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Monday 30 September 2013

Detectives of the Golden Age - Patricia Wentworth (1877-1961)

Detectives of the Golden Age

Patricia Wentworth (1877-1961)
By Carol Westron

Patricia Wentworth was the pen name of Dora Amy Elles Dillon Turnbull.  She was the daughter of a Lieutenant-General and was born in India, where she spent much of her early life, although for a few years she was educated at a school for girls in London.  On her return to India she published her first work and married Lieutenant Colonel George Dillon and remained in India until 1906 when her husband died.  She returned to England as a widow and started to write under the pen name Patricia Wentworth.  Her first novel, A Marriage Under the Terror was published in 1910 and was a historical romance set in the French Revolution.  It was very successful and gained Patricia Wentworth the Melrose Prize for a best first novel.  Also in 1910 she married again and settled in Camberley, Surrey.

For several years Patricia Wentworth wrote romantic fiction but it seems probable she realised that the public was eager for crime fiction and turned her mind to that.  Agatha Christie was enjoying great success with her Poirot novels and Dorothy L. Sayers had already published three Peter Wimsey stories.  In 1928 Wentworth published Grey Mask, featuring governess-turned-private detective, Miss Maud Silver.  This was the first of thirty-two crime novels featuring Miss Silver, a most unusual detective even in that Golden Age of eccentric sleuths.  Miss Silver had been a governess, resigned to a life of genteel poverty until her detective ability provided her with moderate affluence.  Prim, dowdy and addicted to quoting the poetry of Alfred, Lord Tennyson, nevertheless Miss Silver has shrewdness, quick wits and courage.  She also has the ability from her days in charge of a schoolroom, to freeze the most thick-skinned individual with one look.  This is beautifully described in Spotlight, where a shop manager has the temerity to question her truthfulness: 'Miss Silver turned upon him the look before which the hardiest of her pupils had been wont to quail.  It was a look that daunted the evil-doer on many an occasion… It went right through the manager's self-esteem and stripped him to his bare bones.'  Miss Silver often works with Scotland Yard, usually with Detective Chief Inspector Lamb and Detective Inspector Frank Abbott, one of her most ardent admirers.  True to her romantic novelist origins, Wentworth always has at least one young couple whose lives and love are endangered and whom Miss Silver rescues by solving the crime.

Many of the Miss Silver books are back in print and are an enjoyable read for anyone who likes to relax with gentle, Golden Age, crime fiction.  Wentworth sets several of the books in and just after the Second World War and her background descriptions of life at that time make fascinating reading.

It is sometimes assumed that Miss Silver is a copy of Agatha Christie's Miss Marple.  However Christie had only published one Miss Marple short story before Wentworth published the first Miss Silver book.  The first Miss Marple book, The Murder at the Vicarage was published a year after Grey Mask, and Christie did not write
another full-length Miss Marple novel until the 1940s.  Unlike Miss Marple, who discovers crimes by chance and solves them by drawing parallels to people she has met in her village, Miss Silver is a professional
investigator who observes and deduces and the Scotland Yard detectives she works with are intelligent and
usually willing to accept her advice.  However both Miss Silver and Miss Marple have one thing in common, they both approach the investigation of crime armed with knitting needles and wool, ready to knit their way through another tricky whodunit.

Carol Westron is a successful short story writer and a Creative Writing teacher.  She is the moderator for the cosy/historical crime panel, The Deadly Dames.  Her crime novels are set both in contemporary and Victorian times.  The Terminal Velocity of Cats is the first in her Scene of Crimes novels, published July 2013.

‘The Game’ by Tom Wood

Published by Sphere,
20 June 2013.
ISBN: 978-1-4091-4360-4

I am an avid reader of American thrillers, but this one, written by English writer Tom Wood, is among the most exciting I've encountered.  Ruthlessly efficient, photographic-memoried Victor, an professional assassin, is a fascinating character, and the book is almost more about him than about his mission, although by the end we know almost nothing more about him that we did at the beginning.  That said, the range of locations he travels to, and the many dangers he faces, are gripping.   He never ever lets up his vigilance, his analysis of any situation he finds himself in, his constant watchfulness, always three moves ahead of whatever the next hazard will be, were truly mesmerizing.

The plot basically hinges on Victor carrying out a job on a fellow assassin and then finding himself forced by the CIA to impersonate his victim in order to find out who the dead man's next target was intended to be, and who hired him.  There are no twists, just a powerful, forward-driving plot and lots of brutality. I loved it.
Reviewer: Susan Moody
Tom Wood was born and raised in Staffordshire and now lives in London. Before taking up writing he was employed as a bookseller, cleaner, factory worker, labourer, supermarket cashier and video editor.


