Review of ‘How To Write A Winning Fiction Book Outline – Cozy Mystery Fiction Workbook’ by Hackney & Jones

This is the second of this series of workbooks that I’ve tried and I must say I’m very impressed.

I have found this particular one so helpful in planning out a cozy mystery novel. The authors have thought of everything. They take the reader through the themes to consider, the most common names, locations and events in a cozy mystery and how to outline your story.


I found the chapter by chapter and scene by scene planning the most useful. It has taken away the mystique behind outlining a novel. I can see me using this and the others in the series again and again.

Review of ‘The 12.30 From Croydon’ by Freeman Wills Crofts

‘The 12.30 From Croydon’ by Freeman Wills Crofts is the second Freeman Wills Crofts mystery novel I’ve read, and I’m quickly becoming a fan of his meticulous storytelling. 

On a flight to Paris, elderly grandfather, Andrew Crowther dies in his seat. When questions are asked as to the nature of his death, we begin to find out what lead to it – and how it was planned.  The author takes the unusual step of telling the story from the point of view of the killer, making this a fascinating and utterly compelling read. 

This story looks into the mind of a killer, and how a very ordinary man finds himself on a destructive and dangerous path.  It tells of a man’s downfall and the terrible consequences. 

Inspector French is a quiet and unassuming character, and one that criminals underestimate at their peril. His contribution to the story was pivotal. An excellent story and one that will stay with me. 

I was given this ARC for review.

Review of ‘The Murder Mystery’ by Alice Castle

‘The Murder Mystery’ by Alice Castle is the first book in this series and after reading this, I can’t wait to get my teeth into the next two. Beth Haldane gets a job as an assistant archivist at the local prestigious school, Wyatt’s. Her first day gets off to a surprising start, when she finds the dead body of her boss behind the bins. It soon becomes apparent that he had many enemies within the school. Was it one of Beth’s new colleagues? When she begins to investigate, it appears she may be in danger too. Will she find the killer before it is too late?

I like Beth . She’s a normal woman with a child. A widow, she lives in the south London village of Dulwich. It’s full of yummy mummies and Beth feels she’ll never fit the mould. But why should she have to. She’s clever, bright and determined, and more than a match for any of them. The story is well written, with interesting characters and I loved the descriptions of Dulwich and the local society. 

I was given this ARC to review. 

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Review of ‘The Morelville Cozies Collection: Books 1-3’ by Anne Hagan

As a huge fan of Anne Hagan’s mystery series set in Morelville, I was thrilled to find she had written a series of cozy mysteries featuring Mel and Dana’s mothers. Chloe Rossi and Faye Crane are the perfect senior sleuths we’ve all been waiting for. 

This collection comprises of books 1-3 in the series. In The Passed Prop, Opera House Ops and the Conjuring Comedienne, we find out just how clever the pair are. I love seeing the pair solve mysteries in their own inimitable way. A wonderful way to pass a few hours.

I was given this ARC to review.

Review of ‘A Christmas Candy Killing’ by Christina Romeril

This is the first book I’ve read by Christina Romeril and it won’t be the last. I enjoyed her writing style and her perceptive eye on village life and the secrets held within. 

The Sleuth Book Club holds meetings at Murder and Mayhem: Killer Chocolates and Bookshop, run by Alex and her twin sister, Hanna. When elderly club member Jane hints to Alex that there may be a killer hiding in their village, Alex isn’t sure what to believe. Jane is an aficionado of true crime TV and it won’t be the first time she’s accused a neighbour. When death enters their lives, Alex has to take it seriously- especially as she’s one of the prime suspects. 

This was a well written story, with interesting characters. I enjoyed it.

I was given this ARC to review.

Review of ‘The Bullet That Missed’ by Richard Osman

‘The Bullet That Missed’ is the third in the Thursday Murder Club series by Richard Osman, and the best so far. When the gang look into a cold case regarding the murder of a local news anchor, more and more questions are thrown up. Like, where is the body? Meanwhile Elizabeth faces an unpleasant task. Will she carry out a killing as ordered? Or risk a killing closer to home. As the pensioners investigate, time is not on their side. With the help of some old friends, and some new ones, they must solve the case before anyone else dies. 

