Books Read 2024

JANUARY

  • Susan Scarlett- Murder While You Work. Fiction. (Furrowed Middlebrow Reprint 2022. Originally Published 1944) The author is better know as Noel Streatfield, she used this pseudonym for twelve lighter romances. Set in wartime Judy Rest meets Nick Parsons while travelling on a slow train to her new job in a munitions factory. She is billeted with a family which seems to have  some odd happenings. This is a murder mystery, romance and psychological story.
  • George Bellairs - Death Spins the Wheel. Crime Fiction. (Published 1965) Inspector Littlejohn is visiting his friend on the Isle of Man when an elderly French Lady, who has been winning small sums at the newly opened island casino, is murdered. The story moves to France and Switzerland and back to the end of WWII and the French resistance.
  • Tom Morton -  In Shetland; Tales from the last bookshop. Non Fiction (Published 2017) Journalist and small bookshop owner Tom Morton writes about life in Shetland, the weather, the ocean and the people.
  • Cecily Gayford - Editor. - Murder in the Falling Snow. Crime Fiction Short Stories.(Published 2022) A small book containing several short crime stories set in winter. Authors include Arthur Conan Doyle, Gladys Mitchell and Michael Innes.
  • Josephine Bell - The Port of London Murders. Crime Fiction (BLCC Reprint 2020. Originally Published 1938). This is a really good portrayal of life in the docks of London before the war. It revolves around the families existing in the slums about to be demolished and starts with an accident that brings together residents June Harvey and Harry Reed and June's young brother Leslie.
  • Lin Anderson - Deadly Code. Crime Fiction. (Published 2005)  Forensic Scientist Rhona MacLeod is sent to the Isle of Skye after the grisly find of a decomposing foot in a fishermans net. But straight away the Ministry of Defence want the whole matter kept secret. This story is about scientists, murder and a young boys secret life.
  • Anne Perry -  A Christmas Vanishing. Crime Fiction Novella. (Published 2023) Mariah Ellison has a planned visit to stay with her friend Sadie Alsop for Christmas. But when she arrives in the village Sadie has disappeared and no one seems bothered. Once she finds another friend to stay with she begins the search and it seems Sadie had secrets as do many other people in the village.
  • Cora Harrison - Murder in the Mist. Crime Fiction. (Published 2023) Wilkie Collins has been invited to spend Christmas with his friend Charles Dickens and family and guests. The festivities are spoiled by the death of one of the guests - a rather obnoxious Irish man called Timmy O'Connor who seems to have a connection to some of the other guests. Is the murderer one of the convicts from the prison hulks moored in the estuary or one of Timmy's three nephews who all seem terrified of him, or one of the other guests?
  • Martin Edwards (editor) Silent Nights; Christmas Mysteries. Crime Fiction Short Stories. ( A BLCC Publication from 2015) Ranging from Conan Doyle to more recent. These are all short stories set around Christmas. I realised this was a re-read from many years ago and written wrongly in my 'Book of Books Read'. But read it anyway. 
  • Alexander McCall Smith - From a Far and Lovely Country. Crime Fiction. (Published 2023). Another in the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series set in Botswana. The Cool Singles Evening Club is encouraging married men to pretend they are single to meet women and a lady from America arrives to look for ancestors. All sorted through Precious Ramotswe's good sense.
  • Willa Cather - A Lost Lady. Fiction (Published 1923) This is the story of the lovely and enigmatic Marian Forrester and her life in the Western American town of Sweet Water. The novel is told from the perspective of her young neighbour, Niel Herbert, and he begins by recalling the early days when Marian was a young bride newly arrived in the prairie town and adored by her pioneering husband, Captain Daniel Forrester. Niel joins in the adulation of his beautiful older neighbour and falls in love with her and worships her from afar. However, the bloom soon fades and the days of optimism and possibility for Niel and the town of Sweet Water give way to a more cynical and jaded time. Marian is not the ideal woman that her husband and Niel has imagined her to be and the innocent days of the hardworking and noble pioneers of the American West eventually give way to the exploitation and materialism prevalent in the rest of the country. Niel grows up in Cather’s bittersweet coming-of-age tale to understand that things are rarely as simple as they seem. (precis from Amazon)
2 Fiction
4 Older Crime Fiction (2 Short Stories)
1 Non Fiction
4  Recently written Crime Fiction (1 Novella)

