When a young woman comes forward saying she’s the reincarnation of Riya Kaur, a wife and mother who vanished during the bloody 1984 anti-Sikh riots, Puri is dismissive. He’s busy enough dealing with an irate matrimonial client whose daughter is complaining about her groom’s thunderous snoring. Puri’s indomitable Mummy-ji, however, is adamant the client is genuine. How else could she so accurately describe under hypnosis Riya Kaur’s life and final hours?
Driven by a sense of duty – the original case was his late father’s – Puri manages to acquire the police file only to find that someone powerful has orchestrated a cover-up. Forced into an alliance with his mother that tests his beliefs and high blood pressure as never before, it’s only by delving into the past the help of his reincarnated client that Puri can hope to unlock the truth.
I received a copy of this book from Severn House Publishers via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
A charming cozy mystery, set in India, with a charismatic detective, whose life is constantly invaded by his Mummy-ji, who knows her son well. She is happy to manipulate him for her ends. A clever woman, observant, well-connected and a natural investigator, she is effectively a silent partner in the private detective firm.
Indian customs and society are integral to the story, and historic events are also included, which add interest to the plot.The cast of characters is eclectic and enigmatic and gives this story its quirky appeal. There are several cases to be investigated, but it is the one Puri wants to ignore that proves the most absorbing and challenging.
This is the fifth book in the series, but it is possible to read as a standalone, as I did. However, series like these are always worth reading from the beginning.
At times humorous and often poignant, this is a well-written mystery with a memorable detective, a diverse set of cases and a distinctive cultural ethos.
Tarquin Hall is a British author and journalist who has previously lived in the USA, Pakistan, India, Kenya and Turkey. He now divides his time between the UK and India and is married to BBC reporter and presenter Anu Anand. He is the author of four previous Vish Puri mysteries and The Delhi Detective’s Handbook. Twitter.
Two years ago, Ben Fenton went camping with his brother Leo. It was the last time they ever saw each other. By the end of that fateful trip, Leo had disappeared, and Ben had been arrested for his murder.
Ben’s wife Ana has always protested his innocence. Now, on the hottest day of 2018’s sweltering heatwave, she receives a phone call from the police. Leo’s body has been found, in a freshly dug grave in her own local churchyard. How did it get there? Who really killed him?
St Albans police, led by DCI Jansen, are soon unpicking a web of lies that shimmers beneath the surface of Ana’s well-kept village. But as tensions mount, and the tight-knit community begins to unravel, Ana realises that if she wants to absolve her husband, she must unearth the truth alone.
I received a copy of this book from Head of Zeus Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
The second book featuring Dutch detective DCI Jansen, who finds himself mystified by the close-knit English village community. It seems no one believes in plain-speaking, preferring closing ranks, and relying on innuendos.
The story is a sad one. Two brothers take a camping trip two years earlier. One is presumed dead, the other convicted of murder, but is it that simple. Ana, the accused brother’s partner. believes not. She has no chance of proving this until the missing brother’s body is found buried in the village. Now, his brother can’t be the murderer. DCI Jansen has to find the real killer, but although gossip is rife in the village, there is nothing of substance, and everyone is keeping secrets.
DCI Jansensuffers a personal tragedy, which he has to conquer, to stop his emotional state having a detrimental effect on the case. Ana wants to help her partner but doesn’t want to reveal what she knows. She feels threatened, and the suspense and menacing ethos surrounding her are well-written.
There is a strong psychological element to this story, particularly from Ana’s perspective, as events from her past invade her present situation. Events are revealed, from Leo’s point of view, in the past, and Ana, Ben and DCI Jansen’s points of view, in the present. The two timelines create dramatic irony, the reader knowing things the characters don’t at that time.
Scene setting and character dynamics form the first part of the book, this slows the pace, but the short chapters and active voice, keep the story moving satisfactorily, ensuring reader engagement.There are several viable suspects, and even though you may guess who did it, early on in the story, there are plenty of smoke and mirrors. to make you doubt it.
Clever twists and a final reveal, make this a good story, with its solid police procedural theme tempered with psychological suspense.
Rachael Blok grew up in Durham and studied Literature at Warwick University. She taught English at a London Comprehensive and is now a full-time writer living in Hertfordshire with her husband and children.
Guest Post- Rachael Blok – ‘The Scorched Earth’, and Ana: where she came from.
