Watching What I Read

Well, I am glad I didn’t over commit myself on the reading front this week as I have only just finished

Treacherous Is the Night (Verity Kent, #2)

The fact that I have only just finished is absolutely no reflection on the quality of the book, believe me! Watch for my review tomorrow.

I paid a visit to my local library yesterday and picked up a copy of

The Comforts of Home (Simon Serrailler, #9)

which I will be starting as soon as I finish

Small Great Things

If you haven’t yet read Jodi Picoult’s latest, I strongly urge you to do so.

And I am currently listening to

The Blackhouse (Lewis Trilogy, #1)

This week I am planning on reading

The Little Shop of Found Things (The Little Shop of Found Things #1)

A new series about a young woman whose connection to antiques takes her on a magical adventure, reminiscent of Outlander

New York Times bestselling author of The Witch’s Daughter Paula Brackston returns to her trademark blend of magic and romance to launch a new series guaranteed to enchant her audience even more.

Xanthe and her mother Flora leave London behind for a fresh start, taking over an antique shop in the historic town of Marlborough. Xanthe has always had an affinity with some of the antiques she finds. When she touches them, she can sense something of the past they come from and the stories they hold. So when she has an intense connection to a beautiful silver chatelaine she has to know more.

It’s while she’s examining the chatelaine that she’s transported back to the seventeenth century. And shortly after, she’s confronted by a ghost who reveals that this is where the antique has its origins. The ghost tasks Xanthe with putting right the injustice in its story to save an innocent girl’s life, or else it’ll cost her Flora’s.

While Xanthe fights to save her amid the turbulent days of 1605, she meets architect Samuel Appleby. He may be the person who can help her succeed. He may also be the reason she can’t bring herself to leave.

With its rich historical detail, strong mother-daughter relationship, and picturesque English village, The Little Shop of Found Things is poised to be a strong start to this new series.

And

In Her Shadow

Isabel’s life seemed perfect. Successful business, beautiful house, adoring husband. And then she was dead.

For four years Jessica has never doubted that her sister Isabel’s death was an accident. But when Jessica’s young daughter seems to know long-forgotten details about her aunt’s past, Jessica can’t shake the feeling that there’s a more sinister truth behind the tragedy.

As Jessica unearths disturbing revelations about her sister, and about the people she loved and trusted most, it becomes clear Isabel’s life was less than perfect and that Jessica’s might also be at risk.

Did someone murder Isabel? Are they now after Jessica and her family? The key seems to lie in the hands of a child. Can Isabel reveal the truth from beyond the grave, or is the answer closer to home?

In Her Shadow is a gripping tale of family secrets, lies and obsession from the two million copy bestselling author Mark Edwards.

I received three ARCs from NetGalley this week

The Promise

Murder in the Dark (Ishmael Jones, #6)

Broken Ground (Inspector Karen Pirie, #5)

We have the family descending on us for lunch. This is their first visit to our new home. I hope that they love it as much as we do.  The lamb is in the oven, the vegetables all prepared, so now I just need to throw together the Greek Salad. I am glad it’s a beautiful day, especially after yesterday which was wet, cold and windy. We lit the fire and I spent the day reading between naps and watching the Supercars racing at Pukekohe. Today we will be able to eat outside and enjoy the magnificent views.

Happy reading my friends 😎

Money in the Morgue by Ngaio Marsh and Stella Duffy

Money in the Morgue by Ngaio Marsh

EXCERPT: At about eight o’clock on a disarmingly still midsummer evening, Mr Glossop telephoned from the Transport Office at Mt Seager Hospital to his headquarters twenty miles away across the plains. He made angry jabs with his forefinger at the dial – and to its faint responsive tinkling an invisible curtain rose upon a series of events that were to be confined within the dark hours of that short summer night, bounded between dusk and dawn. So closely did these events follow an arbitrary design of a play that the temptation to represent Mr Glossop as an overture cannot be withstood.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Roderick Alleyn is back in this unique crime novel begun by Ngaio Marsh during the Second World War and now completed by Stella Duffy.

‘Hugely enjoyable’
KATE MOSSE

It’s business as usual for Mr Glossop as he does his regular round delivering wages to government buildings scattered across New Zealand’s lonely Canterbury plains. But when his car breaks down he is stranded for the night at the isolated Mount Seager Hospital, with the telephone lines down, a storm on its way and the nearby river about to burst its banks.

