It’s obvious from the word go, or rather the word “Ah,” which is the first word in this story, that the author is in her element writing about the Regency period. Her enthusiasm for and knowledge of it shine in every word. Natalie Kleinman uses language, manners and situations to the time and creates a convincing atmosphere.

She has created for us a gentle, civilised setting in Glendale, but like with our heroine Phoebe Marcham, there are some hidden punches. In the novel this comes with the paranormal mystery that lurks at the centre of the story, and alongside it is a very real one – how to reunite the two sides of the divided family, torn apart by the Civil War.

Phoebe is the perfect heroine. She’s interesting, not perfect i.e. she’s a bit rebellious and subject to the odd grump now and again. Tall and lively, no wonder Duncan Armstrong is soon wowed by her. Our hero is an intriguing man too. No empty stereotypes in this story.

What I particularly like is how the author depicts the genteel side of life, since Phoebe is from a moderately wealthy family, but also the harsher side. For example, when Aunt Sophia breaks her ankle, much as we don’t want to feel sorry for this bossy, unsympathetic woman, it’s quite tough to realise is that all she can do is wait for it to heal on its own without effective painkillers. Times were hard then and this peeps through now and again and adds to the realism.

Throughout this engaging and charming novel, there’s wonderful attention to detail that makes the background really sparkle. Add in our cast of interesting characters, dead and alive, and it’s a recipe for total enjoyment.

 

Synopsis: The Ghost of Glendale

At twenty-four years old, Phoebe Marcham is resigned to spinsterhood, unwilling to settle for anything less than the deep love her parents had shared. That is, until adventurer Duncan Armstrong rides into her home wood, larger than life and with laughter in his eyes and more charm in his little finger than anyone she’s ever met before. Far from ridiculing her family ghost, Duncan resolves to help solve the mystery which has left Simon Marcham a spirit in torment for two hundred years.

Purchase from Amazon UK http://amzn.to/2DKo8yB

Author Bio – Natalie is a published novelist and short story writer whose addiction to the books of Georgette Heyer and love of The Regency have been the inspiration for her latest book, The Ghost of Glendale.

Working on the premise that you never stop learning, she goes to any and every writing event and workshop she can. In addition she attends The Write Place Creative Writing School in Hextable in Kent, one of the rewards for which is an abundant supply of cream cakes to celebrate the frequent successes of its students.

Natalie is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association, The Society of Authors and the Society of Women Writers and Journalists. She lives with her husband in southeast London.

 

Social Media Links –

Blog: https://nataliekleinman.blogspot.co.uk/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NatalieKleinmanAuthor/
Twitter: @NatKleinman

 

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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.

Tenacious, conscientious DI Erika Foster is back in this sixth book in a series that started off brilliantly and just keeps getting better.

The action starts on Christmas Eve when a burlesque dance, Marissa Lewis, is viciously attacked and murdered on her doorstep. This keeps Erika preoccupied on Christmas Day when she’d otherwise be going for lunch with her superior officer. Her victim turns out to be a complicated young lady, with as many enemies as admirers. As with many of DI Foster’s cases, the implications spread out further and further and bring many people under suspicion. A further attack and suicide attempts, successful and otherwise, just keep the surprises and ingenious twists and turns coming in this very cleverly constructed police procedural mystery. Once you start reading, you can’t stop. You simply have to know what’s going to happen next.

The past never lets go of Erika and in this story her relationship with her father-in-law is brought to the forefront. Also, colleague James Peterson, with whom Erika was previously in a relationship, returns to add some complications.

As ever, we’re presented with a gripping, exciting story and some totally fascinating characters. Those we already know, such as Erika and her team, continue to develop subtly which makes them ever more interesting. The new people we meet in the story are all strong and diverse. Robert Bryndza excels in portraying totally convincing characters from all walks of life.

This is another top-class novel from Robert Bryndza, but then we’d expect no less from this consistently outstanding author.

‘The Corner Shop in Cockleberry Bay’ is a wonderful example of kick-lit – ‘chick-lit with a kick’, as the author likes to describe it. That kick comes from the strong heroine we have in this story. Rosa Larkin has had plenty of knocks in life and so she’s built up a tough shell around herself. She’s thus rather cynical about the mysterious inheritance she receives: the Corner Shop in a Devon seaside town. However, with the support of her friend Josh, and Hot the sausage dog, she heads down to see what the story is. She intends to sell it and get on with her life without this millstone round her neck.

However, that plan is soon scuppered but, out of work and with time on her hands, she decides to give running a shop a go. Of course, it’s not going to be easy and she faces obstacles and resistance, but unexpected friendships crop up along the way and Rosa’s soft centre starts to emerge from that hard shell. Rosa learns a lot about herself in this lively, uplifting story that’s original, touching and totally enjoyable.

The writing is wonderful and sweeps you along, much as events do Rosa. It may appear to be a quiet seaside town but there’s a lot going along under the surface. Cockleberry Bay comes alive for us in the detailed descriptions of the place and its residents as well in the exciting action we encounter.

This is an accomplished and heart-warming romcom from a talented author.

Follow Nicola as she goes on tour with this super novel.

 

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.   

