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August 2019

A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

I have always been a fan of Sherlock Holmes and so when I saw that a series had been published, aiming to bring the works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to a younger audience, I couldn’t wait to read it. After reading a few books with some grisly moments in them, it was also a much-needed lighter read than some of my recent ones!

As many people will already know, the mystery starts with the baffled police summoning consulting detective, Sherlock Holmes, to the scene of a murder. A man, believed to be E. J. Drebber, has been found dead in an empty house, with no obvious cause of death. It is up to Holmes and his new companion, Dr. John Watson, to discover the truth about the death and solve the case.

Although this is a book that is targeted at children aged 7+, I admit that I thoroughly enjoyed it, the story sticking to the plot that we know and love yet simplified for a younger audience. I loved the illustrations from Arianna Bellucci and also the explanations of terms that children may not be aware of, such as ‘hansom cab’.

I am pleased to see that this is part of a series – The Sherlock Holmes Children’s Collection, and would definitely recommend it to anyone with children who are beginning to express an interest in crime fiction. Or, if you are like me, you might just enjoy it yourself!

With thanks to Sweet Cherry Publishing and Net Galley for my copy.

 

Now You See Them by Elly Griffiths

It has been ten years since the events in The Vanishing Box and things have certainly moved on! Edgar Stephens, now a superintendent, has finally got his act together and is married to his former DS, Emma Holmes, and is the father of three children. Edgar’s friend, Max Mephisto, has made the move to America where he is now a film star, married with children, while his daughter, Ruby, is now the star of her own television show, Ruby Magic.

Now something has brought them all back together in Brighton, stirring up memories of the past. Meanwhile, Edgar is investigating the disappearance of a local schoolgirl, Rhonda Miles, and there are concerns that there could be a connection to two other missing women. With the culprit seemingly close to home, will disaster be averted or will their reunion bring heartache?

For me, Elly Griffiths is one of those authors who automatically moves up your TBR list, no matter how many books you already have to read! Ever since attending a talk she did with William Shaw at Waterstones, I have been excited to see what had happened to Stephens and Mephisto, especially as there is such a gap in time between the setting of this book and its predecessor. I had so many questions at the start of the book, all of which were answered really quickly, leaving me to enjoy the latest installment of the Brighton Mysteries.

In Now You See Them, we see the characters move away from the theatre, the setting of much of the previous books. As a result, we see a lot more police work, with a new officer, Meg Connolly, being added to the team. I really liked Meg who, as a woman, is finding it frustrating that she is forbidden from doing the same tasks as the male officers. She has the potential to be a great character, and, although she is still young, I don’t think it will be too long before she is climbing up the promotion ladder. We also see a different side of Emma who, after years of bringing up her children, is desperate to get back to work. It will be interesting to see what will happen in the future as a result of her revelation at the end of the book.

There are several other events in the book placing it firmly in the 1960s. A well-known film star is in the area, scouting out locations, giving the local teenage girls the opportunity to get up-close. With this, and references to The Beatles and Top of the Pops, we see a time when teenagers were beginning to become more prominent in society. Perhaps, the most iconic event in the book, however, is the clash between the Mods and the Rockers which took place on Brighton beach in 1964. This provided a great backdrop to the crime, highlighting how difficult it was for Edgar and his team, as they battle to keep order whilst trying to find the missing women.

I really enjoyed meeting up with Stephens and Mephisto again and particularly loved how we see the women starting to want to follow their own career paths. I do hope that book 6 is in the pipeline as I can’t wait to see how Emma’s plans affect her life with Edgar!

With thanks to Quercus Books and Net Galley for my copy of Now You See Them, which can be pre-ordered now and will be published on 3rd October 2019.

 

 

**BLOG TOUR** The Perfect Lie by Karen Osman

Claire Carmichael has the sort of life many would dream of: a successful husband, two lovely sons and a great reputation. At school, her brains and likability led her to becoming a member of The Queen Bees, a clique of popular girls. Something happened to Claire back then, though, and The Queen Bees closed rank to protect one of their own. Now, years later, there is someone who hasn’t forgotten what happened, someone who is keen to exact their revenge…

Although from the blurb, we know that something horrendous happened in Claire’s past, it is not until about a fifth of the way in that we finally get a glimpse of what it may be. I liked this very much as it gave me the chance to be introduced to the characters whilst also allowing me to speculate as to what was going to happen. During this time, I came up with several theories, all of them incorrect!

