Posted in Weekly Posts

This Week in Books (February 13)

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

My current read is Death of a Dancer by Jill McGown, number three in the Lloyd and Hill series. I originally read many of these books many years ago on loan from the library, but was thrilled to find them published for the kindle a few years ago – sadly I only made it to book two then but here I am picking up the thread again after a break.



Blurb

The murder of a deputy headmaster’s wife on the night of the Sesquicentennial Ball at a minor-league boys’ public school brings together the team of Inspector Lloyd and Judy Hill. Diana Hamlyn’s body has been found on the school’s playing field. Death had been caused by the traditional blunt instrument, her clothing was disarrayed, her underclothes missing. It was a particularly disturbing killing.

As Lloyd and Hill begin the harrowing routine of a murder investigation they rapidly learn that the woman had been a nymphomaniac – her conquests many, her fidelities few, the list of suspects for her killing appallingly long. That list includes her husband, her lovers and her colleagues, none with perfect alibis, some ostentatiously lying. Amazon

The last book I finished was The Moving Finger by Agatha Christie although strictly speaking I listened to the book, rather than read it! Miss Marple did it again using the voice of June Whitfield!

Blurb

Lymstock is a town with more than its share of shameful secrets – a town where even a sudden outbreak of anonymous hate-mail causes only a minor stir.

But all that changes when one of the recipients, Mrs Symmington, commits suicide. Her final note said ‘I can’t go on’. Only Miss Marple questions the coroner’s verdict of suicide. Was this the work of a poison-pen? Or of a poisoner? Amazon

Next up I think I’ll step away from murder for a moment and read The Girl in the Letter by Emily Gunnis.


Blurb

A heartbreaking letter. A girl locked away. A mystery to be solved.

1956. When Ivy Jenkins falls pregnant she is sent in disgrace to St Margaret’s, a dark, brooding house for unmarried mothers. Her baby is adopted against her will. Ivy will never leave.

Present day. Samantha Harper is a journalist desperate for a break. When she stumbles on a letter from the past, the contents shock and move her. The letter is from a young mother, begging to be rescued from St Margaret’s. Before it is too late.

Sam is pulled into the tragic story and discovers a spate of unexplained deaths surrounding the woman and her child. With St Margaret’s set for demolition, Sam has only hours to piece together a sixty-year-old mystery before the truth, which lies disturbingly close to home, is lost for ever…
Read her letter. Remember her story… Amazon

 

What does your reading week look like?

Posted in Book Review, Books I have read, Mount TBR 2017

Redemption – Jill McGown

Crime Fiction 4*s
Crime Fiction
4*s

Book number two in the Hill and Lloyd series was just as enjoyable as I hoped with a good honest proper mystery, complete with a limited number of suspects and a solid investigation. As much as I am a fan of the newer types of crime fiction there is something incredibly appealing about a straightforward murder mystery, told in a sequential timeline with a single (reliable) narrator.

Redemption
is set in the Christmas period with snow on the ground, which was credible in 1988 when this book was first published, and in the Vicar’s home. George Wheeler, said Vicar, has a lack of faith which surely is a pre-requisite of the job, is ably supported with the lack of faith firmly disguised and ignored by his wife, Marian. They are both understandably distressed when their young daughter (a mere twenty-one) is visited by her husband in the small village outside Stansfield. Joanne, has been previously been beaten by Graham Elstow and returned to the bosom of her family after a particularly serious incident, and then on Christmas Eve night, he is found beaten to death in bed at the Vicarage. Acting Chief Inspector Lloyd (it seems Jill McGown went with her former Latin teacher, Colin Dexter’s naming preference for the chief protagonist and declined to give him a first name until much later in the series) and Sergeant Judy Hill are hopeful that this is going to be a case they can swiftly solve, after all surely young Joanne has retaliated with the handy murder weapon of a poker? It’s not to be, because it isn’t long before the alibis for the entire household come rolling in and the occupants insist that he must have been attacked by an intruder.

It was the skilful misdirection employed throughout this novel that really had me gripped. There are some convoluted relationships to dazzle the reader, including that of the young playgroup attendee Eleanor Langton who lives in the castle grounds as a single mother while working as an archivist. She has caught the Vicar’s eye and he is having very unholy thoughts about her. For Lloyd and Hill things are no less complex as there are some confessions, time lines which simply don’t fit with the time of death and locked doors that are usually left open, as I presume was the habit in a small village in the 1980s. Fortunately the reader doesn’t need to spare any sympathy for the wife-beating victim all of which ensures this book falls into the gentler half of crime fiction but far away from the cosy variety. I will grant you that we don’t get too far beneath the surface of the characters in the way more modern crime fiction tends to, but what is lacking here is made up for with a story with a puzzle that is told in a mere 246 pages.

Of course Christmas is a great setting for a murder mystery because you have all the angst and families, which often amount to one and the same thing, competing with the forced merriment. Jill McGown uses this aspect to breathe a contemporary feel into her mystery which has tendrils reaching back to the Golden Era. Lloyd and Hill are having an affair the beginnings of which stretch back through time but with Judy Hill moving back to the area, it has reignited, and we all know with those families hanging around that for those involved, Christmas is a tricky time to conduct any secret assignations. There have been strenuous efforts made by the author to remove the sordidness from this relationship with Judy’s marriage (almost) being one of convenience and the way both professionals keep their two worlds separate, meaning that the investigation isn’t sullied by bedroom antics.

