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‘THE ACCIDENTAL MEDIUM’ and ‘THE GIN PALACE’ by Tracy Whitwell

The Accidental Medium: synopsis  

Tanz is a wine-soaked, potty-mouthed, once successful TV actress from Gateshead, whose career has shrivelled like an antique walnut. She is still grieving her friend Frank, who died in a car crash three years ago, and she has to find a normal job in London to fund her cocktail habit.
When she starts work in a new age shop, Tanz suddenly discovers that the voices she’s hearing in her head are real, not the first signs of schizophrenia, and she can give people ‘messages’ from beyond the grave. Alarmed, she confronts her little mam and discovers she is from a long line of psychic mediums.
Despite a whole exciting new avenue of life opening up to Tanz, darkness isn’t far away and all too soon there’s murder in the air.

 

My review

This is a refreshingly different novel with a refreshingly different heroine. Tanz isn’t the usual twenty-something ditzy lead character you find in a cosy mystery, nor a Miss Marple wannabe. She’s somewhere in the middle: a thirty-eight year old, moderately successful Geordie actor who’s genuine, likeable, occasionally irresponsible and fun to be around. She has gifts of clairvoyance and clairaudience which suddenly make themselves clear to her. She’s been aware of vague ‘symptoms’ of both but it’s only thanks to Sheila at Mystery Pot that she realises what they fully mean. Now she’s coming up against spirits, good and bad, happy and sad, at almost every turn.

The writing is lively and clever, with lots of wit and humour. All the characters, dead and alive, are interesting and very convincing, particularly Tanz’s family with their many foibles.

The story moves swiftly and the writing really flows. All in all, a highly unusual and enjoyable novel.

Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Accidental-Medium-Tracy-Whitwell-ebook/dp/B08DJ9PKJ7

 

The Gin Palace: synopsis

After a fast-paced introduction to the world of clairvoyance, ghost busting, mystery and murder, Tanz is currently hiding in bed, having nightmares about a suicidal psychopath, drinking red wine, irritating her cat and waiting to be evicted. Life as she knew it seven months ago has turned on its head and only the prospect of a new TV job in Newcastle and a month with her best friend Milo can help pick her up off the floor.
But when she gets home, the Newcastle of more than a century before decides to haunt her bringing all kinds of spooks and horrors with it. She also finds that her new job involves more than it’s own share of intrigue and humiliation. Then it’s a case of six of one and half a dozen of the other, as Tanz, along with her dead friend Frank, attempts to expose a brutal murder that nobody even knows about. Join Tanz and her friends on another crazy, supernatural ride in GIN PALACE, the second in The Accidental Medium series.

 

My review

The mayhem continues in this excellent sequel to ‘The Accidental Medium’. It’s every bit as enjoyable and good quality as the first book, with added character development. Tanz’s honesty lands her a job, at last, and she’s happy to go back to her home town for a while. Having lived both north (in Northumberland) and south (in Cleveland) of Gateshead, it’s a part of the world I know well and its atmosphere comes over brilliantly in the background to the action.

What’s really great about these books is their energy and humour. They’re a real pick-me-up: trust me, their vitality is contagious.

A series not to be missed.

Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B08DJ8NPBM

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Tracy Whitwell was born, brought up and educated in Gateshead in the north east of England. She wrote plays and short stories from an early age, then had her head turned and ran off to London to be an actress. By 1993 she was wearing a wig and an old fashioned dress and pretending to be impoverished on telly in a Catherine Cookson mini-series, whilst going to see every indie/rock band she could afford.

After an interesting number of years messing about in front of the camera and traveling the world though, Tracy discovered she still loved writing and completed her first full length play. A son, many stage-plays, screenplays and two music videos followed until one day she realised she was finally ready to do the thing she’d longed to do since she was six. She wrote her first novel. A crime/horror/comedy tale about an alcohol-soaked, gobby, thrill-seeking actress who talks to ghosts. (Who knows where the inspiration came from, it’s almost like she based it on her own ridiculous life.) Then she wrote a follow up and realised she couldn’t stop writing books.

