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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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Duck Egg Blues by Martin Ungless: charming and idiosyncratic

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

Synopsis

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

‘A clever and ambitious story’

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

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

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

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

My review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Bookshop Detective by Jan Ellis: a super seaside mystery

Synopsis

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

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

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

 

My Review

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

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

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

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

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

 

Details

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

Publisher: Waverley Books

Publication Date: May 2017

Formats: Kindle and Paperback

ISBN: 978-1849344456

Genre: Contemporary women’s fiction/humour/mystery

Page Count: 256

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

Paperback – https://amzn.to/2KwD7Ew

 

About the author

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

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

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

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

 

Other Details From The Author:

 

Website: www.janelliswriter.com

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

Facebook: Jan Ellis (Writer)

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

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

 

Events:

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

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

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

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

Other paperback titles:

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

French Kisses and A London Affair

 

Contact: [email protected]

 

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The Penhallow Train Incident by M S Spencer: clever and lively

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

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

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

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