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The Buried Crown by Ally Sherrick

With Britain on the brink of invasion, orphan George Penny is evacuated to the countryside while his brother, Charlie, fights the Nazis as part of the air force. Little does George know that his friendship with Jewish girl Kitty is about to bring the war much closer than he ever thought it would. Kitty’s grandfather, an archaeologist, knows that a priceless Anglo-Saxon crown is buried nearby, a crown that the Nazis believe will win them the war. It is up to George and Kitty to find the crown and protect the country before it is too late.

Award-winning The Buried Crown, although a young person’s book, is a fantastic read for anyone interested in the second world war or Anglo-Saxon history. The two eras are superbly linked together, with fact and fiction merging to create an exciting adventure story that will appeal to adults and children alike.

Through George, we experience the life of a young evacuee, a boy who has already been through a lot in his short life and who now longs for the safe return of his brother while living in an extremely unpleasant environment with a man who mistreats him. He finds a kindred spirit in Kitty who has arrived in Britain courtesy of the Kindertransport programme and is someone who, due to her religion, has already experienced tremendous loss. Both characters are extremely likeable and show tremendous determination and courage to prevent a catastrophe from occurring.

As well as the historical element, we have a wonderful adventure full of excitement, danger and even a touch of magic as the children try to outwit a group of Nazis who will stop at nothing to steal the crown. I really enjoyed The Buried Crown and have no hesitation in recommending it.

Dark Rooms by Lynda La Plante

When the body of a young woman is found in a disused air raid shelter, and another body is found soon after, Jane Tennison has her work cut out trying to convince her superior officers that the case warrants a thorough investigation. Although it is apparent that one of the bodies has been there for quite some time, Jane does not feel that this is a reason to cut corners and so embarks on an investigation that will take her to Australia in order to get justice for the dead.

The news of a new Tennison book always puts a smile on my face as the character has been one of my favourites for many decades. This is now the eighth in the series and the detective who we first met in the ITV drama Prime Suspect has been slowly climbing the promotional ladder yet still finding herself an outcast with many of the officers she works with. She is always criticised for being a bit of a lone wolf but it is easy to see why when she is rarely taken seriously despite her successful track record.

Dark Rooms for me is classic Lynda La Plante with an array of larger than life characters that I could easily see as part of a television mini-series. As this is a cold case, Tennison has to use her best investigative skills to find the truth about what happened at the home of the Lanark family, a family with dark secrets who will do anything they can to keep them hidden. There are some tense moments as Jane is put in danger and we realise just how unhinged some of these people are.

One of the themes throughout the life of Jane Tennison is her bad luck in her choice of men and this continues in Dark Rooms. Although her latest partner, on the surface, seems like a solid, dependable man, readers are privy to information that Jane does not have so it will be interesting to see if he appears in the next book!

This is a series that is going from strength to strength and I can’t wait to see where Lynda La Plante takes Jane next.

The Body in the Stairwell by Nick Louth

After returning back to the UK from a US prison, money launderer Jonathan Hale is a frightened man. Although the gang he helped put away are either dead or in prison, this does not stop him from fearing for the safety of himself or his family. Unbeknown to him, the police have him under constant surveillance, convinced that he will soon be up to his old tricks. Little does he know that all of his precautions are about to become worthless as his worst nightmare begins to become a reality.

This is the tenth in the DCI Craig Gillard series but as in some of the previous books, Craig and his team are not the central characters, the focus being placed firmly on Jonathan Hale and his nemesis Richard Tyler, also known as ‘The Reptile’. This is something I really like about this series as, although over the years, we have become familiar with Gillard’s personal life, it only comes to the fore if it is integral to the plot. The Body in the Stairwell, as in the previous books, is all about the gripping, tension-filled plot – one that certainly had me on the edge of my seat.

In The Reptile, Nick Louth has given us a truly vile character with not one redeeming quality. There are not many characters that make my skin crawl as I am reading but he was definitely one of them. As the book progresses, and we see what is is capable of, I was willing him to get caught, killed… anything to stop him from completing his audacious plan!

There is also a very serious warning to the reader about social media use, in particular the dangers of young people sharing the amount of information they do without being fully aware of the consequences. Do we actually know the people we are speaking to online?

The Body in the Stairwell is another superb book in the DCI Gillard series and, as each book has a standalone story, new readers will be able to start here without worrying about what has happened before. I cannot recommend the whole series enough, however!

With thanks to Canelo Crime and Net Galley for my copy.

Bleeding Heart Yard by Elly Griffiths

Something happened in the 1990s that DS Cassie Fitzherbert has tried to block from her mind: she and her friends killed one of their fellow pupils. Now, she has been persuaded to go to a school reunion where disaster strikes – another ex-pupil, Conservative MP Garfield Rice, has been found dead, allegedly from a drug overdose. Cassie’s boss, DI Harbinder Kaur, is tasked to investigate, leaving Cassie wondering is one of her school friends has killed again…

Bleeding Heart Yard is the third book to feature Harbinder Kaur but the former detective sergeant has had a promotion and is now an inspector. Relocating to London, away from the watchful eyes of her parents, she is immediately given a high-profile case to work on when the body of a prominent MP is found at a school reunion.

