Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Tim Arnot

If you've read the first two books in the series you'll be glued to this one. If you haven't, read them now!



Stranded

Amazon.com

My review - 

It goes without saying that if you’re reading this you’ve already read Wanted and Hunted. I’ve read them both and love them so this was a must-read for me. The group of characters is here broken into two and Flick Carter and her boss, Princess Jessica, AKA Lieutenant Dixon, are aboard a slave ship and their situation looks hopeless. Socko Garrett is back in his old haunts and is determined to prove that the two girls are alive. The wicked Prince Edward, Jessica’s brother, has taken over the ruling reins and put Socko on a Most Wanted list, penalty of execution and a huge reward. Things don’t look too good for him, either.

I read this book avidly and it didn’t feel as long as I know it is. We zipped about from place to place, from fear to terror, and the action never let up. We lost a few characters on the way – you can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs. And I can’t tell you how good it was to find out what happened to the Pantomime Villain character of Edward. I wanted to hiss and boo whenever he appeared. You can really get caught up in this story if you’re not careful!


I received an advance review copy of this book.

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Will Macmillan Jones

This second horror story by the author is even better than the first - so... roll on the third!


Portrait of a Girl

Amazon.com

My review - 

This is the second of the author’s horror stories and it takes me back to the kind of Dennis Wheatley books I devoured in my younger days. There’s that sense of menace throughout the story. The hapless Mr Jones, who was hounded by the police when he was an innocent victim in The Showing, is once again drawn into something he cannot control. A portrait of a girl in the local art gallery draws him almost hypnotically and he even begins to dream of it. He goes in to ask the price but it’s far more than he can afford. He leaves his details as an expression of interest, and then, when a young man goes missing and was last seen in the vicinity of the gallery, the police pay their first call upon Mr Jones. More young men fall under the portrait’s baleful influence and once again, Mr Jones has to convince the police he’s not to blame.

This is an engrossing and thoughtful study of a man in the grip of an obsession which has drawn lesser men into peril of their lives. He has the help of a friend to offer him some protection from a very real menace older than them all, and it’s a story which keeps on moving right to the end. Christmas is the time for ghost stories. Draw the curtains, settle down and give this a try!


I received a review copy of this book.

Thursday, 17 December 2015

M T McGuire

After having enjoyed her K'Barthan series, I'm pleased to see M T McGuire is still making us laugh.


Escape from B-Movie Hell

Amazon.com

My review - 


Student Andi Turbot discovers something disturbing about her best friend Eric. He’s really a massively tall lobster-type creature with seven eyes. An alien. He’s on a recce mission to earth to find out if the natives are sentient. I’m not sure I could prove that I am. She is taken on board a huge craft and then the politics begin. There’s a meteor on the way to smash into earth. If humans were wiped out, the aliens could colonise. It’s against their laws to kill sentient creatures but someone’s stopping them from deflecting the meteor. Like I said, politics.

This is a funny story, full of great characters, even though most of them wade through marmite scented goo and have a tendency to clack their pincers at you. There’s serious stuff at the bottom of it but it’s taken lightly and, although it’s a long book, trust me, it flies past. I love this and would enjoy more or similar.

I received a review copy of this book for an honest review.

Monday, 14 December 2015

Will Macmillan Jones

This is the second in a series which I've read to my grandchildren. They keep pestering me for the next one!


The Return of the Goblins

Amazon.com

My review - 

Wobbles, as Lisa's brother Jeremy calls her, is a girl named Lisa who has Snort the dragon as a friend. Her brother is friendly with the man next door who is expecting a delivery of lizard eggs. He shouldn't be keeping them as they are rare. The Goblins want them, and they wouldn't mind eating Jeremy – after he's stolen the eggs for them.


I read this story to my granddaughters one holiday, a chapter each evening. I thought they might find the more horrid aspects of the goblins' characters rather frightening for bedtime but they loved them. It was exciting, not scary and as little girls they were rooting for Wobbles. When I read that the third Snort and Wobbles book would be called The Headless Horseman, they cheered! Bring it on, says Gran.

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Lucas Bale, Alex Roddie - editors - and others

This is a superb speculative fiction collection all on a theme of Crime and Punishment.


