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Saturday, December 31, 2022

Murder at the Seven Dials by Cara Devlin

Happy New Year all. Now onto my first review for 2023. This was a treat covering several genres. When the aristocracy are involved, it never bodes well for Bow Street and for the detectives involved. With some agile maneuvreing the high and mighty close ranks not even bothering to be interviewed despite all signs pointing to tgem being perpetrators of the crime. In this story, we find the Duke of Fourniers covered in blood, cowering, speechless in the room ofa brutally murdered opera singer. He does not give any explanation for his presence or offer any for his defence. Hugh Marsden the officer in charge arrests him, keeping him in a room in a tavern rather than carting him offto jail. The Duchess so far has been a young woman of a retiring nature. In this case she knows that her husband is innocent. It is a secret that cannot be disclosed as it will cut the entire family away from their circles, apart from bringing revulsion amongst most people of their time. The Duke apart from taking opium, is a confirmed homosexual whose relationships have upto now been a very closed secret one his wife is aware of. She has a secret of her own, one which put her in an asylum for two years. Audrey has the ability to see events from inanimate objects and for this ability, she has suffered greatly. Despite her aversion to the officer, and her inability to know very much about the demi monde, she begins her own investigation using whatever objects she can pilfer from the scene of the crime. Unraveling the story Hugh and Audrey find out who the murderers actually are, going against the society they are a part of and bring about justice not just for Philip but for the two victims as well. Sent by BooksGoSocial for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Thursday, December 29, 2022

The Worst Woman In London by Julia Bennett

Francesca earned the title by asking for a divorce, refusing to accept her husband's flagrant affairs, his installing his mistress at tge family home. Her husband is flabbergasted at her "attitude" deeming it unreasonable and unfair. The same whiney attitude is followed by his family and even worse her own, who have all cut her out of their lives. Francesca has had a single short lived affair, documented by her husband and dangerously close to another more passionate one with her husband's bestfriend. The story highlights the hypocrisy and double standards of society, which was willing to overlook Francesca's escapades provided she kept them discreet and avoided the D WORD. She was not willing to do that so face the music she did. Very unusual ending to the story which caught me by surprise, a pleasant one. Very good reading over the holidays. Sent by Historical Fiction Romance for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

AAn American in Scotland by

Dr Emilia McRoy recently arrived in the small island of Sea Isle in Scotland is finding her new environment to be totally different from the busy ER she faced in the States. Emilia wanted a peaceful pace plus she was running away from personal tragedy. She did not expect open antagonism from one man, followed by a murder, a general cover up from the entire community and wheels within wheels. Being the doctor she was entitled to deem the death suspicious despite the Chief decrying her stand. Forced subsequently to accept that things were not as they seemed on several fronts, Emilia was also under threat with several attempts on her life.The story was unusual, the setting was beautiful and the characters were varied and quirky in turns. A fery charming read. Sent by Crooked Lane Books for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Saturday, December 24, 2022

urder at the Charity Ball by Helena Dixon

One in a series this is charming vintage classic crime genre combining good detection skills with all the restrictions of polite society. Kitty is getting married in a week. She is also seeing her father after a long time. He has been irresponsible in the past, not a favourite amongst family and she has an uphill task with her in laws to be who think her too modern. unfortunately things do not go according to plan. In the midst of a Christmas party, the hostess gets murdered and Kitty's father becomes just initially the main suspect. Kitty along with her fiancee start investigations alongside the Police and whilst this is going on another attempted murder happens, then another and everyone is stumbling to find a reason and who is the murderer. The setting for the story was charming - the village is very nicely described, the characters masterfully put together and a lovely read for this period as its set during Christmas week. Sent by Bookouture for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Friday, December 23, 2022

Death on a Deadline by Joyce St Anthony

Irene is holding the fort as editor for her father who is covering the war from the Pacific. The small town is fully behind the war effort and support for its troops. During a celebration where Clarke Gable was expected to be present, but when eventually another minor celebrity takes his place, the papers are willing and supportive to cover the event. When the man is found murdered, Irene uses her detective powers working with her father in law to try to solve this surprising murder. There are plenty of suspects including the actors wife, who was very averse at Freddie's roving eye and who had been very loud in her objections. When enquiries progress nothing seems to be what they appear to be and Irene herself is in danger. A cosy set during wartime this time around in a small American town was very different to the usual genre reads. Sent by Crooked Lane Books for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Pride & All This Prejudice by Alex A. King

Retelling of the famed P&P tales are intriguing. This one had another variation. Set in Greece it added elements of fury and anger, which added to the intensity of the romances. The five daughters all present and accounted for go about their lives and the men they fall in love with appear and disappear, albeit temporarily. The parents of the girls however vary from the norm. Mama is a virago breathing hellfire over all including the milder father. she is a major character in this retelling. It was also interesting to have descriptive tidbits of Piraeus, Meriton with a Greek twist and Meraga which was the equivalent of Pemberley. This was a download from Amazon.

Sunday, December 18, 2022

The Angel of Vienna by Kate Hewitt

This was not easy to read but then nothing involving the Nazis is. I struggled through sections maybe the reason I am so late in reviewing this one. Hannah after her nurses training ends up in the hospital where Hitlers dream ofa pure Aryan race was propagated. Children born to pure German mothers blonde, blue eyed birthed adopted by families approved by the Reich. When the summons came for her to visit her half brother who was a Senior in German Intelligence, Hannah knew it did not bode well for her. Her orders to accompany her disabled nephew to Vienna to a hospital for surgery and treatments, a euphemism for certain and premeditated death. A way to rid society of disabled, both physical and mental and anyone the regime considered undesirable. Hannah teams up with Margrethe to spirit out children one at a time to safety from certain death. Hannah sadly could not save her nephew but she played a role in helping many. I read about callousness and cruelty all the time but the Nazis honed it into an art form. Brutal, but factual this was a tough one. Sent by Bookouture for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

The Faraway World by Patricia Engel

The collection of short stories set in the Americas are fairly raw, depicting the struggle of immigrants wanting to find a secure home in a foreign land, hankering for not just the food of their cultures but even the sights and smells of something as simple as a river or sea. The ones leftbehind seem to want to get out for a better life not always economic. Some of them were running away from complicated lives involving crime, drugs, family rifts without an end in sight. All of the characters want to make good. Either financially and for many having stable relationships - finding love with one person then sadly finding their hopes dashed when a brighter competitor emerged, invariably with more to offer. The ladies seemed to like to gamble with love, hoping that this relationship will be the lasting one. The men predominantly took full advantageof what was on offer, reading the signs well, then moving on to a more profitable partner. Most took the disappointment well, almost looking at it as their fate with a stoicness which was very sad. Each story dealt with a hard life in many ways, and each story was both moving and precise in its description. Sent by Avid Reader Press for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Friday, December 16, 2022

In Too Deep by Simon McCleave

Laura Hart is an ex police officer. Trained in the field of negotiating in hostage situations Laura left theforce when she saw her husband blown up whilst negotiating his release. It has not been determined how the leak happened and questions remain unanswered. Laura now runs professional courses for negotiators, looking after her two children and having long conversations withher dead husband who pops up all the time, very much there in the physical sense at least toLaura. This was the quirky part of the story but I just say its unusual, not that it cant happen. in the midst of this, a sting operation gets under way tracking three drug dealers who are using Anglessey beach as a drop off point. What follows is every policeman's nightmare. A school trip to the outlying islands for six year olds begins a hostage situation with one reckless, dangerous lunatic and two others following his orders. When the detective in charge realises he is out ofhis depth,he calls on Laura who has the skills to handle the situation. What changes Laura mind to accept the case is when she realises that the child takenhostage along with the teacher is none other than her own son. This is a tense read with a lot of detail about the conflicts between the IRA and the British Army. It added another strand to the story. Sent by Avon Books UK for an unbiased review courtesy of Netgalley.

Tuesday, December 13, 2022

The Widow’s Secret by Kate Hewitt. The Goswell Quartet Book 4 FINAL

This was a delightful series. You have to read it in order however to get the nuances and sequence to the stories. England 1766. Abigail is a young woman who has blotted her copybook, ruining her chances for any offer from a respectable, honourable man.It must be said that her only fault was her naivety and innocence and tge man involved was a scoundrel. However it was a tiny town and when she was able to secure an invitation to a dance, her mother was tense with nerves that it would turn into a fiasco. Abigail secured the attention of James, a shipowner who not only seemed prosperous but was a kind and loving husband. The real ramifications of the story begins with her husband presenting her with a six year old slave girl. Adelaide as others insisted she be called brought mayhem to the house but awakened in Abigail maternal feelings which she could not show to anyone, as all expected the child to be treated as a thing not a human. This part of the book was very hard to read, but it was factual, historically accurate depicting faithfully conditions of slaves till the abolitionist movement took sway in society. With James death and Abigail facing penury, a decision to join the Wesleyan movement and adopt Adelaide formally were huge steps for Adelaide who had led such a protected life. This is one story. The parallel story is set in present times, when a mining company finds a wreck and Rachel who is a marine archaelogist is called uponto investigate. In her search for clues, she stumbles upon the story of Abigail and James, their life together and the discovery of what happened to Adelaide. Rachel gerself is in turmoil one with her mother and also with her husband. Rachel's personality is "prickly" not warm or open to affection and everyone around her finds her closed and unapproachable The story of Rachel also finding a way out of her predicaments is also complicated but shows how quickly relationships can be nurtured or irrevocably destroyed. Everything ends well after all the tension. This final story was for me the most interesting read. Not just for the emotional impact but also for the wealth of historical information. Sent by Bookouture for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Monday, December 12, 2022

The Booklovers Guide to Paris by Emily Cope

Covering literary history with many illustrations, the book is one I am going to keep in my library at least till I've gone to Paris again. Very similar to a travel guide but emphasising writers and artistes in the literary world. Interesting factual reading. Good visuals. Sent by White Owl publishing for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley

