Posted in Book Review, Books I have read, Five Star Reads

Missing, Presumed – Susie Steiner

Crime Fiction 5*s
Crime Fiction

I enjoyed this slow-burner crime novel which follows the investigation into the disappearance of Edith Hind who vanished after a night out with her best friend Helena. Edith is beautiful, a Cambridge graduate with a good-looking and charming boyfriend. The investigation doesn’t have much to go on, there is no trace of Edith whose front door was open. Inside investigators find a trail of blood, two wine glasses, one broken and all her coats on the floor.

DS Manon Bradshaw is part of the investigation team, a single woman aged 39 who can be on the abrasive side with her colleagues, but will she be able to solve the mystery? With so many different leads but no real indication that a crime has been committed the police are also hampered by previous criticism by the media, they are also wary of them based on previous crimes committed in a Cambridgeshire. With the book referencing how the media hampered the investigation into the (real life) Soham murders along with more recent cases at times it was hard to remember that this is ‘just a story!’ The relations between the investigative team are on the whole both realistic and healthier than they often appear in fiction.

I’m a fan of crime novels that handle multiple viewpoints well – this novel has many from Lady Hind, Edith’s mother, to Davy from the police, her friend Helena and an assortment of other characters this novel really feels like you get to know the characters and understand the emotions of all involved. And what a bunch of characters they are, ranging from criminals to the head of the Home Office, university graduates to men who do ‘business’ this book manages to avoid easy stereotypes better than many. This is crime fiction that initially presents as an in-depth police procedural but it has an edge on so many of those with all the characters, not just the police and the victim becoming fleshed out, life-like people with thoughts and feelings. The biggest difference is that the characters have thoughts about more than just Edith which surely reflects real-life than those novels where everyone is immersed in one case for weeks on end?

I found the writing style a little stilted at first but that issue quickly resolved itself as I became more involved as the suspects mounted up and were systematically investigated by the police while I was busy trying to fit the pieces of the puzzle together – needless to say I failed miserably but in many ways the mystery didn’t feel like the whole point of the book.

If you like your crime fiction to take you to the heart of an investigation, you need to look out for this one which will be published on 25 February 2016. My copy came from in return for my honest opinion. My conclusion is that I will be looking out for more novels by Susie Steiner and I’m hoping that DS Manon Bradshaw will appear again.

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read, Five Star Reads

Persons Unknown – Susie Steiner

Crime Fiction

With this, the follow-up to Missing Presumed, being marketed as a literary crime novel, I have to confess I’m not entirely sure what that is, but if it is a multi-layered story that touches on real-life issues as well as having a crime at its centre, with an involved and intricate plot, then this fits the brief.

DI Manon Bradshaw has moved from London back to Cambridge, in part for Fly, her adopted twelve-year-old son in an attempt to keep him away from being stopped and searched purely based on his colour. They live with Manon’s sister Ellie and her two-year old son Solly, oh and Manon is five-months pregnant and assigned to the cold cases. It’s fair to say the whole family are struggling to find their feet when a man named Jon-Oliver is murdered in a nearby park. This sets off a whole chain of events which couldn’t have been predicted.

While this doesn’t have the feel of a standard police procedural, at times feeling as much a commentary on the time we live in, I was hooked right from the start. The storyline is linear with the main part running over a few weeks starting in December with each section featuring the date and chapter headed up by the name of the narrator and where necessary the place because whilst for the most part the action is in Cambridge, some takes us back to Kilburn, London. Normally where we have multiple places and narrators I put a warning into my review about how this isn’t one to read when you are tired but I have to confess I started this one night expecting to read a dozen or so pages and struggled to put it down, even the fact that I was exhausted that particular night didn’t strain my brain. Instead my warning is the short chapters are deceptive and it is only too easy to say I’ll just do one more and then I’ll  turn out the light only to find yourself bleary eyed and still going!

Why did I enjoy this so much? Well the plot is tight, and yes it’s complex especially as the connections between the characters are not what you normally get in a police procedural. I loved the characters, I felt that Manon was a more sympathetic character in this book, not quite as abrasive as she is actually outside the investigation and her love for Fly, her adopted son really brings out a different side to her personality. In fact I had a lot of sympathy for a number of the characters whilst others I’m pleased to say got their just deserts. Persons Unknown was involved and had plenty of clues, including the obligatory red-herrings that had me suspecting everyone at one time or another. Having won me over with some of the key characters I was thoroughly engaged, needing to know whether x had visited y at z time to prove my theory or otherwise, which is always the mark of a good book.

When the characters are so well-defined it can be the case that the plotting is looser, but not in this book with both aspects having an equal weighting although perhaps there was a coincidence or two which felt a little too convenient they in no way spoilt my enjoyment.

There is no doubt in my mind that Susie Steiner’s next book will be on my ‘must read’ list she has really proved herself to be a writer of many talents indeed. If character led crime fiction is what floats your boat, this series is on my highly recommended list.

I received my copy of Persons Unknown through Amazon Vine.

First Published UK: 29 June 2017
Publisher: The Borough Press
No. of Pages: 368
Genre: Crime Fiction Series
Amazon UK
Amazon US 



Posted in Weekly Posts

Weekly Wrap Up (May 7)

Weekly Wrap Up

So it’s the first week of May and a whole year since I chose the new theme for my blog and although I’ve been experimenting with new ones, I’ve decided to leave it be simply ringing the changes by updating my header with a new selection of books.

