Tolo glanced at his watch. ‘You said business was fairly slack, so I’m really hoping you’ll come on board with this case? Gaspar and the team have enough to deal with while I’m away and we could do with your lateral thinking again.’

‘Is that supposed to be a compliment?’ Isabel teased.

‘Take your pick. Quirky, lateral, off the grid, instinctive, stubborn, and at times frustratingly impetuous and foolishly brave. All the things that made you an outstanding cop. So, it’s a yes?’”


We do like books that bring island locales to life and Anna Nicholas’s Haunted Magpie does just that, evoking beautiful Mallorja. The second book featuring former detective inspector Isabel ‘Bel’ Flores Montserrat, it’s a tightly written, well-paced and highly engaging tale, celebrating the island, its people and vibrant culture.

It’s set in the lovely mountain village of Santa Martì, where Bel now helps run her mother’s holiday rental business. When Bel’s called on, by the mayor, Llorenç Bestard, to investigate the disappearance of several animals, including an Alsatian belonging to a local police officer, she can’t really refuse. Soon after, her close friend, Tolo Cabot, a chief inspector in the National Police on the island, asks her to look into a possible abduction: Paloma Crespì, a twenty-five year old florist, with a chequered past, has gone missing on her way back home. Bel investigates, accompanied by ferret Furó, her trusty companion, and finds a small wooden heart which connects the current case back to a previous one on the island. And is it just possible that there’s also a link to the spate of animals going missing? Is there a serial killer lurking in the shadows?

Nicholas draws on her own experience of living and working on Mallorja to create an authentic, fascinating island background against which the case unravels. And Bel is an appealing character, off-beat and somewhat eccentric, with a special bent for investigation and a dedication to solving her case.

A well-penned, lively mystery, Haunting Magpie has a wealth of interesting characters and an exotic, beautifully evoked setting. It’s a winning combination.

Highly recommended.


Haunted Magpie | Anna Nicholas | Burro Books | paperback | £8.99 | 2020

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Acknowledgements: Quote from book, text © Anna Nicholas 2020. This review is published as part of the publisher virtual book tour. Many thanks to lovely Anne Cater for arranging it and to the publisher for sending a digital proof. All views expressed are our own. All rights reserved. Please check out the other great reviews on the tour.

See also: Roxanne Bouchard’s excellent The Coral Bride’; ‘Michael Connelly’s epic hero, Mickey Haller‘;‘Chris Whitaker’s small-town America’; ‘Lynda La Plante’s nod to the old and new’; ‘Damian Barr’s slice of South Africa’; ‘Nora Roberts’ Sanctuary: an Old Familiar’; By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept’; ‘Yvonne Battle-Fenton’s Remembered‘; ‘The Revolution Will Not Be Televised‘; ‘We should all be feminists‘; The not-so-invisible woman: 150 greats in their own words’; ‘How Penguin learned to fly – Allen Lane and the Original “Penguin Ten”‘; Dorothy L. Sayer’s Busman’s Holiday – Romek Marber for Penguin Crime (book covers we love).

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