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Tuesday, 16 May 2017

'The Uncommon Life of Alfred Warner in Six Days' by Juliet Conlin

Published by Black & White Publishing,
23 February 2017.
ISBN 978-1-78530-082-0

Alfred is an elderly German whose rich and eventful life has ended in a Care Home in England.  In 2005, he decides to visit Germany before he dies to see his recently discovered granddaughter, Brynja, in Berlin.   Alfred is frail and knows that he has only 6 days to live; he wants to tell Brynja his life story before he dies.   This proves to be difficult to achieve.  

Alfred was born in the early 1920s.  Interpolated with references to his modern situation and snapshots of Brynia's life are lengthy descriptions of Alfred's life, beginning with his awakening to the realisation of his own strange abilities when he was 6 years old and living with his parents and siblings in a German country village.   His experiences in Germany, then in Scotland and England are vividly described as he fights in the German army, becomes a prisoner of war and then settles in Britain.  He remains an innocent hero in many ways buffeted to and fro by Fate.

This is an enjoyable tale indeed as Alfred's life unfolds and we see those he has touched en route.  It is not a crime story but  a heart-warming memoir of a life.
Reviewer: Jennifer S. Palmer
Juliet Conlin has written another novel The Fractured Man.

Juliet Conlin was born in London and grew up in England and Germany. She holds an MA in Creative Writing from Lancaster University and a PhD in Psychology from the University of Durham. She works as a writer and translator and lives with her husband and four children in Berlin. She writes in both English and German. Her novels include The Fractured Man published 2013 and The Uncommon Life of Alfred Warner in Six Days

Jennifer Palmer Throughout my reading life crime fiction has been a constant interest; I really enjoyed my 15 years as an expatriate in the Far East, the Netherlands & the USA but occasionally the solace of closing my door to the outside world and sitting reading was highly therapeutic. I now lecture to adults on historical topics including Famous Historical Mysteries.

'Falling Creatures' by Katherine Stansfield

Published by Allison & Busby,
23 March 2017.
ISBN 978-0-7490-2141-2

In Cornwall in 1844 there was a murder.    The victim was Charlotte Dymond who was working at a lonely moorland farm near Jamaica Inn.   Her companion Shilly wants to find out who killed Charlotte because of her love for the strange and sometimes cruel girl.  Shilly meets a Mr. Williams who is some sort of detective and also someone with secrets.  Together they try to retrace Charlotte's movements for she disappeared several days before her body was found.  

Shilly is a good witness to Charlotte's secrets and, in particular, her peculiar powers.  A picture of  the hard life of farm workers in that era with little in the way of mechanical aids soon forms. The atmosphere on the isolated farm and the behaviour of the individuals who live there can be seen through Shilly's eyes.  The superstitious attitudes that Shilly shows reflect the stories told in such places in that era.

Mr Williams helps to form a possible defence for the person accused of the murder and Shilly in her grief strives to help him with her memories of her friend and her feelings that Charlotte wants to tell her things about her own death.

This is a Gothic tale with a swirling mist of speculation surrounding the mysterious Charlotte Dymond.    Shilly and Mr Williams do make deductions leading to their explanation of events.  As this was a notorious real life murder without a satisfactory explanation of events this book provides very interesting reading.
Reviewer: Jennifer S. Palmer 
This is a second book by Katherine Stansfield.

Katherine Stansfield grew up on Bodmin Moor in Cornwall. She moved to Wales in 2002 to study at Aberystwyth University where she worked as a lecturer for a number of years. Her first novel, The Visitor, was published by Parthian in 2013. It went on to win the 2014 Holyer an Gof Prize for Fiction.
Her poems have been widely published in magazines and anthologies. Her first book of poems, Playing House, was published by Seren in October 2014. It includes the poem 'Canada' which was Poem of the Week in The Guardian online. Katherine also reviews contemporary fiction and poetry.

Jennifer Palmer Throughout my reading life crime fiction has been a constant interest; I really enjoyed my 15 years as an expatriate in the Far East, the Netherlands & the USA but occasionally the solace of closing my door to the outside world and sitting reading was highly therapeutic. I now lecture to adults on historical topics including Famous Historical Mysteries.

‘Night Vision’ by Jane A. Adams

Published by Severn House,
ISBN: 978-0-7278-8113-7 (HB)

Blind ex-police officer Naomi is married to Alec a current serving police officer and he is called away on a case in connection with an insurance scam he had been investigating. This scam had involved a Neil Robinson about to be released from prison but who was then found dead in his cell. He had been poisoned. It was revealed that he had been trying to contact a journalist by the name of Jamie Dale just before he died, but she was killed in a car crash before he could. What was he about to tell her? Did it get him killed and was her death an accident?

Jamie was a friend of Naomi and Alec but they had not seen her for some time. Naomi gets really spooked when after Jamie's death she starts receiving recorded telephone calls from her and she sounds frantic.

Alec and his boss Nick Travers meet up with other officers on the case and it becomes obvious that there is more than just an insurance scam involved. Evidence starts to point to something more political and corrupt. When Travers is attacked, and left for dead things really start to get serious and Naomi goes to live with friends as she gets really scared while Alec is away. To her horror, she even receives Jamie's phone calls while she is living with them.

Investigations soon reveal the involvement of a senior police officer and Alec struggles to stay one step ahead of him. Running through the story there are details of a mysterious person called Gregory who seems to be carrying out an investigation of his own. Who is he and what connection does he have to Jamie?

After a real cat and mouse game and not before more people are hurt and worse, together with Naomi's help, Alec solves the case and makes a decision that will affect the rest of their lives.

I really enjoyed Jane Adams' book. There is plenty to keep the reader guessing all the way through. I found the thought of receiving telephone calls, even recorded, from someone known to have died to be really creepy and would freak me out! A good plot well written. Recommended.

Reviewer: Tricia Chappell

Jane A Adams was born in Leicestershire, where she still lives. She has a degree in Sociology, and has held a variety of jobs including lead vocalist in a folk rock band. She enjoys pen and ink drawing, martial arts and her ambition is to travel the length of the Silk Road by motorbike. Her first book, The Greenway, was shortlisted for the CWA John Creasey Award in 1995 and for the Author's Club Best First Novel Award. Jane writes several series.  Her first series featured Mike Croft. Several books featuring DS Ray Flowers. Seven titles featuring blind Naoimi Blake, and six titles featuring Rina Martin. Her most ret series is set between the two World Wars and featuring Detective Inspector Henry Johnstone and his sergeant, Micky Hitchens. Jane has also written several standalone novels. She is married with two children.

Tricia Chappell. I have a great love of books and reading, especially crime and thrillers. I play the occasional game of golf  (when I am not reading). My great love is cruising especially to far flung places, when there are long days at sea for plenty more reading! I am really enjoying reviewing books and have found lots of great new authors.