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December 2021

The Foundlings by Nathan Dylan Goodwin

In his latest case, forensic genealogist Morton Farrier aims to uncover the truth about three babies who were found abandoned in shop doorways in the 1970s. DNA evidence has connected these three babies but who, exactly, was the mother? The case also has a personal element for Morton as one of the foundlings is his recently-discovered half-aunt and there are potential revelations about his own grandfather. With time against him, what will Morton discover and will he want to share his shocking findings with those involved?

In recent years, popular television programmes such as Long Lost Family have used DNA testing to reunite family members and in The Foundlings, Nathan Dylan Goodwin uses this scientific advancement along with the more traditional methods of genealogy to piece together family histories that would otherwise stay hidden. The research is explained well and plays its part in an engrossing, highly readable plot.

The story is told in two time frames: the present day research of Morton and the actual events that the genealogist is researching. For the first time, we see Morton uncomfortable about his research, not sure whether he should share it with the foundlings due to the explosive nature of the information he finds out. The story is compelling and keeps you hooked right until the end and I enjoyed the humorous moments that provided some light relief.

One word of warning is that there are some references to events in previous books. While this will not spoil your enjoyment of The Foundlings, it will take away the element of surprise should you choose to go back and read the earlier stories. This is a series that is going from strength to strength and I thoroughly recommend each and every one of them.

The Appeal by Janice Hallett

Local amateur dramatics society The Fairway Players are about to stage a production of All My Sons but all is not well. Soon, one of the players will be dead and another will be in prison, convicted of a crime there is a strong possibility that they did not commit.

I have had this book on my Kindle for a while and finally got round to reading it. I am now kicking myself for not getting round to it before now! For those who are unaware of The Appeal, this does not read like a traditional ‘whodunnit’ but, instead, is a series of texts, emails and letters from the principal characters, each one providing valuable information to help you try to solve the case yourself.

We join the plot after the murder and after someone has been convicted, but we don’t know the identity of either of these people. Roderick Tanner QC feels that the wrong person is currently in prison and tasks students Femi and Charlotte to uncover the evidence that will stand up in a forthcoming appeal. The correspondence between these characters really helps to focus the mind, helping the reader to think about the evidence that we have been given from the other potential suspects.

Due to the novel format of this book, it took me a bit of time to get my head around what was happening but then, once I did, I was fully immersed, coming up with my own theories and looking for the evidence to back them up. The Appeal is a breath of fresh air and has definitely added a new dimension to the crime/mystery genre. I am looking forward to reading the next novel by this author, The Twyford Code, to seehow this one compares.

Darkness Falls by Robert Bryndza

After setting up their own private investigation firm, Kate Marshall and Tristan Harper have their first big case. Journalist Joanna Duncan disappeared without trace twelve years ago and after exhausting any leads they had, the police have consigned her disappearance to the cold case files. Joanna’s mother has never given up hope, however, and employs Kate and Tristan to find out exactly what happened to her daughter. When Kate uncovers evidence of other missing people, she begins to worry that maybe there is a killer hiding in plain sight, one that hasn’t finished yet…

Darkness Falls is the third in the Kate Marshall series and, in my opinion, is the best so far. While this could be read as a standalone, I feel that it is important to understand Kate’s backstory to fully appreciate the character and there is more than one spoiler to events in previous books in this one.

The story grabbed me straight away and its twisty plot kept me hooked right until the end. I enjoy a book where the killer is not obvious and even as I neared the end, I still couldn’t decide who the guilty party was due to the several plausible candidates that Robert Bryndza gave us!

Kate and Tristan are both great characters who bring their own skills to the investigation, Kate in particular using her police contacts to help when needed. Despite the macabre nature of the crimes, I did enjoy the occasional snippets of humour, particularly one of Tristan’s friends who has a good line in nicknames!

This is a great series, one that I highly recommend. I’m hoping it won’t be too long before we get to read book 4!

With thanks to Little, Brown Book Group and Net Galley for my copy.

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

Nine Elms

Shadow Sands

The Wind Chime by Alexandra Walsh

After the death of her mother, Amelia Prentice is clearing out her attic when she finds a box of Victorian photographs. Depicting the Attwater family who resided at a Pembrokeshire estate called Cliffside, Amelia sets out to discover who they were. When she finds the diaries of Osyth Attwater, she finds her interest piqued even more.

Back in 1883, young Osyth overhears a conversation which shatters her world and leaves her wondering what other secrets her family has kept from her. What exactly did happen to Osyth’s mother and is there any link in the present day to Amelia?

I am a huge fan of the Marquess House series by Alexandra Walsh and was pleased to see that she had written another timeshift book, this time set in my favoured period of historical fiction, the Victorian age. The author captures the era perfectly and I particularly liked how it deals with some of the subjects that would have been taboo in that age such as mental illness and relationships outside of marriage.