Susan Moody was born in Oxford is the principal nom de plume  of Susan Elizabeth Donaldson, née Horwood, a British novelist best known for her suspense novels. She is a former Chairman of the Crime Writer's Association, served as World President of the International Association of Crime Writers, and was elected to the prestigious Detection Club. Susan Moody has given numerous courses on writing crime fiction and continues to teach creative writing in England, France, Australia, the USA and Denmark.  In addition to her many stand alone books, Susan has written two series, on featuring PI Penny Wanawake (seven books) and a series of six books featuring bridge player Cassie Swan.

‘Playing With Fire’ by Kerry Wilkinson

Published by Pam Macmillan,
18 July 2013.
ISBN: 978-1-4472-2341-2

When Detective Sergeant Jessica Daniel is assigned to escort a newly-released arsonist, Martin Chadwick, from prison it should have been a simple task. However, somebody has alerted the media and Jessica has to smuggle Chadwick out of prison by hiding with him in the back of a van. In close proximity, Jessica gets to talk to Martin Chadwick and to listen to him. Although she has been a police officer long enough to feel cynical about criminals' protestations of remorse, Jessica finds that she believes Chadwick when he says how guilty he feels about setting the fire that killed a teenager, sleeping rough in the abandoned building. And also how sorry he is for what his seven years of imprisonment had done to his own son, Ryan, who had been taken into Social Services care.

Delivering Chadwick to his home, Jessica meets Ryan, an angry, bitter and confused eighteen-year-old. She is increasingly concerned by the way the media, led by local reporter Sebastian Lowe, is stirring up the simmering anger between the Martin and Ryan Chadwick and the dead teenager's father, Anthony Thompson. According to the newspapers, Thompson has uttered veiled threats against Chadwick. Her fears prove justified when Martin Chadwick's house is the subject of a graffiti attack and later gutted by fire.

In a separate case a teenage girl commits suicide. The events that follow indicate that the cases must be linked. Jessica and her colleagues struggle to untangle the events, to the background of media speculation, orchestrated by the charismatic Sebastian Lowe. Not for the first time in her career, Jessica bends the rules, this time by enlisting the help of Andrew Hunter, a Private Investigator. Before the cases are solved, the lives of Jessica and her fiancé, Adam, are in peril, and Jessica has to decide exactly what should have priority in her life.

Playing With Fire is a fast-paced police procedural, with a feisty, female protagonist. The strands of the various cases are intriguing and neatly woven to provide a satisfactory conclusion. Two themes run through the book: one is parental love and parental responsibility and the hideous sense of loss and helplessness when parents fail to keep their children safe. The other theme is fire and its aftermath, which is described in vivid, sensory detail.

Playing With Fire is the fifth book in the series featuring Jessica Daniel, but stands by itself, with just enough detail to inform new readers of Jessica's back-story and her relationships. It is a very enjoyable read.
Reviewer: Carol Westron

Kerry Wilkinson is something of an accidental author. His debut, Locked In, was written as a challenge to himself but, after self-publishing, it became a UK number one bestseller within three months of release. His three initial Jessica Daniel books sold over 300,000 copies through word-of-mouth, making him Amazon's UK No.1 author for the final quarter of 2011, its biggest-ever sales period. In February 2012, he agreed a six-book deal with Pan Macmillan for the Jessica Daniel books. In October 2012, it was announced the same publisher had also bought a sci-fi/fantasy/adventure series - the Silver Blackthorn trilogy - which will start to be released in October/November 2013.
Carol Westron is a successful short story writer and a Creative Writing teacher.  She is the moderator for the cosy/historical crime panel, The Deadly Dames.  Her crime novels are set both in contemporary and Victorian times.  The Terminal Velocity of Cats is the first in her Scene of Crimes novels, published July 2013.

Sunday 29 September 2013

‘Dead Woman Walking’ by Jessica Mann

Published by The Cornovia Press,
8 August 2013.
ISBN: 978-1-908878-06-9

Gillian Butler hasn’t been seen since ‘The Brownes’ dinner party’. Now fifty years later the same people gather to discuss the human remains that have been discovered in a quarry, and which are undergoing tests, but which it seems are most probably her remains.  As theevening broke-up all those years ago, just who was the last person to see Gillian Butler alive?

