Dead In The Water Review: A Whirlwind Of An International Historical Thriller

I’ve been a massive fan of Mark Ellis’s poetic and sensitive detective Frank Merlin for many years, and so I was excited for a new instalment to this incredible series.

It’s hard to believe that now there are 5 novels in the series, and that there’s another one that’s just come out! Dead In The Water is the latest addition to this amazing collection, and it shows Frank Merlin as a father and husband coming up against a range of different obstacles.

The book is set later in the war than the earlier novels in the series, in 1942, and the Americans have now joined the war against Hitler. Ellis loves drawing on real historical events and people in his novels, so there are plenty of mentions for history buffs to enjoy. When it comes to the fiction characters, Merlin and his team are now up against bureaucracy from both sides of the Atlantic and dealing with a spate of social unrest when a body is discovered down an alleyway.

At the same time, a shady art deal is going down, which has ramifications on many throughout London’s creative scene, including the purveyors of an avant garde fledgling literary magazine. This deal soon turns sour, and as Merlin’s body count begins to rise, he realises that something’s afoot that affects the very highest echelons of polite society.

From the very first page, readers are transported into the murky world of underground art dealing during the war, shady financial transactions and corrupt millionaires who use their power and influence for their own ends. The novel is a perfect blend of historical insight and a unique plot that holds the readers attention from the outset.

Every character is intricately constructed, and despite the sheer number of characters, the author still manages to make you care about or despise each of them. That’s one of Ellis’s key skills as a writer: being able to create characters you can hate, as well as those you can admire. It’s easy to craft likeable characters, but not so easy to write well-thought out individuals that are unlikeable. They might not necessarily be the villain of the piece, but Ellis is great at making characters who are unlikeable and, in many cases, downright creepy.

My one disappointment, and criticism, is that when I opened the book I saw how short it was. One of my first encounters with Frank Merlin was in Merlin At War, which was considerably longer than this. Having so much more to read makes me happy and means that we get to see more of Ellis’s little side plots. The author is amazing and creating unique and interesting characters, and he usually gives them more space so that their side stories really come to life.

In this novel, there are many smaller stories within the main frame of the narrative, and it would’ve been great to have them get more time and space within the book. Despite this, Ellis still does a great job of keeping them all tied into the main storyline, which concerned a shady art deal that goes horribly wrong. With a body in the river and the artwork gone, Merlin and his team face a race against time to uncover the truth. There are many suspects to choose from, and with the true ownership of this valuable art in question, there’s a lot to keep readers on their toes throughout this gripping thriller.

Also in play are the security services, a nephew of Merlin’s who’s working on a covert mission in London and a shady crew of sneak thieves trying to rob the wealthy individuals at the heart of the case. With so much going on, it’s no wonder that the book is so gripping it’s almost impossible to put down. You’ll be spellbound as you rattle around the world with Ellis’s eclectic cast of characters. Despite so many sub-plots, the novel remains surprisingly easy to keep up with, and the characters are so well-written that you’ll feel like you know them before you’re even 50 pages in.

All in all, this is another incredible addition to an already phenomenal series. It’s a great read for anyone who loves Frank Merlin already, and if you’re new to the character then it could be a good place to start, although I would recommend going from the beginning of the series. The novel covers have recently been redesigned and some of them have been renamed, so now’s as good a time as any to get into them if you haven’t already. I firmly believe that the Frank Merlin series is one of the best to be written over the past 10 years, and Dead In The Water is a truly great addition to it. I just hope the next one is longer!

The Long Weekend Review: A Roller Coaster Of A Plot That’s Scarily Intense

The Long Weekend has been on my TBR pile for some time, and I’ve been looking forward to checking it out. I’m glad to say that Gilly Macmillan’s latest novel did not disappoint. The book is a masterpiece of modern crime fiction, with the author, who already has many bestsellers under her belt, crafting a unique and fast paced thriller. The plot races along and the story quickly transforms from a typical locked room mystery to something much more sinister.

The book begins in the remote Northumbrian countryside, right on the border between England and Scotland, where 3 very different women arrive for a weekend away at a secluded barn. They’re set to be joined by their husbands the next day, after they all gave last minute excuses not to travel with their wives. Taking weekend breaks has become a tradition for the group, but not all of them are looking forward to it, for various reasons.

Owned by a troubled farming couple, the barn is near the site of a historic Neolithic burial ground. The husband has recently been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and his wife is concerned that he’s now harassing guests at their barn, which they rent out for short term visitors. The couple are also rattled by a strange request before the group arrives, and wrapped up in their own troubles.

