The America Ground (The Forensic Genealogist Series Book 4) by Nathan Dylan Goodwin #BookReview

America Ground

Morton Farrier, the esteemed English forensic genealogist, had cleared a space in his busy schedule to track down his own elusive father finally. But he is then presented with a case that challenges his research skills in his quest to find the killer of a woman murdered more than one hundred and eighty years ago.

I always begin an investigation by Morton Farrier with great excitement as I can expect a fascinating historical mystery as well as an eventful, risky adventure in the present day. Personally, I find the research process very interesting too, with the added humour of Morton’s varied relationships with the staff at the History Centres.

Morton’s challenge in this book is to find out why Eliza Lovekin, an ordinary woman depicted in a painting 180 years earlier, was murdered in her bed. The circumstances of her early life in a workhouse and of the America Ground itself seem quite incredible and yet they are both based on known facts.  I had never heard of the America Ground before, part of Hastings and St Leonards claimed from the sea by a group of enterprising people to enable the building of their own houses, but as might be expected, the local authorities sought taxes and threatened the inhabitants with eviction.

The story moves back to 1827, introducing us Eliza’s daughter, Harriet, and an intriguing character, Richard, who may do her harm. Meanwhile as Morton attempts to discover his own real father, he is endangered by Eliza’s legacy reaching into the present day. Trying to protect his fiancé, Juliette, he underestimates the threat hanging over him. You won’t want to put this book down.

The America Ground is available on Amazon UK

Nathan’s Pinterest page shows the documents involved in Morton’s research

 

The Book Of Souls (Inspector Mclean #2) by James Oswald #BookReview

The Book of Souls

Every year for ten years, a young woman’s body was found in Edinburgh at Christmas time: naked, throat slit, body washed clean. The final victim, Kirsty Summers, was Detective Constable Tony McLean’s fiancée. But the Christmas Killer made a mistake. In a cellar under a shop, McLean found a torture chamber and put an end to the brutal killing spree.

Twelve years later, and a fellow prisoner has just murdered the incarcerated Christmas Killer. But with the arrival of the festive season comes a body. A young woman: naked, washed, her throat cut.

Is this a copycat killer? Was the wrong man behind bars all this time? Or is there a more sinister, frightening explanation?

McLean must revisit the most disturbing case of his life and discover what he missed before the killer strikes again . . .

In this second book of the series we learn all the details of Tony McLean’s backstory.  Now we understand why he lives for his work and hasn’t had a relationship for 10 years.  Maybe now Anderson, the man who murdered his fiancé, has died, Tony can begin to live again.  Should he rekindle the spark he felt for forensic scientist, Emma? But happiness is not for him, the murders of young women have started again, and this time they follow each other in rapid succession. Had they jailed the wrong man or did the book about Anderson provoke a copy-cat?

Tony is determined to put work first, but when his home burns down he feels like giving up. Spunky Emma is no doormat, but she gives Tony a chance and despite the efforts of bullying DCI Duguid, McLean investigates every possibility, trying to prevent the death of any more young women. The story comes to a terrifying final chapter. Some of the plot was predictable but there is also mystery and intrigue. Another compelling read.

The Book of Souls on Amazon UK

James Oswald

James Oswald is the author of the Sunday Times bestselling Inspector McLean series of detective mysteries. The first two of these, Natural Causes and The Book of Souls were both short-listed for the prestigious CWA Debut Dagger Award. Set in an Edinburgh not so different to the one we all know, Detective Inspector Tony McLean is the unlucky policeman who can see beneath the surface of ordinary criminal life to the dark, menacing evil that lurks beneath.

He has also introduced the world to Detective Constable Constance ‘Con’ Fairchild, whose first outing was in the acclaimed No Time To Cry.

As J D Oswald, James has also written a classic fantasy series, The Ballad of Sir Benfro. Inspired by the language and folklore of Wales, it follows the adventures of a young dragon, Sir Benfro, in a land where his kind have been hunted near to extinction by men.

Natural Causes by James Oswald #TuesdayBookBlog #BookReview

Natural Causes

A devastating serial killer. A chilling cold case. Only DI Tony McLean realises the connection . . .

I chose the first book in this series about DI Tony McLean after reading Rosie Amber’s review of the 10th book about this reliable, maverick policeman.  Set in Edinburgh we view the underbelly of the city as well as the rich and powerful. From the beginning we are faced with the first of a number of gruesome murders where the victims are elderly men of substance. The investigation is “lead” by the ill-tempered DCI Duguid but the Chief Superintendent wants Tony to be an important part of the team. However, he is soon diverted by the discovery of the body of a young girl, concealed behind the wall of an old house, currently being converted. The ritual killing has taken place many years earlier, but McLean is determined to solve her murder.

Tony is a likeable character with a backstory.  Concerned about his grandmother who is lying unconscious in hospital, he has little time for a private life and his determined approach to solving cases rarely includes modern methods.  His good relationship with people like Grumpy Bob, his detective sergeant and Angus, the pathologist help him to discover fresh evidence and Tony also begins to attract the attention of two young women.

