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Saturday 18 May 2024

‘A Memory of Murder’ by Helen Hollick

Published by Taw River Press,
15 May 2024.
ISBN: 978-1-73927202-9 (PB)

Jan Christopher loves her job as a library assistant in Chingford Library, North London, but in April 1973 she is finding her work very stressful. The library is very busy because people want to stock up with books before the Easter holiday and the library is chaotic because it is a day for school visits. Because she is busy and, in a hurry, Jan makes a thoughtless remark about her size to a small girl who is queuing to check out her book. The girl looks indignant, and Jan is dismayed to realise that the girl is a dwarf. Although she regrets her insensitivity, Jan is too busy to brood about it because the library is about to be painted and the builders have turned up early. The older builders are reasonably polite and get on with the work, but Jan is not sure if she likes one of the younger men, Adrian Blessit. He is about thirty years old, which makes him ten years older than Jan. He is very handsome and tries to be charming, however he sneers at books and learning, and Jan feels uncomfortable when he tries to flirt with her.

Jan’s fiancé, Detective Sergeant Laurie Walker turns up at the library to ask if any of the assistants know anything about Sally Armitage, an eleven-year-old school child who has disappeared on her way back from school. Jan realises that Sally is the young dwarf that she had spoken to when she came to the library with her school and hopes that her foolish words to the girl had not upset her so much that she has run away. Laurie makes it clear that he suspects the only male member of the library staff, Sy Henbury-Clive, of involvement in Sally’s disappearance, which upsets Jan who gets on well with her colleague and she thinks that Laurie is being unreasonable.

Jan lives with her aunt and uncle, Maud and Toby Christopher, because she was orphaned when she was five years old. Jan’s father was murdered, shot several times when he answered his front door, and her mother committed suicide a few months later. Jan’s Uncle Toby is a senior detective and her father had also been a police officer. Jan had been in the house when her father died but she cannot remember anything about what happened.

The week continues to be extremely difficult. The decorators get on with the job, but they are very much in the way and don’t always mix well with the members of the public who are determined to continue selecting books, usually the books that are concealed under dust covers. Also, the smell of paint makes Jan feel ill. Everybody is worried about the missing girl and Uncle Toby and Laurie are working long hours on the case. Jan understands that police officers have to concentrate on their duty, but she feels hurt when Laurie forgets his promise to book some time off to spend with her and is even more cross when he also forgets that he’d agreed to take her to the travelling circus that has set up nearby. Laurie’s preoccupation is a strong contrast to Adrian Blessit who is determined to force his attentions upon Jan whether she wishes him to or not.

Those who love Jan have always tried to protect her by keeping her in ignorance of anything that might worry or frighten her. This is not always a wise policy and now it means that she does not realise the sinister significance of certain everyday items that are sent to her family. Because of this she is unprepared when violence suddenly erupts in a way that endangers all her hopes and plans for the future and brings back into the forefront of her mind a memory of murder that has been suppressed for fifteen years.

A Memory of Murder is the fifth book in the series that features Jan Christopher and Laurie Walker. It is a charming evocation of the early 1970s, the plot is cleverly constructed and well paced and Jan, Laurie and her family are engaging characters. This is a very enjoyable book that I recommend.
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Reviewer: Carol Westron

Helen Hollick is a British author of historical fiction. She is the author of the Arthurian trilogy, The Pendragon's Banner (3 books) and more recently two murder mysteries featuring library assistant Jan Christopher and her detective boyfriend, Laurie Walker.

https://www.helenhollick.net/



Carol Westron is a successful author and a Creative Writing teacher.  Her crime novels are set both in contemporary and Victorian times.  Her first book The Terminal Velocity of Cats was published in 2013. Since then, she has since written 5 further mysteries. Carol recently gave an interview to Mystery People. To read the interview click on the link below. 

https://promotingcrime.blogspot.co.uk/2017/11/carol-westron.html www.carolwestron.com
To read a review of Carol latest book click on the title
Death and the Dancing Snowman 

‘Death in the Orchard’ by M.K. Graff

Published by Bridle Path Press,
12 April 2024.
ISBN: 978-1-73216308-9 (PB)

Trudy Genova is looking forward to a holiday from her job as the nurse at a film company in Manhattan and plans to travel to Scoharie in the Catskills to stay at the apple orchard owned and run by her family. She has invited her boyfriend, Ned O’Malley, who is an NYPD detective, to go with her. Trudy has several reasons for her visit: Ned has already met her mother, Hildy, but Trudy wishes to introduce him to her two older brothers, Ben and Rick, and Ben’s wife, Gail, and Rick’s husband, Aiden. Also, she wants to attend Gail’s baby shower. As well as being her sister-in-law, Gail has been Trudy’s friend since early schooldays. However, Trudy has another reason to ask Ned to accompany her, one that she has no intention of admitting to her family unless she is successful. Trudy wants to discover the truth about her father’s death.

