- Jill Paton Walsh - The Bad Quarto. Crime Fiction. (Published 2007) Imogen Quy is the nurse for St.Agatha's College, Cambridge. This author wrote 4 books in this series - this is the 4th. In this story Imogen sorts out the mystery of the links between an amateur Shakespeare production, the death of a lecturer and the disappearance of an angry student.. A good well written story.
- Alison Uttley - Country Things. Non Fiction. (Published 1946). This is another little book gathering together her lovely descriptive memories of childhood in the 1880s growing up on a farm and a village in Derbyshire. I've enjoyed several of her books of essays and memories - sometimes fictionalised.
- Sylvia Townsend Warner - English Climate: Wartime Stories (Persephone 2020 Originally published 1939-46.) This is a collection of short pieces/stories many originally written for The New Yorker during the war by this author (1893-1978). Some are good short stories, others are a bit odd. A quick read.
- Rupert Latimer - Murder After Christmas. Crime Fiction ( British Library Crime Classic Published 2021. Originally published 1944). This is an author who only wrote a few crime books before he died at age just 48 in 1953. Its an odd story but with a touch of humour "a lively riot of murder,mince pies and misdirection.........a pacey light-hearted package". Totally unbelievable but a good read.
- Marion Todd - In Plain Sight. Crime Fiction,(Published 2020) This is the second story featuring DI Clare Mackay and set in St Andrews Scotland. When a baby disappears from her push chair at the start of a charity fun run - there seem to be no clues and no reason for her being snatched. But why are so many people hiding things and is the appearance of a known drug dealer in the area relevant.
- Ros Watkins - The Devil's Dice. Crime Fiction(Published 2018). The debut crime thriller from this author. Featuring DI Meg Dalton a police officer returning back to her home county of Derbyshire. When a lawyer is found dead in a cave some people think it's connected to a curse. -
- S.J. Bennett - The Three Dog problem. Crime Fiction. (Published 2021).This is the second in a series in which Rozie Oshodi, The Queen's Assistant Private Secretary, assists the Queen in solving a mystery. This one starts with the Queen spotting a painting she once owned in a collection at the Royal Naval Centre in Portsmouth but after asking Rozie to check out how it is there when it was once in Buckingham Palace, there are then two murders.
- Joan Strange - Despatches From the Home Front; The War Diaries. Non Fiction. (Edited by Chris McCooey. Published 2013).From January 1st 1939 to the end of the War, Joan Strange kept a diary. From the dramatic happening in other parts of the world to the local problems in Worthing. The book also includes a few newspaper cuttings which are interesting.
- B.A.Steward- Farm Down the Lane. Non Fiction (Published 1946)
- B.A.Steward - Green Lane Farm. Non Fiction (Published 1982) Both these books are about a local Suffolk farm during the war years and just after. They are memories of the farm workers and village people, the land girls and the animals that were usual at the time on a small mixed farm.
- Jim Eldridge- Murder at the Fitzwilliam. Crime fiction(Published 2018) Set in the 1890's. Daniel Wilson made his name in London investigating the case of Jack The Ripper. Now he is working as a private enquiry agent and is called in to assist the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge when a dead body is found in a previously empty sarcophagus. The Egyptian collection is being catalogued by archaeologist Abigail Fenton and the two work together to solve the murder and mystery.
11 Books Read in January
- Mike Hollow -The Pimlico Murder. Crime Fiction(Published 2021). 6th book in The Blitz Detective series featuring Inspector John Jago. A young man is found battered to death in an Anderson shelter with two white poppies in his pocket. This looks at some dark aspects of Blitz life - protection rackets and looting.
- Marion Todd - Lies to Tell. Crime Fiction. (Published 2020) This is the 3rd in the series featuring DI Clare Mackay and set in St Andrews Scotland.A clever story involving computer hacking and money laundering.
