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!

 

Five Quarters of the Orange by Joanne Harris #TuesdayBookBlog #BookReview

5 quarters

 Beyond the main street of Les Laveuses runs the Loire, smooth and brown as a sunning snake – but hiding a deadly undertow beneath its moving surface. This is where Framboise, a secretive widow named after a raspberry liqueur, plies her culinary trade at the creperie – and lets memory play strange games. Into this world comes the threat of revelation as Framboise’s nephew – a profiteering Parisian – attempts to exploit the growing success of the country recipes she has inherited from her mother, a woman remembered with contempt by the villagers of Les Laveuses. As the spilt blood of a tragic wartime childhood flows again, exposure beckons for Framboise, the widow with an invented past. Joanne Harris has looked behind the drawn shutters of occupied France to illuminate the pain, delight and loss of a life changed for ever by the uncertainties and betrayals of war.

My Review

I have read several books by Joanne Harris but somehow I missed Five Quarters of the Orange. Set in wartime France and in the 1990s in the small village of Les Laveuses it tells the story of Framboise Dartigen who has returned to her childhood home, unrecognised, as a 65-year-old widow with a new name. In the first person, Framboise describes the farm as it was when she lived there with widowed mother, Mirabelle, and her elder brother and sister, Cassis and Reine-Claude. Young ‘Boise was not a likeable child. There was animosity between her and her mother because they were too alike but Framboise yearned to return and take up the role of excellent cook using her mother’s album of recipes and farm husbandry.

As the book begins to reveal a horrifying wartime event involving the family, we read extracts from the album where among the recipes Mirabelle has written personal journal comments.  This hard woman gave little affectionate to her children but provided them with delicious meals which are described in sumptuous detail. Only the smell of oranges is an anathema to Mirabelle since it is a sign of approaching migraines.

Avoiding their mother, the children live wild in the countryside, striking up a friendship with German soldier, Thomas Leibniz.  Framboise, the youngest, is the most cunning but she is also an innocent.  The children’s amoral actions lead them into a dangerous situation and Mirabelle is too involved in her own misery and bitterness to notice until it is too late.

In the 1990s Framboise seems in control of her life, running a very successful creperie with a regular clientele, but the past threatens her contentment and only old friend Paul can help her.

Joanne Harris writes rich, succulent prose, littered with food similes and names you can taste, which accentuate the contrast between the delights of life and the horrors which wartime brought to the French countryside.

Five Quarters of the Orange on Amazon UK

Perfect by Rachel Joyce #BookReview

Only when the clock stops does time come to life

Perfect

Summer, 1972: In the claustrophobic heat, eleven-year-old Byron and his friend begin ‘Operation Perfect’, a hapless mission to rescue Byron’s mother from impending crisis.

Winter, present day: As frost creeps across the moor, Jim cleans tables in the local café, a solitary figure struggling with OCD. His job is a relief from the rituals that govern his nights.

Little would seem to connect them except that two seconds can change everything.

And if your world can be shattered in an instant, can time also put it right?

This is a story of details; of the few seconds which can alter life and the routines which keep us sane.  The hot summer of 1972 is vividly recreated at Cranham House, a desirable Georgian home standing alone on the moor.  In a house where, “the air was thick with Vim and Pledge polish,” Diana maintains an immaculate life for Byron & his young sister while her husband works away from home all week.  Each morning after a healthy breakfast they get into the new Jaguar driving Byron to Winston House private school in his smart, neatly pressed uniform, but on the day when two seconds are removed from time, everything changes.

Byron’s friend James is full of clever ideas and he also has a crush on Diana. “Her eyes were bright, her skirt pressed, her hair blow-dried,” and she was naturally kind.  When her world starts to fall apart the 2 boys do their best to help her.

In parallel chapters we meet Jim in the present day, living in a campervan on the edge of a new housing estate and working in a supermarket café.  As a result of his stay in Besley Hill, “where the mad people lived,” he has a stammer and has difficulty interacting with people. But he is finding it difficult to ignore the new cook Eileen, a large lady with titian hair and her laugh has, “something so chaotic about the noise, so joyous and unequivocal.”

And it is chaos which causes the major events in this novel.  It is a fascinating tale of appearances, mistakes and human relationships.  There is mystery as to who Jim is and what has happened to him and what Diana’s background was before she met her husband.  Despite the slow pace I found it compulsive reading.

Perfect on Amazon UK

Rachel Joyce

Rachel Joyce

Rachel Joyce is the author of the Sunday Times and international bestsellers The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, Perfect, The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy, and a collection of interlinked short stories, A Snow Garden & Other Stories. Her work has been translated into thirty-six languages.

