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June 2022

The Guilty Couple by C L Taylor

Olivia Sutherland has just been released from prison after serving five years for plotting to have her husband murdered. She knows it was a wrongful conviction and that she was framed by someone she knew well – the husband she was accused of trying to kill. Now free, she has a few things she needs to do: clear her name, repair the relationship between herself and her daughter and exact revenge on her husband. With her husband’s lies running deeper than she realised, just how far will he go to stop Olivia from revealing the truth?

The Guilty Couple is a twisty tale of deceit and a lesson in whether we can really trust those closest to us. We know from the outset that Olivia has been framed and that her husband is the one who has done it, but what we don’t realise is just how deep these lies go. As the book progresses, and the lies start to unravel due to Olivia’s doggedness, there is a sense of foreboding as we discover that there are even secrets among her closest allies. Will Olivia manage to clear her name or is she putting herself in even more danger?

There is some great characterization, my favourite character being Smithy, someone who was in prison with Olivia. While some of her methods of help are far from legal, I liked how she helped Olivia to toughen up, giving her the strength to continue with her mission.

While it is fair to say that you do have to suspend belief on several occasions, C L Taylor has written another book that will keep you gripped until the last page, willing Olivia to clear her name and start a new life without any guilt hanging over her.

With thanks to Net Galley and Avon for my ARC.

A Girl Called Justice: The Spy at the Window by Elly Griffiths

The year is 1939 and the Second World War has started. Justice Jones returns to Highbury House Boarding School, not knowing what to expect but pleased that her father is unlikely to have to go to fight due to his age and profession. When a boys’ school is evacuated to their building, it is forbidden for the boys and girls to mix. It is not long, though, before Justice has struck up a friendship with a like-minded boy and when strange things start to happen, she has another mystery to investigate. Is there a spy in their midst?

The Justice Jones series is exactly the sort of book I would have devoured as a child and it is no different as an adult! The fourth book in the series is set at the outbreak of World War Two, a perfect time to read about a group of schoolgirls coming to terms with this tumultuous period in their lives. The title gives a hint as to what Justice and her fellow Barnowls will be investigating and there are plenty of clues (and red herrings) thrown in to aid the reader in trying to figure out what is happening.

The addition of a boys’ school adds an extra dimension to the plot and it was fun reading how the different girls reacted to the sudden appearance of members of the opposite sex in their school.

As in the previous books, the plot is incredibly readable with great characters and a delightful setting. I’m already looking forward to reading book 5.

**BLOG TOUR** The Guilty Girl by Patricia Gibney

A party goes horribly wrong when the host, seventeen-year-old Lucy is found brutally murdered in her own home. For Detective Lottie Parker, the investigating officer, it’s all a bit too close to home when she finds out that her son, Sean, was at the party and could have information that will help her enquiry. In a case where everyone seems not to be telling the whole truth, time is definitely running out for Lottie as the threat of her being removed from the investigation is becoming increasingly real.

The eleventh book in the Lottie Parker series is probably the darkest to date, dealing with some very uncomfortable subjects that may act as a trigger for some. It is dealt with in a sensitive way with Patricia Gibney really pulling at your heart strings with one part in particular hitting me hard, showing that the author is not afraid to shock the reader.

What starts out as the detective trying to solve a murder soon turns into something much bigger, the plot not going in the direction I was expecting. There were plenty of shocks and twists along the way that really kept me on my toes and kept me guessing right until the end.

There was a great sub-plot featuring Lottie’s sergeant, Boyd, who due to revelations in a previous book, is not in Ragmullin but, instead, is in Spain dealing with a personal matter. I liked how he still became involved in the case and think that there are fun times ahead with a new character who definitely has the attributes to be a great detective!

This is definitely one of my favourite books in the series to date and hope that we get many more like this one.

With thanks to Bookouture and Net Galley.

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When the Night Ends by M J Lee

When a man dies in a police cell, the post mortem provides the evidence that is needed to declare that no one was to blame for his death. Now, as part of his coroners officer duties, DI Ridpath is investigating prior to an inquest and immediately notices some discrepancies. The victim appeared to be known to the custody sergeant but this was not recorded in any of the case notes and the CCTV was conveniently not working at the time of the death. It is down to Ridpath to discover exactly what happened that night.

In the eighth in the Ridpath series, we see the detective once again providing a voice for the victims, giving an alternative perspective from the standard police procedural. As in previous books, Ridpath’s work for the coroner, while also still being a serving member of the police, does not sit well with his colleagues. Investigating a potential police cover up is certainly not going to win him any friends and he finds himself becoming increasingly isolated, relying upon his closest allies to help him uncover the truth.

It is no spoiler to say that we realise quite early on in the book that Ridpath is correct in his assumption that something is awry, but the real mystery is why. My attention was held right until the very end as we see the detective’s tenacity in trying to bring justice for the victim and his family, the author’s skilled writing providing intrigue and well-developed characters.

This is definitely one of my favourite series and When the Night Ends is one of the best so far. If you are a fan of TV shows such as Line of Duty, then this book will be right up your street. Hopefully there are many more to come.

With thanks to Canelo and Net Galley for my copy.

Why Mummy’s Sloshed by Gill Sims

Ellen’s children are growing up and bringing a new range of problems. Peter is a typical teenage boy, spending most of his time in his bedroom, eating and playing computer games. Jane, however, is 17 and about to take her driving test and flee the nest and head off to university. With her own personal life bringing her added stress, just how will Ellen cope?