Total of 11 books read in January 

FEBRUARY

  • Edmund Crispin - Swan Song. Crime Fiction. (Published 1947) An Opera Company gathers in Oxford for a post war production of Wagner. Nearly everyone involved has a reason to loathe Edwin Shorthouse who is singing a leading role. Then he is found hanging in his locked dressing room. Gervase fen, Oxford Don and amateur sleuth is called in to find the killer.
  • Arthur Ransome - We Didn't Mean to Go to Sea. Childrens Fiction (Published 1937) . One of Ransome's books about the family featured in Swallows and Amazons. The Swallows are on holiday at Pin Mill in Suffolk and this story is all about the Orwell Estuary and the children's unexpected voyage across the North Sea in terrible weather. The details of the river and sailing are incredibly detailed.
  • Kate Thompson - The Little Wartime Library. Fiction. (Published 2022) This story is based on the true events of the library that was opened over the tracks of the unused Bethnal Green Tube Station Shelter during the 1940s.Run by Clara Button, a widow and her friend Ruby Monroe, both have had tragedy's during the war but both love the library, the people of the East End and their work. A good story - heading toward romance.
  • Cora Harrison -Season of Darkness. Crime Fiction. (Published 2019) This is the first in a series which feature Charles Dickens with his friend Wilkie Collins sorting out crimes in Victorian London. Dickens recognises the body of a young girl pulled from the Thames, a housemaid he had tried to help through his charity. They find Isabella has been blackmailing someone but what does her friend Sesina know that she's not telling.
  • Nigel Richardson - The Accidental Detectorist; Uncovering an Underground Obsession. Non Fiction (Published 2022) A travel writer is stuck at home through the pandemic and buys a metal detector. He starts in the meadow behind his Hampshire home and then sets out to meet other detectorists and joins in rallies and is very quickly hooked by his new hobby. Travelling around the country looking for the illusive buried treasure he meets all sorts of characters and learns so much more about what's hidden.
  • Mike Hollow - The Covent Garden Murder. Crime Fiction. (Published 2023). This is the eighth in the Blitz Detective series with inspector John Jago. This story takes them into theatre land and old grievances cause a murder. 
  • Donna Leon -  A Venetian Reckoning. Crime Fiction. (Published  1995 ) This is one of the earlier on the Brunetti series set in Venice. This story starts with a terrible accident in the mountains when several girls from Eastern Europe being smuggled into the country are killed. Then an important lawyer is found shot dead in a railway carriage and as usual Guido has to find the answer to the murders while avoiding upsetting the high and mighty of Italy and his boss.
  • Peter Ross - Steeple Chasing; Around Britain by Church. Non Fiction. (Published 2023). This isn't so much about churches but about the people involved with them and how they are surviving and have survived. He takes the reader around the country through the pandemic visiting St Pauls in London, Durham Cathedral, the forgotten churches of Norfolk, the holy wells in Wales and back to London with a few other places in between.
  • Evie Woods -The Lost Bookshop. Fiction (Published 2023) This story moves between two timelines, three countries and three different people. In the 1920's Opaline Carlisle runs away from London to France to avoid marrying the man her brother is forcing her to marry. In modern day Dublin Martha has at last got away from her abusive husband and Henry is searching for information about a book and a bookshop to make his name as a book dealer. A really good story with magic and history.
1 Older Crime Fiction
1 Children's Fiction.
3 Recently Written Crime Fiction
2 Fiction
2 Non Fiction