Eleven years ago Mario Genova had gone out to collect supplies for Trudy’s sixteenth birthday celebration but he did not return. Eventually he was discovered dead. He was lying in the railway depot and his skull had been fractured in two places. The shock to Mario’s family was terrible and it was compounded by the discovery that Mario had withdrawn all the money from two of their bank accounts and nobody had any idea what he had done with it. The family had been devastated by Mario’s death and it had taken a long hard struggle for Trudy’s mother and brothers to put the orchard back into a safe financial position. Although her family tried to shield Trudy as much as possible, she found it hard to recover from the death of her adored father.

She won a scholarship for nursing school and left home as soon as it was possible and, after she qualified, she moved to New York. Despite the distance between her and the place where her father died, Trudy has never been able to shake off her conviction that her father’s death had not been an accident and she still believes that he was murdered. She is desperate to find out the truth, but she is afraid that she and Ned will uncover evidence that the motive for Mario’s death and his reason for removing the family money is something that soils her father’s memory.

The visit to the family starts off very happily. Trudy’s family all get on with Ned and Trudy finds it possible to accept her mother’s new relationship with Trudy’s old High School English teacher, Bob, and when she sees how good they are together she feels glad that Hildy is no longer alone. The local police are co-operative and willing to tell Trudy and Ned anything they can about the investigation eleven years ago. Trudy realises that the earlier investigators had shared her doubts that Mario’s death was an accident. Their failure to solve the crime was not through negligence but through absence of evidence. They could discover no witnesses and also no motive for the murder of a man who, despite his hot temper when confronted by injustice, was liked and respected by everybody who knew him and loved by his friends and family.

The baby shower starts off joyfully and everyone is enjoying themselves until Rick goes back to the house he shares with Aidan, which is also in the grounds of the apple orchard, to collect some ice cream that Aiden had forgotten. On the veranda steps of the house Rick discovers a dead body and the victim has been shot. Now Trudy and Ned have two murders to investigate, one that happened eleven years ago and another that is a threat to the Genova family here and now, and they cannot escape the fear that Rick might be suspected of involvement in the crime. Ned is determined to keep Trudy safe, but she is equally determined not to be sidelined, even though the things that they discover may prove to be painful and, with a murderer at large, her persistence could also be extremely dangerous.

Death in the Orchard is the third novel featuring Trudy Genova. It is a superb series, and this is a delightful addition, taking Trudy and Ned out of New York to Trudy’s family home in the country and introducing her warm and loving family. This is a beautifully crafted, multi-viewpoint novel, with an intriguing plot and a cast of likeable, engaging characters, especially the two central protagonists. This is such a compelling book that I could not put it down and read it in two days. Death in the Orchard is a page turner that I wholeheartedly recommend.-----
Reviewer: Carol Westron

Marni Graff is the author of the Nora Tierney mystery series, set in the UK. She is also co-author of Writing in a Changing World, a primer on writing groups and critique techniques. A member of Sisters in Crime, Graff runs the NC Writers Read program in Belhaven and founded the group Coastal Carolina Mystery Writers. She has also published poetry, last seen in Amelia Earhart: A Tribute; her creative nonfiction has most recently appeared in Southern Women’s Her latest book is Death in the Orchard.    

http://auntiemwrites.com/

Carol Westron is a successful author and a Creative Writing teacher.  Her crime novels are set both in contemporary and Victorian times.  Her first book The Terminal Velocity of Cats was published in 2013. Since then, she has since written 5 further mysteries. Carol recently gave an interview to Mystery People. To read the interview click on the link below. 

https://promotingcrime.blogspot.co.uk/2017/11/carol-westron.html www.carolwestron.com
To read a review of Carol latest book click on the title
Death and the Dancing Snowman  

Thursday 16 May 2024

Capital Crime 2024


PROGRAMME


 

                                             https://www.capitalcrime.org  

Wednesday 15 May 2024

Winners of 2024 CRIMEFEST Awards Announced


CrimeFest, one of Europe’s leading crime fiction conventions,
has announced the winners of its annual awards.

