blog tour · book review · crime · detective · noir fiction

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – Return to Hiroshima

About Return to Hiroshima

1995, Japan struggles with a severe economic crisis.
Xavier Douterloigne, the son of a Belgian diplomat, returns to Hiroshima, where he spent his youth, to come to terms with the death of his sister.
Inspector Takeda finds a deformed baby lying dead at the foot of the Peace Monument, a reminder of Hiroshima’s war history.
A Yakuza-lord, rumored to be the incarnation of the Japanese demon Rokurobei, mercilessly defends his criminal empire against his daughter Mitsuko, whom he considers insane.
And the punk author Reizo, obsessed by the ultra-nationalistic ideals of his literary idol Mishima, recoils at nothing to write the novel that will “overturn Japan’s foundations”….
Hiroshima’s indelible war-past simmers in the background of this ultra-noir novel.
Clandestine experiments conducted by Japanese Secret Service Unit 731 during WWII are unveiled and leave a sinister stain on the reputation of the imperial family and Japanese society.

Praise for Return to Hiroshima:

MMM named Return to Hiroshima as ” one of the ten best international crime novels of 2018

“Author Bob Van Laerhoven pulls together an outlandish ensemble cast of peculiar personalities; fierce, fragile individuals who claw their way under your skin. Their predicaments –and their potential to unleash chaos – drag you into the narrative’s darkening abyss.” — Murder Mayhem & MoreRating: 5 out of 5.

“Van Laerhoven’s mastery of his subject and his flawless maneuvering through Japan’s unique past make one forget the depth of his narrative. There are many layers to Return to Hiroshima, and Van Laerhoven’s gift is crafting many intriguing subplots to create an energetic whole. But ‘layered’ is not quite right. Like an iceberg, a predictable part of Japan is visible for anyone to see. But beneath the surface lies mortal danger. And Van Laerhoven bravely plumbs those depths, for what’s underneath is a separate universe. What’s unsaid. What’s unaccounted for. Secrets no one admits to. Furious, revengeful rages hide beneath cool facades. Unspoken but understood conspiracies feed quests to right ultimate wrongs”. Joseph Brewer, Amazon

“The farther and deeper you progress into this often disturbing and yet captivating tale, the more you will be rewarded as the different and complex strands eventually draw together. Be warned though, this is no easy story to read and one that demands the reader’s full attention and concentration. Nor as I’ve intimated is this a book for the faint-hearted or those who prefer neatly packaged happy endings or a book filled with easily identified characters you’re supposed to either like or hate. Nonetheless, a powerful and multilayered story for those willing to stray from the more conventional thriller style and setting.” Rudders Reviews

“What a fine book. .. I was fascinated, intrigued and puzzled all the way through what is a fairly hefty read. Nothing is predictable. The puzzles are clear, their answers apparently transparent but in fact often opaque. No character is exactly what they seem, and the ways the characters present themselves are written with a seriously sure hand. The historical events behind the story are generously under-dramatized, and the level of detail is very high indeed. A great book.” Frank Westworth, Amazon

About the Author:

Van Laerhoven is a 67-year-old Belgian/Flemish author who has published (traditionally) more than 45 books in Holland and Belgium. His cross-over oeuvre between literary and noir/suspense is published in French, English, German, Spanish, Swedish, Slovenian, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian and Chinese.

In Belgium, Laerhoven was a four-time finalist of the ‘Hercule Poirot Prize for Best Mystery Novel of the Year’ with the novels ‘Djinn’, ‘The Finger of God’, ‘Return to Hiroshima’, and ‘The Firehand Files’.

In 2007, he became the winner of the coveted Hercule Poirot Prize with ‘Baudelaire’s Revenge’, which, in English translation, also won the USA Best Book Award 2014 in the category ‘mystery/suspense’.

His first collection of short stories ‘Dangerous Obsessions’, published in the USA in 2015, was chosen as the ‘best short story collection of 2015’ by the San Diego Book Review. The collection has been translated into Italian, (Brazilian) Portuguese, Spanish, and Swedish. 

‘Return to Hiroshima’, his second crime novel in English, was published in May 2018 by Crime Wave Press(Hong Kong).  The British quality review blog Murder, Mayhem & More has chosen ‘Return to Hiroshima’ as one of the ten best international crime novels of 2018. MMM reviews around 200 novels annually by international authors.

Also in 2018, the Anaphora Literary Press published ‘Heart Fever’, his second collection of short stories. ‘Heart Fever’ was one of the five finalists of the American Silver Falchion Award. Laerhoven was the only non-American finalist. The collection has been translated into Italian and Spanish. A German translation is currently in production.