There is another dimension to this story in the sense of diabolic evil which MacLean feels lies behind the murders yet there are also burglaries to be solved, unconnected to the more serious crimes.  Many of the threads come together in parallel to developments in Tony’s personal life.  I have already started to read book 2!

Natural Causes on Amazon UK

J Oswald

The Moth Catcher (Vera Stanhope 7) by Ann Cleeves #BookReview

As though to a flame, they were drawn to their deaths

Moth

This case was different from anything Vera had ever worked before. Two bodies, connected but not lying together. And nothing made her feel as alive as murder.

Life seems perfect in Valley Farm, a quiet community in Northumberland. Then a shocking discovery shatters the silence. The owners of a big country house have employed a house-sitter, a young ecologist named Patrick, to look after the place while they’re away. But Patrick is found dead by the side of the lane into the valley – a beautiful, lonely place to die.

DI Vera Stanhope arrives on the scene, with her detectives Holly and Joe. When they look round the attic of the big house – where Patrick has a flat – she finds the body of a second man. All the two victims have in common is a fascination with moths – catching these beautiful, rare creatures.

The three couples who live in the Valley Farm development have secrets too: Annie and Sam’s daughter is due to be released from prison any day; Nigel watches, silently, every day, from his window. As Vera is drawn into the claustrophobic world of this increasingly strange community, she realizes that there may be deadly secrets trapped here.

This is the second book about Vera Stanhope I have read and luckily, I don’t remember viewing the story on TV.  The contrast between the beauty of this idyllic Northumbrian valley and the idle lives of the “retired hedonists club” who live in the impressive newly built houses is not lost on Vera.  How could such boring individuals have any connection to the murders which have occurred at Valley Farm? And can there be a connection to Lizzie, a troubled young woman who is about to be released from prison?

As I would expect from a book by Ann Cleeves, this novel studies the human psyche.  Vera’s reliable deputy, Joe is surprised when she selects newcomer Holly to take an active part in the investigation.   The two women have nothing in common, but Vera is trying to give Holly the chance to prove herself.  Like her boss, Holly lives alone but her accommodation is pristine and orderly and she lacks Vera’s ability to coax people into revealing information.  Meanwhile Annie and Sam wait fearfully for the release of their daughter, Lizzie, from prison, anxious that their neighbours might be disturbed by the news.

The connection between the victims seems impossible to fathom but gradually clues are revealed and finally Vera and Holly identify the murderer when it is almost too late.  A very satisfying conclusion.

My review of Telling Tales by Ann Cleeves

 

 

Death by Baguette (Travel Can Be Murder #2) by Jennifer S. Alderson #RBRT #Bookreview

Baguette

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.

My Review

Death by Baguette is the second murder mystery involving quick-witted Lana Hansen. A helpful, efficient tour-guide, she takes small groups of wealthy American tourists on organised visits to popular destination.  This is also Lana’s first visit to Paris, but she is well prepared and nothing phases her, except discovering her new boyfriend, Chad, is one of the guests and he’s married! Visiting Paris, the city of love, in time for Valentine’s Day sounds idyllic for the couples she accompanies but most of them have relationship problems, including Lana’s friend Willow and her partner Jane.  Luckily Lana’s new assistant Randy Wright is very helpful, if rather nervous.

The plot is gradually revealed as we travel with the group, viewing the Louvre, the Rodin Museum and the cathedral at Chartres.  Most of these places are familiar to me but I enjoyed the vivid but not over long descriptions of the attractive features.  In fact, the book would be an excellent introduction to anyone planning their first encounter with the city.

As many of the group become increasingly antagonistic towards each other there are plenty of suspects when Chad suddenly collapses, poisoned during a picnic under the Tour Eiffel.  Even Lana and her friends are persons of interest to the French detective.  She turns her mind to investigating everyone in the party, aided by a journalist friend back in Seattle, but in the dramatic denouement Lara depends on the help of others.

Like the first book in the Travel Can Be Murder series this cozy mystery is fast moving, entertaining reading and I am hoping that in future episodes Lana will have more success in finding a successful romantic partner.

Death by Baguette is available as a paperback at Amazon UK 

Or pre-order the Kindle version for delivery on February 7th

and in Kindle form at Amazon US 

The Travel Can Be Murder Cozy Mysteries are heartwarming stories about making friends, traveling, and celebrating new experiences. Book One—Death on the Danube—is available now. Coming soon: Books Three (Death by Windmill) and Book Four!

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!

 

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

No Stone Unturned (The Lucy Lawrence Mysteries Book 1) by Pam Lecky #BookReview

No Stone

A suspicious death, stolen gems and an unclaimed reward: who will be the victor in a deadly game of cat and mouse?

It is winter in 1886. Lucy Lawrence sits in her comfortable home in St John’s Wood with only Horace the cat as a companion. As so often, her husband Charlie is away.  Their marriage which started with her elopement from her Yorkshire home has lost the love and excitement of those early days, but Lucy is loyal and hopes one day that they will be blessed by a child.  But her world falls apart when a policeman takes her to a mortuary in Soho to identify the body of her husband who has been killed in an accident.  There she meets Phineas Stone, a tall distinguished private investigator, who tells the police that Charlie was the lead in his current case.

