Teaser Tuesday (September 2)

Tuesday Teaser

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.

My Teaser this week is from The Mysterious Affair at Castaway House by Stephanie Lam

The Mysterious Affair at Castaway House

Blurb

It’s 1965 and eighteen year-old Rosie Churchill has run away to the beautiful but run-down Castaway House in the seaside town of Helmstone. But when she uncovers a scandal locked away in the walls of the old house, she soon comes to realise that neither her own troubled past nor that of the house will stay buried for long. . .
In 1924 fresh-faced Robert Carver comes to Castaway House to spend a languid summer in the company of his much wealthier cousin, Alec Bray. But the Brays are a damaged family, with damaging secrets. And little does Robert know that his world is about to change for ever.
As Rosie begins to learn more about Robert, the further she is drawn into the mysterious history of the house, and their stories, old and new, entwine. NetGalley

My Teaser

‘He’s such a terrible snob,’ she had said, her voice salty with pleasure. ‘Viviane too, of course. They thought you were beyond the pale. Heaven knows what they must make of the whole thing’
The you in question was my father, sitting in his chair in the parlour with his pipe clamped between his teeth.

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The Sea Garden – Deborah Lawrenson

Historical Fiction 4*'s

Historical Fiction
4*’s

I love a good historical novel especially those set in war-time. Deborah Lawrenson has created a twist on the normal dual time narrative, in this book we have three narratives told up to a point with the denouement linking the three together. This is all helped by the way the author has captured both the time periods but also the different places our narrators are located.

Ellie’s story is the longest, set in the present day she visits the island of Porquerolles where she has a commission to re-design a memorial garden but her trip doesn’t begin well with a young man falling overboard on the ferry journey. Despite the delay Ellie is keen to get stuck in to the exciting task at hand but soon finds the owner, to be a little eccentric and his mother even more so. There are a number of mysteries hinted up and a strong suggestion of the supernatural which I wasn’t so keen on and this part of the novel ended with Ellie preparing to leave Porquerolles.

The second narrative is that of a blind girl Marthe resident in Southern France during the Second World War. Marthe starts of as quite a naïve but loyal girl but as the war continues she is forced to be incredibly brave as her employers, perfume makers, become more involved in the Resistance. Reading Marthe’s story was quite uplifting and showcased the author’s ability to develop a character in a short space of time and exploring without ever being exploitive the problems that someone who has lost their sight encounters.

Last we have my favourite from all the novellas with Iris’s narrative at the heart of the British Security Services during the war, based in Baker Street London. During the course of her tenure she witnesses loss of friends as well as a love affair with a fellow spy. The agents embark on missions to fly into France for undertaking various tasks on behalf of the Security Services adding to the tension within the pages. This was a sad tale which really bought home the danger that the spies undertook, more heart-breaking still when the author shows us that not all the spies were on the same side, or if they were it could be that they were seeking a different outcome.

This book was unusual because the three stories appeared to be separate not only because they focus on different characters and places but also in tone and pace. Ellie’s story is quite spooky and drawn out, whereas Marthe’s story quickly picks up the pace with plenty of intrigue to keep the reader’s interest before Iris’s narrative which has some romance as well as the hard-hitting realities of what life must have been like for those involved in this little spoken about aspect of the war. stories.

A great read for anyone who wants to learn about more than the fighting or homeland in war time with characters that are both fascinating and realistic.

I am very grateful to Orion Books for allowing me to read a copy of this book in return for this honest review.

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Richard and Judy’s Book Club – Autumn 2014

I’m always interested to see which books make it onto Richard and Judy’s Book Club and the autumn list is now out.

There are two on here that I’ve already read and another three or four that had made it onto my radar and will now probably make the TBR for sure.

Daughter

When a teenage girl goes missing her mother discovers she doesn’t know her daughter as well as she thought in Jane Shemilt’s haunting debut novel, Daughter.

