30 April 2022

Review: DEAD AT THIRD MAN, G. R. Jordan

  • This edition an e-book on Kindle (Amazon)
  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B0886541LS
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Carpetless Publishing (July 3, 2020)
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 237 pages
  • Highlands & Islands Detective Book 5

Synopsis (Amazon)

A landmark cricket club is formed in the heart of the Western Isles. A gala opening leaves a battered body in the changing room when stumps is called. Can Macleod and McGrath find the killer before the rest of the team are bowled out?

In the fifth outing of this tenacious pair, Macleod and McGrath return to the Isle of Lewis when the first match of the newly formed cricket club ends in murder. Uncovering the tensions in the fledgling organisation, they must sort sporting angst from deadly intent if they are to uncover the true reason for the formation of this strange enterprise. Can they discover what bloody crimes sully the perfect whites of the starting XI?

Don't step beyond your crease or you might just be stumped! 

My Take

I'm sure you can tell that I am thoroughly enjoying this series.

In particular I am enjoying the development of the main characters alongside interesting murder plots. I don't think the plots are always credible but they do hold the attention. They often involve more than one murder.

In this title an American incomer who has been a famous baseballer has poured money into a small community on the island of Lewis, helping create a local cricket club, building club rooms, but at the same time crossing some locals by holding practices on Sundays. Bubba Carson has built his own house very near the cricket club, and has brought with him a woman whom some love and others regard as little more than a harlot. The cricket club's first match has been a resounding victory, demonstrating in particular the talents of the team's only female member.

Community relationships surrounding the cricket club are very complex, exacerbated by the opposition to the club's activities by one of the local ministers.

Macleod and McGrath discover that the reasons for the murders actually go well beyond the present.

On the more personal side, McGrath has come back from a holiday with her new lover that has not gone well, and Mcleod is considering how to develop their investigative team, to add new talents, and to make it more flexible.

My rating: 4.5

I've also read

28 April 2022

Review: THE SMALL FERRY, G.R. Jordan

  • this edition an e-book on Kindle (Amazon)
  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B0867J8PFP
  • Highlands & Islands Detective Book 4
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Carpetless Publishing (11 May 2020)
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 224 pages

Synopsis (Amazon)

A dreich day for a crossing and a small ferry packed to the gills. A fracas when off loading leads to blood and tears. And one man sits dead at the wheel of the last remaining car.

Macleod and McGrath return to Cromarty when a man is found dead at the wheel of his car on the small, local ferry. As the passengers are identified, the trail extends across the highlands and islands as past deeds are paid back in full. Can the now seasoned pair hunt down a killer before their butchery spreads across the land?

"The Small Ferry" is the fourth Highlands and Islands Detective thriller and brings the odd pair back to the Black Isle when the quiet routine of the Firth is broken apart by a strange death. If you like murder mysteries set amongst the beautiful north of Scotland and its wild coastline and islands, then you'll love the adventures of Macleod and McGrath.

When there's so much going on, it can be hard to see what's happening!

My Take

Another outing in the Highlands and Islands with Macleod and McGrath.  Both detectives have grown so much since their first outing in WATER'S EDGE

Three cars on a small ferry. A girl in the second car gives the "glad eye" to the young attendant, distracting him from realising that the final car hasn't yet started its engine. The second car, a mini, stalls and takes just that bit longer to leave. And still no activity in the third and final car. And then the realisation that the driver is dead, sitting in his car in a bath of blood.

From the moment that the driver is identified, the race is on to find one of the women who was in the mini. Behind her she leaves a trail of violent deaths. Macleod works out that she won't stop until she catches up with her final target. 

There is considerable development in both of the detectives' personal lives. Macleod is house hunting with his new partner Jane, and McGrath is looking for someone to give new meaning to her life.

I am enjoying the individual plots of each in this series so far. I have also enjoyed the developing threads that go from one novel to the next. It will be interesting to see if the author can sustain these threads, and to see what parts these additional characters play in the stories to come.

