The Twyford Code by Janice Hallett – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

It’s time to solve the murder of the century…

Forty years ago, Steven Smith found a copy of a famous children’s book by disgraced author Edith Twyford, its margins full of strange markings and annotations. Wanting to know more, he took it to his English teacher Miss Iles, not realising the chain of events that he was setting in motion. Miss Iles became convinced that the book was the key to solving a puzzle, and that a message in secret code ran through all Twyford’s novels. Then Miss Iles disappeared on a class field trip, and Steven has no memory of what happened to her.

Now, out of prison after a long stretch, Steven decides to investigate the mystery that has haunted him for decades. Was Miss Iles murdered? Was she deluded? Or was she right about the code? And is it still in use today?

Desperate to recover his memories and find out what really happened to Miss Iles, Steven revisits the people and places of his childhood. But it soon becomes clear that Edith Twyford wasn’t just a writer of forgotten children’s stories. The Twyford Code has great power, and he isn’t the only one trying to solve it…

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I hadn’t read Janice Hallett’s previous book The Appeal so had no idea what I was in store for. What I got with this novel was a lot of memories of The Famous Five series, a reminder of the accusations against their author Enid Blyton and an absolutely brilliant and original storyline.

Steve is an ex con, full of regret for the way he lived his life but determined to try and make the best of his release. One of his missions is to try and solve the disappearance of a teacher who he had a lot of liking for. After finding a book on his way to school which Miss Isles confiscated and then later read to his class, she took them on a school trip from which the children returned home but she didn’t. Steve has no idea what happened and after tracking down his old classmates down they try and find the answers.

With plenty of intrigue and the occasional red herring about the hidden code there is also historical fact. I have seen Martin’s Bank in Liverpool, and read the plaque about the gold bullion but had never looked for further information. I learned pretty quickly that I would be useless at cracking codes or acrostics but I enjoyed the enthusiasm shown by all of the group at doing so. Even if I didn’t fully understand. 

As well as the investigation into Miss Isles disappearance and trying to crack the code there was the story of Steve’s life. The reasons why he ended up in prison, his devastating upbringing and his determination to do the right thing on his release. It was really his life story which I enjoyed the most.

It is written in an unusual way. Most of it is a series of diary excerpts, but these excerpts are transcripts of audio recordings rather than a written account . It did take me quite a while to understand some of it, for example, I was slightly baffled why there was a lot of talk about ‘missiles’, until I remembered that it was a phone, often hidden, doing the recordings and there was some ambiguity about what it heard and what was actually said. There were a number of times I had to reread lines but having to do so didn’t impact on my enjoyment of this novel, it made me appreciate it even more.

Saying Goodbye To Tuesday by Chrissie Manby – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

Stupendo the dog has died. But that’s just the beginning of his story.

To love and protect. The code of the good dog is clear. When single mother Tuesday took on mongrel pup Stupendo, she made a friend for life. Through the best and the worst of times, Stupendo has been there for her. Ever faithful, ever loyal, ever true. Nothing could break their bond. Until last week. 

Stupendo doesn’t know why Tuesday is suddenly ignoring him or why his doggy antics no longer seem to soothe Baby William. It takes his worst enemy – the cat next door – to break the news that Stupendo has become a ghost. 

Somehow left behind on Earth, Stupendo knows he has unfinished business. Enlisting the help of the community of animals in the neighbourhood, Stupendo must get to the bottom of the very human sadness that hangs over his old home and keeps him from saying goodbye to Tuesday.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. Despite never having a dog this book appealed to me, I occasionally like to read something a bit different to the crime or historical fiction I usually read. And I thought it was wonderful.

This is Stupendo’s story, or Stupido, as his sometime friend Caligula calls him. You get to know him as a puppy, cast to one side when Kenton, the horrible boyfriend is around, guardian of baby William and good friends with all the other animals who live nearby. Like him, it’s difficult for the reader to accept that he is a ghost dog for much of the novel.

