Old Friends and New Enemies by Owen Mullen #FridayReads #BookReview

Old friends

The body on the mortuary slab wasn’t who Glasgow PI Charlie Cameron was looking for.

But it wasn’t a stranger.

Suddenly, a routine missing persons investigation becomes a fight for survival. As Charlie is dragged deeper into Glasgow’s underbelly he goes up against notorious gangster Jimmy Rafferty and discovers what fear really is.

Rafferty is so ruthless even his own sons are terrified of him.

Now he wants Charlie to find something. And Jimmy Rafferty always gets what he wants.

There is only one problem… Charlie doesn’t know where it is.

My Review

I chose to read the second book about Charlie Cameron because it is partly set in the village of Luss which I know well, but I didn’t feel as if I had missed background knowledge by not reading the first in the series.  The reader soon learns that Charlie has rejected the values of his “Tory” father, who had owned a famous whisky business and that he had also given up on a law degree in which he had no interest.

Starting with a violent scene involving one of the infamous Rafferty family, Charlie finds himself involved in the misdeeds of his former friend Ian Selkirk, whom he had last seen in Thailand several years earlier.  Soon he is reunited with his former girlfriend, Fiona but he is inextricably drawn into great danger.  He should be concentrating on his latest commission to find the husband of the gracious Cecelia McNeil, whose son had recently committed suicide, but he cannot concentrate on the investigation despite the help of his sidekick, Pat Logue and friend, DS Andrew Geddes.

The story builds up to a thrilling conclusion with a dramatic scene in Edinburgh castle, eminently suited to a film scenario.  The characters are vividly painted and believable and the plot is followed in a spare style which keeps up the momentum.  I shall certainly be downloading “Games People Play” the first Charlie Mullen book.

 

Owen Mullen

Owen Mullen

When he was ten, Owen Mullen won a short story competition and didn’t write anything else for almost forty years. In between he graduated from Strathclyde University with a Masters in Tourism and a degree in Marketing, moved to London and worked as a rock musician, session singer and songwriter, and had a hit record in Japan with a band he refuses to name; on occasion he still performs. He returned to Scotland to run a management consultancy and a marketing agency. He is an Arsenal supporter and a serious foodie. A gregarious recluse, he and his wife, Christine, split their time between Glasgow – where the Charlie Cameron books are set – and their villa in the Greek Islands.

 

Imago by Celina Grace #FridayReads #BookReview

Imago

Imago is the third book of the Kate Redman Mystery series featuring a young, female detective, fighting crime and pursuing justice, in the fictional West Country town of Abbeyford.

Having read two other books in this series (though not in the right order!) I knew I would enjoy meeting this hard-working, compassionate policewoman again.  This time Kate, her friend Detective Sergeant Mark Olbeck and her boss, Detective Chief Inspector Anderton have to solve the murder of a young prostitute, stabbed with a steak knife, and soon they begin to wonder if the crime has been committed by a serial killer.

As Mark settles down in domestic harmony with his partner, Kate begins to realise how lonely she is, but she tries to keep to herself the growing feelings she has for her boss.  Meanwhile she is trying to build up her fitness to participate in a half marathon and at the same time, deal with the hostility of Jerry, an older police constable who resents her.

This book is filled with tension and thrilling episodes.  We read the murderer’s diary, looking for clues and motive.  The reason for the title of this novel is intriguing.  The plot builds up to an exciting climax, as Kate thinks she has identified the killer and there is an exciting final twist to the story which will keep you on the edge of your seat.

You can purchase Imago on Amazon UK

or on Amazon US

Celina Grace

Celina Grace

I tried to get traditionally published as a writer for a long time. A loooooooong time. I make it fifteen years and counting….

I’ve also been writing for as long as I can really remember. I wrote my first story, The Blue Ruby, when I was about seven. Throughout college and university, I experimented with screenplays and scripts (I was studying Film and English at the time at the University of East Anglia), as well as other more short stories. In my twenties, I started my first novel, finished it, then my second, then my third. In my thirties, I was slightly side-tracked by the birth of my son but, leaving aside that trifling distraction, managed to write my fourth..