The Night Of The Disappearance – She used to tell me everything. They have a picture. It’ll help. But it doesn’t show the way her hair shines so brightly it looks like sheets of gold. She has a tiny mole, just beneath her left eyebrow. She smells very faintly of lemons. She bites her nails. She never cries. She loves autumn, I wanted to tell them. She collects leaves, like a child does. She is just a child. Find her. One year later – Naomi is still missing. Jenny is a mother on the brink of obsession. The Malcolm family is in pieces. Is finding the truth about Naomi the only way to put them back together? Or is the truth the thing that will finally tear them apart?

My review of Daughter by Jane Shemilt can be read here

The First Fifteen

Harry August is on his deathbed. Again. No matter what he does or the decisions he makes, when death comes, Harry always returns to where he began, a child with all the knowledge of a life he has already lived a dozen times before. Nothing ever changes. Until now. As Harry nears the end of his eleventh life, a little girl appears at his bedside. ‘I nearly missed you, Doctor August,’ she says. ‘I need to send a message.’ This is the story of what Harry does next, and what he did before, and how he tries to save a past he cannot change and a future he cannot allow.

Daisy Goodwin

In 1875, Sisi, the Empress of Austria is the woman that every man desires and every woman envies. Beautiful, athletic and intelligent, Sisi has everything – except happiness. Bored with the stultifying etiquette of the Hapsburg Court and her dutiful but unexciting husband, Franz Joseph, Sisi comes to England to hunt. She comes looking for excitement and she finds it in the dashing form of Captain Bay Middleton, the only man in Europe who can outride her. Ten years younger than her and engaged to the rich and devoted Charlotte, Bay has everything to lose by falling for a woman who can never be his. But Bay and the Empress are as reckless as each other, and their mutual attraction is a force that cannot be denied.

Andy Weir

I’m stranded on Mars. I have no way to communicate with Earth. I’m in a Habitat designed to last 31 days. If the Oxygenator breaks down, I’ll suffocate. If the Water Reclaimer breaks down, I’ll die of thirst. If the Hab breaches, I’ll just kind of explode. If none of those things happen, I’ll eventually run out of food and starve to death. So yeah. I’m screwed.

Someone Else's Skin

Called to a woman’s refuge to take a routine witness statement, DI Marnie Rome instead walks in on an attempted murder. Trying to uncover the truth from layers of secrets, Marnie finds herself confronting her own demons. Because she, of all people, knows that it can be those closest to us we should fear the most…

Read my review of Someone Else’s Skin here

The Memory Book

When time is running out every moment is precious…When Claire starts to write her Memory Book, she already knows that this scrapbook of mementoes will soon be all her daughters and husband have of her. But how can she hold onto the past when her future is slipping through her fingers…?

The Devil In Marshalea

London, 1727 – and Tom Hawkins is about to fall from his heaven of card games, brothels and coffee-houses into the hell of a debtors’ prison. The Marshalsea is a savage world of its own, with simple rules: those with family or friends who can lend them a little money may survive in relative comfort. Those with none will starve in squalor and disease. And those who try to escape will suffer a gruesome fate at the hands of the gaol’s rutheless governor and his cronies. The trouble is, Tom Hawkins has never been good at following rules – even simple ones. And the recent grisly murder of a debtor, Captain Roberts, has brought further terror to the gaol. While the Captain’s beautiful widow cries for justice, the finger of suspicion points only one way: to the sly, enigmatic figure of Samuel Fleet. Some call Fleet a devil, a man to avoid at all costs. But Tom Hawkins is sharing his cell. Soon, Tom’s choice is clear: get to the truth of the murder – or be the next to die.