Author links:

My Review

Having recently read the memoir of a survivor of Hiroshima, I was “in the zone” and keen to read this book.

The story began slowly as the author introduced us to lots of characters, each with their own chapter and story. The transitions from one chapter to another were abrupt and choppy; this was a book that demanded concentration to keep up with the many characters and how they would eventually fit together. I did find it quite difficult to follow, but as the story developed and more was revealed about the characters it became almost compulsive reading to see what happened next. By the midpoint I was totally invested and intrigued. The author’s quirky style had won me over.

Without a shadow of a doubt I can say this story had a varied cast unlike any other book I’ve ever read ( to name but a few there was a Japanese “demon” figure (both masked and unmasked quite a terrifying character), a detective who is singled out for not being 100% Japanese, a fearsome German photographer with an eye for dark subject matter and ready to take risks for the right shot, a giant daughter figure with a dubious version of the truth, and her manga-influenced friend). Their back stories were detailed and complex, and – for me – a little too in-depth at times. Although I admired how the author tied together the past and the present, bringing the traumatic events of 1945 to life as he mingled the aftermath into the lives of his characters. I’ll be honest, though – with some characters I’m still not overly sure who to believe as many their stories contradicted each other and I couldn’t see the truth for the blurring of the lines. Definitely a story to keep you thinking!

There are some gory and violent scenes, and while these make for some uncomfortable reading, I’d consider these scenes pertinent to the overall tone of the story. I will admit that at times I didn’t understand all aspects of the plot, but the author’s intricate details kept me interested, and I rooted for Detective Takeda all the way. The twist at the end was dramatic and unexpected, yet also sublimely appropriate. This was certainly not a story where anything was predictable.

4 stars from me.

As always,

blog tour · book review · detective · Greek mythology · mystery · mythology

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – Barnabus Tew & the Case of the Hellenic Abduction

Barnabas Tew and the Case of the Hellenic Abduction

Zeus is used to getting what he wants…but that was before he met Barnabas Tew!

Barnabas and Wilfred, the unluckiest detectives ever, are happily enjoying their time in India, working on mastering their emotions, and learning how to do all sorts of interesting yoga poses. They’re having a splendid time, and feel as if they’ve finally found some peace in their lives. Everything changes, though, when Zeus suddenly whisks them away from their idyllic retreat and demands that they solve a case for him.

Having no choice, they reluctantly accept the job, but quickly come to realize that nothing is as it should be. Zeus’ motives are suspect from the beginning, the rest of the Greek gods and goddesses are untrustworthy at best, and Barnabas’ temper hasn’t improved at all during his time in India. And, most importantly, who is the mysterious lady who keeps popping up just when they need her? Is she friend, or is she foe?

To make matters even worse, both Barnabas and Wilfred have unresolved feelings of their own. Can they settle their own emotional affairs, once and for all? Will they figure out what’s right and what’s wrong in this topsy-turvy world of lies, intrigue, and trickery? Or will the Greek gods and goddesses prove too much for them?

Purchase Link – mybook.to/Hellenic

Author Bio

Columbkill Noonan is the author of the best-selling Barnabas Tew series, which features a proper British detective from Victorian London who ends up solving mythological cases for gods all around the world. She was was born in Philadelphia and grew up in the suburbs of Baltimore, Maryland, and teaches Anatomy and Physiology at a university in Maryland. Her writing is mostly speculative fiction (especially stories that involve mythology, or the supernatural, or any combination thereof). Some of her work is a bit on the spooky side, but usually there is a touch of humor (who says the afterlife has to be serious?) 

When she’s not teaching or writing, Columbkill can be found with her rescue horse (whose name is Mittens), hiking in the woods, or doing yoga of all kinds (aerial yoga and SUP yoga are particular favorites). She is an avid traveler, and can’t wait to get back to seeing the world again. You can visit her on Twitter @ColumbkillNoon1, or on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/ColumbkillNoonan.

Social Media Links

@ColumbkillNoon1

https://www.facebook.com/ColumbkillNoonan

My Review

Barnabas Tew and his assistant turned business partner, Wilfred Colby have been two of my favourite characters in recent years. I’ve followed their journey from the museum in Victorian England to mythological lands galore. Theirs has always been a story I look forward to reading.

As detectives to the gods, it seems only fitting they are finally summoned by Zeus himself when a princess has been kidnapped. As ever, finding the missing girl is no straightforward task, and Barnabus & Wilfred are led off track on several occasions. But this time, the desire to complete their mission has also gone off track, since this time around, there are doubts about Zeus’s motives.

