British Bulldog: A Mirabelle Bevan Mystery by Sara Sheridan #BookReview

British

 

1954, Brighton, London and Paris

When Mirabelle receives a bequest from a lately deceased wartime acquaintance she is mystified – she hardly knew the man but it is not long before she realises that he certainly knew her. She is drawn back to re-examine her memories of WWII and is shocked to find that other people’s experiences do not chime with her own and more importantly, with what she knows of her erstwhile lover, Jack Duggan. Following the trail to the threads of what’s left of the resistance movement in Paris, Mirabelle is forced to face secrets she didn’t even know that she had.

This is the 4th Mirabelle Bevan mystery I have read after a gap of several years. From that standpoint it is clear to me that you can enjoy reading British Bulldog without any background knowledge. You will soon discover that Mirabelle is a brave and sometimes foolhardy heroine, determined to get to the truth in her investigations.

Leaving her friends and colleagues in Brighton, Mirabelle travels to Paris to look for Philip Caine, a British serviceman who disappeared in 1944. She is astonished to discover that Philip had worked alongside her deceased lover, Jack Duggan, and that Jack had lied to her about many aspects of his life. From the moment that she approaches one of Philip’s ex-contacts from the Resistance Mirabelle finds herself in danger, but she cannot resist following clues and instigating action. Just when Mirabelle is at her lowest, her close friend Superintendent Alan McGregor arrives in Paris, out of his depth, but prepared to risk everything to save her.

This fast-moving adventure is authentically described in its 1950s context and expresses the confusion and depression felt by many people post-war. Outdated views about the role of women have been challenged during wartime but domesticity is returning to those without Mirabelle’s bold courage. A great adventure which could so easily be transferred to the screen.

British Bulldog can be purchased at Amazon UK

Sara Sheridan

Sara

“History is a treasure chest which contains not only facts and figures, archive material and artefacts but stories. I love the stories.”

Sara Sheridan was born in Edinburgh and studied at Trinity College, Dublin. She works in a wide range of media and genres. Tipped in Company and GQ magazines, she has been nominated for a Young Achiever Award. She has also received a Scottish Library Award and was shortlisted for the Saltire Book Prize. She sits on the committee for the Society of Authors in Scotland (where she lives) and on the board of ’26’ the campaign for the importance of words. She’s taken part in 3 ’26 Treasures’ exhibitions at the V&A, London, The National Museum of Scotland and the Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green. She occasionally blogs on the Guardian site about her writing life and puts her hand up to being a ‘twitter evangelist’. From time to time she appears on radio, most recently reporting for BBC Radio 4’s From Our Own Correspondent. Sara is a member of the Historical Writers Association and the Crime Writers Association. A self-confessed ‘word nerd’ her favourite book is ‘Water Music’ by TC Boyle.

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Finders, Not Keepers by D E Haggerty #RBRT #BookReview

Book 1 of the Not So Reluctant Detective series

Finders not Keepers

Finders, Not Keepers is a cosy mystery, with a romantic thread, humour and suspense.  Our heroine, Terri, is a 42-year-old school Librarian with a madcap friend, Melanie and a rather dishy younger neighbour, Ryder.  Recovering from the collapse of her marriage to Alan, Terri decides to clear the attic of the last of his belongings.  While there she discovers a valuable diamond pendant, so needs to contact the previous house owner.  She is astonished to find out that Jessica, who had lived there two years ago, had been murdered, so asks Ryder, a PI, to help her find Jessica’s next of kin.

Terri is a believable character, of substance. She has a successful career but is struggling to afford the mortgage on her much-loved house.  The breakup of her marriage has sapped her confidence, but she is a caring woman who spends her weekends helping charities.  The fact that Ryder is attracted to her, fills her with amazement and she is cautious about responding to someone who might want to control her, as Alan had.  Meanwhile, Terri constantly puts herself into dangerous situations, trying to find the right place for Jessica’s bequest as well as perhaps revealing her murderer.