Saturday, December 10, 2022

The Village Vicar by Julie Houston

The story of three united sisters living in the small Yorkshire village they grew up in. A slightly Bohemian family in one way, and a traditional family in some aspects. The three sisters have very different professional lives. One is a dentist, married with two children running a flourishing practice, the other is a youth counsellor dealing with troubled kids and the other is tge vicar returning to the same church where her disliked grandfather was vicar. She forms the main part of this story. The lives of the three sisters is complicated. The married one is bored, looks for excitement and finds it in the new hire in the clinic. Unfortunately for her, his interests lie elsewhere. The next is involved with a married man, swears to the sisters that she broke it off/going to and doesnt until full drama in the form of his wife turning up at church and creating a scene that was so dramatic, it was pure theatre and then we have the vicar returning after a bout of cancer, on top of a devastating love affair to find that her ex lover has also moved back home. The drama in their lives spill over but the strong bond of sisterhood overcomes any other problems they face. A interesting take on sisters, motherhood and vicars(my knowledge of vicars is zero) sent by Atria and Aries for an unbiased review courtesy of Netgalley

Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Murder in the Basement by Anthony Berkley

One of a series in a kind of classic crime type of read. A young recently married couple move joyously into their first home. They did not expect to find a body in their basement neatly cemented over. Chief Inspector Moresby and Roger Sherringham are given the job of finding the woman, and how she got to be buried in this basement Unravelling clues after six years is going to be difficult. Missing Persons does not give any clues at all to fit the description of a young woman, a couple of months pregnant. Painstakingly going one step at a time, tracing possible leads the story of a hard young woman emerges. Sherringham is totally convinced who the murderer is, but how to get the conviction to stick. The murderer is slick, clever and very confident. the way it finally ends is a surprise. A bit unexpected but a nice one at that. Very descriptive, good characterization in this story. Sent by Poisoned Pen Press for an unbiased review, courtesy

Tuesday, December 6, 2022

The Redemption Murders By J C Briggs No 6 in series

I have liked everything written in this series involving Detective Jones and Charles Dickens. There are the secondary characters a whole raft of them. All are unique in the roles they play in the stories and though they are secondary characters, they still play a major part inthe stories. This is something quite different in this series. The other over riding feature of the series is the actual physical location of each section as they unravel. They add not just the heightened atmosphere to the story but add a dimension not found elsewhere. London particularly sounds extremely grim, not a city one would want to live in, especially if one was poor. The story starts with the stabbing of a seacaptain. No robbery no clues. The killings escalate and Dickens and Jones try their best to outwit a very clever murderer to keep the number of victims down. Set in Victorian London, this is vintage detection at its best. This was a download from Amazon.

Saturday, December 3, 2022

Something Blue Lord and Lady Hetgeridge series by Emma Jameson

Anthony Hetheridge is Chief of Scotland Yard. He is marrying Kate a detective in three weeks. Anthony is also a Lord and Kate' s family is a bit dysfunctional and loud to put it mildly. There is a fair amount of people being disgruntled and envious at the forthcoming nuptials. A CEO is found murdered in the Hotel Nonpareil. there are many suspects. His ex wife, his son, the Manager of the hotel, even the current women in his life. Michael Hughes also had a common foe with Hetheridge - the formidable Sir Duncan Godington who will stoop to nothing to unseat Hetheridge, Kate and Bhar. Though the plot is thin, the characters are well defined, lively and hold your interest throughout. The story ends with the long planned, obstacle strewn wedding and this was a nice touch. This book was a free download from Amazon.

Thursday, December 1, 2022

The Bride’s Sister Kate Hewitt Book No 3

This was the third in the quartet and I only realized the significance of the title towards the end of the book. Told in two time frames the older story is a hard one to accept. Sarah and her sister are left destitute after the death of their parents and seek shelter with their Aunt in Goswell. Estranged from the family, the Aunt gives them a home, but it is a physically hard, mentally challenging life. When the Aunt tragically dies, the two girls areagain destitute. sarah accepts marriage as a means of escape, not realising that her sister Lucy who is simple, is lookeddown by both her husband and his daughter from a previous marriage. Fast forward and Ellen's life is turned upside down by the arrival of a step daughter who is rude, condescending and uncooperative. Rifts both in her marriage and with her ten year old, previously sunny tempered daughter appear. Finding a death certificate for Sarah Mills just 22 years of age sets Ellen trying to unravel the mystery and the story unfolds. The story is revealing in both segments. total helplessness of females if left unprovided for by careless parenting and their exploitation by husbands who could be hard, bigoted or just careless of their wives feelings. We then have the blendedfamilies, a phenomena of present times and the difficulties faced by all in such situations. The book was a bit hard for me to read as it seemed so unfair, but it typified social history of the times. Sent by Bookouture for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Pride & Prejudice and Mistletoe by Melissa de la Cruz

I had got this from Netgalley and neglected to read it. Am sorry for the delay. We need light hearted reads in between the heavy stuff and this romantic comedy fitted the bill. We have Darcy (a girl for a change) partner in a hedge fund returning home after years. A acrimonius separation from her parents, which has gone on for too long. Meeting friends after a long time, pushed into an engagement by over eager parents, Darcy is wondering how to extricate herself from this tangle she has herself woven, without hurting those involved too much. A Christmassy novel with a lot going on - not the usual variation being offered. Sent by Hodder & Stoughton for an unbiased review courtesy of Netgalley.

Unravelled Knots The Teahouse Detective by Baroness Orczy

I am pulling out Netgalley reads which I have had on my kindle for ages and for whatever reason I have not read These were fascinating stories - a collection of them discussed between two people one an average narrator, the other quirky but clever who painstakingly shows in each case who the murderer was,and how he got off. So all the stories are unusually of unsolved crimes though the reader is shown explicitly who killed whom, how and why. I did not realise that the person listening to the stories, bringing up each case was a journalist and a female. All I knew was that the two characters did not like each other. There was a condescending air to one, and a disparaging air to the other. The mystery/murders are all vintage and very clearly outlined. An unusual way of looking at murder. Sent by Pushkin Press for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Sunday, November 27, 2022

Murder in an Irish Castle (A Lady Eleanor Swift Book No 12)

The series is whimsical. A bit unusual too. Lady Eleanor Swift has a penchant for ferreting out a murder. wherever she goes murder seems to follow her like a magnet. She has her faithful, and resourceful butler and the podgy bulldog Gladstone Lady Eleanor receives an invitation for a Christmas celebration in the remote village, where she has inherited a castle which she has never visited and has forgotten about. Deciding that this is as good a time as any to look around her inheritance, the three of tgem set out on this adventure. Terrible weather, even worse road conditions, a body on the road (almost dead), a perilous journey to the nearest abode which turns out to be a convent, inhabited by almost hostile nuns not wanting to show much hospitality in such a terrible weather and then the local priest, doctor, policeman and undertaker all denying any knowledge of who the man could be and closing up to even the simplest of questions. we have villains aplenty, almost a local mafia which has kept the locals under their control and attempt upon attempt to get rid of Lady Eleanor. The tables are turned of course, motives are discovered, everything is sorted out and all ends well. Very good vintage detective reading sent by Bookouture for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley PS I am typing my reviews on an ipad as my computer has gone on the blink.If anyone could explain how do I get auto correct to come back to my Ipad, I will be very grateful.

Friday, November 25, 2022

Bombay Monsoon by James W. Ziskin

1975 Danny is bold, a bit brash and new to Bombay. He has come as a journalist at a time of press restructions with Indira Gandhi trying to hold onto power, in whatever way possible. The government does not like criticsm and very soon Danny is drawn into a maelstrom of intrigue, not just political but into a world of drug dealing, manipulative deals, ruthless big time dealers who will not hesitate to kill any opponent. in addition he is attracted to a local girl, who is already someone else's mistress. Not the best way to cement alliances in a very fast moving world. Danny is in way over his head and to extricate himself and come out alive is hard. The story is fast moving, covering terrorism, drug trafficking, corruption in the government and whether the woman whom Danny is in love with is using him for her own reasons. Nicely displaying the naivety of a newly arrived American and how gullible one can be when transported out of one's usual environment, the story is fast paced and interesting. Sent by Oceanview Publishing for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Monday, November 21, 2022

The Call of he Wrens by Jenni L Walsh

1917 in an orphanage Marion afflicted with what today would be called selective mutism, is almost eighteen and knows she will have to leave the one place she feels safe With just two friends who will support her she joins tge WRENS the women's arm of 5e navy, as a typist. She then becomes a motor cycle despatch rider, joining forces with Eddiwhom she secretly marries, gets transferred to Flanders and runs a very successful pigeon courier service with her other friend Sarah and despite enormous hardships is happy.With the war gaining momentum she and Edie continue at the Front till Edie dies unexpectedly in a bombing. Finding herself pregnant, Marion moves back to England Fast forward to the next War, and again the Wrens feature in the story. Evelyn is a high society girl who wants to do something solid for the war effort. For her the usual society pursuits is not enough and she leaves home to take on the arduous job of being a motor cycle despatch courier. Cut off from family who do not want anything to do with her, ostracized by her team mates, Evelyn is determined not to give up. It is here that the two separate time lines mesh in the most unusual way which added a definite twist in the tale. Hihlighting another aspect of the two World Wars, the important part played by the pigeons and the women who trained them, the behind the scenes bravery of the WRENS who worked tirelessly in the war effort were special features of this story. Sent by Harper Muse for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Saturday, November 19, 2022

The Daughter’s Garden Kate Hewitt. Book No 2 in a quartet

Reading the books in sequence helps and I was fortunate that Netgalley sent me the four. Eleanor and Katherine are the daughters of a well to do family. George and Anna are conservative parents but not hidebound, but they do expect staying within the boundaries of expected polite behaviour of the times. WWI is ending and the family is awaiting joyously the return of their son from the Front and his best friend James, who is Katherine's fiancee as well. Joy turns to grief when the dreaded telegram arrives that Walter has died. Each family member deals with it in the manner they know best. This is the catalyst of the story. The story while outlining the life that follows for each member, focuses primarily on Eleanor. How her attempts to come to terms with her brothers death, her animosity towards those who have survived, her ambivalent feelings towards her sister who has thrown herself into charitable works, her solace in turning the extensive gardens into a memorial for her brother and her falling in love with the gardener, someone whom her parents will never come to accept. The story is descriptive of the turbulent times England was thrown into post WWI - nothing was the same and it took ages to get back to a semblance of normality. It highlighted distinct class divisions which began to be eroded at that time. It also showed resilience of the human spirit to survive, grit one's teeth and go on. most importantly that Love can conquer all. Sent by Bookouture for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Friday, November 18, 2022

The New Person by Loretta Nyhan

Roxy's entire world is her little boy. working two jobs she knows that what she can offer him in material terms is much less than his father and new wife. They have a lavish lifestyle and Roxy can see clearly that the boy is tempted and overwhelmed by what is on offer. When the dice is thrown for a full custody by the father, Roxy turns to the tricky precarious world of being a surrogate. The couple wanting a surrogate have a story of heartbreak, loss of their own and the three try to bond in the waiting period of nine months. This was an emotional story told from many viewpoints - each with a complicated history of their own. This was a no win situation for all the players and looked at not just child custody and the see saw between bickering parents, but the basic emotions of those involved in surrogacy. The book was sent to me by Lake Union Publishing for an unbiased review courtesy of Netgalley.

