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

 

 

Somerville’s War by Andrew Duncan #RBRT #BookReview

Thrilling wartime adventure and a sensitive story of relationships

Somerville's War

The strange brigadier who hardly speaks… Leo, his feisty pilot daughter… Labrador, the vengeful Pole… Henry Dunning-Green, Leo’s boring suitor… Adrian Russell, the treacherous master spy… … All linked by SOE Somerville, the top secret Second World War finishing school for spies on England’s south coast, and its local community: A melting pot of intrigue and counter-intrigue. A fast-unfolding, untold tale of deception, betrayal and romance leading to a tense life-or-death climax in occupied France. Many of the events actually took place. This is the first fictional treatment of life at the famous Special Operations Executive ‘finishing school’ for spies, SOE Beaulieu in the New Forest (renamed SOE Somerville). It’s also the first fully realised fictional portrait of master spy and traitor Kim Philby (renamed Adrian Russell) who lectured at SOE Beaulieu.

My Review

As a child I was fascinated by the tales my parents told of their time in the services in Europe during the war and moreover, stories about the Resistance or SOE have always interested me, so I opened this book with excitement.  Beginning in August 1940, we witness the last race of Somer River Sailing Club.  Through the eyes of trainee Polish spy “Labrador” we watch Leonora win the race and receive a kiss from her father, Brig, who is Captain of the club.  Soon we are immersed in the upper-class life of Somerville with its established pecking order of aristocrats who have known each other for most of their lives. Yet close by, young men are training for undercover action in France and Leo cannot wait to join the ATA where she will pilot planes from one British aerodrome to another, so that male pilots can take them into action.

But unknown to the local community “Brig”, the Brigadier, plays a major role in coordinating the training of undercover agents at Woodland house, hidden in the woods at Somerville. Soon, Henry, long-time friend of Leo, and her potential suitor, will also be trained alongside Labrador. The action will move to Normandy and the young men will be in great danger.

This is a study of the changes in everyday life brought about by wartime, but it is also a thrilling tale of heroism and a slow-burning love story.  Leo’s spontaneous character is easy to identify with, but I also began to understand the taciturn Brig who did his duty for his country and dearly loved his family. A beautifully written novel, revealing many fascinating details about flying Spitfires, conducting undercover warfare and dealing with betrayal in the best possible way.

I was given a copy of this book as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team in return for an unbiased review.

Somerville’s War can be found on Amazon UK

The Sterling Affair (The Forensic Genealogist Book 8) by Nathan Dylan Goodwin

Sterling Affair

When an unannounced stranger comes calling at Morton Farrier’s front door, he finds himself faced with the most intriguing and confounding case of his career to-date as a forensic genealogist. He agrees to accept the contract to identify a man who had been secretly living under the name of his new client’s long-deceased brother. Morton must use his range of resources and research skills to help him deconstruct this mysterious man’s life, ultimately leading him back into the murky world of 1950s international affairs of state. Meanwhile, Morton is faced with his own alarmingly close DNA match which itself comes with far-reaching implications for the Farriers.

My Review

Morton Farrier is a lucky man. His occupation as a forensic genealogist allows him to do what he loves best, research family history. His skills and experience make him very successful and like a terrier he doesn’t give up easily. I have enjoyed previous novels in this series, but this is the most compelling tale, of Morris Duggan, a man who had adopted a false identity.  Perhaps his reason for this was a link with MI6 but will the redacted files Morton seeks out, give any useful information. Alongside Morton’s investigation, we move back in time to Duggan’s life in the Middle East during the 1950s Suez crisis.

The thrilling tale of Duggan’s escapades in Beirut, Egypt and London are convincingly described while the careful examination of evidence in Family Record Offices and online, ring true.  I was also intrigued by Morton’s personal discovery of an extremely close DNA match on Ancestry which cause him to wish he had never embarked along this route.

Another delightful thread within the book is Morton’s family life with his wife Juliet, a police officer, and their daughter, little Grace, always into mischief but loving to play Peppa Pig with her daddy. A pleasant relief from some of the more dangerous escapades within the book. The final chapter, set in 1944, links the characters in a satisfying conclusion.

