Posted in Book Review

The Break Line – 4* Review – James Brabazon

Officially Max Mclean doesn’t exist.

The British government denies all knowledge of the work he does on their behalf to keep us safe. But Max and his masters are losing faith in each other. And they’ve given him one last chance to prove he’s still their man.

Sent to a military research facility to meet a former comrade-in-arms, Max finds the bravest man he ever knew locked up for his own protection. His friend lost his mind during an operation in West Africa. The reason? Absolute mortal terror.

Max is determined to find out why.

Ahead lies a perilous, breathtaking mission into the unknown that will call into question everything that Max once believed in.

Acting alone, without back-up, Max lands in Sierra Leone with his friend’s last words ringing in his ears: ‘They’re coming, Max. They’re coming . . .’

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My Thoughts…

I thought this book would be a military-themed political thriller, in many respects it is. The early part of the story is easy to read, an introduction to Max, the main character, who undertakes the narrator role as it’s written in the first person. The early part of the book disseminates essential clues and facts. The last part of the story, concentrates on Max’s mission, it may be his last if he doesn’t deliver, but the dangers he faces and the horrors he endures and witnesses may take his life, not just his career.

This second half of the story fuses the literary genres. Military thriller merges with paranormal and science- fiction and the resultant prose produces haunting, horrific images in the reader’s mind. Is Max delusional, is this an out of world experience or is this something more sinister? There are no clues here, but if you enjoy your thriller’s twisty with graphic imagery, this one will satisfy your cravings.

Fast-paced and full of action driven, adrenaline-fuelled scenes, this story holds your interest. The secret Max discovers places this novel firmly in the 21st century and takes the concept of biological weaponry to another level. Max is an edgy, driven character with a dark past and family issues, his emotional character undergoes a radical change through the story, and he makes a good anti-hero.

I received a copy of this book from Penguin UK, Michael Joseph Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Posted in Book Review

Blog Tour: A Cold Flame – Aidan Conway- Guest Post and 5*Review

 

 

Play with fire, and you get burned…

Five men burnt alive.
In the dog days of a searing August in Rome, a flat goes up in flames, the doors sealed from the outside. Five illegal immigrants are trapped and burnt alive – their charred bodies barely distinguishable amidst the debris.

One man cut into pieces.
When Detective Inspectors Rossi and Carrara begin to investigate, a hitherto unknown terror organisation shakes the city to its foundations. Then a priest is found murdered and mutilated post-mortem – his injuries almost satanic in their ferocity.

One city on the edge of ruin.
Rome is hurtling towards disaster. A horrifying pattern of violence is beginning to emerge, with a ruthless killer overseeing its design. But can Rossi and Carrara stop him before all those in his path are reduced to ashes?

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Guest Post – Aidan Conway

Why I write thrillers

I initially decided to write a thriller, or a crime thriller, as the case may be, on ‘Blue Monday’ in January 2014. Until then I had written poetry and short stories and had some success publishing in magazines but writing a novel was a new departure for me.

I had been reading some classics in the genre and enjoying the pure escapism. But then I began to wonder if it was something I might be able to do myself, as a challenge. I say escapism for a reason. Italy, where I have lived since 2001, was going through a rough period in terms of social problems, economic hardship, its growing involvement in the immigration crisis and the government of the day was not doing a great job.

There was the endemic problem of corruption as one scandal followed on the heels of another. Politicians were also playing the race card, and populism was on the rise. So things were tense but interesting, and I felt like I had material for at least a story or two.

Shortly after, I got my big idea, pretty much in a flash of inspiration, and I knew then where the book was going. I sketched out a rough framework, and as the pastime quickly grew more serious, I found myself with a novel that I had to finish.

The Inspiration behind Michael Rossi

I needed a central protagonist, and the name just popped out. Rossi is a very common surname, easy to remember and recognisably Italian to non-Italian audiences. I thought ‘that will do for now’ but it stuck, and I got to like him.

I wanted Rossi to be a bit of an outsider, a little detached from the wheeling and dealing and intrigue, yet knowing its workings. As someone who flirted briefly with the priesthood, he has a familiarity with the powers-that-be but distrusts big institutions and their motivations. He also has Neapolitan origins and, because of an Irish grandfather, is bilingual. As such, he doesn’t quite belong in Rome, but he possesses a certain fluidity and openness to ideas, which means he often sees the bigger picture. All of this gives him a certain superiority that can arouse suspicion and also lead to alienation, but it gives me plenty of plot lines to play with too.

