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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.

**BLOG TOUR** Death Will Find Me by Vanessa Robertson

Today, I’m pleased to be on the blog tour for Death Will Find Me, the first in the Tessa Kilpatrick Mystery series by Vanessa Roberts. The book was published on February 20th and I am thrilled to be able to share an extract with you.

The Blurb

Scotland, 1920.
Meet Tessa Kilpatrick; heiress and war-time covert operations agent.

Finding her husband – the feckless James – with another woman at a 1920s country house party, she demands a divorce. But when his body is discovered in a lonely stone bothy the next morning, Inspector Hamish Rasmussen sees Tessa as his only suspect.

Back in Edinburgh, links to another murder convince Rasmussen of her innocence. He enlists her help and together they set off on a pursuit that will bring Tessa once again face to face with the brutality of war as well as revealing to her the lengths that desperate people will go to in order to protect those they love.

Will Tessa be able to prevent a final murder or will she become the killer’s latest victim?

The Extract

The Water of Leith was fast-flowing with melt water from the Pentland Hills and the air was crisp and cold. A mile or so along the riverbank with the dogs had cleared Tessa’s head and rid her of the indecision she’d been feeling since Rasmussen’s visit that morning. By the time she, Bosun and Mycroft turned homewards, heading towards Heriot Row and a warm fire, she was resolved. She would make the list and take it to Rasmussen at Torphichen Street police station the next morning. She didn’t want to unfairly accuse anyone of being up to no good with her husband, but if finding James’s murderer meant some people had to brazen out a little embarrassment then so be it.

In the short term, she needed to warn her parents, especially her mother, of the grenade she was about to lob into the centre of Edinburgh society; she feared that the list of James’s known and possible lovers would be long and the fallout significant.

She whistled to the dogs, calling them away from their fossicking on the riverbank and turned up the steep hill of Bell’s Brae. The evening was drawing in. A few street lamps were lit, their lights glinting off the slick granite setts. For no reason she could name, the back of Tessa’s neck prickled. Just as at the boathouse, she had a feeling she wasn’t alone. It unnerved her. After she’d come home in 1917, she’d had spells of paranoia where she thought that she was being followed or that an intruder was in the house. Those had grown fewer, although she knew she was probably more vigilant than most when it came to locking doors and noticing strangers. She hoped James’s murder wasn’t going to drag her back to those fears.

Then she heard the scuff of a boot on the cobbles behind her and knew this was no irrational fear. Someone was following her. Tessa’s every sense was electrified and she spun round, fists clenched by her side to face whatever fear was behind her.

With thanks to Kelly from Love Books Group Tours for organising the tour.

The Tin God by Chris Nickson

51SXPfKJzFL._SX315_BO1,204,203,200_It’s 1897 and the people of Leeds are about to go to the polls to vote for a new Poor Law Guardian. For the first time, women have decided to stand for election, leading to unrest amongst those who feel that a woman’s place should be in the home. When the women begin to be attacked, Superintendent Tom Harper has a particular reason for wanting this man off the streets – one of the candidates is his own wife, Annabelle. As the threats become worse, and deadly explosions begin to rip through the venues where the women are speaking, the detectives know they must find the culprit before more lives are lost.

The Tin God is the sixth in the Tom Harper series and is a very timely one with it being the 100th anniversary of women receiving the right to vote in the UK. One of the things I have always enjoyed about this series is the prominence the author gives to the female characters, so often overlooked in books set in this era. We have seen Annabelle Harper’s strength in previous books but, here, she really comes into her own when her own life is threatened. Chris Nickson really brings home how turbulent these times must have been with these forward-thinking women being met with resistance from those firmly stuck in the past.

It is always fascinating to read how the police force of that time solved cases without any of the modern techniques used today, relying instead on pounding the streets, looking for clues. Despite the slow search for a breakthrough, the plot moves on at a fast pace with bombs, murders, attempted abductions, attacks… late Victorian Leeds is not the safest place to live! There is also a sub-plot involving Billy Reed, an inspector now living and working in Whitby, who is investigating a smuggling ring. I do hope, at some point, we see Tom and Billy working together again back in Leeds.

The Tin God is a great read and I highly recommend this series to anyone with an interest in historical crime fiction. Although this is the sixth book, it could be read as a standalone.

With thanks to Severn House and Net Galley for my copy of The Tin God.

 

 

**BLOG BLITZ** The Killing Time by M J Lee

The Killing Time

I am pleased to be one of the blogs to feature on the Blog Blitz for The Killing Time, the latest book from M J Lee. The fourth in the Inspector Danilov series was published by Canelo on 23rd April 2018. It is my great pleasure to be able to share an extract with you – and what a cliffhanger it is!