What I particularly enjoyed in this book is the humour. As a former school librarian myself, I loved the quotes at the beginning of each chapter, especially, “A cardigan is a librarian’s lab coat.”  Melanie’s predilection of calling Ryder, “hot neighbour guy,” is irritating but sums up her character so well.  I shall certainly be seeking out more entertaining cosy mysteries by D E Haggerty.

Finders, Not Keepers is available on Amazon UK

Haggerty

D E Haggerty

D.E. Haggerty was born and raised in Wisconsin but thinks she’s a European. While spending her senior year of high school in Germany, she developed a wicked case of wanderlust that is yet to be cured. After high school, she returned to the U.S. to attend college – ending up with a bachelor’s degree in History at the tender age of twenty while still managing to spend time bouncing back and forth to Europe during her vacations. Unable to find a job after college and still suffering from wanderlust, she joined the U.S. Army as a Military Policewoman for five years. While stationed in Heidelberg, Germany, she met her future husband, a flying Dutchman. After earning her freedom from the Army, she went off to law school. She finished the required curriculum but jumped ship and joined her flying Dutchman in the Netherlands before the graduation ceremony could even begin. In Holland, she became a commercial lawyer specialized in IT for over a decade. During a six-month break from the law, she wrote her first book, Unforeseen Consequences. Although she finished the novel, she hid the manuscript in the attic and went back to the law. When she could no longer live in the lawyering world, she upped stakes and moved to Germany to start a B&B. Three years after starting the B&B, she got the itch to try something new yet again and pulled the manuscript for Unforeseen Consequences out of the attic. After publishing the book, she figured she may have finally found what she wanted to do with her life and went on to write Buried Appearances. When her husband found a job opportunity in Istanbul, she couldn’t pack fast enough. She spent more than two years in Istanbul furiously writing and learning everything she could about the publishing world. When the pull to return to her adopted home became too much, she upped stakes and moved to The Hague where she’s currently working on her next book. Finders, Not Keepers is her thirteenth book.

The Last Days of Leda Grey by Essie Fox #FridayReads #BookReview

Last Days

Here is a story of obsession and passion, set in the hot summer of 1976 but harking back to 1913 when a bright young starlet moved from on stage magic and photographic model to the exciting world of silent movies.  Brother and sister, Theo and Leda are struggling to run their father’s photographic studio after his sudden death when two exciting figures enter their life in the seaside town of “Brightland.”  Ivor Davies, a dashing actor, briefly becomes their lodger and then Charles Beauvois, a film director entrances them with promises they can’t resist.

But Leda Grey has been forgotten until young journalist, Ed Peters, enters Theo’s shop more than 60 years later.  Captivated by photographs of Leda and intrigued when Theo tells him that, “she hides herself away like a doomed princess in a fairy tale,” in a cliff top home with no electricity, he resolves to interview her and write her story.

At first this slow-moving tale failed to capture my interest but as Ed came under Leda’s spell, the atmospheric account of the sordid decay of the house and Leda’s haunting description of her time as muse and lover of Charles lead me to turn the pages rapidly to uncover the mystery of these tragic characters.

Readers of Essie’s earlier novels will recognise her rich, sensuous writing but this book has an added dimension in the psychology of Ed Peters and his struggles to resist a woman at the end of her life, who enters his fantasies and dreams.

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The Music of the Spheres by Elizabeth Redfern #TuesdayBookBlog #BookReview

Music of the Spheres

Book Blurb

London, the summer of 1795: a season of revolutionary fervour, scientific discovery and vicious murders. The British government is in disarray, unable to stem the flood of secrets to Paris; betrayals that doom her war efforts to failure. In rural Kensington a group of French emigr-s are pursuing a scientific dream, the discovery of a planet they call Selene. The group has fallen under the spell of a beautiful and amoral woman – Auguste de Montpellier who is at once their muse and dark angel. Meanwhile a killer lurks in the back streets of the capital: the victims are all prostitutes and have been paid in French Louis d’Or, the currency of France’s spies. Jonathan Absey is a Home Office clerk whose official task is to smash the French spy ring. Privately however, he has become obsessed with the murders. These interests intersect when he finds himself drawn into the Montpellier circle, yet his pursuit for truth remains obscured through coded letters, opium and conspiracy. Absey must uncover the mystery before the summer dies; an invasion fleet is being prepared to set sail across the channel and the lives of those on board now rest on his discoveries.

