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Wednesday, 23 May 2018

‘The Murder Tree’ by Alan Veale

Published by Matador,
1 October 2013.
ISBN: 978-1-78306-111-2

New Yorker Chrissie Fersen, who only a few months previously was pregnant and in love, has now travelled to Glasgow in Scotland with her brother Edward for a break, following a traumatic time. When Edward is called into work, Chrissie continues her sightseeing alone and wonders into a neighbourhood of elegant three storey houses. Staring at the buildings she experiences a feeling of familiarity. Then in a basement window she sees what can only be a woman being murdered. Running to escape the sight and sounds that surely must be in her head she finds herself in front of a library. She starts by researching murders in Sauchiehall Street going back 50 years.

In the library she meets Billie Vane who helps her by producing back copies of the Glasgow Herald.  Eventually Chrissie tracks the murder back to 1862, and the death of a servant girl.  But what has a murder more than a hundred years ago got to do with her?  How can she recognise a house in Glasgow when she has never visited Glasgow before? These two unlikely people seek the truth to the murder. But as they investigate to find the truth they put themselves in danger. Could the events of the past have tentacles linking to the current day?

This intriguing and absorbing this mystery contains a fey element that captivated this reader’s attention. Well-written with good characterisation this fascinating mystery will keep you turning the pages. Highly recommended.
Reviewer: Lizzie Hayes

Alan Veale was born in 1952 in Manchester. He spent most of his formative years (from age 20 to 60) as a thespian and/or working in the civil service. As a teenager he discovered the joy of creative writing and applied his energies in that direction mainly to theatre scripts. His first novel The Murder Tree was published in October 2013, and he has just released a more personal story about his parents’ experience of emigrating in 1949 (A Kangaroo in My Sideboard). Written in his mother’s words and based on original letters she wrote during her adventure, it is a heart-warming tale of ambition versus adversity in a pre-internet world.

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

‘Turn A Blind Eye’ by Vicky Newham

Published by HQ,
5 April 2018: 
ISBN: 978 – 0 – 00-824067 -7 (HB)

DI Maya Rahmen is a British/Bangladeshi policewoman who has lived in the East End of London since she was four. Maya is a kind and caring professional who has plenty of her own problems to cope with before she can even begin to think of solving the challenging series of brutal murders she is about to confront.

When we first meet Maya, she is on compassionate leave, having just returned from attending the funeral of her brother in Sylhet – he had committed suicide by setting fire to himself.  Her mother has dementia, and her father, who walked out on the family when she was a teenager, is an ever-present ghostly – or perhaps not so ghostly – presence. All these issues impinge on how Maya views the crimes and the people she deals with.

Maya and her new Australian sergeant, Dan Maguire, are called to Maya’s old school – more memories to contend with - where the trendy young headmistress, Linda Gibson, has been strangled.  Beside Linda’s body is a card with the second of five basic Buddhist precepts written on it.  Does this mean that there is a first victim waiting to be identified, and that the murderer has their eye on three more victims?  Of course, it does.

The investigation is influenced by the need to take account of the many social, cultural and racial tensions that are bubbling away under - or even on - the surface, within the school’s Mile End catchment area.  The Buddhist connection seems clear.  Finding it is another matter. Maya and her team are not helped by their boss, DCI Briscall. He dislikes women in general and Maya in particular. Egged on by a voracious journalist, Briscall is interested only in getting a result quickly, regardless of whether or not it’s the right one.

Turn a Blind Eye is a quick and easy read.  The background is truly authentic, though I would have to say troubling at times as it provides scant evidence of an integrated society in the East End. Maya and Dan are refreshingly original and likable characters and, as this is the first in a series of DI Rahmen stories, I will look forward to hearing more of them.
Reviewer Angela Crowther

Vicky Newham is the author of the DI Maya Rahman police procedural series which is set in East London. The first book, Turn A Blind Eye, was published on 5 April 2018, and has been optioned for television by Playground Entertainment. The second, Out of The Ashes, will be published on 4 April 2019. Vicky has drawn on her Psychology background and her experiences of living and working in East London to write the books in the series. She studied Psychology at university and taught GCSE/A-level Psychology for 10 years before moving to Whitstable, Kent where she now lives with her cockerpoo dog.

Twitter @VickyNewham

Angela Crowther is a retired scientist.  She has published many scientific papers but, as yet, no crime fiction.  In her spare time Angela belongs to a Handbell Ringing group, goes country dancing and enjoys listening to music, particularly the operas of Verdi and Wagner.

Mystery Fest Day Portsmouth Central Library

2 June 2018

Portsmouth Bookfest. Portsmouth Central Library
organised in partnership with Mystery People


10.00am Doors Open. A fun Quiz will be offered to the audience as they come in.

10.15am Introduction by Clare to Bookfest/ Mystery People/library/facilities/ safety precautions.

10.25am: Contemporary Crime Panel: Why Crime?
- the reasons behind the appeal of Crime Fiction to readers and writers.

Carol Westron (participating moderator), Leigh Russell, Peter Tickler, Jeff Dowson, Christine Hammacott, Judith Cranswick.


 11.30am: BREAK- Tea, coffee and scone, cream and jam will be served by Lily and Lime - your ticket includes this 

12.30pm: Forensic Investigations in the Real World: What would Sherlock do now? Talk by Dr Paul Smith and Inspector Colin White of Portsmouth University.


 1.20pm: Talks 1,2, 3, 4 (20 mins each):


 Agatha Christie - Stranger than Death: Gaynor Baker
A study of Christie's use of Spiritualism in her inter-war books and short stories


 Not much like The Gentle Touch!: Dot Marshall-Gent
A personal perspective of life as a 1980s Woman Police Constable.


 ·       Murder and Moving Car-Parks in Oxford: Peter Tickler
Oxford crime writer Peter Tickler confesses all (well, some of it) about the problems, joys and sneaky tricks involved in writing crime fiction set in an authentic Oxford. And why one particular TV series set there has a tendency to drive him wild.

  • Writing a Bestselling Series: Leigh Russell
    The challenges  and rewards of writing a series


 2.45pm: Tea and coffee: Included in ticket


 2.55pm: Audience questions for the 4 speakers


 3.20pm: Mystery History Panel: The Past is a Foreign Country: How do members of the panel create the period they are writing about without over-burdening the reader with details? Do they think that certain crimes occur at specific times in the past?

Carol Westron (participating moderator), Linda Stratmann, Barbara Nadel, Nicola Slade, William Shaw, Leigh Russell.


4.25pm: Results of the quiz

 4.30pm: Bookshop

5pm: Close

 Tickets available in Portsmouth libraries
or telephone Hayling Island Bookshop 023 9246 6620