The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick

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Having been married for over 40 years, 69-year-old Arthur Pepper is mourning the loss of his wife. On the anniversary of her death, he finally musters the courage to go through her possessions, and happens upon a charm bracelet that he has never seen before.

What follows is a surprising adventure that takes Arthur from London to Paris and India in an epic quest to find out the truth about his wife’s secret life before they met, a journey that leads him to find healing, self-discovery, and love in the most unexpected of places.

My Review:

Every now and then I read a book that is different to my usual choice of fiction. The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper was an absolute joy.
It starts just before the first anniversary of his wife’s death and we learn how the decision to go through her belongings changes his life. Up until that point his life had consisted of going though his daily routine like clockwork. He never tries anything different, not even a different outfit or a different meal for his breakfast. He tends to his plant which he has named Frederica and goes out of his way to avoid his neighbour who insists on baking him pies and giving him self help leaflets.
When he finds the charm bracelet a whole new world opens its doors to him, that of his wife’s life before she met him. When he decides to look into the story of each charm he learns a lot. Some he finds comfort in but there are also things that he finds distressing.
I loved reading about his adventures, and how he learned to embrace what he had left in life. He had his family but he also realised that there were people he could build a friendship with. He accepted that even though there were parts of his wife’s past that he didn’t know about it didn’t affect the memory of their happy marriage.
If you liked Harold Fry you will love this, it’s perfect.

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received.

A Tapping At My Door by David Jackson

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A woman at home in Liverpool is disturbed by a persistent tapping at her back door. She’s disturbed to discover the culprit is a raven, and tries to shoo it away. Which is when the killer strikes.

DS Nathan Cody, still bearing the scars of an undercover mission that went horrifyingly wrong, is put on the case. But the police have no leads, except the body of the bird – and the victim’s missing eyes.

As flashbacks from his past begin to intrude, Cody realises he is battling not just a murderer, but his own inner demons too.

And then the killer strikes again, and Cody realises the threat isn’t to the people of Liverpool after all – it’s to the police.

Following the success and acclaim of the Callum Doyle novels, A Tapping at My Door is the first instalment of David Jackson’s new Nathan Cody series

My Review:

David Jackson’s previous novels were set in New York, I’ve read the first but have them all. And it was very good. This new series featuring Nathan Cody is set much close to home in my favourite UK city, Liverpool. I like to read a novel set somewhere that I am familiar with. When Cody first appeared I could picture exactly where he was and was laughing when he chased his prey through the shopping area. I could also picture another scene very clearly, but this wasn’t one that made me smile. It takes part in one of the more eerie parts of the city.

At times it’s quite intimidating, not just the parts that involved the killings but also when the police had to go into areas where they weren’t welcome, and it was very believable. But there is also some humour at times, especially Cody’s reaction to some that he deals with.
It’s one of the few novels that I have read where I felt some empathy towards the killer and revulsion towards a victim. I can’t really say more, to do so would be too much of a spoiler but if you have read it you will probably know what I mean.
Often when I’m reading I picture which actors should appear in lead roles if is ever televised. This is a novel that would definitely make great TV and I’m absolutely certain on who I would pick to play Stella. She would be perfect for the role.
It’s a fantastic novel, the first in a new series that has huge potential.

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received, the e book version also arrived on my kindle this morning.

The Secret of the Cathars by Michael Hillier

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Philips Sinclair’s grandmother has recently died. She leaves him the unusual legacy of the translated journal of his ancient ancestor, who was one of the four Cathar perfecti who escaped from the castle of Montségur with the ‘treasure of the Cathars’ strapped to his back – a treasure which has never been found. She also leaves him a sum of money with the request that he travels to the Pyrenean fastness of le Bézu where she believes the treasure still lies.

Meanwhile the famous young French archaeologist Jaqueline Blontard has arrived at le Bézu to start excavations as part of her new television series about the Albigensian Crusade. She believes her team will have the summer to uncover the secrets of the place before they are disturbed by the press and the authorities.

However the Roman Catholic Church already knows about their plans and has arranged for their agent to join the archaeologists. Also a secret but very influential body in Paris is sending their man to watch the excavations. Furthermore a criminal gang in Marseilles has become involved in the search for the treasure.

The archaeologists are suspicious of Philip but allow him to join them. As they start to uncover the secrets of le Bézu they find themselves in a race to make the information public before they are overwhelmed in a maelstrom of violence caused by the forces trying to stop them so that they can claim the treasures for their own illegal ends. (less)

My thoughts:
I’m interested in the history of the Cathars so was looking forward to reading this novel. It took a while for it to get going, there were a lot of characters that all appeared over a few chapters. I had to keep reading back to get an understanding of who each one was and what they wanted. I persevered though and quite enjoyed it. The actual story isn’t that strong but it was engaging.The part of the novel that featured Philip and his inheritance was the best and most interesting.It’s one that I would probably enjoy more on a second read.

With thanks to Authoright for the copy received.