Posted in Book Review, Cozy Mystery, Murder Mystery

The Flower Show Murder Faith Martin 5*#Review @JoffeBooks @Faith Martin_Nov #murdermystery #MonicaNobleMystery #VicarsWife #The Cotswolds #The FlowerShowMurder #cozymystery

#TheFlowerShowMurder

SMELL THE ROSES AND DIE!

Monica Noble is thrilled to be asked to judge a neighbouring village’s flower show, even if she can’t tell a begonia from an azalea! Her fellow judge Vicar James Davies inhales deeply from a large bloom and drops dead in the tent. At first, everyone thinks he’s had a heart attack, but the doctor on hand is suspicious and calls in the police. A second murder quickly follows, this time of one of the main suspects. Monica must help the Chief Inspector Jason Dury to solve the two murders and find the killer —fast before anyone else pays the ultimate price.

This is the second of a series of enjoyable murder mysteries with great characters and baffling crimes which will keep you gripped till the final page

MONICA NOBLE was widowed young, leaving her to raise her feisty daughter on her own. That is, until she met and fell in love with Graham Noble, a country vicar (pastor), who enticed her to leave her high-flying job in advertising in the city and move to the Cotswold countryside. There she found bucolic life very pleasant indeed — until murder started to rear its ugly head. And she discovered, to everyone’s surprise, that she had a flair for solving the most unholy of crimes.

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

My Thoughts…

Like all good murder mystery, this begins with the introduction of numerous characters, possible reasons for them to dislike each other, and careful setting of the murder scene. It is part of the charm of this genre, and the Monica Noble mystery series does this so well.

The setting at a village flower shower is atmospheric and true to life, the sense of community, gossiping and rivalry are perfect, as the reader tries to work out who is going to be the victim. This story has a good twist at an early stage, and the reader immediately has to pursue two strands of investigation.

The familiar set of regular characters are beautifully written, Graham, the kind, handsome vicar, who dotes on his younger, loving wife Monica, Carol Anne the rebellious teenager, who always has an angle, or a new project, but is pleasantly naive, and still in need of her mother’s guidance. Then there is the enigmatic DCI Jason Dury, who dislikes the inconvenient chemistry between the well-like vicar’s wife and himself. The frisson of desire simmers under the surface, there but barely acknowledged.

The murder has a techno criminal aspect, and many suspects, and motives, it makes pleasurable reading and challenging investigating for lovers of whodunnit mystery. The characters and setting are vividly portrayed and easy to visualise, this would make a wonderful TV show.

Another engaging adventure for the Vicar and his clever wife.

Posted in Book Review, Cozy Mystery, Crime, Magic, Murder Mystery, Paranormal, Romance

A Spell of Murder Kennedy Kerr 5*#Review @bookouture @KennedyKerr5 #CozyMystery #magic #Scotland #loch #BookReview #LostMaidensLochMystery #Witches #psychic #paranormal #policeprocedural #murdermystery

#ASpellofMurder

In the sleepy town of Lost Maidens Loch, people sometimes disappear…

Down a quiet lane in town sits a little shop full of oddities you’d probably miss if you weren’t looking for it. This is Love’s Curiosities Inc., and its owner, Temerity Love, is sought by experts all over the world for her rare and magical gift: the ability to find lost things and learn their stories.

When Lost Maidens’ pretty local school teacher is found murdered by a poisoned cup of tea, a strange antique hand mirror is discovered nearby. Temerity – with the help of witchy sister Tilda, their cats Scylla and Charybdis and the lovingly eccentric local townspeople – is determined to divine the story behind the mirror and its part in Miss Molly Bayliss’ untimely death.

If only grumpy out-of-towner Angus Harley of Lost Maidens Police wasn’t on the scene. Temerity can’t solve the crime without him, but he’s distracting, and in more ways than one. Can this unconventional duo solve the most mysterious murder ever to blight Lost Maidens Loch before the killer strikes again?

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

This story has all the ingredients for a perfect escape. Cozy mystery, with a touch of magic, and vividly created characters and setting. Set in a small town in the Scottish Highlands, the loch has a mystical significance, well understood by psychic Temerity, and her herbalist sister Tilda. Temerity’s gift manifested when her first love died tragically at the Loch, something she feels inherently guilty for. Both women feel tied to the small town and they are intrinsic to its wellbeing.

The villagers accept the women, although gossip has it that they are witches, with their two seemingly lazy cats and an opinionated parrot. Temerity’s give for psychometry, has proved useful to the police in the past, but the new officer in the town isn’t convinced. Maybe he’s worried about his secrets?

