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Friday 27 January 2023

‘Face the Lies’ by Barbara Fagan Speake

Published Independently,
November 2021.
ISBN 978-1-910489-89-5

Westford Police Department along with Detectives Annie Macpherson and her husband Dave Ellison have at last arrested Lyndsey Daley a known serial killer. She is in custody awaiting sentencing.

News comes in of her being transferred to a secure unit in hospital after an attack by one of the other female inmates. Annie and others at Westford are immediately suspicious that she engineered the attack as part of an elaborate escape plan. All too soon their fears are realised. When the team are then contacted by F.B.I. Agents it is revealed that Lyndsey has killed more people than at first thought and mainly men. She would befriend them and when they refused to do her bidding, she would dispose of them.

At the same time Annie and all at Westford are dealing with the murder trial of an ex-detective of theirs. This reveals in his past a grave miscarriage of justice, leading to an innocent man serving many years in prison.

Meanwhile, at least two men are found who survived Lyndsey’s attempts at their murders. Their accounts of what happened make the police realise just how warped and dubious Lyndsey’s mind is.

We then learn of her plans for Detective Dave Ellison and how she intends to spend the rest of her life with him. Can the team foil her very elaborate plans? Dave’s life may hang in the balance, time is of the essence.

I found the great interaction between the characters really absorbing.  It is also a very intriguing story of how devious and determined a person can be. I also thought it makes a change to read about a woman serial killer.

Apparently, the author has won previous awards for crime novels, and I highly recommend this one.

Reviewer: Tricia Chappell 

Barbara has written a series about Annie beginning with Primed by the Past and a stand-alone novel and book of short stories.

Barbara Fagan Speake was born and brought up in Connecticut, on the eastern seaboard of the USA. She moved to the UK in 1972 following her marriage and had a varied career as a research psychologist, clinical psychologist and senior manager in the NHS. A previous author of non-fiction books, she turned her attention to fiction writing in 2001. Barbara creates her characters from both the US and the UK and draws on her experiences of both countries as well as on her professional background. A fictional city in Connecticut, Westford, was the setting for her standalone debut novel, Secrets Only Sleep (2005). She continued to use the setting for the novels in her Scottish Detective and has now written seven further books in the series featuring Detective Annie Macpherson Detective Annie Macpherson. 

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.

Monday 23 January 2023

‘Bloody Foreigners’ by Neil Humphreys

Published by Muswell Press London,
31 March 2022. 
ISBN: 978-1-83834-013-1 (PB)

The third book of the DI Low series is set in London.  In an effort to get rid of the brilliant, but irascible, detective, the Singapore government has sent Low to lecture on criminology at the London School of Economics - the college where he had studied several years previously.

Low hasn’t been in London long before he becomes embroiled in the murder of a young Muslim foreign student, Mohamed Kamel. The crime is investigated by DI Ramilla Mistry. Low and Mistry have history. When they were students, they were a loving couple. Later, when Ramilla saw how unstable Low was and how cruelly he could treat suspects if they didn’t tell him what he wanted to know, she had deserted Low. Ramilla is now happily married with a young son. Low still loves her.

Because the initials MEGA - Make England Great Again - were left on a wall near Mohamed’s body it was assumed that the murder was linked to a wave of xenophobia and racism currently being encouraged by far-right fanatics including the polarizing political leader Billy Evans. The situation becomes more complicated when Mohamed’s girlfriend, Zhang Jun Li, a young Chinese doctor, posts a savage rebuttal of MEGA’s behaviour on Facebook. She suffers a terrible fate.

Low can’t help interfering in the investigation. Apart from anything else, he is terrified that the wrath of MEGA’s campaign will be turned against DI Mistry - a young Indian woman – and her family.  He’s not wrong. But the police in London regard Low as a cross between an enigmatic Chinaman with a gift for criminal mind games and a bipolar sociopath and are, not surprisingly, reluctant to accept his help.

The story charges along at a great rate before it ends with a couple of devastating twists in the tale and Low heads back to Singapore. In spite of Low’s extraordinarily unpredictable and bad behaviour you can’t help but admire his detecting skills and wish that he could sort out his mental problems and get himself a better life. I have no idea what the future holds for this unfathomable detective, but if Neil Humphreys plans to write any more books in the series, then I’d certainly be interested in finding out.

Reviewer: Angela Crowther.

Neil Humphreys  grew up in Dagenham Essex and went to university in Manchester. He now lives in Singapore where he writes for various publications and broadcasts on TV and radio. He is one of the bestselling authors in Asia.


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 2023

Saturday 4th March: 10am-5pm.
Portsmouth Central Library: 3rd Floor

Guests of Honour:
Edward Marston
and Judith Cutler on
Murder Ancient & Modern

Judith Cutler

Edward Marston
Edward Marston is one of our most prolific
and popular authors of
Historical Crime Fiction and Judith Cutler is an acclaimed writer of both Contemporary Crime Fiction and Victorian Mysteries.
Edward and Judith will give a talk on Murder Ancient & Modern.

There will be two panels.

Jeff Dowson

Peter Tickler
Panel 1:
Oxford based, contemporary crime author
 Peter Tickler (moderator);
Jeff Dowson, who writes both historical and contemporary crime fiction mainly set in Bristol;
Portsmouth based author Pete Adams.

Title of the Panel is
Deceit or Cheat:
Does the writer have to play fair with the reader?

Carol Westron
Leigh Russell

Panel 2:

Carol Westron
(moderator) author of police procedurals, cosy crime and Victorian Murder Mysteries;
million bestseller Leigh Russell, author of the Geraldine Steel crime fiction series,
who is about to embark on an exciting new series;

Charlie Cochrane, author of gay fiction in contemporary, Edwardian and Post World War 2 settings.

Charlie Cochrane

Title of panel: Never Kill the Cat, (the role of animals in crime fiction.)

 Four short talks:

 Leigh Russell: best selling author will talk about her writing process and hopefully will tell us about the exciting new series that’s about to be published (title to be announced.)

Linda Stratmann

Linda Stratmann: : an expert on Victorian history and the author of three series of fictional novels set in Victorian times and numerous non-fiction books. Linda will tell us about her latest venture, The Early Casebook of Sherlock Holmes and talk about what inspired her to address that part of Holmes’ life, and how she is exploring it.

Dot Marshall-Gen
An academic with a passion for crime fiction, Dot Marshall-Gent will talk about the use Agatha Christie makes of nursery rhymes, with reference to Christie’s published notebooks and the often sinister origins of seemingly innocent nursery rhymes.

Carol Westron: author and an expert on the Golden Age of Crime Fiction, will talk about how the Georgian & Regency novels of Georgette Heyer are marketed as Romantic Fiction but how many have crime at their heart, which if rebranded would make Heyer one of the earliest authors of Historical Detective Fiction.

Expert Witness: Dr Nick Pamment on Wildlife Crime

Nick Pamment

Nick Pamment of the University of Portsmouth has agreed to reprise the talk about Wildlife Crime that he gave over Zoom during lockdown, this time in person and bringing several artefacts to illustrate his talk.

£12 (full day ticket) £8 (concessions)