My rating: 4.5

I've also read

From Fantastic Fiction:Highlands & Islands

1. Water's Edge (2019)
2. The Bothy (2020)
3. The Horror Weekend (2020)
4. The Small Ferry (2020)
5. Dead at Third Man (2020)
6. The Pirate Club (2020)
7. A Personal Agenda (2020)
8. A Just Punishment (2020)
9. The Numerous Deaths of Santa Claus (2020)
10. Our Gated Community (2021)
11. The Satchel (2021)
12. Culhwch Alpha (2021)
13. Fair Market Value (2021)
14. The Coach Bomber (2021)
15. The Culling at Singing Sands (2021)
16. Where Justice Fails (2021)
17. The Cortado Club (2022)
18. Cleared to Die (2022)
19. Man Overboard! (2022)

26 April 2022


  • This edition on Kindle from Amazon
  • A Yorkshire Murder Mystery #6
  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B08P1J6SR3
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Thomas & Mercer (May 27, 2021)
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 283 pages  

Synopsis (Amazon)

A murder with three witnesses. But one of them doesn’t believe what she saw…

Halloween, Whitby. DCI Jim Oldroyd’s daughter Louise is in town with friends for a goth festival. But their visit to an escape room ends in bloody murder when one of the group stabs his girlfriend and flees the scene. It’s a crime with three witnesses―but Louise refuses to take what she saw at face value.

Oldroyd and DS Carter are called in to solve the case, assisted from the sidelines by Louise. But the closer they investigate, the more complex the web of deceit appears. This is no straightforward crime of passion.

With a violent murderer on the loose, it’s only a matter of time before they strike again. And this time it’s personal. Oldroyd must expose the truth, protect his daughter and stop the horror before it’s too late. 

My Take

As a tourist, I've always enjoyed my visits to Whitby, and this crime fiction visit evoked great memories.

Bram Stoker created Dracula in the town of Whitby and apparently it has become the home of Goth Festivals.

This story comes very close to home for Jim Olryd and his team when his daughter witnesses one of her friends murdered in an "escape room". Louise feels that there is something unbelievable about what she has seen, although her girlfriend is undoubtedly dead.  She contacts her father and he arranges to come to Whitby to assist in the investigation. I think in reality Olroyd would seem to have a "conflict of interest" and not be allowed to be involved.

Like Louise, Jim Olroyd finds the scenario hard to take at face value, particularly when the murderer is still at large.

There are a number of side plots carefully woven into the story: plagiarism in university courses, deception in the jewellery business centred around Whitby jet, stolen art works, tourist activities.

I did think there were a couple of unnecessarily complicated scenarios, such as the duplicate sarcophagi which I found it hard to see the point of. I also thought the author may have changed his mind about the motivation for the murders, or were they just red herrings?

Overall though, I found it a very satisfying read.

My rating: 4.5

I've also read


24 April 2022


  • This edition from Amazon on Kindle
  • A Yorkshire Murder Mystery Book 4
  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B07QRSP8J1
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Thomas & Mercer (August 29, 2019)
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 321 pages
  • Page numbers source ISBN ‏ : ‎ 1542015421 

Synopsis ( Amazon)

A murdered crime writer. An idyllic Yorkshire town. Can DCI Oldroyd separate fact from fiction?

A famous writer is found murdered at the Victorian baths in the Yorkshire town of Harrogate. In a crime worthy of one of his novels, Damian Penrose, who was appearing at the town’s crime writing festival, has been ruthlessly strangled. But with no trace of the murderer and no apparent means of escape, how did the killer simply vanish from the scene of the crime?

There’s only one mind capable of unlocking this mystery: DCI Jim Oldroyd. But as he and his team quickly discover, while Penrose was popular with the reading public, he had made plenty of enemies. Feuds over money, accusations of plagiarism, a string of affairs…His route to the top left a trail of embittered rivals—and suspects. But which of them was willing to commit murder?

When Penrose’s shocking death proves to be just the first of many, it becomes clear to Oldroyd that he is dealing with a calculating criminal hell-bent on revenge. He must find and bring them to justice. Before the truth becomes more chilling than fiction… 

My Take

I am thoroughly enjoying this cozy series. Regretfully I only have one title to go.