9 Books Read in February

MARCH

  • Lara Maiklem -  Mudlarking. Non Fiction. (Published 2019) This was a re-read but I enjoyed it second time around. Lara spent all her free time for years exploring the River Thames whenever the tide was low. This is a look at all the things she found and a little about their history.
  • Elly Griffiths - The Great Deceiver. Crime Fiction. (Published 2023) This is the 7th book in the series set in Brighton where Edgar Stephens is a Police Superintendent and his wife - an ex WPC is now a private investigator. Once again the story involves theatre acts and Max Mestipho, Edgars friend from wartime. Cherry Underwood, who had been working as a magicians assistant is found murdered. All the acts appearing in a Variety Show revival are suspects.
  • Agatha Christie writing as Mary Westmacott -Absent in the Spring. Fiction (Published 1944) Returning home by an overland route from a visit to her youngest daughter in Iraq, Joan Scudamore finds herself unexpectedly alone and stranded in a rest house when bad weather holds up her train across the desert. With nothing to do but walk and think, for the first time ever Joan has to look at the truths about herself and her family.  Looking back she examines her attitudes, relationships and actions and becomes very uneasy about how smug and un-seeing she has been.
    This is an unsettling book to read - Joan thinks she has been a perfect wife and mother but really has been completely selfish without realising the effect a very early decision has had on her husband and then her three children.
  • Carol Carnac - Impact of Evidence . Crime Fiction (B.L.C.C. reprint 2024 Originally Published 1954.) In the Welsh border country, isolated by heavy snow and then floods old Dr. Robinson is involved in a tragic road accident - a collision with a jeep - ending up with the vehicles in the river. Neighbours from local farms all help but when the police arrive there is a mystery of a second body in the car.
  • Catherine Aird - Constable Country. Crime Fiction. (Published 2023) The most recent in a long series started in 1966. This story read as if it's written in the 60's with the attitudes prevalent then but with mobile phones added in just to update it. Mike Wakefield's business partner absconds with all the money from their printing business but then one of their employers is found murdered after a party.
  • Ann Cleeves - Murder in Paradise. Crime Fiction. (Published 1988) An early Cleeves' book featuring George Palmer-Jones. Newlyweds Jim and Sarah are welcomed home from their honeymoon to the Scottish Island of Kinness with the traditional huge party for the whole village. But there is a sinister turn when Mary, the grooms young sister who is deaf and has learning problems, disappears and is found dead after falling from the cliffs. George Palmer-Jones, birdwatcher and amateur detective, is visiting the island and is sure it wasn't an accident.
  • Cathy Faulkner - Digging For Victory. Children's Fiction. (Published 2023) It's 1940 and the war is a long way off for Bonnie living on their quiet Devon Farm. She longs to be a Hero like her brother who is called up to fly Spitfires but then a mysterious stranger is billeted in their house, who is he and where does he go every night. Finding out will bring all sorts of dangers for Bonnie but she eventually does become a Hero - even though she can't tell anyone. 
  • Cora Harrison -  Spring of Hope. Crime Fiction. (Published 2021). This is one of the author's Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins mystery series. March 1859 and it's the spring after the summer of   'The Great Stink', when the Thames became so polluted with sewage that Parliament was overwhelmed. Dickens has become friends with Joseph Bazalgette, a young engineer, who is trying to find a way to take the sewage from the Thames and win a big money prize. At the exhibition to show his plans a man is fatally injured and Dickens and Collins are not convinced it was an accident.
  • Roger Morgan-Grenville -  Across a Waking Land; A 1,000 Mile Walk Through a British Spring. Non Fiction (Published 2023) Fed up with bleak headlines about biodiversity loss he decides in the aftermath of the pandemic to walk through Britain at the same speed as oak leaves emerge. On his way he visits as many different landscapes as possible and speaks to farmers, conservationists and people fighting for nature.
1 Non Fiction.
4 Recently Written Crime Fiction
1 Fiction
1 Older Crime Fiction
1 Children's Fiction

