Review of ‘Agatha Christie – A Very Elusive Woman’ by Lucy Worsley

As a huge admirer of the works of Agatha Christie, I have been eagerly awaiting the publication of ‘Agatha Christie- A Very Elusive Woman’ by Lucy Worsley. 

Telling the story of Agatha’s life, from her early years with an education-averse mother, to Dame Agatha, the most read female writer ever. 

Lucy Worsley has a very engaging style. Bringing together research from the Christie archives, as well as contemporary accounts and Agatha’s own words, she paints a picture of a fascinating woman. Whatever your preconceived ideas may be of Mrs Christie, this book gives a chance to reconsider. As expected the disappearance in 1926 is discussed fully, but unlike many commentators at the time and since, Lucy Worsley delves into the subject with an open mind. I found her conclusions convincing and thoughtful. 

I cannot recommend it highly enough. 

Review of ‘In The Mood’ by MW Arnold

‘In The Mood’ by MW Arnold is set in 1944 at the Air Transport Auxiliary service in Hamble, Hampshire. The female pilots are helping the war effort by delivering aeroplanes all over the country, at great risk. In this, the fourth in the series, they are again faced with mysteries to solve, and personal tragedies to face. Blackmail is the least of their problems, as peril mounts and they find themselves in grave danger.

They were an interesting group of women, and I found that I wanted to read more about them. The camaraderie between them was inspiring. MW Arnold captured the intense relationships and friendships that are part of war. His chatty style allows the reader to feel a part of the group, as they live day to day with war and the losses that entails. 

MW Arnold also managed to weave this group friendship with a mystery. I liked it and I liked them. They were a very diverse set of women, each with their own skills and challenges in life. An enjoyable read.

I was given this ARC to review.

Review of ‘The Edinburgh Mystery’ edited by Martin Edwards

‘The Edinburgh Mystery’ edited by Martin Edwards, is a collection of seventeen short mystery stories, set in Scotland. I love classic mysteries, so was thrilled to read so many stories in my favourite genre.    Although I had heard of, and read books by many of the authors, there were some that were new to me. Finding new names to read is one of the best parts of anthologies such as this. I particularly enjoyed ‘The Field Bazaar’ by Arthur Conan Doyle and ‘A Medical Crime’ by J Storer Clouston. It was also particularly thrilling to find a short story by Josephine Tey, not published since 1930. The introduction by Martin Edwards gives insight into the authors chosen and how they played a part in the mystery genre. I find this compelling and appreciate the chance to learn something  about authors previously unknown to me. 

I was given this ARC to review.

Review of ‘Janet Jackson’s Yorkshire B&B’ by Becky Papworth

‘Janet Jackson’s Yorkshire B&B’ by Becky Papworth is set in Hebden bridge, and is the delightfully funny story of a woman who is put upon by everyone in her life. Whatever life throws at Janet, she manages, somehow, to find a way to survive. Hilariously. Running a B&B seemed like a great idea, but as Janet soon finds out, nothing is ever that easy.

Her outlook is insightful and oh so true to life. She gets it right in so many ways and drops in so much about life, the little things we all recognise. 

It’s about families and friends and hangers-on. Janet Jackson is a one-woman whirlwind. I’ve no idea how she copes and fits everything in. But she does, and with humour, energy and love.  I loved every minute of it and it left me chuckling well after I’d finished the last page. 

I was given this ARC for review.

Review of ‘Marple’ by Val McDermid, Kate Mosse et al

Agatha Christie was the Queen of Crime. Her work has delighted generations of readers and inspired countless writers. In ‘Marple’ we see just how important she has been to the development of mystery fiction, and to the women who have followed in her wake. 

The stories cover different times in the 20th century, up to the 1970s.  It is as if Marple is a character floating in time, never tied to one particular period.

As a huge fan of Agatha Christie, I have been desperately waiting to get my hands on a copy of this book. There are twelve short stories by contemporary writers. And the love for Miss Marple is obvious in each and every one. 

My favourite story was ‘ The mystery of the Acid soul’ by Kate Mosse.  It is exquisite in its descriptions and is beautifully written.  Taking the train to visit an old friend, Jane meets  a worried curate on the train. Once at her destination the reason for this becomes apparent. Once again Miss Marple finds herself at the centre of a perplexing mystery. An excellent story, capturing the true essence of Miss Marple.  

Another winner was ‘The Second  Murder at the Vicarage’ by Val McDermid. I loved the  mention of characters I know well from Christie’s novels and short stories. You can tell she loves the books and knows them inside out. She pitches it just right  and her story is entirely in keeping with the Miss Marple we all know and love. 

I loved finding authors that were new to me in this collection. I particularly enjoyed the stories written by Jean Kwok, Leigh Bardugo and Ruth Ware. 

I was given this ARC to review.

Review of Murder in Myrtle Bay by Isobel Blackthorn

Ruth Finley is  a journalist doing a feature on an old factory,  now a market, in her home town. It is a hub  for antiques and collectibles and very popular with the locals. 

