The Manhattan Girls

Gill Paul

SYNOPSIS

NEW YORK CITY, 1921

An impossible dream.
The war is over, the twenties are roaring, but in the depths of the city that never sleeps, Dorothy Parker is struggling to make her mark in a man’s world.
A broken woman.
She’s penniless, she’s unemployed and her marriage is on the rocks when she starts a bridge group with three extraordinary women – but will they be able to save her from herself?
A fight for survival.
When tragedy strikes, and everything Dorothy holds dear is threatened, it’s up to Peggy, Winifred and Jane to help her confront the truth before it’s too late. Because the stakes may be life or death…

A new novel from the internationally bestselling author, Sex and the City meets the 1920s in this sweeping tale of love, loss and the everlasting bonds of friendship. Perfect for fans of Fiona Davis, Dinah Jefferies and Chanel Cleeton.

MY REVIEW

Another insightful and enjoyable historical fiction novel by this very talented author.

Having devoured Gill’s previous two books (and I very highly recommend them) I was looking forward to her take on the famous Dorothy Parker, Dottie to her friends.

The novel is set in 1920’s Manhattan, post First World War, during prohibition, at the time female actors were expected to do anything for an acting role and same sex relationships were beginning to be seen as acceptable.

We meet Dottie and her three friends Jane, Winifred and Peggy as they get together to learn to play bridge, each taking turns to host their bridge nights.

The women become close and supportive of each other, this being very obvious after one of Dottie’s suicide attempts as they joined together to visit her in the hospital.

I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know each woman, with their life’s ups and downs, their different personalities and their determination to succeed in life albeit with different life goals.

It would have been a pleasure to have joined in one of those bridge nights!

Gill is one of my auto read authors and I look forward to her next book.

A huge thank you to Avon books for generously sending me a copy of this magnificent book.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Gill Paul is the bestselling author of eleven historical novels, many of them describing real women she thinks have been marginalized or misjudged by historians. They include THE MANHATTAN GIRLS, about Dorothy Parker and three friends navigating life, love and careers in Prohibition-era New York, like a 1920s version of Sex and the City; THE COLLECTOR’S DAUGHTER, about Lady Evelyn Herbert, the first person to enter Tutankhamun’s tomb in modern times; JACKIE AND MARIA (retitled THE SECOND MARRIAGE in the UK) about Maria Callas and Jackie Kennedy’s rivalry over Aristotle Onassis; two bestselling novels about the Romanovs – THE SECRET WIFE and THE LOST DAUGHTER – as well as WOMEN AND CHILDREN FIRST, which was shortlisted for the 2013 RNA Epic Novel of the Year award, NO PLACE FOR A LADY, shortlisted for a Love Stories award, and ANOTHER WOMAN’S HUSBAND, about links you might not have suspected between Wallis Simpson and Princess Diana. Her novels have reached the top of the USA Today, Toronto Globe & Mail and kindle charts, and been translated into twenty-one languages. 

Gill also writes historical non-fiction, including A HISTORY OF MEDICINE IN 50 OBJECTS, and she speaks at libraries and literary festivals on subjects ranging from Tutankhamun to the Romanovs. 

Gill lives in London, where she is working on her twelfth novel, and she swims daily in an outdoor pond.

Small Deaths

Rijula Das

Publication date: 13/9/22

Publisher: Amazon Crossing

SYNOPSIS

A staggering debut novel of murder, loyalty, love, and survival at all costs, set in the teeming underbelly of Calcutta’s most infamous neighborhood.

In Calcutta’s notorious red-light district, Lalee aspires to a better life. Her unfailingly loyal client Tilu Shau has dreams too. A heady romantic and marginal novelist, Tilu is in love with the indifferent Lalee and wants to liberate her from her street life with marriage. But when a fellow sex worker and young mother is brutally murdered, the solicitous madam of the Blue Lotus invites Lalee to take the woman’s place “upstairs” as a high-end escort. The offer comes with the promise of a more lucrative life but quickly spirals into violence, corruption, and unfathomable secrets that threaten to upset the fragile stability of Lalee’s very existence. As Tilu is drawn deeper into his rescue mission, he and Lalee embark on life-altering journeys to escape a savage fate.

As much a page-turner as it is poignant, Small Deaths is a brilliantly drawn modern noir that exposes the reality of society’s preyed-upon outcasts, their fierce resilience, and the dangerous impediments that stand in the way of their dignity, love, and survival.

MY REVIEW

A very thoughtful portrayal of the sex worker industry in India.

This story is probably in part similar to the lives of numerous prostitutes. A life so far away from what I can ever comprehend.

The story is told from a handful of narrators, mainly Lalee. Lalee was taken in to the Blue Lotus, a brothel, by the madam there when she was young. She has resigned herself to her life and actually her basic room now feels like home. She is proud to earn enough to pay for it.

Tilu is one of her regular clients who has fallen in love with her. He earns a meagre living writing obscure erotic fiction. He scrapes together enough money to visit her regularly until one night the girl in the next room is murdered. Lalee does not know at the time but this murder is going to turn her life upside down.

The lazy and corrupt police are not interested in investigating. They generally leave the madam and her girls to sort out their own problems although they raid the place frequently to ‘save’ some of the girls.

Lalee finds herself in a dangerous situation with what appears to be a religious cult, the leader of which is far from godly but his followers hold him in the highest esteem.

Unbeknownst to Lalee, Tilu has found out she is missing and fearing she has come to harm he sets out on a mission to find her.

How will she escape from the cult? Will Tilu find her?

I enjoyed this book which is very different to anything I have read before. I struggled a bit with understanding some of the terminologies and descriptions of clothes and the like, but I got the overall picture. It is not a crime thriller, as the crime is not properly investigated. To me, it was Lalee’s story of survival, and hope for a better life.

Thank you to FMcM Associates for my beautiful hardback copy of the book and a place on the blog tour.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rijula Das is an author and Bengali-to-English translator. She received her PhD in creative writing and prose-fiction from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, where she taught writing. Rijula received a 2019 Michael King Writers Centre Residency in Auckland, New Zealand, and the 2016 Dastaan Award for her short story “Notes from a Passing.” Her short story “The Grave of the Heart Eater” was long-listed for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize in 2019. Rijula’s short fiction and translations have appeared in Papercuts, Newsroom, New Zealand, and the Hindu. Small Deaths, her first novel, was long-listed for the JCB Prize for Literature and won the Tata Literature Live! First Book Award in 2021. It is currently being adapted for television. She lives and works in Wellington, New Zealand. For more information visit http://www.rijuladas.com.

The Mysterious Case of the Alperton Angels

Janice Hallett

PUBLICATION DATE : 12/1/23

PUBLISHER : Viper

SYNOPSIS

Open the safe deposit box. Inside you will find research material for a true crime book. You must read the documents, then make a decision. Will you destroy them? Or will you take them to the police?

Everyone knows the sad story of the Alperton Angels: the cult who brainwashed a teenage girl and convinced her that her newborn baby was the anti-Christ. Believing they had a divine mission to kill the infant, they were only stopped when the girl came to her senses and called the police. The Angels committed suicide rather than stand trial, while mother and baby disappeared into the care system.

Nearly two decades later, true-crime author Amanda Bailey is writing a book on the Angels. The Alperton baby has turned eighteen and can finally be interviewed; if Amanda can find them, it will be the true-crime scoop of the year, and will save her flagging career. But rival author Oliver Menzies is just as smart, better connected, and is also on the baby’s trail.

As Amanda and Oliver are forced to collaborate, they realise that what everyone thinks they know about the Angels is wrong. The truth is something much darker and stranger than they’d ever imagined. And the story of the Alperton Angels is far from over..

After all, the devil is in the detail…

MY REVIEW

Janice Hallett has produced another clever and twisty thriller.

In a similar style to her previous books, it is written through copies of WhatsApp messages, texts, emails, transcripts of conversations etc. Many of the documents we read are written by the people who had first hand involvement in the Alperton Angels case, which Amanda Bailey is going to be writing a book about. She has previously and successfully written books about true crimes such as the murder of Jill Dando.

