A deadly secret in the heart of a quiet country village.
In sleepy Lipton St Faith, the locals are getting used to their new rationing books and blackout curtains. The Second World War has brought much change to the small Norfolk village, as well as Lieutenant Eddie Elsner, on a mission all the way from America. But when the local postman is found dead, suddenly the war feels much closer to home…
The police are quick to declare it an unfortunate accident, but young, spirited Anna Grix is less convinced. After striking up a fast friendship with the newly arrived American, she teams up with Eddie to dig into this apparent accident. Full of unexpected twists and turns.
I received a copy of this book from the author and publisher in return for an honest review.
Set in Norfolk during WW2, this is a cosy style mystery. The well-described setting and pertinent historical details set the scene for the two amateur sleuths independent, vicar’s daughter Anna and American Lieutenant Eddie Elsner, to solve the death of the local postman.
The story’s quick pacing engages the reader, and there is an interesting array of characters. The mystery has the necessary twists and a surprising ending. The dynamic between the two main protagonists is amusing but a little overdone. The dialogue reflects the historical period, but like some of the characters is a little stereotypical.
Overall this is a lighthearted cosy mystery in an atmospheric setting with a partnership that could develop into something special.
The sleepy village of Little Cote was meant to be a quieter pace of life for ex-Met PC Jemima Cotton. But she soon discovers, here a petty rivalry can erupt into full-blown murder . . .
Police Officer Jemima Cotton expected Little Cote to be a quieter pace of life. But, unlike London, everyone knows everyone, and beyond the cake sales and coffee mornings, tea parties and village fetes, the neighbours aren’t all the best of friends . . .
When Jemima is unpacking her mugs and teabags in her new home on Foxglove Close, she’s called to attend her first murder investigation. She’s excited, until she discovers it’s only a few doors down from her. And she hasn’t even met her new neighbours yet! As she steps out of her house in full uniform, Jemima can feel the eyes on the back of her neck, and she can see the curtains and blinds twitching.
But the crucial question is why did the lonely gentleman at the end of the road get murdered, eating dinner alone at his garden table, tucking into a new bottle of Chablis? As she digs deeper into the murder, Jemima discovers that here in Little Cote, underneath the surface, tensions bubble away . . . and the smallest vendetta can erupt into full blown murder.
I received a copy of this book from Hodder and Stoughton -Hodder Studio via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
An enjoyable cosy mystery set in a Sussex village with a rural police officer as the main protagonist. This is not a traditional police procedural, although the authenticity of the procedures is evident. This is a study of human nature, village dynamics tinged with humour, mystery and romance.
PC Cotton is an engaging protagonist and a resourceful sleuth. The rural police team are convincingly portrayed. The vibrantly created villagers provide Jemima Cotton with many suspects and constant interference in her personal life.
The plot is well thought-out and, this promises to be an entertaining cosy mystery series with noteworthy originality.
Aldermaston’s having a bad day. A falling hanging-basket has killed the town’s mayor, and a second narrowly missed him. His wife wants him to build her new greenhouse in three days, and some nutter is sending him death threats.
This isn’t the quiet life he expected as the new Marquess of Mortiforde.
It’s the annual Borders in Blossom competition, and Mortiforde is battling with Portley Ridge in the final. But this is no parochial flower competition. The mayor’s mishap looks like murder, and there’s another body in the river. Someone desperately wants Portley Ridge to win for the fifteenth successive year.
So when a mysterious group of guerrilla gardeners suddenly carpet bomb Mortiforde with a series of stunning floral delights one night, a chain reaction of floral retaliation ensues.
Can Aldermaston survive long enough to uncover who is trying to kill him, and why? And can he get his wife’s greenhouse built in time?
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
With its distinctive characters and quirky humour, this cosy mystery is absorbing and addictive.
The amateur detective is likeable with a kind and intelligent personality that shines through.Exuberant characters remain credible, and the plot is full of suspects and twists that keep the reader guessing. It’s a quintessential English cosy mystery despite being set on the Welsh borders and will appeal to anyone who enjoys a laugh whilst trying to work out whodunnit?
I look forward to reading more in this original series.