Being the gentlemen they are, neither feels comfortable with returning the girl to Zeus once they are convinced his intentions are not honourable. Have they reached the end of the road? What will become of them if they fail to follow Zeus’s orders?

In this story, the two men are more reflective and introspective, and there are constant reminders of the loves they found and lost along the way. For me, there was too much repetition of how they met Bindi and Brynhild, so much so it made the ending almost predictable.

What I did enjoy was seeing how the two men now felt about each other, and I have to say that Wilfred has the patience of a saint. (Barnabus in full flow is a force to be reckoned with; there is only so much eye-rolling I could do faced with his antics. Yes, I know, I should have expected this from him, but I had hoped he might change a little for the better, not get annoyingly worse.)

Nonetheless, despite Barnabus bumbling on in his own inimitable style and getting my hackles up, this was another fun read with just enough Greek myth to intrigue, a marvellous cast of characters and a satisfying mystery. An amusing aspect of this was that even amongst the Greek gods, there was a need for societal reform and a healthy opposition to the rule of law when so unevenly practised. Art imitating life, you might say 😉

Dry humour and staunch loyalty to Queen Victoria kept Barnabus in character. Olympus – and Zeus – had no idea what would hit them! Another great mystery solved by the duo, and hats off to Wilfred for staying sane. Long may they enjoy their later years, and may they both be blessed with happiness, love and the occasional cup of tea with biscuits.

For more news & reviews

As always,

Audiobook · detective · female detective · Female sleuths · mystery

Audiobook Tour ‘n’ Review – 15 Minutes

Author: Larissa Reinhart

Narrator: Joan Dukore

Length: 10 hours 26 minutes

Publisher: 1969

Released: May 28, 2020

Genre: Mystery; Amateur Detective

Continue reading “Audiobook Tour ‘n’ Review – 15 Minutes”

book review · cosy · detective · Featured Author - Phyllis Entis · mystery

Book Review – The Chocolate Labradoodle Caper

I’ve been playing catch up with my TBR list and decided to settle down with the cosy mystery series by Phyllis Entis. Having already read the first two books in the series, it was time to jump in to book number three: The Chocolate Labradoodle Caper
 
Cue the summary …
 
Hotel/casino magnate Derek Turpin is flexing his muscles in Atlantic City. Even the cops are not immune to his influence. Little wonder Damien and Millie jump at the chance to get out of town, accepting a routine assignment to do a background check on a chocolate company located outside of Montreal.
 
 
But when their friend, investigative journalist Barbara Lafleur, runs afoul of the unscrupulous magnate and is felled by a hit-and-run driver, Damien stays behind to protect her from Turpin and his minions, leaving Millie to unravel a sordid saga of corruption and contaminated chocolate on her own.
 
 
The Chocolate Labradoodle Caper is the third book in the Damien Dickens Mystery series.
 
 

My Review

4/5 stars

Well, that was an easy and fast read – all done in one sitting. It was like watching an episode from a favourite PI series from the ’80s. A real blast from the past in terms of nostalgia and pure escapism.

Damien & Millie Dickens are taking a cruise around the Caribbean as a late honeymoon, but the cruise ship awaiting them at the docks resembles “a Dinky toy in a bathtub”, and their luxury cabin consists of bunkbeds.  Fortunately, the trip has more to offer in its destinations and the friendships made with other passenger.

When one of those passengers, Barbara Lafleur, turns up in Atlantic City, sure she’s being followed, the mystery begins in earnest. Barbara is really a journalist, and is working on a scoop that seems to have placed her in great danger. Before the PIs can talk to her properly, a hit-and-run accident leaves Barbara unconscious.

What had she discovered that warrants someone wanting her dead? The answer, they hope, lies in Barbara’s notes in her hotel room – but they are written in code and not easy to decipher. 

As Damien & Millie work on cracking the code, a second job takes Millie to Canada while Dick stays to keep watch over Barbara. Each subplot is intricately linked to the main story, and all ports lead to Dick’s arch-enemy, one Derek J Turpin. 

The story weaves seamlessly from Atlantic City to Montreal, taking in police corruption, drug smuggling, a Salmonella outbreak and … a litter of puppies! Not even DJT can wipe the smile off my face when Hershey the puppy take centre stage 😉 

As much as the story is well-researched, there’s a lot of detail at times which occasionally  brought me down from the high of the fun ride I was enjoying. That said, the information supported the storylines and added an authenticity to the plot being based on real events. 

Definitely a great read to brighten up a lazy afternoon.  The next adventure – The Gold Dragon Caper – is lurking perilously close to the top of my TBR list ready for another weekend binge. I’m looking forward to it already 😉

As always, 

blog tour · book review · British · crime · detective

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – Chloe: Lost Girl

Chloe: Lost Girl

A missing student. A gunned-down detective. A woman in fear for her life. All three are connected somehow.

