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, Murder Mystery, Mystery

The Country Inn Mystery – Faith Martin 5* #Review @FaithMartin_Nov @JoffeBooks #MurderMystery #Crime #TheCotswolds

Jenny Starling is working at The Spindlewood Inn for the weekend. It’s hosting a Regency Extravaganza, involving historical costume, amateur dramatics and food. The leading actress of the amateur dramatic society and reputed man-eater Rachel Norman portrays a doomed noblewoman. But when she turns up actually drowned in the pond, there’s suddenly a murder to investigate.

There’s been plenty of trouble at the idyllic country inn. The performers weren’t a happy troupe, and Jenny discovers a simmering romantic tension. Who wanted Rachel dead and why? Jenny Starling is going to need all her wits to crack this complex case. This is the seventh in a series of enjoyable murder mysteries with a great cast of characters and baffling crimes which will keep you in suspense to the final page.

JENNY STARLING In her late twenties, Jenny Starling is an impressive woman. Physically, she stands at 6ft 1inch and has shoulder-length black hair and blue eyes. Curvaceous and sexy, she’s a modern single woman, living the lifestyle that suits her – that of a travelling cook. Her famous (and now very rich) father, is a ‘celebrity’ cook, divorced from Jenny’s mother. Jenny drives a disreputable cherry-red van and is happy travelling the country catering events and cooking great food. She is on a one-woman crusade to bring back ‘real’ food. And definitely doesn’t like having to divert her attention from achieving the perfect Dundee cake or creating a new sauce recipe by having to solve a murder. She finds crime very distracting, especially when there is chocolate to temper or pike to poach. Nevertheless, she is very good at reading people, and with a quick and agile brain, becomes very good at unmasking killers. And her always-undaunted sense of humour goes a long way in keeping her sane when all around her people are dropping like flies.

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

Jenny is providing holiday relief for a friend at a Country Inn in the Cotswolds, the highlight of her visit is a Regency Extravaganza, where a select few from the local amateur dramatics society will be acting out a piece of local Regency scandal with a tragic end.

The clues for this one start early on, but are so well hidden that you don’t realise their significance until the end. There is slightly less emphasis on the cooking side of things, in this first time published Jenny Starling mystery. The focus is on the characters, mostly from Jenny’s point of view.

The characters are realistic and the tensions between individuals in the group of guests, and actors gradually revealed, but none seem relevant until an unfortunate incident occurs and someone dies. Is it suspicious or not? If it is, it appears to be a perfect crime, committed in plain sight of all.

The relationship between the investigating police officers and Jenny is less antagonist than usually the case, but her amateur sleuthing and astute observation skills make interesting reading.

An enjoyable book, with a well-described setting, enigmatic amateur detective and a twisty, absorbing plot.

Posted in Book Review, Book Spotlight, Poetry

The Cotswold Calendar – Tony Stowell – Illustrator – Lorna Gray – Spotlight and 4* #Review #WeekendRead #SaturdayThoughts #SaturdayMotivation #SaturdayMorning @MsLornaGray @CrumpsBarn

The seasons roll across the ancient landscape of the Cotswolds, running from Broadway to Bath, Tetbury to Cirencester and many places between.

Beautiful, characterful and often witty, the patterns of the passing months and local traditions are captured here in a joyful celebration in verse of this truly unforgettable region of England.

With photographs, watercolour sketches and maps of each location, join Gloucestershire poet Tony Stowell on his deeply personal tour of the Cotswolds.

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

A lovely medley of poetry, hand-drawn maps, illustrations and photographs make ‘The Cotswold Calendar’ something to treasure. Whether you live in the area, are planning to visit, or like me, appreciate beautiful things, there is something for you here.

The poet’s impressions of each month in The Cotswolds, form a chapter in the book, accompanied by places of note, also described in verse. At the beginning of the book the author describes the verse form, and its technicalities, so even a layperson like me, can understand how the verse is structured and its intended impact.

Extract from ‘The Cotswold Calendar’ – Tony Stowell

The poetry is full of imagery that brings to mind the spotlight month. Similarly, notable calendar events are described in verse for many iconic Cotswold villages and towns. Accompanied by monochrome photo images and illustrations, which enhance the verse and reinforce the poetic images, it makes a wonderful guide book to the area.

Easy to read, for lovers of verse, it is also a wonderful reference work for The Cotswold tourist, to ensure you don’t miss, the beauty and community of this English treasure.

Posted in Book Review, Cozy Mystery, Murder Mystery

Murder at Benbury Brook – 5* #Review – Betty Rowlands @bookouture @Betty RowlandsFP

A babbling brook runs alongside a wooded glade, surrounded by autumn light and birdsong. But next to the stream a young woman lies dead, her once bright blonde hair now limp and lifeless…

Melissa Craig has settled into a new job in the charming Cotswolds village of Upper Benbury. She is teaching French to several of the local teenagers, which gives her a fascinating insight into the young people’s lives. Material for a new novel perhaps…

Her quiet life is interrupted when she sees her new neighbour running out of the woods in a blind panic. Melissa rushes to help him, but what she finds leaves her breathless: the body of a young woman is lying on the bank of the river.

