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John Nixon

Hammer Blow by John Nixon

When genealogist Madeleine Porter delivers the news to a client that she is about to inherit a sizable fortune from a long-lost relative, little does she know that she is about to open a huge can of worms. Researching the family of another client, Madeleine begins to realise that there is a connection between the two families and that they are tied together by an event that took place many years before. Someone else has knowledge of the story, however, and they will stop at nothing to get their revenge…

As a family historian myself, I love the Madeleine Porter books as there is a lot of emphasis placed on the research undertaken by the genealogist. For anyone wanting to start to look into their lineage, these books provide valuable nuggets of advice as to the steps you should take to begin your journey, giving hints as to the sources you can use and where you can find them.


Hammer Blow also has a great plot involving a murder that happened many years previously and the consequences of that fateful day. While, initially, I found myself getting confused by the characters and wishing I’d drawn up a family tree to see the connections, as the story progressed I found myself becoming clearer with who was who. In books like this, I often find a family tree included as part of the book helps, but this is impossible to do in Hammer Blow as it would give away much of the plot.

If you have an interest in family history and are looking for a quick read, I can definitely recommend the Madeleine Porter series. I will be looking forward to seeing where John Nixon takes the wonderful Madeleine Porter next.

Monthly Round Up – January 2021

January is over and we’re still stuck in the middle of a pandemic. I’m finding it’s taking me quite a while to read books at the moment so I’ve been trying to focus on some of the books I am reading for blog tours. Luckily, they are all books that I’ve been looking forward to reading!

Books I Have Read

Inside 10 Rillington Place by Peter Thorley

I have always been interested in the Christie/Evans murders that took place at 10 Rillington Place and this book gives a great insight into what went on at this house of horrors. Written by the brother of Beryl Evans, one of the victims, I found this a fascinating recount of the events and one that certainly gave me food for thought.

Silent Voices by Patricia Gibney

The ninth book in the Lottie Parker series sees the detective taking on one of her most complex murder cases to date whilst also having to contend with her upcoming nuptials to her colleague, Boyd. My review will feature as part of the blog tour.

The Art of Death by David Fennell

It may only be January but I think that this may feature on my favourites list at the end of the year. An ‘artist’ is displaying his work in London, but this is no ordinary exhibition: the installations feature the bodies of dead people. My review will feature as part of the upcoming blog tour.


The Night Hawks by Elly Griffiths

Thirteen books in and this series is still one of my favourites! Forensic archaeologist Dr Ruth Galloway is back at the university but it’s not long before she is called upon by Nelson to help with the discovery of a body on the beach. Just what links the archaeologist group known as the Night Hawks to the death and is there really any truth in the local legend of the Black Shuck? Ruth Galloway at her best!


Hammer Blow by John Nixon

The latest in the Madeleine Porter series sees the genealogist taking on a case on behalf of a local solicitor, opening a can of worms when she reveals that a long-lost relative has left a client a sizable amount of money. With someone determined to avenge the past, can Madeleine help to close the case before they get their wish?


Books I Have Acquired

The sudden appearance of a man’s booted feet had Addis snapping her mouth shut. Screaming, she kicked out at the tall, muscular guy as he dragged her from beneath the desk…

It was a scene from a horror movie; Gabriel Kensington and his wife Lydia found, brutally slain in their luxurious home in New Mexico. The frantic, whispered phone call from their teenage daughter Addis, spending the evening with best friend Emerson, quickly alerts the authorities to the killings – and worse, that the killer is still inside the house.

But when detective Alyssa Wyatt and the squad appear at the house, the unthinkable has happened – the girls are nowhere to be found.

Waking up in a dilapidated cabin, nestled high in the woods north of Albuquerque, the girls find themselves at the mercy of a brutal stranger who could take their life at any moment. While they fight for survival, it’s up to Alyssa Wyatt and her partner Cord to discover just why the Kensingtons have been targeted – and fast.

Because for Addis and Emerson, solving this mystery might just mean the difference between survival – or an unthinkable death…


On a quiet street, one house is burning to the ground…

By the time sign language interpreter Paige Northwood arrives, flames have engulfed her client’s home. Though Lukas is safe, his wife is still inside. But she was dead before the fire started…

Lukas signs to Paige that he knows who killed his wife. But then he goes silent – even when the police arrest him on suspicion of murder.

