Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

Death in the Stars – Frances Brody

Crime Fiction
4*s

Set at the time of the solar eclipse in 1927 with a cast of variety hall entertainers we are treated to a splendid mystery of the death of one of their number. Coming close on the tails of two other accidents Kate Shackleton has the job of unravelling the truth.

This is only the second of the Kate Shackleton series I’ve read, this episode being number nine in the series, but so well-drawn are the key characters that I feel I already ‘know’ them well. Kate is a business-like as usual ably supported by former policeman Jim Sykes and her housekeeper cum investigator, Mrs Sugden. Kate is ahead of her times in running her own PI business but not so far out of it that she comes across as unrealistic, there is no doubting that we are in the 1920s.

With show business being the backdrop to this novel we are treated to fabulous singers, ventriloquists, dancers, comics and acrobats all performing under the watchful eye of Trotter Brockett the man in charge of the whole shebang. Being of a cautious nature when Selina the star of the show is invited to watch the eclipse at Giggleswick School in Yorkshire he gives his permission on the proviso that she is back in time for a rest before the evening show. Selina invites her co-entertainer Billy Moffatt to accompany her and asks Kate to arrange transport, by helicopter no less. Selina is from an Italian family who are big in the ice-cream business and is a fantastic singer drawing crowds to the kind of show that is beginning to feel the threat of the moving picture especially as rumours about that soon the pictures will be accompanied by sound. Anyway the helicopter ride to Giggleswick is to follow a party at Selina’s house which is full of showbiz glamour and the trio joined by journalist who are attending to write a piece and to take pictures of the momentous occasion set off. Sadly tragedy strikes and Kate is employed to find out what happened, and of course why.

Although this is definitely at the cosy end of the crime fiction genre, it isn’t all lightness, jokes and fluff. The historical details set this apart with an appearance in this book of soldiers who fought in WWI and the injuries physical and mental that they returned with. But don’t fear not, there is a solid mystery, complete with the obligatory red-herrings to keep the reader entertained as Kate turns down blind-alleys in a bid to find out if the suspicious death that occurred on her watch was murder or not.

With more than a nod to the Golden Age writers the ending is spot-on in its execution with all the panache you’d expect from a showbiz tale which gave this reader no end of satisfaction even though, for once, I’d worked out (or luckily guessed) which of the many colourful characters should be in the hot seat for thorough questioning.

I was very grateful to receive a copy of Death in the Stars from the publishers Little Brown and this review is my unbiased thanks to them and to Frances Brody for thoroughly entertaining me with her latest Kate Shackleton story.

First Published UK: 5 October 2017
Publisher: Little Brown 
No of Pages: 400
Genre: Crime Fiction – Series
Amazon UK
Amazon US

 

The Kate Shackleton Series

Dying In The Wool: 2009
A Medal For Murder: 2009
Murder In The Afternoon: 2012
A Woman Unknown: 2013
Murder on a Summer’s Day 2013
Death of an Avid Reader 2014
A Death in the Dales 2015
Death at the Seaside 2016
Death in the Stars 2017

Posted in Weekly Posts

This Week in Books (October 11)

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 Are You Watching Me? by Sinéad Crowley which I picked up purely because I wanted to, it’s not a review copy and nor does it count towards my Mount TBR, I just needed something to escape into and what better than a crazy stalker and a murder?



Blurb

Liz Cafferky is on the up. Rescued from her dark past by the owner of a drop-in centre for older men, Liz soon finds herself as the charity’s face – and the unwilling darling of the Dublin media.

Amidst her claustrophobic fame, Liz barely notices a letter from a new fan. But then one of the centre’s clients is brutally murdered, and Elizabeth receives another, more sinister note.

Running from her own ghosts, Liz is too scared to go to the police. And with no leads, there is little Sergeant Claire Boyle can do to protect her. Amazon

I have recently finished Death in the Stars by Frances Brody which stars Kate Shackleton as a sleuth in the 1920s, the ninth book in the series.

Blurb

Yorkshire, 1927. Eclipse fever grips the nation, and when beloved theatre star Selina Fellini approaches trusted sleuth Kate Shackleton to accompany her to a viewing party at Giggleswick School Chapel, Kate suspects an ulterior motive.

