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The Redemption Murders by J C Briggs

The year is 1851 and the police have been called to London’s Blackwall Reach where a death has been reported on the ship The Redemption. The captain, Louis Valentine, has been brutally stabbed to death, the only clue left behind being a  copy of The Old Curiosity Shop, one of Charles Dickens’ books. The book has been inscribed to someone called ‘Kit’ who Dickens immediately recognises as his friend Kit Penney. With his friend now a murder suspect, Dickens sets out to find him, only to discover that he is missing. Is he involved or is he in fear for his own life? As the death toll rises, Superintendent Jones and the famous writer find themselves uncovering a series of dark secrets…

This, the sixth in the series is possibly the most complex plot to date, with a great deal going on, all linking together to create a huge web of intrigue. If you haven’t read any of this series yet, you may wonder how Charles Dickens finds himself involved in this shady underworld and, although this is explained in previous books, you don’t need to have read them to enjoy The Redemption Murders. Each book in the series can be read as a standalone.

One of the things I enjoy most about this series is the descriptions of Victorian London. Although we do get to experience the richer part of society, I particularly like reading about the lower classes and the environment they are forced to live in. J C Briggs writes this extremely well and you can easily picture these downtrodden people, living in squalid conditions through no fault of their own. Dickens has great sympathy for these people and there several links made to the author’s own life which, as many people will know, was not a bed of roses.

Children feature quite strongly in this series and there was one moment with a particular child in this book that was truly heart-wrenching. Throughout the book, we see how these children have to grow up fast, often doing things that they should not be doing at their age.

If you are a fan of historical mystery or are someone who enjoys the books of Charles Dickens, then this is a great series. A superb atmospheric read.

With thanks to Sapere Books and Net Galley for my copy.

Death at Hungerford Stairs by J C Briggs

When the body of a young boy is found at Hungerford Stairs close to the River Thames, Charles Dickens is relieved to find that is not the missing child he has been searching for. Presumed drowned, Superintendent Jones of Bow Street soon has a murder case on his hands when a different cause of death is discovered. After more bodies are found, the detective’s worst fears are realised – they have a serial killer on their hands.

Death at Hungerford Stairs is the second book to feature the author Charles Dickens as one of the main characters, the first being The Murder of Patience BrookeIn the previous book, I was particularly impressed with how the author managed to paint a vivid picture of early-Victorian London, especially the more downtrodden areas. This has continued in the second book, making you feel that you are actually walking the London streets.

I like, again, how the author has merged fact with fiction, with true aspects of Dickens’ life providing an air of authenticity to the plot. Dickens is written as a generous man, keen to help the underprivileged and the down at heel, the references to his early life possibly providing a reason for his benevolence. There is a rich supporting cast, providing some tragic as well as some humorous moments.

The hunt for a child killer could be a difficult subject matter, but the author handles it in an informative yet sensitive way, culminating in a very different motive and culprit to most books of this genre. Although there were a few hints dropped throughout the book, the ending was still a surprise – a clever one at that.

I’m definitely looking forward to reading the next in the series.

The Murder of Patience Brooke by J. C. Briggs

5A5C8CE0-06A8-4483-886B-8D2789653866It’s 1849 and the celebrated writer, Charles Dickens, has established Urania House, a home for fallen women in London. With opposition from many, he knows that he will have more of a battle on his hands after the matron’s assistant, Patience Brooke, is found hanging, covered in blood, outside the property. With the help of his friend, Sam Jones, a Superintendent from Bow Street, he sets out in search of the unknown man with the crooked face, his investigations taking him to the dark side of London. Just what secret was Patience hiding that has made someone kill to prevent it from being revealed?

The Murder of Patience Brooke is the first in a series of books to feature Charles Dickens as the chief investigator. As someone who showed an interest in crime, and wrote about some of the darkest parts of the Victorian underworld, he is an inspired choice as a sleuth, and it was great to read a fictional account of this real person.

The author’s description could have come straight out of a Dickens novel, creating a vivid image of London’s underbelly at a time when the gap between rich and poor was horrendously huge. By including real places such as Dickens’ home for ‘fallen women’, Urania Cottage, there is an air of authenticity throughout the book, making it a great read for anyone with an interest in the Victorian era. Such is the quality of the writing, not only is it easy to picture the squalid abodes, but you can almost smell the poverty.

As well as the superb description, there is also a great murder-mystery with some truly horrible characters being sought by the police. The man with the twisted face was a villain straight out of a Dickens book and his crimes, and those of an even more barbaric character, made my skin crawl. I enjoyed the culmination of the story with the race against time for Dickens and Jones to get their man and thought that the conclusion was fitting and in keeping with the rest of the story.