Is he guilty, or afraid? Only Paige can help him now…




 A large country mansion. A locked room. A gruesome murder.

Russian oligarch Alexander Volkov has invited 1000 guests to a party at his palatial Surrey residence, Westgrave Hall. But while giving a private tour of the library, a gunman kills Volkov, wounding his ex-wife and slaying her new beau.

Nothing makes sense to DCI Craig Gillard. In the blood-spattered crime scene there are no forensic traces of anyone else involved, CCTV shows no one entered or left the library, and everyone seems to have an alibi.

Is it a crime of revenge, the squaring of a love triangle, or a Russian government operation? Could the victims have simply shot each other? Gillard’s eventual discovery is shocking even to him.


My current read is Alone in the Woods by Charly Cox. I’ve loved the previous two books in the series and this one is shaping up to be just as good!


Monthly Roundup – October 2019

With only two months left in the year, I’m starting to think about which books are going to make it into my ‘best of 2019’ list. October has certainly brought a couple of books which, I am sure, are going to feature!

Books I Have Read

Broken Souls by Patricia Gibney

The seventh book in the Lottie Parker series sees the detective investigating a spate of murders which were originally deemed to be suicides. With plenty of shady character, this book will keep you guessing right until the end.

 

All His Pretty Girls by Charly Cox

When a woman is found, barely alive, in the mountains, Detective Alyssa Wyatt is plunged into the search for a particularly nasty serial killer. One of the best books I have read this year – it is hard to believe that this is the author’s debut.

 

Sleep by C L Taylor

A woman trying to escape from a traumatic experience finds herself in more trouble than she realises when she relocates to the remote Scottish island of Rum. Working in a hotel, it is not long before she discovers that one of the guests has murder on their mind – her murder. A tense, claustrophobic read.

 

Through the Wall by Caroline Corcoran

A cautionary tale of how we don’t really know the people around us. Two neighbours are envious of each other’s lives, without really knowing what is going on behind closed doors. Soon, this envy turns into something much more serious and a life is put in danger… Review to follow as part of the blog tour.

 

Reputations by John Nixon

The latest in the Madeleine Porter series sees the genealogist investigating a crime from the 1960s after a friend is murdered. Are the two incidents connected?

 

Books I Have Acquired

Two years ago, Ben Fenton went camping for the night with his brother Leo. When Ben woke up, he was covered in blood, and his brother had gone. Days later, Ben was facing a charge of murder. 

Ben’s girlfriend, Ana Seabrook, has always sworn he was innocent. And now, on the hottest day of a sweltering heat wave, a body has been unearthed in Ana’s village. A body that might be connected to what really happened between Ben and Leo that fateful night. 

DCI Jansen, of St Albans police, is sure that Ana has something to hide. But until the police track down the identity of the body, he can’t work out how everything’s connected. Will Ana’s secrets stay buried forever? Or can Jansen bring them to light?

 

No matter how far you run . . . 
He’s never far behind

Lisa needs to disappear. And her friend’s rambling old home in the wilds of Yorkshire seems like the perfect place. It’s miles away from the closest town, and no one there knows her or her little boy, Joe.

But when a woman from the local village comes to visit them, Lisa realizes that she and Joe aren’t as safe as she thought. 

What secret has Rowan Isle House – and her friend – kept hidden all these years?

And what will Lisa have to do to survive, when her past finally catches up with her?

 

 

She sleeps, a pale girl in a white room . . .

Driving home one night, stuck behind a rusty old car, Gabe sees a little girl’s face appear in the rear window.

She mouths one word: ‘Daddy.’

It’s his five-year-old daughter, Izzy.

He never sees her again.

Three years later, Gabe spends his days and nights travelling up and down the motorway, searching for the car that took his daughter, refusing to give up hope, even though most people believe that Izzy is dead. 

Fran and her daughter, Alice, also put in a lot of miles on the motorway. Not searching. But running. Trying to keep one step ahead of the people who want to hurt them.

Because Fran knows the truth. She knows what really happened to Gabe’s daughter. She knows who is responsible. And she knows what they will do if they ever catch up with her and Alice . . .

