My cosy mystery / romcom ‘Haircuts, Hens and Homicide’ is currently on tour. For seven days various wonderful book bloggers will be hosting my novel. Do please call by and see what they have to say about my novel.

Here’s the running order:

It’s got off to a great start with some lovely reviews today 🙂 Books, Life and Everything says: “With plenty of humour and laugh out loud moments, the story proves to be an entertaining read and is nicely set up for a sequel.”

Katie’s Book Cave says: “Haircuts, Hens and Homicide is a fun and entertaining riot of a read that will have you laughing away as you follow the adventures of Megan and co. It’s well-written and set in a gorgeous place, I loved my trip to France via this book! I can’t wait to read the next book in the series.”

And Julie Palooza says: “Although the mystery aspect of the book is relatively light, its main joy is seeing Megan settle into small-town French life – avec des poulets – and meeting its cast of, variously, huge, handsome, haughty, homicidal, charming, clumsy and coiffure-ly-challenged residents.”

I hope those reviews have tempted you. If so, call by getbook.at/HHH to get your copy!

Hooray, my turn to take part in the blog tour for this excellent book!

Synopsis

Sylvia Blackwell is tired. Her grandchildren are being kept away from her, and the expected inheritance that might finally get her middle-aged son to move out has failed to materialise – thanks to her mother’s cat. It is becoming increasingly difficult to remain composed. On a romantic clifftop walk for her 47th Wedding Anniversary, an unexpected opportunity leads to a momentous decision that will irretrievably change the course of her life.

The Craft Room is a darkly comic tale of sex, crepe paper, murder and knitting in a sleepy Devon town, with a ‘truly original’ premise and genuinely jaw-dropping moments. What would you do if unexpectedly freed from bondage you never knew you were in? How would your children cope? How far would you go to protect them from an uncomfortable truth? You can only push a grandmother so far…

 

My review

This book is wickedly funny, absolutely dark comedy at its best. All Sylvia wants is her own craft room so she can outdo her nemesis Maureen at the local craft fairs. Now that Robert, her son, has moved out for the second time, having come to terms with his separation from his wife Alexa, she’s got his old room earmarked.

However, she’s temporarily distracted by her mother’s death, an event which doesn’t come as a surprise to Sylvia. Also, the fact her mother has left her next to nothing since she’s gambled it away or promised it to cats takes her focus for a while. Husband Ron swoops into the empty room before she knows it. He annexes it for a golf swing training room. Now, that really is going a bit too far. But he’s not a nice person, someone who delivers encouraging sarcasm and withering looks, and has always belittled their son. Robert moves back in for a while.

Another death in the family, that again doesn’t surprise Sylvia, and neither does the next one, which sees the demise of Ron’s mistress. Cops Frank and Don see the coincidence but rule kind old granny Sylvia out, although suspect she’s covering for someone. They therefore keep an eye on her nearest and dearest, the remaining ones…

The action intensifies from here on, with complications sneaking in. Will Sylvia ever realise her dream of a fully equipped craft room?

This is hugely entertaining. Once you start reading, you can’t stop. The dark humour is wonderful, and addictive! Sylvia is a brilliant heroine, one you can sympathise with – although perhaps you shouldn’t really. She’s larger than life, yet down to earth. She’s great. Robert, insipid at first, comes into his own as the story progresses, and other characters we meet entertain and fascinate.

The physical and social settings of the novel come over well, and contribute towards making this a remarkable and memorable read. I loved it!

Purchase Linkhttps://www.amazon.co.uk/Craft-Room-Dave-Holwill/dp/1973974673

Author Bio

Dave Holwill was born in Guildford in 1977 and quickly decided that he preferred the Westcountry – moving to Devon in 1983 (with some input from his parents).
After an expensive (and possibly wasted) education there, he has worked variously as a postman, a framer, and a print department manager (though if you are the only person in the department then can you really be called a manager?) all whilst continuing to play in every kind of band imaginable on most instruments you can think of.