I’ve also opened a new Facebook page featuring my blog posts (now I’ve learnt how to make my blog post the picture I want it to)  and other bookish items from around the web – feel free to visit me here

This Week on the Blog

I started the week with my review of a lighter variety of book than normal, The Other Us by Fiona Harper which has a ‘sliding doors’ theme with forty-something Maggie getting the chance to see what her life might have been like had she taken Jude up on his offer to run away with him, instead she married Dan.

My excerpt post this week came from The Cleaner by Elisabeth Herrmann about a crime scenes specialist.

This Week in Books featured books from Jonathan Trigell, Peter James and Felicity Everett.

My review on Thursday was for the fabulous debut novel You Don’t Know Me by Imran Mahmood. Narrated entirely by a defendant giving his own closing speech not only was the structure different so was the content.

I followed up with a review for a historical crime fiction novel The Scent of Murder by Felicity Young which took me back to the Edwardian period and the early forensics of that era.

My week was rounded off with a review for The People at Number 9 by Felicity Everett which was all about toxic friendship within a sharply observed and entertaining contemporary fiction novel.

This Time Last Year…

I was reading Little Bones by Sam Blake an investigation started by Detective Garda Cathy Connolly soon becomes something much more sinister when some tiny bones are found sewn into the hem of a wedding dress. One of the things that I liked most about this book was the three women featured all display strengths although they are all very different. This novel was complex with many different mysteries needing solving before the plot can be resolved.

You can read my full review here or click on the book cover


Attending what seems to be a routine break-in, troubled Detective Garda Cathy Connolly makes a grisly discovery: an old wedding dress – and, concealed in its hem, a baby’s bones.

And then the dress’s original owner, Lavinia Grant, is found dead in a Dublin suburb.

Searching for answers, Cathy is drawn deep into a complex web of secrets and lies spun by three generations of women.

Meanwhile, a fugitive killer has already left two dead in execution style killings across the Atlantic – and now he’s in Dublin with old scores to settle. Will the team track him down before he kills again?

Struggling with her own secrets, Cathy doesn’t know dangerous – and personal – this case is about to become… Amazon

Stacking the Shelves

Well the resolution of the last couple of weeks has worn off, in part because my holiday is next month and I have already started sorting out my reading selection and of course new books are required! Other people may do this with clothes but I need at least a month to whittle my books down to make sure I get the perfect mix to take away.

After reading so many stunning reviews of The Night Visitor by Lucy Atkins I was lucky enough to download a copy from NetGalley before it got archived.


How far would you go to save your reputation? The stunning new noir thriller from the author of the bestselling The Missing One and The Other Child. Perfect for fans of I Let You Go and The Ice Twins.

Professor Olivia Sweetman has worked hard to achieve the life she loves, with a high-flying career as a TV presenter and historian, three children and a talented husband. But as she stands before a crowd at the launch of her new bestseller she can barely pretend to smile. Her life has spiralled into deceit and if the truth comes out, she will lose everything.

Only one person knows what Olivia has done. Vivian Tester is the socially awkward sixty-year-old housekeeper of a Sussex manor who found the Victorian diary on which Olivia’s book is based. She has now become Olivia’s unofficial research assistant. And Vivian has secrets of her own.

As events move between London, Sussex and the idyllic South of France, the relationship between these two women grows more entangled and complex. Then a bizarre act of violence changes everything.

The Night Visitor is a compelling exploration of ambition, morality and deception that asks the question: how far would you go to save your reputation? NetGalley

From Amazon Vine I have a copy of Persons Unknown by Susie Steiner, which will be published in June, the next in the series from Missing Presumed which I read last year.


Manon Bradshaw is back.
As dusk falls a young man staggers through a park, far from home, bleeding from a stab wound. He dies where he falls; cradled by a stranger, a woman’s name on his lips in his last seconds of life.

DI Manon Bradshaw can’t help taking an interest – these days she only handles cold cases, but the man died just yards from the police station where she works.

She’s horrified to discover that both victim and prime suspect are more closely linked to her than she could have imagined. And as the Cambridgeshire police force closes ranks against her, she is forced to contemplate the unthinkable.
How well does she know her loved ones, and are they capable of murder?

And I have bought a copy of The Other Mrs Walker by Mary Paulson-Ellis after reading Natalie’s review of this book on her blog the owl on the bookshelf, which made me think it would make for perfect holiday reading especially as it is currently at a bargain price!!


Somehow she’d always known that she would end like this. In a small square room, in a small square flat. In a small square box, perhaps. Cardboard, with a sticker on the outside. And a name . . .

An old lady dies alone and unheeded in a cold Edinburgh flat on a snowy Christmas night. A faded emerald dress hangs in her wardrobe; a spilt glass of whisky pools on the floor.

A few days later a middle-aged woman arrives back in the city she thought she’d left behind, her future uncertain, her past in tatters.

She soon finds herself a job at the Office for Lost People, tracking down the families of those who have died neglected and alone.

But what Margaret Penny cannot yet know, is just how entangled her own life will become in the death of one lonely stranger . . . Amazon

And then I saw two reviews by bloggers I trust for The Sewing Machine by Natalie Fergie, one by Portobello Book Blog, the other by The Quiet Knitter which convinced me that I needed a copy for myself, and of course this has gone onto the holiday reading list!


It is 1911, and Jean is about to join the mass strike at the Singer factory. For her, nothing will be the same again.

Decades later, in Edinburgh, Connie sews coded moments of her life into a notebook, as her mother did before her.

More than 100 years after his grandmother’s sewing machine was made, Fred discovers a treasure trove of documents.  His family history is laid out before him in a patchwork of unfamiliar handwriting and colourful seams.

