A Forgotten Murder by Jude Devereux

45485859._sy475_

EXCERPT: Puck didn’t expect to find a body. She certainly hadn’t been looking for a skeleton of a man no one seemed to remember. How she had mourned him when he disappeared. Her mother told her to stop snivelling, that at fourteen she had no idea what love was.

But she did know!

Now, so many years later, she was still at Oxley Manor, and this morning she was hiding from her mother – as usual. The absurdity that she was thirty-eight years old and still trying to escape Mummy wasn’t lost on her. If her beloved cottage hadn’t been gifted to her, she would leave Oxley. Maybe.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: An English manor home, an unsolved mystery, too many suspects to count… It’s the perfect holiday for romance novelist Sara Medlar.

After solving two murder cases in their hometown of Lachlan, Florida, Sara Medlar, her niece Kate and their friend Jack need a change of scenery. Sara arranges for them to visit an old friend of hers in England. Upon arrival at Oxley Manor, a centuries-old estate that has been converted to a luxury hotel, Kate and Jack quickly realize that Sara is up to something. They learn that Sara has also invited a number of others to join them at Oxley.

When everyone assembles, Sara lets them know why they are there. Decades earlier, two people ran off together from Oxley and haven’t been heard from since—and Sara wants to solve the case. As the people who were there the night the two went missing, the guests find themselves cast in a live mystery-theater event.

In reenacting the events of that night, it becomes clear that everyone has something to hide and no one is safe, especially when the discovery of a body makes it clear that at least one of the people who disappeared was murdered.

Sara, Jack and Kate are once again at the heart of a mysterious case that only they are able to solve. But someone is willing to continue to kill to keep the truth about Oxley Manor buried, and none of the guests are safe.

MY THOUGHTS: I liked the gist of this story but really, it was too long. I loved the characters…Sara, a well known romantic novelist who has developed a penchant for solving real life mysteries; Jack and Kate, her proteges; Puck, whose mother appears to detest her; Clive, the hanger-on; Nadine, so beautiful, so lonely; Willa, who just wants to be loved; Diana, earmarked to marry the heir to Oxley Manor, but who disappears the same night as Sean, the stable manager; Byon the poet; Nicky, heir to Oxley; Mrs Aiken, housekeeper and Puck’s mother; and Bella, friend of Sara and current owner of Oxley.

This book had the potential to be really suspenseful, but it wasn’t. Oxley is an old Manor House with its own chapel, graveyard, an attic and, no doubt, a cellar. A lot could have been made of the setting, but this was an opportunity missed to create a really atmospheric read.

It was interesting, and while I wouldn’t call it ‘irresistible’ it was certainly intriguing enough to keep me reading. There are plenty of suspects for the title of murderer, all with motive and opportunity.

I did not realise, when I picked this book up, that A Forgotten Murder is the third in a series. While it does work as a stand alone, personally I would have liked a little more information on how Jack and Kate came to be involved with Sara. I enjoyed this enough that I intend to read the first two books in the series just to find out.

This is a cosy mystery. There are references to violence and sex, but no graphic descriptions.

🤫🗝💌.5

THE AUTHOR: Jude Gilliam was born September 20, 1947 in Fairdale, Kentucky. She has a large extended family and is the elder sister of four brothers. She attended Murray State University and received a degree in Art. In 1967, Jude married and took her husband’s surname of White, but four years later they divorced. For years, she worked as 5th-grade teacher.

She began writing in 1976, and published her first book, The Enchanted Land (1977) under the name Jude Deveraux. Following the publication of her first novel, she resigned her teaching position. Now, she is the author of 31 New York Times bestsellers.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Harlequin Mira US & Canada for providing a digital ARC of A Forgotten Murder by Jude Devereux for review. All opinions expressed are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com

This review and others are also published on Twitter, Amazon and https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3232233877

The Wizard of Evesham & The Murderous Marriage by MC Beaton

18364484

EXCERPT: Mrs Agatha Raisin fancied herself to be a detective to rival the fictional ones like Hercule Poirot and Lord Peter Wimsey. She was a stocky middle aged woman with good legs, a round face and small bear like eyes which looked suspiciously out at the world. Her hair had always been her pride, thick and brown and glossy.

But only that week she had discovered grey hairs, nasty grey hairs appearing all over. She had bought one of those colour rinses but it had turned the grey purple. “Go to Mr John,” advised Mrs Bloxby, the vicar’s wife. “His place is in the High Street in Evesham. He’s supposed to be very good. They say he’s a wizard at tinting hair.”

