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Sunday, December 31, 2023

A Body on the Doorstep by Marty Wingate


Literally starting with a man keeling over on your doorstep, on your first day of work and at a wake (almost) was Mabel’s introduction to the Useful Women’s Agency from where she was assigned to help Rosalind the widow, deal with the fact that her husband has just been declared dead after seven years of being missing.

The story could not be anything but interesting with a Victorian sort of setting, and Mabel trying to help everyone on the sidelines, whilst also solving not just one but two murders. The characterisation was spot on, the descriptions down to earth and vivid. Also very charming.

Altogether a very good read for the holidays, despite the murders.

Sent by Bookouture for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Tuesday, December 26, 2023

Murder by Candlelight by Faith Martin

 The holidays prevented me from getting to reading and reviews but am back now. Greetings and all good wishes to all.

The story set out in a small village of Maybury has all the characteristics of a vintage cozy. The well to do family not aristocrats but wealth from hard work, then the residents all the usual characters, each adding a necessary piquancy to the whole story.

Two murders one the classic locked room scenario, one a supposed overdose baffle the local constabulary but with judicious thinking through, the young local author Arbie solves it methodically and presents it to the Inspector on a platter.

Ideal holiday read, charming background and setting and excellent characterization.

Sent by HQ Digital for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Thursday, December 21, 2023

Murder on the Cornish Cliffs by Verity Bright (A Lady Eleanor Swift mystery)

 The escapades of the Lady Eleanor are always quirky. Accompanied by her faithful butler, a veritable trove of information and an uncanny ability to handle any situation, we see the duo again in a fight for justice and the most improbable suspect.

Set in a bleak snowbound estate in Cornwall, we are treated to Cornish food, beliefs and sayings aplenty whilst the duo solve not just one but two murders.

Although the subject was murder, the setting was Christmas. It added to the warm feeling the festival brings.

Sent by Bookouture for a unbiased review,courtesy of Netgalley.

Sunday, December 17, 2023

The Fall of the House of Borgia E R Chamberlain


The history of the Vatican is interesting to put it mildly. That it was not just that - that it was manipulative, murderous, incestuous and every shade of corruption in between is being about right. The history is chequered with every human frailty that one can imagine and the Borgias were one family which encapsulated all of the above.

This was a complicated book, which I read over a period of a couple of months. It had to be digested in small doses as it was not easy to read (I am a Catholic myself). But it was excellent historical reading which anyway cannot be erased, however unpalatable it would be!!

As another reviewer explained, the author states clearly facts as what is written and tabulated from hearsay and fiction which could be greatly exaggerated to suit the whims of enemies and competitors. This was a highlight for me.

Sent by Sapere Books for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley. My apologies for the delay.

Friday, December 15, 2023

Past Encounters (World War II saga) Davina Blake and Deborah Swift

 A story told in two time frames. One was the harrowing time that Peter and Archie endured during their capture by the Nazis. It included in great and descriptive detail their lives, the work, the humiliation and the fact that they survived to return, marry their sweethearts and live out their lives.

The other story is in the years after how Peter lived a secret life unknown to his wife, having close connections to Archie and his wife Helen, even continuing the practice after Archie’s death. Finding this out suddenly was a shock to Rhoda who wanted to investigate this further.

The story had during both periods of time, many twists and turns. Apart from the historical detail, it depicts frailties and the way human nature can still surprise us. 

Good reading.

A free download from Amazon

Sunday, December 10, 2023

Death on the Scotland Express by Fliss Chester


This cozy series is very entertaining when you want straight forward stories in a pleasant setting with varied, invariably a sprinkle of eccentric characters. This was one such a read.

Cressida the Hon is the way she introduces herself (bit strange right there) is with friends returning to London along with her pug Ruby who plays a leading role in the story. One murder whilst on a train journey is bad enough but when second one is attempted and two people injured, one rather badly, we know the murderer is on the train. Cressida’s good friend Detective Andrew’s and his able assistant Kirby are coincidentally on the same train and now that the chief suspect is shot, they all have to look elsewhere for the murder suspect.

Told in a very easy style though the timing is just a train journey from Scotland to London we are taken along the ride with deduction and detective skills in full force.

Nicely told, relaxing read.

Sent by Bookouture for an unbiased review courtesy of Netgalley 

Monday, December 4, 2023

The Mandeville Shadow by Callie Langridge


I wanted a break from murder stories and I found it in this family saga, touching on the supernatural in a beautiful village setting.

Kate is burdened with grief and loss. Her father dead, her mother sold the family home moved out to stay with her son and Kate has lost her job at the steelworks. No home, no family her chance encounter on a walk brings her a chance of work and a welcoming, warm family home.

Hill House has a history, most of it good but with one villain who reaches out mentally to destroy the young heir of this home. Kate has spiritual powers of her own, hitherto known to her in the most fleeting manner but now developing at a faster rate to protect and save Tommy from death.

Fascinating story, beautifully crafted.

Sent by Storm Publishing for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley 

Sunday, December 3, 2023

Murder In A Country Village by F L Everett (An Edie York mystery Book No 2)

 England 1944 and Edie is a courageous woman who is keen to make her mark in the newspaper world but she gets sidelined .She is an obituarist but she wants to be a crime reporter making front page news.

Finding an active anti war activists body at the bottom of a cliff becomes the news. In this village where many men have not returned from the wars,  Joyce Reid’s death was not mourned by many. Joyce ran a house with a load of artists who were all anti war in varying degrees. They were a bunch of people with secrets to hide, and they did not take kindly to DCI Louis Brendan’s investigation into the suspected murder. Edie has better luck and gradually unravels a whole heap of information which could lead the Police to the murderer.

The setting is picturesque, both the village and the contrast with the artists residence. We have the background of 1944 WWII with its rationing, the hard life civilians faced on a day to day basis. It added a depth to the cozy.

Sent by Bookouture for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Shades of Death by Angela Ransom

The court of Elizabeth in 1560 was a hotbed of intrigue. The queen was very aware that despite her popularity there were strands of dissension, kept hidden for the most part but there were several attempts on the queen’s life throughout her reign.

Her relationship with Lord Dudley was not looked on favorably because there were many suitors for her hand and a married Lord was just not acceptable. WhenDudley’s wife is found dead in her castle the suspects are her husband and the Queen who supposedly wanted Dudley for herself.
Banishing Dudley from the Court, the Queen sets up a private investigation (which was not private at all) as every move seemed to be known to their enemies beforehand). Catrin and Lucy two ladies in waiting known for their loyalty and discretion are the Queen’s agents to find out what lies behind the Lady Amy’s murder.

A web of deceit, greed and a desire to get rid of Elizabeth hold a group of courtiers together and this is the group that has to be penetrated to get to the mastermind.

Descriptive both in background as well as characters, this was a good read not just of the detective genre but history as well.

Sent by Sapere Books for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Saturday, November 25, 2023

The Butterfly Collector by Tea Cooper


The links in this story were tenuous. An illustration of a butterfly, a missing baby (thankfully found) and
a mystery that lay unsolved. To add to the interest two time lines the early 1800s and 1922 Sydney. Both links involved feisty, courageous women. The women were not afraid to stand out against restrictive rules and they worked the system in their favor in whatever way they could. 

The two individual stories were complicated. The earlier one was about Carrie and Sid and their earlier life which included their missing son and the baby racket that went on in Morpeth. Since big names were involved the story was not discussed or published. In the latter story Verity discovered the story and despite pressure from above got justice for the mothers whose children were given without their consent.

The story is not an unusual one - baby farms existed in every place but the cruelty of its practice because very few voluntarily gave up their children. The fact that it was highlighted at the end is a good ending because for some it could end in a reunion (which it did in this story).

Sent by Harper Muse for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Thursday, November 23, 2023

Murder in Williamstown by Kerry Greenwood


Kerry Greenwood flies you away to a lovely world. Leave the murders and mysteries that follow our heroine Phrynne Fisher, the world that is depicted is a lovely one. The closest one would get to an aristocratic set up (Phrynne is a Honourable), but Phrynne is deeply compassionate and very kind (rare), never condescending (rarer) and very earthy and passionate (still rarer)

This story involves the opium trade in Sydney, a dead Chinese, the closing of ranks against the police by the Chinese and Phyrnne solving a murder, aiding a reconciliation, finding out who is swindling the Blind Institute - generally bringing justice to many.