He starts to unpick the secrets of four generations, one stitch at a time. Amazon

What have you found to read this week? Do share, I’m always on the lookout for a good book!


Since my last post I’ve read 3 books and gained 4 which means we now have a slight increase to 186
Physical Books – 112
Kindle Books – 61
NetGalley Books – 13

Posted in Weekly Posts

Weekly Wrap Up (December 18)

Weekly Wrap Up

Sadly the memo that Christmas is coming hasn’t reached my workload so I’ve had another stupidly busy week trying to do the job I’m paid to, as well as all those other bits that need to be attended to at this time of year – hey ho!

I did manage to catch up with the last part of Rillington Place on BBC iPlayer yesterday, I now need to see the film, 10 Rillington Place starring Richard Attenborough to compare.

This Week on the Blog

My first review of the week was for The Stepmother by Claire Seeber, an author I have followed since her debut book Bad Friends which was published in 2008, my conclusion, this was her best book so far.

On Tuesday my excerpt came from The Facts of Life and Death by Belinda Bauer, a cracking read with one of the best child narrators I think I’ve come across. My full review will follow soon!

In something of a parenting heavy This Week in Books I also featured A Mother’s Confession by Kelly Rimmer.

Thursday’s review was for The Marriage Lie by Kimberly Belle which had the intriguing premise of a husband, having died in a plane crash. If that wasn’t bad enough his wife thought he was headed for another destination entirely.

On Friday I reviewed what is most likely to be my last non-fiction read of 2016, and guess what? It was all about poisoners; first published in 1993 A Gallery of Poisoners by Adrian Vincent takes us on quite a tongue-in-cheek tour around thirteen poisoners covering over 120 years.

Yesterday I finally reviewed the last of my reads that I’d picked out for the 20 Books of Summer 2016 – better late than never is my motto! Standing in the Shadows is a crime fiction novel written by a resident of Jersey Jon Stasiak and set here on the island too. For that reason alone I persevered despite the paranormal aspects and I’m glad I did, the finale was worth it.

This Time Last Year…

I was reading Missing Presumed by Susie Steiner which was published in February of this year. The start of a new crime series written by a former journalist and commissioning editor at the Guardian. DS Manon is a likeable if slightly abrasive detective who is part of the team who investigates the disappearance of Cambridge graduate Edith Hind. Refreshingly we get a glimpse of the other ongoing cases giving a realistic feel to this new series. You can read my full review here

Missing Presumed


Edith Hind is gone, leaving just her coat, a smear of blood and a half-open door.
Each of her friends and relatives has a version of the truth. But none quite adds up.
The press grows hungrier by the day. Can DS Manon Bradshaw fend them off, before a missing persons case becomes a murder investigation? Amazon

Stacking the Shelves

Well the first addition is fairly placed on fellow blogger’s head – you know who you are FictionFan because I was very taken with her excellent review of Black Widow by Chris Brookmyer, as I haven’t read any of these books. She kindly pointed out that if I wanted to try Want You Gone is on NetGalley. So I now have the eighth book in the Jack Parlabane series which is due to be published in April 2017.



What if all your secrets were put online?
Sam Morpeth is growing up way too fast, left to fend for a younger sister with learning difficulties when their mother goes to prison and watching her dreams of university evaporate. But Sam learns what it is to be truly powerless when a stranger begins to blackmail her online, drawing her into a trap she may not escape alive.
Who would you turn to?
Meanwhile, reporter Jack Parlabane has finally got his career back on track, but his success has left him indebted to a volatile source on the wrong side of the law. Now that debt is being called in, and it could cost him everything.
What would you be capable of?
Thrown together by a common enemy, Sam and Jack are about to discover they have more in common than they realise – and might be each other’s only hope. NetGalley

In the post I received The River At Night by Erica Ferencik from the publishers Bloomsbury, the first of a range of titles for their new imprint Raven.



‘A thought came to me that I couldn’t force away: What we are wearing is how we’ll be identified out in the wilderness.’

Win Allen doesn’t want an adventure.

After a miserable divorce and the death of her beloved brother, she just wants to spend some time with her three best friends, far away from her soul-crushing job. But athletic, energetic Pia has other plans.

Plans for an adrenaline-raising, breath-taking, white-water rafting trip in the Maine wilderness. Five thousand square miles of remote countryside. Just mountains, rivers and fresh air.

No phone coverage. No people. No help… Amazon

My last new title is from Amazon Vine by an author I’ve been keen to try for a while so news that she was starting a new series meant this was impossible to resist; The Legacy by Yrsa Sigurdardottir is Iceland’s outstanding crime novelist so I’m hoping to be impressed. This book will be published in the UK on 23 March 2017.



The murder was meant as a punishment – but what sin could justify the method?
The only person who might have answers is the victim’s seven-year-old daughter, found hiding in the room where her mother died. And she’s not talking.
Newly promoted, out of his depth, detective Huldar turns to Freyja and the Children’s House for their expertise with traumatised young people. Freyja, who distrusts the police in general and Huldar in particular, isn’t best pleased. But she’s determined to keep little Margret safe.
It may prove tricky. The killer is leaving them strange clues: warnings in text messages, sums scribbled on bits of paper, numbers broadcast on the radio. He’s telling a dark and secret story – but how can they crack the code? And if they do, will they be next? Amazon

PicMonkey Collage TBR


Since my last post I have read 4 books and I gained 3 so this week my TBR has dramatically fallen to 176 books, the lowest it has been since mid-September
95 physical books
69 e-books
12 books on NetGalley

What have you found to read this week?