Simon Whaley is an author, writer and photographer who lives in the hilly bit of Shropshire. Blooming Murder is the first in his Marquess of Mortiforde Mysteries, set in the idyllic Welsh Borders – a place many people struggle to locate on a map (including by some of those who live here). He’s written several non-fiction books, many of which contain his humorous take on the world, including the bestselling One Hundred Ways For A Dog To Train Its Human and two editions in the hugely popular Bluffer’s Guide series (The Bluffer’s Guide to Dogs and The Bluffer’s Guide to Hiking). His short stories have appeared in ‘Take A Break, Woman’s Weekly Fiction Special, The Weekly News and The People’s Friend. Meanwhile, his magazine articles have delighted readers in a variety of publications including BBC Countryfile, The People’s Friend, Coast, The Simple Things and Country Walking.
Simon lives in Shropshire (which just happens to be a Welsh Border county) and, when he gets stuck with his writing, he tramps the Shropshire hills looking for inspiration and something to photograph. Some of his photographs appear on the national and regional BBC weather broadcasts under his BBC WeatherWatcher nickname of Snapper Simon. (For those of you who don’t know, they get a lot of weather in Shropshire.)
The next thrilling Ham-Hill Murder Mystery from bestselling cosy crime author Frances Evesham.
A winning horse. A fierce rivalry. A sudden death.
Belinda Sandford thrills to the cheers of the crowd as her beautiful grey racehorse, ‘Butterfly Charm’, thunders past the finishing post first at Wincanton Racecourse. She feels like the luckiest girl in the world.
But joy soon turns to despair as a stewards’ enquiry overturns the result and awards the race to her long-time rival, Alexandra Deacon.
When Alex is found dead in suspicious circumstances, a host of accusing eyes turn to Belinda and her distraught mother begs Adam Hennessy, her neighbour, retired police officer and publican, to help clear her daughter’s name.
As Adam, and local hotelier Imogen Bishop, dig deep into the murky and powerful undercurrents of the horse racing world, they lay bare the lives and loves of local jockeys, grooms, trainers and owners.
They soon uncover a web of secrets hidden within the spectacular Somerset countryside as they strive to find the killer in time to prevent more murders.
A brand new cosy mystery series from the bestselling author of A Village Murder.
I received a copy of this book from Boldwood Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
The second book in The Ham Hill Murder Mystery series focuses on the horse racing set. Popular in the 1970s and 1980s as a topic for crime and mystery, it was lovely to reacquaint with the horse racing set in this cosy mystery.
When Adam and Imogen are requested to clear a female jockey’s name after the suspicious death of a rival, they uncover many secrets and motives. It’s like ‘Riders’ focusing on horse racing rather than showjumping, but a little less racy.
The cosy mystery ethos is immersive reading, with vibrant characters and vivid settings that complement the twisty plot perfectly.
This story is a perfect escape with crime, mystery and a touch of romance.
Frances Evesham is the bestelling author of the hugely successful Exham-on-Sea murder mysteries set in her home county of Somerset, and the Ham-Hill cosy crime series set in South Somerset.
A truly stunning novel of one man’s dangerous obsession with immortality, from the BAFTA award-winning creator of Bodyguard and Line of Duty
ONE OF THE GUARDIAN‘S ‘1000 NOVELS EVERYONE MUST READ’
Yefgenii Yeremin is a flyer and a phantom.
Destined to go down in Soviet history books as ‘Ivan the Terrible’, the most deadly fighter pilot of the Korean War, one moment of madness sees Yefgenii throwing his reputation to the wind. Exiled to a remote Arctic base, his name unknown and victories uncelebrated, he must endure a fate worse than death: anonymity.
But when a man arrives from Moscow’s Space Committee in search of a volunteer prepared to sacrifice himself for his country, Yefgenii seizes his one last chance of immortality.
I received a copy of this audiobook from Penguin Random House UK Audio via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
This is an intense story well suited to the audiobook. The narrator keeps the listener’s engagement throughout.
The story explores the historical period from the Korean War in the 1950s to the space race in the 1960s from the Russian viewpoint. Yefgenii Yeremin lost his family during WW2 and suffered life-changing emotional damage. His early life is brutal and devoid of nurture. Disturbing to listen to it shapes him into to driven man he becomes.
His missions during the Korean War are deniable and secret and eventually leave him without the recognition he seeks. The relationships between the fighter pilots are complex and relatable. The story is absorbing as it moves to the frozen north and anonymity. Yefgenii is always seeking something just beyond his reach. He denies himself basic human comforts and emotions desired by most people. His part in the space race gives him a chance of the immortality he seeks but at the expense of everything else in his life.
The research is detailed, and the sense of place and time succinct. The story is an absorbing mix of action and introspection, poignant and with a conclusion that resonates.