When visiting the market with her elderly neighbour, Doris, they find a body.  As Ruth and Doris begin to investigate, they discover secrets and incidents from the past. 

Could any of these secrets have resulted in murder?

I found Ruth and Doris an  interesting pairing, as they are of a different generation, with different outlooks on life.  But it worked. I also liked the setting, as it’s unusual for me to read books set in Australia, especially small town Australia.  

I’m glad that there will be more to come in this series . There was plenty of preparation for future books, as we discovered much of the  backstory of the town and its people. And if you’re a foodie then this is the ideal book for you, as it is teeming with gorgeous dishes and left me salivating. 

Isobel Blackthorn kept my attention throughout, and wrote a tense and exciting denouement. I really warmed to these characters and look forward to joining them again. 

I was given this ARC for review.

Review of ‘The Sex Therapist Next Door’ by Meghan O’Brien

Diana Kelley helps couples with sex and intimacy problems – but wants none of it for herself. A bad experience has put her off for life. Or so she thinks. When she unexpectedly needs help with a rather interesting problem, convincing her hot young neighbour to help leads to some very steamy encounters.

Meghan o’Brien does it once again. Her novels have a heat level unrivalled by any other. She also knows how to tell a great story, with believable characters. I loved it.

I was given this ARC for review.

Review of ‘Murder At The Manor’ by Katharine Schellman

‘Death At The Manor’ by Katharine Schellman is a Regency era mystery set in the Hampshire countryside. Lily Adler is once again caught up in a mysterious death, and feels compelled to find a solution, if only to keep her beloved aunt and her companion safe. When there is talk of a ghost a a nearby manor, Lily and her friends are keen to see for themselves. But they did not count on an unexpected death – one that everyone seems keen to blame on the ghost. 

I liked Lily, and found her methods interesting. She was strong willed and had a mind of her own. Including her friends and a certain admirer in her investigations worked well. The Regency era is a particular favourite of mine, so I was delighted to wallow in the period details. The ghostly element added a gothic touch, which was handled exceptionally well by the author. A well written and enjoyable story.

I was given this ARC to review.

Review of ‘Murder In A Mill Town’ by Helen Cox

‘Murder In A Mill Town’  by Helen Cox is the first book I’ve read in this particular series, but I had no problem jumping right in . It can easily be read as a standalone. DS Charlotte Banks becomes unofficially involved in the investigation of a violent murder in Andaby, near the picturesque town of Hebden Bridge. Her brother Ewan has been recently released from prison and Charlie is worried that he may be somehow involved. In order to clear his name – and keep the scandal from her own front door, she recruits her friends Kitt Hartleyand Grace Edwards, of Hartley and Edwards Investigations. There are more secrets than they could ever have imagined in the small town and it will take everything they’ve got to uncover the truth behind the murder.

I adored the setting for the story. Having visited many an industrial museum in my time, I could easily picture the gruesome scene of the murder. Also the West Yorkshire locations were ideal. The beautiful town of Hebden Bridge and Halifax (the home of the now famous Anne Lister) added a certain ambience to the novel. I found that the group working together to solve the case worked exceptionally well. I liked how they complemented each other, and it has made me want to read more in this series. 

The mystery had plenty of twists and turns and kept me engrossed for hours. It had interesting characters and a plot to grab any reader’s attention. The perfect cosy mystery to pass a few hours.

I was given this ARC to review.

Review of ‘Vision of Virtue’ by Brey Willows

‘Vision of Virtue’ by Brey Willows is the second story in the Memory’s Muses series. This time we are with Clio Ardalides, the Muse of history and virtue. She seeks to show the good in every situation. Positivity is her mantra. But sometimes her TV show veers too far towards the superficial. 

Kit Kalloway is the complete opposite. She is for truth and reality, whatever the situation. It irks her that Clio focuses too much on appearance and the lighter side of life. She may find the Muse extremely attractive, but that won’t stop her voicing her disapproval. 

When the pair are pushed together in a terrible situation, can they see past first impressions? And can they find a way to take their mutual attraction further?

Brey Willows breathes new life into classical characters. Characters who would otherwise have remained in dusty tomes, unknown to the majority. Her stories are thrilling, exciting and fascinating. The world she has imagined, where gods and mortals coexist, is a stroke of genius. 

Clio wasn’t the person I thought at first. She had lived a long life and had witnessed some awful things. She didn’t want to dwell on all that horrible stuff – and who can blame her? Sometimes we all need to shut off the news.  

Kit had a huge chip on her shoulder, but spending time with Clio let her see that immortals are not all the same. She didn’t seem to consider the feelings of others. Until faced with some home truths – and the fear of losing a chance for love. 

Brey Willows took Clio and Kit to a place where they had to face who they really were. Humans and immortals can both be guilty of self delusion. Sometimes it takes a kind soul to point out the truth. Or an inciting event forces reflection. It takes courage to change and a desire for something more than the status quo.

I loved being back with the muses. All of them. Tying their stories together works so well and I look forward to the next in the series. Highly recommended.

I was given this ARC for review.