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Tuesday, 27 May 2014

‘Trouble in the Cotswolds’ by Rebecca Tope.

Published by Allison and Busby,
20 March 2014.
ISBN: 978-0-7490-1443-8

House-sitter Thea Osborne is all set for a quiet Christmas house-sitting for the Shepherds in the village of Stanton.  All her duties are, apart from her mere presence being to ward off burglars, to walk Blondie the great Dane and feed, water and let out to play – the rats.  Sounds pretty simply, well apart from the rats!

Her employers have hardy left when a funeral cortège  appears.  Thea discovers that the funeral is of a local businessman, but oddly that one half of the funeral is taking place at the home of his wife and the other half at the home of his mistress – next door to Thea.

Settling in for Christmas Thea finds herself with a tickly throat, but we all know that feeling, soon it is a fully fledged sore  throat and ‘flu.  In the circumstances it would be simple for Thea to take to her bed and hunker down with a few lem-sips.  But circumstances dictate otherwise.

Soon Thea despite her ‘flu is in the thick of it. Local man Dennis Ireland seems to be a staunch ally but is he?  With yet another dead body on her doorstep, Thea knows not which way to turn.  Even the unexpected presence of Drew doesn’t help. Thea questions everything and nothing seems right. 

I so greatly enjoy this series and I felt for Thea trying to battle along with the ‘flu and hoping that someone could just take it away and make it all right, but life isn’t like that – as Thea discovers.  Terrific entry in this series. One that kept me guessing to the end. No change there. Highly recommended.
Reviewer: Lizzie Hayes

Rebecca Tope is the author of three popular murder mystery series, featuring Den Cooper, Devon police detective, Drew Slocombe, Undertaker, and Thea Osborne, house sitter in the Cotswolds. Rebecca grew up on farms, first in Cheshire then in Devon, and now lives in rural Herefordshire on a smallholding situated close to the beautiful Black Mountains.
Besides "ghost writer" of the novels based on the ITV series Rosemary and Thyme. Rebecca is also the proprietor of a small press - Praxis Books. This was established in 1992

Sunday, 25 May 2014

‘The Dead Queen’s Garden’ by Nicola Slade

Published by Robert Hale,
31 December 2013.
ISBN: 978-0-7198-1038-1

It is December 1858 and, for the first time, Charlotte Richmond's life is blissfully settled and secure. Charlotte is living in Hampshire with her late, (and unlamented) husband's family. Her brother-in-law, his wife and their young son occupy the big house and Charlotte and her wealthy, good-hearted grandmother-in-law live in the Dower House. Only two things mar Charlotte's contentment: the illness of her dearest friend, Elaine Knightley and the ever-present fear that somebody from her shady past in Australia will appear to destroy her good reputation.

Her brother-in-law, Barnard, and his wife, Lily, are celebrating the christening of their infant son and have secured illustrious godparents for the child in the shape of Lord and Lady Granville, the most important family in the neighbourhood. Recently, scandal and fear have stalked the neighbourhood because Lady Granville's elderly personal maid has been found murdered. When Charlotte meets Lady Granville, she swiftly realises there are two things she cares about passionately: her young son, Oz, and the medieval garden she has created in the style of Queen Eleanor of Provence.

At the christening party, strange events occur. There is an unfortunate incident outside the church, involving a push of people and an open grave. At the party a guest is taken ill, but nobody suspects anything as he is elderly and not in good health. Far more serious is the death, the next day, of a healthy young lady, poisoned, apparently by the wassail cup that Barnard had served to his guests.
Charlotte is invited to visit Lady Granville and inspect her garden. She admires the garden and soon grows fond of young Oz Granville, a lonely, cosseted child. As the incidents continue, Charlotte comes to suspect that Oz is the intended target and is determined to make sure that he is safe. When Charlotte discovers who is behind the murders she finds herself in imminent danger and is forced to defend herself with a most unusual, not to say bizarre, weapon.