I was fascinated because this story is set at the Harrogate Crime Writing Festival, and there are several threads woven together. I have attended crime fiction literary events and so this scenario rang many bells - but there has never been an actual murder at one, that I am aware of.

Damian Penrose is an author of some note, not particularly popular amongst fellow writers, but certainly a draw card at the festival.
It appears that Penrose in the past has used his masculine charms to lure female writers in particular into relationships, but also to convince them to let him read their work. He was often cutting about their writing, but later on they discovered he had stolen their ideas.

Back at HQ. one of Olroyd's team, DC Steph Johnson, is being sexually harrassed by a male colleague and she finds that she is not his only victim. In addition she is convinced he is using his position as a DI corruptly, coming to an agreement with people accused of deception and dropping charges that should be pursued.

We get more glimpses of Jim Olroyd's personal life as he decides, at his daughters' prompting, to look for someone to go out with, through a dating agancy.

So I found this a well constructed novel with lots to keep me interested. It filled in some gaps between novels #3 and #5 in the series too.

My rating: 4.6

I've also read

22 April 2022


  •  this edition on Kindle from Amazon
  • #5 in the Yorkshire Murder Mysteries
  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B0847NMGY9
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 303 pages
  • Page numbers source ISBN ‏ : ‎ 1542017432

Synopsis  (Amazon)

In a Yorkshire Dales village everyone has a motive for murder—except the killer.

A retired judge is shot dead outside the Dog and Gun Inn in the remote Yorkshire village of Niddersgill. There’s a witness who saw everything, and the gunman’s on the run; the case should be open-and-shut for DCI Jim Oldroyd. But the murderer had no motive for wanting Sandy Fraser dead and, what’s more, no trace of him can be found.

As Oldroyd and his team cast the net wider, they discover that Fraser wasn’t without enemies in Niddersgill. As the wealthy owner of a grouse moor, he’d clashed with farmers, debtors, hunt saboteurs and blackmailers. But none of them were at the scene of the murder. And when a local shopkeeper is gunned down in a second senseless attack, it’s clear that these killings are anything but random.

Surrounded by the dramatic beauty of the Yorkshire Dales, Oldroyd faces a race against time to connect the crimes and find who’s behind them. But with all the evidence sending him down dead ends, can he get one step ahead before someone else is killed?

My Take

Another relatively cozy series that I'm enjoying on my Kindle. The plot has plenty of red herrings, and I've enjoyed the character development from book to book. The Yorkshire Dales makes a good setting.

My rating: 4.5

I've also read

Here is the series as listed by Fantastic Fiction

Yorkshire Murder Mystery
   1. The Body in the Dales (2017)
     aka The Body in Jingling Pot
   2. The Quartet Murders (2017)
   3. The Murder at Redmire Hall (2018)
   4. The Royal Baths Murder (2019)
   5. The Nidderdale Murders (2020)
   6. The Whitby Murders (2021)
   7. Murder at St Anne's (2021)
   8. The Railway Murders (2022)- November 2022

20 April 2022


  • This edition on Kindle from Amazon
  • #3 Highlands & Islands Detective series
  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B0852L26GV
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Carpetless Publishing (27 March 2020) 
  • 225 pages

Synopsis (Amazon)

A last-minute replacement on a role-playing weekend. One fatal accident after another. Can Macleod overcome the snowstorm from hell to stop a killer before the guest list becomes obsolete?

Detectives Macleod and McGrath join a bizarre cast of characters at a remote country estate on the Isle of Harris where fantasy and horror are the order of the day. But when regular accidents happen, Macleod sees a killer at work and needs to uncover what links the dead. Hampered by a snowstorm that has closed off the outside world, he must rely on Hope McGrath before they become one of the victims.

It’s all a game…, but for whom?

My Take

This episode takes place on the Isle of Harris and the duo of Macleod and McGrath are filling in on a weekend for their boss. She has something else to attend and a police presence has been requested by a wealthy dilettante. It appears their role will be advisory and it will be one of those popular "murder" weekends.  Appropriate clothing has been provided. There are about a dozen guests altogether.