There is so much in this first book to absorb the reader and capture their interest. The setting is authentic and described so well that you can visualise it. The mystical ethos, and legend that surrounds it add to its appeal. The protagonists are complex characters full of flaws and hidden layers. Some of which, are revealed in this book. Some are hinted at, to be revealed later in the series? The small-town dynamic works, the sense of community and gossip is evident. The cast of characters colourful and mostly easy to like.

The magical, witchy element is the icing on the cake, not too far-fetched, but outer-worldly enough to appeal. The cozy mystery is cleverly plotted, with lots of suspects, a dastardly murder, and plenty of clues and misinformation, to engage those who enjoy this.

A brilliant start to what promises to be an enchanting series, with wide appeal because we all need a little magic in our lives.

Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Guest post, Murder Mystery, Travel

Palm Trees In The Pyrenees Elly Grant 4*#Review #Creativia #EllyGrant #Pyrenees #SouthofFrance #MurderMystery #Noir #Satire #BlogTour #GuestPost #BookReview @rararesources #DeathInThePyrenees

A rookie cop, a dash of mysterious death, and a heap of suspicion – as the heat rises, lethal tensions boil over in the Pyrenees.

Unappreciated, unnoticed, and passed over for promotion, thirty-year-old Danielle’s fledgling career in law enforcement is going nowhere – until the unexpected death of a hated Englishman turns her small town upside down.

Set in the idyllic south of France, Palm Trees in the Pyrenees is the first whodunit novel in Elly Grant’s thrilling murder mystery series. Against a background of prejudice, jealousy, and greed, Danielle pieces together the sparse clues of a fractured homicide. But will she find enough evidence to solve the case – and get the recognition she deserves?

Amazon UK

Creativia

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

My Thoughts…

Superficially, this story, the first book in the ‘Death In The Pyrenees’ series, seems like a cozy mystery, set in the South of France. It does have many of the attributes of a cozy read; multiple suspects, a dramatic murder, a small, close knit quirky community, but as the story progresses, the reader appreciates that the story is more than this.

The bullying, malicious gossip and prejudice, Danielle the town’s solitary police presence uncovers ,gives this story a strong noir element. Corruption, drugs and vice, are all themes alluded to, in this story, which is a hybrid between a murder mystery and a police procedural.

Written in the first person, from Danielle’s point of view, her compassion, dedication and naivety, help the reader to see what lies beneath, the friendly, safe ethos, the town projects. She is easy to like, and gives this story a unique perspective that engages the reader from the first page. There is a retro feeling to this story, where even though the problems are contemporary, the community and personal beliefs and motivations are not.

The plot is pacy, and the characters full of surprises. The mystery keeps most of its secrets until the final stages and the ending is well executed. An original murder mystery which keeps you reading happily until the last page.

Image Credit Elly Grant
Guest Post – Elly Grant – Palm Trees In The Pyrenees

When I first arrived in this region of the Eastern Pyrenees I was mesmerised. I had never seen an area that moved me so much. The mountains were magnificent, tree covered rocks with an impossible number of shades of green and dotted about them were luminous patches of bright yellow Mimosa giving the effect of a patchwork quilt. The sky was a deep turquoise and the lack of pollution meant everything seemed clean and fresh as if the scene had been newly painted. It was hard to believe that what I was seeing was real and not just some beautiful dream I would wake from. Indeed, I was so enthralled, I was frightened to leave the place, in case, ‘Brigadoon’ style, it would disappear, not to be seen again for 100 years. Consequently, together with my husband, Zach Abrams, and within a few days, we managed to locate and buy a small, low-priced property to enjoy as a holiday home. After that, it took only days before I had the idea of writing ‘Palm Trees in the Pyrenees’. As I walked through the small town or sat sipping wine in the sunshine outside one of the several cafes or bars, the story almost seemed to write itself. As I imagine is the case in any small town, there was much that was different from anything I’d experienced before. I observed the quirky way of life enjoyed by its inhabitants, and the many, sometimes unusual, local events. Who would have guessed that an artichoke festival would be so well attended? Not me, for sure. Then there were the family feuds, the jealousies, the prejudices, the slight mistrust of strangers. I sipped wine or drank coffee as my victims walked by, totally unaware that I was about to kill them on paper.