The Dead Queen's Garden is the third book in the Charlotte Richmond series and the author shows great skill in providing background information without revealing too much. It is a funny book, which often moves into farce, but it has a fast-moving mystery and some warmly engaging characters. It also contains all the average reader will want to know about historical subjects ranging from medieval gardens to rat-hunting. I have read the first two books and particularly liked the way the characters have grown and, in most cases, become more likeable as Charlotte's relationship with them grows warmer. The Dead Queen's Garden is fast-moving, humorous, historical crime story. It is a very good read and I would recommend it.
Reviewer: Carol Westron

Nicola Slade was brought up in Poole, Dorset. She wrote children’s stories when her three children were growing up, moving onto short stories for several national magazines. Winning a story competition in Family Circle galvanised her into writing seriously and since then her stories and articles have been commissioned regularly. Scuba Dancin, a romantic comedy was her first published novel. After that she wrote a series of Victorian mysteries: Murder Most Welcome  published by Robert Hale Ltd, 2008, featuring Charlotte Richmond, a young widow in the 1850s. Charlotte also features in the second of the series: Death is the Cure, also published by Robert Hale Ltd, at the end of 2009. The third of Charlotte's adventures,The Dead Queen's Garden, will be published in December 2013. Murder Fortissimo, also published by Robert Hale Ltd, came out at the end of January 2011. This is a contemporary 'cosy' crime novel, featuring former headmistress, Harriet Quigley, and her sidekick and cousin, Rev Sam Hathaway. A Crowded Coffin', is the second adventure for Harriet and Sam. Nicola, her husband and their cat live near Winchester in Hampshire.
Find out more about Nicola at

Carol Westron is a successful short story writer and a Creative Writing teacher.  She is the moderator for the cosy/historical crime panel, The Deadly Dames.  Her crime novels are set both in contemporary and Victorian times.  The Terminal Velocity of Cats is the first in her Scene of Crimes novels, was published July 2013

Saturday, 24 May 2014

‘Life for a Life’ by T F Muir

Published by Constable and Robinson Ltd,
September 2013.

St Andrews: championship golf course, high-profile university, beautiful town in equally beautiful setting. It’s a place I’ve never visited, but that’s the image it presents. It has always struck me as a quiet, rural sort of place, especially since it was deemed a suitable location for the once-removed heir to the throne to complete his education.

After reading T F Muir’s Life for a Life, I began to think Prince William was lucky to escape with his skin intact. It starts with the discovery of the battered body of a young girl, and gets steadily bloodier. Enter DCI Andy Gilchrist, to head up the murder enquiry.

Muir is an author who doesn’t pull his punches. Graphic descriptions of murdered bodies abound. The reader is subjected, along with the protagonist, to a detailed, gory account of a video of a killing by decapitation. And the body count, for a quiet, rural sort of place, is phenomenal.

Apparently this peaceful corner of Scotland – which Muir brings to shivering life in the course of  an Arctic winter – is a hotbed of organized crime: rape, people trafficking, prostitution, gang warfare: you name it, St Andrews is rife with it.

As fictional detectives go, Gilchrist isn’t out of the ordinary: dysfunctional family, failed marriage, a bit too fond of a dram, ill at ease with his feelings. It’s the supporting characters who provide the spice of variety, especially the women in his life. There’s Nance, detective sergeant, and clearly part of his emotional history. Becky Cooper, glamorous pathologist, is the current temptation, but unfortunately married. And Jessie Janes, another detective sergeant and newly arrived from Glasgow, is mouthy and abrasive with family and secrets which make her almost as dysfunctional as Glichrist himself.

The narrative is peppered with equally interesting minor players. On the side of the angels are Mhairi, detective constable, who stays mainly in the background but reveals hidden depths, luckily for her boss; Jackie the disabled researcher; and Janes’s teenage son, profoundly deaf Robert with a talent for writing comedy, who has huge potential for development. The bad guys are equally well drawn, from Angus the hapless estate agent through provocative Caryl Dillanos to Kumar, the pyschopathic criminal mastermind who remains a shadow until... well, you’ll have to read it to find out.

It’s the fourth in a series, well written though a little inclined towards over-explanation in places, and there are references throughout to investigations and relationships in the earlier books. Given the picturesque surroundings and the colourful cast, Gilchrist is a cop who is ripe for the TV treatment; John Hannah springs to mind, though David Tennant would do nicely is he was free. Though perhaps viewers could do without quite as much gory detail.
Reviewer: Lynne Patrick

T F Muir Born in Glasgow, Scotland, Frank was plagued from a young age with the urge to see more of the world than the rain sodden slopes of the Campsie Fells.  By the time he graduated from University with a degree he hated, he’d already had more jobs than the River Clyde has bends.  Short stints as a lumberjack in the Scottish Highlands and a moulder’s labourer in the local foundry convinced Frank that his degree was not such a bad idea after all.  Thirty-plus years of living and working overseas helped him appreciate the raw beauty of his home country.  Now a dual US/UK citizen, Frank makes his home in the outskirts of Glasgow, from where he visits St Andrews regularly to carry out some serious research in the old grey town’s many pubs and restaurants.  Frank is working hard on his next novel, another crime story suffused with dark alleyways and cobbled streets and some things gruesome.

