Posted in Book Review, Books I have read, Five Star Reads

The Outcast Dead – Elly Griffiths

Crime Fiction 5*'s
Crime Fiction
5*’s

The Outcast Dead features a fictional baby-farmer, made more gruesome by the addition of a hook to replace her missing hand.  Mother Hook as she was known after her death was tried, found guilty and executed for killing children in her care so the discovery of a body, which could be this infamous woman, real name Jemima Green during a dig at Norwich Castle prompts the TV series Women Who Kill to turn up to film ‘the discovery.’ Phil, Ruth’s boss at the University is keen to take part as the archaeology team work on identification of the remains.

800px-Norwich_castle

Norwich Castle

Meanwhile DCI Nelson is plunged into the worst kind of investigation, an investigation into a mother whose third child has just died.  Nelson is cautious of her innocence but equally anxious not to upset the bereaved mother when he is plunged into the disappearance of a young child and he race against time to find her before it is too late.

I have only read the first in this series (The Crossing Places) featuring Ruth Galloway, something I must rectify as I’d forgotten how much I enjoyed reading about Ellie Griffith’s unglamorous forensic archaeologist, so fortunately I got the references to the death of Scarlet Henderson which still haunts Nelson but this was easy to read as a stand-alone in its own right.  Ruth is a real woman who clearly adores her daughter but also loves her job and is passionate about recording all that she can discover of the bones that she discovers.  She is pragmatic about her Phil’s vanity and there are some delightfully catty asides aimed at him.  She is delighted to explain her work to a wider audience whilst not enjoying being the focus of attention during filming.

Although the writing style (in the present tense) does take some getting used to I soon managed to immerse myself in this book, the wonderful imagery, tense relationships and a genuinely gripping plot which is fast paced. The reason why these books work for me is that there are a myriad of relationships that underpin the crimes being investigated.

Quercus were kind enough to allow me an ARC in return for this review which has paid off for them as I have already purchased Dying Fall to listen to on audio! The Outcast Dead was published on 6 February 2014.

Girls who got pregnant in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century had few options if marriage wasn’t an option, particularly if they weren’t living in rural areas where the children could be passed to members of the immediate or extended family.  One of the more favourable options was to give their child to one of the woman who were known disparagingly as baby-farmers.  These women were paid to take care of the child.  If the payment was made as a lump sum the less scrupulous in the profession weren’t averse to hastening an infant’s death, often using opiate based medicines which quietened the child at the same time, thereby making more room and another lump sum.

Read my reviews of some other books that feature baby-farmer’s here:

The Ghost of Lily Painter by Caitlin Davies a fictional account that features Amelia Sach who plied her trade in Finchley

The Woman Who Murdered Babies for Money by Alison Rattle is a non-fiction account of the baby-farmer Amelia Dyer

Caversham Lock by Michael Stewert Conway is a fictional account featuring Amelia Dyer

The Outcast Dead – Amazon UK

 

 

Posted in Weekly Posts

WWW Wednesday (February 5)

WWW Wednesday green

Hosted by Miz B at Should be Reading
To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…
• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

I am currently reading The Outcast Dead by Elly Griffiths due to be published tomorrow by Quercus!

The Outcast Dead
Blurb

Forensic archaeologist Ruth Galloway has excavated a body from the grounds of Norwich Castle, a forbidding edifice that was once a prison.
She believes the body may be that of infamous Victorian murderess Jemima Green. Called Mother Hook for her claw-like hand, Jemima was hanged in 1867 for the murder of five children in her care.
DCI Harry Nelson has no time for long-dead killers. Immersed in the case of three infants found dead, one after the other, in their King’s Lynn home, he’s convinced that a family member is responsible, though others on his team think differently.
Then a child goes missing. Could the abduction be linked to the long-dead Mother Hook? Ruth is pulled into the case, and back towards Nelson. NetGalley

I’m not very far through this yet but so far I’m enjoying the mix of present mystery of a dead child combined with the fictional horrendous baby-farmer Mrs Hook who inspired a local rhyme;

Don’t cry little darling.
Don’t cry little dear.
Don’t cry little darling.
Or Mother Hook will hear.

I have just finished The Child’s Child by Barbara Vine

The Child's Child

I’ve been visiting my Mum in the UK so I am now even further behind with my reviews but this will be done before the end of the week!

Next I am going to read Someone Else’s Skin by Sarah Hilary

Someone Else's Skin

Blurb

Detective Inspector Marnie Rome. Dependable; fierce; brilliant at her job; a rising star in the ranks. Everyone knows how Marnie fought to come back from the murder of her parents, but very few know what is going on below the surface. Because Marnie has secrets she won’t share with anyone.
But then so does everyone. Certainly those in the women’s shelter Marnie and Detective Sergeant Noah Jake visit on that fateful day. The day when they arrive to interview a resident, only to find one of the women’s husbands, who shouldn’t have been there, lying stabbed on the floor.
As Marnie and Noah investigate the crime further, events begin to spiral and the violence escalates. Everyone is keeping secrets, some for survival and some, they suspect, to disguise who they really are under their skin.
Now, if Marnie is going to find the truth she will have to face her own demons head on. Because the time has come for secrets to be revealed… Goodreads

Posted in Weekly Posts

Friday Finds (January 31)

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).

So, come on — share with us your FRIDAY FINDS!

