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Friday, 23 August 2019

‘Ungentlemanly Warfare’ by Howard Linskey

Published by No Exit Press,
6 June 2019.
ISBN: 978-0-85730-320-2 (PBO)

The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare was how Winston Churchill described the Special Operations Executive, a collection of mavericks who were dropped behind enemy lines to offer help to resistance fighters during the Second World War. It provides fiction writers with a rich seam to mine; its operatives worked 'off the books', and getting results was deemed far more important than playing by the rules – especially since Hitler rewrote the rules to suit himself – so it's easy to invent missions for them.

Howard Linskey's protagonist Captain Harry Walsh is one of those mavericks. Promoted on the battlefield, gentleman he certainly is not, though he has his own code of honour, which includes short shrift for bureaucracy and the kind of authority that has an inflated sense of the importance of having attended the right school. Harry is prepared to break every rule in a library of books when he is sent into France to assassinate a German scientist who has come far too close to perfecting a secret weapon which might make a difference to the outcome of the war.

Linskey creates a scenario which is totally alien to most people: a motley bunch of resistance fighters or Maquisards with varying degrees of skill, holed up in squalid conditions and determined to make life as difficult as possible for the occupying forces. He uses documented history to add colour and realism, and though some of the characters are instantly recognizable from a hundred war movies, they still emerge as genuine people.

Harry Walsh himself is a troubled soul: a survivor of what amounted to a massacre at Dunkirk, a marriage that's pedestrian at best but with no chance of escape, a self-important boss who regards him with contempt. As if that wasn't enough, he's hopelessly in love with feisty fellow operative Emma Stirling, who appears unexpectedly shortly after his own arrival in France.

It all adds up to a pacy, dramatic adventure behind enemy lines, complete with explosions, bombed bridges and railway lines, kidnapping and shoot-outs. There's even a generous sprinkle of name-dropping: real-life people like Ian Fleming and Kim Philby, whose association with SOE is well documented.

Will Harry complete his mission? What will become of him and Emma? Will the Allies win the war? We know the answer to one of those questions. For the other two you'll have to read the book.  And it's well worth reading.-----Reviewer: Lynne Patrick

Howard Linskey has worked as a barman, journalist, catering manager and marketing manager for a celebrity chef, as well as in a variety of sales and account management jobs. He has written for newspapers, magazines and websites on a number of subjects. The Drop was Howard’s debut novel, published by ‘No Exit’ in 2011.Originally from Ferryhill in County Durham, he now lives in Hertfordshire with his wife Alison and daughter Erin.

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.

Wednesday, 21 August 2019

‘Born Bad’ by Heather Burnside

Published by Head of Zeus,
4 April 2019.
ISBN 978-1-78954184-7 (PB)

Born Bad is the first book of a trilogy set in downtown Manchester.  Over three periods, 1973/4,1979/80 and 1983/4, we are given a graphic account of the slow deterioration of the lives of two siblings, Adele and Peter, starting when Peter was ten and Adele a year or so older. With an alcoholic and violent father, Tommy, who resents his children’s existence, and a docile, increasing depressed mother, Shirley, the children have a very uncomfortable home life. Shirley becomes increasing dependent on pills and makes little effort to clean the house or feed her family as she not only accepts, but also defends, the constant physical and verbal abuse handed down from her husband.

Adele is a clever child. She helps her mother as much as she can whilst simultaneously trying to keep up with the schoolwork that she believes will eventually provide her with the means to escape from her horrible life.  She also tries to protect Peter who at the age of ten is already showing signs of becoming a sadistic tear-away. There is, not surprisingly, a strong survival bond between the brother and sister as they look out for and lie for each other.  The only bright point in their lives is Grandma Joyce, Shirley’s mother.  She sees what is happening, but other than providing a little love, kind words and occasional small treats for the children, there is little she can do to relieve their misery.  When she becomes ill, even that solace is removed.

As a teenager Peter indulges in petty crimes. After he does a spell in a young offender’s unit his father throws Peter out. He gradually becomes a hardened and fully-fledged criminal, running his own gang and earning a good living from serious and sometimes violent crime.  Adele’s A-level grades are not good enough to get into university, but she joins a solicitor’s office, carries on with her education and sets up house with a partner.  Now and then we see that Adele has inherited her father’s temper, but for the most part she continues to improve her lot and support her mother. With very different lifestyles the brother and sister drift apart.

