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Friday 30 March 2012

‘Never Coming Home’ by Evonne Wareham

Published by Choc Lit Ltd, 
March 2012. 
ISBN: 978-1-906931-70-4

Having sorted the job in Atlanta, security consultant, Devlin is returning to Chicago, but with his hatred of flying he decides to drive part of the way.  In the wrong place at the wrong time - it depends on your point of view, but coming upon an accident, he is in time to hold the hand of a dying girl.

Six months later, his job takes him to London, the home of the young girl who died in the accident, who he has since learned was in America on a visit to her father.  Although he had left his details at the time of the accident Devlin had been surprised that no family member had contacted him to ask about the young girl’s dying moments.  Now visiting London he decides to at least call and leave his card.

His visit to Kaz Elmore, the young girl’s mother brings unexpected revelations. Could Jamie still be alive?  His quest to find the truth uncovers deception, murder and obsession.

Although this book is classed as romantic suspense, I found it a most intriguing mystery.  It moves at a cracking pace with constant surprises. The story twists and turns.  But it is also a love story as two people with initially no current interest in embarking on a relationship find in each other an overwhelming attraction. Kaz vulnerable and still grieving for her dead daughter, and Devlin a man with a dangerous past.  If you like a good mystery that keeps you on the edge of your chair, with a strong love element, this has both in spades.  Highly recommended.
Lizzie Hayes

Evonne Wareham  was born in South Wales and spent her childhood there. After university she migrated to London, where she worked in local government, scribbled novels in her spare time and went to the theatre a lot. Now she’s back in Wales, writing and studying history and living by the sea.

Tuesday 27 March 2012

‘Murder in the Afternoon’ by Frances Brody

Published by Piatkus,
1st March 2012:
ISBN: 978-0-7499-5487-1

Kate Shackleton is called to help locate a missing stone mason.  His wife Mary Jane Armstrong is adamant that Kate can help her, and in the face of such belief Kate agrees to accompany the woman back to her home in Great Applewick.

The story Kate pieces together is, that Mary Jane’s children Harriet and Austin had gone to the quarry where their father worked to bring him lunch, and that the daughter Harriet had found him dead. Walking to the next farm for help, when she returned with the farmer, there was no one to be found, neither her father, nor a body.

As Kate investigates she encounters hostility from the quarry foreman, and discovers that Ethan Armstrong had active strong political views.  The more she investigates the more it becomes apparent that there could be more than one reason for the absence of Ethan Armstrong, or his body.

But for Kate this is more than the mystery of a missing man, for she becomes embroiled in a family situation – her family, or rather the family that she was unaware existed, but nevertheless her family, raises for her many questions.

A good mystery that had me perplexed, but also a moving episode in the life of Kate Shackleton who still believes that even though the war has been over a couple of years that she may still find her husband, posted missing presumed dead, but maybe just with a missing memory – it happens why not to Kate. Highly recommended.
Reviewer: Lizzie Hayes
Frances Brody is a pseudonym of Frances McNeil who lives in Leeds where she was born and grew up. She worked in the USA as a secretary in Washington DC and New York. Frances studied at Ruskin College, Oxford and read English Literature and History at York University.
Starting her writing life in radio, she has written scripts for television and theatre. Frances turned to crime for her first novel, Dying in the Wool, set on the outskirts of Bradford, Yorkshire in the 1920s, was followed in 2010 with A Medal for Murder.

Friday 23 March 2012

‘Thorn in my Side’ by Sheila Quigley

Published by Burgess Books, 2011.   
Paperback. ISBN: 978-0-95665461-8

From the prologue we are aware of intense evil.

But the story opens with DI Mike York who has been in London on an undercover operation for three months, and is now going home to the Northumbria.  His only regret in leaving London is the young lad that he has been befriending since he found him in the street almost dead. He discovers that the young lad had been abused from an early age and because of his injuries has earned the name Smiler

While the main voice in the story is that of Mike York, quite early on in the book we hear from a young unnamed woman who is escaping with knowledge that she needs to impart, but knows of no one she can trust.

The killing by flogging is a horrific way to die, and the body of a young girl whipped to death is unbelievable. The description by the pathologist of the make-up of the whip that has inflected these injuries is horrendous.

Set on Holy island, the disappearance of children and the circulation of a new street drug leads Mile York into grave danger.  For these are powerful people who are determined to keep a secret that has been kept hidden for centuries and is worldwide.

Sheila Quigley weaves an incredible tale that spans the centuries but could be so easily part of the world in which we live, although a chilling thought.  On the credit side we have Mike and his elderly Aunt May.