Posted in Weekly Posts

This Week in Books (December 9)

This Week In Books

Hosted by Lypsyy Lost & Found my Wednesday post gives you a taste of what I am reading this week. A similar meme is run by Taking on a World of Words

I am reading Crooked Heart by Lissa Evans, another book that has been lingering on the TBR for way too long!

Crooked Heart


Longlisted for the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction, 2015.
When Noel Bostock – aged ten, no family – is evacuated from London to escape the Blitz, he winds up in St Albans with Vera Sedge – thiry-six, drowning in debts. Always desperate for money, she’s unscrupulous about how she gets it.
The war’s thrown up all manner of new opportunities but what Vee needs is a cool head and the ability to make a plan. On her own, she’s a disaster. With Noel, she’s a team.
Together they cook up an idea. But there are plenty of other people making money out of the war and some of them are dangerous. Noel may have been moved to safety, but he isn’t actually safe at all . . . NetGalley

I have recently finished The Exclusives by Rebecca Thornton which will be published tomorrow.

The Exclusives

You can read the synopsis and a taster from this book in yesterday’s post

Next I am planning on reading Missing, Presumed by Susie Steiner as I need to post a review for Lovereading ahead of publication in February 2016

Missing Presumed


Edith Hind, the beautiful, earnest Cambridge post-grad living on the outskirts of the city has left nothing behind but a streak of blood and her coat hanging up for her boyfriend, Will, to find. The news spreads fast: to her parents, prestigious doctor Sir Ian and Lady Hind, and straight on to the police. And then the hours start to dissolve and reality sets in.
Detective Sergeant Manon Bradshaw soothes her insomnia with the din of the police radio she keeps by her bed. After another bad date, it takes the crackling voices to lull her to sleep. But one night she hears something. Something deserving of her attention. A girl is missing. For Manon the hunt for Edith Hind might be the career-defining case she has been waiting for. For the family this is the beginning of their nightmare.
As Manon sinks her teeth into the investigation and lines up those closest to Edith she starts to feel out the kinks in their stories and catch the eyes that won’t meet hers. But when disturbing facts come to light, the stakes jolt up and Manon has to manage the wave of terror that erupts from the family.
A stunning literary thriller that shows the emotional fallout from the anxious search for a young woman and lets you inside the mind of the detective hell-bent on finding her. Goodreads

What are you reading this week? Do share!

See what I’ve been reading in 2015 here

Posted in Weekly Posts

Stacking the Shelves (December 5)

Stacking the shelves

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.

Mindful of the TBR, and you can see quite how bad this is in this post, I have only added a few books to my pile in the last two weeks but I think they are good ones, what do you think?

First I have a non-fiction book, The Life Project by Helen Pearsons, I’ve had a peek inside and it seems to be an immensely readable study of how our lives have changed, and how they’ve stayed the same.

The Life Project


On March 3, 1946, a survey began that is, today, the longest-running study of human development in the world, growing to encompass six generations of children, 150,000 people, and some of the best-studied people on the planed. The simple act of observing human life has changed the way we are born, schooled, parent and die, irrevocably altering our understanding of inequality and health. This is the tale of these studies, the scientists who created them, sustained them, and perhaps most importantly, the remarkable discoveries that have come from them. The envy of scientists around the world, The Life Project is one of Britain’s best-kept secrets. Goodreads

I was lucky enough to receive a copy of Missing, Presumed by Susie Steiner for review for Lovereading.  Missing Presumed will be published on 26 February 2016

Missing Presumed


Edith Hind, the beautiful, earnest Cambridge post-grad living on the outskirts of the city has left nothing behind but a streak of blood and her coat hanging up for her boyfriend, Will, to find. The news spreads fast: to her parents, prestigious doctor Sir Ian and Lady Hind, and straight on to the police. And then the hours start to dissolve and reality sets in.
Detective Sergeant Manon Bradshaw soothes her insomnia with the din of the police radio she keeps by her bed. After another bad date, it takes the crackling voices to lull her to sleep. But one night she hears something. Something deserving of her attention. A girl is missing. For Manon the hunt for Edith Hind might be the career-defining case she has been waiting for. For the family this is the beginning of their nightmare.
As Manon sinks her teeth into the investigation and lines up those closest to Edith she starts to feel out the kinks in their stories and catch the eyes that won’t meet hers. But when disturbing facts come to light, the stakes jolt up and Manon has to manage the wave of terror that erupts from the family.
A stunning literary thriller that shows the emotional fallout from the anxious search for a young woman and lets you inside the mind of the detective hell-bent on finding her. Goodreads

From NetGalley I requested a copy of The Jazz Files by Fiona Veitch Smith. I simply couldn’t resist the 1920s setting!

The Jazz Files


“It stands for Jazz Files,” said Rollo. “It’s what we call any story that has a whiff of high society scandal but can’t yet be proven… you never know when a skeleton in the closet might prove useful.”
Set in 1920, The Jazz Files introduces aspiring journalist Poppy Denby, who arrives in London to look after her ailing Aunt Dot, an infamous suffragette. Dot encourages Poppy to apply for a job at The Daily Globe, but on her first day a senior reporter is killed and Poppy is tasked with finishing his story. It involves the mysterious death of a suffragette seven years earlier, about which some powerful people would prefer that nothing be said…
Through her friend Delilah Marconi, Poppy is introduced to the giddy world of London in the Roaring Twenties, with its flappers, jazz clubs, and romance. Will she make it as an investigative journalist, in this fast-paced new city? And will she be able to unearth the truth before more people die? NetGalley

I have a copy of The Exclusives by Rebecca Thornton from the publishers twenty7 who concentrate on debut authors. The Exclusives will be published in e-book format on 10 December 2015.

