Where Roses Fade (Lydmouth Crime Series 5) by Andrew Taylor #TuesdayBookBlog

When Mattie Harris’s body is found drowned in the river, everyone in Lydmouth knows something is wrong. Mattie wasn’t a swimmer – it can’t have been a simple accident. She was drunk on the last night of her life – could she have fallen in? Or was she pushed?

Mattie was a waitress, of no importance at all, so when Lydmouth’s most prominent citizens become very anxious to establish that her death was accidental, Jill Francis’s suspicions become roused. In the meantime she is becoming ever closer to Inspector Richard Thornhill, and discovering that the living have as many secrets as the dead…

My Review

Reviewers seem to be divided as to whether this is the best or the worst of the Lydmouth Chronicles. Certainly the crimes centre round sordid actions by respected business men and young women treated like prostitutes because they have had illegitimate children. The story exposes the double standards of attitudes to sexual activity during the 1950s.

The book begins with the awful experiences of young Malcolm Pembridge in hospital and the life-changing effects of his bout of polio. Luckily his friend Bill keeps his spirits up. There are two young women who also feature in the plot, Violet Evans, struggling with the care of her new baby, Grace, under the disapproval of her father, and her friend Mattie, a stunning red-head, everyone seems to know.

In parallel we find journalist Jill Francis and DI Richard Thornhill finally giving into their passion for each other. But can there be happiness for them when Richard’s wife Edith returns with the children? Jill is a beacon of pro-active beneficence. She discovers those in trouble and makes connections the police don’t always detect. Richard refuses to kowtow to DS Williams and arrest a disreputable boy of limited intellect with only circumstantial evidence.

As the action increased and my suspicions fell on one character and then another, I really enjoyed this book and cannot fault it for its believable reflection on 1950s social history, while the significance of the fading bouquet of roses in the back of DI Thornhill’s car was not lost on me.

Where Roses Fade on Amazon UK

My review of The Air That Kills the first book in the Lydmouth Crime Series.

Murder & Mischief (The Victorian Detectives 10) by Carol Hedges #NewRelease #RBRT #FridayReads

It is January, a time of year when not much crime usually happens. But when Inspector Greig is unexpectedly summoned to the opulent Hampstead residence of Mr. James William Malin Barrowclough, a rich businessman, he embarks upon one of the strangest and most bizarre investigations that he has ever been involved in.

Why has Barrowclough been targeted? What is inside the mysterious parcels that keep arriving at Hill House, and why won’t he cooperate with the police? The case will take the Scotland Yard detectives on a journey out of London and into the victim’s past, to uncover the secrets and lies that haunt his present.

Murder & Mischief is the tenth novel in the series, and in the great tradition of Charles Dickens and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, it entices the reader once again along the teeming streets and dimly gas lit thoroughfares of Victorian London, where rich and poor, friend and foe alike mix and mingle.

My Review

It is a delight to return to Victorian London to meet Carol’s panoply of characters once again. On a snowy day in 1868 we encounter two thoroughly unpleasant boys, the sons of successful land speculator J W M Barrowclough, who have benefited at Eton College from, “learning Latin, Greek and social superiority.” But shortly afterwards DI Lachlan Greig is summoned from Scotland Yard to their residence, Hill House, to investigate a snowman which encases a dead body.

Greig is a wise man with all the right contacts, so he gains useful information about the Barrowclough family from Lilith Marks in the Lily Lounge Tearoom. He then follows up the snowman’s top hat, originally purchased from Lock & Co, Hatters and I was surprised on Monday to see a hat from this company, which is still trading in St James St, sold on TV’s Bargain Hunt.

We also meet two much more charming children, Liza & Flitch, who have run away from the Poor Law Union Workhouse in Cambridge, hidden on board a stagecoach to London. Flitch is such an enterprising young lad that they soon have the means to buy some food & pay for accommodation. Circumstances put them in contact with the Transformative Brethren, a group of artists in Camden who concentrate on the destruction and reconstruction of London streets and the people who live there.

