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** My thanks to Robbie at Saraband for my copy of this book **

 

Description:

Fifty-something Shona is a proud former pupil of the Marcia Blaine School for Girls, but has a deep loathing for The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, which she thinks gives her alma mater a bad name.

Impeccably educated and an accomplished martial artist, linguist and musician, Shona is thrilled when selected by Marcia Blaine herself to travel back in time for a one-week mission in 19th-century Moscow: to pair up the beautiful, shy, orphaned heiress Lidia Ivanovna with Sasha, a gorgeous young man of unexplained origins.

But, despite all her accomplishments and good intentions, Shona might well have got the wrong end of the stick about her mission. As the body count rises, will she discover in time just who the real villain is?

My Thoughts & Review:

First and foremost, would you take a look at that cover?!  It’s lovely isn’t it?  So eye catching and enchanting!  I am a sucker for a nice book cover, I make no apology for that, I’m merely proving the art departments right when they design a book cover to wow readers.

Anyway, moving on to the book itself, when I first heard about this one it was put to me as “sort of cosy crime, really witty and not really a crime title, although it involves some murders”, well that was enough to grab my attention and I’m really glad I did read it.

We first meet Shona in 19th Century Russia as she attempts to gain an audience with Madame Potapova, a member of the Russian high society when a tragedy occurs.  Through Shona’s narration the reader learns how she came to find herself in 19th Century Russia, a series of interspersed recollections scattered throughout give a interesting insight into this character.
Shona has been tasked with a delicate mission, one that she cannot fail and it all hinges on the fate of a shy heiress who is appearing in Society for the first time since childhood.  Taking to her mission with gusto, Shona dives straight in at the deep end and soon has Russian aristocrats jigging away to the Dashing White Sergeant in an attempt to save the failing atmosphere at the party thrown by Lidia Ivanovna.

There is cosy crime feel to this novel, it has dead bodies and mystery that require someone to puzzle the pieces together for the final “Ah-ha!” moment when the cunning reveal is made.  The way that the plot is structured means that readers can enjoy the mystery as it unfolds, will Shona succeed on her mission, what secrets are being kept by various characters, what are the events that no one must speak of, these are all things that keep the story moving along at a comfortable pace.
The richness of the descriptions used throughout mean that readers get a good feel for the settings and the scenes in this book, the way that Nanny is described did give me a chuckle, got to love a fellow knitter!  But even down to the small details of the parquet flooring, the outfits worn and the highly decorated samovars, it all evokes a great sense of atmosphere and did make me feel like I had been transported.

I did find the style of writing took a little getting used to, it is an intelligently written book that is an enjoyable read.  I especially enjoyed comedy and wit that was liberally dotted around, Shona’s sense of humour and use of Scottish phrases made her a very endearing character.

You can buy a copy of Miss Blaine’s Prefect & The Golden Samovar via:

Amazon UK
Wordery
Book Depository

 

Don’t forget to check out the other stops on the blog tour:

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** My thanks to Clara Diaz at Little, Brown Book Group for my copy of this  book and for inviting me to be part of the blog tour **

 

Description:

Yorkshire, 1927. Eclipse fever grips the nation, and when beloved theatre star Selina Fellini approaches trusted sleuth Kate Shackleton to accompany her to a viewing party at Gigglesiwkc School Chapel, Kate suspects an ulterior motive. 

During the eclipse, Selina’s friend and co-star Billy Moffatt disappears and is later found dead in the chapel grounds. Kate can’t help but dig deeper and soon learns that two other members of the theatre troupe died in similarly mysterious circumstances in the past year. With the help of Jim Sykes and Mrs Sugden, Kate sets about investigating the deaths – and whether there is a murderer in the company.

When Selina’s elusive husband Jarrod, injured in the war and subject to violent mood swings, comes back on the scene, Kate begins to imagine something far deadlier at play, and wonders just who will be next to pay the ultimate price for fame . . .

