Review of ‘The Conjuring Comedienne’ by Anne Hagan

What a joy to be back with Faye Crane and ‘Mama’ Chloe Rossi in this third book in the Morelville Cozies series. I’m a huge fan of all of the books Anne Hagan has set in Morelville, so was delighted to find this brand new novel was out now. 

Faye and Chloe are once again involved in a restoration project in their village, but it’s going to cost and they don’t have the funds. Bridget Novak planned to sell some valuable coins to donate some cash to the project, but her coins go missing before she has the chance to auction them. And she’s not the only one to find coins missing. Her old friend Selma finds the same, and the pair draft in Bridget’s actress niece Hattie to help. 

Hattie has left Hollywood after an accusation of witchcraft and plans a quiet life in her adopted home. But as we all know, Morelville is never quiet. Sheriff Mel warns Faye and Chloe from becoming involved in the mystery of the missing coins, but they can’t resist. Along with Hattie they become embroiled in more intrigue and danger. Will they recover the coins? And will they be able to stay safe as the situation escalates? 

I was immediately drawn to this story, as Hattie was a fascinating character, with a twist I was not expecting. It gave the tale an extra zing. The setting is absolutely perfect too. Morelville is beautifully described, and reminds me of that other famous mystery village, St Mary Mead, with its surprising collection of characters. The story was well told and kept me reading well into the night. I love Chloe and Faye investigating, while trying not to irritate Mel too much as they do it. 

‘The Conjuring Comedienne’ hits all the right notes and has kept my Morelville addiction satisfied – until the next one comes along. 

I was given this ARC for review.

Review of ‘Death In A Blackout’ by Jessica Ellicott

‘Death In A Blackout’ by Jessica Ellicott is the story of Billie Harkness, a vicar’s daughter from the quiet and sleepy village of Barton St. Giles, who finds herself catapulted into the middle of a murder mystery during World War Two. When tragedy strikes in her own life, Billie flees north to Hull and the kind offer of hospitality from a distant cousin. But Hull is at the forefront of the bombings and before long Billie finds death all around her. When she enlists in the new Women’s Constabulary, she feels compiled to investigate a death that she is sure was murder. The local police do not agree. Billie must find a way to the truth, while keeping under the radar. Female police officers are not exactly popular with everyone and some will do anything to discredit them.

I love mystery novels set in the Second World War. Jessica Ellicott has managed to capture the flavour of the time and the historical detail is well done. Through Billie’s eyes we see the different lives lead by those in the countryside and the coastal cities. We also get to see the different lives led by those of little means, and the rich who think they can carry on as before. But it becomes apparent that life is changing for everyone.

Billie is a resilient and strong woman, but until she is faced with a dead body and a mystery she doesn’t realise it. I liked seeing her change. This was a good story and I am glad to see that the author plans more in this series. 

I was given this ARC to review.

Review of ‘Mystery At Lovelace Manor’ by Clare Chase

‘Mystery At Lovelace Manor’ by Clare Chase is the eighth in this particular series, but the first for me. It was easy to catch up with the main character Eve Mallow and the backstory of her life and the village. Eve has volunteered to help at Lovelace Sunday, a festival celebrating the romantic history of the the manor and its past inhabitants. But not everything goes to plan. When famous TV historian Cammie Harington is involved in a shocking ‘accident’ Eve feels compelled to investigate. Who could possibly have been involved? And why?

I liked the character of Eve. She played an integral part in her community and was determined and fearless. The mystery was fascinating and kept me interested. There were so many secrets being kept in the village and at the manor, that it was impossible for me to work out whodunnit. Clare Chase has an engaging writing style and has an affinity for her characters. She makes them come alive. I enjoyed it and look forward to reading more by this author. 

I was given this ARC to review.

Review of ‘A Body On The Beach’ by Dee MacDonald

‘A Body On The Beach’ by Dee MacDonald is book 5 in her Kate Palmer Mystery Series. This is the second one I’ve read and I’m quickly becoming a big fan. 

The whole village looks forward to the Tinworthy summer fete, but this year it turns out to be a lot more interesting and deadly. When a body is found on the beach, Kate is the first on the scene, and due to an earlier spat with the victim, becomes prime suspect. She’s not the only one in the frame though. Sienna Stone was a singularly unpleasant individual, and the list of those who could have killed her grows and grows. But Kate is determined to get her own name removed from that list, and with her new husband Woody, takes on the mantle of amateur detective once again.

Dee MacDonald writes delightful cosy mysteries, with wonderfully picturesque settings. This book is no exception. Her characters feel like people we all know, and the scenarios extremely believable. Kate is a caring and inquisitive person, with an understanding of how people tick. She can also be reckless and puts herself in some very dangerous situations. Her relationship with Woody is ideal, as he is the sensible and measured foil to her more elaborate plans. ‘Body On The Beach’ is a very good story, with plenty of twists and turns – and the odd red herring to spice things up. I really enjoyed it.

I was given this Arc to review.  