Trapped with him at Mount Seager are a group of quarantined soldiers with a serious case of cabin fever, three young employees embroiled in a tense love triangle, a dying elderly man, an elusive patient whose origins remain a mystery … and a potential killer.

When the payroll disappears from a locked safe and the hospital’s death toll starts to rise faster than normal, can the appearance of an English detective working in counterespionage be just a lucky coincidence – or is something more sinister afoot?

MY THOUGHTS: Money in the Morgue is not going to be remembered as my favorite Ngaio Marsh. Although I was initially excited to find this set in New Zealand, it didn’t last. There seemed to be something missing. . . and the story failed to engage me to the extent that I found myself losing interest in parts. But the ending. .. now, that was worth the read and earned this book a whole extra star.

I have to admit to not enjoying Stella Duffy’s narration. Her New Zealand accents sounded far more Australian to me, and soon began to grate on my nerves. I do wonder if I might have enjoyed Money in the Morgue more had I read it rather than listening to it. At some point, I may just do that and see if it alters my opinion at all.

THE AUTHOR: Dame Ngaio Marsh, born Edith Ngaio Marsh, was a New Zealand crime writer and theatre director. There is some uncertainty over her birth date as her father neglected to register her birth until 1900, but she was born in the city of Christchurch, New Zealand.

Of all the “Great Ladies” of the English mystery’s golden age, including Margery Allingham, Agatha Christie, and Dorothy L. Sayers, Ngaio Marsh alone survived to publish in the 1980s. Over a fifty-year span, from 1932 to 1982, Marsh wrote thirty-two classic English detective novels, which gained international acclaim. She did not always see herself as a writer, but first planned a career as a painter.

Marsh’s first novel, A MAN LAY DEAD (1934), which she wrote in London in 1931-32, introduced the detective Inspector Roderick Alleyn: a combination of Sayers’s Lord Peter Wimsey and a realistically depicted police official at work. Throughout the 1930s Marsh painted occasionally, wrote plays for local repertory societies in New Zealand, and published detective novels. In 1937 Marsh went to England for a period. Before going back to her home country, she spent six months travelling about Europe.

All her novels feature British CID detective Roderick Alleyn. Several novels feature Marsh’s other loves, the theatre and painting. A number are set around theatrical productions (Enter a Murderer, Vintage Murder, Overture to Death, Opening Night, Death at the Dolphin, and Light Thickens), and two others are about actors off stage (Final Curtain and False Scent). Her short story “‘I Can Find My Way Out” is also set around a theatrical production and is the earlier “Jupiter case” referred to in Opening Night. Alleyn marries a painter, Agatha Troy, whom he meets during an investigation (Artists in Crime), and who features in several later novels.

DISCLOSURE: I listened to Money in the Morgue by Ngaio Marsh and Stella Duffy, narrated by Stella Duffy and published by Harper Collins Publishers, 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/2336175884

 

When In Rome and Opening Night by Ngaio Marsh

When in Rome and Opening Night by Ngaio Marsh
Reviewed by

30817744


EXCERPT: (From When in Rome) Barnaby Grant looked at the Etruscan bride and bridegroom who reclined so easily on their sarcophagal couch and wondered whether they had died young and whether, they had died together. Their gentle lips, he thought, might easily tilt into the arrowhead smile of Apollo and Hermes. How fulfilled they were and how enigmatically alike. What signal did she give with her largish hands? How touchingly his hand hovered above her shoulder.

” –from Cerveteri,” said a guide rapidly. “Five hundred and thirty years before Christ.”

“Christ,” said a tourist on a note of exhaustion.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Two full-cast BBC Radio 4 dramatisations of Ngaio Marsh short stories.

In Opening Night, a leading actor is found gassed in his dressing room. It looks like suicide, until it transpires that he was widely detested. Inspector Alleyn quickly realises that almost everyone in the theatre had a motive for his murder.

Jeremy Clyde stars as Inspector Alleyn.

