Fatal Masquerade by Vivian Conroy – Blog Tour Review.

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About the Book

Lady Alkmene Callender has always loved grand parties, but when she receives an invitation to a masked ball thrown by Franklin Hargrove – oil magnate, aviation enthusiast and father of her best friend, Denise – she’s never seen such luxury. The estate is lit up with Chinese lanterns in the gardens, boats operated by footmen float across the pond and the guest list features the distinguished, rich and powerful!
But below the glamour, evil is lurking. When a dead body is discovered, it forces Lady Alkmene to throw off her mask and attempt to find the true killer before Denise’s family are accused. If only her partner, Jake Dubois, weren’t hiding something from her…
This case might just be more dangerous than either of them could have imagined.

My Review

Fatal Masquerade is the fourth book in the series that features Lady Alkmene and Jake Dubois. I read the first book recently and even though this book could be read as a standalone novel I am glad that I had already ‘met’ them. I was aware of how they met and the relationship between them. This novel was a lot more sinister to read. The death of a servant, another servant accused of their murder and only two people willing to help. These being Alkmene and Jake.
Jake is witholding information from Alkmene which doesn’t please her and whilst more of his character is revealed, mainly that he won’t betray a trust, you still don’t find out why he was a convict. I would like to read more from his point of view but that may come in time.
Whilst I liked the two main characters, I struggled to warm to anybody else. The wealthy were portayed as dismissive and uncaring towards the wrongly accused servant. Better that she would be found guilty and hanged rather than have their lives turned upside down by a lacklustre police force. Two of the group were intimidating, and not people I would like to spend any time with.
Very much ‘cosy crime’, the murder isn’t the main focus in the storyline, it’s more an analysis of character and how people are perceived and controlled by others.
I would have liked to read the earlier two books I hadnt read. Some of the storyline does seem to carry on through the series. It was easy enough to follow though, I’m just curious. It is a series that I will eventually catch  up on, and follow in the future.

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received.

A Proposal to Die For by Vivian Conroy – Review.

 

About the Book

A murderous beginning
With her father away in India, Lady Alkmene Callender finds being left to her own devices in London intolerably dull, until the glamorous Broadway star Evelyn Steinbeck arrives in town! Gossip abounds about the New York socialite, but when Ms Steinbeck’s wealthy uncle, Silas Norwhich, is found dead Lady Alkmene finds her interest is piqued. Because this death sounds a lot to her like murder…
Desperate to uncover the truth, Lady Alkmene begins to look into Ms Steinbeck’s past – only to be hampered by the arrival of journalist, Jake Dubois – who believes she is merely an amateur lady-detective meddling in matters she knows nothing about!
But Lady Alkmene refuses to be deterred from the case and together they dig deeper, only to discover that some secrets should never come to light…
The twenties have never been so dangerous.

My Review

I don’t read much ‘cosy crime’, it’s usually when I need a break from the usual modern-day crime fiction books that tend to be more grim and which sometimes can be difficult to read. So, when I chose to read this book in preparation for book 4 which I will be reviewing in a few weeks time it was perfect timing.
It is the first book in the Alkmene Callender series and I enjoyed it a lot. I wish I had read it sooner, then I would have time to read book two and three, I feel that this is a series that I would really get into.
It is very sedate, Alkmene has too much time on her hands and decides to play private detective after overhearing a conversation at a party and then reading about a death in the paper. One of the people she heard talking stood to gain from the person’s death. She is helped in her investigation by Jake Dubois, a journalist and  possible ex-convict who would love to get a story into his paper.
It is only a short novel but packs a lot in. There is the crime to solve but it also shows the difference between social classes. Alkmene is upset by things that she sees and when she tries to help, struggles to accept that she might have made the situation worse. Jake has obviously had problems in his past and I wonder if more will be revealed further on in the series.
I liked both characters, Alkmene was like a young Miss Marple with Jake in the background to keep her safe and also make her aware that her world is different to most other people.
With thanks to Vivian Conroy for the initial contact and to the publisher for the copy received via netgalley.

