alternative lifestyle governed by the agricultural community she now belongs to and to the time and seasons which govern a farmers life. All this was well and good but then came the actual evil part of the supernatural in the form of a former rector of the village - Isaac Graves who has not passed over, who is not willing to go unless he takes revenge for what he thinks is past humiliation and wrongs done to him. Ruth has to maneuvre happenings both violent and strange for the benefit of the entire community at all, not just herself. A very different read which was unputdownable! Sent by BooksGoSocial for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Friday, January 1, 2021

A Lady Compromised by Darcie Wilde

Rosalind is an amateur investigative sleuth. A Baronet's daughter, the family has fallen on hard times due to her father's criminal activities of being a forger. She has to make do and try to survive on her own skills. When she is invited to a country estate in preparation for a friend's wedding, she did not expect her skills to be called upon to solve a mystery. William Corbyn was found dead and it was considered a suicide but it is very apparent, that it is murder and the suspects seemed to have got clean away. When Helen Corbyn, William's sister appeals to Rosalind to find out exactly what happened, Rosalind sets in motion a series of events which upset a number of people. The Duke of Casselmaine seems to be also involved in the cover up of the murder and this is hard for Rosalind who was in love with him but was forced to give him up due to family issues. Now brought back into his world, she finds that she is still very much in love with him and he too returns her feelings. However, would this murder and the investigation again set them on opposite sides of the fence? Apart from the story of murder, the book highlights the moral standards of the time and how people were expected to live and behave which was most interesting. Quite descriptive of the times (Regency England) this added more interest to the story. Sent by Kensington Books for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.