- D.E.Stevenson - Young Mrs Savage. Fiction. ( A DSP/Furrowed Middlebrow reprint published 2022. Originally published 1947) A gentle story about a young widowed mother with 4 children. When her brother Dan returns from the war he suggests Dinah and the children have a holiday in their old family home, which is now a boarding house run by their old Nannie. This is really a Summer holiday story about Dinah meeting up with people she knew when they were young, the children's adventures on the beach and finding someone who she can love.
- Mike Hollow - The Camden Murder. Crime Fiction. (Published 2022) This is the 7th in the Blitz Detective series featuring DI John Jago and set in 1940's London. A man is found in a burning car but had died before the fire started. The victim is a commercial traveller for a chocolate company But he is soon found to have lots of secrets in his life.
- Ronald Blythe - Next to Nature; A Lifetime in the English Countryside. Non Fiction (Published 2022) The very last book to be published by this author prior to his death on the 14th January 2023. This is a collection of some of his earlier articles for the Church Times all about his life in the church as a Lay Reader, his home at Bottomgoms Farm on the Suffolk Essex border and the countryside around. Beautifully written as always.
- Rev. Richard Coles - Murder Before Evensong. Crime Fiction. (Published 2022) First novel by this author. Canon Daniel Clement is Rector of Champton. When he announces plans to remove pews to make room for a toilet in the church the parish is divided and then there is a murder. Is there a connection or is the reason for this brutal killing somewhere in the past.
- Nancy Campbell - Thunderstone. Non Fiction. (Published 2022) Subtitled 'A true story of losing one home and discovering another.' This is Nancy's story of the pandemic year when her relationship with her partner Anna was breaking down and then Anna has a stroke and Nancy stays to look after her before then finding an old caravan to live in and towing it to a spot beside the canal and the railway on the edge of Oxford. An odd story of someone who has been a quite successful author and has mainly written travel books and finds having to stay in one place very difficult. ( A Thunderstone is a fossilised sea urchin).
- D.E.Stevenson - Listening Valley. Fiction (Published 1944) Tonia has lived all her life in the quiet Scottish countryside looked after by a Nannie and ignored by her parents she can't imagine living anywhere else. But when her older sister gets married and moves away, Tonia begins to wonder if there aren't bigger things on the horizon for her too. Marriage to a much older man and World War II take her to London but tragedy sends her back to Scotland and at last a home of her own that she loves. A typical Stevenson story but being written as the war unfolded and before the outcome was known makes it interesting.
- Donna Leon - Through a Glass, Darkly. Crime Fiction. (Published 2006). One of the early Brunnetti crime stories set in Venice. The polluting glass foundries of Murano have been targeted by eco-warriors. Then one of their workers is found dead - killed by the excess heat from a kiln.
- Alexander McCall Smith - The Forgotten Affairs of Youth. Fiction.(Published 2011). This is the 8th in a series featuring philosopher Isobel Dalhousie. It's the last of those I'd found second hand to read sometime. Once again Isobel is asked to interfere in something, that doesn't always have a happy ending. I shan't read anymore of these - they are all very similar.
- Thomas Firbank - I bought a Mountain. Non Fiction (Originally Published 1940. New edition 2022) The story of how a young man returned from Canada in 1931, bought a hill farm with sheep in North Wales and farmed there for many years with all sorts of adventures. This was a re-read for me from about 45 years ago.
- E.C.R. Lorac - Death of an Author. Crime Fiction. ( British Library Crime Classic Published 2023 Originally Published 1935). Vivian Lestrange is a well known author of a mystery book but he's a total recluse. The only people who've seen him are his house keeper and his secretary. When he suddenly vanishes Inspector Bond and Chief Inspector Warner don't know what to believe and later a burned body in a remote part of the countryside seems to have a connection. This is the 9th by this author that BLCC have reprinted, one of their best authors and this title has been out of print since it's first edition. A very good story.
10 Books read in January........
3 Non Fiction
3 Recently Written Crime Fiction
1 Old Crime Fiction (pre 1960)
- D.E.Stevenson - Charlotte Fairlie. Fiction. (DSP reprint 2022. Originally Published 1954.) Charlotte Fairlie is head of a girls boarding school, a job she loves but a lonely position. Her life changes when Tessa MacRynne, a girl from a Scottish Island, joins the school her mother asks Charlotte to look after her as sometime in the future she would need someone to talk to. Out of print since the 1970s this is one of D.E.Stevensons gentle stories.