Today is publication day for The Wolf Mile by C.F.Barrington by Aries Fiction, the adventure fiction imprint of Head of Zeus Books. The first in a series of five books this promises something different for the adventure fiction market.
A forbidden contest. An international game.
Bankrolled by the world’s wealthy elite and followed by thousands online, two teams of warriors vie for dominance … and the streets of Edinburgh run with blood.
Into this secret struggle steps Tyler Maitland, seeking his lost sister, and Lana Cameron, grieving her dead child. When they are accosted by figures in black hoodies and each handed a silver amulet, they recognise the Triple Horn of Odin – the talisman of the Valhalla Horde.
They are being recruited into the great game known as The Pantheon. And one day they will change everything.
Now they must risk their lives and join the ranks of seven ancient warrior teams which inhabit this illicit world. Their journey will be more wondrous and horrifying than anything they could have dreamed, taking each of them to the depths of their souls … and testing them to breaking point as they search for loved ones and for the meaning in their lives.
I thought your readers might like to hear about my debut novel – The Wolf Mile – which is being launched by Head of Zeus adventure imprint, Aries Fiction, on 6 May (digital) and 8 August (paperback). It is the first in a five-book saga about The Pantheon, with Book 2 (The Blood Isles) launching in October 2021 and Book 3 (The Hastening Storm) coming in spring 2022.
I’ve chosen it because the story – and indeed the genre – has sparked much discussion amongst my early readers, because it is hard to pin into a single category and defies my many attempts to condense it into a snappy teaser. The most concise description came from one of my advance readers, who said it was ‘Fight Club with swords’. I’ll take that! And my agent (Laura Macdougall at United Agents) said it had ‘elements of The Hunger Games’ when she first read it.
What inspired you to write The Wolf Mile?
It is a story which is first and foremost inspired by a sense of place. Apart from a sojourn into the forests of the Highlands, the book’s action all takes place in the closes, tunnels and rooftops which flow from the Royal Mile in Edinburgh. Indeed, it was Edinburgh’s Old Town which really allowed the story to manifest. The dark, malevolent history of the Old Town and its stunning architecture and rumours of tunnels and secret passages, set my mind ticking. I am sure that the whole concept of The Pantheon could not have come together if it had not been for my life in and around Edinburgh.
The story was also prompted by two other factors: Firstly, I had always wanted to take my love of historical fiction and coax it into a modern thriller – without going down the well-trodden route of some sort of time-travel. Secondly, after a career spent in major gift fundraising for charities and universities, I had communicated with many very wealthy individuals and I got to wondering what makes someone excited when they can buy everything? As the book asks….. Imagine riches beyond your wildest dreams. What would you do with them? Travel the world? Buy a yacht? Now times it by ten. A hundred. We’re talking mega-wealth – the kind that buys governments, shapes economies, enervates security forces and makes a mockery of justice systems. NOW what would you do with it? Less certain?
In ancient times, the wealthy of Rome spent their money and energies on forsaking human life in the gladiatorial stadia – and that’s where the concept of The Pantheon grew from in my head.
The Wolf Mile charts the rise of Tyler Maitland and Lana Cameron as they are plucked from their normal lives to become players in The Pantheon, a secret game bankrolled by the world’s wealthy elite and watched online by thousands. Warriors from seven ancient civilisations are trained, sworn to allegiance, then pitted against each other in battles amongst the claustrophobic alleys which flow from Edinburgh’s Royal Mile and filmed in real-time.
Set in today’s city, this is very much a modern thriller, but it mixes elements of historical fiction, as well as a sweeping romance over the five-book series, which takes the protagonists from friends, to sworn enemies and finally to lovers. So when Aries came along and declared it was, above all, adventure fiction, it was perfect – because this is exactly what the saga is: A twisting, turning, relentless adventure with a big cast of characters, which propels the protagonists on a journey more horrifying and wondrous than they could ever have dreamed, into a world which perhaps we all secretly wish we experience.
Comments so far include:
‘The Wolf Mile is a thrilling ride and a heck of a debut. C F Barrington knocks it out the park.’
‘Featuring two compelling yet flawed lead characters, an intriguing mystery and unrelenting action, I can’t wait to see where Mr Barrington takes us in the future.’
‘It is a very cool idea and I think if done right will become one of my favourite secret societies.’
‘Get ready for a rip-roaring adventure through the streets of Edinburgh – The Wolf Mile is the perfect escapist read!’
