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

A Deadly Thaw – Sarah Ward


Crime Fiction 5*s
Crime Fiction

The second in the Francis Sadler series set in the fictional town of Bampton in Derbyshire is written in Sarah Ward’s trademark style of an easy read in a book full of complexities.

After being released from prison Lena Fisher moved back into the family home with her younger sister Kat. The two girls had been close up until the close of their teenage years in the 1980s when Lena withdrew and pulled away from her sister but following her release from prison the two live in the large house bequeathed to them both following the death of their professional parents. Despite Kat’s ambivalence towards the house, because Lena feels a connection, the prospect of it being sold is slim and Kat’s job as a counsellor simply can’t fund the repairs desperately needed to stop the house crumbling further.

Once again the novel has its roots in the past with the convicted murderer, Lena Fisher, committing her crime in 2004. Lena murdered her husband by suffocating him in their marital bed and served twelve years in prison for her crime. The problem is that a man found in a disused World War One mortuary, fabulously named Hale’s End, appears to be the very same Andrew Fisher – now that’s a mystery as one man simply cannot die twice!

But before the body is formally identified Lena goes missing causing Kat to worry. Kat herself is sure she is being watched and maybe followed, and that feeling only intensifies when she is given strange gifts by a teenage boy. The first such gift is a gun dating back to the war. Meanwhile unsurprisingly the local police force are themselves being investigated into how a woman was convicted of killing the wrong man, so tensions are running high as DI Francis Sadler, DC Connie Childs and DS Damian Palmer find they need to delve back to the past in order to have any chance of working out what has happened in the present. As an aside, although DI Sadler gets to give his name to the series, in A Deadly Thaw the police’s actions are mostly seen through Connie’s eyes, herself a complex character and although there is rivalry between her and Damian Palmer the book doesn’t get bogged down in endless police politics, yet accurately reflects a close working relationship with all its pitfalls.

As I found in the Sarah Ward’s first book, In Bitter Chill, not only is the plot complex, the characters are a delight. Although I found Lena the most difficult to understand there is a wide range of people that walk and talk like real people do! The author takes real care to ensure that not one of the characters feels like they’ve been designed to move the plot along, these are people who matter in their own right and when we are not looking are moaning about the day they’ve had or that they forget their umbrella! As a reader we get the full picture through the eyes of Kat and the police. This author is determined to keep you hooked with the chapters often ending on a revelation which because the time period and often the point of view changes you have to hold that thought until you catch up with the thread a few chapters later. Sarah Ward owes me some sleep – I simply couldn’t put this book down.

Sarah Ward is most definitely in the bracket of female writers of crime fiction that use issues as a theme to underpin their storylines but manage to do it without reiterating every other page what that is. These are books that get under your skin as well as giving you a fantastic puzzle to solve. I’m really hoping we will be seeing more of Francis Sadler and his team before too long.

First Published UK: 30 August 2016
Publisher: Faber & Faber
No of Pages: 384
Genre: Crime Fiction Series
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Posted in Weekly Posts

This Week in Books (September 21)

This Week In Books

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

The Woman in Cabin 10 by the talented Ruth Ware tells the tale of Lo Blacklock who is on the trip of a lifetime to see the Northern Lights as a perk of her job as a travel journalist. Just before she was due to leave on the trip Lo’s home was broken into while she was there, she’s justifiably traumatised so when she thinks she witnesses a murder while on board the boat, she’s not sure what to believe. Is she on board with a murderer or has she imagined it?

The Woman in Cabin 10

You can read the synopsis and an excerpt from the first chapter in yesterday’s post.

I have just finished A Deadly Thaw by Sarah Ward, my review of this, the second in the superb Inspector Francis Sadler series, will be posted soon.



Every secret has consequences.

Autumn 2004
In Bampton, Derbyshire, Lena Fisher is arrested for suffocating her husband, Andrew.

Spring 2016
A year after Lena’s release from prison, Andrew is found dead in a disused mortuary.

Who was the man Lena killed twelve years ago, and who committed the second murder? When Lena disappears, her sister, Kat, sets out to follow a trail of clues delivered by a mysterious teenage boy. Kat must uncover the truth – before there’s another death . . .Amazon

Next I plan to read Ward Zero by Linda Huber which will be published on 1 October 2016

Ward Zero


Horror swept through her. Had she been buried alive?

