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!

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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.

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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

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 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

No Obvious Cause by Valerie Keogh

18th August 2020.    4 stars.

This is the second book in the series, building on the characters and relationships in the first, No Simple Death, which I reviewed here.

When a man with no obvious enemies is poisoned by an imported vegetable that can kill if not properly prepared, Sergeant West’s murder investigation soon grinds to a halt. He’s also thrown out of his normal rhythm by the return of Edel Johnson, who featured in the first story. Despite his feelings for her, he manages to alienate and aggravate her.

With a man down and crime on the increase in Dublin, he struggles to keep his team motivated and on track to solve the murder. But once the mystery is unlocked, there’s a race against time in the exciting climax.

I thoroughly enjoyed my second outing with West and his sidekick, Andrews, who make a great team with plenty of banter and humour. You get to know more about them as they struggle to make sense of something that makes no sense. The romantic attraction between West and Edel adds another dimension to this well-paced and written crime story, which sits at the cosy end of the spectrum.

I’m not a big fan of violent and gritty crime fiction as I want to be entertained by engaging characters and bamboozled by a good plot. If that’s how you like your crime fiction, I would recommend this book and series.

Description

A murder followed by a series of random, motiveless crimes leave Detective Garda Sergeant Mike West and his team puzzled.

When Edel Johnson arrives at the scene of a crime Mike is taken aback, more so when he discovers she is now working with a victim support group. He has feelings for her, but he is the garda who investigated her husband’s murder, and their relationship is complicated.

With crime in Dublin’s suburbs at an all-time high, and his superiors breathing down his neck, West doesn’t need the distraction.  But someone wants Edel out of the way, and it’s up to West to find out who…

No Obvious Cause

I Could Be You by Sheila Bugler

4th August 2020.   4 stars.

A dead woman lies at the side of the road and her child is missing. Former journalist, Dee Doran, who has problems of her own, is shaken to the core by the death of her friend, Katie. But this is only the beginning of her troubles as she launches her own investigation alongside the local police.

Like any psychological thriller, there are secrets to unravel. The story alternates between Dee and Katie, past and present, to fill in the missing details, little by little. This means the pace is gentle to start with, but the suspense builds and the pace quickens to an exciting climax as the truth emerges.

Or is it the truth?

That’s the question at the heart of this story and it’s in doubt for most of this well-written novel. While I didn’t take to Dee immediately, her tenacity and friendship to Katie drove her over the hurdles and disappointments she encountered. Meanwhile, Katie’s life before she met Dee is beautifully developed and revealed, creating tension, conflict and a few surprises.

I became more engrossed as the story went on, enjoying the setting and the character development. I would recommend this novel to anyone who likes psychological thrillers and murder mysteries as there are elements of both, providing an entertaining and satisfying read.

Description

A life has been taken. But whose life is it?

On a stifling hot day, former journalist Dee Doran finds the crumpled body of her friend at the roadside. Katie and her little boy, Jake, have been a light in Dee’s otherwise desolate life – now a woman is dead and a child is missing.

Katie has been keeping secrets for a long time. Years earlier, she fell for the wrong person. But he was in love with someone else; who he couldn’t have but couldn’t keep away from. When jealousy and desire spilled over into murder Katie hid the truth, and has been pretending ever since.

As Dee assists the police with their enquiries she’s compelled to investigate too. She realises Katie wasn’t who she claimed to be. Lies are catching up. Stories are unravelling. Revenge is demanded and someone must pay the price. The question is: who?

I Could Be You

Bad to the Bone by Tony J Forder

16th July 2020.      4 stars.

The skeletal remains of a woman are found in a shallow grave in a wood in this first book featuring DI Bliss and DS Chandler. It soon becomes apparent that the duo is dealing with a cold case that offers few clues until the victim’s identity is uncovered.

Then the deaths start. Former police officers, who investigated a complaint of a hit and run many years earlier, start to die. It soon becomes clear that someone doesn’t want Bliss to uncover the truth about the victim’s death, or why she was reburied recently.

