Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Crime, Guest post, Thriller

Death By Dark Waters – Jo Allen #BlogTour @Aria_Fiction @JoAllenAuthor #Crime #LakeDistrict #Cumbria #Detective #Guest Post -4 * #Review

The charred remains of a child are discovered – a child no one seems to have missed…

It’s high summer, and the lakes are in the midst of an unrelenting heat wave. Uncontrollable fell fires are breaking out across the moors faster than they can be extinguished. When firefighters uncover the body of a dead child at the heart of the latest blaze, Detective Chief Inspector Jude Satterthwaite’s arson investigation turns to one of murder.

Jude was born and bred in the Lake District. He knows everyone…and everyone knows him. Except his intriguing new Detective Sergeant, Ashleigh O’Halloran, who is running from a dangerous past and has secrets of her own to hide…

Temperatures – and tension – in the village are rising, and with the body, count rising Jude and his team race against the clock to catch the killer before it’s too late…

The first in the gripping, Lake District set, DCI Jude Satterthwaite series.

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Guest Post – Jo Allen – Death By Dark Waters – Turning to Crime

I used to be a romantic novelist. I suppose I still am. But I’ve always loved reading crime.

When I was younger I read Agatha Christie (possibly not that well-characterised but fantastic, page-turning plots); Dorothy Sayers (wonderful characters, superb writing but possibly a little dense); Ngaio Marsh (so dated now, but I did become engaged with her detective). I marvelled at the complicated plots and the twists in the tale. I really, really wanted to write that sort of thing, but it was just…too difficult.

I fell into a trap, I think, of believing that some genres were easier than others — romance was “easy” because it doesn’t need so many fiendish red herrings, for example — but I was wrong. Romance is just as difficult because although it appears formulaic you still have to create characters who keep the reader interested and you have a plot that depends not on what happens in the end (spoiler: it’s happy) but on how you get there.

My first novels, if you can call them that, were ‘crime’. There was a mystery about a stolen ruby and a less-than-probable tale about a Cold War plot in the skiing world cup. (There was also a one-act play about match-fixing in international cricket which eventually proved prescient.)

But these were all rubbish, truly poor, no research, terrible plotting…every mistake in the book. I moved on to things that didn’t really require research, or not in the same way. In 2014, after many rejections, I finally had my first novel, a romance, published. But even as I practised writing I was still reading crime and thrillers.

It was in 2017, in September as I recall, that I was wandering about in the Lake District musing on what to write next when it suddenly dawned on me. The tools for a successful book are the same whatever genre you write in. You need to be able to structure a plot, create a location and (probably most importantly) develop your characters. And on that walk, Death in Dark Waters was born, and I realised that, after all, I could write crime…

So now I can introduce you to DCI Jude Satterthwaite and his cases. The first of them, in Death by Dark Waters, begins with an unidentified dead body in a burning barn. Whodunnit? Read the book to find out…

Jo Allen was born in Wolverhampton and is a graduate of Edinburgh, Strathclyde and the Open University. After a career in economic consultancy, she took up writing and was first published under the name Jennifer Young in genres of short stories, romance and romantic suspense. In 2017 she took the plunge and began writing the genre she most likes to read – crime. Now living in Edinburgh, she spends as much time as possible in the English Lakes. In common with all her favourite characters, she loves football (she’s a season ticket holder with her beloved Wolverhampton Wanderers) and cats. Twitter Facebook

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


My Thoughts…

Set in the Cumbrian Lake District ‘Death By Dark Waters’ features a troubled Detective Chief Inspector – Jude Satterthwaite and his team as they investigate a death on the hills close to Haweswater. Forensically there is little to go on and the team have to rely on their detection skills to solve the crime.

Jude’s personal life is challenging, he is driven and seeks the control he needs, through his career, which is so lacking in his emotional life. Ashleigh O’Halloran, newly transferred from Cheshire, presents as a confident professional, not afraid to challenge her colleagues. She is a distraction for Jude who shies away from emotional ties.

There is a considerable amount of introspection and emotional angst, in this story, it is an unusual style for a crime novel but does give the story an original angle. The police procedural is believable and, the plot has enough suspects and twists to hold your attention. The pacing is slow but this is to be expected in a new series when characters have to be introduced and their motivations and flaws explored. The crime is grizzly but the descriptions aren’t overly explicit. Instead, the reader is allowed to imagine the scene.

The action really takes off halfway through the story, when a significant plot twist occurs. I thought I’d solved it, and I did guess who, but the motivation for the crime is sinister and twisted and not revealed until the end.

