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Monday, January 25, 2021

Long Bright River- Liz Moore~ Amazingly both gripping and graphic~ 5 Stars!

 


Amazingly both gripping and graphic, Long Bright River was one book I could not put down. Initially I was drawn into it because it was situated in Kensington, where my mother's family came from, Mom was born and her mother died tragically. Author Liz Moore is truly talented and gifted and I will read all her books.


It's about two sisters Mickey and Kacey and their childhood, adolescence and the differences between them in adulthood. Mickel( Michaela) is a police officer and Kacey is an addict who works the streets.

A string of murders in Mickey's district of addicts and prostitutes impels her to throw caution to the winds and try to find her sister.


It is described as being "an intense family thriller" and looks at family systems in an in depth way.

Recommended as top book of the year by many top book reviewers and this reader!

Monday, January 18, 2021

The Anchoress of Chesterfield: John the Carpenter (Book 4) - 5 Stars~ A Must Read Medieval Thriller~


 A fine series by a favorite,extremely talented writer, who loves the history of this area of England. John the Carpenter was orphaned at nine by the Black Death.He lost his father who taught him to love and "listen to" wood, how to be resilient and left him his tools.

Our story opens with John being fairly prosperous, in very perilous times, following plague and famine. He is asked by the coroner to investigate the death of a young anchoress, who is revered by all, and is the youngest daughter of an important man with ties to the crown.

John can barely refuse, although his wife is angry and distraught, as his previous role with a prior coroner had almost cost his life. Now six years later he very much needs the reward he is promised, which will make his family secure. Will it put his family and himself in danger? Will he solve it in the short time he is allowed?


This one was a serious nail biter through the end to the story. Highly recommended! Chris Nickson is a master at historical mysteries, especially of this epoch.

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Death Comes to the Rectory - Catherine Lloyd- Book #8 - 5 Stars!


 #DeathComestotheRectory #NetGalley Thanks to Kensington Books and the author. A fine job and I am really hoping that the series goes on, having read and reviewed all eight of them now!


"In Catherine Lloyd's eighth Regency-set Kurland St. Mary Mystery, murder casts a dark shadow over the christening of Major Sir Robert Kurland and Lady Lucy's daughter Elizabeth--even more so when Lucy's own father, the rector, falls under suspicion for the crime..." Publisher's blog-


The list of suspects ebbed and flowed about who killed Lord Northam, a man that many felt they would LIKE to have done that deed. In fact suspicion fell on several members of Lucy and Robert's combined families. It was a surprising turn of events and a fun ending.


Monday, December 14, 2020

The Mitford Trial - Jessica Fellowes- A Mitford Mystery~ Pre-Order NOW!!

I very much enjoy Jessica Fellowes Mitford mysteries, featuring Louisa Cannon, who began her working career as nursemaid,then lady's maid to the famous Mitford family's daughters.Louisa's wedding to Guy Sullivan DS, of London's Metropolitan occurs as the story opens- with the entire Mitford family in attendance a happy day!


As war clouds hover over the UK, Louisa is induced to report to British authorities anything that transpires on a cruise that Lady Redesdale and her daughters Diana Guinness and Unity are taking. Diana's relationship with Sir Oswald Mosley and both sister's fascist leanings are of concern to UK authorities.

Guy turns up on the cruise as he is worried about Louisa and a murder happens that he as a police officer handles. The plot is long and complicated and involves British secret intelligence, double agent spies etc. The murder itself is based on a real crime but in real life the Mitfords are not involved in this.

It was a bit too complicated and long but I do enjoy the characters and hope for a sequel ( pretty sure there will be one)

 

Monday, November 9, 2020

River of Sins- A Bradcote and Catchpoll Mystery - Sarah Hawkwood-Medieval Mystery at it's finest! BLOG TOUR@Allisonandbusby


 #RiverofSins #NetGalley #Allison& Busby#Sarah Hawkswood.. Many thanks to these people for this enthralling ARC. 

