Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT vintage #mystery A Clerical Error by J New @newwrites

Today’s team review is from Barb, she blogs here http://barbtaub.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Barb has been reading A Clerical Error by J New

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Protagonist Isobella (Ella) Bridges is a young widow whose husband died in somewhat mysterious circumstances. Two years after his death, she returns to the little village where her family spent happy holidays and purchases the Yellow Cottage after visiting with its owner—who, Ella later discovers, had already been dead for seven months when they spoke. Her cottage predecessor leaves the young widow several mysteries to solve, including a ghost cat. Ella is a perfect example of her class—posh, casually prejudiced, and so supremely assured of her place in the world that she is perfectly willing to ignore fashion and custom when it suits her while unconsciously adhering to their dictates in almost every aspect of her life.

Wikipedia defines a cozy mystery as “a subgenre of crime fiction in which sex and violence are downplayed or treated humorously, and the crime and detection take place in a small, socially intimate community.” True to the definition, sex, profanity, and violence are “behind the door” and only gently referenced. Sleuth Ella is an amateur who gathers a posse of essential helpers—in this case the Police Commissioner, his chief medical examiner, and her own well-connected family.Having grown up in and around old houses, Ella accepts the ghosts with the same aplomb as she greets her quirky new neighbors. In the first book of the series, most of the action centers around London, so we also meet Ella’s brother Jerry and his wife Ginny, as well as Ginny’s “Uncle” Albert, Scotland Yard’s Police Commissioner. In the second book, we get to know more of her neighbors in the quintessentially English village setting.

One of the challenges with any ongoing series is to move the backstory forward by adding little unresolved threads, while still solving each book’s central mystery arc. For example, in A Clerical Error, the role of Mrs. Shaw, Ella’s somewhat mysterious housekeeper, is finally explained. But…

[spoiler-ish alert! If you haven’t read the first two books, you may want to skip the next paragraph…] At the end of Book 2, Ella is stunned to receive a call from John, the husband she believed was dead. In A Clerical Error, she is still, naturally, more than a bit upset about this. Without revealing too much, I have to admit I found this development and its resolution unsatisfying. While it did set up Ella’s distrust with authorities, also hinting at the global forces already moving to end the interlude between two World Wars, it was just so… off-screen, leaving me with a strong sense of “what was that about?” It wasn’t until Ella was deeply involved with the new ghosts she meets in A Clerical Error that I was able to step back and realize (or at least hope!) that John’s phone call is the setup to another ghost’s appearance.

Ella’s confusion and absorption with the shocking news about her “dead” husband makes it difficult for her to focus fully on the mysterious death of the local vicar. In her role as a consultant to Scotland Yard, she finds herself investigating the suspicious circumstances, forced to consider which of her new friends and neighbors might be the murderer in their midst.

The element that brings this series to a different level (at least for me) is that Ella sees ghosts, and even talks to them. Her cat, Phantom, is usually a ghost. Except (he’s a cat after all) when he’s not. Mixing the paranormal elements with the main mystery, and adding dessert toppings of secondary mysteries, puzzles, and mysteriously puzzling ghosts, keeps the story lively and makes the reader look forward to learning more about the characters (both living and dead). Still, even with the assistance of the occasional ghost, author J. New plays fair with her readers most of the time. If she delays in explaining a critical clue, I could usually forgive her if—as with the earlier books of the series—it sets up that most essential of cozy mystery tropes, the detective addressing the gathered suspects. Unfortunately, in this case the resolution and final confrontation with the murderer happens off-stage, reported third-hand and unwitnessed by Ella (or the reader).

With the minor exception of the third-person resolution, I still found that its setting and characters make A Clerical Error—as I said in my reviews of the earlier books—an enchanting example of a cozy mystery, a paranormal detective story, and a completely entertaining series in a historical setting. I am delighted to recommend A Clerical Error, and look forward to more adventures with Ella and her family.

