Old Friends and New Enemies by Owen Mullen #FridayReads #BookReview

Old friends

The body on the mortuary slab wasn’t who Glasgow PI Charlie Cameron was looking for.

But it wasn’t a stranger.

Suddenly, a routine missing persons investigation becomes a fight for survival. As Charlie is dragged deeper into Glasgow’s underbelly he goes up against notorious gangster Jimmy Rafferty and discovers what fear really is.

Rafferty is so ruthless even his own sons are terrified of him.

Now he wants Charlie to find something. And Jimmy Rafferty always gets what he wants.

There is only one problem… Charlie doesn’t know where it is.

My Review

I chose to read the second book about Charlie Cameron because it is partly set in the village of Luss which I know well, but I didn’t feel as if I had missed background knowledge by not reading the first in the series.  The reader soon learns that Charlie has rejected the values of his “Tory” father, who had owned a famous whisky business and that he had also given up on a law degree in which he had no interest.

Starting with a violent scene involving one of the infamous Rafferty family, Charlie finds himself involved in the misdeeds of his former friend Ian Selkirk, whom he had last seen in Thailand several years earlier.  Soon he is reunited with his former girlfriend, Fiona but he is inextricably drawn into great danger.  He should be concentrating on his latest commission to find the husband of the gracious Cecelia McNeil, whose son had recently committed suicide, but he cannot concentrate on the investigation despite the help of his sidekick, Pat Logue and friend, DS Andrew Geddes.

The story builds up to a thrilling conclusion with a dramatic scene in Edinburgh castle, eminently suited to a film scenario.  The characters are vividly painted and believable and the plot is followed in a spare style which keeps up the momentum.  I shall certainly be downloading “Games People Play” the first Charlie Mullen book.

 

Owen Mullen

Owen Mullen

When he was ten, Owen Mullen won a short story competition and didn’t write anything else for almost forty years. In between he graduated from Strathclyde University with a Masters in Tourism and a degree in Marketing, moved to London and worked as a rock musician, session singer and songwriter, and had a hit record in Japan with a band he refuses to name; on occasion he still performs. He returned to Scotland to run a management consultancy and a marketing agency. He is an Arsenal supporter and a serious foodie. A gregarious recluse, he and his wife, Christine, split their time between Glasgow – where the Charlie Cameron books are set – and their villa in the Greek Islands.

 

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No Way Back by Kelly Florentia #bookreview #FridayReads

No Way Back

Audrey Fox’s Life has become a rollercoaster.  At 41, her long term boyfriend, Nick, has jilted her shortly before their wedding, but a holiday in Cyprus with her parents has not restored her confidence or taken away the pain.  Still haunted by dreams of Nick, she is certainly not ready for any new relationship.

But fate and her mother have other ideas and soon Audrey is falling for the charms of Daniel, a handsome, successful divorcee.  Still unable to cut herself off from Nick who has been involved in an accident, she begins to care for Daniel, but soon it is evident that both men have been keeping secrets from her.

Relying on her friends, Louise and Tina, while trying to help her sister-in-law, Vicky, with her post-natal depression, Audrey careers from one emotional scene to another.  It is refreshing to read a novel about a modern woman in her early forties dealing with relationship, job and health issues and Audrey is a charismatic, eccentric heroine.  This ingenious plot never ceases to surprise right up to the final page and I was delighted to read that there will be a sequel.

Book Link:  Amazon UK

Kelly

Kelly Florentia

Kelly Florentia was born and bred in north London, where she continues to live with her husband Joe. Her second novel NO WAY BACK was published on 21st September 2017.

Kelly has always enjoyed writing and was a bit of a poet when she was younger. Before penning her first novel, The Magic Touch (2016), she wrote short stories for women’s magazines. TO TELL A TALE OR TWO… is a collection of her short tales.

Kelly has a keen interest in health and fitness and has written many articles on this subject. Smooth Operator (published in January 2017) is a collection of twenty of her favourite smoothie recipes.

As well as writing, Kelly enjoys reading, running, drinking coffee and scoffing cakes. She is currently working on the sequel to NO WAY BACK.