- Sara Sheridan - London Calling. Crime Fiction (Published 2013) Set in 1950s London and Brighton this is the second of a light series by this author featuring Mirabelle Bevan who had worked for the Secret Service during the war but now runs a debt collecting agency, but seems to get involved in all sorts of police investigations . I hadn't heard of this author and picked up the book at a book sale but the library do have several more which I may read. Labelled as "Cosy Crime Noir"
- Norman Thelwell - A Millstone Round My Neck. Non Fiction(Published 1981) Thelwell was an author, landscape artist, cartoonist and illustrator best know for his books of pony cartoons. He was very interested in architecture and old buildings and in the late 1960's he and his wife bought Addicroft Mill near Liskeard in Cornwall, an old disused water mill, mill house and some derelict cottages, for £4,250. In the book the mill is called Penruin.They spent several years restoring first the mill house and then the mill. The book tells the story of the restoration, the unhelpful builders and the awful weather. All complemented by his line drawings. By the time the book was published in 1981 they had already sold the mill and house and bought and restored a house in Hampshire, which he wrote about in 'A Plank Bridge by a Pool' published in 1978.
- Elizabeth West - A Patch in the Forest. Non Fiction. (Published 2001) This was a re-read. After several years in suburbia following their move away from North Wales Elizabeth and Alan West retired to an old cottage in the Forest of Dean. This short book is about their garden and the wildlife they see around.
- Ann Cleeves - The Rising Tide. Crime Fiction. (Published 2022). This is the 10th in the Vera Stanhope series (although there have been many more TV programmes made). Much of this story is set on Lindisfarne, the island reached by a causeway from the Northumbrian mainland. Friends who went there on a school trip return every five years for a reunion and now they are almost at retiring age. Soon there is a murder that looks like a suicide but is the reason a modern one or something from a hidden past. Excellent story as always.
- Amy Jeffs - Wild;Tales From Medieval Britain. Non Fiction(Published 2022). Classed as Non fiction but really is fiction as these are stories taken from early Medieval texts and manuscripts. Poems are translated at the end of the book. The stories show the way people of that time looked at and understood the world around them before science took over.
- Jim Eldridge - Murder at Aldwych Station. Crime Fiction (Published 2022) Another by this author featuring Detective Chief Inspector Coburg and set in London during the blitz. Bodies keep appearing in a disused underground tunnel and it all seems connected to a Jazz Club and Coburg's pianist wife Rose has often played there and knows the owner - this puts her in danger when she goes to ask questions.
- S.J. Bennett - Murder Most Royal. Crime Fiction. (Published 2022) This is the 3rd in the "Her Majesty the Queen Investigates" series. With the help of her trusted Personal Assistant Rozie once again the Queen is quietly investigating a murder. This time a severed hand turns up on Snettisham beach very close to Sandringham where the Queen is spending Christmas. The Queen recognises the signet ring on the hand as being the relative of the owner of the neighbouring Norfolk Estate.
- J.R.Ellis - The Royal Baths Murder. Crime Fiction. (Published 2019). New to me author but this is the 4th in a series set in Yorkshire. This one takes place in Harrogate. A famous crime writer is found murdered at the Victorian baths in the Yorkshire town of Harrogate during the Harrogate Crime Writing Festival. When DCI Holroyd starts to investigate it seems Damian Penrose was the most hated crime writer around and it seems to almost be a 'locked room' mystery.
- W.F.Harvey - The Mysterious Mr Badman. Crime Fiction.(British Library Crime Classic Published 2022. Originally Published 1934).Athelstan Digby is on holiday in lodgings while visiting his nephew and agrees to look after the ground floor old bookshop while his host is away. On the first day a vicar, a chauffeur and an out-of-town stranger all come into the shop asking about a book ' Death of Mr Badman' . But then a copy of this mysterious book arrives in the shop in a bundle of books brought in to sell. But just a day later the book is stolen. This is the start of a very complicated mystery, soon involving a ruthless murder. This book has been out of print since it's first printing in a limited run in 1934.
- Julie Wassmer- Murder in Mount Ephraim. Crime Fiction. (Published 2022) This is the 9th in a series which features Pearl Nolan - a restaurant owner and private investigator and her Fiance Detective Chief Inspector Mike Nolan. Someone staying at Mount Ephraim house ready for a wedding has murdered the groom on the night before his wedding. Pearl is one of the guests in this 'closed house' murder. I found it a very poor read - bordering on silly!
- Willa Catha- O' Pioneers!. Fiction (Published 1913) A novel about Nebraska and the early settlers who came from Sweden at the end of the 19th century and the struggles they had with inhospitable land. The main character is Alexandra Bergson, who is left to look after the farm with her three brothers when their father dies young.
- Chris Nickson - A Dark Steel Death. Crime Fiction (Published 2022). The 10th in a series that is following Tom Harper in the Leeds Police Force from the end of the C19. It is now 1916 and wartime. Soldiers returning from the front with injuries often have severe mental health problems and one seems to be causing chaos all around the city.
7 Recently Written Crime Fiction
3 Non Fiction
1 Old Crime Fiction (pre 1960)
13 Books read in February
- Cecily Gayford - Editor - Murder in the Falling Snow. Crime Fiction Short Stories(Published 2022) A collection of short crime stories dating from Conan Doyle up to the 1960's. These are all set in winter. A quick read. Some stories were very odd.
