Although I haven’t read the previous two full-length novels featuring Esme Quentin a genealogist, I was keen to find out more so decided to try this novella.
Following the death of her mother Gina Vincent, the photograph inside a condolence card reveals a secret that rocks her to the core. Gina calls on Esme to help her uncover the truth about her family.
This is a good mystery both in the family history sense where the author’s knowledge of her subject shines through without the often laborious details of reality getting in the way of a good story. That isn’t to say an unrealistic picture is painted of the reality of searching through records but as much of this happen off-page these facts allow the story to flourish while giving a flavour of how such things work in ‘real-life’ As part of their research the pair need to expand their search beyond the birth, marriage and death details, taking on the searching through the microfiche for newspaper stories and even go as far as including a house. All fascinating and woven around a solid story.
The characters are solid, especially Esme who comes across as a no-nonsense woman with compassion for the living people who are waiting on her conclusion to the mystery. She isn’t simply a collector of dates and names, those behind the faceless records are given colour by the all-round research carried out. And despite the short format this book the author hasn’t neglected the settings with a good sense of place being maintained throughout, something I find incredibly important and often is skimped on in this format.
Despite this being a novella, the book is not all about records and we get a real sense of physical drama when it seems someone isn’t keen on Gina finding the truth about her family.
I often feel a little let down by novellas as I am a die-hard fan of the full-length novel but I can honestly say I felt satisfied by the story I was told in this one. I had time to put myself in the characters shoes and admire Esme Quentin as she set about her work as a genealogical detective.
As Death of a Cuckoo was such an enjoyable book to read I will definitely be purchasing the two full-length novels available featuring Esme Quentin: Blood-Tide and The Indelible Stain.
First Published UK: 6 March 2017
No of Pages: 106
Genre: Genealogical Mystery Amazon UK Amazon US
With another exceptionally busy week on the work front I decided that I would reinvent myself as a bit of a domestic goddess this weekend, so chose the most important area to keep spick and span, yes you’ve guessed it, the bookcases. I can now confirm that the excel spreadsheet is up to date and complete and there are no longer random piles of books strategically placed throughout the house.
I then turned my hand to making some chutney and now have a stack of bramley apple and walnut chutney which tastes divine and should be even better once it has sat a while – if it lasts that long!
This Week on the Blog
The week got off to a cracking start when I took my turn on the blog tour with my review for Death Knocks Twice by Robert Thorogood, the third in the Death in Paradise series.
My extract post was from The Secrets She Keeps by Michael Robotham which was published on 11 July 2017.
On Thursday I published my review of Shelter by Sarah Franklin set in The Forest of Dean (where I grew up) during World War II – I was really taken with this story, the setting was lovingly recreated and the story of the lumberjill’s a piece of history that is a little known one.
And then I changed continents for my review of the non-fiction book, Midnight in Peking by Paul French. This true crime story not only took me across the world but back in time to 1937 when Pamela Werner was killed and mutilated.
This Time Last Year…
I was reading The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie the book that is considered by many people as one of the best of the Queen of Crimes books, and I certainly can’t disagree. Poor old Roger Ackroyd was stabbed quite literally in the back, and that was how our narrator, Doctor James Shepard found him in the locked room of his study.
You can read my full review here or click on the book cover below.
Agatha Christie’s most daring crime mystery – an early and particularly brilliant outing of Hercule Poirot, ‘The Murder of Roger Ackroyd’, with its legendary twist, changed the detective fiction genre for ever.
Roger Ackroyd knew too much. He knew that the woman he loved had poisoned her brutal first husband. He suspected also that someone had been blackmailing her. Now, tragically, came the news that she had taken her own life with a drug overdose.
But the evening post brought Roger one last fatal scrap of information. Unfortunately, before he could finish the letter, he was stabbed to death… Amazon
Stacking the Shelves
With life here still difficult I decided I needed something a little bit lighter for relief and was approved for One Day in December by Shari Low which seems to fit the bill perfectly.
By the stroke of midnight, a heart would be broken, a cruel truth revealed, a devastating secret shared, and a love betrayed. Four lives would be changed forever, One Day in December.
One morning in December…
Caro set off on a quest to find out if her relationship with her father had been based on a lifetime of lies.
Lila decided today would be the day that she told her lover’s wife of their secret affair.
Cammy was on the way to pick up the ring for the surprise proposal to the woman he loved.
And Bernadette vowed that this was the day she would walk away from her controlling husband of 30 years and never look back.
One day, four lives on a collision course with destiny… NetGalley
I made a purchase of Death of a Cuckoo by Wendy Percival which is a short story featuring genealogist Esme Quentin who has her own series…
A letter. A photograph. A devastating truth.
When Gina Vincent receives a letter of condolence from a stranger following her mother’s death, a photograph slipped inside reveals a disturbing truth – everything she’s ever known is based on a lie. Shocked and disorientated, she engages genealogy detective Esme Quentin to help search for answers.
The trail leads to an isolated and abandoned property on the edge of Exmoor, once the home of a strict Victorian institution called The House of Mercy and its enigmatic founder, whose influence seems to linger still in the fabric of the derelict building.
As they dig deeper, Esme realises that the house itself hides a dark and chilling secret, one which must be exposed to unravel the mystery behind Gina’s past.
But someone is intent on keeping the secret hidden. Whatever it takes. Amazon
I was also forced to purchase a copy of The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books by Martin Edwards, because Fiction Fan featured this in her Bookish Selfie post last week. I’ve been steadfastly resisting the British Library Crime Classics series as I knew I could easily end up acquiring the whole set and so I fear this book will open the floodgates.
The main aim of detective stories is to entertain, but the best cast a light on human behaviour, and display both literary ambition and accomplishment. Even unpretentious detective stories, written for unashamedly commercial reasons, can give us clues to the past, and give us insight into a long-vanished world that, for all its imperfections, continues to fascinate.
This book, written by award-winning crime writer and president of the Detection Club, Martin Edwards, serves as a companion to the British Library’s internationally acclaimed series of Crime Classics. Long-forgotten stories republished in the series have won a devoted new readership, with several titles entering the bestseller charts and sales outstripping those of highly acclaimed contemporary thrillers. Amazon
Since my last post I’ve read 3 books and gained 3 plus I found a couple of books to remove and a few more to add to the spreadsheet!
The current total is therefore 178
Physical Books – 103
Kindle Books – 16
NetGalley Books – 15