Such descriptive writing, so many snippets to give background to Sydney life, especially from the perspective of Phrynne and her unusual household.

Sent by Poisoned Pen Press for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley 

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Murder at Everham Hall byBenedict Brown


Marius Quin has one best seller under his belt. Now desperate because his writing skills seemed to have disappeared and on the brink of financial ruin,  the offer of a New Year break by his former sweetheart seems the answer to his prayers.

Accompanied by his basset hound heads for Everham Hall where the wintry weather worsens and everyone is snowed in.  When his host is found murdered and police unable to get through, Marius is chosen as a detective (obviously best seller of a mystery murder was the their choice) and he and Isabella get to it. With almost all the guests having good reason to get rid of their host beneath their affability, the task is not an easy one.

Set in the 1920s this has all the hallmarks of a classic cozy. Somewhat different to a modern mystery murder the pace is slower, though the reasons for murder are unchanged and method can be equally brutal.

Sent by Storm Publishing for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Monday, November 20, 2023

The Hotel Quadriga by Jenny Glanfield

We follow families three of them, but along with them people connected to them through very turbulent times culminating in Nazi led Germany.

We read so much about life during WWI and WWII but this book deals with ordinary people prior to the rise of communism and Nazis in Germany. Gifted, clever people who had vision of what they wanted to do and The Hotel Quadriga was one man’s dream. He was successful beyond his wildest dreams but it came at a cost. The subject of anti Semitism and the idea of a pure Aryan race also began here, very well detailed in this book and the emigration common even today when people are oppressed. Whoever thought ahead got out of Germany and they were not just Jews.

The book was detailed because several genres were told together - the family saga was diverse and complicated, set against calm and troubled times as well. The book was a chunkster and I read it in stages as it got quite overwhelming and tense in stages.

A wonderful read on families, the ties that keep a family together and then the differences that tears it apart. Also that we have to live in or on a stage of non related events which swirl around us and willingly or not have to acknowledge that we are a part of it. No one can live in a bubble in the normal world. The families here went with the flow of world events, some happily some deeply saddened. It was the way to survive.

Thank you to Sapere Books for sending this to me for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Saturday, November 18, 2023

Murder at the Highland Castle by Helena Dixon

 One of a number in the cozy mystery genre this is cosy in a lot of ways. Scottish castle and lochs, cut off with winter snow. A group of friends invited to spend Christmas with their host. There are undercurrent’s though, many of them, and the invitation to Kitty and Matt are one of the secrets. Their host Lord Barlas, amiable to all had worries and suspicions he needed to share with a investigator. These two were his choice.

When Lord Barlas was found murdered, Matt and Kitty had their work cut out for them. alibis were watertight but motive was not from the very young widow, to the son in law to be, to the partner who he had for years and a very strange clairvoyant or spiritual advisor to add to the mix. All had strong motivations to kill and benefit from his death.

The detective work is paced out neatly and the description is vintage.

Sent by Bookouture for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Thursday, November 16, 2023


The story is frightening considering the power that men held over women in most parts of the world during this period.

Seventeenth century Agnes is a healer but she incurs the wrath of a Witchfinder who is determined to weed out so called witches from England. Mary is by association in the same category and it is very easy to play on the superstitions of people who have nothing to guide them and become a flaming mob. Agnes was found guilty and sentenced to death. She died before the sentence could be carried out, enraging the Witchfinder who then turned on Mary. The death of a husband of one of Mary’s friends is found murdered with strange markings on his body and this was the final blow to Mary. She turned to a stranger for protection and assistance to get to the bottom of the mystery markings.

The story of alchemy and its vast influence in Europe is touched upon in this story along with Mary’s role in solving this mystery in this small village in England. She was one of the lucky ones.

Interesting reading for those whose knowledge on the subject of witches and the harassment they underwent whether justified or not.

Sent by Lake Union Publishing for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley

Sunday, November 12, 2023

Winter Lights by Deborah Jenkins


A very happy collection of reads ideal to make someone feel contented and happy.

All the stories deal with ordinary, everyday life and the issues that people face, the complexities of human relationships and the way that people try to overcome the obstacles they face plus the difficulties even amongst family and how we try to come to peace with them.

This was a beautiful collection of stories.

Sent by Fairlight Books for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Friday, November 10, 2023

Lights Out by Elise Hart Kipness


A former Olympic winner and leading sports reporter Kate is now paying for an unguarded remark she made, when she was provoked to retaliate. Now her best friends husband an NBA superstar is found murdered and though everyone has had alibis, they are gradually unraveling in the harsh scrutiny of an investigation.

The wifeYvette seems to be the focus of the investigation, though Kate on her own investigation discovers many, including Kate’s own husband amongst Kurt’s lovers who were many, and others who would find Kurt’s death very convenient.

The story is fast paced, you are led through different suspects and investigations before the truth is finally revealed. Kate herself is battling a lot of personal turmoil not least her ex husband and his cavalier attitude towards his son, and her fathers reappearance at a time she would rather not see him. Balancing it all, with her loyalty to Yvette being called into question is not easy.

This is the first book in the series. I hope there will be more.

Sent by Thomas & Mercer for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Wednesday, November 8, 2023

The Last Train From Paris by Juliet Greenwood

 After a great deal of mystery murders, I got a book of a different genre. A family story. There was a great deal of death and destruction because it was set at the beginning of WWII but it was a warm, loving story nevertheless.

It was one of those things which just has to be fate. Nora was from Cornwall never stepped out of her home town, but with a passion to be a lady chef which was almost an impossible feat at the time.  Nora and Sabine met briefly. Sabine was newly married, expecting a baby. By the time she had the twins, war was imminent and everyone was fleeing Paris. To complicate matters one of the twins was born with a harelip which Sabine’s husband found abhorrent. It was also beginning to be known what the Nazis did to the disabled. In a wrenching last minute decision, Sabine thrusts Violette to Nora to take back to England and to possible surgery there.

Fast forward to 1945 Sabine has undergone immense suffering leaving her home, being refugees and barely escaping with her life. Nora has forged a life for herself as Mrs Herridge and Violette is cured, well and happy.

The reunion and retelling of the story in its entirety takes place in 1965 both girls grown up, able to handle the situation well. It ended well.

Sent by Storm Publishing for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Monday, November 6, 2023

Murder in Drury Lane by Vanessa Riley

 I have been reading mystery murders all in fabulous settings and eras. Each story has been so descriptive of their setting that it formed a great deal of the story itself.

This book is one such. The Drury Lane Theatre, the backers, the owners, the actors and actresses formed the plot, the murders that took place and also the detection. There was an unusual addition of mulatto and blackamoors, who had gained a position in society because of their immense wealth, education or by marrying into society. This added another genre to this book.

The murders of two stalwarts in the theatre itself was bad, but when attacks happened to those investigation the murders and a murder by mistake of another happened, it was very close to home for Lady Abigail who was not going to be cowed down by attacks. Unearthing enormous gambling debts, revenge and love triangles, plus betrayal by friends and worse family are all part of the story  It added a great deal of drama and made the unraveling a bit complicated.

I missed out on the first but I do hope there is a sequel. I do want to know where the missing husband is. It’s left very much hanging in the air.

Sent by Kensington Books for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Friday, November 3, 2023

The Blue Monsoon by Damayanti Biswas

 After a run of mystery murders set across the Western world, it was really good reading one set in chaotic Mumbai. The elements of the stories combined so many things peculiar to the East like the caste politics which would be unheard of in the West though the Karen’s of the world are doing their best to change that.

A ritual murder a body carved up, mutilated found on the steps of a Kaali temple is enough to set animosities between races up. When the first is followed by others Inspector Rajput has a full on investigation on his hands, with moles in his office, traitors everywhere and his own home rife with secrets. 

This was a page turner - a powerful social media influencer, caste politics at the station itself, personal threats to his wife and the case turns up clues, victims and suspects alike.

Excellent detective skills, in a fast paced environment this was a fantastic read.

Sent by Thomas & Mercer for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Tuesday, October 31, 2023

A Poisoned Fortune by Laura Martin

 A Jane Austen based story on Jane’s sleuthing skills. Different and very good reading.

Jane and her sister Cassandra are in Bath on a small vacation mainly to help Cassandra come to terms with her fiancĂ©es death. Jane is worried over her sisters mental state and tries in small ways to assist her. In Bath a chance encounter with Lady Waters and her much older husband set the scene for the story. When Lord Waters dies suddenly, despite his advanced years and ill health Jane is suspicious over his death, and brings it to the attention of the authorities. 