All of this made for a very satisfying read, my first of the Mount TBR challenge which may not be succeeding in actually reducing the TBR as I now want the next book in the series which fortunately for me have been republished by Bello. Redemption has since been released by Pan as part of their Christmas series under the title Murder at the Old Vicarage. mount-tbr-2017

 

First Published UK: 1988
Publisher: Bello
No of Pages:  246
Genre: Crime Fiction Series – Police Procedural
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Lloyd and Hill Series

A Perfect Match (1983)
Redemption (aka Murder At the Old Vicarage) (1988)
Death of a Dancer (aka Gone to Her Death) (1989)
The Murders of Mrs Austin And Mrs Beale (1991)
The Other Woman (1992)
Murder… Now And Then (1993)
A Shred of Evidence (1995)
Verdict Unsafe (1997)
Picture of Innocence (1998)
Plots And Errors (1999)
Scene of Crime (2001)
Births, Deaths and Marriages (aka Death in the Family) (2002)
Unlucky for Some (2004)

Posted in Weekly Posts

This Week in Books (January 4)

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 Redemption by Jill McGown as part of my Goodreads Mount TBR challenge which will see me reading 36 of my own books over the next year. I loved this series when it was first released but not having read them all at the time, due to availability at the library, I vowed to read them all on kindle when they were re-released in 2014. I’ve got a long way; this is the second in the series, previously released with the title Murder at the Old Vicarage.

redemption

Blurb

A white Christmas. Deepening snow isolated the village from the outside world. By the time the body in the vicarage was discovered, Byford was cut off altogether . . . A domestic murder – Chief Inspector Lloyd thought it would be an open and shut case. But it turned out to be as complex and perplexing as his relationship with Sergeant Judy Hill. And both of them seemed to be slipping from his grasp . . Amazon

The last book I finished was the amazing A Dangerous Crossing by Rachel Rhys which will be published on 23 March 2017 which I chose to read for my The First Book of  the Year 2017 for very special reasons. So if you’ve read that, you’ll know I was pre-disposed to enjoy this book, it surpassed my expectations – I loved it!

dangerous-crossing

Blurb

It was a first class deception that would change her life forever
1939, Europe on the brink of war. Lily Shepherd leaves England on an ocean liner for Australia, escaping her life of drudgery for new horizons. She is instantly seduced by the world onboard: cocktails, black-tie balls and beautiful sunsets. Suddenly, Lily finds herself mingling with people who would otherwise never give her the time of day.
But soon she realizes her glamorous new friends are not what they seem. The rich and hedonistic Max and Eliza Campbell, mysterious and flirtatious Edward, and fascist George are all running away from tragedy and scandal even greater than her own.
By the time the ship docks, two passengers are dead, war has been declared, and life will never be the same again. Amazon

Next up is Relativity by Antonia Hayes which promises to be ‘Genuinely difficult to put down’ according to Graeme Simsion, author of The Rosie Project.

relativity

Please see yesterday’s post for an excerpt and the synopsis

What are you reading this week? Feel free to leave your links, answers or any other random comments about books in the box below.

Posted in Books I have read

A Perfect Match – Jill McGown

Police Procedural  4*'s
Police Procedural
4*’s

I was delighted when I found out via twitter that the Lloyd and Hill series by Jill McGown had been re-released for kindle as I’d read a few which the library had in stock in the early nineties and really enjoyed them. A Perfect Match is the first in this series and at the time of writing this post is on offer at the bargain price of a mere 59p.

When Chris turns up at Helen and Donald Mitchell’s house he is clearly in a state but neither of the Mitchell’s are able to understand much of what he is saying except the fatal line ‘I didn’t mean to’ Before they can find out what he didn’t mean to do the police knock on the front door and Chris makes a rapid exit through the back door. It turns out there has been a murder and Inspector Lloyd (a man whose first name is a mystery in a parallel to the great detective Morse) and Judy Hill start questioning the locals in the small town.

This has an old-fashioned feel maybe because it was first published way back in 1983, this isn’t full of violence and politics, rather there is a mystery to be solved and the police go about their business in a surprisingly unhurried way putting the pieces of the puzzle together. Jill McGown throws in a few red-herrings into the mix and the mystery unfolds at a steady pace.

This is a fairly short book at less than two hundred pages but I neither felt cheated although in contrast to more modern novels of this genre, there was just one main storyline and a bit of background about the Lloyd and Hill.  The detectives work pretty much a partnership with little input from the wider team. I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say it is clear that we will find out more about both of them later in the series but pleasingly the author hasn’t felt the need to overload us with details in this novel, leaving the bulk of the story telling directly related to the mystery.

So to the mystery, it was complex enough to keep me wondering, but not outlandish and all the clues were there to be spotted by the eagle-eyed. The author did have a little bit of bizarre habit of giving us some input from the surrounding nature, I have to state at this point that I’m not entirely sure this device worked.

I don’t think this is one of the best of this series (from what I remember) but it was certainly 59p well spent. I started reading it while I was waiting for an appointment and was without my current physical book, I rarely start one book before finishing another but after a couple of pages I was sufficiently hooked to read to the end before returning to my original read, which I would say is a fair endorsement of the quality. As a result I already have the second in the series, Redemption ready to read.

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

Blurb

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

Blurb

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

Blurb

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?