Summer 1933. Fresh from the discovery that she has family living nearby, Kitty Underhay has packed her carpet bag, commandeered a chambermaid and set off on a visit to stately Enderley Hall. She’s looking forward to getting to know her relatives, as well as the assembled group of house guests. But when elderly Nanny Thoms is found dead at the bottom of the stairs after papers of national importance are stolen, Kitty quickly learns that Muffy the dog’s muddy paws on her hemline are the least of her problems.
Calling on ex-army captain Matthew Bryant for assistance, Kitty begins to puzzle out the mystery. And when more shocking murders follow, the stakes are raised for the daring duo as never before. Which of the guests stand to gain from the theft of the documents? And which, as the week progresses, stand to lose their lives?
A charming cozy historical murder mystery that fans of Agatha Christie,
I received a copy of this book from Bookouture via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
The second book in the Miss Underhay mysteries lives up to the promise of Murder At The Dolphin Hotel. Kitty accepts an invitation to stay with her newly discovered family not sure if she’ll fit into their upper-class society.
The upstairs-downstairs ethos adds ambience to the historical setting with the sharp class divide evident to Kitty. Theft leads to a suspicious death, and Kitty calls her partner Matthew to help the police investigate. Kitty’s overt role in the investigation is subservient in keeping with the era, but her intelligence and perception make her the star player.
Kitty stumbles upon further clues to her mother’s disapperance with dangerous consequences. Courageous and a little foolhardy, she takes risks to solve the case.
Kitty is an engaging amateur sleuth in a historically authentic murder mystery.
A controversial new property development is planned in Whitstable which will encroach upon the green open space of the downs, to the dismay of Whitstable residents who view this as the thin end of the wedge with regard to local wildlife conservation.
A campaign springs into life, spearheaded by a friend of Pearl’s family, Martha Laker. A committed environmentalist, Martha is no stranger to controversy herself. She has also managed to divide opinion across town, with the locals viewing her as their fearless champion while establishment figures seeing only an interfering agitator.
Tensions escalate between the developers and Whitstable residents, straining Pearl’s close relationship with London-born police officer, DCI Mike McGuire, who harbours concerns that the local campaign will spiral out of control. Pearl’s loyalties are torn, but the protest duly goes ahead – and newspaper headlines claim a moral victory for the residents in this David and Goliath battle.
But the victory is short lived when Pearl discovers a dead body on the downs…
I received a copy of this book from Constable in return for an honest review.
How have I missed this series? It has complex characters that bring the story to life and an authentic coastal setting. The murder mystery plot has many suspects and twists and a contemporary edge to it.
Pearl is a restauranter and private investigator who lives in Whitstable in Kent. Her relationship with McGuire, a Detective Chief Inspector, is challenging but rewarding. The family dynamics are believable, and there’s a host of supporting characters, who bring the story to life.
The author’s use of sensual imagery makes the characters, location and story easy to imagine and the story enjoyable.
This is another series that I will be seeking out.
“Julie Wassmer was born in the East End of London, studied at Kingston University and had a variety of different jobs before she finally settled down to become a professional television drama writer.
She worked on several TV series, including ITV’s London’s Burning, C5’s Family Affairs and the popular BBC soap, EastEnders, which she wrote for almost 20 years.
In 2010, her autobiography More Than Just Coincidence was published by Harper Collins/True. The book entered the Sunday Times Best Selling Non Fiction Top Twenty and went on to become Mumsnet Book of the Year.
In 2015, Julie’s debut crime novel, The Whitstable Pearl Mystery, was published by award-winning publisher, Little, Brown Book Group. Six other books have since followed in the series with more on the way, and the television rights to the series have been optioned by the TV production company, Buccaneer, the makers of Marcella, starring Anna Friel.
Julie moved to Whitstable twenty years ago where she shares a home with her husband, Kas, and three cats, Charlie, Lily and Maisie. She also spends a great deal of time campaigning on environmental issues.
Murder on the Downs is the seventh book in the Whitstable Pearl Mystery series. …
In the City of Masks, deadly secrets are about to be revealed…
While attending a lavish masked ball in Venice, retired Scotland Yard detective Jasper has a shock when, at the midnight demasqué, he spots a woman whose accidental death he investigated in England three years ago.
Even more stunned than Jasper is the woman’s husband, Lord Bantham, who has since remarried, not to mention his new wife who sees her acquired position and wealth slip away. Then there are her old friends who all seem to have known more about the ‘accident’ than they ever let on.