Image Credit Elly Grant

Being a small town nestled in the foothills of the Pyrenees, it came as no surprise to me that nobody seemed to speak English, and, having only a few words of French, meant that I had to learn the language quickly if I wanted to interact with local people. Consequently, the first people I had conversations with were the handful of ex-pats who lived in the area. But gradually, and with much effort on my part to integrate, I am now accepted as of the town, no longer merely a tourist, but not quite a local. Quite surprisingly, more and more of the locals will now speak to me in English if I have difficulty communicating in French. It seems that many of them do have the ability to converse in another language but choose not to do so with tourists. After all, they reason, it is the tourists who are the visitors and therefore it is they who should make the effort. The locals are not unfriendly, quite the reverse in fact; it is simply a matter of respect. And, as I’ve discovered, once you do gain their trust, they will go to great lengths to help or assist you.

Image Credit Elly Grant

After ‘Palm Trees in the Pyrenees’ was published, the subsequent books of the series seemed to pour out of me. I felt I couldn’t write them quickly enough. There was so much going on in my little town, so many things to observe that writing was a joy. I suppose that may seem rather strange considering I mostly write about crime, and not just any crime, but death and murder, in fact. But I do feel that this series is not all doom and gloom. My publisher calls these books ‘cosy crime’. I still kill people, but hopefully there is enough charm in the story telling so as not to cause my readers sleepless nights.

#EllyGrant

Hi, my name is Elly Grant and I like to kill people. I use a variety of methods. Some I drop from a great height, others I drown, but I’ve nothing against suffocation, poisoning or simply battering a person to death. As long as it grabs my reader’s attention, I’m satisfied.

I’ve written several novels and short stories. My first novel, ‘Palm Trees in the Pyrenees’ is set in a small town in France. It is the first book of my ‘Death in the Pyrenees series and they are all published by Creativia. The others in the series are, ‘Grass Grows in the Pyrenees’, ’Red Light in the Pyrenees’, ’Dead End in the Pyrenees’, ‘Deadly Degrees in the Pyrenees’ and ‘Hanging Around in the Pyrenees’. Creativia has also published my grittier crime novels set in Glasgow, ‘The Unravelling of Thomas Malone’ and ‘The Coming of the Lord’ as well as my thriller, ‘Death at Presley Park’.  Also published are my Romance ‘Never Ever Leave Me, as well as a collaboration on the quirky black comedy ‘But Billy Can’t Fly’ and short stories called ‘Twists and Turns’.


As I live much of the year in a small French town in the Eastern Pyrenees, I get inspiration from the way of life and the colourful characters I come across. I don’t have to search very hard to find things to write about and living in the most prolific wine producing region in France makes the task so much more delightful.

When I first arrived in this region I was lulled by the gentle pace of life, the friendliness of the people and the simple charm of the place. But dig below the surface and, like people and places the world over, the truth begins to emerge. Petty squabbles, prejudice, jealousy and greed are all there waiting to be discovered. Oh, and what joy in that discovery. So, as I sit in a café, or stroll by the riverside, or walk high into the mountains in the sunshine, I greet everyone I meet with a smile and a ‘Bonjour’ and, being a friendly place, they return the greeting. I people-watch as I sip my wine or when I go to buy my baguette. I discover quirkiness and quaintness around every corner. I try to imagine whether the subjects of my scrutiny are nice or nasty and, once I’ve decided, some of those unsuspecting people, a very select few, I kill.

Perhaps you will visit my town one day. Perhaps you will sit near me in a café or return my smile as I walk past you in the street. Perhaps you will hold my interest for a while, and maybe, just maybe, you will be my next victim. But don’t concern yourself too much, because, at least for the time being, I always manage to confine my murderous ways to paper.

Read books from the ‘Death in the Pyrenees’ series, enter my small French town and meet some of the people who live there —– and die there.

Alternatively read about life on some of the hardened streets of Glasgow or for something different try my other books and short stories.

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#PalmTreesInThePyrenees

Posted in Book Review, Crime, Murder Mystery, Mystery

Taken To The Grave M.M. Chouinard 4* #Review @bookouture @m_m_chouinard #MurderMystery #policeprocedural #CrimeFiction #USA #DetectiveJoFournier #BookReview #bookblogger

In a town full of secrets, the truth won’t stay buried

When a girl’s body is discovered in a park in the sleepy Massachusetts town of Oakhurst, local detective Jo is shocked to the core. Because the girl is the second innocent victim to turn up dead in three days. And just like the first, a tarot card has been left by the body. The meaning of the card: betrayal.

After uncovering a series of threatening messages targeting the girl, a student at the university, and the first victim, her teacher, Jo thinks she’s locked the killer in her cross-hairs. The primary suspect is a volatile ex-military student with an axe to grind for failing grades, and the frightened town is out for his blood. But the next day, a much-loved member of the community is found dead in her home, a tarot card in her mail. There’s no clear motive to link her death to the others, and the message on the card this time is even stranger: domestic bliss.