Well… I have lots more finds this week to add to my TBR so I have decided that I will need to invoke a resolution for February and stop acquiring new books at a faster rate than I can read them (that should leave a little room for manoeuvre)

First up this week is  The Lady kindly sent to me, and signed, by the author Judy Higgins after I commented on her interview celebrating her debut novel  BOOKTALK WITH EILEEN

The Lady

Blurb

South Georgia, 1956.
When sixteen-year-old Quincy Bruce goes to live with her Aunt Addy, she has no idea that what happened thirteen years earlier in wartime London can destroy her future. Her parents have gone to Africa as missionaries, leaving Quincy with her free-spirited and lively aunt, a war widow, and the only person who supports Quincy’s ambition to become a musician. When another aunt accuses Addy of having been the inspiration for the adulterous woman in Nathan Waterstone’s infamous wartime novel, The Lady, Quincy vows to prove her wrong. As Quincy settles into her new life with Addy, she sets about unraveling the secrets of Addy’s life, and of Nathan’s, in an effort to discover the true identity of the Lady. When she makes a discovery of a different type, Quincy’s dreams of becoming a pianist come crashing down.

Eileen is a wonderful fellow blogger, we have had off-line conversations about where we live, have visited etc. and has a wide range of authors visiting her blog. This book particularly caught my attention because of the historical mystery.
The author Judy Higgins gave some really good answers to Eileen’s questions which gives more of a hint about some of the themes in this book so I am really looking forward to seeing what this book has in store for poor Quincy.

I treated myself (yes I know!) to The Liar’s Diary by Patry Francis which was published in 2007, so this is a real book too!  I have a little confession in that I have been campaigning for a new bookcase for some time and piling up real books serves two purposes – the good news is we went and looked in the furniture shop last week….

The Liar's Diary

Blurb

A seductive psychological thriller about a woman facing the dark truths at the heart of her family Jeanne Cross’s contented suburban life gets a jolt of energy from the arrival of Ali Mather, the stunning new music teacher at the local high school. With a magnetic personality and looks to match, Ali draws attention from all quarters, including Jeanne’s husband and son. Nonetheless, Jeanne and Ali develop a deep friendship based on their mutual vulnerabilities and long-held secrets that Ali has been recording in her diary. The diary also holds a key to something darker: Ali’s suspicion that someone has been entering her house when she is not at home. Soon their friendship will be shattered by violence-and Jeanne will find herself facing impossible choices in order to protect the people she loves Goodreads

In addition FictionFan wrote another great review, this one is for The Outcast Dead by Elly Griffiths which not only features a fictional baby farmer but her body was found at Norwich Castle which I visited soon after my son started university there!

Another aside, Norwich Castle is the place to go for the most random collection of teapots you are ever likely to encounter, they have over 3,000 teapots there!

Back to the book I went and looked at Quercus the publishers on NetGalley and bagged myself a copy.  This wasn’t sensible as I haven’t read all of the series so I am now going to read out of sequence too!

The Outcast Dead

I suggest you read FictionFan’s review

Blurb

Forensic archaeologist Ruth Galloway has excavated a body from the  grounds of Norwich Castle, a forbidding edifice that was once a prison.
She believes the body may be that of infamous Victorian murderess Jemima  Green. Called Mother Hook for her claw-like hand, Jemima was hanged in  1867 for the murder of five children in her care.
DCI Harry Nelson  has no time for long-dead killers. Immersed in the case of three infants found dead, one after the other, in their King’s Lynn home, he’s  convinced that a family member is responsible, though others on his team think differently.
Then a child goes missing. Could the abduction  be linked to the long-dead Mother Hook? Ruth is pulled into the case,  and back towards Nelson. NetGalley

And finally to my favourite of this week! I spotted a piece on this book in the Mail Online (I do like to read the comments posted but rarely do you find articles about books) Murder Houses of London by Jan Bondeson which will look perfect next to my A Very British Murder and Silent Witnesses books don’t you think?

Murder Houses of London
Blurb

In that stately Fitzrovia house, the butler was murdered by a disgruntled pantry-boy; in that one, a king s housekeeper lost her life. In that Kensington flat, a demented playboy murdered a prostitute for kicks; in that Gloucester Road basement, Acid Bath Haigh was busy digesting the bodies of his victims. In those two elegant Chelsea houses, located in peaceful garden squares, a clergyman and his housekeeper were brutally done to death in 1870. In that peaceful little house, not far from Camden Road Station, a woman murdered her rival, dismembered the body, and disposed of it using an old-fashioned perambulator. In that peaceful pub near the Thames, the landlady was murdered in 1920, and the killer was never found. In one Islington house, George Joseph Smith disposed of one of his Brides in the Bath; in another, Annie Walters, the notorious baby-farmer, was plying her deadly trade; in a third, a brilliant playwright was brutally murdered by his homosexual lover. This book deals with Central London s architecture of capital crime: houses inside which celebrated murders have been committed. Pursue Lord Lucan as he escapes from his elegant Belgravia house, leaving the dead nanny in the basement; prowl the Soho streets once haunted by an elusive serial killer; and follow in the murderous footsteps of the Blackout Ripper and the serial killer Patrick Mackay. And read about London s many forgotten murders, where only the murder houses remain to tell a tale. Goodreads

This was a gift from my OH who after seeing my tweet, treated me (a bit of a tongue twister there) and it arrived today. Looking at the introduction this is the first of two planned volumes, covering seven areas of London. It has some wonderful pictures from the contemporary media as well as pictures of the houses still standing where these historical murders took place. This is another book that features a baby-farmer too!

What have you all found this week?