Lynne Patrick has been a writer ever since she could pick up a pen, and has enjoyed success with short stories, reviews and feature journalism, but never, alas, with a novel. She crossed to the dark side to become a publisher for a few years, and is proud to have launched several careers which are now burgeoning. She lives on the edge of rural Derbyshire in a house groaning with books, about half of them crime fiction.

Friday, 23 May 2014

'Mr Campion's Farewell' completed by Mike Ripley

Published by Severn House,
April 2014.
ISBN 978-0-7278-8383-4

If the name sounds familiar you are correct - this is the Golden Age detective writer Margery Allingham's aristocratic detective, Albert Campion resurfacing!   As the book cover puts it 'Margery Allingham's Albert Campion returns in Mr Campion's Farewell.   When Margery Allingham died in 1966, her widower, Philip Youngman Carter completed her book, Cargo of Eagles, and wrote 2 more Campion books - Mr Campion's Farthing and Mr Campion's Falcon - then he died in 1969 leaving a fragment of manuscript for a third book.   It is this book that Mike Ripley offered to complete for the Margery Allingham Society who own the manuscript.  Mike is, of course, an accomplished writer of detective fiction in his own right and a devoted fan of Margery Allingham.  

Mike modestly disclaims any attempt to recreate Margery's style but, it seems to me, that he and Philip Youngman Carter (whose style and approach Mike does follow) have caught many of the qualities of Margery's original character of Albert Campion and her light hearted style of presentation.

We begin in September 1969 in the traditional English village of Lindsay Carfax with its cutesy ambience.  Albert's niece, an artist, is living there and participating in the local tradition of serving the tourists, in her case by painting copies of landscapes that could possibly be Old Masters though not guaranteed as such to the buyer.   The village is run not by a parish council but by a group known as the Carders which has some connection to wool and an apparent fixation on the number nine.   On a visit to see his niece, Eliza Jane, Campion has several misadventures which build up his suspicions of malpractice while puzzling him further as to the nature of the problem.

There are here the Allingham features of mystifying and unconnected happenings, a convincing period atmosphere and witty repartee.   The story reaches a satisfying and thrilling climax leaving Albert, though rather battered by his experiences, returning to the embraces of his family.  Characters from the Allingham pantheon appear to aid and hassle Albert in his attempted elucidation.  

Mike Ripley has produced a worthy successor to the Allingham/Youngman Carter oeuvre - I enjoyed it immensely.  The development of events in his decision to complete the Youngman Carter book are explained in an author's note and the tradition of mapping used in the previous books is continued here.
Reviewer: Jennifer S. Palmer

Mike Ripley is the author of the award-winning ‘Angel’ series of comedy thrillers.  He has won the Crime Writers Association 'Last Laugh Award' twice, first in 1989 with Angel Touch and then again in 1991 for Angels in Arms. Mike was also a scriptwriter for the BBC comedy-drama series Lovejoy (1986–94), which starred Ian McShane as a lovable rogue antique dealer.
For ten years Mike served as crime fiction critic for The Daily Telegraph and on the Birmingham Post for a further eight, reviewing in all over 950 crime novels..
In 2003 he suffered a stroke, and wrote an account of his recovery, Surviving a Stroke, which was published in 2006.
Currently he writes the "Getting Away With Murder" column for the online publication Shots. He is also the series editor at Ostara Publishing, which specialises in reprinting classic mysteries and thrillers.

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.

Thursday, 22 May 2014

‘The Mainwarings’ by Digger Cartwright

Published by Xlibris Corporation, 2012.
ISBN: 978-1-4771-5037-5

The cover describes the book as a Western but it has a wide canvas with politics and mystery as major parts. The era is that of the US Reconstruction after the Civil War and the assassination of Lincoln. The Maynwarings of the title are very important family in the developing Carson City with a very large ranch and other businesses. The head of the family is United States Senator Barron Maynwaring who, as the book opens, has just returned home from Washington DC where he has been dealing with all the complications of reconstructing the USA after a highly destructive war and with the seething animosities of that war not resolved. He is musing on his new hat called a Stetson purchased in Philadelphia from Mr. Stetson's shop as the story begins but such frivolities are quickly forced from his mind as events develop. His family and other dependants are described in a rather breathless first chapter revealing that all assist in the enterprises and are respected citizens. The women of the family are as intelligent and tough as the males.