My Review

The end of the 18th century is a fascinating era, when French spies mixed with the aristocratic emigres in London, who had fled to save their heads. The city was a dangerous place for the underclass and Jonathan Absey becomes obsessed with solving the murders of several prostitutes because he believes his daughter was the first victim.

Suspicion falls upon the household of Auguste de Montpellier and her sick brother Guy. Aided by Doctor Raultier, Guy fights his illness to prove the existence of a new planet which he calls Selene, which he believes must exist after the discovery of Uranus by Herschel in 1781. Jonathan persuades his half-brother Alexander Wilmot, a gifted musician and amateur astronomer to make contact with the Montpelliers so that he can discover their secrets, but Alexander is unwilling to betray his new friends and walks into a perilous situation.

There is a gothic quality to this novel, several characters implying languorous evil and sexual deviance.  The historical content is sound, and the suspense increases with each new murder, but only Alexander earns our empathy and for this reason was the only character I could believe in.  Choose this novel for revelations about post-revolutionary Europe and an insight into scientific interests at that time but do not expect to become emotionally involved with people you meet within its pages.

The Music of the Spheres can be purchased on Amazon UK

E Redfern

Elizabeth Redfern

Elizabeth Redfern was born on October 29, 1950 in Cheshire, England and attended the University of Nottingham, where she earned a BA in English. She then earned a post graduate degree as a Chartered Librarian at Ealing College and a post-graduate certificate in teaching at the University of Derby.

Redfern trained and worked as a chartered librarian, first in London and then in Nottingham. She moved to Derbyshire with her husband, a solicitor. And after her daughter was born, Redfern re-trained as a teacher and began work as an adult education lecturer – main subject, English – with the Derbyshire County Council.

Since then, she’s been involved in various projects in nearby towns, including working with the unemployed and skills training in the workplace. She lives with her husband and her daughter, who attends a local school, in a village in the Derbyshire Peak District. In her spare time Redfern plays the violin with a local orchestra, the Chesterfield Symphony Orchestra.

 

 

 

Restitution by Rose Edmunds #NewRelease #Bookreview

Restitution

It is exhilarating to meet “Crazy Amy” once more, trying to pick up her life again by using her financial and legal expertise to help 83-year-old George stake his claim to a valuable Picasso painting, recently rediscovered.  Believing that it belonged to his Art collector father before he was murdered in 1939, George travels to Prague accompanied by Amy, not realising that there are others with a similar mission who will stop at nothing to get hold of the picture.

 

Still in shock from a recent tragedy, Amy appears to be in control, but that little voice still pops up questioning her competence, while Mel, one of her erstwhile betrayers turns up, claiming friendship.  Amy is haunted by reminders of the horrors of her childhood, but she seems to be making progress in her task.  It is possible that both Mel and Amy might find romance in Prague, but first they need to stay alive.

 

The complex plot, deception and danger, make for an exciting narrative and Amy’s insightful analysis of the weaknesses of other characters raises a smile.   We really shouldn’t like Amy; she drinks too much, lacks patience and shows intellectual arrogance, but she is addicted to adrenalin, walking head on into every situation bravely, with a plan which may or may not work.  Some call her crazy, but Amy is trying to cope with her demons by helping others and proving her worth.  Another great adventure with this indomitable anti-heroine.