The Blurb

As tensions simmer in Shanghai, children go missing…

Shanghai 1932: Inspector Danilov hasn’t recovered from the death of his child… but across a Shanghai riven with communal tensions, children are going missing.

Missing, and then murdered. Who is responsible? Why have the children’s bodies been exhibited for all to see?

Just as Danilov thinks the stakes couldn’t be higher there is a new dimension, Japan, a rising power flexing its muscles. In fractious Shanghai, an explosion is long overdue. With the clock ticking can Danilov and his assistant Strachan solve the case? The fate of Shanghai may be at stake. So is Danilov’s job… And his sanity.

The Extract

14 January 1932

The 333th Day of the Year of the Golden Goat 

He nestled his hands into the warm gap between his chest and his arm, curling up so his nose touched his bare knees.

The pain from his ear had lessened now. All that remained was a long, dull throb. The blood had clotted and scabbed, caking his neck and shoulders.

One time, he had gently brushed his right ear with his fingertips. One time was enough. The pain had passed through his brain like a scythe through stalks of rice, leaving nothing but stubble in its wake. He wasn’t going to touch it again.

He shivered.

It was so cold.

‘I want Ah Yee. Where is Ah Yee?’ he whispered to himself through chapped lips.

The boy remembered the warmth of his maid’s body as she hugged him to sleep, her strong arms pulling him into the pillow of her breasts beneath the cotton nightshirt.

‘Where is Ah Yee?’ he repeated, like a Hail Mary given to him by the priest in confession.

Only this time there was no priest. No holy water. No golden cross on a white-linen-covered altar. Just the sound of his words echoing off the high ceiling.

He hugged himself tighter, edging his body into the cold corner where the two walls met the floor.

Opposite, the mattress stank of piss and vomit, lying next to an empty stained chamber pot and an even emptier rice bowl.

When had he last eaten?

He couldn’t remember, but his stomach felt as empty as his soul.

Something moved in the far corner. Two electric-yellow eyes like fog lights in the gloom. A high-pitched squeak. The sound of tiny feet on straw.

The boy backed even further into the corner.

‘Where is Ah Yee? Where is Ah Yee?’ He wailed out loud this time, turning his face into the cold dampness of the wall. His voice hoarse, exhausted from hours of screaming.

The wet slime kissed his cheek. A damp kiss like that of his aunt with the rubbery lips and the stench of perfume she bought by the crate on her trips abroad.

Above his head, a small window, its dirty glass covered in dust and cobwebs, let in the dull January light, fighting through the dirt to illuminate the room but losing the battle.

Another loud squeak from the opposite corner, answered by one closer to him, on his left.

He buried himself further into the wall, trying to find refuge in its cold embrace.

How had he got here?

He forced his mind to go back to the time it had happened. Playing in the park. The warmth of the sun on his back. His Ah Yee holding her hands out for him. Being lifted up and thrown high into the air, only to be caught by a man’s strong arms. The smell of tobacco and sweat and garlic on his breath. The roughness of the jacket against his skin.

Harsh clothes. Cold clothes. Not like the smooth silk shirts of his father.

He shivered, curling up even tighter into a ball, trying to get warm. Why couldn’t he get warm?

He looked at the wall. The words scored into the damp plaster with the sharp point of the iron nail stood out clearly against the green mould.

Save me.

Nobody was going to save him.

Nobody.

The rats stopped squeaking and scurried away to their deep, dark, safe havens.

A key turned in the lock.

The Killing Time Blog Blitz

Take a look at the rest of the Blog Blitz!

With thanks to Ellie Pilcher at Canelo for organizing the Blog Blitz.

Links to Book:

Amazon (UK)

Kobo (UK)

Google Books (UK)

Apple Books (UK)

The Night Caller by David Field

image001The women in the East End of London have just got over the horrors of Jack the Ripper when a new attacker appears on the scene – someone is breaking into their homes, stealing their underwear and leaving filthy, threatening messages. With the police refusing to take the crimes seriously, it is up to Esther Jacobs and her fiance, police officer Jack Enright, to investigate the wrongdoings. Are these women being targeted for a reason and just what is the connection to a new female ‘Alliance’? When the case takes a turn for the worse, someone will soon find their life is in grave danger…

The Night Caller is the second of the Esther and Jack Enright Mysteries, a detective series set in Victorian London, the first being The Gaslight Stalker. In the last book, our heroes met and, despite the horrendous circumstances they found themselves in, fell in love. Now planning their wedding, they find themselves involved in a case which becomes a little too close for comfort for Esther. Knowing Esther’s personality, it was not a surprise that she should find herself becoming involved in a female trade union and it was pleasing to see some historical fact being included such as the Bryant and May strike and the role of Annie Besant.

