31 March 2016

Review: THE STONE WIFE, Peter Lovesey

  • This edition published in 2014 by Soho Press
  • ISBN 978-1-61695-393-5
  • 358 pages
  • source: my local library
  • #14 in the Peter Diamond series
Synopsis (Fantastic Fiction)

At an auction house in Bath, England, a large slab of carved stone is up for sale. At the height of what turns into very competitive bidding, there is a holdup attempt by three masked raiders who are trying to steal the stone. They shoot and kill the highest bidder, a professor who has recognized the female figure carved in the stone as the Wife of Bath from Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. The masked would-be thieves flee, leaving the stone behind.

Peter Diamond and his team are assigned to investigate, and the stone is moved into Diamond's office so he can research its origins. The carving causes such difficulties that he starts to think it has jinxed him. Meanwhile, as Diamond's leads take him to Chaucer's house in Somerset, his intrepid colleague Ingeborg goes undercover to try to track down the source of the handgun used in the fatal murder.

My take

Another good read from Peter Lovesey with a sprinkling of humour.

When a would-be buyer of a massive stone carving thought to be of the Wife of Bath is shot dead in the middle of the auction, Peter Diamond becomes the temporary custodian of the carving. She squats on her "ambler" in the corner of his office, and occasionally he finds himself talking to her.

The investigation into the murder takes Diamond and his team into some very strange territory indeed. The victim is an English professor, not particularly well-liked by his students or colleagues. There is no shortage of possible suspects: the victim's wife former husband is an extremely wealthy property developer; then there is an ambitious academic who would never become professor while the victim was alive; and what about the "fixer" who supplied the gun? 

I really like the way Lovesey can create an interesting plot with lots of red herrings from almost nothing.

Looking for cracking British crime fiction? Then try Peter Lovesey.

My rating : 4.7

I've also read

Meme: New to Me Authors, January to March 2016

It's easy to join this meme.

Just write a post about the best new-to-you crime fiction authors (or all) you've read in the period of January to March 2016, put a link to this meme in your post, and even use the logo if you like.
The books don't necessarily need to be newly published.

 After writing your post, then come back to this post and add your link to Mr Linky below. (if Mr Linky does not appear - leave your URL in a comment and I will add to Mr Linky when it comes back up, or I'll add the link to the post)
Visit the links posted by other participants in the meme to discover even more books to read.

This meme will run again at the end of June 2016

29 March 2016

Review: LITTLE GREY CELLS: The Quotable POIROT, Agatha Christie, edited by David Brawn

  • published by Harper Collins Publishers 2015
  • ISBN 978-0-00-811660-6
  • edited by David Brawn
  • 159 pages
  • source: my local library
Synopsis (publisher)

Discover the man behind the moustache in this book of one-liners by the world's most famous Belgian detective, revealing the wit and wisdom of Hercule Poirot and his creator, Agatha Christie. A perfect stocking-filler for every Christie fan, to help celebrate her 125th birthday.

'My name is Hercule Poirot and I am probably the greatest detective in the world.' The dapper, moustache-twirling little Belgian with the egg-shaped head, curious mannerisms and inordinate respect for his own 'little grey cells' solved some of the twentieth century's most puzzling crimes. But what do we really know about the eccentric genius underneath that fussy facade? Sometimes funny, often profound, and always revealing, this book of quotes and comments, from more than 50 Poirot novels and short stories, gives an entertaining glimpse of the man behind the moustache, and the wit and wisdom of the Queen of Crime who created him. Includes an exclusive essay by Agatha Christie from the archives on her love/hate relationship with her most famous creation.

My Take

Full of lovely little one-line snippets from some of the Hercule Poirot novels and short stories, this will remind you of why you've enjoyed reading them. I truly wish some one had given it to me in my Christmas stocking!

The Introduction, written by Agatha Christie in 1938, gives us a brief overview how Hercule Poirot came to be and how "there was much more in the little man than I had ever suspected." Her humour comes through when, later, she says, "I am beholden to him financially."

At the back, in References, there is a handy list of the books and short stories in which he actually appeared - there has been a tendency by film and television to locate him in other stories.

