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.

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 ‘Murder at the Wedding’ by Helena Dixon

Murder at the Wedding by Helena Dixon

What murder mystery fan doesn’t love a country house murder? ‘Murder At The Wedding’ ticks all the boxes and more. 

Kitty Underhay is invited to the wedding of her cousin Lucy, and with her maid Alice, travels to Yorkshire for the event. Talk of a ghost in the country pile intrigues her, but it seems there’s more danger than she thinks lurking in the wings. When events turn deadly Kitty steps in. With the help of her private investigator beau, Matt, she aims to find out who is behind the strange goings-on before anyone else is hurt. 

I enjoyed the writing style and the atmospheric setting of the story. The introductions of the various characters in the house were wonderfully descriptive and made me feel as if I was back in the past with them. 

Teasing out the motives worked well too,  and the insight into life for women of the era was fascinating. We saw how Kitty was underestimated by the police, but not by her family and especially not by Matt. I thoroughly enjoyed this perfect cosy mystery.

I was given this ARC for review.

Review of ‘A Lesson in Murder’ by Verity Bright

‘A Lesson in Murder’ by Verity Bright is Part of a series, but there’s no need to have read them in advance as this works as a stand-alone too.

Lady Eleanor Swift is  back at her old school, St Mary’s,  to give a speech. Her memories were not all good by any means, so being back stirs up some difficult feelings.

She’s a very independent woman for the time and not everyone appreciates that. When the death occurs of her favourite old teacher,  Eleanor is  pulled into the mystery, by virtue of being there, and because of her association with Chief Inspector Seldon in previous adventures. When he turns up to deal with the situation he asks her to go undercover as a house mistress.  Will they be able to find out the identity of the killer in time? Eleanor will have to use all of her know-how about the school to solve the mystery before it’s too late.

I liked the references to her time there and to previous mysteries. The book had a comfortable, cosy vibe, and the reader is made to feel part of it all. Being set in the Golden Age of Crime in the 1920s makes it all the more exciting. I also liked the dynamic between Eleanor , Clifford her butler, and Chief Inspector Seldon. They make a great  team. But most of all, I loved the boarding school setting, partly because I read so many books set in them when I was a child. It felt familiar. Verity Bright succeeded in bringing back those memories and adding her own twist with an engrossing mystery. 

I was given this ARC to review.

Review of ‘Murder in the Village’ by Lisa Cutts

‘Murder in the Village’ is a the first in a new cozy mystery series by Lisa Cutts. Belinda Penshurst has interests in businesses in her small village – one of them the local pub. When a suspicious death occurs there she is pulled into solving the mystery, along with retired police detective Harry Powell, a newcomer to the village. But that’s not the only strange thing going on. Dognappers seem to be targeting the village, and the pair join forces to find out why. And who is involved. 

I must admit I didn’t take to Belinda right away, but as the story progressed I began to see where she was coming from. She appeared bossy and dismissive at first, but there was an element of humour there too. I liked Harry a lot. He was extremely kind and thoughtful, and his influence rubbed off on Belinda. I liked getting to know the village and the inhabitants. I look forward to more in this series.

I was given this ARC to review: