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June 2020

Death on Coffin Lane by Jo Allen

Academic Cody Wilder has a reputation for being a bit difficult and DCI Jude Satterthwaite immediately gets on her bad side when he turns up late for a talk she is giving on Wordsworth. Personal feelings must be put aside, however, after her research assistant is found dead at the cottage she is renting whilst in Grasmere, and Jude finds himself part of the investigating team. With Cody seemingly dividing opinion amongst the locals, it is no surprise that trouble appears to follow her around, but with more and more people that she knows coming to harm, is she in danger or is something else afoot?

Death on Coffin Lane is the third in the Jude Satterthwaite series, but it can be read as a standalone as there are no real spoilers in here for events in the previous books. I really like Jude as a character, and am enjoying seeing how he is developing through the series. Although he is not exactly an action-packed police officer, we constantly see his strength when he faces people from his past who bear a grudge. I admire his ‘never give in’ attitude and can see how his personality suits the job he has in the Lake District.

On the other hand, Cody Wilder is a character that I disliked immensely. Don’t see this as a criticism, however, in fact it should be seen as the exact opposite. Jo Allen has written Wilder so well that she has evoked the same response in the reader as in the local people. Throughout the book, although it was obvious that she played some role in what was happening, I could not work out to what extent. While I never really believed that she had first hand involvement in any of the deaths, I knew that the plot would eventually revolve around her, but how?

I’m enjoying the Jude Satterthwaite series so far, and I’m looking forward to seeing where Jo Allen takes him next.

With thanks to Aria Fiction and Net Galley for my ARC.

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

Death by Dark Waters

Death at Eden’s End

 

The Arbella Stuart Conspiracy by Alexandra Walsh

The year is 1603 and the reign of the Tudors has come to an end. The Scottish king James, now James I of England, has taken the throne, much to the anger of those who believe that there is another rightful monarch residing in the country. Back in the present day, Dr Perdita Rivers and her sister Piper are still taken aback at the changes that have happened in the past year, but know that even more is ahead. If they can find the one thing that has been eluding them, could they have the evidence that could alter the course of British history forever? With old enemies set to resurface, how much more blood will be shed to prevent secrets from emerging?

The Arbella Stuart Conspiracy is the final book of the Marquess House trilogy and I would advise that you read the previous two (The Catherine Howard Conspiracy and The Elizabeth Tudor Conspiracy) before starting this one in order to develop a full understanding of the plot. Briefly, and without spoilers, in the previous books we discover that the sisters have inherited their family home, Marquess House, an impressive building containing a wealth of history. They soon discover that the house is hiding numerous secrets that could potentially change everything we thought we knew about Tudor history, and that there are people who would happily kill to keep us all in the dark. 

As someone interested in this era of British history, I’ve loved the journey that Alexandra Walsh has taken me on, merging fact with fiction to the point where it is impossible to see the joins! I enjoy books that challenge my thinking and, as I read this, I found myself researching characters and aspects of the plot in order to get a better understanding of this turbulent time in Britain’s past. By referencing real events such as the Main and Gunpowder Plots, there is an air of authenticity about the book, and the amount of research undertaken by the author is apparent. I admit to not knowing a great deal about Arbella Stuart, but after reading this, I will definitely be finding out more about her.

In the present day part of the story, there are plenty of loose ends left from previous books that I hoped would be tied up by the end and I was pleased to see that they were. I must say that I am very envious of Perdita’s life: living in such a historic building with access to all of that research material sounds like my idea of heaven! 

While I have thoroughly enjoyed the Marquess House trilogy, I am sad that it has come to an end. I hope that Alexandra Walsh has a similar idea in the pipeline as I’d love to read her take on another aspect of history – I’m sure there is plenty of scope for a few more conspiracy theories!

With thanks to Sapere Books for my copy of The Arbella Stuart Conspiracy. 

I, Robot: How to be a Footballer 2 by Peter Crouch

With what is going on in the world at the moment, I was in need of something a bit more light-hearted than what I usually read. I, Robot is the second book in a year from footballer Peter Crouch and if you were a fan of the first instalment, then you’re going to enjoy this one too.

If you’re looking for a serious autobiography, then you’re not going to find this here, but then, with Peter Crouch, I’m sure that’s not what you were expecting! What we have here is a collection of anecdotes from both his career as a Premier League footballer and from before this time, split into chapters with headings such as ‘Away Days’, ‘Referees’ and ‘Strikers’. While some sections are more successful than others, on the whole, this is a very readable book with plenty to keep you entertained.

