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Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Confessions of a Curious Bookseller by Elizabeth Green

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

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Shanghai Secrets by Sulari Gentill

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

Saturday, February 27, 2021

Beneath Cornish Skies by Kate Ryder

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

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Murder at the Mill by T A Belshaw

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

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Their Frozen Graves by Ruhi Chowdhury

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

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Murder in the Manor (Lacey Doyle series) Fiona Grace

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

Friday, February 19, 2021

Lady Sophia by Pamela Stephen (novella)

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

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

No Little Lies by AB Plum

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

Monday, February 15, 2021

The Silver Collar by Antonia Hodgson

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

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Home Fires Burn by Lisa Hartley

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

Thursday, February 11, 2021

A Case of Blackmail in Belgravia by Clara Benson

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

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Hidden Bones by Vivian Barz

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

Sunday, February 7, 2021

Murder at Kelsey Hall by Elizabeth Schroer

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

Saturday, February 6, 2021

The Watchmakers Daughter by C J Archer

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

Thursday, February 4, 2021

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

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

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Stolen Hearts by Marci Bolden

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

Sunday, January 31, 2021

The Lakehouse by Joe Clifford

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

Friday, January 29, 2021

House of Shadows by Darcy Coates

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

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Good Girl by Mel Sherratt

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

Monday, January 25, 2021

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

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

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Aunt Ivy's Cottage by Kristin Harper

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

Thursday, January 21, 2021

The Case of Kitty Ogilvie by Jean Stubbs

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

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

My Name is Anton by Catherine Ryan Hyde

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

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Death, Diamonds and Deception by Rosemary Simpson

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

Friday, January 15, 2021

Irena's War by James D. Shipman

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

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

The Kensington Kidnap by Katie Gayle

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

Monday, January 11, 2021

Night Train to Paris by Fliss Chester

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

Saturday, January 9, 2021

The Forgotton Gift by Kathleen Macgurl

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

Thursday, January 7, 2021

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

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

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Murder at Queen's Landing by Andrea Penrose

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

The Fallen Angel by Tracy Borman

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

Sunday, January 3, 2021

A Necessary Blessing by Sarah Head

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

Friday, January 1, 2021

A Lady Compromised by Darcie Wilde

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