Denial of Credit by Peter Rowlands

16th June 2022.

In another convoluted story journalist Mike Stanhope finds himself up to his ears in more mystery, intrigue and heart-stopping moments. He’s asked to replace a missing ghost writer to complete the autobiography of Alan Treadwell, an ironically named public figure.

Naturally, Mike wants to know what happened to the previous writer. His curiosity gets him into more scrapes than he could ever have imagined as he travels the length and breadth of England to investigate. Meanwhile, back in Cornwall, his relationship with Ashley seems unable to take the strain of his frequent travels, especially when he meets Sam while working with Treadwell.

Mike’s an entertaining character with a cynical sense of humour that keeps him going when the bad guys try to thwart his enquiries. The story’s complex, convoluted and filled with enough drama and tension to satisfy the most demanding mystery readers, which includes me.

If you enjoy something a little different and complex, filled with characters you root for, look no further than this excellent series.

Description

When a noted public figure invites journalist Mike Stanhope to ghost-write his autobiography, Mike jumps at it. He can use the money, and his life needs a new direction. But he quickly realises that Alan Treadwell is a tough and unforgiving taskmaster, with strange ideas about how his book should be tackled.

Frustration changes to concern as Mike discovers things about Treadwell’s life that he’d rather not know: things, moreover, that someone else also seems keen to keep quiet. Mike hopes he’ll learn more from Joe, the original writer he’s been recruited to replace, but worryingly, Joe is nowhere to be found.

As Mike tries to piece together Treadwell’s complex history, his hard-won relationship with his girlfriend is faltering, and his repeated absences don’t help. When the prospect of an appealing new involvement beckons, Mike’s loyalties are torn and his integrity is on the line. With everything at stake, the action builds to an explosive climax as Mike finally understands what he’s stumbled into.

The taut narrative and tight plotting of this fast-paced book mark it out as much more than just a sequel to its two predecessors, Alternative Outcome and Deficit of Diligence. It works in its own right as a compelling stand-alone mystery, delivering an intricate story line, vivid characters and dialogue, and a steady build-up to its dramatic conclusion.

Denial of Credit by Peter Rowlands

The Janus Stone by Elly Griffiths

16th June 2022.

With a gentle, but atmospheric pace, the second Ruth Galloway novel picks up a few months after the first one finished. When a skeleton is uncovered during the demolition of an old house, her forensic skills are needed. With a missing skull and bones that are more recent in origin, this is one for DCI Nelson to investigate.

Ruth continues to remain involved as enquiries reveal the house was once a children’s home. The owners of the land and development are also drawn into the mystery, especially when the bones are carbon dated and turn out to be older than originally suspected.

As the enquiry shifts gear to investigate two missing children, someone seems intent on intimidating Ruth. From here, the story picks up pace to another classic chase climax that’s exciting and nerve jangling.

With sublime characterisation and complex relationships between key players, this is an intelligent murder mystery with plenty to savour and enjoy.

Description

A gruesome discovery at an old children’s home lays bare terrible secrets from Norwich’s past in the second gripping mystery for Dr Ruth Galloway.

Dr Ruth Galloway’s forensic skills are called upon when builders, demolishing an old house in Norwich, uncover the bones of a child – minus the skull – beneath a doorway. Is it some ritual sacrifice or just plain straightforward murder? Ruth links up with DCI Harry Nelson to investigate.

The house was once a children’s home. Nelson traces the Catholic priest who used to run the place. He tells him that two children did go missing forty years before – a boy and a girl. They were never found.

When carbon dating proves that the child’s bones predate the home and relate to a time when the house was privately owned, Ruth is drawn ever more deeply into the case. But as spring turns into summer it becomes clear that someone is desperate to put her off the scent by frightening her to death…

The Janus Stone by Elly Griffiths

Murder on Sea by Jane Adams

8th June 2022.

This is one of the best novels I’ve read for some time. I loved its caring, sympathetic characters brought to life by the author’s deft writing. While it’s essentially a police procedural, led by DI McGregor, Rina Martin, a former actress who played a TV sleuth, had quite a role to play. She runs a quiet guest house on the coast of Dorset, where nothing much happens.

Then an elderly lady is bludgeoned to death in her home. From here, the story opens out, drawing in George and Paul, two boys with very different reasons to be frightened. Having broken into the lady’s house the previous evening, one of them witnesses her murder. The other has more personal reasons to be scared when he believes he’s spotted the abusive father who his family ran away from.

From here the story moves away from the traditional murder mystery, but still packs a poignant punch at its climax. I really felt for McGregor, who has to wrestle with his principles as he tries to deal with the aftermath.

The story’s intriguing, engaging and beautifully crafted. It’s driven by realistic characters caught up in the unreal world of murder. There’s humour within the darkness and hope for a brighter future. All this means this is one of the best cosy mysteries I’ve read for a long time.

