Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

A Talent for Murder – Andrew Wilson

Historical Crime Fiction
4*s

Andrew Wilson has come up with a brilliant premise for this novel based on Agatha Christie’s disappearance in December 1926 and executed it with aplomb!

It is all too easy for these types of books, of which I’ve read a few, to come across as cheesy, perhaps because the author imagines that what we know about the famous person concerned will hold our interest through sketchy characterisation. Andrew Wilson has created his Agatha Christie as a strong, intelligent woman who has found herself backed into a corner as she tries desperately to protect her errant husband, she still loves him dearly despite the fact that she knows he is having an affair, and her young daughter. Despite that it took me a couple of chapters before I was convinced…

First to the facts; Agatha’s car was found with a suitcase of clothes and her driver’s licence at Newlands Corner near Guildford in Surrey. She’d left her house, Styles in Berkshire with a note to her housekeeper saying that she was going to Yorkshire. Her husband, Archie Christie had chosen to spend the weekend at his friend’s house in Godalming in Surrey, at a party which his mistress Nancy Neele was attending. But despite a massive man-hunt nothing else was known until Agatha was found ten days later in a hotel in Harrogate where she’d registered as Mrs Teresa Neele from Cape Town. Andrew Wilson has cleverly plotted around these facts so much so that at before long I had to remind myself this was fiction.

To add authenticity the book starts with a meeting between the man who is determined to use Agatha for her own advantage. She is well-known for writing murder mysteries, even if she is struggling with her latest novel, and he wants to use this knowledge for his own purposes.

The reader is allowed inside the head of the man trying to hoodwink Agatha and he is definitely one bad guy, I’d go as far to say that he is one of the creepiest protagonists of all time, and his confident that he’s outwitted Agatha, but is he right? To balance out the creepiness we have an eye on the official investigation into her disappearance led by Superintendent William Kenward with particularly satisfying moments when he puts Archie on the spot about his real feelings for Agatha, and Nancy with Archie being outed as the philanderer he was!

Not only do we have some fab characters that could have stepped from one of her own novels, we are exposed to her knowledge of poisons the settings used are the perfect backdrop to this dark yet utterly enjoyable novel along with references to the early works completed at the time.

With sublime plotting to seal the deal A Talent For Murder gets the thumbs up from this reader for a thoroughly enjoyable read, which I fully admit I approached with a sense of fun because of course I knew that Agatha would be alright in the end, but as to the rest of the cast? Well you’ll have to read A Talent For Murder to find out for yourself.

I was lucky enough to receive an advance copy of this book as part of the review panel for Lovereading and a shorter version of this review will appears on their site.

 

First Published UK: 6 April 2017
Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK
No of Pages: 416
Genre: Crime Fiction – Historical
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Posted in Weekly Posts

This Week in Books (March 22)

This Week In Books
Hosted by Lipsyy 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 A Talent For Murder by Andrew Wilson a tale based on an imaginary event in Agatha Christie’s life.

Blurb

‘I wouldn’t scream if I were you. Unless you want the whole world to learn about your husband and his mistress.’

Agatha Christie, in London to visit her literary agent, boards a train, preoccupied and flustered in the knowledge that her husband Archie is having an affair. She feels a light touch on her back, causing her to lose her balance, then a sense of someone pulling her to safety from the rush of the incoming train. So begins a terrifying sequence of events. Her rescuer is no guardian angel; rather, he is a blackmailer of the most insidious, manipulative kind. Agatha must use every ounce of her cleverness and resourcefulness to thwart an adversary determined to exploit her genius for murder to kill on his behalf. Amazon

