Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Guest post, Murder Mystery, Travel

Palm Trees In The Pyrenees Elly Grant 4*#Review #Creativia #EllyGrant #Pyrenees #SouthofFrance #MurderMystery #Noir #Satire #BlogTour #GuestPost #BookReview @rararesources #DeathInThePyrenees

A rookie cop, a dash of mysterious death, and a heap of suspicion – as the heat rises, lethal tensions boil over in the Pyrenees.

Unappreciated, unnoticed, and passed over for promotion, thirty-year-old Danielle’s fledgling career in law enforcement is going nowhere – until the unexpected death of a hated Englishman turns her small town upside down.

Set in the idyllic south of France, Palm Trees in the Pyrenees is the first whodunit novel in Elly Grant’s thrilling murder mystery series. Against a background of prejudice, jealousy, and greed, Danielle pieces together the sparse clues of a fractured homicide. But will she find enough evidence to solve the case – and get the recognition she deserves?

Amazon UK

Creativia

I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

Superficially, this story, the first book in the ‘Death In The Pyrenees’ series, seems like a cozy mystery, set in the South of France. It does have many of the attributes of a cozy read; multiple suspects, a dramatic murder, a small, close knit quirky community, but as the story progresses, the reader appreciates that the story is more than this.

The bullying, malicious gossip and prejudice, Danielle the town’s solitary police presence uncovers ,gives this story a strong noir element. Corruption, drugs and vice, are all themes alluded to, in this story, which is a hybrid between a murder mystery and a police procedural.

Written in the first person, from Danielle’s point of view, her compassion, dedication and naivety, help the reader to see what lies beneath, the friendly, safe ethos, the town projects. She is easy to like, and gives this story a unique perspective that engages the reader from the first page. There is a retro feeling to this story, where even though the problems are contemporary, the community and personal beliefs and motivations are not.

The plot is pacy, and the characters full of surprises. The mystery keeps most of its secrets until the final stages and the ending is well executed. An original murder mystery which keeps you reading happily until the last page.

Image Credit Elly Grant
Guest Post – Elly Grant – Palm Trees In The Pyrenees

When I first arrived in this region of the Eastern Pyrenees I was mesmerised. I had never seen an area that moved me so much. The mountains were magnificent, tree covered rocks with an impossible number of shades of green and dotted about them were luminous patches of bright yellow Mimosa giving the effect of a patchwork quilt. The sky was a deep turquoise and the lack of pollution meant everything seemed clean and fresh as if the scene had been newly painted. It was hard to believe that what I was seeing was real and not just some beautiful dream I would wake from. Indeed, I was so enthralled, I was frightened to leave the place, in case, ‘Brigadoon’ style, it would disappear, not to be seen again for 100 years. Consequently, together with my husband, Zach Abrams, and within a few days, we managed to locate and buy a small, low-priced property to enjoy as a holiday home. After that, it took only days before I had the idea of writing ‘Palm Trees in the Pyrenees’. As I walked through the small town or sat sipping wine in the sunshine outside one of the several cafes or bars, the story almost seemed to write itself. As I imagine is the case in any small town, there was much that was different from anything I’d experienced before. I observed the quirky way of life enjoyed by its inhabitants, and the many, sometimes unusual, local events. Who would have guessed that an artichoke festival would be so well attended? Not me, for sure. Then there were the family feuds, the jealousies, the prejudices, the slight mistrust of strangers. I sipped wine or drank coffee as my victims walked by, totally unaware that I was about to kill them on paper.

Image Credit Elly Grant

Being a small town nestled in the foothills of the Pyrenees, it came as no surprise to me that nobody seemed to speak English, and, having only a few words of French, meant that I had to learn the language quickly if I wanted to interact with local people. Consequently, the first people I had conversations with were the handful of ex-pats who lived in the area. But gradually, and with much effort on my part to integrate, I am now accepted as of the town, no longer merely a tourist, but not quite a local. Quite surprisingly, more and more of the locals will now speak to me in English if I have difficulty communicating in French. It seems that many of them do have the ability to converse in another language but choose not to do so with tourists. After all, they reason, it is the tourists who are the visitors and therefore it is they who should make the effort. The locals are not unfriendly, quite the reverse in fact; it is simply a matter of respect. And, as I’ve discovered, once you do gain their trust, they will go to great lengths to help or assist you.

Image Credit Elly Grant

After ‘Palm Trees in the Pyrenees’ was published, the subsequent books of the series seemed to pour out of me. I felt I couldn’t write them quickly enough. There was so much going on in my little town, so many things to observe that writing was a joy. I suppose that may seem rather strange considering I mostly write about crime, and not just any crime, but death and murder, in fact. But I do feel that this series is not all doom and gloom. My publisher calls these books ‘cosy crime’. I still kill people, but hopefully there is enough charm in the story telling so as not to cause my readers sleepless nights.

