28 September 2021


  • format: Kindle (Amazon)
  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B07CYQDHHJ
  • Publication date ‏ : ‎ May 8, 2018 -originally published in 2015
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 277 pages
  • Page numbers source ISBN ‏ : ‎ 198104986X 
  • #1 Peter Hatherall series

Synopsis (Amazon)

One buried body.
Many hidden secrets.
When the body of a teenage girl is discovered, the villagers of Birkbury close ranks to protect their secrets.
Gossip turns to fear and suspicion as they realise the killer is one of them and is prepared to kill again.
Beneath the good manners and polite smiles, DCI Hatherall discovers deep-seated resentments and family feuds going back decades. The stakes are raised when another girl goes missing.
Will the police uncover the killer before it is too late?

My Take

A debut title and the first in a series. The author has gone on to write more than a dozen titles, including five more in this series. 

During a big storm, a large tree falls over and reveals a skeleton. There is no problem in identifying the body as there is a bracelet that identifies her as a girl who had gone missing twenty years before. It seems most likely that she had been working at one of the local riding stables but nobody is able to remember her.

After her body is identified her twin brother and a cousin both turn up in the village. DCI Peter Hatherall and his offsider DC Fiona Wilson try to track down all who might have some knowledge of what was happening twenty years before. A mixture of local gossip and a set of old photos point the way for them.

While the story is very readable, and most of the i's get dotted and the t's crossed by the end, there are signs that this is a debut novel - for example there are a number of characters who come to nothing, and side-plots that have little significance. Peter Hatherall predictably has a curmudgeonly boss who threatens to take the case away from him if he doesn't get results "soon", and one of the suspects plays golf with someone higher up the chain than Peter Hatherall. Peter has domestic issues, a problem daughter, and a tragedy in the past, that all add dimensions to his character.

I'm looking forward to reading the second in the series.

My rating: 4.3

About the author
I was born and brought up in South west England where I still live with husband,two teenage children and aged dog. I studied law at Brookes University, Oxford but after a few years of feeling suffocated left to drift through a series of casual jobs. Mostly they have been connected with horses in some way but all gave me the freedom to dream and feed my imagination. 


27 September 2021


  •  this edition in large print published in 2019 by Doubleday
  • ISBN 978-1-64358-109-5
  • 430 pages

Synopsis (Fantastic Fiction)

Shortlisted for the Costa Novel Award
Finalist for the Women’s Prize for Fiction

Here is the story of the Iliad as we’ve never heard it before: in the words of Briseis, Trojan queen and captive of Achilles. Given only a few words in Homer’s epic and largely erased by history, she is nonetheless a pivotal figure in the Trojan War. In these pages she comes fully to life: wry, watchful, forging connections among her fellow female prisoners even as she is caught between Greece’s two most powerful warriors. Her story pulls back the veil on the thousands of women who lived behind the scenes of the Greek army camp—concubines, nurses, prostitutes, the women who lay out the dead—as gods and mortals spar, and as a legendary war hurtles toward its inevitable conclusion. Brilliantly written, filled with moments of terror and beauty, The Silence of the Girls gives voice to an extraordinary woman—and makes an ancient story new again. 

My Take

Briseis knows what will happen to her if she is still alive when Achilles and the Greek army reach her palace. She can hear him coming. Her husband, father and her brothers are already dead, and she has the option to throw herself from the ramparts, but she chooses to wait and become a captive. She is assigned to Achilles as part of his prize for what he has achieved in battle.

Her life radically changes as she becomes concubine and house servant.

The story explores what happens to women as they become trophies of war, at the same as combining Briseis' story with the legends of Achilles as we know them from Homer's Iliad.

My rating: 4.4

I have previously read


23 September 2021

Review: THE SATAPUR MOONSTONE, Sujata Massey

  • This edition an e-book from Libby through my local library
  • ISBN: 9781760529420
  • Publisher: Allen & Unwin, May 2020
  • Page Extent: 384
  • #2 in the Perveen Mistry series
  • Winner of the Lefty Award for Best Historical Mystery!
  • Nominated for the Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction!
  • Nominated for the The G.P. Putnam’s Sons Sue Grafton Memorial Award and the Macavity Award for Best Historical Mystery! 
  • author website

Synopsis (publisher

The delightfully clever Perveen Mistry, Bombay's first female lawyer, returns in an adventure of treacherous intrigues and suspicious deaths.

India, 1922: It is rainy season in the lush, remote Sahyadri Mountains southeast of Bombay, where the kingdom of Satapur is tucked away. A curse has fallen upon Satapur's royal family, whose maharaja and his teenage son are both dead. The kingdom is now ruled by an agent of the British Raj on behalf of Satapur's two maharanis, the dowager queen and the maharaja's widow.

