Book Number: N/A
Read this book for: classic Holmes pastiche, Sherlock Holmes, cozy mystery, supernatural elements, classic mystery, whodunnit
Quick Review: A classic and seasonal Holmes story, full of brilliant deductions, solid characterization, and a writing so familiar that you could imagine Conan Doyle penning it himself.
It is 1890, and in the days before Christmas Sherlock Holmes and Dr John Watson are visited at Baker Street by a new client. Eve Allerthorpe – eldest daughter of a grand but somewhat eccentric Yorkshire-based dynasty – is greatly distressed, as she believes she is being haunted by a demonic Christmas spirit.
Her late mother told her terrifying tales of the sinister Black Thurrick, and Eve is sure that she has seen the creature from her bedroom window. What is more, she has begun to receive mysterious parcels of birch twigs, the Black Thurrick’s calling card…
Eve stands to inherit a fortune if she is sound in mind, but it seems that something – or someone – is threatening her sanity. Holmes and Watson travel to the Allerthorpe family seat at Fellscar Keep to investigate, but soon discover that there is more to the case than at first appeared. There is another spirit haunting the family, and when a member of the household is found dead, the companions realise that no one is beyond suspicion.
Continue reading “REVIEW: Sherlock Holmes and the Christmas Demon by James Lovegrove”
Series: Drabble & Harris
Book Number: 1
Read this book for: UK mystery, period mystery, historical references, action, adventure, thriller, heroes in danger, amateur investigator
Quick Review: A period, action-packed adventure – the English Indiana Jones.
Ernest Drabble, a Cambridge historian and mountaineer, travels to rural Devon to inspect the decapitated head of Oliver Cromwell a macabre artefact owned by Dr Wilkinson. Drabble only tells one person of his plans Harris, an old school friend and press reporter.
On the train to Devon, Drabble narrowly avoids being murdered, only to reach his destination and find Dr Wilkinson has been killed. Gripped in Wilkinson’s hand is a telegram from Winston Churchill instructing him to bring the head of Oliver Cromwell to London.
Drabble has unwittingly become embroiled in a pro-Nazi conspiracy headed by a high-status Conservative member of the British government.
And so, Drabble teams up with Wilkinson’s secretary, Kate Honeyand, to find the head and rescue Harris who is being tortured for information.
Continue reading “REVIEW: Rule Britannia by Alec Marsh (Drabble & Harris #1)”
Series: Killing Eve
Book Number: 1
Read this book for: female assassin, female investigator, spy thriller, assassin thriller, contemporary and stylish, international locations, UK based
Quick Review: Not long, but a fantastically paced, stylish spy thriller.
She is the perfect assassin.
A Russian orphan, saved from the death penalty for the brutal revenge she took on her gangster father’s killers.
Ruthlessly trained. Given a new life. New names, new faces – whichever fits.
Her paymasters call themselves The Twelve. But she knows nothing of them. Konstantin is the man who saved her and the one she answers to.
She is Villanelle. Without conscience. Without guilt. Without weakness.
Eve Polastri is the woman who hunts her. MI5, until one error of judgment costs her everything.
Then stopping a ruthless assassin becomes more than her job. It becomes personal.
Continue reading “REVIEW: Killing Eve: Codename Villanelle by Luke Jennings (Killing Eve #1)”
Series: Lex Tyler
Book Number: 2
Read this book for: spy thriller, strong female characters, assassin character, dangerous mums, action thriller, UK novel
Quick Review: Fast, fresh and interesting, with a fun, human-feeling cast of characters, and a relentless plot.
Lex Tyler is trying to have it all. But being a working mother is so much more difficult when you’re a secret agent for an underground branch of the security services. Platform Eight have been tasked with tracking down and eliminating the traitor in MI6 who has been selling information to the highest bidder through a headhunting website for the criminal underworld that connects intelligence operatives with all manner of bad people with a simple right swipe. Deals get made. Secrets get sold. Missions fail, and agents die.
Lex’s own home life is not much easier. With a husband who rings her in the middle of a gunfight to complain she’s yet again forgotten to pick up his dry-cleaning, and a two-year-old daughter who has a newfound love of biting, surviving both the Terrible Twos and a traitor might just be too much for one exhausted mother to handle.
Continue reading “REVIEW: The Nursery by Asia Mackay (Lex Tyler #2)”
Series: Daniel Hawthorne
Book Number: 2
Read this book for: UK mystery, London mystery, whodunnit, author self-insert, amateur investigator, private investigator, contemporary mystery
Quick Review: Another brilliant, tightly plotted, page-turning instalment in a series with an interesting concept and a perfect blend of fiction and reality.
Richard Pryce is an elegant, smooth-tongued lawyer who has made a fortune out of celebrity divorces – and a lot of enemies in the process. Unmarried himself, he lives in a handsome bachelor pad on the edge of Hampstead Heath.
Or rather he used to …
When he is found murdered, the police confront the most baffling of mysteries: who was the visitor who came to Pryce’s house moments before he died, arriving while he was still talking on the phone?
“You shouldn’t be here. It’s too late…” were Pryce’s last recorded words but what exactly do they mean?
Why does his killer paint a three-digit number on the wall before leaving the crime scene? And why exactly was he bludgeoned to death with a bottle of wine – a 1982 Chateau Lafite worth £2,000 – when he didn’t drink alcohol?
The police are forced to hand the case to Private Investigator Daniel Hawthorne, who takes it on with characteristic relish.