This is the first book in a new series and whilst we may resolve one battle, the war is far from won.  This is also the first book that I have read by Sheila Quigley and this is a situation I will be addressing – what a book, what a writer!
Lizzie Hayes

Sheila Quigley started work at 15 as a presser in Hepworths, a tailoring factory. She married at 18 and had three daughters: Dawn, Janine and Diane and a younger son, Michael. Recently divorced, she now has eight grandchildren, five boys and three girls, and every Saturday and Sunday can be found at a football match for the under tens and under fifteens. Sheila has lived on the Homelands Estate (at present with her son and two dogs) at Houghton-le-Spring near Sunderland for 30 years.
For more information on Sheila visit her website

Wednesday 21 March 2012

Mystery People Launch 13 March 2012

The official Mystery People launch took place on Tuesday 13th March at Goldsboro Books in Cecil Court London. My thanks to all of you who attended and made it such a great evening. With particular thanks to David Headley for hosting the event.
 On the left me thinking 'hope someone turns up!
Half an hour later - lots of activity.  Looking  gorgeous in a grey outfit and matching hat is Linda Regan.  With her back to us showing her golden curls is Mary Andrea Clarke chatting with Ann Magson on her left and Len Tyler, on her right. 
David Headley with Jessica Mann
Susan Moody with Jane Conway Gordon

Mary Clarke and Ann Magson
Adrian Magson and Brian Murphy

Below left Joanna Hines chatting with a more relaxed me, as I had said a few words and could now enjoy a glass of wine.                       
Joanna Hines with Lizzie Hayes

As you can see Toby (see above centre) was enjoying the conversation and picking up tips for his first novel
Jane Gregory
Michael Ridpath
Rebecca Tope with Joan Lock, Joanna Hines and Barbara Nadel.


Monday 19 March 2012

‘Dead Image’ by Joan Lock

Published by The Mystery Press, 2011.
ISBN: 978-0-7524-6455-8

Set in 1874, the explosion aboard the canal boat Tilbury on an October evening in the fashionable St John's Wood area, is the backdrop to this intriguing mystery. For following the recovery of the bodies of boatmen William Taylor and the lad, and eventually the mangled body of skipper Charles Baxton, the rescuers find a fourth body, that of a slight woman with fair hair not facially recognizable. For Sergeant Ernest Best identification is further complicated when he discovers that only the Captain’s are known to the manager of the Grand Junction Canal traffic. As is explained to him, all the Captains take on their own crew. So could the Captain have had his wife on board, he asks?

As the investigation progresses and several likely possibilities are eliminated, Best is faced with a widening number of avenues to investigate, the barmaid, Liza Moody missing from The Three Tuns Public House since September 30th.  But as the clothing seems of good quality, possibly a lady from one of the house's in St John's Wood that border the canal, or a Lady's maid who has received the good linen from her mistress.  Or, maybe another victim of the Thames murderer?

Joan Lock paints an interesting portrait of life in 1874, and the problems for a young Sergeant faced with interviewing the rich and privileged in order to uncover a murderer, and obtain justice for those less fortunate.

In the course of his investigations Ernest Best meets Helen Franks, whose sister Matilda is missing. When Best discovers that Helen has taken art lessons from Lawrence Alma-Tadema, whose house was damaged in the explosion, the case becomes even more complicated, as does his relationship with Helen Franks.

A fascinating insight into life in 1874 coupled with marvelous characterization, and an intriguing, and most satisfying mystery.

This is the first book in which we meet Detective Sergeant Ernest Best.  There are a further six books in this highly acclaimed series - all excellent mysteries.
Lizzie Hayes

Joan Lock is a former nurse and policewoman, Joan Lock is the author of eleven non-fiction police/crime books, including two on Scotland Yard’s first detectives and the history of the British women police – a subject on which she is an authority. Joan has also written radio plays and documentaries.  Her crime fiction includes short stories and eight novels, one modern and seven Victorian, featuring the charismatic Detective Inspector Ernest Best.

Thursday 15 March 2012

‘Blackmail for Beginners’ by Eileen Robertson

Published by Robert Hale.
ISBN: 978-0-7090-9381-7

Laura Windle is a retired teacher, now taking an active part in village life. A supporter of good causes she fund-raises for the children’s hospital.  When she is advised that the expected funds fall short of the amount required to fund a young boy’s life-saving treatment, she decides that she must take action.

A little investigation establishes that the money pledged by three of the town’s better-off citizens has not been honoured.  So Laura decides that she must persuade the recalcitrant three that they should honour their promises.  Having spent her working life keeping an eagle eye on the children in her care, nothing gets past Laura who now has an abundance of information at her disposal to coerce her reluctant contributors.

We follow the lives of the three unwilling contributors, as a visit from Laura Windle drops like a bomb on their already complicated lives.  Each of them has problems and now additionally they have Laura Windle.

