Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Crime, Historical Crime Fiction

Arrowood and the Thames Corpses Mick Finlay 4* #Review @mickfinlay2 @HQStories #BlogTour #BookReview #HistoricalCrimeFiction #Victorian #London

South London, 1896.

William Arrowood, Victorian London’s less salubrious private detective, is paid a visit by Captain Moon, the owner of a pleasure steamer moored on the Thames. He complains that someone has been damaging his boat, putting his business in jeopardy.

Arrowood and his trusty sidekick Barnett suspect professional jealousy, but when a string of skulls is retrieved from the river, it seems like even fouler play is afoot.

It’s up to Arrowood and his trusty sidekick Barnett to solve the case, before any more corpses end up in the watery depths . . .

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

My Thoughts…

A run of the mill case for Arrowood and his assistant takes a sinister turn, leading to many bodies, and connections to a cold case. This is a dark, gritty historical crime thriller, set in Victorian London, which doesn’t shy away from the deprivation and danger. Graphic descriptions portray the setting, and ethos of the time, make it grisly reading but add to the historical authenticity.

Arrowood is enigmatic and not at all glamorous. but his knowledge of psychology sharpens his detective skills. His life is chaotic, but his crime-solving is exemplary. There are touches of humour in this story that lighten the noir quality, and the crime-fighting team, have a good dynamic.

Atmospheric, authentic and absorbing, with a cleverly crafted plot, and a cast of believably flawed historical characters.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Historical Crime Fiction, Historical Fiction

The Unreliable Death of Lady Grange 4*#Review Sue Lawrence @SueHLawrence @SarabandBooks @LoveBooksGroup #LoveBooksTours #HistoricalFiction #crime #historicalevent

Edinburgh, January 1732: It’s Lady Grange’s funeral. Her death is a shock: still young, she’d shown no signs of ill health. But Rachel is, in fact, alive. She’s been brutally kidnapped by the man who has falsified her death – her husband of 25 years, a pillar of society with whom she has raised a family. Her punishment, perhaps, for railing against his infidelity – or for uncovering evidence of his treasonable plottings against the government. Whether to conceal his Jacobite leanings or simply to `replace’ a wife with a long-time mistress, Lord Grange banishes Rachel to the remote Hebridean Monach Isles, until she’s removed again to distant St Kilda, far into the Atlantic – to an isolated life of primitive conditions, with no shared language – somewhere she can never be found. This is the incredible and gripping story of a woman who has until now been remembered mostly by her husband’s unflattering account. Sue Lawrence reconstructs a remarkable tale of how the real Lady Grange may have coped with such a dramatic fate, with courage and grace.

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

My Thoughts…

Lady Grange was an actual historical figure, and what happened to her is a matter of record. Nothing is known from Lady Grange’s point of view. This fictional story is an interpretation of, what her feelings may have been, and how those closest to her perceived her, and what happened to her.

The position of women in the eighteenth century is explored. Women’s rights were non-existent and they were effectively invisible. History reports Lady Grange as unbalanced, alcoholic and violent. The story doesn’t shy away from this but does put it into a believable perspective. Importantly, it attempts to switch the emphasis onto the actions of her husband, his abuse of her and his power.

The story is character-driven and told from key points of view. The strength of Lady Grange comes across in this story, and her willingness to share skills with the people she is left with, even with language barriers. The story focuses on a little known historical event, from a human point of view and delivers a great story with well researched historic detail and vibrant characters.

As well as writing popular historical thrillers, including Down to the Sea, Sue Lawrence is a leading cookery writer. After winning BBC’s MasterChef in 1991, she became a regular contributor to the Sunday Times, Scotland on Sunday and other leading magazines. Raised in Dundee, she now lives in Edinburgh. She has won two Guild of Food Writers Awards.

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

Murder at the Dolphin Hotel Helena Dixon 5*#Review #AMissUnderhayMystery @NellDixon @bookouture #cozymystery #MurderMystery #Devon #Dartmouth #1930s #MurderattheDolphinHotel #MondayBlogs

A room with a view… to murder

June 1933. Independent young Kitty Underhay has been left in charge of her family’s hotel, The Dolphin, on the tranquil English coast. She’s expecting her days at the bustling resort to be filled with comfortable chatter with chambermaids as they polish the mahogany desks and glittering candelabras of the elegant foyer. Everything must be perfect for the arrival of a glamorous jazz singer from Chicago and a masked ball that will be the cultural highlight of the season.