I didn’t bother trying to get the first novel published as I saw it as more of a practise run at this business of being an author. With the second, I entered the 2004 Lit Idol competition and got to third place. That was my ticket to publication, I thought, surely? Hah! Just the first in a long line of disappointments, of which every writer must be familiar… hopes built up to then be smacked down again. I had an agent approach me after the competition and on their encouragement, I finished, edited and polished the manuscript, sent it off to them with happy hopes – to be told months later that they didn’t think it was quite right for them..

Gutted, but enthusiasm relatively undimmed, I started on a new novel, inspired in part by the dramatic events of 2005 – the London bombings. I also wrote a short story at the same time on the same subject – it was on my mind a lot that summer (unsurprisingly. Freedom Fighter is the story – available on Amazon as part of A Blessing From The Obeah Man short story collection). This novel The House on Fever Street was shortlisted for the 2006 Crime Writers’ Association Debut Dagger Award. Aha, I thought, a fairly prestigious and industry recognised award. This will get me published. Did it? Did it buggery!

The House on Fever Street was also longlisted in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award of that year, which garnered me some nice reviews and a much needed ego boost but didn’t advance my career as a published author much further..

So what next for our doughty heroine? She ups and writes her fourth novel, gains an agent and thinks now, now I have finally made it as a published author! And she waits. And waits. And waits some more. And then waits a bit more. And a bit more. Finally, for variety, she waits a bit more..

So, after two years of waiting, reading about self-publishing on Amazon and other platforms, I believe a phrase that ends in ‘…for a game of soldiers’ passed my lips and I decide to publish myself. So I did. I think I made about £10 in my first month of publishing. Fast forward three years and here I am, a full time indie author, a Top 100 UK Amazon bestseller, having reached half a million readers. Couldn’t be happier!

Celina Grace

Trouble in Nuala by Harriet Steel #bookreview

nuala

Trouble in Nuala is the first in a series of investigations by Inspector Shanti de Silva in colonial Ceylon.  Although a Sri Lankan himself, Shanti is married to Jane, an Englishwoman whom he had met after she came to the island as a governess.  They mix in the “best” social circles of Nuala, up in the hills far from the busy city of Colombo.  An experienced policeman, he may feel frustrated by his junior police officers and by the patronising attitude of Clutterbuck, the assistant government agent, but he is determined to investigate all cases without preference.

Although mainly concerned with minor offences such as neglected horses running wild, the sudden death of a bombastic, unpopular tea planter strikes de Silva as being suspicious, so he quietly makes inquiries into all the circumstances.  The lonely widow and the planter’s stepson were not happy, the plantation was making a loss and a young lawyer had recently accused the planter of mistreating his workers.

Interspersed with the gradual investigation is a delightful description of the beauty of Sri Lanka and of the pretentious social life of the British community living there in the 1930s.  Shanti and Jane have a respectful relationship based on love and consideration, so he willingly eats cucumber sandwiches when he would much prefer a spicier snack.

This gentle, intelligent policemen could well become renowned for his careful and thoughtful approach to crime in an enthralling environment.  A very enjoyable and relaxing book to read.  I look forward to his next investigation.

You can find Trouble in Nuala here

Rosie's Book Review team 1

Trust Me I Lie by Louise Marley #TuesdayBookBlog #RBRT

Trust me

I always enjoy character driven novels, but a book with a compelling plot is appealing. In Trust Me I Lie we have both. Ben Taylor is a policeman with a heart, a Detective Inspector who acts like a Knight in shining armour, but Milla Graham is a more complex person. She admits to being a liar, frequently breaks the law but has great charisma and charm. Her determination to solve a crime, which took place 18 years earlier when she was 6, takes Ben to the brink of losing his career and endangers both their lives.

Written in the third person, Trust Me I Lie tells the story partly from Ben’s point of view and partly from Milla’s, interspersed with a narration of events 18 years before, gradually revealing what happened; but look out for the red herrings. A mansion had burned down killing the children of a family where their mother has been stabbed to death. Now a young woman connected to the family has been found murdered in the abandoned mansion and Ben must solve both cases without incriminating Milla in the latest crime.

The theme of fairy tales, especially Alice in Wonderland, is wound effectively into the book adding an extra dimension. I felt the motivation of DI Lydia Cavill needed a little more explanation but I was particularly fond of Detective Sergeant Harriet March who deserves a story of her own. With a light touch, Louise Marley has involved the reader with the hopes and fears of the main characters and produced a mystery story packed full of twists and turns and a touch of romance.

