#BookReview By Lou of A Spoonful of Murder By J.M. Hall #JMHall @AvonBooksUK @HarperCollinsUK #CrimeFiction #Mystery #BookRecommendation

A Spoonful of Murder
By J.M. Hall

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

A Spoonful of Murder is an engrossing, enjoyable cosy crime with an edge, full of former teachers who have started a coffee club, who become unlikely sleuths. Readers are in for a treat! Take a look at the blurb and my review. Thanks so much to Avon Books for gifting me this in a “care package” at the online Avon Books Showcase in 2021, I was kindly invited to and thoroughly enjoyed seeing what was coming in 2022.

A Spoonful of Murder

Blurb

Retirement can be murder…

A Spoonful of Murder 1Every Thursday, three retired school teachers have their ‘coffee o’clock’ sessions at the Thirsk Garden Centre café.

But one fateful week, as they are catching up with a slice of cake, they bump into their ex-colleague, Topsy.

By the next Thursday, Topsy’s dead.

The last thing Liz, Thelma and Pat imagined was that they would become involved in a murder.

But they know there’s more to Topsy’s death than meets the eye – and it’s down to them to prove it…

Sit down with a cup of tea, a slice of cake and this perfectly witty, page-turning cosy crime novel. 

Review

There is something in the air about Thursdays. It is becoming an increasingly dangerous day as the years pass by. I am now thinking I perhaps had better watch my back on Thursdays, you just never know what might occur or whether you might end the day dead or alive or involved in trying to solve a murder! First came The Thursday Murder Club and now comes a group of retired teachers in a Spoonful of Murder, and here is where any similarity (except genre of course, ceases and it comes into its own and is also a very enjoyable to read. It’s mysterious and humorous throughout its twisty and entertaining plot.

The retired teachers are an interesting bunch of characters that the more you delve in, the more you want to know about them. There is Liz, who likes David Essex and takes care of her grandson when she picks him up on Fridays Thelma who does a stint in a charity shop and Pat who does shopping on Fridays, meet every Thursday at Thirsk Garden Centre, Yorkshire, for coffee and cake as they set up a Coffee Club. There would be Monday and Tuesday free, but there’s a funny reason that seems perfectly justifiable as to why not those days… The idea of a coffee club sounds great! It is all innocent enough as they sit around talking about life and their former school, giving insights into their personalities and what they do the other days of the week as they do so. Then there is Topsy, who they go to visit, who sadly isn’t keeping so well and there are health and there are financial troubles and large sums exiting her account… and then, she is dead. Unintentionally the retired teachers are caught up in this to discover the murderer. There is also Topsy’s daughter, who Thelma almost witheringly rips through for what she was doing before her mum died and about care, or lack of. There are some poignant moments, dilemmas as well as secrets and deceptions. These unintentional sleuths probe and investigate what happened to a woman they once knew.

As the mystery continues, this becomes increasingly engrossing and enjoyable. You get to know everyone fairly fast. This, I feel, may be the beginning of what will hopefully become a series about the retired teachers and the murders they get involved in solving. It’s cosy crime with an edge to it with its insalubrious characters. It has clues abound that you will want to follow throughout to keep guessing who the killer is, through the light humour and warmth that is also sprinkled in the book. A Spoonful of Murder is good for cosying up with a cup of coffee and easing yourself into a book for an afternoon or two.

 

#Review Vera Kelly Is Not A Mystery by Rosalie Knecht @rosalieknecht @verve_books @holliemcdevitt @OldCastleBooks #CrimeFiction #BlogTour #BookReview #FemaleSpyBook

Vera Kelly Is Not A Mystery
By Rosalie Knecht

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

This series is getting better. It started with Who Is Vera Kelly? Now she is back with Vera Kelly Is Not A Mystery. It is a fun, easy-going spy story, asy to get into and stay with and soak up that film noir atmosphere it creates some of within its entertaining plot.

Thanks to Hollie McDevitt for inviting me to review Vera Kelly Is Not A Mystery and for sending me a copy of the book.

