Review of ‘Death On A Monday Night’ by Jo Allen

‘Death On A Monday Night’ by Jo Allen is the latest in the DCI Satterthwaite series set in Cumbria. People have the idea that the WI is all jam and Jerusalem, but on one particular Monday night in Wasby that is far from the case. Ex-con Adam Fleetwood is there to give a talk on his crimes and how he has been rehabilitated. All is going well, until a dead body is found in the kitchen. Adam has a difficult relationship with the old friend and policeman who put him away. Now Jude is on the case and the only alibi Adam has is from Jude’s ex-girlfriend, Becca. The investigation uncovers lies and secrets that implicate Adam, as well as other characters close to the victim. Is Adam being framed? Or is there much more to the death than Jude and his partner Ashleigh could ever have imagined? 

I haven’t read any of the previous stories in this series, but found it easy to jump in and understand what had gone before. It was well written and described the Cumbrian countryside wonderfully. I found the investigating fascinating and enjoyed following the procedures the team of detectives went through to solve the case. 

As Jude and Ashleigh delve into Grace’s life, we begin to see that the past comes back to haunt us, whatever we try to do.    

I really liked Jude. He was one of the good guys, and tried his best to be fair, despite provocation and verbal abuse from Adam.  He had regrets over his failed relationship with Becca, but I have hope they will find a way through that in the future. His workaholic nature put paid to their happiness, but he seemed to realise that at last.  Adam was a totally different kettle of fish. I did not like him at all. He was a slimy charmer, the quintessential conman.  It was always going to be difficult to forget that as the team investigated. 

A thoroughly enjoyable mystery. I plan to go back and read the rest of the series, as I’m now hooked.

I was given this ARC for review.

Review of ‘Legacy In The Blood’ by Catherine Maiorisi

‘Legacy In The Blood’ is an intelligent, complex and thought-provoking crime novel, with believable and well written characters. NYPD Detectives Chiara Corelli and P.J. Parker are partners assigned to the suspicious death of a man in a park. When they begin to investigate further, the victim’s complicated life opens up a whole new avenue of questions. Ned Rich was an investigative reporter with a lifestyle way above that of a journalist. Where was he getting this extra money? The answer may explain why he was killed. As family secrets are unearthed, and a link to the white supremacist movement, the detectives find the danger brought to their own doors. 

This is the first book in this particular series that I have read and I had no trouble jumping right in and grasping the backstory. The relationship between the two detectives has certain nuances that are well explained by the author. I liked their rapport and I liked them. The descriptions of New York were excellent and it is clear that Catherine Maiorisi knows her way around. It made the story all the more authentic. I also loved the diversity of the characters in terms of race, age and sexuality. The story has good, tight plotting and flowed well. I felt completely invested. I can’t believe it has taken me so long to read this author’s work, but I feel compelled to go back and find more. A top-notch crime novel.

I was given this ARC to review.

Review of ‘Undercover’ by Barbara Winkes

‘Undercover’ by Barbara Winkes is the first in a new series, and features Kendall Mancini, boss of a crime family, but with a heart of gold. Jess/Robyn, an FBI agent is sent in undercover to try and stop a war between the powerful families in the city. Her aim is to convince Kendall to turn away from crime and work with the authorities to bring down the murderous elements within the families. What she didn’t expect was the attraction between them. Keeping secrets was always going to be dangerous, but now it is personal too. 

I liked that the story was told from two points of view. We got to know Kendall and Jess/Robyn intimately and could therefore empathise with their dilemmas. We also knew their secrets and the painful decisions each had to make. The author cleverly ratcheted up the tension, making me wonder whose side I was on. Did I want the head of a crime syndicate to prevail? Or the law enforcement officer? As their romance grew I wanted it to work out for them, whatever the cost. 

I thought I knew where it was going, but the author managed to  twist it all and surprise me again and again.  It was a very good story with relatable characters. It ended in a way that makes me desperate to read the next in the series.

I was given this ARC to review.

Review of ‘The Hog’s Back Mystery’ by Freeman Wills Crofts

‘The Hog’s Back Mystery’ by Freeman Wills Crofts is an Inspector French mystery written in the 1930s. Set in the North Downs in Surrey, it is the story of a mysterious disappearance that becomes more intriguing as the case progresses. Dr James Earle lives quietly with his wife in the countryside. When he goes missing, the inspector is called in from Scotland Yard. But French cannot fathom what on earth has happened to him. When a visitor goes missing too, the police are baffled. Nothing makes any sense. But the author has concocted a brilliant puzzle. I was completely fooled and thoroughly satisfied by the end.