Website: www.kellyflorentia.com

The Woman at the Light by Joanna Brady #FridayReads #BookReview

Woman at the light

One afternoon in 1839, Emily Lowry’s husband vanishes from Wreckers’ Cay, an isolated island off the coast of Key West where he tends to the lighthouse. As days stretch into months, Emily has no choice but take charge of Wrecker’s Cay and her husband’s duties tending the light to support her three children, and a fourth on the way. Unexpected help arrives when a runaway slave named Andrew washes up on their beach. At first, Emily is intensely wary of this strange, charming man, whose very presence there is highly illegal. But Andrew proves himself an enormous help and soon wins the hearts of the Lowry family. And, far from the outside world and society’s rules, his place in Emily’s life is as steadfast now as the light, and will forever change their futures. When Emily’s family is ripped apart once again, she faces untold hardships that test her love and determination and show how the passionate love of a defiant, determined woman can overcome any obstacle.

My Review

A lighthouse is of such significance both as a life-saver and a symbol. On dangerous coasts in the 19th century their importance could not be over-rated, so it is astonishing to learn that in some cases, the vital task of igniting the light each evening was undertaken by women.  This story is based on one of those women who had responsibility for part of the wrecking coast of the Florida Keys.

 

Emily is determined to take on this responsibility, in the hope that her husband Martin will reappear.  Living alone on the fictional island of Wreckers’ Cay, 23 miles from Key West, Emily’s family have in many ways found their life idyllic and she has no wish to become dependent on her Gran.  The arrival of Andrew, still shackled as a slave, is a shock but also a blessing.  He becomes an important part of the children’s lives and gradually Emily begins to feel desire for him.  Such a situation in that place and time can only lead to tragedy and the approach of a terrible storm changes their lives forever.

 

Emily is a survivor, but she is also a spirited woman who makes her own way in the world, fighting for the best life for her children.  Her sister Dorothy seems a more relaxed, easy-going woman for whom life is easier, but we learn that she is more complex and plays a major role in Emily’s future.  The second part of this story takes back to Key West and later to Cuba and New York.  I found the interaction between Emily and the men she encountered, depending on her social standing, particularly interesting.  We might find it very hard to adapt to a man such as Pedro Salas, who combines charm and sexual demands, but Emily is a woman of her time.

 

What begins as a story of love and hardship, becomes an unfolding mystery story and family saga.  I would recommend this novel to anyone interested in 19th century American history and also as a story of passion and courage.

You can find The Woman at the Light at Amazon UK

and at Amazon US

Joanna Brady

Joanna Brady

My Sweet Friend by H A Leuschel #NewRelease #Book Review

Sweet Friend

Would you be suspicious of someone who described you as, “My sweet friend”?  This novella tells the story of the relationship between Alexa and Rosie.  When smart, charismatic Alexa joins the Parisian PR firm where Rosie is a trusted employee, she quickly makes her mark.  Her glowing reference and impressive CV are matched by her immaculate clothes and well organised manner and she quickly strikes up a friendship with Rosie.

Told in turn by Alexa and Rosie we learn what has happened, both by their admissions to the reader and by the dialogue between the two young women.  Rosie is saddled with the problem of providing care for her mother who had Alzheimer’s, while Alexa has no contact with family.  Also affected by the changing dynamics in the office is Jack, who is close to Rosie but develops a love/hate relationship with Alexa.

The most revealing passages are in Alexa’s voice.  We sympathise with her concern over the high expectations at work.  She is not coping but is determined to maintain her calm exterior and charm.  The detailed description of her immense pleasure in sitting in the sunshine drinking delicious coffee while her blonde hair lifted softly in the sea breeze, emphasise her need to put herself first.  There is evidence that she is deceiving others, but she is also deceiving herself.

We have all met needy people who take and never give.  Where do you draw the line?  Are we sometimes too gullible?  The questions posed by this story are, why is Alexa like this and what will happen next in her life.  An intriguing, thought-provoking tale.

You can purchase My Sweet Friend on Amazon UK

Helene

Helene Andrea Leuschel grew up in Belgium where she gained a Licentiate in Journalism & Communication, which led to a career in radio and television in Brussels, London and Edinburgh. She now lives with her husband and two children in Portugal and recently acquired a Master of Philosophy with the OU, deepening her passion for the study of the mind. When she is not writing, Helene works as a freelance journalist and teaches Yoga.