She is determined to uncover the truth at last. She is immediately immersed in the story of Gabriel, the cult leader who, 18 years ago, convinced his handful of followers he was an archangel, sent to rid the world of the Antichrist, who was just a baby at the time. Amanda wants to write the story from the point of view of the baby, who is now about to turn 18. She is struggling to find what happened to the baby on the night the ‘angels’ died in what appeared to be a murder/suicide and the people she needs to speak to are beginning to die in ‘accidents’.

She finds another author is also intending to write about the Alperton Angels and is looking for the baby, and they are forced by their bosses to work together on the story. Oliver, through his own research, begins to believe there may be some truth in angels, and perhaps Gabriel was telling the truth.

This is the definition of a page turner which will keep you reading well past your bedtime. I devoured in 2 days. Definitely one to preorder!

I received a free review copy from the publisher in exchange for my honest unedited feedback.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Janice Hallett studied English at UCL, and spent several years as a magazine editor, winning two awards for journalism. After gaining an MA in Screenwriting at Royal Holloway, she co-wrote the feature film Retreat. The Appeal is inspired by her lifelong interest in amateur dramatics. Her second novel, The Twyford Code, was published by Viper in 2022. When not indulging her passion for global adventure travel, she is based in West London.

Black Lake Manor

Guy Morpuss

Publisher: Viper

Publication dates:

Hardback 8/9/22

Paperback 4/5/23

SYNOPSIS

A locked room. A brutal murder. And a killer who can unwind time…

In the former mining town of Black Lake, there is an old story about a shipwreck with only one survivor. His descendants have a unique ability: once in their lives – and only once – they can unwind the events of the previous six hours.

More than two hundred years later, part-time police constable Ella Manning is attending a party at Black Lake Manor, the cliff-top mansion belonging to the local billionaire. When a raging storm sweeps in from the Pacific, she and several other guests find themselves trapped.

And when their host is discovered brutally murdered in his study the next morning, the door locked from the inside, they turn to her to solve the crime.

Pushing her detective skills to the limit, against the odds Ella is sure she has identified the killer… but then someone undoes time. With no memory of what she discovered before, her investigation begins again, with very different results. Which of her suspects is guilty? And is there something even more sinister she is yet to uncover?

Can she solve the mystery before time runs out… again?

Blog tour hosts

MY REVIEW

Well this mind blowing book gets the full 5 Stars!

We begin with a shipwreck, then there is an underground cave system, the discovery of a 200 year old lifeboat, a gruesome locked room murder, artificial intelligence, cannibalism, tribal secrets and time being rewound a number of times. And an octopus called Scarlett. I love a story involving an octopus.

If someone had told me a story could involve all of the above and make sense I would have been doubtful, but this really works very, very well.

Told along three main timelines, the first set over 200 years ago, the next two set in the future; 2025 and then 2045, where the most amazingly impressive technological ideas you could only imagine are really happening at Black Lake Manor.

The morning after a huge party at her rich ex-fiancé’s home, Black Lake Manor, Ella is summoned and taken to his study to find he has been murdered in a rather gruesome manner. She is a constable but has not had any experience of investigating murders so she tries to gather as much evidence as she can, and interview the other five people in the house, to hand over to the murder detectives when they arrive.

Problem is there was a storm and they are cut off from the outside world without any form of contact.

A bigger problem is as soon as we think we know what is going on, time is wound back and we are back at square one, along with Ella.

I can’t go into more detail as I don’t want to give away any spoilers.

I highly recommend you read this book, and read it over the course of a few days. You won’t want to put it down as it is incredibly addictive! Yes it is mind boggling but I didn’t lose track of what was happening as it is just so well written.

I am looking forward to what the author writes next as he is now on my auto read list after having read just this one book.

Huge thanks to Viper Books for having me along on the tour, and also to Guy Morpuss for writing such a brilliant book and for being incredibly understanding of my admin error meaning I’m about a week late in posting 😔

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Guy worked as a barrister and QC in London for thirty years, on cases featuring drug-taking cyclists, dead Formula 1 champions and aspiring cemetery owners.