"July 1144. Ricolde, ‘the finest whore in Worcester’, is found butchered on an island a few miles up the River Severn. How did she get there, who killed her, and why? Uncovering details of her life and her past reveal a woman with hidden depths and hidden miseries which are fundamental to the answers, but time has cast a thick veil over the killer’s identity. "

The mystery was so very complex with many twists and turns and not-quite-dead-ends. Characterization is superb and grows even better with every outing, I've read and reviewed all 7. 

Sergeant Catchpoll and the Undersheriff, minor Lord  Hugh Bradcote have learned to respect and trust each other's judgement and instincts. The Lord Sheriff himself, in this outing defended his men to the Castellan, who tries to insert himself in everything that he can.

Both Bradcote and their Sergeant-in-training Walkelin make a misstep or two that endangers them. This allowed at least one more murder to be committed, personally impacting  the young Walkelin. Each time they were able to protect each other and come together as a team.

Christina Bradcote makes an appearance with a secret and other promising minor characters have evolved.  I am so looking forward to more in this series.A medieval mystery at it's finest, my favorite genre! 




River of Sins Q &A Kathleen and Sarah Hawkswood

The Bradecote and Catchpoll series is set during the 'Anarchy' of King Stephen's reign in the 1140s. What prompted you to write about this point in the mediaeval period?
The Anarchy was a period in 12thC which was noted in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle for the increase in violence in comparison with the previous reign. Ellis Peters set her Brother Cadfael novels in the same period and often used the loyalties of characters to King Stephen or the  Empress Maud within the plots. Other than an element to the first book, I have chosen to look not at national politics, other than it keeping William de Beauchamp, Sheriff of Worcestershire, with one eye always upon the political situation, and looked instead at how a period of increased lawlessness would affect ordinary people. I have no proof that the incidence of murder was higher during Stephen’s reign than during that of Henry I before him or Henry II after him, but it is logical, given the commentaries. It was certainly likely to have exacerbated rivalry between those with power, and created an atmosphere of distrust and fear.



How do you make your mediaeval characters vital to modern readers (I think you have a knack for it!)?
Thank you, I am glad that you think so, but it is a terribly difficult question to answer, because I do not set out to do that, rather it comes by chance. If I had to analyse it, I suppose it stems in part from accepting that whilst we have changed a lot in nine centuries when it comes to societal norms and accepted behaviours, human nature has not mutated. As  an example of the former, in the 12thC religious belief was not ‘optional’. Being ‘godless’ was essentially like being an outlaw, setting a man apart from society, so Bradecote, Catchpoll and Walkelin have genuine faith and expect it among their fellows, even law breakers. That could not be taken for granted today.
 
However, the motivations for murder, fear, greed, revenge, lust and anger, are no different today than in the 1140s.The essence of what it is to be human, the moral core (or lack of it), the fears and the desires, do not change. Why should one think that just because death was ever-present, that men and women grieved the less when they lost those they loved? Jealousy is jealousy, anger is anger. I just write people by ‘walking with them’. I write very visually, in that I can ‘see’ the layout of a village, watch a dog scratch itself for fleas, and I observe the people I write from close quarters, then step into their mind set, making adjustments for their historical period but treating them as people, not mannequins in odd clothes. This works for the vast majority of characters, but I admit that Catchpoll is different. Catchpoll is a part of me, because I gave him  elements of my own father, grandfather and great-grandfather, all senior NCOs in the Royal Marines. He has their pragmatism, their awareness that with rank comes the need to ‘act’, to be what everyone expects a sergeant-major, or a sheriff’s serjeant to be - calm in all circumstances, unshockable, and yes, seemingly omniscient. Like them, Catchpoll does not deal in problems, but solutions, and he does not expect to fail. It is an attitude of mind.

The focus on the victimization of women in River of Sins really spoke to me (I was the Director of a Battered Women's Agency as a Social Worker and wrote many grants using the Violence Against Women Act co-sponsored by Joe Biden). What drew you to Ricolde's story? 