However, strange things are happening in Carson City with a mysterious man called Giddeon van Thorn in town with unlimited supplies of money to buy properties. Trouble comes through an argument over a gambling game leading to a death and to a posse to capture the possible killer.

Gradually the Maywarings become aware that they are being targeted in various ways that could destroy the ranch and the family. There is a lot of action here in traditional Western fashion and the story moves fast and furiously. Will the Maynwarings overcome their mysterious enemies and with what peripheral damage? Will the mysteries be unlocked? It is a page turner. Moreover there is an open ended final chapter which suggests more may follow.
Reviewer: Jennifer Palmer
Digger Cartwright has written other books - thrillers like The Versailles Conspiracy and The a House of Dark Shadows. His nom de plume hides an industrialist and investor in the USA.

Robert ‘Digger’ Cartwright is the author of several mystery stories, teleplays, and novels including The Maynwarings: A Game of Chance, a mystery set in the Old West, The Versailles Conspiracy, a modern day political thriller, Murder at the Ocean Forest, a traditional mystery novel set in the 1940s, The House of Dark Shadows, a psychological thriller, and Conversations on the Bench, an inspirational and motivational compilation of life lessons. In the business realm, he has contributed to a number of articles on a wide range of financial, strategic planning, and policy topics and is a contributor to several finance/economic books. He frequently contributes articles, commentaries, and editorials focusing on current economic and political topics for the private think tank. Mr. Cartwright’s philanthropic efforts include interests in a wide range of causes, predominantly at the local level. He enjoys golf, participating in charity golf tournaments, falconry, and attending WWE events. He divides his time between Washington, D.C., South Carolina, and Florida.

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.

‘The Devil’s Cellar’ by Shane Marco

Published by AuthorHouse,
March 2011.
ISBN: 978-1-4520-9898-2

Although riddled with the crimes of murder, blackmail, theft, deception, and almost any other crime you care to mention this is not your usual crime fiction whodunit.  It is more a collection of short stories that expose the worst side of human nature in that the characters in their daily lives exhibit, jealousy, lust, bigotry, revenge, hatred, greed and intolerance. However, the  fourteen chapters are linked by a bottle of a fine Chilean Merlot, Casillero del Diablo, which translates to, The Devil's Cellar, the title of the book.
In the preface Detective Jack Harvey and Sgt Harry Cole attend the scene of the killing of a man in Sussex Avenue. The elderly man found by his house keeper sitting in his chair with his head bashed in  - the implement of death being a bottle of red wine broken in two and lying beside the body. With some clear finger-prints on the bottle, identification of the killer looks to be a good bet.

However despite a fast identification of finger-prints, all does not go smoothly for the police. As the investigation proceeds the police trace the path of the wine as it was passed from person to person weaving its way through the book, becoming a witness to the life-changing events that occur to ordinary people within each chapter, and although the wine is never opened, the souls of the characters are laid bare, and all too often the devil is witness to their evil deeds and on hand to reap their souls.  The book is filled with twists and turns of fate such as you could not imagine. But not all are bad, just sometimes the Devil misses out, but moves quickly onto his next victim.

It is an unusual but compelling read.
Reviewer: Lizzie Hayes

Shane Marco was educated at Hackney Downs Grammar school in East London and City University, after which he moved into accounting He has worked in radio broadcasting and acting,  written modern operas and poetry.  The Devil’s Cellar is his first book

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

‘The Mangle Street Murders’ by M R C Kasasian

 Published by Head of Zeus,
7 November 2013.
ISBN: 978-1-78185-184-5

In 1882 there is a detective named Sidney Grice working in London.  A young lady whose father has died arrives in London as his ward.  She is March Middleton and she wants to share the work of detection with her guardian.  The pair are both interesting characters and there are certain echoes of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson in their attitudes, behaviours and backgrounds.  They have various quirks such as March's predilection for cigarettes and gin and Sidney's vegetarian diet and obsession with getting supplies of tea to drink.  He likes his tea black describing milk as "the mammary excretions of cattle" and he prefers to be called a personal detective as he feels that the term private detective should be reserved for bedrooms.