Eventually something happens that turns all their lives upside down and brings Adele and Peter together again, but you would need to read the book to discover what that is.

Born Bad is well written and is delightfully easy to read.   The descriptions of places and people are grimly realistic, and not always as depressing as the story might lead you to think.  I found the book unusual in that its main purpose seemed to be to provide background and to develop the characters for the next two parts of the story which I haven’t read. However, if you read part one of this trilogy, such is the strength of Heather Burnside’s characters, I think it is more than likely that you will be drawn into reading parts two and three of the trilogy to see what becomes of Adele and Peter in the next decade of their lives. 
Reviewer Angela Crowther
Heather Burnside has been writing since the late 90s when she returned to work following a career break to raise a family. Heather formerly worked in credit control and became a graduate Member of the Institute of Credit Management, but she decided on a complete career change.  After enrolling with the Writers Bureau in Manchester, she gained a writing diploma and had articles published in several popular UK magazines. Heather then set up a writing services company, providing copywriting and proofreading to a range of clients, and ghostwriting a number of non-fiction books.

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.

Tuesday, 20 August 2019

‘Indian Summer’ by Sara Sheridan

Published by Constable,
9 May 20919.
ISBN: 978-1-47212-711-2 (PBO)

In this, the 7th book in this popular series, Mirabelle Bevan is still living and working in Brighton.  She is brooding over the behaviour of her lover, Superintendent Alan McGregor, and finds herself attracted to the police doctor, Chris Williams.  But, even with work and personal matters to ponder on, she still notices the young girl sitting on the beach.

Mirabelle discovers that Lali is recuperating at a local convalescent home for children with respiratory complaints.  As they talk, Father Grogan, a priest attached to the home, comes looking for the girl and takes her back.  The following morning, however, Lali is sitting opposite Mirabelle’s flat.  Mirabelle decides to walk her to the home and there meets a few of the nurses, including Uma, who looks after Lali.  When Father Grogan is murdered shortly after this, Mirabelle is drawn into the puzzle of what is going on at the home.

The more she finds out, the more concerned she becomes and, following a spate of deaths, she realises that the convalescent home holds the key.  The strands of the investigation put her in danger and she spends a frightening few days’ lost in Brighton’s sewers, before the solution becomes apparent, with consequences for other aspects of her life.

This story has a good sense of place and the atmosphere of the time.  Mirabelle and Vesta, her assistant, are strong, independent and interesting characters and the plot is complex without being overworked.  This is another strong novel and one that her fans will enjoy.  It’s always great for find a new series and the newcomer might like to follow Mirabelle’s story from the beginning, though the book itself  works as a stand-alone
----Reviewer: Jo Hesslewood 

Other books in this series:  Brighton Belle, London Calling, England Expects, British Bulldog, Operation Goodwood, Russian Roulette. 

 Sara Sheridan was born in Edinburgh and studied at Trinity College, Dublin. She works in a wide range of media and genres. Tipped in Company and GQ magazines, she has been nominated for a Young Achiever Award. She has also received a Scottish Library Award and was shortlisted for the Saltire Book Prize. She sits on the committee for the Society of Authors in Scotland (where she lives) and on the board of '26' the campaign for the importance of words. She's taken part in 3 '26 Treasures' exhibitions at the V&A, London, The National Museum of Scotland and the Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green. She occasionally blogs on the Guardian site about her writing life and puts her hand up to being a 'twitter evangelist'. From time to time she appears on radio, most recently reporting for BBC Radio 4's From Our Own Correspondent. Sara is a member of the Historical Writers Association and the Crime Writers Association. A self-confessed 'word nerd' her favourite book is 'Water Music' by TC Boyle. 
Jo Hesslewood.  Crime fiction has been my favourite reading material since as a teenager I first spotted Agatha Christie on the library bookshelves.  For twenty-five years the commute to and from London provided plenty of reading time.  I am fortunate to live in Cambridge, where my local crime fiction book club, Crimecrackers, meets at Heffers Bookshop .  I enjoy attending crime fiction events and currently organise events for the Margery Allingham Society.