His favourite books involve taking a twist on reality, and playing with the consequences, which led to his debut novel, FIVE MINDS, about five people stuck in one body, trying to kill one another.

His second novel, BLACK LAKE MANOR, will be published in 2022.

He is currently working on his third novel.

Guy lives near Farnham, England, with his wife and two sons.

When not writing he can usually be found walking or running in the Surrey Hills.

Once A Killer

Murray Bailey

Once A Killer

SYNOPSIS

He changed his identity.
He moved to Hong Kong.
He changed his life.
But can he change who he really is?

Charles Balcombe, sophisticated, risk-taking lothario was a special investigator. He thinks that taking a PI job to find a missing boy will distract him from is urges. But once a killer…

Blog Tour Hosts

MY REVIEW

Murray Baileys’s Ash Carter series is my absolute favourite book series, but now there is a new series with a new protagonist. Can this series be even better?

Blackjack. He has taken the name of Charles Balcombe, his friend who died in an accident when they were climbing. Blackjack still climbs. Mostly free climbing as he loves the adrenaline rush and the thrill of cheating death.

He has recently moved to Hong Kong to escape his past and start over. Like Ash Carter, he had been a member of the elite special investigations branch of the Royal military police. He had got a liking for killing. He also has a liking for women, especially wealthy married women.

It is one of these women who introduced him to her friend, Grace Toogood, who has a job for him. Her stepson has gone missing and, unwilling to involve the police, she asks Blackjack to find him. Initially reluctant, but motivated by the promise of Grace Toogood offering herself as part of his reward, he gets to work.

His investigation takes him to some of the seediest and most dangerous parts of Hong Kong, gangs and sex traffickers.

The police in Hong Kong are mostly corrupt, planting and fabricating evidence in order to quickly close cases. That is until recently promoted Detective Inspector Munro arrives on the scene, who does his job by the book, as much as he can under the control of his boss.

Can Blackjack keep his need to kill under control? No is the answer.

I devoured this latest book by Murray at a rate of knots. The action keeps going right to the last page, which left me desperate to read the next book in the series.

If you love an action packed read, this is your next book sorted! I highly recommend all of Murray’s books.

Thank you Murray for inviting me along on the blog tour.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Murray Bailey

Murray Bailey Is the author of Amazon bestseller Map of the Dead, the first of the series based on his interest in Egyptology. His main series however is the Ash Carter thrillers, inspired by his father’s experience in the Royal Military Police in Singapore in the early 1950s.

Murray is well traveled, having worked in the US, South America and a number of European countries throughout his career as a management consultant. However he also managed to find the time to edit books, contribute to articles and act as a part-time magazine editor.

Murray lives on the south coast of England with his family and a dog called Teddy.

Women Like Us : A Memoir

Amanda Prowse

Publication Date : 6th September 2022

Publisher : Little A

Number of Pages : 396

SYNOPSIS

Amanda Prowse has built a bestselling career on the lives of fictional women. Now she turns the pen on her own life.

I guess the first question to ask is, what kind of woman am I? Well, you know those women who saunter into a room, immaculately coiffed and primped from head to toe?

If you look behind her, you’ll see me.

From her childhood, where there was no blueprint for success, to building a career as a bestselling novelist against all odds, Amanda Prowse explores what it means to be a woman in a world where popularity, slimness, beauty and youth are currency―and how she overcame all of that to forge her own path to happiness.

Sometimes heartbreaking, often hilarious and always entirely relatable, Prowse details her early struggles with self-esteem and how she coped with the frustrating expectations others had of how she should live. Most poignantly, she delves into her toxic relationship with food, the hardest addiction she has ever known, and how she journeyed out the other side.

One of the most candid memoirs you’re ever likely to read, Women Like Us provides welcome insight into how it is possible―against the odds―to overcome insecurity, body consciousness and the ubiquitous imposter syndrome to find happiness and success, from a woman who’s done it all, and then some.

MY REVIEW

This audio book is beautifully and emotively read by Amanda herself, as are all of her audio books. I giggled with her, I cried big fat tears for her.

