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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.