Crime and Punishment

Amazon.com

My review - 

This is a second anthology from a great group of writers. I’d have bought this for the first story alone. As I always find, some stories from a collection like this stick with me, mean more to me, than others. However, they are all a good read and a different interpretation of the theme.

Atonement is set in the Beyond the Wall series of books and the reader is quickly drawn into the oppressive regime. Lahm buys his own freedom by working as a bounty hunter. Is he really free? This is perhaps more like reparation than punishment. Really atmospheric, as always with Lucas Bale’s writing.

I loved the little Mowgli-type character in Oubliette. This punishment hole into which the condemned are cast to be forgotten had me intrigued. I’d love to read more about this character.

To some extent The Marque, quite a horror story, echoes the first in that it questions to what extent we can be free. Would you save yourself or co-operate with an alien invader. Who is brave and who is the coward? Thought-provoking.

I loved Arcadio’s Valley in which the old people (I take things too personally!) want their real lives back. Echoes here of David Wailing’s Auto series.

And the finale – the punctuation mark at the end – is another question about freedom. There was a wonderful Adam and Eve moment in here – “The woman lied to me!” Humanity curtails its own freedom but is the cure a worse crime than the original greedy devouring of the earth and its resources?


I haven’t mentioned all the stories though I enjoyed reading them – you’ll have to read them yourself and I suspect your choice of memorable ones will be different. As speculative fiction goes, we’re here with some of the best. 


Monday, 7 December 2015

Jonathan Hill

The versatile Mr Hill does it again with a new genre for him, the psychological thriller. A compact story but it's all there.


The Anniversary

Amazon.com

My review -

This novella is narrated by a misfit of a man who lost his partner last Christmas and who, naturally, makes others feel uncomfortable in a season usually associated with merriment. We never learn his name. We see him observing others, studying their reactions and apparent feelings while being untouched by them himself. His loss initially elicited my sympathy but he is not a character to warm to. He draws the attention of a colleague and invites her to visit on Christmas Day – the anniversary of his partner’s death.


The story is episodic, flitting from scene to scene, and could be disorientating if it were not for the little clues, the words or phrases slipped in, which allow us to connect things up. Ah – that’s what he meant. You need your thinking head on but the experience is worth it. I love this story because it has the feel of a jigsaw and gives the same satisfaction as the reader slips another piece in place and the picture fills out. Very well done and a cracking, if uncomfortable, little read.

G J Reilly

This is the second in a series and really keeps the ball rolling.



Piper

Amazon.com

My review - 

The Second in the Book of Jerrick series sees our protagonists a couple of years older than when we last met them. As before, we are pulled in different directions as we wonder who are the goodies and who the baddies. Nothing is quite as it seems. Michael and Tamara in particular, best friends in the first book, find themselves in opposing sides in a monumental struggle which affects the whole world.

One of the really enjoyable aspects of this book is the way that traditional stories we've all known since childhood are cleverly woven through the tale. It's as if the story of Michael and Tamara, the Council and the Inquisitors, is our story too. I'm intrigued to know how it's all going to be resolved. Bring on Book Three!


I received an advance copy for review.

Friday, 4 December 2015

Lexie Conyngham

This latest Murray of Letho mystery is one of the author's best, in my view. I enjoyed it immensely.





My review - 

There are wicked things afoot in Letho. An old woman, allegedly a witch, has been found murdered then a young maid from the Letho household goes missing. When another lady disappears, Charles Murray is hard pressed to know what's going on. His wife is heavily pregnant and talk of witches is rife, spreading through the area like fire through dry tinder and upsetting her Ladyship.

This book contains the usual kind of mystery which the level-headed Murray copes with well, but it is all shot through with uneasy sightings, an unchancy mirror and the cry of 'Burn the witch'. It’s one of the best Murray of Letho stories, I think, and I enjoyed this one very much indeed. 

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Stuart Ayris

This is typically Stuart Ayris - playfully worded in some cases but it gets to the heart of what humanity is all about. And I loved the butter bean-eating goat!