When In Rome finds Inspector Alleyn joining a group of highly suspicious tourists on a visit to a Roman catacomb. The corpse he finds in an ancient sarcophagus has been very recently murdered…

MY THOUGHTS: I just love these full cast BBC Radio 4 dramatisations of Ngaio Marsh’s murder-mysteries. While they may be severely abridged in content, the professionalism with which they are produced more than compensates.

Both mysteries are well plotted, with no obvious suspects and a well balanced cast of characters.

Highly recommended.

I listened to When In Rome and Opening Night by Ngaio Marsh, recorded with a full cast and featuring Jeremy Clyde as Inspector Alleyn, produced by BBC Radio and published by AudioGO 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/2349659318

The Inspector Alleyn Mysteries – A Man Lay Dead, and A Surfeit of Lampreys by Ngaio Marsh

The Inspector Alleyn Mysteries by Ngaio Marsh
Reviewed by

30817744


EXCERPT: (From ‘A Man Lay Dead’) He had heard much of Sir Hubert Handesley’s ‘unique and delightfully original’ house-parties from a brother journalist who had returned from one of them, if the truth be told, somewhat persistently enthusiastic. Charles Rankin, himself a connoisseur of house-parties, had refused many enviable invitations in favour of these unpretentious weekends. And now, as a result of a dinner party at old Charles’s flat, here was Nigel himself about to be initiated.

(From A Surfeit of Lampreys) …for Roberta the invitation broke like a fabulous rocket, that Roberta’s mother, when Lady Charles Lamprey telephoned, was thrown into a frenzy of sewing that lasted until two o’clock in the morning, that Roberta’s father bicycled four miles before eight o’clock in order to leave at Te Moana a strange parcel, a letter of introduction on behavior, and five shillings to give the housemaid. Frid always sympathised when Roberta said her people were poor, as though they were all in the same boat, but the poverty of the Lampreys, as Roberta was to discover, was a queer and baffling condition understood by nobody, not even their creditors, and certainly not by poor Lord Charles with his eyeglass, his smile and his vagueness.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: A Man Lay Dead:

A game of ‘murders’ at Sir Hubert Handesley’s country house party becomes far too realistic for anyone’s liking. First a guest arrives with a dangerously lethal dagger and then, when the gong sounds to announce the start of the game, the victim plays dead in a very convincing manner. Chief Detective Inspector Alleyn believes the unusual dagger is a vital clue to the real-life murder, and soon he’s on the trail of a Russian secret society.

A Surfeit of Lampreys:

Like all good aristocrats, the Lampreys are charming but penniless – so a visit from the wealthy head of their family is greatly anticipated. However, their Uncle Gabriel isn’t persuaded to part with his money and a row ensues. When a body is found in the lift leading to the Lampreys’ flat, Chief Detective Inspector Alleyn finds a family immersed in hidden secrets and intrigue.

Jeremy Clyde stars as Chief Inspector Alleyn in these BBC Radio dramatisations of two of Ngaio Marsh’s much-loved mysteries.

MY THOUGHTS: I came late unto the pleasure of Ngaio Marsh, a Dame here in her native New Zealand. But although I have only recently begun to read her work, I rank her up there with, or perhaps even slightly above, Agatha Christie.

She has a great gift for placing the reader in the moment, of carrying them along on a pleasant, meandering, but purposeful ride of discovery. She captures the nuances and atmosphere of the era, and has the great knack both of getting her characters absolutely perfect and of setting the perfect scene, creating the perfect atmosphere.

Ngaio Marsh’s murder-mysteries are fun, good jolly rollicking fun. And this BBC Radio rendition is first class. It brought back fond memories of listening to plays on the radio with my grandmother when I was a child.

Although the BBC audio productions of Marsh’s books are somewhat abridged, the sheer quality of the production makes this well worth listening to.