Under a Makeral Sky

‘All men should strive to learn before they die what they are running from, and to, and why.’ Rick Stein’s childhood in 1950s rural Oxfordshire and North Cornwall was idyllic. His parents were charming and gregarious, their five children much-loved and given freedom typical of the time. As he grew older, the holidays were filled with loud and lively parties in his parents’ Cornish barn. But ever-present was the unpredicatible mood of his bipolar father, with Rick frequently the focus of his anger and sadness. When Rick was 18 his father killed himself. Emotionally adrift, Rick left for Australia, carrying a suitcase stamped with his father’s initials. Manual labour in the outback followed by adventures in America and Mexico toughened up the naive public schoolboy, but at heart he was still lost and unsure what to do with his life. Eventually, Cornwall called him home. From the entrepreneurial days of his mobile disco, the Purple Tiger, to his first, unlikely unlikely nightclub where much of the time was spent breaking up drink-fuelled fights, Rick charts his personal journey in a way that is both wry and perceptive; engaging and witty.

Have you read any of these, or do you think you might?

To get the reviews features and more go visit Richard and Judy’s Book Club here.

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The Stranger House – Reginald Hill

Crime Fiction 4*'s

Crime Fiction
4*’s

Reginald Hill departs from his normal genre of detective fiction in The Stranger House, instead we have one mystery that spans decades to the forced migration of children to Australia and another that goes back centuries to the time of the reformation.

Sam Flood, Australian and former priest, Miguel Madro who is half-Spanish, meet at The Stranger House in Illthwaite, Cumbria. With the two strangers thrown together to uncover what happened to their ancestors they soon find that the villagers will close up as tight as a clam to protect the past from them because while they appear to help in finding out why Sam’s grandmother was shipped off to Australia they are actually working frantically to conceal the past from her.

Reginald Hill moves the subjects covered seamlessly from mathematics which is Sam Flood’s speciality to Nordic myths from the supernatural to historical records, this book has so many layers that as a reader even in the slower middle section there is much to ponder and wonder about. The villagers if not the stars of the show are certainly deserve the best supporting cast moniker, with the mix of fantastically ugly identical twins, the half-truths told and the mysterious contests held to liven up the days such as the gurning competition.

A book so dense in detail and one that covers the present, past and recent past it all sounds a bit heavy, and in the hands of a less accomplished writer could easily be a turgid read, but we are lucky that Reginald Hill is a master of adding a light touch with a touch of humour to ease the complexity at just the right moments. I struggle reading about the supernatural, often this will make me put the book aside in disbelief and annoyance however once again Hill judges his readers capacity for reality and within the claustrophobic setting of the small village where secrets are kept to hide other secrets this aspect complemented rather than overwhelmed the plot. This isn’t a story of good and bad, or to use the disparate protagonist’s characteristics one of logic and spiritual, instead expect a mixture of shades of grey with multifarious conclusions to be taken.

So with fantastic characters, a plot that you feel has been carefully paced to get the maximum reaction The Stranger House is a perfect standalone novel from this wonderful author whose books are always a pleasure to read.

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The Secret Place – Tana French

5*'s Crime Fiction

5*’s
Crime Fiction

I’ve been anticipating reading this book for an age, I have loved all Tana French’s previous books but this one truly surpasses them all. With most of the action taking place in an exclusive girls boarding school, St Kilda’s, this is Mallory Towers for grown-ups and I loved it!

The main mystery is clear from the beginning when a Chris Harper from the neighbouring boy’s school is found dead in St Kilda’s grounds, the police interview everyone in the days following but have no suspects for the murder and the case is put on the back burner. All is quiet for the best part of a year until Holly Mackey takes a card to Detective Steve Moran with a picture of Chris and the words ‘I know who killed him’ she had removed it from the secret place, a board at school where the girls could anonymously post their secrets. Steve Moran who was introduced in Faithful Place, has been working cold cases since then which he found interesting to begin with but his ambition is driving him onwards and as far as the detective is concerned, the pinnacle would be the murder squad.sees an opportunity to get in with the Murder Squad.  Seizing the opportunity Steve talks his way into joining feisty Antoinette Conway who works on The Murder Squad to find out who put the card up.  All too soon he finds himself immersed in the bewitching world of teenage girls, with a smattering of totes amazeballs, secret texts and alliances so strong that the girls  appear welded together but, there is also a dark side, with a flash of the supernatural and rivalries that run deep. You really have to feel sorry for the poor man!