Louise Marley

Louise Marley writes romantic comedy and romantic suspense, and sometimes she mixes the two. She lives in Wales, surrounded by fields of sheep, and has a beautiful view of Snowdon from her study window.

Her first published novel was Smoke Gets in Your Eyes, which was a finalist in Poolbeg’s Write a Bestseller competition. She has also written articles for the Irish press and short stories for women’s magazines such as Take a Break and My Weekly. Previously, Louise worked as a civilian administrative officer for the police.

Louise’s books have spent a total of 7 months in the Amazon top 100 (UK). Three of her books have been #1 bestsellers in romantic suspense, and Smoke Gets in Your Eyes was #1 in romance.

In addition to her own books, Louise contributes to the hugely popular Sunlounger anthologies. She is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association, the Society of Authors and a group of bestselling authors known as Novelistas Ink.

Website: http://www.louisemarley.co.uk/
Blog: http://www.louisemarleywrites.blogspot.co.uk/
Twitter: @LouiseMarley
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LouiseMarley

Be careful, there is another author with EXACTLY the same name!

Siren by Celina Grace #bookreview

Siren

Siren is the newly published 9th book in the Kate Redman Mystery series, written by Celina Grace, and is only the second I have read, but that doesn’t matter a jot. On the first page of Chapter One we soon get to know Detective Sergeant Kate Redman and learn about her friendship with Detective Inspector Mark Olbeck, who is in the early stages of adopting a child with his partner Jeff. Kate is prepared to work long hours, as her boyfriend, Tin, is in New York and she hasn’t seen him for three months.

The prologue has introduced an intriguing murder scene and soon Kate and Mark are summoned there by their boss, Detective Chief Inspector Anderton. Kate is surprised, when Anderton asks her to accompany him to interview the victim’s wife. It is soon evident that Simon Farraday, who has been murdered, had antagonised many people and liked to indulge in sexual fantasies. As the complex plot unwinds, Kate finds herself drawn to Anderton, although she is about to visit Tin in New York.

The balance between determining who might be the murderer and Kate’s dilemma about leaving her home and job to settle in New York, keep the reader guessing and you can’t help empathising with Kate’s problems. The unpleasant smell and sight of the murder scene is as vividly described as the beautiful garden of the Farraday home and the characters’ emotions are realistic. A great read, which certainly makes me want to seek out Kate’s earlier cases.

 

The Sans Pareil Mystery by Karen Charlton

Charlton

I read this 19th century detective story without realising that it was the second investigation in Regency London for Detective Lavender and Constable Woods, but this was no handicap.  Although Stephen Lavender is reserved, we slowly learn of his sad past, his new budding romance and his renowned detective abilities.  Assisted by dependable Ned Woods, he is able to cut through the mystery to the dangerous underlying plot, while dealing with his tortuous private life.

 

The other main character, Donᾶ Magdalena, has a troubled past and an insecure future, which aids the plot considerably.  I would have liked the villains to have had more substance and subtlety but the developing drama keeps the reader on the edge of her seat.

 

I enjoyed discovering more about the Bow Street Magistrates and the London theatre in 1810, without feeling that I was being taught.  It is a refreshing change to have a detective story set in this era.  The precarious position of women in a male dominated society is clearly shown while still maintaining the exciting drama and sweet romance.  I shall certainly be seeking out the earlier story of Lavender and Woods.

The Lake House by Kate Morton

Lake House

The Lake house contains all the ingredients I have come to expect in a novel by Kate Morton: mystery, action in different eras, a beautiful house in Cornwall and more than one complex female protagonist.

The core story is of the Edevane family who lived in Leoanneth, a large house by a lake in Cornwall, from 1911 until 1933.  An idyllic love story is blighted by the First World War and as their family life appears to be blossoming again, tragedy strikes.

Moving to 2003, we meet Sadie Sparrow, a feisty police sergeant who has let her emotions take over when investigating the case of an abandoned child.  Visiting her grandfather, Bertie in Cornwall she inadvertently discovers Leoanneth, overgrown and deserted.  Soon she is putting her experience to good use trying to discover what happened on that fateful Midsummer Eve in 1933.  As she researches old newspapers and case notes, we encounter Alice Edevane, who was 16 in 1933 and is now a very successful crime write of 86.  Will she help Sadie or will she keep her secrets?