ABOUT THIS BOOK: The Wizard of Evesham – Agatha is alarmed when her new wizard of a hairdresser seems keen to take on more than just her split ends. She soon discovers that everyone in his salon has a secret and that he practices a very dark magic indeed.

The Moment of Truth – Agatha must quickly discover the identity of the prisoner, but James is refusing to help. Has he really ceased to care for her?

The Murderous Marriage – After pursuing him for nearly four years, Agatha is finally about to marry James Lacey, the handsome Colonel next door. But there’s just one little problem …

The Disappearing Trick – With her marriage dreams in tatters, Agatha has the small task of returning the wedding presents, and the slightly larger one of clearing her name of murder.

MY THOUGHTS: I loved these short and witty BBC adaptations of Agatha Raisin stories, not least because Penelope Keith plays Agatha Raisin absolutely superbly. While they are greatly abridged, they are beautifully performed and produced, capturing the essence of the story.

I was quite put off the Agatha Raisin series a couple of years ago after watching one episode of the television series. It was absolutely ghastly. (Good grief, now I am beginning to sound like Penelope Keith!) But after picking up one of the books last year, and then listening to an audiobook of another, I have begun to quite enjoy her, so at some point I fully intend to read the full version of this one. I do enjoy Beaton’s writing, and loved her Hamish Macbeth series.

🥂🍾😂🤣.5

THE AUTHOR: Marion Chesney Gibbons
aka: Ann Fairfax, Jennie Tremaine, Helen Crampton, Marion Chesney, Charlotte Ward, Sarah Chester.

Marion Chesney was born on 1936 in Glasgow, Scotland, UK, and started her first job as a bookseller in charge of the fiction department in John Smith & Sons Ltd. While bookselling, by chance, she got an offer from the Scottish Daily Mail to review variety shows and quickly rose to be their theatre critic. She left Smith’s to join Scottish Field magazine as a secretary in the advertising department, without any shorthand or typing, but quickly got the job of fashion editor instead. She then moved to the Scottish Daily Express where she reported mostly on crime. This was followed by a move to Fleet Street to the Daily Express where she became chief woman reporter. After marrying Harry Scott Gibbons and having a son, Charles, Marion went to the United States where Harry had been offered the job of editor of the Oyster Bay Guardian. When that didn’t work out, they went to Virginia and Marion worked as a waitress in a greasy spoon on the Jefferson Davies in Alexandria while Harry washed the dishes. Both then got jobs on Rupert Murdoch’s new tabloid, The Star, and moved to New York.

Anxious to spend more time at home with her small son, Marion, urged by her husband, started to write historical romances in 1977. After she had written over 100 of them under her maiden name, Marion Chesney, and under the pseudonyms: Ann Fairfax, Jennie Tremaine, Helen Crampton, Charlotte Ward, and Sarah Chester, she getting fed up with 1714 to 1910, she began to write detectives stories in 1985 under the pseudonym of M. C. Beaton. On a trip from the States to Sutherland on holiday, a course at a fishing school inspired the first Constable Hamish Macbeth story. They returned to Britain and bought a croft house and croft in Sutherland where Harry reared a flock of black sheep. But Charles was at school, in London so when he finished and both tired of the long commute to the north of Scotland, they moved to the Cotswolds where Agatha Raisin was created.

DISCLOSURE: I listened to the audiobook of The Wizard of Evesham and The Murderous Marriage by M.C. Beaton, narrated by Penelope Keith and produced by BBC Audiobooks, via Overdrive. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com

This review and others are also published on Twitter and https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3223109901

Beating About the Bush by M.C. Beaton

43263431-1-1

EXCERPT: They were through the outer edge of the thicket, and only a few feet to their right they could see the brogue, the ankle, the lower leg, and…that was it. There was no body, just a sawn off leg lying amid the litter of dead leaves and twigs.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: When private detective Agatha Raisin comes across a severed leg in a roadside hedge, it looks like she is about to become involved in a particularly gruesome murder. Looks, however, can be deceiving, as Agatha discovers when she is employed to investigate a case of industrial espionage at a factory where nothing is quite what it seems.

The factory mystery soon turns to murder and a bad-tempered donkey turns Agatha into a national celebrity, before bringing her ridicule and shame. To add to her woes, Agatha finds herself grappling with growing feelings for her friend and occasional lover, Sir Charles Fraith. Then, as a possible solution to the factory murder unfolds, her own life is thrown into deadly peril. Will Agatha get her man at last? Or will the killer get her first?