I loved it.

My rating: 4.5

Check out the Agatha Christie Reading Challenge Blog Carnival
See also Agatha Christie Novels.

24 March 2016

Review: MAIGRET IN NEW YORK, Georges Simenon

  • format: Kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 756 KB
  • Print Length: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; Reprint edition (January 7, 2016)
    Originally published 1947
  • Publication Date: January 7, 2016
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B015X4XSAG
  • alternative title: MAIGRET GETS ANGRY
  • This edition translated by Linda Coverdale
Synopsis (Amazon)

Maigret's first impressions of the USA colour this sparkling new translation, book twenty-seven of the new Penguin Maigret series.

What was it about him that had struck Maigret so forcefully? . . . Little John had cold eyes! . . . Four or five times in his life, he had met people with cold eyes, those eyes that can stare at you without establishing any human contact.

Persuaded to sail to New York by a fearful young law student, Maigret finds himself drawn into the city's underworld, and a wealthy businessman's closely guarded past.
Penguin is publishing the entire series of Maigret novels in new translations.

My Take

Maigret has retired to the Loire Valley but his services are still in demand. A young man is brought to see him by an elderly lawyer. Jean Maura is a law student whose father John Maura is an American millionaire living in New York.  Jean has become concerned that his father's life is in danger and he wants Maigret to accompany him to New York. They embark 10 days later.

What follows is a strange investigation, made stranger by Jean Maura's disappearance from  the boat when they arrive in New York. Maigret is frustrated in attempts to find him but arrival formalities and continues to the hotel without him. He has some difficulty in getting to see John Maura and is amazed at the father's seeming lack of concern at his son's disappearance.

Maigret finds that his English is not really adequate for the simplest of tasks and he calls up a French-speaking NYPD detective whom he met years before through an investigation in Paris. O'Brien provides his assistance and Maigret manages to piece together John Maura's history and eventually works out what is happening.

Simenon obviously wanted to write a novel about New York - he had recently arrived in 1947 - incorporating his own experiences and impressions, but also including comment on the influence of the Sicilian Mafia in economic affairs. There are some very strange characters in this novel, and from this distance some not-quite-believable plot lines.

I read this book for my participation in Crimes of the Century, on Rich Westwood’s Past Offences for 1947.  Make a stop over at Past Offences to read the suggestions of other participants.

My rating: 4.0

See a review at A Crime is Afoot.

I've also read
4.4, MAIGRET & the MAN on the BOULEVARD
4.3, LOCK NO 1. Maigret #18

22 March 2016

Review: THE BITTER SEASON, Tami Hoag

  • this edition published 2016
  • source: my local library
  • ISBN 978-0-525-95455-2
  • 408 pages
  • Kovac/Liska #6
  • author website includes an excerpt and some discussion questions
Synopsis (author website)

A murder from the past. A murder from the present. And a life that was never meant to be

As the dreary, bitter weather of late fall descends on Minneapolis, Detective Nikki Liska is restless. After moving to the cold case squad in order to spend more time with her sons, she misses the rush of pulling an all-nighter, the sense of urgency of hunting a murderer on the loose. Most of all she misses her old partner, Sam Kovac. Sam is having an even harder time adjusting to Nikki’s absence, saddled with a green new partner younger than pieces of Sam’s wardrobe. Sam is distracted from his troubles by an especially brutal double homicide: a middle-aged husband and wife bludgeoned and hacked to death in their home with a ceremonial Japanese samurai sword. Nikki’s case, the unsolved murder of a family man, community leader, and decorated sex crimes detective for the Minneapolis PD, is less of a distraction: Twenty years later, there is little hope for finding the killer who got away.

On the other end of the spectrum, Minneapolis resident Evi Burke has a life she only dreamed of as a kid in and out of foster homes: a beautiful home, a family, people who love her, a fulfilling job. Little does she know that a danger from her past is stalking her perfect present. A danger powerful enough to pull in both Kovac and Liska and destroy the perfect life she was never meant to have.