The Many Colours Of Us by Rachel Burton – Blog Tour Review.

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About the Book

What if your life was built on lies?
Julia Simmonds had never been bothered about not knowing who her father was. Having temperamental supermodel, Philadelphia Simmonds, as a mother was more than enough. Until she discovers she’s the secret love-child of the late, great artist Bruce Baldwin, and her life changes forever.
Uncovering the secrets of a man she never knew, Julia discovers that Bruce had written her one letter, every year until her eighteenth birthday, urging his daughter to learn from his mistakes.
Julia begins to dig deeper into the mysterious past of her parents, opening up a history she’d never have imagined, but as she discovers the truth she needs to decide if she is willing to forgive and forget…

My Review

I only occasionally read a romance fiction but every now again I appreciate a break from my usual choice of crime fiction. I am glad that I noticed the opportunity to read this book as part of a blog tour because I really enjoyed it.

Julia’s life changes completely when the father she has never known makes her the sole beneficiary in his will. As well as the property, money and possessions she is also handed a series of letters that has always been returned unopened. She has to come to terms with why her mother did this, as well as the reasons why his identity was always kept secret. Luckily there were quite a few people, all who knew what she didn’t, who could help.
This was a novel that I found very quick to read. I thought it was a lovely story with some very engaging people. I enjoyed Delph’s attempts at rebuilding the relationship with her daughter in the only way she knew. Even if it wasn’t the easiest way it worked. I loved the budding romance between Julia and Edwin, his disappointment at not remembering him from when she was a child and both of their reluctance to admit their feelings for each other. Happily, all the other characters and the reader could see how they were meant to be together. I don’t think there was one weak character, or one that I didn’t like. They all felt like normal people with good points and bad.
As I said earlier, this novel was out of my comfort zone but I’m glad that I have a found a new author whose books I will look out for in the future.
With thanks to the author for the copy received and to Jenny Marston for the chance to take part in the blog tour.
The Book can be purchased at Amazon

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Arrowood by Mick Finlay – Review.

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About the Book

1895: London’s scared. A killer haunts the city’s streets. The poor are hungry; crime bosses are taking control; the police force stretched to breaking point.
While the rich turn to Sherlock Holmes, the celebrated private detective rarely visits the densely populated streets of South London, where the crimes are sleazier and the people are poorer.
In a dark corner of Southwark, victims turn to a man who despises Holmes, his wealthy clientele and his showy forensic approach to crime: Arrowood – self-taught psychologist, occasional drunkard and private investigator.
When a man mysteriously disappears and Arrowood’s best lead is viciously stabbed before his eyes, he and his sidekick Barnett face their toughest quest yet: to capture the head of the most notorious gang in London…

My Review

Arrowood, ‘the guvnor’ is a private investigator. He solves the cases that Sherlock Holmes wouldn’t be interested in. He is overweight, drinks heavily has no social skills and detests Sherlock Holmes. But despite his many faults he is loyal to those who work with him and his clients.
The narrative is told by his assistant Barnett. Barnett has suffered a personal loss that he hasn’t discussed with the guvnor and he regularly suffers physical abuse. Some of it from the guvnor but also from the police and the people they encounter in their investigations.
What appeared an easy case for the team proves increasingly baffling and dangerous. I just wanted to protect Neddy, as well as give him a bath. It was hard to work out who they could trust, everybody including the police seemed to have their own agenda.
The description of a life in poverty in the London slums was the best that I have read in a long time. Not only could I visualise it, I could also smell and even taste it. Very convincing and I would love to read more about Barnett’s experience of a slum existence.
I have said it before, about numerous books but this would make great television. 19th century crime fiction, in the same city as Sherlock Holmes but could be a completely different world.
With thanks to the publisher for the copy received via Netgalley.

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.