Merzougaville, Baby

Amazon.com

My review - 

This is why Stuart Ayris fans read his books. It's a typical Ayris story, beginning with an almost forty year old man taking a holiday in Marrakech and rescuing a macaque monkey. As with many of his stories it takes the form of a journey and our hero meets a number of characters on his way. Stuart's books often seem to me to be like mythology for modern times. They are stories which you couldn't imagine occurring in real life but which are there to entertain you and to teach you something.


I always enjoy the author's playful word-building. Not satisfied for his purposes with the existing dictionary, he creates compound words of his own with which to paint the scenery. If you've read his work before you'll love this. If you haven't, it's not a bad place to start.

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Jim Webster

Here's the second in the Port Naain Intelligencer series. It's another cracking short story.




My review -

Tallis and Benor are asked to help when a young woman, engaged to a rich young man, appears to be the subject of blackmail by a man claiming to be her husband. They dig deeper and find a whole web of deceit.

I love these stories. They are adventurous, funny and have a classic feel to them. Jim Webster writes real women, too. Sheena, the wife of Tallis, is a favourite of mine, intelligent, resourceful and wise. I also have a soft spot for Mutt, the orphan, old for his years, who has attached himself to the group to the benefit of all. Another great tale from the Port Naain Intelligencer.


Alex Roddie

This is not Alex's usual genre. After reading this I hope he'll write more of it!


Cold Witness

Amazon.com

My review -

John Marshall is sent to the abandoned facility at Orford Ness to repurpose it for radio broadcasting. It was the centre of a secret project known as Cobra Mist. When he enters the buildings he becomes subject to what he thinks are migraines. Another worker there had reprogrammed Cobra Mist to run a secret project of his own.


This is a study of personal reality. Who are we? How do we know? Who is dreaming and who is the dream? There is a Matrix-like quality of wondering what truly exists. I found this story very creepy, partly from the feeling it so brilliantly conjures that the mind is fragile and its contents may not be real. Partly, too, it was my own phobia of abandoned building which ramped up this feeling of unease throughout the story. A very good read for lovers of sci-fi and speculative fiction.

Monday, 23 November 2015

David Wailing

This is the second (long awaited and much anticipated) book in David's Auto series. It's a scarily feasible look at the way our current technology is moving. 



Auto 2

Amazon.com

My review -

Reading anything labelled '2' generally means you've read the first book and I really enjoyed Auto. This has bells on - and icing and sprinkles. I received an ARC for an honest review and, honestly, it's fantastic. They say 'be careful what you wish for'. This scarily close future sees us all with our autos (like super-smart phones) running our lives and making decisions for us and people love it. They can't imagine managing without. There's even an online church and because hosting space for the autos of the dead is expensive, this cyber-church can offer free immortality in the EternalCloud. We come across characters we've met in Auto and some of them are up against the police and the church.


Auto brought together a group of speculative stories in an amazing manner, crafting a whole from what appeared to be disparate parts. Auto 2 is a more coherent story with the various individual parts acting more like traditional chapters. I read this in a couple of days because it was so unputdownable. It's full of little twists and turns, links to the earlier book and clever speculation on what our addiction to the internet could lead us to. Read this!

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

David Haynes

This is a quick read which packs a punch!


The Journal of Reginald Perigar

Amazon.com

My review - 

This is a novella length story about a Victorian gentleman who is fascinated by intriguing objects. His whole house is a cabinet of curiosities. His latest acquisition is a beautiful chess set which he opens with eager enthusiasm. This sets in motion a chain of events which he (and the reader) could not have foreseen. The writing so immerses you in the cadences of Victorian speech that it is a real jolt to read the final couple of pages set in modern times. That’s good writing!


The story has a great sense of time and place with the darkness and grime of London and the candle and oil-lamp lit home being particularly well-created. If you like a solid, traditional horror story, you’re in for a treat with this one.

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Rosen Trevithick

This is a complete departure from Rosen's usual fiction. This isn't fiction - this is true - and I've tasted the future!


Chocolate Making Adventures

Amazon.com

My review - 

I read this cover to cover before publication as I am one of a select band of recipe testers. I began tentatively, not sure if what I was being asked to do would produce anything I fancied eating. All I can say is – go with it. The business of spreading the ingredients, vigorous mixing and re-melting sounds like a faff but it’s quicker and less messy than making scones. At least, the way I make scones! Once you have perfected the technique you will never look back. You’ll start to think of your own variations and you will suddenly find you have an amazing number of friends who want to help you sample them and decide on the best!


