25 June 2019

Review: THE BANK TELLER, Roger Monk

  • this edition published by Horizon Publishing Group 2018
  • ISBN 978-1-922238-74-0
  • 361 pages
  • #3 in "Bank" series
  • source: my local library
Synopsis (Amazon)

A top executive dies suddenly.
An accident?
A murder?
An inside job?
Hundreds of suited suspects in one city office.
Detective Sergeant Brian Shaw is recalled from Yorke Peninsula.
From sleepy country town to throbbing city throngs,
clashing personalities, old scores to be settled, frustrated ambitions, jealousies, and something new:  female tellers.
A hotbed of suspicions from managing director to tea lady.
And who started the rumour that one of the tellers may be involved?
Why?  Who?
Know why and you may know who!

My Take

This is #3 in the series based in Adelaide around 1950, focussed around Detective Brian Shaw. A real treat for South Australian readers in particular, but really for all who reflect on how things have changed in the last seven decades.

The novel is a delightful mix of fact and fiction. During the second World War women were allowed to take on the role of tellers in various banks and some were so good at it that they remained in place after the men returned from the services.The fictional Great Southern Bank has branches not only in South Australia but in most of the eastern states. It's Managers and tellers have been moved around from city to country and vice versa and many are fiercely loyal to the bank.

Like many of its competitors the GSB has been looking for that investment that will give it "the edge" and, as a result, now has a problem that, so far, only its Board is aware of.

A beautifully written, quite complex, story which starts with a murder when the General Manager, Staff, is literally booted down the grand marble staircase and dies as a consequence.

Detective Brian Shaw, who has had dealings with the GSB in the past, is brought back to Adelaide from Yorke Peninsular to solve the puzzle.  And within days there is a second murder.

A highly recommended read.

My rating: 4.7

I also recommend

23 June 2019

Review: THE GASLIGHT STALKER: Nobody is safe in Whitechapel

  • format: Kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 2738 KB
  • Print Length: 208 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Sapere Books (March 1, 2018)
  • Publication Date: March 1, 2018
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B077Y435Q3
  • Esther & Jack Enright Mystery Book 1
Synopsis (Amazon)

Jack the Ripper is stalking the streets of London. Can anyone stop the serial killer before more women are murdered?

London, 1888

Whitechapel is full of the noise of August Bank Holiday celebrations. Everyone is in high spirits until a woman – Martha Turner – is discovered brutally murdered.

Her friend, Esther, a lowly seamstress turned female sleuth, is determined to find the killer.

A young police officer, Jack Enright, takes the lead on the case, and he and Esther soon embark on a professional – and personal – relationship.

When another murder is committed and whispers of a slasher calling himself Jack the Ripper start flowing through the London streets, the search becomes even more desperate.

The police are on the wrong track and the young couple take matters into their own hands, and soon find themselves navigating through London’s dark underbelly.

Can they find the murderer before he kills again? Will anyone listen to their suspicions?

Or will this dark presence continue to haunt Whitechapel…?

My Take

This story offers an alternative solution to the question of the identity of Jack the Ripper. Prostitutes are being murdered and their ravaged bodies left on the streets of London. The timeline of the events in the novel follows the records we have, although the solution takes place in the months after the last death.

It is set against the background of a budding romance between a young police detective and a seamstress.

According to Amazon, this is the first of a series of 8 novels, a new detective partnership.

My rating: 4.1

About the author
David was born in post-war Nottingham, and educated at Nottingham High School. After obtaining a Law degree he became a career-long criminal law practitioner and academic, emigrating in 1989 to Australia, where he still lives.

Combining his two great loves of History and the English language he began writing historical novels as an escape from the realities of life in the criminal law, but did not begin to publish them until close to fulltime retirement, when digital publishing offered a viable alternative to literary agencies, print publishers and rejection slips.

Now blessed with all the time in the world, his former hobby has become a fulltime occupation as he enjoys life in rural New South Wales with his wife, sons and grandchildren to keep him firmly grounded in the reality of the contemporary world.

20 June 2019

Review: MURDER AT THE MANOR, Martin Edwards (edit)

  • this edition published by Poisoned Pen Press 2016
  • ISBN 978-1-4642-0673-6
  • 376 pages
  • subtitled: Country House Mysteries
  • source: my local library
Synopsis (Fantastic Fiction)

The English country house is an iconic setting for some of the greatest British crime fiction. This collection gathers together stories written over a span of about 65 years, during which British society, and life in country houses, was transformed out of all recognition.