I am the same age as Amanda and so much of what she talked about I could completely relate to. I have lived through many similar experiences. She brought back so many memories; twin tub washing machines (my mum never got rid of hers and wheeled it through to the kitchen every week!), tinned fruit with evaporated milk, libraries with actual library cards, and visiting the library as a child and bringing all those ‘free’ books home! Calling all the adult neighbours Auntie. Yes we experienced a very similar childhood, right down to the teacher who told the young Amanda she would never be an author, but she used that comment in later years to prove that teacher wrong. I just hope she is still alive to have eaten her words! I was never told that, but I had an equally horrible junior school teacher who was nasty to me and I still remember her.

Amanda opens up completely about all the ups and downs in her life, helping her readers who are facing similar struggles. From her agony and numerous operations as a child with a crumbling pelvis, surviving cancer, through her first failed marriage, many miscarriages, issues with her weight and food addiction, dealing with a child with mental health issues, to the menopause and facing an ageing face and body with positivity.

Amanda also shares the joys in her life. Actually having a baby against all the odds. Finding her soul mate despite being convinced she wouldn’t bother with another partner. The difficult journey to getting her first book published in her forties.

I felt as if I was sitting across the table having a coffee with this remarkable woman. I love that her views are so similar to mine on so many things.

This is a book I would recommend every woman reads. I would also say if you can read it on audio book do so.

I have just downloaded Amanda’s first book, Poppy Day, on audio and I can’t wait to listen to it.

Very very highly recommend.

Thank you Zara and Rhiannon at FMcM for my place on the blog tour and access to an advance copy of the audio book.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Amanda Prowse is an internationally bestselling author of twenty-eight novels published in dozens of languages. Her chart-topping titles What Have I Done?, Perfect Daughter, My Husband’s Wife, The Coordinates of Loss, The Girl in the Corner and The Things I Know have sold millions of copies around the world.

Other novels by Amanda Prowse include A Mother’s Story, which won the coveted Sainsbury’s eBook of the Year Award. Perfect Daughter was selected as a World Book Night title in 2016 and The Boy Between a World Book Night title in 2022. She has been described by the Daily Mail as ‘the queen of family drama’.

Amanda is the most prolific writer of bestselling contemporary fiction in the UK today. Her titles consistently score the highest online review approval ratings across several genres.

A popular TV and radio personality, Amanda is well known for her insightful observations and infectious humour.

Amanda’s ambition is to create stories that keep people from turning off the bedside lamp at night, that ensure you walk every step with her great characters, and tales that fill your head so you can’t possibly read another book until the memory fades…

You can follow her @mrsamandaprowse on all social media or sign up for her newsletter at http://www.amandaprowse.com. Or follow her on 

Opera

Julie Anderson

Opera

SYNOPSIS

After retiring from a successful career in the civil service, Julie Anderson turned her attention to writing. Along with the Cassie Fortune mysteries Plague, Oracle and Opera, Julie has authored two children’s novels and a collection of short stories. She is the Chair of Trustees for Clapham Writers, and is one of the creators and organisers of Clapham Book Festival. Plague and Oracle have been widely praised and Julie has created a downloadable walking tour guide of the London sites in Plague. 

MY REVIEW

If you are interested in political crime thrillers, this is a series you do not want to miss. 

Opera is the last in the Cassandra Fortune trilogy and although can be read as a stand alone I would highly recommend reading Plague and Oracle, and the background leading to some of the events in Opera.

Although this is a work of fiction it scarily resembles some current goings on in Westminster. 

Cassie is a very strong female lead character. Pushed out of her job at GCHQ soon after her boss retired, she now works as a personal aide to the Prime Minister. 

Having already solved murder cases in the previous books, she now wants to investigate the reason she was ousted from her role at GCHQ. She contacts her ex-boss, retired head of GCHQ and whip smart Angela, for help only to make a gruesome discovery when she arrives at her home. Angela has been murdered.

Now Cassie has more on her plate. As well as her personal investigation into losing her job, she is also investigating Angela’s murder and finds clues from her ex boss about a case Angela was investigating in her retirement. Is this the reason she was murdered?

