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 ‘Murder In A Mill Town’ by Helen Cox

‘Murder In A Mill Town’  by Helen Cox is the first book I’ve read in this particular series, but I had no problem jumping right in . It can easily be read as a standalone. DS Charlotte Banks becomes unofficially involved in the investigation of a violent murder in Andaby, near the picturesque town of Hebden Bridge. Her brother Ewan has been recently released from prison and Charlie is worried that he may be somehow involved. In order to clear his name – and keep the scandal from her own front door, she recruits her friends Kitt Hartleyand Grace Edwards, of Hartley and Edwards Investigations. There are more secrets than they could ever have imagined in the small town and it will take everything they’ve got to uncover the truth behind the murder.

I adored the setting for the story. Having visited many an industrial museum in my time, I could easily picture the gruesome scene of the murder. Also the West Yorkshire locations were ideal. The beautiful town of Hebden Bridge and Halifax (the home of the now famous Anne Lister) added a certain ambience to the novel. I found that the group working together to solve the case worked exceptionally well. I liked how they complemented each other, and it has made me want to read more in this series. 

The mystery had plenty of twists and turns and kept me engrossed for hours. It had interesting characters and a plot to grab any reader’s attention. The perfect cosy mystery to pass a few hours.

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 ‘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 ‘Cause of Death’ by Anna Legat

‘Cause Of Death’ by Anna Legat is the third in the Shires Mysteries Series. I haven’t read the previous books, but had no problem jumping in at this point. It can certainly be read as a standalone or as part of the series. 

Maggie Kaye and Sam Dee are part of a group of villagers trying to save the local meadows from developers. When one of the protesters is killed, they take it upon themselves to investigate. Maggie has some very specific skills which I found a lovely surprise. Sam has a legal background and between the two of them they are a formidable duo. Maggie needs Sam to temper her more elaborate schemes to get information, and he needs her emotionally.

I really liked that they could go off and do their own investigations and then come  back together to collaborate. The author skilfully managed to weave various threads in this well written and plotted mystery. It was a corker of a story, with a believable setting and characters I enjoyed spending time with. 

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 ‘Murder In First Class’ by Helena Dixon

‘Murder In First Class’ by Helena Dixon is the 8th book in her Miss Underhay Mystery Series. I have grown fond of Kitty and Matt and the fascinating characters they find themselves with. I like that there are links to previous books in the series. But there is no need to have read any before as they are self contained. 

This time Kitty hopes to spend some quiet time relaxing with her new fiancé, but when he is asked to meet an old comrade from the train and have him stay for a few days, that looks unlikely. When there is a murder on that train and the pair are called in to help, there is no way they will have any time to themselves. Trying to find a suspect from the unlikely collection of passengers proves difficult. And as secrets are revealed Kitty and Matt are in more danger than ever.

This was a good mystery that kept me interested throughout. The 1920s setting works perfectly for this type of cosy mystery and the descriptions of England of that time are so well crafted, that I feel as if I’m there. I can open this book and wallow in the beautiful clothes and fascinating characters. Helena Dixon has perfected the art of mystery and has found a way to bring her readers back for more. I look forward to more in this series.

I was given this ARC for review.

Review of ‘Death in Disguise by Emma Davies.

Sometimes a book takes you by surprise. You don’t realise just how enjoyable and satisfying it’s going to be. That’s what happened when I started reading ‘Death in Disguise’ by Emma Davies. Francesca Eve is a caterer and is intrigued by a murder mystery dinner party she caters for a group of female friends. It’s all good fun, even when one of the group has to ‘die’ as part of the game. When one of the women dies later the fun ends. Fran discovers that the victim may not have been all she seemed. In fact none of the guests were. What secrets did they hold – and did those secrets have anything to do with the murder? Fran and Adam join forces to find out the truth before the killer strikes again. 

This was an engrossing mystery that kept me guessing to the end. There were plenty of twists and turns and it was an original and enjoyable story. It got more and more exciting as the story progressed. I loved the dynamic between Fran and Adam. It was an unusual pairing, but one that worked really well. I’m looking forward to more in this new series.

I was given this ARC to review.