🕵️‍♂️Vintage #crimefiction🕵️‍♂️@CathyRy reviews a Shanti de Silva investigation. Break From Nuala by @harrietsteel1, for Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Today’s team review is from Cathy.

Cathy blogs here http://betweenthelinesbookblog.com

Orange rose and Rosie's Book Review Team
Rosie’s Book Review Team

Cathy has been reading Break from Nuala by Harriet Steel

Book cover for Break From Nuala by Harriet Steel
Break From Nuala By Harriet Steel

Ceylon hasn’t yet been affected by the war in Europe and Inspector Shanti de Silva and his wife, Jane are taking a short holiday at the luxuriously appointed Cinnamon Lodge in the coastal town of Galle. As always when they were away from Nuala, de Silva was a little concerned how people would view a Ceylonese man and a British woman as a married couple but any worries were soon laid to rest.

What was meant to be a restful break was soon interrupted by a couple of incidents at the hotel — a visit by the local Chief Inspector which de Silva didn’t think was routine and a group of guests, famous diver Elodie Renaud and her party, were taken ill by what appeared to be food poisoning. Seemingly unremarkable, if unfortunate, events initially, but then de Silva couldn’t help but put his policeman’s hat on and investigate surreptitiously when a nightwatchman is found dead and a guest mysteriously disappears.

‘No wonder the manager had looked so uncomfortable, thought de Silva. Were it to come out, a death on the premises, particularly such a grim one, would do the hotel’s reputation no good at all. He shuddered. It sounded like the dead man was the same nightwatchman he’d talked to on the evening he and Jane had arrived at the hotel. He might well have been killed not long after they spoke.’

Break from Nuala is the eleventh outing for Shanti de Silva, and is just as enjoyable as the previous books, although I did miss the regulars. Jane takes a more active role than usual and de Silva treads carefully as he has no jurisdiction in Galle. The cast of characters is diverse with several potential suspects. As the mystery begins to unfold and the investigation gains momentum things edge towards danger.

An enjoyable and well written cosy mystery set in a wonderful location.

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Book description

It is autumn 1940, and Inspector de Silva and his wife Jane are looking forward to a well-earned holiday. But their hopes of a relaxing break in the picturesque city of Galle beside the Indian Ocean are dashed when death, mysterious illnesses, and a missing guest cast a gloomy shadow.
As they’re drawn into the investigation, the mystery deepens. Is there a villain amongst their fellow guests or further afield? The search for answers will lead them into great danger that has repercussions far beyond the island of Ceylon.

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‘A fun, entertaining series’ @CathyRy reviews Cosy #Mystery Madam Tulip and the Rainbow’s End by @DaveAhernWriter

Today’s team review is from Cathy. She blogs here https://betweenthelinesbookblog.wordpress.com/

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Cathy has been reading Madam Tulip and the Rainbow’s End by David Ahern.

Madam Tulip and the Rainbow’s End, the fifth instalment of this popular series, finds Derry O’Donnell and her fellow thespian and good friend, ex Navy Seal, Bruce, left to pick up the pieces when the rest of the cast desert the touring production they were involved in, without paying. Not only that, they made off with the box office takings leaving Derry and Bruce with the hotel and bar bill for everyone.

Luckily Derry has her alter ego, Madame Tulip, to fall back on, so while Bruce searches for a job, Derry dons her Madame Tulip costume to tell fortunes at a charity event to help work off their debt. Derry’s uncanny gift is the result of her being the daughter of the seventh son of a seventh son. Madam Tulip is the character created by Derry and her friends and transforms her into an elegant, mature lady who has a natural affinity with Tarot and crystals, which helps her clients to find answers to their questions.

As a result of being forced to stay on, Derry and Bruce get caught up in a mystery and a crypto currency puzzle involving an inheritance. And who, if anyone, was responsible for the death of a talented stone mason. Derry and Bruce are on the case although it’s anything but straightforward.

This is a fun, entertaining series, due in no small measure to Derry’s parents, Jacko and Vanessa, and their one-upmanship antics, which always frustrates Derry as she is in the middle, implored by both sides to make the other see sense. The characters are well developed and their relationships and interactions believable. Derry has grown more comfortable and self assured in her role as Madam Tulip, especially since she stopped telling fortunes at celebrity events and parties as it seemed to lead her into the sort of company she’d much rather not keep.