As you would expect, in his writing, Peter Crouch comes across as a self-effacing character, honest about his career and team mates without ever being too shocking. Although he does give his opinion on many aspects of the game, it never veers from being a light-hearted take on the beautiful game. 

If you’re a football fan looking for a non-demanding, easy read, then this just might be the book for you.

With thanks to Ebury Press for my copy of I, Robot. 

 

 

The Body in the Marsh by Nick Louth

DCI Craig Gillard finds himself emotionally involved in a case when a girlfriend from his youth is reported missing. Her husband is seemingly unperturbed, but the case takes a sudden turn when he, too, slips off the radar. A guilty conscience or something more sinister? Running alongside the investigation is another case: a new look into the death of someone known as ‘Girl F’. Just why has no progress been made?

I’m not usually a fan of reading a book series out of order, but that is what has happened with Nick Louth’s Craig Gillard series. Having already read the rest of the series, I thought I had better go back to where it all started! I found that it took me back even further than I was expecting with an insight into Craig’s early life thanks to the investigation into Liz Knight, a woman who also happened to be an ex-girlfriend. I admired Craig’s ability to work through this case, despite his connection to Liz, his dedication to the job in hand being something that is carried through the rest of the series. 

The case is a particularly twisted one, often more twisted than you could ever imagine. I did have my suspicions as to how the plot would play out which proved to be correct, but such is the quality of the author’s storytelling that my enjoyment was not spoiled one bit. In a story which takes in several European countries, we see the determination of Craig and his team to solve the case, discovering links to other crimes in the process. 

Often in police procedurals, the second plot is not as interesting, but this is definitely not the case here. The story of ‘Girl F’ is a heart-wrenching one, and one that made me very angry. We discover that despite giving evidence of her abuse and a description of someone who was involved, no one was ever brought to justice, even after the girl chose to take her own life. There has apparently been some sort of conspiracy of silence, but why? Exactly who is pulling the strings? In a story full of anger, I did find myself laughing when a suspect in the case is delivered to the police – never underestimate a woman!

If you haven’t read any of this series, and you are a plan of police procedurals with great characters and gripping plots, I can thoroughly recommend the Craig Gillard series. Take a look at my reviews of the other books:

The Body on the Shore

The Body in the Mist

The Body in the Snow

The Body Under the Bridge

**BOOK BLITZ** One Fatal Night by Helene Fermont

Today, I’m pleased to be taking part in the book blitz for One Fatal Night by Helene Fermont. The ebook has just been reduced in price from £7.99 to £2.99 so if this is a book you are interested in, now might be the time to buy it!

The Blurb

One woman’s quest for revenge unearths a fatal secret from her past.

Astrid Jensen holds one man responsible for her mother’s suicide, and she’ll do whatever’s necessary to get close to Daniel Holst and destroy his life – even if it means sleeping with him to gain his trust. Astrid knows he’s not who he pretends to be. But before she can reveal his dark secret, people from her mother’s past start turning up dead, and it looks like she and Daniel are next. In order to survive, she might have to put her trust in the man she has hated for so long.

Daniel Holst has worked hard to climb into Norway’s most elite and glamorous circles, and he’s not about to let any woman bring him down. But when a psychopathic killer starts murdering people from his shadowy past, he discovers that the only person who might be able to save him is the woman who wants to destroy him.

As Astrid digs deeper into her past, she uncovers secrets long buried and realizes everything she once believed is based on lies. What began as a quest to avenge her mother’s death becomes a desperate struggle for survival and leads to the truth about what happened one fatal night ten years ago—and the surprising mastermind behind the most recent murders.

About the Author

Hélene is an Anglo-Swedish fiction author currently residing in her home town of Malmo, Sweden, after relocating back from London after 20 years.

Her thrilling character-driven psychological fiction novels are known for their explosive, pacy narrative and storylines.

Hélene is the proud author of four novels – One Fatal Night, Because of You, We Never Said Goodbye and His Guilty Secret.

Buy Link
Kindle edition – https://amzn.to/36XOxt3

Paperback – https://amzn.to/3dydhKS

With thanks to Kelly at Love Books group

A Girl Called Justice by Elly Griffiths

After the death of her mother, Justice Jones is packed off to Highbury House Boarding School for the Daughters of Gentlefolk. It doesn’t take the young sleuth long to realise that something strange is underfoot. Rumours circulate about the suspicious death of a former maid so when a teacher is also found dead, Justice embarks on a mission to solve the crimes. Putting her own life at risk in the process, will she manage to prevent further tragedies from occurring?