 

 

In Victorian England, a mother is on the run from her past—and the truth about what she did.

Birmingham, 1880. Angelica Chastain has fled from London with her young son, William. She promises him a better life, far away from the terrors they left behind.

Securing a job as a governess, Angelica captures the attention of wealthy widower Stanley Hampton. Soon they marry and the successful future Angelica envisaged for William starts to fall into place.

But the past will not let Angelica go. As the people in her husband’s circle, once captivated by her charm, begin to question her motives, it becomes clear that forgetting where she came from—and who she ran from—is impossible.

When tragedy threatens to expose her and destroy everything she’s built for herself and William, how far will she go to keep her secrets safe? And when does the love for one’s child tip over into dangerous obsession?

 

 

Investigative journalist Oonagh O’Neil’s instincts tell her when a story is worth pursuing. And the death of an elderly priest on the altar of his Glasgow church, just as she is about to expose the shocking truth behind the closure of an infamous Magdalene Institution, tells her a sinister cover up is in play. 

DI Alec Davies is appointed to investigate the priest’s death. He and Oonagh go way back. But now they’re united in uncovering not only what happened to the lost babies secretly born in the Institution, but what happened to the young women that survived by vowing loyalty to one another… forever. 

The doors of the Magdalene laundries hid the most harrowing secrets from the world – secrets Oonagh is determined to reveal, whatever the price…

 

I’m really looking forward to reading these books. I’m especially intrigued by the Steve Robinson one as I love his Jefferson Tayte series, so I can’t wait to read something different!

Finally, a big thank you and hello to all of my new subscribers. I hope you find something good to read – I’d love to hear your thoughts!

 

 

Reputations by John Nixon

Treating herself to a trip to Egypt, genealogist Madeleine Porter meets Margaret Smith, a woman who says she has no knowledge of her late husband’s family. Turning down Madeleine’s offer of help, Margaret is inspired to do some research of her own, promising to keep the genealogist informed of her findings. Soon, Madeleine and her husband, Ian, are shocked to discover that their new friend has been found murdered in her own home and are even more perplexed when, the following day, they receive a package from Margaret containing an old newspaper detailing the murder of an elderly couple in 1966. Written on the cutting, in Margaret’s own writing, are the words, ‘Peter didn’t do this’. What secrets have been hidden in the past and why did Margaret have to pay the ultimate price to keep them hidden?

Madeleine Porter is back, and this time her investigations bring her closer to home. The premise is a good one – a woman, Margaret, marries late in life, only to lose her husband without really knowing anything about his family. Spurred on to do some research after speaking to Madeleine, her untimely death spikes curiosity in the genealogist, who wants to know more about the 1966 murder and the potential links to Margaret’s husband. Working alongside her husband, Ian, we are treated to Madeleine’s thought processes as she tries to unravel the mystery – one that is, seemingly, perplexing the police.

This plot had so much potential, but I admit to finding myself confused several times as I was reading, as to the motive behind Margaret’s murder. Although this was explained satisfactorily at the end, I still felt that there were several characters that muddied the waters a bit too much, spoiling my enjoyment slightly.

This is a series that I will still continue to read as I love the genealogical aspect and enjoy reading about Madeleine and Ian, but I feel that this does not live up to the high standards of the earlier books.

 

Monthly Round Up – July 2018

July has been a very busy (and tiring!) month for me and due to work circumstances, I had a few days where I didn’t pick up a book. This is unheard of! Thankfully, I managed to make up for it at the end of the month and read a couple of corkers including one which, at the moment, is definitely making it into my top ten of the year!

I also attended the book launch for the latest in Mark Roberts’ Eve Clay series, Killing Time, where, as well as meeting the man himself and listening to him in conversation with Paul Finch, we were also treated to a reading from the book by Paul Goetzee and music from Nick Ellis. A great evening!

Books I Have Read

5156DXAqbrLThe Dancer by John Nixon

The latest in John Nixon’s Madeleine Porter series sees the genealogist trying to discover the story behind a woman who has been found dead at the bottom of a cliff. Not my favourite in the series, but a good read nonetheless.

