Books

Murder at the Priory Hotel – Merryn Allingham

I count myself lucky to be able to read such lovely cosy crime series such as this one, but there is a fear that they may well all merge into one. I think the key is to find the uniqueness and in this series it is the fact that are two main protagonists are Flora Steele, bookshop owner and author Jack Carrington.

In the village of Abbeymead where they both live, they are invited to the reopening of the Priory Hotel. What is meant to be a celebration is turned on it’s head when Beverley Russo, the stunning female singer of the band dies in front of Flora and Jack’s eyes.

Things are not always as they seem and Flora is convinced that there is a third party involved in this tragic event. With the police not always content with their interference Flora and Jack investigate what has go on rather surreptitiously. First up is why does the gorgeous ruby ring Beverley was wearing suddenly turn up somewhere where it shouldn’t?

It seems that Beverley was not particularly liked by everyone and old animosities are reignited between members of the band. But then how does the local doctor feature? And what has Portsmouth got to do with any of it? I was particularly intrigued on how my home city was going to be featured, pretty much accurately I would say!

As the list is suspects grows and the body count doubles, it seems that the police are going to have to rely on what Flora and Jack have learnt to be able to solve the mystery. Spending all this time together foes mean that their affection for each other perhaps grows and potentially in subsequent books it may well develop.

For fans of cosy crime with a village vibe, that gives it that almost unique Britishness that probably wouldn’t work anywhere else!

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

Murder at the Priory Hotel is out now.

Books

The Rising Tide – Ann Cleeves

DCI Vera Stanhope is so unlikely as a police detective that there is an element of how she is still where she is. Her bluntness, her untidiness, her lack of seeming care for her Sergeant and Constables under her are all forgiven in her dogged determination to get to the truth and have justice for everyone involved in whatever case she might be in.

In this the tenth and latest novel from Ann Cleeves, Vera finds herself stuck between friends, stuck between the past and the present, stuck between the mainland and Holy Island, stuck between the truth and the lies.

A group of college friends, every five years get together for a reunion on Holy Island. It’s a celebration of that very first trip, but also it is much deeper than that. Friendships, partnerships and marriages have come and gone. On that first reunion, of them died after being stuck in the rising tide. Now some fifty years later they are gathered again.

This time there is another body.

What are these friends hiding?

Will Vera be able to stop the tide turning?

As ever this closely plotted book shows all the eccentricities of Vera as well as the determination of her team DS Joe Ashworth, Vera’s stalwart side kick and Holly, the DC who wants to be recognised fore all the hard work that she does because she feels overlooked by her hero – Vera.

You cannot go wrong with Vera and I love her portrayal in the books as much as her portrayal on the television. I hope there is more to come.

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

The Rising Tide is published on the 1st September.

Books

Murder Before Evensong – Richard Coles

No murder is gentle and certainly when the death of the first victim in the church at Champton is spattered all over the pews it causes a quiet sleepy village to question whether everyone is as they seem.

Cannon Daniel Clement, Rector of said Church. Living with his widowed mother, two dogs and occasionally visits from his acting brother Theo sets the pace for this what is to be a series of books, featuring the Cannon.

As Daniel goes about his parish, performing all the duties that are expected of him and some that are not. He can see into everyone’s lives and comes close to seeing what is clearly under his nose. But can he work out why this terrible thing has happened to his parish and how exactly does the requirement for a lavatory in the church fit in?

With no actual dated sense of when this books is set, though I think I would go Mid Eighties. (Plenty of scope for a number of books as I mention previous). It is a very ‘English’ book and has all the makings of a good cosy crime series. Cannon Clement I could picture quite easily as with a number of the more vocal parishioners, with that sense of humour that perhaps only us British understand. Whilst some might find the references to the bible irrelevant to the plot or too much ‘religious pontificating’, for me they helped me understand the plot, the place and of course the people.

Perfect for fans all things cosy crime, of course comparisons can be made to the phenomenon that is Richard Osman and G.K Chesterton. To me it stands in it’s own place on anyone’s bookshelf. I look forward to seeing how the series and the characters develop.

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

Murder Before Evensong is out now.

Books

July Roundup

I might be behind on my challenge of reading 100 books in a year, but looking back at July I think I have made a good dent in it at least with some great books. And of course added to reads of Books of Summer challenge too.

The only physical paper copy of a book read this month was Jennifer Saint – Ariadne a retelling of a Greek Myth. It is a long time since I have read anything about the myths and legends, something which I have always been fascinated by. This whilst a bit tough in places was an interesting read and I certainly will not be put off by more Greek tragedy in the future. It led me to read more about it all so I could understand the book a bit better.

