‘Death At Castle Cove’ by Mary Grand is set on the picturesque Isle of Wight. Susan’s life revolves around walks in the country with her dog and meeting her fellow dog lovers for strolls along the coastal paths. Her young lodger, Colette, seems to be fitting in well, after a difficult start in life. But when Colette dies in suspicious circumstances, Susan realises that her dog walking pals were the last to see her alive. She has to face the disturbing fact that one of her friends may be responsible. The local police put it all down to an unfortunate accident, but Susan is not convinced. As she looks in to the mystery, she finds out that her friends have much to hide – and one of them must have killed Colette.
I loved the Isle of Wight setting for the story. It was beautifully described and played an integral part in the mystery. I could see why Susan was so keen to stay. She was determined to keep her independence, even as her life became more and more difficult.
Susan felt compelled to find out what happened to Colette, even when others were encouraging her to back off. She took risks, and I worried for her on more than one occasion. She put herself in potentially dangerous situations. Mary Grand ramped up the suspense perfectly.
I especially liked how the author gradually peeled back the layers . Layers of secrets and lies. I don’t know how many times I changed my mind about who the killer was. It was so well done, and I didn’t guess whodunnit until the reveal. I really enjoyed it and plan to read more from this author in the future.
‘Leap’ by O C Heaton is a sci-fi thriller, taking in the glacial wastelands of Iceland. Uma has high hopes for her LEAP device. She believes it is the answer to global warming, and tries to persuade billionaire tech giant Ethan Rae to help her launch it. But dangerous playboy Samuel Reynolds III wants it for his own nefarious plans, and the pair find themselves in grave danger. Can they save themselves, and ultimately the whole world? LEAP is too important to fall into the hands of someone like Reynolds, but it will take all they’ve got to defeat him.
I found the idea of the LEAP device enthralling. If such tech existed it would solve so many of the world’s problems. I could see why Uma was so determined to make it work for the good. From the moment she tells Ethan about it, the story is thrilling and full-on excitement. O C Heaton writes in short, impactful chapters, and this makes it all the more powerful.
Just when you think you know where it’s going, there’s a surprise and a twist.
It’s a thought provoking story, with so many questions. Questions many of us ask ourselves every day. It kept my interest throughout. I found it to be well written and compelling. And I’m keen to read the next in the series.
‘The Lady Of The Loch’ by Elena Collins is a dual timeline story, set in the beautiful Scottish Highlands. The year is 1307, and King Edward’s army is rampaging through Scotland, murdering and thieving as they try to capture Robert The Bruce. Kitchen maid Agnes flees one of the castles taken over, hoping that the Lord and Lady of Ravenscraig Castle will give her shelter. Dreams of love and a future seem attainable when she spots a handsome young warrior swimming in the nearby loch. But his loyalty to The Bruce may keep them apart as the country fights for independence.
In the present day, twins Zoe and Leah take a chance to change their lives. A job at Ravenscraig Castle is exactly what Leah has been looking for, and Zoe is determined to support her sister. But why doesn’t anyone last working there? Is the rumour of a ghost scaring them off? The women shrug off the stories, and plan to make a success of the opportunity. But the pervading sadness surrounding the castle affects them too. Will they be able to fix a centuries old wrong and bring peace to the castle again?
I enjoyed the supernatural nature of the story, which is subtle and doesn’t overpower. Leah and Zoe feel the intensity of the ghostly sadness and despair, and slowly they realise they may be able to make a difference. It was spooky at times, but it was not scary.
The dual timeline works well, as it takes us back and forth between Agnes’s life in the 14th century and the present day. Agnes’s life was hard and brutal. She witnessed the horrors of war and could only hope that peace would prevail. That she could find love and make plans for the future was admirable.
Leah and Zoe’s life plodded along with little excitement. The job at the castle gave them both a chance to experience a different life. It also brought them into the sphere of new people, and that’s exactly what they needed.
There was a slowly teased out mystery for them to solve as they grew accustomed to their new life. There was tension and suspense, but the overall feeling was of love and determination. A lovely read.
‘Out Of Human Sight’ by Sophie Parkes is the story of northern mill worker Millie, and her family, as they struggle with tragedy and its aftermath. When Millie walks in on a bloody scene in her grandfather’s pub, her life is changed forever. Voyeurs come from all over to see where the grisly double murder took place, and the notoriety becomes too much for Millie to bear.
When charismatic Johnny Barkwell shows an interest in her, Millie jumps at the chance to forget her troubles. His plan to leave for The Canadas and a new life is not what she wants, but women were expected to obey their husbands, and she has no choice. Life on a coffin ship is hard, and surviving in the New World is no easier. Millie will need all the strength she can muster to survive.
This was a story of resilience, perseverance and sheer grit. Many aspects of Millie’s story would be familiar to many women in the early 1800s. But Millie suffered in ways that few could imagine. The horrors she witnessed, and not knowing who carried out the murders, would haunt her. But she was determined. She needed to know, even if others would rather she move on. She was a strong young woman, and I admired her.
