The Undiscovered Deaths of Grace McGill by C. S. Robertson – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book


When people die alone and undiscovered, it’s her job to clean up what’s left behind – whether it’s clutter, bodily remains or dark secrets.

When an old man lies undetected in his flat for months, it seems an unremarkable life and an unnoticed death. But Grace knows that everyone has a story and that all deaths mean something more.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. Most people will at sometime in their career will be unhappy with their working life. But if they were to compare their job to Grace’s they might think about things differently. Her job was definitely one that I couldn’t do and I felt a huge relief that I couldn’t smell as I read. Her job was to clean the homes of those who had died alone and were undiscovered for a long time. She found comfort in her work, knowing that she made it easier for any loved ones but also felt anger, frustration and sadness that they had died alone. But she also became obsessive, not willing to let things go, to the extent that despite her promise to George the cat that she wouldn’t take the job home it was all she thought about. Her job was everything to her and in her determination to find answers about a missing teenage girl decades ago she placed herself in danger.

Grace has a lot in common with the people whose homes she cleans. She is one of the loneliest characters I’ve come across in fiction. A difficult relationship with her abusive father, at first her only real friend is her cat who she seemed to regard as human in many ways. Later in the novel she does make a friend, but this is a difficult relationship. The reasons for this are very clear, to the reader by the time she meets him, but her friend has no idea what Grace is actually like. 

Grace was a character who affected me in many ways. She made me laugh but also left me feeling sad at her loneliness and the way she only had confidence in company when using an alias to help her find the truth. She was also a character who was impossible to dislike, even in the second half of the novel. 

This is definitely one of the strangest novels that I have read and parts of it affected me deeply. It is difficult to say why, the less you know about the storyline the more you appreciate it. But, I can say that I think it will make many people be there for others more. 

The Couple At The Table by Sophie Hannah – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book


You’re on your honeymoon at an exclusive couples-only resort. 

You receive a note warning you to ‘Beware of the couple at the table nearest to yours’. At dinner that night, five other couples are present, and none of their tables is any nearer or further away than any of the others. It’s as if someone has set the scene in order to make the warning note meaningless – but why would anyone do that?

You have no idea. 

You also don’t know that you’re about to be murdered, or that once you’re dead, all the evidence will suggest that no one there that night could possibly have committed the crime.

So who might be trying to warn you? And who might be about to commit the perfect murder?

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I have always enjoyed Sophie Hannah’s books, whether it is her standalones, Poirot or my favourite which features Charlie Zailer and Simon Waterhouse. 

You would struggle to find two detectives who have so little in common with  both the way they approached their jobs and their personalities. Charlie is more open, willing to listen without judgement and be more aware of what she is being told and what could be hidden. Simon is more obsessed with the detail, redoing maps, going over statements and a determination to not give up without getting a result. If I had to work with either of them I would prefer Charlie. She could sometimes come across as impatient but must have either a lot of patience or could see past Simon’s ways to stay married to him. 

Even though it is told from mainly Charlie or Simon’s point of view the reader also sees how the other guests on the night of the murder were coping. Mainly Lucy, who had more reason than the others to wish Jane harm but nearly all of them featured. All of them had suffered in one way or another, Jane didn’t have many redeeming qualities. 

Sometimes I can see who was guilty whilst reading a novel, this was one where I had no idea at all. I suspected everybody and my opinion changed constantly. I couldn’t work out how all could give each other an alibi but only one of them could have been the murderer. And, strangely, when the murderer was revealed I had more sympathy for them instead of the victim.

It’s brilliantly done with plenty of red herrings, a fantastic novel that has made me determined to catch up on the series.

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.

Flight Of The Shearwater by Alan Jones – Review.

About The Book

Flight of the Shearwater: Book 2 in the Sturmtaucher Trilogy,a powerful and compelling story of two families torn apart by evil.

With Poland divided between Hitler’s Germany and Stalin’s Union of Soviet Republics, the increasingly confident Third Reich flexes its military muscles northwards into Denmark and Norway, while the rest of Europe watches anxiously over its shoulders.

General Erich Kästner, in his key role in the Abwehr, is fast becoming aware of the mass expulsion of Jews and other minority groups from Germany and from northern Poland, to the new ghettos of the Generalgouverment area of southern Poland, and has an inkling of what the National Socialists’ have in mind for Europe’s Jews.

As Holland and Belgium fall, and the British are routed at Dunkirk, barely escaping across the channel, the seemingly impregnable France collapses under the Wehrmacht Blitzkrieg, sealing the fate of millions of Jews, now trapped under Hitler’s rule.

The Nussbaums, thwarted in their attempts to escape to Denmark, desperately seek other routes out of Germany but, one by one, they are closed off, and they realise they have left it all too late…

My Review

Flight of the Shearwater is the second book in The Sturmtaucher trilogy and I would recommend that you read the books in order. These books are very long, but they need to be, this was a shameful period in history that was so harrowing with the politics, pain, cruelty and acceptance of all of it by many. Anything less would feel like the events were being glossed over.

Whilst there is continuing focus on Erich, Yosef and Miriam, this novel also concentrates on some of the younger members of both families. You get to see the horror and guilt that both Franz and Johann feel when they realise what they have become involved in as part of the German army and the turmoil faced by Ruth and Manny when they have to leave behind their parents and overcome danger hoping for safety. 

Sadly, it also had to focus on some of the characters who believed in Hitler and everything he stood for. Maria, Eva and the female members of the once friendly Bohm family all made me cringe as I read. I found it fascinating but I was also increasingly upset by the attitudes and the amount of venom displayed. Especially when I read how Maria had no remorse or compassion for her former friends. I found their attitudes had more of an impact on me than the Gestapo and their determination to find out what was happening with the Kästners and Nussbaums on their sea trip. 

The novel is extremely detailed, with historical facts and the complexity of the early years of the war. The author shows how everyday people were duped by propaganda and the insider bulletins about how the Jewish community were being cut off and what the plans for them were. I was aware of certain aspects but I also learned a lot. I had no idea about the amount of control Germany had over Northern Europe, that there was a Jewish community on the Isle of Man or where any of the prisoner of war camps were in the UK.

I am happy that the third book in the series is available to read. I plan on reading it as soon as possible, I need to know what happens  to all of the people who feature in this outstanding series.