Death on the Danube by Jennifer S Alderson #New Release #RBRT #BookReview

Death Danube

Who knew a New Year’s trip to Budapest could be so deadly? The tour must go on – even with a killer in their midst…

Recent divorcee Lana Hansen needs a break. Her luck has run sour for going on a decade, ever since she got fired from her favourite job as an investigative reporter. When her fresh start in Seattle doesn’t work out as planned, Lana ends up unemployed and penniless on Christmas Eve.

When Dotty offers her a job leading the tour group through Budapest, Hungary, Lana jumps at the chance. It’s the perfect way to ring in the new year and pay her rent!

What starts off as the adventure of a lifetime quickly turns into a nightmare when Carl, her fellow tour guide, is found floating in the Danube River. Was it murder or accidental death? Suspects abound when Lana discovers almost everyone on the tour had a bone to pick with Carl.

But Dotty insists the tour must go on, so Lana finds herself trapped with nine murder suspects. When another guest turns up dead, Lana has to figure out who the killer is before she too ends up floating in the Danube

My Review

In Death on the Danube, Jennifer S Alderson has turned away from the dangerous adventures of Art Historian Zelda Richardson and turned to cozy mystery with newly divorced Lana Hansen as she takes up a new life as a tour guide with Wanderlust Tours.  I soon adapted to this style of murder mystery as Lana uses her skill with people to take care of a disparate group of wealthy tourists threatened by murder within their midst.  An intelligent former journalist, Lana puts the “Fabulous Five” group of mature women at ease while trying to solve the case.

The book includes vivid descriptions of places of interest in Budapest as settings to the interactions of suspicious characters such as Helen and Tom who own a yacht rental company and Carl, a fellow tour guide, who seems to prefer gambling.  I was kept guessing about the guilt of those guests who seemed most unpleasant or of more likeable old friend, Sally who has been betrayed so badly by the first victim.  I am certainly tempted to visit Budapest myself, now and I am looking forward to following Lana’s investigations next year in A Valentine’s Day Murder in Paris.

JenniferSAldersonAuthorPhoto_Twitter-300x300

Jennifer S Alderson

Jennifer S. Alderson was born in San Francisco, raised in Seattle, and currently lives in Amsterdam. After travelling extensively around Asia, Oceania, and Central America, she moved to Darwin, Australia, before finally settling in the Netherlands.
In addition to her personal travelogues in Thailand, Nepal and Costa Rica Jennifer has written a 3 volume, thrilling, mystery series about young Art Historian Zelda Richardson.  To read my review of The Lover’s Portrait

Introducing Lana Hansen, tour guide, reluctant amateur sleuth, and star of the Travel Can Be Murder Cozy Mystery Series. Join Lana as she leads tourists and readers to fascinating cities around the globe on intriguing adventures that, unfortunately for Lana, often turn deadly.  Death on the Danube released this weekend

Feel-good stories about friendship, travel, and celebrating new experiences. Coming soon: Death by Baguette: A Valentine’s Day Murder in Paris (Books 2) and Death By Windmill: A Mother’s Day Murder in Amsterdam (Book 3) in the Travel Can Be Murder Cozy Mystery Series!

 

Jigsaw Pieces by Carol Hedges #TuesdayBookBlog #YA

Jigsaw

‘He had been part of my everyday life. I hadn’t liked him much, nobody had liked him much, but he’d been there. Now, I’d never see him again.’

This week I chose a book which many people have read several years ago.  I am an ardent fan of the Victorian detective stories of Carol Hedges, but Jigsaw Pieces is a Young Adult novel set in the early 21st century.  The heroine, Annie Skjaerstad, has a prickly, independent personality.  The thick skin she adopts to protect herself make her unappealing to her peers, but she speaks to readers in the first person, putting us firmly on her side.

Separated from her father and the country she loves, you would expect Annie to go off the rails, but although she has been bullied or ignored by her classmates, she copes with everyday life and exam pressure phlegmatically. Only in English lessons do her spirits rise. Her teacher appreciates her talent and nurtures her interest in poetry written during the First World War.

Suddenly the whole class are shocked when one of the boys commits suicide.  Grant had been unkind to her, but Annie cannot believe he would have made this decision.  Looking forward to a week’s work experience with the police force she is bitterly disappointed when she is sent to a care home instead.  Working through the week of domestic drudgery she meets someone whose early life sparks her interest. In the meantime, she tries to investigate Grant’s suicide.

This easy to read book confronts the challenges which young people are facing at this moment and I read avidly as Annie became endangered by her brave investigation.  Not just for young adults. This is a story for us all.

