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I'm a book blogger (gobuythebook.wordpress.com) who loves the crime/thriller/mystery genres and I also have a penchant for genealogical fiction.

Did She Kill Him? by Kate Colquhoun

In 1889, there was outrage as the young American, Florence Maybrick, stood trial for the murder of her Liverpool-born, cotton merchant husband, James, at their home, Battlecrease House. Found guilty, and sentenced to death, this was later commuted to life imprisonment and, after many years of campaigning from her supporters, she was released. Kate Colquhoun examines the events leading up to the death of James Maybrick, the trial and the aftermath of what became a public scandal. Was Florence really the femme fatale as painted by many or was she simply a victim of an extremely biased justice system that clearly seemed to favour the male?

I first read this book when it was published as, being from Liverpool, this is a case that has always held a fascination with me. I decided to revisit it by listening to the audio book which is wonderfully read by Maggie Mash, even if her pronunciation of the word ‘Aigburth’ did frustrate me! (I daresay only locals would pick up on this!)

Kate Colquhoun does a superb job in providing an unbiased account of the life of the Maybricks, from their meeting, to their marriage and, ultimately, their deaths. It is clear how much research has gone into this book, and, even as someone who has read a lot about this ‘murder’, I learned a lot. It is clear that this was a completely mismatched couple, Florence looking for a man to provide her with the lavish lifestyle she felt she should have, and James wanting a younger wife he could show off to his colleagues at the cotton exchange.

The medical evidence in this case is particularly fascinating, Florence having been convicted of murdering her husband with arsenic. Doubt is cast as to whether there was enough arsenic in his body to kill him, especially when anecdotal evidence suggests that he actually took arsenic on a regular basis. Was evidence deliberately hidden in order to paint Florence in a bad light by a Victorian society who were outraged by her extra-marital relationship?

This is a well-written book that certainly makes you think about whether it was a safe conviction or whether she was tried on the basis of her womanhood. A fascinating look at the attitudes of late-Victorian Britain.

Henry VIII’s Secret Diary by Terry Deary

Henry VIII, arguably the most famous king of England, is a character that always piques the interest of children. His six wives and his love of all things lavish, makes him the perfect historical character to get younger people interested in history. Now he has been given the Horrible Histories treatment, with a fictional account of his diary, albeit a very accurate piece of fiction!

Henry VIII is the ideal candidate for a book such as this, as there are so many infamous events and controversies throughout his reign. Dealing with the likes of the Pilgrimage of Grace, the Field of the Cloth of Gold and the Dissolution of the Monasteries, it is written in a humorous, child-friendly way which gets across the meaning of these significant events without ever appearing too stuffy.

The theme I enjoyed the most was his relationship with the Pope. Knowing that the Break with Rome was a major part of his reign, I found Henry’s changing opinion of the Pope hilarious and the book clearly shows how Henry used religion as a way of achieving his own aims.

The traditional Horrible Histories books have always been a favourite of mine and this looks like it could be another great series.

A Poison Tree by J E Mayhew

When the barefoot body of a girl is found in a Wirral country park, alarm bells start ringing as soon as the missing shoes are identified – they originally belonged to a girl who was murdered over forty years ago. A coincidence or has the killer surfaced again? DCI Blake identifies a connection to a local man, Victor Hunt, who lies dying in a hospice. The truth lies somewhere in his complicated family tree but as the body count rises, can the detective find the killer before they complete what they set out to do?

A Poison Tree is the first in the DCI Blake series and it is a fantastic introduction to a character that I know I am going to love. Like many fictional detectives, he has issues in his home life, but I can honestly say that this is the first book I’ve read where the source of his demons is a rather vicious cat with a mind of its own! In a story dealing with a horrible serial killer, this provided some great light relief, and was also a way of letting us know about another traumatic incident that has occurred in his past.

The story is quite a complex one due to it being about seemingly connected murders, decades apart. Although I initially had trouble keeping up with the plethora of characters, I found that as the story progressed, the plot became clearer and I started to build connections between the two sets of characters from the two time frames. This is essentially a book about family and the secrets that lie beneath the surface and, after reading, I saw how apt the book’s title was.

With several twists along the way and a plot that kept me engrossed throughout, I will definitely be continuing this series to see where the author takes Blake next.