For me, the book really took off when we went back to 1989, just prior to the event that would, eventually, change Claire’s life. In Claire, we see a teenager, desperate to fit in with her peers by being accepted into The Queen Bees, a clique of all the ‘popular’ girls. It was obvious that this was never going to end well, and my heart went out to Paul who, unbeknownst to him, was a pawn in the hands of these girls. Similarly, though, I also had a lot of sympathy for Claire, whose feelings towards Paul were at conflict with her need to appease The Queen Bees.

The Perfect Lie is a lesson in how one event can completely alter the course of your life, whether it be for the better or for the worse. We also discover how past sin will eventually find you out as the events of 1989 start to impact on Claire’s present life, threatening to bring it all crashing to the ground. I do not want to say too much about the plot, but I did deduce what had actually happened in 1989 and made the connection to what was happening in the present. The shock, however, came towards the end, when you see the lengths people will go to exact their revenge.

This is a great thriller and one that became difficult to put down as the plot progressed. It is also one of those books that is so well written, it will leave a bit of a nasty taste in the mouth.

With thanks to Aria and Net Galley for my copy and to Vicky Joss for organising the blog tour.

 

Order links:

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2Y2fIkh

Kobo: http://bit.ly/2NRI9NN

Google Play: http://bit.ly/2LT6KPS

**BLOG TOUR** The Stationmaster’s Daughter by Kathleen McGurl

The year is 1935 and stationmaster Ted loves working on the railway in Dorset to the point where he never takes any time off. All changes, however, when he meets one of the passengers, Annie Galbraith, and falls head over heels in love. Unfortunately, with the railway due to close and a terrible accident occurring at the station, his life is about to change forever.

In the present day, recovering from recent heartbreak, Tilly leaves London to stay with her railway volunteer father in Dorset. Finding a diary hidden in the old stationmaster’s house, she soon becomes engrossed in Ted’s story and makes it her mission to find out exactly what happened on the day the railway closed and why it had repercussions for so many people…

Kathleen McGurl is one of those authors where, as soon as I know there is a new book coming out, I have to have it! I was so pleased, therefore, to be one of the blogs opening the blog tour for her latest dual timeline novel. I love how the two stories in her books gradually come together, giving you a complete picture of what happened, and this was definitely the case in The Stationmaster’s Daughter.

If I had to choose, I would say that the part of the story set in the past was my favourite. Ted is one of those instantly likeable characters and I found myself rooting for him from the start even though you just know that things are not going to turn out well for him. I was transported back to a completely different time where circumstances prevented him from being with the woman he loved, even if I did feel that the woman of his dreams, Annie, didn’t help his cause a great deal! This part of the story was a direct contrast to what was happening in the present day with Tilly, who, although going through a tough time, was able to deal with her situation in a much more practical way.

The Stationmaster’s Daughter has a fantastic setting and Kathleen McGurl really takes you back to a time when life moved at a slower pace than what we are used to. A perfect summer read with an emotional backdrop, the author has, yet again, written another intriguing, entertaining story. I look forward to the next one!

With thanks to Net Galley and HQ Digital and also to Rachel from Rachel’s Random Resources for organising the blog tour.

Take a look at my reviews of some of Kathleen McGurl’s other books here:

The Emerald Comb

The Pearl Locket

The Daughters of Red Hill Hall

The Girl From Ballymor

The Drowned Village

The Forgotten Secret

 

Ice Cold Heart by P J Tracy

One evening, Kelly Ramage leaves her home, telling her husband that she is going to visit a friend. She never returns. When her body is discovered, it is initially thought that her death is as the result of a sex game gone wrong, so detectives Gino and Magozzi think that if they find the lover, they will find the perpetrator. The killer, however, has done a good job in hiding his identity, leading the police to believe that he has done this before and that Kelly is certainly not going to be his last victim.

Ever since reading Want to Play?, the first of the Monkeewrench books, I have been a big fan of P. J. Tracy’s writing. Over the years, I have enjoyed seeing the character development, in particular Grace who, although still fearful of her past, is now a mother to young Elizabeth. Who would have thought at the start of the series that she would be capable of having a relationship, never mind having a child?!