The estate at which the weekend is being held is on a small island off the Isle of Harris and as the weather turns wild the small island is cut off from civilisation in a way rather reminiscent Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None. In this case the host is well and truly present, at least until he dies in a freak accident. In the meantime the host has set up some macabre sets and booby traps for his guests to "enjoy". After his death though, the ghoulish events keep occurring, and the question rather becomes one of who is in control, and who can be trusted. 

Other reviewers have remarked that the plot delves into macabre fantasy, and is a little bit beyond crime fiction. If you don't take it too seriously, quite an interesting read, particularly if you are trying to work out who is doing the manipulating. Plenty of red herrings, although I think a couple of suspects are obvious right from the beginning.

My rating: 4.4 

I've also read



18 April 2022


  • first published in Swedish in 2009
  • translated into English by Rod Bradbury in 2012
  • ISBN 978-1-74331-127-1
  • 384 pages
  • author website 

Synopsis (publisher)

After a long and eventful life Allan Karlsson is moved to a nursing home to await the inevitable. But his health refuses to fail and as his 100th birthday looms a huge party is planned. Allan wants no part of it and decides to climb out the window...

Charming and funny; a European publishing phenomenon.

Sitting quietly in his room in an old people's home, Allan Karlsson is waiting for a party he doesn't want to begin. His one-hundredth birthday party to be precise. The Mayor will be there. The press will be there. But, as it turns out, Allan will not . . .

Escaping (in his slippers) through his bedroom window, into the flowerbed, Allan makes his getaway. And so begins his picaresque and unlikely journey involving a suitcase full of cash, a few thugs, a very friendly hot-dog stand operator, a few deaths, an elephant and incompetent police. As his escapades unfold, Allan's earlier life is revealed. A life in which - remarkably - he played a key role behind the scenes in some of the momentous events of the twentieth century.

The One Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared is a charming, warm and funny novel, beautifully woven with history and politics. 

My Take

Surprisingly Allan Karlsson has featured in nearly every important political milestone of the twentieth century world since 1929. He has been helpful to almost every one of the world's most important political leaders among them Truman, Churchill, Mao Tse tung, Nixon and others.

Karlsson's true talent is explosives including THE Bomb.
So while it is a black comedy, the story of Allan Karlsson's life presents a kaleidoscope of history, how one man has played East against West and vice versa.
His escape from the nursing home on the morning of his 100th birthday leads to him being on the run, wanted for murder by the police, and surviving for another month before he is recaptured.

Recollections of the main events of his life are set against this struggle for survival and Karlsson's philosophy about the important things in life.

This novel reminds me a little of a Mad Comic, episodic, not meant to be taken at face value, but at the same time full of little wisdoms.
I have to say that I did get a little tired of the seemingly endless list of adventures and escapades in Allan Karlsson's life, at the same time wanting to know how it all ended. 

My rating: 4.5

About the author
In 2007, I sold everything I owned, packed my bag and placed myself under a palm tree by Lake Lugano, laptop in lap.
Exactly twelve months later, I finished the manuscript. The one I had been carrying around in my mind for so long. Lovingly, it rips the twentieth century of all its glory and righteousness. And yet it embraces life. How could it not? How could we not? The alternative must be boring beyond everything!
Anyway, I sent the manuscript to six different publishing companies. Five of them turned it down, the sixths called me and said yes before they finished reading. Success was in the making, they said. They got bold and printed seven thousand copies in the first go. "Seven thousand? Are you sure?"
"You can never be sure", they said.
It sold ten million. Encouraging enough to give it another try.

15 April 2022


  • This edition published in The WISE Enquiries Agency Murder Mysteries Box Set: Books 1-4

  • Made available on Kindle (Amazon)
  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B09SZLBH5T
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Joffe crime thriller and cozy mystery (February 20, 2022)

Synopsis (Amazon)

Henry, eighteenth Duke of Chellingworth, is about to marry Stephanie Timbers in a grand ceremony at his Welsh estate. But one of the Morris dancers, who must lead the wedding party through the village, is missing. Along with the troupe’s kit of exquisite sixteenth-century silver bells and engraved sticks. Can the ladies of the WISE Enquiries Agency track him down and save the day? 