The Murder of Patience Brooke was an excellent, atmospheric read and I am already looking forward to reading the next in the series, Death at Hungerford Stairs.

With thanks to Caoimhe O’Brien at Sapere Books for my copy.

Monthly Round-Up: June 2020

With everything that is going on, I forgot to do my round up of what I had read last month! Better late than never!

Books I Have Read

The Body in the Marsh by Nick Louth

After reading the rest of the Craig Gillard series, I thought it was about time that I read the first! When a woman goes missing and is feared dead, the case is very close to home for Gillard as it is an ex-girlfriend from his youth. If you haven’t read this series yet, I can highly recommend it.

 

Death on Coffin Lane by Jo Allen

The third in the DCI Jude Satterthwaite series sees the detective investigating a string of deaths, the common link being an academic who is currently staying in the area. Is she a potential victim or is she involved in the crimes?

 

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

A bit of light relief for football fans with stories from his footballing career and beyond told in the author’s self-effacing way.

 

 

The Redemption Murders by J C Briggs

When a sea captain is found stabbed to death on his ship, The Redemption, Superintendent Jones, ably assisted by the writer Charles Dickens, find themselves involved in a case full of secrets. This is the sixth in the Victorian crime mystery series. Review to follow.

 

The Heatwave by Katerina Diamond

A missing girl sparks memories of a similar occurrence sixteen years ago, leading Felicity to return to the town of her youth, determined to put the past behind her once and for all. This is a brilliant summer read – review to follow as part of the blog tour.

 

The Fear of Ravens by Wendy Percival

The fourth in the series sees genealogist Esme Quentin researching a case of witchcraft, family feud and murder. A great read, probably the best in the series so far.

 

Books I Have Acquired

Someone stole a baby…

One sunny day in July, someone took three-month-old Alicia Owen from her pram outside a supermarket. Her mother, Marie, was inside. No one saw who took Alicia. And no one could find her.

They silenced her cry…

Fifteen years later, a teenager on a construction site sees a tiny hand in the ground. When the police investigate, they find a baby buried and preserved in concrete. Could it be Alicia?

But the truth will always out.

When Alicia disappeared, the papers accused Marie of detachment and neglect. The Owens never got over the grief of their child’s disappearance and divorced not long after. By reopening the case, DC Beth Chamberlain must reopen old wounds. But the killer may be closer than anyone ever suspected…

 

Orla and Kate have been best friends forever. Together they’ve faced it all – be it Orla’s struggles as a new mother or Kate’s messy divorce. And whatever else happens in their lives, they can always look forward to their annual weekend away.

This year, they’re off to Lisbon: the perfect flat, the perfect view, the perfect itinerary. And what better way to kick things off in style than with the perfect night out?

But when Orla wakes up the next morning, Kate is gone. Brushed off by the police and with only a fuzzy memory of the night’s events, Orla is her friend’s only hope. As she frantically retraces their steps, Orla makes a series of shattering discoveries that threaten everything she holds dear. Because while Lisbon holds the secret of what happened that night, the truth may lie closer to home…

 

It’s 1996. Detective Sergeant Tom Thorne is a haunted man. Haunted by the moment he ignored his instinct about a suspect, by the horrific crime that followed and by the memories that come day and night, in sunshine and shadow.

So when seven-year-old Kieron Coyne goes missing while playing in the woods with his best friend, Thorne vows he will not make the same mistake again. Cannot.

The solitary witness. The strange neighbour. The friendly teacher. All are in Thorne’s sights.

This case will be the making of him . . . or the breaking.

 

Hopefully next next month I’ll be a bit quicker!

 

Monthly Roundup – December 2018

Another year is over and I’m happy to report that I managed to complete my Goodreads reading challenge! I’d set myself a target of 60 books but read 75, so I’m quite pleased with that!

I’ve read a range of different books this month and have taken part in a few blog tours. One of the blog tours was for We All Fall Down by Cynthia Clarke where I was pleased to be able to share an extract, and what an extract it was! I was also one of the blogs to feature on the tour for the latest book by J. S. Monroe, Forget My Name. I also shared an extract from Picking Up The Pieces by Jo Worgan as part of the huge Urbane Extravaganza, organised by Love Books Group Tours.

Books I’ve Read

61dkqcjG65LThe Mile End Murder by Sinclair McKay

In 1860, a 70-year-old widow was bludgeoned to death at her London home. Although someone was convicted of the murder, it was widely accepted that a miscarriage of justice had taken place. Sinclair McKay examines the evidence and suggests an alternative theory as to what actually happened.