I can’t wait to read the rest of the series.

Description

Meet Rina Martin, a retired actress with a taste for tea, gardening and crime solving.

She played a TV sleuth for years, but now she has to do it for real.

She retires to the sleepy town of Frantham-on-Sea. Here on the Dorset coast, she runs her own immaculate guest house and life is blissfully quiet.

Until . . .

A few doors down, harmless old Mrs Freer is bludgeoned to death, and Rina can’t help but be drawn into the mystery.

Mrs Freer’s home was ransacked, but this was no ordinary burglary.

Who knew the old lady kept a gun stashed under her pillow?
And who wanted it badly enough to kill?

Detective Sebastian McGregor is called in to solve this baffling case.

But with her neighbours’ safety at stake, Rina knows she needs to give him a helping hand.

Murder on Sea by Jane Adams

Mystery at Apple Tree Cottage by Clare Chase

7th June 2022.

In the second novel in the series, obituary writer Eve Mallow has moved to the village of Saxford St Peter, looking for rural idyll and a quieter life. Then Ashton Foley returns to set tongues wagging. He’s overcome his past troubles to become a successful interior designer with a list of top notch clients. He also has a natural, flirtatious charm that can turn heads and antagonise husbands.

When his murdered body is found in the woods, it seems his wayward past may have caught up with him. While the police focus on his mother’s partner, Howard, Eve soon realises there are several other suspects with motives to kill Ashton.

The gentle pace and focus on the colourful characters in the village makes the story an absorbing read that allows you to fully consider the various suspects and their motives without being any the wiser. Eve Mallow, and her wonderful dachshund Gus, is a great character, who works it all out in the end, usually after a couple of hiccups along the way.

If you enjoy a well-written cosy murder mystery with an entertaining backstory, filled with fully rounded, lovable characters, you need look no further.

Description

Obituary writer and amateur sleuth Eve Mallow is enjoying life in sleepy Saxford St Peter – until a mysterious murder lands right at her door…

It’s spring in Saxford St Peter – time to get back in the garden, listen to the birds, and take gentle strolls in the woods. But for some, it’s the season for murder.

Eve Mallow is relishing the gentle pace of the village until a new arrival stirs everyone up. Ashton Foley is back: a teenage tearaway turned interior designer to the stars. He’s mad, bad and dangerous to know, but charming too – as Eve herself can testify – and every house in Saxford opens its doors to him.

So when he’s found murdered in the woods near his mother’s home, Apple Tree Cottage, there’s no shortage of suspects. A jealous husband? A spurned lover? Or has someone from his past life caught up with him?

The police soon hit on a simple solution, and arrest his mother’s partner Howard. Ashton always hated him, and he bears all the marks of a recent fight. But Ashton’s mother, miles away in New Zealand, is convinced he’s innocent, and enlists Eve’s help to prove it.

There’s just one problem. Eve saw Howard sniffing around Apple Tree Cottage on the morning of the murder, and she’s fairly sure he’s guilty, too…
Mystery at Aplle Tree Cottage by Clare Chase

The Aura by Carrie Bedford

23rd May 2022.

I thoroughly enjoyed this cosy mystery, featuring architect Kate Benedict, who discovers she has a gift that often seems to be more of a curse. She can see the aura of people who are about to die. Naturally, she doesn’t believe what she sees, or its implications. But the deaths of several people soon have her agonising about what she sees and whether she can intervene to save these people.

When she foresees the death of Rebecca Williams, Kate’s struggles become a need to find out who murdered her friend. From this point, the story becomes more of a traditional murder mystery.

At first, I was a little sceptical that the psychic side of Kate could be used as a skill or helpful aid as she solves murders. But it wasn’t used like that. If anything, Kate’s struggles to come to terms with the implications of her ‘gift’ and the responsibilities it seemed to place on her made fascinating reading.

With excellent characterisation, a gentle pace and enough twists in the plot as the investigation progressed, this was a great introduction to a series I look forward to enjoying.

Description

SHE KNOWS WHO’S GOING TO DIE!
BUT NO ONE WILL BELIEVE HER…

Life spins out of control for London architect Kate Benedict when she sees a dancing aura above certain people’s heads that seems to signal death. Suddenly she’s psychic. But that can’t be! Psychic’s not acceptable in her circle, where the supernatural is strictly for the superstitious. And yet…people are dying. People close to her.

Kate’s tentative attempts to talk about her new-found metaphysical gift are met with eye rolls, so much so that she can’t even tell the nice Scotland Yard detective who’s investigating the death of a close friend, Rebecca Williams. And now Rebecca’s neighbour has an aura.

So what’s Kate to do but try to save him by turning detective herself? A break-in and attack on her boyfriend confirm that the murderer’s catching on that Kate knows too much. But he (or maybe she) has no idea that what Kate knows is a little on the paranormal side.