Vera Kelly is not a mystery

Blurb

Recently out-of-the-spy-game heroine Vera Kelly finds herself travelling from Brooklyn to a sprawling
countryside estate in the Caribbean in her first case as a private investigator. When ex-CIA agent Vera Kelly loses her job and her girlfriend in a single day, she reluctantly goes into business as a private detective. Heartbroken and cash-strapped, she takes a case that dredges up dark
memories and attracts dangerous characters from across the Cold War landscape.
Before it’s over, she’ll chase a lost child through foster care and follow a trail of Dominican exiles to the
Caribbean. Forever looking over her shoulder, she nearly misses what’s right in front of her: her own desire for home, connection, and a new romance at the local bar.
In this exciting second instalment of the ‘splendid genre-pushing’ (People) Vera Kelly series, Rosalie Knecht
challenges and deepens the Vera we love: a woman of sparkling wit, deep moral fibre, and martini-dry humour who knows how to follow a case even as she struggles to follow her heart.

Review

Vera Kelly Is Not A Mystery is the second in this P.I. series. It’s a bad day when you lose your job in the CIA and girlfriend in a single day, but this is what happened to Vera and so she joined a Private Investigator business. Vera Kelly is essentially a female detective series that has a bit of that 1960’s film noir feel to it, which is all encompassing and can almost be breathed in as if that were possible. There are some of the uphill struggles to be recognised as a strong contender in detective work and yet she gives as good as she gets to prove herself and to get the job done in, sometimes a lively manner.

There is a child who was taken away by the state welfare system because of the death of his gran and this propmts a search to find out what happened to him. From Brooklyn to Dominican Republic and back to New York, she must travel if she is to resolve the case. Amongst this is also the personal life of Vera that creeps in and it isn’t always plain-sailing and she does at times show her softer side as her unfortunate failed love-life affects her here and there.

Pages glide by when reading this series as it is so succinct and is mysterious enough to want to know what happened to the 14 year old boy. The writing is also atmospheric and the details add to this and feel right for this genre. The humour carries it a long too, even though it is as dry as it gets. It’s a gem of a read that can be “got into” very quickly and I read it in one sitting.

The book is all set up and ready to go for Book Clubs. It has a few insightful questions that groups can discuss and debate to do with the book, the era it is set in and more…

Vera Kelly is not a Mystery - BLOG TOUR POSTER

#BookReview by #Lou of Murderous Passions by B.R. Statham @brstateham @HenryRoiPR #CrimeFiction

Murderous Passions
By B.R. Statham
Rated: 4 stars ****

Sinister and intrigue between the pages of Murderous Passions.

Thank you to Henry Roi for contacting me to review Murderous Passions on-be-half of his represented author – B.R. Statham.
Read on for the blurb, review and link.

Blurb

Two cops. Four homicides. One case involves a college professor and six thousand suspects. The second involves a dead farm girl, a dead gigolo, and a grieving housewife. The third is a jewel thief who likes to play with big caliber guns. The fourth involves a drug-crazed hoodlum with a killer’s desire to challenge the world. It is just another working day for Detective Sergeants Turner Hahn and Frank Morales.

Murderous Passions

 

Review

A tinkle on the piano may never seem as innocent again. Strike up the music and take away a piano string from the note of C and the author presents it as, not a thing of beauty for music to be made, but a very murderous instrument for garroting. It all gets very messy and macabre for someone known to Anderson University. Frank Morales and a couple of “on the beat” officers Alonzo Gonzales and Tubby Charles are on the case to such a murder, which is gruesomely described at the beginning of the book. The book then turns to the classic whodunnit mystery as it weaves through university-life within the Science faculty, focusing, especially on the professors within the Chemistry and Physics departments. The faculty was somewhat surprising as I had automatically assumed it would be within a music department, but as it isn’t so obvious, it adds to the intrigue.

It all happened in the science department of the university and there are a good few candidates of who could have committed such a murder or may know something within the department. It’s all pretty well described in a sometimes sinister way as the plot takes readers to a plethora of characters who are questioned. The university is also worried about the publicity the case could get and in-turn, its reputation, which could be in question over other serious misadventures within the very faculty that is under investigation for the murder.

Certain aspects feel a little overly described, but mostly it plunges readers deeper into the life of the characters and the mystery and sails by at a decent pace as you play detective, trying to work out what the motive really is and who committed such a murder as theories the police put together are torn apart here and there at the seams and holes appear, adding to some twists and turns.

There’s a political bent to this book about gang crimes and policing. The book certainly packs a lot in and shows certain parts of modern times and what’s happening on the streets.

