The Curse of Arundel Hall: A Yellow Cottage Vintage Mystery by J. New #FridayRead #RBRT

Arundel

Although this is not the first of the Yellow Cottage cosy mysteries, Chapter One introduces the heroine, Ella, and explains why, as an intelligent 24 year old widow, she is living on the island of Linhay needing to occupy her life with a challenge.

 

Set in the 1930s, there are parallels with the investigations of Miss Marple, but in Ella’s case her help is welcomed by Sir Albert Montisford, Police Commissioner at Scotland Yard.  In addition to the usual cast of suspects, the local Lord, a spurned spinster, a handsome doctor and a disreputable bachelor, Ella has a phantom cat and sees ghosts others are unaware of.  New developments in police methods such as finger-printing are explained and the local village provides a range of interesting characters.

 

At first the story moves rather slowly as Ella researches the history of Arundel Hall and why it is cursed.  I felt Phantom the cat should have had a more active part in the story and I kept trying to locate the island of Linhay, which was such a short drive or train ride from Scotland Yard.  Once the murder had occurred, the pace increased and the reader is presented with several possibilities for the culprit.

 

For me the most interesting part are the questions raised towards the end of the book.  What is the mysterious background of Ella’s housekeeper and who is the person who telephones Yellow Cottage filling Ella with dismay?  Definitely an invitation to read the next book.  If you like a light read in the style of Agatha Christie or Midsummer Murders you will enjoy this novel.

PS I love the black cat on the cover picture!

 The Curse of Arundel Hall is available on Amazon UK

J New

J. New is the British author of paranormal cosy mysteries, murder mysteries and magical YA with a hint of romance. A voracious reader and writer all her life, she took her first foray into Indie publishing in 2013, and has never looked back.
She has an eclectic reading taste, ranging from the Magic of Terry Pratchett, JK Rowling, Tolkien and Neil Gaiman, to Dean Koontz, Eion Colfer, Anne Rice and Agatha Christie. A lover of murder mysteries set in past times, where steam trains, afternoon tea and house staff abound. She is convinced she was born in the wrong era as she has a particular aversion to cooking and housework.
She also has an impossible bucket list, which includes travelling on the Orient Express with Hercule Poirot, shopping in Diagon Alley with Sirius Black, lazing around the Shire with Gandalf and Bilbo, exploring Pico Mundo with Odd Thomas and having Tea at the Ritz with Miss Marple.
Funds from the sale of her books go towards her dog rescue effort.

Rosie's Book Review team 1

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The Spyglass Files by Nathan Dylan Godwin #Bookreview

Spyglass

A few years ago I read the first of Nathan Dylan Godwin’s Forensic Genealogist series. This is the fourth volume and, in my view, the best.

Morton Farrier is a professional genealogist whose investigations into past events often lead him into trouble in the present. As he approaches the date of his wedding to Juliette he is trying to avoid new cases, but he is intrigued by the situation of a woman who was adopted soon after her birth, during the Battle of Britain. As he tries to locate her family, we follow parts of the story of her birth-mother, Elsie, who was a WAAF officer in the Y service, listening in to German pilots as they approached England.

It is fascinating to learn about the invaluable work of these young women and to observe the terrifying lives of the fighter pilots they encountered. It is understandable that they were living for the moment.

As Elsie’s story is revealed, Morton becomes aware that criminal activities which started in a cottage on the Kent coast in 1940, reverberate in the present day. We empathise with Elsie, an intelligent girl, threatened by her mother-in-law and seeming to have lost any chance of happiness. Morton’s investigations are intriguing, especially if you are interested in genealogy and the final chapters are surprising and satisfying.

Now I am hoping that Morton will learn more about his own family in a future book.

You can find The Spyglass  File on Amazon UK

Codename Lazarus: The Spy who came back from the dead by A P Martin #bookreview

Lazarus

Codename Lazarus takes us first to Germany in the mid-1930s as Hitler and the Nazis rise to power. We see the unpleasant changes through the eyes of John King, an English academic, whose friends include a Jewish family, the Bernsteins and a young German, Joachim Brandt, who has decided to join the SS.

Moving to 1938, King is recruited by his former professor to the world of espionage, in an attempt to foil the efforts of Nazi sympathisers in England. This requires him to cut off all ties with his former life and after another visit to Germany, he must disappear. However his under-cover activities take place in London, where he has to cultivate relationships with British nationals who wish to aid Germany. A significant relationship with a young German nurse is suspended, but old friends from the past will take a dramatic part in the denouement.

This is an exciting plot-driven story and although we gain knowledge of King’s feelings early in the story, he becomes increasingly more distant as other protagonists take a more active part in the storyline. One of the Nazi sympathisers gains our sympathy and we realise that she has trapped herself in a web of deceit. I was especially interested in the vivid description of pre-war Germany and in the realistic account of the evacuation scene at Dunkirk. The final scenes intensify in excitement and are real page-turners, but I was disappointed at the sudden conclusion which left questions about other threads in the book.

This debut novel is a fluent tale set in a fascinating time. Plotting and descriptions are sound but the earlier parts of the book lead me to expect greater knowledge of the hero’s emotions and confusion at his use of subterfuge and his abandonment of his friends and family. I look forward to reading the next book by this promising author.