MY THOUGHTS: I enjoyed this romp with Agatha (she hates being called Aggie). I enjoyed her acerbic wit, and even her temper tantrums. She is a fault-finder supreme who can be equally charming when she wants or needs to be, and has a smile that lights up the room and melts hearts. But she does call a spade a spade, and abhors stupidity and/or anyone who doesn’t see things from her perspective. Her personal life is something of a shambles, and I felt very sorry for her assistant Toni at times.

I love Beaton’s descriptions of people…’Charles was a crease-free zone……If he were ever – perish the thought – to grow wrinkly with age, Gustav, his loyal retainer, would find a way to iron him.’ And the way she gently pokes fun at the British aristocracy and their social climbing hangers on. ‘They sell sanitary towels?’ ‘Well someone has to.’ ‘Of course someone has to, Charles, but you don’t marry them.’

Agatha Raisin comes across much better on paper than she is portrayed in the TV series…I must admit to not having been able to sit through one entire episode.

I enjoyed this amusing interlude with Agatha. She was just the antidote I needed for all my recent dark reads. She brought a smile to my face, and I can see myself calling on her again when I am in need of some light relief.

🤗🤣😂🙂

#BeatingAboutTheBushMcBeaton #NetGalley

THE AUTHOR: Marion Chesney Gibbons
aka: Ann Fairfax, Jennie Tremaine, Helen Crampton, Marion Chesney, Charlotte Ward, Sarah Chester.

Marion Chesney was born on 1936 in Glasgow, Scotland, UK, and started her first job as a bookseller in charge of the fiction department in John Smith & Sons Ltd. While bookselling, by chance, she got an offer from the Scottish Daily Mail to review variety shows and quickly rose to be their theatre critic. She left Smith’s to join Scottish Field magazine as a secretary in the advertising department, without any shorthand or typing, but quickly got the job of fashion editor instead. She then moved to the Scottish Daily Express where she reported mostly on crime. This was followed by a move to Fleet Street to the Daily Express where she became chief woman reporter. After marrying Harry Scott Gibbons and having a son, Charles, Marion went to the United States where Harry had been offered the job of editor of the Oyster Bay Guardian. When that didn’t work out, they went to Virginia and Marion worked as a waitress in a greasy spoon on the Jefferson Davies in Alexandria while Harry washed the dishes. Both then got jobs on Rupert Murdoch’s new tabloid, The Star, and moved to New York.

Anxious to spend more time at home with her small son, Marion, urged by her husband, started to write historical romances in 1977. After she had written over 100 of them under her maiden name, Marion Chesney, and under the pseudonyms: Ann Fairfax, Jennie Tremaine, Helen Crampton, Charlotte Ward, and Sarah Chester, she getting fed up with 1714 to 1910, she began to write detectives stories in 1985 under the pseudonym of M. C. Beaton. On a trip from the States to Sutherland on holiday, a course at a fishing school inspired the first Constable Hamish Macbeth story. They returned to Britain and bought a croft house and croft in Sutherland where Harry reared a flock of black sheep. But Charles was at school, in London so when he finished and both tired of the long commute to the north of Scotland, they moved to the Cotswolds where Agatha Raisin was created

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to St Martin’s Press, Minotaur Books via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Beating About the Bush by M.C. Beaton for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com

This review, and others, is also published on Twitter, Amazon and https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3035902147

Watching What I’m Reading…

Only ten days until Christmas and I am not even remotely organised! But I guess it will happen whether I am organised or not. We held the children’s Christmas party at the local pools today and all 63 of them seemed to have a great time. The only tears were caused by a stubbed toe. So that’s a major that I can cross off my to do list.

I managed to sneak in an extra read again this week which was

48158182._sy475_

This was a thrilling five star read and I will be publishing my review tomorrow . Although if you want a preview you can find it at https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3035904538

My next read is

43263431-1

When private detective Agatha Raisin comes across a severed leg in a roadside hedge, it looks like she is about to become involved in a particularly gruesome murder. Looks, however, can be deceiving, as Agatha discovers when she is employed to investigate a case of industrial espionage at a factory where nothing is quite what it seems.

The factory mystery soon turns to murder and a bad-tempered donkey turns Agatha into a national celebrity, before bringing her ridicule and shame. To add to her woes, Agatha finds herself grappling with growing feelings for her friend and occasional lover, Sir Charles Fraith. Then, as a possible solution to the factory murder unfolds, her own life is thrown into deadly peril. Will Agatha get her man at last? Or will the killer get her first?

I am not as much of an Agatha Raisin fan as I am of the Hamish Macbeth series, but I do enjoy Beaton’s writing .