During the eclipse, Selina’s friend and co-star Billy Moffatt disappears and is later found dead in the chapel grounds. Kate can’t help but dig deeper and soon learns that two other members of the theatre troupe died in similarly mysterious circumstances in the past year. With the help of Jim Sykes and Mrs Sugden, Kate sets about investigating the deaths – and whether there is a murderer in the company.

When Selina’s elusive husband Jarrod, injured in the war and subject to violent mood swings, comes back on the scene, Kate begins to imagine something far deadlier at play, and wonders just who will be next to pay the ultimate price for fame . . . Amazon

Next I plan on reading The Dreams of Bethany Mellmoth by William Boyd

Blurb

A philandering art dealer tries to give up casual love affairs – seeking only passionate kisses as a substitute.
A man recounts his personal history through the things he has stolen from others throughout his life.
A couple chart the journey of their five year relationship backwards, from awkward reunion to lovelorn first encounter.

And, at the heart of the book, a 24-year old young woman, Bethany Mellmoth, embarks on a year-long journey of wishful and tentative self-discovery.

The Dreams of Bethany Mellmoth depicts the random encounters that bring the past bubbling to the surface; the impulsive decisions that irrevocably shape a life; and the endless hesitations and loss-of-nerve that wickedly complicate it. These funny, surprising and moving stories are a resounding confirmation of Boyd’s powers as one of our most original and compelling storytellers. Amazon

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

Posted in Weekly Posts

Weekly Wrap Up (September 17)

I decided to treat myself to something that wasn’t books this week, an unusual occurrence indeed but I simply couldn’t resist this box of postcards featuring the original Puffin covers.

The idea was that I would use these as cards when I post gifts to friends but the ones below hold such fond memories for me that I doubt whether I will ever part with them, or quite a few of the others in the box.

These are an illustration of my childhood, indeed to this day I can’t iron without thinking about Lily Rose and the day she damaged the silk petticoat in The Family From One End Street.  I received The Hundred and One Dalmatians after going to the cinema to watch the film and I remember my copy (which must have been my mother’s) was old and had yellowing pages but it stayed on my bookshelf until the day I left home. Charlotte’s Web was a big hit although it didn’t cure me of my phobia of spiders as much as I loved Charlotte’s story  and I had the whole set of the C.S. Lewis books all in a slip-case, sadly the postcards don’t include my favourite The Magician’s Nephew but through these I travelled to strange lands in my imagination and was caught climbing into my Grandfather’s wardrobe to see if I could find Narnia; I didn’t but I did get a sound telling off!

Each of the postcards has the date of the cover on them although I dispute that James and the Giant Peach only was given this cover in 1980 as I distinctly remember reading it through some childhood illness before we moved at the end of 1979, but I won’t quibble.

A brilliant gift for someone you love – as you can see I chose myself but with covers spanning from the original Worzel Gummidge in 1941 to the more recent ones I’m sure most booklovers will find a Puffin cover that has a fond memory attached to it.

This Week on the Blog

The week on the blog started with a review of Persons Unknown by Susie Steiner, her second book in the Manon Bradshaw series.

My excerpt post this week was taken from Silent Voices by Ann Cleeves, a book that has sat on my kindle for an astonishing five plus years.

This Week in Books had me featuring the authors Mel Sherratt, Jane Robins and David Hastings.

My second review of the week was for a book I read back in June – my reviews are a little out of order still(!) – the psychological thriller, Never Alone by Elizabeth Haynes

On Friday I was delighted to feature an author post from Caimh McDonnell to celebrate the publication of Angels in the Moonlight, the prequel to the Dublin series, a brilliant mixture of humour and crime. Caimh’s posts are always well received, he really is a very funny man, unsurprisingly as he has made his living as a stand-up comedian. I wrote a review for the book too (even if it was overshadowed by Caimh)

And I finished up yesterday with my review of White Bodies by Jane Robins. This psychological thriller is being published in the US on 19 September 2017 – UK readers have a little longer to wait for this book which I awarded the full five stars to.