I have just finished The Conversations We Never Had by Jeffrey H Konis



Blurb

This is the dream of a grandson, who had taken his grandmother for granted, to have a second chance, the opportunity to learn about his family from the only person in the world who knew them, who remembered them. My father remembers nothing about his real parents for they were dead by the time he was nine.
Olga, his mother’s younger sister, survived the Holocaust, found my father hiding on a farm in Poland and later brought him to America to raise as her own. He never asked her any questions about his parents. Though I later moved in with Olga for a period of time, I repeated history and never asked her the questions my father never asked. Olga has been gone for more than twenty years, along with everything she could have told me, leaving me with a sense of guilt and profound regret. The Conversations We Never Had is a chronicle of my time spent with Grandma “Ola” and tells the stories she might have shared had I asked the questions. Amazon

Next up I plan to read The Housekeeper by Suellen Dainty

Blurb

“I am the housekeeper, the hired help with a messy past who cleans up other people’s messy lives, the one who protects their messy little secrets.”

When Anne Morgan’s successful boyfriend—who also happens to be her boss—leaves her for another woman, Anne finds herself in desperate need of a new job and a quiet place to recover. Meanwhile, her celebrity idol, Emma Helmsley (England’s answer to Martha Stewart), is in need of a housekeeper, an opportunity which seems too good to be true.

Through her books, website, and blog, Emma Helmsley advises her devoted followers on how to live a balanced life in a hectic world. Her husband, Rob, is a high profile academic, and her children, Jake and Lily, are well-adjusted teenagers. On the surface, they are the perfect family. But Anne soon finds herself intimately ensconced in the Helmsley’s dirty laundry, both literally and figuratively. Underneath the dust, grime, and whimsical clutter, everyone has a secret to hide and Anne’s own disturbing past threatens to unhinge everything. Amazon

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

What are you reading? Do share!

Posted in Weekly Posts

Weekly Wrap Up (March 19)

Weekly Wrap Up

This Week on the Blog

Well the surprise post of the week was the first one with my review of Anne Perry and the Murder of the Century by Peter Graham garnering a lot of interest and some lively discussions. It seems like I’m not the only one that feels uneasy about a murderer writing about murder although other bloggers love her books, despite her background.

My excerpt post this week was from The Special Girls by Isabelle Grey, the third in the DI Grace Fisher series

On my This Week in Books Post I shared my reads for the week which included my first poisoner book of 2017 by Kathryn Harkup, Louise Walters and Andrée A. Michaud.

My second review of the week was for Cut Short by Leigh Russell which is the opener to the Geraldine Steel series which showed a lot of promise.

Last but by no means least I finally reviewed the first book I’ve read by Yrsa Sigurðardóttir, The Legacy, the first of The Children’s House series.

The week ended on a high note with the latest Put a Book on the Map feature which visited Derby with DI Damen Brook in a post written by the author Steven Dunne and Blogger Mary Mayfield of Our Online Book Reviews.

This Time Last Year…

I was reading the second in the DI Grace Fisher series, Shot Through the Heart by Isabelle Grey. This is a book that goes straight to the action with a tense moment as we follow a man driving through a quiet Essex town on Christmas Day. In the back of his van are presents for his children… and a gun.

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

Blurb

When a lone shooter claims the lives of five people on Christmas Day before turning the gun on himself, it’s up to DI Grace Fisher to find out, not who did it, but why and how.
Tracing the illegal weapon and its deadly load of homemade bullets, she soon uncovers a toxic web of police corruption, personal vendettas and revenge. But when the enemy is within, who will believe her?
As threats to her safety mount up and the strain of secrecy begins to wreck her friendships, Grace must decide how far she wants to pursue justice – and at what cost. Amazon

Stacking the Shelves

Well the restraint(assisted by the fog) of the last couple of weeks has gone out of the window with a fair few new acquisitions – but oh, they look so good!!

In no particular order…

I treated myself to a copy of The Doctor’s Wife Is Dead by Andrew Tierney which looks stunning.

Blurb

A mysterious death in respectable society: a brilliant historical true crime story

In 1849, a woman called Ellen Langley died in Nenagh, Co. Tipperary. She was the wife of a prosperous local doctor. So why was she buried in a pauper’s coffin? Why had she been confined to the grim attic of the house she shared with her husband, and then exiled to a rented dwelling-room in an impoverished part of the famine-ravaged town? And why was her husband charged with murder?