If you enjoy experimenting in the kitchen, if you just love eating wonderful chocolate in flavours you can’t buy, then you’ll love this book. I bought a few silicone moulds which each cost much less than a box of chocolates and now I’m addicted to making as well as eating the delicious stuff. The author has put a lot of time into trying out techniques and recipes and has put in all the ground work so that we can fly. The photographs are spectacular. This is a great book. I’m buying the paperback too, as soon as it’s available, because the photos are just too gorgeous and too colourful to hide away on a kindle.

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Will Once

This genre is a new departure for the author. He's very good at it!




My review - 

I've always loved fantasy but as I've grown older I tend away from the orcs and elves and swords stuff and have begun to prefer books whose fantasy takes a different form. Here, the little world portrayed begins with a Law. The people learn it, chant it and know it's for their own good. Supposedly. Young Kori, who lives at the edge, knows there's something wrong. The world is out of balance. It's broken. She has a special gift, the Knowing. Bit by bit, the workings of this world trickle through to us. It's a long but exciting story. The people of this world obey the laws and barricade themselves in at night because to be outside in the Dark is to fall prey to the Terrors. Eventually, Kori dares to open a shutter and sees one.

This tale, which asks questions of authority, of the law and of those who try to keep us in our places 'for our own good' is so far up my street that it's banging on the doorknocker. It's a well told and meaty story and is evidently going to have at least a sequel. Highly recommended.

I received an advance copy for review.

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Julie McLaren

A mystery to be solved and a mind to untangle - a fascinating story.


The Art of Forgetting

Amazon.com

My review -

Judy, though only in her 60s, becomes aware that she's losing her memory. Not the simple misplaced purse but whole sections of the day she can't remember – finding herself out dog-walking and unaware of how to get home. Her daughters Laura and Kelly find a respite place for her and it rapidly becomes apparent that she can no longer cope. While clearing her house, Laura finds part of an A4 pad on which her mother has started writing about her youth, with special reference to a mystery disappearance. Laura's own life begins to echo some aspects of her mother's. Things come to a head with a family wedding.

This is a super mystery story but it's also a detailed and affectionate look at a mother's failing mind. The day to day difference between a good day and a day when things go completely haywire is well observed. Judy is sometimes irrational or anxious which makes Laura's exploration of her past very difficult. We finally discover the truth about the past but it wasn't as simple as Judy, or her daughter, believed. A splendid story, highly recommended.


I received an advance copy for review.

Sam Kates

Just three stories here on a single theme - but different genres. A great read.


Strange Shores

Amazon.com

My review -

This little book will give you an evening of pleasure – and you can’t say that about everything you buy! The three stories tell of people’s reactions to the loss of a loved one. In the first, Strange Shores, a teacher who has lost his wife to cancer, find a way that he believes he will reach her again. In Alfonso’s Looking Glass a young man who has lost his wife has spent three years wrapped in grief. His grandfather’s looking glass offers joy or despair. He finds a way to utilise this for his own happiness. Finally, A Matter of Perspective thrusts us into a grim, post-apocalyptic world where those few survivors live on the edge.


These three stories are very different in genre but are tied into a thoroughly satisfying whole by the overarching theme. I really enjoyed them.

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Nick Wastnage

A great story which makes you think.


Night Running

Amazon.com

My review -

Kate is still grieving for the loss of one of her twin daughters to cancer, a circumstance which destroyed the dregs of an ailing marriage. She meets Mark who comes to make shelves for her new cottage. He has experienced the loss of his partner Emma’s young son in a house-fire for which Emma blames him because he slipped out for a few minutes to the shops and that was when the fire broke out. Then children die in fires up and down the country – wherever Mark is. He knows he is in the frame. Can Emma believe him?

The story touches on guilt, family rivalry – Kate’s sister is a detective working on the cases – friendship, loyalty and love. Kate’s husband reappears to insist on taking his daughter out at weekends and also, to Kate’s horror, refusing to allow her to be alone in Mark’s care. It’s an interesting study in why people fall apart and what helps to pull them back together to remake their lives. I enjoyed this story which is a thriller with a psychological edge. Highly recommended.