The Scorched Earth has a number of different voices, but my protagonist is Ana, a woman struggling with grief as her partner is in jail, and then ghosts from her past emerge: she begins to hear footsteps behind her in a car park late and night; she begins to look over her shoulder… Ana’s experiences are both ideas I’ve wanted to write about for a while. It was a pleasure to see her come to life on paper.
Women are told to shout ‘fire’ instead of ‘rape’ if they’re being attacked…
As a woman, I’ve felt on more than one occasion a burst of fear walking home in the dark, or walking into a car park late a night. My mum, my sister and I all took a self-defence course years ago, and we were told to shout ‘fire’ instead of ‘rape’ if we’re attacked – people respond more if their property is threatened! I have no answer for this, but I find it terrifying. This fear resonates in the novel and I think, it’s fear men and women should both be aware of. I always tell my husband that if he’s walking behind a woman on her own, late at night, he should drop back – make sure she doesn’t have to look over her shoulder or be concerned about a threat. And the very real issue of stalking is taken more seriously now than it has been in the past, but there is still some way to go. When relationships break down and men find it hard to let women go, it can be a very scary time, and women find it difficult to get concerns taken seriously, often until after an attack.
They locked him up, but they locked her up, too…
Whilst researching the novel, I spent some time in prison,
which is not at all like I imagined! My main experience had been from movies
and the TV. I found the reality much scarier. I saw homemade weapons; I heard
stories of attacks on officers and other prisoners; I spoke to many different
people from all aspects of prison life, and it was such an eye-opener. I think
as a society we lock people away in all respects – there’s a sense of being
forgotten, completely. Women whose partners are in jail spoke of the shame, and
also the halted grief – they miss their partners, but can’t grieve for them,
they can’t move on. This grief is something Ana wrestles with, and I hope I’ve
done it justice.
The prison scenes almost wrote themselves after I’d visited. Even the smell is distinct. My prison officer guides me into the contraband room, where they keep the confiscated drugs. Spice is the drug they have the most problems with at the moment, which is synthetic cannabis. It’s smuggled into the prisons in all sorts of ways. One of the ways is through books and magazines. The pages are soaked in the spice, and so prisons have to scan all books now. So many ideas for plots!
It’s been a pleasure to write the guest blog and thanks to Jane Hunt for giving me the opportunity to mull over the ideas for the novel. I hope you enjoy The Scorched Earth!
Can Josiah solve the puzzle before more people die, or is he out of his depth?
In 1841, at the height of the
industrial revolution in the North West of England, Josiah Ainscough returns
from his travels and surprises everyone by joining the Stockport Police Force,
rather than following his adopted father’s footsteps into the Methodist
While Josiah was abroad, five men
died in an explosion at the Furness Vale Powder Mill. Was this an accident or
did the Children of Fire, a local religious community, have a hand in it. As
Josiah struggles to find his vocation, his investigation into the Children of
Fire begins. But his enquiries are derailed by the horrific crucifixion of the
Now Josiah must race against time
to solve the puzzle of the violence loose in the Furness Vale before more
people die. This is complicated by his affections for Rachael, a leading member
of the Children of Fire, and the vivacious Aideen Hayes, a visitor from
Can Josiah put together the
pieces of the puzzle, or is he out of his depth? Children of Fire won the
Writing Magazine’s Best Novel Prize for 2017
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
A curious mix of the historical fiction and murder mystery genres. The story is rich in historical detail and has a well-plotted murder mystery. The suspects are plentiful and the murders are vividly written. Josiah is a complex detective, who is ambitious, with secrets of his own.
The setting of the story in Victorian England, in an industrial setting, is of intrinsic interest, and the focus on a radical religious group explores, prejudice, religion and the communities that evolved, in the wake of the industrial revolution.
Its originality is appealing and it will suit those who appreciate historical fiction with a contemporary dash of a murder mystery.
His latest novel, Children of Fire,
is a Victorian murder mystery set in 1841 at the height of the industrial
revolution. It won the Writing Magazine’s Best Novel Award in November 2017 and
is published by The Book Guild Ltd.
Paul lives near Manchester in the northwest of
England. Children of Fire is set against the hills of the Peak District as well
as the canals and other industrial infrastructure of the Cottonopolis know as
the City of Manchester.
women at opposite ends of the social scale, both brutally murdered.
