‘The Tell Tale’ by Clare Ashton is outstanding. My book of the year by a long way. Lady Sophie Melling is lady of the manor, but the men of the village will not accept it. Her former schoolfriend Beth Harris is back in the village after years away. Like most people she has a secret, and when nasty notes begin appearing it looks like her secret may be revealed to all. Who is leaving the notes? And what does it have to do with unexplained events twenty years ago? As the tension builds, a sense of foreboding clings to the village and its inhabitants.
This is the best novel Clare Ashton has written. My jaw dropped again and again as the shocking realities were revealed. The exquisite writing, beautiful descriptions, and insight into the welsh language and people had me mesmerised. I could feel the fear of the villagers as they received their vicious notes, and the all-pervading abuse of power by certain men of the village. But I could also feel the growing confidence of the women as they tried to be true to themselves and fight against it all. I cannot recommend this novel highly enough. If you only read one book this year, let it be ‘The Tell Tale’. You will not regret it.
My story, The Shop On Pitkin Lane, is part of this wonderful Halloween anthology. Lady Grim 2021 is out now.
Join a host of WLW authors including Annette Mori, LL Shelton, Lila Bruce, Adrian J Smith, Jane Alden, KT Brodland, Elaine Mattern, Ocean, Rita Potter, Serenity Snow, Nance Sparks and Tiffany E Taylor.
‘Meet Me In Another Life’ is the beautifully written story of Thora and Santi who meet again and again, in different situations. It was poignant and heartwarming and thought-provoking. I didn’t know where it was going and it surprised me. The different stages of life and the types of people we all are, were brought to the fore. A book to get lost in.
‘A Lesson in Murder’ by Verity Bright is Part of a series, but there’s no need to have read them in advance as this works as a stand-alone too.
Lady Eleanor Swift is back at her old school, St Mary’s, to give a speech. Her memories were not all good by any means, so being back stirs up some difficult feelings.
She’s a very independent woman for the time and not everyone appreciates that. When the death occurs of her favourite old teacher, Eleanor is pulled into the mystery, by virtue of being there, and because of her association with Chief Inspector Seldon in previous adventures. When he turns up to deal with the situation he asks her to go undercover as a house mistress. Will they be able to find out the identity of the killer in time? Eleanor will have to use all of her know-how about the school to solve the mystery before it’s too late.
I liked the references to her time there and to previous mysteries. The book had a comfortable, cosy vibe, and the reader is made to feel part of it all. Being set in the Golden Age of Crime in the 1920s makes it all the more exciting. I also liked the dynamic between Eleanor , Clifford her butler, and Chief Inspector Seldon. They make a great team. But most of all, I loved the boarding school setting, partly because I read so many books set in them when I was a child. It felt familiar. Verity Bright succeeded in bringing back those memories and adding her own twist with an engrossing mystery.
‘Love at Leighton Lake’ is a lovely romance with two very endearing characters. Tally returns to the place of her childhood holidays when she needs time to recover from a serious injury at work. There she becomes reacquainted with Caitlyn, the daughter of the owner. Caitlyn has continued to live there, helping her mother and swimming in the lake everyday. But as they spend time together it becomes apparent that secrets have been kept from Caitlyn. Together they aim to find out the truth.
I loved the Devon setting and the relaxing vibe that came from spending time there. I could see why Tally wanted to be there, and why Caitlyn didn’t leave. Their growing feelings for each other felt genuine and I wanted it to work out for them. Working together to find out why so many secrets were being kept brought them closer and it had a healing effect. This healing was a major part of it for both of them, but in different ways. The love and passion came so naturally. An enjoyable read.
‘Murder in the Village’ is a the first in a new cozy mystery series by Lisa Cutts. Belinda Penshurst has interests in businesses in her small village – one of them the local pub. When a suspicious death occurs there she is pulled into solving the mystery, along with retired police detective Harry Powell, a newcomer to the village. But that’s not the only strange thing going on. Dognappers seem to be targeting the village, and the pair join forces to find out why. And who is involved.
I must admit I didn’t take to Belinda right away, but as the story progressed I began to see where she was coming from. She appeared bossy and dismissive at first, but there was an element of humour there too. I liked Harry a lot. He was extremely kind and thoughtful, and his influence rubbed off on Belinda. I liked getting to know the village and the inhabitants. I look forward to more in this series.
‘Midnight Slain in Georgia’ is a well crafted short story ideal for the upcoming Halloween season. Callie works for a travel company organising tours. One of them is a ghost tour of Savannah. Part of Callie’s job is to vet applicants to be included on the tour, and when one comes up with a link to history, she wants nothing to do with it. But along with her partner, Jo, she is required to check it out. Will an overnight stay change her mind about the property? And who is the ghost supposedly haunting the B&B?
The first thing that appealed to me about his story was the link to Anne Hagan’s ‘Loving Blue in Red States’ series. I’ve read all of them and was delighted to get a follow-up with two of the characters. There’s no need to have read the previous story, ‘Savannah Georgia’, but if you have you’ll bet an extra kick out of this story. The characters of Callie and Jo have a good humoured relationship which comes through here. They also have a hot and steamy time together and this is very evident in this story. The story was brilliantly executed and made me gasp. A clever and delightful tale.
‘A Con Con’ by Anne Hagan is an excellent short story, showing her mastery of mystery. After arriving at the GCLS Convention, she is tired and just wants to freshen up before the activities all begin. But an intriguing mystery has her flummoxed – until she uses her innate skills to solve an interesting mystery. It’s a fun story, with lots of humour. I really enjoyed it and it shows just how much the author loves a good mystery.