My Take

Oh what have I let myself in for?

This delightful series continues in a second book. Hot on the heels of their success in THE CASE OF THE DOTTY DOWAGER, the ladies of the WISE Enquiries Agency have moved from London to the Welsh countryside, in particular the Chellingworth estate, and the nearby village. In particular Mavis has become live-in companion to Althea, the dotty dowager herself, their office is in one of the estate building, Annie has a cottage in the village centre, Carol and husband David have their own house near the village, and Christine has an apartment at the Hall.

So it is a month or so into the next year and elaborate preparations are underway for the Duke's wedding. Then Aubrey Morris who is meant to be leading the Morris dancers in their procession at the wedding goes unexpectedly missing. Normally the quietest and yet most reliable of chaps, a local handyman, Aubrey doesn't turn up for an appointment he has made to to transport the Morris dancers. In addition their regalia has gone missing, and his van can't be found. It comes out that Aubrey was planning to go away, but not until the week after the wedding. The Duke wants him found.

What I am enjoying about these books is the development of each of the characters and the fleshing out of how they work as a team. Little traits are being added to each of them. Althea, the Dowager Duchess, as made an honorary member of WISE, and Alexander Bright, Christine's new "friend" becomes very useful indeed.

I'm hooked!

My rating: 4.5

I've also read


13 April 2022

Review: OLD BONES, Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child

  • this edition published by Grand Central Publishing 2019
  • ISBN 978-1-5387-4722-3
  • 349 pages
  • source: my local library


Nora Kelly, a young curator at the Santa Fe Institute of Archaeology, is approached by historian Clive Benton with a once-in-a-lifetime proposal: to lead a team in search of the so-called “Lost Camp” of the tragic Donner Party. This was a group of pioneers who earned a terrible place in American history when they became snow-bound in the California mountains in 1847, their fate unknown until the first skeletonized survivors stumbled out of the wilderness, raving about starvation, murder--and cannibalism.

Benton tells Kelly he has stumbled upon an amazing find: the long-sought diary of one of the victims, which has an enigmatic description of the Lost Camp. Nora agrees to lead an expedition to locate and excavate it--to reveal its long-buried secrets.

Once in the mountains, however, they learn that discovering the camp is only the first step in a mounting journey of fear. For as they uncover old bones, they expose the real truth of what happened, one that is far more shocking and bizarre than mere cannibalism. And when those ancient horrors lead to present-day violence on a grand scale, rookie FBI agent Corrie Swanson is assigned the case…only to find that her first investigation might very well be her last.

My Take

I came away thinking that this might be the beginnings of a new investigative team of  a forensic archaeologist and an FBI Special Agent,

Based on a true story from 1846, this made engaging reading as an archaeological team looks for a "lost camp" of some pioneers crossing the Sierra Nevada. They became lost, and the story ended tragically with starvation and cannibalism. There were tales also of a huge cache of gold dollars buried somewhere near the site.

Recommended reading.

It is probably decades since I have read a book by either of these authors.

My rating: 4.6

About the authors

Douglas Preston was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1956, and grew up in the deadly boring suburb of Wellesley. Following a distinguished career at a private nursery school--he was almost immediately expelled—he attended public schools and the Cambridge School of Weston.

Lincoln seemed to have acquired an interest in writing as early as second grade, when he wrote a short story entitled Bumble the Elephant (now believed by scholars to be lost). Along with two dozen short stories composed during his youth, he wrote a shamelessly Tolkeinesque fantasy in twelfth grade titled The Darkness to the North (left unfinished at 400 manuscript pages).

12 April 2022

Review: THE DARK REMAINS, William McIlvanney and Ian Rankin

Synopsis (publisher)

In this scorching crime hook-up, number one bestseller Ian Rankin and Scottish crime-writing legend William McIlvanney join forces for the first ever case of DI Laidlaw, Glasgow's original gritty detective.

