Review of ‘The Automobile Assassination by MJ Porter

The Automobile Assassination’ by MJ Porter is set in England in 1944, when the war is in full swing and tensions run high. Chief Inspector Mason and Sergeant O’Rourke are called in when a body is found in the vicinity of the Castle Bromwich aerodrome. Unable to identify the man, the pair begin to question the members of the Air Force stationed there. Was he one of them? Could he have been a spy? Mason feels compelled to solve the case and find out who he was – and whether his death was linked to the war effort. 

This is the first book in this series I have read, but it won’t be the last. The story was compelling and opened my eyes to aspects of the war and the daily lives of those living through it. I liked finding out about the time period and the setting was interesting. The working relationship between Mason and O’Rourke was fascinating. The age gap worked well and I enjoyed seeing how they complemented each other. 

MJ Porter’s writing is well crafted and pulls the reader into the story. ‘The Automobile Assassination’ is a very good cosy mystery, with extremely likeable main characters. 

I was given this ARC for review.

Review of ‘Chaos At Carnegie Hall’ by Kelly Oliver

‘Chaos At Carnegie Hall’ by Kelly Oliver is a cosy mystery set in 1917 at the height of the First World War. Fiona Figg works for the War Office and is determined to prove herself, despite pushback from those who refuse to believe women can help the war effort. Frederick Fredericks has eluded capture so far, but the German spy is on Fiona’s radar. When he sends her an invitation to the opera at Carnegie Hall, New York, her bosses jump at the chance to nab him. Fiona is sent on the RMS Adriatic – but must babysit the flighty Eliza on the way. 

Fiona soon realises that her shipmates have much to hide, and her introduction to New York involves intrigue and political shenanigans galore. Will she capture Fredericks at last? Or is he not as guilty as he seems? It will take difficult decisions and superior sleuthing on Fiona’s part. 

I loved the time period as it captured the dangers of war and the perils for those working behind the scenes. Although the old world of privilege was still in full force on board ship and in New York, it was evident that everything was changing. Women’s suffrage was at the top of the agenda for some – and those opposed to it were willing to do anything to stop it. 

Fiona found it difficult to work out who to trust, as spies from all sides tried to influence the war. Who was a friend, and who could be a collaborator? I loved how the author brought in true events and real life characters and put a fictional spin on them. Thomas Edison, Dorothy Parker and J Edgar Hoover played their parts in the story and added to the historical interest. 

‘Chaos At Carnegie Hall’ is a delightful cosy mystery, with excellent historical detail. It is exactly the type of read to lighten the mood.

I was given this ARC to review.

Review of ‘The Empire’ by Michael Ball

It’s 1922 and Jack Treadwell Finds himself entranced by the glamorous world of the theatre. On the surface all is well, but tensions and secrets lie beneath the glitz of The Empire. Getting a job there is the dream he didn’t realise he had. Beautiful stars and behind the scenes rivalries draw him in and he finds himself with a chance of a great future – and the love of a wonderful woman. 

Michael Ball sets the scene well. His writing is cinematic and I can easily  imagine the story being filmed. I found the whole world of the theatre enthralling. I was interested in what went on in putting on a show. 

It was a good story with interesting characters, and had a very different setting – one that I hadn’t read before. I loved the characters, especially Jack, Grace, Lillian and Agnes . There was a charming camaraderie and ultimately a feel good factor. I loved it .

I was given this ARC for review.

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 ‘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 ‘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 ‘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 At The Masked Ball’ by Magda Alexander

‘Murder At The Masked Ball’ by Magda Alexander is a historical cosy mystery, set in the 1920s. Kitty Worthington is a young society lady, expected to find a suitable husband and settle down. But Kitty loves a puzzle and has been successful in solving crimes that no-one else could. Her desire is to set up her own detective agency, much to the chagrin of her mother. To placate said mother, she agrees to attend the Midsummer Masked Ball held at the home of the Duchess of Brightwell. But the suspicious death of a guest puts Kitty smack bang in the middle of a murder investigation. Can Kitty save an innocent man from the gallows? With the help of her coterie of family and friends, Kitty is determined to find the real killer.

Magda Alexander has found a way to make Kitty the most modern and fascinating of characters. Although set in the 1920s, and perfectly pitched for that era, she has managed to make Kitty relatable. She is intelligent, loyal and steadfast.  She seems like such a modern, forward-thinking young woman, with a ferocious intellect and the determination to go with it.

I liked the collaborative element to the investigation. Kitty has the support of her family and friends in trying to solve the case, and knows how to bring out their strengths. 

It was a truly fascinating mystery with a great bunch of characters. I adored it and much more. I’ll just have to go back and read more in this series, and await with bated breath the next.

I was given this ARC for review.

Review of ‘Death On A Monday Night’ by Jo Allen

‘Death On A Monday Night’ by Jo Allen is the latest in the DCI Satterthwaite series set in Cumbria. People have the idea that the WI is all jam and Jerusalem, but on one particular Monday night in Wasby that is far from the case. Ex-con Adam Fleetwood is there to give a talk on his crimes and how he has been rehabilitated. All is going well, until a dead body is found in the kitchen. Adam has a difficult relationship with the old friend and policeman who put him away. Now Jude is on the case and the only alibi Adam has is from Jude’s ex-girlfriend, Becca. The investigation uncovers lies and secrets that implicate Adam, as well as other characters close to the victim. Is Adam being framed? Or is there much more to the death than Jude and his partner Ashleigh could ever have imagined? 

I haven’t read any of the previous stories in this series, but found it easy to jump in and understand what had gone before. It was well written and described the Cumbrian countryside wonderfully. I found the investigating fascinating and enjoyed following the procedures the team of detectives went through to solve the case. 

As Jude and Ashleigh delve into Grace’s life, we begin to see that the past comes back to haunt us, whatever we try to do.    

I really liked Jude. He was one of the good guys, and tried his best to be fair, despite provocation and verbal abuse from Adam.  He had regrets over his failed relationship with Becca, but I have hope they will find a way through that in the future. His workaholic nature put paid to their happiness, but he seemed to realise that at last.  Adam was a totally different kettle of fish. I did not like him at all. He was a slimy charmer, the quintessential conman.  It was always going to be difficult to forget that as the team investigated. 

A thoroughly enjoyable mystery. I plan to go back and read the rest of the series, as I’m now hooked.

I was given this ARC for review.