Bloody Scotland 20-22 September 2019


Bloody Scotland will again be supporting new writers by pairing established authors with ‘support’ acts just starting out on their crime writing career.
Graeme Macrae Burnet, author of His Bloody Project was famously ‘In the Spotlight’ as a support act for Ian Rankin before it was shortlisted for the Man Booker and the initiative has been praised on Open Book, BBC Radio 4 for being innovative and breaking the boundaries of traditional book festivals.

Authors ‘In the Spotlight’ this year include Judith O’Reilly, a former producer for Newsnight and Channel 4 News who is paired with David Baldacci straight from leading the torchlight procession; Jackie McLean, who volunteered at Bloody Scotland now makes her way on to the main stage herself with Chris Brookmyre and Michael Robotham; Gordon Kerr, who as Head of Marketing at Waterstones selected Alexander McCall Smith as Book of the Month and will now share the stage with the much loved international star and Noelle Holten, better known to everyone in the crime fiction world as the power blogger Crime Book Junkie, who will be on stage with the even more powerful Ian Rankin.
The full list includes authors published by Scottish and English independents, large London conglomerates and some self-published authors with a mix of male and female crime writers. One of last years authors ‘in the spotlight’, Claire Askew who last year took to the stage with Ann Cleeves and Louise Penny has this year been shortlisted for both the debut and the main McIlvanney Prize. The finalists will be revealed on 6 September.

Bloody Scotland is Scotland’s International Crime Writing Festival, providing a showcase for the best crime writing from Scotland and the world, unique in that it was set up by a group of Scottish crime writers in 2012. The festival uses a number of atmospheric, historic venues in Stirling’s Old Town setting it apart from other literary festivals.
Full information & sponsor information at

Tickets are available from or at the Box Office in the Tolbooth Stirling or in the Albert Halls. Free standby tickets are available to the unemployed or those on a low income on the day of the event if there is good availability. Proof of eligibility is required and tickets are limited to one person. A 10% discount is available to people residing in the Stirling Council area. You must give your address at the time of booking.
Visit for details.

Thursday, 15 August 2019

42 Days to Capital Crime

Weekend Passes £150
Day Passes £80
But hurry, they're selling fast!
Thanks to our sponsors and people who’ve already bought tickets we’ve been able to reduce ticket prices to £150 for a weekend pass and £80 for a day pass. These represent incredible value for money and make Capital Crime a truly mass participation, accessible event. We’re also still offering discounted tickets for librarians and people on low income.
At these new prices, tickets are selling very fast. Our spectacular venue, the Grand Connaught Rooms, has strict rules on capacity, so if you don’t have a ticket, you won’t be able to come – not even to hang out at our amazing bar

So don’t miss out. If you want to be certain of being part of our amazing festival, you need to book your tickets today.

Click here to visit and book now. 
See you at the festival.
Best wishes
David & Adam

PS. Existing customers will be refunded the difference between the new ticket prices and their purchase price, so it's a win for everyone.

Crime Fiction: A Reader's Guide by Barry Forshaw

Are you a lover of crime fiction looking for new discoveries or hoping to rediscover old favourites?
Then look no further.

There are few contemporary crime fiction guides that cover everything from the golden age to current bestselling writers from America, Britain and all across the world, but the award-winning Barry Forshaw, one of the UK's leading experts in the field, has provided a truly comprehensive survey with definitive coverage in this expanded new edition of the much admired
Rough Guide to Crime Fiction.
Every major writer is included, along with many other more esoteric choices. Focusing on a key book (or books) by each writer, and with essays on key crime genres, Crime Fiction: A Reader's Guide is designed to be both a crime fan's shopping list and a pithy, opinionated but unstuffy reference tool and history. Most judgements are generous (though not uncritical), and there is a host of entertaining, informed entries on related films and TV.
Foreword by Ian Rankin; available to pre-order from Amazon @ £14.99

‘Council’ by Snorri Kristjansson

Published by Jo Fletcher Books,
16 May 2019.
ISBN: 978 1 78429 8104

As with earlier novels by the same author this one, a masterful thriller, has the Viking world at the core of the story. And what a story.  Helga Finnsdottir, who featured in Kin, the first in this murder mystery series, has gained a reputation as a highly regarded healer and herbalist and when several slayings occur in mysterious circumstances that couldn’t possibly be accidental, it is she who suspects foul play and makes it her business to track down and nail the killer.  

