Posted in Blog Blitz, Book Review, Book Spotlight, Contemporary Fiction, Family Drama, Friendship, Historical Fiction, Mystery, Romance, Travel

The Inheritance Anne Allen @AnneAllen21 @lovebooksgroup #LoveBooksTours #TheGuernseyNovels #AnneAllen #TheInheritance #historical #contemporary #intrigue #mystery #timeslip #BookBirthday #BookReviews #BookSpotlight #MondayBlogs

The Inheritance by Anne Allen is one year old. To celebrate all the seven books in The Guernsey Novel series will only be £1.99 on Kindle for a limited time. Each of the books can be read as a standalone too. 

The Inheritance – Book 7  Amazon UK

How close were Victor Hugo and his copyist?

1862 Young widow Eugénie faces an uncertain future in Guernsey. A further tragedy brings her to the attention of Monsieur Victor Hugo, living in exile on the island only yards away from Eugénie’s home. Their meeting changes her life and she becomes his copyist, forming a strong friendship with both Hugo and his mistress, Juliette Drouet.

2012 Dr Tess Le Prevost, Guernsey-born but living in England, is shocked to inherit her Great-Aunt’s house on the island. As a child, she was entranced by Doris’s tales of their ancestor, Eugénie, whose house this once was, and her close relationship with Hugo. Was he the real father of her child? Returning to the island gives Tess a fresh start and a chance to unlock family secrets.

Will she discover the truth about Eugénie and Hugo? A surprise find may hold the answer as Tess embraces new challenges which test her strength – and her heart.

My Thoughts…

A delightful mix of contemporary and Victorian life on Guernsey, with colourfully described historical details, and an engaging contemporary story full of romance, friendship and family drama.

Tess unexpectedly inherits an old house on Guernsey where she spent her childhood, Visiting her inheritance, she is drawn to the rundown house and being at a crossroads in her life decides to renovate and make Guernsey her home again.

Characters from previous stories make cameo appearances, but the story is standalone. The story slips between 2012 and Victorian times, told from Tess and Eugenie’s points of view. Both stories are complex and interesting, and there is a historical mystery for Tess to solve.

The story features a real historical figure, although the story is fictional, his presence as a character adds authenticity and depth.

Domestic abuse is a primary theme in this book, and it serves to highlight, its prevalence, and the differences and similarities between contemporary and Victorian women, in abusive relationships.

The storytelling is enthralling, the setting vividly described and the connections between the past and present meaningful. A lovely mix of believable characters and a realistic but hopeful ending make reading ‘The Inheritance’, a lovely way to spend an afternoon.

The Betrayal –  Book Six Amazon UK

Book Six of The Guernsey Novels is another dual-time story set during the German Occupation and present-day Guernsey and is likely to appeal particularly to fans of the book The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.

Treachery and theft lead to death – and love

1940. Teresa Bichard and her baby are sent by her beloved husband, Leo, to England as the Germans draw closer to Guernsey. Days later they invade…

1942. Leo, of Jewish descent, is betrayed to the Germans and is sent to a concentration camp, never to return. 

1945. Teresa returns to find Leo did not survive and the family’s valuable art collection, including a Renoir, is missing. Heartbroken, she returns to England.

2011. Nigel and his twin Fiona, buy a long-established antique shop in Guernsey and during a refit, find a hidden stash of paintings, including what appears to be a Renoir. Days later, Fiona finds Nigel dead, an apparent suicide. Refusing to accept the verdict, a distraught Fiona employs a detective to help her discover the truth…

Searching for the rightful owner of the painting brings Fiona close to someone who opens a chink in her broken heart. Can she answer some crucial questions before laying her brother’s ghost to rest?

Who betrayed Leo? 

Who knew about the stolen Renoir?

And are they prepared to kill – again?

My Thoughts…

 I love this series, it has all the best qualities of a cosy mystery in a breathtaking setting, with just a hint of the supernatural and historical flashbacks that illuminate the present mystery.

Believable, interesting characters are easy to empathise with and draw you into present-day Guernsey and it’s WW2 legacy, most notably the German occupation of the island. The gentle romance and supernatural elements enhance the storyline. The writing is clever as present-day events are determined by their historical roots. 

Whilst they are standalone read; characters and situations from previous novels inform this story. If you haven’t read the other books in the series check out my reviews and read them for yourself.