His debut novel, Weekend Rockstars, was published in August 2016 to favourable reviews and his second The Craft Room (a very dark comedy concerning death through misadventure) came out in August 2017. He is currently in editing hell with the third.

Social Media Links –

https://www.facebook.com/daveholwill100

https://twitter.com/daveholwill

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15584279.Dave_Holwill

https://www.instagram.com/dave_holwill/

http://davedoesntwriteanythingever.blogspot.com/

 

 

 

 

Synopsis

While staying in a Dorset cottage, Hugh Mullion finds a mysterious key down the side of an antique chair.  No one can say how long the key has been there or what it opens.

Hugh’s search for answers will unlock the secrets of the troubled life of a talented artist, destined to be hailed a neglected genius fifty years too late.  And no secret is darker than that of The Amber Maze, from whose malign influence he never escaped.

The trail takes Hugh from Edwardian Oxfordshire to 1960s Camden Town, where the ghosts of the past are finally laid to rest.

Delicately crafted noir fiction at its best.

 

My review

This novel is an intriguing and erudite mystery. More noir than cozy, it’s a thoughtful, intelligent story. There’s definite menace and a lurking threat, embodied by the maze that is the symbol of Assendene Court. You get a hint of that from the cover: what exactly is round that next bend

Our protagonist Hugh plunges into a maze of investigation. Progress is slow and cautious to start with, but gains momentum. However, there are wrong turns and dead ends. But like a determined terrier, once he’s got his teeth into this mystery he’s not going to let go. There’s an old box, paintings, a journal belonging to underrated artist Lionel Pybus and the amber maze itself of Assendene Court that all need investigating and, let’s move to a jigsaw analogy now, piecing together.

It’s nice to have a male protagonist, since this type of more literary and less violent mystery is generally the preserve of female sleuths, and a slightly more mature one too. He’s not a perfect person – he’s definitely on the obsessive side, can’t let things go. He’s sharp, curious, personable, and he works well with a number of knowledgeable people to delve deeper into this mystery. He’s methodical, almost a little plodding, but that just means we can keep up with events clearly and  understand exactly what’s going on.

His life partner, Kate, is a perfect foil for him. She’s more impulsive and upbeat, equally likeable and sharp, and is drawn into Hugh’s investigation despite herself. She’s very supportive. She’s just one of a compelling cast of characters that accompany Hugh through the story, all rounded and interesting.

Despite Hugh’s meticulous approach to his investigation, the story progresses steadily, gaining momentum, and the book is a real page-turner. You keep wanting to know what next, fascinating snippet he’ll uncover and how it will fit in with what we know so far.

A delightful and rewarding read.

 

Purchase links:

Amazon UKhttps://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/0955506751

Amazon US – https://www.amazon.com/Amber-Maze-Christopher-Bowden-ebook/dp/B07FRH481F/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1532280455&sr=1-1&keywords=the+amber+maze

Waterstones https://www.waterstones.com/book/the-amber-maze/christopher-bowden/9780955506758

Smashwordshttps://www.smashwords.com/books/view/880652

 

About the author

Christopher Bowden lives in south London. The Amber Maze is the sixth of his colour-themed novels, which have been praised variously by Andrew Marr, Julian Fellowes, Sir Derek Jacobi, and Shena Mackay. 

Social media links

https://www.facebook.com/christopher.bowden.90

Keep following this book’s blog tour, and catch up with what you might have missed so far!

 

I’m delighted to be hosting ‘Duck Egg Blues’ today here at Books Are Cool!

Synopsis

Duck Egg Blues is funny, sad, mysterious and thrilling. “A robot butler detective, what’s not to love?”

‘A clever and ambitious story’

This perfect slice of ‘cozy crime’ is narrated in the voice of a pre-war English butler and concerns a rich and powerful businesswoman whose daughter goes missing from their country house estate. That the story- teller is a robot belonging to an impoverished detective brings a fresh and original take on ‘cozy’, and as for ‘crime’… well, it does begin to escalate, what with MI6, criminal gangs, corrupt police, and that’s not to mention international cybercrime!