Helga is now living in Uppsala and King Eirik has summoned a Council to which the chieftains of various tribes have been invited.   A ruthless character from Helga’s past takes centre stage but Helga feels confident the hostility of this woman can be ably managed because, in a relationship with a hunk, true love has given Helga wings.

  Helga is a natural and shrewd observer of humankind, knows when to speak up and when to keep her own counsel. Grundle, her proud mare with long-lashed eyes, is the confidante who keeps her grounded and there is a palpable symbiosis between them.

Delegations arrive from every corner of the country, the mood becomes dark and tempers reach boiling point. An attack by rivals is rumoured to be imminent, it is evident   that a traitor stalks the land and the stakes have never been higher. 

The author brings the Viking age vividly to life, the plot is skillfully crafted,  the characters fleshed out and entirely believable and the story is enthralling, original and well paced.  It would make a hugely enjoyable TV mini-series as it contains all the elements of an unusual and intriguing drama.
Reviewer: Serena Fairfax
Snorri Kristjansson was born in Reykjavik in 1974. He has since lived in Norway, London and now Edinburgh with his wife, where he dabbles in classical acting and stand-up comedy while teaching English.  His fantasy series, The Valhalla Saga, and his crime series, Kin and Council, are published by Jo Fletcher Books. They both have Vikings in, so expect moderate cursing and beards,

Serena Fairfax spent her childhood in India, qualified as a lawyer in England and practised in London for many years. She began writing by contributing feature articles to legal periodicals   then turned her hand to fiction. Having published nine novels all, bar one, hardwired with a romantic theme, she has also written short stories and accounts of her explorations off the beaten track that feature on her blog. A tenth, distinctly unromantic, novel is a work in progress. Thrillers, crime and mystery narratives, collecting old masks and singing are a few of her favourite things.


Could you be the next Martina Cole,
Lynda La Plante or Ian Rankin?

Capital Crime and the DHH Literary Agency have launched an innovative new competition for aspiring crime and thriller authors.

To enter, all you need to do is visit
 and upload the first three chapters of your unpublished novel.

Everyone who buys a ticket to attend Capital Crime will be able to read your entry and vote for their favourite. The authors of the ten highest placed entries will be revealed on Thursday 19th September and the winner, judged by the Capital Crime team from the top ten entries, will be announced at Capital Crime’s opening night cocktail party on Thursday 26th September to the readers, agents and publishers in attendance.

The competition costs £10 to enter and entries close at midnight on Wednesday 18th September 2019. The names of the ten most popular entrants will be announced the next day. The overall winner will be announced on the 26th September and will receive a trophy and a prize of £250.

Good luck!

Stephen Booth - His new book published today.

‘Drowned Lives by Stephen Booth
Published by Sphere, 
15 August 29019.
ISBN: 978-0-7515-7628-3 (HB)

When the author of a favourite series turns his hand to something different, there are sure to be mixed reactions. But fans of Stephen Booth's Cooper and Fry need have no qualms: his sideways move to the canals of the south midlands is up there with the best of the Peak District series.

Apart from cracking good plots, Booth's novels seem to specialize in two things: repairing damaged souls, and bringing locations to such realistic life that you feel as if you're there. In Drowned Lives, his protagonist Chris Buckley drinks too much and has lost his sense of adventure after a repressed childhood and a succession of personal misfortunes and disappointments. So, when he is approached by an elderly man seeking help in mending an old family feud, his first reaction is to back away.

But fate intervenes, and Chris finds himself not only looking into the historical origins of the feud but also trying to solve a murder which the police have written off as a hit-and-run accident. Needless to say, things prove very complicated, in the past as well as the present, and both help and hindrance come from some unexpected quarters.

