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Monday, August 2, 2021

The Summer I Found Myself by Colleen French

Ellen is not an impulsive person. Everything is thought out through and planned so there are no unpleasant surprises. This was what hit her hard when her husband of twenty years walked out on her - his complaint was that she was predictable, in other words boring. She has also lost her parents and is now trying to come to terms with loss as a thing itself. She wants her life to be better, to be more meaningful and having inherited a beach cottage she decides to go there, clean it out with the intention of selling it. On impulse she invites her friend Lara, now sick with a bout of a recurrence of cancer, needing treatment and a friend. Ellen did not envisage that the flamboyant Lara will gather together like minded souls in the cancer clinic she attends and her little coterie meets at the cottage and though Ellen tries to keep away from the group, she is invariably drawn into their thoughts, their activities and their day to day life. At Lara's insistence Ellen joins a writer's group to try to rekindle the author in her, she knows is buried deep within and also puts Ellen on a dating site (for Ellen this is the worst thing that could happen to her!). Gradually Ellen's barriers come down and she realises that life is for living and for taking what comes your way and making the best of whatever is given. Learning lessons from the group of survivors from cancer, she applies these to her own self. This was a coming of age story, though the character was middle aged and not a youngster. Enlightening read. Sent by Kensington Books for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Saturday, July 31, 2021

Writers & Lovers by Lily King

Casey at 31 just wants to live the life she envisaged. Wracked by sadness at the death of her mother, desolate with a broken love affair she waits tables and at the same time tries her best to finish the novel she started writing and with six years gone, she knows she has to do it now or its never going to happen. Having two men in love with her added to Casey's stress and the debts she was burdened with left Casey feeling pressurized to the hilt. Whilst all her friends were married, having children, having careers Casey felt that she was somehow left behind in the race to do something worthwhile. The story meanders on in this way, Casey alternately coming to grips with her situation and then almost going under with the pressure and sadness faced by most modern women - the having it all, the balancing of family and career and the appearances that are so important and to do what society considers right and correct. A rather emotional roller coaster for Casey and for the reader. Sent by Grove Atlantic for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Murder in a Scottish Garden by Traci Hall

Paislee Shaw is a single mum, owner of a sweater and yarn shop and supports herself and son, plus grandfather and Wallace the dog. When she is pressurised with one months notice to give up her lease on her prime situation shop, she and the other tenants all equally pressurized by the situation has to come up with a plan to meet their elusive landlord. He does not respond to letters or telephone calls and although he is rumoured to live in the village pile, his whereabouts are unknown and no sightings of him at all. When Paislee accompanies her son along with a group of school children to the aristocratic home of her landlord and his mother, her main focus was on collaring Shawn Marcus and forcing him to see reason. She did not envisage to be the witness of a murder, be then suspected in the murder and then get inveigled into an investigation of the murder promoted by Shawn's mother herself the Lady Leery who asks Paislee to go detect the history of these murders, mainly of course of clearing her son's name. The series deals with Paislee (who is in a bit of a time management fix) with love interests from both the Detective as well as the Head Master and finding herself in the wrong place at the wrong time a bit too often. The setting is charming, the characters even more so, the villains are villainous and the story rolls along with many, many suspects. A cozy which aptly lives upto the description. Sent by Kensington Books for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

The Secretary by Catherine Hokin

Germany 1940. Magda is in a very high position as Secretary to Himmler. She appears to her fellow citizens as a traitor, despicable and despised but she has by sheer grit come to this position to get information and help her fellow citizens. Fast forward forty years and her grand daughter is now in East Berlin acting in the same manner as her grandmother and creating dissension amongst the East German police, and trying to protect her fellow countrymen. Magda despite her connections cannot save Nina and Nina is imprisoned. Nina trying to trace her family's enigmatic history stumbles upon the Tower House, from a drawing found in her grandmother's cupboard and the whole story of Magda's past trickles out. The house was originally owned by Jews, requisitioned by Himmler and given to Magda for "good behavior". Magda hated it, did not want to have anything to do with it and did not talk about it to her family. The story with this setting was emotional and tense. It also showed how for the spirit of survival even family can split, and for the same spirit of survival it can sacrifice everything for the sake of another. The story is sad because for me the whole loss of actually life to the full is deprived in situations like this, people make do, sacrifice, live on the bare minimum for the sake of loyalty to ties of family, politics and in the case of nazis, even to their own beliefs in their systems. The racism that was so alive and kicking in that day is sadly evident today as well in other forms. The story was an eye opener. I had a problem with posting and did the review only on Goodreads as the reviews were piling up. This book was kindly sent to me by Bookouture for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Strictly Murder (Verity Long Mysteries No. 1) by Lynda Wilcox

Verity is harmless but tends to land herself in unwanted troubles. On a house hunt for a place to live, she inspects a flat and finds a dead body - and a celebrity to boot. Verity finds herself as a suspect in the murder herself and gets drawn into the world of theatre, lots of stars all bitchy and all not appearing as nice as they look (though there are are some very handsome ones in the mix). Verity works for a crime fiction writer. Her job is to ferret out old crimes and get all the information on them so that her boss can formulate a story out of them. The author is a very successful one and the formula seems to have worked all this time. This time around in the ferreting of information, Verity herself is in the line of fire as there are people not happy with the way inquiries are going. A cosy crime mystery (with a few too many strands to connect) and also a touch of romance to lighten it up this made for interesting reading. Downloaded from Amazon.