You will find Restitution on sale at Amazon UK and Amazon US

Earlier adventures of Amy are reviewed here: Concealment  and Exposure

An interview with Patsy from the “Wild Water” series by Jan Ruth

This week I am interviewing  a book character from the Wild Water series, whom we love to hate.

Patsy

My conversation is with Jack Redman’s beautiful wife Patsy.  Even after she cheated on him, she remains a significant part of his life as the mother of his children.

Patsy, you seemed to have everything when you were married to Jack; a beautiful house, a hard-working husband, delightful children.  So why were you unfaithful to him?

Oh, rubbish! Everyone only ever sees Jacks side. He was a workaholic when I was married to him, just like his father, and look what happened there I was unhappy, neglected, and bored. I didnt plan to be unfaithful – it just happened. I know everyone says that and I admit I was stupid to fall for Philipes promises and his plans: yes, he had an amazing business plan for combining my beauty salon and his hairdressing chain but, well things change and it progressed in a different direction from there. I suppose it was inevitable it all got in a mess since Jack was never around and Philipe just kind of got me. Above all, he understood fashion and style in a way Jack never did. And anyway, Jacks behaviour was no better. He couldnt wait to get Anna Williams into bed the minute my back was turned.

 

Your daughter Lottie seems such a lovely girl, but are you finding her behaviour rather challenging as she grows older?

Lottie and I have never seen eye to eye, she was always a daddys girl. Still is, always will be. Which is why I made the decision to move away. It wasnt easy, but I did it for her and Jack, in the end. You dont believe me, do you? Its true. Lottie has never needed me in the way that Oliver and James have. Even Chelsey was far more independent, but shes another story altogether, isnt she? Actually, I dont want to talk about Chelsey because my words will be twisted and everything will come out about Banks and that awful, awful time when he well, as I said, I’m not going to be drawn into that other than to say that Jack and Anna had a lot to do with it, surprise surprise! As for Lottie, shes happy enough. Shes going to stage school, thats the last I heard.

 

What do you think about Anna?  In other circumstances could you have been friends?

Haha! Anna? There are no circumstances where she and I would ever be friends. What on earth do we have in common? Shes a mess! She lived in a falling-down farmhouse surrounded by swamps of mud before Jack sunk a load of cash into it. So far as I know she still looks and behaves like a hippy from the seventies; long straggly hair, big boots, dirty skirts. Does she still waft incense sticks around and make her own polish out of beeswax? She used to be boring when we flat-shared in our student days but these days she takes it to a whole new level. Lottie told me the other day they baked liver biscuits for the dogs and dug up mealworms on the beach, so that says it all. Anna Williams has always been, and still is, fat and uninteresting, and she stole my husband.

 

Why do you spend so much time and money on shopping?  Are you depressed?

I did go through a stage of depression after losing everything, but I met another man, and you know how it is, some things just fall into place and I gradually got my mojo back. I love shopping, so why not? Theres nothing more satisfying than filling the boot of my car with lots of shiny bags. I dont think it had anything to do with my depression I see shopping more as a hobby, so in the end I think it helped me. It has to be better than taking pills, surely?

 

Some people call you manipulative, but do you really deserve our sympathy?

Do you know, Ive never asked for sympathy but yes, I do think I deserve a least a little. Ive had a really hard time with my family. My parents, for example, have been no support at all. I know I had to move back in to their place and I was grateful for that but emotionally, you know? Ive never felt good enough for them, nothing I could do to impress them. And its the same now. Another reason I moved away. I cant see where I’ve manipulated anyone I dont know what you mean. Oh, do you mean all those complicated paternity issues with Jack? Look, I did what I thought was for the best, for the children, at the time. I honestly think I deserve some credit for that, it wasn’t easy, holding it all together. I’ve no hard feelings towards Jack. I’m in a better place now. Although, I do miss him sometimes, after all we never forget our first love. I wonder if he thinks about me?