The setting is the last place one would expect such crimes to take place. It is rural and quiet and the inhabitants apparently genteel and respectable. The writing style perfectly matches this. But as any reader of English countryside mysteries knows, so much lurks under the surface. 

I don’t think I’ve ever read a mystery where the investigation is laid out so meticulously.  We see into the mind of the Inspector and begin to understand the crimes as he explains his thinking.  It was a brilliant piece of investigation, broken down in the most compelling way. I was hooked. I am so glad there as more in this series for me to discover.

I was given this book to review.

Review of ‘Due To A Death’ by Mary Kelly

‘Due To A Death’ by Mary Kelly is a dark, suspenseful novel published and set in the early 1960s. It is the story of Agnes and her first person narration of the events in her village in the days leading up to a terrible discovery. A body is found on the marsh. There are secrets amongst the people she knows and loves. As she thinks back we begin to discover that people are not always who they seem to be. 

This book is a departure from the usual reprints I have read in this genre. It is well written and immersive, but it is not in any way cosy or representative of the crime books I normally read. It is dark and grim and depressing. And this may be right up your street. It is also slow-paced, as the author takes her time to tell the story. So if you enjoy your mysteries on the darker side this is for you. 

I was given this ARC to review.

Review of ‘We Know You Remember

Eira has memories of the year a sixteen year old girl was murdered in her small rural community. Now a policewoman she finds herself dealing with the fallout. Olof Hagstrom confessed back then when he was fourteen years old. Now twenty years later he is back – and now his father has been murdered. Did he do it? Or is there more to the story?

First of all I will give a *trigger warning*. This book is not for the faint of heart. There are some appalling details that were very disturbing . I skipped over those parts as I have no desire to read descriptions of sexual assault. But it was an important part of the story and some people might be able to read these passages without a problem. 

The book is very well written, with depth and emotion. It is about the past coming back to haunt people. It is always there, lurking in the background. The author ponders if we can ever escape our past ?

It dealt with the darkness that is the worst of human nature . However quiet and idyllic we may think a place is there is always the chance that this darkness lurks under the surface. We just don’t always see it. A powerful story.

I was given this ARC for review. 

Review of ‘Marion Lane And The Deadly Rose’ by T.A. Willberg

‘Marion Lane And The Deadly Rose’ is the second in this series by T.A. Willberg. The year is 1959, and as the Cold War heats up, Scotland Yard is baffled by the discovery of murder victims with roses branded on their bodies. They turn to Miss Brickett’s agency for help. Marion is once again tasked with helping solve to solve the mystery, and working on one of her own. One of the new first year recruits should not be trusted. But which of them is up to no good? 

I enjoyed being back with Marion and her fellow Inquirers, working within the tunnels and underground passageways beneath London. This is a well-imagined series, full of intrigue and mystery. There is danger and darkness, but also camaraderie and hope. Marion had more confidence and a sense of purpose. She could see that her talents were appreciated and this made her push on in pursuit of justice. 

I enjoyed the group dynamic, as her friends and colleagues played a part in the case. The interactions between them were important and bode well for the future of the series. An enjoyable story.

I was given this ARC for review.

Review of ‘A Fatal Affair’ by Faith Martin

‘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.

I was given this ARC for review.

Review of ‘The Wine of Angels’ by Phil Rickman

Merrily Watkins is the new vicar in a small Herefordshire village. Women priests in the Church of England are still fairly unusual in the late 1990s and although some villagers are friendly, others seem resistant. But as time goes on she begins to wonder if the resistance is due to her gender or something rather more disturbing. 

This is a beautifully written and perfectly executed mystery with a decidedly spooky element. Merrily and her teenage daughter Jane try to settle into the vicarage and the community, but they become aware that there is much more going on underneath. Things no one wants to talk about openly. The gradual teasing build up to the reveal is masterfully done and I did not see any of it coming. And the best bit? Finding out that this is only book one in the series, and I have many more hours ahead of me with Merrily Watkins. Highly recommended.

Review of ‘Vintage Crime’ edited by Martin Edwards

I am a big fan of the golden age of mystery novels, so I jumped at the chance to read a collection of short stories reminding me of that time. ‘Vintage Crime’, edited by Martin Edwards, let me wallow in the genre for a few hours. The short story is perfect for tales of crime and mystery and I was impressed by the selection chosen for this book. The stories captured the feel of the times and there’s something to be said for going back to an era when the mystery story was at its pinnacle.  I particularly liked ‘The Service Flat’ by Bill Knox and ‘Footprint in the Sky’ by John Dickson Carr. An enjoyable read.

I was given this ARC for review.