Detective Inspector Carl Sant and his fellow officers get on the case. But what links the disappearance of a university student, the death of an off-duty police sergeant, and a professor reluctant to help them solve the case?

Their only clue is a sequence of numbers, etched by the police sergeant Dryden on a misty window moments before he breathed his last. Soon it becomes clear that Dryden’s clue has brought the past and present into a head-on collision with the very heart of Sant’s profession.

Racing against time, D.I. Sant must find out what’s behind the mysterious events – before the bodies start piling up.

Purchase Links:

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B07PDLDS7N

US – https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07PDLDS7N

Author Bio:

Dan Laughey is a lecturer at Leeds Beckett University where he teaches a course called ‘Youth, Crime and Culture’ among other things. He has written several books on the subject including Music and Youth Culture, based on his PhD in Sociology at Salford University. He also holds a BA in English from Manchester Metropolitan University and an MA in Communications Studies from the University of Leeds.

Dan was born in Otley and bred in Ilkley, West Yorkshire, a hop and a skip away from the Leeds setting of his Chloe novels.

His crime writing was purely academic to begin with. He’s written about media violence and tackled the age-old concern about television and video games influencing patterns of antisocial behaviour in society. After years of research and theoretical scrutiny, he still hasn’t cracked that particular nut.

He’s also written about the role of CCTV and surveillance in today’s Big Brother world, the sometimes fraught relationship between rap and juvenile crime, football hooliganism, and the sociocultural legacy of Britain’s most notorious serial killer – the Yorkshire Ripper.

All in all, Dan’s work has been translated into four languages: French, Hebrew, Korean and Turkish. He has presented guest lectures at international conferences and appeared on BBC Radio and ITV News in addition to providing expert commentary for The Guardian and The Daily Telegraph.

Social Media Links:

Twitter: @danlaughey – Facebook: fb.com/laughey

My Review:

Student Chloe is missing.

An off duty detective has a furtive meeting with an informant, but later meets his own death, gunned down on a bus. But not before leaving a clue for the police investigation that follows.

DI Carl Sant and his team are pursuing leads on the missing student when the death of a colleague becomes their priority.

Sant, however, is convinced the two cases are connected.

What follows is the search for Chloe’s neighbour – Susan Smith (not her real name, which doesn’t help matters 😉 ) – and questions for the families of other passengers also killed on that bus.

At odds with his superiors, Sant keeps his thoughts close to his chest. But when investigations suggest a link to another case back in the eighties, some familiar names are revealed in the police reports.

Meanwhile, Sant and Co. are not the only ones looking for Chloe and Susan. Someone has beaten them to it, and Susan finds herself the subject of violent means to “encourage” her to disclose Chloe’s whereabouts.

Susan, it transpires has some crucial evidence that others want back. Chloe, aware of this info, seems to have begun her own search for the truth. But what is the truth? What evidence exists and who wants it? And how does it connect to the murdered detective?

Sant and team have an epic mystery to solve, one that goes back decades and that seems to worry a lot of people.

The story continues in Chloe: Never Forget where a retired police officer becomes the chosen prey. What does he know?

A compelling read that allows the reader to attempt to join the dots along with Det. Sant, even when the connections seem, at best, tenuous. A good story with lots to keep the old grey cells working – but darn it, the answer lies in book 2: Chloe – Never Forget so I have more reading to do. Fortunately, I’m invested enough to want more and, if truth be told, I’m looking forward to it.

For more news and reviews, here’s the list of blogs you need:

 

As always,

asking questions · Author interview · blog tour · crime · detective · series

Blog Tour Q&A – Injections of Insanity

by Lorraine Mace

Injections of Insanity

Detective Inspector Paolo Sterling has just six weeks to solve a series of murders by insulin injection, with nothing to connect the victims except the manner of death and a note left at each crime scene.

The murderer, determined to avenge a wrong from many years earlier, gets close to his prey by assuming various identities.

Can Paolo win in his race against the pretender?

Purchase Links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Injections-Insanity-Sterling-Lorraine-Mace/dp/1786156830

UShttps://www.amazon.com/Injections-Insanity-Sterling-Lorraine-Mace/dp/1786156830

Author Bio

When not working on her D.I. Sterling Series, Lorraine Mace is engaged in many writing-related activities. She is a columnist for both Writing Magazine and Writers’ Forum and is head judge for Writers’ Forum monthly fiction competitions. A tutor for Writers Bureau, she also runs her own private critique and author mentoring service. She is co-author, with Maureen Vincent-Northam, of THE WRITER’S ABC CHECKLIST (Accent Press). Other books include children’s novel VLAD THE INHALER – HERO IN THE MAKING, and NOTES FROM THE MARGIN, a compilation of her Writing Magazine humour column.