 It includes fascinating and unfamiliar twists on the classic 'closed circle' plot, in which the assorted guests at a country house party become suspects when a crime is committed. In the more sinister tales featured here, a gloomy mansion set in lonely grounds offers an eerie backdrop for dark deeds. Many distinguished writers are represented in this collection, including such great names of the genre as Anthony Berkeley, Nicholas Blake and G.K. Chesterton.

Martin Edwards has also unearthed hidden gems and forgotten masterpieces: among them are a fine send-up of the country house murder; a suspenseful tale by the unaccountably neglected Ethel Lina White; and a story by the little-known Scottish writer J.J. Bell.

My Take

This anthology contains 16 short stories, some written by masters of the genre and others by less well known. I never cease to be amazed at how many people were writing crime fiction in England in the period covered by this anthology.

Short story collections are among my favourites as they offer the prospect of quick delving, of a variety of approaches. Each of the stories in this collection relates somehow to a crime, often murder,  committed at a country house. They also offer an interesting insight into a period of English life where society rapidly changed because of the advent of World War One.

I was surprised however that the editor - and there was probably good reason for it - allowed this volume to go to press without page numbers on the Table of Contents, and without the short story titles being repeated in the top margins of the printed pages.

My rating: 4.3

I've also read
4.3, SERPENTS IN EDEN (edit)

13 June 2019


  • this edition published by the Ulverscroft Foundation 2016
  • ISBN 978-1-4448-3958-6
  • 384 pages
  • source: my local library
  • #1 in the Albert Lincoln series
Synopsis (Fantastic Fiction)

It's 1919. The Derbyshire village of Wenfield is still coming to terms with the loss of so many of its sons when the brutal murder of a young girl shatters its hard-won tranquility. Myrtle Bligh is found stabbed, her mouth slit to accommodate a dead dove. During the war Myrtle volunteered as a nurse, working at the nearby big house, Tarnhey Court. When two more women are found murdered, Inspector Albert Lincoln is sent up from London. Albert begins to investigate, and the Cartwright family of Tarnhey Court and their staff fall under suspicion. With rumours of a ghostly soldier, the village is thrown into a state of panic - and with the killer still on the loose, who will be next?

My Take

A murder mystery set in the aftermath of World War One, in a village very much mourning it's dead. Among the victims is a nurse volunteer and a local gossip who runs a tea shop. They are lured to their deaths by malicious notes and are murdered in a local wood.

The story is told from the point of view mainly of Flora Winsome, also a nurse volunteer and the daughter of one of the local doctors.

When the local policeman makes no headway a detective is called in from Scotland Yard, but he too has been damaged by the war.

The influenza epidemic is beginning to hit the village, and so there are a number of factors giving a historical flavour to this police procedural, not the least the ghostly figure of a soldier. The identity of the murderer came as a surprise in the last pages, and I am not sure that the author gave us enough clues.

My rating: 4.3

I've also read

10 June 2019

Review: DEAD MAN'S LANE, Kate Ellis

  • this edition published by Piatkus 2019
  • ISBN 978-0-349-41829-2
  • 388 pages
  • source: my local library
  • #23 in the Wesley Peterson series
Synopsis (Fantastic Fiction)

Strangefields Farm is notorious for its sinister history ever since serial killer Jackson Temples lured young women to the premises, and the girls never left alive.

Now, decades later, Strangefields is being transformed into a holiday village, but the developer's hopes of its dark past being forgotten are ruined when a skull is found on the site. Police suspect it belongs to one of Temples' victims, and when a local florist is found murdered in an echo of Temples' crimes, DI Wesley Peterson fears a copycat killer could be at large.

My Take

Wesley Peterson's boss Gerry was on the investigation that saw the conviction of Jackson Temples for the death of a number of young women. However one of the young victims was never found and Jackson Temples has throughout his imprisonment always refused to confess his guilt. Now a skull has turned up. Could it be from the missing body?

And two people are now claiming to have seen people they thought were dead.

The strands of this plot are cleverly interwoven with a journal begun in 1666, which among other things, describes the steps taken to stop the dead from rising. I like the interweaving of archaeological considerations with the main story. A very good read.

I have read far too few titles by this author.