This is a wonderful story of village life and questionable ethics, as in the interests of saving a young life Laura Windle turns to blackmail. Whilst wriggling on the hook, the three victims attempt to evade Laura’s justice, but her main problem comes from an unexpected source which brings startling consequences.

A delightful tale. I look forward eagerly to the next.
Lizzie Hayes

Eileen Robertson worked for many years as a lecturer in German and creative writing at Highbury College, Cosham, and later at Portsmouth University. However, her career had to change from that of a lecturer to that of a carer when her husband William suffered a stroke. She lives in Gosport. Her debut novel Miss McGuire is Missing was also published by Robert Hale. She is currently working on her third stand-alone crime novel, which will be out in the spring of 2013.

Thursday 8 March 2012

‘Street Girls’ by Linda Regan

Published by Crème de la Crime,
February 2012.
ISBN: 978-1-78029-8

The story opens with banter between two prostitutes Bethany and young Carly as they work their pitch in the freezing cold.  They are both looking for a punter with a warm car, and to earn enough money for a fix and to keep their pimp Yo Yo Reilly happy.  But the evening is not destined to end on a happy note.

A stabbing on the troubled South London Aviary council estate brings unrest.  DI Georgia Johnston and her Sergeant Stephanie Green are assigned to investigate, but Georgia is dismayed to find that her boss had called in gang expert DI Dawes to be part of the team. DI Dawes has is own agenda, which is dedicated to bringing down the head of the Brotherhood of Blades Yo Yo Reilly, a most unsavory character.

Soon the unrest on the estate has escalated and the rumour is of a takeover of the estate by a rival gang. Although a complete book in itself we meet again thirteen-year-old Aylsha who featured in Brotherhood of Blades.  Currently Yo Yo Relly’s woman, Aylsha still holds a touch for Michael Delahaye, a former lieutenant in the Brotherhood.

As the investigation progresses it is clear that DI Dawes wants to arrest Yo Yo Reilly whether he is guilty or not.  As Georgia struggles to keep the investigation on track she also has the additional problem of Stephanie’s teenage daughter Lucy who is working at the station in the murder department to gain work experience, and is eager to prove herself.  So much so that she offers to go undercover, against Georgia’s opposition.  

Rich in characters, Linda Regan has created an explosive situation as loyalties become stretched, in both the police force and the underworld. Coupled with youth and a desire to prove oneself the story moves along at a cracking pace.   The estate is a powder keg as the different fractions, misunderstandings, jealousy and resentments come to the surface. In a volatile stand-off - who will win and who will lose? 

Linda Regan is a master of her craft and I eagerly await the next book.  Not to be missed.
Lizzie Hayes

Linda Regan is a successful actress. Her career has varied from The Royal Shakespeare company to a regular character in the  BBC's comedy HiDeHi series. Also guest appearances in The Bill, Holby City, Doctors, Crime Watch, a Lynda La Plante series- Framed. Her first three books all have theatrical threads. Behind You! is set backstage in a pantomime. Passion Killers- is a dark thriller. In Dead Like Her someone is killing off Marilyn Monroe lookalikes. But in Brotherhood of Blades took Linda’s writing into a new dimension, and this new book Street Girls can only be termed a thriller.

Monday 5 March 2012

‘A Pound of Flesh’ by Alex Gray

Published by Sphere,
1st March 2012.
ISBN: 978-1-84744-393-9

Detective Chief Inspector William Lorimer’s is investigating the killing of prostitutes, in the Glasgow area.  But someone else is also investigating these killing but by a different method, that of being picked up as a prostitute and then killing the client. 

The murder of a prominent politician puts the police under intense pressure, as the media demand answers.  As the police  investigate, the number of suspects increases, it seems our rising politician had a busy life.

Dr Rosie Ferguson, the forensic pathologist has now given birth to their first child, and budget restrictions have been relaxed sufficiently for Bill Lorimer to call on Rosie Ferguson’s husband criminal psychologist Solomon Brightman to help profile not one but possibly two serial killers, one killing prostitutes and one killing their clients. To further complicate the investigation someone is passing information to the media. 

This is a complex story, of someone set on revenge, killing men who use young women for sex, in the hope of finding a killer.  That they may not be killing a killer - just a guy looking to pay for a few moments of pleasure from a willing participant is in itself a tragedy. Both a thought provoking story that raises many questions, and an interesting mystery, as Bill Lorimer seeks to find two killers.

Well plotted with a stunning climax, this book is highly recommended.
Lizzie Hayes

Alex Gray,  is a Scottish crime writer, born and educated in Glasgow. She has published six novels, all set around Glasgow and featuring the character of Detective Chief Inspector Lorimer and his psychological profiler Solomon Brightman. The earlier novels being published by Canongate, and later books by Little Brown. She has also written several magazine articles.