#EllyGrant

Hi, my name is Elly Grant and I like to kill people. I use a variety of methods. Some I drop from a great height, others I drown, but I’ve nothing against suffocation, poisoning or simply battering a person to death. As long as it grabs my reader’s attention, I’m satisfied.

I’ve written several novels and short stories. My first novel, ‘Palm Trees in the Pyrenees’ is set in a small town in France. It is the first book of my ‘Death in the Pyrenees series and they are all published by Creativia. The others in the series are, ‘Grass Grows in the Pyrenees’, ’Red Light in the Pyrenees’, ’Dead End in the Pyrenees’, ‘Deadly Degrees in the Pyrenees’ and ‘Hanging Around in the Pyrenees’. Creativia has also published my grittier crime novels set in Glasgow, ‘The Unravelling of Thomas Malone’ and ‘The Coming of the Lord’ as well as my thriller, ‘Death at Presley Park’.  Also published are my Romance ‘Never Ever Leave Me, as well as a collaboration on the quirky black comedy ‘But Billy Can’t Fly’ and short stories called ‘Twists and Turns’.


As I live much of the year in a small French town in the Eastern Pyrenees, I get inspiration from the way of life and the colourful characters I come across. I don’t have to search very hard to find things to write about and living in the most prolific wine producing region in France makes the task so much more delightful.

When I first arrived in this region I was lulled by the gentle pace of life, the friendliness of the people and the simple charm of the place. But dig below the surface and, like people and places the world over, the truth begins to emerge. Petty squabbles, prejudice, jealousy and greed are all there waiting to be discovered. Oh, and what joy in that discovery. So, as I sit in a café, or stroll by the riverside, or walk high into the mountains in the sunshine, I greet everyone I meet with a smile and a ‘Bonjour’ and, being a friendly place, they return the greeting. I people-watch as I sip my wine or when I go to buy my baguette. I discover quirkiness and quaintness around every corner. I try to imagine whether the subjects of my scrutiny are nice or nasty and, once I’ve decided, some of those unsuspecting people, a very select few, I kill.

Perhaps you will visit my town one day. Perhaps you will sit near me in a café or return my smile as I walk past you in the street. Perhaps you will hold my interest for a while, and maybe, just maybe, you will be my next victim. But don’t concern yourself too much, because, at least for the time being, I always manage to confine my murderous ways to paper.

Read books from the ‘Death in the Pyrenees’ series, enter my small French town and meet some of the people who live there —– and die there.

Alternatively read about life on some of the hardened streets of Glasgow or for something different try my other books and short stories.

Facebook

#PalmTreesInThePyrenees

Posted in Book Review, Crime, Murder Mystery, Mystery

Taken To The Grave M.M. Chouinard 4* #Review @bookouture @m_m_chouinard #MurderMystery #policeprocedural #CrimeFiction #USA #DetectiveJoFournier #BookReview #bookblogger

In a town full of secrets, the truth won’t stay buried

When a girl’s body is discovered in a park in the sleepy Massachusetts town of Oakhurst, local detective Jo is shocked to the core. Because the girl is the second innocent victim to turn up dead in three days. And just like the first, a tarot card has been left by the body. The meaning of the card: betrayal.

After uncovering a series of threatening messages targeting the girl, a student at the university, and the first victim, her teacher, Jo thinks she’s locked the killer in her cross-hairs. The primary suspect is a volatile ex-military student with an axe to grind for failing grades, and the frightened town is out for his blood. But the next day, a much-loved member of the community is found dead in her home, a tarot card in her mail. There’s no clear motive to link her death to the others, and the message on the card this time is even stranger: domestic bliss.

With a fourth body and card appearing the following day, Jo knows she’s running out of time to crack the code and bring the killer to justice. And the pressure only gets worse with heart-breaking news about Jo’s father forcing her to choose between helping her family heal or the victims’ families get justice. Can Jo find the twisted murderer sending the town into a panic before another life is lost? Or this time, will the dangerous killer find her first?

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

Set in Massachusetts USA, this is a well-paced police procedural , featuring Detective Josette Fournier and her partner Bob Arnett. The second in the series, it reads perfectly as a standalone,with sufficient back story on the main protagonist, cleverly interwoven into the story as a subplot. Jo is a committed, career woman, with a tragic past that makes the job her life. She doesn’t have relationships, only occasional lovers, and the reasons for this become clearer as the story progresses. She has a tense relationship with her younger sister that is forced into focus, when their father has health issues. This causes her additional problems, as she is the middle of a murder case.

