Murder on a Winter Afternoon – Betty Rowlands

A snow-covered cottage is nestled in the hills, all ready for Christmas… but inside a body lies dead upon the floor. 

Melissa Craig is enjoying her first winter in the Cotswolds, taking brisk walks through the snowy fields and basking in the winter sunshine. The only thing Melissa is plotting is her Christmas shopping.

But after the unexpected death of local writer Leonora Jewell, Melissa is asked to complete Leonora’s final book. However, on her first visit to the cottage, she finds a gruesome object overlooked by the police: a metal bar covered with dried blood.

Terrified, Melissa rushes to the nearest telephone box to call the police. But by the time they reach Leonora’s cottage, the murder weapon has mysteriously vanished. 

With no murder weapon, the detective in charge of the case scoffs at Melissa’s suspicions. Furious and frustrated, Melissa focuses on finishing Leonora’s novel. But as she reads Leonora’s notes for the book, she starts to wonder… did Leonora accidentally plot out her own murder? 

As Melissa does some investigating of her own, she uncovers some pretty suspicious local characters. But with the police unwilling to help, can Melissa solve this vicious crime alone? By hook, by crook, or by the book, Melissa must find the killers before they strike again… 

 

 

My review

There a different kinds of crime genres. I really like the psychological and the police procedural ones, but every once in a while I can find myself immersed in a cozy mystery.

This is the 5th book in the series and I have read and enjoyed them all. Melissa, the main character, tries desparately to stay out of trouble, like she always does but never succeeds in. Somehow she can’t help herself. She wants to solve the case but this time she needs someone to confide in. No one is better suited for this than a sollicitor, right?

I liked the setting and I was happy to see that Iris was more in the picture again. This is a series that keeps you coming back for more. 5 stars.

Thank you, Betty Rowlands, Bookouture and Netgalley.

 

About the author

Betty Rowlands burst on to the crime scene by winning the Sunday Express / Veuve Clicquot Crime Short Story of the Year Competition. Her success continued with her nine highly acclaimed Melissa Craig mysteries. She is an active member of the Crime Writers’ Association and regularly gives talks and readings and serves on panels in crime writing conventions.

Something Hidden – Kerry Wilkinson

Two people are dead. Your father was holding the gun.

Fiona Methodist’s father is accused of shooting dead a young couple at point-blank range before turning the gun on himself. She knows her softly spoken father wasn’t capable of killing, and won’t stop until she clears his name.

For investigator Andrew Hunter—no stranger to cases that appear unsolvable—it’s obvious something doesn’t add up. When he digs into a robbery the murdered couple witnessed just days before they died, a chilling clue at the scene of the crime leads Andrew to a horrible realization…

Will Andrew have to put his own life at risk to find the truth?

 

 

My review

I love this series. The author has created a terrific duo. It is clear that opposites can work really well together. You just have to adore Andrew as well as Jenny.

Andrew can hardly say no and often only realizes afterwards what he has let himself in for and Jenny, well, I don’t think there are two like her.

We already know a fair part of Andrew’s past. I hope the author will treat us soon to a little background information about Jenny as well. I am totally intrigued by her and she is quite a character.

I like the author’s style. He adds some wit to the mix and he sometimes reminds me of Janet Evanovich (I am a big fan of her Stephanie Plum series by the way).

So this book had me smiling while trying to figure out the culprit. The author proves that humour and crime can go hand in hand. 4 stars.

Thank you, Kerry Wilkinson, Bookouture and Netgalley.

 

About the author

Kerry Wilkinson is from the English county of Somerset but has spent far too long living in the north. It’s there that he’s picked up possibly made-up regional words like ‘barm’ and ‘ginnel’. He pretends to know what they mean.

He’s also been busy since turning thirty: his Jessica Daniel crime series has sold more than a million copies in the UK; he has written a fantasy-adventure trilogy for young adults; a second crime series featuring private investigator Andrew Hunter and the standalone thriller, Down Among The Dead Men.

www.kerrywilkinson.com

 

Last Lullaby – Carol Wyer

Charlotte’s baby is safe. But is she?