Social Media Links

Website: www.lorrainemace.com

Blog: http://thewritersabcchecklist.blogspot.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/lomace

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lorraine.mace.52

 

Q&A

I’m thrilled to have been able to put a few questions to Lorraine, and even more thrilled to have her answers here too. (Is that fangirling a bit too much? 😉 )

  1. Tell me about your book / series? What do you want readers to most remember after reading it/them?

My D.I. Sterling series is hard-boiled crime. I tend to tackle subject matter that is happening in our society all the time, but which we tend to look away from because knowing it is taking place makes us uncomfortable.

Having said that, what I want readers to remember most is that they enjoyed the read and want to know more about the main characters and their lives.

I knew from the cover that this would be a book I’d enjoy, add into that the topical themes and fascinating characters, it comes as no surprise that readers are hooked and completely invested in this series. 

  1. Does writing energise or exhaust you?

Both! I love being a writer, but the actual writing can be hard work. It is a case of getting the words down on paper and then revising and refining until the text becomes something others would want to read.

I imagine writing a series is even more fraught with issues of consistency and continuity, so the rewards when you get it so right must make it worth the effort.

  1. What’s your favourite genre to read?

I read everything from crime to rom coms, but my favourite genre is American courtroom crime. I have no idea why I am drawn to that, but when it is well written, such as the Dismas Hardy series by John Lescroart, it makes for compelling reading.

I’m a courtroom junkie too. Good to know I’m not alone 😉 

  1. How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

After I read this question I stopped writing the answers and went to check! I have four adult novels (nothing to do with this series), three children’s and two non-fiction books started but nowhere near a finished first draft.

That is one heck of a mix! Kudos to you. 

  1. Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?

I know I shouldn’t, but I read them all. I have been very lucky so far with this series in that I have only had good reviews. I am sure that will change in time, but for the moment I can read them without losing any sleep.

I would like to think I could ignore a really bad review, but in reality I know it would hurt. Still, that comes with the job, and we authors have to accept that not everyone will love our work.

Wise words. 

  1. Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?

Not in my crime novels, but in my children’s novel, Vlad the Inhaler – Hero in the Making, I put in lots of humour for the adults who might be reading with the children, but which would go over the heads of young readers.

Those who read to their kids salute you!

  1. What was your hardest scene to write? Why?

In book two, Children in Chains, I had to write a scene from inside the mind of a paedophile. I sobbed afterwards and felt dirty.

A tough call, but an author’s got to do what an author’s got to do. 

  1. Do you Google yourself? What did you find that pleased you most?

I used to do that, but hadn’t for a long time until I reached this question. I was astounded to find I was still getting links about me on page 11. That surprised and pleased me.

Yay! Happy days!

  1. How long on average does it take you to write a book?

I’m afraid there is no average. I’ve written an 85,000-word novel in three months and taken four years to write a 45,000-word children’s book. I’ve covered most permutations in between for all my finished novels.

  1. If you could speak to any author – past or present – who would you like to meet?

For a crime writer, this one might surprise you, but I would have loved to meet Terry Pratchett and Georgette Heyer. Both writers had the most amazing touch with dialogue that enabled them to include humour that made me genuinely laugh out loud – not the lol kind, but the real thing.

  1. What are you writing now?

I’m just finishing the editing of book five in the D.I. Sterling series (working title Petals of Pain) and am about to start writing book six as yet untitled.

Great news! I’m looking forward to the next one.

So, there you have it … that was fun, right?

For more news and reviews, you could check out these blogs next.

As always,

blog tour · book review · comedy · cosy · detective · fun · mystery · there's a dog

Blog Tour ‘n’ Book Review – Every Dog Has His Day

By Chloe Grace

Every dog has his day

They say every dog has his day.