When the resurrected lady is found dead the next morning on one of Venice’s many bridges, the question is: who wanted Lady Bantham to die, again?
Former Scotland Yard investigator Jasper is back on the case, this time in the glamorous and cultured city of Vienna.
The opening of an archaeological exhibition brings with it intrigue and evil as a fabled cursed golden death mask lives up to its dark past and death strikes at the exhibition. While digging up pieces of history, these archaeologists have also been burying secrets – deadly ones – and it’s up to Jasper to uncover the truth before the murderer strikes again.
With a nosy journalist desperate to breathe life into the rumour that the mask brings bad luck to anyone possessing it, and the police eager to blame a famous cat burglar who recently pulled off a string of daring robberies, Jasper is on his own in bringing the true culprit to light.
The fourthbook in the Murder Will Follow series.
I received copies of these books from Canelo via NetGalley in return for honest reviews.
Set in atmospheric and dramatic Venice Jasper finds himself embroiled in another murder investigation. The drama takes place at an iconic masked ball closely followed a death.
There are many people with a motive for murder and Jasper painstakingly investigates all of them, in his imitable style. The 1920’s setting is vibrant, and the cast of characters secretive and vividly portrayed. The plot is complex full of misinformation and twists that keep you guessing.
This Agatha Christie-style mystery has all the ingredients glamorous golden age setting, complex characters with realistic motivations for murder and an enigmatic detective who outwits them all.
The latest book, in the murder, will follow series, is set in Vienna at an archaeological exhibition. This is a complex noir mystery, involving a cursed mask and a deeply disturbed mind. There is a menacing feel to this story. Is the mask cursed? Or is this something the murder is perpetuating to cover their crimes?
Jasper is personally involved. He promised to protect the victim who dies this guilt spurs him on to solve the mystery. The vividly described historical setting gives the story an authentic ambience that makes it enjoyable.
A complex mystery eerie ethos and a well-orchestrated investigation make this another success for the enigmatic Jasper.
When Jinnie Cooper is dumped by her fiancé, and exiled to a job in an antiques shop in a sleepy Scottish village, little does she know a battered old lamp is about to shake up her life.
Genie Dhassim grants wishes. But he also wants a few of his own to come true. Letting him explore the outside world proves nerve-wracking as Dhassim has an uncanny knack of putting his pointy-slippered foot in it.
As Jinnie grows closer to her employer Sam, Dhassim discovers his time on earth is running out.
Can both Jinnie and Dhassim find true happiness? Or are those wishes that cannot be granted?
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
Everyone needs a little magic in their life and Jinnie more than most. Losing her job and her lover, left her broke and heartbroken and having to move to a village on the outskirts of the city she loves. This story is character-driven. All the characters are believable and relatable and add to the story’s ambience. Then there’s the gene, who makes her life unpredictable but helps her start to live again.
Humour, poignant moments and romance characterise this lovely story, which isheartwarming and magical. The perfect escape from life’s troubles.
Audrey Davis is a Scottish-born former journalist, now resident in Switzerland. Her newspaper career saw her cover events in Northern Ireland and the Falkland Islands, as well as working for a London-based movie magazine writing reviews and carrying out interviews.
She self-published her debut romantic comedy novel A Clean Sweep in June 2017, following an online Open University course in Writing Fiction.
Audrey followed up with a short, darker prequel A Clean Break before beginning work on a rom-com novella trilogy with a ghostly twist – The Haunting of Hattie Hastings. Again, reviews across the board were excellent, and it was combined into a standalone novel in November 2018.
A Wish For Jinnie is her third standalone novel.
Apart from writing, Audrey enjoys travel and spends a lot of time in Edinburgh. She is an avid cook, watcher of scary movies and reluctant gym-goer.
An English village can be deadly, when your past catches up with you…
In the beautiful rural Somerset village of Lower Hembrow, crammed full with English eccentrics, something is amiss…
Landscape gardener Imogen Bishop has spent the last thirty years trying to forget one fateful school night but when her estranged husband Greg Bishop is found dead in the grounds of her fathers Georgian hotel, danger threatens to overwhelm her.
Retired police officer Adam Hennessey, hoping for a peaceful life running his traditional Somerset country pub, finds himself drawn into the unfolding drama in the hotel across the road.
Imogen, Adam and Harley the stray dog form an unlikely partnership as they try to untangle a knot of secrets, solve a murder mystery, and bring a killer to justice.