The royal ladies are in dispute over the education of the young crown prince, and a lawyer's council is required - but the maharanis live in purdah and do not speak to men. Just one woman can help them: Perveen Mistry.

Perveen is determined to bring peace to the royal house, but when she arrives she finds that the Satapur palace is full of cold-blooded power plays and ancient vendettas. Too late, she realises she has walked into a trap. But whose? And how can she protect the royal children from the deadly curse on the palace?

My Take

Perveen Mistry is commissioned to visit the small kingdom of Satapur to talk to its two maharanis about what needs to be done about the education of its young maharajah. His father and older brother have both died in the past year, and the kingdom currently comes under the agency of the British Raj. The local agent has been unable to talk to the maharanis because they observe strict purdah and his visits have been rejected.

They will not have the same objection to Perveen Mistry because she is female and she is a lawyer. Perveen's father, head of their legal firm in Bombay, thinks the journey to Satapur will be dangerous, and he is not keen for her to take the task on. Perveen on the other hand sees the commission as a great opportunity to branch out on her own. She is to travel to the British circuit house to meet the local agent by palanquin, and then go on to the Satapur palace to meet with the maharanis.

I was impressed by the evident research undertaken by the author, and feeling of authenticity and depth of historical background to the story. The characters are well fleshed out, and it is apparent that Perveen is not going to find her task an easy one. Here is India 100 years ago, Gandhiji is a young man and is admired by Perveen, and independence is a long way off.

Well worth reading.

My rating: 4.5

I've also read

19 September 2021

Review: A MURDER IS ANNOUNCED, Agatha Christie

  • This edition an e-book published by Amazon (Kindle)
  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B000FC12YG
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition (March 17, 2009)
  • Publication date ‏ : ‎ March 17, 2009
  • Originally published 1950
  • Miss Marple #5
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 240 pages

Synopsis (Amazon

The villagers of Chipping Cleghorn, including Jane Marple, are agog with curiosity over an advertisement in the local gazette which read: 'A murder is announced and will take place on Friday October 29th, at Little Paddocks at 6:30 p.m.' Unable to resist the mysterious invitation, a crowd begins to gather at Little Paddocks at the pointed time when, without warning, the lights go out ...

My Take

This is another of my re-reads, so I can contribute to a book discussion on the first 5 or 6 Miss Marple novels. While Jane Marple was introduced in a set of short stories in the late 1920s, the first novels were spaced well apart.

The last in that list seems to be placed just after World War II has ended, and there is even thought that another war is inevitable, with reference to the horrors of atomic war. 
England has much changed, and it's residents are no longer necessarily English. There are many migrants, and people are no longer whom they seem to be.
Fifteen years ago one knew who everybody was. The Bantrys in the big house—and the Hartnells and the Price Ridleys and the Weatherbys … They were people whose fathers and mothers and grandfathers...

But it’s not like that any more. Every village and small country place is full of people who’ve just come and settled there without any ties to bring them. The big houses have been sold, and the cottages have been converted and changed. And people just come—and all you know about them is what they say of themselves.
They’ve come, you see, from all over the world.

There were just faces and personalities and they were backed up by ration books and identity cards—nice neat identity cards with numbers on them, without photographs or fingerprints. Anybody who took the trouble could have a suitable identity card —and partly because of that, the subtler links that had held together English social rural life had fallen apart. In a town nobody expected to know his neighbour. In the country now nobody knew his neighbour either, though possibly he still thought he did …

Miss Marple is introduced relatively early in this novel. She is staying at a local hotel, having treatment for her "rheumatic leg." she is introduced as an old "Pussy" who has written to the local police saying that she might have something to contribute in the matter of the recent murder that has taken place at Little Paddocks.

Miss Jane Marple was very nearly, if not quite, as Craddock had pictured her. She was far more benignant than he had imagined and a good deal older. She seemed indeed very old. She had snow-white hair and a pink crinkled face and very soft innocent blue eyes, and she was heavily enmeshed in fleecy wool. Wool round her shoulders in the form of a lacy cape and wool that she was knitting and which turned out to be a baby’s shawl.

There are a couple of sub-plots to keep the reader involved, and eventually 3 murders in the quiet little village of Chipping Cleghorn, and of course, a whole raft of red herrings.

Inspector Craddock the policeman from Scotland Yard is far better treated by Christie than Inspector Slack was in earlier novels. He also has a better appreciation of Miss Marple:

Well, perhaps you’re right, Miss Blacklock, but my own diagnosis would be a severe attack of Nosey Parkeritis …’ ‘She’s a very harmless old creature,’ said Miss Blacklock. ‘Dangerous as a rattlesnake if you only knew,’ the Inspector thought grimly. But he had no intention of taking anyone into his confidence unnecessarily. Now that he knew definitely there was a killer at large, he felt that the less said the better. He didn’t want the next person bumped off to be Jane Marple.