- Esther Rowley - Dogs, Goats, Bulbs and Bombs;Wartime Diaries of Exmouth and Exeter. Edited by John Folkes. (Published 2010)These diaries were found in an auction and thanks to a letter found among the pages could be attributed to Esther, a single woman who was in her 30's and lived with her mother in a large house in Exmouth. It's a fascinating look at the life of those who had money at the time and were able to purchase things that many found difficult to find. Esther is in the ATS at the beginning of the diaries in 1940 but later has to leave to take care of her elderly mother. She spends lots of time out and about walking her dogs, visiting neighbours and friends for tea. playing tennis, swimming in summer and having picnics.Gardening is her main pleasure and there are good details of all the plants she buys - things I didn't think were available during the war.
- Diana Ashworth - Iolo's Revenge;Sheep Farming by Happy Accident in Mid Wales. Non Fiction. (Published 2018) A small book written by a retired doctor and how she and her husband came to own a 25 acre sheep farm on the Welsh border. The stories of sheep escaping, lambing problems and the death wish of sheep was all very familiar! A good read once I got used to idea of it being written in the 3rd person. She describes herself all through as The Retired Lady and her husband as The Retired Gentleman - a bit odd.
- Alan Bennett - The Uncommon Reader. Fiction (Published 2007). A Very quick read - took me just an hour. The Queen's corgis lead her to finding that a mobile library visits Buckingham Palace. She's never read for pleasure before but soon gets hooked on books. The only other library borrower is Norman and the Queen soon promotes him from the kitchen to be her personal reading assistant. She gets so involved in reading that she starts to neglect her duties and the staff are worried.
- Mel Starr - Master Wycliffe's Summons. Crime Fiction(Published 2021). This is the 14th in a series about Hugh de Singleton - a bailiff near Oxford in 14th Century England. The recurrence of the plague is a back drop to this story when Hugh is called to Oxford to find out if a student really was struck by lightening.
- Mike Hollow - The Dockland Murder. Crime Fiction.(Published 2021) This is the 5th of The Blitz Detective series featuring Inspector John Jago. This is set mainly in the Port of London and Jago has to work with their own police force to find the murderer of one of the Home Guard members patrolling the docks at night.
- Alis Hawkins - In Two Minds. Crime Fiction ( Published 2019) A new to me author. This is the second in a series about Teifi Valley Coroner Henry Probert-Lloyd. Set sometime in the 1800's, (no specific date given). A good read but I wish the library had the 1st one. Henry Probert-Lloyd was forced home from being a barrister in London by encroaching blindness. When a faceless body is found on the beach at Tresaith Harry - as acting coroner must lead the inquest.
- Ronald Blythe - Village Hours. Non Fiction. (Published 2012) Another collection of short pieces that were first published in The Church Times. He always writes so descriptively about the countryside, church and people he meets around Wormingford on the Essex/Suffolk border.
9 Books Read in February
- Chris Nickson - The Blood Covenant. Crime Fiction (Published 2021). This is the 4th in a series featuring Simon Westow, a thief taker in early 19C Leeds. Hearing about the brutal deaths of two young boys at one of the mills in Leeds reminds Simon of his own painful childhood. He and his assistant Jane are drawn into investigating.But this leads to Simon's family being at risk by two of the rich and wealthy of Leeds.The violence and descriptions of the poor at the time are very descriptive.
- Duff Hart-Davis- Our Land at War:A Portrait of Rural Britain 1939-1945. Non Fiction (Published 2015). A thorough look at all the events of WWII which had any effect on the countryside. From farming to evacuees to air bases and Land Army Girls to country houses and secret hideouts. A very good read.
- Ann Granger - Mystery in the Making. Short crime stories (Published 2021) There are 18 stories of various lengths in this latest book by a very prolific author. Some are quite dated as they were written many years ago for publication in magazines.