On balance, I empathise with the troubled detective and look forward to more crime solving.

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Posted in Book Review, Crime, Suspense, Thriller

The Secrets – Jane Adams – 4* #Review @JoffeBooks @janeadamsauthor #Crime #Detective

WHAT DOES HE KNOW? Threatening phone calls, smashed windows, physical intimidation. Eric Pearson and his family have only just moved into a new home in a sleepy cul-de-sac, but they already have dangerous enemies.

How could a respectable family become the focus of such hatred? Detective Inspector Mike Croft knows the Pearson family well. Eric Pearson claims to own a journal which gives evidence of a horrifying ring of abusers. If true, it would be a high stakes case for DI Croft and expose awful secrets that the town has buried deep. But no one wants to believe the dark conspiracies of this friendless and bitter man. Then a body is found on the edge of Bright’s Wood, wrapped in a black bag. DI Croft must confront evil which threatens to rip apart everyone in the community.

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

My Thoughts…

DI Mike Croft is a dedicated, likeable detective, with a tragic past, which makes him empathise with the crime victims he comes into contact with. Croft works with the other characters in his unofficial team to solve his latest investigation into a child abuse ring. This is a sensitive subject but handled well by the author. Corruption and a cover-up are suspected, but difficult to prove.

The plot is well written, with suspense and police procedural details. Set in the late 1990s, the retro element gives it another layer of authenticity and interest. There are many strands to the investigation, which all become connected as the story progresses, It deals with issues prevalent in the nineties, as they are today. The pacing is good and the story flows well, making it easy to read.

Posted in Book Review, Domestic Thriller, Family Drama, Noir, Suspense, Thriller

Little Darlings -Melanie Golding – 5* #Review – #Author #Interview @HQStories @HQDigital @mk_golding #Thriller #MentalHealth #Folklore #WednesdayWisdom #WednesdayThoughts

THE TWINS ARE CRYING. 
THE TWINS ARE HUNGRY.

LAUREN IS CRYING. 
LAUREN IS EXHAUSTED.

Behind the hospital curtain, someone is waiting . . .

Lauren is alone on the maternity ward with her new-born twins when a terrifying encounter in the middle of the night leaves her convinced someone is trying to steal her children. Lauren, desperate with fear, locks herself and her sons in the bathroom until the police arrive to investigate.

When DS Joanna Harper picks up the list of overnight incidents that have been reported, she expects the usual calls from drunks and wrong numbers. But then a report of an attempted abduction catches her eye. The only thing is that it was flagged as a false alarm just fifteen minutes later.

Harper’s superior officer tells her there’s no case here, but Harper can’t let it go so she visits the hospital anyway. There’s nothing on the CCTV. No one believes this woman was ever there. And yet, Lauren claims that she keeps seeing the woman and that her babies are in danger, and soon Harper is sucked into Lauren’s spiral of fear. But how far will they go to save children who may not even be in danger?

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 Little Darlings –  Blog Tour – Interview Questions – Melanie Golding

What inspired you to write this story?

I began with a re-telling of an obscure folktale which features in the book, A Brewery of Eggshells. After a while, I started thinking about who thought it up in the first place and why. I thought maybe it was actually about postpartum depression and psychosis. Either that or fairies were real….

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

Characters begin as amalgamations of people I know; maybe they have one or two opinions in common with someone in real life. After a while, they become real people that live in my head, with no connection to anyone outside of it apart from the few seeds I might have used to create them. Often they are or contain aspects of myself, extrapolated.

When you write, what comes first, the characters, the plot or the setting? Why do you think this is?

The story comes first, and the characters are part of that; the story wouldn’t be happening to anyone else, it’s always because of something the characters are or are involved in. The setting is very important, but it tends to grow up around the story.

What made you decide to become a writer and why does this genre appeal to you?

I think writing for many people is unavoidable. However, I did make a conscious choice to switch from writing lyrics and music to writing novels, as performing never seemed to fit around my personal life. I’m so glad I did because it turns out I’m a lot more successful, for whatever reason, at writing novels than being a singer/songwriter.

What sort of books do you enjoy reading and why?

All books! I will read anything, everything, always. If there is text in front of my eyes it gets read. In the shower, I have to turn the shampoo bottle away or I’ll keep reading the back of it, over and over.

What’s the best thing about being a writer and the worst?