The character driven plot has enough suspects for confusion, cryptic clues to a puzzle, danger and a great setting.

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On the private island of a wealthy banker, a young and talented stonemason falls from a cliff. A tragic accident? Or murder?

The dead man’s sister is obsessed with justice and will stop at nothing.
A glamorous French widow and her heart-throb son are certain they have been cheated of their legacy.
A daughter is bequeathed an island mansion beyond her means.
An enigmatic letter hints at a hidden fortune.

After the collapse of her theatrical tour, actress Derry O’Donnell must work to pay her way in a West of Ireland village. As Madam Tulip, she tells fortunes for a local charity only to be drawn into a maze of mystery and intrigue.

Madam Tulip and the Rainbow’s End is the fifth in the Madam Tulip series of mystery-adventures, in which out-of-luck actress Derry O’Donnell finds the promise at the End of the Rainbow may not be what it seems.

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1934 ‘A striking picture of the hardships of that era’. @CathyRy reviews #HistoricalFiction The Unveiling Of Polly Forest by @CWhitneyAuthor @steffercat

Today’s team review is from Cathy. She blogs here https://betweenthelinesbookblog.wordpress.com/

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Cathy has been reading The Unveiling Of Polly Forrest by Charlotte Whitney

The Unveiling of Polly Forrest is set in Michigan in 1934 during the Great Depression and presents a striking picture of the hardships of that era. For the rural farming communities times were extremely tough. The prices for crops dropped so much that some farmers were left with no choice but to either sell up or lose their farms to foreclosure. There were no luxuries like indoor plumbing, extra money for clothes or anything but the most basic foods.

Polly lives with her husband, Sam, on the farm next to that of her sister, Sarah and brother-in-law, Reverend Wesley Johnson. Polly is young, pretty and immature, preoccupied with her own situation and not at all cut out out to be a farmer’s wife. She’s only been married a short time and the considerate and agreeable man she fell in love with has been replaced by a controlling bully. When her husband is killed in a freak accident Polly is at her sister’s house but that fact doesn’t seem to exclude her from suspicion due to the nature of the death.

‘The elephant in the room, of course, was that everyone in the congregation had seen Polly’s bruises and heard her story about falling off the hay wagon when she broke her ribs. I was sure it remained the main topic of conversation. Maybe Samuel Forrest was a cruel husband, but Polly, “Pushy Polly,” as Sarah had often nicknamed her, should not have rolled over and succumbed to his beatings, if that, indeed, had happened. Sarah and I had always been next door. She could have come to us for refuge at any time, day or night.’

The story is narrated from alternating first person perspectives — Polly, Sarah and Wesley, all flawed, well defined and complex. This drives the story and shows the individual points of view as events unfold. The investigation into Sam’s death begins to uncover much more that expected and puts the family in danger.

Sarah and Polly’s relationship is strained at times, more so from Sarah who had been, and perhaps still was, a little jealous of Polly. Both have their own differing versions of their childhood, but it was good to see the development of their characters as the story progresses. The twisty plot kept my interest throughout, it’s entertaining, sad in parts and the historical aspect is very informative — not only about the plight of the farmers but things like telephones with party lines and how people could listen in to everyone else’s phone calls.

There’s drama, heartbreak and several serious issues covered, and even if I didn’t quite see what Wesley’s fall from grace added to the story, I enjoyed it very much.

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– Rural Michigan, 1934

When her new husband Sam perishes in a bizarre farm accident, would-be milliner Polly soon becomes the prime suspect in his murder. As she digs for evidence to clear her name, Polly falls into a sinister web implicating her in a nefarious crime ring being investigated by White House Police. Polly’s life and those of her family are at stake.

Narrated by Polly, her self-righteous older sister, Sarah, and Sarah’s well-meaning, but flawed husband Wesley, a Methodist minister, the story follows several twists through the landscape of the rural Midwest.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

‘An easy, engaging read, exploring the many complex facets of love.’ @CathyRy reviews Shoot The Moon by Bella Cassidy.

