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Sunday 31 July 2011

‘The Lost Daughter’ by Lucretia Grindle

Published by Mantle, 26 August 2011. ISBN: 978-0-230-74623-7

Seventeen year-old Kristen Carson is an American student studying in Florence. When she is reported missing by her father, who has flown over from the USA to celebrate her birthday, the Italian police are not overly concerned.  ‘She will turn up in a few days having been holed up in some hotel with a new boyfriend having an exciting time’, says Alessandro Pallioti, one of Florence’s most senior police officials. But Kenneth Carson is a doctor to the wealthy and famous, and knows people in high places, so reluctantly Pallioti puts his deputy Enzo Saenz onto the case.

After interviewing Kristen’s flat mate alarm bells ring for Enzo, when it appears that Kristen has been dating Antonio Tomaselli, who apart from being some thirty-years older than Kristen is a member of the Red Brigades who were responsible for the kidnap and death of Aldo Moro in 1978, and the death of many others.  Whilst they are still casting around trying to get a handle on situation, Anna Carson, Kristen’s stepmother also goes missing.

The main narrators of the story are Enzo Saenz as he struggles to make sense of the two disappearances, and the background to the story which is told by a series of flashbacks from Anna Carson’s past. 

So enthralling and descriptive is the writing that I became so immersed in the story that there were occasions when I looked up from the book and was surprised to find I was in the UK, and not in Florence.  

This is a thrilling and heartbreaking story of a doomed love affair, which survived for decades. The stunning climax brings with it repercussions for all parties.  I urge you all not to miss this exciting and fascinating tale. I see that there are three earlier books by this author, which I now have to read.
Lizzie Hayes

Lucretia Grindle was born in Boston Massachusetts and grew up spending half her time in the United States and half her time in the UK. Author of The Night Spinners, The Faces of Angels, and the highly acclaimed The Villa Trist, The Lost Daughter is her fourth book.

Thursday 28 July 2011

‘The Deadly Touch of the Tigress’ by Ian Hamilton

Published by Sphere, 6 October 2011. ISBN: 978-1-84744-503-2

Wow! I have been reviewing for fifteen years and I have never started a review with, Wow! This is one of the best books I have read in a long time.

Ava Lee is a forensic accountant - she tracks money owed to people who have advanced money in good faith, but then found that the recipients have reneged on their commitments.

Asked by her elderly Hong Kong based ‘Uncle’ to locate money that should have been paid to Andrew Tan, Ava sets out to track the money and return it to its rightful owner.  But, although she quickly successfully tracks the money, retrieving it is a different matter. Her quest takes her to Guyana, and it’s not a place I would ever want to visit, and if you read this book you won’t want to visit it either. But with some fancy footwork Ava sets up deal, but she is dealing with rogues and very influential rogues at that. Can Ava pull it off?

I was fascinated about the form of martial arts she practised bal mei, not that I was familiar with this form of martial art but interested because it is said to be Taoist, which is close to my heart. It is I think, having done a little Internet research a coincidence that the author Ian Hamilton should have a protagonist who practises a Taoist martial art, that instantly brings to mind J D Salinger’s ‘Raise High the Roof Beam Carpenters’ which features on it’s first page a Taoist tale, and that Ian Hamilton wrote a book entitled ‘In Search of J D Salinger’ this is I assume one of those bizarre coincidences.

For whatever reason you pick up this book, don’t put it down unless it is safely in your tote bag and you are taking it home. It is a not to be missed read. I just can’t wait for the next one.
Lizzie Hayes

It was a life-threatening health scare that prompted Ian Hamilton to write his first in the series of captivating Ava Lee novels. Just two days out of hospital and recovering from surgery, Ian sat down at his computer. The name ‘Ava Lee’ came to him and the first chapter was quickly written. A few short weeks later, the first Ava Lee novel was completed. Ian is not a stranger to the literary world. He began his career as a journalist and wrote a non-fiction book in 1968, The Children’s Crusade, which was a Canadian Book-of-the-Month selection. He has written for several magazines and newspapers in Canada and the U.S., including Maclean’s, Boston Magazine, Saturday Night, the Regina Leader-Post, the Calgary Albertan, and the Calgary Herald. He has been a senior executive with the federal government, and as worked internationally as a diplomat and businessman. Although there are 40 years between books, Ian never lost his passion for writing. The years he spent travelling the world on business, spending countless hours on planes and hotels, became important influences on his writing, providing personal insights into the world of business and into the many people, places and cultures Ava Lee encounters. His inspiration for the Ava Lee series did not end when the first book was complete. About half way through writing the first book, an idea for the second book came to Ian and he built it into the plot of the first. He began writing the second book the day after the first book was finished. The same is true for the third and fourth books. Within eight months, all four books were complete. Ian secured a four-book deal from his publisher before the last two books were even read by the publisher. International rights have been sold into the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Holland, Germany and worldwide Spanish and French rights. Ian is currently working on the continuation of the Ava Lee series and has already completed books 5 and 6.
Ian lives in Burlington, Ontario with his wife Lorraine. He has four children and seven grandchildren.