London plays a large role in the story whether in the respectable environs of Bloomsbury or the dirty, smelly streets in the East End slums, peopled by beggars and thieves.  March is intrepid - she is the daughter of a doctor with whom she worked in India.  Sidney is physically unusual and mentally agile with a great ability to reason from disconnected scraps of evidence.  They become embroiled in a murder case where a man is accused of killing his wife.  They investigate a case that becomes extremely complex and involves more deaths and they disagree violently about the guilt of characters.

This is described as the Gower Street Detective Book 1 so, obviously more adventures are planned for March Middleton and Sidney Grice.
Reviewer: Jennifer Palmer

Martin Kasasian was raised in Lancashire. He has had careers as varied as a factory hand, wine waiter, veterinary assistant, fairground worker and dentist. He lives with his wife, in Suffolk in the summer and in a village in Malta in the winter.

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. s.

‘The Case of the Poisoned Partridge’ by Diane Janes

 Published by The History Press,
November 2013.
ISBN: 978-0-7524-7946-0

This is a work of non fiction which investigates an unsolved murder case of 1931. The victim was Lieutenant Hugh Chevis who was, as the title suggests, poisoned when he, apparently ate a partridge containing strychnine. The case is complex and inexplicable. The wife of the lieutenant also suffers poisoning symptoms but probably ate less of the meat and therefore recovers.

A mysterious telegram to the family from Ireland causes a lot of investigation; the origins of the partridge also require a great deal of inquiry as do various relatives of the family. Certainly the wife, Frances, has an interesting background which contributes to the puzzle.
The ability of pathologists comes under considerable scrutiny and the medical habits of the privileged provide another rich seam of interest. In fact the lifestyle of various protagonists are clearly from another era. Frances remarries and finds that to the newspapers she will always be known as a participant in the Case of the Poisoned a Partridge.

This is a thorough investigation of what is very much a period drama.
Reviewer: Jennifer S Palmer

Diane Janes  was born and educated in Birmingham, but lived in various parts of the north of England for most of her adult life, until recently moving to Devon. Having worked in everything from mortgages to engineering, she is now a full time author of fiction and investigative non-fiction, specialising in crime. When still an unpublished writer, she was short listed twice for the Crime Writers' Association Debut Dagger and in 2010 was among the quartet of finalists in contention for the John Creasey Dagger. She is published in both the U.K. and the U.S.A. and some of her work has been translated into German and Japanese.

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.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

‘Under a Silent Moon’ by Elizabeth Haynes

Published by Sphere in paperback May 2014.
ISBN: 978-0751549591
Getting the procedural details right in a novel which focuses on a police investigation has to be one of the biggest challenges which faces a crime writer. Real-life detectives are often seen to roll their eyes despairingly at how inaccurate fictional representations of their job can be. And of course one of the problems is that a great deal of police work involves endless footslogging, and sifting useful evidence out of mountains of material which has to be collected but ultimately proves irrelevant – and neither tramping the streets nor paperwork is exactly the stuff of gripping storytelling. Elizabeth Haynes is more familiar with the inner workings of an incident room than many authors; until recently she worked as an intelligence analyst for the police. And if you don’t know what an intelligence analyst does, you need to read Under the Silent Moon.

It’s her fourth novel, and has the makings of the first in a series featuring a major incident team led by DCI Louisa Smith. What sets it apart from the usual run of action-packed police dramas is the powerful sense that this is really how it works: not a small band of regulars who take on one investigation after another, but a motley team of detectives, and suitably qualified lay support staff, plus input from various specialist departments, pulled together to investigate a specific crime, all subject to availability, budgets and outside pressures.

Another difference is the inclusion of documents such as witness statements, e-mails, forensic reports and analyst’s charts, designed to allow the reader to pick through the evidence and follow the trail along with the detectives. And in case you were wondering, the job of the intelligence analyst is to map various information as it comes in, create timelines and look for connections and anomalies.
Somehow, and I’m still not sure how, Elizabeth Haynes makes it work. It shouldn’t; the adherence to real-time progress of the investigation, the inclusion of so much paperwork and other detail, should slow the pace to a walk and clutter the reader’s mind to the point of confusion. But it doesn’t. It moves swiftly, and there’s a clear narrative line with plenty of tension. I was gripped from the outset, as key occurrences or pieces of evidence kept popping up before my attention had a chance to flag.
It helps that the action shifts away from the police and to witnesses or suspects from time to time, so that the reader always knows a little more than the detectives. Haynes’s sharp eye for character is also a major plus point; despite the wealth of names and minor players, it’s always plain who we’re meant to follow. And the leading characters have lives and feelings which impact on the investigation in some way.