Why Rome makes a good setting for crime thrillers.

The traditional and well-known backdrop provides wonderful depth of atmosphere with the piazzas and fountains, the style, food, and the street theatre but the less familiar parts of the city have an interesting noirish flavour too. There is bleakness and menace in the sprawling concrete suburbs and post-war developments and their inhabitants, which I also like to explore.

Rome is where our legal systems, our philosophy, ideas of beauty and ethics, right and wrong, all come from. With its government, the capital is the power centre of Italy where kingmakers and influencers and obscure forces play out their power games. It can seem very feudal; patronage is often still an effective reality, especially in the ever-present Church, a Moriarty-like character that always has a hand in whatever’s going down.

So there is an ongoing struggle to get close to that power, through favours and bribes, nepotism, and blackmail. And then there are those trying to fight all that, often with the odds heavily stacked against them.

Rome’s strategic position between east and west, Europe and Africa, and straddling the north and south of the country itself means there is a constant flow of influences and stimulating contrasts and compromises. NATO is here, there are US airbases, international NGOs, embassies, multinationals. The middle east, Israel and the Balkans are a stone’s throw away. Anarchism has a long history here; the city was something of a haven too for the PLO in the 70s and 80s. As such, it’s a kind of bridge across the Mediterranean on which you might run into anyone; in the books, they frequently run into each other, often with incendiary results.

My Thoughts…

Rossi and Carrara have to solve a particularly gruesome set of crimes that threaten the foundations of Rome and Italian society. Although set primarily in Rome, there is an international theme with terrorism at its heart. The killings are satanic in nature and like in the first book in the series ‘ A Known Evil’ you question whether the killers are different but connected? This story reads as a standalone but to understand what motivates Rossi and the character dynamics between him and Carrara and journalist Dario Iannelli I recommend reading ‘A Known Evil’.

The well-described setting betrays an intimate knowledge of Rome and its government that make the story believable. The cleverly orchestrated plot has many strands. Different stories explored and painstakingly woven together to solve the mysterious crimes before the city implodes. The politics, patronage and corruption that defines the city make Rossi and Carrara’s job both dangerous and frustrating, always wondering if they can find the guilty before they are sidetracked or stopped by the establishment. Detailed and lengthy this complex story’s pacing maintains the momentum and keeps the reader’s interest, the killings are graphic, but they underline the threat to the city’s population and give the story its menacing ethos.

‘ A Cold Flame’ has everything you need for a thrilling crime read, an enigmatic detective with a dark side and secrets, a set of complicated, horrific crimes and a powerful political infrastructure that thwarts their aims at every opportunity to find the guilty and punish them.

I received a copy of this book from Harper Impulse/ Killer Reads via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Aidan Conway was born in Birmingham and has been living in Italy since 2001. He has been a barman, a bookseller, a proofreader, a language consultant, as well as a freelance teacher, translator and editor for the UNFAO. He is currently an assistant university lecturer in Rome, where he lives with his family. His first novel, A KNOWN EVIL, was published on 5 April 2018 by Harper Collins ‘Killer Reads’. The second book in the DI Michael Rossi crime series, A COLD FLAME, is available as an e-book on 20 July 2018 and in paperback on 6 September 2018.

Posted in Book Review

The Antique Dealer’s Daughter – Lorna Gray – 3* Review

In the aftermath of war, Emily Sutton struggles with being a young woman in a world irrevocably changed by conflict. When she refuses to follow the traditional expectations of a job in her father’s antiques business – or marriage – her parents send her for an ‘improving’ stay with her spinster cousin in the quiet Cotswold village of Washbrook. But Emily arrives to find her cousin’s cottage empty and an elderly man brutally attacked by an unknown assailant and realises that even in peacetime, the spectre of death is never far away.

Emily knows of the scandal that rocked the village last winter – the death of John Langton, the rumours of his looted treasure – leaving his older brother, Captain Richard Langton, to face the disgrace. Despite his cool manner, Emily is drawn to Richard, and as they work together to expose the shadows stalking the village, they discover that John’s ghost will not be allowed to rest, with terrifying results…

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My Thoughts…

Steeped in historical detail and authentic characters you could undoubtedly find in post-war Britain, ‘The Antique Dealer’s Daughter’ follows Emily’s endeavours as she forges a life for herself in the rural idyll of the Cotswolds.