The historical detail was impressive, and I found myself immersed in the poverty and desperation of the time. It took an amazing amount of courage to survive weeks of hunger and deprivation on a ship. The danger for women was always there too, as they fought to evade the clutches of would-be attackers.
‘Out Of Human Sight’ was a beautifully written mystery, but was also the story of a brave young woman who refused to be cowed. I loved it.
I’m delighted to be a part of the Blog Tour for ‘The Lumberjills’ by M W Arnold. Stories about the experiences of real people fascinate me, and I learned so much from this novel. I did not know women worked in the forestry service then.
‘The Lumberjills’ is a heartwarming story set during the Second World War. A group of dedicated women join the forestry service in North Yorkshire in 1942, determined to help the war effort. It’s a hard job and one that brings its own dangers. The horrors of war are brought home to them every day, and they will need friendship to get through.
There’s a camaraderie between the women, and this is so important to their ability to carry on. There’s a genuine feeling of the time and place in history that works so well in this story. MW Arnold shows the pain and unexpected consequences of war.
There is a strong sense of community and family, and how vital these are when you never know what will happen next. Or when you’ll see someone again.
I enjoyed reading their story and look forward to more from this author. I was given this ARC for review.
‘The 12.30 From Croydon’ by Freeman Wills Crofts is the second Freeman Wills Crofts mystery novel I’ve read, and I’m quickly becoming a fan of his meticulous storytelling.
On a flight to Paris, elderly grandfather, Andrew Crowther dies in his seat. When questions are asked as to the nature of his death, we begin to find out what lead to it – and how it was planned. The author takes the unusual step of telling the story from the point of view of the killer, making this a fascinating and utterly compelling read.
This story looks into the mind of a killer, and how a very ordinary man finds himself on a destructive and dangerous path. It tells of a man’s downfall and the terrible consequences.
Inspector French is a quiet and unassuming character, and one that criminals underestimate at their peril. His contribution to the story was pivotal. An excellent story and one that will stay with me.
‘The Murder Mystery’ by Alice Castle is the first book in this series and after reading this, I can’t wait to get my teeth into the next two. Beth Haldane gets a job as an assistant archivist at the local prestigious school, Wyatt’s. Her first day gets off to a surprising start, when she finds the dead body of her boss behind the bins. It soon becomes apparent that he had many enemies within the school. Was it one of Beth’s new colleagues? When she begins to investigate, it appears she may be in danger too. Will she find the killer before it is too late?
I like Beth . She’s a normal woman with a child. A widow, she lives in the south London village of Dulwich. It’s full of yummy mummies and Beth feels she’ll never fit the mould. But why should she have to. She’s clever, bright and determined, and more than a match for any of them. The story is well written, with interesting characters and I loved the descriptions of Dulwich and the local society.
‘The Bullet That Missed’ is the third in the Thursday Murder Club series by Richard Osman, and the best so far. When the gang look into a cold case regarding the murder of a local news anchor, more and more questions are thrown up. Like, where is the body? Meanwhile Elizabeth faces an unpleasant task. Will she carry out a killing as ordered? Or risk a killing closer to home. As the pensioners investigate, time is not on their side. With the help of some old friends, and some new ones, they must solve the case before anyone else dies.
I enjoy these books even more as they go on. Maybe it’s because I have grown to love the characters. Each play a part in solving the mysteries, and their ages are actually an advantage, not a disadvantage. I especially like Joyce, who describes the most shocking of crimes in such a matter of fact way. Nothing fazes her. And the humour just ties it all together.
I love the short, snappy chapters, as it makes me pictures the story like a film in my head. It also makes the peril more immediate. Richard Osman has made me care about these characters, and although they put themselves in the most dangerous situations, it still has the cosy feeling I want from a mystery.
Through it all there is friendship, decent and kindness. I adored it.
MyQueerSapphfic.com has a huge festive sale on at the moment and one of my books is part of it. You’ll be able to find Kilbirnie, Scotland – one of the Loving Blue in Red States series on sale for $0.99. If you love sapphic romance, then I’m hoping you’ll give it a try.
‘Mystery At Southwood School’ is the ninth Eve Mallow mystery by Clare Chase. Eve is at the school helping her friend Viv provide catering to ‘The Coven’ who run the school. Founders Day is upon them, and ex-pupil and celebrity, Natalie Somerson, is to be the Founders Day Champion. Much to the chagrin of certain members of staff. Professional gossip-monger, Natalie made many enemies whilst a pupil and since. When her speech hints at a secret lover affair from the past, little does she know the trouble she has stirred up. The discovery of her body the next morning puts suspicion on Eve’s boyfriend Robin, compelling her to find out who really had a motive to kill Natalie. Will she find out in time? Or has her investigation put her in danger?
This is the second book I’ve read in this series and I am becoming increasingly fond of Eve and her friends. Eve is kind, loyal and determined. She’s exactly the type of friend you want on your side. I think a lot can be said about writing characters your readers will connect with. The author has done this with Eve Mallow. She’s easy to like.
I loved that the story was based in a boarding school. It took me back to my days of reading Mallory Towers and the like. A mystery in a closed setting works so well, and this is no exception. I was hooked.