The story is told from the perspective of three of the characters: Harbinder, Cassie and Anna, one of a group of high school friends who have met up again at the reunion. I liked how this gave us the story from different angles, seeing how each of the characters reacted to events that were happening. The characterisation is great and you really feel that you get to know the characters well as the book progresses. One of my favourite characters was a minor one, Anna’s mum, a woman who despite her circumstances, is living her life as best she can.

Like all of Elly Griffiths’ books, the plot is engaging and well-written, full of mystery and humour. There is a great ‘whodunnit’ element as we try to figure out who has killed Garfield Rice with enough twists along the way to really get you thinking. I also liked how the murder that happened decades earlier is not as cut and dry as the group originally thought, leaving us to wonder what part it plays in what is currently happening.

This is a great addition to the Harbinder Kaur series and I hope that we see more of her and her new team. I did enjoy seeing the return of a few familiar characters at the end of the book, and it was good to see what they had been doing since The Postscript Murders.

With thanks to Net Galley and Quercus for my copy of Bleeding Heart Yard.

Monthly Roundup – August 2022

August brought books from some of my favourite authors and also some that were new to me.

Books I Have Read

Blue Murder by Cath Staincliffe

The first in a republished series which some people may remember as an ITV drama starring Caroline Quentin. Heavily pregnant detective, Janine Lewis, investigates a particularly gruesome murder with little evidence and pressure from her superiors to close the case.

A Dark Steel Death by Chris Nickson

The tenth in the Tom Harper series takes us to World War One where the detective and his depleted squad are investigating a possible saboteur determined to undermine the war work being done in Leeds.

Bleeding Heart Yard by Elly Griffiths

The third in the Harbinder Kaur series is possibly the best yet. When a Tory MP is murdered at a reunion, old wounds are opened up and secrets from the past threaten to emerge. Who wants the past left firmly where it is? Another brilliant series from the author of the Ruth Galloway books.

The Body in the Stairwell by Nick Louth

The tenth in the DCI Craig Gillard series sees the detective taking less of a starring role as we read about an escaped convict with a score to settle. With Gillard assisting in the manhunt, will he find ‘The Reptile’ before he catches his prey?

Dark Rooms by Lynda La Plante

One of my all time favourite detectives, Jane Tennison, returns in the latest prequel to the Prime Suspect series. When a decomposed body of a young woman is found in an old air raid shelter, Tennison has a battle on her hands to convince her superiors to let her continue investigating what they see as an open and shut case. This is classic Lynda la Plante and I love it!

The Buried Crown by Ally Sherrick

It is clear to see why this children’s book won so many accolades. Evacuee George Penny and his Jewish friend Kitty embark on a dangerous mission to prevent an Anglo-Saxon crown from falling into the hands of the Nazis. Definitely suitable for adults as well as a younger audience!

Books I Have Acquired


Jeanette is the manager of a probation hostel that houses high risk offenders released on license.

At 3am one morning, she receives a call telling her a resident has been murdered.

Her whole team, along with the eight convicted murderers, are now all suspects in a crime no one saw committed…

You can run. You can hide. But you can’t escape…

Jonathan Hale is terrified. The wealthy property lawyer and money launderer is back home in Surrey after a nightmare experience in a U.S. jail. The police have him under secret surveillance.

But Hales’s fears lie elsewhere. His plea bargain has earned him the enmity of The Reptile, a notoriously cold-hearted gangster, now confined for life in a maximum-security jail in Arizona thanks to Hale. He’s taken precautions, moved house, hidden his identity and installed security for his wife and family. But still… what if The Reptile escapes?

For DCI Gillard it should be just another week at work. But before long he is involved in a desperate manhunt that will test him to his very limits.

Be prepared.

Now put that thing down! Yes YOU.
It’s time to sit up and listen …

From the stars of Two Mr Ps in a Pod(Cast) and the bestselling authors of Put a Wet Paper Towel On It comes a book filled with chaos, clangers and confessions from the … classrooms.

You’ll be taken on a journey where you’ll meet a rogues’ gallery of classroom characters, read some juicy teacher confessions and learn why every primary teacher’s least favourite lesson is the dreaded … SEX EDUCATION! You’ll even get the inside scoop on what it was like (attempting) to teach during a pandemic.

So, settle down, grab a cuppa and enjoy this book as we pull back the curtain on the weird and wonderful world of primary schools.


I need to get writing my reviews! Happy reading!

Blue Murder by Cath Staincliffe

When the body of a deputy head teacher is found on an allotment, his stomach cut open, Detective Chief Inspector Janine Lewis is reluctantly given the task of investigating the murder. A pregnant single mum, Janine only has two witnesses: a dying elderly man and a seven-year-old girl. With her superiors breathing down her neck to get the case closed and her prime suspect conveniently missing, Janine knows that this is not going to be a walk in the park.