Now Tracy lives in north London with her son, still travels whenever possible and has written novel number four. Now being edited.

Tweet her @WhitwellTracy

 

 

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Murder Ahoy! by Fiona Leitch

Murder Ahoy!

Famous crime writer Bella Tyson is hired to co-host a Murder Mystery cruise, on a luxury liner sailing from Southampton to New York. She’s expecting an easy ride; fun and games, surrounded by amateur sleuths and fans of her books, all the while staying in a deluxe cabin and enjoying the spa and the amazing restaurants on board, culminating in a visit to one of her favourite cities in the world – the Big Apple.

She’s NOT expecting to be stuck on a boat in the middle of the Atlantic with her two least favourite people in the world, her hot but unfaithful bastard ex-husband Joel Quigley and fellow crime writer, bitch goddess and Twitter frenemy, Louise Meyers. And when real live dead bodies start turning up – as well as fake not-really-dead bodies – Bella’s dreams of being pampered on the high seas turn sour.

Accused of a murder she would have liked to commit but didn’t, and helped (or hindered) by a gang of unlikely detectives, can Bella find out who the real murderer is before the ship reaches its destination and New York’s finest drag her off?

 

My review

There are certain things that just have to be there for a good cosy mystery: an off-stage crime usually quite near the start of the story with an unlikeable victim; a somewhat limited setting such as in a small town or, as here, a boat; a clever villain but who, fortunately, is not as smart as our generally reluctant amateur sleuth; plenty of humorous touches; a cast of quirky if not downright eccentric characters; clues galore, and a catchy title.

These, as I say, are crucial for any good cozy. Murder Ahoy, however, isn’t a good cozy – it’s a brilliant one! It has all the above and so much more. This author could make an instruction manual for installing plumbing sound scintillating as she has such a lively, sparkly, humour-laden style and vibrant imagination.

Belle is an awesome heroine. She’s feisty but not brashly so, and is wonderfully human with her insecurities and other foibles. She’s down to earth, funny and kind, but can give the occasional tongue-lashing when necessary.

Louise, the victim, is wonderfully vile. In fact, everyone we meet is an enthusiastic example of the role they’re playing. Will is a truly dependable, loyal partner, for example, and Joel is the epitome of the scheming, cheating ex.

The plot is fun and peppered with delightful action of every kind. The story might take place on a stolid cruise ship but it whisks you along as though you’re in a speedboat.

Everything about this invigorating, breath-of-sea-air novel is enjoyable. Grab a copy. Now!

 

Purchase Links – mybook.to/Ahoy

 

Author bio

Fiona Leitch is a writer with a chequered past. She’s written for football and motoring magazines, DJ’ed at illegal raves and is a stalwart of the low budget TV commercial, even appearing as the Australasian face of a cleaning product called ‘Sod Off’. After living in London and Cornwall she’s finally settled in sunny New Zealand, where she enjoys scaring her cats by trying out dialogue on them. She spends her days dreaming of retiring to a crumbling Venetian palazzo, walking on the windswept beaches of West Auckland, and writing funny, flawed but awesome female characters. Her debut novel and first in the Bella Tyson series, ‘Dead in Venice’, was published by Audible as one of their Crime Grant finalists. Fiona is represented by Lina Langlee at the North Literary Agency.

Social Media Links

https://twitter.com/fkleitch

www.fionaleitch.com

https://www.pinterest.nz/fionakleitch/

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Lady Anne and the Menacing Mystic by Victoria Hamilton

Synopsis

While in Bath preparing for her upcoming marriage to Lord Darkefell, Lady Anne learns of a profoundly accurate mystic working in town whose uncanny predictions have stunned the gullible and the sceptical alike. Certain there’s a harmless rational explanation for the medium’s supposed otherworldly abilities, Anne’s tolerance turns to defiance when the seer’s dark pronouncements begin having a decidedly harmful affect on her friends—and a troubled local vicar takes his own life.

Convinced that the woman is orchestrating a devious scheme, Anne begins to suspect that she’s working in league with a shrewd newcomer who’s attached himself to many of the town’s wealthy widowers. As she navigates the swirling rumours of Bath society to confirm her suspicions and unmask the charlatans for what they are, she discovers that the treacherous conspirators are plotting to make her own future very dark—and very short-lived . .