Lawyer Bobby Carter did a lot of work for the wrong type of people. Now he's dead and it was no accident. Besides a distraught family and a heap of powerful friends, Carter's left behind his share of enemies. So, who dealt the fatal blow?

DC Jack Laidlaw's reputation precedes him. He's not a team player, but he's got a sixth sense for what's happening on the streets. His boss chalks the violence up to the usual rivalries, but is it that simple? As two Glasgow gangs go to war, Laidlaw needs to find out who got Carter before the whole city explodes.

William McIlvanney's Laidlaw books changed the face of crime fiction. When he died in 2015, he left half a handwritten manuscript of Laidlaw's first case. Now, Ian Rankin is back to finish what McIlvanney started. In THE DARK REMAINS, these two iconic authors bring to life the criminal world of 1970s Glasgow, and Laidlaw's relentless quest for truth. 

My Take

Jack Laidlaw is a maverick. He believes he works best on his own, and constantly rubs people up the wrong way. The Commander, Robert Frederick of the Glasgow Crime Squad has asked DS Bob Lilley to babysit Laidlaw because he needs careful handling. Laidlaw certainly doesn't like attempts by DI Ernie Milligan to give him orders and dictate how he does things. Milligan and Laidlaw have history. They were DCs together, Milligan rose the ladder, Laidlaw hasn't.

Essentially Milligan and Laidlaw are different as chalk and cheese, and Milligan can't resist any opportunity for a bit of one-up-manship.

Most of the novel is occupied with the cut and thrust between two rival Glasgow gangs. Running in the background is the investigation into lawyer Bobby Carter's death.

Having never read any William McIlvanney before I can't tell how good a job Rankin has done of completing the original manuscript.
Ian Rankin has spent most of lockdown writing a novel – but it isn’t a new Rebus. Instead, the Scottish writer has been putting the finishing touches to a handwritten manuscript left by the late William McIlvanney, the so-called godfather of “tartan noir” and author of the Laidlaw detective books.
But Rankin said The Dark Remains was unlikely to be the start of a franchise. “It’s just there was that one unfinished book and there was enough material there that meant it could be finished,” he said. “And why wouldn’t you want a new William McIlvanney book out in the world?”

I can't see Rankin writing any more in this "series" despite the comments in the blurb about this being a "scorching crime hookup". For me it was a little disappointing.

My rating: 4.4 

I've also read

4.4, WITCH HUNT - writing as Jack Harvey



10 April 2022


  • this edition made available from my local library
  • published by Hachette Australia 2021
  • ISBN 978-0-7336-4290-6
  • 342 pages

Synopsis (publisher)

The heartwarming and hilarious bestseller by the author of treasured novels, The Single Ladies of Jacaranda Retirement Village and The Great Escape from Woodlands Nursing Home

The Marjorie Marshall Memorial Cafeteria has been serving refreshments and raising money at the hospital for over fifty years, long after anybody can remember who Marjorie Marshall actually was. Staffed by successive generations of dedicated volunteers, the beloved cafeteria is known as much for offering a kind word and sympathetic ear (and often unsolicited life advice) as for its tea and buns.

Stalwart Hilary has worked her way up through the ranks to Manageress; Joy has been late every day since she started as the cafeteria's newest recruit. She doesn't take her role as 'the intern' quite as seriously as Hilary would like but there's no doubt she brings a welcome pop of personality. Seventeen-year-old Chloe, the daughter of two successful surgeons, is volunteering during the school holidays because her mother thinks it will look good on her CV.

Chloe is at first bewildered by the two older women but soon realises they have a lot in common, not least that each bears a secret pain. When they discover the cafeteria is under threat of closure, this unlikely trio must band together to save it. 

My Take

An entertaining read, and some very believable characters. 

Hilary is the volunteer manager of the cafeteria, 76 years old, recently separated from her husband, and now living with her older sister. She runs the cafeteria on an exceedingly tight budget.

Her assistant is Joy, 74 years old, always a smile on her face. Her husband of 53 years, Len, has recently had cancer and is now at home on remission (?). Joy tries to feed new ideas to Hilary, trying to make her think the ideas are hers.