Initially, I found myself favouring the sections written in the present day due to my love of all things genealogical but as the book progressed and I found myself understanding the complex family relationships of the family in 1883, I began to enjoy both eras equally. Osyth soon became a firm favourite and I admired her tenacity despite her reputation for being a bit of a dreamer.

The Wind Chime is a beautiful, poignant book written with sensitivity. I have already downloaded the next in the series, The Music Makers.

Take a look at my reviews of the Marquess House series by the same author:

The Catherine Howard Conspiracy

The Elizabeth Tudor Conspiracy

The Arbella Stuart Conspiracy

The Weeping Lady Conspiracy

Stolen Ones by Angela Marsons

Twenty-five years ago, little Melody Jones was abducted and never seen again. Now, another child has been taken and, to the horror of D.I. Kim Stone, a bracelet belonging to Melody has been found at the scene. What has made the perpetrator strike again after all these years and what is the connection to a man who has presented himself at Halesowen police station claiming to have information? Kim and her team know that time is against them if they are to find the child alive but with Kim having to deal with an old adversary at the same time, will they be able to crack the case in time?

Over the last few years, Angela Marsons has easily become one of my favourite authors, the Kim Stone series being an absolutely cracking read. If you are a fan of police procedurals with hugely engaging storylines and characters you actually care about the this is a series you need to read!

This is one of those plots that you can easily picture being part of a Sunday night TV drama. From the moment Steven Harte walked into the police station, I was immediately drawn into the intrigue of this book, desperate to find what information he held and, more importantly, why he had chosen now to come forward.

This case really tests Kim in more ways than one and I could feel her frustration in trying to get information out of someone who really did seem to hold all the cards. Coupled with an appearance from an old adversary, Kim really does earn her money in this book!

If you have never read an Angela Marsons book, I cannot recommend them highly enough!

With thanks to Bookouture and Net Galley for my copy.

Monthly Round Up: November 2021

Late this month, but here are the books I have read/acquired over the course of November!

Books I Have Read

Mr Crippen, Cora and the Body in the Basement by Matthew Coniam

A well-researched book exploring the infamous case of the alleged murder of Cora Crippen by her husband in London in 1910. Taking into account recent DNA evidence, this book offers a lot of pause for thought.


The Forgotten Gun by John Reid

I really enjoyed this story of a group of misfit police officers who investigate a seemingly impossible set of murders. The plot moves along nicely and provides some laughs along the way.


The Lost by Simon Beckett

The first in the Jonah Colley series is a fast-paced tale of murder and introduces us to the detective who feels he has nothing to lose when investigating a case very close to his heart. A great read!


Stolen Ones by Angela Marsons

I don’t know how she does it, but every book by Angela Marsons is an absolute joy to read! When a man walks into the police station and confesses that he may have information about a missing girl, DI Kim Stone ends up involved in a frustrating case of murder and abduction. Superb!


Books I Have Aquired

Pembrokeshire, Wales, 2020

Serious illness has forced Eleanor Wilder to leave her life in London, close her antique shop, and return to the family farm in Pembrokeshire. Her instinct is to hide from the world but when her parents bring her to a family reunion at the nearby house, Cliffside, she is transfixed by a set of old family photographs.

One of the images is of a woman in theatrical dress, labelled ‘Esme Blood’ – a name that is familiar to Eleanor through a set of Victorian tarot cards and diaries that she found through her shop. Certain the name is unusual enough not to be a coincidence, Eleanor begins to research the life of this intriguing woman.

London, England, 1875

Born to a teenage mother who couldn’t cope, Esme Blood is adopted by the ebullient Cornelius and Rosie Hardy into a touring theatrical troupe, along with her friend Aaron. When Aaron’s grandparents return to claim him, Esme is devastated and the two promise they will find each other.

Outgrowing her adopted lifestyle, Esme decides to set out to seek her fortune, and she relies on a deck of Tarot cards to direct her. But fate can be a cruel mistress, and before long Esme finds herself trapped in a loveless marriage.

Did Esme find happiness? Was she ever reunited with Aaron?

And will researching her family history bring healing to Eleanor…?


It’s time to solve the murder of the century…

Forty years ago, Steven Smith found a copy of a famous children’s book by disgraced author Edith Twyford, its margins full of strange markings and annotations. Wanting to know more, he took it to his English teacher Miss Iles, not realising the chain of events that he was setting in motion. Miss Iles became convinced that the book was the key to solving a puzzle, and that a message in secret code ran through all Twyford’s novels. Then Miss Iles disappeared on a class field trip, and Steven has no memory of what happened to her.

Now, out of prison after a long stretch, Steven decides to investigate the mystery that has haunted him for decades. Was Miss Iles murdered? Was she deluded? Or was she right about the code? And is it still in use today?

Desperate to recover his memories and find out what really happened to Miss Iles, Steven revisits the people and places of his childhood. But it soon becomes clear that Edith Twyford wasn’t just a writer of forgotten children’s stories. The Twyford Code has great power, and he isn’t the only one trying to solve it…


Happy reading!

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