 

 

My review

This is an entertaining historical cosy mystery set in late eighteenth-century Bath. Lady Anne is a very forceful heroine, in some ways ahead of her time but, sadly, still constrained by it. She’s quite austere and it takes a while to warm to her, but if you’ve read earlier books in the series this fondness might already be in place. She’s well-meaning and interesting, that’s for sure.
The setting is beautifully described and the era comes over very convincingly with the details about everyday life, dress, furniture, means of travel and so forth.
The plot, although perhaps a little slow to get established, is ingenious and absorbing. It keeps you guessing all the way through.
Much to enjoy.

Buy the book here

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Vanishing Act by Charlie Hodges

Synopsis

A darkly funny whodunnit of sex, death and the tragi-comedy of old age

Ex-SAS officer Tom Knight is now a 73-year-old private detective in a seaside town, with a bad leg, a taste for good weed and a morbid fear of growing old. He’s also fallen in love with Fran, a sprightly 52-year-old carer at a retirement home. The bad news is that she’s dumped him for lying about his age.

So when she’s framed for the murder of three old ladies at the home he resolves to win her back by proving her innocence. His quest takes him behind the town’s veil of respectability, into a murky world of Oxbridge hookers, a lovelorn Tarot card reader and England’s most obnoxious policeman. He even faces up to his fear of old age and dementia, by going undercover at the care home where the murders happened.

But will it be enough to win back the lady of his dreams?

Proving that you’re just as young as you feel, the Tom Knight mysteries combine delicious comedy with a precision-engineered plot.

 

My review

This is a cosy mystery rich with black comedy. We have an unusual – for this genre – protagonist in the elderly Tom, but he’s as energetic as any younger one! You do worry  a bit about his hips and knees when he gets into kerfuffles, but he’s made of stern stuff! I hope I’ll be that robust at his age…

Mature Tom has the added benefit of experience and wisdom, both of which he uses when dealing with the intriguing case, but unfortunately not so much when dealing with the attractive Fran.

The plot is clever and the action brisk. It’s an absorbing, bittersweet read, and highly enjoyable. The author has a lively, light style that’s gripping and entertaining.

 

The book will be published in mid September by Farrago. Pre-order here.

I received an ARC via Netgalley, and this is an unbiased, honest review

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Death Remembered (A Sleuthing Club Mystery: Book 1) by K E Coburn

Summer 1952

The sun is shining, the birds are singing, but Charity Nicholls is bored of her quiet life in a tiny English village where nothing ever happens. Other than her nagging, marriage-obsessed mother, all she has to fill the time are her dreams of becoming a writer, and the Sleuthing Club – the mystery-reading book club she attends every week.

But everything changes the day her father receives a poison pen letter.

With the help of the Sleuthing Club, particularly handsome Henry Taylor, Charity is determined to find the culprit. But when people start dying and the police arrive, led by the infuriating Inspector James Lawrence, her little village becomes a hotbed of crime.

Can Charity find the murderer before anyone else dies?

Perfect for fans of Helena Dixon and T E Kinsey.

My review

What an utterly enjoyable book! I revelled in every word.

The 1950s don’t seem to get much of a look-in when it comes to literature, but it’s a fascinating and important period when the world was pulling itself back together after the physical and emotional devastation of the Second World War. In a way Charity embodies the spirit of the time: tragedy in the background but quietly determined to live life to the full and to contribute as much as possible to making the world a better place. However, that’s not easy for a rather sheltered young woman.

The setting of a 1950s’ village is wonderfully portrayed. It’s not as quiet and calm as it might seem on the surface, but there’s a strong community spirit and eccentricities are tolerated, but probably commented on in private! So when murder rears its ugly head, the ripples spread throughout the village. Charity finally feels she can do something exciting and useful. She seizes the chance to get to know the suave Henry Taylor even better and spend time with him. Is he the one for her? Charity hopes so.