- Anthony Horowitz - The Twist of a Knife. Crime Fiction (Published 2022) This is the 4th book in which Horowitz writes himself into the book as one of the main characters. He is again helping Daniel Hawthorne who is a private investigator but this time it's Horowitz himself who is accused of the crime of murder. The woman killed is a critic who has written a very critical piece about his latest play. A excellent story where it becomes difficult to decide between fact and fiction.
- Christopher Stocks with Illustrations by Angie Lewin. - The Book of Pebbles. Non Fiction. (Published 2020) A small book about the pebbles and stones found on our beaches around the coast. Angie Lewin is a print maker who uses items from the natural world in her prints and engravings.
- Stella Gibbons - Enbury Heath. Fiction (Published 1935). Siblings Sophia, Harry and Francis have lost both parents in the last six months. They come from a difficult background with a father who had great variations in moods. When they decide to set up home together it doesn't always go well.
- Anthony Berkeley - The Silk Stocking Murders. Crime Fiction. (Published 1928). Roger Sheringham, the popular novelist and amateur detective is investigating the disappearance of a vicars daughter in London only to find she is already dead, found hanging by her own silk stocking. Then he hears of reports of similar deaths.
- Oliver Darkshire - Once Upon a Tome. Non Fiction. (Published 2022) Oliver Darkshire had failed to hang onto a job for very long and after getting an apprenticeship at Henry Sotheran Ltd, Rare and Antiquarian Booksellers of Sackville Street (who had been trading since 1761) he expects to just stay for a year. However the eccentric staff and customers and the lure of finding a treasure, keep him there for several years.
- 12 Various Authors - Marple:Twelve New Stories. Crime Fiction Short Stories (Published 2022) 12 modern day women crime writers write new stories featuring Miss Marple. Val McDermid and Elly Griffiths are among the 12.
- Candace Robb - A Fox in the Fold. Crime Fiction. (Published 2022) Historical crime set in York in 1376. This is the 14th in a series featuring Owen Archer - a retired soldier no working for the sheriff. A stripped and bloody body is found on the road north of York - at first Owen thinks there may be a link to the arrival in town of the out of favour William Wykeham, Bishop of Winchester.
- Mike Ripley - Mr Campion's Wings. Crime Fiction. (Published 2021) Books in this series - although this is the first I have read - continue the story of Margery Allingham's character Albert Campion. This is set in 1965 Cambridge when during his wife's Honorary Docturate Degree ceremony she is arrested on suspicion of breaking the Official Secrets Act. Albert sets out to discover more about the top-secret Goshawk Project in which Amanda is involved.
- Agatha Christie - Sinister Spring. Crime Fictions Short Stories. (Re-Published 2022) These are all short stories from various other books and some from magazines written through the 1930s to 1960s.
10 Books Read in March
3 Old Crime Fiction (2 Short stories)
4 Recently Written Crime Fiction (1 short stories)
2 Non Fiction
- Alys Clare - The Man in the Shadows. Crime Fiction. (Published 2022) London 1881 and the World's End Investigation Bureau is thriving. Their new cases take Lily to search for a newly arrived Jewish refugee - 12 year old Jakov who has disappeared leaving his Grandmother seriously ill in hospital. They have another case at the same time so Felix heads to Kent to clear the name of a man wrongfully hung for murder. This is the 3rd book in this series.
- Simon Brett - A Deadly Habit. Crime Fiction. (Published 2018). This is the 20th in a series that began in 1975. Charles Paris is the main character - he has been an actor all his life - often out of work and in small parts when he is in work - he drinks far too much and always seems to be around when a murder happens. In this story he has a 3 month part in a new play in the West End but is dismayed to find he is only there due to an actor he worked with years ago but who is now very famous.
- Elly Griffiths- The Last Remains. Crime Fiction (Published 2023) This is the 15th in the series set in Norfolk and featuring Archaeologist Dr Ruth Galloway. When builders are renovating a café in Kings Lynn they find a human skeleton bricked up behind a wall. Ruth is called in to find out how old it is. As the ending to this story seems to tie up some loose ends I was left wondering if this is to be the last in the series.
- Lin Anderson- The Innocent Dead. Crime Fiction. (Published 2020) A new-to-me-author but this is the 15th in a series featuring Scottish forensic scientist Rhona MacLeod. When the bones of a child are found buried in peat the connection is soon made to an eleven year old who disappeared 45 years ago. Advances made in the forensics field allow what really happened all those years ago to Mary and her friend Karen, to be finally solved. A good story and I have no idea how I'd not read any of this authors books before.
- Shaun Bythell - Remainders of the Day. Non Fiction (Published 2022). The fourth collection of diaries about his huge second-hand bookshop in Wigtown, Scotland's Town of Books. Another lot of funny stories of book buying and selling, the strange customers and his fellow villagers.
- J.R.Ellis - The Nidderdale Murders. Crime Fiction. (Published 2020) 5th in a series featuring DCI Oldroyd and set in Yorkshire.When a retired judge is shot dead in front of a village pub there's a witness who saw everything. It seems that half the village dislike the Judge but there is no connection to the killer - who had now completely disappeared.
