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. 

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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.

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Posted in Book Review, Family Drama, Gothic Fiction, Historical Fiction

The Girl at the Window Rowan Coleman 5* #Review @EburyPublishing @rowancoleman #thegirlatthewindow #familydrama #historicalfiction #gothicfiction #emilybronte #wutheringheights #yorkshiremoors #love #loss #grief #bookreview

Ponden Hall is a centuries-old house on the Yorkshire moors, a magical place full of stories. It’s also where Trudy Heaton grew up. And where she ran away from…

Now, after the devastating loss of her husband, she is returning home with her young son, Will, who refuses to believe his father is dead.

While Trudy tries to do her best for her son, she must also attempt to build bridges with her eccentric mother. And then there is the Hall itself: fallen into disrepair but generations of lives and loves still echo in its shadows, sometimes even reaching out to the present…

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I received a copy of this book from Penguin Random House – Ebury Publishing via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

Reading this story is rather like opening a Pandora’s box, there are surprises, light and dark. love and hate, purity and evil, all intertwined into an epic story that keeps on giving, as you turn the pages.

I love, the clever fusion of genres, family drama, romance, timeslip, historical fact and fiction, paranormal, gothic fiction, are all part of this novel’s embroidery. Whilst, this will not be for everyone, there are many timelines to negotiate, it is compelling and worth the effort, to move out of the ease of contemporary reading into the more elaborate historical details and subterfuge.

This story works for me because of Trudy’s state of mind, she is heartbroken, without hope, and open to any experience that lessens the pain. Her maternal instinct keeps her on track, making sure Will gets the emotional and practical support he needs, but she needs more than this and discovering hidden secrets that the house gives up is part of this. She is a sensitive woman, a loner, her childhood was full of imagination and literature, and it gave her purpose and solace. Now, in her pain, she seeks the familiar and is prepared to accept whatever the house reveals, even if it sometimes defies explanation and is frightening.

This is an escapist novel, something to enthral and capture your imagination, full of emotion and a clever medley of fact and fiction, it makes you want to visit Ponden Hall, and find out if it’s as magical and troubled as it seems.

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.

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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, Family Drama, Mystery, Psychological Thriller, Suspense

The Perfect Wife J P Delaney 4* #Review @QuercusBooks @QuercusFiction #JPDelaney #ThePerfectWife #PsychologicalThriller #FamilyDrama #ScFi #Mystery #Suspense #MondayBlogs

“There’s something I have to explain, my love,” he says, taking your hand in his. “That wasn’t a dream. It was an upload.”

Abbie wakes in a hospital bed with no memory of how she got there. The man by her side explains that he’s her husband. He’s a titan of the tech world, the founder of one of Silicon Valley’s most innovative startups. He tells Abbie she’s a gifted artist, a doting mother to their young son, and the perfect wife.

Five years ago, she suffered a terrible accident. Her return from the abyss is a miracle of science, a breakthrough in artificial intelligence that has taken him half a decade to achieve.

But as Abbie pieces together memories of her marriage, she begins questioning her husband’s motives – and his version of events. Can she trust him when he says he wants them to be together forever? And what really happened to her, half a decade ago?

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

My Thoughts…

Even if you don’t look at the book cover, you can always tell when you’re reading this author’s novels, by the original ideas it contains, the creepy, menacing undertone, and the importance of technology to the story. The only negative is that the ending doesn’t necessarily reflect, the careful suspense building of the previous chapters.

‘The Perfect Wife’, is a true mix of genres. A psychological thriller, set in a science-fiction world, with mystery, suspense and family drama. The story is told from different points of view and draws you in from its traumatic beginning. 

The protagonists are unreliable, and many of the characters are hard to empathise, but this doesn’t matter. As the story unravels and the disclosures from the past, illuminate the present, you keep reading because you have to know what happens next.

Even though most of the characters lack redeeming features, they are realistic, despite, the setting and ethos of the story being hard to believe. Whilst, I don’t like everything about this story, it is compelling reading.

Breathtaking, disturbing and original, this is a reading experience that shouldn’t be missed.