This is one of those books which had me totally immersed in the time and place, it is a long time since I was a teenage girl and Tana French perfectly captures the mixture of excitement and dread at a life full of possibilities lying ahead, the intensity of every moment and the longing to stand out from the crowd while in no way wanting to be on the outside. Even though I am not a fan of the supernatural, the few elements present in this book just about worked in this setting pushing into sharp relief the detective’s careful work to find out what happened on that fateful night.

The book is split between times, we meet Chris when he is alive, with a countdown of how many months, weeks and days he is going to live, a simple statement that didn’t lose its power to hit me in the solar plexus each time it appeared. The girls from St Kilda’s also take their turn at telling the tale against the backdrop of the investigation.

The plot is brilliant with the twists and turns keeping me guessing, torn between wanting to race through the book but holding back in case I missed a scrap of information that would hold the key to the mystery. I am pleased to report that the ending works well, this author hasn’t cheated us, the clues were all there revealed slowly but surely in amongst a whole bucketful of red-herrings.

If the plot was good as always Tana French has provided us with a superb cast of characters from the teenage girls to the nuns and head teacher Eileen McKenna, from Steve Moran to Mr Mackey, Holly’s detective father who is walking the tightrope between policeman and father all felt so real that I would swear I knew them. A mark indeed of a fantastic writer.

he Secret Place, as with the rest in the Dublin Murder Squad series, could be read as a standalone since only one character is followed on from one book to the next there are no important story arcs or previous details required, although of course I would suggest anyone who loves a good crime novel reads each and every one.

I’d like to thank the publishers Hodder & Stoughton for allowing me to read a copy of this book in return for this review. The Secret Place was published on 28 August 2014.

The Dublin Murder Squad books:

In The Woods

The Likeness

Faithful Place

Broken Harbour

The Secret Place

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Friday Finds (August 29)

Friday Finds Hosted by Should be Reading

FRIDAY FINDS showcases the books you ‘found’ and added to your To Be Read (TBR) list… whether you found them online, or in a bookstore, or in the library — wherever! (they aren’t necessarily books you purchased).

So, come on — share with us your FRIDAY FINDS

This week all my finds are real, physical books!

First up I saw a wonderful review of The Ruffian on the Stair by Nina Bawden on Heavenali’s blog and bought myself a copy. I was a huge Nina Bawden fan as a child and read The Peppermint Pig and Carrie’s War so many times.

ruffian-on-the-stair

Blurb

In six days Silas Mudd will be one hundred years old and is alarmingly healthy – more than can be said of his son. `Not sure he’ll make old bones’ he confides loudly to his daughter-in-law. Grumpily flattered by the fuss over his impending party – even from his irritating family, Silas’ greater pleasure is `to go over his life’ and the women whom he loved and who made trouble for him: his sterling and capable Aunt; his wonderfully vulgar second wife Bella; Molly, a music-hall singing sister; and Effie, his first and hopeless wife. Silas is the only one left who knows exactly what is shoring up his family. And now he sits, waiting and thinking, just wondering what it would be like if he were to say …Amazon

To get a better sense of this book please read Heavenali’s review
I was lucky enough to win a fantastic prize of two books by Kevin Sampson; The Killing Pool and The House on the Hill from Shaz’s Book Blog, thank you Sharon!