Murder is twisted, but this one seems more so as more questions to do with how the victim was killed and more, are thrown out there for the police to work out. It’s interesting to read about the police pondering over different suspects and who may have motive.

The book keeps you guessing as motives and behaviours present themselves, one suspect at a time until quite a twist, that has a tone and turn of phrase, that may well leave readers with a shudder about at least one of them.

The last paragraph, both within the context of the book and outwith context of the book is both profound and thought-provoking.

Social Media Link

Twitter: @brstateham

 

The Geometry of Holding Hands By Alexander McCall Smith @McCallSmith #IsabelleDalhousie #Fiction #NewBook

The Geometry of Holding Hands
By Alexander McCall Smith
Rated: 5 stars *****

Part of the Dalhousie series, set in Edinburgh, The Geometry of Holding Hands is rather sweet in the love portrayed in the relationship between Isabelle and Jamie, her husband. The Geometry of Hands is explained at the end, but throughout the book it shows the largeness and complexities of life as well as a kindness for others.
I thank
Read on to find the blurb and full review.

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Blurb

Isabel finds herself entangled in some tricky familial and financial situations that will require all of her kindness, charm, and philosophical expertise to navigate.

Just when Isabel and Jamie finally seem to have some time to connect and unwind, a wealthy Edinburgh resident reaches out to Isabel with an unusual request—he would like her to become the executor of his large Highland estate. Though Isabel initially demurs, he presses on. He has only a short time to live, and, without any direct heirs, is struggling to determine which of his three cousins would be the best caretaker. Should it go to the bohemian artist, the savvy city property developer, or the quiet, unassuming bachelor?

As if this weren’t enough to keep Isabel occupied, she’s also spending more time helping her niece Cat at the deli. Cat, perennially unlucky in love, seems to have finally found her match in the leonine Leo. But Isabel is beginning to suspect that Leo might be interested in more than Cat’s charms, namely her access to the family trust. Isabel will need to rely upon remarkable reserves of intelligence and compassion in order to give all parties exactly what they want and deserve—no more, and no less.

Review

The Geometry of Holding Hands is the latest charming book in the Philosophy Club/Dalhousie series by Alexander McCall Smith.

Isabelle, her husband Jamie and young son – Magnus create a charming family and possess some natural wit. It’s also as intelligent and philosophical as ever as they contemplate the poet Wilfred Owen. There is also some contemplation over money matters and their employment too, with Jamie earning a bit from being a musician/music teacher and Isabelle being the editor of the Review, dealing with many authors. All the sudden angst and wondering if they really deserve the nice things in life, begins with them going to a fancy restaurant – Casa Trimalchio. Alexander McCall Smith captures this part of the “human condition” very well and so naturally for his characters. Even though they clearly have money to do the nice treats in life, these characters are always ones that are relatable, whatever your standing in society is and are easy to feel compassion for. This is testament to the writing and thought that goes into it.

There is plenty for readers to contemplate in this book and ponder over, such as the army and also letting people live however they see fit. It’s all done in a philosophical, gentle way.

Casa Trimalchio is an Italian restaurant in Edinburgh where everyone with a “name” for themselves, seems to go and you never know who you may be sitting in the company of, including people caught up or have caused quite a scandal.

Balancing home-life, the job at the Review and Cat’s needs becomes more complex for Isabelle. When Cat and Leo’s lives become even more entangled it strains things even more complicated and then there’s Eddie in the equation too. Isabelle begins to wonder about where boundaries should be drawn without upsetting anyone.

Isabelle and Cat both have a trust that has helped Cat set up her delicatessen, whom she helps out at times of necessity, whether she really has the time to or not. I like that level of kindness that is displayed within her character. It’s a lovely sounding deli with its charcuterie etc, where she encounters Iain Melrose whom she saw in the restaurant. He’s impressed by things she did and said in the restaurant as she shown some integrity and morals and also a sign of a certain courage and strength of character. Isabelle is a character that is so well-developed in a positive, caring way which is enjoyable to read. Iain Melrose is an interesting character to explore and lived quite a life and it is explained why he is looking for someone who seems right to become executer of the estate. The estate he describes has quite a history to it. McCall Smith ensures that readers really can understand the nature of an event or circumstance and the characters presented within them in good detail, without over-doing it. He treads this fine-line well and keeps a relaxed pace. The fact that characters don’t have a continuous strict linear line from one philosophical thought or event to the next keeps the flow feeling natural and smooth. There is also a strong thread of plotline maintained throughout it.