This story is a pleasing, page-turning read, that makes me want to reacquaint myself with the mystical island of Guernsey.

Echoes of Time – Book Five Amazon UK

The fifth of The Guernsey Novels, Echoes of Time is a dual-time story set in the German Occupation and present-day Guernsey and is likely to appeal to fans of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.

Betrayal, injustice and revenge echo down the years…

1940. Olive marries farmer Bill Falla. The Germans occupy Guernsey.

All too soon Olive realises she has made a mistake. Her life changes when she meets Wolfgang, a German officer-however there’s a price to pay. . .

2010. Natalie Ogier returns to Guernsey to escape an abusive relationship – only to be plagued by odd happenings in her beautiful cottage on the site of a derelict and secluded farm. Disturbing dreams, disembodied voices and uncanny visions from the past. She becomes increasingly ill at ease as someone else’s past catches up with her own…

Her only immediate neighbour, Stuart, is the grandson of the original owners, Bill and Olive.

Thrown together in a bid to find out what happened to Olive, can they each survive the repercussions of the past and move on? 

My Thoughts…

All the ‘Guernsey Novels’ are defined by their memorable characters, vivid setting and intriguing plots, ‘Echoes of Time’, has all of these qualities and something extra that makes it a gripping and worthwhile read.

The cross over and parallels between Guernsey’s past and present are explored in greater detail in this story and Natalie, who returns to the island after a traumatic incident, experiences life in war torn Guernsey, in a most disturbing way.

Escaping her past Natalie witnesses a woman’s life with a startling similarity to her own, is her subconscious playing tricks on her or is what she dreams and experiences real?

The mystery enfolds in 2010 with flashbacks and time slip to occupied Guernsey in World War Two. The historical element is well researched and often anecdotal and blends with the present in a believable, easy to read way.

Characters’ flaws make them authentic and human. Natalie finds friendship when she most needs it but will become something more and is she brave enough to let it?

A poignant, well written tale, set on a beautiful island, perfect for holiday reading and anytime you want to escape.

The Family Divided – Book Four Amazon UK

The fourth of The Guernsey Novels, covering both contemporary Guernsey and the time of the Occupation. Likely to appeal to fans of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.

One family, divided by death – and money

Andy Batiste, at loggerheads with his degenerate cousin, seeks to discover the truth of his family history. Why was his pregnant grandmother forced to flee to France? What really happened to her husband during the German Occupation, sixty years ago? Who accused Edmund, the elder son and Batiste heir, of being an informer? Was he really a traitor – and who murdered him?

With Edmund’s brother Harold now head of the family, enjoying the wealth which ought to have come to Andy’s father, the family is forever divided. Andy yearns to clear Edmund’s name and restore his father to his rightful inheritance.

Andy is introduced to Charlotte Townsend, newly divorced, lonely and struggling with writer’s block and the consuming threat of impending loss. They meet when she returns for healing at Guernsey’s natural health centre, La Folie, and Charlotte becomes involved in Andy’s family history.

Together they embark on a hunt for the truth…

My Thoughts…

The catalyst for this story is an incident in World War 2. A death accompanied by malicious rumour divides a family. Charlotte, who we met in ‘Guernsey Retreat’, makes a welcome return.

‘The Family Divided’ maintains the mystery and gentle romance, characteristic of this series. This story casts Charlotte in the role of detective as she unravels the secrets and rumour buried in the Batiste’s family’s past, to help and stay close to her new friend Andy Batiste.

Well paced, this story explores the growing relationship between Charlotte and Andy, and lets us glimpse the lives of previously introduced characters, Jeanne, Louise and Malcolm.

I liked the disparity between Andy’s family and Charlotte’s and how it allows both characters to grow and develop. Charlotte’s investigation is believable and what she discovers builds to a tense and well resolved ending.

If you like your mystery with vivid imagery and sweet romance you will definitely enjoy The Guernsey Novels series.

Guernsey Retreat – Book Three Amazon UK

The third in The Guernsey Novels series, likely to appeal to fans of the best-selling book The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.

Two violent deaths. Separated by time, but with a fatal connection…

A man loses his father. A young woman loses her mother. Both in tragic circumstances that lead, when they meet, to surprising revelations from the past. 

