Can an author, other than Agatha Christie, catch the essence of Poirot in their writing? Yes, they most definitely can. Sophie Hannah has Poirot down to a T in ‘The Killings at Kingfisher Hill’.
When Poirot is called in to investigate a death that the police and authorities have closed the case on, he enters into the lives of a very disfunctional family. With the help of Inspector Catchpool, he has to work out who to believe. And that is not easy. Are any of them to be trusted? Some of the group are the most awful individuals, and anyone with any sense would run a mile in the other direction. Not Poirot.
Catchpool is the narrator of the story and this works well. He gets given tasks by Poirot, and in these the reader finds out what the important questions are. It works perfectly. It is a proper Poirot with red herrings, twists and turns and a solution I did not see coming. I thoroughly enjoyed it and hope that Ms Hannah continues to keep my favourite Belgian detective alive for many more years.
‘The Rose Code’ is a stunning book. A mixture of historical fiction, suspense, mystery and passion. It’s the story of three young women who find themselves working at Bletchley Park, doing top-secret codebreaking – work they will never be allowed to divulge for decades. Osla, the well-connected deb, Mab, an East End girl determined to make something of her life, and Beth, a downtrodden twenty-something with a sharp and amazing mind. We follow their lives as they become vital cogs in the wheel during WW11, saving the Allies in secret, and trying to find some sort of happiness amongst the chaos of war.
The story jumped back and forward between the war years and post-war Britain. Tying it in with real events and with more than a spattering of real-life figures added to the excitement and intensity. I loved finding out about Bletchley Park when it was the secret hub of those trying to crack the Enigma codes. I’ve visited it and found it utterly fascinating – but this book brought it to life for me, with wonderful characters and a top-notch story. It was tense and full of suspense, with a fantastic mystery at its heart. The best book of the year for me.
‘A Fatal Affair’ by Faith Martin is a wonderful mystery set in 1960s England, when women police officers were expected to make the tea and mop up the tears of the female victims of crime. But Trudy Loveday is slowly fighting her way out of that stereotype, as she pairs up with the elderly coroner Clement Ryder to solve another baffling case. This time a beautiful young woman is murdered and displayed in a bizarre manner in a village on May Day. Soon after her boyfriend is found hanged in a barn. The unlikely investigators begin to look into the deaths and soon discover secrets some would rather stay hidden.
It was a perfectly plotted story, with likeable main characters and a fascinating look at life in 60s Britain. The author didn’t just stick to the point of view of Trudy and Clement, but we also got a glimpse of the inner thoughts and reactions of many characters- some of them under suspicion. This was an interesting and very effective choice. I found myself transported to a world long gone, but still very relevant. There was something cosy yet shocking about the story. All of the elements of an English village mystery were there, but underneath there were terrible secrets and lies. I loved it and plan to read more in this particular series.
‘Secrets on the Fens’ by Joy Ellis is the first of this series I’ve read, but it won’t be the last. I love finding a new series to get my teeth into, and I know I will have many hours of pleasure reading more of the Detective Nikki Galena stories.
When the bodies of two teenagers are found in the woods, their positioning raises many questions. Someone had taken a lot of trouble to set the scene, but why? Links to the goth community and those interested in the study of gravestones further complicate matters. Meanwhile Nikki’s mum Eve and her friend Wendy have a mystery of their own as they look into the disappearance of a local artist many years before.
Both stories had me gripped. There was excitement, tension and suspense throughout. The build up to the solution was so well done and I loved the twists and turns. I really like the two main characters, Nikki and Joseph. They came across as the kind of intelligent, caring police officers we hope exist in reality. An excellent mystery.
Molly Higgins is the girl next door, sweet, kind and hardworking. She also has a knack for solving murders. At last she is about to marry her movie star boyfriend, Conor, but when a murder happens in Port Trevan just days from Molly’s celebrity packed wedding, she has to get involved. With her sister home after many years abroad, and her fiancé Conor busy filming nearby, she’s once again up to her eyes in mysteries, just when she could do with time to finalise the wedding plans.
This is the first of this particular series I’ve read, but I’m so intrigued, that I’ll have to go back and read the others now. The setting of the beautiful Cornish coast was idyllic. The story was perfectly plotted, with twists and turns and surprising revelations. The tension near the finale had me gripped. The story was very well written, with so many great characters – likeable and not so likeable. This is a series that could and should go on and on. I’ll be waiting with bated breath for the next one.
‘The Night Hawks’ by Elly Griffiths is the 13th story in a mystery series set in Norfolk, featuring forensic archaeologist Dr Ruth Galloway. It’s the first I’ve read and I loved it so much, I’m going to go back to the start and read them all. I had no problem jumping in at this point though, as the author made so much of the backstory clear, with little pieces of information here and there.
