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

 

A Fatal Inheritance by Rachel Rhys #FridayReads #BookReview

A STUNNING, ATMOSPHERIC NOVEL SET IN 1940S SOUTH OF FRANCE. YOUR PERFECT ESCAPIST READ

Fatal inheritance

Fatal Inheritance is an intoxicating story of dysfunctional families and long-hidden secrets, set against the decadence of the Côte d’Azur.

My Review

An unusual choice of era for a recently written novel, 1948 was a grey, boring time with shortages and no excitement, but for Eve Forrester, a London housewife trapped in a loveless marriage, there is the promise of a short escape. She receives a solicitor’s letter from the south of France, telling her of an inheritance from an unknown stranger. For once, she stands up to her husband, Clifford and sets out alone for Cannes.  Meeting the Collets, a kindly couple, on the train, gives her confidence to face the animosity she meets on the Riviera, from the Lester family, who share her inheritance of Villa La Perle.

Enchanted by the villa, Eve is also unnerved by a feeling that she is under threat. She soon makes friends with American writer Stanley Sullivan and glamorous film star, Gloria Hayes, but the Lester family seem determined to undermine her. Who was Guy Lester and in what way was she connected to him? The beautiful scenery and the rich and famous people are a world away from her unhappy relationships with her husband and her mother.  Eve is reluctant to return to her old life, but Clifford has plans for the money she will receive when the Villa is sold.

As Eve is increasingly threatened by an unknown enemy in France, she must discover from her unresponsive mother what secret lies in their past.  An unusual plot with a brave, determined heroine and complex characters enriches the narrative of this compelling story.

A Fatal Inheritance on Amazon UK

 

Alice Teale is Missing by H A Linskey #TuesdayBookBlog #Thriller

Alice

Alice Teale walked out of school at the end of a bright spring day.

She’s not been seen since.

Alice was popular and well-liked, and her boyfriend, friends and family are desperate to find her.

But soon it’s clear that everyone in her life has something to hide.

Then the police receive a disturbing package.

Pages from Alice’s precious diary.

Who could have sent them? And what have they done with Alice?

I chose this book on the recommendation of  Jill’s Book Cafe

My Review 

DC Beth Winter & DS Lucas Black have a case to solve. They have only just met in a bleak Northumbrian town and they are trying to establish a working relationship, or at least Beth is. The disappearance of a bright, popular 17-year-old doesn’t seem to be causing much concern amongst the other police officers. They think she has run away but Beth and DS Black believe she is either dead or in serious trouble. When pages from her secret journal start being delivered, they learn more but are they being led along the wrong path?

I very much enjoyed reading how Beth dealt with her unfriendly boss and how she gradually began to understand him. They both live alone but are from different generations and backgrounds. What they have in common is the desire to find Alice and solve the case. There are several suspects and an interesting setting in the small town surrounding a large comprehensive school. The concerns of the teenagers and the more selfish approach of some of the adults is typical of any town in Britain. The geography and location of their investigations are clearly described which is necessary for the plot and the events thrilling and unexpected. I shall certainly be looking out for other novels by this author.

Howard

www.howardlinskey.co.uk

Howard Linskey is a best-selling author of crime and historical fiction published in seven countries. His debut novel ‘The Drop’ was voted one of the Top Five Thrillers of the Year by the Times newspaper and ‘The Damage’ was voted one of its top summer reads. His David Blake series was optioned for TV by Harry Potter producer, David Barron.

Howard writes a series of north-east set, crime fiction novels for Penguin Random House featuring investigative journalists Tom Carney and Helen Norton, as well as Detective Sergeant Ian Bradshaw.

His historical novels are set in WW2. ‘Hunting the Hangman’ tells the story of the assassination of Nazi general and architect of the Holocaust, Reinhard Heydrich in Prague in 1942. ‘Ungentlemanly Warfare’ follows SOE agent Harry Walsh into occupied France.

Originally from the north east of England, Howard now lives in Herts with his wife Alison and daughter Erin.

Alice Teale is Missing on Amazon UK

Death of a Cuckoo: An Esme Quentin Short Read by Wendy Percival #BookReview #Mystery #AncestryHour

Death of a cuckoo

A letter. A photograph. A devastating truth.

When Gina Vincent receives a letter of condolence from a stranger following her mother’s death, a photograph slipped inside reveals a disturbing truth – everything she’s ever known is based on a lie. Shocked and disorientated, she engages genealogy detective Esme Quentin to help search for answers.

The trail leads to an isolated and abandoned property on the edge of Exmoor, once the home of a strict Victorian institution called The House of Mercy and its enigmatic founder, whose influence seems to linger still in the fabric of the derelict building.