Booth assembles as varied a cast of characters as in any of the Peak District series, and some turn out to be quite different from the initial image they present. I especially enjoyed the spiky relationships between Chris Buckley and the opposite sex, mainly (but far from exclusively) his assertive neighbour Rachel and snooty Caroline Longden. Even minor players, like slightly smarmy MP Lindley Simpson and DC Hanlon with her detective's suspicious mind, leave a lasting impression.

For readers familiar with Stephen Booth's vivid evocation of the Peak District, his equally detailed conjuring of the canals around Lichfield and the unique juxtaposition of ancient and modern in the city itself will come as no surprise. This almost tactile background, with its narrowboats, overgrown banks and wealth of history, gives the novel a richness and texture that raises it far above the mainstream of crime fiction.

The underlying mystery and the moments of high drama place the novel firmly in the crime genre, but the mix of ingredients adds up to far more. There are elements of history, a romance strand, even a touch of coming-of-age (even though Chris Buckley is in his thirties!). Drowned Lives is Stephen Booth at the top of his game. 
Reviewer: Lynne Patrick 

Stephen Booth was born in the English Pennine mill town of Burnley. He was brought up on the Lancashire coast at Blackpool, where he attended Arnold School. He began his career in journalism by editing his school magazine, and wrote his first novel at the age of 12. After graduating from City of Birmingham Polytechnic (now Birmingham University), Stephen moved to Manchester to train as a teacher, but escaped from the profession after a terrifying spell as a trainee teacher in a big city comprehensive school.  Starting work on his first newspaper in Wilmslow, Cheshire, in 1974, Stephen was a specialist rugby union reporter, as well as working night shifts as a sub-editor on the Daily Express and The Guardian. This was followed by periods with local newspapers in Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire. He was at various times Production Editor of the Farming Guardian magazine, Regional Secretary of the British Guild of Editors, and one of the UK's first qualified assessors for the NVQ in Production Journalism.  Freelance work began with rugby reports for national newspapers and local radio stations. Stephen has also had articles and photographs published in a wide range of specialist magazines, from Scottish Memories to Country lovers Magazine, from Cat World to Canal and Riverboat, and one short story broadcast on BBC radio. In 1999, his writing career changed direction when, in rapid succession, he was shortlisted for the Dundee Bool Prize and the Crime Writers' Association Debut Dagger competition for new writers, then won the £5,000 Lichfield Prize for his unpublished novel The Only Dead Thing, and signed a two-book contract with HarperCollins for a series of crime novels.  In 2000, Stephen's first published novel, Black Dog, marked the arrival in print of his best-known creations - two young Derbyshire police detectives, DC Ben Cooper and DS Diane Fry. Black Dog was the named by the London Evening Standard as one of the six best crime novels of the year - the only book on their list written by a British author. In the USA, it won the Barry Award for Best British Crime Novel and was nominated for an Anthony Award for Best First Mystery. The second Cooper & Fry novel, Dancing with the Virgins, was shortlisted for the UK's top crime writing award, the Gold Dagger, and went on to win Stephen a Barry Award for the second year running.  The publication of Blind to the Bones that year resulted in Stephen winning the Crime Writers' Association's 'Dagger in the Library' Award, presented to the author whose books have given readers most pleasure. There are now 18 books in the series. All are set in England's beautiful and atmospheric Peak District.

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.

The Almanack by Martine Bailey

Published by Severn House,
31 January 2019.
ISBN 978-0-7278-8863-1 (HB)

From the beginning this book has unusual features.  Authentic Eighteenth-century riddles preface each chapter and provide interesting puzzles (all the answers are provided at the end!).  The title The Almanack also holds great significance as the story reveals.   Almanacks were highly popular books like Old Moore’s almanac; they contained predictions for actual dates couched in ambiguous terms rather like Star sign predictions in our own day.   Riddles and other items varied according to the particular almanac you bought and would be related to your part of the country.
The setting here is a Cheshire village in 1752 when Tabitha Hart returns from an exciting life in London to find that her mother has died.  Tabitha is returning at her mother’s request but doesn’t know why her mother was agitated.  Nor does Tabitha believe in the villagers’ view that her mother’s mind was disordered and that she died by drowning.  A visitor to the village, Nat Starling, joins with Tabitha to investigate what happened to her mother.  Both of them have their own secrets.   More macabre events occur and the attitudes of society at that time are shown in all their horrors for those without privilege - from the vicar receiving tithes from the poor to the lord of the manor trying to exert droit de seigneur.   The year 1752 holds significance as the year when the calendar was amended to bring it into line with the rest of Europe and 11 days were omitted in September.
Martine has a mastery of her material and the whole panoply of Eighteenth society seen from a northern village is revealed.   The mysteries at the heart of the tale are gradually elucidated successfully.
Reviewer: Jennifer S. Palmer
Martine Bailey has written two previous historical crime novels -
An Appetite for Violets and The Penny Heart.

