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In Peppermint Peril by Joy Avon: a clever Christmassy cozy

‘In Peppermint Peril’ is an ingeniously crafted mystery that’s a real treat to read. 

Our heroine, Callie Aspen, has returned to her home town of Heart’s Harbor, to help out Aunt Iphy. Callie is a historical tour guide by profession, but she’s hit a quiet time so she’s happy to help her aunt organise a mystery party at which there will be a puzzle cake based on a Brother Cadfael mystery. There’s to be a big event at the party, with overtones of Agatha Christie, but it’s overshadowed by first an apparent theft and then a real murder.

Callie immediately gets involved in trying to solve the murder. She’s shocked by what’s happened, especially as it means some of her family might end up in gaol. It also helps her stop thinking too much about what might have been if she’d taken different decisions in the past. There’s a definite hint of bittersweet about this novel.

There’s a hint of romance too. Police Office Falk and Callie get off on the wrong foot to start with, but as they get to know each other, an attraction develops. Will it come to anything? We’ll have to wait and see…

There’s some insightful portrayals of relationships, both family and marital, and of the hierarchy in a small town. There’s a lot going in in this cosy mystery, which is quite a bit deeper than most.

There’s more to come in the series, and that’s really good news.

Buy the book here: https://amzn.to/2KUe7Us

Published by Crooked Lane Books. Kindle edition available from 7 December 2018.

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A Hollow Sky by M Sean Coleman: a thought-provoking mystery

Synopsis

Jane Hewitt had been miraculously healed—cured of a terminal cancer that had been eating away at her body for months. After one meeting with an incredible young woman, Jane rose from her wheelchair and walked out, believing that her lifetime of devoted faith had been rewarded.

The next day, Jane died in her husband’s arms, devastated that her God had deserted her. Her husband, Ian, blames her hastened death on the faith healer she visited. But that faith healer is a teenage girl called Megan, who has been in a coma for five years, and has no say over how her gift is used.

When Ian is arrested after being accused of breaking in to Megan’s house and trying to tamper with her life support, he turns to the only person he knows can help clear his name, and stop this family deceiving any other victims—Dr Alex Ripley, the so called Miracle Detective.

Fascinated by Megan’s case, and needing a distraction, Ripley finds herself on Holy Island, off the coast of North Wales, caught up in an investigation that will prove more sinister and dangerous than she could have imagined. Ian is not the first person to complain about Megan and her supporters, but he seems to be the only one left alive. For now.

A Hollow Sky is the second Alex Ripley Mystery.

 

My review

A Hollow Sky is a thoughtful and thought-provoking mystery with a definitely unsettling undercurrent of menace. It unrolls slowly to begin with, but as it gains momentum it really begins to sweep you along as the tension mounts. This is the result of excellent, careful writing.

As well as the mystery involving comatose Megan and a cast of scarily obdurate and arrogant people adhering to somewhat extreme religious beliefs, there is a personal interest story line involving Alex  Ripley, who is an intriguing and complex character. She’s certainly courageous and determined and I wouldn’t want her on my trail!

The setting in the close-knit village is almost claustrophobic, exactly as the author intends. I mentioned that feeling of menace earlier, and it lurks. stagnating in every corner. Alex comes in like a breath of fresh air, but will she be enough to recharge the oppressive atmosphere and chase the evil away?

In summary, an excellent, absorbing, slightly disconcerting mystery that keeps you on the edge of your seat right to the end.

The book is the second in a series but works fine as a standalone, and is an enticing introduction to this author.

 

Purchase Link

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Hollow-Alex-Ripley-Mystery-Book-ebook/dp/B07H9DTFM8

US – https://www.amazon.com/Hollow-Alex-Ripley-Mystery-Book-ebook/dp/B07H9DTFM8

Direct from Red Dog Presshttps://www.reddogpress.co.uk/shop

 

Author Bio

Born in the UK and raised in South Africa, M. Sean Coleman developed a love for reading and writing novels in his early teens, thanks to two incredibly passionate English teachers who infected him with their love of words and stories. Over the intervening years, he has written film and television drama, cross-platform series, an interactive children’s storybook and a graphic novel series.
He finally found his niche as a thriller writer when he was asked to write a novel as part of the cross-platform project, Netwars. His first book, The Code, was published six months later, with the sequel, Down Time, hot on its heels. There was no going back.
He is obsessed with crime, mystery and thriller stories, especially those with a fresh or surprising angle. He writes novels from his home in The Cotswolds, where he lives with his husband and their three red dogs.

