15 May 2021

Review: KILLJOY, Ann Cleeves

  • this edition on Libby through my local library
  • first published 1993 by Macmillan
  • this e-book published 2013 by Bello
  • #4 in the Inspector Ramsay series
  • ISBN 978-1-4472-5322-8 EPUB
  • 215 pages

Synopsis (publisher)

Gus Lynch is directing the Youth Theatre through a rehearsal. The cast is in place but the female lead, Gabriella Paston, is missing. Later that evening her body is discovered in the boot of Gus's car. Detective Inspector Stephen Ramsay and Sergeant Gordon Hunter are assigned to head the murder enquiry.

Meanwhile violence is escalating on the Starling Farm Estate as police battle to contain the latest outbreak of joyriding. Is the death of Gabriella connected to the events at Starling Farm? When another death occurs, investigations suggest a possible link. Ramsay realises what could have provoked someone to kill . . . and kill again.

My Take

Once again, I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. A cleverly told story, and the identity of the murderer came as a surprise. There were plenty of red herrings and a number of plot strands that provided interest. Stephen Ramsay meets up with a former girl friend, and his relationship with his Sergeant seems to be improving... slightly. There is a nice contrast between Ramsay and Hunter.

If you haven't tackled this series before, you could read this one as a stand-alone, but hopefully will enjoy it enough to go back to the beginning  and read them all.

My rating: 4.6

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13 May 2021

Review: THE MYSTERY OF THE BLUE TRAIN, Agatha Christie

  • this edition on Kindle (Amazon)
  • ASIN : B0046A9MQS
  • Publisher : HarperCollins; Masterpiece Ed edition (14 October 2010)
  • first published 1928
  • Language : English
  • File size : 650 KB
  • Print length : 317 pages
  • Earlier review
  • Extra information- Wikipedia

Synopsis (Amazon)

The daughter of an American millionaire dies on a train en route for Nice…

When the luxurious Blue Train arrives at Nice, a guard attempts to wake serene Ruth Kettering from her slumbers. But she will never wake again – for a heavy blow has killed her, disfiguring her features almost beyond recognition. What is more, her precious rubies are missing.

The prime suspect is Ruth’s estranged husband, Derek. Yet Poirot is not convinced, so he stages an eerie re-enactment of the journey, complete with the murderer on board…

My take

Another novel that I have read many times, as well as seen numerous tv versions of. However it is one of those novels where the precise details become a bit blurred.

The novel has two major events: the theft of a ruby and the death of its owner while they are on The Blue Train which is taking holiday makers to the French Riviera. It reveals glimpses of the French underworld, a description of the lifestyle of the well to do in post-war Europe, and the plot is characterised by a lot of misdirection and red herrings. Poirot has some doubt that theft and the murder are done by the same person.

Poirot goes into "partnership" with Katherine Grey, who recently has acquired wealth after a decade as a companion. She meets Ruth Kettering on the Blue Train. This "partnership" foreshadows a method Poirot will often use in the future.

There does not appear to be a narrator in this novel (i.e. no Hastings who is not even mentioned).  Poirot is described as a famous detective of bygone years who is now retired. Ruth Kettering's father offers him a huge sum to take on the case, but then becomes frustrated with what he thinks is inaction on Poirot's part.

As with many other of Agatha Christie's full length novels, THE MYSTERY OF THE BLUE TRAIN was based on an idea originally used in an earlier short story: The Plymouth Express.

It was also serialised over a 6 week period in 1928 in a slightly shorter version with 34 daily instalments. This may explain the relative shortness of each chapter. 

This novel features the first mention, in a novel, of the fictional village of St. Mary Mead, which had originally appeared in "The Tuesday Night Club" published in December 1927, which was the first short story of Christie's detective Miss Marple. It also features the first appearance of the minor recurring character, Mr Goby, who would later appear in After the Funeral and Third Girl. The book also features the first appearance of Poirot's valet, George

My rating: 4.5

Agatha Christie Books read

6 May 2021

Review: THIS SIDE MURDER, John Bonnet

  • Format: Kindle (Amazon)
  • ASIN : B01N4V5KEI
  • Publisher : Lume Books (February 1, 2017)
  • First published 1967
  • File size : 1362 KB
  • Print length : 154 pages
  • Inspector Borges #3

Synopsis (Amazon)

Gilbert Tarsier, successful newspaper columnist, is sent by his paper to Spain on a mission: to ferret out gossip about the guests at the new luxury hotel in Cala Cristina…

This quickly arouses the hostility of several distinguished hotel guests, so when the self-assured Tarsier shows up dead, the lack of sympathy is unsurprising.