I am also planning on reading

43723860._sy475_

Ten years have passed since the events described in The Vanishing Box. Edgar Stephens is now a Superintendent and married to former DS Emma Holmes. Edgar’s wartime partner in arms, magician Max Mephisto, is a movie star in Hollywood, while his daughter Ruby has her own TV show, Ruby Magic.

The funeral of Stan Parks, aka Diablo, actor and wartime comrade to Edgar and Max, throws the gang back together. The reunion sparks all sorts of feelings. Bob Willis, now a DI, is dealing with the disappearance of local schoolgirl Rhonda Miles. Emma, frustrated by living the life of a housewife and mother, keeps thinking how much better she would run the case. She is helped by Sam Collins, a woman reporter also hampered by sexism at work. Sam notices a pattern with other missing girls. Edgar listens to the theory but doesn’t give it much credence. He is preoccupied with the threatened invasion of Brighton by Mods and Rockers on the May Bank Holiday.

The case takes a more sinister turn when one of the missing girls is found dead. Then Ruby fails to turn up for a rendezvous and it becomes clear that she too has disappeared. Emma takes risks to track down the killer herself while Edgar is working flat out dealing with violent clashes between rival gangs on Brighton’s seafront. With tension and anger hitting him on all sides, Edgar must keep the coolest of heads to track down the killer.

I have received seven (my lucky number!) new ARCs from Netgalley this week. .😂🤣

49188082._sy475_

45554476

44375176._sy475_

49005342._sy475_

48589660._sy475_

48921591._sy475_

48570814._sy475_

Now all I need in my Christmas stocking is a desert island so that I can read in peace.

Stay calm and read on my friends.

❤😍📚

Midwinter Mysteries: A Christmas Crime Anthology

48664805._sy475_-2

EXCERPT: Galway, Ireland, 2019

It could be said that everything that happens is good news for somebody. How driving along a motorway, at two o’clock in the morning shortly before Christmas, with a dead Santa Claus in the back of his cab could ever be good news for Ben Miller was anybody’s guess. (The Stolen Santa Sack by Sean Gibbons)

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Eleven authors. Eleven stories. One festive collection! Perfect for fans of crime fiction, short stories, thrillers — and Christmas!

Deck the halls with tales of murder!

To get you in the mood for Christmas, Sapere Books has brought eleven of their authors together in this thrilling, festive short story anthology.

From dead bodies in Victorian London, to fraudulent identities in modern-day Cheltenham and a dead Santa in Galway, each story in this collection follows a mystery in the lead-up to Christmas.

Follow Charles Dickens as he turns private investigator.; a feisty couple challenging the status quo in 17th century England; a young woman unmasking fraudulent psychics in Victorian Brighton; an enigmatic policeman manning the streets of Prague; a strong-willed female detective taking down criminals in Wales; and a law-enforcement team investigating a death on a small Scottish island.

MY THOUGHTS: A quick and quirky read. This enjoyable collection of murders based around Christmas time contains a ghost who appears in a wedding photo, a dead Santa, a Russian policeman with a sense of humour, and even Charles Dickens makes an appearance! The times span from Victorian to current day, and the locations include London, Wales and Ireland.

While some of the stories rely heavily on Christmas and all the traditions and customs that come along with it, in others the fact that it is Christmas is just a misfortune of timing.

Most of the authors are unfamiliar to me, but I have read one or two previously.

Definitely recommended if you want a little mayhem in the guise of theft and murder in your Christmas stocking. My personal favourite was Footprints in the Snow by JC Briggs.

#MidwinterMysteries #NetGalley

😍😍😍😍

THE AUTHORS: Graham Brack – Away in a Manger
J C Briggs – Footprints in the Snow
Keith Moray – Lost and Found
Cora Harrison – The Spirit of Christmas
Sean Gibbons – The Stolen Santa Sack
Marilyn Todd – Will Power
Gaynor Torrance – Christmas Spirits
David Field – The Essex Nativity
Kim Fleet – Secret Santa
MJ Logue – Stir Up Sunday
Linda Stratman – The Christmas Ghost

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Sapere Books via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Midwinter Mysteries for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system, please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com

This review and others are also published on Twitter, Amazon and https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3051774895?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

The Curse of Arundel Hall (The Yellow Cottage Vintage Mysteries #2) by J. New

35611346._sy180_-1

EXCERPT: It was never my intention to begin what now can only be described as a career in detective work. I fell into the role of amateur sleuth quite by accident…..

ABOUT THIS BOOK: One ghost, one murder, one hundred years apart. But are they connected?

