#Review By Lou of A Dark Steel Death – A Tom Harper Mystery By Chris Nickson @ChrisNickson2 @severnhouse #ADarkSteelDeath #ATomHarperMystery #Mystery #CrimeFiction #HistoricalCrimeFiction

A Dark Steel Death
A Tom Harper Mystery 
By Chris Nickson

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

A fire at the munitions factory may not be all it first seems, there is murder, a glimpse of politics, history and intriguing characters all bound together in a compelling story. Find out more in the blurb and then the rest of my thoughts in my review below.
Thanks to Chris Nickson and Severn House for the opportunity to review A Dark Steel Death, a historical crime novel.

 

Blurb

Tom Harper must catch a traitor intent on disrupting the war effort and bringing terror to the streets of Leeds in this page-turning mystery.

Leeds. December, 1916. Deputy Chief Constable Tom Harper is called out in the middle of the night when a huge explosion rips through a munitions factory supplying war materials, leaving death and destruction in its wake. A month later, matches and paper to start a fire are found in an army clothing depot. It’s a chilling discovery: there’s a saboteur running loose on the streets of Leeds.

As so many give their lives in the trenches, Harper and his men are working harder than ever – and their investigation takes a dark twist with two shootings, at the local steelworks and a hospital. With his back against the wall and the war effort at stake, Harper can’t afford to fail. But can he catch the traitor intent on bringing terror to Leeds?

Review

This is a book with atmosphere, right from the foreboding cover, onwards and steeped with history and policing.
Deputy Chief Constable Tom Harper is based in Leeds, Yorkshire and with the time being December, 1916, the book shines a light on this era during war times. Within it, there is also mention of Chesterfield in Nottinghamshire and other places have links in various ways.

It’s interesting as, recently there has been lots on tv showing Yorkshire in many ways in present times, so this is a way to delve into its past, as well as readers getting a compelling historical police procedural.

From the first page, it oozes a dark atmosphere out with flames from a large fire at the munitions factory.
Time naturally progresses to January 1917 and the investigation gets off to a quick start and Tom Harper also has Brigadier Fox working with him on the case. As well as the investigation, there are nuggets of the way things work that were brought in then, such as the government bringing in summer time for the clocks, that continues and works for present times. Nickson gives good insight into historical detail that generally isn’t in the day to day knowledge or thinking of people, which adds an extra layer of interest, heritage and grounding, as well as an authenticity to the characters stories being told and the timeline used. There are also small moments of poignancy that give pause for thought.

A soldier had been murdered and as for other people in the midst of the war, grieving, there is a sense of what they are going through and the views, especially from Tom Harper. There’s a sense of community and of people doing their job with people knowing each other and especially Miss Cliff, since she knows everyone. There are also other intriguing characters  to discover their positions in the war and their involvement and how sinister they can become.
There are many truths and lies to be unpicked along the paths readers are led down as many people are met.

The mystery itself is interesting, but so are all the strands and people that weave through it, making it a very compelling read, and in time, a very involving page turner.

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#Review By Lou of a twisty, strong female character #book – The Change By Kirsten Miller @bankstirregular @HQstories #menopause #mystery #ContemporaryFiction

The Change
By Kirsten Miller

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I am delighted to be on the blog tour for The Change. Thanks to the publisher HQ for inviting me to review and for a hardback copy of this twisty, intriguing book that covers many topics from the menopause to friendships to mystery solving and other worldly issues and elements. Take a look at the blurb and my review to discover more.

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Blurb

Nessa: The Seeker
Jo: The Protector
Harriett: The Punisher

With newfound powers the time has come to take matters into their own hands…

After Nessa is widowed and her daughters leave for college, she’s left alone in her house near the ocean. In the quiet hours, she hears voices belonging to the dead – who will only speak to her.

On the cusp of fifty Harriett’s marriage and career imploded, and she hasn’t left her house in months. But her life is far from over – in fact, she’s undergone a stunning metamorphosis.

Jo spent thirty years at war with her body. The rage that arrived with menopause felt like the last straw – until she discovers she’s able to channel it.

Guided by voices only Nessa can hear, the trio discover the abandoned body of a teenage girl. The police have written off the victim. But the women have not. Their own investigations lead them to more bodies and a world of wealth where the rules don’t apply – and the realisation that laws are designed to protect villains, not the vulnerable.

