Books

Murder at the Wedding – Helena Dixon

Here we are with book seven from Helena Dixon and I have been with Kitty since the beginning and whilst you can always guarantee a dead body or two may well turn up wherever she is going, you really don’t think it will be at a wedding.

Kitty on her way to her cousin’s wedding as a bridesmaid with her faithful maid and friend, Alice in tow, they travel to Yorkshire. Captain Matt Bryant is to follow later, but is not quite sure of his strong feeling for Kitty as her previous exploits left him wondering whether he could cope with the trauma of losing her.

A society wedding seems a relatively safe place, you would think. However clearly when Kitty arrives, there is definitely an undercurrent by the guests already assembled. Lucy, Kitty’s cousin and her betrothed, Rupert having invited boyhood friends Sandy and Sinclair along with respective wives. Sandy is to be the best man but there seems to be much more going on with talk of threatening letters and political conflicts.

Then a shot rings out, the valet is dead, but it seems to have shook Sandy who is convinced someone is out to get him. But perhaps the valet has some secrets to share.

In the classic country house mystery, it has to have been committed by someone within the confines of the house. But who? The police find the culprit very quickly and it all seems to be wrapped up very quickly until someone else dies……

In steps Kitty and Matt, much the the chagrin of the local inspector. As they get closer to the truth, the feelings between them grow and when the answer is at the end of a corridor it seems that both Kitty and Matt have to overcome fears to get to the truth.

This is another great story in the series, I love the different characters and how that Kitty, Matt and Alice work well together out of their normally setting of Dartmouth and the hotel. I can see adventures further afield in the future but as the book comes to its conclusion it seems we are nearing the truth about the one main theme running through all the stories – what happened to Kitty’s mother.

Lovely cosy crime of the era of Agatha Christie and a must of fans of the Queen of Crime and historical fiction. This combines the both so well. Looking forward to the next.

Thank you to netgalley for the opportunity to read this book.

Murder at the Wedding is out now.

Books · Jottings

October Roundup

October seems to have been a bumper month for reading and I have ploughed through a fair few books. A positive harvest of books for October and autumn and ironically mainly Christmas themed!

But not all, there was some murder to dilute all things festive. Janice Hallett – The Appeal is a book which has been around a while and I kept seeing the cover but when I got the chance to pick up a copy and look inside the cover, I was hooked. This is an excellent debut novel and written so differently it captured me immediately and I was hooked. It certainly has plenty of appeal!

Books about books and libraries are always a draw for any avid reader. This year it seems to have been a bit of a theme for some authors. This always makes me curious because surely not everyone can be writing the same themes by coincidence. Anyway enough of the cynic. Freya Sampson – The Last Library is the latest one I have read, and whilst not as good as previous ones, it was a lovely way to while away a few hours as we got to know the shy June and her passion for the library.

I ventured into my first book club read for a while, by joining in with an online one, through twitter. The book chosen was Melanie Hewitt – Looking for the Durrells, I admit I fell in love with cover. It was a very slow and meandering book which ended up being a journey around Corfu. I am not sure it was as romantic and passionate as it could have been, but it was certainly a love letter to this island and a great way to escape for some sun.

Travel of course is something many people have not been able to do for a while and if you want to do it vicariously it is always good to pick up Julie Caplin – The Cosy Cottage in Ireland. This one is a bit closer to home than some have been, but it is always nice to escape. Although I am not sure whether going to a cookery school would be my idea of fun! Combining travel and food is always a good way to escape into a book. Do check this author out if you fancy a trip or two.

Of course if you can afford it, then employ a chef and then you won’t have to worry about a thing – apart from perhaps falling in love with them. Kate Forster – Christmas Wishes at Pudding Hall shows you that can happen, but of course it is not all plain sailing and there might be a few deflated soufflés before the holiday period is over.

What are you hoping to find under your tree this year? The latest Heidi Swain would be a good start and even better with her latest title too – Heidi Swain – Underneath the Christmas Tree. Make sure you buy the best tree from the local tree farm and participate in its sustainability and the beauty of being outdoors. Once you become part of the community it is suddenly very difficult to let go.