World War 2 changed lives and gave women chances and certain emancipation that would have happened much more slowly without the impetus of the war. This story illustrates this and the frustration many women felt when they were expected to return to their post-war roles. The post-war era and life in the rural Cotswolds immerse the reader, but the slow pacing and length of the story sometimes negate the powerful messages both social and political and the depth of the characters.

It’s not an easy read, there is perhaps a little too much historical detail and the characters’ behaviour and attitudes, while realistic makes them hard to understand and empathise. The mystery and the danger the heroine finds herself in underlines the story but only seeing it from Emily’s point of view reduces its impact; always being in her head is often confusing for the reader.

If you are a devotee of historical fiction in the 1940s, this is an absorbing read, but if you are more interested in solving the crimes and mystery, you may find it difficult to discover and keep the clues in your mind. The romance is gentle and rather lovely, entirely in keeping with the period.

I received a copy of this book from Harper Impulse via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

 

Posted in Book Review

The House of Birds and Butterflies – Cressida McLaughlin – 5* Review

Abby Field loves every inch of Meadowsweet Nature Reserve on the idyllic Suffolk coast where she lives and works. Especially Swallowtail House, the rambling but empty country house that seems to look out at her each time she passes its shut-up windows.

When a TV wildlife programme chooses a rival location for their new series, Meadowsweet is under threat – unless Abby can whip up a plan to keep the visitors flocking. But she finds herself distracted by the arrival of a brooding – and annoyingly handsome new neighbour… bad-boy novelist, Jack Westcoat.

With the pressure on, Abby and her cute rescue huskie, Raffle, must pull something special out of the bag. But with Jack in need of a good friend – and Abby feeling the pull of attraction, she can sense her resolve fluttering away…

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My Thoughts…

I read three-quarters of this lovely story as a serial, so I have reviewed the complete book in four parts:

The Dawn Chorus -I love the title and the cover, both epitomise the book’s ethos perfectly. Set against the background of a nature reserve on the Suffolk coast, ‘The Dawn Chorus’ the first part of the book introduces the mysterious house, abandoned in heartbreak on the edge of the reserve and a cast of delightfully quirky characters whose love of nature brings them together.

Abby loves her job, which brings her into direct contact with the public and the inhabitants of the reserve on a daily basis. She is fascinated by the faded glory of the large house, belonging to the reserve’s owner Penelope. No longer lived it possesses a mysterious, tragic quality that Abby longs to explore. Abby guards her heart fiercely. Let down by her father and drawn to toxic relationships she prefers to share life with Raffle her husky.

The Lovebirds– New Year starts off part two. Abby’s hoping for new beginnings, and when she unexpectedly spends New Years Day alone with her mother, she finds her parent wanting to build bridges.

The nature reserve is still in need of new ideas to keep it afloat, and Jack seems determined to be involved. Penelope, the owner of the sanctuary, is keeping secrets and Abby realises she needs to find out what they are if she’s going to help.

Abby’s fascination with Swallowtail house continues, and Jack seems to share her interest, leading to sharing and insights into both their troubled pasts. Their chequered relationship dominates, and this part of the book ends with more secrets than solutions.

Twilight Song – Spring is a time of new beginnings, and while this is true for the inhabitants of the Nature Reserve, problems loom on the horizon that threatens its future.

The couple’s gentle romance dominates this third part of the book. Abby and Jack’s behaviour and willingness to help the other signify their deepening emotions but their pasts make them cautious.

Penelope still keeps her problems secret, but Abby sees another side to her boss, which surprises her. Abby’s plans for the reserve are a success but will they be enough?

When you think this part of the story is ending on a high, someone from the past threatens Abby’s happiness. The mystery of the house remains untold and with the cliffhanger ending reading the final part of this charming story is a given for me.

Birds of a Feather- The final part lives up to my expectations. Abby and Jack’s relationship deepens in the face of adversity, but events force them to part to achieve their individual career goals and help the people and animals who depend on them.

New challenges for both Abby and Jack and finally we discover the answers to the secrets of Swallowtail house. The romance in this part of the story is sublime.

I will miss the characters of Meadowsweet, especially the adorable Raffle. The bird and butterfly life featured at the beginning of each chapter makes this story unique, adding depth to the authentic romantic tale.

I received a copy of this book from Harper Fiction, Harper Collins via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Posted in Book Review

Blog Tour: Chole Esposito – Bad – 4* Review

Alvie Knightly is back . . . and she’s hungover.