Today’s team review is from Cathy. She blogs here https://betweenthelinesbookblog.wordpress.com/

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Cathy has been reading Shoot The Moon by Bella Cassidy

SHOOT THE MOON: An alternative game of hearts by [Bella  Cassidy]

Tassie Morris is a successful wedding photographer, working for a popular bridal magazine. She has a complicated relationship with her mother, loves her friends, her job and her garden and is still hung up on the loathsome Alex. They dated several years ago until Alex upped sticks and moved to America. He’s married with children but that doesn’t stop him ‘catching up’ with Tassie when he’s back in the UK.

When one of the scheduled wedding shoots for Kiss The Bride is cancelled at short notice, Tassie is offered a job in Scotland. The wedding is taking place on a mountain and initially Tassie isn’t best pleased, but a job is a job. There she meets the wonderful, caring Dan…but unfortunately the bad penny has turned up yet again.

I was fascinated by the descriptions of the way Tassie works as a photographer, and the awareness of family dynamics and interactions being witness to the whole day, through a lens, allows.

‘As she framed the shot, Tassie knew it would be beautiful. It was important that she understood the workings of each family she photographed, for it made succh a difference to the results. All morning she’d watched the physical affection between Clarissa and her mother, so she’d been prepared for it happening in the service as well. And, glancing at the back of her camera, she was confident the shot would capture the essence of the day.’

Told in the third person from Tassie’s perspective, the writing flows well and I enjoyed the different locations, including Somerset and Exeter, and particularly the image inducing descriptions of Scotland and the eventful journey to get to the wedding. There are several other issues covered, including family relationships and secrets, loss and grief, among others, giving the story depth and I did enjoy the touch of the supernatural, as well as the references to cheesemaking and dog breeding.

I found Shoot the Moon an easy, engaging read, exploring the many complex facets of love. The characters are believable and mostly likeable and, although I did want to give Tassie a good talking to sometimes, it was good to see her evolve and take control of her life and emotions.

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When the love you miss the most is the one you’ve always had.

Tassie loves many things: her friends, her job, her garden. Even her first boyfriend. But there’s a kind of love she just can’t find.

Until, in losing everything, she sees what she needed most was there all along.

Sometimes it’s not the person you need to forget, but the person you need to forgive.

Shoot the Moon is the sweetest of bittersweet novels, combining two very different love stories. One of which will probably make you cry.

Tassie Morris is everyone’s favourite wedding photographer, famous for her photos of offbeat ceremonies and alternative brides. Yet commitment is proving impossible for Tassie herself, who cannot forget her first love.

When she’s sent to photograph a ceremony on Schiehallion – the Fairy Hill of the Scottish Caledonians – she meets Dan, who might be the one to make her forget her past. That is, until a family crisis begins a chain of events that threaten to destroy not only Tassie’s love life, but her entire career.

Set in a colourful world of extraordinary weddings, Shoot the Moon explores the complexities of different kinds of love: romantic love, mother love, friendship. And, ultimately, the importance of loving yourself.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

SHOOT THE MOON: An alternative game of hearts by [Bella  Cassidy]

A Story About Secrets And Life. @CathyRy Reviews Sugar And Snails by @Annecdotist For Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Today’s team review is from Cathy. She blogs here https://betweenthelinesbookblog.wordpress.com/

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Cathy has been reading Sugar And Snails by Anne Goodwin

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Diana Dodsworth is a psychology professor at Newcastle University. After a confused, unhappy childhood and making a decision in her mid teens that impacted on her in ways she didn’t expect, leaving her with a host of insecurities, she chooses now to live alone with her cat and tends generally not to get too involved with people. Privacy is very important to Diana and her past is something she keeps very much to herself.

Meeting recently divorced Simon at her friend’s birthday party is the catalyst for an upheaval in Diana’s somewhat lonely and reclusive lifestyle, particularly when he invites her to join him on a trip to Cairo during his sabbatical.

‘When I pointed out my red front door I expected Simon to stop in the middle of the road and let me hop out. Instead he reversed into a space a few doors along and switched off the engine. Was I supposed to invite him in and, if I did, would he assume there was more on offer than coffee? Did he even want more-than-coffee? Did he think I did? Or was there no deeper meaning to his parking the car than a wish to avoid blocking the road while we got my bike out of the back.’

Diana’s story is revealed in alternating flashbacks, and the more we get to know her, the more understanding and sympathy she generates. It’s sad that her decision all those years ago didn’t really lead to a happier life. She wants to keep her secret at all costs and has effectively stalled her life. Meeting Simon has made her begin to re-evaluate the way she lives, and how confiding in the people closest to her might affect her going forward.