The Exclusives


1996. Freya Seymour and Josephine Grey are invincible – beautiful and brilliant, the two best friends are on the cusp of Oxbridge, and the success they always dreamed they’d share.
2014. Josephine hasn’t heard from Freya for eighteen long and tortured years. And then Freya gets in touch, wanting to meet.
Beginning with one ill-fated night, The Exclusives charts the agonising spiral of friendship gone wrong, the heartache and betrayal of letting down those closest to you and the poisonous possibilities of what we wouldn’t do when everything we prize is placed under threat.
And in the end, as she realises she cannot run for ever, Josephine must answer one question: can she face the woman that she used to know?
The Exclusives is Rebecca Thornton’s powerful debut novel about the pressures of life in an exclusive boarding school. Goodreads

Lastly I am exceptionally grateful for a copy of The Ballroom by Anna Hope, whose debut novel Wake was a huge favourite of mine. The Ballroom will be published on 16 February 2016

The Ballroom


1911: Inside an asylum at the edge of the Yorkshire moors,
where men and women are kept apart
by high walls and barred windows,
there is a ballroom vast and beautiful.
For one bright evening every week
they come together
and dance.
When John and Ella meet
It is a dance that will change
two lives forever.
Set over the heatwave summer of 1911, the end of the Edwardian era, THE BALLROOM is a tale of unlikely love and dangerous obsession, of madness and sanity, and of who gets to decide which is which. NetGalley

~   ~   ~   ~   ~



PicMonkey Collage TBR

So since the 6 November when I counted up the TBR disappointedly I found 2 books I’d missed from the originally cataloguing so my total then should have been 175.
Since my last count I have read 7 books, and gained 5, leading to a grand total of 170 books, so the figures are inching slowly in the right direction – aren’t they?

85 physical books
70 e-books
15 books on NetGalley

What have you found to read this week?

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

Boxes – Pascal Garnier

Contemporary Fiction 4*s
Contemporary Fiction

I chose this book principally because this author came to my attention through Guy Savage’s fascinating blog where he has reviewed a number of this author’s books. As they sounded dark and different I was delighted when Boxes appeared on NetGalley.

From what I’ve gathered Pascal Garnier’s book Boxes was published posthumously following his death in 2010, also little birds have indicated that this probably isn’t the best example of his work, but I found plenty to enjoy, if enjoy is indeed the right word for such a grim and gloomy book.

Brice is moving to the country from the apartment he shared with his wife Emma in Lyon to the countryside, hence the title, all their lives are packed into labelled boxes ready for the removal men to arrive:

Perhaps it was an occupational hazard, but they were all reminiscent of a piece of furniture: the one called Jean-Jean, a Louis-Phillippe chest of drawers; Ludo, a Normandy wardrobe; and the tall, shifty looking one affectionately known as The Eel, a grandfather clock. This outfit of rascals with bulging muscles and smiles baring wolf-like teeth made short work of surveying the flat.

But despite the efficient way his life is hauled from Lyon to a small village there is something missing, Emma. At first Brice makes a stab at unpacking his boxes but not for long, he wants it to be right for Emma, his younger wife, a woman he isn’t entirely sure he deserves.

But women’s hearts are unfathomable and full of oddities as the bottom of their handbags.

And then we learn that she isn’t just away, she’s missing presumed dead in a terrorist attack in Egypt, while working as a journalist. Brice knows no-one in the small village although he gets adopted by a cat but his isolation from other humans aids his descent into depression, and worse, as he fails to accept the loss of his wife or to carry on with his illustration work for a children’s book. Illustrating Mabel Hirsch’s books about Sabine had been his bread and butter but Brice dislikes Mabel, Sabine and children.

The little brat, whose face he riddled with freckles for sport, was seriously taking over his life. As for her creator, he must have killed her at least a hundred times in the course of troubled dreams. He would throttle her until her big frogspawn eyes burst out of their sockets and then tear off all her jewellery. She could no longer move her poor arthritic fingers, they were so weighed down with gold and diamonds. Strings of pearls disappeared into the soft fleshy folds of her double chin. Old, ugly and nasty with it! Al that emerged from her scar of a mouth, slathered in bloodred honey, were barbed compliments which would themselves around your neck, the better to jab you in the back.

With Emma’s parents concern is spurned and it looks like Brice’s life can’t get any worse he meets Blanche, who is at best a little eccentric and constantly impresses on Brice how much he looks like her father who was also an artists. Let’s just say the story becomes even more weird!

This is a short book, easily read with wonderful language, especially considering that it is a work of translation which evokes many feelings, most of which are, admittedly at the grimmer end of the scale. I am absolutely sure I will be seeking out more of Pascal Garnier’s books as this evoked memories of the dark short stories written by the late Roald Dahl, that I loved in my teens.

I’d like to thank the publishers Gallic Books for my copy of this book in return for this honest review. Boxes was published in English in May 2015.

Posted in Weekly Posts

Friday Finds (February 6)

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).

No books from NetGalley this week although I do have a couple of finds for you.

I had to snap up the bargain that was A Perfect Match by Jill McGown that has been recently released on kindle. I read all of the Lloyd and Hill series that our library stocked in the early 90s and so couldn’t resist the first in the series (of ten which might mean my TBR grows rapidly) for 59p.

