Review of ‘The Man Who Died Twice’ by Richard Osman

I’ve been eagerly awaiting the second book in Richard Osman’s Thursday Murder Club series, so I was delighted to receive an early review copy. I loved it even more than the first one. It was like coming home to old friends, as we joined Elizabeth, Joyce, Ibrahim and Ron for another mystery and some fantastic adventures. When Elizabeth receives a letter from an old work colleague the Murder Club members become embroiled in a dangerous hunt for stolen diamonds, involving mobsters and the real possibility that the bodies will start piling up again. 

It was everything I hoped for and more. It was perfectly plotted, utilising the various talents of the group. Each and every character mattered in this story, because that’s how it’s solved. Not with one person, but with the combined strengths of each of them. Foolish is the person who underestimates these septuagenarians.

It made me smile and made me shed a little tear. We can only hope to have friends like Elizabeth, Joyce, Ibrahim and Ron when we move to our own retirement villages. 

And even if I have only a fraction of the excitement they have, I’ll be happy.

I was given this ARC to review.

Review of ‘Marion Lane And The Midnight Murder

‘Marion Lane and the Midnight Murder’ is a wonderful story, with the most fantastic, strange and  imaginative elements. Marion Lane works in a run-down bookshop after a family friend secured her a post there. Or does she? In reality she works for a mysterious investigate organisation, hidden under the streets of London. She must tell no-one and even her own grandmother is oblivious to the reality of Marion’s life. When a co-worker is murdered, Marion must find out the identity of the murderer, to save someone dear and to save the existence of the secret world she has grown to love. 

The premise of a secret world underground is fascinating, and T.A. Willberg uses the most beautiful language and descriptions to pull the reader into the fantasy. I wanted to know what lay in every nook and cranny, and around every corner. It was mysterious and scary. It was exceptionally well-written and left me wanting much, much more of Marion Lane and her life below the streets of London.

I was given this ARC to review.

Review of ‘A Woman To Treasure’ by Ali Vali

‘A Woman to Treasure’ is a cracker of a story. It’s an adventure, a mystery and a love story all rolled into one. Levi Montbard has loved history her whole life, and goes all over the world in search of antiquities. Her fascination with the Templars is particularly important, and when some writings come into her possession, the adventure really begins. Yasmine Hassani is a university professor, with a special interest in women’s studies. She’s an unusual woman in her culture, as she has so far resisted the expected marriage and children route. When she becomes aware of Levi’s quest she has to decide to take a leap, in more ways than one. 

Ali Vali has written a wonderful mystery, with well-researched historical detail and a heart-warming romance at its core. It has beautiful settings  in various parts of the world, with a fantastic group of characters. I particularly loved Louisiana and Morocco, and getting to know Levi and Yasmine’s families there. The story was brilliantly plotted, with stories and revelations that made the hairs stand up on the back of my neck. The romance was sweet and endearing and gave me such feelings of joy when they as much as held hands. It was lovely to see the characters grow and change as they got to know each other, becoming who they were meant to be. An excellent book and one I can highly recommend. 

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 ‘While Justice Sleeps’ by Stacey Abrams

While Justice Sleeps is utterly compelling and brilliantly plotted, with legal and political intrigue to keep the reader up all night. You will not want to put this one down! 

Avery works as a law clerk for Supreme Court Justice Howard Wynn. When he ends up in a coma, she finds herself unexpectedly in charge of his affairs. But why? He has entrusted her with a puzzle, one that she alone is capable of solving. The story is brilliantly conceived, with mysteries and secrets she must uncover before it’s too late. It didn’t let up for a second. I loved Avery. She was smart, resourceful and loyal. But she also knew how to get the most out of people, how to encourage their talents. The world of Washington politics was fascinating and all the more so because it felt as if the author knew exactly what she was writing about. It felt real. This book would make an amazing film. 

I was given this ARC for 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.

Review of ‘The Rose Code’ by Kate Quinn

‘The Rose Code’ is a stunning book. A mixture of historical fiction, suspense, mystery and passion. It’s the story of three young women who find themselves working at Bletchley Park, doing top-secret codebreaking – work they will never be allowed to divulge for decades. Osla, the well-connected deb, Mab, an East End girl determined to make something of her life, and Beth, a downtrodden twenty-something with a sharp and amazing mind. We follow their lives as they become vital cogs in the wheel during WW11, saving the Allies in secret, and trying to find some sort of happiness amongst the chaos of war.

The story jumped back and forward between the war years and post-war Britain. Tying it in with real events and with more than a spattering of real-life figures added to the excitement and intensity. I loved finding out about Bletchley Park when it was the secret hub of those trying to crack the Enigma codes. I’ve visited it and found it utterly fascinating – but this book brought it to life for me, with wonderful characters and a top-notch story. It was tense and full of suspense, with a fantastic mystery at its heart. The best book of the year for me.

I was given this ARC to 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 ‘Secrets on the Fens’ by Joy Ellis

‘Secrets on the Fens’ by Joy Ellis is the first of this series I’ve read, but it won’t be the last. I love finding a new series to get my teeth into, and I know I will have many hours of pleasure reading more of the Detective Nikki Galena stories. 

When the bodies of two teenagers are found in the woods, their positioning raises many questions. Someone had taken a lot of trouble to set the scene, but why? Links to the goth community and those interested in the study of gravestones further complicate matters. Meanwhile Nikki’s mum Eve and her friend Wendy have a mystery of their own as they look into the disappearance of a local artist many years before. 

Both stories had me gripped. There was excitement, tension and suspense throughout. The build up to the solution was so well done and I loved the twists and turns. I really like the two main characters, Nikki and Joseph. They came across as the kind of intelligent, caring police officers we hope exist in reality. An excellent mystery.

I was given this ARC to review.

Review of ‘Death On The Aisle’ by Kate Johnson

Molly Higgins is the girl next door, sweet, kind and hardworking. She also has a knack for solving murders. At last she is about to marry her movie star boyfriend, Conor, but when a murder happens in Port Trevan just days from Molly’s celebrity packed wedding, she has to get involved. With her sister home after many years abroad,  and her fiancé Conor busy filming nearby, she’s once again up to her eyes in mysteries, just when she could do with time to finalise the wedding plans. 

This is the first of this particular series I’ve read, but I’m so intrigued, that I’ll have to go back and read the others now. The setting of the beautiful Cornish coast was idyllic.  The story was perfectly plotted, with twists and turns and surprising revelations. The tension near the finale had me gripped. The story was very well written, with so many great characters – likeable and not so likeable. This is a series that could and should go on and on. I’ll be waiting with bated breath for the next one.

I was given this ARC for review.