Once you have the tree, then you need the prefect gift and what better way than perhaps getting involved with a giving tree. In Katie Ginger – The Perfect Christmas Gift, school teacher Bella decides to give back to the community to help heal her broken heart so close to Christmas. But will anyone leave a gift for her?

School teachers and Christmas makes you think of nativity and tinsel bedecked small people running around high on the excitement of the season. It is reflected in the previous book mentioned as well as Tracy Rees – The Little Christmas House, this time the teacher is aptly named Holly and becomes involved with the delightful little girl Eliza and her father Edward. What is their story?

Christmas is always a time of giving and seeking out the right gift, and so you might wish to pick up a piece of unique art at Helen Pollard – Christmas at Fox Farm. Daisy is the current resident artist and is finding her feet and putting down roots, until the owner of Fox Farm takes ill. It seems the future and Christmas is not going to be all that nice, yet again for Daisy.

Diluting it a bit more with some more murder saw me take a trip to Yorkshire with Kitty Underhay in her latest adventure Helena Dixon – Murder at the Wedding. It is not Kitty’s wedding, though I do hope that is soon, but we have a classic locked room type mystery and it seems the local detective is not really forward thinking in letting women help in investigating. Of course you know what is going to happen don’t you, but that still doesn’t detract from the delightful book.

I am partial to cosy crime, providing it doesn’t get ludicrous which is why I stopped reading Agatha Raisin. It was nice to see a new potential series to get into and one that had an interesting premise. Frances Brody – A Murder Inside, late 1960s, a female governor of the prison variety. An open prison for women in the Yorkshire dales. It already sounds like it is going to be a winner for me and it was rather fascinating and definitely has longevity.

As we go into November, I still have plenty of Christmas books to read. I think I might be fed up with them come December but of course that depends on the stories. With 93 books read so far as of this post, the big 100 is looming large and I start to wonder what will be my final total of 2021. Until then though…Happy Reading.

Books

A Line to Kill – Anthony Horowitz

This is the third instalment of murder mystery novels that feature the ex-detective Daniel Hawthorne and in an interesting twist, (if this is the first time of discovering these novels), it also features Anthony Horowtiz. Yes the author has written himself into this piece of fiction. Stick with it, it works better than you think!

Invited to a literature festival on Alderney, Hawthorne and Horowitz as they are more better known, the former seemingly more of a draw than the latter, finds themselves stuck there. Right in the middle of their own murder mystery.

The victim is Charles Le Mesurier, a man with a lot of money and so it seems a lot of power. There are many suspects, many questions to be asked about everyone who was at the festival, especially as the victim was the sponsor.

How can a celebrity chef, a blind psychic, a children’s author, a performance poet, a war historian plus a number of locals opposed to a potential power line disrupting their island have anything to do with the deceased?

This is a classic locked room mystery, but extended to an whole island. An island that has never had any murder on it but suddenly is embroiled in something quite nasty. Hawthorne is called upon to at least go some way to solve the crime, Horowitz the side kick, think Hastings to Poirot is there to capture the tale.

What follows as everyone is seemingly trapped is the true twist, turns and red herrings of a good murder mystery. The digs about authors, literature festivals and the world of crime gives the book a different undertone than perhaps some novels of the same genre. For me it is this humour which gives these books the edge over others I have read. The author has some skill to write himself in and write himself in as the underdog; the bumbling assistant almost.

Both this series of books and the Magpie Murder ones are examples of skilful writing which gives and edge to the murder mystery genre. If you want something different and you don’t mind having your mind tested then pick up these novels – you won’t be disappointed.

Thank you to the publisher via netgalley for the opportunity to read this book.

A Line to Kill is out now.

Books

September Roundup

Depending on how the month ends on what day during the week, depends on how quickly I can get these roundup posts done! Hence why I am a couple of days out from those that follow my blog and expect to see the previous months round on the first.

But better late than never and whilst autumn has clearly arrived in my part of the world, Christmas has too!

It is always nice to go back to something familiar with stories so I was more than happy to return to Jewel Island for this festive season with Holly Martin – Mistletoe at Moonstone Lake. And with a name like Holly what more would you expect Christmas wise!