The Killing Pool

Blurb

Detective Chief Inspector Billy McCartney discovers a headless corpse in the scrubland close to Liverpool docks. The slaying carries all the hallmarks of a gangland hit – a message from the underworld to snitches, cops and rival gangs.
One mile away, a girl staggers into a run-down bar, dazed and confused. The bar’s owner, a career criminal called Shakespeare, cannot get a word out of her.
DCI McCartney is all too well aware that the clock is ticking. The body was one Kalan Rozaki, youngest brother of a notorious crime family – except Kalan is no criminal. For almost a year his brothers have been under full-time Drug Squad surveillance as McCartney slowly closed the net on their heroin trafficking. McCartney’s chief informant on the case is someone with insider knowledge of the Rozaki clan’s operation…their newly deceased baby brother, Kalan.
McCartney’s investigation into Kalan’s murder peels back layer after layer of a decades-long dynasty of drug smuggling. Each revelation plunges McCartney back into the dark heart of an unsolved drug crime that weighs heavy on his soul. He wants to catch the Rozakis – badly – but he wants the shadowy men behind their drug empire even more. The closer McCartney gets to Kalan’s killer, the closer he comes to facing down a lifetime’s torment. Amazon

The House on the Hill

Blurb

DCI Billy McCartney has gone to ground, disillusioned with his job. When a runaway turns up on his doorstep, her story plunges Mac back to the summer of 1990, and one of his most traumatic cases.
McCartney and his partner DS Millie Baker are in Ibiza, on a joint venture with the Spanish serious crime agency. Their objective: to infiltrate the Liverpool-based drug gang responsible for a wave of ecstasy-related deaths. But their stakeout takes both Mac and Millie to the heart of a dark empire whose tentacles stretch from Ireland to Morocco, and whose activities include industrial-scale drug production – and terrorism. They’re close to their big bust when Millie is abducted by the gang, and killed. McCartney never quite recovers from it.
The waif who knocks on Mac’s door twenty-four years later has escaped from those same captors; a dynasty of international dope dealers based high in the Moroccan Rif. What she tells McCartney blasts his apathy away, and sends him on a mission that goes far beyond law and order. This is his chance for redemption. Amazon

I am an ardent follow of Margot Kinberg’s wonderful blog Confessions of a Mystery Novelist Margot is an expert on all crime fiction, her ingenious posts made me certain that it was time to read a Ngaio Marsh novel so I have a copy of Off With His Head.

Off With His Head

Blurb

Pagan revelry and morris dancing in the middle of a very cold winter set the scene for one of Ngaio Marsh’s most fascinating murder mysteries.
When the pesky Anna Bünz arrives at Mardian to investigate the rare survival of folk-dancing still practised there, she quickly antagonizes the villagers. But Mrs Bünz is not the only source of friction – two of the other enthusiasts are also spoiling for a fight.
When the sword dancers’ traditional mock beheading of the Winter Solstice becomes horribly real, Superintendent Roderick Alleyn finds himself faced with a case of great complexity and of gruesome proportions… Amazon

Fiction Fan suggested a book to me following on from my review of Your Beautiful Lies which deals with the after effects of the miner’s strike. I wouldn’t normally be so easily led astray but the book in question is by one of my favourite authors; Reginald Hill. So I now own a copy of Under World the tenth novel in the wonderful Dalziel and Pascoe series.

Under World

Blurb

When young Tracey Pedley vanished in the woods around Burrthorpe, the close-knit community had their own ideas about what had happened, but Deputy Chief Constable Watmough has it down as the work of a child-killer who has since committed suicide – though others wondered about the last man to see her alive and his fatal plunge into the disused mine shaft.
Returning to a town he left in anger, Colin Farr’s homecoming is ready for trouble, and when a university course brings him into contact with Ellie Pascoe, trouble starts…
Meanwhile Andy Daziel mutters imprecations on the sidelines, until a murder in Burrthorpe mine forces him to take action that brings him up against a hostile and frightened community… Amazon

Please share your finds with me, there is always room on the TBR to squeeze just one more book in!

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WWW Wednesday (August 27)

WWW Wednesday green

Hosted by Miz B at Should be Reading
To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…
• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

I am currently reading The Secret Place by Tana French a brilliant mystery which is the fifth in the Dublin Murder Squad series.