Well, today I’ve certainly had mine.
Hey, I’m Albertus Eagle and it turns out I’m an unwitting pet detective. I haven’t always been such a successful legal beagle, but when I’m confronted with a case that is so personal I can’t ignore it, I discover I have a passion for finding those who don’t want to be found.
Cleo the cat. Well, she came along for the ride too.
So, sure I’ve had my day today, but not in the sense of being past my prime. To the contrary, the fun is just starting. And I am buzzing with a new purpose, mixed with a tiny amount of vindictive elation.
Why?
Because, I’ve not only found myself a new home after the untimely demise of my previous owner, but I’ve also made amends with the cat. It turns out she’s not that bad, really.
On top of that though, and this is what really sends shivers racing all the way down my spine to my paws, is that we’ve fingered a killer.
How?
Because you humans, you underestimate us animals. And while you go about your business ignoring our very existence, the cat and I are listening and taking notes.
This is the first full length novel in the Albertus Eagle detective beagle series of animal cosy mysteries, starring Albertus Eagle, and his two sidekicks, Cleo the cat and Bella Schuhmann, the smart human who actually understands him. In this wonderful full length book packed with humour and satire, we see the world of murder and intrigue set up through the eyes of a loyal dog turned amateur sleuth.

Purchase Links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07NP9VVXK

UShttps://www.amazon.com/dp/B07NP9VVXK

Author Bio

Chloe Grace is the cosy mystery pen name for romantic mystery author, Karen Botha. While she doesn’t understand animals quite as well as Bella in the Albertus Eagle Detective Beagle cosy mysteries, she does chat along to her rescue dog, Shadow, pretty much all day.

And she’s sure that he chats back.

Chloe lives with Shadow and her hubby in a small outpost of London city—funnily enough it’s a little like where Bella and Albie live. As a family they like to go on walks in the local woods and throw a tennis ball until their respective arms ache, which is usually before Shadow shows any hint of exhaustion.

While her first romance novels were inspired by true life events, the Albertus Eagle series are complete imagination – although her conversations with Shadow can’t be ignored.

Social Media Links

SIGN UP FOR MAILING LIST – https://dl.bookfunnel.com/jgeib0362x
VISIT HER WEBSITE – http://www.karenbotha.com/meet-karen/chloe-grace-cozy-mysteries/
FACEBOOK – https://www.facebook.com/ChloeGraceMysteries/?modal=admin_todo_tour
INSTAGRAM – https://www.instagram.com/karenbothaauthor

My Review

5/5 stars

I’m pretty sure it’s more than obvious, but any book with a dog in it stands a huge chance of pleasing me 😉

Albertus Eagle is a fine Beagle, a perfect specimen, and with a great voice throughout this story. His relationship with Cleo – the cat – is sweet, and funny, and so very natural.

His loyalty to his previous owner is adorable too, as is his growing fondness for Bella who finds them both at the animal sanctuary after the death of their owner, Milly. Taking them home, Bella is in for a shock when it becomes apparent that neither pet is going to accept Milly’s death as having occurred naturally. And so the intrepid duo convince Bella to investigate. I love the idea of Bella, a Dr Doolittle type who can talk to her pets, in fact I’m more than jealous of her abilities.

Together they unravel the mystery behind Milly’s death with many an adventure or escapade in between. It’s a true cosy, but with the viewpoint being all dog which makes for a fun, entertaining, easy to read story. I read this in one sitting, and I blame Albie for that entirely 😉 It is such a fun read, full of mystery and suspense, and some lovely satirical comments from Albie who really can’t believe quite how dumb humans can be. Although, that said, Albie and Cleo might be the stars of the story, but infallible they are not, albeit they do get carried away with infectious enthusiasm.

I look forward to more in this series.

If you need some escapism, this is for you.

For more news and reviews, here are some more blogs to sniff out (see what I did there? LOL)

As always,

book review · British · detective · historical · mystery · NetGalley

Book Review – Traitor’s Codex

Traitor’s Codex

by Jeri Westerson

Crispin Guest, Tracker of London, is enjoying his ale in the Boar’s Tusk tavern – until a stranger leaves a mysterious wrapped bundle on his table, telling him, “You’ll know what to do.”

Inside is an ancient leather-bound book written in an unrecognizable language.

Accompanied by his apprentice, Jack Tucker, Crispin takes the unknown codex to a hidden rabbi, where they make a shocking discovery: it is the Gospel of Judas from the Holy Land, and its contents challenge the very doctrine of Christianity itself.

Crispin is soon drawn into a deadly maze involving murder, living saints, and lethal henchmen.

Why was he given the blasphemous book, and what should he do with it?

A series of horrific events confirm his fears that there are powerful men who want it – and who will stop at nothing to see it destroyed.

My Review

Wow! Is that not the most intriguing blurb ever? That, and the very gorgeous cover, drew me in. And, it didn’t even matter that this was the twelfth book in a series, which just proves the quality of the writing.

The story takes place, for the most part, in late 14th century London. Crispin Guest, a former knight is now living in The Shambles with his apprentice Jack Tucker and Jack’s young family.