The Descent by Matt Brolly @MattBrollyUK will keep you guessing #CrimeFiction #Mystery #Thriller #Review

The Descent
By Matt Brolly
Rated: 4 stars ****

Bestselling author – Matt Brolly, writes two series – The DCI Lambert Series and The Detective Louise Blackwell series. The Descent is part of The Detective Louise Blackwell series.

The Descent is set in the lovely seaside location of Weston-Super-Mare and gives the impression of a somewhat idyllic town, before throwing readers into something more sinister that turns it all upside down.

I thank Matt Brolly and Thomas & Mercer for allowing me to review as I’d been hoping to get a chance to review from one of the series for awhile.
Discover the blurb, review and about the author below, including website and Twitter links.

The Descent cover

Blurb

Were they pushed to the edge—or over it?

In the quiet coastal town of Weston-super-Mare, a body is discovered at the foot of a cliff just months after a near-identical tragedy—and Detective Inspector Louise Blackwell can’t believe it could be a coincidence.

Next to the body, she discovers a note that echoes one found beside the first: Death is not the end. Louise is certain that behind these desperate acts someone is pulling the strings, but how many more will plunge to their demise before she can find out who—and why?

Struggling to stay focused under the strain of her troubled brother’s disappearance with his young daughter, Louise hits a much-needed breakthrough when a third tragedy points to the involvement of a charismatic cult leader. The suspect is within her sights, but he knows she’s on to him…

Short on proof and with the body count rising, can Louise intercept his deadly mission—or has she taken on an unbeatable foe?

Review

The book asks, did she jump, did she not? What are the strange notes? 

The book is well-crafted as there is time to get to know the area, the characters and the story feels really well developed.

The prologue gives a great feel to Weston-Super-Mare, the setting of this book. So, even, if you haven’t physically travelled there before, you certainly can with ease with this book.

Amy Carlisle is one of the main characters , who is also within a group with Jay and Megan. Megan has been sleeping rough in Bristol (perfectly reasonable to travel from Bristol to Weston-Super-Mare).
Jay, Megan and Amy belong to a group to talk about their experiences of homelessness over tea that is not your normal breakfast tea and has unusual, interesting effects. It’s a great beginning to set the scene and introduce the chararcters before, in chapter one, readers meet, DI Louise Blackwell and her niece – Emily and within this family there’s domestic strife as all isn’t as harmonious as it could be.

The unfolding story is emotional and is well-written as it throws up social issues and also the crime itself, all intertwined to paint a picture of what’s really going on in terms of the mystery and today’s society.

There’s a body of a young woman discovered, presumed suicide by jumping, since a note is left. The crime scene on the backdrop of the sea and sand of Weston-Supermare creates a good setting and pace, which  makes it a book that you can sit back and relax with. The characters are ones that it was a pleasure to get to know and there’s a nice building up of the town and the areas where the book is set. There are also little bits about issues, such as the run-down high street that is thought-provoking of some human activity as it shows it used to be busy but hardly anyone uses it anymore, so it became shabby and many shops closed.
As the story moves on, so does the body count and the notes as the intrigue builds to whether notes that have also appeared before are connected or not. Matt Brolly is good at creating the mood and really humanising his characters with emotion and natural worry in case mistakes were made and wraps them all up well amongst the case itself.

The writing is well-rounded and done well, with characters to really get into and there’s enough to keep people guessing. It does feel between police procedural and thriller in some ways in its detailing, but all the same, it is a book that readers can really get into and makes the writing well rounded. It also means you can really get to know the surroundings, the issues and the people that make up this story in Weston-Super-Mare.

About the Author

@MattBrollyUK

www.mattbrolly.co.uk

Following his law degree where he developed an interest in criminal law, Matt Brolly completed his Masters in Creative Writing at Glasgow University.

He is the bestselling author of the DCI Lambert crime novels, Dead Eyed, Dead Lucky, Dead Embers and Dead Time. A prequel, Dead Water, will be released by Oblong Books in July 2019. In addition he is the author of the acclaimed near future crime novel, Zero.

