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Tuesday, 22 May 2018

‘Turn A Blind Eye’ by Vicky Newham

Published by HQ,
5 April 2018: 
ISBN: 978 – 0 – 00-824067 -7 (HB)

DI Maya Rahmen is a British/Bangladeshi policewoman who has lived in the East End of London since she was four. Maya is a kind and caring professional who has plenty of her own problems to cope with before she can even begin to think of solving the challenging series of brutal murders she is about to confront.

When we first meet Maya, she is on compassionate leave, having just returned from attending the funeral of her brother in Sylhet – he had committed suicide by setting fire to himself.  Her mother has dementia, and her father, who walked out on the family when she was a teenager, is an ever-present ghostly – or perhaps not so ghostly – presence. All these issues impinge on how Maya views the crimes and the people she deals with.

Maya and her new Australian sergeant, Dan Maguire, are called to Maya’s old school – more memories to contend with - where the trendy young headmistress, Linda Gibson, has been strangled.  Beside Linda’s body is a card with the second of five basic Buddhist precepts written on it.  Does this mean that there is a first victim waiting to be identified, and that the murderer has their eye on three more victims?  Of course, it does.

The investigation is influenced by the need to take account of the many social, cultural and racial tensions that are bubbling away under - or even on - the surface, within the school’s Mile End catchment area.  The Buddhist connection seems clear.  Finding it is another matter. Maya and her team are not helped by their boss, DCI Briscall. He dislikes women in general and Maya in particular. Egged on by a voracious journalist, Briscall is interested only in getting a result quickly, regardless of whether or not it’s the right one.

Turn a Blind Eye is a quick and easy read.  The background is truly authentic, though I would have to say troubling at times as it provides scant evidence of an integrated society in the East End. Maya and Dan are refreshingly original and likable characters and, as this is the first in a series of DI Rahmen stories, I will look forward to hearing more of them.
Reviewer Angela Crowther

Vicky Newham is the author of the DI Maya Rahman police procedural series which is set in East London. The first book, Turn A Blind Eye, was published on 5 April 2018, and has been optioned for television by Playground Entertainment. The second, Out of The Ashes, will be published on 4 April 2019. Vicky has drawn on her Psychology background and her experiences of living and working in East London to write the books in the series. She studied Psychology at university and taught GCSE/A-level Psychology for 10 years before moving to Whitstable, Kent where she now lives with her cockerpoo dog.

Twitter @VickyNewham

Angela Crowther is a retired scientist.  She has published many scientific papers but, as yet, no crime fiction.  In her spare time Angela belongs to a Handbell Ringing group, goes country dancing and enjoys listening to music, particularly the operas of Verdi and Wagner.

Mystery Fest Day Portsmouth Central Library

2 June 2018

Portsmouth Bookfest. Portsmouth Central Library
organised in partnership with Mystery People


10.00am Doors Open. A fun Quiz will be offered to the audience as they come in.

10.15am Introduction by Clare to Bookfest/ Mystery People/library/facilities/ safety precautions.

10.25am: Contemporary Crime Panel: Why Crime?
- the reasons behind the appeal of Crime Fiction to readers and writers.

Carol Westron (participating moderator), Leigh Russell, Peter Tickler, Jeff Dowson, Christine Hammacott, Judith Cranswick.


 11.30am: BREAK- Tea, coffee and scone, cream and jam will be served by Lily and Lime - your ticket includes this 

12.30pm: Forensic Investigations in the Real World: What would Sherlock do now? Talk by Dr Paul Smith and Inspector Colin White of Portsmouth University.


 1.20pm: Talks 1,2, 3, 4 (20 mins each):


 Agatha Christie - Stranger than Death: Gaynor Baker
A study of Christie's use of Spiritualism in her inter-war books and short stories


 Not much like The Gentle Touch!: Dot Marshall-Gent
A personal perspective of life as a 1980s Woman Police Constable.


 ·       Murder and Moving Car-Parks in Oxford: Peter Tickler
Oxford crime writer Peter Tickler confesses all (well, some of it) about the problems, joys and sneaky tricks involved in writing crime fiction set in an authentic Oxford. And why one particular TV series set there has a tendency to drive him wild.

  • Writing a Bestselling Series: Leigh Russell
    The challenges  and rewards of writing a series


 2.45pm: Tea and coffee: Included in ticket


 2.55pm: Audience questions for the 4 speakers


 3.20pm: Mystery History Panel: The Past is a Foreign Country: How do members of the panel create the period they are writing about without over-burdening the reader with details? Do they think that certain crimes occur at specific times in the past?

Carol Westron (participating moderator), Linda Stratmann, Barbara Nadel, Nicola Slade, William Shaw, Leigh Russell.