When Alvie discovers that her hitman boyfriend has driven off with the Lamborghini and two million euros, she does what any heartbroken, deserted, amateur assassin would do – she drinks everything in the mini-bar and trashes her hotel room. And then she gets to work.

A perilous cat-and-mouse game takes the pair across Rome, leaving a trail of collateral damage in their wake. But as she wholeheartedly embraces her dark side, Alvie will have to figure out if Nino is her nemesis . . . or the only man bad enough to handle her.

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My Thoughts…

‘Bad’, lives up to its name in the second part of the’Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know ‘trilogy. You need to read the first book in the series’Mad’ to enjoy this book, although’ Bad’ does give a brief plot resume’.

Alvie wakes up hungover(no surprise there then) and finds her lover has taken all the money and the car. This story follows her pursuit of the said lover with flashbacks into her past that illuminates her current state of mind and actions.

Alvie’s character darkens even more in this story, her lack of insight increases and her grasp on reality weakens. Dark humour makes this all seem probable and perhaps not as terrible as sounds, but she carries on a killing spree, albeit accidental for the most part and exploits, drink, drugs and everyone she comes into contact.

There’s enough in this book to make you want to see how it concludes but the plot is weaker in this story, as is often the case in middle trilogy books.

An enjoyable read for those liking erotic romance and dark humour, with larger than life characters and glamorous, richly descriptive settings.

I received a copy of this book from Penguin UK- Michael Joseph Publishing via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Posted in Book Review

A Piece of My Heart -Wendy Lou Jones – 5* Review

The hospital café – a place they could go to feel human again Having discovered her boyfriend is cheating on her, cake-loving Hannah decides she needs to lose weight and get fit to become more attractive to men. But her ill-fated plan soon lands her in hospital where she spots the enigmatic Matt, visiting his son. Matt thinks of her as his guardian angel – a hot one. His rock to cling to in a world of lies and doubt. She is his grasp on normality, as he is hers. But normality cannot last. She never meant to deceive him. She simply wanted to make him smile.

Amazon UK

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My Thoughts…

An original and insightful romantic story set in a hospital. Medical romance with a twist. The main protagonists are not medics, but a visitor and a patient. Illness and trauma change their lives irreparably and their need to have someone to confide in leads to romance.

Hannah is a lovely character when her boyfriend cheats on her she employs a new fitness regime which reveals a health issue that proves life-changing. Matt’s son is dangerously ill; he has no one to talk to until he meets Hannah at the hospital cafe. Their romance is unconventional but surprisingly deep, probably because illness concentrates your mind on what matters.

Peppered with medical facts, this is an authentic story, but it’s the depth of the emotion that resonates and makes you root for their happy ending. All the characters are believable and make this story worth reading.

A beautifully written, heartfelt romantic story that will make you cry but leave you with a satisfied glow at the end.

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Where the River Bends – Elsa Winckler – 5* Review

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BlogTour: – Fiona Perrin – The Story After Us – Guest Post – 4* Review

 

If she tries very hard, Ami can remember when she used to have a dynamic and exciting career and a husband who she loved more than life itself, and who was equally smitten with her…

Now she has two children, a terrifyingly large mortgage, and no idea who she has become – or why she and her husband can’t even be in the same room anymore.

With life as she knew it in tatters around her, Ami is heartbroken, and in no way pulling off ‘consciously uncoupling’ like a celeb. But she’s starting to wonder if she just might come out the other side and be….happier?

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Guest Post – Fiona Perrin

‘The Story After Us…’It’s a story for everyone who found out that happy-ever-after had a sequel and for everyone who’s faced irreconcilable differences and survived.

I wanted to write about messy, modern love. I know lots of women whose families don’t look like they belong in a magazine spread but are filled with happiness, humour and hope. I am divorced myself – a long while ago – and good mates and parents with my ex-husband while happily married to my second. I’m a mother and stepmother to four kids and have had a fairly full-on job while they’ve been growing up. Ami’s story isn’t mine, but I hope it’s one that relatable to lots of women – and makes them laugh.

I’ve always written but, in 2012 I signed up for the Curtis Brown Creative writing course with a very rough draft of a novel. I learned loads about great storytelling during the short course and threw away most of my word count. Then, with the help of a spin-off writing group that met every Monday fortnight for years, I wrote it again.

Eventually, I was lucky enough to get the editorial input of my agent, Diana Beaumont, who helped me write it again a few more times. Then Aria wanted to publish it, and everything got really exciting.