As they dig deeper, Esme realises that the house itself hides a dark and chilling secret, one which must be exposed to unravel the mystery behind Gina’s past.

But someone is intent on keeping the secret hidden. Whatever it takes.

My Review

I really enjoyed the three books Wendy Percival has written about courageous genealogist, Esme Quentin, so I welcomed the chance to read this “short read” where we see Esme through the eyes of a young client, Gina Vincent. After the sudden death of her mother, Gina is sorting through her mail when she discovers shocking news about her own birth.  When an intruder attempts to search her mother’s documents, Gina seeks Esme’s help. The two women visit Gina’s birthplace, a remote empty property on Exmoor, and begin to research its past.

The story explores painful episodes from our recent past and I was on the edge of my seat as each woman risked danger. The family history investigation particularly interests me but there is plenty of mystery and adventure for the enjoyment of any reader.

In addition, I also read a free short read from Wendy’s website

https://www.wendypercival.co.uk/legacy-of-guilt-sign-up

Legacy of Guilt takes us back to the time when Esme returned to live in Shropshire and considered becoming a genealogical investigator.  Unexpectedly bumping into her long-lost cousin Joanna, she is determined to help restore her to her inheritance. Discovering a family connection to the sudden death of a young woman in 1835, the two women draw the attention of an unsavoury character who threatens them.  Another great read!

My review of The Indelible Stain by Wendy Percival and The Malice of Angels

 

 

Taken in Nuala (The Inspector de Silva Mysteries #8) By Harriet Steel #NewRelease #BookReview

Taken in Nuala

When an American millionaire and his glamorous daughter visit Nuala, the splendour they bring to the town’s high society is soon tragically tarnished by a vicious crime.

With many avenues of inquiry to follow, including the involvement of a mysterious fortune teller, Inspector de Silva will need all his resources to unravel the evidence and avert further disaster.

A gripping mystery with lots of twists and turns set in the colourful and fascinating world of 1930s Ceylon.

My Review

There is a slight air of menace in this volume of the investigations of Inspector Shanti de Silva in the delightful hill town of Nuala. There are still sophisticated gatherings at the sumptuous home of Assistant Governor Archie Clutterbuck and his wife Florence, but the talk is of a gathering storm in Britain, hoping for “Peace in our time.” However, people are excited to meet wealthy world travellers Walter and Grace Tankerton and their sullen daughter Phoebe. Even more interesting is the American millionaire, Hank O’Halloran and his vivacious daughter Marie. Such conspicuous wealth attracts unwelcome attention, so Tankerton has employed an ex-military man, Patterson to guard his daughter, Phoebe.

Soon an audacious kidnapping occurs and while Shanti and his men investigate, an unpopular local man is found dead. Is there a link to a clairvoyant visited by Phoebe and Marie?  The police spend long hours watching for the kidnappers and begin to suspect one of the staff employed by Tankerton or O’Halloran. Meanwhile there seems to be a mysterious animal skulking in Shanti’s garden.

The plot of this mystery is complex and puzzling, set against the happy married life of Shanti and his English wife, Jane in the idyllic pre-war setting of Ceylon under British Colonial rule. I always enjoy these detective stories, but this volume is particularly engaging.

Taken In Nuala on Amazon UK

My review of Trouble in Nuala the first book in this series

The Vermeer Deception : An Art Mystery (Zelda Richardson Mystery Series Book 4) by Jennifer S Alderson #BookReview

An art historian finds – then loses – a portrait by Johannes Vermeer in this thrilling art mystery set in Munich, Heidelberg, and Amsterdam.

Vermeer

Zelda is finding her job as assistant to Art Investigator Vincent de Graaf rather boring, but while Vincent is in Croatia, she finds a clue to a Vermeer painting, stolen by the Nazis during the war. However, she must devote her time to her parents who have finally flown over from the States to visit her in Amsterdam. After a week, the family travel to Munich with Zoe’s boyfriend, Jacob, for more sightseeing. Finding herself in the street where she believes the missing painting might be, she can’t resist calling in. Here she meets Kurt Weber, the son of a wartime looter, now intending to return some of the paintings before he dies of terminal cancer.  But he is part of a network of descendants of the original Mühlmann Network and the other members have no intention of allowing him to betray them.

Zelda is stuck between the increasing anger of her mother and the evil intent of art dealers Max and Brigitte. When Kurt is found dead and there is no sign of the Vermeer painting, neither Vincent nor the police will believe there has been foul play.