When they arrive at the barn, the 3 women discover an unsettling note, supposedly from Edie, another woman who was part of their social circle until her husband died, and who subsequently decided not to come to on the trip. The note suggests that harm might have come to one of the group’s husbands, leaving them all feeling confused and angry. Edie is supposedly on a spa retreat in Wales, while her teenager daughter is at band camp, but it’s soon clear that neither of them is where they said they’d be and the pair, despite being absent from the trip, are integral, in one way or another, to the plot.

Without phone signal or any other means of contacting their husbands, and with their hosts down at the farmhouse with their car, which couldn’t make the steep drive up to the barn, things aren’t going well on the trip. Add in personal disagreements and a strong storm and the women face a difficult night. The 3 women are very different, each with their own fears and concerns. There’s Jayne, a former solider who planned the trip, and who has a secret reason for choosing the barn as the location for this latest trip. Then there’s Ruth, her old friend who’s just had a baby, and is struggling to cope with being a mother and dealing with problems in her marriage. Finally, there’s Emily, a newer addition to the group who is significantly younger than the other two, being the trophy girlfriend of the oldest man in the friendship group.

The novel shifts between the misery at the barn, and back nearer the womens’ homes in Bristol, where the orchestrator of the mayhem might not be who we originally believed it to be. It also switches between perspectives, drip feeding the reader small clues so that we’re never bored, but always keeping us one tantalising step away from fully understanding what’s going on. You’ll never see the full picture until the end, and even then, this thriller is so psychologically intense that you might still not grasp the true motives behind the crimes.

One thing that makes me smile every time I look at my copy of the novel is the tagline, which states: ‘Three couples. Two bodies. One secret.’ The one secret part is what is so laughable; Macmillan is not one to confine her characters to just one secret. Every member of the group has her secrets, and their husbands too. There are failed investment projects, adultery, and more to contend with. Some of the secrets are simply basic issues that form part of ordinary life, and others are more sinister and could be the clue to unravelling the author’s tangled web.

So if you’re looking for an enthralling and compelling read to take your mind off all the madness that’s going on in the world right now, then I would heartily suggest that you check out The Long Weekend. It’s an unforgettable read that will haunt you long after you finish it thanks to Macmillan’s devilish plotting, intense characterisation and slow burning plot.

KT Galloway Interview: “I write to unwind and relax”

Better late than never! In my first author interview, thriller writer KT Galloway discusses her work and how her role as a psychologist helps her to craft unique and unputdownable books.

Tell me about how you came to define your writing style. What drew you towards crime fiction?

I have always been an avid reader of horror and psychological thrillers; I love Stephen King, Val McDermid, Karin Slaughter, and of course the great Agatha Christie. The idea of reading a book and solving clues as I go is one of great joy for me. My writing career started with comedy horror screenplays and I also write uplifting book club fiction, but I really wanted to get stuck into a series with great characters and lots of creepy thrills and chills, and so KT Galloway and The O’Malley and Swift series were borne.

What is your career background and how did you become a professional writer?

I am a qualified psychologist and therapist, and that’s what I studied for my masters at university. But ultimately, I just love the way the human brain works, and that blends well with writing about people and real-life (at a push) situations.

I am an agented author of uplifting book club fiction, and have been for a few years now, but I wanted to create another persona who could write all about creepy things instead of lovely things!

Where do you take your inspiration? Are there any rituals you do to get yourself in the mood for writing?

I write whenever I can. As I still work as a therapist I’m extremely busy. Especially these last two years! So I write to unwind and relax. If I sit down at my desk and no words are forthcoming I will take myself off for a walk (my young daughter permitting) or I’ll scroll social media or watch something on Netflix or read. I often find ideas come when I’m not trying to force them.

If I’m on a deadline then I set myself time limits. 15 minutes writing at a time. These bursts of productivity work well for me and my word count increases when I set these goals.

What style of writing do you enjoy yourself? Are there any particular writers you admire?

I will read anything. I LOVE books and I love getting lost in a world created by someone else. At the moment I’m reading a lot of Eve Chase who has a superpower for creating rich environments and characters. I am definitely a mood reader. If I pick something up and don’t enjoy it immediately, I will shelve it for another time. I tend to have two books on the go at once for this very reason. I don’t mind what the genre is, I’m more about the character and storyline.

If you could collaborate with any person, living or dead, on a writing project, who would it be and why?

