Tuesday 23 October 2018

Lexie Conyngham

A new series - set in Viking times! What's not to love?

Tomb for an Eagle

Book description -

A man lies under the tawny earth, hands still clutching the knife that killed him. 
Thorfinn Sigurdarson, Earl of all Orkney and Caithness, has made a mistake, and he won’t let himself forget it. 
Now rumours have started in the Norse lands that he might be getting a second chance – but should he take it, when it means that dead men are walking?

My review -

In this new mystery series we find ourselves in the Orkneys in the Viking times, with the lords and their men, farming and fighting. The women spin, weave and get up to all sorts else. Sigrid finds a body buried in a gulley on her farmland. Ketil is looking for the murderer. The dead man was one of his followers. Through the eyes of these two, we watch the building of a new church, though the dead man was buried with the old ceremonial. Sigrid and Ketil each find small details of what’s been going on, and this body isn’t the only one we encounter. It’s a really good, though most unconventional, historical detective novel and I couldn’t drag myself away from it once I’d started. The cover art is stunning too.

Lynda Wilcox

Another Verity Long story - I love them all!

An Appetite for Murder

My review -

Verity is called upon to solve a cold case – if she can. Her assistant, Constable Lansdowne, seems to be an unlikely helper initially. A restaurant critic for a local posh magazine has been killed so Verity and Lansdowne look at colleagues and possible restaurateurs who may have had a grudge. I love the characters in these books. There’s a puzzle to solve, but there’s always a lot of fun on the way. They usually give me ideas for food, too! This is another great addition to the Verity Long stories.

Laila Ibrahim

A stunning story. There's a sequel which I'll look out for.

Yellow Crocus

My review -

This book is set in slavery times in America. It clearly shows the demarcation between black and white people. Miss Elizabeth (Lisbeth) is effectively brought up by the slave Mattie, who in acting as her wet-nurse, is separated from her own three month old baby. The girl grows to love the black woman who loves her, rather than the birth mother who tolerates her.

I loved this story and the last twenty percent had me gripped. The story is told from both sides, Mattie’s and Lisbeth’s, and the ending is slightly predictable but none the worse for that. Twists you will not see coming are overrated, I feel. Interesting, emotional and in places exciting and scary, this book kept me in thrall to the end. I loved it.

R J Askew

A love triangle with a difference.

In the Room with Three Doors

My review -

This is a different view of the love triangle, but having read some of Mr Askew’s earlier work, I know his take is always rather different. Three young people, two men and a woman, in, as Rhi the girl calls it, a room with three doors, opening inward. Rhi is the survivor of twins, her sister having been killed in a road accident. Her determination is to live and to love for both of them. She is something of a mystic.

I’ve read a few books now – a very few – in which a character in a story perceives himself or herself to be just that. The creation of someone else. “She stares out from the story of her life.” It’s an intriguing idea – not unlike The Matrix – making the reader wonder what is real. If you enjoy a novella length read and want something the likes of which you’ll not have read before, this is the one. An intriguing book.

David McGowan

A scary look at a horrible way of dealing with criminals - but is is so different?

Two Miles Down

My review -

In a future where the world’s population has been reduced by war and catastrophe, hardened criminals are dealt with by placing them in a facility two miles under the earth. No education, reparation or reintroduction to society – sounds not unlike the transportation to Australia of our relatively recent past. In a system of caves, with little food and water, unless you fancy eating rats, and with a searing temperature, the similarity to hell is pronounced. In a situation like this, a hierarchy emerges and a Leader, a charismatic megalomaniac, holds everyone in terror – even his own followers.

Occasionally an innocent is mistakenly incarcerated. This story follows the fate of two such men, one barely out of childhood. David McGowan has the knack of picking apart a person’s life and background and making you believe it, and care what happens. Even the story of a serial killer isn’t what it seemed. His writing places you with his characters in the unbearable heat and the rustling dark. This is a snapshot of a dystopian future which opened lots of possibilities in my mind. What was going on up above? Does this penal colony survive? It’s a book that I read in 24 hours – it’s that good! If this is your genre, read this. Highly recommended.

Minette Walters

Second in a great historical fiction series.

The Turn of Midnight

My review -

The book follows directly from The Last Hours and both cover the time around and immediately after the Black Death strikes England. The devastation of the country is so well portrayed here and the arrogance of the ruling Norman classes and the church. This leads the serfs to assume they themselves are responsible for the deaths. They are God’s judgement for sin. Lady Anne is motivated by science, in the sense that she knows the plague is a contagion and that it can be defeated by isolation. She also points out that innocent children died so casts doubt that it was punishment. This brings her into conflict with those clerics left alive. She is portrayed as a very charismatic figure, especially in comparison to others of the ruling class.

The writing puts us into the medieval mindset and brings the despair and devastation alive for the reader. The serf-born Thaddeus Thurkell is still, to me, an enigmatic figure and I long for another book to explain his origins. The Turn of Midnight is a fantastic read and I was glued to it. Thanks to Netgalley for an advance review copy.

Malcolm Hollingdrake

The latest in the series and one of the most unusual means of murder I've come across!

The Third Breath

My review -

Something that kills people in three breaths? Something that leaves no trace. Cyril Bennett has his work cut out here. There are several victims and they seem to be linked together by coincidence. Do you believe in coincidence? We have an unusual killer with what seems to be a random selection of victims and it’s interesting to see how the pieces fit together. I enjoyed the further delving into Cyril’s past life, his bequest from his father, and Julie and his stepmother Wendy’s continuing relationship. There’s the most unusual murder method I’ve ever read about, combined with some delving into Cyril’s past relationships which give a balance of head and heart that I really liked. Engrossing and satisfying.

Mike Craven

This is a debut novel that crackles with good writing. 

Born in a Burial Gown

This book was shortlisted for a Golden Dagger award. No wonder!

My review -

This is Mike Craven’s debut novel, I believe, though you wouldn’t guess. It’s a well-rounded story with DI Avison Fluke returning to work after serious cancer treatment. We see his working relationships and the link he has forged with his oncologist and these sum up for us the man he is, and why he’s so good at his job. A note in a site office alerts them to a body on a building site. The unravelling of the clues is well done and the pace kept me reading. An enjoyable lead character and a good plot make this book fly.