A Perfect Match


The news rocked the town. A woman’s body found in a boathouse. And the woman’s last known companion Missing Presumed Fled. To the people of Stansfield it’s an open and shut case.
But Detective Inspector Lloyd – teamed up once more with Sergeant Judy Hill – isn’t so quick to jump to conclusions. To begin with he’s certain of only two things. First, that nothing can stop the reawakening of his tender feelings towards his colleague.
And second: in a murder enquiry you don’t rule out . . . Amazon

I also finally have a copy of An Anatomy of Death by Felicity Young that I’ve coveted ever since reading about it on Margot Kinberg’s blog, The Confessions of a Mystery Novelist. If you haven’t read Margot’s blog before you are missing a treat but she does add so many books to the TBR!
An Anatomy of Death


At the turn of the twentieth century, London’s political climate is in turmoil, as women fight for the right to vote. Dody McCleland has her own battles to fight. As England’s first female autopsy surgeon, not only must she prove herself, she must prove that murder treats everyone equally…
After a heated women’s rights rally turns violent, an innocent suffragette is found murdered. When she examines the body, Dody McCleland is shocked to realize that the victim was a friend of her sister—fueling her determination to uncover the cause of the protestor’s suspicious death.
For Dody, gathering clues from a body is often easier than handling the living—especially Chief Detective Inspector Pike. Pike is looking to get to the bottom of this case but has a hard time trusting anyone—including Dody. Determined to earn Pike’s trust and to find the killer, Dody will have to sort through real and imagined secrets. But if she’s not careful, she may end up on her own examination table… Amazon

I also finally have a copy of The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie which I have been looking for a copy of for some time.

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd


Hercule Poirot has to solve a fiendishly clever murder mystery in this newly adapted full-colour comic strip adventure. Famed for her crime masterpieces, Agatha Christie’s books have become the best-selling in the world, appealing to readers young and old for their ingenious plots and immediately recognizable characters. The stories have also transcended the printed page, become bestselling audiobooks and award-winning films, plays and television series. Now words and pictures combine in an exciting new way of telling these stories — full-colour graphic novels which enhance the original stories and offer a completely new way of enjoying some of the world’s most popular and exciting mysteries. Roger Ackroyd knows too much. He knows that the woman he loves poisoned her brutal first husband. He also suspects that someone has been blackmailing her. Now, tragically, the news has come that she has taken her own life with a drug overdose. But the evening post brings Roger one last fatal scrap of information. Unfortunately, before he can finish reading it, he is stabbed to death! Goodreads

What have you found to read this week?

Posted in Weekly Posts

This Week in Books (September 6)

This Week In Books
Hosted by Lipsy Lost & Found my Wednesday post gives you a taste of what I am reading this week. A similar meme is run by Taking on a World of Words

I am currently reading Angels in the Moonlight by Caimh McDonnell which is a prequel to A Man With One of Those Faces and The Day that Never Comes which was published on 26 August 2017.


For Detective Bunny McGarry, life is complicated, and it is about to get more so.

It’s 1999 and his hard won reputation amongst Dublin’s criminal fraternity, for being a massive pain in the backside, is unfortunately shared by his bosses. His partner has a career-threatening gambling problem and, oh yeah, Bunny’s finally been given a crack at the big time. He’s set the task of bringing down the most skilled and ruthless armed robbery gang in Irish history. So the last thing he needs in his life is yet another complication.

Her name is Simone. She is smart, funny, talented and, well, complicated. When her shocking past turns up to threaten her and Bunny’s chance at a future, things get very complicated indeed. If the choice is upholding the law or protecting those he loves, which way will the big fella turn? Amazon

I recently finished Her Deadly Secret by Chris Curran which had something fresh to offer in the missing child scenario.



A young girl has been taken. Abducted, never to be seen again.

Joe and Hannah, her traumatized parents, are consumed by grief. But all is not as it seems behind the curtains of their suburban home.

Loretta, the Family Liaison Officer, is sure Hannah is hiding something – a dark and twisted secret from deep in her past.

This terrible memory could be the key to the murder of another girl fifteen years ago. And as links between the two victims emerge, Joe and Hannah learn that in a family built on lies, the truth can destroy everything… NetGalley

Next up I will be reading Persons Unknown by Susie Steiner, the following up to Missing, Presumed, both featuring Manon Bradshaw.



Manon Bradshaw is back.

As dusk falls a young man staggers through a park, far from home, bleeding from a stab wound. He dies where he falls; cradled by a stranger, a woman’s name on his lips in his last seconds of life.

DI Manon Bradshaw can’t help taking an interest – these days she only handles cold cases, but the man died just yards from the police station where she works.

She’s horrified to discover that both victim and prime suspect are more closely linked to her than she could have imagined. And as the Cambridgeshire police force closes ranks against her, she is forced to contemplate the unthinkable.

How well does she know her loved ones, and are they capable of murder? Amazon

What do you think? Any of these take your fancy? Please do leave your thoughts in the comments box below.


Posted in #20 Books of Summer 2017

20 Books of Summer 2017 – Round-Up Post

So I finished the 20 Books of Summer Challenge, one that started on 1 June with the finishing line being 3 September and I thought I’d take the opportunity to reflect on the books I read.

As Cathy of 746 Books is so good, she sets no rules for this challenge but I chose to select my twenty books from my own bookshelves, ones that I’d bought, or been given as presents.


In line with previous years the selection was mixed but featured Agatha Christie and Reginald Hill who are obligatory entrants, although technically re-reads from years ago.