On Sarah’s first visit to see her foster mother, Mim, in Brockburn General Hospital, she is sucked into a world that isn’t what it should be.

Someone is lying, someone is stealing. And someone is killing – but who? With a grieving child to take care of, as well as Mim, Sarah has to put family first. She doesn’t see where danger lies – until it’s too late.

If you think you’re safe in a hospital, think again. Amazon

Have you read any of these? Do you want to?

Let me know what you are reading this week by adding your comments or leaving your link below.

Posted in Weekly Posts

Weekly Wrap Up (September 11)

Weekly Wrap Up

Well we’ve had some rain to remind us that it is now the autumn if the way the night falls so much earlier (seemingly) all of a sudden hadn’t already done so.

Worthy points to mention – Happy Valley will be coming back for a third season despite strong suggestions to the contrary, the bad news is the writer hasn’t even started writing it yet!

What does everyone else think to the changes to the Shelf on NetGalley? – I’m not sure I like having all the books that are over three months listed with a count – it makes me feel bad, and some of these are because they were approved months before publication – it doesn’t help that there are so many on the current tab too. If I didn’t have my trusty excel spreadsheet I’d be very confused.

Last Week on the Blog

My week got off to a great start with a very entertaining author post by Caimh McDonnell, a stand-up comedian who has written a crime novel, A Man With One of Those Faces which I reviewed here.

Wednesday’s post included my upcoming foray into the world of Miss Marple – now I love Poirot but when I first discovered Agatha Christie as a teenager, I didn’t really take to Miss Marple – but when I heard about the Agatha Christie Blogathon organised by Christina Wehner, I’ve decided to give her a second chance – keep your eyes peeled on 17 September to see what I thought.

I also wrote a review of Camilla Grebe’s novel The Ice Beneath Her, a superb psychological thriller set in Stockholm, somewhere I’m visiting quite soon although I do hope I don’t meet anyone quite like the characters in this book.

On Friday I posted about the books I read in the 20 Books of Summer 2016 challenge – I completed 15 and had 1 DNF which considering how busy my summer was, is… ok – I will do better next year!

Yesterday my third review of the week was for a family saga, The Jeweller’s Wife written by the talented Judith Lennox. This book spanned thirty odd years and contained all the jealousy, greed, infidelity etc. that makes these types of books so fascinating. I felt like I was spying on the family through a window.

This Time Last Year…

I read the fourth book by Felicity Young featuring Dr Dody McCleland, who works under the forensic scientist Bernard Spilsbury, The Insanity of Murder.  Not only does this book feature a fascinating mystery, it has plenty of period details from 1913 the year it was set, including contemporary views of the suffragettes.

The Insanity of Murder


To Doctor Dody McCleland, the gruesome job of dealing with the results of an explosion at the Necropolis Railway Station is testing enough. But when her suffragette sister Florence is implicated in the crime, matters worsen and Dody finds her loyalty cruelly divided. Can she choose between love for her sister and her secret love for Chief Inspector Matthew Pike, the investigating officer on the case?
Dody and Pike’s investigations lead them to a women’s rest home where patients are not encouraged to read or think and where clandestine treatments and operations are conducted in an unethical and inhumane manner. Together Dody and Pike must uncover such foul play before their secret liaisons become public knowledge – and before Florence becomes the rest home’s next victim. NetGalley

Stacking the Shelves

Oh dear – the TBR is continuing to rise with a rush of books this week.

First up my willpower would last no longer and I purchased a copy of Sarah Ward’s A Deadly Thaw – her first book in the series, In Bitter Chill having been such an outstanding read, this was entirely unsurprising!



Every secret has consequences.

Autumn 2004
In Bampton, Derbyshire, Lena Fisher is arrested for suffocating her husband, Andrew.

Spring 2016
A year after Lena’s release from prison, Andrew is found dead in a disused mortuary.

Who was the man Lena killed twelve years ago, and who committed the second murder? When Lena disappears, her sister, Kat, sets out to follow a trail of clues delivered by a mysterious teenage boy. Kat must uncover the truth – before there’s another death . . . Amazon

From NetGalley I have The Kill Fee by Fiona Veitch Smith which I requested after having been thoroughly entertained by the first in this series, The Jazz Files.