In his role as a tracker now (a detective in modern parlance), Crispin is used to handling odd cases, but not of the sort that is dropped on his table in the Boar’s Tusk Tavern. He takes the mysterious parcel home and unwraps it to find an old book written in a language he cannot decipher.

He seeks out those he hopes can identify the book and its language, and while he succeeds in that, the repercussions for those who aid him are fatal. Now he knows the book is a missing Gospel – the Judas Gospel – and one which the Catholic Church deems as “dangerous” and therefore must be destroyed. There are those amongst the shadows who wish to relieve him of the book, but they have seriously underestimated Crispin if they believe he will simply hand it over.

As Crispin endeavours to keep the book safe, in the hope of returning it to its rightful owner, other events – besides those intent on doing him harm if he holds on to the book – distract him. The three men who helped him out earlier are murdered, there’s an impostor posing as him and putting his reputation at risk, and he is drawn back into the court of King Richard II when the Queen dies. Having been banished years before, this move puts his life in danger but he cannot stay away.

With all this going on, the author still adds depth to Crispin’s life outside of his job. Firstly, with details of his lost love and the young son he cannot acknowledge, then with an insight into his past life at court and his bond with Lancaster, and finally with his acceptance of his current status and the role that Jack and his family play in bringing him peace and joy despite his less affluent lifestyle.

This story comes across as atmospheric and authentic in its historical setting, and compelling and intriguing as a mystery. Despite there being much of Crispin’s past that has been dealt with in previous books of the series, this can be read easily as a standalone story. That said, I am sorely tempted to delve into earlier books and learn more of Crispin’s fascinating history.

My thanks to NetGalley and Severn House Publishers for an advance copy in return for my honest review.

PS – as a bit of a word nerd, I can’t tell you how delighted I was to see the word “whence” used correctly 😉

Get your copy here, and enjoy!

As always,

book review · crime · detective · female detective · suspense · thriller

Book Review – Little Girls Sleeping

Little Girls Sleeping

by Jennifer Chase

He looked down at the little girl, sleeping peacefully, her arms wrapped around a teddy bear. He knew he was the only one who could save her. He could let her sleep forever. 

An eight-year-old girl, Chelsea Compton, is missing in Pine Valley, California and for Detective Katie Scott it’s a cruel reminder of the friend who disappeared from summer camp twenty years ago. Unable to shake the memories, Katie vows she won’t rest until she discovers what happened to Chelsea.

But as Katie starts to investigate, the case reveals itself to be much bigger and more shocking than she feared. Hidden deep in the forest she unearths a makeshift cemetery: a row of graves, each with a brightly coloured teddy bear.

Katie links the graves to a stack of missing-persons cases involving young girls—finding a pattern no one else has managed to see. Someone in Pine Valley has been taking the town’s daughters for years, and Katie is the only one who can stop them.

And then another little girl goes missing, snatched from the park near her home.

Katie’s still haunted by the friend she failed to protect, and she’ll do anything to stop the killer striking again—but can she find the little girl before it’s too late?

My Review

I love it when I get a heads up on a new series, and with this being the first book in the Detective Katie Scott series I’m convinced it’s going to be a winner.

Katie Scott has just returned from serving in Afghanistan, and is met at the airport by her uncle who just happens to be the local Sheriff. Having lost her parents years before, he is the closest family she has left, and theirs is a beautiful relationship – his surprise for her is the best ever: Cisco her service dog, who Uncle has brought back from Afghanistan, and who is waiting ready to save her life again. (and he does – but I’ll say no more)

Unsure about her future, and clearly with some trauma to deal with, Katie – an ex-cop with Sacramento PD herself – now takes on an admin role at her uncle’s police station to give herself time to consider her options.

When filing away cold cases, she sees the file for Chelsea Compton and is mentally drawn into the investigation. Chelsea went missing four years ago, and the trail has gone cold. For Katie, it brings back memories of her own friend who was killed twenty years ago during a camping holiday. She has always wondered if she could have done something, even then as a young girl.

So, with the bit between her teeth, she turns her spare room into an investigation zone and quietly draws up a list of people she wants to talk to. Unfortunately, the first person on that list also tells a certain detective, Templeton, the investigating officer at the time, who is not best pleased by her meddling. Keen to cast aspersions on her ability and her relationship with the Sheriff, Templeton goes out of his way to belittle her and sideline her enquiries.

But Katie has more gumption than that, and doesn’t take kindly to sitting on the sidelines. When she manages to convince her uncle to let her pursue her investigation, no one expected her to find the body of Chelsea and another young girl during a hike with Cisco (who really should get the credit for luring her into the area where the bodies were found 😉 )

Now, the hunt is on to find the killer – The Toymaker – especially when another young girl goes missing.