But when several rooms are broken into and searched, including Kitty’s own, she quickly realises that something out of the ordinary is afoot at the hotel. Soon rumours are flying in the cozy town that someone is on the hunt for a stolen ruby. A ruby that Kitty’s mother may well have possessed when she herself went missing during the Great War. And when the break-ins are followed by a series of attacks and murders, including of the town’s former mayoress, it seems the perpetrator will stop at nothing to find it.

Aided by ex-army captain Matthew Bryant, the Dolphin’s new security officer, Kitty is determined to decipher this mystery and preserve not only the reputation of her hotel but also the lives of her guests. Is there a cold-blooded killer under her own roof? And what connects the missing jewel to the mystery from Kitty’s own past?

A classic page-turning murder mystery! 

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

My Thoughts…

This murder mystery has a lovely sense of place and time. Dartmouth, Devon is a picturesque setting, and particularly atmospheric during the post-war period. The hotel is well described and easy to visualise, as are the cast of characters. The connection with Kitty’s past that this first mystery, in the series has, gives the story added depth and draws the reader into Kitty’s world.

Kitty is a complex, courageous character, who is easy to like. Her intelligence tempered by an innate naivety makes her the perfect heroine for this type of historical cozy mystery. Matt her partner in amateur sleuthing, has a complex and poignant past, which makes him an enigmatic puzzle, Kitty is eager to solve.

The mystery unwinds with many twists, suspects and murders. The relationship between Kitty and Matt strengthens, in part due to proximity and mutual neediness. You want them to overcome their emotional barriers and let their relationship develop.

The suspense develops well as the story progresses reaching a crescendo when Kitty’s natural curiosity leads her into danger. The ending is exciting and in keeping with the historical period. Part of the mystery remains unsolved, presumably to be revealed as the series progresses.

An easy to read a historical murder mystery, written in a cozy mystery style, which immerses you in the 1930s Devon, with authentic, complex characters and an engaging plot.

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

The Venice Atonement Merryn Allingham 5*#Review @MerrynWrites @canelo_co #Historical #CrimeFiction #1950s #Venice #Italy #Opera #BookReview #FridayReads

A tragic accident at the opera – or the murder of someone keeping dangerous secrets?

While watching the opera at La Fenice, Nancy Tremayne is shocked to see a woman fall to her death. But how did this tragedy occur?

Newlywed Nancy is accompanying her art professor husband, Leo, on a work trip. As she explores Italy’s beautiful city on the water, she is increasingly compelled to uncover the mysterious circumstances surrounding the woman’s death. Leo is adamant it was an accident but his assistant, Archie, reluctantly helps Nancy despite his seeming coldness to her. Nancy’s determination to reveal the facts puts her in harm’s way more than once. As she learns more about Venice’s secrets she realises she may be forced to make a choice – the truth, or her life?

An engaging and atmospheric historical crime novel.

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

My Thoughts…

An atmospheric vividly described murder mystery set in Venice Italy, with a courageous heroine, with a past, and a dark web of danger and deceit. Set in the mid-1950s, this story has a glamorous aura, associated with the period, and the iconic Italian setting.

The mystery is true to the British murder mystery style, with a cast of complex characters with hidden pasts, and secrets. The mystery, which begins with a tragic event, leads Nancy on a dark and sometimes life-threatening exploration to find the truth.

She goes against the wishes of her seeming beguine, but controlling new husband, and forms an unexpected alliance. Archie is reluctant to help but feels honour bound to.

The subsequent relationship between Nancy and Archie is interesting, but not concluded. The backstory of Nancy and Leo’s marriage is also revealed as the story progresses. All of the main protagonists are diverse and engaging, as are the situations and settings Nancy is drawn into, in her quest for the truth.

The ending ties up the strands of the mystery well. A complex, historically true murder mystery, set in a wonderfully glamorous, yet sinister Venice.

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

Children of Fire Paul C.W.Beatty 3*#Review @cw_beatty #TheBookGuild #HistoricalFiction #MurderMystery #CrimeFiction #19thCentury #BlogBlitz #BookReview @rararesources #RachelsRandomResources

#ChildrenofFire

Can Josiah solve the puzzle before more people die, or is he out of his depth?

In 1841, at the height of the industrial revolution in the North West of England, Josiah Ainscough returns from his travels and surprises everyone by joining the Stockport Police Force, rather than following his adopted father’s footsteps into the Methodist ministry.