My Thoughts & Review:

Kate Shackleton is back with another cosy crime mystery, Death in the Stars is the ninth book in the series and I am sure it will be a hit with her fans.  For those not familiar with the Kate Shackleton mysteries, they are a little like Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple books.  There are mysteries aplenty and many suspects for our sleuth to investigate along the way before eventually arriving at a definitive conclusion with none of the modern day gore or danger.

In this book, Shackleton is invited to accompany theatre star Selina Fellini to view an eclipse at a local school chapel, and ever the investigator, Kate’s suspicious mind begins to start ticking over.  During the eclipse Selina’s friend and co-star Billy Moffat is found dead in the grounds of the chapel, and this highlights Selina’s fears about other members of the theatre group having met suspicious endings in the past year.
Shackleton is soon on the case with the help of her good friends Mrs Sugden and Jim Sykes and together they are determined to find answers for the mysterious circumstances of the deaths of the members of the theatre group as well as Billy Moffat’s death.

This is only my second meeting with Kate Shackleton, having previously read book eight in the series Death at the Seaside and I have enjoyed the change of pace that both of these books have brought.  These are more gentle mysteries that my usual crime thriller reads, and there is something nice about the way these books get your brain working, trying to link the clues together and working out how it all goes together like the investigative team are doing.  Despite not being an action packed, adrenaline filled reading, this is a very enjoyable read and very well written.

A cast of very interesting and well crafted characters bring the tale alive, the plot is well thought out and the small details really make this stand out as one not to miss!

You can buy a copy of Death in the Stars via:

Amazon UK
Wordery
Book Depository

 

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** My thanks to Abbie at Farrago Books for the opportunity to read this book and be part of the blog tour **

 

Description:

The new Miss Seeton mystery – the first in almost 20 years!

It’s practically a Royal Marriage. The highly eligible son of Miss Seeton’s old friends Sir George and Lady Colveden has wed the daughter of a French count.

Miss Seeton lends her talents to the village scheme to create a quilted ‘Bayeux Tapestry’ of local history, inspired by the wedding. But her intuitive sketches reveal a startlingly different perspective—involving buried Nazi secrets, and links to the mysterious death of a diplomat and to a South American dictator . . .

Serene amidst every kind of skulduggery, this eccentric English spinster steps in where Scotland Yard stumbles, armed with nothing more than her sketchpad and umbrella!

My Thoughts & Review:

I was intrigued when I first read the blurb of this book, especially the part about it being the first book in almost 20 years!  I was assured that I would be able to read this without having read the previous 21 books so decided to give it a go as change of pace from my current gritty crime thrillers.
I will admit that I did have to take my time reading this one to get a good grounding of the characters and the stories surrounding them, and with so many different strands to the plot it did take a wee bit of concentrating to keep up but once the story moved on I found I got into the book more than I had expected and was less confused about who people were and what was going on.

Miss Seeton is a strange character, and I mean that kindly.  She is renowned in the village of Plummergen for psychic drawings that aid the local police in their investigations, a big fan of yoga and always carries her trusty umbrella with her.  But over all she is an endearing character that will appeal to fans of cosy mysteries like those penned by Agatha Christie and M.C. Beaton.
The plot revolves around some secrets that involve German spies, hidden radios, a painting of Henry VIII and a quilt.  The scandal and gossip surrounding Miss Seeton does add some light humour to the plot, providing some light relief for readers as they try to follow the clues to solve the mysteries of the book.

Initially slow to begin with, but once I got used to the style of writing and once the plot picked up this did turn into an enjoyable enough read, I think I might have perhaps fared better if I had read one or two of the previous books to get a better grasp on the village and it’s cast of characters.  A good example of the cosy crime and mystery genre that should delight fans of Miss Seeton.

You can buy a copy of “Miss Seeton Quilts the Village” via:

Amazon

 

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Description:

Thirty-something single mum Beth Haldane has her hands full, with a bouncy young son, haughty cat, a fringe with a mind of its own, and bills to pay. She loves her little home in plush London suburb Dulwich, but life here doesn’t come cheap.

