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.
Nowhere to hide. London, 1879. As winter grips the city, a group of African travellers seek sanctuary inside the walls of the Quaker Meeting House. They are being hunted by a ruthless showman, who is forcing them to perform in his ethnic exhibition in the London Aquarium.
Nowhere to turn. Private investigator William Arrowood and his assistant Barnett agree to help the travellers avoid capture. But when they arrive at the Meeting House, they find a scene of devastation. Two people have been murdered and the others have fled into the night.
Nowhere to run. The hunt for the real killer leads Arrowood into the dark heart of Victorian London. A shadowy world of freak shows, violence and betrayal, where there are no good choices and only the slimmest chance of survival…
I received a copy of this book from HQ in return for an honest review.
A disturbing, late Victorian tale that explores colonialism, depravity, poverty and racism from the point of view of Norman Barnett, assistant to private inquiry agent William Arrowood. In a twisty plot where nothing is what it seems, Arrowood seeks justice.
This well-researched story focuses on the inhumanity of colonialism and the hidden side of Victorian England and its Empire. Vibrant characters draw the reader into a grim Victorian world. The author’s note on his historical research sets the story in context.
The criminal investigation is clever, but it’s the ethos and the inequalities and terrible injustices that resonate.
I received a copy of this book from Honno Press and the author in return for an honest review.
Using the setting, some notable characters and style of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, this is a classical mystery story investigating the death of Mr Collins.
The lyrical writing style is engaging, and the characters vividly portrayed. The main protagonists’ are constable Archer and magistrate Sir John Bright, the investigation team, but Jane Austen’s characters have delightful cameos which add depth to the well thought out plot. The vulnerability of the servants and their indebtedness to their employers is explored in an insightful way reminiscent of Austens’ acute observations on gender, social class and society.
The mystery is cleverly plotted with comprehensive interviews of the numerous suspects, full of historical details that give an excellent sense of place and time. This is an enjoyable Jane Austen style murder mystery.
Annette Purdey Pugh grew up in Flintshire and graduated in English from Lancaster University. In a varied career, she has worked as a medical librarian, an optical assistant, and a milkwoman, bottling and delivering milk for almost twenty years to customers in Ceredigion. A writer from childhood, she has won awards for her short stories and poetry at the National Eisteddfod of Wales but was inspired to take up her pen more regularly following an Open University course in CreativeWriting.
A Murder at Rosings is her first novel, and has its roots in a lifelong love of Jane Austen. She still lives on the family farm in West Wales with her husband and three hundred sheep.
A woman lies dead in a bombed-out house. A tragic casualty of the Blitz? Or something more sinister?
Cleaner-turned-detective Stella Darnell connects a murder in Tewkesbury Abbey to a decades-old mystery in wartime London. From the number 1 bestselling author of The Detective’s Daughter.
Several neighbours heard the scream of the woman in the bombed-out house. One told the detective she thought the lady had seen a mouse. Another said it wasn’t his business what went on behind closed doors. None of them imagined that a trusting young woman was being strangled by her lover.
Beneath the vast stone arches of Tewkesbury Abbey, a man lies bleeding, close to death. He is the creator of a true-crime podcast which now will never air. He was investigating the murder of a 1940s police pathologist – had he come closer to the truth than he realised?
Stella Darnell has moved to Tewkesbury to escape from death, not to court it. But when this man dies in her arms, Stella, impelled to root out evil when she finds it, becomes determined to hunt down his killer and to bring the secrets he was searching for into the light…
I received a copy of this book from Head of Zeus via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
The Detective Daughter series delivers an original twist on the classic murder mystery genre. Stella, the detective’s daughter, has a cleaning business and a detective agency with an eclectic mix of employees. The main protagonists are believably eccentric and flawed. This story reads well as a standalone, but the series is addictive and engaging and worth reading in its entirety.
This dual timeline story explores a wartime murder during the London blitz and murder in Tewkesbury in 2019. The connections between the two stories are revealed in a suspenseful way and involve Stella, Jack and the other team members across London and Tewkesbury.
The recent murders are catalysed by The Death Cafe, a group that discusses death that Stella is drawn to. The story has important character development for the main protagonists in addition to the well-plotted murder mystery.
Evocative with vivid sensory imagery, the reader is drawn into a world of deceit and murder that is chilling and disturbing. The historical and contemporary are interwoven convincingly and give the story its classic murder mystery ethos.
This story’s atmospheric settings and vibrant characters elevate the simple murder mystery into something that resonates.