My Take

We have become used to multi-stranded police procedurals, but with its 3 strands THE BITTER SEASON is just a bit different. Hoag manages to keep the mystery of their convergence alive until almost the very end.

There is another plot line too: Detective Nikki Liska has recently moved into Cold Cases, thinking it will be more of a 9 to 5 job and that she will have more family time with her teenage sons. But she is not sure she has done the right thing - she misses the adrenalin surge of the homicide investigation, as well as her friends in that squad. And to top it all, her first cold case is nearly twenty five years old and focusses on the murder of a high profile cop. There is resentment from a retired cop that she has been given a case that has almost been his life work.

The tension in the second half of the story was very well done.
A good read.
My rating: 4.5

Kovac / Liska series (list from Fantastic Fiction)
1. Ashes to Ashes (1999)
2. Dust to Dust (2000)
3. Prior Bad Acts (2006)
     aka Dead Sky
3.5. The 1st Victim (2013)
4. The 9th Girl (2013)
5. Cold, Cold Heart (2014)
6. The Bitter Season (2016)


20 March 2016

Review: THE PRICE OF LOVE, Peter Robinson

  • first published in Great Britain by Hodder & Stoughton 2009
  • ISBN 978-0-340-91951-4
  • subtitled Eleven Ways to Pay With Your Life
  • 338 pages
  • Author website 
Synopsis (author website)

This collection of short stories includes, as the centrepiece, a new Banks novella called “Like a Virgin.” The other stories in the book, two of them also featuring Banks, are “Cornelius Jubb,” “The Magic of Your Touch,” “The Eastvale Ladies’ Poker Circle,” “The Ferryman’s Beautiful Daughter,” “Walking the Dog,” “Blue Christmas,” “Shadows on the Water,” “The Cherub Affair,” “The Price of Love” and “Birthday Dance.”

My Take

I read mainly crime fiction novels but occasionally a short story anthology is brought to my attention by a fellow reader.  Short stories often give the reader a different view of a writer's talents. Among my favourite writers who have also produced short stories are Ian Rankin and Ruth Rendell. I cut my teeth on the short stories of Somerset Maugham and Charles Dickens.

These eleven stories first appeared in the first decade of the 21st century. Only three of them, one of them a longish novella,  feature Robinson's detective Alan Banks. The author says that most of them "were written at the request of one editor or another" and at the end of the anthology he gives detail about what led to the writing of each one. He says that he thinks of the stories as challenges, a chance to explore something he hadn't explored before. He says that he finds short stories difficult to write, and that they often take him into uncharted territory.

The story I liked best The Price of Love, the one that gives the anthology its name. Tommy Burford, whose police constable father was recently killed in the line of duty, has discovered something quite strange in the room of Uncle Arthur, his mother's new boyfriend.

It is worth it after you finish each story to take a moment to reflect, to ask who in this story, as the subtitle says, paid with his or her life.

My rating: 4.4

I have also read
4.6, BAD BOY (2010)

17 March 2016

Review: A RISING MAN, Abir Mukherjee

  •  source: ARC provided by Random House UK through NetGalley
  • Publication date 5 May 2016
  • The winner of the Harvill Secker/Daily Telegraph crime writing competition 2014 
Synopsis (Random House Australia)

Calcutta, 1919. Captain Sam Wyndham, a former Scotland Yard detective new to India, is confronted with a highly charged case: a senior British official has been found murdered, in his mouth a note warning the British to quit India, or else...

Captain Sam Wyndham, former Scotland Yard detective, is a new arrival to Calcutta. Desperately seeking a fresh start after his experiences during the Great War, Wyndham has been recruited to head up a new post in the police force. But with barely a moment to acclimatise to his new life or to deal with the ghosts which still haunt him, Wyndham is caught up in a murder investigation that will take him into the dark underbelly of the British Raj.

A senior official has been murdered, and a note left in his mouth warns the British to quit India: or else. With rising political dissent and the stability of the Raj under threat, Wyndham and his two new colleagues – arrogant Inspector Digby and British-educated, but Indian-born Sergeant Banerjee, one of the few Indians to be recruited into the new CID – embark on an investigation that will take them from the luxurious parlours of wealthy British traders to the seedy opium dens of the city.

