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Thursday, 4 March 2021

‘The Ship of Death’ by Vera Morris

Published by Accent Press Ltd,
15 October 2020.
ISBN 978-178615993-9 (PB)

This is the fourth in Vera Morris’s Anglian Detective Agency series set in the 1970s in a small rural community on the Suffolk coast.

The agency is asked to look into an outbreak of vandalism on the nearby RSPB bird reserve at Minsmere but before they have a chance to look into the case, a local young labourer is found murdered. All the evidence points to Caleb Breen who co-owns a farm with his twin brother, Daniel. Though Caleb is avoided by the community at large because of his strange looks and disability, those who know him best, which includes the members of the agency, find it difficult to believe the antisocial young man capable of murder.

Life has been difficult for the Breen brothers. Their mother died recently and her estranged brother who the twins have never seen before turns up at the funeral. He has the same genetic deformity as Caleb – a widow’s peak, wide-spaced eyes and webbed fingers – and a bond forms between the two men.

After Caleb’s arrest, his uncle approaches the agency to help prove the boy’s innocence. Deciding whether to take on the case is a difficult decision for the agency members. The two ex-detectives on the team are reluctant to take on a case that might sour the good relationship the agency has with the local police force especially as they were once colleagues. However, another member was a great friend of the Been brothers’ mother and has taken it upon herself to look after the twins since her death, is adamant that they must take the case. Eventually, the team are persuaded to take it on.

What attracted me to this novel was its setting, and mention of Minsmere in particular, and I did enjoy reliving my memories of visits to the wonderful bird reserve in the late ’70s. This was the first novel in this series that I had read, and I was introduced to some larger-than-life characters working at the reserve. As the investigation unfolds, I learn more about the developing relationships between the five agency members. The novel can be read as a standalone, but my personal recommendation is that if you’re new to this Vera Morris series, you might get more by reading them in order.

What attracted me to this novel was its setting, and mention of Minsmere in particular, and I did enjoy reliving my memories of visits to the wonderful bird reserve in the late ’70s. This was the first novel in this series that I had read, and I was introduced to some larger-than-life characters working at the reserve. As the investigation unfolds, I learn more about the developing relationships between the five agency members. The novel can be read as a standalone, but my personal recommendation is that if you’re new to this Vera Morris series, you might get more by reading them in order.
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Reviewer: Judith Cranswick

Vera Morris blew soap bubbles in Woolworth's, cooked in hotels and electro-fished in Welsh rivers, before becoming a teacher.  Most of her teaching career was in a local mixed comprehensive in South Oxfordshire, where she became Headteacher. Her interests include writing, gardening, cooking, reading, the theatre, museums and art galleries, and travelling in her campervan.

 http://www.veramorris.co.uk/

 

Judith Cranswick  was born and brought up in Norwich. Apart from writing, Judith’s great passions are travel and history. Both have influenced her two series of mystery novels. Tour Manager, Fiona Mason takes coach parties throughout Europe, and historian Aunt Jessica is the guest lecturer accompanying tour groups visiting more exotic destinations aided by her nephew Harry. Her published novels also include several award-winning standalone psychological thrillers. She wrote her first novel (now languishing in the back of a drawer somewhere) when her two children were toddlers, but there was little time for writing when she returned to her teaching career. Now retired, she is able to indulge her love of writing and has begun a life of crime! ‘Writers are told to write what they know about, but I can assure you, I've never committed a murder. I'm an ex-convent school headmistress for goodness sake!’

http://judithcranswick.co.uk/  

The Woman in The Wood by M.K. Hill

Published by Head of Zeus,
4 March 2021.
ISBN: 978-1-78854830-4 (HB)

Three years ago Danny Cruikshank, known as Abs, was a celebrity appearing on a reality show set in Essex and had everything going for him. However, one drunken night while spending a few days with three friends in Wales everything changed. Nothing would ever be the same again.

Every now and again he has flash backs, bringing on panic attacks. The trouble is he can't remember exactly what happened, only that the four of them buried a young woman, but how she died is a mental block. They have all kept the whole thing a secret since and she was never discovered.

Did Abs kill her or was it one of his mates? Was it someone else altogether or was it even an accident?  After them all being questioned when the young woman was declared missing, they were released without charge. However, Abs was dropped from the show and suddenly he found any T.V work impossible to get. He was presently running out of money.

Now after the three years, Deano one of the four involved is murdered. Can someone be out for revenge? Are the other three also in danger?

Detective Inspector Sasha Dawson and her Sergeant Ajay de Faz are given the task of solving Deano's murder. On learning of the events of three years ago they realise time is of the essence. It's important they find the killer in case the other three friends are in danger.

The young woman who went missing in Wales, Rhiannon, was staying with her aunt and uncle when she disappeared. The uncle, Davey Jenkins has sworn he will get to the truth and comes under suspicion for the killing of Deano, but can Sasha and de Faz prove that he is guilty? Can they prevent another murder?

The police are also trying to solve the disappearance recently of a number of local girls and pressure is put on Inspector Dawson and her team to get results.

A really great heart thumping thriller, full of surprises and excitement. The author shows a great insight into human behaviour.

This is the second book I have read about Sasha and her team and look forward with anticipation to the next. I cannot recommend The Woman in The Wood enough, it's outstanding.
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Reviewer: Tricia Chappell

M K Hill is a pseudonym used by Mark Hill who has been a journalist and an award-winning music radio producer. He worked for about five minutes in PR. He now writes the Drake and Crowley thriller series. Mark says he loves writing. It's his dream job.  The Bad Place is the first book in the Sasha Dawson series written under the name M K Hill.  The Woman in the Wood, is the second book in the.

 markhillauthor.com
Facebook.com/MarkHillAuthor
Twitter @markhillwriter
Instagram: @markhillwriter

Tricia ChappellI 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.