Ella has discovered a secret room in The Yellow Cottage, but with it comes a ghost. Who was she? And how did she die? Ella needs to find the answers before either of them can find peace. But suddenly things take a nasty turn for the worse.

Ella Bridges has been living on Linhay Island for several months but still hasn’t discovered the identity of her ghostly guest. Deciding to research the history of her cottage for clues she finds it is connected to Arundel Hall, the large Manor House on the bluff, and when an invitation to dinner arrives realises it is the perfect opportunity to discover more.

However the evening takes a shocking turn when one of their party is murdered. Is The Curse of Arundel Hall once again rearing its ugly head, or is there a simpler explanation?

Ella suddenly finds herself involved in two mysteries at once, and again joins forces with Scotland Yard’s Police Commissioner to try and catch a killer. But will they succeed?

MY THOUGHTS: A delightful cosy murder-mystery with just a touch of the paranormal in the shape of a cat called Phantom, and the ghost at the Yellow Cottage.

It is light-hearted and entertaining, the only drawback being a lack of historical detail. Although it is set in the 1930s, it could have been anytime. The characters are well portrayed, and the plot interesting.

As for the final revelation….Well, not I just have to read the next book!

I did initially have some trouble getting used to the narrator as she sounded a lot older than Ella is; more the age of Miss Marple. But after a short time this became irrelevant.

3.5 appreciative stars

THE AUTHOR: J. New is the British author of The Yellow Cottage Vintage Mystery series. Set on the fictitious island of Linhay in the south of England during the 1930’s, they are an homage to the Golden Age mysteries but with a contemporary twist.

DISCLOSURE: I listened to the audiobook of The Curse of Arundel Hall, #2 in the Yellow Cottage Vintage Mysteries series, written by J New, narrated by Jilly Bond and published by Whole Story Quest. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own honest opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system, please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page, or the about page on sandysbookaday.com

This review is also published on Twitter, Amazon and https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3005943972?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

Valley of the Shadow by Carola Dunn

13538775

EXCERPT: They walked on until the path petered out into terraces and steps of slate. The abrupt edge was two or three feet above the smooth tops of the swells that surged onward to meet the stream in swirls of foam. Clumps of thrift, the flowerheads brown now, clung in crevices here and there. A grey and white herring gull launched itself into the air and joined its fellows circling overhead, their raucous screams cutting through the constant yet ever-changing sounds of moving water. High above floated a buzzard.

“Gorgeous,” said Megan.

“Good enough.” Nick fiddled with his camera’s settings, peered through, and fiddled some more.

Megan jumped down a slate step. Eleanor sat on it, the sun warm on her back.

“What’s that?” Nick lowered the camera and pointed.

Eleanor peered, wishing she had brought binoculars. Something dark bobbed in the water. “A seal?”

“No.” Megan’s voice rang harsh. “It’s a man. And if he’s not already dead, he soon will be.”

ABOUT THIS BOOK: While out on a walk, Eleanor Trewynn, her niece Megan, and her neighbor Nick spot a young, half-drowned Indian man floating in the water. Delirious and concussed, he utters a cryptic message about his family being trapped in a cave and his mother dying. The young man, unconscious and unable to help, is whisked away to a hospital while a desperate effort is mounted find the missing family in time.

The local police inspector presumes that they are refugees from East Africa, abandoned by the smugglers who brought them into England, so while the Cornwall countryside is being scoured for the family, Eleanor herself descends into a dangerous den of smugglers in a desperate search to find the man responsible while there is still time.

MY THOUGHTS: I quite enjoyed this cosy mystery by Carola Dunn set in Cornwall. I usually prefer my reading somewhat darker, but I am a sucker for anything set in Cornwall. And while this may be classed as a ‘cosy’, it is not at all twee, like I have found some of them to be.

I enjoyed Eleanor’s character, and the mystery is a good solid one. Plot development is steady, and the characters are well rounded. I would read more of this series, although I have tried another of this author’s books and didn’t find it particularly satisfying.

***.5 stars

THE AUTHOR: Carola Dunn is the author of more than 30 Regency romances, as well as 16 mysteries (the Daisy Dalrymple mystery series is set in England in the 1920s). Ms. Dunn was born and grew up in England, where she got a B.A. in Russian and French from Manchester University. She travelled as far as Fiji before returning to settle in California. After 30 years in the US, she says she still sounds as if she arrived a month ago.

