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Wednesday, March 27, 2024

The Highgate Cemetery Murder by Irina Shapiro


Victor was a journalist. A quiet man but with attention to detail. When he was found dead, pushed under a cart and had died, his sister Nurse Gemma knew her cautious brother could not have been so careless. His notebook had a cryptic sentence. “Milky Way and red streaks” Gemma knew her intuition would be met with skepticism until she met Inspector Sebastian who did not brush her feelings aside.

The setting of the 1850s, the number of aristocrats and rich involved in this murder and then you get the middle class like Gemma, Victor and Sebastian trying to find justice and being coerced and ridiculed by society and worse by their peers who side with the rich covering up all their sins of both omission and commission.

This has been a recurring feature in books set in this era. How even questioning an earl or a son of a viscount was considered out of bounds and they got away with murder, rape, abuse of women. 
The setting was gothic almost and very descriptive.

Detective work was not easy and bringing the culprits to book was going to be either the saving of the Detective or his end.

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

Monday, March 25, 2024

A Deadly Endeavour by Jenny Adams


1921 Philadelphia Edie returns home after a stint in California to find that nothing has changed in her absence. A fun loving, very rich, very entitled being the same scenario exists. Except that the love of her life Theo has changed alliances and is now engaged to her twin sister.

The dynamics amongst their inner circle has changed and Edie has begun to develop a social conscience due to one or two of her friends changed perspectives. She now realises that the people who serve their families are individuals in their own right with dreams and aspirations of their own. Sadly they are in a tiny minority and things are not going to change much.

When one friend is murdered in the most vicious way possible, followed by a maid, another close friend and another maid all interlinked to Edie, the signs point to someone mentally unbalanced and someone within their household. When Edie’s maid goes missing, her brother Dr Gilbert gets involved trying to unravel the mystery of his sisters disappearance and to connect the dots of the murders.

Macabre in the extreme as to the murders, descriptive as to the lifestyle of all in the 1920s and keen detective skills overall.

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

I have been very lucky to get hold of a series of books to read, from different genres and all really good reading.

Sunday, March 24, 2024

Eliza Mace by Sarah Burton & Jem Poster

 The 1870s a village on the border of Wales. A family who had money, lands but a wastrel father who has run through every bit of money available. The family is in debt to every tradesman around and even to their employees. 

On one of his finding his fortune sprees, Eliza’s father goes missing and since he is a man who is disliked by many for his temperament which was vile, on top of the debts no one is particularly interested in his going missing. Eliza his daughter, is the only one, who pushes the local detective Daffyd to pursue many leads, which she discovers on her own.

Eliza is a force, and goes against all conventional norms of the time, meeting up with people on the estate, visiting the police station on her own and unraveling clues which lead to many being taken into custody. Both the Detective and Eliza realise that they may hang the wrong man if they don’t uncover the actual truth.

The suspect was more sinned against than being the sinner but he did pay the price. He killed Eliza’s father and the jury only looked at that, not the circumstances. Justice was different in those times.

The difficulties a woman faced by being different, unconventional are portrayed very well in this story.

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

Wednesday, March 20, 2024

The Other Gwyn Girl by Nicola Cornick

A bleak crumbling castle being used by a celebrated influencer in present times being used as a project. Jess is trying to get over being scammed by her boyfriend, who wiped not just her out of everything she had but wiped out many others as well. Tavy her very selfish sister whilst offering her a bolt hole, wants an unpaid housekeeper to occupy the house when she is away, in order to comply with insurance policies.

We then go back to 1671 when the castle came into the hands of Nell Gwyn the courtesan of the King. Rose was the “wild” sister, living on her wits, a thief, married to a highwayman and in prison. When her husband is found dead and Rose herself is pregnant, she appeals to Nell who organises her release.

But Nell like Tavy centuries later has ulterior motives. She knows that Rose’s husband and another notorious criminal Thomas Blood attempted to steal the Crown Jewels and that since they were not found, Rose may be the key to finding the jewels. Additionally Nell is being blackmailed because the locket given by the King to her is with Blood and he holds this as a bargaining tool. Nell’s position with the king has turned precarious. There is a wife and a French mistress to contend with.

Fast forward and Jess discovers a pile of old books which her sister wants to dispose of as quickly as possible. Jess discovers the link to both Gwyn girls and researches the history of the time giving an account of the lives of these two women.

Nell was the smart one but I was rooting for Rose the overlooked one. In a similar vein Tavy was beautiful, fabulously rich and self serving. Jess was the reserved one. It seemed like though so apart the women had similar characteristics, brought together at this Becote Castle.

The contrasts in characters, in lifestyles, plus the history all added interest to the story.

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

Sunday, March 17, 2024

Don’t Foget Me by Rea Frey


Ruby and Tom and daughter lily moved to a newly built community by a lake. Ruby just went along with Tom on location, design and everything else. Her only focus was to protect and nurture Lily, who besides being a clever student had frailties of her own, which Tom refused to acknowledge.

Fast forward and Lily goes missing. Followed by Tom going missing. When Tom’s body is found floating on the lake, suspicion focuses on Ruby. She doesn’t identify the body as Tom, but all her neighbours do.

Is Ruby in a fugue state not able to acknowledge what is in front of her. When one and then another neighbour is found murdered, the focus switches solely on Ruby. Even at that moment three quarter into the story, one would go with the theory that Ruby kills these people while in some state, which blocks her remembering what she has done.