Ruth is Head of Archaeology at the University and dealing with her new responsibilities and her life as a single parent is hard enough, but again she finds herself called upon to help out Nelson and the local police force. When a body is washed up on the beach, suspicion that Bronze Age artefacts may be found there too means her expertise is required. The discovery of two bodies in a remote farm, and a local legend of the Black Shuck complicates her work further. As the clues mount, and suspects multiply, can Ruth and Nelson solve the case before more tragedy ensues.
‘The Night Hawks’ is an excellent mystery, full of surprises and intrigue. I loved the Norfolk setting and the local myths and legends becoming a part of the story. The archaeological details made it all the more fascinating and kept me hooked. Ruth Galloway is a fascinating character, with insecurities and repressed passions. Her relationship with Nelson is, on the surface, professional and their personal interaction seems limited to discussions about their daughter, Kate. But we all know they want more. The ensemble cast works so well and this series could make a fantastic TV series. I look forward to many more stories.
‘Wendy of the Wallops’ by Gill McKnight is an absolute delight. PC Wendy seems to be permanently awkward and embarrassed, especially around attractive women. She has recently come out to her friend and local vicar, Jane and her partner Renata from the first book in the series. She hasn’t quite worked up the courage to tell her family or her work colleagues. When she is asked to keep an eye out on young Lexi, whose father has gone on the run from his witness protection programme, she comes into contact with local artist and Guide Leader Keira. Between being constantly annoyed by Keira, her hot new boss from the Met and her cute doctor, Wendy is surrounded by women who confuse and arouse her. This is a story about a totally adorable character following her path towards accepting and being happy with her sexuality. It is also hilarious and sweet and I highly recommend it.
I was given this ARC in return for an honest review.
‘Christmas In Mistletoe’ is exactly the kind of book we all need this Christmas. Clare Lydon takes the reader to the tiny hamlet of Mistletoe, Suffolk, and once there we enter into the most Christmassy place imaginable. I was in heaven. Every detail was steeped in the festive spirit, and I could not help but wallow in the wonderful, snowy, pine-scented wonderfulness of Mistletoe.
Ruby O’Connell’s family run a Christmas tree farm in rural Suffolk. When she’s not gigging around London, she returns to there every December to help out. Fran Bell finds herself thrown into the Christmas spirit when her parents move to Mistletoe. Bumping into Ruby was not on her radar. After a rocky start, can the pair find any common ground? Coming from opposite ends of the music business, the gap might be too wide. But there’s something to be said for the magic of Christmas.
Clare Lydon has hit the perfect note once again. ‘Christmas in Mistletoe’ takes us on a romantic journey, where passion and love jump from every page. But it is the happy, joyful and incredibly cosy feeling from the ensemble cast of characters that brings it all together into the perfect Christmas read. I loved it. This is sure to be one of my favourite re-reads of the festive season from now on.
Do not underestimate senior citizens! Richard Osman’s foray into murder mystery ‘The Thursday Murder Club’ tells the story of a group of pensioners living in a retirement village, and their determination to solve a crime in their midst. First of all, I hope this village is real, because I want to move there when I reach 65. The setting is perfectly described and the residents are an eclectic group of men and women with skills honed over years in various professions. As they subtly manipulate the local plod into assisting their investigation, we find out about their backgrounds too. I loved it. It was full of twists and turns, and Richard Osman’s observations were hilarious but also poignant at times.
This book is crying out to be filmed. I can just see it. Christmas night cosy mystery. Just after ‘Call The Midwife’. I hope Mr Osman has plans to write a whole series as I will be first in line for my copies.
Hayfield Manor’ is a beautifully written mystery romance, with enough twists and turns to keep any reader up until the early hours. You won’t want to put it down!
Morgan Lloyd, medically retired from a high-flying career in the police force, takes on her first role as a private investigator. As a favour to a friend she agrees to take over the security at Hayefield Manor, in an attempt to find out why bodies keep appearing on the grounds. Suspicion has fallen on lady of the manor, Sophie Haye. Cold, hard and terrifying she may appear to those outside, but as Morgan finds out, there is more to Sophie than first impressions imply. As evidence mounts, can Morgan trust her instincts, or is Sophie playing her?
Sophie is one scary woman, but I really warmed to her. She had that irresistible ice queen vibe, but Morgan slowly chipped away until she could see something more, even if no-one else could. Jody Klaire’s writing is wonderfully descriptive and so impressively clever. Just when I thought I knew where it was going, I was astounded again by the ingenuity of the plot. I love it when an author can do that to me. She flipped my perceptions. The story was very cleverly crafted and layered. It was one helluva ride with surprises and revelations galore. Absolutely fantastic