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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.