Friday, July 23, 2021

Death In Daylesford by Kerry Greenwood

The story set in Daylesford a spa town and supposed to be a holiday for Phyrne is really a busman's holiday. Thrown headlong into mystery (and murder) Phyrne unravels everything in a delightful manner much to the annoyance of the local constable. There is a mystery of disappearing women, and then there is a series of murders almost right in front of everyone. On the other side of Victoria, Phyrne's three wards are solving a mystery of their own under the guidance of Hugh Collins. Loved the style of writing, as well as all the characters that went into making this story. The ease with which Phyrne deals with villains and gentlemen alike is mesmerizing! Sent by Poisoned Pen Press for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley. I had a technical problem on my blog and could not post reviews, hence the delay in posting this. My regrets.

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Crooked In His Ways by S M Godwin

Albert Beauchamp disappears and appears a year later - but in a crate in New Orleans, very well salted. Inspector Lightner alias Lord Jasper and Hieronymus Law are the detectives on the case. Investigations reveal that Albert was a very unsavory character. Blackmail was his chosen occupation and he bled many not just the high and mighty but even the humble and poor till they were left with nothing. Suspects abounded and many were glad that he was dead but justice had to be meted out. On the other hand Inspector had his own burdens. Disliked by the powers that were in the New York City Police because of his background, his cleverness, his free of corruption and the inability to be bribed reputation - the Police Force were considered the most corrupt in the country, Lightner had to fight a lone battle along with Law and a few supporters to find out who the killers were. The closer he got to the killer, the worse and more dangerous it became. I found Jasper to be a character to be much admired for his simplicity, his style and elegance. Law was a perfect foil. Liked the setting too of 1856 New York. I could not post this on my blog due to some technical problem and this has hence got delayed. I am grateful to Crooked Lane Books for sending this to me for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

The Bad Popes by E R Chamberlain

I took this book a long time ago, and it got pushed further and further into the TBR pile. It was an intriguing story how the foremost authority in the Catholic church over a period of six centuries did everything possible against their faith - from murder, to fathering children, to intrigues, from financial irregularities and still held the position of Pope. Interesting story almost like fiction, but nevertheless certainly a true tale. Sent by Sapere Books for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Sunday, July 18, 2021

Hunting the Wren by Susanna M. Newstead

When Geoffrey Celest, the finest astrologer west of London dies, he passes on the entire business to his faithful apprentice Bennet. Bennet relishes the responsibility of the job, the work and diplomacy it entails and is prepared to follow in his master's footsteps. He did not expect the issue of celibacy to be hard, neither did he expect to get involved very quickly in a spin of murder, blackmail and general mayhem. Though dealing in astrology and the stars, and making of charts the story was a light and easy to read book. You did not have to understand the ramifications of the stars to enjoy the book which was a mix of historical fiction, some romance, a few bad guys and a murder thrown into the mix. The cover was intriguing too. Sent by BooksGoSocial for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Amazing Churches of the World by Michael Kerrigan

This book is not just for someone who is Christian. It is for anyone admiring architecture, beauty, the cleverness in construction and the skills and the eye that goes into making something not just a building but something of extra ordinary beauty. Images of over 150 churches, basilicas, chapels and cathedrals are not just beautiful on the outside but stunning on the inside as well. From huge structures, to very simple churches, this book encompasses it all. Beautiful images, overview and snippets of history. Sent by Amber Books for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Friday, July 16, 2021

Mortmain Hall (Rachel Savernake No. 2) by Martin Edwards

Rachel Savernake is an enigmatic woman. Born and raised on a remote island, her father a renowned but disliked Judge Rachel is unknown to many other than her domestic staff whom she considers her family. That alone was very different for aristocratic 1930 London. We have Leonora Dobell, a hidden past and a person who is intent on finding and exposing mistrials of justice. She has invited three persons and Rachel to her home for a weekend. All three are people who have escaped the gallows on technicalities or barely made it through and Rachel though circumspent is very interested what it will hold for her. On the sidelines there is a Fleet Street reporter who gets almost framed for murder, there are people from the past who do get murderered even though they are warned that they are in danger, and it ends with a string of murders itself. Overshadowing it all is something secret, something concerning security of the nation. Apart from the murders, and the gothic feel of the setting, the Yorkshire countryside is shown very descriptively. For outsiders this is a plus point. Sent by Poisoned Pen Press for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