Wild Water Box Set (2)

If you would like to hear Jack and Anna’s side of the story and read how Patsy’s past actions put them in danger, you can find the Wild Water books on Amazon UK and Amazon US

My Review of the three books which make up Wild Water

An Interview with Lottie from “Tipping Point” by Terry Tyler #Project Renova

Today is the first post in a new series, interviewing characters from books I have reviewed on my blog.  I am proud to begin with a conversation with one of my favourite book characters, Lottie from Terry Tyler’s Project Renova Trilogy.

Lottie 5

Lottie Keating was sixteen at the time of the viral outbreak in July 2024. The first UK case of ‘bat fever’ was discovered in Shipden, the Norfolk seaside town where she lived with her mother, Vicky, and Vicky’s boyfriend, Dex. Within a month, normal life in the UK had broken down.

Tipping

Vicky and Lottie’s story begins in Tipping Point, which is on sale at 99p/99c from February 5 to February 11.  Their tale of survival continues in Lindisfarne, and the third part of the trilogy, UK2, which will be published in the spring.

Here is my interview  with Lottie: 

I very much admire the way that you have adapted to the dramatic change in your lifestyle, and I’d love to hear more about how the collapse of society has affected you.

Q         What do you really miss from your old life when you lived in Shipden?

I miss my friends!  A couple of them got the vaccine, so I hope they’re alive and well somewhere.  I miss Granny and Grandad, and my dad.  I miss ice cream, badly, especially salted caramel Häagen Dazs.  But when I think back to my old life it’s like I’m looking at someone else; it doesn’t seem like me.  I don’t miss the internet.  When it first went off I didn’t know what to do with myself (I kept looking at my phone and thinking, why can’t it just work?), but I soon forgot all about it; I had too much real life to live.  I do miss films, though.  As for social media sites—well, now I talk to people face to face, instead!

Q         What are your thoughts and feelings about Dex and Heath?

I used to think Dex was okay when he lived with me and Mum, before the virus.  He was a bit of a bighead (everything was all about him), but I could see why Mum liked him.  Looking back, I think he was probably cheating on her now and again; you don’t think about stuff like that when you’re a kid (he moved in with us when I was only ten or eleven), but when you’re older you can see what was really going on.  Anyway, he turned out to be a total retard, so who cares?

Heath – awesome.  But I won’t say anything else right now…

Q         Have you changed much since you left Norfolk?

Hope so!  I’m much fitter and stronger, and I can do all sorts of clever things like making fires and baking bread.  I can handle a gun, and I know some seriously awesome moves to throw if I get jumped.  Mac, who is now my boyfriend, taught me how to defend myself.  I think the new world has made me grow up and see the bigger picture.  Especially now I spend my time doing proper stuff instead of sitting on my bed Skyping with my mates and posting dumb selfies.

Q   If anyone had told you a year ago what was going to happen, what would you have thought?

I’d probably have thought, bring it on!  And been really excited and hoped there were going to be zombies; I’d have wanted to be like Rosita in The Walking Dead.  But I wouldn’t have had a clue what it was really like.  You don’t, but you just adapt.

Q         What are your hopes and fears for the future?

I live pretty much day to day.  The main fear is not having enough to eat and getting seriously ill.  Some of our community get stressy about the danger from outsiders, but I think we’re clever and strong enough to deal with anything that comes our way, and, to be honest, conflict gives me a bit of a thrill.  In some ways it’s better now because people don’t worry about bullshit like whether or not they’re ‘fulfilled’, ’cause they’re too busy staying alive.  Hopes?  That we will always live with lots of cool people who want to work together, and that all dickheads (no names mentioned here!) will die painful deaths.

To find Tipping Point on Amazon  or Lindisfarne

With thanks to Terry Tyler for introducing me to Lottie.

For interviews with other book characters:-

Miriam from No More Mulberries

Lachlan from Rack and Ruin

Patsy from Wild Water

If you are an author whose book I have reviewed, perhaps you would like me to interview one of your characters.  If so, please contact me.