The Gilded Lily by Deborah Swift #bookreview

Gilded

The Gilded Lily tells a frightening tale of two young girls in Restoration London.  Young Sadie has been brought from her country home in Cumberland by her more worldly older sister, Ella, to start a new life.  Ella has stolen from the house of her dead Master and now she is suspected of his murder.  Perhaps they could have gone unnoticed, but Sadie has a distinctive port wine stain on her face and the dead man’s brother is hunting for them.

As Ella becomes entwined in the dangerous world of ambitious Jay Whitgift, she decides Sadie must hide away.  I empathised with Sadie’s feeling of entrapment in the city which teemed with unkind, threatening people but I began to realise that Ella’s thoughtless behaviour was rooted in her tragic childhood and her longing for love and prosperity.

The story shows the hard toil of girls making wigs in a perruquier’s workshop, the corrupt world of rich, self-obsessed young men and the lives of ordinary people such as clerks and barber-surgeons in 17th century London.  I particularly liked the role of the Thames, which fills Sadie with awe, as she watches a ship set sail on a distant voyage while later Ella sells beauty products from a stall on the frozen river. The details of life, the complexity of the plot and the variety of characters take time to unfold but the pace hots up in the last few chapters where the plight of Ella and Sadie worsens and there seems no escape from the gallows.

For Sadie and Ella, the bond of sisterhood is sorely tried by their difficulties and separation but they cannot deny their need for one another.  The Gilded Lily which shines so brightly in Ella’s eyes proves to be fool’s gold concealing ugliness.

War Crimes For The Home by Liz Jensen #TuesdayBookBlog

War Crimes

`You know what they say about GIs and English girls’ knickers,’ ran the wartime joke, `One Yank and they’re off.’ When Gloria met Ron, he was an American pilot who thought nothing of getting hit by shrapnel in the cockpit. She was working in a munitions factory in Bristol during the Blitz, but still found time to grab what she wanted. Ciggies. Sex. American soldiers. But war has an effect on people. Gloria did all sorts of things she wouldn’t normally do – evil things, some of them – because she might be dead tomorrow. Or someone might. Now, fifty years on, it’s payback time. In her old folks’ home, Gloria is forced to remember the real truth about her and Ron, and confront the secret at the heart of her dramatic home front story. In a gripping, vibrant evocation of wartime Britain, Liz Jensen explores the dark impulses of women whose war crimes are committed on the home front, in the name of sex, survival, greed, and love.

Gloria, a poorly educated, foul-mouthed old woman doesn’t seem like the normal heroine, but the tortuous interwoven account of her life, now in old age & formerly during the war, certainly make for compelling reading.

This is a story with layers which float to the surface indiscriminately.  There is the typical story of a simple English girl seduced by an American serviceman, an amusing tale of an old dear with a weak memory causing havoc in an old people’s home, an account of betrayal & human suffering and in amongst the “jokes” and amusing anecdotes, a sad story of many unhappy people affected by events 60 years earlier.

The use of a hypnotist allows the story to be slowly unravelled with an interesting final twist, but it doesn’t seem quite credible.  Gloria’s early wartime experiences, however, are understandable.  The two young sisters are effectively orphaned in a time and place where moral constraints have disappeared, as an antidote to the awful horrors which also occur in their everyday lives.

This was a book which I did not warm to in the early pages, but it was an easy read and soon became a fascinating account of a real human being who despite her misfortune still relished the pleasures of life.

Liz Jensen

Liz Jensen was born in Oxfordshire in 1959. Her critically-acclaimed work spans black comedy, science fiction, satire, family drama, historical fantasy and psychological suspense. Three of her novels have been nominated for the Orange Prize and in 1998 she was shortlisted for the Guardian Fiction Award. She is Writer in Residence at Kingston University and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. Her work has been developed for film and translated into more than 20 languages.

Exposure by Rose Edmunds

exposure

The return of Crazy Amy in this nail-biting story, opens with drama and amusement. You have no need to have read Rose Edmunds’ previous book, Concealment as you will soon know a great deal about Amy and her devilish alter ego, Little Amy, within the first few pages. But Amy is a highly intelligent, talented lady who has discovered a conscience and after the loss of her well-paid, city career in London, she needs a project.

Returning to her life is old-flame Toby Marchpole, an investigative financial journalist. While prying into possible fraud at IPT plc, a distributer and retailer of plumbing components, he is shocked to see the firm’s finance director, Venner collapse in front of him, spluttering, “Tell Amy….” He soon discovers that Venner was a former colleague of Amy Robinson and realises that it’s time to renew their friendship.

I know nothing of city finance, but then I also know nothing about spies or murder, so what is important is that the thrilling events keep me reading and the complexities of the fraudulent actions are clearly explained. This is a story which is a worthwhile read for two reasons; Amy’s adventures keep you on a knife edge and at the same time you warm to her flawed personality, longing for her to find happiness.

Adopting a new identity, Amy is unsure whether to trust Toby and she is sometimes unwise in those she does choose as trustworthy. Once again, she encounters DCI Carmody, with whom she had hoped for a relationship, but he is chilly and judgemental, knowing her failings and trying to deny his own feelings.

This book stands alone as an enjoyable, exciting page-turner but I would also recommend Concealment either before or after reading Exposure, and you never know, Amy may return for another adventure after the exciting final twist in this story.

Exposure  will be published on March 24th 2017
I reviewed this book as a member of Rosie Amber’s Book Review Team.

You can read my review of Concealment here

Rosie's Book Review team 1