The highlighting of the victimization of women has been within the series from early on - from the case of poor Nerys Ford, in the second book, Ordeal by Fire,  a girl who, like Ricolde, ended up selling the only thing she owned, her own body. I was reminded of the case of German women at the end of WWII who prostituted themselves to Allied soldiers so that their children did not starve. Such women were not of low morals, not cheap, but absolutely desperate. Ricolde came into my head in the opening scene, and I wanted her death, the ultimate victimization, to also be her defiance of that status. She will not give her killer the sense of power and the pleasure of seeing her fearful.  I wanted to show a woman who had become strong, as Christina Bradecote has become strong, having faced the worst men can do. It contrasts with other women in the series who remain victims in their own minds, who ‘conform’ to victimhood and never fight against it. That too has not changed much in nine hundred years. 

I do not condone prostitution, but the sad fact is that it really is ‘the oldest profession'. That judging a woman solely upon her selling herself is inherently flawed is something Bradecote comes to realize, and Catchpoll already knows. I do show women who are sluttish from inclination (Mald, who hides the forger in Hostage to Fortune, is one and will reappear in Book 9) but she shows the opportunist rather than the woman driven by need. There is also the issue of the women whose husbands mistreat them, from Christina, to Sibbe, and three very different women in the next book in the series, Blood Runs Thicker.

 At the same time, I am not flying some flag that says 'Men are all beasts'. In 'my boys' I show three very different men who are all revolted by the concept of cruelty to women. Now, that would not mean Catchpoll would not have smacked his wife's rump if he had found her flirting with another man  in their earlier days, because he, being of his time, would accept that as 'just retribution', which is not acceptable now. However, violence that is for its own sake, violence that is repeated, excessive or even worse, for gratification, is abhorrent to all of them. I do not think that too modern a viewpoint either.

Where has some of the research for each 'case' series taken you?
The answer to that is some strange places, if one does not mean purely geographical, including doing experiments to work out what a heated and slowly evaporating  salt paste would do to skin (using a piece of pork belly with the skin on it), to trying various substances as accelerants on a thick piece of wood to represent an oak plank. As an historian I have a reasonable sense of the period, but one learns more of the political and social history than the practical, so I have had to research how assorted trades were conducted in the twelfth century, and indeed not just what people ate but how they cooked and stored their food. That was never on any curriculum when I was at university. 

Who are your biggest historical crime fiction inspirations?
I admire Ellis Peters for her ability to create a world into which so many people have chosen to step, and then kept them there with her main character, but my real inspirations come from not from historical crime at all but the ‘Golden Age of Crime’ fiction. Dorothy L Sayers and Ngaio Marsh both provide good plots, but it is the excellence of their characters, especially their central characters, that draws me. I freely admit I am not trying to see how few people work out ‘whodunnit before page X’. I do not mind. What I want is to entertain, in a decent historical context, so that the readers follow the series because they want to accompany Hugh Bradecote, Serjeant Catchpoll and Young Walkelin as they work out  who committed the murder(s).

What next for Bradecote, Catchpoll and Walkelin?
There is quite a bit to come for my trio of sheriff’s men, with the eighth book in the series, Blood Runs Thicker, due out in March 2021, and the ninth book to follow. I am currently working on book number ten.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

The Last Mrs. Summers- A Royal Spyness Mystery- Fun light read~


  "Georgie is just back from her honeymoon with Darcy when a friend in need pulls her into a murder while in Cornwall"


A fun read, not a great deal of mystery although I was surprised at who the murderer actually was.Her friend Belinda inherited property in Cornwall that s the two of them went to see. Darcy appears in Cornwall, improbably, towards the end.

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

#NothingGoodHappensAfterMidnight #NetGalley - Enjoyable Mystery Anthology- Nothing Good Happens After Midnight


  #NothingGoodHappensAfterMidnight #NetGalley Very enjoyable book of short stories by some important authors, thanks Netgalleyand Suspense Publishing.


Not my usual type of reading but Linwood Barclay, Rhys Bowen and Hank Phillippi Ryan's stories were especially fun reads! Recommended!!