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Wednesday 30 March 2022

‘Murder on the Beach’ by Jane Adams

Published by Joffe Books,
13 December 2021.
ISBN: 978-1-80405069-9 (PB)
Originally published as

Detective Inspector McGregor, known as Mac, is living in Frantham on Sea Dorset, having moved there a year ago to make a new life. He had witnessed the death of a young girl by a paedophile, Thomas Peel, and was unable to stop him. He has lived with the guilt ever since, it almost destroyed him. Peel has not been seen since and it is thought he had died.

Then Mac’s new found ‘peace’ is shattered when Peel is spotted in his old hunting ground, Pinsent, up on the north west coast.

Mac’s friend in the force from that time, Alec, visits him to say he has been told to offer Mac the chance to join the team and help find and arrest Peel. Probably against his better judgment Mac accepts and travels up to Pinsent, reluctantly leaving behind his new life and friends.

Meanwhile, back in Frantham, one of his good friends Rina Martin, retired actress and television sleuth, having taken up crime solving for real, is concerned at the return of Karen a young woman in her twenties. She has come to take her young brother George to come and live with her as she has acquired a house for them but he refuses to go. She had left the area a while ago rather under a cloud and bears a grudge against Mac for something she feels he could have done at the time to help save George from their father. Rina is concerned for George but also worried that Karen is determined to take her revenge out on Mac. She really seems to have changed, but Rina feels she could still be dangerous, especially later when she is seen in Pinsent.

Events lead everyone to believe Karen may actually know Peel. There is real concern for Mac, as when the paedophile killed Cara, the young girl, he enjoyed the look on Mac’s face and has now threatened to “grind him into the dust”.

Then Mac’s partner Miriam, is kidnapped back in Frantham. How is he going to not only survive, but bring all to justice and rescue Miriam? In spite of Rina and her friends’ help, Mac really struggles and ends up in trouble with the law himself.

Another intricately woven story from Jane Adams, I can’t wait to read the next one. Thoroughly recommended.

Reviewer: Tricia Chappell

Jane Adams was born in Leicestershire, where she still lives. She has a degree in Sociology and has held a variety of jobs including lead vocalist in a folk rock band. She enjoys pen and ink drawing; martial arts and her ambition is to travel the length of the Silk Road by motorbike. Her first book, The Greenway, was shortlisted for the CWA John Creasey Award in 1995 and for the Author's Club Best First Novel Award. Jane writes several series.  Her first series featured Mike Croft. Several books featuring DS Ray Flowers. Seven titles featuring blind Naoimi Blake, and six titles featuring Rina Martin. Her most ret series is set between the two World Wars and featuring Detective Inspector Henry Johnstone and his sergeant, Micky Hitchens. Jane has also written several standalone novels. She is married with two children.

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.

‘The Dark Eye’ By Ingrid Black

Published by Headline,
5 July 2004.
ISBN 0-7553-0703-6 (HB)

Responding to a call that someone is trying to kill him, Saxon, former FBI agent, now crime writer agrees to meet photographer Felix Berg at midnight at the Howth lighthouse.  Saxon is both wary and intrigued. Recently there have been several killings in the city of Dublin - all by a single bullet to the head - all apparently motiveless as no link can be found between any of the victims.  The killer has been dubbed ‘The Marxman’.

Following her ill-conceived agreement to meet with Felix Berg, Saxon finds herself caught up in the mystery of these seemingly senseless murders. The case is being handled by Saxon’s lover, Superintendent Grace Fitzgerald, but Saxon is not one to wait around while the police follow the correct procedures.

This is the second book in the series featuring ex FBI Agent Saxon, and it has as many twists and turns as her stunning debut The Dead. Highly recommended.

Reviewer: Lizzie Hayes

Ingrid Black is the pseudonym of Eilis O'Hanlon and Ian McConnel, a husband-and-wife writing team who live with their family in Belfast, Northern Ireland. They are the creators of ‘Saxon and Grace Fitzgerald’, former FBI agent and Detective Chief Superintendent with the Dublin Metropolitan Police’s Murder Squad. 

Tuesday 29 March 2022

‘Mystery in the Making’ by Ann Granger

Published by Headline,
9 December 2021.
ISBN: 978-1-4722-9018-2 (HB)

Despite the thousands of books I have read over the years I admit to never having read a book of short stories. This was no deliberate action on my part, in fact until I received a copy of Mystery in the Making, I wasn’t even aware of this deficiency in my reading life.  But having read and enjoyed all the many books I have read written by Ann Granger I decided to dip in.

In her introduction Ann explains the tricky business of creating a short story. As I read on, I realised that in fact the short story is very much for me, I am not one for masses of description, and have been known to skip pages when the author starts waxing lyrical about the surroundings – no room for that in the short story.

As the eighteen stories in Murder in the Making, span Ann’s thirty-plus years as a writer they range not only in period but also in style, in that some of the stories were originally written to be magazine serials which she says presented a few different challenges.  

This book is a gem, it offers the reader everything one could want in one volume of crime fiction tales in that of the eighteen stories four of them would class as novellas in that they are each around ninety plus pages.  Three of them feature the writer Emma Durrant, and each of these are split into five parts, clearly those that were written for magazine serials, with each part ending on a cliff-hanger.  Gosh! I would have been on the newsagent’s doorstep first thing every week to be sure of getting that next instalment.  But interestingly enough my favourite story was one of the shortest ones.

The stories take us from Cornwall to Scotland and from the Victorian era to the present day. One or two even have a ghostly element thrown in.  In short, there is something to delight every crime fiction reader, as in every story there is an intriguing mystery, and that delicious element of surprise that all crime fiction readers love. As it says on the inside cover of the book ‘this is a collection to treasure’. I totally agree with that sentiment. Highly recommended.
Reviewer: Lizzie Sirett

Ann Granger was born in Portsmouth where she was a pupil at the then Northern Grammar School for Girls and went from there to London University where she achieved a BA in Modern Languages (French with German). After a period spent first teaching English in France and then working in the Visa Section of British Embassies around the world. She met her husband, who was also working for the British Embassy, in Prague, and together they received postings to places as far apart as Munich and Lusaka. She is the author of the Mitchell and Markby Mysteries, the Fran Varady series and more recently the Lizzie Martin mystery series. She lives in Bicester, near Oxford.