The Aura by Carrie Bedford

Mystery on Hidden Lane by Clare Chase

8th April 2022.

Eve Mallow is a freelance obituary writer who likes to visit the subject’s home and interview those who knew him best. When she arrives in the quiet village of Saxford St Peter, she discovers the subject of her obituary was murdered. While determined to continue with her obituary, she can’t help investigating the murder as well, bringing her into conflict with the local police.

Populated with colourful characters, this is a cosy mystery that gently pulls you along as each discovery Eve makes adds another suspect to a growing list. Her imagination often fills in a few blanks as she searches for the motive behind the killing.

Then a second murder ramps up the tension and puts Eve herself in danger. Being a stranger to the village, can she count on anyone to help her? Who can she trust when so many residents have motives to kill the world famous cellist she’s writing about?

Eve is a likeable, sensible and determined character, who has her own issues to contend with as she digs deeper into the mystery. While she seems to go to a lot of trouble to write an obituary, the story remains interesting and entertaining as it heads for a dramatic climax and reveal.

This is the first book in the series and I’m looking forward to reading the next to see how the author develops Eve through another murder mystery.

Description

When Bernard Fitzpatrick drowns in a river close to his home, the village mourns a tragic accident… and amateur sleuth Eve Mallow is on the case.

Obituary writer Eve is looking forward to her new assignment, as well as spending a few days in the sweet little village of Saxford St Peter, walking the country lanes with her beloved dachshund Gus. But it turns out that it’s Bernard’s death that she’ll need to investigate, not his life. On the day she arrives, news breaks that the world-famous cellist was the victim of a grisly murder. Could this quaint English village be hiding a dark secret?

As Eve starts to interview Bernard’s friends and colleagues, she finds that he’d ruffled more than a few feathers. In fact, from the landlords of the Cross Keys Inn to his own seemingly devoted secretary, there’s barely a person in town who doesn’t have some reason to hate him… is one of the friendly villagers really a cold-blooded killer?

Eve hoped Saxford St Peter would be the perfect escape from her busy city life. But there is darkness even in the most sunlit of settings. And when a second body is found, Eve realises she’s spoken to every single suspect. Her notebook contains all the clues she needs. But will she be able to crack the case and identify them… before they realise she’s on their trail and make her their next target?

Mystery on Hidden Lane by Clare Chase

Murder Never Misses by Faith Martin

26th February 2022.

Stories always become more exciting when they get personal. And you can’t get much more personal than a stalker who has put a knife to your throat. Naturally, Hillary Greene wants to identify and catch her stalker, but it’s complicated. The stalker could be responsible for three murders.

While another detective is brought in to track down the stalker, Hillary investigates the disappearance of the three women. At first, it has all the makings of another cold case review, but progress is non-existent until a slip up by the stalker offers a glimmer of hope. Then it becomes a race to prevent another murder.

Like all the previous books, this is another complex and twisting story that will keep you guessing. The menace of the stalker is always in the background, like a dark cloud, heightening the tension. With romance and plenty of humour to lighten the mix, this is another entertaining and involving crime story that retains all the important elements of the previous stories while progressing the backstory.

While there’s no need to read the previous thirteen novels to enjoy this one, why deny yourself the pleasure of such a consistently good series?

Description

Three missing young women. One evil stalker. But Hillary doesn’t think it all adds up.

Hillary is recovering from the vicious attack by her stalker. It appears that he is also behind the disappearance and murder of three women. Her bosses want these unsolved cases closed, but Hillary has a theory that will shock everyone.

However, as the truth comes to light, Hillary and the team are faced with a dire emergency — can they prevent an imminent murder?

Hillary Greene has returned to Thames Valley Police HQ, acting as a cold-case consultant for the Crime Review Team, looking into murders which the police have never been able to solve.

She wasn’t sure she wanted to go back. But solving crimes is irresistible for Hillary Greene. And it doesn’t hurt that her new boss is devastatingly handsome.

Murder Never Misses by Faith Martin

Original Secrets by Shawn McGuire

12th February 2022.

In this third novel in the Whispering Pines series, Sheriff Jayne O’Shea digs deep into the past to investigate a forty-year old death and one much closer to home.

While clearing out the house, Jayne uncovers her grandmother’s journals, which provide a detailed account of how she founded the community of Whispering Pines and how it grew and developed over the years. Jayne finds details of the death of a teenage girl, which appears to be a murder her grandmother covered up for the sake of the new community forty years ago.

Determined to find out what really happened, she interviews many of the people who were there at the time, getting conflicting reports. She also hopes she can shed some light on her grandmother’s recent death, confirmed as murder by an autopsy report she receives.

All the main characters are there from the previous books, bringing the small community to life. Past and present conflicts and differences are brought into sharp focus as Jayne’s investigation uncovers some surprising secrets.