Hands down, the amazing Agatha Christie. Her writing has that perfect mix of humour and suspense, and her characters are so much fun. I think I could learn so much from her; red herrings, plots, settings… just everything!!! Plus I think she’d enjoy a proper cup of tea with me while we’re writing.

Have you got any projects coming up that you are particularly excited about?

I am really excited about book 4 in the O’Malley and Swift series The House of Secrets. It’s playing out to be the most chilling one of the series so far. And I just love the relationship between Annie and Joe and how that is developing. It’s out in May so watch this space. You can pre-order on my amazon page here author.to/KTGalloway

Are there any new books or writers that you are looking forward to later in the year?

I read a lot! It’s essential as a writer, I think. I have already read the new Lucy Foley, The Paris Apartment, which is AMAZING, and the new Gillian McAllister, Wrong Place, Wrong Time, which is sublime. They’re both out later on this year. As well as those, I am looking forward to The It Girl by Ruth Ware as I think she writes some of the best whodunnits.

Anything you’d like to add?

Thank you so much for having me. It’s been lovely chatting with you. If readers would like to find me they can on Twitter https://twitter.com/ktgallowaybooks and Facebook https://www.facebook.com/ktgallowaybooks
I also have a newsletter where I run competitions and giveaways and you can sign up here https://sendfox.com/ktgallowaybooks

Huge thanks for answering my questions it’s been amazing to hear about your work and lovely to chat with you too.

Death On The Nile Review: How Did This Pile Of Hot Garbage Get Made?!

Recently, I’ve been going through a lot of changes and suffering from exhaustion, so I decided, after a hard day, to treat myself to a trip to the cinema.

I’ve not been for since before the pandemic, and following a busy and stressful day, I thought I’d go watch a film that’s been delayed for more than 2 years.

The delays were partially due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and also because many of the film’s stars have faced criticism for their behaviour. While many of the stars, including Armie Hammer and Gal Gadot, have faced criticism and, in the case of Hammer, serious allegations, they remain some of the world’s richest and most influential stars. And, the film is helmed and directed by Kenneth Branagh, a man who has famously overcome his own scandals to enjoy a long and prosperous career.

He has already adapted Murder On The Orient Express, and while he definitely wasn’t my idea of Hercule Poirot, the film itself was enjoyable to watch. As such, I was looking forward to a good whodunnit film, even if it wasn’t exactly what I’d usually expect from a Poirot mystery.

To my surprise, from the outset, the latest adaptation of Death On The Nile is a disaster. The first scene, set in 1914, shows a captain you believe to Poirot, with his signature moustaches, announcing orders to go over a trench and attack a bridge later that day. Suddenly, an unshaven Poirot discusses the flight of the birds, and the fact that the wind has changed earlier than usual. He advises his moustachioed captain to attack immediately, which he does, despite his misgivings.

The operation is a success, but the captain dies by accidentally setting off a bomb, which Poirot tries to warn him about, without success. The detective is then seen in a hospital bed with a disfigured face and a despondent disposition. His girlfriend, who we later learn died, tells him to grow a moustache. This version of Poirot, who is later seen embarking on fast-paced dashes across the ship and striding about with a gun in his hands, is far too much of a traditional Hollywood action hero to be the peculiar little man with an egg-shaped head. Even his eyes, which turn bright green when he’s on the trail of the truth in the books, are sapphire blue in the film. It’s a small detail, but it’s very noticeable for Christie fans.

After the opening scene, the film’s narrative shifts to the film’s setting in the 1930s, with Poirot, now heavily moustached, attending a music club. He’s watching Salome Otterbourne, who isn’t the writer she is in the novel but a nightclub singer, perform. The first two dances, performed by Jacqueline and Simon and then, after he’s given his new job, by Linnet and Simon, are thinly veiled attempts to emulate the traditional film trope of dances used to emulate sex. Armie Hammer is not a gullible, stupid individual as we see him in the books, but a creepy rich boy in a vile moustache that makes him look like an unintentional parody of the cannibal sexist the media portrays him as. His hammy dancing and over egging the sexual aspects of the dancing make them look like a joke, rather than a serious sexual dance. The film does this well-worn trope incredibly unsuccessfully, and the result is a clumsy opener that only goes downhill from there.