Now in their 16th year, the awards, which honour the best crime books released in the UK last year, were announced at
a gala dinner event during
CrimeFest in Bristol [Saturday 11 May].

The winner of the highly anticipated Specsavers Debut Crime Novel Award, and £1,000 prize, is Stig Abell for Death Under a Little Sky published by Hemlock Press (HarperCollins).

 The gripping crime debut from the Times Radio journalist features London detective Jake Jackson, who discovers that murder lurks even in the most idyllic English locations when a village treasure hunt turns deadly.

 Bestselling crime authors have heaped praise on the debut including Lee Child, who described it as “truly excellent,” Ann Cleeves who found it “totally immersive” and Vaseem Khan who described it as “beautifully written.”

Dame Mary Perkins, co-founder of Specsavers who sponsors the award, said: “It was an incredibly strong shortlist for the judging panel this year, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading all nominated titles. Stig Abell’s debut clinched the top spot. It offers a different slant to the usual detective mysteries, and I was compelled to finish the book and get to the end, which I didn’t guess. His mesmerising prose and deft plot made Death Under a Little Sky unputdownable.”

The eDunnit Award for the best e-book goes to
Laura Lippman for Prom Mom,
 published by Faber & Faber. The acclaimed Baltimore author is a two-time CrimeFest eDunnit Award winner for Wild Lake (2017) and Sunburn (2019) and has won the Agatha, Anthony, and Edgar awards.

Prom Mom tells the story of Amber Glass, desperately trying to get away from her tabloid past but compulsively drawn back to the prom date who destroyed everything. The LA Times described it as “one of Lippman’s most seductively mesmerising novels.”

Winner of the H.R.F Keating Award for best biographical or critical book on crime fiction is The Secret Life of John Le Carré by Adam Sisman, published by Profile Books.

 A Financial Times and Spectator Book of the Year, it’s been praised for providing new insights into the author who created George Smiley, revealing a hidden perspective on the life and work of the spy-turned-author.

The Last Laugh Award goes to Mick Herron for The Secret Hours, published by Baskerville. Herron is a multiple CrimeFest Award winner; he received the 2023 CrimeFest Award for Best Adapted TV Crime Drama for Slow Horses; the 2022 CrimeFest Last Laugh Award for Slough House; and the 2018 CrimeFest Last Laugh Award for Spook Street.

 Praised as ‘pure class,’ by Ian Rankin, The Secret Hours was an instant Sunday Times bestseller. The mesmerising espionage thriller is dripping in wry wit and unexpected twists, as a parliamentary inquiry into the intelligence services turns lethal.

 Best Crime Novel for Young Adults, aged 12-16, is awarded to
Elizabeth Wein for Stateless, which features a group of young pilots who face intrigue and sabotage in a race around Europe in this thrilling murder mystery, from the bestselling author of Code Name Verity. Stateless was praised by the Guardian for its, “intriguing, page-turning plot.”

Best Crime Novel for Children, aged 8-12, goes to
J.T. Williams for The Lizzie and Belle Mysteries:
Portraits and Poison published by Farshore. It’s the second book in the middle grade mystery series that’s inspired by real Black British historical figures, which sees two resourceful amateur sleuths become embroiled in a deadly conspiracy stalking the streets of eighteenth-century London.

Waterstone’s Children’s Laureate, Joseph Coelho, praised the series as a “must read” and The Observer praised its “atmospheric setting.”

The Thalia Proctor Memorial Award for Best Adapted TV Crime Drama goes for the second year running to Slow Horses (season 3), based on the Slough House books by Mick Herron. Produced by See-Saw, shown on Apple TV+, the drama, which follows a dysfunctional and disgraced team of MI5 agents, stars Gary Oldman.

The award is named in honour of Thalia, a CrimeFest team member and a much-loved figure in the world of crime fiction, and is decided by public vote.