 

51SXPfKJzFL._SX315_BO1,204,203,200_The Tin God by Chris Nickson

I really enjoy crime fiction set in the Victorian era and have grown to love Chris Nixon’s Tom Harper series. Someone is trying to prevent women from standing as potential Poor Law Guardians in an upcoming election and will stop at nothing, even murder.

 

61XqWcu1-2L._SY346_Why Mummy Swears by Gill Sims

The follow-up to Why Mummy Drinks is a hilarious tale of one woman’s everyday life as a mum of two who has been coerced into leading the PTA whilst taking on a new job. Laugh out loud funny!

 

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Broken Dolls by Sarah Flint

A brilliant serial killer police procedural featuring the no-nonsense detective Charlie Stafford. Dealing with the most vulnerable in society, this is my favourite in the series so far and definitely had a couple of fantastic twists that I did not see coming!

 

51JZymFAkPLThe Drowned Village by Kathleen McGurl

A timeslip story about a woman who returns to her grandmother’s place of birth to investigate her past. I love Kathleen McGurl’s books and this one is no exception.

 

 

40806267Jar of Hearts by Jennifer Hillier

Wow! This one definitely grabbed my attention and held it right until the last page. When the serial killer, the Sweetbay Strangler, escapes from prison, his former girlfriend and accomplice fears for her own life. With numerous twists and a fantastic plot, this is definitely one of my favourites of the year so far!

 

38483098Letters from the Dead by Steve Robinson

The latest in the Jefferson Tayte series sees the genealogist investigating the disappearance of a ruby in India. This is another superb story from Steve Robinson and is a definite page turner!

 

Books I Have Acquired

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An international crime thriller with an unforgettable detective. Perfect for fans of Ian Rankin, Jo Nesbo and Peter Robinson.

What do you do when the poison comes from within…?

The body of a young woman is found strangled by the side of the road.

There are no obvious clues to what happened, apart from the discovery of a large amount of cash concealed on her person.

The brilliant, but lazy, Lieutenant Josef Slonský is put in charge of the case.

With a wry sense of humour, a strong stubborn streak and a penchant for pastries, Slonský is not overly popular with the rest of the police force. But he is paired with the freshly-graduated, overly-eager Navrátil, whom he immediately takes under his wing.

When fingers start to point inwards to someone familiar with police operations, Slonský and Navrátil are put in a difficult position.

If what they suspect is true, how deep does the corruption run? Are they willing to risk their careers in their pursuit of the truth?

Anyone could be lying – and others may be in danger of dying…

LYING AND DYING is the first international crime thriller in the detective series featuring Lieutenant Josef Slonský: an atmospheric police procedural full of dark humour.

 

518iORSf3ZL._SY346_1967

: Four female scientists invent a time travel machine. They are on the cusp of fame: the pioneers who opened the world to new possibilities. But then one of them suffers a breakdown and puts the whole project in peril…

2017

: Ruby knows her beloved Granny Bee was a pioneer, but they never talk about the past. Though time travel is now big business, Bee has never been part of it. Then they receive a message from the future – a newspaper clipping reporting the mysterious death of an elderly lady…

2018

: When Odette discovered the body she went into shock. Blood everywhere, bullet wounds, that strong reek of sulpher. But when the inquest fails to find any answers, she is frustrated. Who is this dead woman that haunts her dreams? And why is everyone determined to cover up her murder?

 

51jPK1DYa5L._SY346_Do that which is good and no evil shall touch you

That was the note the so-called Raphael killer left on each of his victims. Everyone in Glasgow – investigative journalist Oonagh O’Neil included – remember the murder of three women in Glasgow which sent a wave of terror through the city. They also remember that he is still at large…

When the police investigation into the Raphael killings reopens, Oonagh is given a tip off that leads her straight to the heart of a complex and deadly cover-up. When history starts to repeat itself, it seems the killer is closer than she thinks. Could Oonagh be the next target…?

 

I’m reading The Psychology of Time Travel at the moment and am absolutely loving it – I can’t wait to feature on the blog tour! I’ll be featuring on several blog tours over the next few weeks and have some exclusive content from the following books:

 

 

 

 

Have a great August!