Interesting features of this novel:

  • Agatha Christie's observations of the changed structure of village life, and her comments on social and economic changes that have taken place;
  • Miss Marple snares the murderer, whose identity she has already realised, but needs to prove. Her "honey trap", set up with the local policeman, puts one of the other characters in great danger. Note here Miss Marple's talent at mimicry;
  • Miss Marple moves in a circle of vicarages. The Vicarage at Chipping Cleghorn is not the first one she has stayed at in these novels.
  • ex-Commissioner of Scotland Yard Sir Henry Clithering first appeared in the late 1920s and is still around, and being consulted.
  • Note the "mannish" women and the women doing men's jobs. 
  • Note also Jane Marple's own comments on her sleuthing abilities.
  • There is a romantic element
  • If Jane Marple was "old" in the late 1920s, how old is she now? It is 25 years later. She has to be in her 80s.

18 September 2021

Review: THE LONG GAME, Simon Rowell

Synopsis (Text Publishing)

A summer of relentless heat. A local surfer named Ray Carlson is found dead in a house not far from Portsea back beach. There’s a kitchen knife deep in his chest, and blood everywhere.

Detective Sergeant Zoe Mayer is scarcely back from extended leave, and still wrestling with her demons, but she is assigned the case—alongside her new service dog, Harry, whose instincts help her in unexpected ways.

There’s an obvious suspect for the murder, and Zoe makes an arrest. But it’s all too neat, and none of Zoe’s colleagues believes her theory that the whole thing is a stitch-up.

Except now someone is trying to hunt Zoe down.

Superbly plotted, and vividly set in the beachside suburbs and hilly retreats around Melbourne, The Long Game is a mystery about a tough and clever investigator who won’t give up.

My take

An intriguing read from a new-to-me Australian author. 

We know that Zoe Mayer, Victoria Police, has come back from extended leave after being involved in a traumatic incident. Via flashbacks we eventually learn what happened then, something that put Zoe on the front page of every newspaper in Australia, if not the world.

Zoe is meant to be easing herself back into work, but when you investigate violent murders, that isn't really possible. It is Zoe who sees the similarities between the Ray Carlson case and earlier cases, but her colleagues take a lot of persuading, even those who work closest to her.

But then the person whom she identifies as the link between the cases, turns, and Zoe herself is in danger.

My rating: 4.5

About the author
Simon Rowell has worked on outback oil rigs, managed nightclubs, been a tour guide and run marketing campaigns. His first book, THE ECHO OF OTHERS, was longlisted for the Ned Kelly Awards for Best First Crime in 2018. He lives with his wife, Karen, in rural Victoria on a farm full of rescued animals.

12 September 2021

Review: A FATAL LIE, Charles Todd

  • this edition an e-book from Libby through my local library
  • #23 Inspector Rutledge series
  • published 2021
  • ISBN: 9780062905574
  • ISBN 10: 0062905570
  • Imprint: William Morrow
  • Pages: 352 

Synopsis (Fantastic Fiction)

In one of his most puzzling cases, Scotland Yard Inspector Ian Rutledge must delve deep into a dead man’s life and his past to find a killer determined to keep dark secrets buried.

A peaceful Welsh village is thrown into turmoil when a terrified boy stumbles on a body in a nearby river. The man appears to have fallen from the canal aqueduct spanning the valley. But there is no identification on the body, he isn’t a local, and no one will admit to having seen him before. With little to go on, the village police turn to Scotland Yard for help.

When Inspector Ian Rutledge is sent from London to find answers, he is given few clues—a faded military tattoo on the victim’s arm and an unusual label in the collar of his shirt. They eventually lead him to the victim’s identity: Sam Milford. By all accounts, he was a good man and well-respected. Then, why is his death so mysterious? Looking for the truth, Rutledge uncovers a web of lies swirling around a suicidal woman, a child’s tragic fate, and another woman bent on protecting her past. But where among all the lies is the motive for murder?

To track a killer, Rutledge must retrace Milford’s last journey. Yet death seems to stalk his every move, and the truth seems to shift at every turn. Man or woman, this murderer stays in the shadows, and it will take desperate measures to lure him—or her—into the light.

My Take

You'll notice from the list below that I haven't read all of this series, but they are certainly worth following.

While each adds to the development of Ian Rutledge's character, each certainly works quite well as a stand alone. Most are set in the decade after World War One and Rutledge, an Inspector with Scotland Yard, is battling the aftermath of the war. The complexity of this case is typical of most of the stories. The body of an ex-soldier turns up in a river in Wales, and from there Rutledge establishes the identity of the man, and looks for the reason why he is so far from home.

It is typical of Rutledge that he goes that extra mile, looking for why Sam Milford has been killed and by whom. It is a tangled trail that leads him to look for a missing child, why she has been kidnapped, and to uncovering deaths of people who at first glance don't seem to have anything to do with the original case.