When the body of mother Charlotte Brannon is discovered by her husband Adam, in their bedroom, Detective Natalie Ward is first on the scene. The killer has left a chilling calling card: The word ‘Why?’ written on the wall in blood.

As Natalie begins to delve deeper into the couple’s lives, she discovers that Adam has a dark past he’s been hiding and she’s sure that the Brannon’s teenage babysitter Inge has secrets of her own.

Then another mother is murdered on her doorstep in front of her young son, the word ‘why’ scrawled on the wall next to her. 

All the key suspects have alibis and with her own marriage hanging by a thread, Natalie is struggling to stay focused on cracking her toughest case yet.

When a young woman and her baby disappear, a member of Natalie’s own team is put in terrible danger. Can Natalie stop this twisted serial killer and save one of her own before more families are torn apart forever?

 

 

My review

When you are reading a good book, you should be allowed to continue doing so without having to stop and occupy yourself with details such as eating, sleeping, etc. But life happens and that’s why I was not able to finish the book as fast as I would have liked to. On the other hand it only increases the reading pleasure because once you have devoured the last sentence, the wait for the next part of the series starts.

The author has done it again. She has captured my attention from the very beginning and it never wavered.  I love her writing style and the way she can create a story. The cover was a gem as well.

Little by little we get to know Natalie’s team. We are treated to some personal details about each of them. But we may not forget we are reading a thriller and the focus has to stay on the case in order to keep the suspense level as high as possible. The author has done this perfectly. She gave the reader a breathing space here and there before she threw us in the deep end again.

I hope I can meet up with Natalie and her team again real soon. 5 stars.

Thank you, Carol Wyer, Bookouture and Netgalley.

About the author

Carol Wyer garnered a loyal following as an author of romantic comedies, and won The People’s Book Prize Award for non-fiction (2015). In 2017 she stepped from comedy to the “dark side” and embarked on a series of thrillers, featuring the popular DI Robyn Carter, which earned her recognition as a crime writer.

The Staffordshire-based writer now has more crime novels in the pipeline, although she can still sometimes be found performing her stand-up comedy routine Laugh While You Still Have Teeth.

www.carolewyer.co.uk

The Clouds Beyond – by Rahf Alrashidi

A beautiful and eclectic mix of stories and poetry, as presented by new and exciting author Rahf AlRashidi. This collection of insights into the author’s soul takes the reader on a melancholy journey of loss, heartache and ill treatment, whilst at once telling the story of strength and showing the joy to be found in the aftermath of sorrow. An inspirational read for women across the world

 

 

My review

When the author contacted me and asked if I wanted to read and review her book, I have to admit it was not exactely in my confort zone. But I was intrigued by the blurb and the cover and I just had to give it a go.

And boy oh boy, I am so happy that I went for it. It is a vat filled with emotions. It is lovely and raw, heartbreaking and heartfelt. It is full of love and sadness, of hopes and dreams and of regret and disappointment.

She seems like a magician juggling with words to conjure metaphors and ending up with a beautiful story where love and pain were very palpable.

I am not a big fan of poetry because often I don’t quite know what they are talking about, but this author introduced me to a kind of poetry I understand and really and totally can appreciate. 5 stars.

Thank you, Rahf Alrashidi.

 

The Memory – Lucy Dawson

She’ll never forget… I’ll never forgive.

People always notice my daughter, Isobel. How could they not? Extraordinarily beautiful… until she speaks.

An unsettling, little-girl voice, exactly like a child’s, but from the mouth of a full-grown woman.

Izzie might look grown-up, but inside she’s trapped. Caught in the day it happened… the day that broke her from within. Our family fell apart that day, and we never could pick up the pieces.

 

 

My review 

Reading a story by this author can always be considered as a treat added to your pile of amazing books as well as a threat to the hours of sleep you get while devouring it.