As the plot strands weave together, we discover that behind one mystery lurks a greater threat. No one is safe, not even PArdew…

This is without doubt the robot-butler-detective thriller you have been waiting for!

Martin Ungless is a WCN Escalator Prize winning author who has twice been shortlisted by the Crime Writers’ Association for their Debut Dagger Award.

My review

It’s always great to discover a novel that’s definitely different, and the quirky Duck Egg Blues fits that bill. Cozy with robots, an unusual but excellent combination.

PArdew, the robot butler, is a wonderful character. His aim is to serve, and if he can make his master happy whilst doing so then all the better, but he’ll settle for doing what he’s told. His very logical, uncritical take on life and programmed acceptance that humans know best, even when they so patently obviously don’t, makes for lots of humour. I’m really not sure Don, his dour master, deserves him! However, Don does lighten up a bit as the story progresses, and his kinder side emerges.

Don is a private investigator. He’s looking into car thefts as the story opens. Not the most exciting thing, you might think, but it’s amazing how, with input from Pardew, Don soon finds himself caught up in a thrilling mystery that goes very deep. Things get progressively more complex, and Don and PArdew find themselves up against some rather intimidating adversaries. There’s mystery, tension, excitement and, whenever we need it most, comic relief in this fast-paced, clever story.

The whole novel is as charming and idiosyncratic as its main character. You don’t have to be either a hard-boiled mystery and thriller lover, or a sci-fi aficionado to enjoy this book. If you like being entertained and made to chuckle every now and again, then this is absolutely for you.

Purchase Link – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Duck-Egg-Blues-PArdew-Book-ebook/dp/B071226XSW

For the duration of this blog tour, Duck Egg Blues will be on a Kindle Countdown Deal, so if you are tempted, purchase before the price rises

Author Bio – Following this year’s success, Martin Ungless had now been shortlisted three times by the Crime Writers’ Association for their Debut Dagger. He has won a WCN Escalator Award, and been successful in a number short-story competitions. Martin started life as an architect though now lives in the Norfolk countryside and writes full time. Martin is currently studying for the prestigious MA in Fiction (Crime) at UEA.

Social Media Links – https://twitter.com/UnglessM

Synopsis

When a ghost ship is spotted on the horizon one spring evening, bookseller Eleanor Mace decides to investigate the myths and legends of Combemouth, the seaside town where she runs The Reading Room. As Eleanor digs deeper into the town’s history, she becomes intrigued by a Victorian crime report and is determined to find out what happened to a boy at the centre the case – one with intriguing links to the present.

As Eleanor begins to uncover the truth – aided by the vicar but somewhat stalled by the local librarian – she has an unexpected challenge on her own horizon. Daniel – her husband of six months – is determined that they give up their separate homes and find a new place together. But Eleanor adores her cottage by the sea and resists, guaranteeing that things turn a little frosty as the summer begins.

A celebrity book launch, an exploding dress and some salsa-dancing pensioners make this a mystery with a difference.

 

My Review

This book is the third in ‘The Bookshop by the Sea’ series, but you don’t need to read the earlier books to enjoy it. We are succinctly introduced to the characters and given enough background to be quickly able to work out who’s who and how everyone is connected.

Legends are rife about ghost ships (sometimes called phantom ships) – mysterious empty ships, either real or imagined, that sail the seas with no-one on board. The Flying Dutchman and the Princess Augusta are famous mythical examples and everyone’s heard of the Mary Celeste. So it’s an evocative image to use at the beginning of this book. The spotting of the Santa Ana leads Eleanor Mace, our heroine, into a spot of investigating that ends up with her researching a Victorian crime.

The novel is as much about Eleanor herself as her investigations – her role in the town, her relationships, especially with new husband Daniel and her family, and her development as a character. She’s likeable, funny, resolute and altogether a fascinating person to know. I particularly admire how good she is with her sometimes grumpy husband as they deal with the thorny issue of where to live.