The start of an atmospheric and enticing new historical crime series.

My Take

Captain Sam Wyndham finds himself embroiled in a murder investigation almost immediately upon his arrival in Calcutta. He finds himself at odds with the security force directed by the Lieutenant Governor. The dead official is part of the L-G's team, and Wyndham feels that they want to sweep everything under the carpet rather than investigate properly.

Tensions run high in the British Raj in 1919. White people receive preferred treatment while the Indian native population are treat as inferiors, despite their qualifications. So the novel provides interesting insights into colonialism. During the novel the Amritsar Massacre takes place and tensions are very much heightened.

One of the tasks Wyndham has been charged with is to root out corruption in the Calcutta Police Force and so he is not even sure who he can trust. A Mail train is held up but nothing is taken although a railway employee is battered to death. So what were they looking for? Were the attackers insurgents?

A complex plot, well handled, with enough historical details to provide authenticity. Wyndham and his sergeant Surrender-not Banajee make an interesting sleuthing duo.

My rating: 4.5
About the author
Abir Mukherjee was born in London, but grew up in the West of Scotland. Married, with two small children, he now lives in London and has spent the last twenty years working in finance. A Rising Man is his first novel and the first in a new series starring Captain Sam Wyndham and ‘Surrender-Not' Banerjee.

14 March 2016

Review: FATAL ERROR, Michael Ridpath

  • this edition published by Michael Joseph, Penguin, 2003
  • ISBN 0-7181-4461-9
  • 440 pages
  • source: my local library
Synopsis (Fantastic Fiction)

Set against the ferocious rise and spectacular fall of the dot.com industry, Michael Ridpath serves up another scintillating thriller.

The year is 1999 and Internet companies are springing up everywhere. Anything seems possible for those who think big. So when David Lane - a quiet, cautious banker - is invited by his old friend Guy Jourdan to help start up ninetyminutes.com he decides that for once he will do something daring, something dangerous. If only he'd realised quite how dangerous. Because Guy falls out with Tony Jourdan, his father and their biggest investor, bringing the company close to collapse. Then Tony is murdered - and David's rollercoaster ride into danger and disaster begins.

My take

Michael Ridpath takes us into a world about which I know very little. His story though feels very credible.

Guy Jourdan, failed actor, has the idea for a startup dot.com company, a website that will deal only with football, and will atract those who not only want to see results, but articles to read, and merchandise. It will eventually become the number one site for European football fans.

Guy's father is a millionaire, a very successful businessman and Guy wants to follow in his footsteps, and to outdo him. The dot.com boom offers a way to make quick money, but in order to do that you have to borrow lots and then manage it well. And that is where his old boarding school roommate, David Lane, comes in. David will provide the financial expertise, and Guy's brother Owen will be the technical wizard.

There have been a couple of incidents in the past, one where Guy's stepmother was killed, and one where Guy nearly crashed a plane into a mountain, which have resulted in estrangement between Guy and David, so David is very surprised when Guy contacts him about the new venture. Between them they manage to put together a small amount of money to get started,

When the first lot of money runs out  Guy approaches his father Tony for a two million pound loan. Tony, who dislikes David, obliges but wants an 80% share of the company. Shortly after he and Guy have a big argument Tony is killed by a hit and run driver. David reflects that something or someone keeps coming to Guy's rescue. And that is where things begin to get interesting and dangerous.

Quite a good thriller with some anonymous death threats providing mystery and spice. David thinks he knows who is behind them, and they serve to show what a dangerous world this is.

My rating: 4.4

About the author

Michael Ridpath spent eight years working as a bond trader at an international bank in the City of London. He is the author of Free to Trade, Trading Reality, The Marketmaker, Final Venture, The Predator, On the Edge and See No Evil. The latter two feature his new series character Alex Calder. He grew up in Yorkshire, and now lives in North London with his wife and three children.