Best thing: solitude

Worst thing: loneliness

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

My Thoughts…

Where to start with this unusual thriller. It is a curious mix of folklore and medicine, seen from Lauren’s point of view, she is acting sanely to ensure her babies are safe. Seen from a medical perspective she has mental health issues, most likely puerperal psychosis. The question is what do you believe, and even at the end of the story, I’m not sure.

This story resonates. In Victorian times any non-conformist behaviour was considered a mental aberration, many young women incarcerated in mental institutions, just because they had children out of wedlock, So perhaps, in this case, the truth lies somewhere in between the folklore and the medicine?

Intense and suspenseful, you are torn between Lauren’s anxiety and need to find her children, and the prospect that if she isn’t stopped innocents will suffer. It’s an intelligent thriller, with many layers and possibilities and a poignant ending that makes you wonder what if.

Lauren is an unreliable protagonist, but she is easy to empathise, even though part of you believes she may be dangerous. Harper is a complex character, a police detective, who is drawn to the case by her own history, and even though she finds answers she is still not sure she’s discovered the truth. The cast of supporting characters are essential and give the story depth and diversion.

Prefacing each chapter with folklore concerning Changelings, .the reader compare them with what is happening in the story, adding to its complexity.

This is a creepy, unsettling thriller, exploring the grey areas of mental health and the power of folklore, why did it originate, was it to explain why some mothers seemed to endanger their children, or is there a twisted truth, we don’t understand?

‘Little Darlings’ is disturbingly different.

Posted in Book Review, Crime, Mystery, Thriller

#Hound -Ken Ogilvie -3* #Review @JoffeBooks #Thriller #mystery #Crime #Canada #DetectiveRebeccaBradley

Do you love mysteries with intricate plots and new locations? Meet Detective Rebecca Bradley as she faces an escaped serial killer whose next target is the policewoman herself.

Rebecca Bradley put serial killer Jackie Caldwell in prison. She had the assistance of Hound, a giant young man who’s in love with Rebecca. But then Jackie murders a prison guard and escapes. She heads north to her home town of Conroy, where she hides out in the forest to evade a massive police search. She’s burning with hatred for Rebecca and wants revenge for the financial ruin of her family twenty years ago in a gold mining scam by Rebecca’s villainous grandfather.

Jackie also hates Rebecca’s wealthy father, who betrayed and then helped the police apprehend Jackie’s sleazebag lover, Kingsley McBride. Hound pursues Jackie in a bone-chilling chase through the eastern Georgian Bay forest. He faces a race against time to save the woman he loves.

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

My Thoughts…

I like quirky characters and plots, but even though I like Hound and Rebecca, the main protagonists in this crime based mystery thriller, and the plot is complex, I couldn’t get into the story.

Set in Canada, the story is full of local dialect and expressions, but it is the writing style rather than the content that fails to resonate. There seems to be a narrator present, telling the story rather than letting the reader learn what’s happening through the main protagonist’s thoughts and experiences.

Despite the action-packed storyline, and the unreliability of the main protagonist, there is something missing for me and the story doesn’t realise its initial potential.

Posted in Book Review, Crime, International Thriller, Mystery, Thriller

Gone By Midnight – Candice Fox- 5* #Review @arrowpublishing @candicefoxbooks

 

They left four children safe upstairs.
They came back to three.
__________________

On the fifth floor of the White Caps Hotel, four young boys are left alone while their parents dine downstairs.

But when one of the parents checks on the children at midnight, they discover one of them is missing.

The boys swear they stayed in their room. CCTV confirms that none of them left the building. No trace of the child is found.

Now the hunt is on to find him before it’s too late – and before the search for a boy becomes a search for a body…

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I received an electronic advanced reading copy from Random House UK Cornerstone- Century via #NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

The third book in the Crimson Lake series, which reads well as a standalone book, features the hunt for a missing child.  

Ted, a former detective with a nightmare past, and his partner Amanda are the only ones likely to find the answers but everything is a constant battle, as they face conflict both internal and external before they can solve the mystery.

Ted and Amanda are clever and haunted, you empathise with them because of the past and continuing injustice the endured. It is their current mindset that makes them willing to take risks to get to the truth. Both their personal lives seem more optimistic at the end of this book, but you’re left wondering whether they can ever rebuild their emotional lives.

An atmospheric plot and setting are intrinsic to this intense crime, mystery thriller. It’s like working out a route in a maze. How did the boy disappear? Has he run away or been abducted? If so, who took him? Is he still alive? The plot unwinds with multiple possible outcomes and a multitude of probable suspects. The final twist is exciting and menacing with a surprising ending, worthy of this well- thought out story.