It’s another well written story with vivid and sometimes quirky characters, the charming backdrop of the village and its cultures, and Jayne’s gradual acceptance and seduction into its gentle way of life. The novel resolves some past and current personal issues, providing a platform for Jayne and the series to move into a new phase.

Description

The Northwoods village of Whispering Pines used to be a safe haven for outsiders, but after three deaths in two months, it’s become a hotbed of murder.

Exhausted from being the only law enforcement official on duty, while also trying to open a bed-and-breakfast, Jayne O’Shea welcomes the escape she finds in her grandmother’s journals. Each entry gives her a deeper understanding of why her grandparents moved to the secluded spot so long ago. But as questions are answered, deeply hidden secrets are unearthed.

If Jayne can put all the pieces of this puzzle together, she’ll not only learn the truth behind her grandmother’s death, she’ll catch a killer whose been wandering the village for forty years.

Original Secrets by Shawn McGuire

Murder on High by Paula Williams

28th December 2021.

A gentle humorous tone underpins the story of Kat Latcham, who struggles with various issues in the village of Much Winchmoor. Reduced to three part time jobs, keen to break free of the constraints of a community that knows everyone’s business, and uncertain about her future with boyfriend, Will, the last thing she needs is another murder in the village.

As a reporter for the Dintscombe Chronicle, she’s expected to cover the murder. Only a teenager with a smartphone has beaten her to the story, providing photographs of the corpse that is found dead at the foot of the church tower. As the villagers gossip and speculate about possible killers, it soon becomes clear that this is no ordinary murder. With plenty of suspects, all with good motives, to choose from, Kat can’t help but become involved, often at the expense of work.

It all leads to an exciting climax on top of the church tower.

This is the fourth novel in the Much Winchmoor series, which has become a favourite of mine for its collection of sharply drawn village characters, its humorous swipes at village life, and the trials and tribulations that face Kat as she’s drawn into some intriguing murders.

If you enjoy a cosy village murder mystery, look no further.

Description

Remember, abseiling is only the second fastest way down a church tower.

The note pinned to the teddy bear lying at the foot of the church tower could have been a joke – if it hadn’t been for the body on the path next to it!

Somebody wants to make very sure that everyone knows this was not an accident or suicide. But why?

Suddenly, no one in the village has any enthusiasm for the Teddy Bear Abseil, planned to raise money for the children’s play area, as, once again, a murderer walks the narrow, twisty streets of the small Somerset village of Much Winchmoor.

And, once again, Kat Latcham, reporter/dog walker/barmaid and occasional reluctant hair salon gopher, finds herself unwillingly dragged into a murder investigation.

This fourth Much Winchmoor mystery is spiked with humour and sprinkled with romance. And, of course, one carefully planned, coldly executed murder.

Murder on High by Paula Williams

Burying Bad News by Paula Williams

29th November 2020.

In the third Much Winchmoor mystery, part time reporter, dog walker and barmaid, Kat Latcham once again finds herself investigating a dead body.

But this seems to be the least of her troubles as the Dintscombe Chronicle has been taken over by a company that wants scandal not reports on parish council meetings. Her job at the pub seems to be in jeopardy and her mother’s hairdressing business is leaking customers. She’s broke, desperate to leave the village and struggling with her feelings for Will.

So when one of two feuding neighbours winds up dead, her new editor turns up the pressure and wants the inside line. Kat has other ideas, especially as the husband of her best friend is the prime suspect. Having had too much to drink and lashed out at another resident in the pub, things are not looking good for him.

Like the previous two books in the series, it’s a delightful pastiche of troubles, gossip and sleuthing as Kat tries to keep too many plates in the air. The humour is never far from the surface, producing some great lines from lovingly crafted village characters you would instantly recognise.

Much Winchmoor is the perfect escape if you enjoy a cosy mystery that’s well-written and populated by characters you’ll warm too.  Kat’s both fun and more than a match for the local police when it comes to catching a killer.

Highly original and entertaining, this is a series to warm you like an open fire on a cold winter’s day.

Description

One severed head, two warring neighbours – and a cold-blooded killer stalks Much Winchmoor.

There’s the murder made to look like a tragic accident, and a missing husband. Could he be victim number two?

The tiny Somerset village is fast gaining a reputation as the murder capital of the West Country, and once again, reporter/barmaid/dog walker, Kat Latcham, finds herself reluctantly dragged into the investigation.

Things are looking bad for Ed Fuller, the husband of one of Kat’s oldest friends. Kat is convinced he’s innocent – but she’s been wrong before. Has Kat come across her biggest challenge yet?

Fans of Janet Evanovich could well enjoy this “funky, modern day nosey detective” transported to the English countryside.

The third Much Winchmoor mystery is, as always, spiked with humour and sprinkled with a touch of romance.

Burying Bad News by Paula Williams