My rating: 4.6

I've also read


Review: NO SECOND CHANCE, Harlan Coben - audio book

  • this audio book produced by Penguin Audio
  • Original novel published 2003
  • source: my local library
Synopsis (Fantastic Fiction)

No Second Chance is yet another of Harlan Coben's terrifying explorations of the worst of fears--Marc Seidman wakes in hospital after narrowly surviving a shooting in which his wife died and their baby daughter went missing.

The handover of a ransom from his rich in-laws goes wrong and Seidman realises that he is not only without wife and daughter--and the sister who may have been an accomplice--but he is also the principal suspect. The reader knows even more than Seidman just how much jeopardy he is in--Coben does a brilliantly disturbing job of introducing us to a pair of psychotics who are in charge of the ransom plot and who plan to take Seidman and his in-laws for another ride into insecurity and hell.

Marc turns to the one person he thinks can help him--the ex-girlfriend who still has a place in his heart and used to be a senior Federal agent. The problem is that Rachel comes with baggage, and enemies, all of her own..

My Take

This plot felt a bit as if Coben had two strands in mind: one where a child is abducted during a home invasion, and the other an adoption scam where illegal immigrants give birth to babies who are found "good homes".

The final truth of the connection between the two strands was horrifying.

One of the problems with this story was that I didn't particularly like Marc Seidman the main character. I found him self-opinionated, always sure he was right, and blind to alternatives.

My rating: 4.3

I've also read

6 June 2019


  • this edition published by Penguin Random House Australia 2019
  • ISBN 978-0-14-378921-5
  • 343 pages
  • source: my local library
Synopsis (author website)

Welcome to the place of new beginnings…
Why had the house stayed empty so long?  Why had it never been sold?


Nicole has left her city life for the sleepy town of Rosella Cove, renting the old cottage by the water. She plans to keep to herself – but when she uncovers a hidden box of wartime love letters, she realises she’s not the  first person living in this cottage to hide secrets and pain.


Ivy’s quiet life in Rosella Cove is tainted by the events of World War II, with ramifications felt for many years to come. But one night a drifter appears and changes everything. Perhaps his is the soul she’s meant to save.


Charlie is too afraid of his past to form any lasting ties in the cove.  He knows he must make amends for his tragic deeds long ago, but he  can’t do it alone. Maybe the new tenant in the cottage will help him  fulfil a promise and find the redemption he isn’t sure he deserves.

Welcome to the cottage at Rosella Cove, where three damaged souls meet and have the chance to rewrite their futures.

My Take

A mystery but not crime fiction.

After I had so enjoyed THE KOOKABURRA CREEK CAFE I determined to read Sandie Docker's second book and it did not disappoint.

Three stories come together and the reader finds the connections between them and the events that have brought their lives together.

A very enjoyable read.

My rating: 4.5

I've also read

2 June 2019

Review: DON'T LET GO, Harlan Coben

  • this edition published 2017 by Penguin Random House
  • ISBN 978-1-78-089423-2
  • 347 pages
  • source: my local library

With unmatched suspense and emotional insight, Harlan Coben explores the big secrets and little lies that can destroy a relationship, a family, and even a town in this powerful new thriller.

Suburban New Jersey Detective Napoleon “Nap” Dumas hasn't been the same since senior year of high school, when his twin brother Leo and Leo’s girlfriend Diana were found dead on the railroad tracks—and Maura, the girl Nap considered the love of his life, broke up with him and disappeared without explanation. For fifteen years, Nap has been searching, both for Maura and for the real reason behind his brother's death. And now, it looks as though he may finally find what he's been looking for.

When Maura's fingerprints turn up in the rental car of a suspected murderer, Nap embarks on a quest for answers that only leads to more questions—about the woman he loved, about the childhood friends he thought he knew, about the abandoned military base near where he grew up, and mostly about Leo and Diana—whose deaths are darker and far more sinister than Nap ever dared imagine.

My Take

Nap Dumas still lives in the town where he was born and where his twin brother died 15 years ago. He has never believed that his brother and his girlfriend, the daughter of the town's police chief, walked into the path of the train.

Finding out the truth is one of the reasons why he became a detective himself. But now his own girlfriend of 15 years ago has resurfaced and another policeman has been killed. Why has Maura come back and why are members of the high school Conspiracy Club being killed off?

A thriller that keeps you reading to find the truth.

My rating: 4.3

I've also read

1 June 2019

Pick of the Month May 2019

Crime Fiction Pick of the Month 2019
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 May 2019, 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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