I’ve included some photos of the Old Town which have helped inspire me. One evening before the pandemic, a friend and I toured the Old Town cameras in hand. We ended up climbing onto buildings and lying in the middle of roads, getting carried away discovering the dark, brooding essence of The Pantheon. It was great fun and hopefully the images provide a taste of what to expect in The Wolf Mile.
C F Barrington spent twenty years intending to write a novel, but found life kept getting in the way. Instead, his career took him into major gift fundraising, leading teams in organisations as varied as the RSPB, Oxford University and the National Trust.
When his role as Head of Communications at Edinburgh Zoo meant a third year of fielding endless media enquiries about the possible birth of a baby panda, he finally retreated to a quiet desk beside the sea and discovered the inspiration for the Pantheon saga.
Raised in Hertfordshire and educated at Oxford, he now divides his time between running over the hills of the Lake District and dog walking on the beaches of Fife.
My website is www.cfbarrington.com – and provides lots of visuals and backstory about Edinburgh’s Old Town.
With its sweeping sandy beaches and rolling emerald hills, the island of St. Morwenna is an idyllic escape. But behind the perfectly pruned primroses and neighborly smiles a killer lies in wait…
When librarian Jemima Jago is offered the opportunity to catalogue Cornwall’s largest collection of antique shipwreck records it is a dream come true. The only problem? The collection is housed on the island of St. Morwenna, the childhood home she left years ago and vowed never to return to.
Shortly after Jem arrives back in town, island busybody and notorious grump Edith Reddy is found dead, with duct tape clamped over her mouth and nose. Jem, caught seemingly red-handed at the scene of the crime, mistakenly becomes the police’s number one suspect. The handsome Sergeant Hackman in particular can’t seem to leave Jem alone…
Jem must take matters into her own hands if she wants to clear her name. Snooping around Edith’s once-grand home, she is struck by the mess before her. The bedroom is completely ransacked and in the living room all the photographs have been removed from their frames. Was Edith’s death simply a break-in gone wrong, or is there more to the mystery that the police are missing?
Jem has a sharp eye for a clue and she soon realizes that many of the island’s eccentric residents had reason for wanting Edith out of the way. Could Declan, the curious café owner, or Bart, the fishy ferryman have killed Edith? Jem won’t rest until she uncovers the truth, but doing so will put her right in the killer’s line of sight…
A totally charming cozy mystery from the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Emma Jameson. Brimming with intrigue and warm humor,
I received a copy of this book from Bookouture via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
This is a likeable murder mystery set on a fictional island in the Scilly Isles. Jemima Jago is a complex and flawed character who carries emotional damage from her previous time on the island where she now finds herself. Now a respectable librarian, she is hired to catalogue a library of rare local artefacts donated by a childhood friend still living on the island. Emotionally she is wary of returning, but the job is too good to surpass.
Her meeting with the nemesis who made her teenage years so difficult is not what she expected, but she still ends up looking guilty. Determined to face her past demons and clear her name, she becomes an amateur sleuth in a bid to find the culprit.
This is an intriguing murder mystery with an edgy main protagonist who appears to revert to her teenage persona when she encounters people from her past. She is likeable once you appreciate why she is so prickly. New friendships and possible romantic entanglements add authenticity and depth to this story. The islanders are quirky characters. There are numerous suspects, twists and a satisfying and suspenseful resolution.
With the murder of last year’s fête judge now but a hazy memory, the village of Elmesbury has retired to its former tranquil existence. That is, until a mysterious newcomer sets in motion a series of events that will see members of the W.I. crossing wooden spoons at dawn.
In the midst of preparing for her long-awaited engagement party, redoubtable village busybody Beattie Bramshaw not only finds herself embroiled in a one-woman campaign to save the elm tree from which the village gets its name, but having to contend with an outbreak of unrest within her beloved W.I. group. Rivalry to win favour with the judge of this year’s fête has fuelled dissent within the ranks and, when two members are found dead in mysterious circumstances, suspicions run rife.
Confident the devil is not only in the cake but in the detail, Beattie determines to uncover the clues that will ultimately lead to the killer’s conviction. But can she solve the mystery before another member of the W.I. is picked off?
Banana Devil Cake is a comedy crime caper in the spirit of Agatha Raisin and one that is guaranteed to lift your spirits. Prepare yourself for a tale of tea, cake and riotous goings-on from the author of Marrow Jam.
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
An entertaining, quintessentially English cosy mystery featuring amateur sleuth Beattie and the ladies of the Elmesbury Women’s Institute(WI). It reads well as a standalone, but to get to know the characters and village, read ‘Marrow Jam’ first.