But Hawthorne himself has secrets to hide and as our reluctant narrator becomes ever more embroiled in the case he realises that these are secrets that need to be exposed – even if it puts his own life in danger …
Continue reading “REVIEW: The Sentence is Death by Anthony Hawley (Daniel Hawthorne #2)”
Book Number: N/A
Read this book for: conspiracy thriller, dark humour, twisting plot, amateur investigator, unique story premise
Quick Review: Understated, twisting, challenging and playful; Hawley gives a masterclass in balanced, fascinating writing and intricate plotting.
Linus Owen is a young professor of conspiracy theory at a small college just outside San Francisco. He teaches graduate-level classes on JFK and gives seminars on magic-bullet theories and how the symbols on the dollar bill reveal the presence of a secret government that is leading the world to ruin.
Linus’ marriage is foundering and his wife, Claudia, an up-and-coming advertising executive, has gone to Chicago to visit her mother. But if Claudia is in Chicago, how is it that two FBI agents show up at Linus’ office and inform him that Claudia has been killed in a plane crash on her way from New York to Brazil? And why did a man named Jeffrey Holden, the vice president of a major pharmaceutical company, buy her ticket and die beside her?
Enlisting the aid of Edward and Roy — his friends and fellow conspiracy theorists — Linus heads across the country in search of answers. Along the way, the trio encounters a legion of disturbing and provocative characters and clues, including an irascible talk show host, a mind-controlling drug, and art emerging link between Claudia’s ad agency and the U.S, Government. As their journey progresses, it becomes frighteningly clear they’ve left the realm of the academic and are tangled up in a dangerous, multilayered cover-up. Finally, deep in the heart of the American desert, stunned by an ominous revelation, Linus sees he has a new mission: to try to stay alive.
Continue reading “REVIEW: A Conspiracy of Tall Men by Noah Hawley”
Series: Sage Westfield
Book Number: 2
Read this book for: historical mystery, contemporary mystery, cold case, police procedural, multiple storylines, UK mystery
Quick Review: A deftly constructed novel that offers a nuanced blend between historical and contemporary mystery stories.
Archaeologist Sage Westfield has her first forensics case: investigating the murder of a teenage girl. Hidden by holly leaves, the girl’s body has been discovered on the grounds of a stately home, where another teenage girl went missing twenty years ago – but her body was never found. The police suspect the reclusive owner, Alistair Chorleigh, who was questioned but never charged. But when Sage investigates a nearby burial mound – and uncovers rumours of an ancient curse – she discovers the story of another mysterious disappearance over a hundred years ago. Sage will need both her modern forensics skills and her archaeological knowledge to unearth the devastating truth. Continue reading “REVIEW: A Shroud of Leaves by Rebecca Alexander (Sage Westfield #2)”
Series: Charles Holborne
Book Number: 1
Read this book for: legal thriller, 60s London, semi-historical, this time it’s personal, wrongfully accused, amateur detective, corrupt cops
Quick Review: Vivid atmosphere, a great story and a wade range of people, places and parts of society; THE BRIEF is an extremely fascinating dual thriller.
1960s London – gang wars, corrupt police, vice and pornography – ex-boxer, Charles Holborne, has plenty of opportunities to build his reputation with the criminal classes as a barrister who delivers. But Holborne, an East End boy made good, is not all he seems, and his past is snapping at his heels. When his philandering wife has her throat slashed, Holborne finds himself on the wrong side of the law and on the run, back in the only place he thought he’d be safe, the East End. But now he’s got caught in the middle of a turf war between the Kray twins and the Yardies. Can Holborne stay one step ahead of the police and the real murderer, discover the truth and escape the hangman?
Continue reading “REVIEW: The Brief by Simon Michael (Charles Holborne #1)”
Series: Anderson & Costello
Book Number: 9
Read this book for: police procedural, Scottish mystery, female detective, this time its personal, multiple investigations, child abduction, kidnapping thriller
Quick Review: A twisting kaleidoscope of related investigations; a must-read for fans of the series!
DI Costello faces a disturbing child abduction case; a six-week-old has been stolen and replaced with another baby. The swap took cold and meticulous planning, so Costello treads the seedy, Glaswegian backstreets for answers. She’s convinced that more than one young life is at stake.
Promoted into the Cold Case Unit, Colin Anderson reviews the unsolved rape of a young mother, whose attacker is still out there. Each case pulls Anderson and Costello in the same direction and, as their paths keep crossing, they begin to suspect their separate cases are dangerously entwined. Continue reading “REVIEW: The Suffering of Strangers by Caro Ramsay (Anderson & Costello #9)”
Series: Fethering Mysteries
Book Number: 18
Read this book for: cozy mystery, UK mystery, whodunnit, contemporary mystery, amateur detectives, female detectives
Quick Review: An extremely cozy English mystery with all the trimmings, including a fun little puzzle, but with the freshness of a contemporary setting.
Having been booked to give a talk at Fethering Library, successful author Burton St Clair invites his old friend Jude to come along. Although they haven’t met for twenty years, Jude is not surprised to find that St Clair hasn’t changed, with his towering ego and somewhat shaky relationship with the truth. What Jude hadn’t been suspecting however was that the evening would end in sudden, violent death.
More worrying, from Jude’s point of view, is the fact that the investigating police officers seem to be convinced that she herself was responsible for the crime. With the evidence stacking up against her, Jude enlists the help of her neighbour Carole not just to solve the murder but to prevent herself from being arrested for committing it. Continue reading “REVIEW: The Liar in the Library by Simon Brett (Fethering Mysteries #18)”