Review of ‘Death At The Three Sisters’ by Jo Allen

‘Death At The Three Sisters’ by Jo Allen is a DCI Jude Satterthwaite mystery set in Cumbria. A local beauty spa owned by three sisters is the site of a puzzling murder. The spa has been failing for years, and the offer of a buyout is on the cards. But the sisters are divided as to whether they should accept. The death on the premises adds to the pressure Suzanne, Hazel and Tessa are under. As DCI Satterthwaite investigates, it becomes apparent that the relationships between the sisters, and between them and their neighbours were complicated. The team of detectives must act quickly to unravel the web of secrets and lies – before anymore deaths occur.

I’ve read a few of the books in this series and I like that I’ve got to know the characters. The police team works well , and they are adept at ferreting out clues. Jude is diligent and understated. He’s not pushy or showy, but gets the job done.

The uneasy relationships between the three sisters are at the core of this story. On the surface, they appear to be happy and their business is plodding along. But appearances are deceptive. Family dynamics are not easy to understand from the outside, and the team soon realise that the key to solving the murder lies in uncovering long buried secrets. 

‘Dear At The Three Sisters’ is a great story with a fantastic setting. I loved it.

I was given this ARC to review.

Review of ‘Henry VIII – The Heart and the Crown’ by Alison Weir

‘Henry VIII – The Heart and the Crown’ by Alison Weir is her latest book dealing with the Tudor era. This time though, we are told the story from the point of view of Henry. I’ve read several of Alison Weir’s books, dealing with the wives of Henry VIII, told from their perspectives. This is very different and has given me a deeper understanding of the period.

I wondered how I would feel about Henry after reading this book. Would I still have sympathy for the wronged wives? Or would Henry be able to persuade me otherwise? I’m still on the side of the six wives. Henry had an unshakable belief in his own superiority and that was obviously encouraged by those around him. His strict father tried to rein him in, and it worked to some extent. But once the young man was King, there was no stopping him. There were maybe some redeeming features early on, but his self-obsessed side, indulged by all, won out. 

I found the story compelling, and seeing it from the other side was interesting. I may not have liked Henry, but understanding how he justified his actions to himself opened the Tudor era up to me. A well-written story with excellent historical detail.

I was given this ARC to review.

Review of ‘A Contest to Kill For’ by E.V. Hunter

‘A Contest To Kill For’ by E.V. Hunter is a Hopgood Hall Murder Mystery and is set in the English countryside. Alexi has invested in the hotel to help her friends Cheryl and Drew. They hope that the filming of a baking reality show will help their profile and will bring in more business. Head chef Marcel is unpredictable, and exactly what the TV producers want to increase ratings. But the death of one of the contestants changes everything. Marcel is the No.1 suspect and if Alexi can’t find out the truth, the hotel will be finished. With the help of private detective Jack Maddox, she races against the clock find the culprit. 

Although I haven’t read the first book in the series, I had no problem jumping right in. The mystery is well told and the characters well written. I thought Alexi and Jack worked perfectly as a team, as each had their own unique skills to bring to the investigation. The author managed to create a family feel to the story, as the relationships between the characters felt real. I especially enjoyed Cosmo the cat, a fun and very welcome part of the team.

An enjoyable story with characters I want to see more of in the future.

I was given this ARC to review.

Review of S6 by TS Westbrook

‘S6’ by TS Westbrook is an eco-themed investigative thriller, set in Edinburgh, but with world-wide significance. The Red Cross is trying to find a missing oil worker in a time sensitive humanitarian mission. RB McGehee, reporter for Global Press is asked to write a short piece on the story, never imagining it will blow up as it does. Based in the Scottish capital, the announcement of carbon reduction plans by the devolved government is a much more interesting story to him. Especially as it could mean a spat with Westminster and the Norwegian government too. When his livelihood is threatened due to his investigation, he knows he’s onto something more. Someone wants him to back off and more than his job may be at stake.