I found much of this book pitying Jack who has spent most of his life with his overbearing mother and is now embarking on a marriage with an equally strong woman. Esther appeared, at times, to be quite unlikable, but I found myself warming to her as the story progressed. It will be interesting to see what the next book has in store for Esther, as she is definitely not the sort of woman to be content with staying at home, looking after any children they have!

The Night Caller definitely transports you back to Victorian London and whereas, in the last book, we saw how the poorest and most unfortunate lived, here we see the lower classes finally trying to fight their way out of poverty. Of course, this would not be what everyone wanted and so we see these women being threatened and, eventually murdered. The mystery was a good one with enough red herrings thrown in to keep you off the scent, and it also had a satisfying conclusion.

I look forward to seeing how married life is treating the Enrights in the next book!

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

Mind of a Killer by Simon Beaufort

51mHX+TCFHLPall Mall Gazette reporter Alec Lonsdale is working on a fatal house fire when he is accosted by a woman telling him that there have been more deaths and she has information on them. After a post-mortem reveals that the victim, Patrick Donovan, was murdered and that part of his brain had been removed, Lonsdale is determined to put his journalistic skills to good use and investigate what has happened. Assisted by his colleague, the feisty female reporter, Hulda Friederichs, when more bodies are found, their attempts to uncover the truth are thwarted at every step. Exactly who is stopping them from uncovering the truth?

One of the things I enjoy most about well-written historical crime fiction is the ability to transport the reader back in time, giving you the opportunity to experience the sounds, sights and smells of the era. Mind of a Killer certainly does this, evoking images of downtrodden Londoners, doing anything they can to make ends meet. In stark contrast, we see how life differed for the upper classes, and how vast the divide between the two groups was. Simon Beaufort certainly takes you back to Victorian London to a time when people were distrustful of the new underground rail system  and how journalists were reluctant to print celebrity stories!

By having journalists as the main protagonists, Mind of a Killer moves the story away from it being a typical police procedural. Lonsdale is a great character but he is usurped in every scene by the inimitable Hulda, a strong woman if ever there was one! I was fascinated to read that the character was based on a real journalist who worked for The Pall Mall Gazette. Obviously, the author has taken some artistic licence, but after reading that she was the first female journalist to work on the same   pay terms as her male counterparts, there is certainly an element of the fictional firebrand there!

The mystery is a particularly gruesome one with people being found murdered, horrifically disfigured with their cerebrum removed. It soon becomes apparent that there is more than one killer on the loose and that there are several other conspirators bound to keeping the operation secret. Despite the nature of the crimes, the actual murders are mainly kept off the page meaning that it never becomes too much to read for anyone of a nervous disposition.

Mind of a Killer is a great read which will hopefully become part of a series. Lonsdale and Friederichs definitely have more to offer.

With thanks to Severn House Publishers and Net Galley for the ARC.

On Copper Street by Chris Nickson

51zeLbgjVpLThe day after he is released from prison, in March 1895, Henry White is found stabbed to death at his home in Copper Street, Leeds. Local people are reluctant to speak to the police so DI Tom Harper knows that he will have a hard time trying to solve the case. Meanwhile, in a seemingly unprovoked incident, a young boy and girl find themselves victims of a serious acid attack. As the death toll rises, Harper knows that unless he gets a big break, the culprits will remain at large for ever.

On Copper Street is the fifth of Chris Nickson’s books to feature the main protagonist, Tom Harper, and is arguably his most complex to date, dealing with issues that wouldn’t look out of place in a contemporary crime novel. His descriptions of late-Victorian Leeds, however, place this book firmly in the past and it is this imagery that I love the most about this author’s books. Chris Nickson always succeeds in putting a clear picture in my mind of where the story is set, whether it be the police station, the public house of the crime scene. It is clear how much the author knows about the places he talks about in his books.

The mystery is a fascinating one and gives us a chance to see how most of Victorian police work came down to the legwork of the detectives. It was also interesting to see a new role being undertaken by Harper and poses a conundrum for future books – will he be content with being based, mainly, in the office, or will he find himself longing to be back out on the streets?

I have always loved the prominence the author gives to women in this series of books, and Harper’s wife, Annabelle, continues to be a strong character, largely due to her work with the Suffragettes. In an era where a lot of men controlled their wives’ lives, it is refreshing to see a fictional Victorian marriage where the couple appear to be equals.

Another excellent addition to the series.

With thanks to NetGalley and Severn House Publishers for the ARC.

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