This does not go down well with not just the doctors involved, but also the family who just want the wife convicted, and financial matters settled with no scandal attached to the family and with little inconvenience to themselves. Jane delves further into the matter and justice is sErved.

The story set in 1797 England indicates the precarious position for women of that era, commoner or aristocracy alike. Very little was fair to women and their position in society was dependent on the whims of family.

A different Jane Austen variant which was excellent reading.

Sent by Sapere Books for an unbiased review, courtesy ofNetgalley.

Monday, October 30, 2023

A Haunting at Linley by Michelle Cox (A Henrietta and Inspector Howard detective story)

 Clive and Henrietta return to their cousins estate to find it in financial ruin.  The only way out would be to sell it, but this seems to beyond the understanding of Wallace’s mother who cannot understand that her late husband due to financial mismanagement has brought about this situation.

When an agent is found murdered, and the beginning of ghosts haunting not just the old matriarch but even leaving Henrietta uneasy, it is time to get to grips with the so called apparitions and to the present inhabitants of the castle, who have vague timelines of how long they are going to be there and even their credentials are in doubt.

There is another developing story of Elsie and Gunther in Omaha, a run away marriage, Melody masquerading as a nun to give Elsie enough cover and the reappearance of grandfather Oldrich, manipulative and harsh. I hope the inclusion of these characters will mean there is a continuation of stories from Henrietta’s side of the family.

A well told cozy, English country characters well detailed.

Sent by She Writes Press for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Saturday, October 28, 2023

The Brewery Murders by J R Ellis

 An award winning beer recipe has gone missing, presumed lost forever with the death of the owner of the brewery, until it seems it is not really lost just hidden.

The setting of a small Yorkshire town of Markham, two competing breweries which support almost the entire town and a very traditional history of brewing which goes back decades. The two breweries are owned by siblings - and the one managed by the sister is run almost totally by women. The owner is openly gay, lives and manages the brewery with her partner. In a conservative community, they get more than their fair share of misogyny and hate.

When two people are murdered, and an attempted murder on the owner of one of the breweries takes place, Detective Ockroyd knows that things will have to be sorted as the entire area is full of tension and suspicion. Taking a step at a time the Detectives use the media judiciously to flush out their murderer.

The background and setting to the story was charming, the characters were spot on and fitted in seamlessly. The introductions of snippets of various beers produced in Yorkshire, along with bits of history added enormous interest.

Sent by Amazon Publishing UK, for an unbiased review courtesy of Netgalley.

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

The Night of the Sleepover by Kerry Wilkinson


The story went back and forth in several time frames. You had to be aware of which time the story was being related because to Leah, twenty five years ago seemed like yesterday. Every year towards the anniversary of the girl’s disappearance conspiracy theories abound. Leah has never been exempt from them and most people are skeptical how one could sleep through an abduction of three teenage girls, sleeping next to you.

Things are never what they seem and though parents have resigned themselves to the disappearances, several siblings have not. Bringing out a documentary to bring some kind of closure to one, whilst hopefully winning an award from the film, may sound callous,but someone also does not want old stories and histories dug up. The survivor Leah is pivotal to the whole story and it slowly but surely gets tenser and tighter towards the end.

A mystery murder well told.

Sent by Bookouture for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Sunday, October 22, 2023

Vicar Brekonridge by Richard Helms

 I’ve been wanting a change of genre because I seem to be reading mystery murders in a straight spell. This was a good change.

1843 the Prime Minister is Robert Peel and through a case of tragic misidentify Daniel M’Naghten  a Scottish wood turner guns down EdwardDrummond his Secretary, who dies of the injuries. Thus unfolds the story of why this quiet and unassuming man wants to get rid of the Prime Minister.

Vicar Brekonridge is a thief taker, a clever man formerly Bow Street Runner and. Policeman who undertakes assignments wherever the money is good. Rough in appearance but with principles of his own, he is chosen to proceed to Scotland check out Daniels acquaintances and peers and look for any reason as to why he did what he did. Accompanying him to Scotland is the young and clever Simon a clerk of the same law firm, sent to assist with the record keeping.

What they discover is layer upon layer of subterfuge with a plot to overthrow the British government being cloaked in a plea for insanity so that Daniel will be put away and the real culprits hidden very safely. This is exactly what happens though we read the truth of the case.

Meticulously explained and descriptively set out, this was an excellent example of a historical mystery.

Sent by Level Best Books for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Thursday, October 19, 2023

The Waxwork Man by J C Briggs

 As usual Inspector Sam Jones and Charles Dickens investigate the seedier parts of London where petty crime abounds, murderers go scot free and both of them fight an unending battle of seeking justice for the poor, the people who have no one to fight for them.

Apart from that, the stories are set in very dismal surroundings - poverty, death, a never ending life of misery. This can be quite an overwhelming background to have constantly in a story but it is a hallmark of the Dickens tradition.

A murder of a disliked judge, witnessed by waxworks figures. Someone not going to be missed by anyone. The case is an open and shut one, till the waxworks figures keep appearing in public places in seeming mockery of the police forces, with a catch me if you can theme attached to it. The newspapers have a field day at the expense of the Police, and all Sam Jones wants is to have it all put away tidily. Then his beloved wife is abducted and things take a sinister turn and immediacy so that the investigators are put under pressure to bring matters to a close.

The story is fast paced and intense. Very well told.

The book was sent by Sapere Books for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley. 

Tuesday, October 17, 2023

Sufficient Encouragement (A Pride & Prejudice variation by Rose Fairbanks

 Late in my reviews and lots of catching up on the reading side as well. I was on holiday with friends to Amritsar, Dharamsala, Chandigarh and New Delhi where the air pollution got us eventually. All returned home with coughs and sniffles.

The book was delightful. It carried out the Darcy Elizabeth love story which is always not straightforward as against the Jane and Bingley love story milder and falling in line. There was a surprising love story for Caroline Bingley, completely in opposition to the haughty, arrogant miss she is usually portrayed. Comes across as a normal person who has feelings and even though her choice was not conventional, she does go for it.

The story was very nicely descriptive and was the ideal holiday read.

A download from Amazon.

Tuesday, October 10, 2023

First Victim by L A Larkin


Sally is an ex cop who has been recalled to take over a case as the department is over worked. The Austin case is a high profile one and when the body count spirals, it becomes urgent to find this killer who is cautious and fastidious as well. 

Suspicions mount but when one of the suspects is himself murdered, the detectives have to delve deeper into history and backgrounds and what is discovered is quite surprising. The innocent, frail old lady is hiding massive secrets, the suave retired friend has secrets of his own and Sally has to deal with a nightmare of an ex husband who has returned to her own police department with revenge on his mind.

The story was a busy one, the bodies only part of it. The blackmail, the political maneuvering to hide crime, the old boy network closing in against a female added great interest overall. Enjoyed the fast pace and was a real page turner.

Sent by Bookouture for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Sunday, October 8, 2023

Murders of a Feather by Eileen Brady

 Dr Kate is an accomplished vet who has a tendency to get drawn into murders and with her innate interest in them, gets involved in solving them.

Finding a young couple, both murdered by a lake wasn’t enough. Finding their temporary receptionist murdered in their own surgery was more than what they could take. Dr Kate and her assistant start their own investigation to link up the dots, as she is convinced there is a connection between these three people. Disparate though they may be.

Descriptive of the Hudson area in frozen February and equally descriptive of how a flourishing veterinarian practice would work, we follow them in their pursuit of justice for the victims, with a good dash of a budding romance thrown in.

Sent by Poisoned Pen Press for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Murder on the Christmas Express by Alexandra Benedict


I was hoping for a Christie version of events and that is not fair to the author. Maybe it was the title which drew me in.

Journeying in very bad weather to Scotland, the train is forced to stop and with a bunch of very mixed characters the story was certainly varied, till it went wrong and then murder happened not just once or twice but thrice. At least two murders one death by causes suspected not confirmed.

The enforced occupation in a small area of a dozen people is not easy. The not so nice characteristics begin to appear - the sniping, the off hand remarks, and even the most tolerant can get irritated.

The story unravels very slowly, the endings I never saw but human nature at its best and worst amply displayed.

A good read for anytime of the year - again I would say title misleading.

Sent by Poisoned Pen Press for an unbiased review courtesy of Netgalley.