Q&A : Lesley Thomson
What inspired you to write about a blitz murder?
I spent first part of 2020 clearing and sorting stuff in the attic in preparation of moving. I unearthed a photocopy of a message that Jose Wahlberg, a convicted Nazi spy, wrote to my grandfather – who I never knew – the night before Wahlberg was hanged Pentonville Prison in 1940. My mum had showed me the cigarette packet on the back of which Jose Wahlberg had thanked my grandfather for his kindness. Mum would reflect on how hard it must have been for her dad , prison officer, to comfort the young man hours before his death. On the internet I found newspaper articles about Wahlberg’s capture and how the British were treating spies and, as often happens point of inspiration takes me somewhere else.
In The Distant Dead, I mention the incident in passing, I was inspired to explore 1940 London in which my mum and her family had lived. Blackouts, the deafening roar of planes, the massive thuds as bombs fell and the constant smell of burning. The murder rate went up and, with a depleted police force, fewer were solved. You could pass off a murder victim as a bombing casualty. Stuck in Lockdown, I found key similarities between 1940 and our own restricted lives. Even the slogan – We’re all in it together – was the same. This was enough for me to find a bridge to the past.
Did you undertake any research with this novel?
I read books on the Home-front including a doorstop-sized biography of Churchill by Andrew Roberts, I devoured published diaries by women living through the Blitz. Newspapers of the time were fascinating as were the propaganda films made by British Government agencies such as Fires Were Started and Britain Can Take it.’ Tewkesbury Abbey was my other inspiration and long before I started The Distant Dead, I had spent many hours there. I was sorry not to be able to visit in 2020.
Out of the entire Detective Daughter’s series, which one was your favourite to write and why?
For me, I think it’s up to the reader to have a favourite novel. Were you to have asked me this question each year, starting when Ghost Girl came out, I’d tell you the same. This novel. I relish steeping myself in the world of my story, honing my writing ability and creating new characters and ideas. I want each novel to be my best yet. Therefore, The Distant Dead is my current favourite and I loved every minute of working on it right to proof stage.
If you could have any job in the world (other than an author), what would it be and why?
I’d want something that involves long drives in a nice car, preferably a Jeep, with music playing. I used imagine being a taxi driver, but these days I’d rather be alone in the car to think or sing raucously and out of tune to, for instance Robbie Williams’s Angels or say, True along with Spandau Ballet. So if there were a job, which involves delivering Jeeps to far-flung corners of the country and back, I would apply.
What are you currently working on at the moment?
I’m writing The Companion, a standalone set in Sussex, featuring a disparate bunch of oddballs who live in a stately home converted into luxury apartments. There’s a serial killer at large – dubbed the media, The Family Man – due to the victim profile. This means that an ever watchful fear and suspicion pervades the mood of the community. Is it him, is it her? Who can you trust? As ever with my novels, I hope The Companion will offer the reader frissons of dread and unease laced with laugh out loud moments.
What can we expect to see from Stella next?
In 2023, I hope. She’s already knocking at my door with another mystery…
Lesley Thomson is the author of the Detective’s Daughter series of West London-set mysteries featuring private investigators Stella, a cleaner, and Jack, a tube driver. The first novel, The Detective’s Daughter, became an ebook phenomenon in 2013, staying at number 1 in the digital charts for 3 months. Since then, the series has gone on to sell 800,000 copies worldwide. Lesley is an active member of the UK crimewriting community, and appeared at several crime festivals in 2019, including CrimeFest, Harrogate, Morecambe & Vice and Capital Crime. She lives in Lewes with her partner and her dog
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.
I received a copy of this book from Head of Zeus -Aria via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
This is an addictive historical ganglit with the indomitable Georgina Garrett desperate for release from Holloway Prison to reclaim her children and get revenge on her enemies. With WW2 still raging when Georgina returns to Battersea, she has to regroup and diversify to achieve her aims with grit and tenacity, meeting violence with violence.
This is a well-written story with vivid characters and a menacing ethos. It captures the gangland era dynamic and personalities in an intricate plot with unexpected twists.
Guest post- Sam Michaels – Siren
Thanks for taking the time to read my post and thank you to Jane for inviting to me contribute to her fabulous website.
I’m thrilled that Siren is now out in the big wide world and I can’t wait for you to read it! This is the fourth book in the Georgina Garrett series. The first, Trickster, begins on the day that WW1 is declared. And then Rivals is next which is set just before the outbreak of WW2. Vixen and Siren follow Georgina’s life through the turbulent and challenging times of worn-torn Britain.
