When a young woman comes forward saying she’s the reincarnation of Riya Kaur, a wife and mother who vanished during the bloody 1984 anti-Sikh riots, Puri is dismissive. He’s busy enough dealing with an irate matrimonial client whose daughter is complaining about her groom’s thunderous snoring. Puri’s indomitable Mummy-ji, however, is adamant the client is genuine. How else could she so accurately describe under hypnosis Riya Kaur’s life and final hours?
Driven by a sense of duty – the original case was his late father’s – Puri manages to acquire the police file only to find that someone powerful has orchestrated a cover-up. Forced into an alliance with his mother that tests his beliefs and high blood pressure as never before, it’s only by delving into the past the help of his reincarnated client that Puri can hope to unlock the truth.
I received a copy of this book from Severn House Publishers via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
A charming cozy mystery, set in India, with a charismatic detective, whose life is constantly invaded by his Mummy-ji, who knows her son well. She is happy to manipulate him for her ends. A clever woman, observant, well-connected and a natural investigator, she is effectively a silent partner in the private detective firm.
Indian customs and society are integral to the story, and historic events are also included, which add interest to the plot.The cast of characters is eclectic and enigmatic and gives this story its quirky appeal. There are several cases to be investigated, but it is the one Puri wants to ignore that proves the most absorbing and challenging.
This is the fifth book in the series, but it is possible to read as a standalone, as I did. However, series like these are always worth reading from the beginning.
At times humorous and often poignant, this is a well-written mystery with a memorable detective, a diverse set of cases and a distinctive cultural ethos.
Tarquin Hall is a British author and journalist who has previously lived in the USA, Pakistan, India, Kenya and Turkey. He now divides his time between the UK and India and is married to BBC reporter and presenter Anu Anand. He is the author of four previous Vish Puri mysteries and The Delhi Detective’s Handbook. Twitter.
Two years ago, Ben Fenton went camping with his brother Leo. It was the last time they ever saw each other. By the end of that fateful trip, Leo had disappeared, and Ben had been arrested for his murder.
Ben’s wife Ana has always protested his innocence. Now, on the hottest day of 2018’s sweltering heatwave, she receives a phone call from the police. Leo’s body has been found, in a freshly dug grave in her own local churchyard. How did it get there? Who really killed him?
St Albans police, led by DCI Jansen, are soon unpicking a web of lies that shimmers beneath the surface of Ana’s well-kept village. But as tensions mount, and the tight-knit community begins to unravel, Ana realises that if she wants to absolve her husband, she must unearth the truth alone.
I received a copy of this book from Head of Zeus Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
The second book featuring Dutch detective DCI Jansen, who finds himself mystified by the close-knit English village community. It seems no one believes in plain-speaking, preferring closing ranks, and relying on innuendos.
The story is a sad one. Two brothers take a camping trip two years earlier. One is presumed dead, the other convicted of murder, but is it that simple. Ana, the accused brother’s partner. believes not. She has no chance of proving this until the missing brother’s body is found buried in the village. Now, his brother can’t be the murderer. DCI Jansen has to find the real killer, but although gossip is rife in the village, there is nothing of substance, and everyone is keeping secrets.
DCI Jansensuffers a personal tragedy, which he has to conquer, to stop his emotional state having a detrimental effect on the case. Ana wants to help her partner but doesn’t want to reveal what she knows. She feels threatened, and the suspense and menacing ethos surrounding her are well-written.
There is a strong psychological element to this story, particularly from Ana’s perspective, as events from her past invade her present situation. Events are revealed, from Leo’s point of view, in the past, and Ana, Ben and DCI Jansen’s points of view, in the present. The two timelines create dramatic irony, the reader knowing things the characters don’t at that time.
Scene setting and character dynamics form the first part of the book, this slows the pace, but the short chapters and active voice, keep the story moving satisfactorily, ensuring reader engagement.There are several viable suspects, and even though you may guess who did it, early on in the story, there are plenty of smoke and mirrors. to make you doubt it.
Clever twists and a final reveal, make this a good story, with its solid police procedural theme tempered with psychological suspense.
Rachael Blok grew up in Durham and studied Literature at Warwick University. She taught English at a London Comprehensive and is now a full-time writer living in Hertfordshire with her husband and children.
Guest Post- Rachael Blok – ‘The Scorched Earth’, and Ana: where she came from.
The Scorched Earth has a number of different voices, but my protagonist is Ana, a woman struggling with grief as her partner is in jail, and then ghosts from her past emerge: she begins to hear footsteps behind her in a car park late and night; she begins to look over her shoulder… Ana’s experiences are both ideas I’ve wanted to write about for a while. It was a pleasure to see her come to life on paper.