Isobel is a people-tracer and a novelist married to Francois, but at the time of Gillian’s disappearance was married to Hector, whom Isobel thinks isn’t looking too good now with his high colour.  Dr Fidelis Berlin is now a known expert on child abuse, abduction, abandonment and adoption. Then there are The Dorneywoods, and twice widowed Hannah.

The story alternates between first and third person narrators. Initially we hear from Isobel of her early life and that of the people surrounding her.  Then the story switches to Fidelis and her story, which starts in Berlin in 1938.  Like so many stories of that period, it is a tragic.  And we learn that  the story remains unresolved, as Fidelis’s true identity is still a mystery.

I enjoyed the way long forgotten events are brought to the surface, with odd irrelevancies that we all encounter when we seek to remember the past. In one recollection Isobel says that she recalls that Fidelis left the dinner party, with Euan Butler to catch the sleeper. They were carrying their luggage ‘I wonder when rolling luggage began,’ she muses. Can anyone remember?’ I too began to ask myself that question.

The characterisation is masterly, giving the reader the person without the need for description. Isobel recounts at one point: ‘When I left him, Hector blamed “those bra-burning harpies” and if he could he would have cited the woman’s movement as the co-respondent in our divorce.’

As the story progress more and more layers are stripped away from the characters, and a sad but gripping tale of mystery and vengeance is revealed.  If the novel has a message it is that one should be careful of making decisions that not only effect but can change and destroy lives.  This book is highly recommended. 
Reviewer: Lizzie Hayes

Jessica Mann  novelist, journalist, broadcaster and author of non-fiction. Jessica has   been a Planning Inspector, chaired public committees, been involved with the NHS and been responsible for protecting water customers. But she always wanted to be a writer, ever since she learnt to read. She went to school in London, and then took degrees in Archaeology at Cambridge and in Law at Leicester University. After living in Edinburgh for ten years and for three in Leicester she moved with her husband, the archaeologist Professor Charles Thomas, to Cornwall, where she still live. Jessica has written20 books so far. She has two sons, two daughters and 11 grandchildren.

Saturday 28 September 2013

‘Programmed to kill’ by Barbara Fagan Speake

Published by Country Books
ISBN 978-1-906789-52-7

Annie MacPherson, heroine of the previous book, Primed by the Past, is continuing her placement with the Westford CT Police on a six month exchange from England.  As the final ends of the earlier case are tidied away, another murder erupts with child pornography as the focus of attention.  Barbara develops a complex situation with parental concerns, domestic violence issues, highly placed individuals who attempt to interfere with the police’s work and always the fear of more apparently inexplicable deaths.  The dark secrets that these people are hiding from the world are dragged out into the light.   The murderer’s voice is directly heard though, of course, the reader is unaware of his or her identity until the thrilling climax.  
Barbara’s experience in research and clinical psychology enables her to reach a highly realistic level of characterisation for victims, investigators and perpetrators.   The perennial themes of love and revenge are present and the moral ambiguities that develop for all to consider are fascinating.  Annie’s own  love life develops further as a more cheerful though still morally complex counter weight to the horrible deaths.  This is a highly readable book which leaves me looking forward to the next!
Reviewer: Jennifer S. Palmer
Barbara Fagan Speake has published three crime novels so far and is working on a fourth.

Barbara Fagan Speake was born and brought up in Connecticut. She has written 3 crime novels so far.  The first, Secrets Only Sleep, is a standalone mystery.  The second is this book and the third, Programmed to Kill, develops Annie’s adventures in the USA further

Jennifer Palmer. Throughout my reading life crime fiction has been a constant interest; I really enjoyed my 15 years as an expatriate in the Far East, the Netherlands & the USA but occasionally the solace of closing my door to the outside world and sitting reading was highly therapeutic. I now lecture to adults on historical topics including Famous Historical Mysteries.

Thursday 26 September 2013

‘Cold Sacrifice’ by Leigh Russell

Published as a paperback original by No Exit Press, September 2013.
ISBN: 978-1-84344-150-2

The first in the series featuring DS Ian Peterson finds him deep in marital difficulties. Although it seems he is bending over backwards to accommodate Bev’s needs, he has a demanding job which calls for unsociable hours.  So the discovery of the dead body of a middle-aged woman in a local park can only put further strain on his marriage.

When the victim is identified, the husband is the first suspect, but he has an alibi. However in trying to be clever he puts himself in a vulnerable position, and a second murder brings his alibi into question.