The final denouement is shocking and frightening and a surprise. The dual timelines, the uncertainty of Ruby, the changing face of the immediate characters all created a puzzle.

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

Thursday, March 14, 2024

Murder by Lamplight by Patrice Mcdonough


I enjoy a story with a female lead. Especially one who has to work the odds to get the recognition she deserves. Very often in the past centuries such women have been relegated to the dimmer parts of history and not acknowledged for the trail blazers they were.

Dr Julia Lewis a qualified doctor is one such woman. Grand daughter of a doctor she qualified in America because women were not allowed to study medicine in 1866 England. Now called upon to assist in a gory crime scene, she has to face derision not just from the coppers, but also from Detective Tennant who thinks she is incapable of handling the case.

When murder after murder occurs and clues point to numerous people first those connected to the theatre and especially the drag clubs of the day, the Doctor starts her own investigation of trying to follow sequence and logic. When the suspicions fall on the workhouse, it finds many people linked to the murder, all who are perfectly good suspects.

How it all pans out is ingenious.  Not just solving the crime, but the social commentary on the times was very, very good. It gives a setting to the story which enhances the read.

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

The Nallur temple in the very North of Sri Lanka, revered by many.

Monday, March 11, 2024

The Hidden Storyteller by Mandy Robotgam

This is all about WWII but still so very different.

The year 1946 Hamburg, Germany broken, in pieces. The people so overwhelmed by their own history, desperate, dying now of TB and malnutrition instead of at the hands of the Nazis.

We have Georgie Young, intrepid war reporter who has a tough reputation of laying the facts as she sees them. Coming from London at a time of personal crisis, she herself is at an uncertain stage but is determined to do the assignment. See Germany at its worst, give in her report. She didn’t expect to get mugged twice on her first day. She also did not expect to get involved on a personal basis with the people she came into contact with. From Meta the waif with a core of steel, to Zophie on a personal quest and Inspector Harri battling crime with no resources, no help. Getting involved in a serial murder investigation was not part of Georgie’s instructions, but she was not very good at following instructions.

The story covers post war Germany, the over riding British presence, the ignorance and condescension shown by many British officers which exacerbated a bad situation, corruption at every level on both sides, and the almost apocalyptic situation Germans faced every day just trying to survive one more day.

The story is very violent, very emotional and factual. It is unputdownable!

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

Saturday, March 9, 2024


Much has been written about the Titanic, especially about survivors. This one is similar but it a spectacularly good read. We follow the Fortune family from Winnipeg- the father a self made millionaire, having the grand tour with his family. Two daughters affianced, so this could be their last trip together. Another younger daughter and a teenage son. Very united, close knit family.

We follow their journey minutely, even the foretelling of a disaster, a watery one, by an Egyptian soothsayer. The girls who are engaged have now doubts about their future, particularly the eldest who is fighting her feelings for the dashing Mr Kinsey. The second is in the throes of a flirtation only but is restless at the cloistered future that awaits on her return, and the youngest is facing a losing battle against her wishes and dreams of a university education and fighting the suffragist cause.

The Titanic’s epic death is detailed and descriptive. From the accounts of the girls the effort that everyone put in to survive, the salvation of so many souls who may have otherwise been lost, the crassness of some rich women even whilst being rescued, and mainly the utter futility of the many lives lost for so many reasons. Over confidence, the braggadocio displayed by builders and owners, the insufficient number of lifeboats all contributed to its demise.

This was a feet curling, edge of the seat read.

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

Nuwara Eliya’s finest garden. 

Tuesday, March 5, 2024

The Murder Club by Alexandra Ivy


An online murder club. It seems very simple - investigating cold cases trying to unravel clues detectives may have missed.  Bailey works a humdrum job, but she likes the residents of her nursing home and finds the murder club gives her the thrill of doing something different

When the messages become slightly threatening and when a resident dies leaving a sizeable inheritance to Bailey, things get very ugly. Nellie’s grandson becomes violent and accuses Bailey of improper behaviour. Bailey is suspended from work. When more people connected to Bailey start getting murdered and the messages become more threatening, Bailey and Dom (who is the new entrant in Baileys life) realise they have to step up their detection to catch this very cold blooded killer.

Set in a small town of Pike which has a notorious reputation for murder was interesting. The characters were both complicated with lots of secrets to hide.

Fast paced. The romance was an added genre.

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

Friday, March 1, 2024

The Last Day in Paris by Suzanne Kerman (Book 1)


I enjoyed the book very much, so I do hope I get the sequel.

1940 Paris was not a good time for anyone and for Jews it was ominous. Isabella heeded the signs and when her husband was brutally gunned down, she decided there was no option but to send her daughter away. Doing the work she loved in an art gallery, she realized the plunder that was going on with the huge amount of robbed art going to Germany, apart from the horrendous destruction of modern art which Goering disliked.

Working with the Resistance, Isabella had an ulterior reason for working in the gallery. She wanted to track and save her husbands masterpiece and this she did in the most devious and wonderful way. Fast forward several decades later to a dreary London suburb, and an even more frustrating life, we have Esther Isabella’s great grand daughter, the inheritor of the painting, and the events following which will change her life.

Involving hate against humanity, murder, scheming but also survival, romance and love the story is a remarkable one.

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

A waterfall called Devon Falls very close to my home in Rozella. The English names are all the remnants of our colonial history.