Sugar and Snails is a remarkable and poignant story, covering several significant topics, particularly the main one, which Anne Goodwin deals with sympathetically. I like the fact that we witness events unfolding from both Diana’s perspective and also that of her parents…the confusion, uncertainty, not knowing how to deal with the position they find themselves in. The characters are wonderfully drawn and realistic. It’s only when Diana’s secret is revealed that things, or situations read about previously, fall into place. I had no idea until then, although looking back perhaps there were subtle clues.

Sugar and Snails is described as ‘A triumphant mid-life coming-of-age story about bridging the gap between who we are and who we feel we ought to be.’ That sums it up in a nutshell but there’s an awful lot going on in between those gaps.

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At fifteen, she made a life-changing decision. Thirty years on, it’s time to make another.

When Diana escaped her misfit childhood, she thought she’d chosen the easier path. But the past lingers on, etched beneath her skin, and life won’t be worth living if her secret gets out.

As an adult, she’s kept other people at a distance… until Simon sweeps in on a cloud of promise and possibility. But his work is taking him to Cairo, the city that transformed her life. She’ll lose Simon if she doesn’t join him. She’ll lose herself if she does.

Sugar and Snails charts Diana’s unusual journey, revealing the scars from her fight to be true to herself. A triumphant mid-life coming-of-age story about bridging the gap between who we are and who we feel we ought to be.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Is this a case of copy-cat crime? @CathyRy reviews #crimefiction Dark Is The Grave by T. G. Reid

Today’s team review is from Cathy. She blogs here https://betweenthelinesbookblog.wordpress.com/

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Cathy has been reading Dark Is The Grave by T.G. Reid

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Dark Is The Grave opens with a horrific prologue. PC Hazel Garvey has been abducted and buried alive, a crime which is reminiscent of the Peek-a-Boo serial killer who was killed in an explosion. Also caught in the explosion and seriously injured was DCI Duncan Bone. He was lucky to be alive. Left to cope with PTSD and a ruined home life, he was physically and mentally damaged, which probably accounts for his general irascibility.

When Bone receives a package, ostensibly from his colleagues at the Rural Crime Unit, and finds a video of a woman being murdered, he’s assailed by memories he’d rather not be reminded of. Given that Bone has detailed knowledge of the Peek-a-Boo case, and this appears to be a copycat crime, he is ordered back to lead the investigation.

‘“The digger’s been here.” She pointed at some tracks in the mud that led to a clearing between two or three pallets stacked high with concrete blocks. The trio clambered through the pallets and reached a ten-foot patch of freshly turned clay that stood out against the hard compacted surrounding soil.

“Oh shit. Looks like we’re going to need a warrant,” Walker said.’

“And forensics.” Bone sighed.

I’ll get the negatives out of the way first. My pet peeve. Non speech based dialogue tags such as sneered and smirked and especially those that are equivalent to animal sounds such as snarled and barked. They always pull me right out of a story and make the dialogue and speaker seem unnatural and forced.

Other than that the plot, although gruesome in parts, was good. I didn’t have the slightest idea of the perpetrator until well into the story which is always a bonus. There’s a diverse group of characters, both in Bone’s team and generally—most likeable, others not so much, so a good mix. And I always enjoy short chapters when they build tension and suspense.

3 stars.

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A dead cop. A damaged detective. A copycat killer on the loose.

When the chief suspect in the notorious Peek-a-boo cop killer case blew himself up, almost taking lead investigator DCI Duncan Bone with him, the psychologically damaged detective thought his days on the force were over. But when another PC is abducted and murdered in the same deranged Peek-a-boo fashion, Bone is persuaded to return to lead the new investigation. But as Bone and his team hunt a copycat killer, and with time running out before yet another cop is slain, Bone’s terrifying past returns to tear open old wounds and push him to very edge of the abyss.

Can DCI Bone end the killing before the killing ends him?

Set among the dramatic hills and glens of Scotland’s Campsie Fells, Dark is the Grave is the first in a series of edge-of-your-seat crime thrillers that will keep you guessing right up to the nail-biting, heart-stopping climax.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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‘A beautifully written and emotional story’ @CathyRy Reviews In This Small Spot by Caren Werlinger

Today’s team review is from Cathy. She blogs here https://betweenthelinesbookblog.wordpress.com/

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Cathy has been reading In This Small Spot by Caren Werlinger

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In This Small Spot is a beautifully written and emotional story following the life choices, ups and downs, and introspections of Dr Michele Stewart, a renowned oncology surgeon. Several years after losing her much loved partner, Alice, to cancer, she questions her role as a doctor and her place in the medical profession.