A number of years ago I watched and enjoyed the ITV series Blue Murder starring Caroline Quentin as Janine Lewis. I was not aware that there were books based on the series so was pleased to see that they had recently been reissued. This, the first in the series, is a perfect way of introducing the characters and I found myself picturing all the actors as I was reading!

Janine is a great character and in her, the author has written someone who comes across as very real. Recently separated but heavily pregnant, we see the detective taking on a new role while having to deal with a chaotic home life. Again, this served as a great introduction to the character and helped us to understand why she was so determined to succeed in closing the case.

The plot moves on at a good pace and introduces us to a plethora of engaging characters and several potential suspects. With sub-plots involving some of these characters making us wonder if they are connected to the murder or simply involved in another crime altogether, I was invested in the story right until the end.

I’m so pleased to have discovered this series and am looking forward to reading book 2, Hit and Run.

A Dark Steel Death by Chris Nickson

The First World War is in its third year and Deputy Chief Constable Tom Harper is called out in the middle of the night when a huge explosion rips through a Leeds munitions factory. When fire making material is found a month later in an army clothing depot, Harper realises that they have a saboteur in their midst, one who is not afraid to kill to achieve his aim. With life at home occupying his mind and pressure doubling at work, will Harper find the saboteur before he leaves too much destruction in his path?

I’ve followed this series from the beginning and have become very fond of the characters and the ways in which they have developed. Tom has now progressed to the upper echelons of the Leeds police force although his actions in A Dark Steel Death clearly show how he is still keen to do his share of regular policing. This has become even more essential now that many of the force have been called up to help with the war effort.

As always, the research is spot on, taking us back to wartime Leeds and introducing us to some of the real events of the time. Fact and fiction are merged really well, Chris Nickson, once again, delivering an engaging and tense plot where you really don’t know what is going to happen next.

Like all good series, eventually there is an end point and I have read that there is only one more to go after this book. There is definitely an air of building up to this as we see Harper contemplating the end of his career and, sadly, see the decline of his much-loved wife Annabelle. Her story arc has been one of my favourite parts of this series and I wait with bated breath (and trepidation) to see how it concludes.

With thanks to Net Galley and Severn House for my ARC.

The Mercy Killings by David Field

The year is 1896 and Detective Sergeant Jack Enright, now working in Essex, is dealing with a particularly gruesome case involving the discovery of three babies’ bodies. After consulting his uncle Percy, who works at Scotland Yard, it soon becomes apparent that these are not isolated cases as he is also investigating the discovery of the corpses of infants. Someone is clearly killing babies in the south of England but why and can they be stopped before more bodies are discovered?

It’s been a while since I read any of David Field’s books but the characters came flooding back straight away. Jack is no longer working in the capital but the cases have not got any easier as he is faced with investigating the murders of several young babies. He is once again paired with his uncle Percy, still working as a detective in London, when he realises that their cases cross paths. The case is a sad one and one that is very much of its time, showing the divide between the rich and poor in Victorian England.

One of the strengths of this series is the characterisation and the relationships between the main protagonist. Jack’s wife, Esther, is very much a forward-thinking woman and her husband and uncle-in-law are always keen to involve her in their investigations. It is Percy who is my favourite, however, and I love how he is highly regarded in his work life yet a downtrodden husband at home!

Despite the grim subject matter, The Mercy Killings also contains a fair amount of humour, not least when poor Jack encounters a lady of the night! This definitely lightened the mood!

This is a great series and while this can be read as a standalone, I would highly recommend reading all of the previous books as they are all engaging and cracking reads.

A Sliver of Darkness by C J Tudor

A Sliver of Darkness is the debut short story collection from the author of best-selling books such as The Chalk Man and The Burning Girls. With elements of horror, dystopia and science fiction, C J Tudor takes us into her twisty world where everything is not how it seems to appear.

I have loved all of C J Tudor’s books and could not wait to get started on this one. I knew it would be worth the wait! Starting with an introduction to explain how this book came into being, I was immediately invested in it, knowing how difficult it had been for the author to write. The introduction to each story was an excellent addition to the book as it really helped to explain the author’s thought processes and the inspiration behind each plot.

Each short story is very different and readers will definitely have their own favourite depending on their preferred fiction genre. What links them all, however, is the unexpected and the way in which the author hits you with a twist you were not expecting. As someone who would not class horror as their favourite fiction genre, my favourite stories were End of the Liner, a dystopian mystery with a superb ending, and The Copy Shop, a plot that had me laughing out loud and wondering how I would utilise it!

This has really whet my appetite for C J Tudor’s next novel, The Drift. Fans of the author are going to love this collection and if you have never read any of her books, this is a perfect introduction to her work.

With thanks to Michael Joseph, Penguin Random House and Net Galley for my ARC.

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