Posted on Leave a comment

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/

Posted on Leave a comment

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

Posted on Leave a comment

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

Posted on

A Quiet Death in Italy by Tom Benjamin

Bologna: city of secrets, suspicion . . . and murder

A dark and atmospheric crime thriller set in the beautiful Italian city of Bologna, perfect for fans of Donna Leon, Michael Dibdin and Philip Gwynne Jones.

When the body of a radical protestor is found floating in one of Bologna’s underground canals, it seems that most of the city is ready to blame the usual suspects: the police.

But when private investigator Daniel Leicester, son-in-law to a former chief of police, receives a call from the dead man’s lover, he follows a trail that begins in the 1970s and leads all the way to the rotten heart of the present-day political establishment.

Beneath the beauty of the city, Bologna has a dark underside, and English detective Daniel must unravel a web of secrets, deceit and corruption – before he is caught in it himself.

Tom Benjamin’s gripping debut transports you to the ancient and mysterious Italian city less travelled: Bologna.

 

My review

This is an exciting and absorbing book with interesting characters, a clever, intriguing plot and lots of excitement. It takes us to a lesser written-about part of Italy – the seedier side of Bologna.

The narrator is Daniel, who is somewhat detached being an Englishman. As such he is all the more observant, and makes the reader more aware of the particularities of Italian culture.

The book is all about connections, relationships, links with the past and betrayal, all of which gradually come to light. The pace of the action gradually builds up and the action and excitement builds up to an exciting and unforeseen conclusion. It’s clever, convincing and a must-read.

A thriller in every sense of the word.

 

 

Purchase Links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Quiet-Death-Italy-Tom-Benjamin/dp/1472131576/

US – https://www.amazon.com/Quiet-Death-Italy-Tom-Benjamin/dp/1472131576/

Author Bio –

Tom Benjamin started off as a reporter before moving to the press office at Scotland Yard and running drugs awareness campaign FRANK. He moved to Bologna where his work as doorman at a homeless canteen inspired him to create English detective Daniel Leicester in a series that serves up equal helpings of the local cuisine and ubiquitous graffiti; the city’s splendour, decay, and danger.

 

Social Media Links –

https://www.facebook.com/tombenjaminsays/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Tombenjaminsays

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/tombenjaminsays/

Posted on

Winter’s Gift by Florence Keeling

Winters’ Gift: A heart warming, feel good romantic comedy.

Bea Winters is in desperate need of a fresh start. Being bullied at work is not her idea of fun and she longs to follow her dream of becoming a published author. When an advert appears in her local paper to work in a publishing house in the sleepy village of Bloomsdale, it sounds too good to be true.

She strikes up an instant friendship with gorgeous aspiring author, Eddie Richards and her dashing millionaire boss Scott Summers

But all isn’t as it seems in the sleepy village of Bloomsdale.

How does the local clairvoyant know her name? Who does the little black dog that keeps appearing belong to and why does she keep bumping into the mysterious Charlie?

As she starts to unravel the truth, it seems that everyone in Bea’s life is keeping secrets.

 

My review

There’s an interest combination of mystery, self-discovery and the paranormal in this book, as well as a nod to a few serious contemporary issues such as job dissatisfaction and apparent family failings.

Bea is a bit of a dreamer but she gains a sharper focus as the book progresses. She finds her feet – and more besides! She’s likeable and kind and makes for a pleasant heroine.

The mystery is intriguing and enjoyable.

All in all a gentle bit of escapism.

 

Purchase Links:

 UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Winters-Gift-Florence-Keeling-ebook/dp/B07KDWRWXP/#ace-4131440328

US – https://www.amazon.com/Winters-Gift-Florence-Keeling-ebook/dp/B07KDWRWXP/

 

About Florence Keeling

?Florence Keeling adopted for her pen-name her Great Grandmother’s name, chosen because of the shared birthday of April Fool’s Day.  She is married with two teenage chidren.  Born and raised in Coventry, England she now lives just outside in Nuneaton.  Reflected Destinies is her first novel.

Florence Keeling also writes for children under the name of Lily Mae Walters.