I listened to the audiobook of The Inspector Alleyn Mysteries containing A Man Lay Dead and A Surfeit of Lampreys by Ngaio Marsh, starring Jeremy Clyde as Inspector Alleyn, produced by BBC Radio 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/2336177040

Death at the Bar by Ngaio Marsh

Death at the Bar by Ngaio Marsh
Reviewed by

30817744


EXCERPT: Probably the alarming entrance into this village has saved it from becoming another Clovelly or Polpero. Ladies with ‘ye olde shoppe’ ambitions would hesitate to drive through Coombe Tunnel and very large cars are unable to do so. Moreover, the village is not too picturesque. It is merely a group of houses whose whitewash is tarnished by the sea. There are no secret stairs in any of them, no ghosts walk Ottercombe Steps, no smugglers cave looks out from Coombe Rock. For all that, the place has a history of grog-running and wrecking. There is a story of a fight in the tunnel between excisemen and the men of Coombe, and there are traces of the gate that closed the tunnel every night at sunset. The whole of Ottercombe is the property of an irascible eccentric who keeps the houses in good repair, won’t let one of them to a strange shopkeeper and breathes venom on the word ‘publicity’. If a stranger cares to stay in Ottercombe he must put up at the Plume of Feathers, where Abel Pomeroy has four guest rooms, and Mrs Ives does the housekeeping and cooking. If the Coombe men like him, they will take him out in their boats and play darts with him in the evening. He may walk around the cliffs, fish off the rocks, or drive seven miles to Islington where there is a golf course and a three-star hotel. These are the amenities of Ottercombe.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: A classic Ngaio Marsh novel in which a game of darts in an English pub has gruesome consequences.

At the Plume of Feathers in south Devon one midsummer evening, eight people are gathered together in the tap-room. They are in the habit of playing darts, but on this occasion an experiment takes the place of the usual game – a fatal experiment which calls for investigation.

A distinguished painter, a celebrated actor, a woman graduate, a plump lady from County Clare, and a Devonshire farmer all play their parts in the unravelling of the problem…

MY THOUGHTS: I am embarrassed to admit that this is the first book I have read by New Zealand author Ngaio Marsh, and I was quite surprised to find it set in South Devon rather than in New Zealand. I am also ashamed to admit that I knew very little about this author, and had to look her up.

Marsh has written an atmospheric ‘whodunit’, a little reminiscent of Christie’s work, but somewhat ‘fuller’ in both character and atmosphere. I like that her main character, Detective Roderick Alleyn, doesn’t exhibit all the idiosyncrasies and affectations so commonly found in lead characters of this era. He is a relatively normal, if somewhat laid back, character with keen powers of observation.

There is plenty of misdirection, and red herrings abound in Death at the Bar. It kept my brain whirring and my interest levels high. I have found a new alternative to re-rereading Christie and Ngaio Marsh has a new fan.

I listened to Death at the Bar by Ngaio Marsh, narrated by Nadia May and published by Blackstone Audio, 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/1539928512

Five Books I Would Like to Find Under the Christmas Tree

Firstly, a huge thank you to all the wonderful people who have encouraged, supported and followed my blog. Yesterday I reached my first 100 followers. A milestone that 3 months ago, I never would have envisaged reaching.

Today, instead of featuring a Friday Favorite, I will tell you about 5 books that I would like to find under my Christmas tree.

And So It Began by Owen Mullen

PI Vincent Delaney thought he was done with the NOPD until a string of seemingly unrelated child murders brings an unexpected invitation from the FBI, and his old boss.

A serial killer is roaming the South, preying on children appearing in pageants, and the police want him to go undercover using his own family. Accepting would mean lying to people he loves and maybe even putting them in harm’s way.

In Baton Rouge, a violent criminal has escaped and is seeking revenge for the brother Delaney shot dead. But Delaney isn’t going anywhere. He has unfinished business.

Meanwhile, north of the French Quarter, shopkeepers are being extorted and ask for Delaney’s help. Extortion is a matter for the police.

But what do you do when those responsible are the police?

Delaney has his work cut out and he’ll be lucky if he makes it out of this alive…

Yes, I know that I have read it, and read it more than once, but I love this book. And yes, I know that I have it on my Kindle,  but when I really love a book, I like to have a hard copy of it.

Scrumptious

The eagerly anticipated follow-up to Homemade Happiness, Everyday Delicious and At My Table.

Chelsea Winter has become a saviour in the kitchen. Discover why with this utterly scrumptious collection of recipes.

Packed with irresistible recipes for mouthwatering lunches and dinners, indulgent baking and wickedly good desserts, Chelsea Winter’s fourth cookbook is sure to become your new go-to for any occasion. There’s even a section on Chelsea’s festive favourites for Christmas! The 90-plus recipes are easy to follow, use ingredients on hand in your fridge or pantry, and will certainly earn you rave reviews from your family and friends.