There’s a cast of interesting secondary but distinctive characters to meet, all of whom have their important role in the novel. No stereotypes or shadowy figures here, they’re all rounded and memorable.

The writing is crisp yet flowing, and you’re swept along by the story, just like our ghost ship is swept along by the wind and the sea. You might just intend to read a chapter or two but it’s hard to put this excellent book down. As is typical of the cosy mystery, there may not be any major showdowns or violent confrontations, but there’s gentle tension building up and a denouement that surprises. It’s a delightful read that won’t give you nightmares, thank goodness!, but will give you plenty to think about and make you want to read more books by this author.

 

Details

Title: The Bookshop Detective (The Bookshop by the Sea series)

Publisher: Waverley Books

Publication Date: May 2017

Formats: Kindle and Paperback

ISBN: 978-1849344456

Genre: Contemporary women’s fiction/humour/mystery

Page Count: 256

Buy Links: Kindle – https://amzn.to/2KLTNqO

Paperback – https://amzn.to/2KwD7Ew

 

About the author

Jan Ellis began writing fiction by accident in 2013. Until then, she had led a blameless life as a publisher, editor and historian of early modern Spain. She fell into fiction when a digital publisher approached her to write a history book, then made the mistake of mentioning women’s fiction, which sounded much more fun.

In 2017, her four e-novellas were published in paperback by Waverley Books who also commissioned a brand-new title, The Bookshop Detective.

Jan describes her books as romcom/mystery with the emphasis firmly on family, friendship and humour. She specialises in small-town settings, with realistic characters who range in age from young teens to 80-somethings.

As well as being an author, Jan continues to work at the heart of the book trade. Jan Ellis is a nom-de-plume.

 

Other Details From The Author:

 

Website: www.janelliswriter.com

See also Stellar Scribes website: https://stellarscribes5.wixsite.com/stellarscribes

Facebook: Jan Ellis (Writer)

Instagram (even if I don’t know how it works…)

https://www.instagram.com/jan_ellis_writer/

 

Events:

I chaired a ‘romcom’ panel at WestonLitFest this spring (and have been invited back for 2019) and have also spoken at Tiverton Literary Festival. Thanks to The Bookshop Detective, I was part of a crime and mystery evening at The Big Green Bookshop in North London with best-selling authors Lisa Cutts, Simon Booker and William Shaw. In October 2018, I will again be talking about the book at the Yeovil Literary Festival.

I’m a member of ‘Stellar Scribes‘ and together we speak at libraries and run creative writing workshops. I’ve also appeared in the local press and spoken on the radio about my books which, at their core, are about family, friendship and the humour inherent in everyday life.

My paperbacks are widely available from libraries, and Waterstones currently stock them in five of their South West branches. I’ve also been lucky enough to earn shelf space on the shelves of independent bookshops across the country.

When I’m not being Jan Ellis, I do sales and marketing for part of the Booksellers Association of the UK and Ireland (BA) and I’m a non-fiction publisher by trade, which means that I’ve been attending the London and Frankfurt Book Fairs for more years than I care to remember…

Other paperback titles:

An Unexpected Affair and A Summer of Surprises (no. 1 in The Bookshop by the Sea series)

French Kisses and A London Affair

 

Contact: [email protected]

 

Synopsis

A shocking death turns a homecoming into a nightmare. 

It’s Easter 1970 in the seaside town of Tamarisk Bay, and for one family the first Easter of a new decade brings a shocking tragedy. Amateur sleuth and professional librarian, Janie Juke, is settling into motherhood and looking forward to spending time with her family. When her Aunt Jessica is due back from Rome after nine years travelling around Europe, she arrives back in town with a new Italian friend, Luigi, and the whole family soon get embroiled in a tangle of mystery and suspicion, with death and passion at the heart of the story.

As time runs out on Luigi as prime suspect for murder, Janie has to use all of her powers of deduction in the footsteps of her hero, Hercule Poirot, to uncover the facts. Why did Luigi come to Tamarisk Bay? What is the truth about his family?
As Luigi’s story unfolds, tragedy seems to haunt the past, present and unless Janie acts fast, possibly what is yet to come.