Friday, September 29, 2023

The Murderess by Jennifer Wells


I am systematically going through all my unread books on my Kindle. This is one of them.

The story set just before the Great War and during the war centers around  the Paxton family, once gentry now impoverished. We have Hugh who only knows the life of a gentleman and is confused and troubled how to live any other way. His wife who is the owner of the Grange, refuses to sell out of a sense of belonging. There is a young daughter Kate who is pivotal to the story. 

The discovery of a mistress of Hugh, the former maid sends Millicent over the edge, but the actual beginning of the story starts years later, with a murder and we go backwards and forwards with the story both leading to the murder, and then after the murder.

Very intense, very well told, the reader is left to analyse the emotions involved as events are set out as it happens, very precise, very clinical. Unusual but very good reading.

Sent by Aria for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Friday, September 22, 2023

The Middle Ground by Jeff Ewing

A collection  of short stories that had got to the end of my Netgalley list.

Dealing with almost forgotten characters those who have lived very normal lives and now either in middle age or old age gone to the periphery of society, even of peoples minds and that is sad. All of them lived lives of interest and seemed somewhat faded now.

Some of the stories left me perplexed, some were inspiring.

Sent by Into the Void for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

My apologies for the delay.

Monday, September 18, 2023

The Sorrowful Girl by Keenan Powell

Liam is a good man. Having given up on his dreams to go to Harvard and become a lawyer, he has become a policeman and is trusted with the upkeep of justice in this small town in  Massachusetts.

It is not an easy task trying to keep a balance between the rich and powerful who do not heed the laws and who all close ranks if one of them is threatened. The finding of a body of a young woman in the woods, sets off a search for the murderer, and the hapless tramp is the first suspect. Liam knows that the murder suspect is out there but pressure from outside and lack of any others forces him to an arrest.

The young woman dreamed big and sought a way out from the routine of what her life would be if she remained behind, and this was seen as a threat and she was eliminated.

The story is about injustice, the part that money and in its turn power and influence can play on lives if one does not conform to rules laid down by high powered society and how people keep their heads down due to fear. Liam sought justice but he too had to pick his battles.

This was a compelling read. Things haven’t changed very much still. In some parts of the world anyway

Sent by Three Hooligans Press for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Thursday, September 14, 2023

Murder by Invitation by Verity Bright ( A Lady Eleanor mystery)

 Two vintage mystery reads was I fear a bit much, however nice they are.

Lady Eleanor along with her butler Clifford and the entire menagerie is good in small doses.

Celebrations for the Kings birthday are on in full glory. No holds barred with decor and street parties and food. A committee is in charge and Lady Eleanor is on it. But dark undercurrents abound, and when one member is found murdered, strangled with bunting, followed by another bashed on his head with the ceremonial plaque no less along with anti royal calling cards, the big guns are called in to stop these anarchist arising before the celebrations.

The story is a rather long one going into one man’s sad, past history and nothing to do with royalty which was a real red herring and put detectives off track. Very descriptive of the surroundings always this went from this little quaint village to a rather dreary mining village in wales.

This was a pleasant, light read with plenty of humour and nice varied characters to add range to the story.

Sent by Bookouture for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

The Wife in the Photo by Emily ShineroLa

 This was twisty and quite a tense read. A family with a teenage daughter having a bit more than the usual ups and downs. When Lola discovers that her husband is being unfaithful, she initially tries to work through the problem and Evan promises to stop the affair. He doesn’t. That eggs Lola to plan to leave him taking Jessica their daughter with her. She didn’t know that spelled doom for herself and she dies of a so called “accident”. 

Fast forward, we have a housekeeper entering the scene and though Jessica initially angry, calms down somewhat though Evan is never quite at ease. Ariel came recommended through Miriam who has worked with Evan for years and is a dependable sort.

The machinations behind Ariel and Miriam come up midway in the story, as it is divided into chapters outlining all the main characters emotions and plans but it did not work out, quite the way anyone bought it would.

Each person wanted a different outcome - no one got that.

Very much a page turner.

Sent by General Fiction (Adult)for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Friday, September 8, 2023

The Fire at the Exhibition by T E Kinsey (A Lady Hardcastle mystery)

 I’ve read two books about aristocratic Ladies who are not representative of the Ladies of the time. They were either haughty, vapid or cowed down. Lady Hardcastle was neither. Along with her supportive maid Flo and a very loyal staff they lived a very democratic and happy existence.

When the village had its inaugural exhibition of art - offerings from the villagers themselves, the productions were surprising. The prized ones were a book on Shakespeare, valued at Stf £ 1000 jewelled and dazzling, and a painting of the Grange by Summerhayes, one of a pair and an alabaster bust of an ancestor of the local laird.

At the inauguration a deliberate attempt to cause a fire, resulted in the theft of the prized exhibits and Lady Hardcastle with Flo was deputised to help the local Police in whatever way they could. They were also more keen to get the Summerhayes back as the Grange was in dire financial straits and needed the painting as one of a pair, to save the Grange from being lost.

Armed with few clues, lots of clever deductions, the addition of an eccentric brother and sister treasure hunting scheme, a hoity toity insurance investigator all adding false trails to the ultimate happy end.

Pleasant and easy to read novel set in 1912 rural England.

Sent by Amazon Publishing UK for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Sunday, September 3, 2023

TheLiterary Undoing of Victoria Swann by Virginia Pye

Vintage Boston we have a successful career woman writing under a pseudonym because her own name was considered provincial. Sadly she was scammed by her publishers who paid her much less than any of their other authors as she was a female, and a double wham when she was literally left destitute when her husband stripped her of all her assets.

Left to fend for herself, she left her publisher joined a pair of young newly established publishers, changed the format of her books, joined a provocative and energetic young woman and sued her former publisher for what she was cheated.

A story of bravery and courage to fly in the face of society’s conventions and norms was not easy but she did it. Successful in turning her life around and a beacon for young women her age.

Written descriptively about the age Victoria lived in, and the challenges women had to face even their own property.

Sent by Regal House Publishing, for an unbiased read, courtesy of Netgalley.

Wednesday, August 30, 2023

The Hotel by Emily Shiner

The hotel set in a bleak, lonely area may not be everybody’s idea of a vacation but the Rowe’s booking the entire B & B for three weeks was with deadly purpose.  The story is very twisted. Very early on you cotton on to the fact that Mark and the Rowes have a history. A complicated history involving blackmail as Well.

What no one cottons on to is that the simple, hardworking wife is no simpleton. Scheming from the very beginning she is the mastermind who engineers the whole situation in her favour - she wants to get out of the marriage with as much money as possible to safeguard the future of her baby son Henry. Everything works with that aim in mind.

Devious, all the characters were - and this was the story. Their deviousness. Not apparent at the beginning but apparent within a few pages of the story, each chapter giving you another bit of depth to the story.

Very well told, this was a good thriller.

Sent by Bookouture for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley 

Monday, August 28, 2023

Last Impressions by Laura Martin

 A Regency detective

 story with Jane Austen as our sleuth. 

Jane and her sister Cassandra are invited for dinner to a neighbours house - Mr and Mrs Paulson. The weather has turned and they know they may have to stay overnight but Mrs Paulson is very hospitable and they have no qualms over this.

The evening progresses with music and good conversation, until the body of their host is discovered in the study stabbed. What makes it incomprehensible is that the study is locked, the windows are firmly closed with no access in or out. To add to the quandary, they are all snowbound. It is dangerous to even think of sending someone to fetch the local magistrate and despite objections from one of the men, Jane takes on the role of investigator, preserving the evidence and questioning everyone in the house. When the butler is found murdered the next day the household is in hysterics because everyone realizes the murderer is in their midst. The weather still seems bad and then their hostess is found dead, seemingly a suicide till proven otherwise.

Putting together whatever evidence is available is hard as there is very little and although the tendency is to put the blame squarely on one of the staff, for Jane the solution seems too slick and convenient. 

This was really a very well written detective story which other than the setting would be perfect even in a modern setting.

The author has a new book coming out in October and I am very keen to get my hands on that.

Sent by Sapere Books for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley 

Monday, August 21, 2023

Murder At The Village Fair by Helena Dixon

Summer of 1935. Kitty and Matt enjoying a delayed honeymoon staying with an Aunt in idyllic and very comfortable surroundings. It is everything that one thinks of an idyllic English countryside, the weather and farmlands all beautiful. 

