The Malice of Angels by Wendy Percival

Malice

We meet Esme Quentin, at the beginning of this third mystery, packing up to move to the Devon coast where she has friends and fond memories. But first she is disturbed by the appearance of Max Rainsford, an investigative journalist and ex-colleague of her deceased husband, Tim. Max wants information from notes left by Tim and he believes that Esme’s genealogy skills will also be of assistance.

Esme is reluctant to become involved and she is soon researching the mysterious wartime disappearance of her friend Ruth’s aunt, a nurse called Vivienne. The frustrating lack of any record about Vivienne leads Esme to think about Max’s interest in the murder of old soldier, Gerald Gallimore, in 1981 and the possibility of a link to the death of her husband. Soon Esme is making connections which lead her into danger, but she is determined to discover the truth about Tim and Vivienne.

Like the earlier stories in this series, there is a complicated but logical plot and fascinating information about past times, in this case undercover work during the second world war. Esme’s bravery and calm approach, make for a thrilling story which appeal to all readers, not just those interested in family history. It is good to finally discover the traumatic event which caused Esme’s face to be scarred and reinforces the quality of this compulsive series of books.

Percival

Wendy Percival was born in the West Midlands and grew up in rural Worcestershire. She moved to North Devon in the 1980s to start her teaching career.

An impulse buy of Writing Magazine prompted her to start writing seriously and after winning a short story competition and having another story published she turned to full length fiction.

The time-honoured ‘box of old documents in the attic’ stirred her interest in genealogy and it was while researching her Shropshire roots that she was inspired to write the first Esme Quentin mystery, Blood-Tied.

Genealogy continues to intrigue her and its mysteries provide fodder for her family history blog (http://familyhistorysecrets.blogspot.com) as well as ideas for further novels.

Wendy’s website is http://www.wendypercival.co.uk

The Malice of Angels is available at Ancestry UK

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The Indelible Stain by Wendy Percival #amreading #FridayReads

Indelible

This is the second Esme Quentin Mystery by Wendy Percival and it takes us to a charming part of North Devon. Esme, an historical researcher, returns to Warren Quay where she spent family holidays, 30 years ago, but this time she has gone to assist Maddy, cataloguing the archives of children’s charity SAFE. But her visit takes a dramatic turn when she discovers a dying woman on the beach. Never one to avoid problems, Esme tries to help the woman’s daughter, Neave, discover, why her mother had travelled to Devon from Berkshire and whether there was a connection to the father Neave has never met.

As in the first Esme Quentin Mystery, the reader can discover many interesting aspects of social and genealogical research but there is also a gritty and frightening mystery story. Dramatic events play out against the background of the Mary Ann, a replica nineteenth century sailing ship which has been turned in to a floating museum about the fate of the convicts transported to Australia. Esme and Neave are drawn into a dangerous situation but Detective Sergeant Collins does not believe there is anything to worry about.

I would recommend this to lovers of murder mysteries, intrepid women and those with an interest in family history. I look forward to Esme’s next adventure and perhaps learning more about her previous life.

You can purchase The Indelible Stain at Amazon UK

Wendy

Wendy Percival was born in the West Midlands and grew up in rural Worcestershire. She moved to North Devon in the 1980s to start her teaching career.

An impulse buy of Writing Magazine prompted her to start writing seriously and after winning a short story competition and having another story published she turned to full length fiction.

The time-honoured ‘box of old documents in the attic’ stirred her interest in genealogy and it was while researching her Shropshire roots that she was inspired to write the first Esme Quentin mystery, Blood-Tied.

Genealogy continues to intrigue her and its mysteries provide fodder for her family history blog (http://familyhistorysecrets.blogspot.com) as well as ideas for further novels.

Wendy’s website is http://www.wendypercival.co.uk

 

 

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

#FridayFiveChallenge

This fun feature is a mini workshop invented by Rosie Amber. We look at book covers just from their thumbnail pictures at online selling book sites and make quick fire buying decisions. We look from a READERS Point of View and this exercise is very EYE OPENING.

To join in with the #FridayFiveChallenge please read the rules at the bottom of the page.

This week I searched for genealogical mystery, a genre which I have enjoyed before. British author Steve Robinson has written a series of novels about Jefferson Tate, an American genealogist who reluctantly flies across the Atlantic to solve mysteries.  Another british author, Nathan Dylan Goodwin, writes about an English forensic genealogist called Morton Farrier.

This time I was drawn to Blood Tied by Wendy Percival.  A thriller based on murder and family secrets.

Blood Tied

Book Description

“A desperate crime, kept secret for 60 years… but time has a way of exposing the truth…”

Esme Quentin is devastated when her sister Elizabeth is beaten unconscious, miles from her home. Two days later Esme discovers that Elizabeth has a secret past. Desperate for answers which the comatose Elizabeth cannot give, Esme enlists the help of her friend Lucy to search for the truth, unaware of the dangerous path she is treading. Together they unravel a tangle of bitterness, blackmail and dubious inheritance, and as the harrowing story is finally revealed, Esme stumbles upon evidence of a pitiful crime.