It’s a fine balancing act between creating a story with enough drama and action to hold the attention, and describing what would really happen when two suspicious deaths occur in the same village within hours of each other. Elizabeth Haynes doesn’t falter.
Reviewer: Lynne Patrick

Elizabeth Haynes is a police intelligence analyst. She started writing fiction in 2006 thanks to the annual challenge of National Novel Writing Month (Nanowrimo) and the encouragement of the creative writing courses at West Dean College. She lives in a village near Maidstone, Kent, with her husband and son.

Lynne Patrick has been a writer ever since she could pick up a pen, and has enjoyed success with short stories, reviews and feature journalism, but never, alas, with a novel. She crossed to the dark side to become a publisher for a few years, and is proud to have launched several careers which are now burgeoning. She lives on the edge of rural Derbyshire in a house groaning with books, about half of them crime fiction.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Janie Bolitho

In addition to reviews, interviews, reports on conferences and Mystery People events, competitions and Mary Mystery (agony aunt),  the Mystery People monthly e-zine also contains articles on Forgotten Authors, Golden Age Authors and many other crime fiction related topics.  Recently, Lynne Patrick (former publisher) has been contributing articles on authors who have gone before their time.   It has been suggested to me that maybe I could post some of these to my blogspot, so here is the one that appeared in the May issue.  Should anyone like a complimentary copy of the May issue, or any previous issue, please email me

Gone Before Their Time
Janie Bolitho
(1 January 1950 - 3 October 2002)
By Lynne Patrick

It’s something of a cliché among pundits that authors follow an eclectic working life before, and often during, their writing career, though to the majority of other writers this comes as no surprise. Even among regularly
published novelists, earning a living is frequently a separate endeavour from writing, and can take many different forms.

Cornish crime writer Janie Bolitho worked as a psychiatric nurse, debt collector, tour guide and bookmaker’s clerk in the years before her D I Roper police procedural series allowed her to become a full-time writer. She was mainly published by Allison and Busby, and thus best known to library borrowers. She also attracted the attention of audio book company Isis, and much of her work still exists on tape and CD.

Janie was a West Country woman born and bred, and Cornwall is the setting for much of her work. The books are remarkable for her portrayal of the landscape which was so familiar to her; they fall broadly into the ‘cosy’ sub-genre in that she sidesteps the blood and gore, but there is plenty of action and atmosphere, and they move along at a cracking pace.

I met Janie Bolitho just once, when she attended a weekend workshop I was running in north

Cornwall in the summer of 1996. By then she already had a handful of the Roper police procedurals under her belt, but she still felt she had a lot to learn about the craft of writing, and was eager to build on the knowledge she had acquired.

Janie was keen to contribute to the workshop, and modest about her achievements, though willing to share her experience with the rest of the group, who were understandably intrigued to have a published novelist among their number.  She was about to embark on a second series, this time featuring a female protagonist and  ‘accidental’ sleuth: young widow Rose Trevelyan, an artist and photographer who has retreated to Cornwall for a quiet life after the death of her husband. Since the topic of the weekend workshop was Women Writing For and About Women, I hope it’s fair to say that Janie took something useful away with her.

Her writing career was destined to last only ten years before breast cancer intervened, but they were prolific ones. As well as the twelve Roper novels and seven in the Trevelyan series, she also wrote a handful of more ambitious standalones, dubbed romantic thrillers and published by Constable; and as Jodie Sinclair, she indulged her darker side in a couple of novels published by Piatkus.

When she died she left behind an unusual memorial. A keen football fan, she had been a sponsor of Plymouth Parkway FC, and a year after her death their ground was renamed Bolitho Park in her honour.

Twelve years after her death, remarkably little is known about her life, so her continued popularity might be
regarded as something of a surprise. But thanks to new technology her books are largely still available, some in print, others as eBooks.