Wednesday 27 July 2011

‘Love You More’ by Lisa Gardner

Published by Orion,
21 July 2011.
ISBN: 978-1-4091-0106-2

D. D Warren and her former lover Bobby Dodge are called to the home of state police trooper Tessa Leoni, whose husband lies dead on the floor.  Tessa is arrested after she confesses that she shot her husband.  But where is Tessa’s six-year-old daughter?

As D. D and Bobby try to make sense of the changing story told by Tessa, we learn about Tessa and her life through a series of flashbacks. Despite the many conflicting statements made by Tessa one thing emerges, and that is that Tessa loves her daughter more than anything or any one - but where is she? Did Tessa kill her to protect her and if so from what, and if she did, why now kill her husband?  D. D and Bobby debate these questions as they set in motion a nationwide search for the little girl, although D.D is convinced they are looking for a body, particularly once she delves back into Tessa past and finds damning information about Tessa.

This tale is fast paced from the opening line ‘who do you love?’ and has more twists than a corkscrew, it is a riveting read. No one is what they seem, and the story reaches a terrific climax.  Highly recommended.
Reviewer: Lizzie Hayes

 Lisa Gardner sold her first novel when she was 20 years-old and still at college. In 1993 she graduated from the university of Pennsyvannia with a degree in International Relations. She is now the author of twenty-six best selling novels. She lives in New England with her husband and daughter.

Monday 25 July 2011

‘Séance in Sepia’ by Michelle Black

Published by Five Star Publishing, October 2011.
ISBN: 978-1-4328-2548-5

Flynn Keirnan has taken time off from her teaching job to help her father get his second-hand bookshop off the ground.  Sorting through a dusty collection of books belonging to a deceased lady, now being sold off by the landlady to cover unpaid rent, Flynn finds tucked in one of the books what is clearly a Victorian photograph.  Although the photograph is that of dark haired young women, the transparent faces of two men float above on either side of her. Flynn is fascinated by the photograph which on investigation she discovers to be a ‘spirit’ photograph, which was a claim made by some Victorian spiritualists that they could photograph the dead during a séance.  Flynn becomes even more fascinated when she puts it up on the auction house EBay and the bidding rises to $2000.

Intrigued by the photograph Flynn conducts some further investigation and discovers that the people in the photograph were the subjects in a murder trial in Chicago in 1875, when an architect was accused of killing his wife and his best friend - the murder case being dubbed ‘The Free Love Murders.

The story of the 1875 trial is unfolded from trial transcripts and a journal, interspersed with Flynn’s current day investigation of the story behind the photograph, which brings her into contact with several people who have a connection to this piece of  history, and also people researching the life of Victoria Woodhull, an American suffragist who was a campaigner for women’s rights in the 19th century.

This is a many faceted work, weaving a real-life character and her beliefs into a credible story of murder, which also has its’ own message for the inhabitants of both centuries.  I was captivated by the story, the well-drawn characters, and the insight into The Oneida Community, which was an education in itself. This book is highly recommended.
Lizzie Hayes

Michelle Black was born in Kansas and studied anthropology in college, then went on to law school where she graduated with honors. In 1993, she moved to Colorado and began to focus on her fiction writing. For three years, she owned a bookstore in Frisco, Colorado, a small town nestled high in the Colorado Rockies. Michelle has written six books, they are describes as books of an electrifying mix of history, mystery and adventure. The titles are:  The Second Glass of Absinthe, Solomon Spring, The Book of Light, An Uncommon Enemy, Lightening in a Drought Year and coming this Autumn, Séance in Sepia which features real-life feminist firebrand, Victoria Woodhull as its protagonist.

Michelle loves hearing from readers and hopes they will not be shy about contacting her at

Friday 22 July 2011

‘The Jackal Man’ by Kate Ellis

Published by Piatkus, August 2011. ISBN: 978-0-7499-5593-9

A teenage girl walking home along a country lane is attacked, and but for the timely arrival of a van would have been strangled to death.  Although she survives she cannot identify her attacker, ‘he wore a dog’s head’ is all she can say.  But within a short time another girl is attacked and this time killed.

