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.

ANYTHING BUT BOOKS TAG

Anything

I’m pleased to take part in one of those random questions things, after being tagged by writer pal Terry Tyler ~ you can read her post HERE. She in turn was tagged by  Shelley Wilson 

Q1. Name a cartoon that you love.

I don’t really love cartoons.  I adored Popeye when I was a child but occasionally I will now watch Futurama.

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Q2. What is your favourite song right now?

I usually only listen to music in the car.  I have always liked Fields of Gold especially the version by Sting, but at the moment I really like Katie Melua’s version for Children in Need.

Gold

Q3. What could you do for hours that isn’t reading?

I have always enjoyed walking by water; along a beach, a promenade or a clifftop path.

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Q4. What is something that you love to do that your followers would be surprised by?

A few months ago I started Tai Chi lessons.  I enjoy the stretches, the breathing and the mindfulness.  I hope it will improve my terrible balance.

Tai chi chuan.

Q5. What is your favourite, unnecessarily specific thing to learn about?

I like finding out about my ancestors who built Thames barges or worked as lightermen on the Thames. I also have researched the lives of my ancestors who were born in Gibraltar, Nova Scotia and Barbados as army brats because their father was a 19th century soldier.

Q6. What is something unusual you know how to do?

Not so much know how to do, but always remember.  I can tell you most of the main Dewey decimal numbers for topics in a Library, such as 821 for poetry or 595.7 for Insects.  I can also remember book authors, especially of children’s books even though I can’t remember the names of people I know.  It’s a symptom of a lifetime of working in school libraries.

Q7. Name something that you’ve made in the last year.

I made a blanket out of crocheted squares with a crochet along challenge on Facebook.

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Q8. What is your most recent personal project?

I am researching and writing about what happened to children from the Workhouse who were sent to a sail training ship or into service as a maid.

Q9. Tell us something that you think of often.

I think about my grandchildren even though I see a lot of them and when I’m not there I think about our little house in Portugal.

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Q10. Tell us something that’s your favourite, but make it oddly specific.

My favourite activity is discovering new cousins through genealogy, and either meeting them or corresponding with them.  I have met several lovely people this way, from all over the world.

Mark

Meeting my American cousins in London

I’m not going to Tag anyone else as I’m not sure who would like to do it but if you are reading this and would like to accept the challenge. I would love to read your answers.

Agatha Raisin #amreading

agatha

You may have recently seen the beginning of a series on Sky 1 about Agatha Raisin.  I first discovered Agatha, hiding in the crime and mystery shelves in my local library.  Finding that the books about her were written by the author of Hamish MacBeth, I knew I would have to try one of M C Beaton’s books.

I started at the beginning with The Quiche of Death, where we soon learn that over achiever, Agatha, tries to hide her working class Birmingham roots and will lie and cheat to be successful, even if it is only in the social group of a small village.  Yet despite her outrageous behaviour, I couldn’t help liking her, as do many of the people she meets.  The others despise her!  It’s Midsummer Murders with an eccentric lay detective and plenty of humour.

This is the blurb for the second book.

THE POTTED GARDENER

Agatha goes digging where she shouldn’t…

Agatha is taken aback when she finds a new woman ensconced in the affections of her attractive bachelor neighbour, James Lacey. The beautiful Mary Fortune is superior in every way, especially when it comes to gardening – and with Carsely Garden Open Day looming, Agatha feels this deficiency acutely.So when Mary is discovered murdered, buried upside down in a pot, Agatha seizes the moment and immediately starts yanking up village secrets by their roots and digging the dirt on the hapless victim. But Agatha has an awkward secret too . . .

Hamish

After reading many of these books I moved on to Hamish Macbeth, whom I remembered fondly from the TV series many moons ago.  Hamish is the only policeman in the remote Scottish town of Lochdubh.  There is nothing he likes better than a quiet life, but crime keeps turning up on his doorstep and with the help of one or more of his erstwhile girlfriends, he always solves the mystery.