I enjoy these books even more as they go on. Maybe it’s because I have grown to love the characters. Each play a part in solving the mysteries, and their ages are actually an advantage, not a disadvantage. I especially like Joyce, who describes the most shocking of crimes in such a matter of fact way. Nothing fazes her. And the humour just ties it all together. 

I love the short, snappy chapters, as it makes me pictures the story like a film in my head. It also makes the peril more immediate. Richard Osman has made me care about these characters, and although they put themselves in the most dangerous situations, it still has the cosy feeling I want from a mystery. 

Through it all there is friendship, decent and kindness. I adored it.

Review of ‘Mystery At Southwood School’ by Clare Chase

‘Mystery At Southwood School’ is the ninth Eve Mallow mystery by Clare Chase. Eve is at the school helping her friend Viv provide catering to ‘The Coven’ who run the school. Founders Day is upon them, and ex-pupil and celebrity, Natalie Somerson, is to be the Founders Day Champion. Much to the chagrin of certain members of staff. Professional gossip-monger, Natalie made many enemies whilst a pupil and since. When her speech hints at a secret lover affair from the past, little does she know the trouble she has stirred up. The discovery of her body the next morning puts suspicion on Eve’s boyfriend Robin, compelling her to find out who really had a motive to kill Natalie. Will she find out in time? Or has her investigation put her in danger?

This is the second book I’ve read in this series and I am becoming increasingly fond of Eve and her friends. Eve is kind, loyal and determined. She’s exactly the type of friend you want on your side. I think a lot can be said about writing characters your readers will connect with. The author has done this with Eve Mallow. She’s easy to like.

I loved that the story was based in a boarding school. It took me back to my days of reading Mallory Towers and the like. A mystery in a closed setting works so well, and this is no exception. I was hooked.

I was given this ARC for review.

Review of ‘The Mysterious Case of The Alperton Angels’ by Janice Hallett

‘The Mysterious Case Of The Alperton Angels’ by Janice Hallett is the third book I have read by this author, and I continue to be in awe of her talent. Her style is bold and modern, and communication is at the core of her storytelling. She uses WhatsApp messages and emails to open up the story, and it is extremely effective. 

Almost two decades after the Alperton Angels cult imploded, with the suicide of many of its members, Amanda Bailey is commissioned to write a book on the subject. But she’s not the only one. Her old rival Oliver Menzies hopes to uses his connections to beat her to it. But as they look into what really happened, it becomes apparent that collaboration is the only way to find out the truth. 

The cult, and its charismatic leader, convinced two teenagers that a newborn baby was the anti-Christ and must die to save the world from evil. The girl came to her senses in time and saved the child. But where is she? And what happened to the baby? Amanda is determined to find out, but the darkness she finds is so much stranger and takes her in directions she could not have imagined. 

The way the story is written made me compelled to keep reading. It was addictive. More and more clues are slowly revealed and it’s thrilling, dark and twisty.  The first ‘WOW’ moment knocked me off my chair, followed by another and then another . Ingenious storytelling at its very best.

I was given this ARC to review.

Review of ‘Death of a Bookseller’ by Bernard J Farmer

‘Death of a Bookseller’ by Bernard J Farmer is a bibliomystery published in 1956. When Sergeant Wigan meets a tipsy bookseller on the way home from his shift,  a friendship begins, and a new hobby. Michael Fisk is excited to have acquired a rare copy of Keats’ Endymion, and his enthusiasm rubs off on the policeman. Wigan begins his own book collection  and spends many hours discussing the subject with his new friend. Tragedy strikes when Fisk is found murdered in his library. The Sergeant begins to investigate the world of the rare bookseller and finds that jealousies and ruthless determination are rife. Could one of his fellow collectors be responsible for the murder? 

The world of the antiquarian book trade was fascinating and a complete revelation to me. Being written and set in the 1950s also added to the appeal of this book. The historical details were fascinating and I enjoyed spending a few hours there. The language and behaviour of the characters was of its time  and was at once more formal and polite – but also ruthless and cut-throat. The mystery was well written and I found myself unable to decide who to trust. I was hooked. 

I appreciated the incisive introduction by Martin Edwards. He places the book in its time and explains its place in the genre of classic crime. 

I was given this ARC to review.

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.