The story is told from Katie’s viewpoint primarily, but is interspersed with chapters dedicated to the killer, where he outlines his motive, his methods and his intention – but never his identity …until Katie gets too close to the truth.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Katie’s character is well-rounded, her past still haunts her and that is evident in her behaviour. Luckily she has the support of her uncle and aunt, as well as Chad, an old friend from her childhood. The interplay between these characters is charming, as they clearly care a lot for her. That doesn’t mean to say she has an easy ride, as Templeton is determined to undermine her, and not in the cleverest of ways either!

The descriptions of the area and the crime scenes are strong and pulled me further into the story, and the last few chapters are tense and dramatic.

I was able to read an advanced copy of this book thanks to NetGalley and the publishers in exchange for an unbiased review. If you’re interested in starting a new series based around cold cases with determined and complex characters, then this is for you.

The book is released on May 31st, but you can pre-order your copy here

As always,

blog tour · book review · cosy · detective · mystery · mythology · Victorian

Book Review ‘n’ Blog Tour – Barnabus Tew and The Case of the Cursed Serpent

Barnabas Tew and the Case of the Cursed Serpent

“For Queen, for Country, and for….Uncle Rabbit?”
Just when Barnabas and Wilfred thought the world was safe at last, along comes a new threat: the Mayan Lords of Death have hatched a plan to overthrow the natural order of things, involving a cursed serpent god, two untrustworthy sets of twins, and a dead bunny that must be resuscitated at all costs. Only Barnabas and Wilfred can possibly unravel the convoluted plot, but they face danger after danger as they attempt to do so. If they fail, up will be down and down will be up, and the evil Lords of Death will take over the heavens.
Do Barnabas and Wilfred have the courage, skill (and luck!) to save the world yet again?

Purchase Links
US – https://www.amazon.com/Barnabas-Tew-Case-Cursed-Serpent-ebook/dp/B07N7KXX4T
UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Barnabas-Tew-Case-Cursed-Serpent-ebook/dp/B07N7KXX4T

My Review

Well, that was indeed a fun story (and I might add, that “is what I always say” 😉 – sorry, that’s an in-joke for fans of Barnabas & Wilfred).

Having read the previous books in the series, I had no doubts this would be just as compelling. Poor old Barnabas and Wilfred found themselves whisked away yet again on another case. As before, they arrived with no knowledge of either their new destination or the reason for being sent there. But, as it was Odin himself who arranged this ‘transfer’, then they felt duty bound to do the best they could – even when the case put before them made not one iota of sense.
In order to once more prevent the End of the World, they were tasked with finding a cure to help Kukulcan so that he might revive the ‘dead’ Uncle Rabbit, the only creature able to finally restore world order and stave off the chaos that might otherwise unfold.

Simple, no? Definitely not.

To achieve their goal, the detective and his assistant faced a myriad of challenges, the first one being to get their heads – and tongues – around the many names being bandied around as possible suspects. Thankfully, the author was kinder on her readers by allowing Barnabas to assign his own names to the many characters – hence Messieurs Monkey, Spider, Sun, Moon and Bees were born! (amongst others)

True to their past record, the two of them bumbled from one place to another, rarely having a plan in mind. They passed through vividly-detailed ball games, where losers were skeletonized once their hearts were ripped out. They were challenged to solves puzzles (the calendar was a very cool and clever idea), most of which involved them being dropped from great heights or falling into deep, dark holes and pools.

What I particularly enjoyed about this book was that I got to see more of the relationship between Barnabas and Wilfred. Both were homesick for London, but returning there seemed improbable given they were both effectively dead. Nostalgia continued to be a theme as both men looked back fondly on their lost loves – Barnabas with Bindi mouse (at the time, he had the head of a mouse too, so it’s not totally inconceivable) and Wilfred with the Norse woman, Brunhild, albeit a love unrequited in his case. Despite everything, neither of them wanted to be separated from the other, wherever they may end up next.

Another fun-packed adventure in the bizarre, yet totally absorbing world of Barnabas Tew and his sidekick, Wilfred, blending Mayan mythology with the two very proper Victorian gentlemen.

Author Bio

Columbkill Noonan is the author of the bestselling “Barnabas Tew” series, which features the bumbling-yet-lovable Victorian detective Barnabas and his trusty sidekick, Wilfred.

Columbkill combines her love of mythology and her affinity for period fiction to craft unique cozy mysteries that will leave you guessing (and chuckling!) till the very end.

Social Media Links – https://www.facebook.com/ColumbkillNoonan

https://twitter.com/columbkillnoon1

As always,