Book description

When the crime scene is pure coincidence and there’s no evidence, how do you prove it was murder?

Ella Bridges faces her most challenging investigation so far when the vicar dies suddenly at the May Day Fete. But with evidence scarce and her personal life unravelling in ways she could never have imagined, she misses vital clues in the investigation.
Working alongside Sergeant Baxter of Scotland Yard, will Ella manage to unearth the clues needed to catch the killer before another life is lost? Or will personal shock cloud her mind and result in another tragedy?

‘A Clerical Error’ is set in 1930’s England, and is the third of The Yellow Cottage Vintage Mystery series.
‘Miss Marple meets The Ghost Whisperer’ – Perfect For Fans of Golden Age Murder Mysteries, Cozy Mysteries, Clean Reads and British Amateur Sleuths

About the author

J. New is the British author of The Yellow Cottage Vintage Mystery series. Set on the fictitious island of Linhay in the south of England during the 1930’s, they are an homage to the Golden Age mysteries but with a contemporary twist.

J. New

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #mystery A Clerical Error by @newwrites #SundayBlogShare

Today’s team review is from Jenny R,

#RBRT Review Team

Jenny has been reading A Clerical Error by J. New

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5 Stars

I enjoyed this book so very much.  The story unfolds at a nice pace and is very easy to keep up with. There is nothing confusing or complex in the way that the author has built up and unraveled the plot.  The story is well written, so much so that I could feel myself visualizing the scenes, the people and the unfolding of the plot.

The description and feel of the little village is warm and welcoming, the characters are well placed, and I especially love the way that Jocaster manipulates Ella into helping out at the village fete. I myself have come across this in my village.  I think that village life is actually like that, so to use this in the story is a lovely touch.

Ella Bridges, what a fine sleuth she is along with her aunt and sidekick ‘Phantom’ This is a cosy read, you can snuggle up on a winters evening with this book and you will not want to put it down.

The substance in this book is simply perfect.

Book description

When the crime scene is pure coincidence and there’s no evidence, how do you prove it was murder?

Ella Bridges faces her most challenging investigation so far when the vicar dies suddenly at the May Day Fete. But with evidence scarce and her personal life unravelling in ways she could never have imagined, she misses vital clues in the investigation.
Working alongside Sergeant Baxter of Scotland Yard, will Ella manage to unearth the clues needed to catch the killer before another life is lost? Or will personal shock cloud her mind and result in another tragedy?

‘A Clerical Error’ is set in 1930’s England, and is the third of The Yellow Cottage Vintage Mystery series.
‘Miss Marple meets The Ghost Whisperer’ – Perfect For Fans of Golden Age Murder Mysteries, Cozy Mysteries, Clean Reads and British Amateur Sleuths

About the author

J. New is the British author of The Yellow Cottage Vintage Mystery series. Set on the fictitious island of Linhay in the south of England during the 1930’s, they are an homage to the Golden Age mysteries but with a contemporary twist.

J. New

Goodreads | AmazonUK | AmazonUS | Twitter

 

Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT #Mystery Offstage In Nuala by @harrietSteel1 #TuesdayBookBlog

Today’s team review is from Cathy, she blogs here http://betweenthelinesbookblog.wordpress.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Cathy has been reading Offstage In Nuala by Harriet Steel

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I’m enjoying this very entertaining and colourful series very much and it was lovely to get reacquainted with the engaging and genteel Inspector Shanti de Silva and his charming wife, Jane. Not to mention Sergeant Prasanna and Constable Nadar. De Silva met Jane in Colombo, where he began his career as a police officer, and Jane was a governess. When they married, De Silva was offered and accepted the position of Inspector in the much more pleasant and quieter small hill town of Nuala.
Offstage in Nuala opens with the de Silvas attending a play performed by a visiting professional theatre company. There they meet up with Archie Clutterbuck, the assistant government agent for the area, and his wife, Florence.It’s not long before there’s another case for de Silva to solve – the murder of Alexander Danforth, actor and head of the theatre company. De Silva needs to harness all his determination and persistence as he feels Archie Clutterbuck is hampering the investigation, giving the impression he may have something to hide. Clutterbuck was not about to share the reasons for his behaviour with de Silva. Nevertheless, de Silva explores every development thoroughly, even if it means climbing to dizzying heights in the theatre, and helped by his always supportive wife.