Prior to writing, Ms. Dunn’s various jobs included market research, child-care, construction–from foundation trenches to roofing–and writing definitions for a dictionary of science and technology. She wrote her first novel in 1979, a Regency which she sold to Warner Books.

Now living in Eugene, Oregon, Ms. Dunn has a son in California who has just made her a grandmother, and a large black dog named Willow who takes her for a walk by the Willamette River each morning.

DISCLOSURE: I listened to the audiobook version of Valley of the Shadow by Carola Dunn, narrated by Wanda McCaddon and published by Blackstone Audio, via Overdrive. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system, please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page, or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com

This and other reviews are also published on my Goodreads.com page https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2796767434?book_show_action=false&from_review_page=1

Watching What I’m Reading. . .

It’s almost a month since I last did this post, for which I must apologize. A ‘comedy of errors’ conspired to give me an enforced break, and now we are moving house again so my posts may be a bit sporadic over the coming week or two.

Currently I am reading

Pray for the Girl

Lucy Abbott never pictured herself coming back to Fawn Grove, Maine. Yet after serving time in Afghanistan, then years spent as a sous chef in New York, she’s realized her only hope of moving on from the past involves facing it again. But Fawn Grove, like Lucy herself, has changed.

Lucy’s sister, Wendy, is eager to help her adapt, almost stifling her with concern. At the local diner, Lucy is an exotic curiosity–much like the refugees who’ve arrived in recent years. When a fifteen-year-old Muslim girl is found murdered along the banks of the river, difficult memories of Lucy’s time overseas come flooding back and she feels an automatic connection. At first glance, the tragedy looks like an honor killing. But the more Lucy learns about her old hometown, the less certain that seems.

There is menace and hostility here, clothed in neighborly smiles and a veneer of comfort. And when another teen is found dead in a cornfield, his throat slit, Lucy–who knows something about hiding secrets–must confront a truth more brutal than she could have imagined, in the last place she expected it . . .

and listening to

Valley of the Shadow (Cornish Mystery #3)

A cryptic message spurs Eleanor, Megan, and Nick Gresham on a frantic search for a refugee’s missing family, in The Valley of the Shadow, a Cornish Mystery from Carola Dunn.

While out on a walk, Eleanor Trewynn, her niece Megan, and her neighbor Nick spot a young, half-drowned Indian man floating in the water. Delirious and concussed, he utters a cryptic message about his family being trapped in a cave and his mother dying. The young man, unconscious and unable to help, is whisked away to a hospital while a desperate effort is mounted find the missing family in time.

The local police inspector presumes that they are refugees from East Africa, abandoned by the smugglers who brought them into England, so while the Cornwall countryside is being scoured for the family, Eleanor herself descends into a dangerous den of smugglers in a desperate search to find the man responsible while there is still time.

This week I am planning on reading:

What She Saw

She lied to her daughter to save her family.

Everyone knows Leona would do anything for her daughter Beth: she moved to Church Langdon to send Beth to the best school, worked hard to build a successful business to support them and found them the perfect little cottage to call home. Leona and Beth hike together, shop together, share their hopes and fears with one another. People say they’re more like best friends than mother and daughter.

It’s the relationship every mother dreams of.

But their closeness means that Beth struggles to make friends. Her mother has kept her sheltered from the world. She’s more reliant on her mother’s love. More vulnerable.

When Beth finds an envelope hidden under the floorboards of their home, the contents make her heart stop. Everything she thought she knew about her mother is a lie. And she realises there is no one she can turn to for help.

What if you’ve been protected from strangers your whole life, but the one person you can’t trust is the person closest to home? 

Last of the Magpies

The chilling conclusion to the #1 bestseller The Magpies.

Twelve months ago, Jamie Knight walked straight into Lucy Newton’s trap. Both Jamie and his ex-wife Kirsty barely survived. Now, with the police investigation into Lucy’s disappearance going nowhere, Jamie teams up with a true crime podcaster to track down his nemesis.

But can Jamie persuade Kirsty to help? Can Kirsty forgive him for his past mistakes? And who, if anyone, will survive the final showdown? Featuring extracts from Lucy’s secret memoir, Last of the Magpies brings the trilogy to a shocking conclusion.

Books I have been approved for since I last posted are:

Pretty Guilty Women

#taken (Max Wolfe, #6)

Those People

Sleep

No Way Out (DI Adam Fawley, #3)

Till Sudden Death Do Us Part (Ishmael Jones #7)

I don’t have a heavy reading load for May, which is probably a blessing, so maybe I can make inroads into some of my back titles. I am also way behind on writing my reviews because of being without my tablet for three weeks, so I need to catch up on those in between packing, moving and unpacking. It will be lovely to have our own home again rather than renting, and I am going to claim the spare bedroom that opens out onto the deck as my library/ office space.