Bones and Silence by the fantastically talented Reginald Hill was based around medieval play with Dalziel holding centre stage by playing God. As always the mystery was inventive, the author ensuring that all the emotions well and truly ridden, with the whole book emphasising a real sense of being in the hands of a master of the English language. I love the Dalziel and Pascoe series and very few police procedural writers manage to weave so many strands of a story so satisfyingly into a story.


Although I find it hard to believe I hadn’t read Agatha Christie’s Murder is Easy before, if I had, I didn’tremember one iota of this story. I’m surprised not to see this one featured more often on lists of her best books, although neither Poirot or Miss Marple feature there are a whole bunch of brilliant (and inventive) murders to entertain – murder by hat paint being the top of my own personal list. This was the first book referenced in my earlier read A is for Arsenic: The Poisons of Agatha Christie by Kathryn Harkup – if you are an Agatha Christie fan I can’t recommend this book highly enough.


This year has been the year I have explored the different ways of presenting true crime and my journey has taken me back to the Victorian times to crimes committed far more recently – my remit being to confirm that the best examples are not about sensationalism but far more often in a bid to understand the criminal mind.

The Ripper of Waterloo Road by Jan Bondeson tells the tale of an unfortunate high class prostitute in the earliest years of Victoria’s Reign with Eliza Grimwood meeting her death following a night at the theatre in London. This is an unsolved murder where the author proposes a credible suspect and puts Eliza, and later murders, fully in the context of the times they lived in. With Eliza apparently being the inspiration for Charles Dickens’ Nancy in Oliver Twist. Jan Bondeson proposes that this unknown serial murderer terrified London’s population 50 years before the notorious Jack the Ripper acquired his moniker

Just a few years later in 1849 in County Tipperary is the setting for The Doctor’s Wife is Dead by Andrew Tierney tells a quite different type of crime. Andrew Tierney makes the case that Ellen Langley, the doctor’s wife, is killed (possibly poisoned but certainly ill-treated) because her husband wanted a younger model. This story told is a court room drama with secrets and lies exposed. Ultimately though this is the story of the life and death of a woman who has been lost in the midst of time but sheds light upon many women who would have endured a similar life, even if the end result wasn’t an untimely death.

Midnight in Peking by Paul French has a very different feel to it, not unexpectedly, with the setting being the more unfamiliar setting of Peking, just before the occupation by the Japanese. In 1937 Pamela Werner was found brutally murdered. Her killers were never identified although the author presents a compelling case with suspects. Although the author takes us through the known facts and investigation, this is as much a story of the time and place and I have to say, a victim who seems to be a mystery all of her own.


Truman Capote is of course widely acknowledged to be the father of the true-crime genre and In Cold Blood is the book that many true-crime writers aspire to. Here for the first time we get to know the murderers outside the narrow confines of the crime committed, in far more detail than the other books I’ve read; this is their story of the awful night when the four members of the Clutter family are slain in their Kansas home in 1959. Perhaps because the crime is solved we don’t only hear about the perpetrators but the victims, the investigators and the wider circle in the community who were touched by the murders.

The Spider and the Fly by Claudia Rowe is a different type of read again. This is her story about writing, and meeting a murderer as a journalist. Kendall Francoise lived in Poughkeepsie, New York and he murdered eight women between 1996 and 1998. When he was arrested, a search of his home discovered his parents and sister living amongst the empty larvae casings in a home that was at odds with their public personas. Claudia freely admits she was drawn to the darkness of Kendall (and his family’s) story to try and make sense of her own life. A fascinating mix of memoir and true crime.

Another theme in my reading this year is seeking out those writers who use true crime to inspire a fictional novel; think  Burial Rites by Hannah Kent or Little Deaths by Emma Flint to name just two.

The main and probably true entrant to this section (the other two are more loosely linked) is Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood with her amazing story of Grace Marks who was tried for the murder of Thomas Kimner and his housekeeper cum mistress Nancy Montgomery in 1843. This story is very much set in the place and time but has the introduction of a doctor using experimental psychological methods to find the truth to the many conflicting statements attributed to Grace Marks. Using the backdrop of quilting patterns there is so much depth to this superb book.

Dear Mr. M by Herman Koch explores a fictional author who uses the disappearance of a man in the 1970s in his most successful novel to date. But forty years on his neighbour from the upstairs apartment becomes obsessed with the author. As the reader we explore the link between the presumed dead high school teacher, and the fact that he was having an affair with one of his pupils, and the success the resulting novel gave the author especially as his many war novels have not hit anywhere near such dizzy heights. While this book is full of themes, mainly of the dark variety the true crime is where it all seems to start, or is it?

Before the Poison by Peter Robinson features a grief-stricken composer who buys the house of a murderess; the fictional Grace Elizabeth Fox (I know to be wary of women bearing the name Grace now!) was hanged for the murder of her husband, Dr Fox by means of poison on New Year’s Day in 1953. Our protagonist Chris Lowndes becomes somewhat obsessed with the murder and more crucially of the guilt or innocence of Grace. His investigation into the crime mirrors those actions taken by the true crime writers featured earlier and it took a while for me to convince myself that this was in fact a work of pure fiction.


In no way is this section intended to be sexist but the following four books are marketed for women. I used to read far more ‘women’s fiction’ than I do now and this was a foray into the wide variety on offer.

The Island by Victoria Hislop tells the story of the island of Spinalonga, an island in Crete which was a leper colony until surprisingly recently. Leprosy obviously is the backdrop for a story which is in part saga of a woman growing up in the shadow of the island, one the encompasses all those raw human emotions of jealousy, grief and loneliness but doesn’t forget to take in the most important counterbalance of hope. This is far from some slushy story and the historical research that backs up the novel shines through taking this beyond the romance and family story to something that says more about humanity itself.