Who can she trust? Is there a traitor inside the government? Is she a target now?

Oh and in her day job she had to make plans for Greek ministers to visit, including organising for them to visit the opera and ensuring security is airtight. 

A brilliantly plotted tale with many high ranking players, any of whom could be a murderer. 

Thank you so much to the author for my early eARC

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

After retiring from a successful career in the civil service, Julie Anderson turned her attention to writing. Along with the Cassie Fortune mysteries Plague, Oracle and Opera, Julie has authored two children’s novels and a collection of short stories. She is the Chair of Trustees for Clapham Writers, and is one of the creators and organisers of Clapham Book Festival. Plague and Oracle have been widely praised and Julie has created a downloadable walking tour guide of the London sites in Plague. 

Cousin Ash

By S E Shepherd

Published 30/8/22

Publisher Hobeck Books

SYNOPSIS

‘RUN FOR IT!’

Were they also Ash’s last words?

A chance meeting with a school friend of Lottie’s brings Hannah a new case. She’s confident Sandlin Private Investigations can find out who’s responsible for the recent threats at Eliza’s house. But, as she and Lottie begin to unravel the facts of the present case, they also find themselves involved in a longstanding mystery.

Three cousins, once as close as siblings.

Ash, the black sheep
Grieving Ash loved her dad deeply, but swore no one else understood her. She’s been missing for twelve years, and is now presumed dead.

Elizathe peacemaker
Eliza, rebuilding her life after heartbreak, inherits everything.

Scott the ‘baby’
Scott, broken and bitter, inherits nothing.

What made Auntie Miriam so angry that she left nothing in her will to Scott? And why did Scott and Eliza make a pact all those years ago never to admit the truth about the disappearance of their cousin Ash?

Ash may be presumed dead, but somehow, she’s still causing trouble. Ultimately, the case can’t be solved without answering the question – what really happened the last time the three cousins were all together in Lullaby Woods?

Blog tour hosts

MY REVIEW

No-one has heard of Cousin Ash since she disappeared one night in Lullaby Woods after she went there with her two cousins, Scott and Eliza. They used to go into the woods with Ash’s late father, and would search for witches before running like crazy back out to their waiting car and Miriam, Ash’s mum.

Ash is now presumed dead. But did she die in the woods or was it just an elaborate plan she concocted to run away from home and the mother she hates, which she had planned on doing for years.

Why now, after Miriam has died and left her fairly hefty estate to Eliza, does it appear Ash is back? Is she back to claim her inheritance? Scott was not left anything, and Eliza is forbidden by the will to give him anything, as Miriam blamed Scott for her daughter’s disappearance.

Scott swears he saw Ash at the Co-op, and there has been a nasty message daubed on Eliza’s fence. Not to mention the CD left on Eliza’s doorstep including the track played at her uncle’s funeral.

Eliza enlists the help of PI Hannah Sandlin  to try to make sense of what is going on. Hannah and her friend Lottie offer to stay with Eliza after a particularly nasty shock.

Could it all be a trick to get money out of Hannah? Or is Ash really back?

I enjoyed this book, with all of its red herrings leading us down the wrong paths!

Eliza has had a difficult time with her husband leaving her, after multiple miscarriages, but with no one to turn to she confides in him. He has money problems, having recently lost his job and having a new family to support. Her cousin Scott is also having money problems and is scared of what will happen to him if he doesn’t pay up.

Well written and believable characters, all with their own personal problems. The book is written along two timelines, with the events at Lullaby Woods on that fateful night being revealed bit by bit.

And no-one will guess that ending!

Thank you Rebecca and Adrian at Hobeck books for my place on the blog tour.

📚📚📚📚📚📚📚📚📚📚📚📚📚📚

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sue Shepherd was born in Harrow, she then spend several years living in Hertfordshire before taking a leap of faith across The Solent to the picturesque Isle of Wight. Sue lives with her husband, two sons, and their two dogs, a Standard Poodle named Forrest, and a Cavachon called Sky.

Sue’s passions in life are: her family, writing, the sea-side and all the beautiful purple things her sons have bought her over the years.