Have a wonderful week my friends, and happy reading 💕📚

Death of a Doll by Hilda Lawrence

Death Of A Doll by Hilda Lawrence


EXCERPT: She went back to the night before, to the afternoon that was just over. She retraced every step. I don’t think she knew me at first, she decided. Because of my glasses. I was wearing glasses before. But she knew me this afternoon. Maybe I have a special way of turning my head or using my hands. . . She looked at her hands and saw they were clenched. Maybe I did that this afternoon. Maybe I did that the other time.

She went back to the other time. She saw an office, richly furnished, saw two hatted men with hard eyes, saw another man, hatless, sitting in a leather chair behind an ornate desk. She saw the other girl, her face twisted with fury. She heard the voice again, low and quiet at first, then screaming: ‘I’ll kill you for this. Someday we’ll meet and I’ll kill you with my bare hands.’

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Hope House, a New York boarding home for women, has led a rather sleepy existence in terms of emergencies. One wastepaper basket fire surely doesn’t count as a five-alarm fire. That is until new tenant Ruth Miller’s limp and lifeless body is found in the courtyard after plummeting to her death.

In a clandestine and hot-chocolate infused meeting, the heads of the house decide Ruth’s death couldn’t possibly have been foul play: no, she must have fallen or jumped. Shy and mousy, it seems Ruth had no friends to question… or ask uncomfortable questions.

But this was no accident: upon Ruth’s arrival, the atmosphere of this happy house shifted, her paranoia was catching, and her last days were filled with dread. If the heads thought a scandal could be averted, they were wrong. It turns out Ruth did have a friend… and she’s out for justice.

This claustrophobic and tense mystery is heralded as Hilda Lawrence’s best. Equal parts cosy and suspenseful, it’s sure to captivate lovers of all genres of classic crime.

Death of a Doll was first published in 1947 and is the third in the Mark East Series:

Mark East
1. Blood Upon the Snow (1944)
2. A Time to Die (1945)
3. Death of A Doll (1947)

MY THOUGHTS: This book is a bit of a mixed bag of tricks. It brought to mind old movies where the private eye wears a fedora and always has a lit cigarette in his mouth, the women are all dames or dolls, and people have a ‘swell’ time. In that sense, it was very enjoyable. I could see and hear most of this playing out just like one of those old movies, and the dialogue is superb, if occasionally a little hard to follow, but only because our speech has changed greatly in the last seventy years. As has the writing style.

There are some delightfully odd characters to enjoy, Bessy and Beulah, for example. Mark East says of them, ‘With his own eyes he had seen them find needles in haystacks and thread them with camels’.
Two ladies of indeterminate age, independently wealthy (I should imagine that ten thousand a year was a great deal back then), and who don’t mind a tipple or two, they provide a great deal of color.

The plot is dated, but perhaps all the more appealing because of that. It would not work in a modern setting where young working women no longer live in heavily chaperoned boarding houses, required to sign in and out if going anywhere other than work. It brought to mind living in the nurses home when I started my training. We were all required to ‘live in’ for our first year. But back to the plot – I got a little lost once or twice and had to retrace my steps to see if I had missed something. But no, it is just the writing style, deliberately obscure at times.

All in all, an enjoyable read, and definitely recommended if you enjoy atmospheric period ‘whodunnits’. But I would also recommend that you read this series from the beginning to get a better knowledge of the main characters.

😊😊😊.5

THE AUTHOR: Hilda Lawrence was born in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1894. An avid reader of crime fiction, she wrote her first novel, Blood upon the Snow, in 1946. The novel introduced her three main series characters: Manhattan private investigator Mark East and sleuthing New England spinsters Miss Beulah and Miss Bessy. By combining these characters Hilda Lawrence’s novels are a clever mixture of the hardboiled and softboiled styles of detective fiction. Hilda Lawrence wrote only four novels, all in the 1940s. Death of a Doll, which was published in 1947, is considered her masterpiece. She died in Manhattan, New York, in 1976.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Agora Books via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Death of a Doll by Hilda Lawrence for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on my Goodreads.com page https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2736313799

Miss Marple’s Final Cases by Agatha Christie

Miss Marple's Final Cases (Miss Marple #14)

EXCERPT: The Vicar’s wife came around the corner of the vicarage with her arms full of chrysanthemums. A good deal of rich garden soil was attached to her strong brogue shoes and a few fragments of earth were adhering to her nose, but of that fact she was perfectly unconscious.