13 March 2016

Review: THE WIDOW, Fiona Barton

  • this edition published by Transworld UK 2016
  • ISBN 9-780593-076224
  • 313 pages
Synopsis (Random House Australia)

We've all seen him: the man - the monster - staring from the front page of every newspaper, accused of a terrible crime.
But what about the woman who grips his arm on the courtroom stairs – the woman who stands by him?

Jean Taylor's life was blissfully ordinary. Nice house, nice husband. Glen was all she'd ever wanted: her Prince Charming.

Until he became that man accused, that monster on the front page. Jean was married to a man everyone thought capable of unimaginable evil.

But now Glen is dead and she's alone for the first time, free to tell her story on her own terms.

Jean Taylor is going to tell us what she knows.


Little Bella Elliot goes missing on 2 October 2006, snatched from the front yard of her home. The man accused of her abduction and murder dies nearly 4 years later. The investigation that occupies that time nearly ruins a policeman's career.

This tale is told by three principal narrators: The Widow, The Reporter, and The Detective and is a story about what it takes to get at the truth.

Excellent reading.

My rating: 4.8

About the author
Fiona Barton trains and works with journalists all over the world. Previously, she was a senior writer at the Daily Mail, news editor at the Daily Telegraph, and chief reporter at The Mail on Sunday, where she won Reporter of the Year at the British Press Awards. The Widow is her first novel. Born in Cambridge, she currently lives in south-west France.


Synopsis ( Audible

A BBC Radio 4 full-cast adaptation of Simon Brett's comic murder mystery, starring Bill Nighy as the irrepressible Charles Paris.

Charles Paris (unsuccessful actor, bad husband, dipsomaniac) is currently appearing as a fork lift operator in a corporate video. It's not prime-time television or a major film, but it seems like easy money - until the fork lift is used to commit a murder. When Charles himself comes under suspicion, he decides to find out for himself who the murderer is. Meanwhile, as ever with Charles, life on the domestic front is not plain sailing. After inflicting damage upon his ex-wife's house, he finds himself offering her a berth on the houseboat he’s currently sitting for a friend. However, life on the water proves as tricky as life at work…Suzanne Burden, Tim McInnery, and Jon Glover are also among the cast in this dramatisation by Jeremy Front.

My take

Again Bill Nighy does a good job of bringing Charles Paris to life.  But the murder investigation does feel a bit low key, almost a plodding elimination of suspects, until we get down to the only person it could be, whom we should have suspected right from the start.

My rating: 4.2

I've also read

10 March 2016


  • first published by Jonathan Cape 2013
  • this edition published by Random House Australia (Vintage) 2014
  • ISBN 978-1-74275-730-8
  • 229 pages
  • source: my local library
Synopsis (publisher)

Winner of the 2014 Miles Franklin Award

Who or what is watching Jake Whyte from the woods?

Jake Whyte is the sole resident of an old farmhouse on an unnamed island, a place of ceaseless rains and battering winds. It's just her, her untamed companion, Dog, and a flock of sheep. Which is how she wanted it to be. But something is coming for the sheep – every few nights it picks one off, leaves it in rags.

It could be anything. There are foxes in the woods, a strange boy and a strange man, rumours of an obscure, formidable beast. And there is Jake's unknown past, perhaps breaking into the present, a story hidden thousands of miles away and years ago, in a landscape of different colour and sound, a story held in the scars that stripe her back.

Set between Australia and a remote English island, All the Birds, Singing is the story of one how one woman's present comes from a terrible past. It is the second novel from the award-winning author of After the Fire, A Still Small Voice.

My take

Strictly speaking Evie Wyld is not an Australian author, but she grew up in Australia, this novel has been published by Random House Australia, and part of the story is set in Australia. It is probably not really crime fiction, although crimes have been committed.

When Jake Whyte was a teenager in a remote Australian town she made a terrible mistake. That's the reason she is now living on a remote English island about as far away from Australia as she can get. It is almost like voluntary exile, paying for something she can't forget.

There are two stories in this novel and Jake is the joining point. The fascinating aspect is the way the novel is structured, but I'm going leave that for you to discover for yourself. The interleaving of the two stories is skilfully done, but the author does make the reader work hard, at least initially. The Australian part of the story is vivid and believable, while at the same time the remote English setting feels very authentic.