Adrian Muller, Co-host of CrimeFest, said: “Crime fiction is recognised as the biggest selling and most influential genre in publishing. As ever, this year’s nominees reflect the genre’s power, reach and popularity, and it was a hotly contested shortlist. We congratulate all 2024 winners, and would especially like to thank Specsavers for their on-going support in celebrating new talent, with the Debut Award. We’re especially proud too to be one of the few genre awards that recognise children’s and Young Adult authors. They do a vital job in enticing children and young people into reading, offering much-needed escapism, connection, and adventure.”

Hosted in Bristol, CrimeFest is one of the biggest crime fiction convention in the UK, and one of the most popular dates in the international crime fiction calendar, with circa 60 panel events and 150 authors attending over four days [9-12 May].

2024 featured guests include the author behind the international hit Murdle - G.T. Karber; Diamond Dagger winners James Lee Burke and Lynda La Plante; the acclaimed American author Laura Lippman; and the seminal Scottish author, Denise Mina.

The line up also features Ajay Chowdhury, Cathy Ace, Janice Hallett, Abir Mukherjee, Vaseem Khan, Holly Jackson, Kate Ellis, Ruth Dudley Edwards, and Martin Edwards.

CrimeFest was created following the hugely successful one-off visit to Bristol in 2006 of the American Left Coast Crime convention. Established in 2008, it follows the egalitarian format of most US conventions, making it open to all commercially published authors and readers alike.

All category winners will receive a Bristol Blue Glass commemorative award.

The 2024 CrimeFest Award Winners in full:

 SPECSAVERS DEBUT CRIME NOVEL AWARD

In association with headline sponsor, the Specsavers Debut Crime Novel Award is for debut authors first published in the United Kingdom in 2023. The winning author receives a £1,000 prize.

- Stig Abell Death Under a Little Sky (Hemlock Press/HarperCollins)

 

H.R.F. KEATING AWARD

 The H.R.F. Keating Award is for the best biographical or critical book related to crime fiction first published in the United Kingdom in 2023. The award is named after H.R.F. ‘Harry’ Keating, one of Britain’s most esteemed crime novelists, crime reviewers and writer of books about crime fiction.

- Adam Sisman The Secret Life of John Le Carré (Profile Books)


LAST LAUGH AWARD

The Last Laugh Award is for the best humorous crime novel first published in the United Kingdom in 2023.

- Mick Herron The Secret Hours (Baskerville)

 

eDUNNIT AWARD

For the best crime fiction ebook first published in both hardcopy and in electronic format in the United Kingdom in 2023.

-Laura Lippman Prom Mom (Faber & Faber)


 BEST CRIME FICTION NOVEL FOR CHILDREN

This award is for the best crime novel for children (aged 8-12) first published in the United Kingdom in 2023.

- J.T. Williams The Lizzie and Belle Mysteries: Portraits and Poison illustrated by Simone Douglas (Farshore)


BEST CRIME FICTION NOVEL FOR YOUNG ADULTS

This award is for the best crime novel for young adults (aged 12-16) first published in the United Kingdom in 2023.

- Elizabeth Wein Stateless (Bloomsbury YA)


THALIA PROCTOR MEMORIAL AWARD FOR BEST ADAPTED TV CRIME DRAMA

This award is for the best television crime drama based on a book, and first screened in the UK in 2023.

- Slow Horses (series 3), based on the Slough House books by Mick Herron (Apple)

 

Tuesday 14 May 2024

‘The Montford Maniac’ by M.R.C. Kasasian

Published by Canelo,
18 April 2024.
ISBN: 978-1-80436610-3 (PB)

The Montford Maniac is the second novel in this author’s series featuring Lady Violet Thorn, a writer of penny dreadfuls (the very short snippets from her work that we read certainly live up to this description). The novel, set in Victorian Suffolk, begins with two important events. The first is a letter from Jack, Lady Violet’s former lover who jilted her at the altar and who she thinks may be in trouble. The second is that Lady Violet’s appalling Aunt Igitha has descended uninvited to stay, distracting Lady Violet from her writing and creating general unpleasantness. Eventually Lady Violet finds the courage to tell her aunt to leave. Igitha departs leaving a trail of threats.