I received an advance copy of this book for review purposes.

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Heather Burnside

This is Book 2 in a trilogy and, though I enjoyed Book 1, this is even better.







My review -

I enjoyed Slur, the first book in this series, not least because it is set in the part of Manchester where I was born. The action in A Gangster’s Grip takes place four years later and the girls have matured considerably. Rita and her husband Yansis return from his native Greece for a protracted stay in Manchester for a reason we discover later. She finds things at home are not as cosy as she’d come to believe from letters and phone calls. Her sister Jenny is visibly pregnant to a dodgy and bullying partner. When Rita and her friend Julie try to help Jenny to get her life back, they find she isn’t the only person under this man’s influence.

The characters here are believable and I wanted things to work out well for Rita, Julie and their families. It’s easy for the reader to become involved in this story and there’s plenty of action and excitement. I was drawn into it and read it quickly and I eagerly await Part Three of the trilogy.

I received an advance copy for review.

Monday, 5 October 2015

Cecilia Peartree

This is the fifth in the series and I'm enjoying them more each time. Coming back to Pitkirtly is like visiting old friends.


Frozen in Crime

Amazon.com

My review -

This is the fifth in the Pitkirtly Mysteries series and is a rather claustrophobic adventure in which Pitkirtly is cut off by snow for the Christmas and New Year period. There is a robbery at the jeweller's and the local police force is seriously hampered by the weather. All my favourite characters were there and the remarkable Amaryllis Peebles, donning her pink PI bulletproof vest, decides to take on the jewel robbery, when it's discovered that the most expensive item on the list turns out to be a fake.


This is another great little story in which, although there are murders and bodies, the reader is never subjected to gratuitous violence. This series is full of quirky characters and is delightfully written. I’m pleased to see that I have several more to read. A bit of a mystery wrapped in a wonderful gentle wit is just what I enjoy.

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Angie Smith

This is the second in a series. I enjoyed the first very much but awarded it four stars. This one is an absolute winner - but you'd need to read the first.





My review -

After the nail-biter ending of Book 1 we pick up exactly where we left off – which I won’t elaborate on for fear of spoiling Book 1 for anyone yet to read it. Barnes and Woods end up on two opposing sides but still working together. They have a method of leaving coded messages – which Woods needs help to decode. My opinion of various of the characters shifted as I read and because Angie Smith can juggle so many threads and can breathe life into such a lot of characters, I was sucked into it as into quicksand. I couldn’t have got out until the end!

As the title implies, we discover secrets about some of our characters, including Maria Barnes. She must be one of my favourite characters in modern literature. She and Woods go deeper into the secrets of the Intelligence Service and turn up some nasty things crawling under there. There’s such a lot happening in this book that to pick on one aspect is to ignore others. It becomes very exciting towards the end. I can’t describe it – you need to read it!

I received an advance copy for review purposes.


Monday, 21 September 2015

Katie W Stewart

Katie Stewart hits just the right note for young people in this book but still manages to amuse and educate those of us no longer young. You'll need two copies. I'm giving one to my grand-daughter but I've kept one for myself!


Famous Animals

Amazon.com

My review -

If you have a young person with a sense of humour and a thirst for knowledge in your life, you really need this book. I ordered two copies. My nearly -11 year-old grand-daughter will really appreciate it, but I wanted one for myself. Why should the youngsters get all the fun? Each full page illustrations (for example, Felix Mendelsswan – the cover character) faces a page with a little information about the animal and a brief biography of the person. It’s beautifully done, with delightful pictures and is both fun and factual. If you buy one to give away you’ll want another to keep! For the number and quality of the illustrations it’s an absolute bargain.


The author writes for young people and doesn’t talk down to them. It’s all done with wit and imagination. The best thing about it is discovering there’s a Volume II in production. Wonderful!

Friday, 18 September 2015

David Haynes

A new horror story by a master of the genre. A great read!