Descriptions of Barrowclough’s lifestyle give us a clear picture of aspects of London society such as the Gentleman’s Club while the orphaned children explore its underbelly. When Detective Constable Tom Williams travels to Birmingham for further investigations he is amazed by the difference to his experience of central London.

“From the moment Williams steps out into the thronged thoroughfare, his ears are assailed by the hammering of presses and the clatter of engines. The noise of Birmingham is beyond description.

There are dust heaps everywhere. The streets do not appear to have been sluiced. Tom steps over piles of litter and manure, oily black water, bones, rotten vegetables. Flies buzz, stray dogs fight. Great carts loaded with coal, lime and iron bars queue from one street to another, their drivers shouting at each other in an accent he does not understand.”

Each strand of the story gradually unwinds, despite tremendous hazards, to logical conclusions and along the way we are educated in social history, amused by the escapades of the children and intrigued by the murder mystery. If you haven’t discovered these compelling Victorian adventures before now, it is time to start reading, either this excellent read alone story or better still the first book in the series.

My Review of Diamonds & Dust the first book in the Victorian Detectives series.

Murder & Mischief newly released on Amazon UK

#WordlessWednesday in the city of Tomar #Portugal #KnightTemplars

Praça da República

 Igreja de Santa Maria do Olival

The old town

The Convent of Christ in Tomar

Mystery on Hidden Lane: (An Eve Mallow Mystery Book 1) by Clare Chase #TuesdayBookBlog

When Bernard Fitzpatrick drowns in a river close to his home, the village mourns a tragic accident… and amateur sleuth Eve Mallow is on the case.

Obituary writer Eve is looking forward to her new assignment, as well as spending a few days in the sweet little village of Saxford St Peter, walking the country lanes with her beloved dachshund Gus. But it turns out that it’s Bernard’s death that she’ll need to investigate, not his life. On the day she arrives, news breaks that the world-famous cellist was the victim of a grisly murder. Could this quaint English village be hiding a dark secret? As Eve starts to interview Bernard’s friends and colleagues, she finds that he’d ruffled more than a few feathers. In fact, from the landlords of the Cross Keys Inn to his own seemingly devoted secretary, there’s barely a person in town who doesn’t have some reason to hate him… is one of the friendly villagers really a cold-blooded killer?

Eve hoped Saxford St Peter would be the perfect escape from her busy city life. But there is darkness even in the most sunlit of settings. And when a second body is found, Eve realises she’s spoken to every single suspect. Her notebook contains all the clues she needs. But will she be able to crack the case and identify them… before they realise she’s on their trail and make her their next target?

My Review

I chose this book because I have enjoyed the Tara Thorpe mysteries so much. This time Clare Chase has written a more traditional cozy mystery with Eve Mallow, a heroine who is an attractive but mature woman. Set in an idyllic English village, Saxford St Peter, Eve rents a cottage for a short time to complete her research for an obituary of cellist, Bernard Fitzpatrick who had lived and died there. She soon meets a fascinating group of residents, from useful gossip, Moira, who runs the village shop to mysterious gardener, Robin Yardley, who seems to turn up everywhere.

Eve’s character is given depth by the way she deals with her over protective, ex-husband, who is still trying to manage her life. She forges a real friendship with café owner, Viv and is amused by the flirtation of Viv’s brother, Simon. Her interviews with the people who knew Bernard soon becomes a murder investigation so she keeps copious notes, trying to ignore the fact that she is putting herself in great danger. Her dachshund, Gus, is cute but not a guard dog.

This novel does not have the nail-biting tension of the Tara Thorpe Mysteries but it is an absorbing tale which keeps you guessing and I shall certainly seek out Eve’s company again.

Mystery on Hidden Lane on Amazon UK

My Review of Murder on the Marshes by Clare Chase

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