Martine Bailey entered cookery contest with no idea it would lead to a life-changing obsession with French cuisine. As an amateur cook, Martine won the Merchant Gourmet Recipe Challenge and was a former UK Dessert Champion, cooking at Le Meurice in Paris. Inspired by eighteenth-century household books of recipes, An Appetite for Violets invites readers to feast on the past as a sharp-witted young cook is taken on a mysterious trip to Italy. In pursuit of authenticity Martine studied with food historian Ivan Day and experienced Georgian food and fashion at firsthand with an historic re-enactment society. Martine lives in Cheshire, England and Auckland, New Zealand. She is married with one son. The almanack is her latest book. Published in January 2019.

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. 

Tuesday, 13 August 2019

‘Dead Man's Lane’ by Kate Ellis

Published by Piaitkus,
1 August 2019.
ISBN: 978-0-349-41828-5 (PB)

Developer Joe Hamer is determined to turn Strangefields Farm in Tradmouth, Devon, into a holiday village. However, when a skull is found on the property, work has to be held up while experts are called in to determine its age. The Farm has a notorious history, as a local artist Jackson Temples was jailed in the 1990's for murdering a number of girls after luring them there with a promise of painting their portraits. However not all the bodies were ever discovered.

Detective Inspector Wesley Peterson contacts his friend Neil an archaeologist and asks him to have a closer inspection of the property in case there are any more bones, perhaps they could belong to the missing girls. Hamer is not at all happy about the further delay.

Then a woman's body is discovered floating in a nearby lake. On examination she is found to have been killed in exactly the same way as the victims of Temples'. Is it a copycat murder or was the wrong person jailed in the 1990's and the real perpetrator still at large? It's revealed that the dead woman was one of his 'girls' that he lured to the Farm and then allowed to go. She also belonged to the local amateur theatre company and investigations lead Wesley to wonder if her understudy was responsible for her murder as she craved for her part as the leading lady. 

At the same time the police are trying to solve the spate of burglaries on the homes of elderly people. Then an old man is murdered in his home. Is there a connection to the other killing?

It seems that as Wesley and the team follow one lead another sends them off in a different direction and when reports come in of several people seeing 'the dead reappearing' they are really baffled. Has this got anything to do with the case?  To add to the intrigue a diary is found recounting murders that took place in the 1660's also at Strangefields Farm. Is the place itself evil? Can a building influence peoples' behaviour?

Wesley then becomes really concerned when someone close to him disappears, has the killer struck again? What possible connection can there be and can he find them in time? 

A hugely enjoyable book full of unexpected twists and turns and false trails. Kate Ellis certainly has a knack for telling an intriguing story that has connections to the past and how they have an effect on the present.

I thoroughly recommend Dead Man's Lane for everyone who enjoys an exciting and compelling tale of revenge and greed.
Reviewer: Tricia Chappell 

Kate Ellis was born in Liverpool and she studied drama in Manchester. She worked in teaching, marketing and accountancy before first enjoying writing success as a winner of the North-West Playwrights competition. Crime and mystery stories have always fascinated her, as have medieval history and archaeology which she likes to incorporate in her books. She is married with two grown up sons and she lives in North Cheshire, England, with her husband.
Kate's novels feature archaeology graduate Detective Sergeant Wesley Peterson who fights crime in South Devon.  Each story combines an intriguing contemporary murder mystery with a parallel historical case. She has also written five books in the spooky Joe Plantagenet series set up in North Yorkshire as well as many short stories for crime fiction anthologies and magazines. Kate was elected a member of The Detection Club in 2014. She is a member of the Crime Writers Association and Murder Squad, and Mystery People. 
Visit her at

Tricia Chappell. I have a great love of books and reading, especially crime and thrillers. I play the occasional game of golf (when I am not reading). My great love is cruising especially to far flung places, when there are long days at sea for plenty more reading! I am really enjoying reviewing books and have found lots of great new authors.