After leaving school Michele (Mickey) toyed with the idea of becoming a nun but decided to go to university and later met Alice. Now, needing something to give her life some meaning she again contemplates the life of a nun. Many conversations with Mother Theodora later, Mickey decides to enter St Bridget’s Abbey as a postulant.

‘Several seconds passed as Mother Theodora searched Mickey’s eyes. “I know you mean that, Mickey. But remember that an abbey is not a place where you can run away from yourself. Quite the contrary. Having stripped away the disguises and distractions of the outside world: clothes, career, material possessions, the true you is most often magnified, for better or for worse.”’

The story is multi-layered, very atmospheric, written with depth and told in the present with flashbacks to Mickey’s life with Alice, showing the kind of woman she was before shock and grief began to chip away at her confidence and belief in her work. She feels the need to re-assess, to try and work out where she belongs, hoping this spiritual journey will help to clarify what is important and the right path to take, even though she’s aware it’s likely to be a struggle.

The characters are wonderfully drawn, complex and in the main sympathetic, finding themselves at St Bridget’s Abbey for various reasons and not all of them, including Mickey, finding it easy. There are questions and sometimes doubts arise. Human emotions are evident — homophobia, envy and intolerance, to name a few — although in some cases tightly controlled. There is drama, bonds formed, humour, love and unexpected and shocking events, along with the structured everyday life of the nuns, which is fascinating.

Mickey is a realistic and relatable character, struggling with her emotions and choices. As time passes she becomes more adaptable and aware, and always ready to help others as the sense of community deepens. But the world outside the abbey creeps in, testing Mickey and forcing her to make choices she wouldn’t have imagined.

I had to sit with this story for a while and it’s one that will stay with me for a good while. I’ve only read one of Caren Werlinger’s books before this one, but it’s something I’ll be rectifying as soon as I can.

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“Here, the true you is most often magnified, for better or for worse.” Abbess Theodora

In a world increasingly connected to computers and machines but disconnected to self and others, Dr. Michele Stewart finds herself drowning in a life that no longer holds meaning. Searching for a deeper connection after losing her partner, Alice, she enters a contemplative monastery, living a life dedicated to prayer, to faith in things unseen. Though most of her family and friends are convinced that she has become a nun to run away from her life, she finds herself more attuned to life than she has been in years. Stripped of the things that define most people in the outside world – career, clothing, possessions – she rediscovers a long forgotten part of herself. But sooner than she expects, the outside world intrudes, forcing her to confront doubts and demons she thought she had left behind. The ultimate test of her vocation comes from the unlikeliest source when she finds herself falling in love again. As she struggles to discern where she belongs, she discovers the terrifying truth of Abbess Theodora’s warning. For better or for worse.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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‘A quirky and enjoyable cosy mystery.’ @CathyRy reviews Bells, Tails & Murder by @KathyManosPenn, for Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Today’s team review is from Cathy. She blogs here https://betweenthelinesbookblog.wordpress.com/

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Cathy has been reading Bells, Tails & Murder by Kathy Manos Penn

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Leta Parker’s life changed irrevocably when her husband was killed in an accident while they were out biking. Eighteen months later she had fulfilled her dream of retiring to England and has a pretty, restored and cosy cottage in the Cotswolds. All she needs now is to pick up Dickens, a dwarf Pyrenees and Christie the black cat, from the airport. They both have a moan (literally) and Christie particularly has plenty to say about being crated for the journey. Leta is a female Dr Doolittle and can actually communicate with animals. It’s a fun twist, I’ve often thought it would be perfect I could understand ‘dog speak’. I’m glad, however, that the animals were portrayed and treated as pets and not given human traits (apart from the obvious)

‘How life has changed for the three of us. A new home, a new country … and a new life … without Henry. I wondered whether the animals missed him as much as I did.’