Ian was used to discussing cases with Detective Inspector Geraldine Steel, but his new boss, tall, thin grey-haired Rob Wellbeck is unresponsive, so Ian is glad that he has chirpy female constable Polly Mortimer to bounce ideas around with.”

A third murder puts pressure on the whole team but particularly on Ian as he struggles to balance the demands of a murder enquiry with love for his wife. If only his promotion to Inspector would come through, for he is hopeful that it will make all the difference.

A complex mystery rich in characters, this new series promises some interesting times ahead for Ian Peterson in both his work and personal life.  Cleverly constructed, although the mystery is satisfactorily resolved, it leaves a hook for further related events. I look forward to the next in the series.
Reviewer: Lizzie Hayes

Leigh Russell studied at the University of Kent gaining a Masters degree in English and American literature. Her first novel, Cut Short, was published in 2009, followed by Road Closed in 2010, Dead End in 2011, Death Bed in 2012 Her latest book Stop Dead, was published May 2013. Cold Sacrifice the first in a new series featuring Ian Peterson.
In addition to her writing Leigh is a secondary school teacher, specializing in supporting pupils with Specific Learning Difficulties as well as teaching English, Leigh Russell is married with two daughters and lives in Middlesex.
Christine Brett has two problems: one, her disempowering divorce and the other, caring for her invalid mother, Emily. Christine becomes obsessed with Neighbourhood Watch and reports her neighbours for trivial offences. Visiting the local supermarket she witnesses a robbery, and is distressed to find the face of the getaway driver alarmingly familiar. But her reputation with the local police for crying wolf has preceded her and no one will take her seriously. But Christine is right to be afraid: if she can identify the getaway driver, then it's likely that he has also seen her. And if she is the sole witness, he will do his utmost to silence her...


Wednesday 25 September 2013

‘The Second Life of Amy Archer’ by R S Pateman

Published by Orion in trade paperback. 
ISBN: 978 1 4091 2856 4

Every mother has been there: one moment your child is right under your protective eyes, you dare to look away and the next moment she’s gone: vanished without trace. Usually they turn up, though that doesn’t lessen the nightmare feel of the minutes they’re missing. And for a few, that nightmare continues for years, sometimes for ever..

I can’t begin to imagine how it would feel if my child was still missing after ten years – but R S Pateman, who I was amazed to discover isn’t a mother at all but a man, has made a terrific job of getting under the skin of a mother in exactly that situation.

The Second Life of Amy Archer sets off at an emotional pitch so high that the first mystery is how the tension will ever be ratcheted up and what else can possibly go wrong  for Beth Archer, whose ten-year-old daughter Amy disappeared on Millennium Eve, from a park just minutes from their beautiful south London home.

What does go wrong is that Amy comes back, on the tenth anniversary of her disappearance – looking exactly the same as she was that night.

Or possibly not. Probably not, I hear you scoff. And yes, you may need to suspend disbelief a little further than usual in order to get the most out of this remarkable debut novel, and set aside at least some of the natural scepticism, or at least questions, which surround phenomena such as clairvoyance and reincarnation.

The extraordinary events which follow Amy’s reappearance are another nightmare for Beth, as, already teetering on the edge, surviving with minimal support, and desperate to learn the truth, she is left wondering what to believe and who she can trust.

It’s a dark and sometimes harrowing read, a novel to admire and appreciate rather than enjoy. Crime as entertainment it isn’t; I failed to detect any humour or even the odd lighter moment in nearly 400 pages. But it does have the factors which make up quality suspense fiction: strongly drawn characters to love or hate, bags of atmosphere, a powerful narrative drive. To Pateman’s great credit, it fascinates, in a relentless, insistent way. Written in the first person and present tense, it swept me up and pulled me into Beth’s mindset, and wouldn’t let go until the final gasp-inducing page.
Don’t read it expecting a neat and tidy ending with all questions answered; in some ways, it raises more doubts than it allays. But do read it if you value suspense, psychological drama and the kind of fiction that makes you question your view of the world and plays tricks with your mind.
Reviewer: Lynne Patrick

R S Pateman is a native of Harold Hill, Romford in Essex but spent much of his adult life in London, particularly Kennington. He's also called Rotterdam, Manchester, Edinburgh and Frankfurt home for varying lengths of time. He graduated in History from Warwick University and then faffed about as a tour company rep, play leader and night club bouncer - while dreaming all the while of being a writer. His dream sort of came true when he began a career as an advertising copywriter, a career that saw him work on some big name clients and ghost write letters for Thora Hird and Terry Waite OBE among others. But it still wasn't really what he wanted to do. Eventually he sat down and wrote several books - one of which became The Second Life of Amy Archer. He is the co-founder of the Friends of Kennington Park, a voluntary group which, in ten years, has transformed the park from neglected open space to proud owner of a coveted Green Flag for excellence. Rob's into history, psychology, music, parks, tennis, swimming and cycling. Oh, and books of course. He also really likes hearing what readers make of his stuff.