Venice with Philip Gwynne Jones

I write this on a dull August morning, where thankfully for once it isn't raining. You may be reading this anywhere in the world, such is the joy of the Internet, and therefore maybe in brilliant sunshine. Wherever you are reading it Philip Gwynne Jones is now taking you to one of the most beautiful cities in the world - Venice.

Radmila May has reviewed the first three books by Philip Gwynne Jones.

'The Venetian Game' 
Published by Constable. 2 March 2017.
ISBN:978-1-47212-397-8 (PB)

We first meet Nathan Sutherland, the British Honorary Consul for Venice in The Venetian Game, the first book in this series. We learn that an Honorary Consul is an official representative of the government of one state in the territory of another state. His (or her) job is to assist and protect the citizens of that country and to facilitate trust and friendship between the people of both countries. However, he is not an ambassador but will provide such assistance as he can with bureaucratic issues arising in either country although his powers are limited. Honorary consuls are not paid but are expected to be available one or two days a week, more if required. The advantage for Nathan is that, quite apart from the pleasure of helping people so far as he can, ie. not very much, and fending off the complaints of those  who ask for practical assistance which he is mostly unable to give, is that it is a more interesting alternative to his paid work of translating technical manuals, and means that he is asked to various cultural events and so forth and so meets a lot of people. And on a more personal level it takes his mind off the fact that his wife has refused to come out to Venice to be with him but has no intention of leaving her home in Edinburgh.
One day, Nathan, having had to tell a British family whose documents have been stolen that in order to get new passports they will have to go Milan, and to advise two stroppy British youths that he cannot get them off their drugs charges although he can refer them to an Italian lawyer, finds himself confronted by a Mr Montgomery who politely but insistently requests that Nathan put a small parcel - contents unspecified - in his safe. Equally politely and equally insistently Nathan refuses to do so.
And then, in an entirely unexpected fashion, the packet does come into Nathan’s hands and is revealed as containing a small book with beautiful illustrations which appear to be in the style of a famous Renaissance painter. Nathan is no art expert so he asks his friend, art restorer  Federica Ravagnon, and she suggests that they are by the Renaissance artist Giovanni Bellini. However, a noted expert in the field tells Nathan and Federica that the illustrations are in fact modern forgeries and of little or no value. But in that case why are others interested in acquiring the book by a variety of means including considerable violence? Things are getting really difficult for Nathan and he has to call on his friends – Dario, middle-aged fan of British rock music, police officer Vanni, Rumanian emigrant Gheorghe, and Federica herself, not to mention his ferocious cat Gramsci – for help before the climax comes in a crumbling canalside palazzo occupied by two elderly men inextricably linked to each other by ties of blood and mutual hatred.
'Vengeance in Venice' 
Published by Constable, 12 April 2018. 
ISBN:978-1-47212-400-5 (PB)

The setting for Vengeance in Venice, second in the series, also features art – not the art of the Renaissance, but modern art and the Venice Biennale, the immense exhibition held every two years of art, sculpture, and so forth from almost every country in the world. As British Honorary Consul Nathan gets an invitation to the English exhibit, a huge and amazing display of jagged broken glass which can only be seen from an upstairs gallery. The effect is beautiful but terrifying. Nathan has already met the artist, Paul Considine, and finds him nervous and timid, and very dependent on his agent, Lewis Fitzgerald, for moral support especially from art critics; although many critics admire his work, others are less so, especially Gordon Blake-Hoyt (known as GBH) whose reviews are venomous, particularly one just published in The Times. And it is GBH who falls to his death among the jagged shards of glass and is decapitated. It should be Nathan who informs GBH’s brother but when Fitzgerald offers to do so instead Nathan accepts gratefully – telling sad news to relations of the deceased is the most difficult part of Nathan’s duties.