8 Books Read in March

APRIL
  • Ethel Lina White -  Fear Stalks The Village. Crime Fiction (Originally Published 1932. BLCC reprint Published 2024) A convoluted tale of a village and it's inhabitants when someone starts sending poison pen letters.Very dated to the period.
  • Rumer Godden -  The Peacock Spring. Fiction. (Published 1975). 15 year old Una and 12 year old Hal are summoned from their English boarding school to start a new life with their diplomat father in India. When Una discovers their beautiful governess Alix is actually her father's mistress, she is furious and starts spending time with the mysterious gardener Ravi.
  • Michael Morpurgo - All Around The Year. Non Fiction. (Originally Published 1979. A Little Toller Reprint 2023) This is a diary from 1976/7 of the daily happenings on Parsonage Farm in North Devon. Michael Morpurgo and his wife had bought a nearby house with plans to turn it into a place that city children could stay for a week and immerse themselves into everything that happens on a mixed farm. The Ward family are the farmers who farm the land all around and Morpurgo spends a year working alongside them everyday in the year before his charity "Farms For City Children" send the first children to stay. Poems by Ted Hughes and Photographs by James Ravilious.
  • John Bude- A Telegram From Le Touquet. Crime Fiction (Originally Published 1956. BLCC Reprint Published 2024.  Nigel Denny visits his unpredictable Aunt Gwenny to find out why she doesn't want him to marry her ward Sheila. At Gwenny's Country house are some of the men Gwenny has "collected". But after a nasty incident between two of the men, Gwenny decides to pack up and head out to her country villa in the South of France. When Nigel receives a telegram asking him to travel to France he finds himself in the middle of a murder investigation. Inspector Blampignon investigates.
  • Kate Webb - Stay Buried. Crime Fiction. (Published 2022.) First in a short series - so far- by a new author. D.I. Matt Lockyer has been side-lined to working on cold cases. He receives a phone call from prisoner Hedy Lambert - a woman he put in prison for murder 14 years earlier. She informs him that the man who she was originally accused of murdering has turned up at his fathers house. She begs him to reopen the case and because he has always had mixed feelings about Hedy he starts to investigate.
  • Chris Nickson -  The Scream of Sins. Crime Fiction. (Published 2024) Sixth in the series featuring Simon Westow, the thief taker in the early years of 1800's Leeds.A maid has stolen important papers and Simon is asked to find them but during the search Simon's assistant Jane hears a horrific tale about young girls being stolen for use by rich men.
  • Donna Leon - The Anonymous Venetian. Crime Fiction. (Published 1994). Another in the series featuring Commissario Brunetti and set in Venice. When a man's body wearing a red dress and high heels turns up with a face completely smashed in it starts a mystery of finding who he is and what the connection is to a bank and people paying very low rents for expensive Venetian apartments.
  • Alexandra Benedict -Murder On The Christmas Express. Crime Fiction. (Published 2022). A modern crime story set on the sleeper train to Scotland. It has snow stopping the train, social media, vaping, a retired Police  detective going to visit her daughter and awaiting the birth of a granddaughter. Lots of young people and a few older. A bit of a silly and annoying story, too nasty to be cosy crime.
  • Donna Leon -  The Girl of His Dreams. Crime Fiction (Published 2008) Commissario Brunetti helps to pull a young girl from the canals of Venice but no one has reported her missing. Earlier after the funeral of his mother, the priest who gave a blessing asks for Brunettis help in finding out about a mysterious priest asking for money. This is the 17th of the series 
  • Christanna  Brand - Suddenly at His Residence. Crime Fiction (A BLCC reprint published 2023 Originally Published 1947)The 4 adult Grandchildren of Sir Richard March are visiting him and his second wife Bella at the country home in Kent for the annual celebration of his first wife's life. Annoyed by their silly behaviour and life choices he decides to alter his will there and then. This of course ends in his murder and then another murder. All this is happening as nearby London is suffering from the V2 rockets which also results in another death. Inspector Cockrill is called in.
  • Derek Tangye - A Quiet Year. Non Fiction. (Published 1984) Mainly memories from the past as well as further stories of the animals at Minack, the clifftop home of the author and his wife in Cornwall. His 15th book about life in Cornwall.
  • Molly Lefebure - Murder on the Home Front. Non Fiction. (Published 1954) This is the story of the secretary who worked for forensic pathologist Dr Keith Simpson during the blitz. He meticulously pursues the truth of the murder crimes 
3 Older Crime Fiction
1 Fiction
3 Non Fiction
5 Recently Written Crime Fiction