Books can be confusing in a good or a bad way. This one messed with my head in a very good way. Half way through I still did not see how the start of the book would connect with the outcome, but hey, that’s just what makes the author having you come back for more each time she publishes a book.

While the author has guided your mind in a certain direction she surprises you with a twist you did not see coming and the pieces of the puzzle suddenly all fit together and you see the whole picture.

This book sketches a very creepy atmosphere and connects you to the dark side.  And then there is light, an all consuming light to reveal everything that has been hidden for a very long time. 5 stars.

Thank you Lucy Dawson, Bookouture and Netgalley.

 

About the author

Lucy has been writing psychological suspense novels since 2008, when her first bestseller – His Other Lover – was published. She writes full time from her home in Devon, where she lives with her husband and children.

Before that, she used to interview the likes of Steps and SClub7 for a living, making absolutely no use whatsoever of her psychology degree from Warwick University, but having a lot of fun. Lucy is published worldwide and her works has been translated into numerous languages.

www.lucydawsonbooks.com

Fa-La-Llama-La – Stephanie Dagg

It’s very nearly Christmas and, temporarily jobless and homeless, Noelle is back at home with her parents. However, a phone call from her cousin Joe, who runs a house-and-pet-sitting service, saves her from a festive season of Whist, boredom and overindulging.
So Noelle is off to France to mind a dozen South American mammals. She arrives amidst a blizzard and quickly discovers that something is definitely wrong at the farm. The animals are there all right, but pretty much nothing else – no power, no furniture and, disastrously, no fee. Add to that a short-tempered intruder in the middle of the night, a premature delivery, long-lost relatives and participation in a living crèche, and this is shaping up to be a noel that Noelle will never forget.

 

 

My review

I took part in a blogtour for the sequel and the opportunity to read the first one as well was given to those who wanted to. I grabbed it with both hands and I was really happy I did so after finishing the second book because it simply was hilarious.

Now I finally sat down to read book number one and it was equally funny but also had an emotional undertone.

I know I did it the wrong way and of course some things were no surprise anymore, but it did not reduce the reading pleasure one bit.

The author has a very nice writing style and I devoured the novel in one go. She had me laughing out loud once again.

So if you are in for a good laugh I can certainly recommand both books. 5 stars.

Thank you, Stepahnie Dagg and Rachels Random Resources.

 

About the author

I’m an English expat living in France, having moved here with my family in 2006 after fourteen years as an expat in Ireland. I now consider myself a European rather than ‘belonging’ to any particular country. The last ten years have been interesting, to put it mildly. Taking on seventy-five acres with three lakes, two hovels and one cathedral-sized barn, not to mention an ever increasing menagerie, makes for exciting times. The current array of animals includes alpacas, llamas, huarizos (alpaca-llama crossbreds, unintended in our case and all of them thanks to one very determined alpaca male), sheep, goats, pigs, ducks, geese, chickens and turkeys, not forgetting our pets of dogs, cats, zebra finches, budgies , canaries, lovebirds and Chinese quail. Before we came to France all we had was a dog and two chickens, so it’s been a steep learning curve. I recount these experiences in my book Heads Above Water: Staying Afloat in France and the sequel to that, Total Immersion: Ten Years in France. I also blog regularly at http://www.bloginfrance.com.

I’m married to Chris and we have three bilingual TCKs (third culture kids) who are resilient and resourceful and generally wonderful.

I’m a traditionally-published author of many children’s books, and am now self-publishing too. I have worked part-time as a freelance editor for thirty years after starting out as a desk editor for Hodder

& Stoughton. Find me at http://www.editing.zone. The rest of the time I’m running carp fishing lakes with Chris and inevitably cleaning up some or other animal’s poop.

Social Media Links – @llamamum http://www.facebook.com/StephanieDaggBooks/ http://www.bloginfrance.com

 

Death in the lakes – Graham Smith

Detective Beth Young has just joined the Cumbrian major crimes team when a body is found posed in a ritualistic manner – arms spread and graceful wings attached – at a crumbling castle in the hills of the Lake District.