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Book prize and longlisted for the Man Booker Prize. Rachel was awarded the Specsavers National Book Awards ‘New Writer of the Year’ in December 2012 and shortlisted for the ‘UK Author of the Year’ 2014.

Rachel has also written over twenty original afternoon plays and adaptations of the classics for BBC Radio 4, including all the Bronte novels. She moved to writing after a long career as an actor, performing leading roles for the RSC, the National Theatre and Cheek by Jowl.

The Garden of Lost and Found by Harriet Evans #BookReview #SundayBlogShare

Garden

“The future is yet unwritten; the past is burnt and gone”

This is a story across four generations of the happiness and suffering of the women who came to live in Nightingale House.  Initially we meet Liddy and her artist husband Ned Horner living in the house she had inherited from her mother.  They seem to have lived an idyllic married life in the house and garden but now in 1918 tragedy has touched them. But the story moves back in time to describe the time when Liddy lived in London and she and her sister Mary met penniless Ned and his generous friend Dalbeattie, an architect. Their interactions are the basis for an incredible saga and the repercussions continue into the next two generations.  Reading of Liddy’s cruel treatment at home, where she is subject to gaslighting, is hard, but her inner strength carries her through to a future with Ned.

In contrast, we suddenly move forward to a typical 21st century family, meeting Liddy’s great grand-daughter, Juliet an art historian, struggling to bring up 3 children in a troubled marriage.  The descriptions of a teenager, small girl and a toddler are hilarious and realistic, and I could feel for Juliet as she tried to maintain her professionalism at work with so little support from her husband.  Discovering she has inherited Nightingale House changes her life dramatically and is not welcomed by her children.  In many ways I preferred reading about Juliet to the story of Liddy and of Stella, Juliet’s grandmother, but they are essential to the person Juliet is, to her love for the house and garden and her intense interest in art.

The descriptions of the garden, the Doll’s House and the Dovecote, used as Ned’s studio, are vivid and pleasurable and the context of Edwardian art, fascinating to read. A book which should appeal to those who like contemporary or historical novels with an enticing mystery to keep you interested to the very end.

The Garden of Lost and Found on Amazon UK

Harriet Evans

Harriet Evans

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

Intrigue & Infamy (The Victorian Detectives Book 7) by Carol Hedges #NewRelease #BookReview #RBRT

Intrigue

Book Description

It is 1866, the end of a long hot summer in Victorian London, and the inhabitants are seething with discontent. Much of it is aimed at the foreign population living in the city. So when a well-reputed Jewish tailoring business is set aflame, and the body of the owner is discovered inside, Detective Inspector Lachlan Grieg suspects a link to various other attacks being carried out across the city, and to a vicious letter campaign being conducted in the newspapers.

Can he discover who is behind the attacks before more people perish?

Elsewhere, Giovanni Bellini arrives in England to tutor the youngest son of Sir Nicholas Haddon, ex-MP and City financier. But what are Bellini’s links to a dangerous Italian radical living in secret exile in London, and to beautiful Juliana Silverton, engaged to Harry Haddon, the heir to the family fortune?

Romance and racism, murder and mishap share centre stage in this seventh exciting book in the Victorian Detectives series.

My Review

Never has a Victorian murder mystery seemed more appropriate for the time of reading.  Once again Carol Hedges captures our imagination with her tale of honest policemen, hard-working women and dastardly villains.  At a time when Italy and Germany are hotbeds of revolution as they try to build up unified national identities, foreign residents of London are subject to racist attacks by an unknown group.  Meanwhile, Juliana Silverton has ensnared her perfect husband and she can look forward to a happy successful marriage provided no scandal is revealed about her or her fiancé, Harry Haddon. But in the house of Harry’s father, Sir Nicholas Haddon, his second wife despairs as her young’s son’s loyalty is lost to a new young Italian tutor.

As the elegant Juliana tries to preserve her future, she is threatened by a jealous friend while Harry finds the bullying he received at Eton, continues into his adult life.  They must both summon courage and sang-froid to achieve happiness together. As more innocent people are attacked in the city, thank goodness we can rely on the careful detective work of our old friends Jack Cully and Lachlan Greig.

Intrigue and Infamy recreates the glitter and sparkle of sumptuous 1860s London, contrasting it with deception and secrecy and we are shown how so many people struggled against prejudice, misfortune and cruelty. Another compulsive read!

Intrigue and Infamy can be purchased at Amazon UK

My review of Diamond and Dust Book one of the Victorian Detectives 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