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

The Wife’s Promise by Kate Hewitt . The Goswell quartet Book 1

England 1939 and now. Two women enter this the small remote village of Goswell, Cumbria with trepidation. One is Alice just twenty, lived with her widowed father in comfortable surroundings, and then we have Jane coming from a high powered job, three children raised in New York used to the rush and bustle of big city life now stuck here as an outsider. In different timelines both women faced the frostiness and insularity of village life. one was expected to take on the position notjust ofbeing a brand new wife, but also that of the vicar's wife with Sunday school activities, Mothers Union and be availabke to all and sundry. Janewas set apart from the beginning - she was American and therefore right away in the eyes of the others did not fit in! When Jane discovers slip of paper indicating a grocery listof years ago, she feels compelled to investigate the life of this vicars wife who seemed to have been completely forgotton. This in the midst of Jane's own inner turmoil. Her foundering of her position as a mother, as a wife. Jane herself finds herself wanting. She feels in turn guilty that she has not realised that there are matters that have to be rectified and corrected where her children are concerned and she is inwardly horrified that she was not aware of them before, then she in turn is resentful that she has sacrificed a career and a different lifestyle to what she is forced into now. Alice herself faced immense challenges from the word go. First her miscarriage from which she hardly recovered mentally to David being called up, and Alice having to live alone and fend for herself which was frightening for the now 21 year old. Taking on a difficult 12 year old evacuee, who was resentful and rude, turning over the garden so that they could feed themselves and then facing the news of David's death and her having to leave the vicarage were all immense blows for Alice to face alone. The similarities were there and not there as well for both women. the story ofcourage, resilience and a spirit to overcome initial barriers were remarkable in both women. They were not going under. A very warm story despite instances of sadness it was a very rewarding read. Sent by Bookouture for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

The Jaggard Case by J C Briggs

I have been looking out for books in the series as I love the vintage feel of detection plus the meticulous follow up by both Inspector Jones and the unofficial role of detective played by Charles Dickens. 1851 London from both the Inspector's and Dickens point of view not the most salubrious place to be. The description of the places where the poor live and where crime abounds sounds like hell on earth. This part of the story is itself descriptive enough to be the base of a story. Then the characters in the story like Dickens, Jones, Stemp followed by Elizabeth, Catherine, Scrap, Posy who are present throughout the series makes the book very character driven. You then add the villains in the piece - Jaggard, Phib, the Millers, Craggy and his minions and you have a plot there itself. The crime of murder/s, forgery, robbery, human trafficking is the core for this book. very well written, absolutely engrossing, makes me want the next one immediately - makes me give this a five star review Sent by Sapere Books courtesy of Netgalley for an unbiased review.

Wednesday, November 9, 2022

Sudden Death by Rachel Lynch

One in a series which was new to me this book was a good one - the story, the characterizations, the twists and turns and very importantly the setting. In the beautiful calm oasis of the Lake District group of fell runners are on a competitive run. out of the blue a whirring helicopter descends, totally out of control spinning to the ground in a fiery end. The death toll is heavy, the investigation into the crash is high powered. One of the persons being ferried is a peer in tge House of Lords, the other is a millionaire with a very unsavory reputation. DI Kelly is in charge of a highly volatile case - as more and more lurid details are revealed the Home Office looks for damage control and the businessman's family also has an agenda of their own, a cover up as well trying to hide that the remote area was used to provide sexual favors involving minors. Kelly is caught in the middle, trying to find justice for the seventeen dead, especially when it turned out to be deliberate sabotage. The story was intriguing because it reflects the politics in every country - the corrupt and wealthy try to get away with literally everything and very often times succeeding. Very few Police forces can face the wrath and weight of two forces and come out victorious. I will be looking out for more books in this series. Sent by Canelo for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Tuesday, November 8, 2022

The Haunting of Abney Heights By Cat Thomas

i have been getting some very unusual and intriguing reads lately, different genres. This was no exception. the story setting is dramatic. Also it was in two time lines 1907 and present times. Megan is a genealogist/archivist and she has been asked to find out whatever she could on a particular inmate of the institute Elle. The present day institute was earlier a asylum, and to Megan resonated with the heaviness and unhappiness of what those institutes were at the time. Delving into Elle's history and sad end, we also delve into the life of Lucy. A person also an inmate of the asylum, admitted for hysteria by her fiancee and family who became very close to Elle. Though not openly spoken of Elle was admitted because she was a lesbian and Dr Wood who was in charge at the asylum worried over the increasingly close relationship between the two women. The story weaving the daily workings of the asylum, with Dr Wood's modern approach of integrating the inmates as much as possible into public life showed up historically the manner in which mental incapacity was treated, the stigma attached to it and for many the hopelessness for the future. The present day building was apartments and Megan lived there whilst unravelling the task she was set to. it had strands of historical fictiin, along with two mystery murders which were solved decades later and altogether was a very interesting read set in Edwardian times. Sent by BooksGoSocial for anunbiased review courtesy of Netgalley.

Friday, November 4, 2022

The Whispering woman by Trish MacEnulty

1913 Louisa finds herself in a peculiar position. once part of the rich, upper class welcomed everywhere now after her fathers financial ruin the family are barely tolerated in society but Louisa is happy doing what she feels she has a knack for. She writes a society column for The Ledger and though it is not the journalism she seeks, it is the family's bread and butter. Forced to face head on the unspoken subject of abortion and the death of a young maid at the hands of an unscrupulous doctor - not a backyard abortionist but a suave well spoken of high society, Louisa sets on a course of investigation which literally turns society upside down. not just abortion, abduction of young women, trafficking them into forced prostitution, a murder of a young female police investigator and corruption in the Police itself and cover ups galore. Louisa puts herself in grave danger and though rescued the story she uncovers shows Manhattan society at its worst, with those at the top equally involved at least some of them in the unsavory machinations of high society. An eye opener at behind the scenes of society - the division between the rich and the poor, the class consciousness and the condescension and discrimination shown to the Irish, the Jews and to those involved in 'trade' are all featured here. The struggle for the female vote is also a small part of the book. Very well written keeping the reader focussed on the story of Louisa as well as the history of the time. Sent by BooksGoSocial for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Tuesday, November 1, 2022

Murder After Christmas by Rupert Latimer

Set in the 1940s this was not the classic crime I was expecting. I felt the story was all over the place and though it bore all the hallmarks of vintage detective stories - quirky characters, patient detectives, upper class folk - it did not quite fit the bill. It was amusing in parts, but the humour had to be forced and really did not do justice to the genre. Sent by Poisoned Pen Press for an unbiased review.

Saturday, October 29, 2022

Woman of an uncertain age. By Priya Malhotra

The book is an eye opener - especially for women in the Asian community (maybe other communities too) who may live long in liberal communities but are bound by unwritten rules and expectations engrained by generations repeating the same mantra. Naina fiftyodd recently widowed two grown up professional children is struggling to cope with the "inevitability" and I like this "startlement" of death. There is no turning back, you just move on. sheexpected Harish to be with her for decades, a comforting security blanket who would take up all the insecurities, the barbs and issues of life. Taking the step to move to New York after being in the haven of New Jersey surrounded by over thirty Indian families who were familar was the first battle. Finding a low level job in an art gallery was a major plus for Naina, but even here she hid the actual work she did even from her children not wantung them to know the actual work she did. it was only after many years of grit and hard work and results of being promoted was she confident enough for her children to visit her at her place of work. The massive issue was when she developed feelings for the boyfriend of her daughter - Jai. ten years younger than her twelve years older than Amaya,she did the unthinkable revealing her feelings to him thinking it was reciprocated and being rebuffed brutally. the story then evolves into a hitherto little known area of online dating for the Asian single older woman. scandalous to many, unknownto many uncharted territory to many. Cultural barriers, stigma exists even amongst second generation Asians and it is difficult toerase. to those first generation Asian Americans it takes great courage to break the barriers and live your life the way you want to. Naina herself felt guilty at her ability to find and develop relationships which were making her happy, and fulfilled when her daughter and son wereboth failing in their quest to find partners. this was a emotiinal book dealing with peculiar, specific issues facedby only some people. This was seen in the attitude of Naina's American friends who could not figure out the need for hide and seek, for hiding evidence of a partner or a sexual relationship from family and friends. they could not comprehend at all and by including it in the story, the author was able to highlight the divide. this was for me a page turner, rich, varied, so symtomatic of the system itself and the unwritten rules in life. sent by Bedazzled Ink Publishing for an unbiased review courtesy of Netgalley.