Lynne Patrick has been a writer ever since she could pick up a pen, and has enjoyed success with short stories, reviews and feature journalism, but never, alas, with a novel. She crossed to the dark side to become a publisher for a few years, and is proud to have launched several careers which are now burgeoning.
She lives on the edge of rural Derbyshire in a house groaning with books, about half of them crime fiction.

Monday 23 September 2013

‘An Act of Kindness’ by Barbara Nadel’

Published by Quercus,
July 2013.
ISBN: 978-0-85738-777-6

Abdullah Khan, a young solicitor, and his newly-pregnant wife, Nasreen, have bought and are renovating a near-derelict house in London’s East End. Nasreen befriends John, a homeless ex-soldier traumatised by his experiences in Afghanistan, whom she finds living in their wildly overgrown garden but dares not tell Abdullah. But when John is found dead in the nearby old Jewish cemetery Nasreen fears that Abdullah, with his ultra-traditional Islamic values, may have found about John and may have been responsible for his death. So she consults the Arnold Detective Agency, run by ex-policeman Lee Arnold and the widowed Mumtaz Hakim, knowing that as a Muslim woman Mumtaz will be sympathetic. Nasreen, using as a pretext a curious little canister with an old photograph which she has found in the house, asks Mumtaz to look into the house’s history, hopes to find out more about Abdullah’s own background and family about which he is extremely reticent, strangely so for someone from the South Asian community, and about his employers. Another investigation that Mumtaz is undertaking is for Ayesha Mirza (herself white but married to an Asian) who fears that her sister Wendy is being drawn into prostitution by her rackrenting landlords, Sean and Marty Rogers, violent and vicious thugs who run a prostitution racket. But Mumtaz herself has problems: Naz Sheikh who killed Mumtaz’s husband is still persecuting her with financial extortion and threats of violence against her and her daughters. So Mumtaz, who knows rather more about her husband’s death than she ever told the police, is in dire economic straits, and Lee, guessing this, would like to assist.  Meanwhile Lee has been asked by former (but still scary) gangster Brian Green, an ‘uber-Brit, half-man, half bulldog, all malice’, to establish whether or not his young wife is unfaithful. And Lee’s former colleague and occasional bed-partner, DI Vi Collins, is investigating John’s death and the skeleton found with him. And she, like Lee, would dearly like to put an end to the Rogers’ activities.

This second instalment of the Hakim and Arnold series is just as vivid and compelling as the first, although, with its depiction of the violence and cruelty of the organised crime gangs who coerce women into the sex trade and the underlying decades-old criminality of the East End, rather darker in tone. The several story strands, reaching from the present-day into the horrors of the Holocaust, are expertly knotted together, some of which will plainly re-emerge in future Hakim and Lee novels. Lee, with his West Ham supporting mynah bird, is a real Londoner, East End born and bred, sharp-witted yet sympathetic, and Mumtaz, troubled yet caring, are characters I would like to see more of  . . . if not this year then next. Please.
Reviewer: Radmila May
Barbara Nadel’s previous Hakim and Arnold story: A Private Business. She has also published 14 titles in the Inspector Ikmen series (set in Istanbul), and 4 in the Hancock series (set in wartime London).
Barbara Nadel was born in the East End of London. She rained as an actress, and used to work in mental health services. She now writes full time and has been a visitor to Turkey for over twenty years. She received the Crime Writers' Association Silver Dagger for her novel Deadly Web.

‘Stranded’ by Alex Kava

Published by Sphere in hardback
ISBN: 978 0 7515 5016 0

On the surface it’s not hard to classify Alex Kava’s Stranded, the eleventh in her Maggie O’Dell series. Maggie is an FBI field agent, so it’s an American version of a police procedural.
But I struggle to suggest just one author whose fans this series might appeal to. The FBI background has shades of Michael Connelly and James Patterson. The protagonist has a rich and still developing backstory: Patricia Cornwell, Meg Gardiner. There are dismembered bodies and gory deaths: Tess Gerritsen. The pace of the action is swift, dramatic and sometimes violent: Lee Child.

