Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you’re adding to your shelves, be it buying or borrowing. From ‘real’ books you’ve purchased, a book you’ve borrowed, a book you’ve been given or an e-book they can all be shared.
Well Santa bought me a couple of books despite being warned off, because apparently I have enough books? – isn’t he nice?
From my brother I got a copy of Plague Land by S.D. Sykes which looks entertaining and I haven’t read much in the way of medieval crime fiction.
Plague Land is set in the fourteenth century, and portrays a society trying to deal with the traumatic effects of the apocalypse of the Black Death – though it is murder, not plague, which is terrorising the Kent village of Somershill …
Oswald de Lacy was never meant to be the Lord of Somerhill Manor. Despatched to a monastery at the age of seven, sent back at seventeen when his father and two older brothers are killed by thePlague, Oswald has no experience of running an estate.
He finds the years of pestilence and neglect have changed the old place dramatically, not to mention the attitude of the surviving peasants.
Yet some things never change. Oswald’s mother remains the powerful matriarch of the family, and his sister Clemence simmers in the background, dangerous and unmarried.
Before he can do anything, Oswald is confronted by the shocking death of a young woman, Alison Starvecrow. The ambitious village priest claims that Alison was killed by a band of demonic dog-headed men. Oswald is certain this is nonsense, but proving it – by finding the real murderer – is quite a different matter.
Every step he takes seems to lead Oswald deeper into a dark maze of political intrigue, family secrets and violent strife.
And then the body of another girl is found.
SD Sykes brilliantly evokes the landscape and people of medieval Kent in this thrillingly suspenseful debut Goodreads>
He also sent me a copy of The Poisoner: The Life and Crimes of Victorian England’s Most Notorious Doctor by Stephen Bates.
In 1856, a baying crowd of over 30,000 people gathered outside Stafford prison to watch the hanging of Dr. William Palmer, “the greatest villain that ever stood in the Old Bailey” as Charles Dickens once called him. Palmer was convicted of poisoning and suspected in the murders of dozens of others, including his best friend, his wife, and his mother-in-law—and cashing in on their insurance to fuel his worsening gambling addiction. Highlighting his gruesome penchant for strychnine, the trial made news across both the Old World and the New. Palmer gripped readers not only in Britain—Queen Victoria wrote of that horrible Palmer” in her journal—but also was a different sort of murderer than the public had come to fear—respectable, middle class, personable—and consequently more terrifying. But as the gallows door dropped, one question still gnawed at many who knew the case: Was Palmer truly guilty?
The first major retelling of William Palmer’s story in over sixty years, The Poisoner takes a fresh look at the infamous doctor’s life and disputed crimes. Using previously undiscovered letters from Palmer and new forensic examination of his victims, journalist Stephen Bates presents not only an astonishing and controversial revision of Palmer’s life but takes the reader into the very psyche of a killer. Goodreads
I also have a copy of The Golden Age of Murder by Martin Edwards which I’ve coveted for quite some time – it’s beautiful!
A real-life detective story, investigating how Agatha Christie and colleagues in a mysterious literary club transformed crime fiction, writing books casting new light on unsolved murders whilst hiding clues to their authors’ darkest secrets.
This is the first book about the Detection Club, the world’s most famous and most mysterious social network of crime writers. Drawing on years of in-depth research, it reveals the astonishing story of how members such as Agatha Christie and Dorothy L. Sayers reinvented detective fiction.
Detective stories from the so-called “Golden Age” between the wars are often dismissed as cosily conventional. Nothing could be further from the truth: some explore forensic pathology and shocking serial murders, others delve into police brutality and miscarriages of justice; occasionally the innocent are hanged, or murderers get away scot-free. Their authors faced up to the Slump and the rise of Hitler during years of economic misery and political upheaval, and wrote books agonising over guilt and innocence, good and evil, and explored whether killing a fellow human being was ever justified. Though the stories included no graphic sex scenes, sexual passions of all kinds seethed just beneath the surface.
Attracting feminists, gay and lesbian writers, Socialists and Marxist sympathisers, the Detection Club authors were young, ambitious and at the cutting edge of popular culture – some had sex lives as bizarre as their mystery plots. Fascinated by real life crimes, they cracked unsolved cases and threw down challenges to Scotland Yard, using their fiction to take revenge on people who hurt them, to conduct covert relationships, and even as an outlet for homicidal fantasy. Their books anticipated not only CSI, Jack Reacher and Gone Girl, but also Lord of the Flies. The Club occupies a unique place in Britain’s cultural history, and its influence on storytelling in fiction, film and television throughout the world continues to this day.
The Golden Age of Murder rewrites the story of crime fiction with unique authority, transforming our understanding of detective stories and the brilliant but tormented men and women who wrote them. Goodreads
I also got an Amazon voucher from a very dear friend who got around the no books rule! So far I have bought a copy of Blood in the Sand by Kelly Clayton after connecting with the author on twitter and finding out not only does she live in Jersey but her book is also set here!
How far would you go to claim your birthright?
When family tragedy strikes, New York lawyer Grace Howard travels to the Channel Island of Jersey. Welcomed by her family’s connections by marriage, and suffering from a personal setback, Grace is introduced to two very different men. However, all is not as it first appears in this island community and before long Grace is caught up in a murder enquiry. In her time of greatest need Grace doesn’t know who she can trust.
DCI Jack Le Claire has returned to his Jersey roots after a stint with the London Metropolitan Police where he worked Homicide and Serious Crime. After months of dealing with run-of-the-mill cases, Le Claire cannot help but miss his time with the Met and secretly longs for something more challenging. Be careful what you wish for – it might just come true… Goodreads
Finally I have a copy of In Bitter Chill by Sarah Ward, my resolve finally weakened by Crimeworm’s excellent review.
In 1978, a small town in Derbyshire, England is traumatised by the kidnapping of two young schoolgirls. One girl, Rachel, is later found unharmed but unable to remember anything except that her abductor was a woman.
Over thirty years later the mother of the still missing Sophie commits suicide. Superintendent Llewellyn, who was a young constable on the 1978 case, asks DI Francis Sadler and DC Connie Childs to look again at the kidnapping to see if modern police methods can discover something that the original team missed. However, Sadler is convinced that a more recent event triggered Yvonne Jenkins’s suicide.
Rachel, with the help of her formidable mother and grandmother, recovered from the kidnapping and has become a family genealogist. She remembers nothing of the abduction and is concerned that, after Yvonne Jenkins’s suicide, the national media will be pursuing her for a story once more. Days later, the discovery of one of her former teachers’ strangled body suggested a chain of events is being unleashed.
Rachel and the police must unpick the clues to discover what really happened all those years ago. But in doing so, they discover that the darkest secrets can be the ones closest to you. Goodreads
Since my last count I have read 5 books, and gained 5, leading to a grand total of exactly the same 171 books!
85 physical books
14 books on NetGalley
What have you found to read this week?