Leta has settled into her new life and made some good friends, including fellow ex-pat, Wendy. One morning, on a walk with Dickens, she is shocked and distressed to discover a body in suspicious circumstances. After speaking to the police, Leta feels the need for Wendy’s company and the discussion makes them, and Wendy’s mum Belle, aware they don’t really know the victim, although most people in the village see her in one capacity or another.

‘After Wendy helped her mum into the kitchen, she asked me to tell the story again. Every time I repeated it, I found the telling got a bit easier. I almost made it through this time without tears. Belle braced herself on her cane and leaned over to give me a hug.’

Leta and Wendy discover there are multiple potential suspects, even as they shy away from the awful thought of one of their friends being the culprit.

A steady initial build up allows the reader to get acquainted with the characters and form mental images. I enjoyed how J.M. Barrie and his works were written into the story, with a plot line that wouldn’t be beyond the realms of possibility. And, as always, I love being familiar with the places mentioned in the story. They brought back lots of memories. A quirky and enjoyable cosy mystery.

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A Cotswolds village . . . a grieving heroine . . . two furry sidekicks . . . and a murder!

Do you like heroines who’ve lived a little? Who’ve suffered life’s ups and downs but kept on trucking? Then you’ll love Leta Parker and her new friends in the Cotswold village of Astonbury.

When tragedy strikes Leta Parker’s life, the successful banker and closet sleuth chases a lifelong dream to retire to England. Leaving her friends and neighbors in Atlanta, she settles into Astonbury with her talkative dog and cat, Dickens and Christie. 

Picture her driving a refurbished London taxi to the bookshop and the tearoom, enjoying leisurely walks with Dickens the dog, and sipping coffee in the garden with Christie, her sassy cat.

When Leta stumbles across the dead body of a new acquaintance, her inner Nancy Drew comes out. Before you know it, she’s enlisted the help of Wendy, a retired English teacher friend—and even Wendy’s elderly mum.

Two whipsmart retirees, one spunky senior citizen, and a feisty dog and cat are on the case!

Who better to unearth clues from their friends in the village? Even Dickens and Christie get in on the act gathering intelligence from their four-legged friends and pointing out the obvious to Leta.

What do authors A. A. Milne, Arthur Conan Doyle, and J. M. Barrie have to do with all this?

Is their connection with the Cotswolds merely an interesting bit of trivia, or is it more? Will Leta and Wendy let their literary noses lead them astray?

You’ll be captivated as this unlikely team chases clues and ferrets out a long-buried secret—a scenario that would make any BBC cozy mystery producer proud.  No matter the clues uncovered by Dickens and Christie, you’ll be hard-pressed to guess who the villain is unless, like Leta, you’re able to “talk to the animals.” 

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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‘Someone Stole A Dead Body’. A new case for Stride and Cully. @CathyRy reviews Desire And Deceit by @carolJhedges for #RBRT

Today’s team review is from Cathy. She blogs here https://betweenthelinesbookblog.wordpress.com/

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Cathy has been reading Desire And Deceit by Carol Hedges

Desire & Deceit (The Victorian Detectives Book 9) by [Carol Hedges]

London during 1868 is experiencing the hottest summer on record, wilting under the relentless heat and resulting odours. Detective Inspector Leo Stride, feeling the lack of his daily caffeine from the usual coffee stalls holders who have forsaken London for the much cooler countryside, is summoned along with his colleague DS Jack Cully to the morgue. There was a problem. A body had gone missing.

“You are seriously telling us that someone stole a dead body?” Cully asks.

“Unlikely as it may appear, that would seem to be the case,” Robertson replies drily. “Nos non habemus corpus as it were. I am sure I do not need to provide a translation. And I would hardly tell you such information frivolously, detective sergeant.”

Try as they might, a lack of evidence and motive hampers and eventually stalls the investigation.

Elsewhere, two despicable brothers are intent on ingratiating themselves with their rich, elderly aunt who is dying, each trying to outdo the other to be the recipient of her fortune and jewellery collection.

Miss Lucy Landseer has set herself up as a Private Consulting Detective and it’s no time at all until she receives her first client. Then we have Micky Mokey and Little Azella, variety artists appearing nightly at the Varieties Music Hall for the summer season. But who is the real Micky behind his stage persona?

The Replacement, newly appointed private secretary to the Honourable Thomas Langland MP, a position previously occupied by his good friend who seems to have disappeared. The Replacement’s bland appearance and subservient attitude disguises his intelligence and the real reason he has secured this post.