As with the previous books, Harriet Steel sets the scene and paints a vivid picture of the rich and multi cultural way of life in 1930s Ceylon, with authentic dialogue and expressive prose, which completely captures the feel of a bygone era. A well crafted plot with fascinating historical details and a smoothly flowing narrative. Descriptions of the food are enticing although I’m not quite sure I would be able to eat curry for breakfast. I can’t resist finding pictures of dishes I’m not familiar with.

I also love the descriptions of de Silva’s beloved garden and how much he enjoys it…’Meringues of cloud drifted across the blue sky and a breeze as light as a cream puff cooled him. Hidden among the trees, a golden oriole sang.‘ It sounds delightful.

Book description

In this third instalment of The Inspector de Silva Mysteries, there’s great excitement when a professional theatre company comes to Nuala. However matters take a dark turn when the company’s actor manager is murdered. Inspector de Silva has a new case to solve and he has to consider some very unpalatable motives for the crime. He will need all his persistence, coupled with his wife, Jane’s, invaluable help to unmask the villain of the piece. Set on the exotic island of Ceylon in the 1930s, The Inspector de Silva Mysteries provide a colourful and relaxing read spiced with humour and an engaging cast of characters.

About the author

Harriet Steel published four historical novels before turning to crime with the Inspector de Silva mysteries. Her work has also appeared in national newspapers and magazines.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Dark Clouds Over Nuala by @harrietsteel1 Historical #mystery

Today’s team review is from Liz, she blogs here https://lizannelloyd.wordpress.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Liz has been reading Dark Clouds Over Nuala by Harriet Steel

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It was a pleasure to return to mid-1930s colonial Ceylon and reconnect with the courteous Inspector Shanti de Silva and his amenable English wife, Jane. A painstaking detective, De Silva manages to balance polite acquiescence to his pompous superior, government agent, Archie Clutterbuck, with a determined pursuit of justice.

We join society in Nuala at an exciting time, when a young couple from Australia are visiting Lady Caroline Petrie en route to claiming an inheritance. Ralph Wynne Talbot is the long-lost heir of the Earl of Axford. He is almost too charming and his wife Helen is stunning. Soon there is a tragic death, but is it murder or suicide? Meanwhile Sergeant Prasanna is distracted by the mistreatment of a young lady called Kuveni. She and her family have fled to Nuala from their village due to ill treatment by the headman whom she had refused to marry. This is outside De Silva’s remit but he will try to find a solution since the girl’s plight is so important to his young Sergeant.

The plot of this second volume is faster moving than the first and this time Shanti de Silva puts himself in considerable danger. Alongside the drama Jane manages social problems with great diplomacy and tact, giving us a window into colonial life in this era. This combination of social history, exciting crime solving and a delightful loving couple make Dark Clouds over Nuala a great pleasure to read. I am sure there will be more mysteries for Inspector de Silva to solve, but I also have a desire to read about how he met and wooed Jane when she was the governess to a colonial family.

Book Description

Set in Ceylon in the 1930s, this second book in the Inspector de Silva Mysteries offers another colourful, relaxing read as the arrival in the hill town of Nuala of the heir to an English earldom signals more trouble for the hapless Inspector de Silva and a new mystery to solve. Throw in a mega-rich Romanian count, his glamorous countess and an enigmatic British army officer and the scene is set for an entertaining mystery.

About the author

Harriet Steel

Harriet Steel is the author of several historical novels including Becoming Lola and Salvation. Her work has appeared in national newspapers and magazines. She is passionate about history and blogs about it at harrietsteel.blogspot.co.uk

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