A fete being held is a highlight of the summer and the entire village is involved. When Miss Crowther is found murdered alias Madame Zara, fortune teller the first dimming of village allure begins. Kitty and Matt are the people who discover the body and their investigation, alongside the local detectives uncover deep secrets, simmering resentments and secret relationships which must be kept secret. The killer seems to be always one step ahead and when another attempted murder happens, followed by another murder we know the killer is desperate and is now reckless.

Kitty and Matt risk personal danger to uncover the secrets in this small village and bring justice for the victims. 

Very pleasant for readers this is reminiscent of more classic mystery murders.

Sent by Bookouture for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Saturday, August 19, 2023

There’s a plane on fire on the runway by Patrick Langdon

 A travel memoir covering several countries, lots of details of each place and other than a few exceptions everything was dusty, dirty, with piles of garbage, the guides were scammers and cheats and the food was lousy.

The writer accompanied by his wife went on guided tours to Egypt, India twice, then Cambodia, amongst several others. Historical details were faithfully detailed but one did get tired of the slightly condescending tone throughout the read. He did have a couple of good experiences but they seemed to have been overshadowed by the negatives.

Friday, August 18, 2023

The Season of Second Chances by Kristina McMorris

 There were two stories in this book.

The Christmas Collector dealt with the stuff we all collect during our lives. The endless crockery, linen, furniture is one. The mementoes like photographs, certificates, souvenirs with no sentiment for anyone other than the owner is the other. Jenna is a person who deals with all the stuff that is a persons home or estate. Dealing with it sensitively is her forte and in this story secrets unraveled of memories long gone is very evocative.

The second story is Gifted by T Greenwood. Alex is a gifted ballerina wHo just froze during a performance and is now analysing her feelings about her dance, her talent and her life. She realises that driven by her mothers ambition and dreams she has pushed herself to do better, reach an excellence that she is no longer enchanted with. Simone also gifted is eighty and living with senile dementia. How the two meet, unexpectedly is moving. It is a catalyst for Alex to decide how she goes forward.

Both stories deal with forgiveness, love and looking forward to new beginnings.

Sent by Kensington Books for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley

Monday, August 14, 2023

Death at a Scottish Wedding by Lucy Connelly

 I do like the Scottish settings. Bleak countryside all towering hills, desolate moors, dour, strong, manly men and huge castles especially in this story.

Angie is the bride to be, a Gothic bride at that. The castle fits the theme. Owned by Ewan the local laird,plus being the law of the area he knows everyone and everything that happens in his little world. The doctor who has taken over the local practice has dealt with one murder, and hopefully believes that this wedding will go without a hitch. When a man, not an invitee of the wedding is found murdered, Ewan and Emilia the doctor, acting as Coroner hope that they can find out who the victim is and solve the crime, because they are snowed in. No one has a way in or out. However it is not as easy as it looks. The pointers are to several suspects but they all fall by the wayside and the informal investigation continues with murder attempts several times on several key guests including the bride and Doctor Emilia.

This was a good mystery murder - good characters and very scenic settings.

Sent by Crooked Lane Books for an unbiased review courtesy of Netgalley 

Friday, August 11, 2023

So Late in The Day by Claire Keegan


A short story looking over what ‘may have been’ if you played your cards right, or if you said something different. Cathal with a bottle of champagne thinks of how Sabine could have been his wife if - there were many ifs here.

Cathal is troubled from the beginning - did the relationship spin too fast, did it get out of his control. The cracks appeared with his frugal ways - with feeling as well as money. Cathal seemed to be his own enemy . He said the wrong thing at the wrong time, did not think through what he said, or it was omission on his part of saying nothing when he should have said something.

The book was contained and seemed just right for this story. Anything more would have been too much.

Sent by Grove Atlantic for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Wednesday, August 9, 2023

The Husband Criteria by Catherine Kullmann

The year 1817 the setting the London debut of young ladies mainly intent on securing a catch. In the matrimonial stakes that is. Three of them good friends have slightly loftier ambitions. They have within themselves set guidelines which they will stick to. The criteria would hold good even today other than the need for a comfortable lifestyle (they’ve not known anything else) . They are loyal to each other and when one of their group is refused vouchers at Almacks (a necessity of approval from the social powers that be)they take the highly irregular step of all three boycotting events hosted there.

Cynthia finds herself drawn to the very eligible Earl of Marfield and finds that she is very much in tune to his own views and ways of life. Chloe finds herself drawn to Thomas Musgrave but is hesitant, andAnn must decide whether music as a career is more important than marriage however impecunious the circumstances she may find herself in.

The book was a pleasant read for those who like romance in an uncomplicated manner without too many twists and turns.

Sent by Books Go Social for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Sunday, August 6, 2023

Beginning French by Les Americains

 I always envy any nationality that can decide to go buy a property in another country. With the hoopla that Asians face (not all) with just getting a tourist visa, this kind of story for me is almost magical.

Eileen and Marty had a French ideal. They took French lessons, Eileen was more successful than Marty then they bought a 400 year old farmhouse with a barn, redid it, came back to find it ruined due to a burst pipe. Started all over again. Got entrenched into the village life enjoying the food, the wine, the brocantes and the neighbours. Took French bureaucracy in their stride and as we would say boxed on.

I loved the vivid descriptions of life in this part of France, warts and all. The good overshadowed the inconvenient, the hard bits and being a foodie, Sarah s cooking encompassed it all. Liked the recipes at the end of the chapters. It added so much flavour to the stories.

Thank you to Les Americains for sending me the book, courtesy of Netgalley.

This is a re read by me. I enjoyed it so much.

Friday, August 4, 2023

Murder at the Inn ( AJulia Bird Mystery. No 4)

A pub quiz should be fun and entertaining. In this village it is quite a serious one and everyone taking part wants to win. The teams are quite level, there are all sorts of people taking part and all of them are experts in one field or another. The problem begins when one of their more distinguished panellists are found murdered, and then the numbers seem to increase with murders and attempted murders abounding.

Julia and DI put their heads together to sort out random unconnected clues. Even the hit and run where the DI was injured in hindsight, does not look accidental so the need is immediate before more murders take place.

This murder streak in this small village in the Cotswolds is jarring for the inhabitants as well as the serenity of this village. The end was not surprising for me, though the reasons unraveled were.

A good cozy mystery.

Sent by Bookouture for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Tuesday, August 1, 2023

The presidents wife by Tracy Emerson Wood

Edith Bolling was living a contented life. Turning a failing business around was a huge achievement for the time and she had good friends. She did not plan on the relentless romancing of a recently widowed President, who fell in love deeply just months after his wife passed away.

Their courtship restrained by Edith, eventually they did marry but what followed was different. Woodrow Wilson began to depend on the judgement and views of his wife, and she began to have enormous sway over all matters of state as well. This was in the midst of America being drawn into WWII. Edith was against  the suffrage movement (which in view of her other views was different) but when Wilson became incapacitated, she excluded all but the very minimum number needed to attend to the President, decoded messages, summoned people, gave decisions and was literally the force of the Presidency.

Utterly devoted to the man she loved, Edith’s entire focus was to protect him and her country. A powerful, emotional story but would have liked to read how she adapted after leaving the WhiteHouse and when she was widowed again.

Thank you to Sourcebooks Landmark for sending me this book for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Sunday, July 30, 2023


The sequel to the first book, this takes us right back in 74 year old Ronnie’s life. With a daughter Nadia turning out of the blue, heavily pregnant but still acerbic as ever, Ronnie has to steer a path between the past heavily obscured by her daughters view of the past, which was very much in favour of Ronnie’s husband now dead. 

As was common years ago, one was stoic about many subjects - unfaithfulness, domestic abuse. There was no recourse, no counselling available and one got on with life. Maybe Ronnie closed her eyes to the infidelity, but in the case of the abuse she thought she did the right thing in order to protect a youngster. In hindsight it was not right but that is neither here nor there.

Now faced with her past in a double whammy she faces not only her own daughter but the girl she protected all those years ago from an abusive father. Will taking sides cause irrevocable damage to the relationship she is craving to build with both her daughter and grand daughter. Is the decision to live in Rome going to create a bigger rift. Can Ronnie move back to England after so many years and live there.

The story of family, sacrifices, questions of how, why and what does one do is eternal. Trying to balance it all is hard sometimes not pleasing to all.

Sent by Bookouture for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Thursday, July 27, 2023

Evans Above by Rhys Bowen


I got the series all nine of them but I am spacing them out not to bore my followers!