I can see why it won Australia's prestigious Miles Franklin Award in 2014.
Check the judges' notes here.

My rating: 4.9

About the author

Evie Wyld grew up in Australia and the UK. She now runs Review, a small independent bookshop in London. Her first novel, After the Fire, A Still Small Voice, won the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize and a Betty Trask Award. In 2011 she was listed as one of the Culture Show's Best New British Novelists. She was also shortlisted for the Orange Prize for New Writers, the Commonwealth Writers' Prize and the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. In 2013 she was listed as one of Granta's Best of Young British Novelists. Evie's second novel, All the Birds, Singing, was published in 2013. It was longlisted for the 2014 Stella Prize and the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction, and shortlisted for the Costa Novel Prize and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize. She is the winner of the 2013 Encore Award, the Jerwood Fiction Uncovered Prize and the 2014 Miles Franklin Award.

2014 University of Queensland Fiction Book Award - (Shortlisted);
2014 European Union Prize for Literature - (Winner);
2014 Western Australian Premier's Book Awards - (Shortlisted);
2014 Miles Franklin Award - (Winner);
2014 Jerwood Fiction Uncovered Prize - (Winner);
2014 Encore Award - (Winner);

6 March 2016

Review: DARKEST PLACE, Jaye Ford

  • source: Random House Australia via NetGalley
  • Available for Kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 1122 KB
  • Print Length: 346 pages
  • Publisher: RHA eBooks Adult (February 1, 2016)
  • Publication Date: January 27, 2016
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B017J5899W
Synopsis (NetGalley)

An adrenaline-pumping suspense novel from the author of BEYOND FEAR. What if a stranger is watching you sleep - and no one believes you?

Carly Townsend is starting over after a decade of tragedy and pain. In a new town and a new apartment she's determined to leave the memories and failures of her past behind.

However that dream is shattered in the dead of night when she is woken by the shadow of a man next to her bed, silently watching her. And it happens week after week.Yet there is no way an intruder could have entered the apartment. It's on the fourth floor, the doors are locked and there is no evidence that anyone has been inside.

With the police doubting her story, and her psychologist suggesting it's all just a dream, Carly is on her own. And being alone isn't so appealing when you're scared to go to sleep .

My Take:

Australian author Jaye Ford certainly knows how to write a good thriller.

Carly Townsend moves across the country to Newcastle, NSW, to start a new life. For the last decade she has been living with the fact that she killed her three best friends. Her new apartment is on the 4th floor of a renovated warehouse. All modern. But the first thing she learns is that there is a sad story about the girl who used to own her apartment.

Carly herself is pretty fragile, the result of two failed marriages, three miscarriages, and the death of her three friends.  She thinks she has lost the outgoing personailty she once had, and wonders if she can find it again.

She begins a business course at a local TAFE and is lucky to be befriended by twenty year old with big ideas. Carly hasn't slept well for years but then she is woken in the early morning by a hooded man. She reports the home invasion to the police but by the third time they have had enough of her wasting their time.

Jaye Ford ceratinly knows which of our "fear" buttons to press.

My rating: 4.6

I've also read


Review: Charles Paris: MURDER UNPROMPTED, Simon Brett - BBC Radio Play

Synopsis (Audible)

Bill Nighy stars as Charles Paris in a BBC Radio 4 full-cast dramatisation of Simon Brett's novel.
Charles Paris is understudying in a West End production whose star, Michael Banks, seems unable to master the script.
Has Charles time to solve a murder, win Frances' heart and make it onstage by the time the curtain goes up?

My Take

Simon Brett's Charles Paris series are always a delight to read and a radio play featuring Bill Nighy doubles the delight. Nighy makes a very believable Charles Paris and he is well supported by Suzanne Burden as his wife Francis.

Just the thing for a relative short journey.

My rating: 4.4

I've also read

What I read in February 2016

Pick of the month February 2016
I'm a bit late with this summary.