This Time Last Year…

I was reading Murder at the Vicarage to celebrate Agatha Christie’s birthday which is on 15 September. As a recognition of this special day I chose to try Miss Marple after falling in love with Hercule Poirot in my youth, and deciding that she simply wasn’t my cup of tea. Well guess what, now I am a little more mature, I discovered I loved her and this review is amongst one of the favourite of all that I’ve written.

You can read my thoughts on Murder at the Vicarage here or click on the book cover

Blurb

Agatha Christie’s first ever Miss Marple mystery, reissued with a striking cover designed to appeal to the latest generation of Agatha Christie fans and book lovers.

’Anyone who murdered Colonel Protheroe,’ declared the parson, brandishing a carving knife above a joint of roast beef, ‘would be doing the world at large a service!’

It was a careless remark for a man of the cloth. And one which was to come back and haunt the clergyman just a few hours later. From seven potential murderers, Miss Marple must seek out the suspect who has both motive and opportunity. Amazon

Stacking the Shelves

I started this post by saying I hadn’t treated myself to any books this week, and that is true but it appears my finger did request, and gratefully received, a couple of books from NetGalley.

The first book I needed as we are already in September and I haven’t yet got around to reading any short stories and then I saw The Dreams of Bethany Mellmoth by William Boyd which took my fancy. The collection, some of which have been published elsewhere, will be published on 2 November 2017.

Blurb

A philandering art dealer tries to give up casual love affairs – seeking only passionate kisses as a substitute.
A man recounts his personal history through the things he has stolen from others throughout his life.
A couple chart the journey of their five year relationship backwards, from awkward reunion to lovelorn first encounter.

And, at the heart of the book, a 24-year old young woman, Bethany Mellmoth, embarks on a year-long journey of wishful and tentative self-discovery.

The Dreams of Bethany Mellmoth depicts the random encounters that bring the past bubbling to the surface; the impulsive decisions that irrevocably shape a life; and the endless hesitations and loss-of-nerve that wickedly complicate it. These funny, surprising and moving stories are a resounding confirmation of Boyd’s powers as one of our most original and compelling storytellers. NetGalley

I’ve also received a copy of The Fourteenth Letter by Claire Evans which was published in the UK back in April but is due out in the US on 21 September 2017.

A mysterious keepsake, a murdered bride, a legacy of secrets…

One balmy June evening in 1881, Phoebe Stanbury stands before the guests at her engagement party: this is her moment, when she will join the renowned Raycraft family and ascend to polite society.

As she takes her fiancé’s hand, a stranger brandishing a knife steps forward and ends the poor girl’s life. Amid the tumult, he turns to her aristocratic groom and mouths: ‘I promised I would save you.’

The following morning, just a few miles away, timid young legal clerk William Lamb meets a reclusive client, whom he was never meant to meet. He finds the old man terrified and in desperate need of aid: William must keep safe a small casket of yellowing papers, and deliver an enigmatic message: The Finder knows. NetGalley

And unbidden, but hugely welcome, Death in the Stars by Frances Brody arrived on my doormat. I loved getting to know Kate Shackleton in Death at the Seaside last year so I’m looking forward to an update from 1927. Death in the Stars will be published on 5 October 2017.

Blurb

Yorkshire, 1927. Eclipse fever grips the nation, and when beloved theatre star Selina Fellini approaches trusted sleuth Kate Shackleton to accompany her to a viewing party at Giggleswick School Chapel, Kate suspects an ulterior motive.

During the eclipse, Selina’s friend and co-star Billy Moffatt disappears and is later found dead in the chapel grounds. Kate can’t help but dig deeper and soon learns that two other members of the theatre troupe died in similarly mysterious circumstances in the past year. With the help of Jim Sykes and Mrs Sugden, Kate sets about investigating the deaths – and whether there is a murderer in the company.

When Selina’s elusive husband Jarrod, injured in the war and subject to violent mood swings, comes back on the scene, Kate begins to imagine something far deadlier at play, and wonders just who will be next to pay the ultimate price for fame . . Amazon

What have you found to read this week? Any of these take your fancy?

tbr-watch

Since my last post I’ve read 3 books, and gained 3
So basically I’m standing still with the total of 179
Physical Books – 101
Kindle Books – 60
NetGalley Books – 18