What makes this enjoyable are the distinctive characters and the carefully plotted mystery, which engages and enthrals the reader. Humorous and witty, this is a charming read for lovers of English cosy mystery. The writing is full of sensory imagery, making it easy to visualise. It would make a great series for television.
Susan A. King lives with her husband in a quiet suburb in Hampshire. Between them they have four grown-up sons.
The inspiration for her Beattie Bramshaw novels comes from her long experience and observation of competitors at the local Romsey Show, where she regularly aspires to win Best in Show with her floral arrangements.
Simon Lord has it all—the beautiful fiancé, the loving family, the sprawling mansion, and the famous last name. Little does he know that what is supposed to be the happiest day of his life will become his last. The little town of Solomon’s Wake has managed to keeps its secrets hidden for nearly a century, but no darkness can lie dormant forever. It only takes one fateful night, one storm, one wedding, for a vampire to rise, a werewolf to escape, and a witch’s age-old curse to rise again.
Decades later, the Lord family is a shadow of its former self. Windwood, the Lord family ancestral home, sits in near ruin as Simon Lord lies in a coma, but life goes on. That is until Joshua Lord makes the fateful decision to return to Windwood with his young family. Curses, as young Jenna Lord finds out, do not have an expiration date. The Lords and their friends find themselves battling vicious werewolves, homicidal grandmothers, the unrelenting spirit of a vengeful witch, and their own dark pasts. The only question is, who will make it out of Windwood alive this time?
When a violent storm blasts England’s south coast, it’s up to retired Italian detective Giuseppe Bianchi to sift through the devastation and piece together the tragic events left behind in the storm’s wake.
Giuseppe Bianchi’s brief visit to Bexhill-on-Sea has become an extended stay. He is loath to return to his home in Rome because of the haunting images that made him leave in the first place.
During his morning walks along the seafront with Beagle, Max, he meets Edward Swain, who becomes Giuseppe’s walking companion. They form a friendship of sorts and find they have a similar outlook on life.
But the devastating events of a single night lead Giuseppe to question the truth about Edward Swain. Teaming up with young journalist, Christina Rossi – his cousin’s daughter – Giuseppe learns about the brutal reality lurking behind the day-to-day life of families in the local community. And as the story unravels Giuseppe is reminded how anger and revenge can lead to the most dreadful of crimes.
After the Storm is the second novel in the Giuseppe Bianchi mystery series – the much awaited sequel to Crossing the Line. Grab your copy today and enjoy the intrigue of traditional English mystery, cleverly combined with a continental twist.
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
This is the second book in the Guiseppe Bianchi mysteries set in Bexhill on Sea. The mystery is complete but reading the first book gives the reader insight into the main character, his family and his secrets. The setting in the nineteen sixties is atmospheric and authentic. The gently paced investigation is in keeping with the historical period and encompasses different threads interwoven into the main investigation.
Guiseppe is an enigmatic character, intuitive, likeable and a little mysterious. The investigative partnership with journalist Christina works well. Their different skills complement the other. The family is central to the story and valued by Guiseppe.
If you are looking for a gently paced, well-written mystery, this is worth reading.
Isabella is never happier than when she is immersing herself in the sights, sounds and experiences of the 1960s. Researching all aspects of family life back then formed the perfect launch pad for her works of fiction. Isabella rediscovered her love of writing fiction during two happy years working on and completing her MA in Professional Writing and since then she has gone on to publish six novels, three novellas and two short story collections.
Her latest novel, After the Storm, is the second novel in a new series of Sussex Crimes, featuring retired Italian detective, Giuseppe Bianchi who is escaping from tragedy in Rome, only to arrive in the quiet seaside town of Bexhill-on-Sea, East Sussex, to come face-to-face with it once more.
Her first Sussex Crime Mystery series features young librarian and amateur sleuth, Janie Juke. Set in the late 1960s, in the fictional seaside town of Tamarisk Bay, we meet Janie, who looks after the mobile library. She is an avid lover of Agatha Christie stories – in particular Hercule Poirot. Janie uses all she has learned from the Queen of Crime to help solve crimes and mysteries. As well as three novels, there are three novellas in the series, which explore some of the back story to the Tamarisk Bay characters.
Isabella’s standalone novel, The Forgotten Children, deals with the emotive subject of the child migrants who were sent to Australia – again focusing on family life in the 1960s, when the child migrant policy was still in force.