4.25pm: Results of the quiz

 4.30pm: Bookshop

5pm: Close

 Tickets available in Portsmouth libraries
or telephone Hayling Island Bookshop 023 9246 6620


St Thomas's Hospital 23 May 2018

South Wing
Westminster Bridge Road
London SE1 7EH

23 May 2018
11:00am - 4:00pm

  A book sale with crime authors

Linda Regan

Hugh Fraser

Dave Barry

signing copies of their books,
in aid of Friends of the Hospital.

 No entry fee just all book sales going to buy Christmas trees and decorations for children’s wards, and any left over funds to cancer department.
Please, please, support this everyone that can.

Monday, 21 May 2018

‘Fire’ by L.C. Tyler

Published by Constable & Robinson,
2 November 2017.
ISBN: 978-1-47212-288-9 (HB).

‘In sixteen-hundred-and-sixty-six,’ goes the old rhyme, ‘London burned like rotten sticks.’ And, being built largely of wood with houses jammed together along narrow streets, it did. There was apparently a new contraption, a fire engine stored not in the City but in Clerkenwell for the use of the Clerkenwell firefighter with which water could be pumped into from the Clerkenwell Pipe House. Except that the director of the Clerkenwell Pipe House, a Mr Joseph Graunt, was away and took the only key with him. However, the fire engine could trundle through the streets of the City until it reached London Bridge where it was possible to pump water from the Thames into the fire engine via a waterwheel. Except that London Bridge was burning and with it the waterwheel. So, water could be pumped directly from the river into the engine. Except that the fire engine has slid down right into the Thames and is floating slowly away. Men with buckets are attempting to stem the fire but to no avail. London is being destroyed.

It is at this point that John Grey, the narrator of this fourth story in the author’s sequence of novels set in the seventeenth century, becomes aware of the fire. In his day job, John has a successful legal practice in Lincoln’s Inn. Now, however, he thinks he should join the ranks of the firefighters and on the way,  he discovers two men. One of them runs off, the other is dead, not from the fire but from a shot to the back. Now John needs to find a magistrate to report his discovery to. He does find a magistrate who is also Sir Felix Clifford, the father of the widowed Aminta Lady Pole with whom John is in love. But Sir Felix has been waylaid by a mob who are convinced that the fire must have been started by the French (who are at war with England, and who, being Catholics, are doubly likely to be villains of the deepest dye). Not that Sir Felix is a Catholic but his mistress, from whose house he has just emerged, is French. That being so, what more evidence is needed? John manages to deter the mob from killing Sir Felix but he does need to find someone of sufficient standing to whom he can report his finding of the dead man. And he can only think of one person: Charles II’s Secretary of State, Lord Arlington, for whom John has in the past worked under cover. Arlington tells John that someone has already been arrested, a Frenchman called Robert Hubert, in fact, not a Catholic but a Huguenot, who has admitted to being the fireraiser along with another man whom he shot. And that is the man whose body John has found. Arlington is by no means convinced that Hubert is the perpetrator and furthermore wishes to dampen down anger against Catholics: he himself is not one but Charles is known to be sympathetic to Catholics and the king’s many enemies dearly wish to blacken his name yet further. John, on interviewing Hubert feels that he is sufficiently deranged for his confession not to be taken seriously and, anxious that an innocent man not be hanged, he starts to try and uncover the truth. But John’s search for the truth leads him and his clerk and servant Will Atkins and also Aminta, who refuses to be left out, into real danger and into a world in which no-one, least of all Arlington and others of Charles’s inner circle of advisers, each conspiring against the other, can be trusted. Hubert is just a pawn in that deadly game, and John and his friends not much more. As we all know now, the fire started accidentally in a baker’s shop but at the time religious paranoia demanded a more dramatic explanation.

John is an excellent creation: an upright man, not to say somewhat puritanical and sanctimonious, and determined to serve the truth in the dark, uncertain world in which he finds himself. Will is loyal and supportive although somewhat bossy, while Aminta is equally bossy but takes a more flexible and practical view of matters. The narrative is gripping and historically accurate and enlivened with the author’s dry humour. He tells us that he finished the book just as the Grenfell Tower fire happened; the loss of life was far greater in that fire than it was in the Great Fire of 1666 and he has dedicated it to the firefighters of London. Highly recommended.
Reviewer: Radmila May

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 and 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 and Herring on the Nile. 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 three further books in this series. The latest being Fire. His latest Ethelred and Elsie is Herring in the Smoke

Radmila May was born in the U.S. but has lived in the U.K. since she was seven apart from seven years in The Hague. She read law at university but did not go into practice. Instead she worked for many years for a firm of law publishers and still does occasional work for them including taking part in a substantial revision and updating of her late husband’s legal practitioners’ work on Criminal Evidence published late 2015. She has also contributed short stories with a distinctly criminal flavour to two of the Oxford Stories anthologies published by Oxpens Press – a third story is to be published shortly in another Oxford Stories anthology – and is now concentrating on her own writing.