You can find Jigsaw Pieces on Amazon UK

If you are interested in the Young Adult books by Carol Hedges you might also enjoy The Final Virus

Loving Vengeance (The Ross Duology Book 2) by Georgia Rose #NewRelease #FridayReads

Loving Vengeance

Book Blurb

A woman with a troubled past. A new love hanging in the balance. Will an unexpected visitor strengthen her resolve or destroy the life she’s trying to build?

Madeleine’s world, once so organised, is a mess. Suffering the fallout from the mistakes she made with Tag, she has no idea where she stands with Daniel. Are they only friends or is there still a chance for something more?

Enter James – cool, calm and calculated. A stranger, she thinks. But he knows her, and he comes with an opportunity she can’t refuse, involving an enemy she’d tried to forget. At first keen to return to her past, Madeleine soon realises it’s not only the gang that’s changed, and battles her own demons as well as an unpredictable villain.

Can Daniel step up when he’s needed? Or will it be James who rides in to the rescue? Because when things go badly for Madeleine, and all hope seems lost, there is only one who can save the day. And only one who can bring more to the task than merely himself.

Loving Vengeance is the second book in this fast-paced duology. If you like strong heroines, character-driven action and powerful emotions, then you’ll love Georgia Rose’s exciting novel.

My Review

Loving Vengeance is the long awaited follow up to Parallel Lines where we left Maddy (or Scarlet in her former life) injured in body and reputation.  It is a great relief to find that Dan, with whom she had only recently started a relationship has not given up on Maddy, but can they overcome the secrets they kept and rekindle their feelings for each other?

The great thing about Maddy is her independent spirit and bravery. In this book she has antagonised Mayoral candidate, Ben Pritchard, by supporting his materialistic wife, Letitia and in turn he threatens Maddy’s friends, Kourtney and Diane. In a complex plot this situation becomes entangled in Maddy’s former life of crime.  A handsome policeman, James, has turned up, saying he knows her, and she must help him, back in her rough London neighbourhood, to catch one of her old contacts.

What makes the books of Georgia Rose so different is the way she takes us into the mind of her heroines.  Speaking in the first person, Maddy tells us all her feelings, her strengths and her weaknesses. Few of us would walk into such dangerous situations or be so pro-active in helping others but this makes for a thrilling, eventful story.  Dan, who occasionally speaks to us, in the second person, is an active participant, striving to keep Maddy safe, without compromising her plan.

Parallel Lines is still my favourite book of the two but in Loving Vengeance it is good to see how Maddy’s life continues and the positive effect she has on the village community.  There is definitely an opening for her to continue crime fighting and problem solving in further novels!

Loving Vengeance on Amazon UK

My review of Parallel Lines

To celebrate the launch of Loving Vengeance Georgia Rose is running a mega give away here

Big Sky (Jackson Brodie #5) by Kate Atkinson #TuesdayBookBlog

The Unicorn in the Room

Big Sky

Chaos and coincidence; this is the essence of “Big Sky” in which my favourite detective, Jackson Brodie, returns.  Now living in a quiet coastal area in Yorkshire, his working life is mainly following errant husbands while he intermittently takes care of the teenage son he shares with Julia.  This would be a difficult book to read if you are not already a follower of the Case Studies series even though Kate Atkinson fills in the back stories of several familiar characters, but for an aficionado, it is a delight.

The plot switches from one new context to another; two Polish girls eager to travel to London, Jackson, his son and his dog watching the re-enactment of the Battle of the River Plate on a boating pond, a group of unattractive men on the golf course and seedy, old entertainers backstage at a summer seaside show. It is difficult for the reader to keep all the threads in mind or to guess the connections.  But for me the best qualities of this book are brilliant characterisation and Atkinson’s witty, dry humour.  My favourite characters are Crystal, sparkling wife of the unpleasant Tommy Holroyd, and her thoughtful stepson, Harry.  Crystal has hidden depths and her courage in escaping from an horrific early life is impressive.  Now bringing up Candace in sugar and spice, she is determined to save her daughter from the abuse she suffered.  Her intellectual stepson, Harry, respects Crystal for her kindness and they are mutually protective.

Most of these strands relate to a re-investigation of an old case about child abuse, but contemporary events prove even more harrowing.  After the first few chapters the novel becomes a thrilling tale in Kate’s expressive, thought-provoking prose.  There are quotes from popular music interspersed among Jackson’s thoughts, observations about family relationships and essential comments hidden in parentheses. And the chapter headings are priceless!

This is not the best Jackson Brodie book, as at times it seems to wallow and the structure seems to lose its way towards the end but I still thoroughly enjoyed spending time with Jackson, his friends and his enemies and really hope that he will be back again soon.