41yMiciSptL._SX323_BO1,204,203,200_Adrian Mole the Wilderness Years by Sue Townsend

I revisited this thanks to Radio Four’s Book at Bedtime and still found it funny the second time round. The eponymous diarist is now in his twenties and is still struggling with his family, work and love life. Not the best in the series, but still worth a read.

51xSXTTs1CLShe Was the Quiet One by Michele Campbell

A twisted tale of power and revenge, She Was the Quiet One tells the story of the murder of one of two sisters who have just enrolled at an exclusive boarding school. Who has been killed and who is the killer? I really enjoyed this book – a full review will be posted as part of the blog tour.

51ZvNY7p0KL._SY346_The Killing Habit by Mark Billingham

The fifteenth book in the Tom Thorne series sees the detective investigating a spate of cat killings in the London area. He soon deduces that cats are not the only living thing being killed but can he prevent even more deaths?

51bxBROykeLMove to Murder by Antony M Brown

A retelling of the murder of Julia Wallace which took place in Liverpool in 1931. The author puts forward five different theories that could potentially find the answer to the unsolved case. A well-written and researched book wit some very plausible theories.

518TmU9zu2LThe Slum Reaper by David Field

The fourth in David Field’s Jack & Esther Enright series sees them investigating what initially seems to be the accidental deaths of several people. As connections are made to a local slum clearance, however, they soon realise that the deaths are no accident – there is a killer on the loose in Victorian London.

The Murder of Patience Brooke by J C Briggs

After the murder of a woman on the steps of a home for ‘fallen women’, Charles Dickens and the London police force find themselves embroiled in a case which will see them exploring the darkest parts of the capital. A great, atmospheric first book in the series and I’m looking forward to reading the rest.

 

The Asylum by Nathan Dylan Goodwin

This short story is the prequel to the Morton Farrier series and tells us how the forensic genealogist came to meet Juliette,who he would go on to marry. Morton investigates the suspicious death of a woman who spent some time in an asylum in a case that proves to be both emotive and challenging.

 

Books I Have Acquired

Jenna thought she had the perfect life: a loving fiancé, a great job, a beautiful home. Then she finds her stepdaughter murdered; her partner missing.

And the police think she did it…

Locked up to await trial, surrounded by prisoners who’d hurt her if they knew what she’s accused of, certain someone close to her has framed her, Jenna knows what she needs to do:

Clear her name
Save her baby
Find the killer

But can she do it in time?

 

She vanished into the ice cold night. Is this their only chance to get her back? Get ready for this winter’s most chilling thriller…

It’s been eleven years since Claire Flynn disappeared – abducted without trace from a snowy hillside, leaving her parents heartbroken.

Investigator Darby McCormick remembers the case. She knows there’s only ever been one suspect, Father Richard Byrne, linked inconclusively to two similar disappearances.

Finally, terminally ill, Byrne is willing to talk. But he’ll only talk to Darby.

She’s expecting a confession – but what she hears is far more disturbing.

And it soon becomes clear that someone is willing to kill to keep this cold case on ice…

 

Wishing you all a happy new year!

 

The Christmas Carol by M J Lee

Genealogist Jayne Sinclair finds herself with an unusual request when an antiques dealer asks her to discover the provenance of a first edition of ‘A Christmas Carol’ by Charles Dickens. With the only clues being a hand-written dedication, a name, a place and a date, she only has three days to complete her task before the book is due to be auctioned. With Christmas fast approaching and with the prospect of spending the festive season on her own, Jayne must try to unearth the truth of what happened in Christmas 1843.

This is the latest book in M J Lee’s Jayne Sinclair series and this time we see the genealogist taking on a different sort of mystery. Instead of being asked to trace the family tree of a client, she is tasked to prove that a copy of ‘A Christmas Carol’, dedicated to a local man in 1843, is indeed a first edition. The value of the book could increase dramatically if this could be ascertained although trying to find information about the man could prove impossible in the time frame she has been given to solve the mystery.

Like in all of the previous books in the series, I loved reading of the research that Jayne undertook and was particularly pleased to see her exploring the libraries of Manchester instead of just relying on online sources. I always like reading about places I have visited and the comments about the John Rylands library mirrored my own when I visited, albeit briefly, a few years ago. After being reminded of this wonderful place, I have made a mental note to revisit once the pandemic is well and truly behind us.