Social Media Links –  

www.facebook.com/mseancoleman.author

www.twitter.com/mseancoleman

Giveaway to win paperback copies of The Cuckoo Wood and A Hollow Sky, a cool tote bag with book quote from the publisher, a branded bookmark and some chocolates (Open INT)

*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.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c69494165/

 

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Murder Served Cold by Paula Williams: a lively rural mystery

Synopsis

A quiet English village where nothing ever happens.   Until…..

After her boyfriend runs out on her with the contents of their joint bank account, Kat Latcham has no choice but to return to the tiny Somerset village of Much Winchmoor where she grew up.  A place, she reckons, that is not so much sleepy as comatose and she longs for something to happen to lessen the boredom of living with her parents.

But when she and her childhood friend, Will Manning, discover a body and Will’s father, John, is arrested for the murder, Kat suddenly realises that she should have heeded the saying “Be careful what you wish for”.

Much Winchmoor is a hotbed of gossip and everyone is convinced John Manning is guilty.  Only Kat and Will believe he’s innocent.  When there’s a second murder Kat is sure she knows the identity of the murderer – and set out to prove it.  But in doing so she almost becomes the murderer’s third victim.

Readers of Sue Grafton might enjoy the Much Winchmoor series of cosy murder mysteries spiked with humour and sprinkled with romance.


My review

This is a fast-paced, enjoyable cosy with an added splash of romance – definitely my favourite combination in a book! Kat makes for a lively and very likeable heroine. We really feel for her, forced to return to the mothership for a while and, in so doing, having to relinquish some of her independence. It also means she’ll run into a few people she’d far rather avoid…

Kat sets to and makes the best of things. She helps her mum in her hair salon at first, but then, thankfully for her sanity, gets another job helping out in the local pub. This is what puts her into close contact with what turn out to be some rather dangerous people.

We get a nice portrait of village life in the novel, and the way that everyone knows everyone else, the petty and more serious rivalries, the different personalities. It mays seem stereotypical to have a village busybody, but if you’ve ever lived in a rural setting then you’ll know these people are real! Folk really do talk about each other and it’s a major source of interest what neighbours get up to. Kat uses this knowledge as she begins her hunt for the real killer out there. She’s courageous, but a bit foolhardy at times, but then she’s only human and she’s the sort of person who’ll always give her all.

Paula Williams has a sharp eye for detail, and especially quirks. Her characters all come with foibles and that’s what makes them so real and interesting. The settings are atmospheric, from the bustling, gossipy hair salon to the cosy pub to the strained parish council meetings.

Loads to enjoy in this impressive start of a series.

 

Purchase Linkmybook.to/murderservedcold

About the author 

Paula Williams is living her dream.  She has written all her life – her earliest efforts involved blackmailing her unfortunate younger brothers into appearing in her plays and pageants. But it is only in recent years, when she turned her attention to writing short stories and serials for women’s magazines that she discovered, to her surprise, that people with better judgement than her brothers actually liked what she wrote and were prepared to pay her for it.

Now, she writes every day in a lovely, book-lined study in her home in Somerset, where she lives with her husband and a handsome but not always obedient rescue Dalmatian called Duke.  She still writes for magazines but also now writes novels.  A member of both the Romantic Novelists’ Association and the Crime Writers’ Association, her novels often feature  a murder or two, and are always sprinkled with humour and spiced with a touch of romance.

She also writes a monthly column, Ideas Store, for the writers’ magazine, Writers’ Forum, and has a blog at paulawilliamswriter.wordpress.com.  Her Facebook author page is https://www.facebook.com/paula.williams.author . And she tweets at @paulawilliams44.

Not only that, but when she’s not writing, she’s either tutoring, leading writing workshops or giving talks on writing at writing festivals and conferences and to organised groups.  She’s appeared several times on local radio – in fact, she’ll talk about writing to anyone who’ll stand still long enough to listen.

But, as with the best of dreams, she worries that one day she’s going to wake up and find she still has to bully her brothers into reading ‘the play what she wrote’.

 

Social Media Links –

Facebook.   https://www.facebook.com/paula.williams.author

Blog. paulawilliamswriter.wordpress.com

Twitter. @paulawilliams44

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Homicide at Herne Hill by Alice Castle: polished to a high shine

Homicide in Herne Hill

Beth Haldane, SE21’s premier – and only – single mum amateur sleuth, is really pleased to find a new friend at the school gates, in the shape of irrepressibly bouncy Nina. As well as a way with words, Nina has a puzzle she wants Beth to solve, centred on the solicitor’s office where Nina works in Herne Hill.

