Books

A Three Dog Problem – S.J.Bennett

This is the second in what I hope to be a series of books about HM The Queen helping to solve mysteries all the while going about state business and unassuming having no idea what is really going not just in the world outside of those palace walls, but certainly inside of them too.

Back is APS (Assistant Private Secretary) Rozie who fulfilled something The Queen had been looking for and became her partner in crime solving. When out on a visit The Queen spots a painting that used to be hanging outside her bedroom door, she asks Rozie to make some discreet enquiries about its odd misplacement from the palace walls to the walls of the Royal Navy.

When a body is found in the palace swimming pool, suicide is suspected and seems to be the neatest conclusion, but all is not what it seems about the deceased. Opening up a can of poison pen letters, missing items, rare paintings and secret tunnels it seems Rozie and her boss have a lot to consider.

Can a conclusion be reached before there is more murders and perhaps The Queen has to start considering a new APS?

For me you do really need to have read the first one to get a sense of whose everyone is and how Rozie comes to be in the position she is in as well. It is terribly (in a good way!) British and may not translate across other countries, but there are plenty of references to recent events from Brexit, Trump election and the like that it is very much a book of it’s time. All the Royal stuff is a fascinating bonus!

This is the perfect cosy crime book and the fact it features The Queen as one of the main characters just brings me sheer joy. Why shouldn’t she have her own fun, with only a small select few knowing about it!

A great fun distracting read needed in these turbulent times.

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

A Three Dog Problem is out now.

Books

December Roundup

Another strange December, will they ever be the same again? Well the reading luckily stayed the same and I had plenty of time for it.

Plenty of time for making a dent in the ever expanding Netgalley list – note to self, must try harder. Further note to self – this is probably not achievable but always worth a go, like reading more books on my shelf.

I did that with Delia Owens – Where the Crawdads Sing. A bit late to the party with this one perhaps, but it was a lovely book to be lost in and one that was tangibly in my hand for me to experience. I can see why it was so popular.

Another actual” book was the last Christmas book I read for the year, I think I was all Christmas booked out by mid November, but I had seen Cathy Bramley – The Merry Christmas Project and knew it would be a prefect gentle read, well written and would be joyous in these uncertain times.

When everything around is you uncertain we do tend to go back to what we know, and all my other reads were from authors I had read before.

In terms of murder and history I was delighted to be taken along the coast from me with Merryn Allingham – Murder on the Pier. 1950s rural England, quite bucolic if it wasn’t for the dead bodies!

Further back a few decades, to the last years of the 1930s and this time to Hong Kong with the delightful young adult book Robin Stevens – A Spoonful of Murder, Now on Hazels home ground so to speak, Daisy takes more of a back seat and doesn’t quite like not being in the spotlight.

Staying in the 1930s with Jessica Fellowes – The Mitford Vanishing. War is clearly looming in Europe and it all depends on which side you wish to be on. And for one of the sisters it will be a decision that splits a family even further. I look forward to seeing how the final Mitford sister is treated in this series.

Of course using ‘real’ people in your stories is a good vehicle to tell a tale and certainly The Queen has been busy in many a book I have read. She is back this time with her crime solving team in S.J. Bennett – A Three Dog Problem. It seems her keen eye has spotted a problem and she sets up everyone else to solve it, whilst playing the innocent. Or so you think!

Playing the innocent is something you could say about Veronica McCreedy, her ability to seemingly be a dotty old lady with a passion for penguins is reignited in Hazel Prior – Call of the Penguins, the follow up to Away With the Penguins. There is something so gentle about these two books and if you want a recommendation then please pick up the first and lose yourself.

Books and subsequently stories can take you away to far away places and to the ends of the earth, even when that end of the earth might be claimed back by the sea. Shelia Norton – Winter at Cliff’s End Cottage is a hug of a book, which brings cross generational friendships to the forefront of the story and teaches us what we can learn and also benefit from when you expand your horizons.

Hugs of books are the best sometimes, Christie Barlow – Heartcross Castle part of the Love Heart Lane series is one of those. Any of the series is but this one particular touched at my heart strings and reminds everyone on the importance of being yourself – something I try to do every day!

So that was December, and that was 2021. I have yet to do my year round of up books, I need to decide what format I want it to take and perhaps along the way I will do a round up of all the craft projects I have completed – who knows. As I sit here typing this I have all these fanciful ideas of what I will do with this blog, but they never materialise or they tail off after an initial spurt of inspiration. Perhaps I will go with the flow….

Books

Murder on the Pier – Merryn Allingham

This is the second in the Flora Steele series of novels, which features the aforementioned and crime writer Jack Carrington set in the 1950s in the South Downs.

Time has moved slightly on, since we last saw Flora. Determined to keep the bookshop going and concentrating more on than that than murders it seems that in Abbeymead, peace has resumed.

On a day trip to Brighton, Flora does not expect to find a body floating under the pier and even more she doesn’t expect it to be someone she knows; Polly Dakers.

Polly had her whole life in front of her and was determined to be a model and be noticed, but probably not in this way. Clearly looking like an accident to others, Flora is convinced there is some foul play at work and she is determined to find the truth.

However, with possible suspects and motives stacking up, Flora’s determination finds herself hanging on to life on more than one occasion. All the while at her side is crime writer Jack. A strong friendship developed in the first novel is progressing nicely in this one and it seems that both Flora and Jack are destined to be more than friends. That is if Flora stops getting both of them into scrapes!

This was a delightful sojourn to a cosy crime, and I was thoroughly delighted to have worked out the murderer which is a rare occurrence for me. Always great to have seen the clues and see how it all fits together in the end.

Great historical cosy crime to take you away from everything, even if someone people meet a grizzly end, there seems to be just a gentleness of Flora, Jack and the other residents of Abbeymead. I look forward to going back there.

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

Murder on the Pier is out now.

Books

A Murder Inside – Frances Brody

It is 1969 and this is the first in what will be a series of books from the author. Dealing with strong female characters find us the readers meeting Nell Lewis, the new governor at HMP Brackerly Edge in Yorkshire.

This is to be the first open prison for women and Nell is tasked with bringing this palace into a more modern setting, not just in terms of buildings but also those who work within the walls, the grounds and the local area.

However, there is some background with these female prisoners who are towards the end of their sentences. Surely it can’t have anything to do with the previous governor being found dead his garden – found dead by Nell herself.

Nell finds herself drawn back to her previous days as a WPC and calls on the support of a former colleague all the while trying to help these women, all who have their own paths to forge once they can escape the prison system and stigma.

This is a great start to a series and the setting and the idea behind it is unique and one that fascinates me. I hope we don’t have to wait too long before we can catch up with Nell and see how HMP Brackerly Edge is faring as the world starts changing around them all.

If you are a fan of the historical cosy mystery, female dominated and like the idea of starting a new series then I think this is one to keep your eye on.

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

A Murder Inside is out now.

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.