The Judge’s Wife by Ann O’Loughlin is set in 1950s and 1980s Ireland with a foray to India. The book tells of a young woman married under sufferance to an older Judge who ends up committed to an asylum following the birth of her daughter Emma. Grace Moran (again – what are the chances of three of my reads featuring a woman called Grace?) mourns the loss of her child and her life at the asylum is far from easy, especially given her fall from grace (pun fully intended) There are themes of inter-racial love along with the injustice of a life stunted by fear of judgement from the community. A beautiful tale told without resorting to cheap tricks to raise the emotions.

In contrast The Summer House by Santa Montefiore is a lighter read, the subjects being the family of Lord Frampton who are confronted by the arrival of an illegitimate daughter at his funeral. With an odious lawyer, a sour-puss dowager along with the quiet restraint of Antoinette Frampton, wife of the Lord and mother to his three surviving sons all complete with an almost invisible butler this story is entertainment with no obvious message to impart. An ideal summer read to while away the hours sat in the curiously absent British summer this year.

The Girl from Nowhere by Dorothy Koomson has an ‘issue’ right at the centre and to the forefront of this novel. Clemency Smittson is adopted, raised in white family where her heritage is at odds with that of her adoptive parents. Her father is more open to celebrating her difference whereas her mother tries to ignore it and is fearful that if Clemency were to be introduced to her birth family then she would become redundant. If this all sounds a like a hard read, think again; Dorothy Koomson is an incredibly talented writer with a real gift for creating appealing characters with a strong sense of realism.

The World Wars had such a lasting impact on the lives of everyone who lived through them it is unsurprising that such a large body of writing features these times. For the challenge this year I read a novel and a non-fiction book, both of which brought something new to this period of history.

Starting in Berlin and finishing at Autwitz Concentration Camp nine year old Bruno tells his story in The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne. Uprooted by his father’s job Bruno misses his house and his friends when the family moves to the place he calls ‘Out With.’ Set in the distance from the new, and in Bruno’s view, inferior new house Bruno spots a barbed wire fence and many people walking around in striped pyjamas. When he investigates he meets Shmuel a Jewish boy and the two become friends. Moving and a great way to introduce the realities of World War II to younger readers.

Stranger in the House is a compilation of the memories of women at the close of World War II. Many women were welcoming home men that had been fundamentally changed by their experience as well as physically damaged. Julie Summers provides the reader with a wide range of recollections from mothers, daughters, widows and mothers to the change in their own lives when the men returned. I was very impressed that the book touched on the more complex subjects of adultery and illegitimate children as well as the familiar rationing and lack of housing in this very difficult time.

Of course I widely read crime fiction and I didn’t deprive myself of catching up with some of those that had been sat patiently on my bookshelves.

An archaeological dig is the setting in New Zealand for a two-stranded mystery in What Remains Behind by Dorothy Fowler. With the archaeologists exploring the worship place for Kaipara Harbour community which had burnt in the 1880s and coming up with some theories in the more recent past the chief protagonist and archaeologist becomes embroiled in the mystery of a farmer who went missing in the more recent past. This slower paced crime fiction was unlike that which I usually read as although far from lacking in action, it has a less frantic need to find answers than a modern police investigation.

I read a lot of series books which probably partly explains my huge TBR and the Nicci French series featuring the psychotherapist Frieda Klein is on my list of must-read books. The books started on Monday and Saturday Requiem is the sixth and Frieda, after a difficult investigation has sworn-off working with the police any longer. This book was full of the trademark brilliant characters who I love and had a complex mystery at its heart with the story arc that has been running from the start surely nearing its conclusion?


Broken Heart is the seventh book in the David Raker series written by Tim Weaver. This crime fiction series of books starts with the premise of missing people rather than dead ones. This book, like the others in the series is a complex mystery which involves a woman entering a car-park in Somerset and disappearing, seemingly into thin air. The woman was married to a talented film director who on being expelled from America uses his talents to produce horror movies in Spain. There is a lot of detail about film making and I fear that the difficult circumstances I was in whilst reading this book meant I was unable to fully appreciate it.

In Beryl Bainbridge’s novel The Winter Garden we go on a wonderfully airplane journey to Russia with Douglas Ashburner and Nina who he is having a clandestine affair with. The couple aren’t alone though they are with a party of peculiar characters. Once they arrive in Russia all sorts of illogical regulations are imposed on the group and Nina goes mysteriously missing for a large portion of the action. A novel illustrating the Kafkaesque nature of the country in the 1980s perhaps missed its mark a little with this reader.


For someone who often feels far too much of her reading is set in the UK I travelled far and wide to:

New Zealand

I also managed to read three books where a chief protagonist was named Grace and bizarrely two books which featured the name Phaedra!

So with 20 physical books read and reviewed from my bookshelves the total outstanding should have dropped by 20 too? End of May count was 107 and today I have 100 – something hasn’t quite worked out here!! I guess I have to keep my fingers crossed that Cathy will organise this challenge next year as I appear to have lots of books still to read.

I hope you enjoyed my whistle-stop tour of my 20 Books of Summer Challenge as much as I enjoyed reading them all – the original reviews can be found by clicking on the book covers.

I want to finish by saying a huge thank you to Cathy who organises this challenge and to the other participants who have entertained me throughout the summer with their excellent reviews and updates on their progress. Goodbye Summer 2017.