The Secret Place

Blurb

The photo shows a boy who was murdered a year ago.
The caption says, ‘I KNOW WHO KILLED HIM’.
Detective Stephen Moran hasn’t seen Holly Mackey since she was a nine-year-old witness to the events of Faithful Place. Now she’s sixteen and she’s shown up outside his squad room, with a photograph and a story.
Even in her exclusive boarding school, in the graceful golden world that Stephen has always longed for, bad things happen and people have secrets. The previous year, Christopher Harper, from the neighbouring boys’ school, was found murdered on the grounds. And today, in the Secret Place – the school noticeboard where girls can pin up their secrets anonymously – Holly found the card.
Solving this case could take Stephen onto the Murder squad. But to get it solved, he will have to work with Detective Antoinette Conway – tough, prickly, an outsider, everything Stephen doesn’t want in a partner. And he will have to find a way into the strange, charged, mysterious world that Holly and her three closest friends inhabit and disentangle the truth from their knot of secrets, even as he starts to suspect that the truth might be something he doesn’t want to hear. NetGalley

I have just finished reading Fall From Grace by Tim Weaver, the fifth in the David Raker series, a clever read that has sealed this author as one of my ‘must-read’ all of his books list!

Click on the cover to read my review

Crime Fiction 5*'s

Crime Fiction
5*’s

Next I am going to read The Sea Garden by Deborah Lawrenson

The Sea Garden

Blurb

Present day. On a lush Mediterranean island off the French coast, Ellie has accepted a commission to restore an abandoned garden. It seems idyllic, but the longer Ellie spends at the house and garden, the more she senses darkness, and a lingering evil that seems to haunt her.
Second World War. Two very different women have their lives irrevocably changed: Iris, a junior intelligence officer in London and Marthe, a blind girl who works in the lavender fields of Provence and is slowly drawn into the heart of the Resistance. As secret messages are passed in scent and planes land by moonlight, danger comes ever closer…Amazon

What are you reading this week? Please share your books in the comments section.

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Tuesday Teaser (August 26)

Tuesday Teaser

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.

My Teaser this week is from The Secret Place by Tana French

The Secret Place

Blurb

The photo shows a boy who was murdered a year ago.
The caption says, ‘I KNOW WHO KILLED HIM’.
Detective Stephen Moran hasn’t seen Holly Mackey since she was a nine-year-old witness to the events of Faithful Place. Now she’s sixteen and she’s shown up outside his squad room, with a photograph and a story.
Even in her exclusive boarding school, in the graceful golden world that Stephen has always longed for, bad things happen and people have secrets. The previous year, Christopher Harper, from the neighbouring boys’ school, was found murdered on the grounds. And today, in the Secret Place – the school noticeboard where girls can pin up their secrets anonymously – Holly found the card.
Solving this case could take Stephen onto the Murder squad. But to get it solved, he will have to work with Detective Antoinette Conway – tough, prickly, an outsider, everything Stephen doesn’t want in a partner. And he will have to find a way into the strange, charged, mysterious world that Holly and her three closest friends inhabit and disentangle the truth from their knot of secrets, even as he starts to suspect that the truth might be something he doesn’t want to hear. NetGalley

My Teaser

‘Like we’re these products our parents shat out, and McKenna’s patting all their heads and telling them what a good job they did, and they’re wagging their tails and licking her hand and just about peeing on the floor. How does she know? What if my parents never read a book in their lives and they feed me deep-fried mars bars for every meal?’
‘She doesn’t care,’ Becca says. ‘She just wants to make them feel good about spending a load of money to get rid of us.’

What do you think? Do you want to know who killed him? 

Please post your teaser link in the comments below.

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Fall From Grace – Tim Weaver

Crime Fiction 5*'s

Crime Fiction
5*’s

David Raker makes his fifth outing as the Private Investigator that locates missing people, a thorn in the side of the Metropolitan Police because although he normally finds what he is looking for it is done by playing by the rules, but now a member of the force is looking for his help in tracking down her father Leonard Franks.

The trail for Franks is set across Dartmoor where he and his wife Melanie moved to enjoy a retirement in an oasis of calm after years of top level policing in London. David Raker takes the case and sets about putting the meagre clues left behind to work out what had happened to a man who appears to have disappeared into thin air.