With a fourth body and card appearing the following day, Jo knows she’s running out of time to crack the code and bring the killer to justice. And the pressure only gets worse with heart-breaking news about Jo’s father forcing her to choose between helping her family heal or the victims’ families get justice. Can Jo find the twisted murderer sending the town into a panic before another life is lost? Or this time, will the dangerous killer find her first?

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

Set in Massachusetts USA, this is a well-paced police procedural , featuring Detective Josette Fournier and her partner Bob Arnett. The second in the series, it reads perfectly as a standalone,with sufficient back story on the main protagonist, cleverly interwoven into the story as a subplot. Jo is a committed, career woman, with a tragic past that makes the job her life. She doesn’t have relationships, only occasional lovers, and the reasons for this become clearer as the story progresses. She has a tense relationship with her younger sister that is forced into focus, when their father has health issues. This causes her additional problems, as she is the middle of a murder case.

The noir murder mystery is told from the detective’s point of view, and also the antagonist’s. Even with this additional view point, because of the numerous suspects, it is difficult to pinpoint the culprit. The police procedural element of the story is authentic. The murders are shocking, but not unduly, there is just enough detail to illustrate how driven the murderer is.

Jo Fournier is a good character, she is complex, and her emotional damage makes her interesting, and easy to empathise. The mystery is well-plotted with lots of suspects, and clues, I did solve part, but not all of the mystery, which engages the reader. The characters are believable and easy to imagine, and I look forward to reading their next case.

Posted in Book Review, Cozy Mystery, Murder Mystery

The Vicarage Murder Faith Martin 5*#Review @FaithMartin_Nov @JoffeBooks #MonicaNobleDetective #MurderMystery #CozyMystery #VicarsWife #TheCotswolds

IN A QUIET COTSWOLD VILLAGE ALL HELL IS ABOUT TO BREAK LOOSE Monica Noble is throwing a party to welcome the village’s new residents. The guests include Margaret and her cheating husband Sean, who’s a celebrity chef. Also on the list are an Oxford university professor, a 40-something divorcee, and the owner of a chain of gyms.

Then as the drinks are flowing, a shotgun blast rings out. One of the guests is found dead.

DCI Dury and Sergeant Jim Greer are soon on the scene and discover that the victim had many enemies. Almost all the guests harbour secrets and motives for murder. Even Monica’s daughter comes under suspicion. When another villager is strangled to death nearly a week later, the stakes are raised. Can Monica help the local detectives save her daughter and solve the murders before anyone else pays the ultimate price?

MONICA NOBLE was widowed young, leaving her to raise her feisty daughter on her own. That is until she met and fell in love with Graham Noble, a country vicar (pastor), who enticed her to leave her high-flying job in advertising in the city and move to the Cotswold countryside. There she found bucolic life very pleasant indeed — until murder started to rear its ugly head. And she discovered, to everyone’s surprise, that she had a flair for solving the most unholy of crimes.

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

I read so many books, but I do love a good murder mystery to escape and relax with. This revamped series from Faith Martin, (formerly published under the pen name Joy Cato), is a perfect example.

Monica, the vicar’s wife has left her high-powered advertising career and the glamour of London because she fell in love with a country vicar. It has to be said that the vicar is charming, clever and compassionate, and even though there is an age difference, they are compatible in every way.

The garden party is the perfect setting for a murder, and the author doesn’t disappoint. The cast of characters are flawed and in some cases unlikeable, but they are relatable. It’s not hard to spot the most likely person to be murdered. Finding the murderer is not so easy, as the detectives and later Monica discover. The plot twists again when it seems resolved. making the ending a surprise.

A lighthearted, cosy style murder mystery, with a clever, unassuming amateur sleuth and a vibrant, twisty plot. No wonder ‘The Cotswolds’ is so sought after.

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

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

A Fatal Secret Faith Martin 5*#Review @HQDigitalUK @FaithMartin_Nov #PublicationDay #CrimeFiction #Mystery #Retro #Oxford #1960s #BookReview #bookbloggers #BlogTour #RyderandLoveday

#AFatalSecret

A family day out at Briar’s Hall ends in tragedy when a young boy goes missing – and his body is found at the bottom of a disused well in the orchard.

It looks like a simple case of an eleven-year-old exploring where he shouldn’t: a tragic accident. But Coroner Clement Ryder and Probationary WPC Trudy Loveday aren’t convinced. If Eddie had been climbing and fallen, why were there no cuts or dirt on his hands? Why would a boy terrified of heights be around a well at all?