Realising too late the menace she has unwittingly unleashed, Esme is caught up in a terrifying ordeal. One that will not only test her courage and sanity but force her to confront her perception of birth and family.

28 reviews give an average 4.5 stars and include the following comments:-

Blood-Tied explores the complications that could arise when we find out more than we thought we knew about those nearest to us…
This is a well-crafted and engaging mystery; the pace is steady with a tense ending. The main character, Esme Quentin, is a former investigative journalist with a gentle, but persuasive manner. You feel the shock to the family, especially to Esme as she discovers more, but she keeps her head, her tenacity and her journalist’s nose twitching to the end.
For me there was a too much tea-making (although I do like a cuppa myself!), although this grounds the story in real life and contrasts well to what happens.

Totally engrossing read. Highly recommend. A good summer read to take on holiday! Good storyline very inspirational and well written.

At £2.99 the Kindle is affordable. Shall I BUY or will I PASS?   I’m going to BUY.

What have others chosen this week?

Shelley has found a beautiful cover with an intriguing Blurb.

Rosie has chosen a Spring cookbook.

Cathy has selected the wonderful Costa book award winner

Barb gives us the result of her UK/US cover survey

So now it’s your turn.

read coffee

Get yourself a cuppa and give yourself 5 minutes.

In today’s online shopping age, readers often base their buying decisions from small postage stamp size book covers (Thumb-nails), a quick glance at the book description and the review. How much time do they really spend making that buying decision?

AUTHORS – You often only have seconds to get a reader to buy your book, is your book cover and book bio up to it?

Rosie’s Friday Five Challenge is this….. IN ONLY FIVE MINUTES….

1) Go to any online book supplier.

2) Randomly choose a category.

3) Speed through the book covers, choose one which has instantly appeal.

4) Read the book Bio/ Description for this book, and any other details.

5) If there are reviews, check out a couple,

6) Make an instant decision, would you BUY or PASS?

The Plantagenet Mystery by Victoria Prescott

Plantagenet

The mystery of this title is introduced in the Prologue when we are witnesses to the secret burial by Sir Thomas, of a beggar in place of another old man, who has died in an English village in 1550. But the novel begins in the present day where we meet Rob Tyler, a young man who is financing his History PhD by part-time work for Wynslade County Archives. Going through the notes of William Amory gentleman and antiquarian, he is forced to photocopy them quickly since they have been demanded by a member of the public.

Rob also earns money teaching an evening class in Family History where one of his regular students is Emily Finch, an elderly lady who keeps 40 years of research on her Finch Family History in a shopping trolley. Rob’s neighbour in his Victorian terrace house is a very different young man. An unqualified builder doing-up the house to sell for a profit, Chris has nothing in common with Rob and yet the two help each other and become involved in solving an historical mystery which takes them into the realms of danger and crime.

The subject matter of the family of Richard III and the way in which the mystery is solved using old documents and an ancient building very much appealed to me as a family historian. The added excitement of an aggressive opponent who will stop at nothing to uncover the information he wants, make this book an exciting read. Emily’s great nieces Claire and Laura also become involved but their relationship with the two young men has no chemistry and very little co-operation.

Despite solving the mystery Rob and Chris decide to keep most of their discoveries to themselves but they are rewarded in some way and the reader is the person who has learnt most about what might have happened in the early 16th century.

The Worst Country in the World by Patsy Trench

Patsy

As a family historian I am interested in the research of others even if their background is totally different to mine. This book is the story of Patsy’s ancestor Mary Pitt, a 53 year old widow from Dorset, who in 1801 found herself in distressed circumstances and made the brave decision to travel to Australia with her 5 children. Luckily she had a link by marriage to Horatio Nelson which guaranteed gracious treatment in New South Wales including a generous land apportionment.

But the title of the book, quoting Major Robert Ross, “there is not a worse country,” underlines the problems facing the Pitt family trying to farm land alternately bone dry or flooded. The marriages, deaths and children of the family in Australia are described in detail which might have been easier to follow with a family tree. Quotations from letters enhance the narrative effectively.

Patsy Trench calls her book, “part family history, part memoir, part novel,” as she describes her research and her visits to Hawkesbury valley in Australia and discusses with the reader the problems of following two different Margaret Catchpoles, one of whom worked for the Pitt family. She also uses poetic license to imagine the conversations between members of the family.

I found this mixture of styles rather disconcerting and slightly confusing but Patsy is a skilled writer and she brought Mary Pitt to life showing what bold, brave folk forged a life in the foundation of New South Wales. “The worst country in the world,” is well worth reading for a fuller understanding of the early settlers in Australia.