I found this an exiting and thrilling story, with many twists and turns. RB McGehee was not your usual clean cut hero. He was a man with faults and some unsavoury habits, but he got the job done and I grew to like him. He had depth and his character developed in a realistic and fascinating way.

McGhee found increasingly murky waters as he peeled back layers of secrets and lies. It was interesting to discover the machinations of those involved in the relationship between the Scottish government and the U.K. government- and where lines are drawn on what is devolved and what is not. It was especially pertinent when ones thinks of the recent political upheaval in the relationship over the GRR bill. It was a good story well told.

I was given this ARC to review.

Review of ‘Mystery at Farfield Castle’ by Clare Chase

‘Mystery at Farfield Castle’ by Clare Chase is an Eve Mallow mystery and is set in the beautiful Suffolk countryside. Eve attends a champagne reception for the opening of the castle as a writers’ retreat. Novelist Julian Fisher and his wife Kitty, along with her brother, plan to make a success of the venture, but not everyone is happy. When Kitty is found dead that night, Eve becomes involved in the investigation  –  if only to prevent the local police making a mess of it. She soon discovers that there are a few people with reason to kill Kitty. But as she delves deeper, danger comes closer, and Eve must find the killer before anyone else is hurt. 

I like Eve. I’ve read a few in this series and have enjoyed them all. This is no exception. Eve is a good friend, kind and thoughtful. It helps her in her work writing obituaries, as well as in her investigative endeavours. She’s sensible and not easily flummoxed. She’s also curious and observant. That makes for a great amateur detective. She’s also empathetic and able to read people well. 

I loved being in the Suffolk countryside again and appreciate Clare Chase’s wonderfully descriptive writing about the area. She has a knack of getting inside the heads of her characters, and therefore draws the reader in.

I enjoyed the story immensely and look forward to more in the same vein.

I was given this ARC to review.

Review of ‘The Swan Dress Murders’ by Millie Ravensworth

‘The Swan Dress Murders’ by Millie Ravensworth is the fourth in the Cozy Craft Mystery Series. In this story Penny and Izzy are invited to the wedding of an old school friend, but when the wedding cake maker is found dead they must investigate lest suspicion fall on one of their group.

They’ve also been tasked with making a spectacular dress for one of the guests. Penny has a difficult decision to make regarding her plus one. After a year of procrastination, can she finally decide which of her two potential beau’s to ask?

I feel I’ve got to know the characters well by now and enjoy spending a few hours with them trying to solve a crime. That’s the strength of such a well written series – it keeps me coming back for more. 

Millie Ravensworth has perfected the art of combining mystery with humour and character development. There are some very funny moments, as well as some so very touching and heartfelt. 

We get to delve into the characters’ past this time, as well as see them deal with present day relationships. As they investigate their old schoolfriend’s murder, we find out more about Penny and Izzy. The act of dressmaking allows them time to think and it is often from the most incongruous snippet of information gleaned while sewing that they find a solution. I loved it.

I was given this Arc to review.

Review of ‘The Sequinned Cape Murders’ by Millie Ravensworth

‘The Sequinned Cape’ by Millie Ravensworth is the third in the series and this time Penny and Izzy find themselves solving a murder much closer to home – their bathroom to be exact. When a woman’s body is found sitting on their toilet the pair must find out how on earth she got into their locked premises in the first place. And find how she ended up dead on the loo. Meanwhile making fancy dress costumes for Nanna’s upcoming 80th birthday keeps their minds off the tragedy for a while. As they investigate they rush to uncover the truth before anyone else dies.

The story was well written and a joy to read. It was funny and light-hearted in all the right places, with the cosy mystery feel I’ve come to expect. 

I found it a happy read. It was a lovely way to while away a few hours, in the knowledge that everything always works out in the end. I love the dress-making and crafting theme. Having had no knowledge or interest in dressmaking in the past, I find myself intrigued by it now. I love following the process Penny and Izzy go through in creating a masterpiece. This time it’s an Elvis cape and jumpsuit. 