I received a copy of this book from Boldwood Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
I have to admit that cosy and murder mystery is my ultimate escapist read. This first book in ‘A Ham Hill Murder Mystery has an engaging village ethos, authentic characters and an intriguing murder mystery plot.
The mystery plot is layered and full of twists. The main protagonists are relatable and easy to like. The dog is the star of the show for me. The dynamic between Adam and Imogen is believable and promises to be a gripping series.
The rural setting contains all the recognisable village nuances. The people are equal parts nosy and supportive.
Frances Evesham is the author of the hugely successful Exham-on-Sea mysteries set in her home county of Somerset.Boldwood plan to republish the complete series with the next new instalment due in Autumn 2020. Frances is also starting a new cosy crime series set in rural Herefordshire with thefirst title being published in June 2020.
When Holly Fleet returns to her home village of Little Belton, she expects it to be there.
Arcadia Leisure, a corporation led by an eccentric outsider, buys Black Rock Manor and wants to build a theme park in the heart of Northumberland’s countryside. Houses will be demolished and livelihoods will be lost.
Holly’s cottage may be rundown, but she doesn’t want it to be replaced by a log flume.
A local resident protests and goes missing. Another resident is attacked. While Little Belton holds its breath, frightened to see who might be next, Holly decides to defend her home.
Enlisting the help of Callum Acres, a handsome, young gamekeeper, Holly investigates Arcadia Leisure and discovers secrets the village would like to keep quiet.
If Little Belton is to survive, its residents must work together before Holly’s fresh start becomes a dead end.
Black Rock Manor is the first mystery in the Holly Fleet series. If you like surprising stories, a fast pace and lovable characters, you’ll enjoy the twists and turns of this People’s Book Prize listed author.
Explore the mysterious world of Black Rock Manor today!
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
This is a cosy mystery novel with contemporary themes, relatable characters and a lovely Northumberland setting. Holly returns to Northumberland with financial and marriage problems to find her home village is also struggling to survive. It has a complex, engaging plot which keeps you guessing and an unexpected ending.
Ancient civilizations, parallel worlds, aliens, time travel, epic fantasy, dragons and college! The Everville series can be read as stand-alone novels and have it all for teens, new adults, and all ages alike.
Two very different worlds, Easton Falls University and the magical realm of Everville are in dire need of a hero. Owen Sage embarks on an epic journey of monumental proportions to save these worlds all while fighting to keep the world within himself intact. This quest is not for the faint of heart nor is it for the weak of mind—only the bravest will succeed. Discovering the well-kept secret of The Fourth Pillar of Truth is only part of the feat. Owen will have to outwit the ever-powerful villain Governor Jahal and overcome countless other challenges along the way.
Excerpt -Everville: The Fall of Brackenbone Roy Huff
In a realm surrounding Everville, beyond the land of the Fron, Rathlar the dragon made Brackenbone his home. He was no ordinary dragon, he was an Alarian, a shape-shifting species from an alternate universe, and he was capable of great feats. He stood tall like a sulfur-tinged mountain, and strong like the roots of an ancient oak tree. The scales on his body shimmered like an emerald with a thousand facets, and his wings held the power of countless soldiers.
Brackenbone was the perfect home for such a magnificent beast. Its city walls were smelted from the ore found beyond The Walls of Vermogen, and its villages rivaled even those found in Vortmore during its prime.
Hidden behind the rear city gates, Rathlar stood guard over all the land. Should any power-hungry foes attempt to charge The Walls of Vermogen or capture the powerful element stored within, Rathlar would be there to stop them.
The sun hung low on the horizon, dusk about to smother the fading light. This was Rathlar’s cue to depart the city and make his journey to Vermogen. He rested, nestled by the gate in a curled position, calm but alert.
As Rathlar was about to embark on his daily trek, two small figures crept up behind him. Beads of sweat dripped from their faces. Step by step, they made a slow and deliberate approach. They eyed the dragon’s position and timed their motions to coincide with the turns and departure of the massive creature. Armed with a cache of special tools and weapons, they inched their way toward the back entrance of the city, hoping to secretly enter.
Despite their stealth, Rathlar caught a glimmer of the two soldiers in the corner of his eye and sprang into action. He used his powerful legs to thrust his body high above the ground then spread his massive wings, turning in midair to face the trespassers and let forth a deafening roar and a fiery breath that scorched the clothing of those who were too close, filling the air with the smell of ash.
Rathlar lunged towards the group of Ubaloo soldiers and used his shape-shifting power to make the most intimidating face and fiercest growl any of them had ever seen.