But as the mystery thickens, threatening to drag in not just Nina and her boss, but the yummy mummies of Dulwich, too, Beth is about to find out just how far some people will go to keep up appearances.

Join Beth in this fourth instalment in the London Murder Mystery series for her toughest case yet.

 

My review

I have to admit that I’d expected a rather darker mystery from the cover, but this is a very lively and subtly amusing novel. It’s one in a series but you don’t need to have read the preceding books, although that would be the ideal scenario. You get enough info to work out who’s who and what’s what, and can pick up on the running themes.

The writing in this cosy is wonderful. You’re riveted from the word go by the author’s light, engaging style, her sense of comedy and her ability to tell a really good story with excitement, tension, gung-honess, what-am-I-doingness, and plenty of other emotional highs and lows.

There’s a lot of wry humour and merciless character portrayals. Author Alice Castle has a sharp and unforgiving eye when it comes to people’s foibles and idiosyncrasies. We thus meet a fabulous cast of complex characters, many of them remarkably like people we’ve probably come across – the snob, the bubbly person, the stand-offish one, and so one.

Beth is quite a whirlwind, even though she feels that the irrepressible Nina leaves her standing. Beth is energetic and tenacious (although not in her official job), and courageous. She knows she’ll get into trouble from her policeman boyfriend Harry, but she can’t help rushing in where angels fear to dread. This isn’t always sensible, but Beth is impetuous once she’s got her teeth into a mystery.

So in summary, a novel that’s polished to a high shine with a sympathetic, very human heroine and which will keep you totally entertained from start to finish.

 

Purchase Link  – myBook.to/homicideinhernehill

Amazon UKhttps://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07GPGBSC6

Author Bio

Before turning to crime, Alice Castle had a long career as a feature writer on national newspapers including the Daily Express, The Times and The Daily Telegraph. Alice grew up in south London and, after a brief stint in Brussels (where her first novel, Hot Chocolate, is set) she is back where she belongs, dreaming up adventures for her heroine, amateur detective and single mum Beth Haldane. Alice is married with two children, two stepchildren and two cats. Find out more about her London Murder Mystery series on her website, www.alicecastleauthor.com. Death in Dulwich was published in September 2017 by Crooked Cat Books and was #1 in the Amazon Satire/Detective charts in the UK, US, Canada, France, Spain and Germany. The Girl in the Gallery came out in December 2017 and the third in the series, Calamity in Camberwell, was published on 13th August 2018. Revenge on the Rye will follow in 2019, with more books in the pipeline.

Social Media Links – http://www.alicecastleauthor.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/alicecastleauthor/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/DDsDiary?lang=en

Links to buy books: http://www.MyBook.to/GirlintheGallery.

myBook.to/1DeathinDulwich, myBook.to/GirlintheGallery, myBook.to/CiC myBook.to/homicideinhernehill

 

 Giveaway – Win a signed copy of Homicide in Herne Hill (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.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c69494158/

 

 

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Redneck’s Revenge by Joan Livingston: lively and original

 

Synopsis

Her next case. She’s in it for good.

Isabel Long is in a funk months after solving her first case. Her relationship with the Rooster Bar’s owner is over. Then the cops say she must work for a licensed P.I. before working solo.

Encouraged by her ‘Watson’ — her 92-year-old mother  — Isabel snaps out of it by hooking up with a P.I. and finding a new case.

The official ruling is Chet Waters, an ornery so-and-so, was passed out when his house caught fire. His daughter, who inherited the junkyard, believes he was murdered. Topping the list of suspects are dangerous drug-dealing brothers, a rival junkyard owner, and an ex-husband.

Could the man’s death simply be a case of redneck’s revenge? Isabel is about to find out.

 

My review

This is a spirited cozy mystery featuring mature sleuth Isabel who may only be an amateur at the moment, but is training to become a professional private detective. She was let go from her job at a newspaper a few years ago and was kicking her heels. Solving mysteries, like the ones her mother so enjoys reading about, seems to suit her personality and skills very well.

The setting is rural America, the land of ‘rednecks’ in the opinion of dismissive people. Hence the title. Isabel fortunately is intelligent enough to see that the rural way of life is equally to be valued as the urban way, and has its own set of rules.

The case that comes Isabel’s way dates back three years. Annette, who runs the junkyard, has lingering doubts about her father’s death, in a fire, being an accident. Chet was a drinker and not an easy man to get along with, but it seems that the authorities were rather quick to accept the easy explanation for his demise.