Following every twist and turn of the inquest into Ellen Langley’s death and the trial of her husband, The Doctor’s Wife is Dead tells the story of an unhappy marriage, of a man’s confidence that he could get away with abusing his wife, and of the brave efforts of a number of ordinary citizens to hold him to account. Andrew Tierney has produced a tour de force of narrative nonfiction that shines a light on the double standards of Victorian law and morality and illuminates the weave of money, sex, ambition and respectability that defined the possibilities and limitations of married life. It is a gripping portrait of a marriage, a society and a shocking legal drama. Amazon

Through the post I received a copy of The Cleaner by Elisabeth Herrmann from the publishers Bonnier Zaffre so a big thanks to Emily Burns!

Blurb

Pools of blood, scenes of carnage, signs of agonising death – who deals with the aftermath of violence once the bodies have been taken away?

Judith Kepler has seen it all. She is a crime scene specialist. She turns crime scenes back into habitable spaces. She is a cleaner.

It is at the home of a woman who has been brutally murdered that she is suddenly confronted with her own past. The murder victim knew Judith’s secret: as a child Judith was sent to an orphanage under mysterious circumstances – parentage unknown. And the East German secret police were always there, in the background. . . .

When Judith begins to ask questions, she becomes the target of some powerful enemies.

And nothing will ever be the same again. Amazon

From Lovereading UK I received a copy of A Talent For Murder by Andrew Wilson which will be published on 6 April 2017.

Blurb


‘I wouldn’t scream if I were you. Unless you want the whole world to learn about your husband and his mistress.’

Agatha Christie, in London to visit her literary agent, boards a train, preoccupied and flustered in the knowledge that her husband Archie is having an affair. She feels a light touch on her back, causing her to lose her balance, then a sense of someone pulling her to safety from the rush of the incoming train. So begins a terrifying sequence of events. Her rescuer is no guardian angel; rather, he is a blackmailer of the most insidious, manipulative kind. Agatha must use every ounce of her cleverness and resourcefulness to thwart an adversary determined to exploit her genius for murder to kill on his behalf. Amazon

I also have a copy of What Goes Around by Julie Corbin which will be published in paperback (eBook format already available) on what appears to be the most popular day of the publishing year, 6 April 2017

Blurb

Two women, two secrets, one murder…
If someone took away your perfect life
How far would you go to get it back?

Ellen’s family is her world. So when her husband leaves her for another woman, she is almost destroyed. But not quite, because Ellen has a plan, a way to make those who have hurt her suffer.
Leila is the other woman. She finally has everything she ever wanted. But Leila’s brother has come back into her life, raking up a past that needs to stay buried.

One of them will pay for their actions with their life, but which one? Amazon

Then there’s the NetGalley acquisitions… One of which is The Killer On The Wall from the talented Emma Kavanagh which is due to be published on 23 April 2017.

Blurb

The first body comes as a shock
The second brings horror
The third signals the beginning of a nightmare
When fifteen-year-old Isla Bell finds three bodies propped against Hadrian’s Wall, her whole world falls apart. In such a close-knit community, everyone knows the victims, and the man who did it.
Twenty years on and Isla has dedicated her life to forensic psychology; studying the brains of serial killers, and even coming face to face with the convicted murderer who turned her world upside down. She is safe after all, with him behind bars.
Then another body appears against the Wall.
And another.
As the nightmare returns and the body count rises, everyone in town is a suspect.
Who is the Killer on the Wall? NetGalley

As I will be far too busy reading for the next week to acquire anything new – my other finds will wait until next week.

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

tbr-watch

Since my last post I’ve read 3 books and gained 7 so the grand total is inching upwards to 191
Physical Books – 119
Kindle Books – 64
NetGalley Books – 17