You can read my review of Helene’s short stories Manipulated Lives here

Girl in the Castle by Lizzie Lamb #BookReview #Scotland #Highlands

Castle

Having discovered when I read Scotch on the Rocks what a talented writer Lizzie Lamb is, I was happy to begin reading about Dr Henriette Bruar, the Girl in the Castle.  Leaving behind a disastrous event at St Guthlac’s University, which has ruined her academic reputation, Henri is travelling to a remote Highland castle to catalogue and value the Laird’s books and begin writing her thesis on the Highland clearances.

But Henri is not welcomed.  Almost abandoned by the side of the loch in the gathering Autumn dusk by Lachlan, a small old retainer who wants no “wee lassie going over” to the castle, it appears that even Alice Dougal, the housekeeper wants her to leave the next day.  But the Laird, Sir Malcolm MacKenzie is hoping she will find valuable books to restore his dwindling funds and Henri is determined to prove her worth.  Unfortunately, she makes a bad impression on Keir, the handsome son and heir, who believes she is one of his father’s lady-friends.

As Henriette becomes accepted as part of the unhappy household, she begins to bring light into their sad lives, never recovered from a tragedy during Keir’s childhood.  But when she meets Ciorstaidh, Keir’s cousin, she is told in no uncertain terms that Keir is already promised to her.

But like Lizzie’s other books this is a complex story of magic, mystery and fascinating history.  An exciting team game of shinty is described in detail and on October 31st, the Celtic customs of Samhain are re-enacted.  The social repercussions of arranged marriages and debt and the need for an heir and a spare make fascinating reading, contrasting with the beliefs of a 21st century woman.

This convincing romance, beginning in conflict and distrust, is set in stunning scenery which comes to life through Henri’s experiences and Keir’s enthusiasm for his birthright.   A great read!

You can find Girl in the Castle on Amazon UK

and on Amazon US

 

Offstage in Nuala by Harriet Smith #TuesdayBookBlog #RBRT

Offstage

In this third instalment of The Inspector de Silva Mysteries, we return to the island of Ceylon in the 1930s.

Book Blurb
There’s great excitement when a professional theatre company comes to Nuala. However matters take a dark turn when the company’s actor manager is murdered. Inspector de Silva has a new case to solve and he has to consider some very unpalatable motives for the crime. He will need all his persistence, coupled with his wife, Jane’s, invaluable help to unmask the villain of the piece.

My Revue
In this book the murder scene is the sumptuous Gaiety Theatre, where an Asian tour by a talented group of actors, commences with a production of Hamlet. The whole cast is suspect since no-one else was seen to enter the theatre during rehearsal time and it is soon evident to Inspector de Silva that there are many secrets to uncover. But he is also frustrated by the actions of his superior, Assistant Government Agent, Archie Clutterbuck, who keeps him away from the victim’s wife, Kathleen Darnforth, and from young Emerald Watson, who may have been Mr Darnforth’s mistress.

Shanti de Silva leaves no stone unturned as he explores every nook and cranny of the old theatre and sets his sergeant and constable on thorough investigations. However, their work is interrupted by an amusing interlude involving Mrs Clutterbuck’s pet Shih Tzu dog, Angel, and a large elephant. There are fascinating descriptions of the busy market and of Shanti’s cool fragrant garden where he walks at the end of the day.

“As he turned to go back to the bungalow, something drifted into his hair. He brushed it off and smelt again the sweet, intense fragrance of frangipani. The flower’s pale yellow gleamed against the dark lawn. He remembered his mother saying that if a frangipani flower fell on your head, you would have good luck. He hoped she was right.”

Inspector de Silva will need this good luck as he homes in on the culprit, putting himself in severe danger. In a thrilling conclusion, he discovers a surprising twist which he hadn’t expected.

Once again, the complex social structure of 1930s colonial life is effectively recreated in a story about well-rounded characters in a colourful, exotic location. The guide to the main characters provided at the beginning make it possible to enjoy this novel without needing to have read the first two.