Soon, despite her misgivings, Lucy is entangled in those enquiries, since Charlie has fallen foul of a dangerous gang of thieves.  She wishes to clear his name, but she is unsure whether Mr Stone is her friend or not.  When a threatening visitor appears, she decides to return to her estranged family in Yorkshire, but this leads her into even more trouble, and she is forced to turn to Phineas for help.

Lucy Lawrence is an excellent heroine, brave and clever, she is determined to discover the truth about her husband’s part in the case of stolen gems and fraud and with the help of her enterprising maid, she goes under cover and solves the crime.  This is the first of a series and I am looking forward to Lucy’s next mystery when she travels to Egypt.

Pam Lecky

Pam Lecky

Pam Lecky is an Irish writer of historical fiction with a particular love of the late Victorian era and early 20th century.  Awaiting the invention of time travel, she has to be content with writing about these periods instead.  Her debut novel, The Bowes Inheritance, was awarded the B.R.A.G. Medallion; was shortlisted for the Carousel Aware Prize 2016; made ‘Editor’s Choice’ by the Historical Novel Society; long-listed for the Historical Novel Society 2016 Indie Award; and chosen as a Discovered Diamond in February 2017.  In April 2018, she published a collection of all her short stories, entitled Past Imperfect. With settings as diverse as WW1 era Dublin and a lonely haunted lighthouse, romance, mystery and the supernatural await you.  Last month she published the first Lucy Lawson Mystery aptly named No Stone Unturned.

No Stone Unturned is available at Amazon UK

S is for Sally Lockhart #AtoZChallenge #MondayBlogs

Although I read the three books of Philip Pullmans’ “His Dark Materials” with great enjoyment, there is something about the Sally Lockhart mysteries which appealed to me more, and that is mainly Sally herself.

Ruby     Tiger

In the first book The Ruby in the Smoke, Sally is a pretty sixteen year old orphan. Her father has taught her military tactics, to ride like a Cossack and shoot straight with a pistol, but he has drowned in suspicious circumstances in the South China Sea, Finding herself alone but determinedly independent in Victorian London she sets out to discover the truth about her father’s death, but this involves the terrifying mystery of a bloodsoaked jewel. Although the story uses the ideas of a Victorian Penny-Dreadful, Sally is a sensible hard-working girl who believes the best of people and treats others kindly. In the following books, Sally matures into a successful business woman. She experiences romance, tragedy and the turbulent politics of the time. She is very much an underrated heroine in an unusual trilogy of young adult books, not for the faint-hearted.

North

Some other heroines I chose for my A to Z are perhaps more conventional:

Anne of Green Gables

Heidi

What Katy did

Maia in Journey to the River Sea

Pollyanna

 

 

 

 

In Her Defence (A Bunch Courtney Investigation) by Jan Edwards #NewRelease #RBRT

in her defence

 “Bunch Courtney’s hopes for a quiet market-day lunch with her sister are shattered when a Dutch refugee dies a horribly painful death before their eyes. A few days later Bunch receives a letter from her old friend Cecile saying that her father, Professor Benoir, has been murdered in an eerily similar fashion.

Two deaths by poisoning in a single week. Is this a coincidence? Bunch does not believe that any more than Chief Inspector William Wright.

Set against a backdrop of escalating war and the massed internments of 1940, the pair are drawn together in a race to prevent the murderer from striking again.”

 

In Her Defence is the second investigation by Bunch Courtney and Chief Inspector William Wright in the Sussex countryside. I haven’t read Winter Downs, the first book of this series but the reader is soon up to speed with Bunch’s back story. As a result of an accident, Bunch has had to leave the ATS and has taken over management of the Perringham House estate in her father’s absence.  She is aided by a team of Land Girls but since the main house has been requisitioned by the military, she shares the Dower House with her grandmother.

Bunch is happiest when riding her horse, but the constant paperwork required by the government makes estate management really onerous. Thank goodness Cecile, her old school friend from Switzerland, has come to help her with office work. But the death she witnesses at the market and the murder of Cecile’s father drive her back into detective mode despite the protests of the intriguing Chief Inspector Wright.  Bunch is a prickly, outspoken young woman who has rejected the amenable personality of Dodo, her sister.  There is an atmosphere of fear and unease engendered by rationing and the threat of invasion, while unpleasant attacks on locals with connections to Europe, increase the danger.  The mystery behind the murders is cleverly disentangled and it is fascinating to follow the activities of a small village close to the south coast in 1940.

I would recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys a good “Who dunnit,” and also to those interested in the social history of the war years.  I was a little confused in the first chapter by meeting several characters who used more than one name (Bunch is really Rose) so I would recommend reading Winter Downs first, but I intend to read that now since I really like Bunch’s character and the context of the mysteries.

In Her Defence on Amazon UK

jan edwards

Jan Edwards

Jan was born in Sussex, currently living in North Staffordshire. In addition to being a writer she is also a Reiki Master Teacher and Meditational Healer. Jan is available for interviews and appearances.

Jan’s blog page: https://janedwardsblog.wordpress.com/