 

My review
The main action of this story is set in Tamarisk Bay, after the theft of a briefcase on a train which is what sets events in motion. The book opens with a little map of the small town to give us an idea of where everything is. That’s a nice touch.
As mentioned, the story begins with a theft. The suitcase belongs to Luigi, who is the friend of Janie’s Aunt Jessica and that is how our librarian and new mother heroine Janie becomes involved. This apparently random crime turns out to be anything but, and brings some dark, passionate secrets to the fore.
The 1960s setting is evocatively created, and brings back memories for those of us who remember that period! The travelling in trains and ferries at the start of the book are both so well described you can feel the tray swaying and the boat heaving on the rough sea. This trait of beautiful, vivid descriptions remains throughout. It’s enhanced by the fact that Janie’s father is blind, so she always gives him very detailed accounts of things he can no longer see, and this really lifts the images from the page.
The book is filled with engaging, interesting characters, all distinct and convincing. Family relationships are central to the story, both close and happy ones, and difficult, strained ones.
The author has a down-to-earth style that is very approachable and flowing. You quickly find yourself immersed in the writing and whisked along by events. The story is complex rather than complicated, with interesting twists and turns and it keeps us on our toes. There’s a strong Italian flavour to it, which adds to the richness.
It’s an enjoyable and absorbing read.

Amazon US – https://www.amazon.com/Invisible-Case-heartbreaking-tragedy-cold-blooded-ebook/dp/B07D5BLMG6/

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Invisible-Case-heartbreaking-tragedy-cold-blooded-ebook/dp/B07D5BLMG6/

Author Bio –

Isabella Muir is the author of Janie Juke series of crime mysteries – all set in Sussex.

‘The Tapestry Bag’ is the first in the series, followed by ‘Lost Property’. Now – ‘The Invisible Case’ – the latest in the series is available for pre-order from Amazon.

The ‘Janie Juke mysteries’ are set in Sussex in the sixties and seventies and feature a young librarian with a passion for Agatha Christie. All that Janie has learned from her hero, Hercule Poirot, she is able to put into action as she sets off to solve a series of crimes and mysteries.

Isabella has also published ‘Ivory Vellum’ – a collection of short stories.

She has been surrounded by books her whole life and – after working for twenty years as a technical editor and having successfully completed her MA in Professional Writing – she was inspired to focus on fiction writing.

Aside from books, Isabella has a love of all things caravan-like. She has spent many winters caravanning in Europe and now, together with her husband, she runs a small caravan site in Sussex. They are ably assisted by their much-loved Scottie, Hamish.

Social Media Links –

TWITTER  @SussexMysteries

FACEBOOK  https://www.facebook.com/isabel.muir.96

WEBSITE: www.isabellamuir.com

Giveaway – Win a signed copy of The Invisible Case (Open Internationally)

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

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This is a thoroughly enjoyable cosy mystery set in Maine, although we get to find out a few other countries such as Egypt and the Sudan, and it all starts with a tourist ride on the Penhallow and Mooseland Lake Railway. What a wonderful name!

Rachel Tinker is a volunteer on the railway – she sells the tickets – so when a dead body is found on the train when it returns to base, she’s involved in inquiries. Her long-time colleague, the prickly Griffin Tate, a retired professor of Middle Easter history, becomes involved too as it seems that the Queen of Sheba may be behind all the murky deeds. Rachel and Griffin are drawn closer during their investigations. They make for an interesting and feisty pair. They’re both strong-willed, witty and, despite themselves, attracted to each other but Griffin has constructed a hard shell around himself and Rachel is under no illusions about the guy. Besides, Rachel is self-sufficient and has plenty of friends so doesn’t especially need a man in her life. But he is so very good looking…

So there’s banter and attraction alongside the delvings into dark doings with a link with the distant past. We encounter a wide cast of intriguing characters, all rounded and convincing. The story is very clever and the writing is lively. You’re kept guessing all the way through.