Unfortunately for the gentle Inspector Borges, Tarsier’s unpopularity means the range of suspects is extensive. If indeed it was murder that caused his untimely death. First there’s his neglected wife Lily, plain but holding untapped potential, who is soon taken under the wing of Irene Stollman, wife of the economist Franz, one of the victims of Tarsier’s libellous pen. Then there’s Lady Poppy Dauntwood, currently on her fifth husband, her vivaciousness belying a sad past and another guest suffering the slurs of Tarsier.

When it is revealed that Tarsier had penned a defamatory biography of the Victorian novelist Matthew Egremont, grandfather of the artist Arbelle and her brother Ralph Egremont, the pool of suspects grows even larger. Does this incriminate their nephew and architect of the Cala Cristina, Philip Egremont too? Surely his relations with the lovely ballerina Judy Shafto, on holiday with her Uncle Quintin, means his thoughts are occupied by romance and not murder?

The Inspector must sort through numerous and often conflicting statements and alibis to discover the truth behind Tarsier’s demise…

This Side Murder is a mystery filled with colourful characters and gripping suspense, and is the third Inspector Borges mystery.

My Take

Another enjoyable read in this series.  The plot is quite complex and after the death of the very reprehensible Gilbert Tarsier, the first thing is to decide whether his death was an accident or murder. There are plenty of reasons for thinking murder but then who had the motive or the opportunity?

You will have noticed that these novels are relatively short, so quite a lot happens in a small space, and yet the character development is very good.

I do recommend this series, but read them in order please. Available on Kindle very cheaply. However, published over 50 years ago, so probably not available now in hard copy.

My rating: 4.5

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1 May 2021

Review: THE SOUND OF MURDER, John Bonett

  • Format: Kindle (Amazon
  • Publisher : Lume Books (November 22, 2016)
  • Publication date : November 22, 2016
  • Originally published 1966
  • Language : English
  • File size : 1194 KB
  • Print length : 181 pages
  • #2 in the Inspector Borges series

Synopsis  (Amazon)

When Sid and Minnie hear a loud noise from the back of their van, they think it’s the engine stalling. Hours later, Sid discovers a corpse…

The body is of Halberd Corsair, one of London’s finest tycoons and entrepreneurs, whose home and work is the grand Termini building. The official report suggests it was an accident – that he slipped and fell out the window.

But gossip is rife and rumours spread that Mrs. Corsair might have done him – it was an unhappy marriage and she profited handsomely from her husband’s death. Not only that, but her opera glasses are found broken outside, just below the ill-fated window. As her health declines over these vile slanders, her nephew and heir to Corsair’s ‘empire’, Keith Antrim, enlists Sir Otto’s help to clear her name.

And so, Inspector Borges is brought in. Alongside Sir Otto’s niece, the headstrong Anthea, the pair realise that Corsair’s death might not have been an accident after all. As Inspector Borges discovers, there are several people with the means and the motive to kill. As the list of suspects grows, it’s up to Borges and Anthea to track down the killer before it’s too late.

Filled with intrigue and suspense, The Sound of Murder is a cleverly-plotted, engrossing murder mystery, and the second book in the Inspector Borges mystery series.

My Take

Inspector Borges has been at a conference in Europe with some English senior policemen and has accepted an invitation to holiday in London with an old friend, Sir Otto. Sir Otto's niece Anthea will  be taking him to see the sights in future days but Sir Otto has been contacted by the son of an old friend with a worrying problem about his uncle's recent death. The death is that of Halberd Corsair and rumours are beginning to circulate that his wife has somehow caused his death. Her nephew Keith is keen to prove them wrong.

And so Inspector Borges is drawn into a semi-official investigation with the blessing of Scotland Yard,  although in fact he is a Spanish policeman.

I'm so glad to have discovered this series of very readable crime fiction, with their very satisfyingly constructed teasers.

I have already begun reading #3, THIS SIDE MURDER. I will certainly follow through and read all 5 titles in the Inspector Borges series. Has anybody read the 3 titles John Bonett wrote with his wife - the Mandrake series?

My rating: 4.5

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27 April 2021


  • this edition read as an e-book on Kindle (Amazon)
  • ASIN : B01N6V53R1
  • Publisher : Lume Books (January 24, 2017)
  • first published 1966
  • Language : English
  • File size : 1294 KB
  • Print length : 172 pages
  • #1 in the Inspector Borges series

Synopsis  (Amazon)

People have many faces…

In the Spanish town of Caltrava, a group of ex-pats have created their own close-knit community. In moving to a hotter country, the Brits are hoping to find a more relaxing way of living. But then – disaster strikes when the beautiful Linda Huntingdon is killed in a fatal car crash.