The Cage

Amazon.com

My review -

Ted, retired from the police force, works as a private detective. He has some regrets. If he had killed a child-molester who got off through the incompetence of one of his colleagues, he knows he could have saved further harm to children but his conscience wouldn't let him kill. He's called in to look into a murder in a remote hotel. Heavy snow traps him there and we find out more about him - and the occasion on which he actually did take a life.


David Haynes has created a claustrophobic story which works very well as a horror novel at surface level. It's as creepy and spooky as you could want. It works as a metaphor too, of the cages in our minds where we hide our secrets or our fears. The literal and metaphorical cages in this novel make you shudder. There are hauntings of different types here and the slow crumbling of a mind. This is a modern classic horror story by a man who has made the genre his own.

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Seb Kirby

Seb writes an admirable thriller and can crank up the mood till you're breathless. This is a stand-alone and is fantastic. 





My review -

Tom Markland is rescued from Canary Wharf after almost drowning. He loses his memory as a result but when it begins to return he recalls the strangling of four young women - apparently by himself. Gradually his memory returns and he finds he is a journalist who was engaged in investigating a company's huge financial irregularity. He is in danger from the company boss and his enforcer and also from the real killer of the girls.

The story is an exciting one with a tangled web of characters and motives which the investigative journalist teases apart, only to find he's still not at the end of the journey. I too found I jumped to erroneous conclusions and the swift changes kept me on my toes. This is an action-packed thriller in which, although the story unfolds and results are achieved, there is a slightly unsettling ending. I loved it!

Monday, 31 August 2015

Eveleigh and Turner

A writing duo who collaborate with fast action and wit. A great combination!




Kill Them Twice

Amazon.com

My review - 

Alice (code-named Halo) is ex-military and now works for an organisation for which, in essence, she’s a contract killer. Shard is a man pursuing revenge for the killing of his brothers and comrades-in-arms in the Kosovo liberation army. Alice kills in a vigilante style, executing those who have escaped or evaded justice. He follows her and exacts punishment on her few friends and family. It’s a real cat-and-mouse game with two people who are not afraid to go to extremes.

There are some great characters in this book, although most of them are of dubious morality. The men running a club with eastern European girls held as prisoners to be used as prostitutes, with no rights and no defence, are utterly despicable. The girls, one in particular whom we get to know, are sad and without hope. Both Alice and Shard take her plight to heart and it adds a richness to the book. The story is very fast-paced and the ending is harsh but satisfying. I’ll be very happy to read more by this writing duo.


Thanks to Marble City, the publisher, for a review copy of this book.

Friday, 28 August 2015

Bill Todd

Second in this really enjoyable series.


Death Squad

Amazon.com

My review - 

The title is the name of a 1970s rock band and after a come-back they die one by one under inexplicable circumstances. You can only believe in so much coincidence. Danny Lancaster Investigates! Danny seems superficially to be a bit of a Jack-the-lad but his charisma and character are such that his friends willingly put themselves in danger to help him. In this case, he finds he’s been invited to investigate a case which then sets him up as the major suspect in a multiple murder. How is he going to get out of this one?


Bill Todd’s stories are always complex and, if you pay attention, they are a gripping read. They move fast, there are many characters and nasty things happen to people. If you’re a devotee of the murder, mystery, detective and/or thriller categories, these books will really hook you.

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Lily Rose Graham

This is the second book I've read by the author - the first was a novella and very good.


An Invincible Summer

Amazon.com

My review - 

What a lovely book this is. It's coincidentally the second book set in Crete that I've read in the last month though their themes are substantially different. The half Greek girl Ariadne (Ria), after suffering a tragic loss, finds herself relegated to writing obituaries on the paper she works for. She throws it all up to go to Crete, finds a job and realised she's been wasting her life. She hears the story of a local family tragedy and the rebuilding of a ruined vineyard. She's drawn to Tom who's starting over.


This story has several deep themes. There's tragedy and hope reborn. There's family honour and friendships. There's a love of place - the place your family is tied to for generations. There's also the light touch of humour here. Ria's a caring person, a natural journalist (nosy person!) and a good friend. Lily Rose Graham has written a lovely, contemporary romance and I very much enjoyed it.

Friday, 7 August 2015

Jim Webster

This is a whodunit sent in a fantasy land. There's nothing magical except Benor's powers of observation!


