Thursday, November 3, 2016

Judgement of Murder by C. S. Challinor

My Review:

Rex Graves is an Advocate at the English Court when the daughter of Lord Gordon Murgatroyd asks for his help. He is reluctant at first. Sentencing was  heavy-handed at Court by Lord Murgatroyd and behind his back he was referred to as Judge Murder. Many people respected him but even more hated him.  Now the old Judge has died but but was it a natural death or was it murder? 

Then things are missing from the house.  Odd things.  First  a stamp collection is gone according to the daughter but is she lying or really on the trail of something? Later... a latex fingertip, a pink slide are all found in the bedroom and examined for finger prints but the evidence is slight so the clues are building.

Ten years earlier a girl had been kidnapped and murdered on her way home from school.  But had the man convicted really been guilty?  And what did the second kidnapping of a teenager have to do with the Judge?

Rex and his friend Adrian pursue people and clues from London to Canterbury. They pour over events and interview witnesses. Bringing the right person to justice will depend on detail, luck and determination.

C.S. Challinor writes in the style of an English cozy.  She leads us on a trail... laced with red herrings galore. In many ways, the jailbirds tended to be the stronger characters, along with the dark descriptions of their past lives.  I love English Mysteries, so it was fun guessing how this would end. The pace is slow but with plenty of twists to keep you reading.

[A] winner . . . A must for cozy fans.”—Booklist (starred review)

“Satisfying . . . Smooth prose will keep cozy fans turning the pages.”—Publishers Weekly

“Will delight all cozy and Agatha Christie fans. C.S. creates devilishly complex characters keeping the reader on edge until the final page.”—Suspense Magazine

Monday, October 3, 2016

Code Breaker and Spy...

 Maggie Hope is assigned to MI5 on a manhunt for a killer who is recreating Jack the Ripper. But this time the girls are SOE Trainees who have come into London for an interview. Several of them were trained by Maggie and that makes it personal. As the body count rises so does the tension in each page.

The grey of London penetrates our main story set in fog and war, built around an evil, sadistic predator who loves torturing and killing women at a time when England is fighting for its very survival. The Book opens with a chilly night scene. An elderly ARP Warden is walking the streets to find any chink of light that might lead the enemy toward a point to bomb. She comes across a young woman neatly laid out but is struck in horror as she sees the organs cut from her body.

The landscape of London, burnt out and shelled, during a blackout is beautifully recreated and the chill is enough to make your teeth chatter. There is a wonderful intertwining of SOE Agents and a second story about Maggie's half-sister who is in a German Camp and has been tortured to the point of death. She is on the run after being picked up for deliverance. There is also help in the form of the Queen of England who owes our heroine a favor. Several characters are revisited from former Books but this story will stand alone.

Susan Elia MacNeal is a New York Times best selling Author who won the Barry Award and was nominated for the Edgar among others.  She does a wonderful job in her descriptions of the characters, with all their failings and death defying bravery, during the harsh times of War. One in which Women took on many of the roles including working in the SOE.  I found the book fascinating and I read it in one sitting. I could not put it down until I finished the last page.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

A Memory of Muskets by Kathleen Ernst.

Kathleen Ernst writes a multi-layered story of different members of a family, over a hundred years apart, and those they are connected to in love and work. There are two mysteries occurring in the book.

Chloe Ellefson is a Curator at Old World Wisconsin planning a big Civil War event. She is a professional at work, while mentoring and working with staff, despite her Boss being a pain. At least her love life was fine until she felt bad energy about the Cabin that her boyfriend wants to make into her private space. Roelke had bought the family farm and Chloe is slowly moving her things in... as she finds out things about his Ancestors who built it. Things she may not want to tell him. But while she debates all this... they find the body of a reenactor and death suddenly seems very close. Add to that the shooting of another and all kinds of strange things start happening.

The Book is strong on the language and flavor of reenacting as it is also on the daily workings of a historic site. The Staff who work with collections, as well as events, are well developed. Ernst builds strength into the personalities and types of people who love history and participate in these type of recreation events. The Book moves slow but layers the different time frames well.

But to me the heart of the book is the love story set right before the Civil War. I found the German settlers, who entered this country at a time of Civil War, making life and death decisions about themselves... fascinating. Their loyalties gave a slant to history I had never thought about. Marriage was often built on practical reasons alone... not love. I found the ancestor research by Chloe added a lot of emotion to the story and had a strong mystery of its own.


Thursday, June 30, 2016

Author Cindy Brown and her new book,"Oliver Twisted."

Author Cindy Brown

Agatha Award Nominated Series.

"I should have known Uncle Bob would be the one to blow our cover."

Olive... er, Ivy, or uh Nancy is hired by her P.I. Uncle to help him catch a gang of thieves while undercover on the S.S. David Copperfield. She is enticed by her finances and by the chance to play Nancy in the musical version of Oliver Twist, all while sailing to Hawaii. Her contract forgot to mention aerial duties that left her dangling forty feet above the stage in which there would be no mat. Nor did she expect to find a dead body her first day at sea. All in a day's work for this fast paced mystery.

From the very first page this Author hooks you into a very witty, compact mystery. The Dickens references are a joy as are the thieves and murderous characters. Sail on S.S. David Copperfield... in the meantime this is a perfect read for both theater lovers and mystery buffs. I highly recommend.

About the Author:

Cindy Brown has been a theater geek (musician, actor, director, producer, and playwright) since her first professional gig at age 14. Now a full-time writer, she’s lucky enough to have garnered an Agatha Award nomination for best debut novel (MACDEATH), a scholarship to the Squaw Valley Writers Workshop, and several awards for her fiction, playwriting and screenwriting work.

Though Cindy and her husband now live in Portland, Oregon, she made her home in Phoenix, Arizona, for more than 25 years and knows all the good places to hide dead bodies in both cities.