While Josiah was abroad, five men died in an explosion at the Furness Vale Powder Mill. Was this an accident or did the Children of Fire, a local religious community, have a hand in it. As Josiah struggles to find his vocation, his investigation into the Children of Fire begins. But his enquiries are derailed by the horrific crucifixion of the community’s leader.

Now Josiah must race against time to solve the puzzle of the violence loose in the Furness Vale before more people die. This is complicated by his affections for Rachael, a leading member of the Children of Fire, and the vivacious Aideen Hayes, a visitor from Ireland.

Can Josiah put together the pieces of the puzzle, or is he out of his depth? Children of Fire won the Writing Magazine’s Best Novel Prize for 2017

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

My Thoughts…

A curious mix of the historical fiction and murder mystery genres. The story is rich in historical detail and has a well-plotted murder mystery. The suspects are plentiful and the murders are vividly written. Josiah is a complex detective, who is ambitious, with secrets of his own.

The setting of the story in Victorian England, in an industrial setting, is of intrinsic interest, and the focus on a radical religious group explores, prejudice, religion and the communities that evolved, in the wake of the industrial revolution.

Its originality is appealing and it will suit those who appreciate historical fiction with a contemporary dash of a murder mystery.

Paul C.W.Beatty

His latest novel, Children of Fire, is a Victorian murder mystery set in 1841 at the height of the industrial revolution. It won the Writing Magazine’s Best Novel Award in November 2017 and is published by The Book Guild Ltd. 

Paul lives near Manchester in the northwest of England. Children of Fire is set against the hills of the Peak District as well as the canals and other industrial infrastructure of the Cottonopolis know as the City of Manchester.

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

Death Makes No Distinction Lucienne Boyce 4*#Review @LucienneWrite #historicalfiction #CrimeFiction #18Century #Mystery #historicalcrimefiction #London #socialclass #BowStreetRunner #ADanFosterMystery @SilverWoodBooks @rararesources

#DeathMakesNoDistinction

Two women at opposite ends of the social scale, both brutally murdered.

Principal Officer Dan Foster of the Bow Street Runners is surprised when his old rival John Townsend requests his help to investigate the murder of Louise Parmeter, a beautiful writer who once shared the bed of the Prince of Wales. Her jewellery is missing, savagely torn from her body. Her memoirs, which threaten to expose the indiscretions of the great and the good, are also missing.

Frustrated by the chief magistrate’s demand that he drop the investigation into the death of the unknown beggar woman, found savagely raped and beaten and left to die in the outhouse of a Holborn tavern, Dan is determined to get to the bottom of both murders. But as his enquiries take him into both the richest and the foulest places in London, and Townsend’s real reason for requesting his help gradually becomes clear, Dan is forced t face a shocking new reality when the people he loves are targeted by a shadowy and merciless adversary.

The investigation has suddenly got personal.

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

My Thoughts…

The third book in the Dan Foster Mystery series reads well as a standalone, but to fully appreciate Dan’ previous life, I presume reading the first two books in the series would be best.

Two murders, both women who died brutally. One lived on the fringes of the gentry, the other in abject poverty. Yet both were victims, and ultimately in death, they were the same.

Dan is channelled into investigating the murder of the ex-mistress of the Prince of Wales but wants justice for the poorer woman too. A third mystery has personal significance for Dan. The plot is complex, but well-paced and the three mysteries keep the reader interested and intrigued.

The Georgian era is the perfect setting for crime fiction. The disparity between the wealthy and poor is marked, and both classes, prey on the other, in many criminal ways. The historical details and detection skills, show intricate care and give the reader a sense of time and place, which is essential for good historical crime fiction.

An absorbing walk on the dark side of Georgian London, with a likeable detective and heinous crimes. Whilst exploring the social class divide and the low status of women in the 18th century.

#LucienneBoyce

Lucienne Boyce writes historical fiction, non-fiction and biography. After gaining an MA in English Literature (with Distinction) with the Open University in 2007, specialising in eighteenth-century fiction, she published her first historical novel, To The Fair Land, in 2012, an eighteenth-century thriller set in Bristol and the South Seas.