Chelsea’s Homemade Happiness is my most used cookbook. I love the little stories she writes about each recipe, and the recipes themselves are delicious and aren’t fiddly. She uses ingredients that we mostly have readily available, and I can usually get the dishes looking remarkably like the ones in the beautiful photos. This book had somehow slipped by my radar until I went to a friend’s for Christmas drinks last week and complemented her on the delicious festive cheese log she served. She laughed and said ‘Chelsea Winter’, then ‘Scrumptious’. It wasn’t until I was browsing her shelf of cookbooks that I got what she meant. This is definitely going to be added to my collection even if I have to buy it myself.

A Killer Harvest

A new thriller from the Edgar-nominated author of Trust No Oneand Joe Victim about a blind teenager who receives new eyes through corneal donation and begins to see and feel memories that he believes belong to the previous owners a detective and a serial killer.

Joshua is convinced there is a family curse. It’s taken away his biological parents, robbed him of his eyesight, and is the reason his father Logan, the detective who raised him, is killed while investigating the homicide of a young woman. The suspect, Simon Bowers, is killed by Logan’s partner Ben, whose intentions are murkier than expected.

After this tragedy Joshua is handed an opportunity he can’t refuse: a new pair of eyes. But a mishap during the surgery leads to Joshua unknowingly getting one eye from his father, and the other from Simon. As Joshua navigates a world of sight, he gets glimpses of what his eyes might have witnessed in their previous life. Memories, truths, and lies Joshua discovers a world darker than the one he has emerged from. What else has he failed to see?

Meanwhile, Simon’s accomplice Vincent is bent on revenge, going after the loved ones of those involved in Simon’s death and Vincent is drawing closer and closer to Joshua.

Thriller virtuoso Paul Cleave is back with another riveting story of hidden secrets and unspeakable horrors that will keep readers guessing until the very last page.

☆New Zealand author alert!☆

I love the work of this home grown author. He approaches situations from a whole new angle. I really can’t praise his writing enough. I have to clear the day and sequester myself when I start one of his books.

A Question of Trust

A Question Of Trust is vintage Penny Vincenzi: rich with characters, life-changing decisions, glamour, love, desire and conflict.

1950s London. Tom Knelston is charismatic, working class and driven by ambition, ideals and passion. He is a man to watch. His wife Alice shares his vision. It seems they are the perfect match.

Then out of the blue, Tom meets beautiful and unhappily married Diana Southcott, a fashion model. An exciting but dangerous affair is inevitable and potentially damaging to their careers. And when a child becomes ill, Tom is forced to make decisions about his principles, his reputation, his marriage, and most of all, his love for his child.

For a great family saga, dripping with moral dilemmas, you just can’t beat Penny Vincenzi. This is her latest offering and I just can’t wait to get my hands and eyes on it.

The Deep Dark Descending

Homicide Detective Max Rupert never fully accepted his wife’s death, even when he believed that a reckless hit and run driver was the cause. But when he learns that in fact she was murdered, he devotes himself to hunting down her killers. Most of his life he had thought of himself as a decent man. But now he’s so consumed with thoughts of retribution that he questions whether he will take that last step and enact the vengeance he longs for.

On a frozen lake near the US-Canadian border, he wrestles with a decision that could change his life forever, as his hatred threatens to turn him into the kind of person he has spent a career bringing to justice.

I have read two of Allen Eskin’s previous books, The Life We Bury and The Heavens May Fall. His characterisation is superb and I just want to read everything he has ever written.

Happy Reading all! I hope you get all the books you have wished for under your tree.

What are you looking forward to reading over the Christmas break?

I Made You a Cuddle – words by Ami Muir, pictures by Becky Lazarevic and Sarah Mutande

https://goo.gl/images/yJJt7S

EXCERPT: This cuddle I’ve made you is one of a kind,
And it’s filled up with all of the love I can find.’

THE BLURB: There are so many things a cuddle can do, inside this book is a cuddle for you.

MY THOUGHTS: It is impossible not to smile while reading this beautifully illustrated children’s book. It is warm, affectionate and a must have on the toddler’s bookshelf.

Illustrated by Becky Lazarevic and Sarah Mutande

New Zealand made 😊