Officer Dan Foster of the Bow Street Runners is surprised when his old rival
John Townsend requests his help to investigate the murder of Louise Parmeter, a
beautiful writer who once shared the bed of the Prince of Wales. Her jewellery
is missing, savagely torn from her body. Her memoirs, which threaten to expose
the indiscretions of the great and the good, are also
Frustrated by the chief magistrate’s demand that he drop the investigation into the death of the unknown beggar woman, found savagely raped and beaten and left to die in the outhouse of a Holborn tavern, Dan is determined to get to the bottom of both murders. But as his enquiries take him into both the richest and the foulest places in London, and Townsend’s real reason for requesting his help gradually becomes clear, Dan is forced t face a shocking new reality when the people he loves are targeted by a shadowy and merciless adversary.
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
The third book in the Dan Foster Mystery series reads well as a standalone, but to fully appreciate Dan’ previous life, I presume reading the first two books in the series would be best.
Two murders, both women who died brutally. One lived on the fringes of the gentry, the other in abject poverty. Yet both were victims, and ultimately in death, they were the same.
Dan is channelled into investigating the murder of the ex-mistress of the Prince of Wales but wants justice for the poorer woman too. A third mystery has personal significance for Dan. The plot is complex, but well-paced and the three mysteries keep the reader interested and intrigued.
The Georgian era is the perfect setting for crime fiction. The disparity between the wealthy and poor is marked, and both classes, prey on the other, in many criminal ways. The historical details and detection skills, show intricate care and give the reader a sense of time and place, which is essential for good historical crime fiction.
An absorbing walk on the dark side of Georgian London, with a likeable detective and heinous crimes. Whilst exploring the social class divide and the low status of women in the 18th century.
Boyce writes historical fiction, non-fiction and biography. After gaining an MA
in English Literature (with Distinction) with the Open University in 2007,
specialising in eighteenth-century fiction, she published her first historical
novel, To The Fair Land, in 2012, an
eighteenth-century thriller set in Bristol and the South Seas.
Her second novel, Bloodie Bones: A Dan Foster Mystery (2015) is the first of the Dan Foster Mysteries and follows the fortunes of a Bow Street Runner who is also an amateur pugilist. Bloodie Bones was joint winner of the Historical Novel Society Indie Award 2016 and was also a semi-finalist for the M M Bennetts Award for Historical Fiction 2016. The second Dan Foster Mystery, The Butcher’s Block, was published in 2017 and was awarded an IndieBrag Medallion in 2018. The third in the series, Death Makes No Distinction, was published in 2019. In 2017 an e-book Dan Foster novella, The Fatal Coin, was trade published by SBooks.
2013, Lucienne published The Bristol
Suffragettes, a history of the suffragette movement in Bristol and the west
country. In 2017 she published a collection of short essays, The Road to Representation: Essays on the
Women’s Suffrage Campaign.
to other publications include:-
So Militant Browne’ in Suffrage Stories: Tales from Knebworth, Stevenage, Hitchin and
Letchworth (Stevenage Museum, 2019)
Lidiard’ in The
Women Who Built Bristol, Jane Duffus (Tangent Books, 2018)
Tommies and the Vote’ in Bristol and the First World War: The Great Reading
Adventure 2014 (Bristol Cultural Development Partnership/Bristol Festival
of Ideas, 2014)
interviews and reviews in various publications including Bristol Times,
Clifton Life, The Local Historian, Historical Novels Review (Historical
Novel Society), Nonesuch, Bristol 24/7, Bristol History
Lucienne has appeared on television and radio in connection with her fiction and non-fiction work. She regularly gives talks and leads walks about the women’s suffrage movement. She also gives talks and runs workshops on historical fiction for literary festivals, Women’s Institutes, local history societies, and other organisations. She has been a radio presenter on BCfm and a course tutor.
2018 she was instrumental in devising and delivering Votes for Women 100,
a programme of commemorative events by the West of England and South Wales
Women’s History Network in partnership with Bristol M Shed and others. She also
campaigned and raised funds for a Blue Plaque for the Bristol and West of
England Women’s Suffrage Society.
She is on the steering committee of the West of England and South Wales Women’s History Network and is also a member of the Historical Novel Society, the Society of Authors, and the Alliance of Independent Authors.
She is currently working on the fourth full-length Dan Foster Mystery and a biography of suffrage campaigner Millicent Browne.
was born in Wolverhampton and now lives in Bristol.
Britain: a few years from now. A new populist political
party has won the recent general election.