Although my gangland sagas are fictional, I like the facts to be historically correct so I’ve spent many hours researching the history of these times and read hundreds of personal memories of the Blitz. The things that I’ve learned have been both fascinating and heart-wrenching. Tales of rations, shortages and the blackouts are bad enough but the stories of bombs raining down on cities across the country are horrendous. The Blitz began in September 1940 and for fifty-seven consecutive nights, London was bombarded by the Luftwaffe’s bombs. Over three hundred planes would fly across the city, destroying a third of London and killing and injuring thousands. The accounts of the people whose memories I read makes me wish that I’d asked my grandparents more about their personal experiences of being Londoners living through the war.
But it wasn’t all fear and gloom. One of the overwhelming feelings that I got from my research was the sense of community and coming together that the war seemed to bring. I loved reading about the impressive strength of the British resolve and I found the make do and mend attitude admirable. Also, with the men away fighting the enemy, women found a place in the workforce doing the jobs that men once did. This was a huge shift from the traditional role of the stay-at-home housewife and mother though in most jobs, women weren’t paid the same rate as the men had been. Mothers had to quickly adapt a new way of life. For many, their children had been evacuated to safer homes in the countryside away from the nightly air raid sirens, explosions and fires. Food shortages meant that they had to be inventive with new recipes. Even stockings were hard to come by so ladies might use gravy browning to colour their legs and draw a line up the back to imitate a seam. With homes being destroyed all around them, lives being lost, their husbands and sons in foreign, treacherous lands and sleepless nights in air raid shelters, it does make me wonder how people today would cope if we were thrown into the same situation.
In Siren, the book opens with Georgina behind bars in Holloway prison. During my research, I was shocked and horrified to discover some of the facts about prison life for women at this time. And not just women. Holloway Prison also held German-Jewish refugee children incarcerated with their mothers. It was a time of deep suspicion of anyone German which was transposed onto the German-Jews who came to Britain when fleeing death from Hitler. I was equally shocked to find out that Sir Oswald Mosely, the leader of the British Union of Fascists, was also held prisoner at Holloway. Under Winston Churchill’s orders, Mosely was detained with his wife, Diana, in a house within the grounds of the prison. They even had women prisoners to wait on them and they were allowed to order deliveries from Harrods!
So when you read my books, you’ll find bits of background information weaved throughout which are fact, not fiction. For instance, the meagre breakfasts in the prison, the continual bombing of London, the firewomen on motorbikes… all these things and many more are true stories.
I really hope that you enjoy reading my books as much as I enjoyed writing them! And, by the way, this isn’t the last that you’ll hear of Georgina… I’m halfway through writing the fifth book in the series.
Thief-taker Simon Westow is drawn into a deadly puzzle when the melting snow reveals a dark secret in this gripping historical mystery, perfect for fans of Anne Perry and Charles Finch.
Leeds, 1822. The city is in the grip of winter, but the chill deepens for thief-taker Simon Westow and his young assistant, Jane, when the body of Laurence Poole, a petty local thief, emerges from the melting snow by the river at Flay Cross Mill.
A coded notebook found in Laurence’s room mentions Charlie Harker, the most notorious fence in Leeds who’s now running for his life, and the mysterious words: To the dark. What was Laurence hiding that caused his death? Simon’s hunt for the truth pits him against some dangerous, powerful enemies who’ll happily kill him in a heartbeat – if they can.
I received a copy of this book from Severn House Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
This historical crime mystery is atmospheric, menacing and realistic. It brings the crime-filled streets of nineteenth-century Leeds vividly to life. The third book in the series it provides adequate character backstory and relationship dynamics to make it readable as a standalone. The characters are shady even the protagonists have pasts and secrets. The story has many twists.
Seamlessly woven historical details immerse the reader in the place and time of this enjoyable story.
Chris Nickson has published 28 novels, all historical crime, most of them set in Leeds, whose people and history are his passion. The Richard Nottingham series began things, taking place in the 1730s, followed by the Tom Harper novels, which begin in 1890 and have now moved to the 20th century. Between them, Lottie Armstrong, Urban Raven and Dan Markham cover Leeds from the 1920s to the 1950s.
The three books featuring thief-taker Simon Westow explore a changing Leeds, growing rapidly in the 1820s as industry – the factories and mills and belching chimneys – comes to dominate the town. The Hocus Girl, the second in the series, received starred reviews from Kirkus, which called it a “tour de force,” and Publishers Weekly, which declared “historical mysteries don’t get much better than this.’