The pace of detection is slow. Our Evans is just a village copper. He is keen, quite focussed and thinks out of the box. Not quite acceptable to the condescending higher ups who do not seem to appreciate enterprise or a different perspective. Two hikers found fallen, dead and the constabulary wants to say accidental death and they did not know their mountain hiking lore so what do you expect. Evans is not at all convinced and finds a link between the two. Evans also enquires into a death six years ago which was also classified as accidental. When a third hiker is found with his throat slashed, the authorities cannot talk about accidental deaths anymore. Add to the mix a paedophile on the loose, a peeping Tom who steals food as well and Evans is a busy cop.

The insularity of this small Welsh village and the clannishness is very apparent. Their dislike of the English is also very much part of the story (something I have to read about a bit)! It added to the charm of the story.

A purchase from Amazon though they still do not allow me to post reviews there!

Tuesday, July 25, 2023

The Rome Apartment by Kerry Fisher

Beth and her husband have reached an impasse in their marriage. Joel wants a break and finds a job opportunity in Paris leaving everything open to whatever may follow. He doesn’t want to commit himself to whether he wants to stay or go from the marriage and Beth has been so compliant throughout that she cannot take a stand, though inwardly she knows she is a coward for not taking a stand.

A chance advertisement in a magazine is the impetus she needs to spend a few months in Rome with two older ladies who are so full of life that they somehow drag Beth from the dull and routine which she has followed throughout her marriage.

The story of revival, survival, finding new interests and even love is an invigorating read. It is fun to read about reviving interests one had when one was in your twenties, and know there is so much still to do when one is in one’s fifties.

The good part is that though the story does not end conclusively there is a sequel (review follows).

The book was sent by Bookouture for an unbiased review courtesy of Netgalley.

PS at last I’ve sorted the issue of posting photographs to my posts via the kindness of a niece who went through blogger page by page to find out how to rectify my errors.

Sunday, July 23, 2023

The Paris Assignment by Rhys Bowent

The two great wars brought us so much good literature - each with a different perspective all so different and all riveting reading. This was no different. Maddie is one of the most conformist, mild souls you could envisage. Not one for confrontation, anything for the sake of peace she goes along with her family plans in a plodding manner until one day she decides to go as part of a study course to Sorbonne, falls in love with France, finds a love of her own and makes France her home. The story evolves from there, WWII breaks out, she and her young son forced to returnto England, her husband joining the Resistance and the heartbreak starts there. The story goes much further than this with really heart breaking consequences which no person should be called upon to bear. The imagery throughout this book is the steadfastness to a cause, the stoic bearing of misery still maintaining qualities of goodness isdifficul to imagine. Most people will break under that pressure, just give up any attempt to be humane. Powerful story Sent by Lake Union Publishing for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley. Just got discharged from hospital with so much medication. At least the good news is that they all finish within ten days.

Thursday, July 20, 2023

The Antiquity Affair by Lee Kelly and Jennifer Thorne

Set in 1907 egypt had become the centre of attention for the artifacts that poured out of the country. There seemed to be vastnumbers of people, seemingly explorerers but mainly looters who found priceless articles which were in high demand amongst so called connoiseurs of art worldwide. Dr Walter Ford was a leading Egyptologist and he was presently on a search for the Serpent Crown said to contain magical powers of conferring absolute control over countries and one which led to dominance over people. Such a crown was naturally sought by many. When Dr Ford started on this quest, he did not envisage that his enemies would focus their attention on his two daughters the debutante Lila or his non conformist and adventure loving Tess. Starting first as an abduction then going into a chase and rescue, the expedition of Dr Ford is not an easy one as his opposition does not care how many victims they leave behind in their quest for the crown. Very descriptive of the life of the times, both in fashionable Manhattan, urban Egypt and then desert Egypt, this was an adventurous read. Sent by Harper Muse for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley. I am working with an eye patch looking ridiculous, so please excuse any typos.

Wednesday, July 19, 2023

This and That

Went on an unexpected short too short trip to Singapore. Wandered around very hot, very humid. Being Sri Lankan we had to shop and sadly due to the economic woes at home, we tend to go for stuff which will be considered basics by many. Cheese, olive oil, hummus, corned beef you get the picture. And for me always shoes and bags. Not necessarily high end but good stuff. Came back one day later realised something not quite right. My words were slurred mouth was droopy. The worst case scenario a stroke. Too much of char siew pork, chicken rice, biryani! Fortunately thank the Lord, its Bells palsy brought about by a viral infection, overnight in hospital and hopefully tomorrow home. Review posts will be up in a day

Friday, July 14, 2023

The Other Year by Rea Frey

In every life there comes a moment which defines us. We meet someone, we miss a bus or a train with life changing results. In this case Kateloses sight of her nine year old daughter Olivia for a second, and she drowns. The entire story devolves from this moment told in two different frames - what if Olivia bounced back, and then she did not. It wasa slightly unnerving read, what happenedto Kate as a result of the drowning, and what happens if life goes on as normal for Kate as a single mother, having an ex husband plus two men friends interested in her. The trauma,the emotions in each alternate scenario were heartbreaking, normal, like a roller coaster. good reading. Sent to me by Harper Muse for anunbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Tuesday, July 11, 2023

A Cryptic Clue by Victoria Gilbert

Jane is retired and returning to the world of books, a subject she likes. Cataloguing a vast collection of detective and mystery books from decades past is a job she envisaged she likes doing. She did not expect a boss, young and rich and abrupt with no empathy or filters when he did talk. (reminded me of Sheldon in BBT). It was a small household in which Jane worked, but there were under currents from the first instance. When Jane discovers a dead bodyon her first day of work, she is drawn into detective mode acting as a private investigator where her boss cant go, simply because he is the prime suspect. Jane likes this role as Watson to her boss's role as Sherlock but she is not very sure whether her boss is totally innocent in the first place. Till very much into the story, Jane is unsure whether she is actually helping to cover up a murder. The problem was that all the characters were hiding secrets. Unravelled slowly, this was nice detective work. Sent by Crooked Lane Books for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Saturday, July 8, 2023

Scent of a Garden by Namrata Patel

Set in a very accomplished, high achieving family of migrants now well settled in America, expectations for children are very high. This family was no different. Add to that conflicts between parents where a wife has taken second place to her husbands business, is also another reason why Asha's mother pushed her daughter away from the family business and into a line of work in which she had a natural affinity for. Asha has returned home in a state of confusion and frustration. Working as a perfumier in Paris her nose and sense of smell is all important. Losing that after a covid attack is saying goodbye to her career. Coming home was a chance for her to rest regroup, decide what to do. The story of Asha, her dreams and a family supportive but still demanding and how she is going to steer a path between love of her job, her love for family and the love she has for someone which she has buried deep within her is this book. Making peace with a father she never understood, a mother whose determination was pushy, and the loss of a garden which meant so much to Asha are features of this read. Interesting take on an unusual career and very descriptive of California itself. Sent by Lake Union Publishing for an unbiased review courtesy of Netgalley.

Tuesday, July 4, 2023

Forever Hold your Peace by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke

This was a good change for me from the heavy mystery murders that I tend to drift to. This was all about a wedding and not a bridezilla in sight. It was a mothers zilla episode which had festered for twenty six years and erupted with the full force of a volcano. Amy and June were best friends joined at the hip. When Amy discovered June in the arms of her husband, the friendship was over with heart wrenching sadness and regrets on both sides. Both went on to marry/divorce and their paths would not have crossed if not for some stalking on Amy"s ex husband side who was trying to find June (whom he still loved). He sent his son to try to catch up with Olivia (june's daughter) in Positano because he followed Olivia's social media hoping to find June. The deception did not augur well for the future, especially since Zack and Olivia fell in love, came back from the holiday determined to get married as quickly as possible. The meet up of the parents went disastrously as could be expected, and the two mothers did not keep anything back, never thinking of their children's happiness or peace of mind, but only their long hidden hurt. As if this was not bad enough Zack had never told Olivia about his father's role in finding her,and when this came out into the open the whole thing blew up in everyone's faces. The weddingwas called off amidst all the recriminations. It all ended well. Everyone was forgiven and the wedding went ahead!! Light hearted read for a lazy Sunday. Sent by Alcove Press for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Sunday, July 2, 2023

