Review of ‘Two For Sorrow’ by Nicola Upson

‘Two For Sorrow’ by Nicola Upson is an immersive and beautifully written Josephine Tey mystery, set in 1930s London. Josephine is back in London researching her next book on the baby farmers of the early part of the century. Amelia Sachs and Annie Walters were executed for their crimes, but Miss Tey is more interested in the aftermath of their crimes. How others were also affected. While staying at her club in town, Josephine is drawn into a case investigated by her friend Detective Inspector Archie Penrose. Danger lurks all around and the pair must find the killer before it is too late.

There’s a depth to the story that you don’t see coming, and I must admit it took my breath away. The author weaves a story of personal tragedy, with a wider stain on society. And the years have not wiped away that stain. 

London of that era was so perfectly described, as Josephine meets with her London theatre friends and mixes with high society. There’s plenty of name dropping- which is an absolute delight. We saw the lives of women of different classes and the choices they had to make. And we also saw the consequences of those decisions.

Nicola Upson cleverly ties in the tiny threads of her story and brings it all together with such skill. 

I was left profoundly moved by the stories within ‘Two For Sorrow’. It’s a stunningly well written and researched story and would make a wonderful film/tv adaptation.

I was given this ARC for review.

Review of ‘Enchanted Autumn’ by Ursula Klein

‘Enchanted Autumn’ is an engaging romance, full of magic, interesting characters and the perfect setting. Hazel is a Salem witch – and a real one at that. With a black cat, her very own broom stick and a penchant for potion-making, she is proud of who she is. That is until English academic, Dr Elizabeth Cowrie, arrives in town. The history researcher has an interest in the Salem witch trials, but does not believe in magic. In fact she scoffs at the very idea that it may exist. Hazel’s attraction to her is going to be a problem, as she must decide if she’s willing to give up her true self in pursuit of love. 

I loved that the story was set in Salem. The author managed to weave some historical details from the witch trials into this modern romance. But it was ultimately about the triumph of magic, of love. Hazel was an astute businesswoman, but still managed to stay true to her roots. Her witchcraft was important to her and to the whole community, even if some of them were not aware of her true nature. Elizabeth may have been a sceptic, but she was kind, passionate and intelligent. I adored the ‘Britishisms’ scattered throughout the story. They were spot-on. I also enjoyed the writing style, which pulled me into their world, a world I’d like to revisit. 

I was given this ARC to review.

Review of ‘Death in Disguise by Emma Davies.

Sometimes a book takes you by surprise. You don’t realise just how enjoyable and satisfying it’s going to be. That’s what happened when I started reading ‘Death in Disguise’ by Emma Davies. Francesca Eve is a caterer and is intrigued by a murder mystery dinner party she caters for a group of female friends. It’s all good fun, even when one of the group has to ‘die’ as part of the game. When one of the women dies later the fun ends. Fran discovers that the victim may not have been all she seemed. In fact none of the guests were. What secrets did they hold – and did those secrets have anything to do with the murder? Fran and Adam join forces to find out the truth before the killer strikes again. 

This was an engrossing mystery that kept me guessing to the end. There were plenty of twists and turns and it was an original and enjoyable story. It got more and more exciting as the story progressed. I loved the dynamic between Fran and Adam. It was an unusual pairing, but one that worked really well. I’m looking forward to more in this new series.

I was given this ARC to review.

Review of ‘Velocity’ by Gun Brooke

I love it when I find a new series to obsess about. ‘Velocity’ is the second book in Gun Brooke’s Dennamore Scrolls series, but it can be read as a standalone too. I haven’t read the first book, ‘Yearning’,  but I definitely need to now. ‘Velocity’ is the story of a town and its discovery of an alien background they didn’t know existed. Holly Crowe is astounded to find alien artefacts whilst out taking photographs one day and is determined to find out more. Claire Gordon, a local mechanic with a love of science fiction finally finds some meaning and purpose when she too is let in on the secret. As they join others everything begins to make sense. But will it lead them into danger and peril? 

This was an intriguing story, with superb world-building and imagination. I love sci-fi and this hit all the right buttons for me. There was love, romance and family too. The group were trying to solve a puzzle and I was completely engrossed in their journey towards discovery. The blend of different characters worked extremely well. We had some sapphic characters and their relationships, but we also had tight family bonds and friendship. I want to find out what happens next to them and can’t wait for the next instalment. 

I was given this ARC for review.

Review of ‘A Letter To Three Witches’ by Elizabeth Bass

‘A Letter To Three Witches’ by Elizabeth Bass is a delightful story that is sure to be the first in a much anticipated series. Gwen’s family have been forbidden to practice witchcraft by the Grand Council of Witches. Nearly one hundred years ago her great-great grandfather cast a spell that caused havoc and since then his descendants have been watched closely. Any whiff of magic and they are in big trouble. Although Gwen and her cousins, Trudy and Milo, have avoided being caught for minor transgressions, things change when Gwen’s adopted sister puts a spanner in the works. She sends a letter to each stating that she will steal one of their partners by the end of the week. Who will it be?  And how will they stop her? The stress results in the magic they have been denying surfacing, with disastrous consequences. Long buried secrets threaten to change everything they thought was true.