Minerva

Next I read the first of the Six Sisters series which M C Beaton originally published under the name Marion Chesney.  Here is the blurb

MINERVA

The first in M.C. Beaton’s great fun Regency Romance series: The Six Sisters. Raven-haired Minerva, eldest daughter of an impecunious vicar, When the Reverend Charles Armitage, an impecunious country vicar in Regency England, announces that raven-haired Minerva, the eldest of his six daughters, is to have her coming-out in London, the news is not well received by the rest of the family. Mrs. Armitage has one of her Spasms and has to be brought round by burning a quantity of feathers under her nose. Annabelle, the nearest in age to Minerva, is clearly jealous, the boys are all surly, and the other girls just start off crying.

Minerva is despatched to Town under the wing of the disreputable old Lady Godolphin. Her task – to find a rich husband and thereby restore the ailing family fortunes.

But the other five daughters will all get their chance, because Minerva is but the first volume in The Six Sisters series by Marion Chesney.

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M C Beaton is a prodigious writer.  She doesn’t produce great literature but her books are imaginative, lively writing.  Her characters jump out of the page.  She invented the Cosy Mystery before anyone used the term.

She was born in Scotland in 1936 and worked in Scotland and London as a journalist with the Daily Express.  She moved to the United States with her husband but wanting time at home with her son, she began to write books.  The couple returned to Scotland and bought a croft in Sutherland.  Later they moved to the Cotswolds, the setting for Agatha Raisin.

http://www.agatharaisin.com/

Do Not Wash Hands In Plates by Barb Taub

If you have ever visited Barb Taub’s blog http://barbtaub.com/ you will know that she is the master of intelligent humorous writing so I knew when I downloaded this book that I was likely to be sniggering and quoting passages to my husband all the way through.  I was right.

plates

Do Not Wash Hands In Plates is summarised in the extension to the title: Elephant frenzy, parathas, temples, palaces, monkeys…and the kindness of Indian strangers, and that really is what it’s all about! In a warm witty account, Barb describes her travels around India accompanied by long term friends Janine and Jaya.

With the aid of Jaya’s vast extended family and a variety of fearless drivers, the three companions navigate the horrendous traffic and manage to visit some wonderful locations, despite the visit of the American President constantly causing temples and palaces to be closed. Every sentence is filled with humour and warmth, as Janine and Jaya nurse Barb through Delhi Belly and Indian bureaucracy.

There are so many quotable sentences. As an American living in Britain, Barb has learnt that,
“In the UK rules are inviolate and graven in stone. Rules in India are more like guidelines.”
When in danger of missing their plane, Jaya leads them straight past the long queue to the front,
“In the States people would have stopped us. In the UK we would have at least been speared by laser-focused glares and possibly even aggrieved throat-clearing,”
But as Jaya so often remarked, “In India people are so kind.”

Food is an important part of this book, since hospitality is paramount in India. I confess I had to google to discover the difference between parathas, roti, naan and chapatis and now I am anxious to do a taste test. The exotic, colourful, frenetic places they visited are beguiling but no visit to India could be so entertaining without Barb and her friends accompanying you!

Taj

Scotch on the Rocks by Lizzie Lamb

Scotch

From the first few lines of Scotch on the Rocks we know exactly the kind of character we are meeting in heroine Ishabel Stuart.  Brave and intelligent, her single minded determination could achieve anything but she may well antagonise anyone who crosses her path.  Returning to her home island in the Scottish Highlands she is seeking peace and a new life after the break down of her engagement.

But first she must arrange her father’s funeral and she is not best pleased to find her Aunt Esme’s B and B brimming with guests.  The guests depart, sadly taking Esme with them, but Issie still has to deal with the unwanted presence of a tall, handsome, charming American.  Why is she so rude to him and what is he hiding?

On the face of it, we have the recipe for a sweet romance as conflict gives way to love but Lizzie Lamb’s books offer far more than just that.  Mystery builds up as to why Brodie has come all the way from Kentucky to stay for the entire summer.  Parallel to this we wonder why Issie’s father and Aunt Esme had been estranged for so many years.  The more we learn, the more it appears that any relationship between Brodie and Ishabel is doomed.