The noir murder mystery is told from the detective’s point of view, and also the antagonist’s. Even with this additional view point, because of the numerous suspects, it is difficult to pinpoint the culprit. The police procedural element of the story is authentic. The murders are shocking, but not unduly, there is just enough detail to illustrate how driven the murderer is.

Jo Fournier is a good character, she is complex, and her emotional damage makes her interesting, and easy to empathise. The mystery is well-plotted with lots of suspects, and clues, I did solve part, but not all of the mystery, which engages the reader. The characters are believable and easy to imagine, and I look forward to reading their next case.

Posted in Book Review, Cozy Mystery, Murder Mystery

The Vicarage Murder Faith Martin 5*#Review @FaithMartin_Nov @JoffeBooks #MonicaNobleDetective #MurderMystery #CozyMystery #VicarsWife #TheCotswolds

IN A QUIET COTSWOLD VILLAGE ALL HELL IS ABOUT TO BREAK LOOSE Monica Noble is throwing a party to welcome the village’s new residents. The guests include Margaret and her cheating husband Sean, who’s a celebrity chef. Also on the list are an Oxford university professor, a 40-something divorcee, and the owner of a chain of gyms.

Then as the drinks are flowing, a shotgun blast rings out. One of the guests is found dead.

DCI Dury and Sergeant Jim Greer are soon on the scene and discover that the victim had many enemies. Almost all the guests harbour secrets and motives for murder. Even Monica’s daughter comes under suspicion. When another villager is strangled to death nearly a week later, the stakes are raised. Can Monica help the local detectives save her daughter and solve the murders before anyone else pays the ultimate price?

MONICA NOBLE was widowed young, leaving her to raise her feisty daughter on her own. That is until she met and fell in love with Graham Noble, a country vicar (pastor), who enticed her to leave her high-flying job in advertising in the city and move to the Cotswold countryside. There she found bucolic life very pleasant indeed — until murder started to rear its ugly head. And she discovered, to everyone’s surprise, that she had a flair for solving the most unholy of crimes.

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

I read so many books, but I do love a good murder mystery to escape and relax with. This revamped series from Faith Martin, (formerly published under the pen name Joy Cato), is a perfect example.

Monica, the vicar’s wife has left her high-powered advertising career and the glamour of London because she fell in love with a country vicar. It has to be said that the vicar is charming, clever and compassionate, and even though there is an age difference, they are compatible in every way.

The garden party is the perfect setting for a murder, and the author doesn’t disappoint. The cast of characters are flawed and in some cases unlikeable, but they are relatable. It’s not hard to spot the most likely person to be murdered. Finding the murderer is not so easy, as the detectives and later Monica discover. The plot twists again when it seems resolved. making the ending a surprise.

A lighthearted, cosy style murder mystery, with a clever, unassuming amateur sleuth and a vibrant, twisty plot. No wonder ‘The Cotswolds’ is so sought after.

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

Posted in Book Review, Historical Crime Fiction, Murder Mystery

The Corpse Played Dead – Georgina Clarke 5*#Review @canelo_co @clarkegeorgina1 #Crime #HistoricalFiction #MurderMystery #ALizzieHardwickeNovel #London #BookReview

‘All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players…’

When an undercover assignment for the Bow Street magistrate sees prostitute Lizzie Hardwicke trade Ma Farley’s Bawdy House in Soho for life as a seamstress the theatre on Drury Lane, it becomes clear quite quickly – what goes on in the wings is much more intriguing than the theatrics being played out on stage…

Soon Lizzie is once again thrown together with the handsome Inspector Will Davenport when a high profile investor is brutally hanged at centre stage and Lizzie discovers the body. With the suspect list rivalling any casting call, Lizzie will have to use every trick she’s hidden up her sleeves to unravel the tangled threads and bring the culprit into the spotlight. 

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

Another eighteenth-century adventure with the irrepressible Lizzie Hardwicke and the self-contained detective Davenport. 

If you haven’t read the first book in the series, ‘Death and the Harlot’, there is enough backstory in this to enjoy this standalone story, but you’re missing out if you don’t read book one.

Lizzie remains a believable historical character, with flaws, a clever mind, courage and compassion. The tentative friendship between her and Davenport develops in this story, the opposites are perfect counterpoints for the other, leading to humour and witty dialogue. The possibility of love hangs in the air, but both are emotionally damaged, and the trust between them will take a while to build.

Lizzie goes undercover as a seamstress in the famous Drury Lane Theatre, a wonderfully atmospheric setting for a historical murder mystery. The disruptive incidents that have occurred soon turn into something more deadly and Lizzie has to find the culprit. 

There are lots of suspects, clues and drama in this story, with a medley of historical figures and authentic fictional characters, it holds your interest, proving to be as enthralling as any play staged in the famous theatre.

A lovely, original story with realistic characters and a clever plot.