- Donna Leon - So Shall You Reap. Crime Fiction. (Published 2023) The latest in the Commissario Brunetti mysteries set in Venice. A body is pulled from one of Venice's canals and Brunetti has to investigate the death of an undocumented Sri Lankan immigrant. Coincidentally he'd spoken to the man just the day before. With no official records for the man it's only memories and gossip that can be used to find out why he was murdered.
- Alexander McCall Smith - The Pavilion in the Clouds. Fiction. (Published 2021)One of his stand alone novels this is mainly set in Ceylon starting in 1938 and the final days of the British Empire. Bella, a eight year old lives with her Father Henry - owner of a tea plantation - and her mother Virginia. Bella has a governess Miss White and the story really centres on the interaction between adults and Bella and Bella and her two dolls. After an unfortunate series of events Bella returns to England for school. The second part of the book is about Bella at University in St Andrews Scotland and the guilt she still feels for something she did all those years earlier.
- Reg Snook & Phillip Murphy -Portrait of the Birds;50 Years of Birdlife in Christchurch Park. Non Fiction. (Published 2014) This is a look at the birds that have been seen in the Park in Ipswich through 50 years and which birds have decreased and those that have increased. A small book.
- Molly Clavering-Dear Hugo. Fiction. (Dean Street Press Furrowed Middlebrow 2021 Originally Published 1955). This is a book of letters from Sara Monteith to Hugo Jamieson who is the brother of her lost love Ivo killed in the war. Sara moves to the Scottish border village of Ravenskirk where Hugo and Ivo grew up but no one knows her reasons for moving there. She soon gets drawn into the active village social scene as well as suddenly becoming a guardian for her 13 year old Nephew Arthur. This is a gentle story of a village in the 50's.
10 Books Read in April
6 Recently Written Crime Fiction
- Donna Leon - In a Strange Country. Crime Fiction. (Published 1993) A very early book in the series about Commissario Guido Brunetti set in Venice. When the body of a young man is pulled from the canal Brunetti has to enter the separate world of the American Army post at Vicenza . There seems to be some high level covering up going on and then a Doctor from the American hospital is murdered but everyone decides it is suicide. What have the reports of two children with strange rashes and the theft of 3 paintings got to do with it.
- Shaun Bythell - Seven Kinds of People You Find in Bookshops. Non Fiction (Published 2020) A humourous look at all the people he gets in his second-hand bookshop in Wigton. From 'Self Published Authors' to 'Experts'..
- Mike Ripley - Mr Campions Farewell. Crime Fiction. (Published 2014). This book was started by Margery Allinghams partner Pip Youngman Carter after her death in 1966. But after Carter's death in 1969 Mike Ripley was asked by the Margery Allingham Society to finish the novel. In this book Albert Campion goes to find out about a strange village in Suffolk where everything happens in Nines. (The village and it's history are loosely based on Lavenham).
- Katy Watson - Three Dahlias. Crime Fiction (Published 2022). This is the authors first crime book and is definitely a 'cosy crime' and a bit silly in places. The three Dahlias are 3 women who have played or about to play the part of Dahlia Lively in films and TV. The character who investigates crimes was created by Lettice Davenport and the 3 women, fans and the family of the late Lettice are all at a Crime Fiction Convention being held in Lettice's stately home. There is a death almost straight away but is it a heart attack or a murder?
- Anne Perry - The Traitor Among Us. Crime Fiction (Published 2023) This is the 5th in a series that features Elena Standish, photographer and MI6 agent - as was her Grandfather in years past. It is 1934 when retired MI6 Agent John Repton's body is found near Wyndham Hall in the Cotswolds. He was known to have been investigating the ties that the Wyndham family have with fascist sympathisers. Elena's sister Margo is about to become engaged to the Lady Wyndham's brother and unaware that her sister is a spy invites her to a house party. The atmosphere becomes tense as the party meet with the man about to be King and his mistress Wallace Simpson.Who is the traitor in the party?
- Mike Ripley- Mr Campion's Abdication. Crime Fiction (published 2017) This book is set in 1970 but much of the story refers back to 1935 with a secret visit to a Suffolk archaeological dig by the future Edward VIII and Mrs Simpson.In this story Campion finds himself pretending to be a film advisor to an Italian film company supposedly filming the visit of Edward and Mrs Simpson's visit to the Dig. In reality the story is different and involves non-existent treasure, the murder of an Italian girl back in 1935 and the disappearance of a newspaper reporter at the same time. No one is quite who they seem in this story and it's the end of the book before the we find out exactly what happened in 1935 and in 1970
- E.C.R. Lorac - Crook O'Lune. Crime Fiction ( British Library Crime Classic Published 2022. Originally Published 1953)Chief Inspector Macdonald is staying with friends while visiting the Lancashire Dales with a view to buying a farm ready for his retirement but a deadly fire at nearby Aikengill house draws him into the investigation. Is this connected to sheep rustling or is it all due to something way back in history.