12 Books Read in April


MAY
  • Donna Leon - Wilful Behaviour. Crime Fiction. (Published 2002). One of Brunetti's wife's students comes to see him to ask about a pardon for a crime committed by  a long dead grandfather. But when the girl is found murdered it really does become Brunettis case. The case goes into the history of Austrian Jews during the war and collaboration and lies.
  • Stephen Baxter - Stone Spring. Historical/ Fantasy Fiction( Published 2010) This story is set in the Mesolithic period  between 8,800 - 4,500BC. Europe is still attached to Britain and the people who live on that fertile plain that is now gone were in the centre of civilisation, trading with other groups for the nodules of flint they had and fishing and hunting. The author changes the history of that period so that the plain or Northland  (now known as Doggerland) wasn't covered by rising sea levels, and the people have become more settled and not the hunter-gatherers they once were. The story is about the clash between families and tribes and the plans for holding back the sea.
  • S.J.Bennet - A Death in Diamonds. Crime Fiction. (Published 2024) This is the 4th in the series in which the Queen helps to solve a crime assisted by a personal private secretary. Now going back to 1957 with the new queens visiting other countries while someone close to her is plotting against her. New secretary Joan steps up to help.
  • Kate Webb - Laying Out The Bones. Crime Fiction (Published 2023) 2nd book in this new series set in Wiltshire and featuring DI Matt Lockyer. Flash flooding on Salisbury Plain reveals a buried body which is from a man missing for nine years. Three other people with a connection have also died. The occupants of a farm commune seem to be hiding secrets. Lockyer's mother is in hospital with covid and he finds secrets about his brother who was killed many years ago and another secret about something that happened in his own house that his elderly neighbour knows about.
  • Rob Rinder - The Trial. Crime Fiction. (Published 2023). The first crime story by the well known barrister, writer and TV personality. It was a very good story inspired by his own experiences. Hero policeman Grant Cliveden dies from a poisoning in the Old Bailey. The evidence is clear and points to one man. This is trainee barrister Adam Green's first big case defending Jimmy Knight who has much history with Cliveden in the past.
  • Lorna Nicholl Morgan - Another Little Christmas Murder. Crime Fiction (Originally Published 1947). Snowbound in Yorkshire Dilys Morgan is rescued by Inigo Brown who is on his way to visit his Uncle at a remote house. His Uncle has asked him to come urgently but when they arrive his uncles wife seems surprised to see them. Various other people turn up after being stranded and all the staff seem very odd. No one is who they say they are and Inigo's uncle then dies unexpectantly.
  • Alexander McCall Smith - The Quiet Side of Passion. Fiction (Published 2018) I'm not sure why this series is classed as crime because no crimes are committed. This is another in the series about Philosopher Isabel Dalhousie, set in Edinburgh and as usual Isobel gets involved in other peoples problems and tries to solve them. This time she takes on two people to help her with her editing and with the house but both cause lots more problems. 
  • H.E. Bates - Down The River. Non Fiction. (Originally Published 1937. Republished with new illustrations 1987) Most of this book is about the two rivers that Bates lived between in his youth, the Ouse and the Nene. He writes about the people, animals and life where one river was quiet and the other a busy highway.
  • Amy Myers - Murder in hell's Corner Crime Fiction (Published 2006) A reunion of Spitfire pilots starts a case for investigative authors Peter and Georgia Marsh. The father and daughter team solve old crimes and then produce a book about it. Slightly cosy crime.
  • Molly Clavering -  Mrs Lorrimer's Quiet Summer. Fiction (Published 1953 - A DSP Furrowed Middlebrow reprint 2021).Mrs Lorrimer is an author with 4 grown children and this story takes her through a summer in the Scottish borders when she is between books . She worries about all her children and their families and has them all to stay, meets the new people who've just moved in, has a great friendship with Grace Douglas, another author. The book is almost autobiographical as Clavering lived in Scotland and was great friends with author D.E. Stevenson.
  • Dorothy Simpson - Element of Doubt. Crime Fiction. (Published 1987). Another in a long series featuring Inspector Thanet. Nerine Tarrant had everything a woman could want but her body was found on the terrace of her elegant home below her balcony - it's the classic did she fall or was she pushed. Family members and local people are questioned and all seem to be holding things back or lying. Nerine has many secrets.
  • R.F.Delderfield - The Spring Madness of Mr Sermon. Fiction (Published 1963) Nowadays it would be called a 'Mid Life Crisis' - the day that Mr Sermon walks out of his job - at a second rate prep school and his family - who don't seem to need him anymore, and hops on a train and finds himself in a seaside town many miles from London. In the weeks that follow he discovers he is much more useful than he thought as he gets to learn about auctions and second-hand furniture, rescues a child from the sea, becomes a beach superintendent, saves a coach load of tourists from being stranded and also becomes aware that women find him very interesting. Without my Reading the Seasons challenge I would never had read this and I enjoyed it immensely.