A lot of thought as well as talent has gone into the creation of this debut novel. Mystery, romance, historical insights and wonderful characters fill the pages of this absorbing novel, the first in a series. And the cover is super, don’t you agree?

I can’t wait to see what Charity gets up to next!

Purchase Links

UK –https://amzn.to/2LnXba7

US – https://www.amazon.com/Death-Remembered-Sleuthing-Club-Mystery-ebook/dp/B088FR2J99/

 

Author bio

K E Coburn lives by the seaside in Kent, England, and spends her time plotting murders and mayhem for her imaginary friends in the Sleuthing Club!

As well as having a master’s degree in history, she’s a huge fan of everything vintage, especially the 1950s, and loves researching this interesting period. Nothing makes her happier than looking at old photographs, drinking old-fashioned cocktails, and doing as little work as possible.

Her debut novel Death Remembered: A Sleuthing Club Mystery (Book 1) will be published in July 2020.

If you fancy keeping up to date with her murderous plots you can find her on Twitter at @KeCoburn or at her website: www.kecoburn.com and on Facebook at: https://bit.ly/2SYgQSo

or at her website: www.kecoburn.com and on Facebook at: https://bit.ly/2SYgQSo

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Marrow Jam by Susan A King

Blurb

Some people would describe Beattie Bramshaw as a pillar of the community. Many would applaud her numerous successes in the bakery competition at the annual village show. A small number might say, if pushed, that they find her a little on the bossy side. And one or two might just whisper the words ‘interfering’ and ‘busybody’ behind her back.

But no-one would have her down as a murderer.

So why is she being questioned in Dreighton police station after being found in the local allotments, at the dead of night, wielding a kitchen knife just yards away from where local lottery winner, Yvonne Richards, was found stabbed to death? And what does all of this have to do with Doug Sparrow’s prize marrows?

Marrow Jam is a comedy crime caper in the spirit of Agatha Raisin. It will have you chuckling all the way through many a cup of tea.

 

My review

The blurb hasn’t got it right at all– you’ll be far too busy enjoying this story to want to stop and make a cup of tea!!

It’s a wonderful read – funny, clever, incisive and thoroughly entertaining. You really get the atmosphere of neighbourly hostility at the village show, and can hear the grinding of teeth when a certain person wins yet again!

The book is constructed ingeniously with a little bit of jumping between after, before and during, always at just the right time to heighten the dramatic tension.

Super writing, crafty inspiration and total success.

 

 

Get the book here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Marrow-Jam-Susan-King-ebook/dp/B085RB6SWN/

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Hattie Goes To Hollywood by Caroline James: a quacking good read!

Phew. Unforeseen technical problems put the Books Are Cool website out of action for a couple of days, but now we’re up and running again. Apologies to Caroline for running late with this review.

Hattie Goes to Hollywood

A Cumbrian Village…
Three suicides…
A red-hot summer…

Join super-sleuth Hattie as tempers and temperatures rise in the Cumbrian village of Hollywood. With mischief and shenanigans aplenty, will Hattie discover the truth?

A funny and intriguing mystery – the first in a new series by Caroline James

When recently bereaved Hattie Mulberry inherits her aunt’s dilapidated cottage in the village of Hollywood in Cumbria, she envisages a quiet life. But retired hotelier Hattie is bored and when her neighbour asks her to investigate a suspicious suicide, Hattie’s career takes a new direction and H&H Investigations is born. During the hottest summer for years, Hattie discovers there have been three recent suicides in Hollywood and she determines to find out why. Temperatures rise as she throws herself into village life and, with mischief and shenanigans aplenty, Hattie has her work cut out. But will she establish the truth?

 

My review

It’s wonderful to meet Hattie, a character from Caroline James’s ‘The Best Boomerville Hotel’, again, but even if it’s your first encounter with her, you’ll still love her! She’s lively, indomitable, likeable and a brings a gale of fresh air into the village of Hollywood.

She’s surrounded by a host of equally fascinating, vibrant and eccentric people, some great, some ghastly. There’s even a duck to add even more novelty to the cast!