- Nina De Gramont - The Christie Affair. Fiction.(Published 2022) Another story of what might have happened during Agatha Christies mysterious 11 day disappearance in 1926. Written mainly from the perspective of Nancy - Archie Christie's mistress. A good story and well written.
- Jacqueline Winspear. -The White Lady. Crime Fiction. (Published 2023) In 1947 Elinor White, known as The White Lady is living a quiet solitary life in the Kent countryside. What her neighbours don't know is that she is a veteran of two world wars, a trained killed and former intelligence agent. The story goes back and forward between 1914, 1944 and 1947 because when she is drawn into the problems of her neighbour she needs to look back at the truth of those times.
- Cora Harrison - The Deadly Weed. Crime Fiction. (Published 2023). This is the 10th book in a series set in Cork, Ireland in the 1920's. Early one morning Reverend Mother gets news of a death in a fire at the new cigarette factory where several 'old girls' from her convent school are working. One of the girls is rumoured as being responsible. Reverend Mother has cousins and distant cousins all around Cork and one is the factory owner. She is not convinced that the rumours are true and thanks to Inspector Patrick Cashman and his friend, the journalist and law student Eileen MacSweeney, is able to find out more.
- Simon Brett - A Decent Interval. Crime Fiction.(Published 2013) Charles Parris, a usually out of work and often drunk actor, gets a surprise job in a new version of Hamlet. He finds the production is to show off the "talent" of two winners of TV shows. When the young male lead is injured in an accident and then the female main character is found dead, Charles tries to find out why.
11 Books Read in May
8 Recently Written Crime Fiction
1 Older Crime Fiction
1 Non Fiction
- Molly Clavering - Near Neighbours. Fiction (Dean Street Press reprint 2021 Originally Published 1956) Two households are neighbours in Edinburgh . In one widowed mother Mrs Lennox lives with her 5 grown up children - in the other lives shy Miss Balfour who is suddenly alone after the death of her domineering sister. This is a lovely story of how the two neighbours meet and become involved in each others lives.
- Chris Nickson - The Dead Will Rise. Crime Fiction (Published 2023) This is the 5th in a series set in Leeds in the early 1800's. Leeds is growing by the minute and crime is rife. Simon Westow and his partner Jane are always busy as Thief Takers - they are paid to look for thieves and get back whatever is stolen. Although the latest person to ask for their help sets off alarm bells and when there seems to be some connection to people opening and robbing new graves things get very dangerous.
- Rachel McLean - The Corfe Castle Murders. Crime Fiction (Published 2021) This is the first in a series featuring DCI Lesley Clarke who has been sent to work in Dorset police for a rest after being caught in bombings in her home city of Birmingham. It's an interesting story but is full of stereotypes - The Up-tight Sergeant annoyed at having a woman as boss, the devil-may-care Detective Constable, the timid female Constable. Then DCI Clarke discovers her husband has been having an affair and finally at the end of the book she decides she's probably gay! The Jury's out on whether I will read more.
- Sara Sheridan - England Expects. Crime Fiction. (Published 2014) Another story featuring Debt Collector and investigator Mirabelle Sheridan .Set in Brighton in the 1950's Mirabelle and her business partner get mixed up in a suspicious death of a sports journalist and the Order Of Masons and their secrets.
- Molly Clavering - Touch Not the Nettle. Fiction. (Dean St Press Reprint 2021 Originally Published 1939) Jed Armstrong and his wife Susan are living a quiet but busy life on their Scottish Borders farm when they are asked to have Jed's cousin's daughter to stay with them for a while as her husband - an adventurous solo pilot is lost over the Amazon. There are some quite strong characters in this story with some darker back stories. Not such a light story as her previous books.
- Dorothy Simpson - The Night She Died. Crime Fiction (Published 1981).This is the first of a series featuring Inspector Luke Thanet. When Julie, a young woman, is found dead by her husband it seems that her power to attract men might be the cause or is the murder caused by something that happened when she was small the memories of which have started giving her nightmares.
- Dorothy Simpson- Six Feet Under. Crime Fiction. (Published 1982) Second in the series about Inspector Luke Thanet. At first he doesn't know what to make of the murder of a quiet mousy middle aged spinster. But he soon finds she has secrets and also like to ferret out the secrets of others in the village.
- Dorothy Simpson - Puppet For a Corpse. Crime Fiction (Published 1983) It's obvious that Dr Pettifer has committed suicide but why did he book a cruise and get his car repaired if he was planning to overdose? His young pregnant wife doesn't believe it nor do his fellow doctors. Inspector Luke Thanet is sure things are not as they seem but it takes a while and many questions to get to the truth
- Juliette De Bairacli Levy - Wanderers in the New Forest. Non Fiction (Little Toller Reprint 2023 Originally 1958). Know as the 'grandmother of herbalism' Juliette travelled widely researching and experimenting with herbal remedies. This book tells the story of her 3 years living in a small home in the New Forest and raising her two small children in the woods. Wild swimming, foraging and stories of the Gypsies who lived around her, this is a fascinating look at a way of life that would be impossible now.