6 Recently Written Crime Fiction
4 Fiction
1 Older Crime Fiction
1 Non Fiction

 12 Books Read in May

JUNE

  • Anthony Horowitz - Close to Death. Crime Fiction (Published 2024) This is the 5th in the Hawthorne and Horowitz mysteries in which he writes himself into a fictional story that Private Investigator ex policeman has been involved with. The stories are so good that it's sometimes difficult to remember they are fiction. This one is about a death from the past set in a close of houses in the up market area of Richmond -on -Thames.
  • Catherine Aird - Learning Curve. Crime Fiction (Published 2016) This author has written 18 crime novels set in the fictional Callshire and featuring D.I. Sloan. Although this is a later story it seems very dated with morals and ideas from the 1960s. Callshire research chemist Derek Tridgell is dying but at the end of his life cries out that someone was murdered. His daughter and wife call in the police who have to find out who, when and where this murder occurred - if it actually did.
  • Alys Clare - The Stranger in the Asylum. Crime Fiction (Published 2024) The 4th book in the World's End Bureau mystery series. Private Investigator Lily Raynor receives a visit from a lady claiming that her fiancé has been accused of murder and hurried off to a remote asylum in France. Lily and her assistant Felix Wilbraham journey to rural France to find Wilberforce but in the mean time he has been accused of another murder and has vanished.
  • Marghanita Laski -  The Village. Fiction (Persephone Reprint Published 2004. Originally Published 1952.) A story about class and the changes in a village just as the war ends. When Margaret Trevor, eldest daughter of Major and Mrs Trevor, once wealthy but due to ill health and the war now impoverished, falls in love with Roy her childhood friend - the eldest son of her mothers cleaning lady - it causes all sorts of talk in the village. The breaking down of social barriers when the two women could be friendly at the Red Cross Post has straight away gone.
  • Elly Griffiths -  The Last Word. Crime Fiction (Published 2024) This is the 4th in a series involving detective Harbinder Kaur, now working in the met. But this story is about Private Investigators Edwin and Natalka and her partner Benedict,who appeared in the 2nd book and set in Brighton.When a local writer is found dead her family are convinced it's murder and when Edwin reads an obituary written about her by someone who has also died there seems to be a link. 
  • Jonathan Tulloch - Cuckoo Summer. Children's Fiction (Published 2022). Summer 1940 and in the Lake District two children find an enemy airman in the woods. Sally is a mysterious young evacuee from the North East of England billeted with nasty Mr Starcross who treats her like an animal. Tommy is living with his three aunties his mother died a while ago and his father is missing in action in France. Together their secrets and adventures will change both their lives.
  • Donna Leon - Fatal Remedies. Crime Fiction (Published 1999) This is the 8th in the Commissario Brunetti mysteries set in Venice. This one starts with Brunetti's wife Paola being arrested for throwing a brick through the window of a travel agent as a one woman protest against sex-tourism. The story then takes a twist when the owner of the travel agents is murdered.

5 Recently Written Crime Fiction.
1 Fiction
1 Children's Fiction





4 comments:

  1. Have spent the last half hour making additions to my wish list of to be read thanks to this and will now spend a lot more on your other have read lists, I lost touch with your blog for a while and now have lots to catch up on as I know we have similar reading tastes in certain areas. Thank you so much for the entertainment and subsequent pleasure I will get from this :)

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  2. How do I subscribe to your blog please? I stumbled across an entry on a FB site x

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    1. Subscribe? No idea. Anyone can read it anytime

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