Nothing appears too suspicious until retired actor Aubrey de Lamplugh meets the same fate, being crushed by a falling cliff. Two complete accidents, or a double homicide?

That’s what Inspector Borges intends to discover. At first, the two appear unrelated – how is the death of a young, bored housewife connected with that of an alcoholic egotist? Slowly, a picture starts to unfurl before the Inspector’s eyes..

My Take

This novel took off fairly slowly, acquainting the reader with details about the residents of the British ex-pat community in the Spanish town of  Caltrava. There are a number of small side plots which tease out the links between the various residents.

After the two deaths Inspector Borges arrives to stay at the hotel, almost unobtrusively, not telling anyone at first that he is a police inspector looking for connection the two events.

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. There are some lovely descriptive parts, as well as explanation of the Spanish criminal justice system. I'm certainly going to be looking for the second in the series.

My rating: 4.6

About the author

John Bonett was the pen name of John Hubert Arthur Coulson (10 August 1906 – 21 January 1989), an English author, best known for numerous mystery and detective novels written in collaboration with his wife, Emery Bonett.

He was born in Longbenton, Tynemouth and educated at Durham School. In addition to his writing work, after serving in the Admiralty between 1940–45, he worked as a banker from 1924–37, a company secretary from 1937–39, and finally as a sales promotion executive, from 1945-63.

He lived in Spain with his wife during his later years.

25 April 2021


  •  this edition published by Pan books 2018
  • originally published 1992
  • #3 in Inspector Ramsay series
  • ISBN 978-1509-856244
  • 193 pages

Synopsis (Fantastic Fiction)

The third title in the Inspector Ramsay crime series. Dorothea Cassidy, the Vicar's wife is found dead in the park's flower bed. The list of suspects include old Mrs Bowman, Clive Stringer, a disturbed adolescent, and Theresa Stringer, a single mother with a violent boyfriend and even members of her own family.

My Take

Dorothea Cassidy is not everybody's idea of a vicar's wife. She is much younger than her husband and an unlikely candidate for murder. Thursdays are the day when she "does her own thing" and thursday night is when she was last seen.

Stephen Ramsay is first alerted to Dorothea's disappearance by his aunt who lives in a retirement village where Dorothea was supposed to have given a talk in the evening. It is another 12 hours before her body is discovered in a local park. The circumstances are complicated by a music fair running over a number of days.

Stephen tries to put together a timeline relating to when Dorothea was last seen. She had last been involved with a child protection case being managed by a local social worker.

These are very readable, and credible stories. Recommended.

My rating: 4.4 

I've also read (from this series)

24 April 2021

Review: THE BONE CODE, Kathy Reichs

  • this edition published by Simon & Schuster Australia 2021
  • ISBN 9-781760-858582
  • 351 pages
  • #20 in the Temperance Brennan series

Synopsis (Publisher)

NUMBER ONE NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author KATHY REICHS returns with her next edge-of-your seat thriller featuring forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan.

A storm has hit South Carolina, dredging up crimes of the past.

On the way to Isle of Palms, a barrier island off the South Carolina coast, forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan receives a call from the Charleston coroner. During the storm, a medical waste container has washed up on the beach. Inside are two decomposed bodies wrapped in plastic sheeting and bound with electrical wire. Chillingly, Tempe recognizes many details as identical to those of an unsolved case she handled in Quebec fifteen years earlier. With a growing sense of foreboding, she flies to Montreal to gather evidence and convince her boss Pierre LaManch to reopen the cold case. She also seeks the advice—and comfort—of her longtime beau Andrew Ryan.

Meanwhile, a storm of a different type gathers force in South Carolina. The citizens of Charleston are struck by a bacterium that, at its worst, can eat human flesh. Thousands panic and test themselves for a rare genetic mutation that may have rendered them vulnerable.

Shockingly, Tempe eventually discovers that not only are the victims in both grisly murder cases related, but that the murders and the disease outbreak also have a common cause…​​

My Take

It is some time since I have read one of this series. THE BONE CODE is set in 2020, acknowledging the presence of the Covid-19 pandemic. However it is not the pandemic that plays a role in this novel but a virus that is killing dogs. Is it possible it can also infect their human owners?

In South Carolina the two bodies washed up in a shipping container remind Tempe of an unsolved cold case in Quebec fifteen years earlier. In a secondary mystery she is trying to track down why the photo of a death mask many decades old looks so familiar.

Tempe calls in a number of favours to help her solve her problems, and eventually tracks down the reason for the similarity between the two sets of bodies separated, in discovery, by 15 years.

I did feel at a distinct disadvantage from having read so few of this series. For me, the book worked relatively well as a stand-alone.

My rating: 4.4

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