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

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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.

 

Madam Tulip by David Ahern

Madam Tulip

Derry O’Donnell is a fully qualified, out of work actress who lives in Dublin.  Her father, Jacko, is a charming artist, fond of gambling, while her mother, Vanessa, is an assertive, successful Gallery owner in New York.

 

Derry’s friend, Bella, suggests that Derry uses her psychic talents, as the daughter of a seventh son of a seventh son, to create the persona of a mystic called Madam Tulip.  After meeting a friend of Jacko at a race course, Derry is persuaded by supermodel Marlene O’Mara to give Madam Tulip her first performance, giving consultations and predictions to clients at a Charity Bash taking place in a castle, the following weekend.  Among the guests are Mojo, a rapper from London and his partner Sony a Dee, an American R n B singer.

 

Derry finds Bruce, an old friend and also a “resting” actor, working at the castle.  In addition, he is an ex US navy SEAL with special skills which she will soon need to rely on.  Mojo is found dead in suspicious circumstances and Bella is arrested.  When it looks as though Derry might also be framed for murder, she decides to find the real culprit, but she is hindered by the lack of co-operation of her old flame, Fitz, an aristocratic policeman from London, who is working incognito.

 

Derry is a brave, likeable heroine, who inspires loyalty from her friends.  She relishes danger, although unsure of the advantage of her ability to sense people’s secrets and predict consequences.  The second half of the novel is full of drama and adventure.  It is clear that Derry or Madam Tulip could continue with other thrilling investigations since you can trust her and enjoy her sardonic humour.

 

This story fits into the “cozy mystery” genre but there is also a touch of Irish feyness which reminds me of the books of David’s namesake, Cecelia Ahern.  A most enjoyable read.

Rosie's Book Review team 1

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.

mcbeaton_web_pic

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/

Amelia Dyer and the Baby Farm Murders by Angela Buckley

Amelia Dyer

We cannot help being fascinated by true life crimes and how they are solved.  This sensational tale has been thoroughly researched and told in an easily read style which gives us a realistic picture of late 19th century life.

 

Unmarried mothers at that time, not only suffered deep shame but would also lose their jobs and probably end up in the workhouse.  The alternatives were to do away with their baby or to find a baby farm.  Middle aged women like Amelia Dyer advertised for babies, whom, for a fee they would take care of.  Frequently these babies would be sold on to another, although some women genuinely wanted a child as a companion and helpmate.  To provide anonymity for the mother (and also the baby farmer) the baby was often handed over in a large railway station.

 

Amelia Dyer first took in babies while living in the Bristol area before eventually moving to Caversham near Reading.  Despite being admitted more than once into a mental asylum she kept under the radar until a shocking discovery was made under the Clappers footbridge across the River Thames.  The body of a child was found wrapped up in brown paper.

 

Angela Buckley’s book describes how events unfolded as the Reading police searched for the perpetrator.  From newspaper accounts, letters and the trial details, the sad lives of many children and the events surrounding Amelia Dyer’s actions are revealed in a compelling story.  We also become acquainted with Granny, a simple soul who helped look after the babies and Arthur Ernest Palmer, Amelia’s enigmatic son-in-law.

 

This is the first of Angela Buckley’s new historical true crime series, Victorian Supersleuth Investigates, promising more revealing stories in the future.

1890 Caversham

Caversham Bridge in 1890

You can read my review of Angela Buckley’s earlier book The Real Sherlock Holmes, the Hidden history of Jerome Caminada here.