Duncan Jones, freelance political journalist and blogger,
loses his weekly column at a national newspaper and turns to investigative
reporting. The chance remark of a friend leads him to suspect that the Russians
are directing the new British government’s policies and decisions. As he visits
Moscow and Ukraine to discover more, scandal follows intrigue, dark forces attempt
to silence him by whatever means possible and he turns to an unlikely ally for
A Friend in Deed is a fast-paced psychological thriller
set in an all-too-believable near future. It is also the story of how one man
confronts the traumas in his past and works out how to resolve them.
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
‘A Friend In Deed’, moves forward to the near future, when Britain is in political turmoil, and a reactionary new political force is running the government. Duncan, who we first met in ‘Love’s Long Road’ is in his sixties, a political blogger and journalist, he is still suffering from the fallout of his first novel and its real-life implications, for himself, Bobbie and Michael, two characters featured in earlier books.
This is a topical political thriller, which could easily be fact rather than fiction. Like the other books, the characters are complex, with many flaws that give them authenticity. The writing style is easy to read, and the fast-pace keeps the reader engaged with a clever plot. which has the right balance of adrenaline moments and deeper more insightful reflection.
The author’s effortless connection with past, present and future, gives the story character development and depth of interest. It can happily be read as a standalone thriller, but I have enjoyed reading the other books.
I was placed third in the 2015
Lightship Prize for first-time authors, won a 2016 Wishing Shelf Award Red
Ribbon, been shortlisted at the UK Festival of Writing for Best First Chapter,
longlisted in the 2017 UK Novel Writing Competition.
In 2017, I was one of twelve authors
selected for Authors in the Spotlight at the Bloody Scotland book festival in
Stirling, showcasing who they considered to be the best emerging talent in
crime fiction, and was the only self-published author to be chosen. I have
spoken at numerous other book events, including Blackwells’ Writers at the
Fringe at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe; a stand-alone slot at the Byres Road
Book Festival in Glasgow, and the Aye Write! Book Festival, also in Glasgow.
worked in Russia and Ukraine for ten years, which gave me the ideas for the
plot and setting that I used in A Friend
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The grieving widow. The other woman. Which one is which?
When Cameron Swift is shot and killed outside his family home, DC Beth Chamberlain is appointed Family Liaison Officer. Her role is to support the family – and investigate them.
Monika, Cameron’s partner and mother of two sons, had to be prised off his lifeless body after she discovered him. She has no idea why anyone would target Cameron.
Beth can understand Monika’s confusion. To everyone in their affluent community, Monika and her family seemed just like any other. But then Beth gets a call.
Sara is on holiday with her daughters when she sees the news. She calls the police in the UK, outraged that no one has contacted her to let her know or offer support. After all, she and Cameron had been together for the last seven years…
Until Cameron died, Monika and Sara had no idea each other existed. As the case unfolds, Beth discovers that nothing is quite as it appears and everyone, it seems, has secrets. Especially the dead…
A loving husband, Patrick. Two adorable children. A comfortable home.
So when PC Becca Holt arrives to break the news that Patrick has been killed in an accident, she thinks Louise’s perfect world is about to collapse around her.
But Louise doesn’t react in the way Becca would expect her to on hearing of her husband’s death. And there are only three plates set out for dinner as if Louise already knew Patrick wouldn’t be home that night…
The more Becca digs, the more secrets she uncovers in the Bridges’ marriage – and the more she wonders just how far Louise would go to get what she wants…
Is Louise a loving wife – or a cold-hearted killer?
I received a copy of this book from HQ Digital UK via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
A curious mix of psychological suspense and family drama, this story will appeal to those who like psychological orientated suspense. This plot doesn’t have the impact common to most thrillers but does use the unreliable protagonist technique well. There are two, in this story, Louise, the perfect widow and Becca the policewoman who sets out to investigate her, based on one brief observation.
Primarily a story of obsession, emotional damage, resulting from poor nurturing in childhood and control The plot handles the psychological theme competently. The introduction of a crusading police constable, who sees beneath the image Louise portrays isn’t convincing. Becca, in many ways, is a superfluous character, except perhaps in her obsessive similarities to Louise?
The plot lacks real-time action, everything is retold either in the past or present by Louise or Becca. this slows the pace and leaves you in the characters heads for too long, making some the twists not as suspenseful as they could be, if written less passively.
A story for the psychological fiction devotees, who like to see how the mind works, given a certain set of stimuli, rather than those who like a combination of jaw-dropping twists and a twisted unexpected ending,