The setting of village life in Cumbria is warm and convincing, and the brisk plot is clever and keeps you on your toes. There’s lots of wit and humour in the writing, and taken altogether this is an absolutely brilliant cosy mystery with everything we expect from and love in this genre.

A quacking good read!

 

Purchase Links:

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Hattie-Goes-Hollywood-Shenanigans-intrigue-ebook/dp/B083V16G5D/

US – https://www.amazon.com/Hattie-Goes-Hollywood-Shenanigans-intrigue-ebook/dp/B083V16G5D/

 

Author bio 

Best-selling author of women’s fiction, Caroline James has owned and run businesses encompassing all aspects of the hospitality industry, a subject that often features in her novels. She is based in the UK but has a great fondness for travel and escapes whenever she can. A public speaker, which includes talks and lectures on cruise ships world-wide, Caroline is also a consultant and food writer. She is a member of the Romantic Novelist’s Association, the Society of Women’s Writer’s & Journalists and the Society of Authors and writes articles and short stories, contributing to many publications. In her spare time, Caroline can be found trekking up a mountain or relaxing with her head in a book and hand in a box of chocolates.

 

 

Books by Caroline James:

Coffee Tea the Gypsy & Me

Coffee Tea the Chef & Me

Coffee Tea the Caribbean & Me

Jungle Rock

The Best Boomerville Hotel

Hattie Goes to Hollywood

 

Social Media Links –

Website: www.carolinejamesauthor.co.uk

Twitter: @CarolineJames12

Facebook: Caroline James Author

Amazon Author Page

 

Giveaway to Win a cuddly Drake toy! (Open INT)

Be in with a chance to win Drake, Hattie’s faithful pet duck! Tall Drake & Handsome

– A gorgeous soft toy who will be your friend for life.

*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 Rachel’s Random Resources reserves 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 Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c69494346/#

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Cherry Slice by Jennifer Stone

Synopsis

Reality TV turns deadly in Cherry Hinton’s first case

When Kenny Thorpe, a contestant on Expose TV’s Big Blubber, the hot new celebrity weight-loss show, is murdered on live television in front of 3 million viewers, the case seems pretty watertight. After all, everyone saw Martin do it – didn’t they?

Cherry Hinton knows there’s more to this than meets the eye. As an investigative reporter, she went undercover on dating show Caravan of Love… but after getting in too deep with one of the other contestants, she was caught knickerless in front of the nation. Humiliated, fired and heartbroken, she has fled to Brentwood, where she opens a cake shop, and tries to forget all about Expose.

Until Kenny Thorpe’s sister walks into her shop with a letter that turns Cherry’s world upside down. Is Martin innocent? How is infamous gangster Leon Solent involved? Is Expose to blame, and is there a killer still on the loose?

Cherry is the only one in a position to find out

 

My review

The cosy mystery genre is one that’s meant to be tongue in cheek. Its central premise is that extremely unlikely protagonists manage to solve crimes that defeat that the experienced police force, and whilst that may occasionally happen in real life it’s not an everyday occurrence. This is what gives the genre its energy and allows authors to pull out all the stops imagination-wise.


Cherry Slice is a wonderful example of an imaginative cosy mystery. It’s an ingenious reworking of the locked room mystery, the type that Agatha Christie made famous. This time the action happens in a reality TV setting. And instead of Christie’s high society characters, we have a true Essex Girl, Cherry, as our chief sleuth, and the murder suspects are a group of wannabe celebs with weight issues.

Cherry, like all good amateur detectives, comes with emotional baggage. She used to date the victim, and she’s under a black cloud for some undercover work she did as a journalist. She now works in her parents’ bakery, famous for its tasteless (metaphorically speaking) gimmicky cakes.

As you’d probably expect from this description so far, there’s plenty of humour, wit and quirkiness in this novel. The characters are all larger than life, and not just the ones on the Big Blubber show. There are shady underworld figures, glitzy bimbos and plenty of almost-ordinary people but with something a little absurd about them to make them fascinating.

The Essex setting is convincing, especially for someone like me from just over the border in  south Suffolk and knows the area, and the plot is original and cunningly thought-out. If you like a cosy that makes you chuckle, occasionally wince and be thoroughly entertained from start to finish, then this is for you.