The Final Chapter by Jerome Loubry

David and Samuel return every year to this village for a summer holiday courtesy of their parent's employer. They look forward to the relaxed fun they have and for two twelve year olds this was a good time. David had issues, severe abuse issues with his stepfather and Samuel had problems at times with his elder brother. In 1986 they met for the first time Julie, whom they befriended and who very quickly became one of their very close friends. Julie goes missing and so does Emilie another twelve year old and it marks the end of those carefree days. Fast forward thirty years and David and Samuel are still carrying a secret which is haunting them and getting heavier by the day. David is now a successful author and Samuel his publisher. When they both get a manuscript outlining what happened that fateful day, they do know a reckoning is coming. They have to learn now how to deal with it. The sender has sent three manuscripts out, and he wants an outcome. The story is tense and complicated with flashbacks. I liked how it went back and forth between the time lines (there were three here) but it did not distract or detract from the story. Sent by Hodder & Stoughton for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley

Monday, July 12, 2021

Black & Blue (Lord and Lady Hetheridge No 4. By Emma Jameson

I like the old fashioned detection - I like the modern versions too but somehow when a Lord is the detective in question, and his assistant is his wife 30 odd years his junior whom he married after being a bachelor for ever so long, it does add a piquancy to the equation. Kate is a working woman, with a nephew and brother to look after and nurture. Her sister and mother now appear on the scene like avenging angels, out to look after their kin whom they have ignored upto now. The children themselves do not want to go with them as they see through them, but Kate and Hetheridge do know that legally they are on a very thin wicket. The third party in this is Paul Bihar of Indian descent who lives with his mother. His mother Sharadha is very much part of this story as it is her partner who is now the chief suspect in the murder of Gran Hardwick. Although both Kate and Wetheridge, Paul and his mother realise that Buck is not the murderer in this case, the circumstances and events are all against him and it is upto all of them to prove otherwise. Funny at times, and so realistic about families and how divided they can be the story apart from detection is one of relationships of many different kinds. Wetheridge getting to accept that he likes children, never having had any, enjoying his marriage despite bets to the contrary and Kate trying very hard to pursue her career knowing that it has been to the detriment of her husband. The setting and people in the story are very aptly described and added great interest to the read. This was a download from Amazon.

Friday, July 9, 2021

The Ladies Midnight Swimming Club by Faith Hogan

Three women all facing a crisis in their lives - and set in an idyllic little town of Ballycove in Ireland. Elizabeth faces a financial crisis and personal disillusionment on the death of her husband Eric. He has racked up thousands in debit and she cannot find a way out of it. She is sad at the way her marriage turned out, a sham from beginning to end. Her friend Jo knows that something is wrong with her health, but does not know how serious it is and there is Lucy the young doctor who will be their guiding light and savior though she is unaware of it. Lucy herself in a dead end job with no satisfaction at the end of it, with a son Niall who is unsettled and trying to get to grips with life after a betrayal and a divorce. Three women completely different lives and the story of how they come together to support each other, find solace and move on from the blows they've received. I felt so good at the end of this read, a feeling that was necessary in the present climate. A story of companionship, of being supportive without being oppressive, and especially one of kindness. Sent by Aria and Aries for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

One Must Tell The Bees by J Lawrence Matthews

This was an extraordinary story, a hidden one. Abraham Lincoln was assassinated whilst at the theatre. The story goes behind the scenes how a chemist by the name of Holmes accompanied by a smart young boy called Abraham is called upon by Lincoln's advisor to go find the assassin and bring him back. Holmes has to pit his wits against the famous detective Alan Pinkerton as well as the wiley Boothe the assassin himself who has support in unexpected quarters. Traversing America ending where Boothe was holed up and where he died is part of the story. The other is the memoir that Watson receives, detailing Holmes own version of the Lincoln events and which culminate in Watson meeting up with Holmes to continue the story of what is actually happening now at the end of WWI. The two stories are distinct though the Lincoln one takes up most of the book. It was fascinating reading, detailed and descriptive of two extremely clever, innovative men who went far beyond the call of duty to do what had to be done at all times. This was a story that had to be read slowly to assimilate all that was going on. Sent by East Dean Press for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Monday, July 5, 2021

The Dagger Dance by Elizabeth Bailey

1793 England. The Lady Fanshawe alias Tillie. On the way to solving another murder/s. Nothing I like more. Vintage mystery murder detection, add to that the English aristocracy yes to all that. Lady Fan has been unwittingly drawn into an investigation. A enslaved woman, beloved of Hemp (very close to Lady Fan) appeals to her as his love Doro has been detained in the murder of a rather unpleasant Lord. His wife, upto the date of his murder who detested him, wanted him out of the way, and was on the verge of leaving him for another younger man - now professes distraught at his death. She deliberately leaves Doro her slave to the fate of imprisonment and hanging and pretends that nothing has happened. It is upto Lady Fan along with her husband who ably supports her to find out the ramifications of why the man was killed, by whom and to get Doro out of the clutches of the law. Beautifully told, very descriptive of both life in London - the slums of London at the time seem horrible and unimaginable and how people survived there is totally unreal. It however gives one an idea of what people did to survive and survive they did. A side story in this which was interesting but only added a bit of variation was the story of orphan Pretty and the position in the Fanshawe household. Sent by Sapere Books for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Saturday, July 3, 2021