Christened by her optimistic parents Diana, Mrs Harmon had become Bunch at an early age for somewhat obvious reasons and the name had stuck to her ever since. Clutching the chrysanthemums, she made her way through the gate to the churchyard, and so to the church door.

The November air was mild and damp. Clouds scudded across the sky with patches of blue here and there. Inside, the church was dark and cold; it was unheated except at service times.

‘Brrrrrh,’ said Bunch expressively. ‘I’d better get on with this quickly. I don’t want to die of cold.’

ABOUT THIS BOOK: A collection of Miss Marple mysteries, plus some bonus short stories…First, the mystery man in the church with a bullet-wound…then, the riddle of a dead man’s buried treasure…the curious conduct oif a caretaker after a fatal riding accident…the corpse and a tape-measure…the girl framed for theft…and the suspect accused of stabbing his wife with a dagger. Six gripping cases with one thing in common – the astonishing deductive powers of Miss Marple.

MY THOUGHTS: Is there anything I could say about Christie’s Miss Marple that hasn’t been said before? I adore ‘Aunt Jane’, and this collection of short stories was new to me. Although it appears that Aunt Jane is becoming frailer, her mind is as sharp as ever.

June Whitfield played Miss Marple in the BBC Radio version I listened to, with a whole cast of other supporting narrators. And while I loved it, the sound effects are magnificent, you do miss out on a lot of extraneous details, which means that at some point in the future I will read the book.

THE AUTHOR: Agatha Christie is the best-selling author of all time. She wrote eighty crime novels and story collections, fourteen plays, and several other books. Her books have sold roughly four billion copies and have been translated into 45 languages. She is the creator of two of the most enduring figures in crime literature-Hercule Poirot and Miss Jane Marple-and author of The Mousetrap, the longest-running play in the history of modern theatre.

Agatha Mary Clarissa Miller was born in Torquay, Devon, England, U.K., as the youngest of three. The Millers had two other children: Margaret Frary Miller (1879–1950), called Madge, who was eleven years Agatha’s senior, and Louis Montant Miller (1880–1929), called Monty, ten years older than Agatha.

During the First World War, she worked at a hospital as a nurse; later working at a hospital pharmacy, a job that influenced her work, as many of the murders in her books are carried out with poison.

Her first novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, came out in 1920. During her first marriage, Agatha published six novels, a collection of short stories, and a number of short stories in magazines.

In late 1926, Agatha’s husband, Archie, revealed that he was in love with another woman, Nancy Neele, and wanted a divorce. On 8 December 1926 the couple quarreled, and Archie Christie left their house, Styles, in Sunningdale, Berkshire, to spend the weekend with his mistress at Godalming, Surrey. That same evening Agatha disappeared from her home, leaving behind a letter for her secretary saying that she was going to Yorkshire. Her disappearance caused an outcry from the public, many of whom were admirers of her novels. Despite a massive manhunt, she was not found for eleven days.

In 1930, Christie married archaeologist Max Mallowan (Sir Max from 1968) after joining him in an archaeological dig. Their marriage was especially happy in the early years and remained so until Christie’s death in 1976.

Christie frequently used familiar settings for her stories. Christie’s travels with Mallowan contributed background to several of her novels set in the Middle East. Other novels (such as And Then There Were None) were set in and around Torquay, where she was born. Christie’s 1934 novel Murder on the Orient Express was written in the Hotel Pera Palace in Istanbul, Turkey, the southern terminus of the railway. The hotel maintains Christie’s room as a memorial to the author. The Greenway Estate in Devon, acquired by the couple as a summer residence in 1938, is now in the care of the National Trust.

Christie often stayed at Abney Hall in Cheshire, which was owned by her brother-in-law, James Watts. She based at least two of her stories on the hall: the short story The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding, and the novel After the Funeral. Abney Hall became Agatha’s greatest inspiration for country-house life, with all the servants and grandeur which have been woven into her plots.

During the Second World War, Christie worked in the pharmacy at University College Hospital of University College, London, where she acquired a knowledge of poisons that she put to good use in her post-war crime novels.

To honour her many literary works, she was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the 1956 New Year Honours. The next year, she became the President of the Detection Club.

DISCLOSURE: I listened to the BBC Radio full cast drama version of Miss Marple’s Final Cases, with Miss Marple played by June Whitfield, published by BBC Worldwide Ltd, via OverDrive. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

Please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com for an explanation of my rating system. This review and others are also published on my Goodreads.com page https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2673662073