Crime fiction set in the Victorian era is a particular favourite of mine and I have been enjoying the Dickens and Jones series by J. C. Briggs. I was pleased, therefore, to see that this would also feature Dickens as a character in the chapters of the book set in 1843. M J Lee paints a vivid picture of Victorian Manchester, showing the sort of lives that the mill workers of the north had to endure. In most books of this type, it is the slums of London that we read about so it was good to read about somewhere different.

The Christmas Carol is a quick read, heartwarming and perfect for this time of year. I hope it won’t be too long before we get to read about Jayne’s latest adventure, possibly with a tie in to her forthcoming holiday with her step-parents?

Monthly Roundup – April 2019

I think I may have read a few more contenders for my favourite books of the year this month, one of which was one of my most eagerly anticipated books of 2019!

I’ve been part of a few blog tours this month with reviews of Final Betrayal by Patricia Gibney  and The Peacock Bottle by Angela Rigley. I also hosted an extract from A Tale of Two Sisters by Merryn Allingham.

 

Books I have read

The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper, by Hallie Rubenhold

While the crimes of Jack the Ripper have been written about on countless occasions, Hallie Rubenold provides an alternative take, looking at the lives of the five canonical victims. This is a fascinating look at how circumstances, often beyond their control, changed the lives of these women and put them in the situations they found themselves in.

 

Death by Dark Waters by Jo Allen

The first in the DCI Satterthwaite series set in the Lake District is a great read for all fans of police procedurals. Telling the story of the discovery of the burnt remains of a child, there are many twists and turns that make this story not what it at first seems… (Review to follow as part of the blog tour)

 

Death at Hungerford Stairs by J. C. Briggs

The second in the series to feature Charles Dickens as an investigator has a great plot and paints a very vivid picture of life in Victorian England. I’m really enjoying these books!

 

Your Deepest Fear by David Jackson

This was one of the books that I couldn’t wait to read and I was not left disappointed! The latest in the Nathan Cody series sees the detective returning to duty and investigating a particularly horrible murder. For long time fans, we finally discover more about the event that has been haunting Nathan… (Review to follow).

 

Their Little Secret by Mark Billingham

The Tom Thorne books just keep getting better! The sixteenth in the series is probably one of Mark Billingham’s twistiest tales to date and has become one of my favourites. Do we really know our friends?…

 

The Family by P. R. Black

I was drawn to this book by the dark cover and ‘dark’ is definitely a word I would use to describe the plot! Ritual killings, deranged murderer, the dark net, shady secret societies – this book has it all! (Review to follow as part of the blog tour).

 

Books I Have Acquired

‘If you’re reading this, I’m dead.’

Rejected by her family and plagued by insomnia, Rose Shaw is on the brink . But one dark evening she collides with a man running through the streets, who quickly vanishes. The only sign he ever existed – a journal dropped at Rose’s feet.

She begins to obsessively dedicate her sleepless nights to discovering what happened to Finn Matthews, the mysterious author of the journal. Why was he convinced someone wanted to kill him? And why, in the midst of a string of murders, won’t the police investigate his disappearance?

Rose is determined to uncover the truth. But she has no idea what the truth will cost her…

 

One missing. One a murderer. One trying to find the truth.

Flora has her whole life ahead of her – until the summer night she vanishes.

Her sister Heather was a good girl – until the spring morning she kills two people.

Jess Fox was once like a sister to them both.

But called home to investigate Heather’s crime, she begins to wonder if she really knew either sister at all . . .

 

Holly Wakefield works for the NHS as a criminal psychologist specialising in serial killers. She has particular reason to be good at her job – but she keeps that to herself.

When DI Bishop from the Met Police approaches Holly to investigate a recent killing, Holly is horrified by the dismembered bodies and the way they have been theatrically positioned. More shocking still is when the pathologist reveals this is not the first time she has seen these mutilations. It means a serial killer is out there, and they’re going to kill again – soon.

Holly is used to chasing serial killers. But this killer has something in common with Holly that she’s kept hidden for as long as she can remember. And for the first time since she was a child, Holly is forced to face the darkness of her past…

 

An investigation leads Kelly back to her former command… and the ex who betrayed her

A brutal murder in the Lake District.

A double assassination in a secret lab in London’s west end.

Seemingly unconnected, unexpected links between the gruesome crimes emerge and it’s up to DI Kelly Porter to follow the trail – all the way to the capital.

Back amongst old colleagues and forced to work alongside her calculating ex, DCI Matt Carter, Kelly must untangle a web of deceit that stretches into the highest echelons of power. A place where secrets and lies are currency and no obstacle is insurmountable.

Hopefully there are a few books here that you like the sound of! Happy reading!

 

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