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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.