Meanwhile, Paul Considine has disappeared and there is evidence that he is unstable and on medication and that the beheading of GBH was deliberate. There is a very helpful art journalist, one Franscesco Nicoledi, but is he quite what he seems to be? And is there really a threat to the life of Signor Scarpa, curator of the Biennale? And indeed to Nathan himself? And is the charming Welsh artist, Gwenant Price, in some way involved? Once again Nathan’s friends and allies – Federica, Dario, Gheorghe, even Gramsci – are drawn into the tangle.

'The Venetian Masquerade' 

Published by Constable, 4 April 2019
ISBN:978-1-47212-973-4 (PB)
The Venetian Masquerade, the third in this series, is based around yet another aspect of the culture that has made Venice outstanding among the world’s cities. That is music, in particular the music of Claudio Monteverdi who, although born in Cremona and then working in Mantua, spent the last part of his life in Venice dying there in 1643. He bridged the gap between the music of the Renaissance and that of the Baroque and not only wrote numerous madrigals and much religious music, the best known being his Vespers of 1610, but was a key figure in the development of early opera.

After his death his music was largely forgotten until the mid-twentieth century by which time, tragically, much of it was lost. But a substantial amount remains and is frequently performed, not just in Venice but all over the world. And it is to a performance at La Fenice, Venice’s great opera house, of one of Monteverdi’s three remaining operas, The Coronation of Nero and Poppaea, that Federica is taking Nathan on his birthday which is also the 450th birthday of the composer. The conductor is the famous Thomas Joshua Lockwood and it was expected that Poppaea would be sung by the legendary soprano, Isotta Baldan. However, she is indisposed and her part is taken by someone else. Nonetheless Nathan is enjoying it immensely. Until that is someone in the box opposite Nathan and Federica is stabbed. Apart from the dead man there had only been on other occupant of the box but Nathan had not seen him sufficiently clearly to be able to identify him although there had been something odd about his face – not quite human, Nathan thinks. However, the dead man, Matteo Zambon, was Italian, not British, and so no concern of Nathan’s. Except that he was carrying one of Nathan’s business cards and that makes Nathan curious. He discovers that Zambon was a professor at a musical academy and was looking into Monteverdi’s activities while in Venice, in particularly relating to an opera by the composer, The Rape of Proserpina, the libretto of which is extant but the entire score, apart from one trio for three voices, is lost. And it is while Nathan is digging all this out that he encounters both Isotta and Lockwood and they are most anxious to follow up his discoveries, particularly Lockwood who is obsessed by the hope of finding the lost score. They join forces with Nathan, but their search is complicated not only by the weather, which is cold and foggy with the likelihood of Aqua Alta (when the waters of the Venetian lagoon rise and flooding threatens), but by the enormous numbers of tourists who throng Venice for Carnevale, all in various forms of fancy dress and masks. And one of those, wearing an impenetrable beak-shaped mask, is stalking Nathan. But why? And who? And are Lockwood’s and Isotta’s motives as straightforward as they say they are?
All in all, these three titles are an excellent opening to a series that promises to entertain readers and also to inform them of Venice’s extraordinary history and culture. More titles are promised and I am looking forward to them. And the books are enhanced by highly attractive covers which illustrate the city’s varied beauty. Strongly recommended. 
Reviewer: Radmila May

Philip Gwynne Jones first came to Italy in 1994 when he spent some time working for the European Space Agency in Frascati, a job that proved to be less exciting than he had imagined. He spent twenty years in the IT industry before realising he was congenitally unsuited to it, and now works as a teacher, writer and translator. His first novel, The Venetian Game, was Waterstones Thriller of the Month for March 2018, and a Times Top 5 bestseller.  Vengeance in Venice, the second novel in the Nathan Sutherland series, was chosen as the Waterstones Welsh Book of the Month for April 2018. The third novel in the series, The Venetian Masquerade followed in April 2019. He lives in Venice with his wife Caroline. He enjoys cooking, art, classical music and opera; and can occasionally be seen and heard singing bass with Cantori Veneziani and the Ensemble Vocale di Venezia.

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.