Of course being a fan of authors and series of books makes reading sometimes easy but with that comes an absolute joy to be part of another world for a while and so I was thrilled to welcome back Sarah Bennett – Autumn Dreams at Mermaids Point and with a novella following close behind, I was delighted to keep the story going for that bit longer with Sarah Bennett – Christmas Surprises at Mermaids Point.

Whilst not my favourite Christmas book so far of 2021, Rachel Burton – A Bookshop Christmas did give me that cosy Christmas bookshop feel that you can get in certain bookshops.

Christmas is not the main theme of Helen Rolfe – The Kindness Club on Mapleberry Lane but it certainly played a part in bringing the kindness of a family together, whether they be true family or simply neighbours.

Of course nothing brings people together than the threat of the closure of a library. In Bella Osborne – The Library, two unlikely people strike up a friendship and find solace in books. There appears to be a number of books this year featuring similar tales and all of them have been thoroughly enjoyable and make me ever so guilty that I hardly visit the library!

I wonder how long the waiting list at the library is for Richard Osman – The Man Who Died Twice? His second novel and if I may say so, I think better than the first. I can see this series lasting quite a while with the quirky residents getting into some rather interesting mysteries. Retirement is not boring for them or us.

Looking back it seems that all the books read in September were on my kindle and were netgalley reads. I have to confess of having got a bit happy with requesting and find myself playing catch up which is how I had only just got round to reading Anthony Horowitz – A Line to Kill, the third novel in the Hawthorne series. Featuring the author himself this book works in such a wonderful way.

Quite a lot of Christmas, quite a bit of murder so I took myself back to some historical reading with Dinah Jefferies – Daughters of War, the first in a new trilogy from this author. Taken to France and the Nazi occupation and the French Resistance, I am interested to see where this series takes us next.

So that was September, October promises to be just as good. I have plenty lined up to read and currently engrossed in an actual book as well as the countless on my netgalley to read list. I hope to balance out the Christmas reads with some more interesting and quirky ones in between. Who knows where I will end up.

I hope your September reading has been what you wanted, anything I have missed?

Books

The Man Who Died Twice – Richard Osman

Harnessing on the success of the author’s first novel, comes the second one and the characters are eager to continue their Thursday Murder Club, that it is simply the following Thursday.

Elizabeth, Joyce, Ron and Ibrahim are reconvened in the Jigsaw Room and the next case seems to relate to Elizabeth and all seems a bit too close to home.

Elizabeth gets a letter from her past – and it turns out her past is ex-husband, Douglas and he has turned up at Cooper’s Chase. He needs help with a few sparkly stones. And it seems lessons of Elizabeth and Douglas’s past are going to be needed to crack this particular case.

Meanwhile Ibrahim, the quieter of the four, is mugged for his phone and suddenly the world gets smaller for him, How can he possibly help when he can’t leave his home? Enter Chris and Donna, the Fairhaven police who are determined to get the young lad, Ryan for what he did to Ibrahim.

Add in some mafia, a local drug baron, a money launderer and the promise of twenty million pounds and you have a book which twist and turns as the pages do.

Throughout the book we are treated to Joyce’s journal entries as she not only giver take on events but other miscellany that seem to enter her head in stream of conscious. This is wonderfully insightful and funny and Joyce comes across as one of those dotty old ladies who knows exactly what is happening! Her and Elizabeth make a great team.

What I did like was the introduction of Ron’s grandson, Kendrick who brings that juxtaposition between the old and the young and his work with Ibrahim was key into finding out the truth with one of the plotlines. I hope we get to see more of this.

For the supposed notorious difficult second book, this was better than the first, in my opinion. Tightly potted, wonderfully engaging and had me hooked right to the end. The right about of gruesomeness and humour.

A quintessential British crime novel, with quintessential British references which the whole world is clearly loving. No pressure Richard Osman, but more please.

Thank you to the publisher via netgalley for the opportunity to read this book.

The Man Who Died Twice is out now.

Books

Running out of Road – Cath Staincliffe

Three different people. Not connected until today.

Scarlett; on her way home to her Nana who has looked after her since the death of her mother. Excited to be in the school show the following day. Dancing brings her so much joy.

Dylan; always trying to keep one step ahead, never staying in the same nest for long, picking off each victim and dealing the drugs and then moving on. One day he will make it and not be the one doing all the work. Aim big.