I have only read the third book in this series, Vanished, which I awarded five stars, and in the meantime I’d forgotten quite how much I enjoy the quality of Tim Weaver’s writing. As a reader I care about David Raker, the plot is full of twists and turns with danger appearing to lurk around every corner but at no point did I feel that the tale had veered off the path of reality. Don’t get me wrong, as in Vanished there are some characters that you wouldn’t want to meet in broad daylight, let alone on a dark night, but once unravelled their motives are understandable.

Underpinning this book are the secrets kept hidden along with relationships of almost every description: friends, colleagues, partners, parental and sibling and at no point do any of these feel out of place but instead add to the complexity of this novel.

To break up the current investigation into Franks death we are treated to some psych evaluations going back many years, the purpose of these isn’t immediately obvious but even while I was waiting for this to become clear they add to the feeling of menace that threads through this book.

This can be easily read as a stand-alone book, although like me, you may regret not reading the books in order as there was quite a big piece to the story arc that I missed by not reading the fourth book, Chasing the Dead. I am now going back to the beginning to read this set in order, the writing is too clever and too captivating for me to miss out on a single sentence of Tim Weaver’s writing, he has now sealed his position of an author whose books I need to read, no more languishing on the TBR pile.

I want to say an enormous thank you to Penguin Books (UK) for giving me the opportunity to read this book in return for my honest opinion. Fall From Grace was published on 14 August 2014.

David Raker Series in order:

Chasing The Dead
The Dead Tracks
Vanished
Never Coming Back
Fall From Grace

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A Small Deceit – Margaret Yorke

Crime Fiction 4*'s

Crime Fiction
4*’s

I was recommended Margaret Yorke by a colleague who thought this would be an excellent author to add to my pile of crime fiction; I’m ashamed to say the 1993 winner of the CWA Golden Handcuff Award, for the most popular crime writer had passed me by.

A Small Deceit was first published in 1991 although the story it tells is set firmly in 1990. The first thing I noticed is how small the book seems, back in the early 90’s some paperbacks could still fit in a reasonably sized coat pocket although the size of the print has decreased to match resulting in a tidy 200 page book.

At the centre of our plot is William Adams a cold-hearted killer who sentenced for rape and assault has just been released from prison. He changes his name but when visiting a rural guest house he meets someone from the past who is not who he says he is. ‘From a small deceit, great crimes can grow…’

This book flits backwards and forwards building up the characters of both William and Judge Colin Drew, his wife Felicity and grown-up son Tim. Felicity is bored with the routine of her life so she has taken up buying and selling small antiques as a hobby, all this is kept secret from the judge who has kept her well but holds the school of thought that women are to be kept in the home and not encouraged to spread their wings but Felicity needs more than a twice-monthly visit from her pompous son and daughter-in-law to keep her spirits up. As befits her standing in the community Felicity has the faithful Mrs Hunter to help out with the house. This book gives a fascinating peek behind the window-dressing where all in the household is not well.
To the mix of characters we meet June a doctor’s widow who has transformed her home into a welcoming guest house where weary travellers or visitors to the area can rest-up and enjoy a good breakfast.

I found this to be a masterpiece of a crime novel, only slightly marred by too many soliloquies on the rehabilitation of prisoners. The characters really are key to this type of crime novel which keeps its bodies mainly out of sight. The plot tension was carefully tightened as the feeling of menace emanates from our known killer grows page by page.

I’m glad I found this little book particularly as one of the characters is a staunch monarchist and so it was also a snapshot in time of the year before the Queen stated; ‘1992 is not a year on which I shall look back with undiluted pleasure. In the words of one of my more sympathetic correspondents, it has turned out to be an ‘Annus Horribilis.’ So within the pages of A Small Deceit our character was still able to revere a monarchy free from scandal.

A brilliant little book, I am very glad that I have two more books by Margaret Yorke to read on my TBR.

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