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

About The Book

DEATH IS NOT THE END.  FOR GRACE McGILL IT IS ONLY THE BEGINNING.

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

SIX COUPLES. ONE LUXURY RESORT. AND THE PERFECT MURDER . . .

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 Dark by Emma Haughton – Review – First Monday Crime

Dead dying dafodil flower in moonlit graveyard.

About The Book

In the most inhospitable environment – cut off from the rest of the world – there’s a killer on the loose. 

A&E doctor Kate North has been knocked out of her orbit by a personal tragedy. So when she’s offered the opportunity to be an emergency replacement at the UN research station in Antarctica, she jumps at the chance. The previous doctor, Jean-Luc, died in a tragic accident while out on the ice.

The move seems an ideal solution for Kate: no one knows about her past; no one is checking up on her. But as total darkness descends for the winter, she begins to suspect that Jean-Luc’s death wasn’t accidental at all. 

And the more questions she asks, the more dangerous it becomes . . .

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I see a lot of fiction now that suggests a ‘locked room’ murder or a novel that is similar to those written by Agatha Christie. By this, I mean the murder could only have been committed by a member of a small group of people. In this novel that group consists of 12 people and it would have been impossible for that murder to have been committed by somebody else because of where it takes place. Antarctica.

I have to admit, Antarctica is a place I have never given much thought to. I wasn’t aware that it was dark most of the time and I had no idea there was a Southern Lights ( Aurora Australis). Whilst reading I quickly decided that it wasn’t  somewhere I would like to go and I was happy enough looking at the lights on google images. 

The novel is very much a slow burner. The first half of the book shows the mood and friendship in the group disintegrate as the darkness hours lengthen  and the realisation that they have no chance of leaving until the weather improves. Kate’s dependancy on drugs increased and she alienated many in the group  with her questions about her predecessor.

After the murder occurred I felt that the group dynamic improved slightly initially but it didn’t take long to deteriorate again when other events were revealed. I had some inkling who the murderer was before the end but what was more unique about this novel was trying to guess who the victim would be.

The Dark was an intense and claustrophobic read which I enjoyed immensely. 

Emma Haughton will be appearing at First Monday Crime alongside Sarah Hilary, Alexandra Benedict and Martin Walker. The moderator will be Jake Kerridge and you can see the event on Monday 6th December on First Monday’s Facebook page.

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.