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Murder at the Majestic Hotel by Clara McKenna

Lord and Lady Lyndhurst are on their honeymoon in York. Lord Lyndy has taken every care that nothing should go amiss on their stay in York but right at the start the Honeymoon Suite has been given to an an elderly gent Mr. Wingrove much to Lord Lyndhurst's chagrin and dismay but his wife the light hearted American Stella just shrugs it off as another odd thing that has happened. When Mr. Wingrove is found dead the next morning and several people and circumstances prove too suspicious for Stella, she independently tries to get to the bottom of this mystery despite all protocols and expectations of the time expect her to behave otherwise. When Stella's visit to York coincides with the Royal Princesses unveiling of Queen Victoria's statue she like all dignitaries attend until a bomb set off disrupts the proceedings, causes injuries and damage to people attending and a search for whether the attack and the murders are connected. The story which was a detective story in the main, held a lot of interest due to its Edwardian setting. Everything and everyone was dictated by the norms of the time, from the Police to the inhabitants and it was striking to see how the aristocracy could get away with literally murder if they were pushed to it. Very interesting reading. Sent by Kensington Books for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Monday, October 24, 2022

A Twist of Murder by Heather Redmond

I love the sleuthing bit of Charles Dickens and in this victorian England setting this was a wonderfully descrptive read. Coupled with his writing and detective skills, Dickens was such a humane and generous soul. Appalled by living conditions of the poor, his was a constant struggle to uplift whoever he could. When he discovers three orphans whom he had registered for a school disappeared and then the murder of a young girl, he is distraught first at the death of this twelve year old and then the disappearance of the three young boys and he is hoping that the two events are not linked. Charles is just weeks away from his marriage and his intended in laws are anyway not very happy with him. When Kate joins him in his quest to find the boys and solve the murder, Charles knows he has to deal with this quickly. This is a very busy story - there is Victorian England at its worst - the attitude towards the poor was appalling, the poverty was rampant, even parents were hard to fathom, there is a cholera epidemic going on and the girl was apparently killed because of a treasure map she kept hinting and waving about. Trying to solve it all made it a very busy story. Interesting but a lot of strands to follow on. Sent by Kensington Books for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

The Socialite's Guide to Murder by S K Golden

This was a very light mystery with characters who seemed fluffy as well. Evelyn lived in the hotel owned by her father. She did not seem to know or want to know how the world lived in 1958. She knew only that she was posh, with plenty of money, no one questioning her moves and she had already solved one mystery. When a murder occurs within the hotel she along with the boy who handles luggage whom she secretly has a crush on decide to investigate. At the same time Evelyn for purposes of show is the girl friend of a man who is rich and famous but gay. Evelyn on his arm is a cover for that too. The arrangement is mutually beneficial. The best description was that it felt that it was not quite written for an adult audience. Sent by Crooked Lane Books for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Sunday, October 16, 2022

TheShadows Of Rutherford House by C E Rose

i am doing this on my ipad as computer has gone on the blink. Excuse any errors. if you want a story that has more twists and turns than a roller coaster this is it. the story istold in several timelines and has many characters chiming in. the characters are very much part of the story but they come in in the then and now. it also seems typical that these old villages have the most complicated histories and that those in the "big house" seem irretrievably linked to the villagers, however much they look down on them or howeverresentful the villagers may be towards the richer folk. Lust and love, resentment and murder all surface in this well crafted story. The final reveal was a surprise for me. if you want a book that keeps you guessing from beginning to end this is one for you. Sent by Hera Books for an unbiased review courtesy of Netgalley

The Golden Doves by Martha Hall Kelly

The story is not for the faint hearted but then any book set with the concentration camps as a background for some of the novel cannot be. Josie and Arlette have been incarcerated and have since been free - the story of their life has been a very difficut one even to read. They both however want to pursue a Nazi doctor who was cruel, inhumane and who did the most violent experiments on human beings. Both women were known as the Golden Doves and were renowned for their daring and successful infiltration of Nazi intelligence and conveying it to Britain. They were responsible for many acts which were infuriating to the Nazis. Decades later Arlette gets news that the son who was forcibly taken from her may be still alive and Josie working with US intelligence is on the tracks of the infamous doctor. The story crossing time lines and countries also highlights that in the espionage business everyone is expendable and even both women who have sacrificed immensely may be disposable for US greed for supremacy over Russia in their pursuit of medical intelligence or anything that would benefit one country against another. That hit hard. That these very same Nazis were brought to America free to pursue their academic interests and live a very comfortable life after all what they had done. Detailed and authentic this is not an easy read. This period of history never was. We should not forget the atrocities committed because sadly history repeats itself. Sent by Random House Publishing Group Ballantine for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Thursday, October 13, 2022

Unnatural Ends by Christopher Huang

I picked the book up for reading thinking this had got archived a long way back and only just saw that it is well in the future. An excellent puzzle of a murder mystery with a lot of suspects which kept changing with every chapter. Sir Lawrence Linwood is rather old, death was not expected but his head was found bashed in with a mace so there was nothing natural about his demise. He was estranged from his children who did not show a united front when they did arrive and who were hostile to everyone around them. Sir Lawrence had a strange proviso in his will. His estate would go to the person who solved the mystery of his death, if he did die of unnatural causes. There was a very cryptic puzzle available and his Secretary and companion of many years was also entitled to the search for clues. As the story progresses, many skeletons in the closet are revealed even those in the Secretary's past and now the two who are assisting in the investigation are beginning to doubt all those who are in pursuit of the clues. When the eldest son is also found murdered, when the pursuers are locked up to prevent them reaching the final clue one begins to see the dysfunctional features of the family which are so twisted and macabre. A lot of attention to detail, a setting of the 1920s very well done too. Sent by Inkshares for an unbiased review courtesy of Netgalley.

Monday, October 10, 2022

Treachery on Tenth Street by Kate Belli

The wealthiest models are being brutally killed off but the Police seem to want to keep it under wraps. Rumours that Jack the Ripper has crossed the Atlantic and continuing in New York is enough to send its citizens into a frenzy and for them to hound the Police and the politicians. The models are also mistresses of various very highly placed people and silence on their deaths seems to be paramount. Not to Genevieve Stewart and her able partner Daniel McCaffrey who have worked in partnership before to solve crimes. Genevieve is a journalist by profession and is keen that investigative journalism should be her forte. 1888 was not a time when this was acceptable by society and she has fought enormous odds to reach this position. Her own parents are supportive, but her brothers are protective and abhor the danger she puts herself in. Daniel and Genevieve make a formidable team. They have access to the upper class which the Police cannot get to and so they make bigger strides in the investigation much to the chagrin of the Police force. Danger, class divides, upper class society of New York as stringent as it was in England if not more are all brought together in this very entertaining read. Sent by Crooked Lane Books for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Friday, September 30, 2022

The Second Chance Holiday Club by Kate Galley

Evelyn was an older character and it seemed unfair that she had to discover what she did. Her husband found dead in a vehicle in another part of the county with ring in his pocket and a cryptic letter addressed to a woman on the Isle of Wight. Her marriage to Tony has been devoid of any deep feeling for a long time, and they had just got into a rut with Tony ruling the roost most of the time, using Evelyn's money for his own advancement. Evelyn decides to pursue her own investigation and their follows a hilarious journey to a run down hotel on the Isle of Wight in the company of a tour group - including ladies as dysfunctional as any you could find but all finding comfort and solace in each other. Evelyn was set in her ways, did not like to mix, was very particular what she did and how she did things which were very annoying to read about until you realized that most ladies of her age were like that. (Made me very keen to be otherwise as I am in the same age category as her!!!!) The story was sad and funny. Discovering the truth of Tony's infidelity which went back decades his long relationship with the other woman, Evelyn making amends in the way she knew how which was wonderful and peace coming to both Evelyn and the other woman's daughter who was resentful, angry and wary at the beginning was a good ending for all. Very character driven, very descriptive of the Isle of Wight as well and the courage of three women to overcome odds in their personal lives. Sent by Head of Zeus Aria for an unbiased review courtesy of Netgalley.

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

A Brazen Curiosity by Lynn Messina

At 26 Beatrice is on the shelf. She herself considers herself to be dowdy, dull and not much of a conversationalist. She has been taken under her aunt and uncle at the age of five, and though kind she has been made to feel that she is an inconvenience and something they just had to do for the sake of propriety and family connections. Coming to a country house where two young ladies are vying for the attentions of the young men being part of the party, leaves Beatrice unaffected until she stumbles upon the murdered body of Mr Otley in the library and surprise the Duke of Kesgrave also present. Persuaded by the Duke to keep silent on what has happened and that he will sort things out, and more for the sake of what she will give as an argument of her position of being in the library with the Duke at two am, Beatrice keeps silent but she too is of a curious nature and is not willing to be a silent participant in what she sees as a cover up. The elements of detection, romance, a good dollop of adultery, financial misappropriation are all elements in this 1816 setting. What was even nicer was the blossoming of Beatrice from the shy quiet spinster that she was until now to be the lady she became. Entertaining reading and a free download from Amazon

Death on the Menu by Emma Davis (Book 3 in the series)

Though part of a series, does well as a stand alone too. Francesca has been asked to cater for a funeral supper for an eccentric rich businessman who has died. He was an elderly man and the death was not considered suspicious until everyone who benefited from the will gathered around. Clarence was not going to make it easy for the beneficiaries and he came up with a treasure hunt with cryptic clues. Francesca's friend Olivia had been Clarence's secretary and right hand man and all of them are appalled at the greed displayed by the three children to fight and grasp their inheritance. Finding the dead body of the eldest son whilst in pursuit of clues was unexpected but quite probable as the story winds on, because it is becoming a no holds barred quest for the money. A good story, Francesca and Adam her help mate in all things detective do a good job in this cosy. Sent by Bookouture for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Monday, September 26, 2022

An Inconvenient Ward by Audrey Harrison

Elizabeth Rufford is unusual for her time. She is more interested in managing her estate than having a London season. She finds the endless balls, routs and dances boring and endures it just to get through it all. It is a duty to attend to but she has no intention of falling in love with any of the young men who are mainly fortune hunters. Her guardian is determined to carry out his obligations as one and encourages her to look around as the season is more or less a marriage mart. He hides a terrible secret of his own, where he believes that he is doomed to madness as his father also died of the malady. He also slowly falls in love with Elizabeth but she is unaware of this. Elizabeth is attracted to her guardian but knows that there is not going to be a breakthrough. She returns to her estate with the idea of setting it to rights. The story is romantic, ends well and again a very relaxing read. Descriptive of the London season, the competitiveness amongst the girls as well as their Mamas it was curious to see how and what would happen next in the marriage stakes. This was a free download from Amazon.