I found this to be an extremely original novel, I really enjoyed reading about Stupendo’s relationship with Tuesday. The way he thought he manipulated her into treats, his matchmaking efforts with Zena, his guide dog friend, his caring nature with William and most of all his adoration of Tuesday. 

The humans in the novel also had an impact on me. It would be impossible to dislike Tuesday, her friends Emily, Elvis, and Andrew and all feature heavily. But there were three others who were minor characters who in a lot of ways had more of an impact. It’s hard to say why, without saying too much but I feel I can say that there will be people all over the world who are like them. And apart from the death of Stupendo, this was one of the saddest parts of the novel.

I loved everything about this book, even though the ending had me in tears. I would definitely read similar again.

The Red Monarch by Bella Ellis -Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

The Brontë sisters’ first poetry collection has just been published, potentially marking an end to their careers as amateur detectors, when Anne receives a letter from her friend Lydia Robinson.

Lydia has eloped with a young actor, Harry Roxby, and following her disinheritance, the couple been living in poverty in London. Harry has become embroiled with a criminal gang and is in terrible danger after allegedly losing something very valuable that he was meant to deliver to their leader. The desperate and heavily pregnant Lydia has a week to return what her husband supposedly stole, or he will be killed. She knows there are few people who she can turn to in this time of need, but the sisters agree to help Lydia, beginning a race against time to save Harry’s life.

In doing so, our intrepid sisters come face to face with a terrifying adversary whom even the toughest of the slum-dwellers are afraid of…The Red Monarch.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I read a lot of historical crime fiction, some of which contain created characters for the novel combined with those from real life whose actions during their life form part of a storyline. However, this is the only series I have read where real life characters are shown in a totally different way to their true personalities. I love reading about the Brontë family’s roles as detecters rather than authors. I also got a lot of enjoyment by seeing at least one character from the Brontë novels and another from their personal lives having a role here.

In this novel the siblings have left their beloved Yorkshire and travelled to London to rescue a friend who is in trouble. They have gone without telling their father where they are going, armed with one of his pistols and are determined to help their friend Lydia, daughter of the woman who has rejected Bramwell Brontë’s advances. He hopes that her mother will change her mind when she hears about his bravery, his sisters just want to help Lydia and her husband whose life has been threatened.

I love this series, the Brontë family is one I know little about and I have never read the novels. I always feel a degree of sadness because of them all dying young within a short time but these books are very entertaining and there is only a brief glimpse of loneliness at the beginning. I love their bravery, their attitudes towards those who try and deter them from their work and their support towards the ones who need it. This novel does feature Bramwell more but most of the focus is on the three sisters.

The hardship, poverty and theatre life are shown brilliantly. The description of the rookery in St Giles is just how I’ve always imagined life to be for many in an over populated London at this time and the description of wild animals used as entertainment was one I had never considered and left me with a sense of outrage and heartbreak. 

The Red Monarch is a fantastic addition to the series, I can’t wait to see what adventures they will face next. 

The Reacher Guy by Heather Martin -Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

Jack Reacher is only the second of Jim Grant’s great fictional characters: the first is Lee Child himself. Heather Martin’s biography tells the story of all three.

Lee Child is the enigmatic powerhouse behind the bestselling Jack Reacher novels. With millions of devoted fans across the globe, and over a hundred million copies of his books sold in more than forty languages, he is that rarity, a writer who is lauded by critics and revered by readers. And yet curiously little has been written about the man himself.

The Reacher Guy is a compelling and authoritative portrait of the artist as a young man, refracted through the life of his fictional avatar, Jack Reacher. Through parallels drawn between Child and his literary creation, it tells the story of how a boy from Birmingham with a ferocious appetite for reading grew up to become a high-flying TV executive, before coming full circle and establishing himself as the strongest brand in publishing.