Ron; being a house sitter and pet sitter by default seems really a lot easier to handle than real humans. From his previous job as a firefighter, this is much more pleasant.

DS Laura O’Neil, a mother with a teething toddler who has left him at home with his father as she suddenly gets to know all these people.

All these people that are thrown together and for one wet, stormy and panicky night all their roads cross. As they all take different turnings, will Laura get to the truth?

This fast paced thriller left me exhausted without leaving my home. Whether it was the vast swathes of the Peak District that was covered physically as the hunt for all three of them takes over the pages of the book. Or the historic events that build up the characters of the here and now. The country line drug storyline was strong and frightening real as if you are reading a news reports. You have to remember the main events are just a mere twenty four hours. The skill of the writing made it feel like a week of my life.

If you want a great British thriller which covers many themes including guilt and grief and the overarching hope of a better future then this is simply the book for you. Highly recommend for a heart stopping read to keep you on the edge of your seat.

Thank you to the publisher via netgalley for the opportunity to read this book.

Running out of Road is out now.

Books

The Heron’s Cry – Ann Cleeves

This is the second novel in the Matthew Venn series from renowned author.

Can be read without having read the first, The Long Call but then why deprive yourself of such good storytelling. You will also get the background of the characters and the previous case which through witnesses does filter into this story.

DI Matthew Venn, uptight and determined to maintain a level response to what he sees in his work is back alongside his DS Jen Rafferty and ever eager DC Ross May. Jen is at a party when another guest, Dr Nigel Yeo approaches her to ask for her help. Jen, not fully sober, brushes him off.

The next day that man is found dead, stabbed with a piece of glass from his daughters glass blowing workshop. He seems such an unlikely victim and when his daughter turns out to be a friend of Matthew’s husband Jonathan, it seems this crime is always going to involve that Matthew knows.

When another body turns up, with a similar killing method. Matthew and his team dig deeper into these people and what Dr Nigel Yeo really wanted to tell Jen at that party. However the truth is sometimes hidden away amongst those in the community and are they all closing ranks as the police get to the truth.

This book is not a fast paced thriller, if that is what you are looking for then this is not the book for you. It is a book which develops as you turn the pages, the characters and their background build. The past is filled in and as the clues lead you to think that perhaps the answer is all so clear, the metaphorical rug is pulled out and you are turned to face the truth. Of course it was obvious – wasn’t it?

More is filled in about Matthew and the past life he has escaped as he tries to come to terms with the life he is leading now. We learn more about Ross May and his relationship with his wife. Jen is still coming to terms with living in a smaller town than the large city she left behind. All three of them seem unlikely work colleagues but somehow it works and the author uses the small team, the community, the setting to weave a great murder mystery tale.

If you want modern day crime fiction in the vein of those golden ages then always start with Ann Cleeves and you will enjoy every page, every book and every detective created.

Thank you to the publisher via netgalley for the opportunity to read this book.

The Heron’s Cry is out now

Books

The Bookshop Murder – Merryn Allingham

A quiet English Village in the 1950s, the South Downs the backdrop. You could almost be forgiven for expecting to see Miss Marple appear.

But let me introduce you to Miss Flora Steele, the young woman who owns the local bookshop in Abbeymead. Inherited from her aunt, she is determined to keep this legacy going.

When reclusive crime writer Jack Carrington enters the shop, he finds more than books – he finds a dead body. The police think it is nothing but a man breaking in and suffering an unfortunately timed heart attack. Nothing more to report. Everyone must get on with their lives

For Flora, she knows there is something not right about this and she wants to find the answers so at least she can help the shop to survive. She enlist Jack Carrington in her help to find out the truth, reluctantly he seems drawn to this spirited young woman. When another death occurs, it seems that Flora may well be onto something.

This is a lovely (not that murder is lovely) start to what is to be a series of books. Flora Steele lives up to her name and whilst she may be to some a flowery girl, she has a determined strength that makes me think that she might end up in some scrapes in the future! Let’s hope the mysterious crime author is always on hand.

For fans of all that is cosy about crime fiction, this book is for you.

Thank you to the publisher via netgalley for the opportunity to read this book.

The Bookshop Murder is out now.