The entire police force is on red alert. But Beth begins to feel she’s the only one who can follow the disturbing clues left by the twisted killer. Because she doesn’t think like everyone else. To Beth, crimes are puzzles she can solve. Even if real life is a little harder.

As more bodies are discovered in derelict stately homes across the Lake District, Beth knows she’s in a race against time.

But the killer is looking for another victim to add to his collection… Will Beth be able to save her? Or will he get there first?

 

 

My review

The first book in a new series is always a bit of a challenge. You have to get to know all the recurring characters and you have to concentrate on the story.

The main character here is DC Beth Young. What stood out was that she was so young and new to the team but she was also the most mature and clever of the group. It felt a bit strange to me. The way she acted was superb and would have suited the title of DI better.

But nevertheless, I really enjoyed the book. I love psychological thrillers, but  I also like police procedurals. I am fascinated by the way the story unravels and the work needed to complete the puzzle and to finally put the culprit behind bars.  It’s not a fast paced story, but little by little the steady stream changes into a rapid one.

I am looking forward to getting to know Young Beth a lot better and I hope she will become a DI soon, leading her own team.

It’s always a joy to see that more and more female detectives become leading ladies. 4 stars.

Thank you, Graham Smith, Bookouture and Netgalley.

 

About the author

After serving my time as a joiner, I have dug drains, slated roofs and built bridges to put food on the table. Since 2000 I have run a busy hotel and wedding venue near Gretna Green. I have a teenage son and when not working, reading or writing, I enjoy socialising with family and friends.

www.grahamsmithauthor.com

Her Final Confession – Lisa Regan

Watching her friend dragged away in handcuffs, Josie couldn’t believe for one second that Gretchen had killed that poor boy. Confession or not, someone else was involved. She would find out who…

When the body of a young student is found on the driveway of a local Denton home, a photograph pinned to his collar, Detective Josie Quinn is first on the scene. The house belongs to Gretchen Palmer, a dedicated member of Josie’s team, missing for the last twenty-four hours.

Working around the clock, Josie is stopped in her tracks when Gretchen hands herself in to the police. She knows that there’s no way Gretchen could ever be a killer, so why would she confess to a murder she didn’t commit? 

Digging deep into Gretchen’s secretive life, Josie uncovers a link between the boy, the photograph and a devastating case in Gretchen’s past. But just when Josie thinks she has it all figured out, the bodies of a young couple surface on the other side of town. Can Josie get to the truth in time to save her friend from a life in prison or certain death? 

 

 

My review

The fourth book in the series but I have only read two of them and with this one the auhtor has hit bull’s eye once again.

This story kept me on edge the whole time. Normally it does not effect me in real life but now I felt ill at ease because it was so creepy. I even checked the locks a second time before I went to bed last night. It is a first class example of how an author can transmit the atmosphere of a book into the life of a reader. Needless to say that it shows how gifted she is.

I won’t forget this story easily. I still remember the previous one vividly as well. That only happens with very bad or very good ones and this author’s books belong in the latter category with the any doubt.

The author creates wonderful and interesting characters and keeps your eyes glued to the pages due to her writing style and imagination.

I am looking forward to the next part. 5 stars are hardly enough for this masterpiece.

Thank you, Lisa Regan, Bookouture and Netgalley.

