Murder Plot by Kevin McCarthy

24th September 2020.   3.5 stars.

I found this entertaining cosy mystery buried among the books on my Kindle. The story’s set in 1975. GP, Lance Elliott, becomes involved in a murder investigation when members of the nearby allotment start dying in suspicious circumstances. Being a local GP, most of the victims and suspects are known to him, though this doesn’t seem to help him much as he grapples with the investigation.

The story is told from Lance’s viewpoint in a gentle, humorous way as if he constantly doubts what’s happening to him. While he’s an almost reluctant investigator, his father, a retired GP, has no self-doubts, throwing himself into the fray with gusto. The scenes between the two of them are among the  most amusing and memorable in the story.

With the help of the local police and the usual red herrings and secrets, the story almost strolls along until the final stages when the momentum builds to an exciting climax and reveal.

If you enjoy a gentle cosy mystery with a good puzzle at its heart, and no bad language or unnecessary violence, then this story is worth a look.

Description

It’s 1975, Lord Lucan has been named as the murderer of Sandra Rivett, and in a quietly anonymous London suburb, it seems that murder is most certainly in the air…

Retired hard-man Charlie Daniels dies on his allotment. Verdict: death by natural causes. But Dr Lance Elliot isn’t so sure – especially when more local residents start dying!

With the caustic Inspector Masson looking over his shoulder, he is soon uncovering the murky secrets of the Thornton Heath Horticulture and Allotment Association in his hunt for the killer. And even Lance himself will discover that the past can never stay buried forever…

Murder Plot by Kevin McCarthy

Latest Reviews for No Love Lost

Lacy at Lacy Ace Reviews confesses:

I would be happy to be left on a desert island with a collection of Kent Fisher mysteries! Another absolute must read!

Read the full review here.

Linda at Linda’s Book Bag says:

No Love Lost is an absolute cracker of a book that deserves a wide audience. I found it hugely exciting, cleverly plotted and very entertaining.

Read the full review here.

No Love Lost Launch

The Keeper of Secrets by ML Rose

21st September 2020.   4 stars.

Someone is playing mind games with DCI Arla Baker, breaking into her flat, sending her items that suggest they know her secrets. Worst of all, they undermine her by claiming she knows what happened to the missing teenager of an American diplomat.

No wonder Arla’s bosses are concerned. Their concern turns into their worst fears when the missing girl turns up dead.

While there’s nothing new about a killer targeting a police officer during a murder investigation, I like it when things get personal. It ramps up the stakes and the author deftly handles Arla’s fight to maintain her sanity, stay in charge of the murder investigation and find out who’s tormenting her as she slowly unravels. With glimpses into the killer’s mind, both sides of the story run alongside each other and interweave, adding to the suspense and tension, which increases when another victim is found in the same park.

With strong characters, plenty of emotion, tension and action, the story takes you on a gripping ride to an exciting and satisfying climax that ties up all the loose ends. While I had to suspend my disbelief a little at times, the final twist was neatly handled and revealed, setting up an exciting climax that kept me turning the pages.

As this is the second story in the series, I’m not sure how much of the backstory I missed from the first book, but it didn’t affect my enjoyment of the story. Another author to add to my list and a book I would heartily recommend.

Description

A teenage girl disappears on the streets of London. Soon, her parents get a note. Ask Detective Arla Baker where the missing girl is. Then a dead body appears in the local park.

Someone knows a lot about Detective Inspector Arla Baker. They know her hidden past. They know where she lives. They know about her lost sister, Nicole.

Every move Arla makes to catch this killer is anticipated. It’s as if he knows what she’ll do next… Pressure is mounting on Arla. Not least because the missing girl happens to be the American Ambassador’s daughter.

But why is the killer so obsessed with Arla? More than his victims, it is Arla he wants to have in his sights…

As the net closes around her, Arla zooms in on the social circle of London’s upper class, and their dirty secrets.

Secrets some will kill to keep.

Another teenage girl is killed inside the same park, and the same message is left on the body. Ask Arla Baker what happened.

For Arla, it’s not a police case anymore. It’s a fight for survival.

The Keeper of Secrets by ML Rose

The Scent of Guilt by Tony J Forder

20th September 2020.    5 stars.