- D.E. Stevenson - Winter and Rough Winter. Fiction (Originally Published 1951) This is a Dean St Press reprint.I had read this before but probably in 40+ years ago. Set in the Scottish Borders, this story is mainly about James Dering and his new wife Rhoda who is an artist moving to their new home on a remote farm.Rhoda finds life lonely after London but after she starts painting again and finds a boy with a talent she can help she begins to feel more at home.
- Anthony Berkeley - Murder in the Basement. (BLCC reprint 2021. Originally Published 1932). Two newly-weds discover a corpse buried in the basement of their new home and a long gruelling case begins. Amateur sleuth Roger Sheringham has just been teaching at a private school and has started a satirical novel about his colleagues and the case seems to lead Chief Inspector Moresby to the school and some of the staff there.
- Alys Clare - Magic in the Weave. Crime Fiction. (Published 2021) This is the 4th in a series featuring physician Gabriel Taverner and his friend - Coroner Theophilus Davey. The story is set in 1604 in Plymouth where a company of Players have fled London because of the plague. Somehow their performances seem to be employing magic to trick the audience.
- Beverley Nichols - Merry Hall. Non Fiction (Published 1951). Beverley Nichols was well known as a garden writer, journalist and broadcaster from the 50's through to the late 70's. This is the story of a large house and garden he bought just after the war. It really shows how making garden is a labour of love and the most important thing in his life. The author write amusingly about his inherited gardener and the village ladies as well as the flowers and trees he chooses.
- Marion Todd - What They Knew. Crime Fiction,(Published 2021) This is the fourth story featuring DI Clare Mackay and set in St Andrews Scotland. At midnight on Hogmanay Alison Reid admits someone to her home who then murders her. But when the pathology results are in they seem to bear some resemblance to another woman found dead a few weeks earlier.
- William Powers- Twelve by Twelve; A One Room Cabin Off The Grid. Non Fiction.(Published 2010) William Powers is an international aid worker and accepts the offer to stay in an off grid cabin by No Name Creek in North Carolina. The owner is Dr Jackie Benton who lives a simple life to avoid paying tax and she is off travelling and campaigning. The book is described as "Walden for the global warming era". It's not so much about living in a small space but about the author working out which way he wants to go with his life.
- Cecily Gayford - Editor - Murder in Midsummer. Short Crime Stories. (Published 2019) The authors of these short stories are all well known including Conan Doyle, Ruth Rendell and Ellis Peters. All these murders happen in summertime, some are good - some not so readable. One or two have been included in British Library Crime Classic collections.
- Anthony Berkeley - The Wintringham Mystery. Crime Fiction (Published 2021 Originally published 1927. Stephen Munro is a de-mobbed army officer but being short of money he takes a job as a footman at a country house where Lady Susan Carey is having guests to stay. Then one of the guests vanishes. This is a typical Country House Mystery of the period but is quite well written.
11 Books Read in March
- Elizabeth Harland - No Halt at Sunset; The Diary of a Country Housewife. Non Fiction.(Published 1951). Written as a diary covering the end of 1949 and through 1950, many of the entries first appeared in the Eastern Daily Press. They tell the story of a woman and her family running a small farm and writing books at the same time. This was a quick re-read for me.
- Judi Daykin - Under Violent Skies. Crime Fiction (Published 2020). A Debut novel set in Norfolk with a new officer up from London and not being made welcome. The story is set around the flat Fenland farms and foreign workers. DS Sara Hirst wants to know the truth about her father who she's not seen since she was two but she knows he moved to Norfolk. This story seemed similar to others with a black police officer out in the countryside where everyone is white.
- Bernard J.Farmer - Death of a Bookseller. Crime Fiction (British Library Crime Classic published 2022, originally published 1956.) This is the 100th in the BLCC reprints. Sergeant Wigan becomes a book collector after befriending Micheal Fisk who is celebrating a rare book find. A while later Fisk is found dead and because of his knowledge of rare books, booksellers and runners (the people who search out rare books to pass on to buyers or book shops) he is asked to help the CID track down the killer. Rare books can be dangerous things!