She is thrilled to land the post of archivist at top local school Wyatt’s – though she secretly fears she’s not up to the job. But even Beth couldn’t have imagined how badly things could go, until she discovers a hideous crime and finds herself prime suspect.

Setting out to clear her name, Beth encounters a cast of characters who will follow her through the London Murder Mystery series, proving along the way that the nastiest secrets can lurk in the nicest places.

My Thoughts & Review:

Sometimes a cosy crime read is just what you need on a rainy day, and this book is just the ticket with a cuppa and a sneaky chocolate biscuit!

Beth Haldane turns amateur sleuth when she discovers a dead body on her first day at her new job at the local school Wyatt’s.  Unfortunately for Beth, sleuthing becomes a necessity when she finds herself the prime suspect.
Beth is a character that I think most readers will connect to, she is strong and determined, she doesn’t give up easily and won’t let the killer get away.

The setting of Dulwich makes for interesting reading, the exclusivity and snobbery around the local area is a reality that many face and I think the author really set the scene with the descriptions of the parents at drop off/collection times of the schools.  A bit like an iceberg, you only see what is on the surface, the picture perfect society.  However, underneath there is something more sinister afoot, and people acting suspiciously always makes for a longer list of suspects.

As with other cosy crime novels, the writing is inkeeping with that you would expect with the genre.  The key is in the subtleties, no graphic descriptions of blood and gore, instead a focus on the investigation (not always carried out by the police).
Having Beth as the investigative force makes this quite an enjoyable read, although there were moments I felt like shouting at her to leave it to the police.  I found it quite a quick read, being able to curl up on the sofa in the evening with my Kindle and ignoring the ironing pile in favour of trying to piece the mystery together with Beth to find out who the killer was.

You can buy a copy of “Death in Dulwich” via:

Amazon

My thanks to Emma Mitchell and Alice Castle for my copy of Death in Dulwich and for having me as part of their blog tour.

 

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Published: 7 July 2017

 

Description:

With high tide comes murder…

When her beloved London theatre closes for renovations, costume maker Guinevere is excited to start a job at Cornisea castle, a centuries-old keep on a small tidal island off the coast of Cornwall. Imagine a whole summer full of stories of hidden treasures, fab food and long walks with her perky dachshund Dolly.

But when a re-enactment of a medieval trial in the castle dungeons ends in real-life murder, and accusations threaten the castle’s future, Guinevere and Dolly dig deep into the island community’s best-kept secrets to unmask the killer and save their Cornish summer.

The first book in the Cornish Castle Mystery series with the second instalment RUBIES IN THE ROSES coming August 2017!

My Thoughts & Review:

When I heard someone mention that “cosy crime” would be a big hit this year I wondered what new detectives we would meet and whether they would be a patch on the investigators of yesteryear when it came to detecting crime.  Here Vivian Conroy excels, and presents readers with a well written crime story that encapsulates the essence of cosy crime.

Guinevere and her delightful Dachshund Dolly are marvellous characters, Guinevere is a very likeable character that readers will take an instant liking towards.  The plot is interesting and well thought out, with plenty to keep the reader guessing as they try to piece together all the clues to solve the mystery.
Superb descriptions of the setting of Cornisea really make the place come alive from the pages, I felt like I was there and able to see the sights.  Likewise, the characters really come to life through the skilled writing making this a delightful and enticing read.

I’m trying desperately not to say too much about the plot, I think this is the sort of book that hints would give away too much and spoil it for others, but it’s well written and paced just right for an enjoyable and exciting read.
Fans of Conroy’s previous books which feature Lady Alkmene Callender should hopefully enjoy this book, and I would say that fans of cosy crime in general would enjoy this one!

Now to wait patiently to read Rubies in the Roses ……

You can buy a copy of Death Plays a Part via Amazon

 

My thanks to Vivian Conroy and HQ Digital for the opportunity to read this book and take part in the blog tour.

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