Investigating is DI Wesley Peterson along with his rather loveable boss DCI Gerry Heffernan who with his new lady love Joyce away, had reverted to type - gravy and baked bean stains abound.

Meanwhile Wesley’s university friend Neil Watson has been summons to the huge edifice Varley Castle to look at the collection of artefacts belonging to the late amateur Egyptologist Sir Frederick Varley.  Sir Frederick’s heir Caroline Varley has asked Neil to have a look at the artefacts with a view to valuation.  Already in situ is Robert Delaware who is writing a biography of Sir Frederick Varley. Neil doesn’t take to Robert, but I suspected he has a yen for Caroline and Robert had got there first.  Not being an expert on Egyptologist Neil calls in an expert in the Dr Andrew Beredace from the British Museum.

This is a multilayered tale. Interspersed with the current investigation is the narrative of an unidentified person who relates the story of the life surrounding Egyptologist Sir Frederick Varley, in the early nineteen hundreds.  As Wesley investigates the current murders we are privy albeit, clandestinely, to series of murders in 1903.

As the current spate of murders continue, at one point Wesley seems awash with suspects, but following his nose he delves back into the past with surprising results.

This is my kind of mystery, the twists and turns had me jotting as in solving a cryptic crossword, to say I loved it is an understatement – for all you puzzle solvers out there this is for you. Kate Ellis just gets better and better, the slow unfolding of the past as the current investigation proceeds is masterly.  And also the characterisation as we follow the lives of DS Rachel Tracey and DC Trish Walton, and a visit from the past of Wesley’s old boss Ian Petrie, but more frighteningly is that this investigation touches Wesley very close to home. So very highly recommended, and I don’t even like adverbs.
Reviewer: Lizzie Hayes

Kate Ellis was born and brought up in Liverpool. She studied drama at Manchester, and subsequently worked in teaching, marketing and accountancy. She is interested in medieval history and armchair archaeology. Kate lives in North Cheshire with her engineer husband and two sons.
Her books featuring Wesley Peterson are : The Merchant's House, The Armada Boy, An Unhallowed Grave, The Funeral Boat, The Bone Garden, A Painted Doom, The Skeleton Room, The Plague Maiden. A Cursed Inheritance, The Marriage Hearse, The Devil’s Priest, The Shining Skull, The Blood Pit, , A Perfect Death, The Flesh Taylor, The Jackal Man. She has a second series featuring Joe Plantagenet, the books in this series are: Seeking the Dead, Playing With Bones, and Kissing the Demons.

Sunday 10 July 2011

‘Death on the Rive Nord’ by Adrian Magson

Published by Allison & Busby, August 2011. ISBN: 978-0-7490-0839-0
The discovery of a dead Algerian in a canal sets Inspector Lucas Rocco on the tail of an organised group of people traffickers. Rocco is a city cop who has been moved from Paris to the French countryside - Picardie, not quite what he is used to, either for him or his new colleagues, although, he has established a friendship with Claude Lamotte, the local garde champetre, who has helped his acceptance with the villagers.  Unfortunately he has served with his new boss Commissaire Francois Massin in a different capacity. Rocco knows things about Massin that he, Massin would not like made public, so they exist in an uneasy unspoken thinly veiled hostility.  In 1963 Algerian immigrants are welcome in France, but not illegals. However, as Massin points out the whole Algerian thing is a sensitive issue and not one in which he  wants to get caught up.

Whilst investigating the death in the canal Rocco meets the beautiful Nicole, which brings him to the attention of the chilling Algerian gangster Samir Ferek, and his enforcer the huge killer Bouhassa, who seem to be moving up from the south leaving a trail of death in their wake. As more killings occur Rocco realises that Ferek is moving ever closer, killing anyone who stands in the way of his plans to extend his empire.  Rocco is in his way, can he survive Ferek.

So trying to track down people traffickers and keeping out of the path of Ferek, not to mention his boss Massin, Rocco has his work cut out.  

A stunningly atmospheric follow up to Death in the Marais, which introduced Inspector Lucas Rocco, the story moves at a cracking pace, with the tension mounting with every page, I couldn’t read fast enough.  A definite entry for your ‘not to be missed’ list.
Lizzie Hayes

Adrian Magson has three series. In his first series featuring Riley Gavin & Frank Palmer, there are four books.
Although born in the UK, Adrian lived and was educated for a time in France. So it is fitting that he sets one of his series in France featuring Inspector Lucas Rocco. The first book is entitled Death on the Marais which was published by Allison & Busby 30 September 2010, and this second book Death on the Rive Nord will be available August 2011. His series featuring Harry Tate published by Severn House is set in the world of espionage. The first book Red Station was published 9th September 2010, followed by Tracers which was published in February 2011. The third in this series Deception will be published later this year.