You can purchase Offstage in Nuala on Amazon UK

or on Amazon US

Harriet

Harriet Steel

Harriet Steel grew up in London and Wiltshire but now lives in Surrey. Married with two daughters, she has worked in fields from law to libraries. Her interests are travel, history and art, all of which have inspired the four historical novels she wrote before turning to crime with The Inspector de Silva Mysteries. She reads widely, but in the mystery genre is particularly fond of vintage mysteries. She would love to go back in time for a day and have lunch with Hercule Poirot, tea with Miss Marple, and dinner at the Ritz with Lord Peter Wimsey.

She loves to hear from readers so do visit her blog where you’ll find interviews with other authors, articles on a variety of topics and more information about her writing. If you would like advance notice of new releases, offers and promotions, there’s a Follow by Email button.

http://harrietsteel.blogspot.co.uk/

 

Imago by Celina Grace #FridayReads #BookReview

Imago

Imago is the third book of the Kate Redman Mystery series featuring a young, female detective, fighting crime and pursuing justice, in the fictional West Country town of Abbeyford.

Having read two other books in this series (though not in the right order!) I knew I would enjoy meeting this hard-working, compassionate policewoman again.  This time Kate, her friend Detective Sergeant Mark Olbeck and her boss, Detective Chief Inspector Anderton have to solve the murder of a young prostitute, stabbed with a steak knife, and soon they begin to wonder if the crime has been committed by a serial killer.

As Mark settles down in domestic harmony with his partner, Kate begins to realise how lonely she is, but she tries to keep to herself the growing feelings she has for her boss.  Meanwhile she is trying to build up her fitness to participate in a half marathon and at the same time, deal with the hostility of Jerry, an older police constable who resents her.

This book is filled with tension and thrilling episodes.  We read the murderer’s diary, looking for clues and motive.  The reason for the title of this novel is intriguing.  The plot builds up to an exciting climax, as Kate thinks she has identified the killer and there is an exciting final twist to the story which will keep you on the edge of your seat.

You can purchase Imago on Amazon UK

or on Amazon US

Celina Grace

Celina Grace

I tried to get traditionally published as a writer for a long time. A loooooooong time. I make it fifteen years and counting….

I’ve also been writing for as long as I can really remember. I wrote my first story, The Blue Ruby, when I was about seven. Throughout college and university, I experimented with screenplays and scripts (I was studying Film and English at the time at the University of East Anglia), as well as other more short stories. In my twenties, I started my first novel, finished it, then my second, then my third. In my thirties, I was slightly side-tracked by the birth of my son but, leaving aside that trifling distraction, managed to write my fourth..

I didn’t bother trying to get the first novel published as I saw it as more of a practise run at this business of being an author. With the second, I entered the 2004 Lit Idol competition and got to third place. That was my ticket to publication, I thought, surely? Hah! Just the first in a long line of disappointments, of which every writer must be familiar… hopes built up to then be smacked down again. I had an agent approach me after the competition and on their encouragement, I finished, edited and polished the manuscript, sent it off to them with happy hopes – to be told months later that they didn’t think it was quite right for them..

Gutted, but enthusiasm relatively undimmed, I started on a new novel, inspired in part by the dramatic events of 2005 – the London bombings. I also wrote a short story at the same time on the same subject – it was on my mind a lot that summer (unsurprisingly. Freedom Fighter is the story – available on Amazon as part of A Blessing From The Obeah Man short story collection). This novel The House on Fever Street was shortlisted for the 2006 Crime Writers’ Association Debut Dagger Award. Aha, I thought, a fairly prestigious and industry recognised award. This will get me published. Did it? Did it buggery!

The House on Fever Street was also longlisted in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award of that year, which garnered me some nice reviews and a much needed ego boost but didn’t advance my career as a published author much further..

So what next for our doughty heroine? She ups and writes her fourth novel, gains an agent and thinks now, now I have finally made it as a published author! And she waits. And waits. And waits some more. And then waits a bit more. And a bit more. Finally, for variety, she waits a bit more..

So, after two years of waiting, reading about self-publishing on Amazon and other platforms, I believe a phrase that ends in ‘…for a game of soldiers’ passed my lips and I decide to publish myself. So I did. I think I made about £10 in my first month of publishing. Fast forward three years and here I am, a full time indie author, a Top 100 UK Amazon bestseller, having reached half a million readers. Couldn’t be happier!

Celina Grace