Her second novel, Bloodie Bones: A Dan Foster Mystery (2015) is the first of the Dan Foster Mysteries and follows the fortunes of a Bow Street Runner who is also an amateur pugilist. Bloodie Bones was joint winner of the Historical Novel Society Indie Award 2016 and was also a semi-finalist for the M M Bennetts Award for Historical Fiction 2016. The second Dan Foster Mystery, The Butcher’s Block, was published in 2017 and was awarded an IndieBrag Medallion in 2018. The third in the series, Death Makes No Distinction, was published in 2019. In 2017 an e-book Dan Foster novella, The Fatal Coin, was trade published by SBooks.

In 2013, Lucienne published The Bristol Suffragettes, a history of the suffragette movement in Bristol and the west country. In 2017 she published a collection of short essays, The Road to Representation: Essays on the Women’s Suffrage Campaign.

Contributions to other publications include:-

‘Not So Militant Browne’ in Suffrage Stories: Tales from Knebworth, Stevenage, Hitchin and Letchworth (Stevenage Museum, 2019)

‘Victoria Lidiard’ in The Women Who Built Bristol, Jane Duffus (Tangent Books, 2018)

‘Tramgirls, Tommies and the Vote’ in Bristol and the First World War: The Great Reading Adventure 2014 (Bristol Cultural Development Partnership/Bristol Festival of Ideas, 2014)

Articles, interviews and reviews in various publications including Bristol Times, Clifton Life, The Local Historian, Historical Novels Review (Historical Novel Society), Nonesuch, Bristol 24/7, Bristol History Podcast, etc.

Lucienne has appeared on television and radio in connection with her fiction and non-fiction work. She regularly gives talks and leads walks about the women’s suffrage movement. She also gives talks and runs workshops on historical fiction for literary festivals, Women’s Institutes, local history societies, and other organisations. She has been a radio presenter on BCfm and a course tutor.

In 2018 she was instrumental in devising and delivering Votes for Women 100, a programme of commemorative events by the West of England and South Wales Women’s History Network in partnership with Bristol M Shed and others. She also campaigned and raised funds for a Blue Plaque for the Bristol and West of England Women’s Suffrage Society.

She is on the steering committee of the West of England and South Wales Women’s History Network and is also a member of the Historical Novel Society, the Society of Authors, and the Alliance of Independent Authors.

She is currently working on the fourth full-length Dan Foster Mystery and a biography of suffrage campaigner Millicent Browne.

Lucienne was born in Wolverhampton and now lives in Bristol.

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#ADanFosterMystery

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

The Missing Diamond Murder Diane Janes 3*#Review #ABlackandDodMystery @severnhouse #DianeJanes #MurderMystery #CozyMystery #HistoricalFiction #CrimeFiction

#TheMissingDiamondMurder

Frances Black leaves her domestic worries behind and travels to Devon to solve a family mystery featuring a suspicious death and a missing diamond.

1930. Frances Black is worried – divorce proceedings are underway and her solicitor has learnt of a spiteful letter sent to the court claiming that there is more to her friendship with her sleuthing partner, Tom Dod than meets the eye.

Fran takes Tom’s advice to get away, travelling down to Devon to help the Edgertons with their family mystery. After meeting the charismatic Eddie Edgerton and arriving at their residence, Sunnyside House, Fran soon learns that Eddie’s grandfather, Frederick Edgerton, died in mysterious circumstances when his wheelchair went off a cliff. Was it really an accident? And what happened to Frederick’s precious diamond which went missing at the time of his death? As Fran investigates, she uncovers family scandal, skulduggery and revenge, but can she solve the mystery of the missing diamond?

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

My Thoughts…

This is the third book in the Black and Dod mystery series, and the first I’ve read. This book reads as a standalone, The mystery is solved within the pages of this story, but I did feel I was missing out on the connection between the two main characters.

This story puts one half of the sleuthing duo at the helm. Frances heads to Devon, to avoid jeopardising her long-awaited and much-needed divorce and becomes a temporary house guest at a lovely country house in Devon. The 1930s setting and the upper-class elegance puts you in mind of Agatha Christie’s novels.

The family are mostly charming, and Fran finds she is the subject of one family member’s admiration. The mystery is two-fold, auspiciously she is invited to solve the riddle of the missing diamond, but a recent death occurred at the same time and she questions whether the two are connected.

I found the pacing a little slow, but the mystery is clever, and there is darkness hiding beneath the household’s lighthearted ethos, which gives the story depth. If possible read the series in order, and you will become familiar with the writing style and pace.