 

About the author

Lisa Regan is an Amazon bestselling crime novelist. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in English and Master of Education Degree from Bloomsburg University. She is a member of Sisters In Crime, Mystery Writers of America and International Thriller Writers. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband and daughter.

www.lisaregan.com

Poison Doctor – Mike Scantlebury

Amelia Hartliss is called ‘Heartless’ by her friends and foes alike, and with good reason. But at least she has always had the assurance, up to now, that she was doing wrong for the right reason. Now she isn’t so sure: she has been forced by her boss to infiltrate a conspiracy at the top level of local government, development organisations and health bodies in the North of England, and the depths of depravity sicken her, despite her many years of experience and a feeling she had that she had ‘seen everything’. Not quite; human beings have an unlimited capacity to disappoint, as one victim puts it, and Melia has to use all her determination and ingenuity to foil a dastardly terrorist plot to poison the water supply of a major city. But worse, the conspirators are poisoning the minds of the local population too, and turning them against the weakest members of society. It’s truly sickening.

 

 

My review

When I start a new book, I am always looking forward to it. I want to know how an author puts his thoughts on paper and one of the most important goals is to make the reader forget about everything and everybody during the hours spent immersed in the words.

It always breaks my heart when I finish a story and have to admit it was not my cup of tea, but that does not mean it was not a good one. It’s a fact that tastes differ and that’s why I always say that people should read the book and make up their own minds.

In my opinion there were to many characters. It confused me and I never had the feeling of getting to know any of them. I thought that Melia would be a force to be reckoned with but she let me down and there were too many scenes that did not really add anything to the story and sometimes made me forget what it was about to begin with.

I am sorry that I can’t give more than 3 stars.

Thank you, Mike Scantlebury.

 

 

About the author

Born in the Delta, south west of England where the curlews fly and the marigolds vanish, Mike quickly read through his local library and went looking for where the Industrial Revolution started in Britain. He arrived in Manchester in 1974, carried on his education at the local Polytechnic and was thrilled to be encouraged to read books and talk about them: writing the essays, however, was a chore.
After a bit of teaching and years of Community Development, (where he helped people do what they wanted to do but sometimes didn’t know it), he moved on into semi-retirement and found the time to construct more than one novel. Fashioning stories out of the clay of mortal men and the dust from the Inner City streets, he spins yarns that are always partly true but mostly happen in a universe where being ‘fair’ is fine, and being generous is expected.

 

 

The Diary – Vikki Patis

‘I know all your secrets, Lauren.’

Lauren has spent years running away from her home town, her childhood and the memories of her best friend, Hannah.

Until the tenth anniversary of Hannah’s death forces her to return home and to the group of friends she abandoned there. It should be a quick visit, just so Lauren can pay her respects.

At home, Lauren finds Hannah’s old diary. A diary full of secrets. The terrible things Lauren did, the lies she’s told, the reason she ran away. And she receives a message:

‘I don’t know why you’re back, but I know why you left.’

But no-one else has seen the diary, and Hannah’s dead, isn’t she?

 

 

My review

I always want to love every book I read because I can only imagine how much work is needed and how an author wants to please the readers. Nobody likes their ‘baby’ not to being liked, but unfortunately I have to admit this one was not my cup of tea.

I loved the cover and I was really looking forward to reading it, but there were so many characters that it became confusing. Somehow I could not seem to remember who was who.

I liked the way the story had alternating chapters in the ‘now’ and ‘then’ and I did not mind it being slow paced. I do feel that when the tension started to build up, it was not exactely the kind of plot I was waiting and hoping for.

I had the feeling that I did not know a lot more at the end of the book than what I knew at the beginning.

The pattern reminded me of ‘Pretty little liars’ and there was a feeling of suspense the whole way through. Here it felt like sometimes I did not remember what it was all about. I thought the title would explain everything, but I was kept hanging.

In my opinion it was a story full op potential, but it was not up my alley. I would suggest you read the book by yourself and make up your own mind.

I, for sure, am looking forward to reading the next book written by this author. This one gets 3 stars.

Thank you, Vikki Patis, Bookouture and Netgalley.

 

About the author

Vikki Patis is an author and blogger, as well as an avid book reviewer. She runs The Bandwagon blog. When she isn’t working as a Regulatory Affairs Officer, she can usually be found drinking tea, baking cakes, or taking walks in the Hertfordshire countryside. She lives with her partner and two cats.

www.vikkipatis.com