Saturday, September 24, 2022

Murder by the Book by Martin Edwards

The collection of short stories in this book were all very good. They were mainly puzzles and you had to be imaginative in seeing what was beyond the actual happening and then piece it together. I couldn't do it but the way the stories unravelled were rivetting. A murder on a train was one of the more easily solved crimes, but the story of a deceased leaving clues was very enjoyable. A Savage Game was set in a country house (I always like those settings) and was cleverly done. A Man and his Mother in Law was also clever where the murderer was caught because he thought he was so clever. It was through a sale of a book that he got caught! Dear Mr. Editor - the writer was mad and that set the tone of the story. The collection was very relaxed reading. It was not edge of the seat suspense but it reflected a slower pace of life and detection. It also described the conventions and stereotyping that happened at the time which was fair. Sent by Poisoned Pen Press for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Dastardly Deeds at St. Bride's by Debbie Young

I am so late on reviews and reading as well. Just got back after three months in Melbourne and find that catching up is taking longer than before. The title got me intrigued as I thought a convent school and I am always interested in that background. St Bride's is a posh school set in beautiful surroundings with an odd mix of teachers - more than meets the eye definitely as all of them have secrets they will like to hold onto. Gemma joining them was perfect she was running away from a controlling boyfriend, she did not want to be found and at St. Bride's she thought she found the perfect niche. Coupled with eccentric teachers and pleasant work place Gemma fit in easily but she is curious by nature and it is this curiosity that uncovers a whole bundle of secrets - combining suspense, comedy, escapism by the bucketful and ended up being a very good relaxing read. Descriptive of the English countryside and its people the book was a good fun read. Sent by Boldwood Books for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Saturday, September 17, 2022

The Gentlewoman Spy by Adele Jordan

The lady detectives of the 16th century - at least the ones I've read have all been ladies of the aristocracy who have the intelligence and keenness to turn their hands to detecting. In this story in 1584 the young spy is Kit a woman of no known background though one has suspicions of her lineage though nothing is said. Walsingham Queen Elizabeth's spy master has discovered a plot which seeks to murder the Queen and place Mary Queen of the Scots on the throne. First despatched to Scotland to access a prisoner who may be able to give them clues Kit succeeds in this mission, disguised as a soldier. When the plot focuses on London she has to team up with someone whom she does not trust and finds hard to work with. Iomhar whom she has to work with is equally hesitant to work with Kit but there is no choice in the matter. How the aristocracy in London has penetrated the court, got easy access to the Queen and thus able to carry out an assassination is plotted through this story. Apart from the detective genre here, there is plenty of historical fiction to keep one on one's toes! Sent by Sapere Books for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Thursday, September 15, 2022

The Sometime Sisters by Carolyn Brown

Dysfunctional families have their own complicated stories to tell and this one is no different. Three sisters and one niece meet after years on the death of their grandmother. She has left them a small guest house, a store selling bait and fishing stuff and has stipulated that she would like them to run the business each one taking on one line of the work. Under the guidance of Uncle Zed who has been there for ages and who is very fond of the girls and hopes that the experiment will work. This was a good feeling kind of ending. All three girls came from chequered backgrounds, with broken relationships in them. All needed stability but all three were suspicious that they could ever agree and pull together and work as a team. That they could and did was a surprise to all, and in the face of any outside interference they were loyal to one another. A family story that ended well. This was a free download from Amazon.

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

The Murder Mystery (A Beth Haldane Mystery Book 1) by Alice Castle

Beth is a young widow with a small son. Having landed a job at Wyatts the local prestigious boys school in Dulwich she is very keen to establish herself as an archivist in the school and ultimately hope that it will pave the way for her son to get admission to this school. What she did not envisage is finding her boss murdered just hours after she started working. The archivist was unpleasant, unhelpful and a bit of a lecher. When the detectives started swarming the school, it seemed that there were many undercurrents at play - the murdered man's wife acted strangely, a receptionist at the school seemed to have been on very good terms with the archivist, the Principal wanted to keep everything under wraps and maintain the good name of the school come what may. The story was a good one. I could never figure out why just because Beth discovered the body, she should consider herself the first suspect and did everything in her power to figure this out. She met the man for the first time on the day she started work, she had nothing to gain from his murder and she was terrified that she would be arrested. It seemed a bit over the top. Beth investigating the crime and being more successful than Detective York is the detective genre at play here but her trying to show that she had nothing to do with the murder was overplayed. Sent by Bookouture for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Sunday, September 11, 2022

Nine Lessons by Nicola Upson

The style of writing in this book is so reminiscent of P D James that I just had to finish it in one go. My last book I picked up from Glen Waverley library because I am leaving for Colombo tomorrow the 28th August. The story starts in very peaceful countryside and Detective Archie Penrose does not expect to find the horror he does. In an abandoned grave, Archie finds the mutilated body of the church organist, a private man who did not antagonise anyone and who led a very quiet life. No apparent enemies and the only significant piece of evidence is a torn photograph of a house with a few words on it. Trying to piece the clues of this brutal murder takes Archie back to Cambridge and to a group of young men who on the surface do not have any close links other than they were members of a choral group. They are today scattered in different professions, one of them dead, one dying of cancer, the others seemingly harmless very highly placed and one particularly boorish bully. Finding no cooperation within this group of men, and also having one by one them picked off does not bode well for the Police because they cannot find who the murderer is. The only clues are the choir and the remaining members are tight lipped. Alongside this, a series of rapes and brutal attacks on women have put the Police on full alert as the numbers keep mounting. This puts more pressure on the police force and Inspector Webster is the most empathetic of the Force because other officers do not give the assaults and the victims the support they should have. The story is complicated and intense, the detective work is detailed and intricate and extremely involved. Uncovering the strands is a tough job and needs focus even whilst reading let alone solving it. Alongside the two strands of the rapes and the murders, we have Archie's own personal history being in the forefront of the story. His love affair with Bridget who also now lives in Cambridge and the discovery of a twenty year old secret in the form of a daughter he never knew he had are two additional strands to the story. Josephine Tey's involvement is almost like a sideline in this particular story albeit an important one. I couldnt put this book down till I read it fully.

Friday, September 9, 2022

Death Down the Aisle by Verity Bright (A Lady Eleanor Swift mystery)

I like the indomitable spirit of Lady Eleanor who is definitely different from ladies of this era. Totally modern in the very best sense of the word, fair and just employer with a sense of humour and love towards all. Also an excellent detective and along with the love of her life the very clever Detective Hugh can solve most mysteries. In this story Constance is getting married in a few days and she seems to have it all - a distinguished bridegroom, money in plenty, very much in love with her groom and everything on track till the small matter of a murder of a girl who turns out to be the ex fiancee of the bridegroom. All hell breaks out with the bride's father refusing his consent to the marriage at all, the groom in custody but the bride believes in her groom and Lady Eleanor is sought to clear his name. The story is a good who dunnit going through the list of suspects (which grows) with each passing day starting from the bridegroom's mother a very nasty lady to the bride's own father with reasons of his own. The star of the story however is the relationship between Clifford the butler and Lady Eleanor. Discreet, indispensable, impeccable in behaviour and appearance, a fountain of knowledge and always there when needed this is a story in itself. Captivating reading. Very descriptive of the times and behaviour of all. Sent by Bookouture for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Sunday, September 4, 2022

The Forgotten Bookshop in Paris by Daisy Wood

Set in WWII in Paris and then moving to the present times, the story as is usual in two time lines links what is seemingly inexplicable and a mystery. Juliette has come to France with her husband - it has been a dream of her for so very long to recapture the world of her grandmother's past in France and now that she is actually in Paris she feels a connection that is scoffed at by her husband. Whilst on holiday, Juliette accidentally discovers that her husband has been unfaithful from a message she inadvertently read and that seals her decision to stay on in France and try to find out more about her grandmother and her family history. We then backtrack to occupied France and how the persecution of the Jews saw many French people come out to help to try to save as many people as they could. We see here Jacques the owner of the original bookshop and his wife Mathilde. Mathilde was more active in the Resistance and was interrogated on suspicion. Jacques was hesitant to get involved until his hand was almost forced by the humanitarian problem facing Parisians. Jacques begins leading a double life - holding people facing persecution in a hidden chamber in his house, buying books from Jewish families needing money and then being befriended by a Nazi official who was looking for book treasures but who also helped him by warning him of imminent arrests. The story in present day times was equally good. Juliette finds her dream bookshop decides to stay, become a small businesswoman in Paris, finds love again and gets to the bottom of her grandmothers story. Extremely good reading, wonderfully strong characters and the mix of history, family saga, romance and life was very captivating. Sent by Avon Books UK for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Thursday, September 1, 2022

A Truth Most Treacherous by Genevieve Essig

Florida 1884 was a very mixed, very exotic place to live in. Cassie has come there and though she is wanting to avoid any investigation, a murder almost finds her when she discovers the body of Chester Pence floating in a canal. Chester was a nasty customs officer who had lots of dubious dealings and whose reputation for being racist and unfair were rampant. The historical details in this novel were many and for outsiders would be very informative. The beginning of Florida as a center for tourists, for development of a port and being cosmopolitan was just beginning and this was the backdrop for the story. The treatment of the Chinese community and the backlash they faced is also highlighted in the book. The murder of Chester Pence and the other murders which followed and Cassie's romantic involvement and the story that surrounds the investigation is just part of this story. The history and the development of this state forms the other. Both combine very well to give one a very good story similar to those written by Verity Knight. Sent by Bookouture for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

I see London I see France by Paulita Kincer

I had downloaded this book quite a while ago and thought that while I am in Melbourne I will read this book which also deals with moving between countries! Since I am moving back to Colombo tomorrow it seems apt! Caroline is taken aback when her husband walks out of the house after an argument. The subject of the argument looking back is a minor one. Caroline then decides to take a bold step of taking her children to tour Europe selling her minivan and moving from London to Paris, Scotland and Provence pursuing her steps as an au pair in her younger days and tracking the man whom she had passion for when she worked as an au pair. We follow their journey through these cities and it is almost like a travelogue which was very descriptive and detailed and the story of Caroline and her dilemma is one that faces many women when a marriage breaks down. Does one continue in the same rut, or do you take this as an opening to break free, try new things use this as a challenge. Good reading for women who accept a challenge.