Clement and Trudy are determined to get to the truth, but the more they dig into Briar’s Hall and the mysterious de Lacey family who live there, the murkier things become.

Could it be that poor Eddie’s death was murder? There are rumours of blackmail in the village, and Clement and Trudy have a horrible feeling that Eddie stumbled on a secret that someone was willing to kill for…

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

This is the second Ryder and Loveday historical crime mystery I’ve read. Although the mysteries are standalone, the relationship between the two unusual detectives develops with each book. So, if you get the opportunity, start with book one.

Clement Ryder, former surgeon, now coroner, and Trudy Loveday, a probationary policewoman in the Oxford constabulary, in the early 1960s investigate cases referred to Ryder by various powerful sources. After their first meeting, Ryder sees the intelligence and potential detecting skill in Loveday, and always requests her assistance, despite the resistance of her misogynous bosses in the police force.

Loveday, is ambitious, intuitive and hard-working, the perfect police officer, yet in the 1960’s she is thwarted every time she seeks practical experience in police work, by jealous and bigoted colleagues and bosses. Their attitude to a working woman reflects the societal view of women in the workplace, and society. The idea of the 1950’s woman as a homemaker was challenged in the 1960s by women like Loveday and forward-thinking intelligent men like Ryder. The book showcases 1960s’ society and attitude well. I was a child in the 1960s, and recognise many of the attitudes and societal norms portrayed in this series, which is well- researched.

The plot is in the murder mystery style, nothing too graphic, although serious crime and issues are explored throughout the investigation. There are many suspects and numerous clues, many of which lead nowhere. The pacing is good, even though you follow Ryder and Loveday’s investigative pace. This is detective work in the 1960s, so forensics and technological help are minimal. Deduction and observation are key skills used here, and it makes interesting reading.

Perfect if you’re a fan of ‘Inspector Gently’, ‘Morse’ and ‘Prime Suspect. This series explores policing in the 1960s, with a unique partnership, astute observations of 1960’s society, and a well-plotted murder mystery.

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

Death Comes to Dartmoor – Vivian Conroy 4* #Review @crookedlanebks @VivWrites #VictorianMystery #MurderMystery #HistoricalCrimeFiction #AMerriweatherandRoystonMystery #Dartmoor

The mist-shrouded moors of Devon proffer a trove of delights for two vacationing zoologists—but also conceal a hoard of dark secrets reaching down to the fathomless depths of the ocean.

Miss Merula Merriweather barely saved her uncle from the gallows after he was wrongly accused of murder—and now, she’s left the bustle of Victorian London to recuperate in the fresh air of Dartmoor with her fellow zoologist, Lord Raven Royston. The trip offers a unique treat, as they’ll be staying with a friend of Raven’s, who owns a collection of rare zoological specimens—including a Kraken, a sea monster of myth and legend.

But all is not right in the land of tors, heaths, and mist. Their host’s maid has vanished without a trace, and the townspeople hold him responsible, claiming that his specimens are alive and roam the moors at night, bringing death to anyone who crosses their path. Merula and Raven are sceptical—but the accusations become more ominous when they find several specimen jars empty.

As the two, hunt for clues across a desolate and beautiful landscape, a stranger appears bearing a shadowy secret from Merula’s past. Could there be a connection between her family history, the missing girl, and a fearsome monster that could be on the loose? The race is on to find the truth.

Amazon UK

Waterstones

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

My Thoughts...

This is my first’ Merriweather and Royston mystery’. This is a standalone mystery, and there is sufficient backstory to place the characters, and their relationship in this story, but if you can, read book one first.

The Dartmoor setting of this novel plays on the Victorian belief that strange, dangerous creatures roam the moor in the darkness. This is not the Dartmoor I know, but it is well documented in Victorian literature like ‘The Hound of the Baskervilles’.

This story contains all the essential elements of a Victorian murder mystery. Enigmatic, intelligent, but flawed detectives, with a degree of emotional damage. A community steeped in folklore and tradition, and a dislike of outsiders or anyone who is different from them. An undercurrent of criminal activity, and gruesome murder, possibly due to supernatural causes.

The mystery that unfolds in this story has all of the above. There is much we do not know about our detectives, but they are complex individuals. Victorian pioneers, a little before their time, especially Merriweather. The mystery is well constructed and embellished with Victorian beliefs and themes, that make solving it difficult.

The writing style and time period, will not suit everyone, but it is faithfully represented, and worth reading, to see if it is for you.