Chloe, 17 years old, is the third volunteer in the trio, still at school, and destined to follow her parents into medicine. Chloe has a few problems of her own, and is not really looking forward to working with the two "oldies".

This was a lovely read, and covered a number of issues including what happens when progress at the hospital challenges the very existence of the cafeteria.

Highly recommended.

My rating: 4.5

I've also read



  • This edition published in The WISE Enquiries Agency Murder Mysteries Box Set: Books 1-4
  • Made available on Kindle (Amazon)
  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B09SZLBH5T
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Joffe crime thriller and cozy mystery (February 20, 2022)

Synopsis (Amazon)

A WELSH MURDER MYSTERY BOX SET BOOKS 1–4 four cozy Welsh murder mysteries full of twists (The WISE Enquiries Agency Murder Mysteries Box Set)

The WISE Enquiries Agency consists of Mavis, Annie, Carol and Christine. One is Welsh, one Irish, one Scottish and one English, hence the name. Drawn together by chance — and a killer — the women of the WISE Enquiries Agency turned their backs on their previous careers to work together to help others. Combining their unique skills, and revelling in their differences, they’re doing their best to make the business succeed. But being private investigators isn’t a bed of roses — there are bills to pay, clients to be managed, and dangers to be faced. Can they manage to do it all, and survive?

Henry Twyst, eighteenth Duke of Chellingworth, is convinced his mother is losing her marbles. The dowager claims to have seen a corpse on the dining room floor, but all she has to prove it is a bloodied bobble hat. Henry hires the women of the WISE Enquiries Agency. The duke wants the strange matter explained. But the truth of what happened at the Chellingworth Estate is more complex, dangerous, and deadly, than anyone could have foreseen . . .

My Take

I've certainly enjoyed reading the first book in this new recently published series (available only in Kindle and currently at a bargain price). The characters of the four members of the WISE Enquiries Agency are well drawn, very distinct from each other. I'm not sure about the entire credibility of the plot but there was enough good stuff to keep me going.

I will certainly be going on to Book 2 sometime in the future. 

My rating: 4.3

I've also read THE CORPSE WITH THE SILVER TONGUE which was Cathy's first novel.

About the author
Cathy Ace migrated from her native Wales to Canada at the age of 40. She is the award-winning author of the traditional Cait Morgan Mysteries featuring her Welsh Canadian criminology professor sleuth who travels the world tripping over corpses, which have now been optioned for TV. She also writes the cozier WISE Enquiries Agency Mysteries featuring a quartet of female PIs who run their business out of a Welsh stately home. Both series have been well-reviewed. Her award-winning standalone, THE WRONG BOY, is a gripping novel of psychological suspense, set in Wales, and has also been optioned for TV.

5 April 2022

Review: MEDICUS, Ruth Downie

  • this edition from Amazon on Kindle
  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B07B659FYD
  • Publication date ‏ : ‎ March 1, 2018
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 418 pages 
  • #1 in the Medicus series

Synopsis (Kindle)

Welcome to the most remote part of the Roman Empire. Britannia, AD117 – primitive, cold, damp and very muddy.

The Gods are not smiling on army doctor Gaius Petreius Ruso in his new posting in Britannia. He has vast debts, a slave girl who is much more trouble than she is worth and an overbearing hospital administrator to deal with . . . not to mention a serial killer stalking the local streets.

Barmaids’ bodies are being washed up with the tide and no one else seems to care. It’s up to Ruso to summon all his skills to investigate, even though the breakthroughs in forensic science lie centuries in the future, and the murderer may be hunting him down too.

If only the locals would just stop killing each other and If only it were possible to find a decent glass of wine, and a slave who can cook, Ruso’s prospects would be a whole lot sunnier . . .

The first novel in the New York Times bestselling Gaius Petreius Ruso series. With a gift for comic timing and historic detail, Ruth Downie has conjured an ancient world as raucous and real as our own. Perfect for fans of Lindsey Davis and Steven Saylor. 