Yet Stranded owes nothing to any of these greats of crime fiction; Alex Kava’s crisp, evocative writing stands tall alongside every one, and has created a heroine who is her own person and a cast of equally strong supporting characters with flaws, foibles and vulnerabilities.

An FBI background is a useful device for a crime writer. A field agent is highly trained and subject to certain rules and procedures; O’Dell and Tully, her partner (not in the romantic sense) have support from Quantico, the FBI’s headquarters. But out on the road, or in the wilds, they are very much thrown on their own resources, and have to react to threats and dangers in whatever way works at the time.

I was unfamiliar with the series (though I shall be seeking it out) but the impression I gained from this title is that for Maggie, every case becomes personal. Here she and Tully are part of a team tasked with hunting down a particularly vicious serial killer who seeks his prey in rest areas and truck stops along the USA’s interstate highways, and sees Maggie as a worthy adversary to be taunted and led into temptation.

Kava juggles several voices to allow the reader access to some parts of the story outside the main protagonists’ experience; the points of view of a victim, other FBI personnel, a freelance dog handler and the murderer all receive air time. She also uses a variety of locations: several disparate remote spots in the US, an upmarket apartment and a derelict  farmstead are just a few of the places where action takes place.

The novel’s greatest strength is its visual quality; characters and locations spring to vivid life, and I found myself thinking about who to cast in the screen adaptation which must surely come soon. It’s always a pleasure to discover a new series character as engaging as Maggie O’Dell, and plots as absorbing as this one. Alex Kava is another name I’ll be looking out for.
Reviewer: Lynne Patrick
Alex Kava is the author of ten previous novels, eight of which feature her series heroine Maggie O'Dell. A former PR director, Alex dedicated herself to writing full-time in 1996.

Lynne Patrick has been a writer ever since she could pick up a pen, and has enjoyed success with short stories, reviews and feature journalism, but never, alas, with a novel. She crossed to the dark side to become a publisher for a few years, and is proud to have launched several careers which are now burgeoning.
She lives on the edge of rural Derbyshire in a house groaning with books, about half of them crime fiction.

Sunday 22 September 2013

‘The Final Curtain’ by Priscilla Masters

Published by Severn House,
August 2013.
ISBN: 978-0-7278-8304-9

Back in harness at Leek Police Station, after her idyllic honeymoon in Sri Lanka following her marriage to pathologist Matthew Levin,  DI Joanna Piercy is keen to get to work. But the most current case facing the team are daily nuisance calls from an old lady, Timony Weeks, who lives in a remote farm house, reporting bizarre occurrences.  With the imminent replacement for Superintendent Colclough, for whom Jo was a favourite, Jo decides that she must do everything by the book and visits Timony Weeks to assess the situation herself and explain to her that she cannot waste police time.

Joanna learns that Timony Weeks was a sixties' child star in the once-popular soap Butterfield Farm.  These events seem to be frightening her, but as Joanna muses, she is an actress and her distress could be faked.  Is she an aging star longing again for the limelight?

As the tricks escalate Joanna still has nothing concrete on which to hang any plausible explanation or any proof of wrongdoing to enable her to offer any police protection other than regular police drive-bys.  But all her instincts tell her something is wrong.  But what?”

Timony is convinced that someone wants to hurt her but can offer no suspects. She lives with a companion/assistant/friend, who also has no explanations to offer for these odd events.  But though Joanna digs, into Timony’s background and discovers a long hidden secret,  it doesn’t take her any further forward? It seems the more she learns of Timony the more the mystery deepens.

With brilliant plotting Priscilla Masters weaves a tale that is compelling reading, being both fascinating and intriguing.

This is the eleventh book in the series featuring DI Joanna Piercy. Much has happened in her life since we first met her in Winding Up the Serpent. Although she has now married Matthew Levin the problems with his daughter continue, and with a new boss on the horizon I suspect her life will not run smoothly.  I look forward avidly to the next book.
Reviewer: Lizzie Hayes
Earlier books in the series are: Winding Up the Serpent, Catch a Fallen Sparrow, A Wreath for my Sister, Non Shall Sleep, Scaring Crows, Embroidering Shrouds, Endangering Innocents.

Priscilla Masters is the author of more than twenty crime novels and works part time as a respiratory nurse in the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital. She has two sons and two grandsons and lives on the Staffordshire/Shropshire border.