Heather Martin explores Child’s lifelong fascination with America, and shows how the Reacher novels fed and fuelled this obsession, shedding light on the opaque process of publishing a novel along the way. Drawing on her conversations and correspondence with Child over a number of years, as well as interviews with his friends, teachers and colleagues, she forensically pieces together his life, traversing back through the generations to Northern Ireland and County Durham, and following the trajectory of his extraordinary career via New York and Hollywood until the climactic moment when, in 2020, having written a continuous series of twenty-four books, he finally breaks free of his fictional creation

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I have two confessions to make. Firstly, I don’t tend to read non-fiction and this is the first autobiography I have read. Secondly, I have never read a book by Lee Child. But after seeing him appear at numerous festivals and listening to my husband’s enthuse about his novels I felt curious. I’m happy to say that this is definitely a type of book I would read again and I will also make a determined effort to start reading the Reacher books.

Most of this 500 page book concerns Jim (or Lee) before he became a hugely successful novelist. It is one that fascinated me, and I felt an array of conflicting emotions. There was the letter that is shown early on in the novel that he wrote for an online project ‘Letter to an Unknown Soldier’ on the 100th anniversary for the declaration of war that reduced me to tears. It wasn’t the only occasion when reading this part of the book that I thought that Jim felt guilty to be from a generation that didn’t have to go to war. There were also occasions that made me smile. His determination to stand up to bullies, both in school and the workplace as well as his thoughts regarding many politicians in the UK and USA. And I definitely agreed with him with on the ‘dumbing down’ of the TV station he worked for. 24 hour TV was one of the worst decisions Granada TV ever made.

Jim is obviously an extremely loyal, honest and thoughtful man. He admits throughout feeling detached from his parents but remains close to some family and friends. The loyalty he showed towards his agent and publisher where many would move on at the first opportunity for more fame. And his loyalty towards his many readers. He must have felt pain and bafflement when he received backlash later in the series. He came across as a loner, as someone who has never read the books I thought that this was his only similarity with Reacher.

This isn’t a linear biography, Jim could be a schoolboy and an author years later in the same chapter but once I got used to it I thought it worked well. It’s a remarkable achievement showing the publishing process, the work that goes into promoting an author and his books but more importantly it shows the dedication in publishing a novel yearly  from all involved and the impact that had on Jim. I’m glad that he felt happy enough to retire without regrets.

The Lost by Simon Beckett – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

A MISSING CHILD

Ten years ago, the disappearance of firearms police officer Jonah Colley’s young son almost destroyed him.

A GRUESOME DISCOVERY

A plea for help from an old friend leads Jonah to Slaughter Quay, and the discovery of four bodies. Brutally attacked and left for dead, he is the only survivor.

A SEARCH FOR THE TRUTH


Under suspicion himself, he uncovers a network of secrets and lies about the people he thought he knew – forcing him to question what really happened all those years ago…Read less

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I read a standalone novel by Simon Beckett a few years ago and told myself at the time I needed to read his series of books that featured David Hunter. As usual, I failed to do that but I’m happy that I have a new series to get stuck into. And going off this book it is a series I’m sure I will enjoy a lot. 

Jonah is a firearms officer, like many others he has a terrible personal life, but his is more tragic than most. Ten years ago, his four year old son disappeared when he took him to the local park, resulting in the breakdown of his marriage to Chrissie and losing touch with his best friend, Gavin. But after years of silence Gavin needs his help and after going against his better judgement he goes to his aid. As you would expect, this doesn’t go to plan and his personal situation deteriorates even other.

I thought this book would be like many other police procedurals that I read but it is completely different. You don’t get to see Jonah as a police officer, instead you see him as a father still grieving over the disappearance of his son and who is now a suspect in a murder investigation. There are some unlikeable characters, mainly his ex wife, and a few I want to know more about. Fletcher is definitely one who I hope will be a returning character, I want to know more about his past and for him to respect Jonah. 

Jonah was a character I liked a lot. His honesty, his self imposed isolation, his way of coping with danger, especially from a local gang, his determination to help despite what had occurred in the past and the pain he endured by doing so. I also smiled when reading a lesser character’s view of Chrissie (mine was similar)

I enjoyed this introduction to Jonah, I am looking forward to reading book two, just slightly intrigued over what way it will go with the ending. Hope I don’t have to wait long to find out.