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Friday 30 December 2011

‘Wicked Words’ by J G Goodhind

Published by Severn House,
October 2011.
ISBN: 978-1-84751-302-1

Honey Driver runs a hotel in Bath, and has acquired the role of hotel Crime Liaison Officer which has brought her fortuitously into contact with DI Steve Doherty.  Like many people she has crosses to bear the main one being Gloria Cross, her mother who always looks as if she has stepped out of Vogue, and has a knack of always getting her own way, a continual trial to her daughter.   On the upside Honey’s daughter Lindsey is well adjusted and a computer expert to boot, who can ably run the hotel in Honey’s absence.

C A Wright is a reviewer of hotels for a national newspaper and his goal in life is to trash every small hotel in which he stays. Or to reap financial or sexual rewards for not doing so.  A win win situation if you are a sleaze of the highest order, and old CW can certainly take that accolade. Found dead stuffed into a giant teddy bear is probably not his finest hour but no more than he deserved.  But for DI Steve Doherty, CW is a victim for whom he needs to bring a perpetrator to justice – unfortunately he is soon awash with suspects.

I love this series, so rich in characters. I want to meet with them all – OK particularly DI Steve Doherty! 

As Honey gets drawn into the search for CAWright’s  killer, she gains reluctantly custody of an incontinent dog belonging to a friend of her mother’s. When the dog is kidnapped Honey is both relieved and anxious – the latter only related to her mother’s wrath at the loss of her friends dog.

A good mystery with some great laughs this should be on your ‘not to be missed’ pile. Highly recommended.
Lizzie Hayes
J G Goodhind was born in Bristol where she worked in a variety of jobs where she fully admits to feeling like a square peg in a round hole. In the eighties she owned and ran a haunted hotel in Bath where she played host to many foreign nationals. That experience and those people she met form the basis of the Honey Driver Mysteries. Previous to writing cosy crime she wrote women’s fiction as Jeannie Johnson and also writes a column for West Country Life. Jean presently lives in Tintern in the beautiful Wye Valley. 

Wednesday 28 December 2011

‘V is For Vengeance’ by Sue Grafton

Published by Mantle,
5th January 2012. 
ISBN: 978-0-230-74587-2

PI Kinsey Millhone is shopping in the lingerie department in Santa Teresa, when she sees a woman shop-lifting.  Kinsey informs the saleslady, and she in turn calls security.  When the woman is apprehended and Kinsey later learns that she is being charged, Kinsey is pleased with a job well done, although she had been aware that the woman was not working alone and her accomplice has got away free and clear.

However, when Kinsey learns a few days later that the woman jumped off a bridge she is troubled by such an extreme action for a shoplifting offence.  When she is later contacted by the woman’s fiancĂ© she agrees to do some investigation.

Meanwhile her neighbour 88 year-old Henry, a retired baker is called away to Detroit following a fall by his 99 year-old sister Nell.  In edition to his elder sister Nell, Henry has three brothers Lewis, Charles and William, the latter just a year older than Henry who had relocated to Santa Teresa when he married Rosie who runs a tavern in the locality, serves bad wine and weird Hungarian food.  I admit to enjoying the exploits of Henry’s aged family, being not exactly in the first flush of youth it’s good to hear of octogenarians living full and happy lives.

The story is rich in well-fleshed out characters, a young man borrowing money from a loan shark, a rich woman who discovers her husband is being unfaithful, and Detective Len Priddy who knew Kinsey’s late husband and is no fan of Kinsey’s.  These people initially seem to be unconnected to each other, but as the story progresses these unlikely strands are woven together. 

I was a great fan of this series set in the 1980’s but had somehow missed the last few books, something I must remedy as I so enjoyed this entry in the series, which like all good mysteries has a surprising twist at the end.  Highly recommended.
Lizzie Hayes

Sue Taylor Grafton born April 24, 1940 is best known as the author of the 'alphabet’ series featuring private investigator Kinsey Millhone in the fictitional town of Santa Teresa, California. The daughter of novelist C W Grafton, she has said the strongest influence on her novels is the author Ross MacDonald. . Prior to success with this series, she wrote screenplays for television movies.  She lives in Montecito, California and Louisville Kentucky.  She freely admits that Kinsey Millhone is her alter ego.  In 2008 she was awarded the Cartier Diamond Dagger for sustained excellence in the genre of crime writing by the Crime Writers association.

Saturday 24 December 2011

‘A Means of Escape’ by Joanna Price

Published by Aston Bay, November 2011.
ISBN: 978-0-956830-0-8

The discovery of a body on the Glastonbury Tor on a cold November morning has DS Kate Linton investigating ritual and sacrificial killings, as found next to the body are twelve small holes surrounded by candle wax.

Attending the crime scene with her is DI Rob Brown who flaunts his female conquests which irritates Kate, who rather likes him but cannot fathom him.   Also at the scene Kate espies an ex-boyfriend journalist Simon Talbot, who she is at pains to avoid.

A few days later another young woman is reported missing just when Kate learns of two further bodies found at Avebury’s stone circle, where identical holes were also in evidence.  Then a reality TV star disappears. With three dead bodies, an abducted woman and a missing reality TV star, Kate has much to occupy her.

Cleverly plotted this is an intriguing mystery which kept me reading into the early hours. Kate is a most engaging protagonist, feisty and yet vulnerable, her interaction with her immediate boss Rob Brown adds much to the story. Whilst, the solution was satisfactorily tied up, there is a good hook at the end to make me want to keep an eye out for the next book.  Highly recommended.
Lizzie Hayes
Joanna Price is a copywriter based in Glastonbury.
A Means of Escape is her first book.

Friday 2 December 2011

‘The Woodcutter’ by Reginald Hill

Read by Jonathan Keeble
Published by Whole Story Audio Books.
ISBN: 978-1-40746-569-2
(15 CD’s – 16.75 Hours playing time)

Wolf Hadda, rich and successful married to his childhood sweetheart, has everything he wants, but an early morning knock on his front door and that life is over.  Arrested and jailed, Wolf, is confused at exactly what has happened. Although he protests his innocence his family and friends desert him. Lashing out at all around him, he eventually makes a dramatic escape from the police station. But running blindly he is hit by a car and is badly injured and left in a coma. After a long period he slowly emerges from his coma.  With no money and no friends, deserted by his wife who it appears is to marry his lawyer, he is sentenced to a prison term and branded as a pedophile, Wolf eventually lapses into silence and settles to serve out his jail sentence. 

Despite many silent session over a seven year period with prison psychiatrists when Alva Ozigbo the new prison psychiatrist begins treating Wolf, he begins to open up to her and she becomes convinced that he is rehabilitated and should be released from prison on parole back to his rundown family home in Cumbria.

It is only at this point that the real story of Wolf emerges as we learn of his early life as the son of a woodcutter, and his rise to become Sir Wolf Hadda.  As we now come to know this man we ask did this man actually commit the crimes of which he was accused of, or was he set-up? More pertinently will Wolf seek out the person or persons that had him convicted of these heinous crimes – will he seek revenge?

This is a fascinating story that really draws one in.  A masterly stand-alone with some delicious twists, and a stunning climax.

Read expertly by Jonathan Keeble this is not to be missed.
Lizzie Hayes

Reginald Hill  was born on 3 April 1936, West Hartlepool, County Durham.  Author of the Dalziel & Pascoe and the Joe Sixsmith series.
Winner in 1995 of the CWA Cartier Diamond Dagger for Lifetime Achievement.

Jonathan Keeble has featured in over 350 radio plays, and is also the voice of Garath Taylor in the BBC Radio 4’s The Archers.