- Dorothy Whipple - Random Commentary. Non Fiction. (A Persephone Publication 2020 Originally Published 1966) This book was compiled from notebooks and journals written between 1925 and the end of WWII. An interesting look at the well known author and how she came to write some of her best loved novels. She gathered this book together from her diaries and published it just before her death.
- Elly Griffiths - The Locked Room. Fiction (Published 2022). The 14th in the Dr. Ruth Galloway series. I enjoy all her books even though they seem to be a bit repetitive and predictable sometimes. This one is written as covid hits Norfolk and everywhere else. Ruth has a new neighbour who then goes missing and one of the characters gets covid and is seriously ill in hospital.
- Eve Ibbotson - A Song For Summer. Young Adult Fiction (Published 1977) Ellens Father was killed at Ypres and she grew up with her Mother and two Aunts - they were all clever women and Ellen was equally intelligent but most of all she loved cooking and housekeeping and learns these and German from her Grandfathers housekeeper. Ellen gets a job working at a very unusual school in Austria where they concentrate on the English language, drama and music and is soon intrigued by the gardener Marek who has a secret. But then Hitler starts marching across Europe.
- Peter May - The Night Gate. Crime Fiction (Published 2021). Featuring the retired forensic police officer Enzo Macleod, the story is set in two time lines - one in occupied France during WWII and the other through the Covid lockdown of 2020. In a sleepy French village the body of a man shot through the head is disinterred by the roots of a fallen tree. A week later a famous art critic is murdered in a nearby house.
- D.E.Stevenson - Music in the Hills. Fiction (Originally Published 1950) A Furrowed Middlebrow/Dean St Press reprint. I should have read this before my re-read of Winter and Rough Weather last month as it's the beginning of that story. Set again in the Scottish Borders.
- Marion Todd - Next in Line. Crime Fiction (Published 2021) The 5th by this new author set in St Andrews Scotland and featuring D.I.Clare Mackay. Clare is in charge of a high profile case when a TV personality Gaby Fox's brother is shot dead while at his birthday party. His friends all seem to be hiding something.
9 Books Read in April
- Beverley Nichols - Sunlight on the Lawn. Non Fiction (Published 1956) The final book in the trilogy about his garden and home in Surrey. The ladies of the village feature again but its the flowers that are the main part of his books.
- Jim Eldridge - Murder at Claridges. Crime Fiction. (Published 2022). This is the 3rd set during the Blitz in London and featuring DCI Coburg. The body of a kitchen porter at Claridges is found but he wasn't killed by a bomb.
- D.E.Stevenson - Vittoria Cottage. Fiction (Originally Published 1949. Furrowed Middlebrow Reprint 2019.) This is a book that I should have read before Music in The Hills and Winter and Rough Weather ....see March and April books read.........as it is the back story of some of the people that feature in those later books. It is another gentle family story set while the war and rationing still feature. It's a re-read for me but read so long ago that I had no memory of it.
- Rachel Blok - Under the Ice. Crime Fiction. (Published 2018). A new to me author this is the first featuring a Dutch detective in St Albans. The frozen body of a young woman is found under the ice of the lake. A local women, an exhausted new mother, keeps dreaming about what happened on the night of the murder and why is she wandering around at night?
- E.C.R.Lorac - Post After Post-Mortem. Crime Fiction (British Library Crime Classic 2022 Originally Published 1936). Another crime story by one of BLCC's best republished authors. This is a clever story. The Surrays and their 5 grown up children are a family of writers and after a rare get together at the family home the middle daughter -Ruth- is found dead - supposedly by suicide. But after the inquest her brother Richard receives a letter from her that had been delayed in the post which seems to upset the suicide decision. Inspector MacDonald is called in to investigate what must have been a meticulously planned murder