Isabel takes on the case, even though all she’ll be getting as payment is free car servicing. She tackles the task methodically and courageously, not shying away from upsetting a few unsavoury characters on the way. That almost has rather drastic repercussions. Bit by bit Isabel pieces the puzzle together. Like us, she’s kept guessing for quite a while but at least she fits the pieces together, in a dramatic way.

This is a book about relationships too, and that side is very richly portrayed. We have Isabel’s relationship with her elderly mother, and that’s a key part of the novel. We see her with her children, and also with Jack, the new man in her life, although there have been and still are some bumps in the road on that path. And will Dancing Dave lead Isabel on a merry dance and tread on Jack’s toes? Sisters Annette and Marsha, both redneck Floozies in Isabel’s books, have a close bond and care deeply for each other, unlike a married couple in the book despite outward appearances. And there’s the easy affability and comradeship of the Old Farts.

The Old Farts, the acquaintances that Isabel meets up with over bad coffee to bounce ideas off, are a nice touch to the novel. There’s the Serious Old Fart, the Fattest Old Fart and so on. These actually constitute  a version of the Greek muses in my mind since there’s a lot of wisdom and perspicuity in their remarks. They’re of great assistance to Isabel in her efforts on this case.

My only niggle is the rather cluttered cover, but then I’m someone who just likes to see the title and the author and an eye-catching graphic. I’m not keen on any optional extras!

Redneck’s Revenge is lively, original, cleverly constructed and beautifully written. It’s thoroughly engaging and very enjoyable.

 

Purchase link

mybook.to/rednecksrevenge

Author bio

Joan Livingston is the author of novels for adult and young readers. Redneck’s Revenge, published by Crooked Cat Books, is the second in the mystery series featuring Isabel Long, a long-time journalist who becomes an amateur P.I. The first is Chasing the Case.

An award-winning journalist, she started as a reporter covering the hilltowns of Western Massachusetts. She was an editor, columnist, and most recently the managing editor of The Taos News, which won numerous state and national awards during her tenure.

After eleven years in Northern New Mexico, Joan returned to rural Western Massachusetts, which is the setting of much of her adult fiction, including the Isabel Long series.

 

Social Media Links –

Website: www.joanlivingston.net 

Facebook: www.facebook.com/JoanLivingstonAuthor/

Twitter: @joanlivingston 

Instagram: www.Instagram.com/JoanLivingston_Author

Goodreads: www.Goodreads.com/Joan_Livingston

Litsy: JoanLivingston

 

Giveaway – Win a paperback copy of Redneck’s Revenge (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.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c6949469/

 

Follow the rest of the tour, and look back to see what you’ve missed:

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Right on the Monet by Malcolm Parnell: a total joy

I’m so pleased to be taking part in the blog tour for this sparkling cosy mystery.

Right on the Monet

New York

Claude Monet painting is stolen

Mediterranean

Of all the things Harry Chase had imagined in his life, being a drummer on a cruise ship band was not one that would have occurred to him. And yet, there he was. Centre stage, behind a young female singer along with his mates, Dave, Tony and Steve.

Which meant that getting involved in a jewellery theft, an on-board massage parlour and the hunt for an Old Master was even further from his mind as he cracked the snare drum.

And yet, this was exactly how he found himself being questioned by Interpol …..

 

My review

I’m a huge fan of cosy mysteries, and especially ones with witty titles, so how could I resist ‘On the Monet’? And I’m so glad I couldn’t, because it’s a super book.

It’s a cosy with a bit of difference as our lead sleuth is a fella, Harry. This is a genre where females generally take the lead. Harry is aided and abetted by this three friends Steve, Dave and Tony, also by his partner Cara and Tony’s wife Liz. This group work well together. There’s genuine camaraderie and loyalty between them all. There’s the odd spat and nerve-grating going on, but they’re as thick as thieves, and this quality is what helps them catch a thief in this story. But not without things going a bit haywire every now and again…

Harry, Steve, Dave and Tony get together and form a band. To everyone’s surprise, especially theirs, they’re actually quite good, especially once they call on Clem to be their vocalist. Through her they get the opportunity to preform on board a cruise ship to replace a band that’s pulled out. They accept the job, and things get off to a great start. Then two of the band get injured whilst fishing, and the show can’t go on. This, however, frees up the group to start investigate some slightly odd goings-on aboard the ship which end up being linked with a major art theft.