Sunday, August 28, 2022

The Opera Sisters by Marianne Monson

Ida and Louisa have a very sedate life. One works as a government clerk, and Ida loves to write, often scribbling down snippets and notes of ideas for stories. Their love for opera sees them scrimping and saving to buy opera tickets and then daringly actually going to opera houses in Europe to see their stars perform. During the course of these visits they are befriended by the celebrities themselves who are charmed by the simplicity of the sisters. When Austria and subsequently Poland followed by France are overswept by the Nazis, Ida and Louise set up a system of trying to help Jews to get out of Europe by a system of sponsorship. To this end during their frequent visits to Europe, they take with them the jewels and furs of the Jews who have managed to save them as a guarantee of their stays in London and elsewhere. The system works despite Ida and Louisa's total lack of training in this kind of work - work they do with their entire hearts and minds overcoming great odds and personal dangers to get as many people as they could out of these countries. The novel is based on a true story and links and snippets as to actual events are highlighted at the end of the chapters but the appeal of the story is the simple, straightforward lifestyle of two very middle class sisters who stepped out of their comfort zone to help people who were unknown to them. An inspiring read of two very down to earth heroines. Sent by Shadow Mountain Publishing for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Saturday, August 27, 2022

The Orphans of Mersea House by Marty Wingate

Postwar England 1957. Respectable ladies when they left bereft of any income what does one do. Olive finds herself after a lifetime of caring for everyone else totally alone - she has no financial back up, no one to turn to and with the avenues of employment also restricted she really does not know what to do next. At the very last minute her friend Marjery turns up with a brilliant offer. Relocating from London, she has decided to re-open her uncle's shop with upto the minute, modern appliances for the home none of which is available in their village, and open the house as a lodging. She offers the post of housekeeper to Olive who accepts it gratefully. Lodgers aside, a ward of Margery appears. A little girl stricken with polio and now in caliphers. Though she is Marjery's ward, it is Olive who falls in love with the little girl and seeks to protect her against any ill wisher or ignorant villager who may be harsh to Juniper. The story highlights the ignorance about polio and also a hitherto unspoken of subject - homosexuality. The story is a lovely warm hearted read - reaching out to everyone around. It ends well for everyone but it is descriptive and very well told. Sent by Alcove Press for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

A Gracious Neighbour by Chris Cander

Martha has never felt that she quite fitted in with the crowd. She felt she was always on the edges, not getting either the clothes vibe right or the conversation right. When Minnie, a girl who was a mate at school comes next door to live, Martha is elated thinking that with her polished syle Minnie is going to be Martha's entre into society. Alternately ignored or welcomed Martha still not get what drives Minnie to act the way she does and what starts as just plain curiosity as to what her neighbours do, ends up in real stalking. Martha does not intend actual harm to either Minnie or her husband John but she is intensely curious about their lifestyle, the poshness of it all, and then the bickering and what seems to go beyond the surface veneer of the glam life. Martha herself would be unrecognisable as the normal stalker, if ever there was a definition of one but things spiral out of control and she is apparently caught in trying to catch up, make amends and do it all. The story highlights of one aspect of keeping up with the Joneses and what happens when you feel slighted that you do not have it the way someone else does. Envy in a slightly different form but to what extent you would go to have it all. A very insightful read into human behaviour. Sent by Little A for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley. This post brings me to the end of a two and a half month stay in Melbourne. It was immensely good for me, but I do have to get back home!

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

The Beach Club by Elin Hildebrand

Mack has been working as the Manager at the Beach Club for the last twelve years. Every year has passed in a pattern but this year his late father's lawyer calls with disturbing news. His manager at the farm is retiring and a decision has to be taken as to the farm's future. It is quite an extensive property far removed from Nantucket and the hotel. His girlfriend of twelve years wants to get married and though he loves her dearly, he cannot understand why he does not want to commit. She is also pressurising him to secure his future by asking for a profit share in the Club. When Vance who is Macks second in command forces him at literal gunpoint to come clean to Marribel his girlfriend about his association with a guest at the hotel Mack knows that it is now crunch time. The story revolves around Mack and his indecisions about what to do. Other characters though important to the story are secondary. On top of it all, a hurricane sweeps across the island and this seems to be the starting point for change for all the inhabitants of the hotel. Although a typical light hearted holiday read, this was full of people who faced very basic fears of living alone, of abandoned love and bleak futures to be faced by some. A book I picked up from Glen Waverley library.

The Casual Vacancy by J K Rowling

I was very curious about this book and I knew I could never get it in Sri Lanka. I had forgotten about it till I came to Melbourne and picked it up from the library. I must be one of the last readers to get to this very long and interesting story. Pagford is a small town in England divided into two distinct parts. The Fields the lower end of town inhabited by those with limited or no incomes and then the upper crust Pagford who feel (at least some of them) that they pay un necessarily for the ameneties and benefits of the Fields inhabitants most of whom they feel do not want to improve their lot but continue to depend on dole outs from the council. Into this scene comes the sudden death of Barry Fairbrother one of the council members and this death causes a "casual vacancy" and in its turn sets off a maelstrom of action, inaction, devastation, death and so much more. The number of characters are quite large, they ebb and flow with the story and most of them are constant even on the periphery because they are all relevant in some way to the larger picture and each plays an extremely important part in the whole. The book is a definite adult styled story and is an excellent read. Highlighting some of the lesser nice characters of humans ranging from avarice, envy, lust and greed there is plenty of profanity, drug abuse which makes it more suitable for adults. The book was a very long one and since I took a large print, it was really very long! Thpugh late to the party I loved it and am just grateful that I got to it eventually.

Sunday, August 21, 2022

A Very Typical Family by Sierra Godfrey

The title is misleading. The family is anything but typical. At the age of fourteen Natalie called the police when she found her brother and sister at a party where they were all high on drugs and one teenager actually died. They were both sent to prison and neither of them had forgiven her though they are both out of prison now. Years have gone by, the family has split up, no communication between the mother and Natalie either. Natalie faces obstacles of her own at her job in New York. Ear marked for the top job, she is ousted at the very last minute by her boyfriend of whom she had such high hopes of making the relationship permanent. Heart broken mainly by what she feels as betrayal at work, Natalie is then faced with a letter from a lawyer, saying her mother has died and left the ancestral home to the three children who can inherit provided they actually come together to the house. The lawyer says there is no acknowledgement to the letters sent to her siblings upto date. This is how the story starts. Natalie undertakes the long journey back home, hoping to get some space from her relationship and her heart break and try to overcome the break up with her brother and sister as well. The story goes through several hiccups at every stage before a reunion of any kind can happen. Trying to put a dysfunctional and deeply hurt family together again is never going to be easy. The story is emotional, draining but a very good one. Sent by Sourcebooks Landmark for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Friday, August 19, 2022

The Light House Keeper's Daughter by Hazel Gaynor

The story surrounding Grace Darling set in the remote Farne Islands who operated the lighthouse along with her father but who could never become an official light house keeper because of her sex, combines the best of a number of genres. History in plenty, the courage and daring and innovation shown by a woman in 1838. Saving a group of shipwrecked survivors was the beginning of the story and the ties that were forged during that operation are then brought forward again in 1938 when Hannah Emmerson seeks refuge with Harriet now a light house keeper in Rhode Island to wait out her pregnancy. Her mother in Ireland is too ashamed of her daughter and just wants the whole story to be swept under the carpet and out of her sight. Just nineteen Hannah starts on her journey to America and her entire life changes as a result. Both 1838 and 1938 with the lighthouse as the main background are depicted very vividly. The life of lighthouse keepers in 1838 was not an easy one - apart from the isolation, it demanded loyalty and hard work and constant attention to detail. In 1939 with the addition of technology it became easier but the principles of hard work and attention to detail remained. The lives of these two women are detailed very descriptively and one is drawn into the whole saga of how these lighthouses work. Give the background of 1938 and WWII added more interest to the story. This book was a free download from Amazon and I am grateful as it opened a new vista for me - lighthouses and the courageous women who manned them.

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Paris for One and other stories by Jo Jo Moyes

I have been trying for the longest to get to this author and was never successful. This book was through the local library at Glen Waverley in Melbourne and hopefully I will be able to get another book before I leave for Sri Lanka by the end of this month. This collection of short stories starts with the Paris for One which is also the longest one of the lot. Each story involves a woman and the story is from the angle of the woman. In Paris for one Nell decides to act out of character. Planning a weekend in Paris with her boyfriend who ditches her, she now has to salvage what was left of the weekend. How she goes from despair to euphoria and how the weekend ultimately evolves is the story. Crocodile Shoes how a misplaced bag and a fancy Louboutini changed someone's life was very good. What a new hair cut and a trip to the salon could do! The Christmas List highlights how one should celebrate not as a rote, but because we want to and with people whom we care about otherwise it is just another day. The entire collection some very short and some novellas, held me interested throughout.