Review of ‘Death in Cornwall’ by G.M. Malliet

When Detective Chief Inspector Arthur  St Just and his fiancée Portia, a Cambridge academic, take a break in Cornwall, they hope for nothing more than relaxation and good food. What awaits them is a village at war. Those making a living need to see changes, but the incomers want to keep its picturesque charm. When one of their number dies in violent circumstances St Just is dragged in to help. Is the death linked to the fight between the fisherman and the new villagers? Or is there more to the story? Portia and Arthur must find out quickly before it’s too late.

‘Death In Cornwall’ has the feeling of a classic mystery but with a modern day twist.  Set as it is in a small village,  it also has the closed set feel of a country house mystery. I found the two main characters, St Just and Portia, engaging, intelligent and relatable. The writing was wonderfully descriptive, and I was transported to the Cornish coast for a delightful few hours. 

I really enjoyed it. 

I was given this ARC to review. 

Review of ‘A Fatal Night’ by Faith Martin

‘A Fatal Night’ by Faith Martin is the second book I’ve read in this series, and I’m growing very fond of WPC Trudy Loveday and Coroner Dr Clement Ryder. The young police officer and elderly county coroner make an interesting pair, and their methods and investigations make for fascinating reading. This story is set over Christmas and New Year of 1962, when a ‘big freeze’ stopped Britain in its tracks. Snow and ice blocked the roads and many died. And it is one of these deaths that Trudy and Clement seek to investigate. As with any investigation, lies abound, and it is up to them to get to the truth and find the killer. 

I really like the dynamic between the two characters. The blend of youthful enthusiasm and a determination to learn, with the experience and wisdom of someone who has seen it all, really works. The setting of 1960s Oxford is also very appealing, as it gives an insight into the time, as well as the problems faced by a young woman in the police force back then. I enjoyed the story immensely, and it is exactly the kind of cosy mystery I want to read in these times. However unsettled it may seem for us in real life,  you can always count on a cosy mystery. 

I was given this ARC for review.

Review of ‘The Bath Conspiracy’ by Jeanne M Dams

The Bath Conspiracy by Jeanne M Dams is an engaging cozy mystery set in the beautiful English city of Bath, Somerset. Dorothy and her ex-Chief Constable husband Alan are in the habit of getting caught up in mysteries, wherever they go. This time they must clear their names when some loot is found in the boot/trunk of their car. Everything seems tied to the tourist industry of the area, which involves the healing waters and nearby Stonehenge. Can they find out the real culprits before it’s too late – and before things escalate?

Although this is book 24 in the series, I had no problem jumping right in at this point. There is no need to have read any of the previous books to understand this one. I liked that the story centred around an older retired couple and how they used their experiences of life and work to solve the case. The supporting characters were also appealing and there was a lovely family feel about them all. It was also lovely to follow them on their holiday in Bath and to find out about the city and its attractions. An enjoyable way to pass a few hours in the company of a liveable sleuthing couple.

I was given this ARC to review.

Review of ‘A Death At Seascape House’ by Emma Jameson

‘A Death At Seascape House’ is set on the beautiful Scilly Isles. That in itself was a bonus for me. I love it when authors take us to wonderful places, and let us see them through their eyes. Jem Jago returns to the islands after many years away. She left under a giant cloud, and going back was never going to be easy. Now a librarian, she has been tasked with the job of cataloguing her childhood friend’s vast collection of books and papers. No sooner has she arrived on St Morwenna, when her arch nemesis, the nasty Mrs Edith Reddy is found dead. And who do all the fingers point at? Yes, you’ve got it, Jem Jago. In a bid to clear her name, Jem must find out who the real culprit is, and battle the prejudices of her former neighbours. 

This story worked because it had a very likeable main character in Jem Jago and a cracking mystery that kept me glued to the page. There were plenty of suspects and secrets galore. I liked how we found out about Jem’s years there as a child and teenager, and found out where the animosities came from originally.  We saw growth in her character, and saw how easy it is to blame, but much harder to rethink and forgive. I enjoyed being with Jem and her fellow islanders and look forward to more in this series. 

I was given this ARC to review.

Review of ‘The Killings at Kingfisher Hill’ by Sophie Hannah

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. 

I was given this ARC to review. 

Review of ‘Reserved for Murder’ by Victoria Gilbert.

I adore a cosy mystery – especially one that is done well. ‘Reserved For Murder’ is entertaining, has great characters and a wonderful setting. Charlotte Reed runs the Chapters B&B she inherited from her great aunt. The local book club meets there in her extensive library, and when a world famous author is booked in as part of her tour, Charlotte is delighted. A select few super-fans are booked in too as part of a prize, but when the president of the fan club is found dead, Charlotte and her neighbour Ellen must try and solve the mystery.

This was exactly the kind of mystery I want to read as I while away a few hours relaxing in the garden. It reminded me of the feeling I get when reading an Agatha Christie. It was the perfect small-town mystery, with enough twists and turns and a myriad of suspects, to keep my brain trying to work out whodunnit. I loved the dynamic between Charlotte and Ellen, her elderly neighbour, and the book club members and locals added extra flavour. I look forward to reading more in this series.

I was given this ARC to review.