If you want to see what I thought of Redemption, the second book in the Crimson Lake series click here for my review.

 

Posted in Book Review, Crime, International Thriller, Mystery, Thriller

Gone By Midnight – Candice Fox- 5* #Review @arrowpublishing @candicefoxbooks

They left four children safe upstairs.
They came back to three.
__________________

On the fifth floor of the White Caps Hotel, four young boys are left alone while their parents dine downstairs.

But when one of the parents checks on the children at midnight, they discover one of them is missing.

The boys swear they stayed in their room. CCTV confirms that none of them left the building. No trace of the child is found.

Now the hunt is on to find him before it’s too late – and before the search for a boy becomes a search for a body…

Amazon UK

I received an electronic advanced reading copy from Random House UK Cornerstone- Century via #NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

My Thoughts…

The third book in the Crimson Lake series, which reads well as a standalone book, features the hunt for a missing child.  

Ted, a former detective with a nightmare past, and his partner Amanda are the only ones likely to find the answers but everything is a constant battle, as they face conflict both internal and external before they can solve the mystery.

Ted and Amanda are clever and haunted, you empathise with them because of the past and continuing injustice the endured. It is their current mindset that makes them willing to take risks to get to the truth. Both their personal lives seem more optimistic at the end of this book, but you’re left wondering whether they can ever rebuild their emotional lives.

An atmospheric plot and setting are intrinsic to this intense crime, mystery thriller. It’s like working out a route in a maze. How did the boy disappear? Has he run away or been abducted? If so, who took him? Is he still alive? The plot unwinds with multiple possible outcomes and a multitude of probable suspects.
The plot unwinds with multiple possible outcomes and a multitude of probable suspects. The final twist is exciting and menacing with a surprising ending, worthy of this well- thought out story.

If you want to see what I thought of Redemption, the second book in the Crimson Lake series click here for my review.

 

Posted in Book Review

Blog Tour: Anita Davison – The Bloomsbury Affair – Guest Post – Extract – 4* Review

1905 London is a heady mix of unimaginable wealth and simmering political tensions, and with war looming Flora Maguire wants to keep her family safe.

So when her beloved charge Viscount Edward Trent is accused of murder, she’s determined not to leave the investigation to the police. Flora has trodden the path of amateur sleuth before, but with so much at stake, this time it’s personal.

Slowly the body of the victim found stabbed on a train bound for Paddington starts giving up its secrets, and Flora and her husband Bunny become mired in a murky world of spies, communists and fraudsters. And with the police more sure than ever that Edward is their murderer, Flora must work fast to keep him safe.

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Guest Post – Is Flora Maguire a Suffragist or a Suffragette? – Anita Davison

Book 3, A Knightsbridge Scandal is set in London in 1903 which was the year Emmeline Pankhurst broke away from the National Union of Women’s Social Societies and formed the controversial Women’s Social and Political Union.

My knowledge of Suffragettes was restricted to the scandal of the hunger strikes and Glynis John’s wearing a ‘Votes For Women’ banner in Mary Poppins – well perhaps not quite as simplistic as that, but my facts were sketchy so some serious research was called for.

As an intelligent, forward-thinking woman, it would be odd for me not to give Flora at least a passing interest in the movement. She treads carefully because as a former governess given entry into the middle class, she isn’t secure enough to make waves. By the time Flora gets involved,  Millicent Garrett Fawcett had been campaigning to instigate change in Parliament for women forty years before Emmeline Pankhurst threw her first brick through a window.

I imagine Mrs Fawcett, the sister of Elizabeth Garrett Anderson – England’s first female doctor, must have been dismayed by the ‘Deeds Not Words’ policy of the Pankhurst’s, whose methods would surely paint the movement as dangerous and uncontrolled. Many, and Flora is one of them, felt the Pankhurst’s put the movement back years by vandalism, arson attacks and dangerous stunts.

In 1908, one in three of the male population over 21 did not qualify for the ballot unless they owned property or paid a minimum rent of £10 a year. Younger men were happily conscripted to fight Britain’s wars, but had no vote, nor were they old enough to have a pint of beer in a pub. It was certainly a time of responsibility over rights.

That the ‘Votes For Women’ was aimed, initially at least, for women over thirty who owned property and personally paid taxes while domestic workers, shop girls, office staff and even teachers were excluded from their manifesto. The poor and indigent, men as well as women, weren’t seen as worthy of a vote in their own government.