Three Missing Days by Colleen Coble

There seems to be a number of books coming in series in the mystery genre and they all are good. This one is Number three in a Pelican Harbour series. The setting of these small towns always piques my interest. We do not have the camaraderie and knowing it all that small towns have and this aspect intrigues me. A house fire, two deaths. The house owner had previously called in a threatening phone call just prior to her death and the fireman who died in the blaze was just carrying out his duty and sadly died. Further investigations point out to arson and a deliberate attempt to kill the fireman by pretending there was a pet inside the house. The fireman was an avid dog lover. Jane Hardy has these two deaths to investigate and a further case which is getting colder by the minute. When her 15 year old son is innocently drawn in as a murder suspect for the third murder and when it is so closely connected to Jane's partner and her son's father, it looks like as if the scene and things are being manipulated to seek revenge on Jane and her immediate family. The story is a bit complicated - there are cults, and long standing unforgotten family disputes all leading to the present case. I enjoyed the writing, the setting and the characters. I also understood the parents anxiety and what they felt was a miscarriage of justice and how often it does happen and what does one do in those circumstances. Sent by Thomas Nelson Fiction for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Friday, July 2, 2021

The Last Tiara by M J Rose

Sophia's past was almost unknown to her daughter. Other than the fact that she escaped almost at the very end, arriving in New York and joining Aunt Lana her daughter Isobelle knows very little. When Sophia dies suddenly in a freak accident, Isobelle is left grappling with her absence. Turning to refurbishing the apartment she lives in, Isobelle discovers hidden niches containing clues to her mother's past. The story is told in two time lines - that of Sophia and her Russian past and the New York present and then her daughter Isobelle's present. Isobelle is at a cross roads professionally - being a female architect in 1948 New York was no easy task, especially dealing with a male chauvinist like her boss, who uses her one lapse as blackmail against her. Isobelle despairs of ever finding love and building a strong relationship and she also hankers to know more about her father. The subject of her father was a taboo subject and no amount of persuasion could get Sophia to talk on the subject. With the discovery of the frame of the tiara, Isobelle goes to the jeweller who handled the transaction and slowly layer upon layer is uncovered of her family's history - the so traumatic past and how her father was betrayed by his own. The world of famous jewellers is also part of this story - albeit small but intriguing. Several strands from the past - not just personal to Sophia but also history of the Tsars and the Revolution are woven together bringing it to present times very satisfactorily. Sent by Blue Box Press for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Thursday, July 1, 2021

Mystery at the Church by Clare Chase (No 6)

It is full blown excitement to have a TV crew filming in the small sleepy village of Saxford St Peter. Celebrities abound and the village people are also taken in as extras for various scenes. Life is very exciting and full at the moment. It takes a turn when one of the celebrities are killed and the whole film crew and village are under scrutiny. Eve and her daschund Gus both keen detectives are able to find out much more than the detectives on the case. Eve has been on the TV site, has befriended many of those working there and her keen skills are much better than the oafish Detective Palmer whom we have seen in action before. Altogether a well put together cozy mystery murder. Bodies, suspicion galore, lots of suspects and a winding trail. A good stand alone in the series. Sent by Bookouture for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

You Let Me Go by Eliza Graham

Morane was passionately loved and in turn loved her grandmother Rozenn. She also loved the house in Cornwall, so she was stunned (as was the family) when the house was left to her sister Gwen. Morane cannot understand what her grandmother expected her to feel but at the same time she has an understanding that there is more to this inheritance that meets the eye. At a very rocky place in her personal life, Morane decides to be impetuous, put aside her failing business and pursue the few clues left behind to go to Brittany and there discovers such a hidden history of her grandparents, a history that not even their son, Morane's father knew about. Discovering an uncle, an aunt whom no one knew about, finding out details of her grandmother's work during the Nazi occupation of Brittany and the shameful secret that she hid till the very end, not disclosing it even at the end though a muttered word on her deathbed was only discovered in hindsight by Morane much later. The story of the Guillou family unravels slowly - how the war affected them all and how it changed the course of their own family history. The descriptiveness of the area of Brittany is wonderful, characterization is spot on - each one was very different to the other despite being one family and close knit at that. Sent by Lake Union Publishing for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Sunday, June 27, 2021

All That Lingers by Irene Wittig

Every other read I pick up seems to be of the WWII vintage. Each story is different though a common theme of anti Nazism seems to run through it all. No one likes being submissive to a foreign invader, and this is something that has happened through the centuries (still happening sadly). Emma is our chief character but the story of Sophie and Uncle Freidrich are paramount to the story too. Set in Vienna, the idyllic period of Austrian history was about to be demolished and in its place a more darker part of history began. It is also surprising that Austria did not acknowledge this dark period in its history till very much later. Emma is leading a very comfortable life, well established when her eyes are opened to an alternate life for those around her - the Jews and those who are not sympathetic to the Nazi cause. The story was unusual. It did not end in 1945 but it continued into the next generation. This was an unusual take on WWII and the rise of Nazism in Europe, and then the eventual downfall. Sent by BooksGoSocial for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Saturday, June 26, 2021