And then there is Lindy, or Lola as she is calling herself that week, a zany, madcap young lady who helps out at the Guest House.  Lindy longs to escape Cormorant Island and she sees Brodie as her passport to Las Vegas.  Adding to the hilarious household is Pershing the Parrot, a cantankerous, vociferous bird who makes helpful remarks such as, “You silly tart!”

The beauty of the island landscape and the colourful characters living there make this novel a pleasure to read.  There are several incredibly funny scenes involving “ladies of the parish,” or Issie’s mother, an “Italian” Diva (well Dumbarton actually!).  The blunt description of Ishabel’s cheating ex-fiancé are refreshing to read and this is very much a contemporary story even though set in an idyllic location.

The love and passion experienced by more than one couple is intense and explicit and no-one would doubt the inevitable matching.  But in addition, a 50 year old wrong is righted and mysteries solved in a very unexpected conclusion.  There is something for everyone in Scotch on the Rocks, including the bottle of Scotch!

Rosie's Book Review team 1

You might also like to read Lizzie Lamb’s earlier novels:-

Tall, Dark and Kilted – Notting Hill Meets Monarch of the Glen – 2012 http://bit.ly/TDKLLamb

Boot Camp Bride – Romance and Intrigue on the Norfolk marshes – November 2013 http://bit.ly/BCBLLamb

Lizzie Lamb

Lizzie

Author Lizzie Lamb

Life is not a rehearsal
If you have a dream – go for it.

After teaching her 1000th pupil and working as a deputy head teacher in a large primary school, Lizzie decided it was time to leave the chalk face and pursue her first love: writing. She joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s New Writers’ Scheme, honed her craft and wrote Tall, Dark and Kilted (2012), quickly followed a year later by Boot Camp Bride. Lizzie loves the quick fire interchanges between the hero and heroine in the old black and white Hollywood movies, and hopes this love of dialogue comes across in her writing. Although much of her time is taken up publicising Tall, Dark and Kilted and Boot Camp Bride, she has published a third novel SCOTCH ON THE ROCKS and started writing number four. Lizzie is a founding member of indie publishing group – New Romantics Press. In November 2014 they held an Author Event at Waterstones High Street, Kensington, London the icing on the cake as far as they are concerned – and a fitting way to celebrate their achievements. As for the years Lizzie spent as a teacher, they haven’t quite gone to waste as she is building up a reputation as a go-to speaker on the subject of self-publishing.

Lizzie can be found at:-

www.facebook.com/LizzieLambwriter

lizzielambwriter@gmail.com

website: www.lizzielamb.co.uk

twitter: @lizzie_lamb

Six Months to Get a Life by Ben Adams

Adams

At the beginning of Six Months to Get a Life I found Ben Adams’ novel a relaxed easy read, of the type you might find in a Women’s magazine, except that this story is told from the point of view of a man.  A man in the middle of a mid-life crisis, his marriage is over, he is living with his parents and spending weekends looking after his sons.

Graham Hope works in a boring office, earns barely enough to fund the maintenance of his ex-wife and sons, and longs for a new relationship.  Writing in the form of a diary, he decides to take a positive attitude, intending that on his 43rd birthday in exactly 6 months he will have a more interesting job, his own place to live, a social life and a good relationship with Sean and Jack.

At first we are forced to despair of Graham.  He lacks confidence, relies on others and is indecisive.  A blind date introduces him to “Miss Putney” but is this the promise of sexual satisfaction and companionship that he seeks?  He may be forced to find another job quicker than he intended and increasing tension in his parent’s house, partly caused by his amiable but messy dog Albus, means an alternative residence is becoming urgent.

I enjoyed the fact that the novel is rooted in the present day with detailed references to last year’s football World Cup and mention of current events.  Jack & Sean are charming, yet normal, boys at the outset of their teenage years.  Although it is not easy to empathise with “the Ex” wife, Graham does allow us to understand her point of view.  There is a delightful, very British, ironic humour running through the story.

As soon as things begin to improve for Graham, disaster strikes and he is forced to face up to his feelings and intentions for the future.  The book takes a more serious turn, and I found myself reading well into the night to reach the denouement.  This would make such a good TV serial but in the meantime I recommend that you read the book!

Rosie's Book Review team 1