The truth is I’ve always wanted to be a novelist, but there was also the day job, the kids and life, like loads of other writers. And I wanted to learn how to get it right, so it took a while. One thing I would say is if you can find a group of supportive writers, sign up, critique their submissions and get all the feedback you can on yours. My group has gone on to have four published writers and with more to come.

 My next book has a mad, modern family with a difficult dilemma at its heart. It’s different the second time – I have a lot more certainty about what I’m doing. This time, I’m writing the first draft without going back to edit as I go, because I’ve learned the value of multiple drafts honed over and over. But it’s also because the story is tumbling out…

My Life as a Writer…

There’s still the day job (sales and marketing), but I’m working as a freelance now, so that makes everything a lot easier. And the kids are older and lovely (not that they weren’t, but you know…) and I’ve got a study by the sea at the end of the Lizard peninsula in Cornwall where we are restoring a decaying Edwardian house near the lighthouse. We call it life on the edge because it is (of England) and so far, it’s pretty great.

I type overlooking the lighthouse, the sea and lots of sheep. When the weather is bad (and it’s our own freak microclimate), there is a foghorn that goes off, in a low, melancholy wail. I’m quite fond of it. We call them foghorn days and, very occasionally, we make that the equivalent of a pyjama day and just laze around reading and watching rom coms.  I’m a big believer in foghorn days.

My Thoughts…

Ami is a fighter, whatever life throws at her she faces it, solves it, and then the next obstacle rears up. I am exhausted after reading this. Lars may be the love of her life, but he is an annoying character and even when he eventually tries to do the right thing I still don’t like him much.

Angst and realism underscore this poignant and often amusing story, which moves between the past, Lars and Ami’s love story and the present, what happens when it implodes. I enjoyed the real-time story best because whatever happens in their past, it’s not going to end well.

Ami has to be everything to their children when Lars decides he prefers his work life to his home life. Okay, their financial struggle is relative, not everyone has the luxury of an au pair even an appalling one, but everything falls on Ami’s shoulders first, and she has to juggle her children’s well being, her fledgeling company and her failing marriage.

‘The Story After Us’, is a woman’s view of family, love, marriage and work, it’s an authentic 21st-century story where happy-ever-after doesn’t exist but happy families can.

I received a copy of this book from Aria via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Fiona Perrin was a journalist and copywriter before building a career as a sales and marketing director in industry. Having always written, she completed the Curtis Brown Creative Writing course before writing The Story After Us. Fiona grew up in Cornwall, hung out for a long time in London and then Hertfordshire, and now writes as often as possible from her study overlooking the sea at the end of The Lizard peninsula.

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BlogTour: Daisy James – Confetti and Confusion – Guest Post – 4*Review

 

The Paradise Cookery School is officially open!

Stepping in for a celebrity chef, Millie Harper is feeling the pressure to make the first ever Paradise Cookery School classes a dazzling success and ensure that bride-to-be Imogen and friends have an unforgettable experience.

Meanwhile, Millie is trying to play it cool around handsome estate manager Zach Barker. But whenever he is near Millie cannot fail to notice the chemistry between them – until someone from Zach’s past arrives and any potential romance seems out of the question.

When disaster strikes and the wedding is in jeopardy, Millie realises she may have to go above and beyond to make sure the school is a success. Can Millie manage to create a day that dreams are made of, and will she find a way to tell Zach how she feels?

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Guest Post – Daisy James – Chocolate Heaven

Confetti & Confusion is the second book in the Paradise Cookery School series, set on the spectacular Caribbean island of St Lucia. In the story, we re-join Millie and Ella as they showcase a myriad of chocolate-themed recipes for bride-to-be Imogen and her friends in the run-up to their glamorous wedding at a luxury resort on the hilltop overlooking the stunning Pitons. It’s a dream come true for Imogen to be getting married in such exotic surroundings and, as a confirmed chocoholic, being able to attend the cookery school is the icing on the three-tiered wedding cake.

The Paradise Cookery School is in a former cocoa plantation house nestled on the hillside overlooking the St Lucian Pitons, spectacular emerald pyramids that poke from the Caribbean Sea like the spines on a dinosaur’s back. The owner and celebrity chef, Claudia Croft, hopes to one day bring the cocoa trees back to life and make her own chocolate to use in her recipes. In fact, the very first course that the school runs is called Confetti & Chocolate, designed specifically for Imogen and her friends.