- Derek Tangye - Sun on the Lintel. Non Fiction. (Published 1976) This is the 4th book written about Derek and Jeannie's life at Minack, their flower farm in Cornwall. Stories about their cats and donkeys.
- E. Arnot Robertson- Ordinary Families. Fiction. (Published 1933) This is a Virago Modern Classic reprint. Lallie is one of four children of the eccentric Rush family. Their whole life revolves around sailing and inter family rivalries at Pin Mill in Suffolk. As Lallie grows to adult hood she both loves and hates her ordinary family trying to make a place for herself in the shadow of her beautiful sister Margaret. Eventually she finds a man she wants to hold onto even though she may only be his second love.
- Christianna Brand - Green For Danger. Crime Fiction ( B.L.C.C reprint published 2022. Originally Published 1944).In 1943 a postman, Joseph Higgins is brought into the Kent military hospital - Heron's Park - with injuries following a bombing raid. The hospital has been open for a year and many of the nurses are new to the hospital. When Higgins dies unexpectedly on the operating table four nurses and 3 doctors are under suspicion. Inspector Cockrill is called in only to find one of the nurses has also been murdered.
6 Recently Written Crime Fiction
1 Older Crime Fiction
2 Non Fiction.
12 Books Read in June
- Alys Clare - The Cargo From Neira. Crime Fiction. (Published 2023). This is the 5th in a series about Dr/Surgeon Gabriel Taverner set in the early C17. Gabe is summoned by his friend the coroner to examine two bodies which seem to have a connection to the young pregnant woman so recently pulled from the river barely alive. Everything that happens seems to be connected to the spices which she has hidden in a her bag and the mysterious disappearance of a ship traveling to the East on the spice route.
- Simon Brett - A Series of Murders. Crime Fiction. (Published 1989) Actor Charles Parris is actually in work although still drinking too much. He is playing a policeman in a TV series but as usual has to get involved in solving a real crime when first the female lead dies and then a stage manager is also murdered.
- Cora Harrison -Murder in the Cathedral. Crime Fiction. (Published 2022) 9th in the series set in 1920's Cork and featuring the Reverend Mother of the convent and school. A Christmas Day double murder in the Protestant Cathedral and one of those murdered is a seven year old Enda - one of her troublesome pupils and the other is the Archdeacon - who nobody seems to like.
- Robert Gibbings - Sweet Thames Run Softly. Non Fiction. (Published 1940) Gibbings was an artist and engraver and wrote this book about a gentle trip down the Thames taken in 1939/40 just before and after the outbreak of war. An interesting book of nature and anecdotes.
- Simon Brett - Corporate Bodies. Crime Fiction. (Published 1991) Actor Charles Parris is doing some work making advertising films for a company who make bedtime drinks and other snacks. Unfortunately on the day they film in the warehouse with Charles playing the part of a fork-lift truck driver one of the secretarial staff is killed in what appears to be a nasty accident. Of course Charles knows she has been murdered and sets out to find out who by.
- Elizabeth Taylor - At Mrs Lippincote's. Fiction. (Published 1988). Mrs Lippincote's house with it's mahogany furniture and old photographs is a temporary home for Julia who has joined her husband Roddy who is in the RAF. With them is Oliver their 7 year old son and Roddy's cousin Eleanor. Eleanor thinks Julia isn't good enough for Roddy but Julia has never taken her role as the Leader of Men's little wife very seriously.
- Kristin Hannah - The Great Alone. Fiction. (Published 2018) 13 year old Leni is caught up in her parents tumultuous marriage. Her father Eart has changed since his return from Vietnam yet her mother Cora can't leave him. His latest crazy idea is moving them all to Alaska. Luckily Matthew, the only boy her age at school is the one person there who seems to understand Leni. The descriptions of the remote landscapes and wildness and increasingly wild and violent behaviour of Eart form the main part of the story. Then two tragedies tear Leni and Mathew apart.
- Dorothy Simpson - Last Seen Alive. Crime Fiction (Published 1985) Another in a series featuring Inspector Thanet. Twenty years after she moved away from Sturrendon, when she was just a teenager, Alicia Parnell returns seemingly to attend a concert by an old school friend. But just a day later Alicia is found strangled in her hotel room. What is the connection between her life in Sturrendon of the past and London of the present.
- Dorothy Simpson - Dead On Arrival. Crime Fiction (Published 1986) Inspector Thanet is looking into the murder of Steven Long. Long's life has been tough from childhood and before losing his life he has lost his job, his wife and is estranged from all his family except his twin brother. There seem to be many suspects as Steven had a way of making people angry towards him.