Women are told to shout ‘fire’ instead of ‘rape’ if they’re being attacked…
As a woman, I’ve felt on more than one occasion a burst of fear walking home in the dark, or walking into a car park late a night. My mum, my sister and I all took a self-defence course years ago, and we were told to shout ‘fire’ instead of ‘rape’ if we’re attacked – people respond more if their property is threatened! I have no answer for this, but I find it terrifying. This fear resonates in the novel and I think, it’s fear men and women should both be aware of. I always tell my husband that if he’s walking behind a woman on her own, late at night, he should drop back – make sure she doesn’t have to look over her shoulder or be concerned about a threat. And the very real issue of stalking is taken more seriously now than it has been in the past, but there is still some way to go. When relationships break down and men find it hard to let women go, it can be a very scary time, and women find it difficult to get concerns taken seriously, often until after an attack.
They locked him up, but they locked her up, too…
Whilst researching the novel, I spent some time in prison,
which is not at all like I imagined! My main experience had been from movies
and the TV. I found the reality much scarier. I saw homemade weapons; I heard
stories of attacks on officers and other prisoners; I spoke to many different
people from all aspects of prison life, and it was such an eye-opener. I think
as a society we lock people away in all respects – there’s a sense of being
forgotten, completely. Women whose partners are in jail spoke of the shame, and
also the halted grief – they miss their partners, but can’t grieve for them,
they can’t move on. This grief is something Ana wrestles with, and I hope I’ve
done it justice.
The prison scenes almost wrote themselves after I’d visited. Even the smell is distinct. My prison officer guides me into the contraband room, where they keep the confiscated drugs. Spice is the drug they have the most problems with at the moment, which is synthetic cannabis. It’s smuggled into the prisons in all sorts of ways. One of the ways is through books and magazines. The pages are soaked in the spice, and so prisons have to scan all books now. So many ideas for plots!
It’s been a pleasure to write the guest blog and thanks to Jane Hunt for giving me the opportunity to mull over the ideas for the novel. I hope you enjoy The Scorched Earth!
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
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
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
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
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
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.
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.
In the seaside town of Temple Regis, seagulls are wheeling overhead and the holidays are getting close. And then the body of political candidate Odile Clifford is discovered on the balcony of the lighthouse.
Fearless Riviera Express reporter Judy Dimont goes in search of the killer – but who is it? And where will they strike next?
What’s more, Judy’s position as chief reporter is under threat when her editor takes on hot-shot journalist David Renishaw, whose work is just too good to be true.
Life is busier than ever for Devon’s most famous detective. Can Judy solve the mystery – and protect her position as Temple Regis’s best reporter – before the murderer strikes again?
THE WEEKEND TURN MURDEROUS Monica Noble and her husband Graham, the local vicar, are invited to participate in a high-flying church conference being held at a swanky manor-house hotel in their village. At the Saturday night dinner, the ambitious female cleric Celia Gordon tragically dies, seemingly of a peanut allergy. But when Chief Superintendent Jason Dury arrives on the scene he quickly discovers that it’s a case of murder. And Monica’s husband is the prime suspect. Other suspects include an eminent bishop, an archdeacon viciously opposed to female clergy, and his wife, the curator of a local museum, who is definitely up to something. But if Monica is to find out who killed Celia, and free her husband from suspicion, she must grapple with a very ruthless — and increasingly desperate — killer, putting herself and those around her in mortal danger. This is the third 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.
Another chapter in Monica Noble’s amateur detective investigations. This one is a little different to the previous two; It takes time to set the scene, with a long prologue, it soon draws in a cast of characters attending a conference for clerics at a manor- house hotel close to Graham Noble’s parish.
There is much back-biting among the clerics, many of whom are ambitious, female clerics also feature and these are the subject of some male derision because of the status they have achieved. This story deals with the ongoing battle of women in the church, and echos the battles of women everywhere to further their careers. The victim appears to be the subject of many people’s dislike, and her previous relationship with Graham Noble, bring him and Monica right into the centre of this murder mystery.
Monica and detective Jason’s relationship is an interesting dimension to this story, and it seems they may be on opposite sides for the first time since they met. Sub-plots give unlikely individuals possible motives for murder, besides, those who have a more obvious motive.
The story picks up pace in the final half and ends fittingly for this type of murder mystery.An enjoyable way to spend a Winter’s afternoon.
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?
I received a copy of this book from Severn House via NetGalley in return for an honest review
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.
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.
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.