Some excellent reads as you will see from the list below:
 My Pick of the month is WHAT SHE NEVER TOLD ME by Kate McQuaile

Here is the synopsis:
What do you do when you find out that your whole life could be a lie?

I talked to my mother the night she died, losing myself in memories of when we were happiest together. But I held one memory back, and it surfaces now, unbidden. I see a green postbox and a small hand stretching up to its oblong mouth. I am never sure whether that hand is mine. But if not mine, whose?

Louise Redmond left Ireland for London before she was twenty. Now, more than two decades later, her heart already breaking from a failing marriage, she is summoned home. Her mother is on her deathbed, and it is Louise's last chance to learn the whereabouts of a father she never knew.

Stubborn to the end, Marjorie refuses to fill in the piecesof her daughter's fragmented past. Then Louise unexpectedly finds a lead. A man called David Prescott . . . but is he really the father she's been trying to find? And who is the mysterious little girl who appears so often in her dreams? As each new piece of the puzzle leads to another question, Louise begins to suspect that the memories she most treasures could be a delicate web of lies.

See my review

See what others have chosen for Pick of the Month  

4 March 2016

Review: SMALLBONE DECEASED, Michael Gilbert - audio book

  • first published1949
  • #4 in the Inspector Hazelrigg series
  •  Narrated by: Michael Mcstay
  • Length: 6 hrs and 53 mins 
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Release Date:01-06-10
  • Publisher: Audible Studios
 Synopsis (Audible)

Another classic Michael Gilbert thriller, set within the legal profession. The mystery begins when the body of a client is found dead in a deed-box of the impeccable legal firm of Horniman, Birley and Crane. But why? And how was the Horniman system broken? A classic English murder mystery.

Michael Francis Gilbert ( 1912- 2006) is recognized as one of the most versatile British mystery writers. He was a lawyer in London for many years and at one point had Raymond Chandler as his client. He wrote almost every sort of mystery and thriller. He wrote police procedurals, spy novels and short stories, courtroom dramas, classical mysteries, crime novels, and almost every possible combination of these, all with the same competence and dry, detached wit.

Gilbert was a founding member of the British Crime Writers Association, Named Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America and was named Number 24 on The Telegraph's "50 crime writers to read before you die".

My take

When the senior partner of the firm Horniman, Birley and Crane, Abel Horniman dies, his son Bob, a war hero from the Navy, takes over his share of the partnership. Bob needs to find Mr Smallbone who is a co-trustee of one of the accounts his father managed. In addition there appears to be some money missing.  Everybody he contacts thinks that Smallbone, an avid collector of ancient artifacts, has gone off to Rome on a buying trip. The discovery of his body thus comes as a surprise although the reader always knows that he is dead from the title of the story.

Someone who has recently begun working at the firm becomes the amateur sleuth especially after there is a second death. Inspector Hazelrigg from the Yard pursues enquiries too and separately they come to the same conclusion.

This is a sort of "sifting the evidence" book, eliminating suspects one by one, but even so the author has a surprise in store for us. As the blurb says, a classic English murder mystery.

My rating: 4.1

About the author
(Michael Francis Gilbert)
UK (1912 - 2006)

Born in Lincolnshire in 1912, Michael Francis Gilbert was educated in Sussex before entering the University of London where he gained an LLB with honours in 1937. Gilbert was a founding member of the British Crime Writers Association, and in 1988 he was named a Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America - an achievement many thought long overdue. He won the Life Achievement Anthony Award at the 1990 Boucheron in London, and in 1980 he was knighted as a Commander in the Order of the British Empire. Gilbert made his debut in 1947 with Close Quarters, and since then has become recognized as one of our most versatile British mystery writers.     

2 March 2016

Review: ENOUGH ROPE, Barbara Nadel

  • First published in Great Britain by Hachette UK 2015 - Quercus
  • ISBN 978-1-84866-423-4
  • 377 pages
  • #4 in the Hakim and Arnold series
  • source: my local library
Synopsis (publisher)

Old rivalries and new threats clash in London's East End in this fourth crime novel in the Hakim & Arnold series

Private investigator and ex-soldier Lee Arnold and superintendent Paul Venus are by no means friends, but when Venus' son Harry is kidnapped and ransom demands arrive from an address in Arnold's patch in east London, the superintendent doesn't know who else to turn to.