Books

Loch Down Abbey – Beth Cowan-Erskine

This is the first novel from Beth Cowan-Erskine and was clearly born out of lockdown last year. What has resulted is a rather Wodehouse type novel of the cosy murder mystery vibe.

Scotland, the 1930s, Loch Down Abbey is suffering from a lack of servants as some mysterious illness sweeps through the country. There is a lack of certain items and many are having to adapt to a strange new time.

There are not enough toilet rolls, the Nanny has died and no one can control the children and their seems to be a problem with money.

Lord Inverkillen is found dead. It appears to be an accident to the lacklustre Inspector but to the force that is Mrs McBain, the housekeeper of the Abbey there is much more to it than meets the eye.

It has to be someone from the Abbey and because most of the servants have been struck down with this mysterious illness, it seems it therefore has to be one of the family.

But which one and what secrets are they all hiding?

The ‘upstairs’ characters were in abundance and I had to keep referring back to the character list at the beginning to work out who was who, who was married to whom and whose children were running wild across the house and the estate. After a while this became a little cumbersome, especially on a kindle and I don’t think I got to the end of the book really knowing everyone as I would have liked to have done.

That aside, there are twist and turns, red herrings and everything you would expect from a cosy mystery. The humour was subtle, the references to a pandemic quite obvious but the story would work quite happily without it. Clearly much inspiration is drawn on from Downton Abbey and with the author being American, I can see the fascination that our English or in this case Scottish history, big families and big houses can have. This may well have over influenced the whole of the book but for me, definitely the ending which I didn’t see coming and felt a little bit absurd.

A book for escapism and fun, nothing more taxing than that.

Thank you to the publisher via netgalley for the opportunity to read this novel.

Loch Down Abbey is out now

Books

Murder at Elm House – Helena Dixon

If there is one thing you can rely on it is the fact that Kitty Underhay, the main protagonist in these stories is that she isn’t far from a dead body or two! Her Grandmother implores her to stay out of trouble and stick to running The Dolphin Hotel in Dartmouth, but Kitty now with ability to drive can go further afield now.

In this the sixth instalment, Kitty finds herself visiting Mrs Craven, one of her grandmothers friends and someone who always has their nose into everyone’s business. Kitty finds her quite a challenge and her acid tongue can be quite cutting. Recuperating from an operation at Elm House, Mrs Craven is convinced that something untoward is going on.

There are a lot of comings and goings at strange times of the night and whilst residents should be recuperating there seems to be a high amount of deaths. Kitty cannot help but investigate especially when it seems her attempt to find out what happened to her mother interests many people and puts her forefront of some rather unsavoury characters.

All of these threads that Kitty is investigating along with private investigator, Matt Bryant, who Kitty is now officially stepping out with seems all rather random and unrelated, but as the story goes one the body count gets higher and it seems that perhaps what Kitty was looking for was closer than she first thought.

Still featuring Alice, Kitty’s faithful employee at the hotel and one of my favourite characters for her forthrightness when it comes to Kitty’s behaviour coupled with her unwavering loyalty as well, they make an interesting duo when they investigate together. Dolly, Alice’s sister is working at Elm House and seems she might have innocently seen some of the answers to many of the questions that Kitty and Matt have. I do hope we get to see more of Alice and Dolly in future novels.

As the story reaches it conclusion, of course there are many questions answered, but still Kitty is seeking the truth about her mother and it looks like we might need to wait a bit longer for that one. And as for the fordable Mrs Craven, perhaps the events at Elm House might mellow her? I of course like everyone else will have to wait and see.

This is a delightful series of cosy mysteries set in Dartmouth, Devon in the mid Nineteen Thirties, full of humour, warmth and a bit of romance amongst the body count and the scrapes that Kitty and Matt find themselves in. I recommend you start at the beginning and catch me up!

Thank you to the publisher via netgalley for the opportunity to read this book.

Murder at Elm House is published on 7 June 2021.

Links to my reviews of the previous novels can be found below:

Murder at the Dolphin Hotel – Helena Dixon

Murder at Enderley Hall – Helena Dixon

Murder at the Playhouse – Helena Dixon

Murder on the Dancefloor – Helena Dixon

Murder in the Belltower – Helena Dixon