Chris grew up in Leeds, but lived in the US for many years, making his living as a music journalist. He still reviews occasional releases, but his focus these days is fiction.
FIVE STRANGERS IN FLORENCE, EACH WITH A DANGEROUS SECRET. AND AN APOCALYPTIC FLOOD THREATENING TO REVEAL EVERYTHING.
A wife on the run, a student searching for stolen art, a cleaner who has lined more than his pockets, a policeman whose career is almost over, and a guest who should never have received a wedding invite. Five strangers, entangled in the forger’s wicked web, amidst Florence’s devastating flood of November 1966.
In a race against time, and desperate to save themselves and all they hold dear, will their secrets prove more treacherous than the ominous floodwaters swallowing the historic city?
Dive into a world of lies and deceit, where nothing is as it seems on the surface…
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
This is something a little different for readers weary of predictability.
Five seemingly unconnected individuals converge on Florence just before an epic flood in 1966. The river, given a complex character in this historical crime mystery, provides a dramatic and unpredictable ethos for this strange story to play out.
Each character has their own chapter, and the individual stories reveal their past and motivations for being in Florence. All have secrets and a sinister force is controlling their destiny like puppeteer manipulates marionettes.
This is a detailed story which has intrinsic interest and provides a tableau for the characters to fulfil their destiny whilst the impending doom of the flood hangs over them unnoticed but menacing.
If you are looking for something out of the ordinary which at times defies belief this is for you.
A full time author, Kirsten is a former customs officer and antiques dealer, and who has also dabbled in film and television.
Her historical time-slip series – The Old Curiosity Shop Series, has been described as ‘Time Travellers Wife meets Far Pavilions’, and ‘Antiques Roadshow gone viral’.
Kirsten released her bestselling gothic horror novel Painted in 2017, with her medical thriller – Doctor Perry, following in 2018.
Her latest thriller – The Forger and the Thief, is set in 1966 Florence, Italy, amidst the devastating floods. Kirsten lives in New Zealand with her husband, her daughters, two rescue cats.
This series follows amateur sleuths Major Alasdair Charters and the Honourable Melissa Charters as they inadvertently muddle their way through many investigations but always arrive at the truth. Alasdair was blinded in the First World War and uses his special skills to gain ‘insight’ into the crimes. The Honourable Melissa, who likes to think she is a socialist, has a large family and set of friends who always seem to run into problems. The books are set both in England and abroad.
Having a husband who is blind, author Vicki Goldie likes to explore perceptions about this disability and push the boundaries.
In 1923 flushed with the success of their last sleuthing escapade Major Alasdair Charters, a blind WW1 veteran and former intelligence officer and his aristocrat wife The Honourable Melissa, accept an invitation to a country house party on Somerset Levels in Winter.
There they find a dysfunctional family all living in a huge old house on a hill. Overnight the storm brings with it the floodwaters and the house becomes surrounded and cut off from rescue just as a murderer begins to stalk the residents. An exciting murder mystery in the Golden Age tradition. Will our sleuths discover hidden secrets and unmask the murderer before anyone else is killed?
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
This is such an atmospheric story full of historically authentic characters and period detail. The husband and wife amateur sleuth team is not a new concept, but as Alasdair cannot see at all, due to an incident during WW1, this gives the story a unique perspective. This is the second book in The Charters’Mysteries but reads perfectly as a standalone. There is sufficient backstory on the amateur sleuths to show why they make the perfect investigators.
Set at a house party in 1923 this is a Golden Age murder mystery which has a claustrophobic setting, lots of suspects and a murderer in their midst. This story is a sensory delight, as Alasdair perceives things often ignored by sighted people, and Melissa becomes his eyes. The plot is well-written and the investigation thorough and immersive. The reader feels part of the story, and this makes finding the antagonist both addictive and realistic. Believably crafted characters, many hard to like, all have secrets. The short chapters make this a fast-paced read, and allow easy to follow changes of character and scene.
Blind Pool is an engaging historical murder mystery with originally crafted amateur sleuths that make me want to read the first book in the series.
Vicki lives in Poole Dorset with her blind physiotherapist husband. She has a lifelong fascination with the Art Deco period and with books of the Golden Age of Crime. This led her to envision a series featuring a blind detective set in the 1920s.
Blind Pool is the second in the series.
She is a co-pioneer for a reading charity Read Easy Bournemouth and volunteers at The Russell Cotes Museum in Bournemouth.
She is currently writing book three in the series Blind Haven set in Bournemouth