Saturday, August 13, 2022

Mydworth Mysteries No. 1 - A Shot in the Dark by Neil Richards & Matthew Costello

1929 rural Sussex. The year may be 1929 but it looks as feudal attitudes are going to take a very long time to die down. Sir Harry has returned after a diplomatic spell in Egypt along with his clever, modern American wife Kat. That alone is exciting and turbulent but as they get off their steamner, an urgent summons for Harry to come to the Foreign Office sees Kat going to Mydworth on her own. She is a bold young woman, driving in a country she doesnt know, to meet relatives she has only heard about and aristocratic as they come, their welcome is as tepid as expected. When a jewel robbery is what faces Kat as she arrives, followed by a random shooting of the robber as he tries to get away the couple have to use use their skills and contacts to try to solve this their first investigation in England. Finding who the murdered man was, the motives for the robbery and then solving the mystery was entertaining. I liked the setting, the era particularly, the relationship between not just Harry and Kat but the entire cast around them. This was a free download from Amazon. I will be looking out for the rest in the series.

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Where the Sky Begins by Rhys Bowen

1940 London - Josie Banks is an out and out city girl. She wouldn't know what to do in the countryside. The quiet and silence of it would drive her nuts. Surrounded by people and noise she finds it alien but this is going to be her life after being evacuated from London and all that she is familiar with. First her husband Stan gets called up. Not the most loving of relationships, he was anyway her choice but then he goes. She finds employment with a Russian Jew who has opened a tea room and helps her out, bwfriending her as well. That gets bombed and the old lady dies. She then moves on but she gets bombed out of her own house, with literally not a stitch of clothing. Thats how the evacuation to the countryside starts. It was usually children who get evacuated so when they find themselves with a grown woman without a stitch to her name, the authorities scramble to find a place for her. Miss. Harcourt and her servant Kathleen are not welcoming. They are suspicious and supercilious and Josie is not made to feel welcome. Little by little Josie overcomes the obstacles facing them all, settles in and makes a life for herself and the family as best as she could. Josie has a good heart, is willing to see beyond the arrogance of Miss Harcourt and see the loneliness and heartbreak that has madeher what she is. Kathleen is a different kettle of fish - blowing hot and cold alternately. Josie's sojourn during the war is very beautifully documented - the travails of wartime rationing, how people made do and this adds to so much apart from the story of how Josie gets involved in sussing out a spy in their midst. This will eventually lead to Josie's future working at Bletchley Park but that I hope will be another good story. This was historical fiction very well told, documenting the daily life of Britons as well as the overall aspect of WWII Sent by General Fiction (Adult) Women's Fiction for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Monday, August 8, 2022

Dear Little Corpses by Nicola Upson

The mass evacuation in September 1939 from London to the countryside of thousands of children was a lesson in planned logistics. Of course like all plans something has to go wrong somewhere and one isolated incident did Two children went missing, one got misplaced due to sheer mischief and families all around and a community went to pieces. In a small Suffolk village Josephine has to come to terms with the onset of war, and that her partner and lover Martha is leaving to go to America. In such uncertain times when she will come back is unknown. On top of that with the missing girl from a fair in open view of all the villagers is something that has to be tracked down carefully to find out what happened to the little girl. As usual in Upson's novels, nothing is as straight forward as just a missing girl and when the story is unravelled we find one missing girl, two missing girls and then bodies. Complicated in its telling you have to follow the stories of several families who try to deal with the trauma of separated families - husbands at the warfront, wives alone without the emotional support children can give you and not knowing whether your children are happy, settled and safe. I was also thinking of how in the present context of what my grandson was told "stranger danger" how we would deal with this forced separation. Anti vaxxer protests will be nothing compared when parents take to the streets! I dont blame them either. (the parents not the anti vaxxers!) The story made one think and drew the reader into the emotional morass of it. Like Nicola Upson always does. Sent by Crooked Lane Books for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Nine Lessons by Nicola Upson

The style of writing in this book is so reminiscent of P D James that I just had to finish it in one go. My last book I picked up from Glen Waverley library because I am leaving for Colombo tomorrow the 28th August. The story starts in very peaceful countryside and Detective Archie Penrose does not expect to find the horror he does. In an abandoned grave, Archie finds the mutilated body of the church organist, a private man who did not antagonise anyone and who led a very quiet life. No apparent enemies and the only significant piece of evidence is a torn photograph of a house with a few words on it. Trying to piece the clues of this brutal murder takes Archie back to Cambridge and to a group of young men who on the surface do not have any close links other than they were members of a choral group. They are today scattered in different professions, one of them dead, one dying of cancer, the others seemingly harmless very highly placed and one particularly boorish bully. Finding no cooperation within this group of men, and also having one by one them picked off does not bode well for the Police because they cannot find who the murderer is. The only clues are the choir and the remaining members are tight lipped. Alongside this, a series of rapes and brutal attacks on women have put the Police on full alert as the numbers keep mounting. This puts more pressure on the police force and Inspector Webster is the most empathetic of the Force because other officers do not give the assaults and the victims the support they should have. The story is complicated and intense, the detective work is detailed and intricate and extremely involved. Uncovering the strands is a tough job and needs focus even whilst reading let alone solving it. Alongside the two strands of the rapes and the murders, we have Archie's own personal history being in the forefront of the story. His love affair with Bridget who also now lives in Cambridge and the discovery of a twenty year old secret in the form of a daughter he never knew he had are two additional strands to the story. Josephine Tey's involvement is almost like a sideline in this particular story albeit an important one. I couldnt put this book down till I read it fully.

Friday, August 5, 2022

A Botanists Guide to Parties and Poisons by Kate Khavari

1923 and it is not an easy era for women who want something more from their life - not only marriage and children but a career of some kind. Saffron has fought her peers and colleagues for a spot on the research team and she is well suited for the job but fighting prejudices and sneers from her colleagues is getting too much to bear. When her boss who has always been supportive of her is accused of murder, by using his botanical knowledge to kill off a fellow researcher, Saffron knows she has to use her analytical skills as best as she could to get him free. The botanical theme throughout the book, the characters not just the main one all added interest and substance to the story. The touch of romance was judiciously right not overpoweringly so and the book provided to be a good read, on a subject which for many may be boring. Sent by Crooked Lane Books for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Thursday, August 4, 2022

Guilty Creatures edited by Martin Edwards

This collection of slightly vintage mystery stories had something for everybody who is a fan of this genre. Slow moving in some, fast paced in others, quiet characters, forward and pushy characters in others it ran the full gamut of characters which added up to a very satisfying whole. Sent by Poisoned Pen Press for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

The Marlow Murder Club by Robert Thorogood

Judith is elderly and very happy with her life and the way it is going. When her neighbour Stefan is murdered and when the local police seem to dismiss her as a cranky old lady, she decides to join up with two other ladies Suzie and the very prim Becks, the vicar's wife to embark on a bit of detection and try to sort out who murdered whom. When a second murder occurs, they step up their action - in a head on, amateur attempt but which is strangely successful and keeps them out of harms way though they come perilously close on several occasions of endangering themselves. They do not follow protocol or procedure and ignore the local police force but come up trumps with clues and suspects - much more than the local police. The setting itself was picturesque - how these murders take place in serene, quiet and such pretty locales is something to ponder! A well rounded mystery detective story. Sent by Poisoned Pen Press for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Sunday, July 31, 2022

A Certain Darkness by Anna Lee Huber

I like the stories featuring Verity and her husband Sydney. Her exploits during WWI are brave, courageous and stuff that other women did not do. Sydney was himself a brave soldier and one who thankfully came out of the war alive. That they are able to make a life together after the harrowing preceeding years is a miracle. Now they are called upon to go back to espionage and find out secrets that are hazardous and will set the world alight. Verity finds the civilian life rather too quiet for her taste and she is longing to get the bit between her teeth but Sydney is the ideal partner - putting on the brakes and making sure she does not risk it all for the sake of her work. He makes her realize that in the end her life and his matters, and that they came out of the War not to destroy themselves but to make a life together. The story going back to Belgium, Netherlands and past characters in their lives all trying to get this report which will rock Europe. Very high on espionage, thrills, this is a page turner. Sent by Kensington Books for an honest review courtesy of Netgalley.

Death at the Manor (Book No 3 in the Lily Adler series) Katharine Schellman

The mix of Regency and a female detective are very attractive. Lily Adler has been a favourite of mine since I read one book of her exploits. I was so glad when Netgalley sent me this one too. Lily is pragmatic and she is looking forward to a quiet companionship with her aunts in Hampshire. She is accompanied by her friends and is looking forward to meeting Mathew Spencer whom she has a fondness for. Arriving in this small village, her interest and the interests of her companions is aroused by the stories surrounding a ghost in a manor bordering the village. The story takes off from there. Visiting this manor house, Lily is not met just by stories of a ghost who has been seen by many in the house, but also by the death of the mistress of the house - supposedly at the hands of the ghost. Unfortunately the local magistrate is not willing to deal with a proper investigation but is willing to pass it off as a death by an unknown party. Not attributing it to a ghost or to a human being either. Lily sets in motion an enquiry with Bow Street and uncovers a story of intrigue. The obvious suspects are taken into custody but with no real proof - only suspicion and the actual villain of the piece gets away almost scotfree. Very lovely setting - the English countryside and the English countryside way of life adds piquancy to the story. Sent by Crooked Lane Books for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Saturday, July 30, 2022

Old Bones Lie by Marion Todd

I am still in Melbourne though visits to the library were few and far between! I've had plenty of books on my Kindle to catch up on and it is rather necessary as I seem to be lagging way behind on some of them. It is still very cold (cold for my tropical bones anyway) with no sign of letting up. I think the weather will ease by September but by then I'll be back in humid and hot Sri Lanka! This book started out like all detective stories do. A mystery but with no dead bodies strangely. A prisoner going on a visit for a funeral goes missing along with the two prison officers accompanying him, and the van. Strangely their two wives were abducted simultaneously and returned unharmed a couple of days later. That was stranger then one of the detectives wanders into the precinct unharmed, the other is still missing. That is the scenario for DI Claire Mackay to sort out and she is now over ruled by the big boss in the form of Ben who turns up, takes over the investigation, leaving a now murder vicitim to Claire's detecting skills. Ben is secretive, shares very little information seems to be going over Claire's head. The story uncovered finally is something else. The murder of one woman was almost an accident, the prison escape was carefully planned and all to solve a robbery of years past worth a good packet of money. Everyone seems to be linked but it is hard to link them together. Sent by Canelo for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