Pre-order the book here: www.amazon.co.uk/Cherry-Slice-PI-Mystery/dp/1788421655

 Review copy received from the publisher via NetGalley and reviewed honestly and voluntarily.

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A Messy Affair by Elizabeth Mundy

A Messy Affair

The only way is murder…

 Lena Szarka, a Hungarian cleaner working in London, is forced to brush up on her detective skills for a third time when her cousin Sarika is plunged into danger.

Sarika and her reality TV star boyfriend Terry both receive threatening notes. When Terry stops calling, Lena assumes he’s lost interest. Until he turns up. Dead. Lena knows she must act fast to keep her cousin from the same fate.

Scrubbing her way through the grubby world of reality television, online dating and betrayed lovers, Lena finds it harder than she thought to discern what’s real – and what’s just for the cameras.

 

My review

This is a wonderfully enjoyable cosy mystery. Hungarian immigrant Lena is a likeable and very interesting character. Her situation as something of an outsider lends her sharper observation skills and she has a keen eye for the ridiculous that only someone not part of a certain society can clearly see.

There lots of humour as well as a riveting mystery to solve, set around the very modern topics of reality TV and online dating. We meet more of Lena’s relatives in this story (it’s the third in a series) and all the characters we encounter are fascinating in one way of another. There’s plenty of drama and suspense – never a dull moment. This author delights in delighting her reader with her imagination, tight plotting and top quality writing skills.

 

Purchase Links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Messy-Affair-Lena-Szarka-Mysteries/dp/1472126394

US – https://www.amazon.com/Messy-Affair-Lena-Szarka-Mysteries/dp/1472126394

Author Bio – Elizabeth Mundy’s grandmother was a Hungarian immigrant to America who raised five children on a chicken farm in Indiana. Elizabeth is a marketing director for an investment firm and lives in London with her messy husband and two young children. She writes the Lena Szarka Mysteries, featuring a Hungarian cleaner as detective.
www.elizabethmundy.com

 

Social Media Links –

Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @ElizabethEMundy

www.elizabethmundy.com

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Chickenlandia Mystery by Daisy Pettles: just brilliant!

Synopsis

Pawpaw County, Indiana, is all atwitter about Ma and Peepaw Horton’s annual Chickenlandia Festival. The mood turns dark though when the Horton’s prize-winning rooster, Dewey, and his best laying hen, Ginger, vanish, leaving behind no clues except for a trail of tail feathers. Also missing: Gertie Wineagar, local sourpuss, and BBQ chicken cook-off queen. Odder still: the festival’s reigning chicken dance champion, Billy Bob Burris, is run down by a speeding pickup truck with suspicious out-of-state plates. Senior sleuths, and lifelong gal pals Ruby Jane Waskom and Veenie Goens suspect Hiram Krupsky, Pawpaw County’s self-proclaimed Chicken Wing King, of launching the crime spree as an attempt to sabotage the Horton’s free-range chicken ranch. The senior sleuths, who need a way to spy on Krupsky’s chicken empire, and search for clues, get an unexpected “in” when Hiram slips into his best leisure suit and commences to court Ruby Jane. Follow the Hoosier snoops as they attempt to sort the good eggs from the bad in this hilarious smalltown crime mystery.

 

 

My review

This is another book of lovable nonsense from our pair of senior sleuths Ruby Jane and Veenie. I use ‘nonsense’ in an admiring way in that it’s all larger than life, a little bit nuts and over the top, but with this pair of characters any less just wouldn’t cut it! It’s a fast-paced, laugh-aloud read packed with wit and clever writing. It’s wonderful entertainment from start to finish.
And it features chickens which, being something of a crazy bird lady, means it’s pretty much perfection.
The characters are all eccentric in one way or another, which makes them memorable and fascinating. It also reflects real life, even though there’s a touch of exaggeration. I mean, how many totally normal people do any of us know?
The plot is tight and exciting. A brilliant read.

Published by Hot Pants Press. Available at Amazon.