The story moves at a cracking pace, and we’re permanently kept guessing. Malcolm Parnell drops clues to tantalise us but it needs his ingenuity to work them altogether into such an enjoyable and exciting denouement. The author’s expert knowledge of art adds a rich and fascinating layer to the story.

I found the author’s style a delight to read. It really flows and is warm and enveloping. When his characters converse it’s like we’re there, as part of their group. They’re funny, kind people and all immensely likeable.

This is a lively book delivered with confidence and humour by a talented author. A total joy.

And what a great cover!

 

Author bio

Malcolm Parnell has a passion for painting and teaches art and drawing skills when he is not working on his next novel.

His other passion, apart from his good lady wife, Marion, is Leicester City Football Club. Becoming an author and Leicester win the Premier League have been two of his greatest ambitions realised.

Social Media Links – Twitter – @PaintAuthor

Facebook – malcolmparnellbook

 

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Street Cat Blues by Alison O’Leary: a cosy mystery with cattitude!

My turn today to review this wonderful book.

 

BLURB: A quiet life for Aubrey?

After spending several months banged up in Sunny Banks rescue centre, Aubrey, a large tabby cat, has finally found his forever home with Molly and Jeremy Goodman, and life is looking good.

However, all that changes when a serial killer begins to target elderly victims in the neighbourhood.

Aubrey wasn’t particularly upset by the death of some of the previous victims, including Miss Jenkins whom Aubrey recalls as a vinegar-lipped bitch of an old woman who enjoyed throwing stones at cats, but Mr Telling was different.

Mr Telling was a mate…

 

My review

This is definitely a cosy with a difference. Actually, several differences. Not only do we have an unassuming feline sleuth, instead of the usual redoubtable female human, but this is a cosy with a definite hard edge to it. Through Aubrey and his investigations, with assistance from cats and humans alike, we are brought fact to face with some pretty tough social issues, such as poverty, discrimination, murder, naturally given the genre, illegal immigration and bullying. However, the author doesn’t get bogged down in them, merely brings them to our attention in a succinct and telling way as part of the story. Aubrey himself is a rescue cat and as such is himself a comment on people’s tendency to see animals as throwaway items. But at last it seems like he has found his forever home with Jeremy and Molly.

Mr Telling was his back-up plan, however, should things ever go pear-shaped with the Goodmans. Aubrey is nothing if not a realist who has no illusions about how cruel life can be. But he remains upbeat and wryly humorous, and always take the pragmatic view of things. Thus his decision to keep a possible home in reserve should the Goodmans change their minds about him. So when Mr Telling is the next in a series of murders, it’s time for him to stick his whiskered nose in with his characteristic cattitude. He’s quite a force to be reckoned with when he gets going. We just have to hope that curiosity won’t kill this cat!

The author has a lively, witty style that’s hugely entertaining. It’s an ambitious book, since writing for adults from the point of view of an animal isn’t an easy thing to do. Such a project could easily become twee or childish, but not here. Absolutely not. At times you almost forget Aubrey’s a cat as he’s portrayed with such conviction and detail. He quickly becomes our friend and we’re with him all the way as he attempts to get the bottom of this murderous skulduggery. His feline colleagues are a varied and fascinating bunch, all distinctly different with foibles, good and bad. We discover that there’s a lot more to life as a cat than me might imagine.

The human characters are superbly portrayed too, from the gentle Goodmans to the brash Maria. There are some interesting and, I suspect, heartfelt insights into the world of teaching which seems quite the quagmire at times!

I really enjoyed this original, clever story with its challenging depth and broad outlook. An excellent read and one I highly recommend.

 

Book info

  • Paperback: 216 pages
  • Publisher: Crooked Cat Books
  • Language: English

 https://www.crookedcatbooks.com/product/street-cat-blues/

 

About the author:  Alison was born in London and spent her teenage years in Hertfordshire.

She has also lived in Somerset and Gloucestershire.

After studying Law she decided to teach rather than go into practice and for many years taught Criminal Law to adults and young people.

Since moving to the south coast, Alison has been involved in qualification and assessment development for major awarding bodies.

When not writing, she enjoys crosswords, walking by the sea and playing Scrabble on her iPad – which she always sets to beginner level because, hey, why take chances?

Alison lives with her husband John and cat Archie.

 

Twitter @alisonoleary81

 

 

 

 

 

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‘Haircuts, Hens and Homicide’ goes on tour!

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!

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The Craft Room by Dave Holwill: wickedly funny

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

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The Amber Maze by Christopher Bowden: erudite and intriguing

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

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