 

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/florence.keeling.7

Twitter – https://twitter.com/KeelingFlorence

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/florence.keeling/

Posted on 1 Comment

An Implacable Woman by K T Findlay: a gritty black comedy

Synopsis

If a tooth costs a tooth and an eye costs an eye

When a man hits his wife, then it’s his turn to die

Furious that the courts and police can’t prevent respected surgeon John Kirby from beating his wife, Sally Mellors steps in to save her. Permanently…

But Grace Kirby isn’t the only one who needs saving and Sally quickly discovers she’s taken on a much bigger job than she’d thought.

With her unique ability to blend justice with fun, Sally sets joyfully about the business of removing the monsters from women’s lives, but is she in danger of becoming a monster herself?

As her friends in the police get ever closer, Sally has some serious questions of her own to answer.

 

My review

This is the second book in K T Findlay’s Sally Mellors series. It follows A Thoughtful Woman, but works as a standalone.

It’s a gritty black comedy, making us really think about our moral standpoint. Is killing always wrong? Isn’t putting an evil person permanently out of action an act of goodness? It’s for the greater good of the majority, after all. It’s all a bit of a grey area but it’s well handled in this novel.

Our characters continue to develop in this clever and complex thriller. We find out a little more about what makes Sally and Grace tick. There’s much more to them than straightforward vigilantism.

It’s not all about the action. The settings are beautifully drawn and add to the richness of the writing. This author has a sharp eye for creating an atmospheric backdrop.

Much to enjoy in this unusual, challenging novel.

 

Purchase Links

The main Amazon.com link is https://www.amazon.com/dp/B088HJJ6NW/

The UK link is https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B088HJJ6NW/

The Indian link is https://www.amazon.in/dp/B088HJJ6NW/

The Canadian link is https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B088HJJ6NW/

Additional maps of where An Implacable Woman is set-https://ktfindlay.com/an-implacable-woman-maps/

 

Author bio

K.T. Findlay lives on a small farm where he dovetails his writing with fighting the blackberry and convincing the quadbike that killing its rider isn’t a vital part of its job description.

 

Social media links 

Webpage : www.ktfindlay.com

Youtube :   https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC0UIrcFBnHtHXQzbr37Ay-Q

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

Twitter :     https://twitter.com/ktfindlay

Posted on 1 Comment

The Lazarus Charter by Tony Bassett: entertaining and edgy

Synopsis

Bob Shaw is baffled to see a man in a brown coat at a bustling Underground station. Surely it can’t be his friend, the scientist Professor Morley? Morley perished weeks before in a blazing car. Is the man an impostor or did his friend fake his death?

This fascinating and ingenious thriller tells of Bob’s battle to find out the truth, helped by his wife Anne. They are confronted by ruthless enemies and forced to flee their home in this fast-paced spy thriller from the author of Smile Of The Stowaway.

 

My review

The author set himself a high standard with the prequel to this novel, Smile of the Stowaway, but he surpasses even that with this novel.

It’s a very exciting thriller with political elements as well as a fascinating mystery at its core, featuring husband and wife team Bob and Anne. As their names hint, they’re an ordinary couple who just happen to find themselves plunged into quite extraordinary goings-on. Here a dead man has apparently come back to life – hence this book’s title.

The author doesn’t hang about! He sets a brisk pace, but never so rushed that he skimps on scene-setting or creating atmosphere. The action is largely set in Canterbury and London and you get a wonderful sense of these two very different cities.

As regards the plot, it’s clever and complex. You really have no idea what’s round the corner. You feel a bit like a leaf being whisked along by a gale-force wind! It’s wonderful.

Entertaining, edgy escapism, this novel will absorb your full attention from the first word to the last.

I can’t wait for the author’s next book.

Buy the book here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Lazarus-Charter-English-Tony-Bassett-ebook/dp/B085MN9KL4

Copies are also available from the publisher.