 

 

The Dancer by John Nixon

When a woman is found dead at the bottom of a cliff, the only clue to her identity is a note found on her person detailing an appointment with genealogist, Madeleine Porter. After it is determined that this is no accident, the investigation stalls, prompting Madeleine to do some investigating of her own. Just what was it that the dead woman wanted help with and did this lead to her untimely death?

The Dancer is the latest installment in the Madeleine Porter mystery series and, although I wouldn’t say it is one of my favourites, it is still a good book, especially for anyone wanting a quick, easy read.

As in previous books, Madeleine uses her genealogical knowledge to help solve a mystery, in this case the identity of a woman suspected of being pushed off a cliff. As someone who researches my own family, I always like to predict the methods about to be used by fictional genealogists and am pleased when our strategies match! From a genealogy point of view, the author clearly knows what he is talking about and the sources he uses are spot on.

I enjoyed the mystery in The Dancer, and although it is easy to predict what is going to happen in parts, I loved how the different strands tied together to create a well-balanced story. I would have liked to have found out more about the dead woman but I suppose that was even beyond the great Madeleine Porter!

I look forward to Madeleine sinking her teeth into another case soon!

Monthly Round Up – June 2018

The end of June already – just where has the year gone?! I’m ahead of schedule on my Goodreads challenge despite having hardly any reading time over the last few months. I had, however, managed to reduce my Net Galley shelf until books by some of my favourite authors appeared on there this month!

Books I’ve Read

Thirteen by Steve Cavanagh

Known for his courtroom dramas featuring lawyer Eddie Flynn, Steve Cavanagh has produced this masterpiece which can be read as a standalone. When a young starlet is found brutally murdered, the lawyer meets his match when the killer finds himself not on trial but a member of the jury. An absolutely brilliant read.

First to Die by Alex Caan

When a senior civil servant is found dead, seemingly killed by a highly contagious virus, Kate Riley, Zain Harris and their team have their work cut out to stop it spreading before panic sets in. The second in a series where i feel it would have been beneficial to have read the first.

I Know You by Annabel Kantaria

Happy that she is finally widening her social circle, Taylor is blissfully unaware that someone is stalking her and that this is about to lead to deadly consequences. As a fan of Annabel Kantaria’s writing, I found this another fantastic read.

Conan Doyle for the Defence by Margalit Fox

The true story of Oscar Slater who, in 1908, was found guilty of the murder of an elderly spinster in Glasgow. This would become one of the most well-known miscarriages of justice in Scotland, not least because of the involvement of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in trying to secure his release and pardon.

False Accusations by Cora Harrison

The first in a new series featuring former headteacher Flora Morgan who, after acting as an ‘Appropriate Adult’ for a girl with learning difficulties, decides to help find her innocent of a murder charge. A great plot but not one to sink your teeth into.

Books I’ve Acquired

Beneath the surface lie forgotten secrets…

A village destroyed

It’s the summer of 1935 and eleven-year-old Stella Walker is preparing to leave her home forever. Forced to evacuate to make way for a new reservoir, the village of Brackendale Green will soon be lost. But before the water has even reached them, a dreadful event threatens to tear Stella’s family apart.

An uncovered secret

Present day, and a fierce summer has dried up the lake and revealed the remnants of the deserted village. Now an old woman, Stella begs her granddaughter Laura to make the journey she can’t. She’s sure the village still holds answers for her but, with only days until the floodwaters start to rise again, Laura is in a race against time to solve the mysteries of Stella’s almost forgotten past.

Haunting and evocative, The Drowned Village reaches across the decades in an unforgettable tale of love, loss and family.

A baby lies abandoned amongst the rubbish;her tiny face as white as alabaster, her body as stiff as a miniature doll.

A young prostitute lies beaten, her figure lying like a mannequin on the frozen concrete, her blood spilt, her life ebbing away.

As DC ‘Charlie’ Stafford and her boss DI Hunter struggle to identify the victim from the violator their hunt brings them to the crack houses of Lambeth, littered with damaged people, their lives scarred by tragedy and violence, most broken beyond repair.

As further lives hang in the balance Charlie must enpower the weak to speak out against those who seek to cause harm.

But can a broken doll ever truly be mended; or will the wounds of the past, fashion the events of the future?

