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**Blog Tour** The Smuggler’s Daughter by Kerry Barrett

1799

One night, young Emily Moon witnesses the brutal murder of her father. Unable to tell anyone what she has seen, her mother thinks that he has simply disappeared, leaving her to find solace in the alcohol that she sells at their clifftop inn in Cornwall. Knowing that the smugglers that operate nearby are the ones responsible for the murder, Emily is not happy that the killers are seemingly getting away with this horrific crime.

Present Day

After a tragic case, police officer Phoebe Bellingham decides that a break in Cornwall would be the ideal way to get some respite. Staying with her friend at The Moon Girl pub, she comes across the story of Emily and is immediately intrigued. Just what did happen to Emily Moon and are we about to see history repeat itself over 200 years later?

As a fan of dual timeline books, The Smuggler’s Daughter ticked all of the boxes for me. The author successfully transported me back to Georgian England, painting a very descriptive picture of the Cornwall coastline, something straight out of du Maurier’s Jamaica Inn. I could almost smell the sea air and hear the wind whistling across the cliffs.

Although the time frames are two very different eras, we get to see a parallel in the plots due to the place the story is set, with smuggling being the common link. We also see some similarities between the two lead characters, both of them with an eye for justice and a desire to do the right thing. My heart went out to Phoebe who is torturing herself due to what she perceives as a failure on her part to do her job properly on her last case. It was easy to see why she needed something to occupy her mind, her investigation into Emily Moon being the perfect distraction.

Emily Moon is a fantastic character. Dismissed by locals as a simple young girl, she was actually an incredibly strong young woman, brave beyond her years. I loved every scene she was in and had my fingers crossed throughout the book that she would go on to live a happy life. I admired her tenacity, even when faced with extreme danger, and understood her need to revenge the death of her father, whatever the cost.

The Smuggler’s Daughter is one of those books that draws you in straight away and I found it difficult to put down, reading it in a few sittings. This is the perfect book for someone wanting a mix of history and mystery and I will definitely be looking out for more books by this author.

With thanks to HQ and Net Galley for my ARC and to Sian Baldwin for organising the blog tour.

 

The Molten City by Chris Nickson

All eyes are on the Leeds police as the city is soon to receive a visit from the Prime Minister. The year is 1908, however, and the unemployed are planning to disrupt the visit along with the Suffragettes who see this as an ideal opportunity to get their grievances heard. With his men already stretched, an anonymous note sent to Detective Superintendent Tom Harper has piqued his interest. Telling of an abducted child fourteen years earlier and naming the family with whom he now lives, Harper is concerned that the original investigation seemed to be a bit lacklustre with a paper thin file detailing the steps taken. When missing children are a top priority, why was the disappearance of Andrew Sharp never taken seriously and why is there still an attempt to keep the story hidden?

Tom Harper is back, and this time things are looking very different in his personal life. At the start of the book, we see him having to come to terms with the loss of a close friend, someone who we have got to know throughout the series. This death, although not suspicious, sets the tone for the rest of the book, with numerous murders occurring to try to protect an old secret.

One of the things I have always liked about this series is the prominence placed upon Tom’s wife, Annabelle. Very much a woman ahead of her time, we now see this replicated in their daughter, Mary. Now sixteen years of age, she is very much involved in the suffragette movement, although unlike her mother, she is prepared to go against her father’s wishes to achieve her aim. I had great sympathy for Tom who, despite showing support for his daughter, knows he has a job to do, finding it difficult to prevent his daughter from getting involved in potentially dangerous demonstrations.

The Molten City has a lot happening between its pages, but the story flows easily, each plot being as enjoyable as the other. Chris Nickson, again, adds an air of authenticity by including real historical events as part of the plot, and it is easy to imagine yourself in the Leeds of 1908.

My only concern with this series is that, as time is moving on, Tom Harper is getting older. I hope that we do not see him retiring any time soon, as this is a series that I am thoroughly enjoying! If you haven’t read any of this series before, I can highly recommend it. Take a look at my reviews of some of the other books in the series:

Two Bronze Pennies

Skin Like Silver

On Copper Street

The Tin God

Leaden Heart

With thanks to Net Galley and Severn House Publishers for my copy.

 

 

 

 

Family Ties by Nicholas Rhea

Detective Superintendent Mark Pemberton is a workaholic. Ever since the death of his wife, he has taken solace in his police work and hasn’t taken a break in six months. Concerned for his well-being, his superiors assign him with a case that, on the surface, seems a bit more laid back – providing security for the US Vice-President Hartley on his visit to the UK. Hartley is going to Yorkshire to do some research into his family history so, before his arrival, Pemberton engages in some sleuthing of his own. Unearthing the death of Private James Hartley in 1916, found with a bullet in his brain, Pemberton is determined to solve this long-forgotten mystery. What repercussions will this have for Vice-President Hartley?

It is rare to read a police procedural where the crime being investigated is a cold case dating back such a long time and it was this that first drew me to the book. It is worth mentioning that, although this is its first outing as an ebook, Family Ties was originally published in 1994 and the research methods used by the police are very much of the time. If this plot was being written now, it probably could have been solved in a few pages with the use of the internet! Being a genealogist, I actually found the reliance on church and newspaper records and other forms of primary evidence quite fascinating.