Monthly Round Up – April 2021

I’ve been meaning to start listening to more audiobooks so, this month, I’ve been making use of my local library which has a decent selection online. I find it easier to listen to non-fiction than fiction as I find I don’t need to concentrate as much! I’ve also been trying not to start any new series but when Bloodhound Books made some of their titles available on Kindle for free this month, I couldn’t refuse!

Books I’ve Read

The Girl on the Platform by Bryony Pearce

When a woman witnesses a child being abducted, nobody believes her. Did she really see it or is her mind playing tricks? After initially feeling this was going to be a bit like The Girl on the Train, the plot took a sudden twist, making it one of my favourite reads of the year so far.


The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

This retelling of the classic Sherlock Holmes story for younger readers is another faithful version of the original with great illustrations. Ideal for children who are wanting to start to read classic crime fiction.


Twisted Lies by Angela Marsons

The fourteenth book in the Kim Stone series is one of the darkest to date. When the body of a man is found horrifically tortured, Kim and her team know that they are on the track of a particularly sadistic killer who is seemingly out for revenge. Another fantastic book from the wonderful Angela Marsons.


The Lost Sister by Kathleen McGurl

Another great dual timeline book from the author, this time dealing with the Titanic tragedy and the story of her sister ships. Two stories, over a hundred years apart, link together to provide a heartwarming yet heartbreaking tale of sibling rivalry. Review will follow as part of the blog tour.


The Doctor Will See You Now by Dr Amir Khan

The TV doctor, who is also a full time practitioner, recalls situations from his time as a GP that will make you laugh and cry in equal measures. Definitely a love story about the wonderful NHS.


Did She Kill Him? by Kate Colquhoun

I first read this when it came out but when I saw it was available as an audiobook from my local library, I thought it was time for a re-read. Did Florence Maybrick, a young American, kill her older, cotton merchant husband, James, at their home in Liverpool? Kate Colquhoun provides all the evidence for you to decide.



Books I’ve Acquired

Quiet Places hide dark secrets…

In a small Scottish university town, what links a spate of horrible murders, a targeted bomb explosion and a lecturer’s disappearance? Is a terror group involved? If so, who is pulling the strings? And what does something that happened over forty years ago have to do with it? 

Having recently returned to Castletown in the hope of winning back his estranged wife, DCI Jim Carruthers finds himself up to his eyes in the investigation.

Struggling with a very different personal problem, DS Andrea Fletcher assists Jim in the hunt for the murderous perpetrators. To prevent further violence they must find the answers quickly. But will Jim’s old adversary, terror expert McGhee, be a help or a hindrance?



A detective on the edge. A killer on the loose.

When DCI Bran Reece is called to the bloody crime scene of a murdered woman, he thinks the case is his. 

But the new Chief Superintendent has other ideas. She sees the recently widowed Reece as a volatile risk-taker and puts him on leave, forcing him to watch from the sidelines. Or so she thinks. 

DS Elan Jenkins soon realises her boss’s replacement is out of his depth and takes matters into her own hands. But Elan unknowingly puts herself and others in grave danger.

Can Reece and Jenkins overcome their personal issues and solve the case? 

The truth might be closer to home than either of them is willing to admit…


Katerina Rowe, a Deacon at the church in the sleepy village of Eyam, has a fulfilled life. She is happily married to Leon and her work is rewarding.

But everything changes when she discovers the body of a man and a badly beaten woman, Beth, in the alleyway behind her husband’s pharmacy.

Drawn to the young woman she saved, Kat finds herself embroiled in a baffling mystery.

When Beth’s house is set on fire, Kat offers the young woman sanctuary in her home and soon the pair begin investigating the murder, with some help from Beth’s feisty grandmother, Doris. But neither the police, nor Leon, nor the criminals want Kat and Beth looking into their affairs and the sleuths quickly find themselves out of their depth…

Can Kat and Beth solve the mystery and walk away unscathed?


How can you find someone who doesn’t want to be found?

When Detective Garda Sergeant Mike West is called to investigate a murder in a Dublin graveyard, suspicion immediately falls on a local woman, Edel Johnson, whose husband disappeared some months before. But then she disappears.

Evidence leads West to a small village in Cornwall, but when he checks in to an Inn, he finds Edel has arrived before him. Her explanation seems to make sense but as West begins to think his suspicions of her are unfounded, she disappears again.

Is she guilty? West, fighting an unsuitable attraction, doesn’t want to believe it. But the case against her is growing. Back in Dublin, his team uncover evidence of blackmail and illegal drugs involving Edel’s missing husband. When another man is murdered, she, once again, comes under suspicion.