- John Wyatt - The Shining Levels. Non Fiction (Published 1973). The authors story of his time working as a forester in the Lake District. The Shining Levels is about the early days, before the National Park when he is working for one of the landowners at coppicing, hedging and ditching while living in a small rough hut - which comes with the job. He became the first Lake District Ranger.
- Roger Bax - Blueprint for Murder. Crime Fiction (Originally Published 1948) The planning for the crime is part of the story so there is no secret to 'Who Done It'. Arthur Cross is the nephew of industrialist Charles Collison, he is back from the war and very short of money so plans the perfect way to murder his uncle as he knows that he and Geoff - Collinson's son, are the beneficiaries of Collinson's will.
- Jim Eldridge - Murder at Down Street Station. Crime Fiction. (Published 2023) 5th book in a series set in London during the Blitz and featuring DCI Coburg. He is called to investigate the murder of a Russian fortune teller found dead in Down St Station underground station - now being used as a temporary secret office of the Prime Minister.
12 Books read in July
7 Recently Written Crime Fiction
1 Older Crime Fiction
2 Non Fiction
- Kristin Hannah - Winter Garden. Fiction. (Published 2014). Meredith and Nina Whitson are sisters and very different. Their mother has always been a mystery to them, she appears to be a cold Russian woman. When all three come together at their fathers death bed he has one last promise to extract from all of them. From the apple orchards of Washington State in the year 2,000 to Leningrad in the 1940's and the fairy story their mother tells them and then onto Alaska the sisters realise they didn't know their mother at all. A very good wide sweeping story - sad in places.
- Rory Clements - The English Fuhrer. Crime Fiction. (Published 2023) At the end of 1945 former spy Professor Tom Wilde has returned to teaching at Cambridge University and a quiet family life, until a phone call from a senior MI5 boss draws him back into the aftermath of war and the people who are still Nazis or Communists. There are rumours of chemical warfare and a Blacklist of people still to be killed. This list includes Tom and his wife Lydia who has managed to talk her way into training to be a doctor in London.
- Ann Cleeves - A Lesson In Dying. Crime Fiction. (Published 1990) One of her books from a series before Vera and Shetland. Inspector Ramsey is called in when a primary school headmaster is found hanging from a netball hoop on the night of a Halloween party. He soon finds that everyone in Heppleburn either hated or was afraid of the nasty Harold Medburn. The case seems straightforward and Hepburn's wife is soon on remand for his murder but Jack Robson who is the school caretaker is determined that she is innocent and starts asking questions around the village putting himself in danger.
- Irene Soper - The Romany Way. Non Fiction (Published 1994) The author had lots of contacts with Gypsies or Romanys when she lived in Wiltshire and then the New Forest and this little book is a bit about the history, the way they lived and travelled and the things they sold to make a living during the 1950s and 60's. Interestingly when she she lived in in the New Forest she actually owned the small cottage that had been lived in by Juliette de Bairacli Levy while writing her book Wanderers in the New Forest . The Romany way of life is now mostly long gone so this is a little book of social history.
- Elly Griffiths - Bleeding Heart Yard. Crime Fiction (Published 2022) This is the 3rd book about Harbinder Kaur newly promoted to DI and now moved to London from the south coast to work in the Met. An M.P is murdered at his school reunion and one of his former classmates is DS Cassie Fitzherbert now working with Harbinder - Is Cassie now a suspect.? There seems to be a connection back 21 years to their final days at school when another classmate fell under a train.
- L.J.Ross - Holy Island. Crime Fiction (Published 2015) First in a series featuring DCI Ryan. Ryan is taking a sabbatical on Holy Island when a young woman is found murdered among the Priory Ruins. Dr Anna Taylor who grew up on Lindisfarne is called in as an expert witness and soon she has to face up to her past at the same time as helping DCI Ryan when two more people are murdered. A connection to Pagan Ritual is a possibility.
- Jean Pearce Edwards - Little Jean's War. Non Fiction. (Published 2008) This is the memories of young Jean growing up during the war on a farm on the Kent/Surrey border. She's just four at the beginning of the book but seems to have all sorts of amazing memories of being a tomboy and running wild with her cousin and neighbouring children accompanied by her beloved cat Tubby.
- Stella Gibbons - The Weather at Tregulla. Fiction (Furrowed Middlebrow Reprint 2021 Originally Published 1962). Una Broadbent is 19 and desperate to leave the "boring" Cornish countryside and get to London to start her acting career. The death of her mother means this isn't possible but her disappointment of being stuck working on her father's violet farm melts away with the arrival in the village for the summer of artist Terence and his sister Emmeline. An interesting little story of life in the early 60's when even then the locals were moaning about the tourists.
- Mike Ripley - Mr Campion's Coven. Crime Fiction. (Published 2021) This is another story featuring Margery Allingham's character Albert Campion. - now retired. Mason Lowell Clay is a student from the US over here to find out more about a group of settlers who travelled from the mysterious Essex village of Wicken across to the States in the C16 and then back again. Albert Campion is the best person to help him because he has just been to Wicken to search for a lost dog belonging to Dame Jocasta Upcott.