Before long a woman is impaled by a spike, another is hanged outside Lady Violet’s window and a wild animal, delivered in a crate to Lady Violet’s house, kills a drunken passer-by. These sadistic events remind Lady Violet of the methods of the serial killer known as the Montford Maniac, whose crimes ten years previously remain unsolved. She begins to consider various possibilities including whether the maniac is back in business or whether her aunt is taking her retribution. Lady Violet becomes even more intimately involved when she receives anonymous letters threatening her safety. The plot is thickened by her love life, and there are flashbacks to her childhood. Despite the generally light mood of the narrative, there are some gruesome events and descriptions, none more so than when an innocent woman is burned to death in the local church.

Lady Violet is assisted in her investigations by a number of memorable characters. Inspector Alfred Stanbury of the local police is relatively normal, but there are Lady Violet’s two idiosyncratic retainers, the faithful manservant Gerrund, and the splendidly impertinent maid Agnust (asked whether the latter is always so ‘forthright’, Lady Violet says ‘I inherited her ... and, for all her eccentricities, she has many sterling qualities’). I enjoyed the hansom driver Faithless and his horse Old Queeny. Others add much to the story including Uncle Tiberius who suffers from narcolepsy and from being married to Aunt Igitha. Various stolid Suffolk characters are given to quaint expressions, stating the obvious, taking things literally, gnomic utterances or a combination of these.

The investigation is enlivened by characters from Lady Violet’s own stories giving her advice and commenting on her actions. ‘I preferred to spend more of my time with my fictional characters,’ she writes, ‘especially Ruby Gibson, my lady adventuress, and Inspector Havelock Hefty of Scotland Yard. They featured in most of my novels and short stories and rather too many of my thoughts, but they could never play me false – at least not without my permission.’ Lady Violet also enjoys her absinthe: ‘I have never found an answer in alcohol, but that has yet to stop me looking for one’ she muses whilst going through the elaborate preparation of the drink with silver slotted spoon, sugar lump and water fountain.

This is a very entertaining and well-plotted novel with an enjoyable combination of interesting characters, comic turns and sometimes blithe savagery leading via a serious investigation to a satisfying conclusion. It is highly recommended.
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Reviewer: David Whittle

M. R. C. Kasasian  was raised in Lancashire, and has had careers as varied as factory hand, wine waiter, veterinary assistant, fairground worker and  dentist. He lives with his wife in Suffolk in the winter and in a fishing village in the south of Malta during the summer. He is now a full time author.

David Whittle is firstly a musician (he is an organist and was Director of Music at Leicester Grammar School for over 30 years) but has always enjoyed crime fiction. This led him to write a biography of the composer Bruce Montgomery who is better known to lovers of crime fiction as Edmund Crispin, about whom he gives talks now and then. He is currently convenor of the East Midlands Chapter of the Crime Writers’ Association.

Monday 13 May 2024

‘In Her Shadow’ by Emma Christie

Published by Welbeck,
15 February 2024.
ISBN: 978-1-80279-465-6 (PB)

This is a psychological thriller set in Scotland.  The main character is a bus driver called Dave Kellock who we quickly learn is still traumatised from the death of a beloved one who we understand he killed two decades earlier. 

It is only well into the plot that we understand this was an accidental killing and Dave was acquitted of manslaughter although he has never been able to forgive himself.  Weird things start to happen with Dave aware of someone entering his house when he is not there.  He sees a woman on his bus who strongly reminds him of Carmen the woman who died when he crashed into her bike.  He follows this young woman, and this leads to police involvement and threats from several quarters including Carmen's sister who has never forgiven him for killing her sibling. 

Another character who appears midway through the novel is an ex lover of Dave who is obsessed with creating a family with Dave and Carmen's child.  He is clearly unstable and has just been released from prison after raping Suzanne - Carmen's sister. 

This is an intricate and unusual story but one is urged to remain alert until the end to discover the truth of what occasionally feels an extremely bizarre conundrum.  The main characters in the tale are all gay and this is innovative but in no way detracts from the intrigue.  This is a clever and original thriller and keeps you guessing until the end.
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Reviewer: Toni Russell

Emma Christie grew up in a book-filled house in Cumnock, an Ayrshire coal-mining town. After quitting her law degree to study English literature and medieval history at Aberdeen University, she spent five years working as a news reporter with one of the UK’s top-selling regional daily newspapers, The Press and Journal. Throughout her journalism career, she secretly wanted to be every author she ever interviewed. When she’s not writing, Emma now works as a tour director and lecturer in history, culture and politics with a US travel company, leading educational journeys across Spain, France and Portugal. 