Mark is definitely an old-school detective who, once he gets his teeth stuck into something, does not give up. Working through the notes of the officer on the original case, he manages to find a few holes in the investigation and uses the resources available to him to solve an age-old crime. Although this is not a book full of twists and turns, there was a clever twist at the end which changed the crime completely. Several clues had been given throughout the book but I was genuinely surprised when it happened!

Family Ties is a cosy mystery that would make a great quick read for anyone not wanting anything too heavy. I will definitely be seeking out other books in the Mark Pemberton series.

With thanks to Agora Books and Net Galley for my ARC.

 

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.

Orchard View by Deborah J Miles

After purchasing the once grand Orchard View, builder, Bill Maynard, has his heart set on making a profit by converting it into bedsits. What he doesn’t bargain on is the discovery of human bones under the patio. After being told that the area was a burial site during the time of the Black Death, he has a decision to make – inform the police of his findings and risk losing money or cover the remains up and pretend they were never there. Whatever he decides to do, the discovery has set in motion a chain of events that will change the lives of many…

Recently, on the BBC, there was a television series detailing the history of 62 Falkner Street in Liverpool. This programme traced the people who had lived at the house from when it was built, telling their stories and linking them to the local and national events of the time. It was this programme I thought of while reading Orchard View, which tells the story of the house and its various residents. Although much of the tale is told from the perspective of the inhabitants, it was also a novel concept to give the house itself a voice. Like any reader, the house had its favourite characters and it was fascinating to see what it thought of the people who lived within it.

The story could have become very disjointed due to the different people living there over the years, so it was a clever to idea to have a constant character, a neighbour, who would remain there throughout. This provided a link between each of the stories and also gave the book a definite edge. You will have to read Orchard View to find out more about this though!

It is hard to say too much about the plot without giving too much away, but what I will say is that it is an intriguing look into the private lives of people and definitely a case of how we don’t always know what goes on behind closed doors. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I began reading, but I found that I soon couldn’t put Orchard View down as I was desperate to see what tragedy would befall each resident. There was certainly a lot of death and misery for one house!

I would like to thank the author for giving me the opportunity to read this book and I thoroughly recommend it. A super read!

Buy Orchard View here: Amazon

 

 

Blood’s Game by Angus Donald

IMG_1162Close to poverty, young Holcroft Blood can’t believe his luck when he begins working for the Duke of Buckingham, one of the most powerful men in England. Noticed almost immediately for his ability to decode ciphers, Holcroft is soon promoted to a position that enables him to betray his master. Meanwhile, Holcroft’s father, Colonel Thomas Blood, has fallen on hard times and makes a living by any means necessary so when he is tasked to steal the Crown Jewels, he knows he is putting the lives of himself and his family in danger.

Charles II is my favourite king (yes, I have a mental list of favourite monarchs!) so when I saw the premise of this book, I knew that this would be right up my street. Although he does not appear much in the book, the first time we encounter the king is certainly a memorable experience with him attempting to evacuate his bowels! He certainly lives up to his ‘Merry Monarch’ nickname, and I was happy to find that although some of his antics are definitely questionable, Blood’s Game does not besmirch his memory in any way!

I initially thought that this would be mainly about Colonel Blood and his attempt to steal the Crown Jewels and, although this is one of the plots in the book, the main character is his son, Holcroft. I really enjoyed reading the rise of Holcroft from the boy who was bullied on the streets of London to the trusted helper of the Duke of Buckingham. Nowadays, he would definitely be classed as being on the autistic spectrum, but back in the Stuart times, his ability to remember card sequences and decode complicated ciphers would have made him an oddity. I was pleased to see that, rather than ridiculing him, Holcroft’s talents were recognised and used to advance his career.

Although this is a piece of historical fiction, the author has stayed close to the facts of the stealing of the Crown Jewels by Blood, embellishing where it is needed. As a direct contrast to his son, Colonel Blood is a thoroughly unlikeable character although, even though I already knew the outcome of his crime, by the end of the book, I was willing him to get away with it! The writing of the characters in Blood’s Game is one of its biggest strengths and Angus Donald has created realistic portrayals of some of the most interesting people in British history.

I am pleased to see that this book is now going to be part of a series – something I will definitely be awaiting with interest!

With thanks to Readers First for my copy of Blood’s Game.

 

The Ghost Fields by Elly Griffiths

After being summoned by DCI Harry Nelson to look at the body of a World War Two pilot discovered in a buried plane, forensic archaeologist, Ruth Galloway, soon realises that all is not what it seems. The body is identified as Fred Blackstock, whose plane was reported to have crashed at sea and, to confuse matters even further, there is a bullet hole in his head… When human remains are found at a nearby pig farm and another member of the Blackstock family is attacked, Nelson is tasked with bringing an unknown murderer to justice.

The Ghost Fields is the seventh in the Ruth Galloway series and, like all of her previous books, Elly Griffiths has created another ‘unputdownable’ read. By linking a historical case with the modern crimes, the story moves on at a steady pace and manages to throw in a few red herrings to keep you guessing right until the very end.

One of the things I enjoy most about this series is the characterisation. Throughout the books, we have seen the characters develop to the point where I almost believe they are real people! Ruth is fast becoming one of my favourite fictional characters and fully deserves to have her story made into a TV series.

My only problem with this book is that, as I read the next book in the series, The Woman in Blue, before the others, I have now reached the end of the Ruth Galloway story! Roll on 23rd February 2017 when The Chalk Pit is published!

 

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