Louisa needs to find the father she has never known, to warn him of possible danger – for them both. Her search takes her from England to Guernsey. Malcolm’s journey is more complicated: conceived in Guernsey, his bereaved mother emigrates with him to Canada. Many years later he arrives in India, and from here he is led back to Guernsey to open a health centre at La Folie. This was his father’s home and where he was killed at the start of the Second World War. 

At the heart of the two deaths lie stolen jewels. Valuable enough to kill for. Twice. 

Finding her father brings Louisa more than she bargains for, and her life is transformed, while Malcolm learns that life is, after all, for sharing… 

My Thoughts…

This third book in ‘The Guernsey Novels series is as atmospheric, as the previous two stories. There are two deaths; one historical and one present-day, which force a meeting between Louisa and Malcolm, altering both their lives. The characters are interesting and believable, the setting a delight.

The author’s knowledge of Guernsey and the other Channel Islands gives the story another compelling dimension. This is a must read.

The historical events and their significance are weaved seamlessly into the contemporary plot. There is a welcome return of some characters from ‘Dangerous Waters’ and Finding Mother in cameo roles, which enrich the story.

The plot is easy to follow and provides a perfect foil for the characters to develop, grow and interact. There is intrigue and menace and a myriad of emotions as Louisa balances what she has lost and found and Malcolm tries to make amends for a youthful, foolish mistake. A sweet romance lightens the angst.

I liked the friendship between Louisa and Charlotte and look forward to reading Charlotte’s tale next.

Finding  Mother – Book Two Amazon UK

Three women. Three generations. Sacrifices for love…

Who is she really? Nicole is about to find out as she searches for her real mother; the woman who gave her away at birth. With her marriage in tatters, she sets out from England: travelling to Spain, Jersey and Guernsey before the extraordinary story of her real family is finally revealed.

Nicole becomes an unwitting catalyst for change in that family. Two women are forced to reveal long-buried secrets. One going back as far as the Second World War. Lives are transformed as choices have to be made and the past laid to rest…

My Thoughts…

A marriage damaged, possibly beyond repair prompts investigative journalist Nicole to search for her birth mother. Her decision threatens those who love her, leads to long buried secrets and romantic surprises on the beautiful island of Guernsey.

The setting for the second in ‘The Guernsey Novels series’ is vivid and tangible. The insight into island life makes Guernsey, an important secondary character that informs the actions of Nicole and her birth family.

‘Finding Mother’ is a gently paced story, with nostalgic echoes of magazine serials in the sixties. The characters are outwardly ordinary but their normality cloaks resentment, fear, missed chances and unwavering courage. The emotional tension is realistic and poignant and shrouded in long suppressed mystery.

Addictive and so easy to read; ‘Finding Mother’ builds to a tense crescendo before the secrets are revealed. The characters are complex and believable and make a story of everyday life, memorable.

This story will appeal to lovers of romantic sagas and quality women’s fiction.

Dangerous Waters – Book One Amazon UK

Dangerous Waters is the first of The Guernsey Novels, linked but standalone stories, which will appeal to fans of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.

Tragedy seems to follow Jeanne Le Page around . . .

Can she really go through it again and survive?

She is lucky to be alive … at sixteen Jeanne was almost killed in a boating accident which brought heart-breaking family tragedy. Now, fifteen years later, Jeanne returns reluctantly to the island of Guernsey following the death of her beloved grandmother. Struggling for breath as the ferry nears the island; she is overwhelmed by a dark foreboding as hazy memories of that terrible day resurface…

Only returning to sell her inheritance – her grandmother’s old cottage – Jeanne has no intention of picking up her old life. But the cottage holds a secret, dating back to World War II and the German Occupation, and Jeanne becomes drawn into discovering more. Then, soon after her arrival, a chance meeting with an old teenage crush leads her to thoughts of love.

Jeanne is forced to face her demons, reliving the tragedy as her lost memory returns.

When the truth is finally revealed, her life is endangered for the second time…

My Thoughts…

This delightful story reflects the island life it depicts; atmospheric, gently paced and full of mystery and romance. The characters are crafted realistically and easy to visualise. This is not an action packed read but the laid back writing style draws the reader into island society and culture. The cast of secondary characters give the story its depth and variety and bring the island community to life for me.

Contemporary favourites cookery and gardening widen the scope of this novel and prevent it from becoming too self absorbed and dark. The descriptions of the cosmopolitan restaurants, food and the cottage garden are vibrant and knowledgeable; as is the insight into the publishing industry.