The course features a variety of recipes that include chocolate, from the wedding cake pops to the chocolate tiramisu bombe, the chocolate truffle tortes with hazelnut brittle and chocolate and cherry madeleines. There’s even freshly grilled salmon in a chocolate and ginger sauce!

 The Paradise Cookery School’s Molten Lava cakes

One of Millie’s favourite recipes is for Molten Chocolate Lava cakes – especially as the view from her kitchen window overlooks the volcanic Pitons! Here’s her recipe…

Ingredients:

100g butter

100g dark chocolate

150g light brown sugar

3 eggs

50g plain flour

Half teaspoon vanilla essence.

Method:

Grease 6 metal ramekins and place on a baking tray. Put the butter and the chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set over a pan of hot water, stirring until smooth and then putting to one side to cool. In a separate bowl, whisk the sugar and the eggs, one at a time, then add the vanilla essence and finally the flour. Divide into the six ramekins and refrigerate. When ready to eat, bake in an oven, 200C, 180C fan or gas mark 6, for 10-12 minutes until the tops are firm to the touch, but the middles are still soft. Run a knife round and turn them out onto a plate, dust with icing sugar and serve with fresh cream.

What are your favourite chocolate recipes? Let me know in the comments.

My Thoughts…

If you can’t afford the Caribbean this Summer, this book is the next best thing. Full of sunshine, warmth, vividly depicted scenery with a tumultuous romance and a mystery too this will keep you happy wherever you’re reading it.

The second in ‘The Paradise Cookery School’series, ‘Confetti and Confusion’ reads well as a standalone too but I did wish I read the first in the series ‘Sunshine and Secrets’. Millie agrees to run an exclusive cookery course for a bride to be and her entourage. She’s in need of something to lift her spirits and loves cooking, so this is the opportunity she can’t turn down. Strongly attracted to Zach the acting estate manager, she wonders if she can risk her heart again.

The setting is sublime and well described, especially through the food on offer. Millie is a lovely character and her friend, and colleague Ella is a warm and giving person who helps Millie step out of her self-imposed shell.

The plot is written in the style of a ‘Death in Paradise’ story by without the murder. It gives a flavour of Caribbean life, without being overly descriptive and the characters are likeable and relatable. The ending gives Millie hope for the future, and now I can’t wait for the Christmas book.

I received a copy of this book from Canelo via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Daisy James is a Yorkshire girl transplanted to the north-east of England. She loves writing stories with strong heroines and swift-flowing plotlines. When not scribbling away in her summerhouse, she spends her time sifting flour and sprinkling sugar and edible glitter. She loves gossiping with friends over a glass of something pink and fizzy or indulging in a spot of afternoon tea – china plates and teacups are a must.

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Betty Church and the Suffolk Vampire – M.R.C. Kasasian – 3*Review

A new day dawns in Sackwater, not that this sleepy backwater is taking much notice…

Inspector Betty Church – one of the few female officers on the force – has arrived from London to fill a vacancy at Sackwater police station. But Betty isn’t new here. This is the place she grew up. The place she thought she’d left behind for good.

Time ticks slowly in Sackwater, and crime is of a decidedly lighter shade. Having solved the case of the missing buttons, Betty’s called to the train station to investigate a missing bench. But though there’s no bench, there is a body. A smartly dressed man, murdered in broad daylight, with two distinctive puncture wounds in his throat.

While the locals gossip about the Suffolk Vampire, Betty Church readies herself to hunt a dangerous killer.

Amazon UK

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My Thoughts…

Cosy Mystery is a favourite genre, and this story fits neatly into it. By definition, these stories are quirky full of eccentric characters, a smart detective, often disguised as a bumbling fool and numerous gruesome, but not graphically described murders, or similarly heinous crimes.

To enjoy a cosy mystery the reader needs to connect with the detective and enjoy the cast of characters and setting. I instantly connected with ‘Betty Church’, and empathised with her, the discrimination she suffers is disturbing but historically correct. I enjoyed how she always came out on top despite working almost entirely with misogynous males. The cast of characters are undoubtedly eccentric, but they are too much. Their strangeness is returned to again and again until it becomes wearing and detracts from the sharpness of the detective’s character and the story’s pacing.

The plot is over the top but well-written and full of action and vivid description, unfortunately, it is hampered by the quirks of the supporting characters that make the story drag in parts.

So on balance, this one isn’t for me. With a different set of supporting characters, I would give this series another chance.

I received a copy of this book via Head of Zeus via NetGalley in return for an honest review.