Reluctantly Home

Pip had never felt completely at home, at her home with her parents. They never quite understood her, her work or her education. After a tragic accident Pip is now back to recuperate after a breakdown of sorts. She has left behind her high powered job and her high powered boyfriend. Her life now is as different as it could be. She volunteers at a thrift shop and just manages to get through one day at a time. When a diary surfaces in a box of books, Pip is very intrigued by the contents as it seems to mark a particularly momentous year in the life of a Evelyn Mountcastle. Then her boyfriend Dominic breaks up with her and Pip buries herself in the life of one year of Evelyn. Tracking her down, befriending her and getting to know Evelyn marks a turning point in both Pips and Evelyn's life. Both are rejuvenated and are able to take an interest in life as it is now, as against what it was. A good story of how one can overcome personal tragedy, and though here both stories were bleak and very sad, the joining of two kindred spirits helped them both. Sent by Lake Union Publishing for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Farewell my herring by L C Tyler

Fell Hall is remote, no wifi connections, cut off from the outside world and ideal for a creative writing retreat. When just three of the participants turn up (two of them one day early), the others are the lecturers it is a mixed crowd and does not sit quite right. All are crime writers of different strengths and popularity and the convenor of them all seems very detached from it all. Running the event with an iron hand and according to rules with no deviation Wendy has done this before and hopes to conclude this one successfully. She did not envisage that those who came had all got complicated histories and that one of them was a blackmailer. When one body is discovered and when the whole Hall is cut off completely due to inclement weather it is upto Ethelred and Elsie to do the detective work themselves and try to find which of their small group is the murderer. It seems straightforward at first like all mystery murders but then they get side tracked by additional bits of information and events. Set over just a couple of days, the story goes back and forth dissecting each person present and the reasons they could or could not be the murderer. Why the victim was chosen is fairly straightforward and the end was not too complicated. A well told mystery. Sent by Allison & Busby for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Monday, June 21, 2021

The Night Hawks by Elly Griffiths (Ruth Galloway series No. 13)

Ruth Galloway a forensic archaelogist of repute does not like amateur detectives. Very little patience with them. She is however good at not showing exactly how she feels and when a body is discovered in a nearby trench, it is a Bronze Age one and right up her street. She did not think that it will lead to a murder and another body to be discovered and dealt with. She did not think very much of the Metal Detectorists who also haunted the sites hoping to discover buried treasure in large measure. She had her reservations about all of them. When the body count starts piling up, and when there are too many coincidences the mystery deepens. Added to the tension is the fact that DI Nelson is also the father of Ruth's daughter and there is so much unwritten past and present and future in their dealings. The fact that he is now married to someone else, with a very young baby son does not detract from the chemistry that exists between the two. Story No. 13 in the series, this is not getting stale or boring. Sent by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Sunday, June 20, 2021

Ice Blue by Emma Jameson

A Baron of Wellegrave is not someone you will normally find as a Superintendent of Police. Quiet, unassuming, not married, no vices and very unruffled. Sixty years of age and with an excellent record of solving cases with such a quiet demeanour and very understated. Totally, totally attractive! Detective Sergeant Kate Wakefield half his age, impetuous, going hell for leather into situations with no thought for the consequences in a male hierarchy which is close knit and will not allow females in any form, also a colorful home background trying to cope with many responsibilities in her life. Two very contrasting characters but they do have to act together in this latest episode and how beautifully it is done. One balancing the other. One persons outspoken character so charmingly blending with the quiet good taste of the other. I almost forgot I was reading a detective story! the give and take of the two characters was so attractive and compelling. The actual story of the killing of a top financier brutally done to death, the emergence of an old flame, and the rather harsh upper class background of the victim and his family were just side lines!!! Loved the writing style and story. A free download from Amazon.

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Skelton's Guide to Suitcase Murders by David Stafford

It seemed an open and shut case. A dismembered body found in a suitcase, traces of blood on a rug in the accused's house, the wife having an affair and above all in 1929 England the accused was a foreigner, so naturally he was the main suspect. The victim was an Englishwoman! Arthur Skelton was called in to defend the accused. Noted for his quiet and clever defences, Skelton realises very early on that Aziz is being framed by someone and the Police for convenience would prefer to convict the Egyptian than look for any other clues pointing to anyone else. Uncovering clues and a detection skill that is understated and to be admired Skelton puts together pieces of evidence, seemingly not important at all to defend Dr Aziz perfectly. It was my first foray into David Stafford's writings and I liked it very much. A quieter pace and a very laid back style of detection. Sent by Allison & Busby for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