The main plot is surrounded by a number of sub-plots, many of them giving us further background to Rutledge himself.

My rating: 4.7

I've also read

11 September 2021

Review: THE MOVING FINGER, Agatha Christie

  • This edition from Amazon on Kindle
  • Miss Marple #4
  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B0046H95SG
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ HarperCollins; Masterpiece Ed edition (October 14, 2010)
  • Publication date ‏ : ‎ October 14, 2010
  • Originally published in 1942
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 243 pages

Synopsis (Amazon)

The quiet village of Lymstock seemed like the perfect place for Jerry Burton to recover from his accident. But shortly after his arrival he receives a letter accusing him of the unthinkable.

He’s not the only one. Across the village people are receiving letters accusing them of terrible acts. It seems like just a cruel prank until one recipient is found dead, with a letter next to her reading ‘I can’t go on’.

The inquest rules that her death was a suicide and the case seems clear cut. Until another body appears…

My Take

I'm reading this again for a group discussion, and at the same time I'm looking for new insights, things I haven't taken notice of before. 

Here are a few things to consider

  • In this novel Agatha Christie reverts to the use of a narrator, and we need to ask ourselves how reliable he is. Does the fact that the narrator is male skew the perspective for the reader? Do other things cloud his judgement?
  • The novel is well underway (over 60% according to Kindle) by the time Miss Marple is called in by the Vicar's wife, after two murders have already taken place:

    I’m going to call in an expert. .... I don’t mean someone who knows about anonymous letters or even about murder. I mean someone who knows people.

    The Dane Calthrops had a guest staying with them, an amiable elderly lady who was knitting something with white fleecy wool. We had very good hot scones for tea, the vicar came in, and beamed placidly on us whilst he pursued his gentle erudite conversation. It was very pleasant. I don’t mean that we got away from the topic of the murder, because we didn’t. Miss Marple, the guest, was naturally thrilled by the subject. As she said
    apologetically: ‘We have so little to talk about in the country!’ She had made up her mind that the dead girl must have been just like her Edith.

  • Miss Marple lays a trap for the murderer just as she did in THE BODY IN THE LIBRARY
    • Miss Marple attributes her understanding of what has happened to her life-long observation of village life.

      One sees a good deal of human nature living in a village all the year round,’ said Miss Marple placidly. Then, seeming to feel it was expected of her, she laid down her crochet, and delivered a gentle old-maidish dissertation on murder. ‘The great thing is in these cases to keep an absolutely open mind. Most crimes, you see, are so absurdly simple. This one was. Quite sane and straightforward—and quite understandable—in an unpleasant way, of course.’

      “No smoke without fire.” It irritated you, but you proceeded quite correctly to label it for what it was—a smoke screen. Misdirection, you see—everybody looking at the wrong thing—

  • And of course Miss Marple engages in a little misdirection herself. When Jerry Burton and the police think the murderer has been found, the wrong person is accused.
  • And then finally there is a bit of romance, just as there was in MURDER AT THE VICARAGE, and THE BODY IN THE LIBRARY.
  • And the motive for the murders? well, that would be telling.

My Rating: 4.5

See what other Agatha Christie novels I've read

5 September 2021

Review: THE THREE MISS ALLENS, Victoria Purman

  • this edition an e-book on Libby made available through my local library
  • ISBN: 9781489210746
  • ISBN 10: 1489210741
  • Imprint: Mira
  • Published 2016
  • Pages: 416
  • author website

Synopsis (publisher

From a bestselling Australian author comes a compelling narrative set in the 1930s and modern-day South Australia.

How much of who we are is destiny and how much chance?

In 1934, the three Miss Allens – Ruby, Adeline and Clara – arrive in the seaside town of Remarkable Bay for their annual summer holiday. It's the last time they'll spend summers as a family. Adeline is engaged, Ruby is weighing up an offer, and Clara is just eighteen and about to start her life. But by summer's end, the lives they have known will change irrevocably and a mysterious secret will tear the family apart.

Eighty–two years later, Ruby's great–granddaughter Roma Harris moves to the now sleepy Remarkable Bay, retreating from tragedy. Roma's distant cousin Addy arrives too, fleeing a life with too much drama. It's only when the women discover an old guest book that they start asking questions about the mysterious third Miss Allen. Who was she? Why has she disappeared from the family's history?
If they solve this mystery from their past, could it change the women's futures?

My Take

A gentler read than my usual fare, a mystery rather than crime fiction.

I thoroughly enjoyed this title not just because it was set in my home town (thinly disguised) but also because of how well the characters were drawn, and the social changes of the last 80 years were described. For location confirmation see this interview with the author.

Highly recommended.

My rating: 4.6


Blog Widget by LinkWithin