In Ice Cold Heart, we see less of the Monkeewrench team and more of detectives Gino and Magozzi. The case is a particularly horrible one, with the killer seemingly basing his crimes on the work of the controversial artist Rado. The detectives know that the man they are looking for is incredibly disturbed, and when another woman goes missing, someone they have already had contact with, they know it is a race against time to find her before she becomes the next victim.

The case becomes even more complicated when Roadrunner, one of the Monkeewrench team, befriends one of his neighbours, Petra. As the story progresses, we see how strong Petra is, despite the circumstances we find her in at the start of the book. She is searching for a notorious Balkan war criminal, and it is not long before the two cases cross paths. With Monkeewrench also searching for a hacker who has undertaken a multi-million dollar theft, there is plenty for the reader to sink their teeth into. I enjoyed seeing all of these cases slowly come together, and I was pleasantly surprised with the conclusion.

With a plot involving murder, war crimes, BDSM and computer hacking, Ice Cold Heart is a fast-paced read with something happening on every page. As I said earlier, I have enjoyed this series from the start, and this has definitely been one of my favourites so far.

With thanks to Net Galley and Penguin UK – Michael Joseph for my copy.

Take a look at some of my other PJ Tracy reviews:

Cold Kill

Nothing Stays Buried

The Guilty Dead

 

**BLOG TOUR** The Guilty Mother by Diane Jeffrey

In 2013, Melissa Slade was tried and convicted of the murder of her twin baby girls, but did she do it? Now, new evidence has come to light, seeming to support the view that it was, indeed, a miscarriage of justice and an appeal is planned to try to overturn her conviction. Newspaper reporter, Jonathan Hunt, covered the original case and now his boss wants him to take a closer look at the evidence to try to uncover the truth. Reluctantly, he begins to investigate, hoping to find out exactly what happened to Amber and Ellie Slade.

Losing a child is a tragedy that no parent should have to endure, but for Melissa Slade and her husband, Michael, this is only the beginning of their nightmare. The loss of Amber was attributed to sudden infant death syndrome, but the later death of Ellie caused the alarm bells to ring, with Melissa being convicted of her murder. We soon realise that at the time of the deaths, all was not well in the Slade household. Melissa was clearly struggling with the two girls, her relationship with her husband far from perfect. The addition of an au pair to help look after the babies added extra tension and with other family members from their previous marriages present in the house, there was no shortage of potential suspects.

As well as some of the book being written from the point of view of Melissa, we also have chapters written from the perspectives of Jonathan, and junior reporter, Kelly. Both of these characters had also experienced tragedy in their lives but I was pleased that this did not take over the story, something which other authors can often do. I found both of the journalists likeable, keen to uncover the truth about what had happened. I particularly enjoyed seeing how Kelly developed throughout the book, going from an inexperienced, wet behind the ears reporter, to someone who shows great promise in investigative journalism. Although The Guilty Mother appears to be a standalone book, I feel that there is enough scope in these characters to give them a second outing.

This is one of those books where you constantly change your mind about who was actually responsible for the deaths. Many of the characters had potential motives and my theory changed constantly as to what had happened. Despite working out one of the mysteries in the story, I did not predict the conclusion and was surprised when the truth was revealed. The ending is clever and definitely provided one of those ‘gasp’ moments!

I raced through this book, desperate to know the outcome. I have never read any of Diane Jeffrey’s work before, but I will definitely be rectifying this as soon as possible! A superb read!

With thanks to HQ Digital and Net Galley and to Izzy Smith for organising the blog tour.

 

 

 

The Dirty Dozen by Lynda La Plante

It is now 1980 and Jane Tennison has become the first female to be posted to the Metropolitan Police’s Flying Squad, colloquially known as ‘The Sweeney’. Thrown straight into investigating an armed robbery, Jane is proud of her achievements until she realises that her transfer is part of an experiment to try to tame the male dominated team known as ‘The Dirty Dozen’. Determined to prove her worth, Jane learns that a gang is about to carry out a multi-million pound raid, the only problem being she doesn’t know who they are and where or when the raid will take place…

The more this series progresses, the more we see Jane Tennison moving towards the no-nonsense detective we know and love from the Prime Suspect series. Now part of the famous Flying Squad, she is, again, having to fight the rampant sexism that exists in the police force, discovering that her posting is, in fact, part of an experiment. You can feel Jane’s frustration, a detective who deserves to be where she is due to her competence, yet it is still her sex that is dictating her role.