This was a lighthearted, funny and totally enchanting read. It was the perfect escapism, and one I really appreciated in these difficult times. It was a wonderfully conceived story, with some laugh out loud moments and some poignant ones too. I loved the characters and the world Elizabeth Bass has imagines. I want more of these characters and I can’t wait to read the next one.

I was given this ARC for review.

Review of ‘Front Page Murder’ by Joyce St. Anthony

Irene Ingram is now editor in chief of the Progress Herald. Her father has left to report on the war in the pacific, and her fiancé is in training somewhere, preparing to join the battles in Europe. She may be a great reporter and ready to take on the role, but it’s the early 1940s. Many of the residents in her small town don’t agree. A woman in a position of power is extremely unusual and not always welcomed. Irene is determined to prove them wrong and gets the chance to show her skills, when a sudden and unexplained death hits close to her. With anti-Semitic attacks springing up in the previously quiet and welcoming town, Irene and her friend Peggy begin to investigate. 

I liked the historical World War 2 time-frame. It was very well described and it felt so contemporary even though it was set in the 1940s. These characters felt real.  She managed to make the reader feel a part of the time too. It was a fantastic story and so believable. I really liked Irene . She was strong, daring and clever, and I want to read more of her stories.

This book gave a very different perspective. We found out about the women who stepped up and took on responsibilities outside the home. Through Irene’s eyes we saw the barriers they came up against. 

The mystery was well told and kept me gripped throughout. I loved it.

I was given this ARC to review .

Review of ‘Tight Race’ by Elizabeth Sims

The Lillian Byrd mystery series by Elizabeth Sims has been a favourite of mine, since my early days of reading WLW fiction. I was delighted to find that there was a new book out and jumped at the chance to read it. ‘Tight Race’ finds Lillian working as media liaison for mayoral candidate and retired cop,  Leon Sorrel. Navigating the cut-throat world of local politics whilst conducting an affair with co-worker and socialite Marie Chamberlain was never going to work out well. When a double murder puts Lillian under suspicion, she has to find answers before the whole campaign is threatened. Dirty cops and even dirtier newspaper columnists add to the mix, making the investigation seedier by the minute. 

First of all, I love Lillian Byrd as a main character. She is unconventional, daring and the kind of person you want on your side in any fight. She takes risks and I worry about her. ‘Tight Race’ was a cracking story and kept me reading well into the night. Elizabeth Sims writes in a way that flows naturally. Her style draws the reader in, and we feel as if we are right there with Lillian. I found the story intriguing and loved the Dertroit setting. Getting to know a city and its neighbourhoods through the character’s eyes is a true skill. I really enjoyed it and hope there will be many more mysteries to solve in this series.

I was given this ARC to review.

Review of ‘The Twyford Code’ by Janice Hallett

I approached ‘The Twyford Code’ with high expectations.  Janice Hallett’s ‘The Appeal’ was my favourite book of 2021, and I was desperate to see if she could equal its brilliance. I was not disappointed.

‘The Twyford Code’ is a stunningly clever mystery; a mixture of crime and old world charm. Steven Smith is an ex-con trying to piece together events from his troubled childhood. Finding a strange book , full of markings and handwritten notes changed his life back then. Showing it to an inspirational teacher led to an investigation into clues apparently hidden within the book. The author of that book, now sidelined for old-fashioned and offensive views, was a firm favourite with children for decades. Could she have left clues within the pages of her books? As we become privy to the investigation, the readers join in this mind-bending and exciting mystery. 

The story is teased out bit by bit and there are some ‘oh my god!’ moments. The author mixes Smithy’s past life tales of crime with the present. It is clever, with a myriad of twists and turns. At times it is shocking, mysterious and thrilling, and went places I didn’t see coming. It is beyond me how someone can craft such an astounding story. Highly recommended.

I was given this ARC for review.

Review of ‘Death in Cornwall’ by G.M. Malliet

When Detective Chief Inspector Arthur  St Just and his fiancée Portia, a Cambridge academic, take a break in Cornwall, they hope for nothing more than relaxation and good food. What awaits them is a village at war. Those making a living need to see changes, but the incomers want to keep its picturesque charm. When one of their number dies in violent circumstances St Just is dragged in to help. Is the death linked to the fight between the fisherman and the new villagers? Or is there more to the story? Portia and Arthur must find out quickly before it’s too late.

‘Death In Cornwall’ has the feeling of a classic mystery but with a modern day twist.  Set as it is in a small village,  it also has the closed set feel of a country house mystery. I found the two main characters, St Just and Portia, engaging, intelligent and relatable. The writing was wonderfully descriptive, and I was transported to the Cornish coast for a delightful few hours. 

I really enjoyed it. 

I was given this ARC to review. 

Review of ‘Murder Underground’ by Mavis Doriel Hay

‘Murder Underground’ was originally published in the 1930s, and it is to that time the reader is transported. The descriptions of London, life in boarding hotels and the various characters were fascinating.  It intrigued me.

When one of the boarders at the Frampton Hotel is found dead in Belsize Station, theories abound amongst the residents as to how she met her death. Miss Pongleton was not a popular woman, but none of her fellow residents would have wished a violent death on her. The strength of this story is in the characters and how they fit in to the mystery. I loved the conversations between them, and finding out slowly what part they each had to play. I can’t get enough of the Golden Age of Crime. 

I was given this ARC to review.