So it’s up to these three women to avenge the innocent, and punish the guilty…

The time has come to embrace The Change.

Review

There has been a lot of talk recently about peri-menopause and the menopause and this is one aspect of a women’s life this book tackles in a well told, formidable story. It’s hard hitting and explodes with anger at the world, but it is worth reading beyond this as the rage aligns to then having a purpose and matures and the book then goes on to harbour deep themes and bonds. There is, surprisingly, the occasional great pieces of waspish humour surrounding this is a great story, essential themes and strong characters. It is this that essentially makes it a more compelling read.

I shall note here that readers don’t have to be menopausal to read this. I was interested because I am not at that age quite yet, but getting ever closer and it’ll happen one day. There are many themes that most, if not all women will be able to relate to I’m some form or another.

The women, as a reader, I felt sorry for. They’ve all had so many issues – body image, marriage and career issues and so much more. Now, Nessa, Harriett and Jo have reached an age where they’ve developed another layer in life. They want to deal with these issues and they’re also not going to be out off by misogynist men any longer, especially those who want to enter female only spaces. There are also some beach murders, the rage then  becomes more kick ass and grows into a certain maturity, with focus. The women also decide what sort of people they want to become again, and the story benefits from this and realise what they want from their lives and that they don’t need to feel how they used to. They develop some know how as to how to change and in some cases, bloom again, instead of hiding away, like Harriet once did for so long in her life.

There aren’t just issues amongst the living, but also the dead, more than just the obvious of them no longer being alive, as a couple of people have been found, murdered, creating a mystery to also solve. The women are determined to get justice for everything and even go onto a popular podcast to speak out about what has been happening.

The book is twisty with an intriguing plot line showing corruption, murder, gossip and hedge funds. It’s interesting about how of course, the menopause changes women, but also how they choose to change their lives and realise they are in the positions to be able to do this. In amongst the anger and the murders are life stories of friendship, positivity and hope and a certain amount of truth as to how segments of the world works at the moment.

 

#BookReview By Lou of The Cliff House By Chris Brookmyre – Happy Publication Day to @cbrookmyre @LittleBrownUK #Mystery #TheCliffHouse #MustRead

The Cliff House
By Chris Brookmyre

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Problem is, everybody has a secret. But nobody wants to tell...

The Cliff House By Chris Brookmyre is a hen party like no other, set on a Scottish island, that has guests you wouldn’t ordinariliy invite together and twists like a country lane. Read on to find out more in the blurb and then the rest of my review below. Thanks firstly to Little Brown Books UK for an e-book proof copy of the book.

The Cliff House

Chris Brookmyre is a genius - Richard Osman

Blurb

One hen weekend, seven secrets… but only one worth killing for

Image of book and ereaderJen’s hen party is going to be out of control…

She’s rented a luxury getaway on its own private island. The helicopter won’t be back for seventy-two hours. They are alone. They think.

As well as Jen, there’s the pop diva and the estranged ex-bandmate, the tennis pro and the fashion guru, the embittered ex-sister-in-law and the mouthy future sister-in-law.

It’s a combustible cocktail, one that takes little time to ignite, and in the midst of the drunken chaos, one of them disappears. Then a message tells them that unless someone confesses her terrible secret to the others, their missing friend will be killed.

Problem is, everybody has a secret. And nobody wants to tell.

Review

Jen’s hen party is full of people whom you may not instantly think would be on an invite. There are definitely some interesting choices, especially the embittered ex-sister-in-law at the same party as the future sister-in-law. Immediate thought is that there are going to be fireworks at Clachan Geal, a remote fictional island in Scotland. There is much to explore on this remote island, which is an interesting and compact area for an intriguing mystery to take place.

There is Jen, whose hen party it is. Beattie, Helena – a music teacher and one time member of Michelle’s band, since ousted;  Michelle. What a life Michelle leads with her now starry status. There is also Kennedy and Nicolette from Jen’s tennis playing days, Joaiquin – a chef. Lauren, the houseowner of the house on the remote island.
Although there are a number of characters, each are separated in the chapters, so it cycles through each of their points of views and their lives and their connections. It’s a curious and intriguing group of people to spend time with in a book.