The intricate plot threads are woven together cleverly and seamlessly with engaging, descriptive prose and several twists. Crimes and machinations are resolved convincingly and in a very satisfactory manner. The characters are well rounded, easy to picture. I loved young Harriet and her no holds barred parrot, as well as the regulars. London and it’s inhabitants are evocatively depicted as always. Another very enjoyable addition to The Victorian Detectives series.

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t is 1868, and the body of a young man has gone missing from the police mortuary at Scotland Yard, an event that has never happened before. Who was the mysterious corpse, and why was he spirited away in the night? These are the questions baffling Detective Inspector Stride and Detective Sergeant Cully as they set out to uncover the truth.

Meanwhile, two greedy, unscrupulous, inheritance-seeking brothers, Arthur and Sherborne Harbinger, descend upon London and their very rich dying aunt, each determined to get whatever they can out of her, and prepared to use whatever methods they can to win her favour. And over in her newly rented rooms in Baker Street, Miss Lucy Landseer, consulting private detective, has been presented with her first ever proper case to investigate ~ and finds it is one that will defy even her imaginative and inventive mind.

Set against the hottest summer on record, Desire & Deceit, the ninth outing for this popular Victorian Detectives series, explores how the love of money really is the root of all evil. Once again, Victorian London is brought to life in all its sights, its sounds, its sordid and gas-lit splendour. Another must-read book, teeming with memorable Dickensian-style characters.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

Desire & Deceit (The Victorian Detectives Book 9) by [Carol Hedges]

‘A talented and tortured artist about to have her first exhibition’ @CathyRy reviews Small Forgotten Moments by @AnnalisaCrawf

Today’s team review is from Cathy. She blogs here https://betweenthelinesbookblog.wordpress.com/

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Cathy has been reading Small Forgotten Moments by Annalisa Crawford

Small Forgotten Moments by [Annalisa Crawford]

Small Forgotten Moments tells the story of Jo McKye, in her own words, a talented and tortured artist living in London and about to have her first exhibition. Her paintings all feature a mysterious woman she’s named Zenna who invades her thoughts whether she is awake or asleep. Jo has no idea who the woman is, but feels compelled beyond any reason she can fathom to recreate her on each canvas, one after the other.

‘Painting Zenna over and over wasn’t intentional. In the beginning, I had no concept of what I was creating, I just allowed the paints to flow, the ideas to flower.’

Jo suffers from long term memory loss and can’t recall much of anything beyond several years ago. She knows she has a mother in Cornwall but can’t remember why they’re not in touch. Her best, almost only friend and house mate, Nathan, looks out for her as much as she allows him to.

Jo knows she can’t live a ‘normal’ life with so much of her past missing. Without memories to ground her, or a sense of self, she feels adrift. Added to that, Zenna seems to be taking over her life and affecting her health, both physically and mentally. It’s time to try and take control, break free of Zenna’s hold over her, learn what she can of her past, before she descends into total madness. On the spur of the moment she decides to go home, to Cornwall and her mother.

‘All the answers are here—in the crevices and shadows of my brain. Perhaps I should give up the search. Yet Zenna remains, taunting me. Her eyes burrow into me, her smirk troubles me. Lurking in my closed-door memory, concealed in my past.’

I enjoyed the psychological slant on the memory loss aspect, giving more depth to the theme. The angst and confusion that dominates Jo’s life is depicted extremely well, haunting and heartbreaking in it’s intensity, particularly so in the last quarter when all comes to a head in a way I wasn’t expecting. The Cornish coast is the perfect setting for the storm of emotions and revelations that batter Jo.

Small Forgotten Moments is character driven, dark, expressive, fascinating and very well written.

Desc 1

Is Zenna a muse, a sleep-deprived apparition, or something much more sinister?

Suffering long-term amnesia, artist Jo Mckye is ready to start a fresh, new project after the success of her debut exhibition. But the fictional subject of the collection, Zenna, won’t let go so easily. Infiltrating Jo’s dreams—and increasingly, her waking hours—Zenna is fast becoming a dangerous obsession.

Jo is confident the answers lie at her childhood home, an idyllic Cornish village on the south-east coast; she just doesn’t know why. Only when she walks into the sea and almost drowns does the past start to unravel.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

Small Forgotten Moments by [Annalisa Crawford]