Posted on 2 Comments

A Thoughtful Woman by KT Findlay

Synopsis

They say revenge is a dish best served cold, but where’s the fun in that?
Artist Sally Mellors has planned the perfect revenge, but with two secret agents on her tail, and her best friends running the police investigation, getting away with murder is going to be tricky…
Everybody loves Sally. She’s a funny, generous, warm hearted friend, without a nasty bone in her body.
Isn’t she?
Unknown to her friends, Sally’s discovered another side to herself, cool headed and relentless, as she hunts down the three men who killed her husband. But Sally’s not the only one with an interest in the trio. Unknown to her, two agents have arrived in town, urgently hunting a missing man and his diary, which could blow their organisation apart. Their best leads are the very men that Sally’s hunting, and she’s getting in the way…
The inspiration behind A Thoughtful Woman.
The justice system is an intriguing beast. We expect it to be fair, which is why we allow it to resolve our disputes instead of simply taking revenge ourselves, but watch an individual case play out in court and it can seem more like a high stakes game between lawyers than the pursuit of absolute truth. And if you think it’s a game, do you still accept the result if you lose? Is that still justice? At what point will a perfectly normal, perfectly decent person snap, and what happens when they do? Is it possible to plunge into the darkness of revenge and remain the normal, decent happy person you were before you started? Sally Mellors is about to find out.

 

My review

This is a novel about taking revenge into your own hands. You can’t really blame Sally and Emma for wanting to do so: their husbands’ killers escaped justice thanks to a bent lawyer. You know it’s morally wrong but you want these two to succeed. We do like it when the worms turn.

The action gradually builds up and reaches a brisk pace. There’s plenty of conflict and intrigue, shadowy menacing figures, helpful allies, and clever twists and turns in the plot. It makes for an exciting and original read.

The characters are all convincing. Sally is the stronger of the two women, and she makes for a fascinating psychological study. She shows what happens when a seemingly kind and normal person is pushed too far. She throws herself into her new persona and does seem to enjoy being her own evil twin.

It’s a book that really makes you think and question your own moral values.

 

About the author

K.T. Findlay lives on a small farm where he dovetails his writing with fighting the blackberry and convincing the quadbike that killing its rider isn’t a vital part of its job description.

 

Buy the book here: www.amazon.co.uk/Thoughtful-Woman-Sally-Mellors-Adventures-ebook/dp/B07YYZX8NC/

 

 

Posted on 1 Comment

A Prison in the Sun by Isobel Blackthorn

After millennial ghostwriter Trevor Moore rents an old farmhouse in Fuerteventura, he moves in to find his muse.

Instead, he discovers a rucksack filled with cash. Who does it belong to – and should he hand it in… or keep it?

Struggling to make up his mind, Trevor unravels the harrowing true story of a little-known concentration camp that incarcerated gay men in the 1950s and 60s.

 

My review

This is a fascinating, traumatic novel that makes for a challenging but rewarding read. Based on disturbing fact, the author adds a rich and compelling mystery and some engrossing characters to the mix.

The novel begins at a steady pace as the scene is set, but soon the momentum builds and the complexity swells. The atmosphere is tense with menace and foreboding, but there are lighter moments and there is a thread of hope and new beginnings.

Trevor is an intriguing and empathetic hero. He has emotional baggage, but the horrific things he discovers put his own problems into perspective and help him learn to deal with them. He’s a strong, capable person.

This author is adept at creating an all-encompassing world for the reader. You’re pulled in and can’t leave until the book finishes.

If you enjoy fiction with a historical basis, and want to read a story that will give a lot to think about then this is the perfect book for you by a talented author who never fails to impress.

 

Purchase link: http://mybook.to/prisonsun

Author bio

Isobel Blackthorn is an award-winning author of unique and engaging fiction. She writes dark psychological thrillers, mysteries, and contemporary and literary fiction. Isobel was shortlisted for the Ada Cambridge Prose Prize 2019 for her biographical short story, ‘Nothing to Declare’. The Legacy of Old Gran Parks is the winner of the Raven Awards 2019. Isobel holds a PhD from the University of Western Sydney, for her research on the works of Theosophist Alice A. Bailey, the ‘Mother of the New Age.’ She is the author of The Unlikely Occultist: a biographical novel of Alice A. Bailey.

 

Social Media Links –

https://isobelblackthorn.com/

https://www.facebook.com/Lovesick.Isobel.Blackthorn/

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5768657.Isobel_Blackthorn

https://twitter.com/IBlackthorn

https://www.instagram.com/isobelblackthorn/

Posted on 1 Comment

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/#