Jeanne the vulnerable but talented heroine of ‘Dangerous Waters’ is a writer who returns to her childhood home many years after a traumatic incident drove her back to the mainland. Her chosen career has a dramatic boost when she discovers her grandmother’s hidden secrets and much treasured ancestral recipes.

Coupled with reconnecting with friends from her school days and deciding what to do with her legacy, Jeanne’s day to day life is an absorbing read. Jeanne’s poignant flashbacks reveal her traumatic past. Mystery and dangerous undercurrents threaten Jeanne’s emotional recovery until she isn’t sure who she can trust.

‘Dangerous Waters’ is definitely worth reading and I look forward to the rest of the Guernsey Novels.

I received copies of these book from the author in return for an honest review.

Anne Allen

Anne was born in Rugby to a Welsh father and an English mother. As a result, she spent many summers with her Welsh grandparents in Anglesey and learned to love the sea. Now she is based in Devon to be near her daughter and two small grandchildren. Her restless spirit has meant many moves, the longest stay being in Guernsey for nearly fourteen years after falling in love with the island and the people. She contrived to leave one son behind to ensure a valid reason for frequent returns. Her younger son is based in London – ideal for city breaks.

By profession, Anne was a psychotherapist who long had a desire to write and Dangerous Waters, her first novel, was published in 2012. It was awarded Silver(Adult Fiction) in TheWishingShelfAwards 2012. Since then she has published six more books in The Guernsey Novels series; Finding Mother, Guernsey Retreat, The Family Divided, Echoes of Time- winner of The Diamond Book Award 2017, a finalist in Readersfavorite awards and granted a ChillWithABookAward, The Betrayal, and The Inheritance, published April 2019.

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Posted in Author Interview, Blog Blitz, Book Review, Crime, Family Drama

The Fourth Victim John Mead 4*#Review @BookGuild @JohnMeadAuthor @rararesources #PoliceProcedural #CrimeFiction #EastEnd #London #BookBirthdayBlitz #BookReview #BookBloggers

Whitechapel is being gentrified. The many green spaces of the area, which typify London as a capital city, give the illusion of tranquillity and clean air but are also places to find drug dealers, sexual encounters and murder…

Detective Sergeant Julie Lukula doesn’t dislike Inspector Matthew Merry but he has hardly set the world of the Murder Investigation Team East alight.  And, it looks as if the inspector is already putting the death of the young female jogger, found in the park with fatal head injuries, down to a mugging gone wrong.  The victim deserves more.  However, the inspector isn’t ruling anything out – the evidence will, eventually, lead him to an answer.

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#TheFourthVictim
Author Interview – John Mead – The Fourth Victim

Is this story inspired by a real event? If not, what are the inspirations behind this story?

Most of the ideas I have are sparked by incidents I’ve heard about or been involved in. However, they do get greatly adapted to fit the plot.  For example, the idea to set the main narrative of The Fourth Victim in Whitechapel came from walking past Lehman Street police station and wondering what a modern-day Jack the Ripper might be like. It didn’t take me long to decide that the events if enacted today, would be more mundane – less sensational in this jaded age – and  Jack would be psychoanalysed to death. Though he or she would, no doubt, be a Twitter celeb – at least for a day!

Given that I wanted to write something about how the police deal with mental health issues, and how this impacts on the nature of criminality and victimhood; then that ‘Whitechapel Ripper’ setting seemed to put everything into place.

Is it important to create memorable detectives in this genre? Why do think this is?

In general, I would say it is important to create a memorable team of detectives. Even if it is mainly a partnership – Morse had Lewis but also Dr Max DeBryn and Strange, while Poirot had Hastings and Japp.  Although neither Morse nor Poirot could function in a modern police force. A better example would be Vera or Montalbano, both of whom have their teams and sidekicks.   It is the people around the central character and their relationships which define them and make them memorable.

It is, therefore, necessary to create characters which are relatable, well-rounded humans with flaws and inconsistencies. The interactions of these characters are what creates interest and bring the story alive. I tend to find ‘lone wolf’ characters unrealistic, especially in the police as these are organisations based on teamwork. If you consider some of the more modern ‘classic’ detectives, like Martin Beck or Wallander, they may not be the best team players but they are still part of a team and interact with them.  This is as true of the criminals – no one is all good or all bad – and the victims. Both of which are often used as mere plot devices and quickly forgotten, while in reality, they are central to the crime.

