Review of ‘Death on the Crags’ by Jo Allen

‘Death On The Crags’ by Jo Allen is an ingenious story, with believable characters and the twists and turns I love in a mystery story. DCI Jude Satterthwaite is called in to an apparent accident when visiting police officer, Thomas Davies, falls from a crag while out walking with his girlfriend. When a witness questions whether it was really an accident, Jude and his team look into the incident. They find he has a lot of enemies for such a nice guy. And why does his partner Mia seem reluctant to speak to the police? 

The Lake District setting of the story is part of its charm. The hills and walks are described so well, and I can almost imagine being there. I love how Jo Allen slowly teases out a story, information coming bit by bit, as it does in any police investigation. She captures the attention of the reader and ensures they won’t be able to put the book down. I certainly couldn’t. 

Amongst the beauty of the lakes and hills, there is darkness and a malevolent presence lurking. The characters are well thought out and relatable. This is quickly becoming one of my favourite crime/mystery series, and I look forward to more from DCI Satterthwaite and DS Ashleigh O’Halloran.

I was given this ARC to review.

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 ‘Only Human’ by Audrey Wilson

Everyone has crushes, don’t they? But not like Leece Dresden. Just one look at supermarket worker, Frankie, changes her forever. Leece’s life is a mystery to her, as she can’t remember anything from before her nineteenth birthday. None of that matters though. Frankie becomes her everything and she’ll do anything to keep that wonderful feeling whenever she is in her presence. When memories of her past start to seep through she must find out what it all means. But will that jeopardise her relationship with Frankie?

‘Only Human’ was an intriguing story and kept me reading, as I needed to find out the true story behind Leece’s past. I felt invested in the relationship between Leece and Frankie and wanted it to work.

‘Only Human’ is an intriguing story – satisfying surprising and with heart. I couldn’t stop reading. I enjoyed it.

I was given this ARC for 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 ‘How To Write A Winning Fiction Book Outline – Crime Workbook’ by Hackney And Jones

If you are interested in writing crime fiction – and doing it well – then this is the workbook for you. I’ve wanted to write a crime novel for a long time, but couldn’t see how to bring all of the elements together. I would start with an idea, but failed to get to the finishing line. This workbook has changed that for me.

Hackney and Jones have used their considerable experience as novelists to compile a workbook that will take you from that seed of an idea, to a novel that is ready to be published. They even show you how to find editors and cover designers and how to write that all important blurb.

I learned how to structure each chapter, how to flesh out characters, and how to plot a compelling story that readers will want to devour. They also showed me what works in the crime genre and what definitely does not. They show what the best-selling crime books contain and how to tailor your own story to the market.

I found it compelling and the best writing workbook I’ve tried.

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 ‘In The Mood’ by MW Arnold

‘In The Mood’ by MW Arnold is set in 1944 at the Air Transport Auxiliary service in Hamble, Hampshire. The female pilots are helping the war effort by delivering aeroplanes all over the country, at great risk. In this, the fourth in the series, they are again faced with mysteries to solve, and personal tragedies to face. Blackmail is the least of their problems, as peril mounts and they find themselves in grave danger.

They were an interesting group of women, and I found that I wanted to read more about them. The camaraderie between them was inspiring. MW Arnold captured the intense relationships and friendships that are part of war. His chatty style allows the reader to feel a part of the group, as they live day to day with war and the losses that entails. 

MW Arnold also managed to weave this group friendship with a mystery. I liked it and I liked them. They were a very diverse set of women, each with their own skills and challenges in life. An enjoyable read.

I was given this ARC to review.

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.