Much of the film is different from the novels, and while that isn’t always a bad thing, in this case the changes don’t benefit the movie in any way. For a start, the characters aren’t all the same as in the books, and this significantly affects the plot and makes much of it highly unbelievable. Monsieur Bouc was in the Murder On The Orient Express novel, and Branagh’s film, and he brings him back in this adaptation instead of Colonel Race, the character who assists Poirot in the book. Bouc also acts as a replacement for the character Tim Allerton, as he attends the cruise, now panned as a wedding party, with his mother. Instead of a group of disparate strangers, the group is gathered deliberately by Linnet Doyle, nee Ridgeway, for her wedding celebration.

This makes it seem unusual when interloper Jacqueline de Bellefort, the former friend of Linnet and first fiancé of Linnet’s now-husband, Simon Doyle, joins the cruise. In the book and most adaptations, the Karnak, the liner the group travels on, is a luxury steamer and everyone on board is there for different reasons. As Branagh’s film has the party gathered by Linnet and Simon for their wedding celebration, it looks strange when Jacqueline arrives out of the blue. She’s vital for the plot, but she arrives alone with no other guests who are unconnected to the wedding party shown, making her arrival look strange and convenient. Also, Branagh’s adaptation has the boat’s staff leave the vessel at the end of every day, which is another useful but unlikely way to create a ‘locked room’ scenario.

One major missed opportunity that’s a real shame is the lack of attention to the scenery and costumes in the film. Bouc actually wears a zip-up hoodie throughout most of the film, and while these were worn in the 1930s, when the story is set, I doubt anyone on a luxury cruise would galavant around in one. The outfits and decor on the luxury liner were a great opportunity for the film to make the most of its enormous budget. There’s no opulence; the glitter is two-dimensional and looks flat on the screen. Colours on ties and jackets are made to stand out to set them apart, but I defy anyone to remember one signature look with any real clarity even minutes after the film finishes.

I expected a lot more from the outfits and scenery, but the film’s over reliance on CGI technology and lack of care when it comes to the costuming and makeup means that the film doesn’t have the obvious redeeming feature that you’d expect. The 1930s was a time of dwindling opulence, but those who were still going on luxury liners still had access to stunning costumes and retained their love of 1920s decadence. Instead of the beautiful pearls Linnet wears, which are viewed as a motive for her murder initially and are stolen, then found, then seen to be fake, the film gives the wealthy heiress a tacky looking Tiffany necklace with a huge yellow gem in the centre. The necklace looks like it’s made of plastic, and not at all like it’s an expensive and fashionable gem.

The film’s deviations from the original text, and from Christie’s style in general, are never more apparent than during a scene in which two characters are revealed to be lesbian lovers. The film is heavy handed in this reveal, with Branagh’s Poirot shouting at the two women while they admit the truth, which would have been unthinkable and subject to ridicule and abuse during the time when the film is set. In her books, Christie has characters who could be involved in these sorts of relationships, but it’s never directly revealed. In any subtle reveals, Christie is always understated and her characters are sympathetic, which is far from the case in this film.

There are some pockets of cinematic brilliance in the midst of all the dross, but unfortunately, these are few and far between. There’s a brilliant fight scene between Russell Brand and Ali Fazal’s characters over the dead body of Rose Leslie’s dispirited and highly unconvincing French Maid. Also, thanks to the addition of Bouc, who isn’t in the Queen Of Crime’s original story, there’s a brilliant bait and switch that keeps viewers on your toes until Branagh uses Bouc in a way I never expected. I won’t spoil the unique twist and inventive change the film makes to Christie’s iconic plot, but it really changed the story and is a great surprise to viewers. With so much of the film, such as Jacqueline’s arrival on the boat, being really obvious, it was nice to have one major surprise to catch you off guard.

Still, for the most part, Branagh’s Death On The Nile adaptation is a cinematic representation of the phrase ‘money can’t buy taste’. It’s an expensive film that throws its money into all the wrong places. It’s already not a great Christie novel to begin with, but the adaptation boasts many unnecessary changes and some frankly bizarre choices that make it almost unwatchable. I literally covered my eyes at some points. With so many comedy actors, including greats like comedy duo French and Saunders, I almost thought at times, that this was a parody, and it easily could’ve been if the actors weren’t all so serious and it wasn’t trying so hard. If you love Christie and her pernickety Belgium detective as much as I do, then I’d recommend you watch it once, but don’t rush out for it and definitely, if you can avoid it, don’t pay too much to watch. This film simply isn’t worth it.

The Top 5 Best Josephine Tey Novels For Old School Crime Fiction Fans

Josephine Tey, the pen name of Scottish writer Elizabeth MacKintosh, was the name under which she wrote some of her best-known works.

It’s also the name I knew her under when I first read her short stories in the amazing anthology series Bodies From The Library.