Several of the Ubaloo warriors’ knees buckled as they shrieked in fright and fell to the ground. The dirty water raced up the soldiers’ legs, soaking them completely, washing away the stink of sweat and replacing it with the smell of wet mud. In that instant, terror seized the Ubaloo and for a moment they forgot why they were there.
Rathlar calmed his frightful face and allowed his features to melt into a genuine smile. His impenetrable leather skin lifted over his large sharp teeth as the broad grin morphed into a hearty chuckle.
The dragon’s sudden transformation mesmerized the Ubaloo soldiers, who had frozen in place. A chorus of cheerful laughs soon followed.
“Excellent, Rathlar!” shouted the officer in charge of the dragon’s training. “I don’t think any creature stands a chance against such a mighty dragon.”
Rathlar had begun his training right after he’d parted ways with his former master. Now fully mature, he was an expert of his shape-shifting and fighting capabilities.
Although the notorious Mallory had trained him for the last great battle, Rathlar no longer possessed the immense power of the element that had once occupied his body. It was necessary to train again—taking into account his new limitations and the unique needs of Brackenbone and its inhabitants— protecting the city built around the Ubaloos’ small stature, and defending The Walls of Vermogen. It was The Walls of Vermogen that prevented the element from falling into enemy hands.
Several small Ubaloo soldiers walked behind Rathlar and stared up at him, allowing the dragon’s presence and immense stature to comfort them. Rathlar’s training with the soldiers had been extensive and long. It lasted years in Everville time, but it wasn’t until today that the Ubaloo general felt satisfied with the dragon’s training.
“Break off. Time to eat,” one of the officers said in the distance after an exhausting day of training, smelling of sweat and satisfaction.
Hundreds of miniature Ubaloo swarmed around Rathlar, waiting for their hefty rations of food. He welcomed their presence as they all rested and feasted upon the spoils of a hard fought day.
Excerpt from- Everville: The Fall of Brackenbone Roy Huff
Roy Huff is a Hawaii-based author, research scientist, and teacher. After a difficult childhood, he moved to the islands and hasn’t looked back.
He’s since earned five degrees, worked on projects forecasting Kilauea volcanic emissions, and trained on geostationary satellites for NASA’s GOES-R Proving Ground. He stumbled into writing, but what he didn’t stumble into is his love for all things science fiction and fantasy. Later, he contributed a series of fiction and non-fiction books as well as widely shared posts on how to design life on your terms.
Despite early challenges, he embraces optimism, science, and creativity. He still dreams of traveling into space and circumnavigating the globe. But until then, he makes Hawaii his home, where he creates new worlds with the stroke of a pen. And he hopes you’ll come along for the amazing ride.
Obituary writer and amateur sleuth Eve Mallow is enjoying life in sleepy Saxford St Peter – until a mysterious murder lands right at her door…
It’s spring in Saxford St Peter – time to get back in the garden, listen to the birds, and take gentle strolls in the woods. But for some, it’s the season for murder.
Eve Mallow is relishing the gentle pace of the village until a new arrival stirs everyone up. Ashton Foley is back: a teenage tearaway turned interior designer to the stars. He’s mad, bad and dangerous to know, but charming too – as Eve herself can testify – and every house in Saxford opens its doors to him.
So when he’s found murdered in the woods near his mother’s home, Apple Tree Cottage, there’s no shortage of suspects. A jealous husband? A spurned lover? Or has someone from his past life caught up with him?
The police soon hit on a simple solution, and arrest his mother’s partner Howard. Ashton always hated him, and he bears all the marks of a recent fight. But Ashton’s mother, miles away in New Zealand, is convinced he’s innocent and enlists Eve’s help to prove it.
There’s just one problem. Eve saw Howard sniffing around Apple Tree Cottage on the morning of the murder, and she’s fairly sure he’s guilty, too…
I received a copy of this book from Bookouture via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Despite living in London for years American Eve fits effortlessly into the little Sussex coastal village she calls home. Working in the village cafe for her friend Viv and writing obituaries she is enjoying the slower pace of life. The downside is she attracts murder and has a unique talent for solving them. It’s lovely to reacquaint, with characters introduced in book one, but this is a complete mystery and reads as a standalone.
When Ashton returns to the village, reformed and rich, there’s something about him that unsettles Eve. The victim has a chequered past and is a player, the possible suspects are many, including the person the police arrest.
Eve asked to help by Ashton’s mother uses her communication and observation skills to good effect. The plot is fast-paced with subtle twists. The characters are complex and suit the cosy mystery ethos.