The Sterling Affair can be found on Amazon UK

My Review of  The Lost Ancestor Book 2 of this series

 

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

Different Class by Joanne Harris #BookReview #PsychologicalThriller

Different Class

I chose this book because I had enjoyed Gentlemen and Players many years ago and this sequel takes place a year later in the same location, St Oswald’s Grammar School. Roy Straitley, an old-fashioned Latin Master is teaching his 35th year at the school and he has no desire for any other life.  Nicknamed Quaz (Quasimodo) because of his resemblance to a gargoyle based in a classroom in the bell tower, his intellectual, laissez-faire approach and loyalty to a group of boys he calls his “Brodie  Boys,” has caused boys and staff to be divided between those who detest him and those who have genuine respect and affection for him.

Although current events take place in 2005, alternate chapters take us back to 1981 when a group of 3 boys who join Straitley’s class, fail to fit in.  Of the three, it is Johnny Harrington whom he most disliked. It is therefor a shock that the new Super Head brought in to sort out the school is the same Harrington.  Reading a secret diary written by one of the boys in 1981 we gradually discover horrific events which took place.

Despite the serious nature of the plot there is also delightful humour.  Having taught in a school from the 1980s till this century I empathise with Straitley’s resistance to the new ways of emails and “health and safety”.  He defines his teaching style as “benevolent neglect” and on the whole his pupils respond by acting responsibly.  However the past catches up in appalling consequences and only wit and comradeship can avoid disaster for the school, its staff and its pupils.

Different Class on Amazon UK

 

The Occupation by Deborah Swift #TuesdayBookBlog #NewRelease

Occupation

1940, Jersey

When Nazi forces occupy Jersey in the English Channel Islands, Céline Huber, who is married to a German, must decide where her loyalty lies.

Love for her island, and fear for her Jewish friend Rachel, soon propel her into a dangerous double life.

Meanwhile, Céline’s husband Fred is conscripted into the Wehrmacht in occupied France.

Horrified by Nazi acts of atrocity and torture, he soon becomes a double agent for the French Resistance.

But when things go wrong, and his Nazi masters discover his true allegiance, he finds he has the whole of the German Army on his tail.

How far will Céline go for her best friend? Will Fred make his way home to her?

Or will their lives be changed forever by the brutality of war?

THE OCCUPATION is a moving war & military saga following the separate stories of a young man and woman through the years of the Second World War as they fight to survive.

My Review

This powerful story had me reading late into the night, by turns on the edge of my seat or reduced to tears.  Although I have read of the German occupation previously only now do I fully appreciate the hardship, distress and uncertainty of those who lived through it.  In the words of Céline and later her German husband Fred (Siegfried) we follow their lives from their pre-war bakery on Jersey as Fred responds to the order to join the Wehrmacht in France while Céline struggles to keep their business going.  When the German army arrives to occupy the island, Céline’s Jewish friend Rachel becomes alarmed as she has already lost touch with her parents in France.

Meanwhile Fred is initially relieved to leave active combat for a job as a translator in Paris, but he soon makes friends with the locals and is horrified by the deeds of the Nazis.  Unable to communicate with each other, both Fred and Céline must take actions and make decisions they would not have countenanced before the war.  Fred puts himself in peril for the sake of others, while Céline is endangered by the arrival of Fred’s bullying brother as a German officer. This carefully researched story with its basis in true life would make an amazing film and is the best book I have read for a considerable time.

The Occupation on Amazon UK

My reviews of Past Encounters and Pleasing Mr Pepys by Deborah Swift

Loving Vengeance (The Ross Duology Book 2) by Georgia Rose #NewRelease #FridayReads

Loving Vengeance

Book Blurb

A woman with a troubled past. A new love hanging in the balance. Will an unexpected visitor strengthen her resolve or destroy the life she’s trying to build?

Madeleine’s world, once so organised, is a mess. Suffering the fallout from the mistakes she made with Tag, she has no idea where she stands with Daniel. Are they only friends or is there still a chance for something more?