Now writing under the name S E Shepherd, Sue’s first suspense novel, Swindled, Book 1 in The Sandlin PI Series was published in September 2021 by Hobeck Books. The second in the Sandlin PI Series, Cousin Ash, was published in August 2022.

Sue has also written three RomComs, ‘Doesn’t Everyone Have a Secret?’ which reached the top ten UK Kindle chart in 2015, ‘Love Them and Leave Them.’ and ‘Can’t Get You Out of My Head.’ 

Ask Sue to plan too far in advance and you’ll give her the heebie-jeebies and she’d prefer you not to mention Christmas until at least November!

You can catch up with Sue Shepherd in the following ways –

Twitter: @thatsueshepherd

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/SueShepherdWrites

Blackstone Fell

Martin Edwards


Publication date: 1/9/22

Publisher: Aries / Head of Zeus

SYNOPSIS

Rachel Savernake investigates a bizarre locked-room puzzle in this delicious Gothic mystery from the winner of the CWA Diamond Dagger.

1930. Nell Fagan is a journalist on the trail of a intriguing and bizarre mystery: in 1606, a man vanished from a locked gatehouse in a remote Yorkshire village, and 300 years later, it happened again. Nell confides in the best sleuth she knows, judge’s daughter Rachel Savernake. Thank goodness she did, because barely a week later Nell disappears, and Rachel is left to put together the pieces of the puzzle.

Looking for answers, Rachel travels to lonely Blackstone Fell in Yorkshire, with its eerie moor and sinister tower. With help from her friend Jacob Flint – who’s determined to expose a fraudulent clairvoyant – Rachel will risk her life to bring an end to the disappearances and bring the truth to light.

A dazzling mystery peopled by clerics and medics; journalists and judges, Blackstone Fell explores the shadowy borderlands between spiritual and scientific; between sanity and madness; and between virtue and deadly sin.

MY REVIEW

I am not in the least surprised Martin Edwards has won so many awards for his crime writing, as this is a mystery Poirot himself would revel in solving! Or more a string of mysteries which overlap and entwine.

The story is set mainly in the Yorkshire village of Blackstone Fell. Home of not one but several mysteries, unexplained disappearances and possible murders.

Nell Fagan, a London reporter, is approached by a man who believes his mother was murdered at the sanatorium in Blackstone Fell. Under a pseudonym she rents Blackstone lodge, pretending to be a photographer, so she can poke around. She is also interested in the disappearances of two men, spanning 300 years, from the very lodge she is renting. If she can get to the bottom of all of these mysteries she would have some fantastic scoops, and she would regain her standing in Fleet Street.

She is under no illusion that she is not capable of solving the mysteries singlehandedly, so approaches her friend Jacob, who is also a reporter, to ask him to help her persuade Rachel Savernake who has a reputation for solving extraordinary puzzles by playing amateur detective, to assist her in solving the disappearances. 

Jacob is tasked by his boss to investigate and uncover the murky world of mediums and spiritualism, and Jacob begins to investigate the top spiritualist of the time, Ottilie Curle. 

Yes by the end of the novel these two storylines will overlap.

It did take me a while to get into the book as there are so many characters but once the action and murders began I was consumed and blown away by the detailed plotting. 

Brilliantly done and I will be reading more by this author, this being the first I have read.

Thank you so much to Sophie Ransom at Ransom PR for allowing me to join the blog tour.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Martin Edwards has received the CWA Diamond Dagger, the highest honour in British crime writing, given for the sustained excellence of his contribution to the genre. His recent novels include Mortmain Hall and Gallows Court, which was nominated for two awards including the CWA Historical Dagger. British librarians awarded him the CWA Dagger in the Library in 2018 in recognition of his body of work. His eight and latest Lake District Mystery is The Crooked Shore and earlier books in the series include The Coffin Trail, short-listed for the Theakston’s prize for best British crime novel. Seven books in his first series, featuring Liverpool lawyer Harry Devlin, starting with the CWA John Creasey Dagger-nominated All the Lonely People, have been reissued by Acorn in new editions with introductions by leading writers including Ann Cleeves and Val McDermid. 