The story gives us a guided tour of the Windmills of Zaanse Schans, the city of Munich and the castle in Heidelberg. The story behind the plot is based in truth and we can understand why Zelda is so anxious to solve the mystery. Bravely venturing into danger causes a rift between Zelda and her boyfriend but we are rooting for her success.  I was surprised by events in the final chapter and hope more will be revealed in a subsequent volume of Zelda’s adventures.

The Vermeer Deception is available on Amazon UK

My review of Marked for Revenge the previous Zelda Richardson Mystery

The Runaway by Linda Huber #BookReview #TuesdayBookBlog

Runaway

Bad things happen in threes – or so it seems to Nicola. The death of her mother-in-law coincides with husband Ed losing his job and daughter Kelly getting into trouble with the police. Time to abandon their London lifestyle and start again by the sea in far-away Cornwall.

 It should be the answer to everything – a new home, a new job for Ed and a smaller, more personal school for fifteen-year-old Kelly. But the teenager hates her new life, and it doesn’t take long before events spiral out of control and the second set of bad things starts for Nicola.

 Some secrets can’t be buried.

Or… can they?

At first they seem like any other family. Their contented life is disturbed by unemployment and teenage angst, but worse things can happen and do.  Nicola believes a new life in Cornwall, living in the old house on the cliff which husband Ed has inherited, will help them all, but Ed is not keen and teenage daughter, Kelly, rebels.

Although written in the third person we read the point of view of each of the three character in separate chapters.  Our empathy is with Nicola who will do anything for her daughter, but Kelly’s distress is understandable, and Ed is facing horrors from his childhood.  Soon life falls apart for all of them.  Meanwhile, next door, Dorothy, a grandmother to young Mia, is happy that her son Rob is making a new life with partner, Phoebe. Their life seems idyllic but soon they are filled with the same fear as Nicola.

This psychological thriller gradually builds up to a thrilling conclusion.  Will life ever be the same for the two families?  A thought provoking story questioning how much we know about other members of our family and how secrets cannot be hidden for ever.

The Runaway at Amazon UK

Beyond the Yew Tree by Rachel Walkley #NewRelease #RBRT

The Truth Lies Forgotten

beyond-the-yew-tree_kdp

Whispers in the courtroom.

Only one juror hears them.

Can Laura unravel the truth by the end of the trial?

In an old courtroom, a hissing voice distracts reluctant juror, Laura, and at night recurring nightmares transport her to a Victorian gaol and the company of a wretched woman. Although burdened by her own secret guilt, and struggling to form meaningful relationships, Laura isn’t one to give up easily when faced with an extraordinary situation.

The child-like whispers lead Laura to an old prison graveyard, where she teams up with enthusiastic museum curator, Sean. He believes a missing manuscript is the key to understanding her haunting dreams. But nobody knows if it actually exists.

Laura is confronted with the fate of two people – the man in the dock accused of defrauding a charity for the blind, and the restless spirit of a woman hanged over a century ago for murder. If Sean is the companion she needs in her life, will he believe her when she realises that the two mysteries are converging around a long-forgotten child who only Laura can hear?

My Review

Laura is a sensible, well organised young woman. Setting out for her first day of jury service she is well prepared with a flask full of coffee.

“Laura preferred a predictable, uneventful day to exciting unplanned crises or emotional meltdowns. No surprises, no sudden happenings.”

So, she hopes for structured, uncomplicated days at the law court next to Lincoln castle.  But listening to the barristers, she is aware of a hissing noise, of soft whispers disturbing her concentration. And then when she returns to her empty home at night, her sleep is disturbed by distressing dreams of a woman imprisoned in a Victorian gaol.  It can’t be the fraud case which is causing her dreams, but strolling through the castle she spots the gravestones of those who had been executed for murder. Needing answers, Laura seeks the help of the museum curator, Sean.

Laura is also distressed by the long absence of her lover, Marco, who has been visiting his family in Italy for some time while maintaining very little communication with her.  Determined to seek out the source of her nightmares and come to a fair judgement on the court case, Laura’s calm demeanour conceals deep guilt about an event in her past.

Having endured jury service personally, I found Laura’s experience locked in a room with 11 disparate people very familiar.  Keeping alert during a complex case can be difficult and barristers are often very persuasive.  Luckily Laura’s intelligence and financial background help her detect weaknesses in the evidence, but does she have the confidence to speak up?

The threads of guilt and justice entwine between the present day and the past and as the trial comes to an end, Laura must also decide the path her life should take. A very rewarding read.

Beyond the Yew Tree is a #NewRelease on Amazon UK

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!