Chris Brookmyre expertly shows the frictions in the relationships of the guests, different lifestyles and forgiveness. There are interesting arguments about vaccines that flair up. There are lifestyles in contention… The book also shows how the characters are even more forced to come together when things go really wrong. Those arguments soon left, there is panic, leaving no one feeling safe. There is also the question of who can they trust?

Things take a sinister turn with messages from someone posing as a “Reaper”. The more the story goes on, the more addictive a reading experience it becomes and unexpected secrets are revealed, that culminate into an unexpected, but brilliant end to a rivetting book.

 

#Review By Lou of Murder At The Summer Fete By Victoria Walters @Vicky_Walters @HeraBooks #CrimeFiction #CosyMystery #SummerRead #Mystery

Murder At The Summer Fete
By Victoria Walters

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Victoria Walters has branched out from romantic fiction in this book and lept into cosy murder with Murder At The Summer Fete. A book for fans of Richard Osman, S.J. Bennett and The Marlow Murder Club and Agatha Raisin. Find out more below in the blurb and my review below. Thanks first to Hera Books for a review copy.

Murder At The Summer Fete

Blurb

A fete worse than death…

After finding the killer of Lucy Roth six months ago, life has settled back to normal for bookshop owner, Nancy Hunter, and her grandmother, Jane. The annual Dedley End village fete is just around the corner, and Nancy is delighted when bestselling author, Thomas Green, agrees to launch his first new novel in ten years there.

But then a series of sinister events lead Nancy to realise someone is trying to sabotage their fete, so she, along with Jane and their journalist friend Jonathan, must turn detective to discover who isn’t at all thrilled about the return of Thomas Green.

When a body is discovered at the summer fete, the death scene mirroring that in Thomas’ latest bestseller, they realise that there’s another killer in Dedley End, but can they outsmart someone who appears to have pulled off the perfect crime?

The clues are right under Nancy and Jane’s noses, if only they can find them. Because the answers to life’s questions can always be found in a book…!

A twisty, unputdownable cozy mystery that fans of Richard Osman, S.J. Bennett and The Marlow Murder Club will love.

Review

A touch of murder in the summer makes this great for a crime fiction book for the summer. Beneath the lightness of summer and the climax of the summer fete in the Cotswolds, just around the corner, it lulls you into that fun summer carefree vibe. Not all is well though and a cosy murder ensues, with humour, nothing too gruesome, but sabotage and murder follows in this Dedley End mystery. It’s second in this series but reads perfectly well as a standalone too.

The bookshop owner and bookish events will pull readers in further and then the mystery itself as the death seems sinisterly famliar, which adds a twist to the plot, which has amateur detectives and a DCI in the form of DCI Brown who also has to join the dots to find the murderer.

It is overall an entertaining read with life mimicing art.

#Review By Louise of The Extraordinary Adventures of Alice Tonks By Emily Kenny @Emilie_London @emilykennyauthor @rocktheboatnews #ExtraordinaryAdventuresofAliceTonks @RandomTTours #BlogTour #ChildrensBook #MiddleGrade

The Extraordinary Adventures of Alice Tonks By Emily Kenny

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Today I am on the blog tour for the entertaining, mysterious, adventurous middlegrade book of The Extraordinary Adventures of Alice Tonks. Thanks to Random T. Tours and publisher Rock The Boat for inviting me to review and for the book. Find the blurb and review below.

Blurb

“It’s not your chips I’m after, Alice Tonks,” the seagull said sternly. “We’ve got a job for you.”

After a rather strange encounter with a seagull on her first day of boarding school, Alice Tonks is left with a lot of questions.
Why does the bird need her help? And WHY can she talk to seagulls?
Alice is used to being by herself but she can’t solve the mystery alone. With new friends behind her, can Alice harness her magic powers and become the hero she never imagined?

A story about finding your voice, friendship and unlikely heroes, for fans of A Kind of Spark 

Review

The Extraordinary Adventures of Alice Tonks tells the story of an 11 year d autistic protagonist who is in Pebbleworth Boarding School and there’s a beach. She hates both! From there is a big adventure and a discovery of magic and powers. There’s quite a bit of humour in what is a great setting where there’s plenty of action and mystery and strangely disappearing animals.

The story is fresh, with elements of the familiar. It’s entertaining for 8 years plus, with lots to solve and get gripped by.

#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.