The Woman in the Library by Sulari Gentill

I am in Melbourne still and greedily picking up books from recommendations by blogger mainly from the Glen Waverley library. My Netgalley downloads have got neglected as a result and I am a bit behind on reading and reviewing. It is freezing weather here (for me). Coming from Sri Lanka is a shock to the system but I am enjoying the company of family and friends. The food of course! Melbourne is a food eaters paradise - the variety offered in even the smallest shopping area is vast and tasty and very reasonable. This book by an Australian author of Sri Lankan origin suited me very well. I've loved all the reads I've done by this author and this one did not disappoint too. Set in the august presence of the Boston library Hannah is writing a book and finding inspiration hard to come by. A book within a book genre if there is one. Hannah is Australian and she is inspired by correspondence by an American writer Leo. Hannah's character is Freddie and whilst in the midst of writing gets embroiled in a murder initiated by a scream. That initial scream sets off a series of horrendous events ending with another murder and the suspicion falling on this small group. The evidence against each one of them stacks up and the author very cleverly directs one in every which way which makes for very confusing conclusions - all wrong! The story was a little convoluted with several blind alleys, wrong turns for the reader but it ended very neatly. Another good mystery novel from Gentill. Sent by Poisoned Pen Press for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Sunday, July 17, 2022

Murder at the Priory Hotel by Merryn Allingham

It is the year of writing that draws me in to this kind of detective fiction. 1957 Sussex countryside very engaging characters - a small share of villains but generally everyone peaceful, minding their own business but at the same time being a village everyone knows everyone. A time that is not going to come back going by present day times. A certain innate sense of goodness seems to prevail in these stories. A musical group has arrived for the opening of a renovated hotel and everyone is rooting for its success. The group is rather flashy but it is hoped that it will interest the youngsters to give the hotel a try. When the lead singer is electrocuted on stage at the opening song, it smells of doom for the hotel especially when it seems that it was deliberate and therefore a murder. Flora and Jack friends of Sally the present owner are amateur sleuths and they privately start looking around for clues as to how Beverley was murdered. Like in their previous escapades, they have to work secretly so as not to get the local Constabulary all hot and bothered and the duo soon discover hidden depths to whatever was beningn on the surface. Flora is the owner of a bookshop and Jack is a struggling crime writer and the relationship works well for detection alongside the other characters which appear in the series. The story is a good example of a cosy mystery, set in a countryside atmosphere with engaging characters and good detection skills. Sent by Bookouture for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Saturday, July 16, 2022

Summer of 69 by Erin Hilderbrand

The story revolving around a upper class family set in 1969 and a summer spent like always at Nantucket. But this time around the flow and ebb of their lives have changed. Teddy the only son just called up for service in Vietnam, Blair the elder daughter pregnant with twins, coping as best as she could, independent Kirby on her own working as a cleaner and then as a receptionist elsewhere and the youngest, growing up not happy to be with her mother and grandmother and their rules and regulations. She senses things are definitely not what they seem, there are hidden currents even with her mother and grandmother and change is in the air. The story is a soothing one - despite the drama which besets them at every turn. It soothes because it is familiar and to the outside world they seem untouched by what is happening within. Mother has become almost an alcoholic, Blair is almost certain her husband is unfaithful, Kirby is trying to "find herself" and come to grips with racism and a boyfriend who is African American and Jessie at thirteen falling in love for the first time with no one to confide in and watching the conflicts at home. Interspersed with the family story of the Levins, is Chappaquidick and the repercussions there and the Moon Landing - both touching lives of people in this story. A very enjoyable read because it is a plausible story - it could happen to any family in similar circumstances and one is drawn into the drama as well as its ups and downs. I never could get hold of a book by this author and I am so glad I was able to at last. A book from Glen Waverley library in Melbourne.

Thursday, July 14, 2022

What Lies Beneath by J G Hetherton

Two timelines for a mystery murder story. Laura's friend's family, when they were both little girls, was murdered brutally. The friend was taken by relatives and that was the end of the relationship between the two girls. Fast forward twenty years and a girl's mangled corpse on the interstate after an accident leaves some strange clues behind. Her last call was to Laura but Laura cannot identify the corpse and detectives are skeptical that she has no idea why someone would be calling her just minutes before she died. The onlu clue is a photograph which includes her friend from twenty years ago with Laura and Laura's father as well. The story was a complicated one. Laura starts investigating the murder on her own, unravelling so many connections to her own family which leaves her nonplussed. Her mother is scathing in her attacks on the family. Added to the mix is a lifer in prison who is facing execution shortly, who also seems to have some insider knowledge of the old murder. There is some action but it is the descriptive writing that is good here. Small town southern inhabitants with a lot of prejudices, plenty of poverty, and trying to succeed. Eight year olds who were quite sensitive to what was happening in their homes, who knew how to keep secrets and when to just shut up. The review was not an easy one to write, though the book was entertaining Sent by Crooked Lane Books for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Monday, July 11, 2022

Next of Kin by Joanne Trollope

This one is a bit darker than the rest of her books. Death, resultant grief, the myriad ways people handle grief and then the resultant period which follows intense grieving. A bit of an eye opener for me personally anyway. We have the opening scene with the death of Caro, someone who came from America twenty years ago and who never quite adapted to the vagaries of hard farm life and with her death releases a whole lot of intense emotion which seemed to have been bottled up within her family and extended family for decades. When her death is followed by the violent death of her brother in law - the reasons for his depression under estimated and unknown by his own family - everyone is not brought closer together which should be the case but rather further divided into their own little coccoons of not knowing what they should have done, what they did not do right and generally being more miserable than they were before. Every character was unique, every character we can read in people within our own family, the situations are similar and we wonder whether we would behave like this. The story gets you questioning oneself, ones ethics and morals and whether we are found wanting. A really profound novel. A book I picked up from a free library which was my first free library find!

Saturday, July 9, 2022

Hidden in the Shadows by Imogen Matthews

A WWII story set in wartime Holland with the attendant horrors of the Nazis, the persecution of Jews, the courage of those who helped them escape and mainly the story of Wouter and Laura. The story is compelling, the horrors actual and the escape of Laura particularly descriptive and detailed. The efforts by normal civilians to help as many people escape - despite knowing what would happen if they were found out is almost unbelievable. Putting yourself at risk is one thing but putting your family and the entire village at risk is something else. The repercussions of being found out were horrible and still people continued to help others selflessly. Wartime 1944 Holland going into 1945 was not easy for anyone - food was very scarce, resources were limited and everyone was stretched to the limit. A story of endurance and courage. Sent by Bookouture for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley

Friday, July 8, 2022

The Venetian Venture by Suzette A Hill

The time is 1954. Rosie Gilchrist works for a doddering Dr Stanley at the British Museum who has tasked her with finding a valuable book In Venice. Her boss has sent her on this wild goose chase with hardly any clues, no introductions as to where she could start and the only clue he gave was dubious. Rosie is simple and accepts people for what they are. In Venice she meets many people who surprise surprise are on the same venture - looking for the same book. Some are quite ruthles especially when it later transpires that there is a massive reward for someone finding this book with the curious addition of a Murano vase! both items have to be found and presented together to claim the prize. Rosie herself just wants to find the book and take it to the British Museum. Seems very simplistic in her needs. The characters are varied and strange and when the murder count builds up, it is obvious that the searchers mean business and no one should get in the way. The setting of Venice and the fact that it was quite descriptive added interest. As a cozy it was rather tame. Another book I picked up from the local Glen Waverley library.

Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Punishment she deserves by Elizabeth George

Like most of Elizabeth George's mystery murders the story starts slowly and then you begin to realize that the basis has been laid for what looks like a straight forward piece of detection but is anything but simple. When Detective Ardery and Sergeant Havers are called to follow a procedural mistake for someone who committed suicide in custody it seems an open and shut case. Havers is naturally a good detective and she finds anomalies in the local cops detection immediately. On top of it all Ardery cannot stand her, and is hoping with the connivance of the Chief Superintendent to tie Havers in knots and make it as difficult as possible so that she can rebel and then be transferred out of station or preferably sacked. They did not count on Havers tenacity and the loyalty Detective Lynley had for someone whom he counts on. This starts another investigation and the whole story starts unravelling - including teenagers unwittingly involved in an officers sexual antics protected by another senior officer in the local constabulary, families with complicated histories battling issues with their children, people all covering up for another some thinking that they are doing it for the good of a family or a friend but really not helping out at all. The setting of Ludlow where the entire story is set is described in detail. One gets an idea of how the entire area operates not just the town itself but all the surrounding areas and how they are all linked. This adds so much more interest to a story especially to people who are absolute outsiders to the United Kingdom. The story is detailed and convoluted but so painstakingly put together. The only trouble I had is that it was a chunkster and I found it so difficult to read in bed. Another excellent book from Glen Waverley library.

Saturday, July 2, 2022

City of Friends by Joanne Trollope

Four women in their forties, been friends for decades supportive of each other now find themselves at a cross roads. Each of them have faced obstacles in their careers, have overcome those and reached levels which are satisfying to all. Now each one is faced with personal obstacles which they must try to deal with, if they are going to have a future to live with happily. A few of the obstacles involve people from each other's families and this is where the questioning has to start. Does one sacrifice a friendship of decades for what could be a temporary dissent. Does one build bridges and discount minor quips. What is best for the greater good. I like the different aspects of each woman's life, the problems they individually face and how they try to circumvent and overcome them. As usual very good reading. A book I picked up from Glen Waverley library.