My Take

Gaius Petreius Ruso is a career soldier in the Roman army and has recently transferred to the 20th Legion in Deva (modern day Chester) from Africa. Things are very different in Britannia. Not only is the weather dismal but the locals are rebellious and they speak British. Ruso is recovering from a divorce and the death of his father in Gaul. His father has left ruinous debts and so Ruso is constantly trying to send money to his brother who is looking after the family farm in Gaul.

His money seems to be going the wrong way. His lodgings are near the hospital but are filthy, and due to be demolished. He desperately needs someone to cook and clean, but instead ends up rescuing a British slave at a price he can ill afford, and she has a broken arm.

Girls from a local cafe/bordello keep turning up dead, and Ruso becomes a reluctant detective as he tries to work out what is happening. And then his new slave Tilla runs away and Ruso finds he has got used to having her around.

Much of this introduction to life on the frontier of the Roman Empire is seen from the point of view of the conquered rather than the conquerors. We see at first hand the impact of slave trafficking as well as the way in which the conquerors try to impose the "Roman way" onto the locals. The author has created sufficiently likeable central characters in Ruso and Tilla for me to investigate where things go in the second book in the series.

My rating: 4.4

There are 8 titles in the series
MEDICUS (the first story, AKA 'Medicus/Ruso and the Disappearing Dancing Girls')
TERRA INCOGNITA ('Ruso and the Demented Doctor')
PERSONA NON GRATA ('Ruso and the Root of All Evils')
CAVEAT EMPTOR ('Ruso and the River of Darkness')

About the author
Ruth (RS) Downie left university with an English degree and a plan to get married and live happily ever after. She is still working on it.
Ruth lives in North Devon with a husband, a fine view and too many cats. She is not the same person as the RS Downie who writes real medical textbooks. Absolutely none of the medical advice in the Ruso books should be followed. Roman and Greek doctors were very wise about many things but they were also known to prescribe donkey dung and boiled cockroaches.

Find out more at www.ruthdownie.com

2 April 2022

Review: WHITE OUT, Ragnar Jonasson

  • this edition made available by my local library through Libby

  • first published 2017
  • Book 5 of 6: Dark Iceland 
  • translated by Quentin Bates 

Synopsis (Amazon)

Two days before Christmas, a young woman is found dead beneath the cliffs of the deserted village of Kálfshamarvík.

Did she jump, or did something more sinister take place beneath the lighthouse and the abandoned old house on the remote rocky outcrop?
With winter closing in and the snow falling relentlessly, Ari Thór Arason discovers that the victim’s mother and young sister also lost their lives in this same spot, twenty-five years earlier.

As the dark history and its secrets of the village are unveiled, and the death toll begins to rise, the Siglufjordur detectives must race against the clock to find the killer, before another tragedy takes place.

(When the body of a young woman is found dead beneath the cliffs of the deserted Icelandic village of Kálfshamarvík, police officer Ari Thór Arason uncovers a startling and terrifying connection to an earlier series of deaths, as the killer remains on the loose…)

Dark, chilling and complex, Whiteout is a haunting, atmospheric and stunningly plotted thriller from one of Iceland’s bestselling crime writers. 

My Take

Asta Karadottir has returned to the scene of a terrible event that she witnessed. She hasn't been there for 25 years. So why has she returned? She says that she is writing a thesis about her father who had survived the deaths of her mother and her sister twenty five years earlier.

Asta has written to the owner of the house, a well known media personality, asking if she may stay for a few days, and she is given her old childhood room. The people in the house are those who were there 25 years earlier. Within two days Asta herself is dead, suffering the same fate as her mother and sister.

Did Asta return to commit suicide, or is the same killer still at large? There is a limited cast of suspects, and fairly quickly another person dies.

Detectives have already arrived to investigate Asta's death and each of the suspects is scrutinised carefully. DNA evidence provides clues but is the finger pointing at the right person?

One of the detectives, Ari Thor, brings his very pregnant girlfriend to the locality with him, as it seems unlikely he will make it home for Christmas. 

Icelandic crime fiction has a different flavour, and is truly noir.

My rating: 4.5

I've also read 4.4, THE MIST 


Blog Widget by LinkWithin