The 1918 Representation of the People Act brought more than five million men over the age of 21 into the electorate without regard to property or class as well as over eight million women over 30; although the majority of these did not qualify for reasons of property ownership. It wasn’t until the 1928 Act that this changed.

Flora is a modern young woman who sees the need for change, but she isn’t the type to vandalise a work of art or chain herself to railings to make her point. She admires Mrs Garrett Fawcett’s principles as the way forward, but regards Mrs Pankhurst’s strategy will become a self-fulfilling prophesy in that women are what men believed all along; irresponsible, flighty creatures in need of guidance and control, incapable of choosing a government.

Also, with so many young men about to be killed in WWI, suppose the remaining women voters outnumbered the men? A prospect which must have terrified the Government of the day.

Flora is also keenly aware that had she remained a governess and not married a solicitor who owned property, she too would have been excluded from any legislation achieved by these women.

While in search of a murderer, Flora attends a National Union of Women’s Suffrage Society meeting and hears Miss Evelyn Sharp expound the new Women’s Social and Political Union formed in Manchester who advocates a campaign of civil disobedience.

As a result, Flora becomes a passive Suffragist, as opposed to a Suffragette. She believes society needs to be more equal, not just for wealthy, upper-class ladies who preside over tea tables in drawing rooms. That progress will be made naturally and organically, not by slashing paintings or setting fire to post boxes.

Millicent Fawcett worked tirelessly until her seventies for international women’s suffrage, the opening up university education to women, raising the age of consent, making horticulture a possible employment for women, criminalising incest, providing homes for middle-class working women, and even for offering a German ‘open-air treatment’ to tuberculosis sufferers.

An excellent Blog which provided me with facts and interesting stories on the Women’s Suffrage Movement is Elizabeth Crawford’s Women and Their Sphere:   https://womanandhersphere.com/

My Thoughts… 

Historical fiction with a murder mystery brings together two of my favourite genres. This is a later book in the ‘Flora Maguire series’, but it reads as a standalone. The mystery is created and solved within the book, and any backstory for the characters and their interrelationships is provided in the early chapters. 

England in 1905 was characterised by political intrigue and a shifting in the social and gender class systems.  This story uses the ethos of unrest to dramatise and authenticate the mystery Flora sets out to investigate. There are lots of historical facts, so the reader is able to step back in time as the story progresses.

Flora’s social conscience and independent spirit, make her an intriguing and believable protagonist.  Her husband Bunny is an excellent sidekick and the long-suffering Inspector, the essential final ingredient for this type of mystery.

Like all murder mysteries, the plot is twisty and full of false starts, with numerous suspects. The motive behind the mystery is well concealed and trying to decide what really happened is a satisfying experience.

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

Extract 

Chapter 2

Flora tugged her shawl tighter around her exposed shoulders and shivered in the cool wind gusting across the porch. It had been a warm day for April, but as night drew in, splatters of rain-streaked the windows from air cooled to a wintry chill. She raised a hand to wave at Alice who occupied the seat beside William in his two-seater Spyker motor car.

‘She’s a real beauty, isn’t she?’ Bunny sighed.

‘Indeed, she is.’ Flora leaned into her husband’s one-armed hug. ‘I hope I’ll look as good when I reach Alice’s age.’

‘I meant William’s motor car.’

Flora tutted, nudging him. ‘Our Berliet is perfectly adequate and far more practical. Besides, there would be no need for a chauffeur and you would have to discharge Timms.’

‘Hmm, I hadn’t thought of that.’ He followed the gleaming green vehicle with his eyes until it disappeared around the corner.

Flora knew the prospect of losing Timms would not appeal. The chauffeur’s previous employer, a former client of the firm of solicitors Bunny worked for had been jailed for fraud. On learning that the man’s out-of-work valet was also a keen amateur mechanic, Bunny installed him in the mews behind the house. The pair spent hours tinkering with the engine of Bunny’s beloved motor car; more like friends than employer and chauffeur. In their brown coveralls and with their heads ducked beneath the metal hood, even Flora was hard put to tell them apart.

‘Well, despite the host’s unexplained absence, I think the evening was a success.’ Flora returned to the relative warmth of the hallway.

‘I’ve already apologized for that.’ Bunny tightened his arm around her and nuzzled her hair just above her ear before guiding her back into the sitting room, where Stokes was clearing away the coffee cups and empty brandy glasses. ‘You do realize bringing them together without warning like that could have gone horribly wrong? Suppose they had harboured some long-buried resentment in the intervening years, or worse, didn’t like the person they had each become?’

‘That didn’t occur to me,’ Flora lied. ‘I was confident they would behave as if the last twenty years had never happened.’

