reviews

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      ‘The package is vital – it’s a mission that could have a profound bearing on the course of the war.’” – Cashbone to Tom Wilde   We seem to be reading a lot of interesting historical fiction, but Rory Clements’ Hitler’s Secret is our first foray this year into the National Socialist … Continue readings

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    When you read a Jill Mansell novel you know you’re in a pair of safe hands. Overflowing with charming characters, interesting plot threads and great locations, with more than a sprinkle of romance, wit and comic relief, Mansell’s books are tightly written and wonderfully realised. Her latest work, It Started with a Secret, thankfully, … Continue readings

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    A well-conceived historical novel is a fine thing indeed. Throw in some she-spies, shed loads of intrigue and the gritty, dark and turbulent world of mid-seventeenth-century Civil War England and surely you’re onto a winner? Well, Pete Langman’s enjoyable Killing Beauties has all those things, and more. Langman’s well-researched novel focuses on Susan … Continue readings

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    There’s an underlying claustrophobia to Francine Toon’s debut novel, Pine. Something I felt strongly even though I was reading it under blue, blue open skies, in tropical heat, in a landscape about as far removed as one could get from the book’s remote woody, Highland setting. Toon’s child protagonist, Lauren, lives with her … Continue readings

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    If much-loved literary characters were to come to life, that really would be a dream come true for most book lovers. Not so much so for Charley Sutherland, the protagonist of New Zealander HG Parry’s fictional debut, The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep. Since childhood, Charley has had a special power, one that … Continue readings

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  We periodically wax lyrical about independent presses and their lists and Karen Sullivan’s Orenda Books has had several such shout outs. She’s a canny publisher with a great eye, and the range and quality of her authors support that. So, no surprise then that wonderful Doug Johnstone’s latest novel, A Dark Matter, is published … Continue readings

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  We like PI Bev Saunders. She’s feisty, funny and she has heart, so we’re delighted to meet her again in Backlash, author Marnie Riches’ latest entertaining offering. This time Bev’s tasked with going undercover to deal with a rowdy neighbour who’s driving her client insane. But as in all good crime-fiction, nothing is quite … Continue readings

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  There are some cracking crime-fiction novels being published this year and Russ Thomas’ debut Firewatching sits snugly among them. A smartly plotted, tightly written book set over seven days, it introduces DS Adam Tyler to audiences. Working for South Yorkshire’s Cold Case Review Unit (or Sea-Crew as it’s also known), Tyler is a late … Continue readings

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  Nora Roberts is one of my Old Familiars, a writer whose work I go back to again and again, especially when I need comfort. And each time I do, her books don’t disappoint: they’re like catching up with old friends. In Sanctuary, one of Roberts’ older, longer form novels, the author does what she … Continue readings

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  We do like a good historical crime-fiction novel and David Young’s Stasi Winter fits perfectly into this category. It’s our first Young experience, yet the fifth in an existing series featuring Karin Müller, a detective in East Germany’s People’s Police. And as we can testify, it can be read as a standalone, although we … Continue readings

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  A tale of love in all its guises, Beth Miller’s The Missing Letters of Mrs Bright explores friendship, family and the joy of life. When protagonist Kay decides to up and leave her husband of 29 years, it’s a shock to her family and friends, even more so when she takes off to fields … Continue readings

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  Set in a remote part of the Lake District, Sarah Stovell’s remarkable The Home is a stark, beautiful and emotive novel that takes no prisoners. Focusing on three troubled young women in care, Annie, Hope and Lara all have traumatic pasts. While they have been let down by those meant to protect them, at … Continue readings

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  First review of 2020 and we start with a bang and not a whimper with Rose Black’s highly readable The Unforgetting. Set in Victorian England, the book pays more than a nod to classic Gothic literature. At its centre is protagonist Lily Bell who dreams of a sparkling career on the London stage. When … Continue readings

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  There are certain times of year that lend themselves more to poetry, that inspire and evoke feelings of joy, happiness, kindness, loss, despair, the whole gamut of human emotion really. In her latest book, author Orna Ross has written twelve poems for deep mid-winter. ‘The hibernal solstice, the darkest day of the year, has … Continue readings

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  In Deathly Affair, Leigh Russell’s latest procedural, protagonist Geraldine Steel takes her thirteenth bow, but it’s a Geraldine who, while somewhat shaken, is stirred enough to fight the good fight. A demotion from DI to DS and a move to York see Geraldine working with DI Ian Peterson again. Her change in circumstances doesn’t … Continue readings

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