The only other new author to me this month was Richard Coles – Murder Before Evensong, and whilst I was fully aware of Richard Coles this is his first foray into fiction. Crime fiction. Again it was a book which I learnt from as my knowledge of religion, church services and the bible is woefully inadequate in comparison to some. A lovely book set in the eighties (with scope for plenty more) and an interesting insight into the minutiae of parish life with the added complication of a dead body or two!

Sticking with murder, I have been lucky enough to read the latest Vera; Ann Cleeves – The Rising Tide is another excellent page turner. Vera jumps off the page, thanks to Brenda Blethyn’s television portrayal and without in mind when you read the book, you are fully aware of the characters traits an foibles and that just adds to the story. Out in September.

Greek tragedy and murder is enough to depress anyone, but I have lightened my July reading with some lovely travel thanks to Gervase Phinn – At The Captain’s Table, a cruise to be precise. One of those books which observes people and their foibles (isn’t that such a great word!) as they are all contained on a ship as it travel’s the coast of Europe. All of life is here to see and Phinn encapsulates that Yorkshire humour with great skill.

Cornwall is always popular for holidays and for the setting of books and it is always lovely to spend time with Phillipa Ashley – A Golden Cornish Summer for her latest. Family feuds and young love are between the pages of this book as well as the sun, sand, sea and surf.

Travelling to another part of the UK, takes me to Wales and the latest contemporary novel from Tracy Rees – The Little House by the Sea. Can you start again in the place where you had your last family holiday as a child? It seems you can, but you cannot hide from what your family are keeping from you. As ever a wonderful book to escape with.

Then my final travels take me back to the village of Heartcross in Scotland with Christie Barlow – The New Doctor at Peony Practice. Rivalries founded at medical school are now being payed out in the village practice and it seems that Love Heart Lane is ready to deliver another excellent story.

So with my bags still packed with all these wonderful escapes, I am off on more adventures in August.

I have enjoyed visiting everyone who has taken part in Six in Six and a roundup post will follow this month.

Books

Murder at the Country Club – Helena Dixon

Already onto book nine of this wonderful series and the delightful Kitty Underhay who helps run The Dolphin Hotel in Dartmouth along with her grandmother. Now with her fiancé Matthew Bryant, a private investigator Kitty finds her continuing to get into scrapes of her own and there is often a few dead bodies about!

Having been invited to see an Archery display, some tennis, a dance display and some wonderful food and drink, the last thing Kitty expects to find is a dead body,

But she does Sir William Winspear, the very person who invited herself and Matthew to the club. And he appears to have an arrow sticking out of him.

When it seems he has been thinking about changing his will, heard arguing with one of the exhibition dancers as well as being rather beastly to his own brother and sister. It seems the list of suspects is stacking up. Then one of them is found dead in the swimming pool.

Kitty with her skill of talking to the female suspects finds herself in the middle of the investigation with Matthew and Inspector Grenville and his penchant for biscuits! Can they get to the truth before anyone else dies?

This is a light murder mystery and it’s historical setting adds to its whimsey. That doesn’t mean it is not without pace and plot and also with a backstory running through all the books, it is not a series to be overlooked. I look forward to the next one and re-joining Kitty and if I could I would book into The Dolphin Hotel if only to watch what happens next!

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

Murder at the Country Club is out now.

Books

Murder at Primrose Cottage – Merryn Allingham

The third in the Flora Steele Mysteries and the young bookshop owner has left her shop behind i the Sussex village of Abbeymead and embarked on a trip to Cornwall.

Accompanying her is Jack Carrington, crime writer, who needs to finish his latest novel otherwise his agent and publisher are gong to be further annoyed if it is delayed any further.

Renting a cottage from Roger Gifford, Flora is somewhat surprised to find him dead the following morning after their arrival in an overgrown orchard. His throat had been caught. The locals are devastated, he was well liked, popular and why would such a heinous crime happen in such a small village.

Roger was looking into something and it seems he got quite near the truth about events during the Second World War. However, Roger leaves behind a bitter ex-wife and a money grabbing brother, both with valid reasons for wanting Roger gone. Then the presence of mysterious women Mercy Dearlove spooks a number of the locals, could she have been the one?

When another body turns up and the mystery during the war leads them back to Abbeymead and Jack’s own father, it seems that it is not just one puzzle that is going to be solved when they find the murderer.

A light cosy crime read which gives you escapism in all its forms and even if like me you worked out “whodunnit”, it doesn’t really matter as it is always nice to see how we get to the solution. Clearly there is more to be had from Flora and Jack, they make for a pleasant diversion and like friendly faces jumping off the page.

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

Murder at Primrose Cottage is out now.

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

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

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.