- Elinor M. Brent-Dyer - The School At The Chalet. Children's Fiction (Published 1925) A Children's Classic which I'd never had the chance to read as a child. Madge Bettony aged 24 is left with very little money to look after her sister so she starts a school in Austria! This is the first of a series that went on for years. Now I know what I missed I won't bother with more.
- Rachel McLean - The Monument Murders. Crime Fiction (Published 2021) 4th in a series about DCI Lesley Clarke newly moved to Dorset. When a body is found draped over Swanage's iconic Globe monument with a message written in blood "Go Home" everyone assumes is a hate crime as the deceased in a black guy recently arrived in Dorset from London. Or is it more to do with a controversial housing development he had designed? At the same time Lesley is getting more involved with trying to find out why her predecessor committed suicide or perhaps he was murdered and just who is covering things up?
- Kate Ellis - The Killing Place. Crime Fiction. (Published 2023) This is another in the very long series featuring DI Wesley Peterson and set in Dartmouth in Devon which she calls Tradmouth. The body of Patrick North is found in woodland adjoining Nesbarton Hall. He's been shot and is soon recognised as a private tutor for Darius Smithson, 13 year old son of a wealthy father who now own the estate. As usual with this series there are links to archaeology and history.
- Donna Leon - About Face. Crime Fiction (Published 2009) One of this authors long series set in Venice and featuring Commissario Guido Brunetti. A story that starts being about pollution and the environment in Venice but then involves the wife of one of Brunetti's Father-in-Law's friends.
13 Books Read in August
8 Recently Written Crime Fiction
2 Non Fiction
1 Children's Fiction
- Margery Sharp - Rhododendron Pie. Fiction (Furrowed Middlebrow Reprint 2021. Originally Published 1930). This is her first ever novel and had been very rare since it's original publication. It's the story of Ann Laventie, youngest of three children from a anti-social Sussex gentry and not quite the same as her elegant, modern siblings, Dick an artist and sculptor and Elizabeth a high brow writer. The two eldest spend more time in London bringing home unusual friends and Ann believes she is in love with one of them until she realises she just wants an ordinary life with John, a neighbour and bank-clerk and much too boring for the rest of the Laventie family.
- Jim Eldridge - Murder at The Savoy. Crime Fiction. (Published 2021) September 1940 and the height of the London Blitz. The Savoy hotel has advertised its prestigious hotel with substantial basement as the best place to stay during an air-raid which prompts the arrival of people from the East End demanding to be let in and then the murder of one of their important guest. Detective Chief Inspector Coburg is put in charge of the case - the fourth in this series set in the Blitz.
- Ann Granger - The Old Rogue of Limehouse. Crime Fiction. (Published 2023). 9th in a series set in Victorian London and featuring Inspector Ben Ross and his wife Lizzie. When Jacob Jacobus is murdered it's probably something to do with his occupation as an antiquarian, fence, money lender and friend to villains. It happens at the same time as the disappearance of the priceless Roxby emeralds, a family heirloom owned by Mrs Roxby - a difficult woman who demands it's immediate return.
- Donna Leon - A Noble Radiance. Crime Fiction. (Published 1998) This is the 7th in the Commissario Brunetti series set in Venice. In a small village at the foot of the Dolomites a grave holding the body of a young man is discovered by the new owner of the farmhouse. A valuable signet ring is found in the grave which leads the police back to a very well known and wealthy Venetian family.
- H.E.Bates - Fair Stood the Wind for France. Fiction. (Published 1944). When John Franklin crash lands his Wellington bomber in occupied France in the Second World War, he has two things to concern him - the safety of his crew and his badly damaged arm. The family of a mill-owner risk their lives to hide him, find him doctors and look after him until he is well again. During that summer he falls in love with Françoise, the daughter of the family and together they have to escape as German patrols get closer.
- Edited by Martin Edwards - Crimes of Cymru. Crime Fiction Short Stories. (British Library Crime Classic 2023. Originally Published 1909 -1980s) 14 short stories either written by Welsh authors or set in Wales. Some are very odd, some OK.
- Jane Thynne- The Words I Never Wrote. Fiction. (Published 2020) This is the story of two English sisters Irene and Cordelia born in the early 1900's. As they grow they are very close always confiding in each other but when Irene marries a German Industrialist in 1936 she is whisked away to Berlin. Cordelia then gets a job as a journalist in Paris. As Europe heads towards war Cordelia begs her sister to leave Germany but with her husband being a Nazi sympathiser it's not as easy as it sounds. 70 years later, in present day New York, Juno Lambert buys a 1931 Underwood Typewriter which once belonged to well known American journalist Cordelia Capel and finds an unfinished novel. Juno decides she wants to know more about Cordelia and Irene to fill in the blanks about why the sisters became estranged.
3 Recently Written Crime Fiction
1 Older Crime Fiction (Short Stories)