Janie’s many fans have set up a website and blog in her honour:

Lynne Patrick has been a writer ever since she could pick up a pen, and has enjoyed success with short stories, reviews and feature journalism, but never, alas, with a novel. She crossed to the dark side to become a publisher for a few years, and is proud to have launched several careers which are now burgeoning. She lives on the edge of rural Derbyshire in a house groaning with books, about half of them crime fiction.



‘W is for Wasted’ by Sue Grafton

Published (USA) by Marian Wood Books/Putnam,
10 September 2013.
ISBN: 978-0-399-15898-8 (Hardcover)
(UK) by Macmillan.
12 September 2014.
ISBN: 978-0-230-74588-9

How to create a new plot after 22 previous Kinsey Millhone novels was no deterrent to the author who wasted no time in solving the important murders and tackling the problem of the homeless.  In addition, a dilemma for Kinsey:  What to do with more than a half-million dollars she inherits from a homeless man who dies on the beach, leaving her an
inheritance in his will.

A scurrilous PI turns out to be a murder victim, the apparent result of a robbery gone bad, leaving Kinsey another mystery to solve.  It turns out the PI is part of the plot, related to the death of the homeless man.  As the tale unfolds, there is just one additional thing for Kinsey to solve, and that is, what to do with the money: distribute to the man's three children (despite the fact that he had disinherited them); keep it; or find some other use for the moolah in
accordance with his perceived wishes.

The novel is well-plotted, but weighed down with all kinds of extraneous fill-in material, e.g., baking, Kinsey's love life (or lack thereof), introduction of former lovers, and one with a tangential relationship to the murdered PI.  Otherwise, "W" is the usual smooth effort, and another letter bites the dust.
Reviewer:  Ted Feit

Sue Taylor Grafton was born 24 April 1940 in Louisville, Kentucky. USA.  She is a contemporary American author of detective novels. She is best known as the author of the 'alphabet series' featuring private investigator Kinsey Millhone in the fictional city of Santa Teresa, California. She is published in 28 countries and 26 languages—including Estonian, Bulgarian, and Indonesian.

Ted and Gloria Feit live in Long Beach, NY, a few miles outside New York City.  For 26 years, Gloria was the manager of a medium-sized litigation firm in lower Manhattan. Her husband, Ted, is an attorney and former stock analyst, publicist and writer/editor for, over the years, several daily, weekly and monthly publications.  Having always been avid mystery readers, and since they're now retired, they're able to indulge that passion.  Their reviews appear online as well as in three print publications in the UK and US.  On a more personal note: both having been widowed, Gloria and Ted have five children and nine grandchildren between them.

Monday, 12 May 2014

‘Game Set and Murder’ by Elizabeth Flynn

Published by Lion Fiction,
24 October 2013.
ISBN: 978-1-78264-072-1

On the first day of Wimbledon, newly promoted Detective Inspector Angela Costello’s is called to the discovery of a body on the lawn, and not just any lawn.  A long time tennis fan Angela instantly recognises the body of that of tennis Croatian champion Petar Belic, more recently a tennis coach.

As Angela interviews the people surrounding Petar she quickly becomes aware that there are many suspects.  Petar had been seeing a publicist Lavinia Bannister, a fiery and tempestuous woman. But further investigation reveals that Petar had recently been seeing his estranged wife and several sources say that he was hoping for reconciliation.  There was also speculation of financials problems with his business partner Danny Moore.  And Stewart Bickerstaff whom Petar had been coaching – was all well in that relationship?

Feeling very aware of how under scrutiny she is from not only her bosses but also her immediate colleagues - she after all only recently promoted and needs to find her way through that minefield of colleagues she was once on a par with, but is now is in charge of, Angela picks her way warily, particularly with colleagues who decide to test her.  Not an  easy path, but she does have husband Patrick to keep her level headed.

This was for me a wonderful find. It had all the hallmarks of a village murder, but as we all know London is just made up of a collection of villages. 

As Angela picks her way carefully through the lies, subterfuge and miss-information she eventually reaches the truth.  This first novel is highly recommended and I eagerly await the next.
Reviewer: Lizzie Hayes

Elizabeth Flynn is a Londoner of Anglo-Irish parentage. An ex-actress she currently works in a hospital. However she has always written and has a particular interest in crime fiction. For several years she has also been a keen tennis fan and is very happy that her first novel is a murder mystery set in the tennis world.

Photograph by John Goodman