I’m looking forward to reading more books by this excellent author.

I can’t understand how I’ve managed to miss such a wonderful series for so long. (Originally written by Heron Cavic, Hamilton Crane took over after his death.) But at long last I’ve discovered it, at book no. 23 in the series, so I’ve got a lot of reading to do to catch up.  I’m not complaining!

The books works perfectly as a standalone story. The long-standing characters and their relationships soon become very plain and so there’s no confusion about what’s going on. Miss Seeton, or Miss Ess as the computer insists on labelling her as, works as an artist for Scotland Yard. She has a sixth sense that appears in her pictures. She can’t see it, but The Oracle, Superintendent Delphick, knows how to translate her drawings and find the clues. He needs Miss Seeton with her sketchpad and umbrella wherever there’s a mystery that needs solving.

Miss Seeton is delightfully polite and apparently harmless, but she’s quite a force to be reckoned with. She’s clever and witty and courageous. In this story, for example, she heads up to Glastonbury Tor on her own, encounters a range of eccentrics but deals admirably with them all, and also goes up in a hot air balloon. Nothing fazes this elderly lady, although I think she’s a tiny bit scared of Martha, her housekeeper!

This is a busy book with three plot lines going on – a kidnap, a murder and a missing drugs stash – and they all weave themselves firmly around our demure heroine. Her drawings provide clues to help in solving them all. All the characters we meet are rounded and fascinating, and with the hippie, late 1970s setting in Glastonbury for much of the book we get to see some alternative interpretations of the local landscape and find out a lot about the Zodiac. All very interesting.

This is a quirky, fun novel. It’s a pleasure to read and has you chuckling every few pages at the wit and the bizarreness of the situations that Miss Seeton continually finds herself in.

The cover is classy and eye-catching (and clue-containing). All in all the book is a total delight.

Charity Ends At Home by Colin Watson is the fifth novel in the Flaxborough mystery series. The book has a smart, intriguing cover that gives a new, modern look to a novel that was first published fifty years ago. It recreates that era for us in a timeless way that doesn’t feel dated. We are conducted back in time very enjoyably.

The stately town of Flaxborough is awash with colourful characters. They’re not quite eccentric but definitely not quite ordinary. And a lot of them aren’t quite as respectable as they try to make out. The place is also awash with charities that don’t take very kindly to each other at all. So when a leading light of one of the charities is found dead, there are plenty of suspects, including her husband whose alibi quickly disintegrates.

DI Purbright leads the investigation, assisted by Sergeant Love. And there are another pair of investigators at work – Montgomery Hive and his friend Lucy Teatime. They interact, as do all the characters, in fascinating and delightful ways.

Comedy simmers below the surface in the form of razor sharp wit and situations that are almost ridiculous but somehow retain their dignity. An example is one magnificent scene where everyone is at cross purposes. The headteacher thinks one of his guest speakers, recruited at the last minute, is someone rather important but he is actually a private detective, although he’s masquerading as a photographer. He himself thinks he’s at a prize-giving rather than a careers evening. Add a few too many double whiskeys and some cheeky students and things don’t go as expected.

The whole book is full of wry observations and tongue-in-cheek humour, but it never collapses into farce or slapstick. This is what keeps the story lively, even though the action moves at a sedate pace and our characters are Britishly self-controlled. It’s thoroughly enjoyable from start to finish.   

‘The Goat Parva Murders’ is a very entertaining and quirky cozy mystery. It’s populated with many very colourful characters who are a delight,even if some of them are a touch creepy. Our investigative heroes are Inspector Knowles and his sidekick Barnes. They have their hands full trying to make sense of things in Goat Parva, that’s for sure.

Julian Worker is a wonderful writer. There’s sharp observation of detail, loads of tongue-in-cheek humour, and an ingenious and imaginative plot. The story bounds along and drags you with it, with lots of action and excitement.

This is a super piece of writing, one of those indie gems that make you so grateful for the ebook revolution.