Elly Griffiths is one of my favourite authors and I am a huge fan of both her Ruth Galloway and Stephens & Mephisto series. Some time ago, I bought A Girl Called Justice as a prize for a girl in my class (she’s a fellow crime fiction fan!) and she has since declared it her favourite book and urged me to read it. After letting me borrow her copy, I can see why she enjoyed it so much!

Set in pre-war England, A Girl Called Justice took me right back to my childhood, with memories of Enid Blyton’s Malory Towers series mixed with her Five Find Outers books. Justice is a great character: despite the tragic reasons for her being at the boarding school, her tenacity shines through from the second she discovers that something is afoot at Highbury House. I liked how she didn’t really fit in with the rest of the girls, breaking the rules to befriend one of the maids instead, although I was pleased when she found a kindred spirit amongst the other girls in her dorm.

The mystery is well-paced with enough gruesomeness to keep children enthralled without ever being too scary. This is exactly the sort of book I would have loved when I was a child, and I am looking forward to reading the follow-up, The Smugglers’ Secret. My pupil has already told me that this is on her reading list!

 

**BLOG TOUR** The Toybox by Charly Cox

Fear surrounds Albuquerque, New Mexico, after several teenage girls and young women disappear with no clue as to what has happened to them. After a body is found, Detective Alyssa Wyatt finds herself desperately trying to uncover what is happening, especially when the friend of her daughter goes missing. With no apparent link between the victims, Wyatt and her partner Cord, find themselves involved in an investigation into criminals much more depraved than they could ever have imagined. Can they locate the girls before they suffer the same fate as the murdered girl?

One of my favourite books of last year was this author’s debut, All His Pretty Girls, the first book in the Alyssa Wyatt series. As someone who doesn’t tend to read many books set in the US, this one completely blew me away and I  couldn’t wait to read the next in the series. I wondered how Charly Cox would be able to live up to the standard of her first book and I am so pleased to say that she has managed it with ease!

The subject matter is not for the faint of heart, dealing with the horrendous crimes of sex trafficking and physical abuse. This is so well written, however, that the author does not actually need to describe the extent of the suffering that these young women are having to endure as enough is implied so that you know what is happening without actually having to read it. This is, I feel, more powerful than seeing the events written down in front of you as your imagination can fill in the gaps, leaving you feeling nothing but horror about what is unfolding before your eyes. These women were incredibly brave despite their circumstances and I found myself desperately hoping that they would be freed from the predicament without anything even more horrendous happening to them.

One word of caution I will give with The Toybox is that there are spoilers aplenty about the previous installment, to the point that some pretty major twists are revealed. The events in All His Pretty Girls have definitely helped to shape Alyssa and some of her actions and feelings can be explained by what has gone before. Alyssa is a great character with a stable family life and a partner who she trusts implicitly. This is something that is often missing in other police procedurals so I really like how we can focus on the investigation rather than on the private life of the detective.

This really is a superb series and I can’t recommend it highly enough. If you are looking for a gritty police procedural with believable characters and a gripping plot, then The Toybox may just be the book for you.

With thanks to Sarah Hardy at Book on the Bright Side for organising the blog tour and to Hera Books and Net Galley for my ARC.

 

Monthly Round Up – May 2020

I hope you are all well and keeping safe during these strange times. This month, all of my reads have been crime/mystery related although as well as fiction, I’ve read a non-fiction book and also one for younger readers – all brilliant!

Books I Have Read

Fifty Fifty by Steve Cavanagh

When two sisters both blame each other of murder and there is no way of determining which one actually did it, there is only one thing to do: put them both on trial. This is the fifth Eddie Flynn book in a series that is going from strength to strength.

 

Buried Angels by Patricia Gibney

This is the most complex plot to date for Patricia Gibney, in a story which sees Detective Lottie Parker investigating multiple murders spanning several decades. This is a series that I am still really enjoying.

 

The Glass House by Eve Chase

This captivating story of a dysfunctional family is one of my favourite reads of the year so far. A character-driven novel with death, mystery and intrigue makes this a perfect book to lose yourself in!

 

Poisoned at the Priory by Antony M Brown

This, the fourth book in the Cold Case Jury series, investigates the death of Victorian gentleman, Charles Bravo. Was it suicide or murder? If it was murder, who was the culprit? These are questions you must ask yourself as the evidence is presented to you. A great read for fans of true crime.