Emily Adams has reached a breaking point. Her boyfriend pushed her down the stairs, breaking her arm, and now she’s found herself in an unfamiliar city with fifteen cents in her pocket and nowhere to go. She’s decided that all that’s left for her, is to take matters into her own hands and put an end to her misery…
Until an encounter with a magic man in a dress changes everything.
In a story full of humor and heart, The Very Real World of Emily Adams shows that there is hope in darkness, triumph in tragedy, and the moment when things are at their worst is when you hold on the hardest, because you never know what good things are waiting for you on the other side of despair.
The Very Real World of Emily Adams by Samantha Rose
The first thing I noticed was the silence. It wasn’t the sort of silence we’d had in our conversation on the drive there, where it wasn’t really silence—there’d been the background noises of air rushing past us, of the fan, the engine. This… this was a different kind of silence. There were no crickets. There was no wind. It was the kind of silence I imagined falling over the funeral of a horrible person who’d died a horrible death, where the few in the audience were too shocked and disturbed to shed a single tear, and the pastor had no words of solace to give.
Then there was the darkness. I couldn’t see anything beyond the still blades of grass and the figure of the farmhouse touched by the headlights. Off in the distance, I thought I could see the very first violet rays of morning, but other than that…
Nothe wrung his fingers a little. A faint, uneasy emotion radiated from him. “You know, maybe you should stay in the truck.”
I remembered what had happened the last time I’d done that. I grabbed the notebook and pen, saying, “That’s okay. I’m here to help and take notes, so yeah! Put me to work.”
He looked as though he were about to argue against this, but then he brightened. “Well, okay then. If you insist.” He popped open the door and got out. I did likewise, meeting him in the glow of the headlights. We stared up at the quaint, country style house. It had a porch lined with chipped, white columns that wrapped all the way around the eastern corner. It would’ve been a darling home that reminded me of my grandma’s, if not for the darkened windows and the feeling of gloom that weeped from them, and the smell of dead, decaying things that permeated the air.
Nothe said cheerfully, “Let’s start with the house.”
My eyes widened. “Why? I thought we were trying to avoid the farmers.”
“Well, I think if they were home, they’d have seen us pull up, don’t you?”
“Yes. Let’s make things worse by spying on them through their windows.”
“Oh, no. That won’t be necessary. The front door is wide open. See?”
He pointed to the wall where the porch ended. I wasn’t sure how I’d missed it, but he was right. The door was wide open, leading into black emptiness. I swore, for the briefest moment, I saw two, glowing yellow orbs peering out from the edge of the doorway before disappearing from view.
I blinked. I rubbed my eyes, my face. That’d just been a trick of the light, right? I hadn’t actually seen… what I thought I saw…
I looked up at Nothe. It might’ve been my imagination, but I thought he looked a little paler and slightly more serious than he had the last time I’d glanced at his face. I asked him, “Did you see that, too?”
Samantha Rose is a forever-student at Utah State University, who will one day have her Masters Degree in Psychology. She wrote her first novel in permanent marker on her sister’s vanity chair when she was three-years-old. It wasn’t well received.
She currently resides in the mountains, in a little house full of toys, where she’s enjoying her happily ever after with her Prince Charming and three adorable, little bears.
No one knew it at the time, but April 19, 2011, was the most important day in the history of the world.
After his only friend and colleague, John Manta, disappears without a word, Dave Randall further entrenches himself in the humdrum life of an unenthusiastic lawyer. But once he begins to understand what happened, he embarks on a journey to uncover the deeper meanings and implications of John’s fate.
Accompanied by Peaches the cat, Dave uproots his life and reinvents himself in the midst of his search. Along the way, he is haunted by his piecemeal understanding of John’s fate and what it means for his existence. Little does Dave know, his journey of self-discovery will have ramifications that extend far beyond the borders of his own little life.
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
Entertainment and escapism mix with philosophical questions that most of us consider at some time. Belief, faith love and self-realisation are explored in this story. The multi-layered plot is part fantasy and part literary fiction with a liberal amount of humour.
Relatable characters keep the story moving forward. The cat is a vital companion for Dave on his journey of self-discovery. The motivational ethos makes this an uplifting read that has something of interest for most of us.
When he is not writing, Daniel Maunz works as an attorney as in-house counsel for a major insurance company. He currently lives in Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina, with his wife Lynne, their son Patrick, and their two cats: Admiral Meowy McWhiskers and Captain Cutie (or “Admiral” and “Captain” for short). Questions of Perspective is his first novel.