‘William couldn’t keep the smile off his face, and all those long looks.’ Bunny chuckled.

‘He was like a young boy with his first tendre.’

‘Except this particular tendre had already produced a grown-up daughter.’ Flora summoned a distracted smile, her thoughts still on William and whether or not he might be recalled to Russia if the situation there worsened.

‘Stokes,’ Bunny halted the butler on his way out with a loaded tray. ‘Before you retire, would you kindly bring us some fresh coffee?’

‘Of course, sir.’ Stokes bowed and left.

‘None for me, thank you.’ Flora frowned. ‘I shan’t be able to sleep. After such a long day, I would have thought cocoa would have been more appropriate’

‘Coffee.’ Bunny’s eyes hardened and he caressed her shoulder. ‘I have a feeling we might need it.’

‘You’ve been very distracted tonight,’ Flora dragged her thoughts back to the present. ‘Are you sure something isn’t bothering you?’

‘Don’t change the subject. We were talking about your parents.’ Bunny took the place beside Flora on the sofa. ‘I sensed at some point during the evening you became somewhat tense.’ 

‘Did I?’ She sighed having hoped he had not noticed. ‘You might think I’m being selfish, but in all the drama of getting them together again, the past – my past has been overlooked.  I still don’t understand why Riordan told everyone that Alice, or Lily as she was known then, had died.’

‘She left him, Flora. Did it occur to you that might have hurt his pride? Pretending to be a widower meant no one would whisper about him behind his back.’

Flora silently acknowledged he was probably right. Her mother had married the head butler at Cleeve Abbey when she had fallen pregnant by William. The family had made it clear a marriage between Lily and William was out of the question and sent him abroad. Too young and overawed by their respective families to fight back, they had both obeyed. However William pined in America and Lily was miserable at home, until she could stand no more and ran away leaving Flora behind to be raised by the man she married to preserve her reputation. 

Riordan Maguire had adored Flora and despite Lily’s urging, had refused to let her see Flora again, preferring to explain away her absence by spinning a story acceptable for a child.

‘Wouldn’t it be wonderful if William and Alice found happiness together after all this time? It’s just—’ she broke off, smothering a yawn at the reappearance of Stokes who set down a tray in front of them, wished them both goodnight and withdrew.

‘I’m going up to bed. Enjoy your coffee.’ As she rose to leave, he grasped her hand and tugged her gently onto the squab.

‘Could you give me a moment, Flora? There’s something I need to tell you. Well, more show you actually.’

‘Something which explains why you were late for dinner?’ she asked, yawning again.

‘In a way.’ He stood, one hand held palm downwards in a command for her to stay. ‘Wait here. I’ll be back in a moment.’

‘Can’t whatever it is keep until morn—’ she broke off with a sigh as she addressed an empty room.

More for something to do than a desire for some coffee, she poured herself a cup and stirred in milk, the gentle tinkling of silver against china the only sound in the room as the hot, aromatic coffee triggered her senses.

The evening she had anticipated with such pleasure should have been one for celebration, but as she had observed her parents smile at each other across her dining table, all her unresolved feelings had resurfaced.

The knowledge that Lily Maguire had cared for other people’s children in a London hospital while her own daughter grew up without her remained a cruel irony. That Alice had instigated contact again went some way to compensating for the past, although a deep-seated antipathy persisted for all the lost years in between.

Flora’s childhood had been far from unhappy with Riordan Maguire, who had always been a loving parent if an uncompromising one. His halo had slipped slightly when she discovered he had known Lily had been alive all this time. He had even destroyed the letters she sent him pleading for forgiveness.  Letters Flora had known nothing about, but which Alice had told her she had written in an effort to see her again. That he had been killed protecting Flora made it impossible to harbour bitterness against him, but also meant he could never explain.

At the sound of the rear hall door closing, she returned her cup to its saucer. The smile she had summoned in anticipation of Bunny’s return faded instantly when she realized he was not alone. A young man with light brown hair hovered a pace behind him, his head down and shoulders hunched as if unsure of his welcome. He lifted his head, his eyes meeting Flora’s for a second before he ducked away, his cheeks flushed red.

‘Eddy!’ A shaft of delighted recognition ran through her and she leapt to her feet, crossed the room in two strides. ‘How lovely to see you. But why are you here this late? Has something happened?’

Born in London, Anita has always had a penchant for all things historical. She now lives in the beautiful Cotswolds, the backdrop for her Flora Maguire mysteries.    Twitter  Website