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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.