A Shadow in Moscow by Katherine Reay

Both M16 and the CIA are betrayed by a moleat the highest level endangering the lives of many and especially two very successful female spies. Set over two time lines on 1954 and the 1980s, the story goes into several cities in Europe covering many people and especially families who will be completely disrupted by any breach in the layers and layers of deception, carefully built over the years which made them bothso successful. Two strong women - one the older Ingrid who is a dutiful wife, a charming hostess never drawing attention to herself with British roots and who becomes so good at her job and then there is Anya, just back from Georgetown University, leaving her heart behind in America and now in a field with access to top secret information, living life on the edge as a spy for the CIA. It was a complicated story with many twists in the tale, but well balanced and very enjoyable. Sent by Harper Muse for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Tuesday, June 27, 2023

The Sunset Years of Agnes Sharp by Leonie Swann

It took me a while to get my head and mind into this read. The theme was serious two, then three murders but the characters were whimsical.It also brought it very close to home that Icould very well turn into one of those eccentric old ladies give it a few years. A body has been discovered next door. Being neighbours the police come calling. This makes the group agitated, nervous and jittery because their murdered companion lies in their own house. The Police are happily for them unaware of the fact. Lillith was shot after a joint decision taken, including Lillith so the bunch are quite ok with the outcome! The plan is to find who murdered the neighbour so that Lillith's murder could be pinned on the same person and voila they all can clear their minds over the little matter of Lillith's death. This seeking of truth leads to various escapadeswhich in their rather fragile state of health is tricky. A miracle that no one died in the process of investigations. This was quirky, different and refreshing. Sent by Soho Press for an unbiased view, courtesy of Netgalley

Friday, June 23, 2023

The Measure of Silence by Elizabeth Langston

A family death always leaves untied ends. In this case two sisters areleft with three boxes of memorablia, with instructions how to proceed. What they did not anticipate was decades oldsecrets which were shocking, unexpected and had ramifications for tge future. Left with so much documentary evidence, Jessica and Raine try to put together pieces of their grandmother's past, why she kept so much secret and how they should handle the future, given the complications in their own lives. A very good story of a family crossing three generations, a closely knit family who now have to forgive and move forward. Very well written. Sent byLake Union Publishing for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Wednesday, June 21, 2023

Murder in Manhattan by Verity Bright

Number 14 in the series. Still very chirpy, different, slightly eccentric and definitely not in the common way. This is a murder mystery and always Lady Eleanor gets roped in, dropped in call it what you may in unusual circumstances, very often not of her seeking. The characters are all out of the ordinary. From her butler Clifford, to her dog Gladstone whom she takes to all events, even her household staff are full of character. It all adds to the liveliness of the story which takes it from the gruesome viciousness of modern murder stories, though murder is murder of course. This one with the backdrop of Manhattan, gangs, upper class speak easies as well as all the machinations behind high finance and high society in Manhattan. Murders too and the detective work to solve them. Very easy Reading. Sent by Bookouture for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Sunday, June 18, 2023

The Horror of Haglin House by M R C Kasasian

Lady Violet has retired to a quiet town with two servants and her adventuress Ruby, to get over and to understand why her partner jilted her. There she is approached by a lady who needs her services to find out why her friend who was deeply attached to her is no longer receiving her calls. She feels she is a prisoner in her home. The problem is acute because the suspect here has an impeccable reputation and is popular the local doctor. when one death after another follows with no connection at all, both the police and lady Violet are confused but Violet is decided that it is in some strange way connected to Haglin House and the doctor. Unravelling the story was complicated particularly because the comments - some not at all helpful or relevant comefrom voices speaking to Violet. A tad confusing that. Nevertheless an interesting take on detective stories. Sent by Canelo for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Thursday, June 15, 2023

Bats in the Belfry by E C R Lorac

Set in the 1930s this was an intricate story, with many characters coming in and going out which could get confusing, if you tried to figure who was doing what. A man goes missing, his suitcase and passport fiund in a derelict building, a very indifferent wife who does not turn a hair when confronted with the gruesome details of her husbands death, her lover who becomes the primary suspect, when the first suspect is found drowned. It was an interesting story particularly for me as I like this era and settings. The detective work was comprehensive and much slower than a modern story setting. it did not detract from the story. This was a purchase from Amazon.

Wednesday, June 14, 2023

Murder at Midnight by Katherine Schellman

I like this series especially Lily Adler. Spending time inHertfordshire is just what she is looking forward to. Meeting her old friend Jack is a bonus. A good friend of her hers he has spent years away at sea and has now returned. Anticipating a relaxing evening at a neighbours Christmas festivities, the party gets snowbound and what they think is an overnight stay gets extended when they find a body in the snow brutally murdered. To add to the mystery the young man found murdered is the same man linked to the gossip around Amelia, Jacks own sister. When (in Lily's opinion) the wrong man is locked up, it is upto her sleuthing skills to get to the bottom of this death in this country house where each person including the host has plenty of secrets to hide. The setting, the period and the varied characters all added depth to the story. Sent by Crooked Lane Books foran unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley. We have heard of climate changes and in Colombo we are in the middle of a heat zone. Monsoon rains have broken elsewhere, not in the capital city. It has never been this hot.

Monday, June 12, 2023

The Puzzle of Blackstone Lodge by Martin Edwards

Nell Fagan is a brash journalist on the trail of two disappearances - centuries apart. The men literally disappeared into thin air, never sighted again, but rumours are rife. The Lodge is nota welcoming space neither are the owners popular amongst the locals. To add to the mystery, a psychiatric facility run by the Sambrook family is also in this village, and the family's aloofness addsto the mystery about the patients. When Nell meets with one attempt to kill her which was unsuccessful, she does not heed the warning that her prying into events even though 300 years old, obviously is upsetting a few people. Meeting an untimely end, Rachel Savernake now embarks on her own lines of enquiry typing up a death in London, with the multiple deaths now happening in this remote village, and uncovering old family disputes and secrets. The characters are so varied, the rector and the doctors, the wanna be lord of the manor all hiding behind a facade of secrets they dont want uncovered. The detective work progresses slowly but this vintage classic crime and it is very good. Sent by Poisoned Pen Press for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Saturday, June 10, 2023

The Bereaved by Julia Park Tracey

1859 was a bleak time if you were a woman with no money and responsibilities. Widowed very young, with four children Martha's life was tough but when her father in law who was their guardian died and left Martha and her young family to the guardianship of the lecherous lawyer Montgomery, Martha knew she had to run away. New York City was another world - poverty, the incessant noise, the animosity of neighbours, the environment were foreign but they all gritted their teeth and tried to survive. When things began to threaten their lives Martha took the bold step of handing first her eldest two to the Friends of Society and then the youngest two. She did not realise that she was legally giving them up. The story of heartbreak with plenty of determination to get her children back against immense odds is beautifully told. Martha never gave up hope for a reconciliation and she was successful with the exception of Homer who did not know his biological mother at all. At the end of the story there was a chapter giving details of how the children's lives evolved after they reconciled including Homer who had links with the author of this story. This added a great human touch to the story and it was good to see how far they all came to lead happy settled lives. Thank you to Sibbyline Press for sending this to me, courtesy of Netgalley.

Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Murder At The Elms by Alyssa Maxwell

Emma and Derrick just married and Emma is trying hard to live life "differently" aware of Derrick's elevated social position, though despite it being 1901 with very Victorian ideas that people in general have about women in society, Derrick has startlingly modern views. Covering a rather newsworthy event, a strike by domestic staff at the Berwinds bungalow unheard at the time and put down drastically by the family by summarily dismissing all the errant staff brought Emma into direct contact with the family. an invitation to view the house with all its mod cons was the opening Emma needed to find out more about the repercussions of the strike but it ended with the discovery of a maids body (one of those who didnt strike) and the loss of an invaluable necklace. Detective Jesse calls on Emma and Derrick to provide the inside information on this high society party because he will never be privy to its machinations and cover ups and it is this that for me was very good reading. How this society was blind to its own defects and swept everything under the table to protect their own because the deaths were mere poorer people who worked for them, mere nobodies. The story unravelled slowly but it was a fascinating read - the murder, the clues, the position of a newspaper reporter at the time, hypocricy of society all added to the variety of the read. Sent by Kensington Books for an unbiased read courtesy of Netgalley.