Posted in Book Review, Historical Crime Fiction, Murder Mystery, Mystery

Death Comes to Dartmoor – Vivian Conroy 4* #Review @crookedlanebks @VivWrites #VictorianMystery #MurderMystery #HistoricalCrimeFiction #AMerriweatherandRoystonMystery #Dartmoor

The mist-shrouded moors of Devon proffer a trove of delights for two vacationing zoologists—but also conceal a hoard of dark secrets reaching down to the fathomless depths of the ocean.

Miss Merula Merriweather barely saved her uncle from the gallows after he was wrongly accused of murder—and now, she’s left the bustle of Victorian London to recuperate in the fresh air of Dartmoor with her fellow zoologist, Lord Raven Royston. The trip offers a unique treat, as they’ll be staying with a friend of Raven’s, who owns a collection of rare zoological specimens—including a Kraken, a sea monster of myth and legend.

But all is not right in the land of tors, heaths, and mist. Their host’s maid has vanished without a trace, and the townspeople hold him responsible, claiming that his specimens are alive and roam the moors at night, bringing death to anyone who crosses their path. Merula and Raven are sceptical—but the accusations become more ominous when they find several specimen jars empty.

As the two, hunt for clues across a desolate and beautiful landscape, a stranger appears bearing a shadowy secret from Merula’s past. Could there be a connection between her family history, the missing girl, and a fearsome monster that could be on the loose? The race is on to find the truth.

Amazon UK

Waterstones

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

My Thoughts...

This is my first’ Merriweather and Royston mystery’. This is a standalone mystery, and there is sufficient backstory to place the characters, and their relationship in this story, but if you can, read book one first.

The Dartmoor setting of this novel plays on the Victorian belief that strange, dangerous creatures roam the moor in the darkness. This is not the Dartmoor I know, but it is well documented in Victorian literature like ‘The Hound of the Baskervilles’.

This story contains all the essential elements of a Victorian murder mystery. Enigmatic, intelligent, but flawed detectives, with a degree of emotional damage. A community steeped in folklore and tradition, and a dislike of outsiders or anyone who is different from them. An undercurrent of criminal activity, and gruesome murder, possibly due to supernatural causes.

The mystery that unfolds in this story has all of the above. There is much we do not know about our detectives, but they are complex individuals. Victorian pioneers, a little before their time, especially Merriweather. The mystery is well constructed and embellished with Victorian beliefs and themes, that make solving it difficult.

The writing style and time period, will not suit everyone, but it is faithfully represented, and worth reading, to see if it is for you.

Posted in Book Review, Cozy Mystery, Murder Mystery

A Whisker in the Dark – LeighAnn Dobbs @bookouture @leighanndobbs 4* #Review #PublicationDay #CozyMystery #TheOysterCoveGuesthouse

Discovering the 300-year-old skeleton of shipping tycoon Jedediah Biddeford in the ballroom wall is a big old hassle for Josie Waters, owner of the Oyster Cove Guesthouse. Especially when Biddeford’s descendants turn up, certain that a family legend about treasure buried nearby must be true.

Josie is too busy dreaming up the perfect cake for the Oyster Cove’s 250th-anniversary celebration to worry about the Biddeford family – plus half the town – digging up her yard… until one of her guests is murdered in the guesthouse garden.

With worries that her guesthouse will get a reputation for being the kind of place you only leave in a body bag, Josie must put her detective skills to work to find the killer. Lucky for her, Nero and Marlowe and their gang of cat sleuths are also on the case.

From the old wharf to the town common, to the guesthouse itself with its many nooks and crannies, the cats are sure to sniff out the killer… but can they help Josie stop the person behind the mysterious murder before they strike again?

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

This is the second book in the Oyster Cove Guesthouse cozy mystery series. Attracted by the cover, I love cats, and still fondly remembering reading ‘The Cat Who…’ cozy mysteries when I was younger, I dived in.

I was surprised that the characters didn’t immediately draw me in. Maybe, I needed to read the first book in the series? As I read on, there is the necessary backstory to Josie, her friends and family, to see how their story got to this point. The murder mystery is standalone, and the cats Nero, Marlowe and their friends are so perfectly characterised, they tell their own stories.

The characters, once you get to know are delightfully quirky, the family of guests staying at the guesthouse, less so, but they are flawed, and therefore realistic. The plot has plenty of twists and false leads, so just when you think you know who did it, another suspect appears.

The cats are major characters in this story, their detective musings are like a parallel universe to the main story. This story relies on a little ‘magic’, but everyone who has shared life with a cat or two will find this easy to accept.

The ending ties up all the loose ends, and guess what? The cats find the culprit.

If you enjoy reading cozy mystery with a New England setting, quirky characters, and cat detectives, this is for you.