Do you know who that is Poppy?” asked Delilah.
“I do indeed.”
“So what does it feel like to dance in the arms of an assassin?”

Poppy Denby’s star is on the rise. Now the Arts and Entertainment Editor at The Daily Globe, she covers an exhibition of Russian Art at the Crystal Palace. A shot rings out, leaving a guard injured and an empty pedestal in the place of the largest Faberge Egg in the collection. The egg itself is valuable, but more so are the secrets it contains within – secrets that could threaten major political powers.

Poppy is once again in the middle of a sensational story. Can she solve the mystery before time runs out and disaster strikes? NetGalley

The Kill Fee will be published on 16 September 2016.

I also have a copy of The Two O’clock Boy by fellow book blogger Mark Hill – this is due for publication in ebook format on 22 September, paperback November 2016, and looks to be a hit!




One night changed their lives
Thirty years ago, the Longacre Children’s Home stood on a London street where once-grand Victorian homes lay derelict. There its children lived in terror of Gordon Tallis, the home’s manager.

Cries in the fire and smoke
Then Connor Laird arrived: a frighteningly intense boy who quickly became Tallis’ favourite criminal helper. Soon after, destruction befell the Longacre, and the facts of that night have lain buried . . . until today.

A truth both must hide
Now, a mysterious figure, the Two O’Clock Boy, is killing all who grew up there, one by one. DI Ray Drake will do whatever it take to stop the murders – but he will go even further to cover up the truth. NetGalley

Little Brown Books kindly sent me a copy of Death at the Seaside by Frances Brody to review ahead of publication of 6 October 2016.



Nothing ever happens in August, and tenacious sleuth Kate Shackleton deserves a break. Heading off for a long-overdue holiday to Whitby, she visits her school friend Alma who works as a fortune teller there.

Kate had been looking forward to a relaxing seaside sojourn, but upon arrival discovers that Alma’s daughter Felicity has disappeared, leaving her mother a note and the pawn ticket for their only asset: a watch-guard. What makes this more intriguing is the jeweller who advanced Felicity the thirty shillings is Jack Phillips, Alma’s current gentleman friend.

Kate can’t help but become involved, and goes to the jeweller’s shop to get some answers. When she makes a horrifying discovery in the back room, it soon becomes clear that her services are needed. Met by a wall of silence by town officials, keen to maintain Whitby’s idyllic façade, it’s up to Kate – ably assisted by Jim Sykes and Mrs Sugden – to discover the truth behind Felicity’s disappearance.

And they say nothing happens in August . . . Amazon

And lastly this purchase is all down to fellow blogger Karen at My Reading Corner who kindly pointed me in the direction of A is for Arsenic: The Poisons of Agatha Christie by Kathryn Harkup – how could I resist poison and Agatha Christie!! This is why I love book blogging, kind people pointing out books I simply must have… TBR, what TBR?



Fourteen novels. Fourteen poisons. Just because it’s fiction doesn’t mean it’s all made-up …

Agatha Christie revelled in the use of poison to kill off unfortunate victims in her books; indeed, she employed it more than any other murder method, with the poison itself often being a central part of the novel. Her choice of deadly substances was far from random – the characteristics of each often provide vital clues to the discovery of the murderer. With gunshots or stabbings the cause of death is obvious, but this is not the case with poisons. How is it that some compounds prove so deadly, and in such tiny amounts?

Christie’s extensive chemical knowledge provides the backdrop for A is for Arsenic, in which Kathryn Harkup investigates the poisons used by the murderer in fourteen classic Agatha Christie mysteries. It looks at why certain chemicals kill, how they interact with the body, the cases that may have inspired Christie, and the feasibility of obtaining, administering and detecting these poisons, both at the time the novel was written and today. A is for Arsenic is a celebration of the use of science by the undisputed Queen of Crime. Amazon

PicMonkey Collage TBR


Since my last post I have read 3 books, and gained 5 so the total is now on the ascent again to 176 books!

84 physical books
69 e-books
21 books on NetGalley

What have you found to read this week?