Recently widowed Evie, who’s 75, realises she should never have sold her home and moved into a care home in Dublin. She’s bored and going into a decline. So, she absconds. A four-tuitous (four is her lucky number!) win on the horses gives her the funds she needs to head first to Liverpool and some other cities, and then south for some sunshine. And so she leaves the UK for France, where she encounters some fascinating people and situations. It’s an emotional and developmental journey for her as well as physical one.

Meanwhile, her son Brendan, whose marriage to Maura is floundering, takes it on himself to track hi mother down. He doesn’t have much to go on other than dogged determination. He’d rather go alone, but Maura insists on joining him in the ailing Fiat Panda. Time after time they narrowly miss Evie but in the process learn a lot about themselves.  

Part picaresque, part coming of age, and with a touch of travelogue, this book is a total delight from start to finish. Every character is fascinating, although none can outshine our ordinary yet extraordinary heroine. There’s humour and tragedy, conflict and love. It’s simply unputdownable. A grand old novel.     

 

‘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.

Murder She Knit is a gentle, enjoyable cozy. Yes, there’s a murder but it’s offstage, although the dead body is found in the garden of our heroine, Pamela Paterson. Widow Pamela is on her own now that her daughter Penny is off at college, but she has a busy life editing a craft magazine, and knitting and baking fill any time left. Plus there’s a stray cat that keeps appearing and demanding attention.

It’s her turn to host the Knit and Nibble group that meet on Tuesday evenings. At the last minute she invites an old acquaintance she unexpectedly bumps into that day. However, this friend, Amy, never arrives and she’s the body that Pamela subsequently finds, stabbed by a knitting needle.

Pamela, with help from friend and neighbour Bettina, sets about investigating. The mystery she untangles is well constructed, interesting and convincing. The town of Arborville, a small college town, offers plenty of possible needle-wielders. There’s some very special yarn involved, and another victim. The author keeps us all on our toes in guessing who the perp actually is.

The book is well written, with light touches and lots of tension. Pamela is a convincing and likeable heroine, and we’re quickly pulled into her world. We encounter lots of equally fascinating characters. Arborville is described in careful detail and starts to feel like home. And as an extra treat, after the exciting denouement, there’s a recipe and a knitting pattern for us.

An easy, absorbing read, and the first in a series that I look forward to following. And what a lovely cover!

This book makes for perfect reading at this meteorologically challenged time of year as it takes us from the cold, snowbound days of Christmas into joyous, warm springtime and then summer. Ellie Browne, landlady of the Dog and Duck, and her partner Max, owner of the country mansion Braithewaite Manor, are our central characters. There’s great excitement at the beginning of the book, when their baby Noel makes his precipitous entrance into the world, but the action keeps going as life is busy for Ellie and there’s also Polly’s wedding coming up. Polly is Ellie’s best friend so she wants to put on a really good show. However, deep down there’s another wedding she’d rather be planning for, but she’s the one who keeps throwing the spanner into the works where that one’s concerned.

There’s a fascinating cast of characters in the book. We get to meet Ellie’s parents, now back from Dubai, and they add some drama of their own to proceedings. Max’s family supplies a few surprises too.   

As well as the feel-goodness of the story, the author’s writing raises your spirits as it’s warm and inviting. Jill Steeples tells her romantic comedy in a friendly, flowing fashion. There’s humour, drama, tension, heartache and joy, all the compelling ingredients we need to keep us hooked to the very end.

This is the last in the Dog and Duck trilogy, and it’s been a pleasure to read them all. The previous books were ‘Christmas at the Dog and Duck’ and ‘Summer at the Dog and Duck’. What’s more, all three have wonderful, eye-catching covers. Author and publishers have worked hard to produce a real treat for their readers.    

From the very start, I was gripped by this novel. I have to confess that I thought I probably would be, as I’m a huge fan of Aaron Paul Lazar. And this wonderful author didn’t let me down.

Gus and his wife Camille are on a long-awaited and much-needed holiday. But, as is so true when you’re leaving family members behind, they’re torn. They need this break but they miss home too. This is just one of the lovely touches in this book. As with the other novels in this series, there is such a warm domestic background.  In fact warmth is what characterises the book: bad things happen, but there is security and love and loyalty in the background. Gus himself is such a warm likeable character. People can’t help opening up to him, and he can’t help getting involved. Camille is far more than a token sidekick. She’s a strong character, and has a strong role to play in this exciting mystery.

When a car crashes onto the beach close to him, Gus is drawn into a mystery concerning two feuding families. One is dysfunctional in the extreme whilst the other is very close but challenged. Sinister events pull Gus into thrilling events that have their roots in the eighteenth century. We have pirates and lost treasure alongside very modern problems, such a single mum struggling to make a living and also trying to save her baby’s father from the abuse he appears to be suffering at home.

The title Murder on the Brewster Flats is a clever one as there are actually two we learn about – one in the past, connected to the pirate element, and a modern one that puts several other characters in immediate danger. Also clever, there’s a crossover element: Gus and Camille encounter Jack and Scout Remington from the Paines Creek Beach series. It works so well!

This is an exciting and polished novel which you can’t put down.