Having read and enjoyed Bad to the Bone, the first book in the series, I was keen to see what DI Bliss would face in this second outing. Having left Peterborough twelve years ago, he’s back and immediately thrust into a serial killer investigation. Needless to say, his return isn’t welcomed by all, least of all by his new boss. Her animosity and unreasonable demands pile on the pressure as he investigates a highly complex and unusual series of murders.

When the killings are linked to some separate rapes, being investigated by his friend and former colleague, DS Chandler, the case takes an unexpected twist that ultimately leads them to California before the truth is unravelled.

And it takes some unravelling.

I was pleased to find that the twelve year absence seems to have reduced the complicated backstory and history that burdened Bliss in the first story, resulting in more pace and balance this time.

As a result this became an enthralling and compelling investigation that delivered on every level – strong, believable characters and relationships, a dogged determination to get to the truth, an intricate and delightful plot that will last long in my memory and quality writing to bring it all alive.

In short, this is one of the best and most memorable crime stories I’ve read for some time.

Description

Twelve years after he left Peterborough under a cloud, DI Bliss returns to the city and the major crimes team. Having spent years policing organised crime, Bliss is plunged straight into the heart of a serial murder investigation.

Meanwhile, Penny Chandler has been promoted to DS and has been working in

London on the Met’s sexual crimes team. But when two rapes are reported on her old patch in Peterborough, Chandler volunteers to interview the victims.

Chandler joins the hunt for the attacker and soon notices a possible link between the rapes and Bliss’s murder investigation. Could the same man be responsible?

Just as both cases seem to stall, a call comes in from an ex-policeman who knows of unsolved cases in the USA with a similar MO. Bliss finds himself travelling to California to hunt for a killer whose reach may have stretched further than anyone could possibly imagine.

But in order to catch the murderer, Bliss must discover the killer’s motive. A motive which should have remained buried in the past…

The Scent of Guilt by Tony Forder

Dead Inside by Noelle Holten

16th September 2020. 3 stars.

The subject of domestic abuse can’t be an easy one to tackle, so full marks to the author for depicting the suffering women can endure at the hands of their partners. Getting inside the heads of the abusers must have been a challenge. Their thoughts, attitudes and behaviours were certainly chilling and abhorrent at times.

The effect of being trapped in a violent and loveless marriage was shown through the eyes of probation officer, Lucy, who suffered to protect her adopted daughter. This was her story in the main, though she was one of several women who suffered violent abuse.

This made me wonder why the publishers were promoting this story as a serial killer thriller, with DC Maggie Jamieson as the main investigating officer. This suggests a police procedural, especially when three male abusers are murdered. But the police investigation into their deaths lacked depth and detail, and felt more like a subplot in comparison to the lives and traumas of the main female characters.

I would have preferred the focus to remain on Lucy and her conflicts and challenges, showing the police investigation from her perspective, leading to a more balanced and incisive story.

Description

When three wife beaters are themselves found beaten to death, DC Maggie Jamieson knows she is facing her toughest case yet.

The police suspect that Probation Officer Lucy Sherwood – who is connected to all three victims – is hiding a dark secret. Then a fourth domestic abuser is brutally murdered.

And he is Lucy’s husband.

Now the police are running out of time, but can Maggie really believe her friend Lucy is a cold-blooded killer?

Dead Inside by Noelle Holten

The Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie

15th September 2020.   5 stars.

This is the first novel to feature Miss Marple. In her first appearance, she’s described as a bit of a busybody, who’s always right in her assessment of any situation. The vicar, who relates the story, isn’t too kind in his opinion of her, but he slowly grows to realise she sees what most people miss.

While some of the attitudes are of their time in the 1930s, the story is written in a direct style that feels fresh and perfectly at home in today’s world. As you’d expect from the author, the plot is complex and clever, with plenty of suspects and red herrings to keep you guessing. The touches of humour lighten the story where needed as the cunning plot is slowly unravelled.

The characterisation is first rate, especially Inspector Slack, who’s like a rude, overbearing whirlwind, dismissive of Miss Marple in the first instance. Her knowledge and understanding of people is drawn from parallels within the village of St Mary Mead. Naturally Slack doesn’t have the time or patience to listen to the tales she relates to make her points.

While Miss Marple plays only a modest role, her short, incisive appearances reveal the determined and uncompromising sleuth she will become.

If you’ve never read Agatha Christie or Miss Marple, this is the perfect introduction and a delight from start to finish.