May 2019 saw the release of a new thriller, The Controller, and in 2020 the first of a new crime series set in the West Country of the UK will be released by Thomas and Mercer(Amazon Publishing)

Matt also writes children’s books as M.J. Brolly. His first children’s book, The Sleeping Bug, is released by Oblong Books in December 2018.

Matt lives in London with his wife and their two young children.

The Strange Book of Jacob Boyce by Tom Gillespie @tom_gillespie @lovebooksgroup #newbook #blogtour #Review

The Strange Book of Jacob Boyce
By Tom Gillespie
Rated: 5 stars *****

The Strange Book of Jacob Boyce is an emotional, exquisitely written book set between Glasgow and Spain. I give thanks to Love Books Group and John Gillespie for providing an e-book copy of the book.
See below for the blurb and my review and a buy link as well as social media links.

About the Author

Tom Gillespie grew up in a small town just outside Glasgow. After completing a Masters in English at Glasgow University, he spent the next ten years pursuing a musical career as a singer/songwriter, playing, recording and touring the UK and Europe with his band. He now lives in Bath with his wife, daughter and hyper-neurotic cat, where he works at the university as an English lecturer. Tom writes long and short stories. His stories have appeared in many magazines, journals and e-zines. He is co-author of Glass Work Humans-an anthology of stories and poems, published by Valley Press.

Visit Tom at tom-gillespie.comTwitter: @tom_gillespie

THE STRANGE BOOK OF JACOB BOYCE_eBcov (2)

 Blurb

A spiralling obsession. A missing wife. A terrifying secret.
Will he find her before it’s too late?

When Dr Jacob Boyce’s wife goes missing, the police put it down to a simple marital dispute. Jacob, however, fears something darker. Following her trail to Spain, he becomes convinced that Ella’s disappearance is tied to a mysterious painting whose hidden geometric and numerical riddles he’s been obsessively trying to solve for months. Obscure, hallucinogenic clues, and bizarre, larger-than-life characters, guide an increasingly unhinged Jacob through a nightmarish Spanish landscape to an art forger’s studio in Madrid, where he comes face-to-face with a centuries-old horror, and the terrifying, mind-bending, truth about his wife.

THE STRANGE BOOK OF JACOB BOYCE_eBcov (2)

Review

 The writing is emotional and yet exquisitely descriptively written.

There is excellent descriptive writing within this book and plot and subplot that keeps you reading.

The plot sets out the complexities of the art world and life and sometimes not all is as it first appears. It intertwines Jacob’s life and his love of art and research as he tries to discover the hidden truth of a painting. Married to Ella, who later goes missing, he also has that mystery to solve.  It’s a world that has been created that builds and builds as it goes along, right to the very end.

Set between Scotland and Spain, readers will first meet Jacob at the City Gallery in Glasgow, Scotland, taking notes, a regular place for him to be. He is there so often that the staff are very aware of his presence. The writing is as intense as his concentration on the beautiful painting. Certainly if art interests you, this book will. I like art and appreciate it. This is no ordinary painting or research that Jacob is doing. He is convinced there is a mystery behind it, that all may not be quite as it seems and he is determined to find out what it is.

He lives in a flat with Ella and his cat. It’s not exactly a cosy relationship with rows of not seeing enough of each other and if one is having an affair or not, but through all that there are the most genuinely touching parts of some togetherness, showing how complex relationships can be.

It feels a lot of research has been done and is cleverly weaved with a fictional story that brings intrigue also about Jacob, who teaches Earth Sciences at the university.

There is a hum over the area of the city that frustrates and irates the residents, except Jacob. What he feels is different and puts readers right there in his shoes. You can almost see and feel what Jacob does, especially in a dream sequence. It will draw any reader in closer towards him.

Part two takes readers to La Reina de Los Gatos, Spain, an old place, untouched by mass tourism, where the hunt for Ella is on. It certainly gets intriguing as people say they’ve seen her but don’t know what happened after. The mystery of the art isn’t however forgotten and takes a turn into Franco’s time and the Spanish Civil War, which also makes for a fascinating read. The flow of the book is excellent as Jacob digs deeper into finding out more about the painting.

There are then further twists and turns to this tale, not just for the art, but within life itself.

This is a book I highly recommend, especially for art-lovers and mystery lovers and for people who would like a really good, interesting and intriguing read.

 

Buy Link   https://amzn.to/2zspp0N

 

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