This series is fast becoming a big favourite of mine.

I was given this Arc to review.

Review of ‘The Painted Lobster Murders’ by Millie Ravensworth

‘The Painted Lobster Murders’ by Millie Ravensworth was an absolute joy to read. This is the second book I’ve read in the Cozy Craft Mystery series, and I’ve become addicted.

 Set in the Suffolk village of Framlingham, the series revolves around cousins Penny and Izzy, who run the local craft shop.   A houseguest of their customer, Fliss, is found dead just before a Classic Car weekend in the village.  As the pair have been in the vicinity organising their dress-making commission they must discover the culprit before a rival dressmaker puts suspicion on them. With the help of local painter and decorator Aubrey – and a cute little corgi they’ve acquired – Penny and Izzy investigate. Can they solve the puzzle before anyone else is hurt?

I love how Penny and Izzy work as a team, bringing their own individual talents to the investigation. Their method are different, but combined it really works. I’m getting to know the local characters and enjoy it when they pop up again. Aubrey is a particular favourite – as is Nana Lem. The addition of a four-legged friend really adds to the cosy feeling.

The humour in ‘The Painted Lobster Murders’ is endearing and very British. The story is engaging and funny, with a great mystery at its heart . It is perfect escapism, and one of those books that calms the mind and lets the reader slip into a happy, cosy state as they read. Once I started reading, I whizzed through it as I did not want to put it down. Highly recommended. 

I was given this ARC to review.

Review of ‘The Wonderland Murders’ by Millie Ravensworth

‘The Wonderland Murders’ is book 1 in the Cozy Craft Mystery series by Millie Ravensworth. It is the funny, heartwarming and enthralling story of Penny Slipper and her cousin Izzy. Penny moves back to rural Suffolk when her grandmother ends up in hospital, and needs someone to run her craft shop while she recovers. If Penny was hoping for a quiet time in a sedate setting, she’s in for a big surprise. After less than a day in town, the local librarian is poisoned, and Penny fears she might be somehow responsible. To find out the truth, Penny and her scatter-brained cousin Izzy get on the case. Can they find the killer before it is too late? 

I adored the setting of this novel. Rural Suffolk doesn’t get enough attention and it should. The picture perfect villages and friendly people are shown off to great effect by Millie Ravensworth. Penny quickly settles into the slower pace of life – she just wasn’t expecting murder on her doorstep. 

I loved finding out about Penny’s journey as a fledgling dressmaker. It was funny and charming. 

The mystery was beautifully written and was a lovely, gentle read. Humour shone through every page, and as soon as I finished I was desperate for more of the same. 

I was given this ARC to review.

Review of ‘Mystery In The Channel’ by Freeman Wills Crofts

‘Mystery In The Channel’ by Freeman Wills Crofts is an Inspector French mystery, written in 1931. This, the seventh book in the series, is set in the area around the English Channel. Two men are found murdered aboard a yacht by a passing steamer. The dead men were connected to a large financial house, Moxon General Securities. As the business appears to be on the brink of collapse, Inspector French is brought in. When a large sum of money is found to be missing from the company, the mystery deepens. Were the dead men fleeing with ill gotten gains? If so, who killed them and ran off with the loot? 

The story was meticulously told and completely engrossing. I couldn’t put it down. I love the unhurried style of storytelling. The author drops each little breadcrumb at just the right time, and in doing so builds the case. French is understated and criminals underestimate him at their peril. 

I liked the parts set in France too, as it was interesting to read about France in the 1930s, written then. The story is of its time, using language and cultural references of the time. I found this one of the most appealing parts of the reading experience.  And because of the time that has passed since publication, it has great historical interest for me .

The pre-Second World War era is fascinating, as those living it had come out of a major conflict and a financial crash, but were not yet aware of the war to come. 

I loved the language used and the beauty of it. Freeman Wills Croft has an engaging style and I found myself completely immersed in the story. The introduction by Martin Edwards was excellent and a welcome addition to this edition.

I was given this ARC to review.