 

The Paperboy: A rural detective mystery (Peter Hatherall Mystery Book 6) by Diana J Febry #RBRT #BookReview

Paper Boy

A stand-alone murder mystery featuring DCI Peter Hatherall.
A young mother brutally stabbed in a busy park in front of her son.
A paperboy shot in an isolated farmhouse twenty-four years previously.
DI Fiona Williams is baffled when her senior officer, DCI Peter Hatherall makes a connection between the two cases.
As details of Hatherall’s involvement in the old case emerge, her loyalty is tested to breaking point and she starts to question his decisions.
When the murdered woman’s son goes missing the time for hesitating is over.

My Review

This standalone detective story begins with a tragic event but already we know that cause of this sudden stabbing is another murder 24 years earlier.  Readers of the previous Peter Hatherall mysteries will enjoy seeing Peter as a young inexperienced copper and as we read of the mismanaged case in 1994, we begin to see the connection to this new investigation.  DI Fiona Williams, who is first on the scene, cannot understand why her boss DCI Hatherall is linking an old case solved in the past, to this event, when there are other leads to follow.

As we read about the movements of the culprit, we also observe the careful detective process.  Handicapped by accusations that he is using old resentments to cloud his judgement, Peter tries to convince his friend, Fiona, that the answer lies in a blurred photo kept by the recent victim.  Before they can solve the case there are two abductions, while Fiona and Peter deal with major problems in their home lives.  The characters of the detectives and the victims are strongly drawn and I became involved in their believable predicaments.

Although a good read on its own I am now tempted to read earlier books from the series to learn more about this likeable detective.

The Paper Boy can be purchased from Amazon UK

Tasteful (A Kate Redman Mystery Novella) by Celina Grace #NewRelease #BookReview

Tasteful

Two ramblers make a grim discovery in their walk along the Cotsworld Way, just outside the market town of Abbeyford: a severed human foot by the side of the path. Detective Inspector Kate Redman takes on the case, which turns even more bizarre when a second human foot is found a few days later. Is it just a gory prank or does it tie in with the mysterious disappearance of a local girl?

There is a rather gory beginning to this intriguing novella about Detective Inspector Kate Redman’s latest case. Now happily established in a relationship with her former boss Anderton, she is able to concentrate her mind on this strange case as she helps Martin, a new Detective Constable, to become a successful member of her team. Kate’s skill with people enables her to gain evidence from an unstable burglar who has made an horrific discovery, but will the police solve the mystery of the severed human feet? This is a spine-chilling case which encourages me to seek out the next full-length mystery, where more may well be revealed.

Tasteful can be purchased from Amazon UK

Meet Celina Grace and read about another Kate Redman Mystery

Celina Grace

The Sinclair Betrayal: A Jayne Sinclair Genealogical Mystery by M J Lee #TuesdayBookBlog #Review

Sinclair Betrayal

Jayne Sinclair is back and this time she’s investigating her own family history.
For years, Jayne has avoided researching the past of her own family. There are just too many secrets she would prefer to stay hidden. Then she is forced to face up to the biggest secret of all; her father is still alive. Even worse, he is in prison for the cold-blooded killing of an old civil servant. A killing supposedly motivated by the betrayal and death of his mother decades before.

Was he guilty or innocent? And who betrayed his mother?

Jayne uses all her genealogical and police skills to investigate the world of the Special Operations Executive and of secrets hidden in the dark days of World War 2. A world that leads her into a battle with herself, her conscience and her own family.

This is not the first Jayne Sinclair Genealogical mystery but the first I have read. It appealed to me because the wartime drama dealt with the story of British agents undercover in France while the research made by Jayne in the present day showed that investigation can reveal dark family secrets. The plotting is excellent, and we learn a great deal about the possibilities of following leads, but I found both female characters rather lacking in substance. Monique Massat, Jane’s grandmother represents the heroines of the SOE and her sad story reflects the tragedy of war. This story could make an exciting on-screen drama and I shall be seeking out other volumes in this series.

The Sinclair Betrayal can be found on Amazon UK

M J Lee

M J Lee

Martin has spent most of his adult life writing in one form or another. As a University researcher in history, he wrote pages of notes on reams of obscure topics. As a social worker with Vietnamese refugees, he wrote memoranda. And, as the creative director of an advertising agency, he has written print and press ads, tv commercials, short films and innumerable backs of cornflake packets and hotel websites.

He has spent 25 years of his life working outside the North of England. In London, Hong Kong, Taipei, Singapore, Bangkok and Shanghai, winning awards from Cannes, One Show, D&AD, New York and London Festivals, and the United Nations.
When he’s not writing, he splits his time between the UK and Asia, taking pleasure in playing with his daughter, researching his family history, single-handedly solving the problem of the French wine lake and wishing he were George Clooney.