Arnold and his partner Mumtaz Hakim soon find themselves chasing leads into several of the East End's uneasily coexisting communities. Mumtaz uncovers a link to one of the area's powerful Bangladeshi families, whose property empire has always seemed suspicious, while Arnold suspects the involvement of more old-fashioned East End gangsters, and wonders if some of the nastier rumours about Venus himself might be true. And neither Mumtaz nor Lee like the look of the children of the super-rich, arriving in droves in the trendy parts of Hoxton and Shoreditch and living in luxury just a stone's throw from grinding urban poverty.

The truth, however, is stranger and more dangerous than either Arnold or Hakim imagine. Enough Rope is a powerful and thrilling novel of London's ever-evolving dark side.

My Take

Police superintendent Paul Venus and his wife are separated and have tried to compensate by sending their teenage son Harry to an exclusive boy's boarding school. Now it appears that Harry has been kidnapped and the first ransom demand has arrived. The parents are told to raise the money quickly and not to involve the police. Venus does not know who to turn to and calls an old colleague, ex-policeman, private investigator Lee Arnold who runs his business in the East End.

The main story of the novel is the kidnapping and the efforts to locate Harry. Venus and his wife Tina are able to raise and deliver the ransom, but then a second demand arrives. This is money they just don't have and Venus turns to a known gangster for funds. And then comes the third demand. Days are passing and gradually Arnold develops an idea of who is behind the demands.

Meanwhile his partner Mumtaz Hakim pursues other investigations. One is the search for her mother by a middle-aged woman who has now developed Huntingdon's who was left in a local phone box as a baby.  The baby was taken to a local convent but it appears that the nuns there had more idea of the child's mother than they revealed at the time.

A third plot strand explores a protection racket being run by one of the East End's powerful Bangladeshi families. Mumtaz Hakim has personal knowledge of their activities and is doing her best to protect her daughter Shazia from their reach.

This novel draws a fascinating snapshot of the mixed culture of this area of London. It was a refreshing change from police procedurals.

My rating: 4.7

About the author

In addition to her Hakim and Arnold crime series set in east London, Barbara Nadel is the author of the Ikmen crime novels, set in Turkey. Born in London's East End, Barbara now lives in Essex.

Hakim and Arnold Mystery
1. A Private Business (2012)
2. An Act of Kindness (2013)
3. Poisoned Ground (2014)
4. Enough Rope (2015)

Cetin Ikmen
1. Belshazzar's Daughter (1999)
2. A Chemical Prison (2000)
     aka The Ottoman Cage
3. Arabesk (2001)
4. Deep Waters (2002)
5. Harem (2003)
6. Petrified (2003)
7. Deadly Web (2005)
8. Dance With Death (2006)
9. A Passion for Killing (2007)
10. Pretty Dead Things (2007)
11. River of the Dead (2009)
12. Death by Design (2010)
13. A Noble Killing (2011)
14. Dead of Night (2012)
15. Deadline (2013)
16. Body Count (2014)
17. Land of the Blind (2015)
18. On the Bone (2016)

1 March 2016

Crime Fiction Pick of the Month February 2016

Crime Fiction Pick of the Month 2016
Many crime fiction bloggers write a summary post at the end of each month listing what they've read, and some, like me, even go as far as naming their pick of the month.

This meme is an attempt to aggregate those summary posts.
It is an invitation to you to write your own summary post for February 2016, identify your crime fiction best read of the month, and add your post's URL to the Mr Linky below.
If Mr Linky does not appear for you, leave the URL in a comment and I will add it myself.

You can list all the books you've read in the past month on your post, even if some of them are not crime fiction, but I'd like you to nominate your crime fiction pick of the month.

That will be what you will list in Mr Linky too -
ROSEANNA, Maj Sjowall & Per Wahloo - MiP (or Kerrie)

You are welcome to use the image on your post and it would be great if you could link your post back to this post on MYSTERIES in PARADISE.


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