Sunday, June 4, 2023

A Perfect Vintage by Chelsea Fagan

There is a lot of money, lots of beautiful men (all ages), women too all ages, A explosive mix. Lea is a consultant and in this case she is converting an old chateau into a very high class boutique hotel. No detail is too minute for Lea who wants to be hands on, on every aspect till the hand over. She knows this project can make or break her career. She did not expect her cousin and daughter to want to tag along. Stephanie is just beginning a divorce proceeding and her ex husband is as difficult as they come. Lea also did not expect the antagonism and put downs of the boss's son. At every turn being critical unjustly, and very quietly insinuating vituperative stuff to his father about Lea. The dynamics get further complicated by romance which do not go down well with the family further complicating matters. The story of the stages of a hotel renovation, especially the descriptions added variety to a story although it was one which was mainly about relationships in a close knit family, especially when "outsiders" come on the scene with all its cross cultural effects. Sent by Orsay Press LLC for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Thursday, June 1, 2023

A Blind Eye by Marion Todd

Detective Claire Mackay is in her seventh of the series and there is no let up.Not just the actual story, but the human interest stories of the Detectives and those involved in the behind the crime scene are also very much part of the story. Harry Richards does not fit the picture of crime. A solicitor handling mainly property conveyancy, his world is removed from the circumstances of his death. Found with his throat cut, Detectives have to sift through seemingly innocuous business matters to find his connectio n to crime. When the wife of his junior solicitor is found dead in a horrific car crash, detectives are skeptical that the two are linked. But in detective work there is no room for coincidences, and when common links begin to start becoming apparent, the local force realise that they have a very well organized, smooth operation to deal with. Fast paced, varied characters, a really tangled storyline which started unravelling once the pieces were in place, all added to the story's interest. Sent by Canelo for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Crook O Lune by E C R Lorac

A sone house Aikengill is what the story revolves around. It has been in existence from the 1700s and its history has been well documented and is an integral part of the story. The present owner has inherited it from his uncle and though he loves tye isolation and the lifestyle of this part of Lancashire, he has still not made up his mind as to the house and his future.
Coincidentally Chief Inspector Macdonald is visiting the area because he is very keen on finding a retirement home and farm for himself. The unexpected sheep stealing is a new phenomenon which is worrying the locals and when Aikengill is set alight causing the death of the housekeeper, all detectives are on the case. It was not the detection alone that drew me in. The wealth of history in the house and church records (which were part of the story) , the sturdy characters of sheep farmers, even the language used was so different and though slow, was never boring. I will be coming back to this author very soon. Sent by Poisoned Pen Press for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley

Thursday, May 25, 2023

The Guest House by the Sea by Faith Hogan

This is one of those stories where your faith in humanity can be restored. Where one feels there is still innate goodness in all of us- even the slightly cynical hardened beings found in modern society. We have the guest house in idyllic surroundings in summer (closed during winter not so idyllic) then the old owner presently incapacitated, thefaithful retainer more family than anyone else and then the habitual returnees to the guest house. This time around for most of them its a bolt hole from the pressures or problems of life. They want think through solutions in a quiet place. The haven is quite busy though and everyone finds something to occupy them, apart from their own issues. The influence that one has on another helps one to see things clearly and all of them are much more clear headed than when they started. A lovely read. Sent by Aria & Aries for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Tempest in the Tea Room (A Jewish Regency mystery) by Libi Astaire

The 19th century background and the detective plus the lady detective plus the Jewish overtones throughout the story made this different from other Regency mystery stories. The Jewish community in London at the time was a flourishing one and we come across so many diverse characters in this story. The new immigrants from Jamaica, the doctor and his sister are crucial to the story, the unwittingly made suspects for murder, we get the cunning Amos & Amos brothers, marketing a new brand of tea, we have established families and the mothers whose focus is matchmaking and we have seniors in the group who maintain links with outsiders, keeping a balance and being fair by all. This made the story though it was a mystery also a very interesting account of Jewish centric London. I enjoyed this aspect of the story - community ties, traditions added great interest to the story. This was a free download from Amazon.

Monday, May 22, 2023

The Radcliffe Ladies Reading Club by Julia Bryan Thomas

Four young ladies have entered Radcliffe. This is in itself momentous. 1954 was still an era where girls of eighteen worked at anything temporarily whether studies or a job - as a means to an end. Finding a suitable husband and being respectable. The four young women came from widely dissimilar backgrounds but they did settle in to do their time in college. The bookshop owned by Alice became the center of a small book club where Alice encouraged them to widen their horizons, question situations, look at life from different perspectives. She guided them but was not intrusive. Because social life was a part of college life the girls began to venture out to take part in a pleasurable part of college life. Things dont always go smoothly and the incident with Caroline set off far reaching consequences for all. The storyline was good but for me the characters other than Alice were weak. All were very preoccupied by society's expectations and standards, preferring to overlook abuse, chauvinism, inequality all completely overshadowed by the standards of society of the day. It took a lot of courage to take a stance against injustice the way Caroline did. Her character developed as an independent woman from that point on. A warm story of four girls in a changing world. Sent by Sourcebooks Landmark for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Friday, May 19, 2023

The Ones Who Are Buried by Kerry Wilkinson (A Whitecliff Bay Mystery Book 3)

I kept a small gap between the Books 1 and 2 and it helped me to enjoy this story more. The setting of Whitecliff and its environs are mediocre, the characters seem also a bit drab and grey. Millie and Guy in this story are there purely to unravel the mystery of two boys presumed murdered. The only person who can give the location is Kevin Ashworth in prison who has decided to reveal any information only to Guy and Millie much to the local Police Chiefs anger and chagrin. Murder destroys on many levels and we see lives twisted with pain on many levels not just the victims families alone. This is a particular feature in this story. The murderer was a victim too here. His actions were purely to protect his son. This is revealed only towards the end, it changes the entire tenor of the read. Very stark, quite an emotional read. Sent by Bookouture for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley

Wednesday, May 17, 2023

In the shelter of Holythorne House by Sarah E Ladd

A young widow left with a baby son and now an uncertain future. The sudden death of her husband was a relief for Charlotte - Roland was a bully with a string of mistresses but his death revealed further unsavory news. He was in debt had made a string of enemies, who wanted their monies paid. Charlotte only wants to keep Henry safe, not just outsiders but Roland's brother too whom she does not trust at all. Fleeing to her older home Holythorne Hall with two men for security she tries to create a safe haven. She did not take into account that Anthony one of tge men guarding her, was her first love from whom she had parted years ago. Set in the Yorkshire Moors in the 1800s the surroundings seem bleak, forbidding except maybe for those born and bred to this environment. The story was an easy read, very pleasant as well. Sent by Thomas Nelson Fiction for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley.

Monday, May 15, 2023

Mrs Varman by Sanjeewa Behera

This is not a easy book to review or describe. We have a husband and a wife two different personalities. returning to India Julia and Sachin work on building their relationship. We then have Vijay the slightly dangerous third wheel in the story. The entire story is about human relationships within a marriage and how an outsider would view the same relationship from another angle altogether. The book outlining Mumbai its diversity, the glorious food, the never ending family celebrations of one event or another all add richness and interest to the story. The development of all three characters as the story evolves is another facet. The story is very descriptive too of living with a family as against independently, the lack of privacy, the freedom that elders have to be quite critical of a daughter in law and the submissiveness of men who go along with the flow. These may be hard to accept for some readers but it is factual and very much part of actual life in many parts of the world, not just India. Sent by Sanjeeta Behera for an unbiased review, courtesy ofNetgalley.

Sunday, May 14, 2023

The Coach Trip by Izzy Bromley

This is one of those stories that leaves you with a warm fuzzy feeling at the end. The beginning is not hopeful. Two young women both 29 going on 18 (not fair to many sensible 18 year olds) are joining a coach trip just to accompany Granny. The trip is interesting and covers York, Holy Island and Edinburgh. Everyone in the group is over sixty and from the word go there is bickering and sniggering at the old fogeys. It goes the other way too with some of the older folk just waiting to pounce on the two younger women. A sudden near death experience changes the tenor of the tour. A missing man adds to the tension. It makes the trippers realize that people may actually have a very valid reason for their fears and foibles, that one must not be so quick to judge one's fellow travellers. The young folk may noteven be able to imagine the pain which hides behind brittle and irritating facades. The story taught one tolerance, patience and human emotions. The reunion after one year at the very end was poignant. How many of us think we can get in touch with someone, maybe tomorrow or day after and days slide into oblivion. Very well written. Sent by Lake Union Publishing for an unbiased review, courtesy of Netgalley. I was looking for a change of genre from the detective mystery murders I generally read. This was a gem.