The fourth in the Sunday Times bestselling Jane Tennison thrillers, MURDER MILE is set at the height of the ‘Winter of Discontent’. Can Jane Tennison uncover a serial killer? 

February, 1979, ‘The Winter of Discontent’. Economic chaos has led to widespread strikes across Britain.

Jane Tennison, now a Detective Sergeant, has been posted to Peckham CID, one of London’s toughest areas. As the rubbish on the streets begins to pile up, so does the murder count: two bodies in as many days.

There are no suspects and the manner of death is different in each case. The only link between the two victims is the location of the bodies, found within a short distance of each other near Rye Lane in Peckham. Three days later another murder occurs in the same area. Press headlines scream that a serial killer is loose on ‘Murder Mile’ and that police incompetence is hampering the investigation.

Jane is under immense pressure to catch the killer before they strike again.Working long hours with little sleep, what she uncovers leaves her doubting her own mind.

Why Mummy Swears is the much anticipated new novel from Gill Sims, author of the hilarious Why Mummy Drinks and online sensation Peter and Jane.

It’s every parents’ nightmare – the start of the school holidays – and instead of sitting in the sun, reading a book over a cold, crisp glass of Pinot Grigio, Mummy has two bored moppets to attend to. After frantically booking sports camps, child minder slots, not to mention time off work, Mummy is exhausted. But this is only the beginning…

After being dragged to join the school’s PTA in the new term by an annoyingly kind-spirited neighbour, Mummy is stuck with organising the Christmas Fayre and pleasing all the overly disapproving parents. In combination with getting to know her father’s surprise new glamorous (and much younger) wife, and being forced to spend more time with her narcissistic mother, life isn’t cutting her much of a break. What more could possibly happen?

One spring day a young woman is found dead on a beach at the bottom of a cliff. She has no identification on her, just a scribbled note for an appointment that morning with Madeleine Porter, a local family historian. Did she fall or was she pushed? The police struggle to identify the mystery woman and Madeleine, intrigued by the case, decides to do her own investigation. She uncovers a mixture of adultery, ballroom dancing and greed before discovering the reason behind her presence on the beach.

 

 

I’ve got so many good books on my Kindle at the moment, I don’t know what to read next!

Unearthed by John Nixon

unearthedWhen skeletal remains are discovered in the garden of their new house, Adam and Ruth Porter know that there is only one person who can get to the bottom of it – Madeleine, Adam’s mother and professional genealogist. What ensues is a taxing investigation which exposes long-hidden secrets and an unknown wartime romance.

Unearthed is the fifth of John Nixon’s ‘Madeleine Porter’ novels and, like the others, is based on an event that occurred in the past that has repercussions in the present. This book is slightly different to the others, however, in that there is less of Madeleine and more of the other present-day characters. There is also more emphasis on tracing living people rather than the ancestors of people who have hired the genealogist.

I found that I enjoyed reading the sections set during the war more than I did the modern-day elements of the story. The chapters set in the past were, at times, heartbreaking, as we saw the effects World War Two had on women of that era. I felt, however, that the modern aspect of the story relied a lot upon coincidence and one part in particular was a tad unbelievable.

I did enjoy reading this book as it was a quick read and the parts about the war were beautifully written. It can be read as a standalone but, if you are interested in this genre, the previous books are well worth a read.

The Cost of Silence by John Nixon

The year is 1992 and a man has been murdered whilst perusing the parish registers in the vestry of a country church. It does not take the police long to apprehend the culprit although no motive for the killing has ever been discovered. With the death of the murderer in prison, will the real reason for the attack ever emerge?

Fast forward to the present and a retired crime reporter decides to take up the case. As there appears to be a genealogical aspect, he enlists the help of Madeleine Porter, a local family history researcher.

As with all of Nixon’s previous books, the subject has been well researched and the story moves on at a quick pace. It was good that the importance of backing up your theories was highlighted and how jumping to conclusions can lead you completely off track.

The sub-plot concerning Oliver was also a good addition although I felt that this part of the story was left hanging at the end. Will this be addressed in a further book or is that the end? I don’t feel that it would warrant a book of its own so could have been fully resolved here.

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