An Artful Corpse by Helen A. Harrison

Benton is an accomplished artist but he is brash, rude and an unforgiving critic. To the point that it is not criticism but seems very personal. When his body is found murdered in a gruesome fashion in a famous Manhattan Art School, everyone wants to get to the bottom of it and set it to rest because both studients and teachers are jittery. Uncovering the why and how shows a trail of people who intensely disliked Benton, but whether it was enough for him to be murdered is left to be seen. Everyone who is suspect has an iron clad alibi and it is left to a young student who is trying to clear his friend's name to start a private investigation with a few leads that he has picked up. The 1960s are very well depicted here - from draft dodgers, to the music scene, to the beginning of people coming out openly, the mistrust that gays and lesbians had to face, the bigotry, all detailed very well and brings the 60s to life here. Plenty of characters in the story, sometimes one too many, but a good story. Sent by Poisoned Pen Press for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Saturday, June 12, 2021

The Tuscan House by Angela Petch

Another spectacular read set during WWII and the occupation of Italy, the work of Mussolini and the Germans and how ordinary Italians did their bit in saving their country from the invaders and just survived. Fosca and her very young son landed in Corbello and seek refuge with Richard (who is escaping his life in England) as the only means of keeping safe. She just wants to keep her head down, find a way to protect her boy and live to keep him safe. She did not think she would get involved with the Resistance in Italy and work as a spy for their little group of saboteurs in Corbello. Working right under the eye of the Germans was tough, but Fosca pulled it off. When a body is discovered in the premises of the tobacco house where she lives, Fosca is convinced it is that of Simonetta who she feels was betrayed by someone within their community and she sets about finding out who and how this happened, knowing that she is putting herself in danger. The story may be just another one set in the emotional background of the War, but it is very descriptive of the natural beauty of this part of Italy. Part of a series but very good as a standalone. Sent by Bookouture for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Friday, June 11, 2021

The Crawfords Series by Sophie Barnes

Three beautifully crafted stories from a bygone era, involving ladies and lords, dukes and duchesses, all the intricacies of the aristocracy. These were no ordinary men, not the stereo typed gentlemen we are used to seeing. These were gentlemen no doubt, but they were certainly different. The ladies were even more surprising - not run of the mill missish types, all from the aristocracy but all with a will of their own and acting in a manner which sets the aristocracy alight! These were fun stories to read, beautiful settings and very descriptive. It was ideal reading as a change from the WWII books I've got so drawn to recently. Very entertaining. Sent by Netgalley for an unbiased review.

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Song of the Nile by Hannah Fielding

Aida has returned to Luxor to her home, after eight years. The eight years spent as a surgical nurse has exposed her to the horrors of war and life. Now deciding to take up her inheritance after the sudden death of her father, a death brought about by a false claim of smuggling Aida does not find it that easy to fit into conservative Egypt unlike before. A marriage had been almost settled on her but she is not of the same opinion now and the story that starts from this tumultuous beginning shows what Aida has to face. A beautiful, rich young woman becomes the target of fortune hunters anywhere and Egypt is no exception. Her independence and impulsiveness can lead her to dangerous situations and orders given without explanations will not be followed. Her growing attraction to Phares whom she originally promised to is something that she cannot ignore, but at the same time Aida has doubts over his true intentions. Is it just an annexation of her vast properties to his own which are adjoining and can she forget that she always thought that it was he who had betrayed her father causing him to die. This story apart from being a love story and a rather torrid romance, was more beautifully a descriptive story of life in Cairo and Luxor in 1946. Especially amongst the aristocracy of Egypt. In detail the life, the surroundings,the archaelogical history of Egypt, the food which seemed glorious and even the souks and shopping areas in both cities detailed and descriptive add so much colour and lustre to the story. I enjoyed that part more than the romance anyway. Sent by London Wall Publishing for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Sunday, June 6, 2021

The Sign of Death by Callie Hutton

A vintage sleuthing mystery which is so descriptive of not just the mystery itself but adds so much detail in the setting, the lifestyle and the characters themselves. 1896 James Harding is found drowned and it is not an accident. First thought by the Police that he had been drunk, Lord Wethington realises that something is seriously amiss because Harding who was his business manager was a teetotaller. On the other hand Harding has been cheating Lord Wethington and when the enquiry gets going, it seems he has been cheating or blackmailing so many people that the list of suspects keeps getting bigger and bigger. Unfortunately the Police in charge of the case are fixated on Lord Wethington as a chief suspect in the murder/s and do not seem to be following any other clues. Lord Wethington along with Lady Amy Lovell, who is a friend and member of the Mystery Book Club are determined to get to the bottom of the mystery and also find out who is trying to frame Lord Wethington. The romance which lingers between them is also on the bubble as it were, sponsored by everyone around them but ignored by the two protagonists themselves! Descriptive of both the times and lifestyle, this was a super vintage sleuthing mystery story. Sent by Crooked Lane Books for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Friday, June 4, 2021

