Posted in #20 Books of Summer 2017, Book Review, Books I have read

The Doctor’s Wife is Dead – Andrew Tierney #20booksofsummer

Historical True Crime
4*s

On 1 May 1849 Ellen Langley dies in Nengh, County Tipperary the local women gather and stone the house she was living in. Meanwhile Doctor Langley tried to go about the business of removing Ellen’s body from the house; he did, she spent two days in the garden.

This is the account of one woman’s life, a fairly indistinct figure and her sad demise and one that serves as a commentary on how women were both viewed and treated at this time, with a focus on the laws in Ireland at the time. It is clear, for whatever reason, Ellen Langley had been cast aside by her husband and in 1849 that put her in a very precarious position indeed.

This was an interesting read although the explanation of the convoluted family relations slowed pace of the book with mini-biographies of countless kith and kin, fortunately there are some family trees at the start of the book to assist the reader.

Following these early explanations we then move onto the part of the book which was far more interesting, the inquest where Doctor Langley seems at pains to exonerate himself from the faintest whiff of suspicion of wrongdoing. As a Protestant man of social standing, a man who had attended inquests as an expert witness at previous murder trials (there was far more serious crime in County Tipperary at this time than I’d imagined) it is possible that the Doctor was just pre-empting any rumours, after all the fact that his marriage to Ellen had not been happy in the last few months was no secret. Or his efforts to appear innocent were those of a man who was trying to disguise his guilt?

One of the things that always strikes me about historical true crime is how much faster the wheels of justice tended to move in those days. Archaeologist Andrew Tierney has certainly dug deep to find the documents that detail the court proceedings and has resisted what surely must have been a big temptation to flesh Ellen out with more details than are actually available. As a result she remains a shadowy being which made me feel all the more compassionate for this woman who represents so many of her time.

You can’t have a historical account in Ireland without links the conflict between the Catholics and the Protestants and while this doesn’t overshadow the court case it is useful to have the context, if only to gain an understanding of social standing. Alongside that, Ellen died during the potato famine and the author paints a desperate picture of the effect this had on the local population, the contrast between the rich and the poor being readily apparent.

This is a worthy addition to my historical true crime collection and the arrogance and lack of compassion from some players in the court room, all men of course, women were not allowed at this time, was so blatant it defied belief at times, but there is a lot to keep the reader’s attention. And then we get to the ending, court case over, The Doctor’s Wife is Dead leaves us with a surprise discovery which left me shocked.

The Doctor’s Wife is Dead was my fourth read of my 20 Books of Summer  Challenge 2017

First Published UK: 23 February 2017
Publisher: Penguin
No of Pages: 282
Genre: True Crime – Historical
Amazon UK
Amazon US

Posted in #20 Books of Summer 2017, Challenge

20 Books of Summer 2017! #20booksofsummer

Cathy at Cathy 746 has a yearly challenge to read twenty books over the summer months starting on 1 June 2017 and running until 3 September 2017, and once again I’ve decided to join her. My aim this year is to read all twenty books in the allotted time span!!

As I’m competitive I’m signing up for the full twenty. My personal challenge is to read these twenty books from my bookshelf, physical books that I already own and have purchased for myself before today. Funnily enough I have plenty to choose from… a whole 91 in fact!

Because I know that facts in one book tend to lead me to seek out other books in my tangential reading style, I’ve decided to start with a spread of genres and authors for the first ten books – fat books, thin books and books in-between! Book lovers will completely understand the complexity of this choice which has taken many, many hours to hone to just the right mix, especially as I have had to factor in going on holiday and therefore I will have to further reduced  the pile for the trip… I will post the next ten when these are all finished which should be in mid-July, if I’m on schedule!

 

The links below will take you to the Goodreads description

The Doctor’s Wife is Dead by Andrew Tierney

Broken Heart by Tim Weaver

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

The Girl From Nowhere by Dorothy Koomson

Midnight in Peking by Paul French

The Island by Victoria Hislop

Saturday Requiem by Nicci French

Winter Garden by Beryl Bainbridge

What Remains Behind by Dorothy Fowler

Bones and Silence by Reginald Hill

I will be joining Cathy by tweeting my way through the challenge using the hashtag #20booksofsummer to demonstrate when one of my reads is part of this challenge! Should be easy eh?

As in the previous two years there will be a master page linking the titles to my reviews as they are posted, and of course eventually listing the entire twenty books.

Top of my holiday reads is Reginald Hill, I always read one of his books on holiday, and of course there is The Island which I bought after visiting Spinalonga, Greece’s former leper colony in Crete last summer, Dorothy Koomson is an obvious choice but is In Cold Blood too grim for sunshine and cocktails?

So what do you think of my choices? Where would you start?

I’ve enjoyed looking at everyone else’s choices so far and after all having read the full list of 20, I will need replacements.

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