Wednesday 6 July 2011

LC Tyler Book Launch at Goldsboro Books 5th July

We had a fine turnout of people at Goldsboro Bookshop in Cecil Court in London last evening 5th July, to celebrate the launch of Len Tyler’s latest book Herring on the Nile.  The fourth book in the series featuring writer Ethelred Tressider and his agent Elsie Thirkettle. In this book writer Ethelred sets sail up the Nile on the luxury paddle steamer Khedive on a research trip for his new book to be set in Egypt

Len attended the proceedings sporting a smart fez and matching bow tie.  Elsie was not in evidence but had she been present, might I think,  have made a few choice comments on the fez!

Enjoying the festivities from left to right are, Len’s wife Ann, and Hank and Doris Waxman flanking Lizzi Hull, who actually appears in the book, as who?  And doing what you ask?  Read the book.  Doris and Hank accompanied Ann and Len when they took a trip up the Nile – research of course.

Among the many present,  were Mystery Women Laura Wilson, seen below with Len, Kirsty Long and author Mike Ripley, enjoying a glass of wine as were we all.

Len was in fine voice, after a short introduction from his editor at Macmillan’s Will Atkins, he talked about this business of writing, spending a year with this little group of characters.  Only you know anything about them – their strengths and weaknesses, their rivalries, their in-jokes.  You are their only friend.  Then suddenly the book is published and they hopefully acquire a whole load of new friends.  But you still worry about them.  It’s a bit like watching your children in the school nativity play – you know that the third shepherd singing twinkle twinkle little star is second only to Pavarotti – but will the other parents be as perceptive?  So, in the case of the book, you keep your fingers crossed, you gather together a few of your mates for a launch, get drunk and hope all will be well – an option not necessarily open to you at the school nativity play. He thanked everyone for coming, with special thanks to his family who were out in force this evening, and in particular to his publicist Philippa McEwan, his editor Will Atkins and copy editor May Chamberlain. Thanks also to David Headley of Goldsboro books for hosting the occasion. 

SIGNED first editions of
Herring on the Nile are available from Goldsboro Books
23-25 Cecil Court London WC2N 4EZ
Tel:+44 (0) 207 497 9230  Fax: +44 (0) 207 497 9230|

Monday 4 July 2011

‘Herring on the Nile’ by L C Tyler

Published by MacMillan,
5 July 2011.
ISBN: 978-0-230-71469-4

Embarking on a research trip for his new book to be set in Egypt, writer Ethelred Tressider sets sail up the Nile on the luxury paddle steamer Khedive. His intended companion for the trip was the attractive widow of the late Lord Muntham, but things rarely go according to plan, and so accompanying him is his agent Elsie Thirkettle.

Joining the ship the first passenger Ethelred sets eyes on is inept Private Eye Herbie Proctor, who imparts that he is there to protect his client, but doesn’t say who his client is.  Conversation with a Mr Pirbright takes an odd turn when it appears he thinks that Ethelred is the Ex-MI5 spy turned author Paul Fielder.  The two Egyptians tell Elsie they are undercover detectives chasing two criminals, but they won’t say who they are, but to keep it to herself.  After overhearing a couple of disjointed conversations, Ethelred and Elsie think all the other passengers also seem a pretty shady bunch. 

When the boat’s engines fail, and a body is discovered, there is of course no end of suspects.   And Ethelred is in the thick of it. 

A wonderful tribute to Agatha Christie, and at the risk of being hunted and tortured by Agatha Christie fans far more fun than ‘Death on the Nile’.

If you haven’t read any L C Tyler books before you are in for treat. The whole book is a joy – an intriguing mystery with some great characters. And the last paragraph is an utter delight.
Reviewer: Lizzie Hayes

L. C. Tyler was born in Southend, Essex, and educated at Southend High School for Boys, Jesus College Oxford and City University London. After university he joined the Civil Service and worked at the Department of the Environment in London and Hong Kong. He then moved to the British Council, where his postings included Malaysia, Thailand, Sudan and Denmark. Since returning to the UK he has lived in Sussex and London. He was Chief Executive of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health for eleven years. He is now a full-time writer. His first novel, The Herring Seller's Apprentice, was published by Macmillan in 2007, followed by A Very Persistent Illusion, Ten Little Herrings, The Herring in the Library, Herring on the Nile, Crooked Herring, Cat among the Herrings and Herring in the Smoke. The Maltese Herring.  The first book in a new historical series, A Cruel Necessity, was published by Constable and Robinson in November 2014. Since then, he has published six further books in this series. The latest being Death of a Ship Builder.