In The Dirty Dozen, we see the Flying Squad investigating an armed robbery but Jane is sidelined, tasked with the jobs that her boss deems unimportant. Fortunately for Jane, she grabs the challenge with both hands and, working alongside a fellow officer, Dabs, begins to uncover information that opens up the case. When she is sent on a wild goose chase to interview a potential witness, the whole investigation takes a turn after Jane realises that this information is gold dust. It was good to see Tennison trusting her instincts, refusing to give up even when her superiors displayed a lack of interest – this was definitely the tenacious Prime Suspect detective emerging.

Due to its 1980 setting, there is definitely an Ashes to Ashes feel to The Dirty Dozen and I could imagine Gene Hunt ”firing up the Quattro’ at any moment! Some of the vocabulary used in the book, especially to describe people, made me wince, but this is of the time and made me feel glad that this terminology is no longer acceptable. I always enjoy the references to real-life incidents in this series, in this case the Iranian Embassy siege, as it helps to place the book firmly in a particular time.

I am still absolutely loving this series and my only concern is that we are nearing the time when DCI Tennison will cross paths with George Marlow, taking us to the start of the Prime Suspect series. This is a series that I hope will continue for a while yet!

With thanks to Zaffre and Net Galley for my copy.

Take a look at my reviews of the rest of the series:

Tennison

Hidden Killers

Good Friday

Murder Mile

 

Monthly Roundup – July 2019

August already, so it’s time to see what I read in the month of July. A mix of crime, historical crime and historical fiction this month and I’d be interested to see what your views are if you have read any of them!

Books I Have Read

The Leaden Heart by Chris Nickson

The seventh in the DI Tom Harper series set in Leeds at the end of the nineteenth century,  sees the detective investigating a spate of burglaries and a particularly nasty set of crimes involving corruption and intimidation. I’m still really enjoying this series.

 

Child’s Play by Angela Marsons

Another series that is going from strength to strength, this is the eleventh Kim Stone book. With some particularly gruesome deaths, Kim and her team have their work cut out to apprehend the killer. We are given the chance to find out more about Penn and are also introduced to a new character, ‘Tink’ and I am already eagerly awaiting book twelve!

 

In a House of Lies by Ian Rankin

Retired John Rebus finds himself, once again, drawn back to his old stomping ground when a case he was involved in comes to the fore. With less Rebus than in previous books, however, I hope that he will continue to feature in subsequent novels.

 

The Stationmaster’s Daughter by Kathleen McGurl

The latest dual timeline novel from Kathleen McGurl is a heartbreaking tale of love and loss on the railway with a touch of mystery and intrigue thrown in for good measure. A great summer read! Review will be published in August as part of the blog tour.

 

The Guilty Mother by Diane Jeffrey

Two baby girls, both dead, and their mother has been serving time for their murder. Now, with new evidence coming to light, doubt has been cast on her conviction. Did Melissa Slade do it or was someone else responsible? This is a very fast-paced read, the review being published in August as part of the blog tour.

 

One Year Later by Sanjida Kay

One year ago, little Rubie-May did in a terrible accident. Now with the anniversary looming, long-hidden secrets are starting to surface and it begins to appear that there is more to Rubie-May’s death than meets the eye. This is a great read with some twists that I definitely did not see coming.

 

Books I Have Acquired

Apart from the books that I’ve already read, I’ve only acquired one book this month! I’m on several blog tours in August so I’ve been trying to limit my new books until I’ve read the ones I need to!

Lexie’s got the perfect life. And someone else wants it…

Lexie loves her home. She feels safe and secure in it – and loved, thanks to her boyfriend Tom.

But recently, something’s not been quite right. A book out of place. A wardrobe door left open. A set of keys going missing…

Tom thinks Lexie’s going mad – but then, he’s away more often than he’s at home nowadays, so he wouldn’t understand.

Because Lexie isn’t losing it. She knows there’s someone out there watching her. And, deep down, she knows there’s nothing she can do to make them stop…

 

I’m currently reading the latest Lynda La Plante book, The Dirty Dozen, and am loving catching up with Jane Tennison again. Hope you’re enjoying what you’re reading!

 

 

 

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