Martin is a well-known crime fiction critic, and series consultant to the British Library’s Crime Classics. His ground-breaking study of the genre between the wars, The Golden Age of Murder won the Edgar, Agatha, H.R.F. Keating and Macavity awards. The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books won the Macavity and was nominated for four other awards, while Howdunit, a masterclass in crime writing by members of the Detection Club, won the H.R.F. Keating prize and was nominated for five other awards. His long-awaited history of the genre, The Life of Crime, will be published in May 2022. 

In addition Martin has written a stand-alone novel of psychological suspense, Take My Breath Away, and a much acclaimed novel featuring Dr Crippen, Dancing for the Hangman. He also completed Bill Knox’s last book, The Lazarus Widow. He has published many short stories, including the ebooks The New Mysteries of Sherlock Holmes and Acknowledgments and other stories. ‘The Bookbinder’s Apprentice’ won the CWA Short Story Dagger, for which he has been nominated for three other stories. 

He has edited over 40 anthologies and published diverse non-fiction books, including a study of homicide investigation, Urge to Kill. An expert on crime fiction history, he is archivist of both the Crime Writers’ Association and the Detection Club. He was elected eighth President of the Detection Club in 2015, spent two years as Chair of the CWA, and posts regularly to his blog, ‘Do You Write Under Your Own Name?’

The Mapmakers Daughter

Clare Marchant

Publication Date : 1/9/22

Publisher : Avon Books

SYNOPSIS

Present day: When thirty-six-year-old Robyn Willoughby discovers an exquisite yet blood-stained Tudor map in her father’s antique map shop, desperate for a distraction from her problems, she decides to investigate. But as Robyn delves into the mystery, she finds herself caught up in a centuries-old secret – one that will change her life forever.

1569: Forced to flee Holland to escape persecution, twenty-year-old Freida Ortelius uses her mapmaking skills to start anew in London. Soon her rare talent catches the eye of Queen Elizabeth, who demands Freida’s help in fighting the Spanish threat. Freida must now embark on a deadly mission, the consequences of which will echo down the ages…

A sweeping and heartbreaking read, perfect for fans of Lucinda Riley and Kathryn Hughes.


MY REVIEW

I have loved Clare’s writing since I read an ARC of The Secrets of Saffron Hall, then The Queen’s Spy and now this, Clare’s third book.

What a talented storyteller this lady is. Her writing always has me completely absorbed.

In this dual timeline book, two women centuries apart are connected by a map, and also by their husbands’ love of sailing.

In the present, Robyn’s husband was lost at sea during a yacht race and it is coming up to seven years. She needs to find the courage to officially declare him dead but she is struggling with letting go. She is working with her father in his shop when he finds an old map in the bottom of a box he didn’t know he had. Robyn takes it upon herself and draws upon her journalist knowledge to try to find the origin of the map.

In 1580 Freida is living in London after being rescued from Amsterdam where she witnessed her parents being murdered by the Spanish, simply for being Huguenots. She is following in the footsteps of her famous family of cartographers and is quickly gaining a name for herself as a competent cartographer in her own right. It is virtually unknown for a woman to achieve such status. 

Freida lives with her husband and baby son in constant fear that the Spanish will come and murder her and her family. When she is reluctantly presented to the Queen, and requested to produce a special map for Francis Drake to help defend England against a possible Spanish invasion, she finds herself in danger from the Spanish Ambassador. 

She must save herself and her family this time.

With her husband away from home for long periods of time due to sailing back and forth to Amsterdam with goods and letters for the residents of Lime Street, she needs more protection in order to carry out the Queen’s request. She is a strong and determined woman who will not back down but will this cost her everything she loves?

An engrossing read and I thoroughly enjoyed both timelines.

Thank you to NetGalley and Avon Books for the ARC.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Growing up in Surrey, Clare always dreamed of being a writer. Instead, after gaining a degree in history and an MA in women’s studies she accidentally fell into a career in IT. After spending many years as a project manager in London, she moved to Norfolk for a quieter life and trained as a professional jeweller.

Now, finally writing full-time, she lives with her husband and the youngest two of her six children.