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

Murder Now and Then by Faith Martin

27th May 2022.

In another absorbing murder mystery, Hillary Greene has yet more problems in the background as one of her team looks like he’s heading for trouble. As well as investigating a ten year old murder, there are three other murders that could be linked in some way.

It all adds up to another entertaining and exciting outing in what is a terrific series that consistently delivers intriguing investigations and plenty going on with the various cast members.

I hope there are more novels to come.

Description

Former Detective Hillary Greene and her cold case team are taking a fresh look at the unsolved murder of Michael Beck, found bludgeoned over the head and dead in a river near his home in 2012.

Just twenty-two at the time, he’d recently finished a history degree and had his whole life ahead of him. Everyone said he was a pleasant sort of lad with a passion for the past, quietly living with his parents until he could afford a place of his own. But it quickly turned out that there were at least two people who might have wanted him dead.

The first, his recently-jilted girlfriend Mia de Salle, hadn’t taken the break-up well. The second, his former tutor Dr Timothy Durning, had been accused of sexual harassment by Michael. But the original team could find no forensic evidence linking either of their prime suspects to the crime, nor witnesses placing them in the area when Michael was killed.

Hillary, however, is determined to find fresh leads. But while she and her team get to work, in the city of Oxford two men from the city’s criminal underbelly have been viciously murdered in the last six months.

Are the recent murders and her own cold case linked? More than a decade later, has the same killer struck again? And if so, what’s the connection between the mild-mannered young man and the underworld criminals?

It’s up to Hillary to stop a killer getting away with murder — both now and then.

Murder Now and Then by Faith Martin

Bit Player by Janet Dawson

25th May 2022.

The Jeri Howard series keeps getting better as the private investigator delves into an investigation that’s both close to home and further back in time than she’s gone before. The murder of actor, Ralph Tarrant, in Hollywood in 1942 takes centre stage when Jeri’s grandmother is implicated by an elderly film buff in a memorabilia store. While Jeri doesn’t believe her grandmother even knew the actor concerned, she has to investigate.

It’s a difficult investigation as many of the players and witnesses have died. But a few remain, along with letters that begin to paint an intriguing picture of a house occupied by four bit players, all determined to become actresses in the movie industry.

As piece by piece, Jeri’s persistence begins to uncover what really happened in 1942, more murders occur in the present as memorabilia collectors start dying. Is there a connection with the murder in the past? Is Jeri in danger as she closes in on the truth?

It’s a vivid and fascinating investigation that kept me turning the pages from start to finish in one of my favourite novels in the series.

If you haven’t tried this series, you should go back to the first book and enjoy the absorbing and often unique investigations that make Jeri Howard such a compelling read.

Description

MURDER MAKES A COMEBACK – READY FOR ITS CLOSEUP!

Was Jeri Howard’s grandmother a murder suspect?

That’s a mind-boggling prospect.

The Oakland private investigator has a chance encounter in a movie memorabilia shop, where the odd little man behind the counter drops that bombshell. Now Jeri is on a quest to find out the truth.

Back in 1941, Jerusha Layne was an actress in Hollywood. Her dreams of movie stardom never came true. Instead, she works as a bit player, an actress who speaks a few lines in the background while the big stars emote in front of the cameras. She ekes out a living and shares a tiny cottage with three other aspiring stars, talking about parts as they eat meals in the MGM commissary. The changing cast of roommates is not always a good fit, though, and this leads to friction – and grudges.

British expatriate actor Ralph Tarrant has the reputation of a ladies’ man. He puts the moves on Jerusha, but she rebuffs his unwanted advances. Then the actor is found dead, shot in his Hollywood bungalow. The cops have few suspects. But rumor and innuendo lead the police to question Jerusha and her housemates.

Jeri’s determination leads her to Los Angeles, where she reads the file on the cold case. Tarrant’s murder was never solved, she discovers when she delves into the seamy side of Golden Age Hollywood. Is the killer still out there? What really happened?

This case is personal. Oakland’s most persistent private eye is determined to learn the truth, even if it means tracking down her grandmother’s long-ago housemates and reading all those letters Jerusha wrote to her younger sister, Aunt Dulcie, who is still alive.

Murder never goes out of style. A man who collects Hitchcock movie memorabilia dies at his home. Are old movie posters so valuable that someone would kill for them?

Does this present-day crime have links to the past?

Bit Player by Janet Dawson

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

Hillary’s Back by Faith Martin

4th May 2022.

In the 18th book of a consistently entertaining and enjoyable crime series, Hillary’s life has changed. She’s mourning the death of her partner and trying to break in a new recruit to the cold case team. When she’s presented with the unsolved murder of a universally disliked man, she knows she’s up against it.

But Hillary’s made of stern stuff and soon sets about solving the case in her usual, inimitable way.

Without the characters and fascinating backstories of old, it takes a little time to get into the new characters as they settle into their roles. But these are minor niggles in an otherwise entertaining murder investigation.

Description

Eighteen months after Hillary suffered a personal tragedy, she is throwing herself into her work to try to get over it.

Former soldier Gareth Proctor joins her team and finds himself quickly growing to enjoy his new environment.

The first cold case he works on is the murder of Andrew Feeley.

In 2012, this twenty-one-year-old was found dead in the woods near his home, killed by a single stab wound to the chest from his own knife.

Andrew was extremely unpopular. He was a drug dealer, pimp and bully. His stepdad was one of the main suspects, as they hated each other and often came to blows. Other suspects include Toby Truman and his mother Debbie. Andrew was responsible for getting Toby hooked on drugs.

Given Andrew’s criminal background, his murder is thought to be drug-related.

But Hillary’s not buying it — she knows it’s personal. And a search of the Feeleys’ garden turns up some chilling evidence.

Hillary's Back by Faith martin

Hillary’s Final Case by Faith Martin

18th April 2022.

The story continues where the last one finished. Jake, who works for Hillary, is prepared to risk his life to find out what happened to his missing sister. As he could bring down a major criminal in the process, the police decide to use him and the progress he’s made to their advantage.

The Crime Review Team announces it’s revisiting a number of disappearances among local women, many of whom were drawn into prostitution to fund drug addiction. Was Jake’s sister one of these women?

Throw in a change of leadership for the team with a new boss and a change in Hillary’s life, and all the ingredients are there for another riveting story that doesn’t disappoint. While Jake’s story and actions take centre stage, there’s still a murder to be solved and some unpleasant surprises to come.

As with previous stories, the characters and relationships are first rate, the investigations intriguing and twisting, and at the centre, Hillary Greene commands centre stage, taking everything in her stride.

The standard and quality of the writing and storytelling have remained consistently high throughout the series, making the books compelling and always entertaining.

Description

Can Hillary finally close the case of the missing young women?

Can she take down one of Oxfordshire’s most wanted criminals?

Can she handle her new boss?

Can she help one of her team get answers on his long lost sister?

And will she really get married and leave her beloved boat?

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.

Hillary's Final Case by Faith Martin

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