Enter James – cool, calm and calculated. A stranger, she thinks. But he knows her, and he comes with an opportunity she can’t refuse, involving an enemy she’d tried to forget. At first keen to return to her past, Madeleine soon realises it’s not only the gang that’s changed, and battles her own demons as well as an unpredictable villain.

Can Daniel step up when he’s needed? Or will it be James who rides in to the rescue? Because when things go badly for Madeleine, and all hope seems lost, there is only one who can save the day. And only one who can bring more to the task than merely himself.

Loving Vengeance is the second book in this fast-paced duology. If you like strong heroines, character-driven action and powerful emotions, then you’ll love Georgia Rose’s exciting novel.

My Review

Loving Vengeance is the long awaited follow up to Parallel Lines where we left Maddy (or Scarlet in her former life) injured in body and reputation.  It is a great relief to find that Dan, with whom she had only recently started a relationship has not given up on Maddy, but can they overcome the secrets they kept and rekindle their feelings for each other?

The great thing about Maddy is her independent spirit and bravery. In this book she has antagonised Mayoral candidate, Ben Pritchard, by supporting his materialistic wife, Letitia and in turn he threatens Maddy’s friends, Kourtney and Diane. In a complex plot this situation becomes entangled in Maddy’s former life of crime.  A handsome policeman, James, has turned up, saying he knows her, and she must help him, back in her rough London neighbourhood, to catch one of her old contacts.

What makes the books of Georgia Rose so different is the way she takes us into the mind of her heroines.  Speaking in the first person, Maddy tells us all her feelings, her strengths and her weaknesses. Few of us would walk into such dangerous situations or be so pro-active in helping others but this makes for a thrilling, eventful story.  Dan, who occasionally speaks to us, in the second person, is an active participant, striving to keep Maddy safe, without compromising her plan.

Parallel Lines is still my favourite book of the two but in Loving Vengeance it is good to see how Maddy’s life continues and the positive effect she has on the village community.  There is definitely an opening for her to continue crime fighting and problem solving in further novels!

Loving Vengeance on Amazon UK

My review of Parallel Lines

To celebrate the launch of Loving Vengeance Georgia Rose is running a mega give away here

Marked for Revenge: An Art Heist Thriller by Jennifer S. Alderson #NewRelease #FridayReads

Marked

An adrenaline-fueled adventure set in the Netherlands, Croatia, Italy, and Turkey about stolen art, the mafia, and a father’s vengeance.

This is the third of Zelda Richardson’s adventures in the art world. While working on her Master’s thesis she had been an unpaid intern. Now in her first paid job as a museum researcher she is anxious to make her mark, but little does she realise that she will soon be a suspect in a daring multiple art theft. This thrilling tale also allows us to view the situation from the viewpoint of the thieves and observe a bitter feud between Luka, a Croatian gangster and Ivan an embittered ex-collaborator, determined to get revenge for the tragic death of his daughter.

While Zelda’s boyfriend, Jacob, is working in Cologne, she spends her free time in Amsterdam, socialising with colleagues at the Amstel Modern Museum and getting to know her neighbour, Gabriella, a talented artist. Shortly after three sketches by famous artists are stolen from the Amstel Museum, Zelda stumbles into trouble when she inadvertently sees a copy of one of the sketches in Gabriella’s studio.  After Gabriella disappears, Zelda’s admission that she has seen a copied painting puts her under suspicion. Zelda is desperate to find Gabriella and clear her name, so she is relieved when noted art recovery investigator, Vincent de Graaf, takes on the case, allowing Zelda to assist him.

This series of daring art thefts are especially intriguing because at each location a card is left by “Robber Hood,” criticising the gallery for lack of fool proof security.  I took great pleasure in the delightful chapter titles, such as, “Balkan Bandits Strike Again”  and “The Audacity of Art Thieves,”  The authors descriptions of action and adventure in Venice and Marmaris bring each site vividly to life and made me keep turning the pages long after I should have turned off the light.

For an illustrated account by Jennifer S Alderson of the locations in her book look here

My review of Zelda’s first escapade in the art world The Lover’s Portrait

Marked for Revenge on Amazon UK