I thoroughly enjoyed Bad to the Bones, taking to Bliss and Chandler from the opening pages. Their friendship and loyalty is at the core of the investigation, which takes a sinister turn as a conspiracy to thwart their efforts takes shape. With the help of DS Dunne, they set out to find the officer behind the conspiracy, knowing it could mean the end of their careers if they get it wrong. Or their lives.

Intense and twisting, the plot becomes convoluted as the exciting climax approaches. Bliss is an intensely damaged officer, with more traumas and secrets than you usually find in this kind of police procedural. The angst ridden, traumatised cop has become something of a cliché in recent years, and the problems and troubles Bliss experienced occasionally felt a little overdone, slowing the story.

Though flawed and prone to mistakes, his determination, sense of justice and refusal to be cowed by everything life throws at him won me over.

His boss, Superintendent Sykes, felt a little two-dimensional with his stereotyped, by-the-book attitude and barely veiled dislike of Bliss. The friction between them added conflict and an additional threat, but never felt realistic to me, especially in their confrontational scenes.

But these were minor issues with an otherwise absorbing and engaging story that had me turning the pages at pace to reach the climax. I’m looking forward to reading the second book in the series and would recommend this story to anyone who enjoys well-written and thoughtful police procedural crime fiction.

Description

A skeletal body is unearthed in a wooded area of Peterborough, Cambridgeshire. DI James Bliss, together with DC Penny Chandler, investigate the case and discover that the young, female victim had been relocated from its original burial site.

A witness is convinced that a young female was struck by a vehicle back in the summer of 1990, and that police attended the scene. However, no record exists of either the accident or the reported victim. As the case develops, two retired police officers are murdered. The two are linked with others who were on duty at the time a road accident was reported.

As Bliss and Chandler delve deeper into the investigation, they start to question whether senior officers may have been involved in the murder of the young women who was buried in the woods.

As each link in the chain is put under duress, so is Bliss who clashes with superiors and the media.

When his team receives targeted warnings, Bliss will need to decide whether to drop the case or to pursue those responsible.

Will Bliss walk away in order to keep his career intact or will he fight no matter what the cost?

And is it possible the killer is much closer than they imagined?

Bad to the Bone

Gone Daddy Gone by Cheryl Bradshaw

23rd June 2020.  5 stars.

I fairly zipped through this novel, which either means it’s a quick read or I couldn’t put it down. It’s probably both as once again things get personal for Sloane Monroe. This time it’s Shelby, daughter of her boyfriend, Cade, who happens to be Chief of Police in Jackson, Wyoming.

When Shelby’s attacked and killed, the effect on Cade and Sloane is devastating. Naturally, there’s worse to come as she begins to dig below the surface to discover that Shelby was a high class escort, which takes our private eye in a new direction.

She’s forced to work with old adversary, Coop, who’s also a Chief of Police, and a former lover, to solve the murder. Then, as the attacks continue Sloane realises just how personal the killings have become.

As I’ve come to expect from Cheryl Bradshaw, it’s an emotional roller coaster of a ride with Sloane’s customary cool shaken to the core. Even with the help of those she loves, she’s struggling to hold it together at times, forced to reveal her vulnerabilities like never before.

And what a climax to an absorbing story that twists and turns with each attack, until the final revelation that means life will never be the same again for Sloane.

This series simply gets better with each book. While you can read this as a standalone, you’ll miss out so much unless you start at the beginning and follow Sloane’s difficult and achingly emotional journey through some brilliant and original investigations.

Highly recommended.

Description

On an early winter morning, college student Shelby McCoy walks the quiet, snowy path back home. A tree branch snaps in the distance. Then another. A man is there with her, following close behind, whispering her name. She looks back, sees him gaining on her, and runs. Who is this man, and why is he carrying a gun?

If you love a great mystery with a surprising twist, you’ll enjoy Gone Daddy Gone, a New York Times bestselling series.

Gone Daddy Gone by Cheryl Bradshaw