The intricate plot weaves threads together in a most satisfying way.  The book has a glorious sense of time, of the echoes glimpsed momentarily.  Sadie, Alice and Alice’s mother Eleanor gradually reveal themselves as the book progresses.  They all share sadness and loss which they hide behind strong personas.

Some readers may feel that all the puzzles are solved too perfectly, but I was sad to leave this long beautiful book.

Taster Tuesday #TuesdayBookBlog

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Books And A Beat. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two or three “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Lake House

I have read all of Kate Morton‘s previous books but it has taken me a while getting round to The Lake House.  This passage comes from Chapter Three.

The lake’s flat surface glistened in a secretive, slatey way and Sadie suddenly felt every bit the intruder she was.  It was hard to say what made her so certain, but as she turned to leave, ducked through the yew and started chasing the dogs home, she knew, in that twist-of-the-gut way a police detective had better hope she developed, that something terrible had happened in that house.

Traces of Red by Christine Campbell

 

Traces

Traces of Red is the second book in The Reluctant Detective Series by Christine Campbell.  Once again, the irrepressible Mirabelle helps her soulmate, DI Sam Burns, solve a complicated case but there is no need for you to have read Searching for Summer, the first book in the series, since the back story is gradually revealed during this novel.

 

Mirabelle has given up her work as a social worker and has turned her small Edinburgh flat into a Missing Person’s Bureau.  Usually these are young women, so she is surprised when Kay, a quiet middle class woman, seeks help finding her missing husband.  It is soon evident that all has not been right in this marriage and Kay is keen to help Mirabelle by organising her files and accompanying her on investigations.

 

Meanwhile DI Burns is interviewing a barman at a pub where a baby was found and he is trying to find the mother and her female companion.  He enlists Mirabelle’s help when an injured young woman is found but she also helps Sam to deal with the loss of his much loved mother.

 

All the characters in Christine Campbell’s books are distinct and real.  They seem to talk directly to the reader so that it matters what happens to them.  The interwoven strands of this story reminded me of Kate Atkinson’s Jackson Brodie books, as does the bittersweet ending to the novel.  I highly recommend Traces of Red whether you like mystery, detective or contemporary stories.

You can read an interview with Christine Campbell here

Rosie's Book Review team 1

An Unlamented Death by William Savage

Unlamented Death

Entering into An Unlamented Death is like stepping into an 18th century drawing room.  The environment is civilised and calm and its hero Adam Bascom uses his intelligence and deductive powers to solve the mystery of, “An Inconvenient Corpse.”  A young, country doctor, Adam is establishing himself as a respectable and trustworthy member of the community in Aylsham, Norfolk.  As he travels the county visiting patients and family, he soon makes some good friends.

But one day, he is shocked to discover the body of a clergyman lying in a churchyard in suspicious circumstances.  Strangely, at the inquest, the authorities seem anxious to stress that it was a case of accidental death.  Adam cannot understand why the victim, Dr. Nathaniel Ross, Archdeacon of Norwich, was so far from home.  Rumours circulate of smugglers in the area and Adam is warned not to pursue his enquiries.

The delight of this book is the characterisation.  Sober Adam is contrasted with his erstwhile friend, apothecary Peter Lassimer, a womaniser and gossip.  When Adam visits his sociable mother, she introduces him to her elegant, blue-stocking companion, Sophia LaSalle.  Meanwhile on his travels, Adam has struck up a friendship with Captain George Mimms, a retired seafarer who keeps his ear to the ground and aids Adam with his investigation.

Though slow in pace, the novel is lightened by the author’s sense of humour.  When Adam is called to his mother’s parlour to meet her female friends he feels like, “one of the early Christian martyrs being summoned to face the lions in the arena.”  The historical details of the story are impeccable and we learn much of the concerns in coastal areas about the French, following the Revolution and leading up to the Napoleonic war.  At times the social history can be too lengthy such as the theatrical interlude in the Feathers Inn Yard, when I was anxious to discover the next event.

It is possible that some readers might find the authentic eighteenth century style of reading difficult to attune too, but I found it a pleasure.  I could imagine myself walking in the country towns of Norfolk alongside the inquisitive doctor.  Adam Bascom is a likeable detective, even if you sometimes feel you want to shake him, and I look forward to reading about his next adventure in The Code for Killing.

Rosie's Book Review team 1