Finally, the case is untangled, but is it the outcome West really wants?


When a nurse is murdered, Detective David Grant recognises the hallmarks of a serial killer called Travis.

Twenty-five years ago, Grant caught Travis for the murder of five women and the murderer has been incarcerated ever since. The problem is, Travis was at the hospital when the nurse was murdered but he was in the constant custody of two police officers.

Determined to solve the case, Grant recruits a specialist to his team, Ruby Silver, a top criminal profiler. But Ruby is hiding something from her colleagues.

Who is the killer and what is their motive?

Grant and the team must work quickly to solve the case as the body count rises…




MY DAD SAYS BAD THINGS
HAPPEN WHEN I BREAK IT…

Daniel is looking forward to his birthday. He wants pie and chips, a big chocolate cake, and a comic book starring his favourite superhero. And as long as he follows The Rule, nothing bad will happen.

Daniel will be twenty-three next week. And he has no idea that he’s about to kill a stranger.

Daniel’s parents know that their beloved and vulnerable son will be taken away. They know that Daniel didn’t mean to hurt anyone, he just doesn’t know his own strength. They dispose of the body. Isn’t that what any loving parent would do? But as forces on both sides of the law begin to close in on them, they realise they have no option but to finish what they started. Even if it means that others will have to die…

Because they’ll do anything to protect Daniel. Even murder.


Quite a few new authors for me to read in the coming months. Has anyone read any of these books? What did you think?

Twisted Lies by Angela Marsons

Detective Kim Stone has visited some horrific crime scenes throughout her career but nothing could prepare her for what she was about to see. The body of a man has been found at an industrial estate, death being a release after suffering unimaginable torture. When the news of his death is shared with his wife, Kim realises that something is amiss, a theory which appears correct when the family go missing. When another body is found in similar disturbing circumstances, Kim and her team need to discover what connects the victims before others suffer the same fate.

When you pick up an Angela Marsons book, you know you are going to be in for a good read and Twisted Lies is no exception. This is a series that is still just as fresh as it was at the start and, fourteen books in, the author is showing no sign of losing her touch!

The plot is a particularly gruesome one and tests the skills of Kim and her team. Like in previous books, one of the main strengths of this series is the characterisation and over the course of the previous books, I have begun to see Kim, Bryant et al as old friends. This is a series where the characters feel very real and even off-topic conversations between them are a joy to read.

For me, I have always enjoyed any scene between Kim and her journalistic adversary, Tracy Frost. The relationship between these two strong women has always been tumultuous, each of them secretly admiring the other. In Twisted Lies, we see this relationship ramp up to provide some truly comical moments but, at the same time, showing a thaw in the frostiness (if you pardon the pun!) between them. Frost’s tenacity has never been in doubt, but here we see her using her journalistic skills to the max, and she has certainly gone up in my estimation after reading this.

With an engrossing plot and likable, well-written characters, Twisted Lies promises to be yet another hit for Angela Marsons. Keep them coming!

With thanks to Bookouture and Net Galley for my copy.

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

Silent Scream

Evil Games

Lost Girls

Play Dead

Blood Lines

Dead Souls

Broken Bones

Dying Truth

Fatal Promise

Dead Memories

Child’s Play

First Blood

Killing Mind

Deadly Cry

The Doctor Will See You Now by Dr Amir Khan

You might recognise Dr Amir Khan from television programmes such as GPs Behind Closed Doors or Lorraine. In The Doctor Will See You Now: The Highs and Lows of My Life as an NHS GP, we see how the popular doctor has progressed from his early days as a newly-qualified GP to becoming a partner in a busy surgery, with many heartbreaking, heartwarming and hilarious tales along the way.

I enjoy watching GPs behind Closed Doors and Dr. Amir Khan is one of my favourites on there, his way with patients showing why he has been embraced warmly by television. I listened to the audiobook, which is voiced by the author, and hearing his tales in his own words definitely enhanced my enjoyment.

Dr Khan paints a very vivid picture of what it is like to work in the NHS and it is clear that he thoroughly enjoys his work. He demonstrates how no two days are ever alike, sharing tales that will make you laugh and cry in equal measures. I found myself laughing out loud on several occasions, and have already regaled several people with one story about the time some non-human ‘patients’ ended up in his surgery! There are some truly heartbreaking stories, however, and one particular family will remain in my thoughts for some time.