Flotsam or Jetsam

Amazon.com

My review - 

Benor is a cartographer and he's come to Port Naain to produce a handbook. He makes a home with Tallis, a professional poet and his wife Shena. She's a mud-jobber or as we might say, a beachcomber. Some of her combings include bodies. Everything has a price and families will pay for the privilege of burying their dead and, if possible, finding who caused it. Benor is a natural. He's a nosy person and, with the aid of the wonderful Mutt, a ten year-old wise beyond his years, he sorts out the villains from the corpses. This first short story from The Port Naain Intelligencer bodes well for the rest of the series. A really great Whodunit.

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Marianne Wheelaghan

This is the second of the 'Scottish lady Detective' series set in fascinating locations.


The Shoeshine Killer

Amazon.com

My review - 

Louisa is currently standing in for her boss at a conference on Fiji. She arrives just as a political coup has taken place and can’t get to her hotel. She and a fellow passenger are picked up by two men and offered rooms for the night. One of the two kind souls is found murdered the next day and the other, after being seen speaking to one of the shoeshine boys in the town, is also later found to have been murdered. Louise and a local policewoman become drawn in to trying to solve the case, which puts Louise herself in great danger. All isn’t entirely happy on the love-life front, either. Things get complicated.


This is a story in which the threads of the murder mystery become entangled with Louisa’s personal life. Her OCD makes life very hard for her when she has to share a hotel room. This story is set on a different island from the first book, Food of Ghosts and I somehow felt a greater sense of place in the first. There was much dashing about here, to different hotels, and even for a day, back to Kiribati where she was living. I like the character of Louisa. She’s earnest and hard-working and, situated where she is, she doesn’t have the might of modern forensics at her command. It’s almost as if Marianne Wheelehan has taken a modern girl and given her an Agatha Christie set-up to work with. The relationships she creates are always multi-dimensional too. A great series and very different.

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Bill Todd

This is the first in the series - I was introduce to the character in Gargoyle Pixie Dog and got sucked in!


The Wreck of the Margherita

Amazon.com

My review -

Danny Lancaster, newly fledged Private Investigator, takes on a number of cases, augmenting his meagre income with a job driving a minicab for a friend. The book introduces us early on to a strong cast of characters and only as the story progresses do we find the connection. He and a couple of mates take advantage of a wreck along the coast, ‘liberating’ a few things which turn out to be hot potatoes. Things soon get deep, dangerous and complex. Danny Lancaster is an engaging character; attractive and enigmatic he is popular with the ladies. We learn about his military service in this first book of the series, and though he's not had an easy life to date, he is determined and has a strong sense of justice.


I was introduced to the character in the recently published collection Gargoyle Pixie Dog and this first Danny Lancaster volume has given me a taste for the complicated, interweaving sub plots employed by the author. I really enjoyed this story, seeing it from different characters' viewpoints. The end of the story brought all the threads together in a very satisfying manner. A really good read.

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

David Staniforth

This is the long-awaited second book in the Labyrinth series and I really enjoyed it.



Eye of Dominion

Amazon.com

My review - 

I know that all lovers of the first book in this fantasy series, Alloria, will leap on this with delight. It’s been a while coming. However, all the great characters are there. David Staniforth can create the most evil baddies, the most delightful children – while not making them emetic – and the most trustworthy friends and colleagues. Once again we meet Alloria and her brother, who is under the influence of the most repulsive villain of all time, Glebester. I felt sorry for her brother, Yrion, who was tempted by power before he realised the price he would pay. Alloria and Nat become a little closer as they grow up together. And Bane is just big, irrepressible Bane. Got to love him! They travel the Labyrinth and are instrumental in bringing justice where Yrion and Gleberster have wrought evil. Ymarid, her father, at times seems like a feeble old man but we witness his power and above all, his love.


The author is particularly skilled at drawing a fantasy world the reader can almost see, smell and touch. He’s a gifted descriptive writer but doesn’t use it to pad out a floppy plot. The writing lifts and carries a complex stories with all the traditional themes you’d expect in a book of fantasy. A new world, new creatures but above all, compassion and friendship. I love it!