Churchill's Secret Messenger by Alan Hlad

I seem to be on a WWII reading binge and enjoying every one of them. All of them set in different scenarios, looking at different aspects of life and mainly how civilians under the very nose of their enemies carried out a life which was known only to them. Rose met up with Churchill on a chance encounter in his typing pool. The great man obviously was someone who remembered details and when someone was needed who was loyal, tenacious, spoke French like a native it was an obvious choice that Rose fit the bill. Her arrival in France and her work behind enemy lines taking messages to and fro where her "ordinaryness" as a pretty French young woman did not go questioned very much, Rose was a very successful agent. Willing to go the extra mile, cycling two miles to find and deliver a message and then to escape was a huge feat. Having lost her entire family to both the War and raids on London, Rose was numb to personal loss until she met Lazare a fellow freedom fighter and one whom she fell in love with. Incarceration at a Nazi camp for both of them meant that it looked like the end of the road but fate meant it otherwise. Another epic story of history written by civilians and one we should never forget. Sent by Kensington Books for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

What You Never Knew by Jessica Hamilton

The opening chapter of this story was so surprising that I knew the story that followed had to be unusual. April Bennett was not good maternal material. She seemed capricious and self centred and was able to manipulate both her young daughters into believing whatever she said. When she died, and within a very very short period her elder daughter May passed away in an accident, June the 40year old youngest was left to piece the puzzle of whatever was left behind. Told by June throughout, with the spirit of May always hovering over her protective and trying to direct her in whatever way was the best told a story of murder, mayhem, break up of families, cover up and now at last the final denouncement of all the lies that went before. Set in a what should have been an idyllic island, it was at turns peaceful and overwhelming. Excellent reading Sent by Crooked Lane Books for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Monday, May 31, 2021

The Venice Sketchbook by Rhys Bowen

Set in two time lines a few decades apart the story of Juliet and now her grand niece Caroline is a beautiful one. Caroline is just discovering that her marriage has fallen apart, and above all her husband in New York has no intentions it seems of sending her son back to her. On top of it all, her grand aunt Juliet dies, and on her deathbed mutters a most cryptic message for her. Knowing that she has to follow up on this beloved Aunt's instructions, Caroline sets off on a mission to throw her Aunt's ashes in the canals of Venice and armed with three keys and no idea at all to what they belong. The story set in 1938 Venice, just before the Nazi invasion of Europe shows the prim and proper Julet that Caroline knew to be someone else totally. Unravelling a story of passion, a child born out of wedlock, work for the British Resistance and incarceration in a Nazi camp reveal a part of Juliet that no one knew or could ever imagine. An intensely private person in England no one could ever imagine such a varied and interesting life had been spent in Europe as a young woman. Caroline is left to follow very vague clues and this she does and finds peace for herself as well. WWII background once again, stunning characterization, descriptive of Venice (you want to go there asap) and a lot of history very well told. A winner all around. Sent by Lake Union Publishing for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Saturday, May 29, 2021

The House of Hidden Secrets by C E Rose

Serena is trying to escape an abusive, manipulative relationship. Scarred by a deliberate act she and her daughter Lana have arrived at Ramsay Hall to turn a new leaf in their lives, get a respite from the previous abuse and then decide what to do. Serena did not envisage meeting up Hayden who seemed a harmless man incapacitated by a fall along with his two grown up sons, Hugh and Jack. Serena fits in well with the household quickly with Hayden and Hugh but cant understand Jack's antipathy and coldness towards her and especially towards Lana. The story as a psychological thriller proceeds on several fronts. Apart from Serena's own story, Hugh has hiw own twisted background to deal with including a homosexual incident of his past blown out of all proportion and which has now scarred him, Jack dealing with the trauma of his ex wife and Hayden hiding secrets from his children, but known to many others. There were surprising twists till the end, the very end which added interest to the story. Sent by Hera Books for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Thursday, May 27, 2021

The Moonlit Murders (Fen Churche mystery No. 3) Fliss Chester

The war is over and it is 1945. There is a lot of jubilation to be returning home from France for Fen Churche. She hasn't seen family and friends for years and is looking forward to going home. An overnight journey to Southampton turns into a longer journey to New York on the invitation of Eloise and her snooty aunt Mrs. Archer to join them and act as companion to Eloise. On the outward journey when Mrs. Archer's jewels of which she is inordinately proud, are lost and when a body is discovered in a lifeboat by Fen and Eloise all hell breaks loose on the ship. The Captain wants to keep the matter as closed as possible, as this kind of publicity can lead to uneasiness amongst all his passengers. At least till they reach New York and can hand it over to the Police there. Sleuthing on behalf of Mrs Archer (reluctantly on her part) Fen and James (her friend from stories past) try to solve the mystery of the dead German and then find the missing jewels, all on the few days they have left to them, before they dock at New York. A lot of history interspersed with detection was well told. Descriptive too. Sent by Bookouture for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