Toni Russell is a retired teacher who has lived in London all her life and loves the city.  She says, ‘I enjoy museums, galleries and the theatre but probably my favourite pastime is reading.  I found myself reading detective fiction almost for the first time during lockdown and have particularly enjoyed old fashioned detective fiction rather than the nordic noir variety.  I am a member of a book club at the local library and have previously attended literature classes at our local Adult Education Centre.  I am married with three children and five grandchildren.

‘And Nothing But the Truth’ by Charlie Cochrane

Published by Riptide Publishing,
6 May 2024.
ISBN: 978-1-62649996-6 (PB)

Adam Matthews and Robin Bright have been together for eight years and for the most part it has been a happy and successful time. Their love has grown and become stronger and has resulted in marriage and they have both achieved promotion, Adam to become a headteacher and Robin to Detective Chief Inspector. Only one thing has marred their contentment, the death of their adored Newfoundland dog, Campbell, but while they will never forget him, they now have a new puppy, Hamish.

Robin’s widowed mother comes to see them to ask their advice. Robin’s late father had never made a secret of the fact that he was adopted but he insisted that he had no desire to discover anything about his biological parents. Now Robin’s mother has been offered a bequest from an anonymous source and she wants to know if it is all above board. She suspects the bequest is connected with her late husband’s biological family and she wants to find out more about his origins. Robin and Adam agree to help her, and Robin admits to Adam that he too is curious about his biological grandparents.

Although Robin has been busy at work, there have been no murders that require him and his team to investigate, which is just the way he and Adam prefer it. However, despite Robin telling Hamish to keep his paws crossed, it is only a matter of time before his luck changes and a man’s body is found in his jurisdiction.

The body is found in woodland, well off the beaten track, and the victim has no personal effects on or near his body. Also. there is no sign of an abandoned car in either of the nearby car parks. It is not a place that is easily accessed by public transport and the police must discover how he got to the woods without anybody noticing him. After a couple of frustrating days, they manage to identify the victim, a young man who has a tragic past, whose wife died during the pandemic. Further investigation reveals that the victim felt as if the world has treated him very badly and he seems to have borne grudges against several people. Despite this, most of the people that Robin’s team interview claim that they found him likeable and got on well with him. However, as all the detectives know, not everybody tells the truth, especially when they may be suspected of murder.

Robin finds it concerning that the victim’s family situation regarding adoption bears an uncanny similarity to that confronting Robin himself. As the investigation progresses it becomes increasingly riddled with secrets and deceit regarding many of the victim’s relationships. However, Robin is determined to discover the solution to the crime and refuses to be distracted by the parallels to his own life.

And Nothing But The Truth is the seventh in the series featuring Adam Matthews and Robin Bright. It is a gently paced, intriguing book in which the plot has several layers of deceit and self-deception. Adam and Robin are engaging protagonists and the peripheral characters in Robin’s team and family are likeable. This is an enjoyable book that I recommend.
------  
Reviewer: Carol Westron

Because Charlie Cochrane couldn't be trusted to do any of her jobs of choice—like managing a rugby team—she writes cosy mysteries, including the Edwardian era Cambridge Fellows series, and the contemporary Lindenshaw Mysteries. Multi-published, she has titles with Carina, Riptide, Lume, and Williams and Whiting. A member of the Crime Writers’ Association, Mystery People and International Thriller Writers Inc, Charlie has regularly appeared at literary festivals and at reader and author conferences.

http://www.charliecochrane.co.uk

Carol Westron is a successful author and a Creative Writing teacher.  Her crime novels are set both in contemporary and Victorian times.  Her first book The Terminal Velocity of Cats was published in 2013. Since then, she has since written 6 further mysteries. Carol recently gave an interview to Mystery People. To read the interview click on the link below. 

https://promotingcrime.blogspot.co.uk/2017/11/carol-westron.html www.carolwestron.com
http://carolwestron.blogspot.co.uk/

To read a review of Carol latest book click on the title
Death and the Dancing Snowman

Saturday 11 May 2024

‘Murder at Tanton Towers’ by Amy Myers

Published by Severn House,
5 May 2022.
ISBN: 978-1-4483-0997-9 (PB)