This is the fourth and final instalment of the ‘Why Mummy’s…’ series and we see Ellen contemplating her future life as a single woman with children who no longer need her attention. While this seems quite scary for her, looking after her friend’s toddler for a day soon makes her realise that maybe life isn’t so bad after all! This part of the book had numerous laugh out loud moments and the audiobook (read brilliantly by Gabrielle Glaister) had me visualising the utter chaos the whirlwind of a child managed to cause!

While this could be read as a standalone, I would advise reading the previous books in the series in order to develop an understanding of the family and what has happened in their lives up until this point in time. As someone who mainly reads crime books, this is one of my go-to series for when I need something a bit more lighthearted and Gill Sims has never let me down.

**BLOG TOUR** A Scandal in Bohemia by Arthur Conan Doyle

Sherlock Holmes has his interest piqued when a European king visits him at 221b Baker Street asking the detective for help in obtaining a photograph that puts the royal in a rather compromising situation. Sherlock soon finds himself pitted against Irene Adler, otherwise known as ‘The Woman’, in a battle of wits where there can only be one victor.

The Sherlock Holmes stories of Arthur Conan Doyle have certainly stood the test of time and are just as popular as ever thanks to the numerous film and television adaptations that have been made in recent years. This version, published by Books on the Hill, is part of their ‘Open Dyslexia’ Kickstarter, which aims to provide quality dyslexia-friendly books for adults written by well-known authors. At only 59 pages long, it is also ideal for anyone who is looking to start reading this series of books.

As you would expect from Conan Doyle, the plot is well-written and features all the things we have grown to love about the detective. This version is incredibly easy to read and retains the charm and intrigue of the original. We see a slightly more human side to the detective as he finds himself investigating a woman of high intellect who always seems to be one step ahead of those trying to outwit her.

More information about the Kickstarter can be found here and if all of the books are like this one, then I can highly recommend them.

With thanks to Books on the Hill and Kelly from Love Books Tours.

The Missing Father by M J Lee

Alice Taylor was adopted during World War Two and now she has asked her neighbour and genealogist, Jayne Sinclair, to help her find out the truth about her background. Who were her parents and what exactly happened to her father? Jayne’s research takes her back to Singapore and a particularly heartbreaking part of the war.

The plot for The Missing Father was like a story straight out of ITV’s Long Lost Family, and will definitely appeal to fans of this show. Alice’s story is an emotional one and I really felt for her as she weighed up whether she wanted to know everything about her parentage and the circumstances behind her adoption. As in previous books, the author includes great advice within the plot for anyone wanting to research their own ancestry and I am pleased that we are still seeing record offices used rather than just online sources!

World War Two is an era much used in genealogical fiction, but this is the first time I’ve read a book with the fall of Singapore as its backdrop. This is something I didn’t know a great deal about but M J Lee’s obvious research helps the reader to develop an understanding of the time and the atrocities that were taking place.

This is a great addition to the series and I look forward to seeing where Jayne’s research takes her next.

Monthly Round Up – May 2022

Another month over and May brought some great reads!

Books I Have Read

The Missing Father by M J Lee

The ninth in the Jayne Sinclair series sees the genealogist taking on a case for a neighbour who wants to find out about her biological parents. Taking us to Singapore in World War Two, M J Lee has written another great plot full of historical detail and tips for genealogical research.

The Guilty Girl by Patricia Gibney

We are now on the eleventh in the Lottie Parker series and this one sees the detective taking on a particularly hard-hitting subject while also dealing with problems of her own. This is one of my favourites so far and my review will form part of June’s blog tour.

A Scandal in Bohemia by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

This classic Sherlock Holmes story has been reproduced as a dyslexia-friendly version and the plot has certainly stood the test of time. My review will form part of June’s blog tour.

Why Mummy’s Sloshed by Gill Sims

The latest in the series sees Ellen dealing with a potential new relationship, children approaching adulthood and a work crisis. Plenty of laugh out loud moments!

Fatal Witness by Robert Bryndza

I’ve waited a while for the latest in the Erika Foster series and Robert Bryndza has not let me down. When a young woman is found brutally murdered, Erika and her team have to overcome numerous obstacles to bring the killer to justice. A superb read.

Books I Have Acquired

It’s 1939 and war has broken out. Everything has changed at Highbury House school. The pupils have to help cook, clean and wash up, for a start! Then a boys’ school is evacuated to Highbury House, and the girls have to share the building. Justice and her friends are delighted that there are still mysteries to solve, however. Like: why can they hear voices coming from an empty room? And how can there be a face at the window two storeys up?

Then Justice faces her biggest challenge yet. Could there be a spy in their midst?

A death in custody. A life in jeopardy.

When Ben Holdsworth dies alone in a police cell, riots erupt in Manchester. But after a post mortem, the authorities have decided nobody was to blame.

DI Ridpath is asked to investigate by the coroner before an inquest, and immediately uncovers some discrepancies in the witness statements.

Why was the CCTV not working that night? Where was the custody sergeant, and did he know the victim? Wherever he turns there are lies and gaps. It’s a dangerous game and the net is closing… On Ridpath himself.

There is only one way out: uncover what really happened in the prison cells on that dark Manchester night.

My Netgalley shelf is down to three books so I’d better get writing those reviews quickly!

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