A Witch Hunt in Whitby by Helen Cox

Hints of the occult and the paranormal in this story with three murders in three different locations all within Yorkshire. The victims are first warned with a V painted on their front door, and eleven days later they are murdered. When the V is painted on Ruby's door a ninety year old harmless Tarot reader, private Investigators Kitt and Grace spring into action to protect Ruby and get to the bottom of this mystery which has baffled the police. The local constabulory does not like private investigators getting involved in their investigations but because of Kitt's relationship with Mal a local Detective, they both keep each other in the loop with whatever each has turned up hoping to find who is responsible for the three deaths so far. The story moves on far beyond the surface and now goes back decades to uncover a history of hidden resentments, and revenge being sought for damages and humiliation suffered so many years ago. The link between the three murders first thought to be only the occult now shows up further links to the women killed. Being Whitby there is a lot of goth action, vampire cults and references to Dracula. It was not easy to work out who the killer was because there were so many suspects who were very plausible for playing the role of murderer. I did not get it myself till the end. Nice setting of Whitby and Yorkshire in general, good characterizations and very detailed detection. Sent by Quercus Books for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Sunday, May 23, 2021

The Chinese Puzzle by J C Briggs

London 1851 the Great Exhibition has opened and it is so attractive to the masses of visitors who keep coming and coming to gape at all the wonders of the world exhibited in one spot. This mystery which covers Canton and London covering the Chinese who are involved in trade and who have lived in London and the Englishmen who have made their fortune in goods ranging from Opium to Tea from China. When a high ranking person is found murdered, Dickens is asked to help Superintendent Jones discreetly handle the enquiry. When it is revealed that their are so many controversial threads coming up - the opium trade, a Chinese wife, children living in London and questions regarding a second will and then the unsavory elements of the London underground Dickens and Jones have to get justice served and also with no publicity. When the body count starts rising they know that it is a cover up for a cover up by one particular man who is going to be very hard to catch. Told in such beautiful language and tone, this was a delight to read. A must for those who love history, as well as this setting of the 1850s in England and for those who love vintage detective mystery. Sent by Sapere Books for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Friday, May 21, 2021

The Garden House by Linda Mahkovec

Miranda has turned fifty and she is very unsettled. Living in an idyllic home, her two children have both left home almost at the same time and she feels that her entire life other than being a wife and a mother - has left her no time for her own aspirations or her own ideas of what she wants to do with her time. At the same time, Miranda is very undecided, has no confidence in her own abilities (she is very talented obviously) but does not have the gumption to go ahead with any idea of her own, dismissing herself as either too old, or not talented enough or has been out of the workforce for so long - very negative indeed. When Miranda and Ben rent out their extra garden house as they call it to William, Miranda starts having dreams in the night. Very specific ones regarding a couple of children in distress and this is not taken much notice of - it is after all a dream and there are no immediate children in the neighbourhood who could be in any danger. The dreams persist though. How the subconscious of some can be stronger than others is known and acknowledged though why and how this happens no one knows. The story delves into this and is very well told though not technical or boring in the least. It makes for a happy ending as well. Sent by BooksGoSocial for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Chasing the Sun by Judy Leigh

Molly is celebrating her seventieth birthday and is feeling unsettled. Molly has always been a free spirit, doing whatever she wants to do and doing it impulsively. She is very unlike her sister Nell who is upto now unimaginative, living in a rut and quite pleased with her lot. When Nell arrives on her doorstep, distraught over an unfaithful husband who has taken up with a young woman, Molly decides to move from the familiar to Spain to an apartment by the beach and see what happens there. The freedom of a new place seems to be the best thing for both sisters and Molly and Nell have adventure after adventure and Nell surprisingly finds a romantic interest as well. Molly now becomes bored with Spain and decides to move on to Mexico, also to give Nell a chance to settle down with the man of her choice. Mexico opens a new vista for Molly. The story specially in the background of Covid is a fantasy - the dream of disappearing somewhere exotic for just three or four months on a whim. It was a lovely spin on what could be and I am happy if someone out there could actually do this. To read about it was also encouraging - both Molly and Nell were not young and this was definitely a youthful adventure. Sent by Boldwood Books for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Murder at the Met by E W Cooper

November 1928 and Penelope Harris is in the thick of it. Another murder and she would like to be anywhere but here. She would really prefer to be with Thom Lund all the time but murder seems to follow Penelope wherever she goes, and this happens at the opera, not just one but two murders in the presence of a couple of hundred people. Lund is investigating a suicide, which hints more and more to murder which is being covered up very well. The two murders at the opera are also in the process of being "cleaned" up as the family do not want to be associated with murder (father and daughter murdered at the same time) not something to be lived down and that is what the violent Violet mother and wife wants done. So far she has been successful in controlling her family to behave just the way she wants, but this time around she is facing something not quite within her control. The book has to be read slowly because there are multiple characters all very relevant to the story, and all with their differing points of view, motives and reasons for being part of the story. It could get confusing if you try to rush through the book. The characters were very well placed and the setting was descriptive. Sent by Ink Dog Press for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

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.