Cara Shelley is very happy running her café The Happy Huffkin, (the huffkin is a traditional Kentish flat bread that has a dimple in the top and is served with a cherry, jam and cream). The café is situated in a folly belonging to Tanton Towers, a stately home owned by Cara’s friends Max and Alison Farran Pryde. Tanton Towers had been built in the late eighteenth century by the eccentric Sir Jeffry Farran and the mock gothic edifice he designed is as eccentric as the man who created it. Cara loves Tanton Towers and regards all those who live and work there as close friends, almost family. Max spends most of his life engrossed in his obsession, his collection of paintings by Lavinia Fortuna, one of the first successful female artists of the Renaissance. Max houses the Fortuna paintings in a specially designed gallery, La Galleria and spends most of his time there. Because of her husband’s abstraction it has become customary for Alison to call on Cara to help her to sort things out whenever there is a problem. However, this time when Alison screams for help Cara knows there is something far more serious than the need to remove a large spider and she is correct, Alison has just discovered a body in the orangery and it is obvious that she has been murdered.

The victim is Daphne Hanson, the wife of the Tower’s accountant. Although Daphne did not work at Tanton Towers she led a dance troupe that performs there regularly and she has become very much part of the team that forms the core of the Towers’ provision.

Cara is distressed by Daphne’s murder and devastated by the probability that the killer is one of the people who work at the Towers. As Cara is the person who always sorts things out, she is determined to discover the truth and hopefully clear her friends. She has encountered the SIO in charge of the case previously when, Detective Chief Inspector Andrew Mitchem visited her café and is irritated by him, mainly because he suggested alternative accompaniments to the huffkin rather than a cherry and Cara regarded this as outrageous.

When Mitchem warns her that her unofficial sleuthing could prove dangerous, Cara decides to ignore his advice and carries on investigating. At first she can think of no motive for Daphne’s murder. It is true that she was a tactless, impetuous woman who could be irritatingly nosey but she was basically a sweet, likeable person. However after a while Cara identifies several reasons for Daphne’s death, although none of them seem sufficient for such an evil crime. She is not surprised that Max is convinced that Daphne discovered a plot to steal his beloved Fortuna paintings, which led to her death, but Cara realises that there is also rivalry about which of the people who work at Tanton Towers will first publish a book about the history of the house. The two other people in this race are both serious academics and would have taken longer to write their books than Daphne who had planned a romantic account of Sir Jeffry and the smugglers tunnel. Other rivalries involve Daphne’s desire to lead tours of the smugglers tunnel, which would usurp the role of the staff member who arranges such events. Another motive, which Cara prefers because it takes the crime away from the core team at the house, is that one of the dance troupe covets Daphne’s role as leader. All of these suggestions are different from the line that Mitchem and his detectives are taking and Cara continues to investigate, determined to save the Tanton Towers team, but as she draws nearer to discovering the truth her own life is increasingly in danger.

Murder at Tanton Towers is the first in a new series featuring Cara and the other inhabitants of the historic house. Cara is an engaging protagonist and several of the other characters are likeable and delightfully eccentric, as is the Tanton Towers setting. This book is a gently paced and enjoyable cosy crime novel, a promising start to a new series.
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Reviewer: Carol Westron

Amy Myers
was born in Kent, where she still lives. For many years she worked as a director in a London publishing firm, before realising her dream to become a writer. Her first series featured detective, August Didier, a half French, half English master chef in late Victorian and Edwardian times. She also writes a series with her American husband James Myers, featuring Jack Colby, car detective, there are 8 books in the series. Her most recent series is set post WW1, featuring chef-sleuth Nell Drury. There are three books in this series.  She has also written nine books featuring Marsh and Daughter, and in between a series about a Victorian chimney sweep Tom Wasp. Amy also writes historical novels and suspense under the name Harriet Hudson.

http://www.amymyers.net/

Carol Westron is a successful author and a Creative Writing teacher.  Her crime novels are set both in contemporary and Victorian times.  Her first book The Terminal Velocity of Cats was published in 2013. Since then, she has since written 6 further mysteries. Carol recently gave an interview to Mystery People. To read the interview click on the link below. 

https://promotingcrime.blogspot.co.uk/2017/11/carol-westron.html www.carolwestron.com
http://carolwestron.blogspot.co.uk/

To read a review of Carol latest book click on the title
Death and the Dancing Snowman