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Author: Martin Connolly

Published: 1 September 2016
Reviewed: 10 September 2016

5 out of 5 stars
Copy supplied by Pen and Sword in return for an honest review

 

Description:

A female thief, with four husbands, a lover and, reportedly, over twelve children, is arrested and tried for the murder of her step-son in 1872, turning the small village of West Auckland in County Durham upside down. Other bodies are exhumed and when they are found to contain arsenic, she is suspected of their murder as well. The perpetrator, Mary Ann Cotton, was tried and found guilty and later hanged on 24 March 1873 in Durham Goal. It is claimed she murdered over twenty people and was the first female serial killer in England.
With location photographs and a blow by blow account of the trial, this book challenges the claim that Mary Ann Cotton was the ‘The West Auckland Borgia’, a title given to her at the time. It sets out her life, trial, death and the aftermath and also questions the legal system used to convict her by looking at contemporary evidence from the time and offering another explanation for the deaths. The book also covers the lives of those left behind, including the daughter born to Mary Ann Cotton in Durham Goal.

My Thoughts & Review:

Timed to coincide with the launch of ITV’s  latest drama “Dark Angel” this publication reports the life of Mary Ann Cotton, a convicted serial killer in England in the 1800s.
I’ve long held a fascination with Mary Ann Cotton, the psychology behind serial killers is an area of interest for many and indeed when you consider the number of convicted female serial killers it is genuinely intriguing.

Martin Connolly takes a methodical approach to recounting the history of this notorious figure, extensive research has been done and is presented openly and concisely through official documentation to ascertain a chronological timeline of the events.  The inclusion of maps and photos of the local area allow the reader to physically see how and where Mary Ann lived.  The census entries along with records of birth, marriage and deaths are also good additions of the research that is presented.
By also including reports from the local newspapers at the time of the events, Connolly presents the less factual side to the tale, however he remains staunchly impartial throughout, refusing to speculate and offering plausible explanations for events wherever possible.

An utterly fascinating read, well presented and one I will be purchasing the paperback copy of asap!

You can buy a copy of Mary Ann Cotton – Dark Angel here.

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Lie in Wait

Author: G.J. Minett
Published: 25 August 2016
Reviewed: 21 August 2016

5 out of 5 stars
Copy supplied by Bonnier Zaffre in return for an honest review

Description:

Owen Hall has always been different. A big man with an unusual fixation, one who prefers to put his trust in number patterns rather than in people, it’s unsurprising that he’d draw the attention of a bully.

Or a murder investigation.

And, in the storm of emotions and accusations that erupts when a violent killing affects a small community, it soon becomes clear that a particularly clever murderer might just get away with it.

All they’d need is a likely suspect . . .

My Thoughts & Review:

Lie in Wait is the second novel penned by Graham Minett, his first The Hidden Legacy was published electronically in November 2015, and secured this reader as an unwavering fan.  I was absolutely delighted when I found out this novel was in the pipeline, I really hope to see more of his writing in the future.

The story opens with a thought provoking prologue, ensuring the reader is captivated.  It’s from here that Minett’s prowess as a writer really shines through, in the hands of lesser authors what follows might evolve into a tangled mess of characters and backstories, but instead he cleverly weaves together a tale of mystery, intrigue, and murder.

As the story develops the separate threads came together flawlessly all the while remaining coherent and thrilling, the pace moves along swiftly and this is a book that deserves to be read in one sitting.  Clearly marking each chapter as either ‘Earlier’ or ‘Now’ means that the reader is able to follow the complex tales from the dual timelines.

The remarkably descriptive setting of South England gives the reader a real feel for the setting, indeed it allows the reader to conjure a clear image mentally which adds to the dark and chilling atmosphere.  The characters are all well developed, each bearing their own unpleasantness, darkness or dangerousness.  It almost felt like a case of which one of these awful people would you attempt to trust the most, superb writing to create such a cast that evoke such ill feeling and mistrust.   I was fascinated at how Minett analysed the relationships between the characters – the school days, tales of life and memories of bullying in particular added to the plot

Minett’s style of writing is absolutely ingenious; clever plotting, richly complex characters that get under the skin of the reader and overall the ability to drop the reader right into the heart of the setting make these books some of the best I’ve ever had the pleasure to read.

You can pre order a copy of Lie in Wait here.

About the Author

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Image and author information courtesy of Amazon

Graham Minett studied Languages at Churchill College, Cambridge before teaching for several years in Gloucestershire and West Sussex. In 2008 he completed a part-time MA in Creative Writing at the University of Chichester and subsequently won both the inaugural Segora short story competition in 2008 and the Chapter One competition in 2010. The latter consisted of the opening sections of what would eventually become The Hidden Legacy, which earned him contracts not only with Peter Buckman of the Ampersand Agency but also Twenty7, part of the Bonnier publishing group.

The Hidden Legacy is his first novel and his second, Lie In Wait, will be published as an eBook in August 2016 and as a paperback in February 2017. He is at present planning his third and is still working at the Angmering School.

He lives in West Sussex with his wife and children but retains close links with Cheltenham, where the rest of his family live.

To find out more about Graham Minett’s books go to his Facebook Page  his website http://www.grahamminett.com/ or follow him on Twitter @GJMinett

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