 

The Toybox by Charly Cox

This, the second in the Alyssa Wyatt series, is another great read after I thoroughly enjoyed the first one last year. A gripping tale of abduction and sex trafficking, this is a series not to be missed. My review will be published on June 6th as part of the blog tour.

 

A Girl Called Justice by Elly Griffiths

This may be a child’s book, but it’s a great mystery story from one of my favourite authors. When Justice Jones starts at a boarding school, she soon realises that strange things are happening. Just how did Mary the maid die and why are so many people creeping around at night? Another death confirms is – there is a killer on the loose. Review to follow.

 

Books I Have Acquired

The Kendrick family have been making world-famous dolls since the early 1800s. But their dolls aren’t coveted for the craftmanship alone. Each one has a specific emotion laid on it by its creator. A magic that can make you feel bucolic bliss or consuming paranoia at a single touch. Though founded by sisters, now only men may know the secrets of the workshop.

Persephone Kendrick longs to break tradition and learn the family craft, and when a handsome stranger arrives claiming doll-making talent and a blood tie to the Kendricks, she sees a chance to grasp all she desires.

But then, one night, the family’s most valuable doll is stolen. Only someone with knowledge of magic could have taken her. Only a Kendrick could have committed this crime…

 

DCI Jude Satterthwaite doesn’t get off to a great start with resentful Cody Wilder, who’s visiting Grasmere to present her latest research on Wordsworth. With some of the villagers unhappy about her visit, it’s up to DCI Satterthwaite to protect her – especially when her assistant is found hanging in the kitchen of their shared cottage.

With a constant flock of tourists and the local hippies welcoming in all who cross their paths, Jude’s home in the Lake District isn’t short of strangers. But with the ability to make enemies wherever she goes, the violence that follows in Cody’s wake leads DCI Satterthwaite’s investigation down the hidden paths of those he knows, and those he never knew even existed.

 

Would you forgive your child anything?

The murder of a young girl found barefoot in a country park and the re-emergence of shoes from the victims of a serial killer from over forty years ago. A coincidence or a connection?
Will Blake is determined to find out, but as he unearths the past, questions are raised about the original investigations and it becomes clear that The Wirral has a killer on the loose once again.

Victor Hunt, the father of the last dead girl from the original case, lies in a hospice with weeks to live. The truth lies hidden in Hunt’s tangled family tree, and the actions of his wayward daughter. Time is against Blake and his fractious team. If they don’t get to the root of past crimes, then innocent blood will flow again.

 

Derbyshire, England, 1603
Elizabeth I is dead and the Tudor reign is over. As the men in power decide to pass the throne to the Scottish King James, one woman debates changing the course of history.

Two Tudor heirs have been covered up for decades, and with a foreign king threatening the stability of England it could be time to bring the truth to the fore.

But there are reasons the Tudor children were put into hiding and exposing them would put not only their lives in danger, but the lives of many others as well…

Marquess House, Pembrokeshire, 2019

Dr Perdita Rivers and her sister Piper have returned to their ancestral home. But the ancient walls still contain riddles which the twins need to solve.

Perdita and Piper have already discovered earth-shattering secrets which will change the course of English history forever. But they are missing one vital piece of the puzzle.

Two Tudor rings have led them to cover-ups at the Tudor court, but now they must track down a missing silver locket to slot the final parts of the mystery together.

And just when it seems they could be ready to expose the centuries-old conspiracy, old enemies resurface to put their very lives at risk…

 

What happens on the pitch is only half the story.

Being a footballer is not just kicking a ball about with twenty-one other people on a big grass rectangle. Sometimes being a footballer is about accidentally becoming best mates with Mickey Rourke, or understanding why spitting is considered football’s most heinous crime.

In How to be a Footballer, Peter Crouch took us into a world of bad tattoos and even worse haircuts, a world where you’re on the pitch one minute, spending too much money on a personalised number plate the next. In I, Robot, he lifts the lid even further on the beautiful game. We will learn about Gareth Bale’s magic beans, the Golden Rhombus of Saturday night entertainment, and why Crouchy’s dad walks his dog wearing an England tracksuit from 2005.

‘Whether you’re an armchair expert, or out in the stands every Saturday, crazy for five-a-side or haven’t put on a pair of boots since school, this is the real inside story of how to be a footballer.’

 

A mixed bag of books to read! Do any of these look like something you’d enjoy?

 

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