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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.