Description

‘Anyone who murdered Colonel Protheroe,’ declared the parson, brandishing a carving knife above a joint of roast beef, ‘would be doing the world at large a service!’

It was a careless remark for a man of the cloth. And one which was to come back and haunt the clergyman just a few hours later. From seven potential murderers, Miss Marple must seek out the suspect who has both motive and opportunity.

The Murder at the Vicarage

The Third Rule by Andrew Barrett

9th August 2020.   4 stars.

Let me first say how much I enjoyed this book. I wasn’t sure this would be the case when I opened it on my Kindle to discover I’d previously read the first five chapters and no more. This time, I stuck with it, letting the quality of the writing override my misgivings about Eddie Collins. I struggled to like him or feel much sympathy for him, thanks to his reckless, self-destructive streak, but as the story progressed, I admired his conviction and resolve. I always root for the underdog and was willing him to succeed as the story approached its exciting climax.

It’s an intense and complex story with some big themes, such as the return of the death penalty into the justice system and how power corrupts, coupled with personal tragedy and rivalries. But at its heart is a story of how one man triumphs over trauma and the demons that haunt him to fight the corruption that threatens to destroy him. He’s not alone in his fight, and there’s a price to pay for standing up to those who want to silence him.

Though not an easy read at times, this is a raw and gritty thriller with a slick plot, plenty of tension and an exciting climax. I would have preferred the story to end right there on a high as I was quite breathless, metaphorically speaking, with that satisfied feeling you get when the climax is over.

I loved the forensic and scenes of crime details, which brought the scenes to life, and helped this story to stand out in a crowded crime fiction market.

Description

Crime Scene Investigator, Eddie Collins, always followed the evidence to the truth. Now, he’s running from justice, and running for his life.

Eddie Collins was a brilliant CSI who became an instant hero for tackling an armed robber. He almost died that night. And many times since then he wished he had.

Four years later, riots erupt as a new government unleashes a cruel and fallible death penalty known as The Rules. Meanwhile, a hit and run driver kills Eddie’s son. Eddie blames himself and his hero status dissolves into a drunken wreckage.

Though devastated, he is determined to find his son’s killer, and in a display of his former brilliance, discovers the driver’s identity. But he also uncovers so much more.

His only mistake is not keeping the evidence and his fury to himself.

Broadcast as a murderer and sentenced to a Rule Three death, Eddie must confront his past, chased by a government killer and by a detective who loves slaughtering criminals.

Can Eddie avenge his son, expose the government, and still save himself?

The Third Rule by Andrew Barrett

 

The Gilded Shroud by Elizabeth Bailey

30th August 2020.   4 stars.

It’s no secret that I prefer private detectives and sleuths to police procedural crime fiction. It’s much more challenging for a sleuth to solve a murder, especially when the killing is in 1789 and you’re a woman.

But that’s exactly what Ottilia Draycott must do when a marchioness is found murdered in her bed. It doesn’t help when the marchioness’s husband, Lord Polbrook, fled the house during the night. His mother Sybilla steps into the household to restore calm with her companion, Ottilia.

From the moment Ottilia sets foot in the house, sparks start to fly. Direct, determined and masterful at dealing with people under duress, she makes an immediate impression. She’s soon delving into the secrets and suspicions upstairs and downstairs, following a twisting trail, strewn with the usual deceptions and lies. While she ferrets away inside the house, rumours and accusations are rife outside as news spreads.

I thoroughly enjoyed the story, driven at a good pace by Ottilia’s superlative performance and humour. The characters are engaging and believable. The plot has enough twists and turns for mystery lovers, and there’s an undercurrent of romance to add a little spice to the story.

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical murder mysteries and a memorable sleuth.

Description

1789, London

When Emily Fanshawe, Marchioness of Polbrook, is found strangled in her bedchamber, suspicion immediately falls on those residing in the grand house in Hanover Square.

Emily’s husband – Randal Fanshawe, Lord Polbrook – fled in the night and is chief suspect – much to the dismay of his family.

Ottilia Draycott is brought in as the new lady’s companion to Sybilla, Dowager Marchioness and soon finds herself assisting younger son, Lord Francis Fanshawe in his investigations.

Can Ottilia help clear the family name? Does the killer still reside in the house?

Or could there be more to the mystery than meets the eye?

The Gilded Shroud by Elizabeth Bailey