The epilogue really resonated with me, especially in light of recent events (COVID does feature in the book) and the vital role the NHS has played in keeping our country running over the past year. Our NHS is something that should not be allowed to be broken up and it is important that there is proper funding and recruitment that will allow this amazing institution to continue. It is the envy of many around the world and we need to be able to keep people like Dr Khan.

The Girl in the Painting by Steve Robinson

When a genealogy student asks him for help in researching the subject of a painting, Jefferson Tayte feels that she is holding something back. It transpires that the woman in the painting is an ancestor of student Nat and that she would like to find out more about her and why she seems to disappear from the records at around the time the picture was painted. To complicate matters further, the painting has recently been stolen and there are also links to a recent murder. Why would someone steal this painting all those years later and what secret does it hold that would make someone want to kill?

Oh how I have missed Jefferson Tayte! Our favourite genealogist is back only this time, his job title has changed! After events in previous books, he is now teaching others how to research their families, something he hopes will be less dangerous! Of course, it’s not long before one of his students piques his interest and he finds himself embroiled in another dangerous mission in the pursuit of a long-lost ancestor.

If you have never read any of the Jefferson Tayte books before, this is a great introduction to the series as, with it being a novella, it is a quick read. The plot is an interesting one, taking us into the slums of Victorian London and contrasting it to the lives of the well-to-do. This is my favourite era to read about in historical fiction and so with the genealogical theme, it was right up my street.

The story is told in two time frames, both being as good to read as the other. As a family historian, I enjoyed reading about Jefferson’s research and it made me long for the pre-pandemic days when we could visit galleries and record offices.

If you haven’t read any of Steve Robinson’s books yet, then I recommend every one of them. Here are my reviews of some of his other books:

Dying Games

Letters from the Dead

Kindred

The Penmaker’s Wife

The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle

A strange beast is stalking the Devon moors and Sherlock Holmes and his companion Dr Watson must determine exactly what has caused the death of Sir Charles Baskerville before his nephew meets the same fate. With an escaped convict also in the area, this could prove to be an incredibly dangerous task for the detective.

This is the next installment in the Easy Classics series which aims to introduce classic works to a younger audience. I have read some others in this series (The Empty House, A Study in Scarlet) and thoroughly enjoyed them, and this was no exception. Superbly adapted and illustrated by Stephanie Baudet and Arianna Belluci, this captures the essence of the Conan Doyle classic, retelling the story in a way that is accessible to younger readers without ever compromising the plot.

This is a superb series, one that I thoroughly recommend to anyone wanting to introduce younger readers to Sherlock Holmes. Unfamiliar vocabulary such as hansom cab is also explained, meaning that these are books that children can read independently.

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

**BLOG TOUR** Judas Horse by Lynda La Plante

Police are investigating a spate of violent burglaries but when a mutilated body is found inside a Cotswolds house, they realise that this is more than just opportunistic crime. Detective Jack Warr finds himself encountering numerous dead ends as he unearths the secrets in the local community, hoping to get to the core of this organised gang. When he meets Charlotte Miles, a woman with links to the group, Warr wants to use her to lure them into committing one last job with the aim of catching them in the act. With violent acts escalating, Jack knows that he must get this right to avoid more blood being spilled.

It is always a pleasure to read a Lynda La Plante book, someone I have admired since watching the original Prime Suspect on television. After reading the first in the Jack Warr series, Buried, last year, I couldn’t wait to see where Lynda took this character next, especially after finding out his origins. Although this could definitely be read as a standalone, I found that Buried served as a great introduction to the character, helping us to understand what made him tick, whereas this book has given us the opportunity to see more of Jack as a detective. I found myself liking the character more as the book progressed, admiring his determination and policing skills, even if his tactics may not be strictly legal sometimes!


The plot moves on at a good pace and is well developed. From the horrific discovery at the start of the book, the plot progresses well until we discover how this fits in with the rest of the story, taking us on a journey through the privileged Cotswolds where nobody’s home seems safe. I had never heard of a Judas Horse before reading this book and I loved the idea of using the weak link as an insider to lead the police to the gang. We meet a myriad of characters throughout the book, each one, police, victim and criminal, bringing a different element to the story.


The Jack Warr series is promising to be another huge hit for Lynda La Plante and I look forward to seeing where she takes him next.

With thanks to Zaffre Books and Net Galley for my copy and to Tracy Fenton at Compulsive Readers for organising the blog tour.


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