When suspicion falls on Melissa’s neighbour, a man with a difficult past trying to make a new start, Melissa feels determined to prove his innocence. With the village in turmoil, and the police sure they’ve got their man, she must act quickly.

As she interviews the local residents, she realises there are several sinister characters lurking inside those charming Cotswold cottages… Could one of them have hurt Cissie? Was it the strange old man with a cottage near the river? Or the ailing ex-choirmaster with quite an eye for the ladies?

When Melissa Craig decides to get her teeth into a case, she doesn’t let go – nothing will stop her from solving this murder. Can she prove the innocence of her new friend? And will she unearth the culprit before another young life is taken?

Amazon UK

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

My Thoughts…

It’s no secret that I love this series, but how can I not? The plots keep getting darker and more menacing, whilst still retaining the essentials of a cosy mystery.

Melissa is a complex protagonist, a crime writer, whose career and private life, often takes second place to her crime solving.

There are new characters to meet, for Melissa and because of the changes in her personal life, Melissa is even more driven to solve the crime that features in this story.

The picturesque Cotswold setting, realistic characters and an interesting twisty plot makes this story an atmospheric, interactive crime-solving mystery.

Posted in Book Review, Cozy Mystery, Murder Mystery

Murder at Larkfield Barn – Betty Rowlands – 5*Review @bookouture @BettyRowlandsFP

Bright mornings and brisk walks… spring has arrived in the Cotswolds. But the atmosphere is positively wintery in Upper Benbury after a series of murders shake the close-knit community.

Since her move to the country, Melissa Craig has become firmly established in village life. So, when one of the older residents fails to show up for a drinks party, Melissa goes to check on her. What she finds chills her to the bone: her dear neighbour has been murdered, and the killer has painted a hideous smile onto her face…

Melissa soon realises that the death in her village bears the same trademark as a series of recent murders in the Cotswolds. When will The Smiler strike again?

With a dangerous killer on the loose, Melissa realises she needs to solve this case quickly. But as she starts to look closely at the people around her, she realises the killer may be closer to home than she could ever have imagined. What dark secrets are the villagers of Upper Benbury hiding? And can Melissa crack this deadly case before another life is taken?

Amazon UK

My Thoughts…

I read Book Seven in the series out of sequence by mistake, the perils of starting a book at four o’clock in the morning when you can’t sleep. The upside to this being I can vouch that it reads well as a standalone, but this series is so entertaining that you want to read all the books.

This story is darker and more personal to amateur sleuth, crime writer Melissa Craig. Discovering the body of a friend and neighbour has a believable, profound effect on Melissa, which means she is reticent to be at the forefront of the investigation. Aside from the murder mystery, this book marks a turning point for both Iris, her close friend and neighbour and Melissa.

The characters are numerous and varied and this is perhaps one of the most difficult mysteries to solve. It does have its lighthearted moments, but there is also an air of menace not present in earlier books coupled with an overriding sense of loss and poignancy.

Despite the change in ethos, this story is as enjoyable as previous books, just deeper and more personal for the main character. Left on an emotional cliffhanger, I eagerly await Book 8 ‘Murder in Langley Woods.’

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

 

 

Posted in Book Review, Cozy Mystery, Murder Mystery

Murder in the Orchard -Betty Rowlands- 5* Review @bookouture @BettyRowlandsFP

A beautiful house nestles in an orchard, where a blackbird sings at dawn each morning from a branch laden with rosy fruit… but underneath the trees, a body lies too still to be asleep.

Melissa Craig is struggling with her new novel, so when the invitation arrives to visit a nearby country house for some writing time, she decides a bit of peace and quiet is just what she needs. The house is everything she could have hoped for, even if the staff do seem rather unsettled…

She has barely unpacked when the owner of the house persuades Melissa to investigate some threatening notes he has received. But before she can do any digging, he is found murdered in his own orchard.

As she starts to probe further, Melissa realises that the dead man was universally disliked. Controlling, tight with money and nasty, he certainly made some enemies. But who could have hated him enough to resort to murder? His seemingly timid wife, the secretary with whom he previously had an affair or perhaps the gardener with an old secret?

With the police looking for an outsider, Melissa is sure the murderer is close at hand. But can she prove it? And can she unmask the killer before they strike again?

Amazon UK

My Thoughts…

Another enjoyable instalment of the Melissa Craig Mysteries. I’ve read all of them so far and Melissa is an engaging sleuth and memorable character. There is a definite flavour of the early Nineties in this series, but it adds to the ambience and authenticity. 

Melissa is worried about her relationship with  Detective Chief Inspector Ken Harris, is she ready for the commitment he seeks? The chance to visit a writers’ retreat seems the perfect opportunity to take time out and decide what she wants.  Things, of course, do not go to plan and she finds her investigative skills are needed.

Conspiracy, lies, murder and secrets provide a difficult mystery for the intrepid crime writer to solve and bring her into close contact with the very person she was avoiding. The plot is particularly twisty, with several people having excellent motives for murdering the victim and it takes all her skill and strength of character to discover the truth.

An entertaining, retro story, for everyone who enjoys authentic English murder mystery.

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