Posted in Book Review, Crime, Friendship, Literary Fiction, Mystery, Romance

An Elegant Solution Anne Atkins 4* #Review @anne_atkins @malcolmdown #Mystery #crime #friendship #romance #autism #BlogTour #BookReview #LoveBooksTours #LiteraryFiction @LoveBooksGroup #MondayBlogs #Cambridge

#LoveBooksTours – An Elegant Solution – Anne Atkins

When someone mentions the City of Cambridge you probably think of an iconic building, its four corners stretching out of the once medieval mud and into the arms of everlasting heaven, its white limestone yearning into eternity… and without even knowing exactly what ephemeral joys or permanent wonders the vision brings to mind, it’s a safe bet that the one thought which does not occur to you is that the Chapel might not be there by Christmas.

Theo (Theophilus Ambrose Fitzwilliam Wedderburn to his friends) is a Junior Research Fellow in Number Theory. Prompted by a supervisee to demonstrate how to trace the provenance of bitcoins, Theo happens across a shocking revelation, with embarrassing ramifications for the whole University. Meanwhile, he is being stalked unseen by someone from his childhood. To his annoyance, Theo falls for a cheap con… and discovers a horror set not only to rock the very seat of power itself but to change the face of Cambridge and its beautifully iconic image forever.

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

My Thoughts…

This book is on one level, like its title, elegant, the setting in Cambridge draws you into the iconic place, where, in some ways, nothing has changed. The criminal threat and technological mystery, impose the contemporary world on the academic establishment, causing ripples and threatening the people and ancient buildings.

The characters are what makes this story stand out. I did find it difficult to get into initially, but Theo and Charlotte have an intriguing relationship, that faces both internal and external conflict. Theo’s character is significant and gives an honest portrayal of autism and how it affects the individual’s perception of the world, and those around him.

The detailed theory will not be for everyone, but even if that is not for you, there is still a lovely character-driven drama to enjoy.

Anne Atkins

Anne Atkins is a well-known English broadcaster and journalist, and a regular contributor to BBC Radio 4’s Thought for the Day. She took an involuntary, and long, break from writing fiction when her son was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome, their daughter repeatedly hospitalized with a severe illness, and finally, the family was made homeless. Thankfully those dark days are now behind her and she and her husband Shaun along with some of her children now live happily in Bedford, England.

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Contemporary Fiction, Family Drama, Friendship, Mystery, Romance

Buried Treasure – Gilli Allan 4* #Review @gilliallan @rararesources #BlogTour #Romance #Mystery #Friendship

Their backgrounds could hardly be further apart, their expectations in life more different. And there is nothing in the first meeting between the conference planner and the university lecturer which suggests they should expect or even want to connect again. But they have more in common than they could ever have imagined. Both have unresolved issues from the past which have marked them; both have an archaeological puzzle they want to solve. Their stories intertwine and they discover together that treasure isn’t always what it seems.

Amazon UK

Amazon

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

My Thoughts…

I love to read something a little different, this story is a mix of genre, there is a gentle romance. which is slow-burning, ridden with internal obstacles to its success. There is a mystery, with historical roots, that draws the couple together, when it seems, in the beginning, they have nothing in common, except that they irritate each other. There is also a strong emotional thread in this story, as the first part of the book reveals, why Theo and Jane are unwilling to trust again, this poignancy makes the characters easier to empathise.

The believable setting is contemporary and well researched, and has intrinsic interest. Your primary focus is always on Jane and Theo in this character-driven story. The subsidiary characters both past and present are complex and realistic. The flaws and emotional baggage carried by the two protagonists make them authentic.

An easy to read, engaging romance with an intriguing mystery set against a politicised contemporary background.

Gilli Allan began to write in childhood – a hobby pursued throughout her teenage. Writing was only abandoned when she left home, and real-life supplanted the fiction.

After a few false starts, she worked longest and most happily as a commercial artist, and only began writing again when she became a mother. 

Living in Gloucestershire with her husband Geoff, Gilli is still a keen artist. She draws and paints and has now moved into book illustration.

Currently published by Accent Press, each of her books, TORN, LIFE CLASS and FLY or FALL has won a ‘Chill with a Book’ award.

Following in the family tradition, her son, historian Thomas Williams, is also a writer. His most recent work, published by William Collins, is ‘Viking Britain’.

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