Do your detectives have to be likeable? Why is this?

No, not essentially, in reality, how many of the detectives you read about would you want to spend an evening with (Holmes would be insufferable and Jimmy Perez would be maudlin)? I would say it is more important to make them understandable, to show their weaknesses and vulnerabilities as well as their strengths – this is what makes a character interesting and, hopefully, why people want to read about them. 

Take Maigret or Elise Wassermann, these characters only become likeable once you start to understand their backgrounds and relationships. Both these characters might seem to be the typical ‘lone wolf’ detective but neither would be anything more than a cypher until you realise that Maigret needs his wife to give him a strong anchor in life and Wassermann, who is autistic, is really doing her utmost to fit in. Otherwise, neither of them would be particularly likeable.

Do you draw your characters from real life, your imagination, or are they a mix of both? How do you make your characters realistic?

Sometimes, someone, I come across sparks an idea for a character and, at other times, I realise a character I have written reminds me of someone I know.  But, on the whole, I find the characters develop a life of their own – once you have a few basic characteristics defined for a character it is surprising how complex they can become.

What sort of books do you enjoy reading and why?

I enjoy books that teach me something: whether it is about writing technique, a moment in history or life in general.

Treasure Island is technically the best book ever written. Not a word is wasted, the plot is fast-paced, the characters are well rounded and every scene comes to life.  Which is quite a feat?

Though I like anything by PG Woodhouse for his wordplay, and CJ Sansom and C Hibbert for their impeccable research.

These days I generally read crime fiction – usually, police procedurals – and the masters of this genre are Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö who wrote the Martin Beck series.

What are you currently writing?

Having decided to write a trilogy based on the Metropolitan Police’s Major Investigation Team East – who deal with murders in modern-day East End of London – I have discovered this is actually a ‘trilogy’ in four parts. And I am currently working on the final two parts of this series, the second book in the series – Geraldine – is being published at the end of September. 

However, I am also working on the plot of another book, an allegorical story of modern life.  It’s about a paranoid white suprematist who befriends a homeless Muslim woman – now if I can pull that off who knows what will come next …

What are the best and the worst things about being a writer?

I absolutely love the act of writing, editing and all aspects of the process – I become totally absorbed by it. Unfortunately, because I am naturally lazy, I completely hate the thought of having to start writing, editing or anything else connected with the process, and do all I can to put it off.

Life is full of contradictions.

#TheFourthVictim

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

My Thoughts…

The iconic setting of Whitechapel for this book puts you in the correct frame of mind for murder. Although this part of the EastEnd of London, is much changed, it seems the possibility of a serial killer is an uncomfortable echo of its gruesome past.

Detective Inspector Merry, who on the surface is anything but, and Detective Sergeant Lukula make an interesting an investigating duo. The other members of the murder investigating team are also distinctive, and despite their personality differences, the team functions well.

This is a character-driven police procedural, with well-drawn realistic characters whose multiple human frailties make them authentic. The plot gives heavier emphasis on the police team’s personal lives than is usual in a police procedural. This adds interest to the more routine parts of the story, but for some will detract from the main storyline.

The investigation of the crimes is detailed and well researched. There is also a mental health theme in this story, which is contemporary, and again, shows copious research.

The plot has twists and false information, and the ending draws everything together in a satisfying way.

John was born in the mid-fifties in East London, on part of the largest council estate ever built, and was the first pupil from his local secondary modern school to attend university. He has now taken early retirement to write, having spent the first part of his life working in education and the public sector. He was the director of a college, a senior school inspector for a local authority, and was head of a unit for young people with physical and mental health needs.

He has travelled extensively, from America to Tibet, and he enjoys visiting the theatre, reading and going to the pub. It is, perhaps, no surprise that he is an avid ‘people watcher’ and loves to find out about people, their lives, culture and history. When he is not travelling, going to the theatre or the pub; he writes.

Many of the occurrences recounted and the characters found in his novels are based on real incidents and people he has come across. Although he has allowed himself a wide degree of poetic licence in writing about the main characters, their motivations and the killings that are depicted.

John is currently working on a series of novels set in modern-day London. These police procedurals examine the darker side of modern life in the East End of the city.

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