After my brief introduction, I was intrigued by the author’s characters and dedication to creating gripping narratives, so I sought out some more of her work.

Characterisation and suspense are the cornerstones of Tey’s work, and she created some memorable individuals including Scotland Yard Inspector Alan Grant, who appears in several of her most revered works.

If you’re looking for a new Golden Age crime fiction series to start in 2022, and want something authentic but not as popular as the books written by well-known names like Sayers or Christie, then Tey’s books could be the perfect choice for you.

Here are some of my favourite books by Josephine Tey to get you into her work and introduce you to her unique and well-rounded characters.

5. The Franchise Affair: An inventive and gripping novel, this unique story showcases the author’s flair for the dramatic and skill at characterisation. While the book involves Inspector Alan Grant, The Franchise Affair mainly centres around a solicitor who is called in to defend a mother and daughter who live alone in a grandiose house, called the Franchise. The pair have been accused of kidnapping a young woman, 15 year old Betty Kane, who was staying with an aunt and uncle nearby their home. She claims to have been abducted, beaten and forced to do menial work by the mother and daughter, who had been struggling to find servants to support them in taking care of their large home. While the tale seems fanciful and unusual, the girl is bruised and can describe accurately the layout of the pair’s distinctive home. The women’s solicitor, Robert Blair, is unconvinced by the girl and determined to help his clients, for whom he feels deeply sympathetic. His investigations uncover unique human dramas and incorporate so many twists that the novel is almost impossible to put down.

4. Brat Farrar: Set in a stuffy country estate, Brat Farrar is both the title of the book and the name of a mysterious stranger who intrudes on the ignorant bliss of the troubled and cash-strapped Ashby family. Brat meets a stranger while drifting around in England after spending time in America. The stranger is an actor who knows the Ashby family, and wants to use Brat to impersonate the eldest son of the family, who is supposed to have committed suicide, but whose body was never found. His younger twin is now set to inherit a trust fund from his late mother when he turns 21, but Brat and his new friend plan to swindle the family out of the money with their deception. While this book is less of a mystery and more of a thriller and human drama, it is definitely worth reading for its unforgettable characterisation and intense dialogue. The book is a stand alone novel that doesn’t involve Inspector Grant, but it is very clearly the work of Josephine Tey. It’s also a great introduction to her work and a stunning read for anyone who loves unique thrillers.

3. A Shilling for Candles: The basis for the Alfred Hitchcock film Young And Innocent, A Shilling For Candles is part of the Inspector Alan Grant series. Among the first of the books to be written under the Josephine Tey pseudonym, the novel draws on the author’s experience working with theatrical actors and writing in Hollywood. It tells the tale of a film actress, who is found dead by drowning on a beach near Kent, where she was staying with a male friend. While her death is originally thought to be accidental drowning, Grant notices a button tangled in her hair, and feels that the death is suspicious. That’s compounded when the Inspector finds out that the actress recently wrote to her lawyer to add a section to her will. This new provision will allow her male friend, who has squandered his own fortune and now lives off the actress’s generosity, to get a portion of her considerable estate. Other suspects include an astrologist who accurately predicted the actresses death by drowning, the actress’s brother, a renowned con artist, and her husband, who is unwilling to share his whereabouts at the time of her death. With a range of suspects and little hard evidence to go off, Grant has to use all of his detective prowess and investigative skills to uncover the truth. In doing so, he has to work out both how and why the actress died, so he can figure out who orchestrated her death.

2. Miss Pym Disposes: With an engaging female lead and a traditional enclosed setting at a private girl’s school, this standalone novel should have been part of a series in my humble opinion. It’s a shame it’s not, but it’s still an enticing read. Psychologist and bestselling writer Lucy Pym is looking forward to giving a lecture at a Leys Physical Training College for girls where she can share her love of her chosen subject with a group of eager young students. Invited by her friend and the school’s principal to stay the night, the stay becomes a bit longer, and is then interrupted by a tragic death. It could be an accident, but it could also be something much worse, and the longer she stays, the more Miss Pym uncovers. The novel manages to toe the line between cosy crime fiction and biting thriller, making this a unique and engaging read for anyone who loves mysteries.

1. The Daughter of Time: The last book published in the author’s lifetime, this is an incredible book about Inspector Alan Grant’s investigations into King Richard The Third. With Grant confined to a hospital bed, an actress friend of his brings in some pictures of historical figures and suggests that he tries to uncover the truth behind a famous crime. When he sees the picture of the famous king, Grant believes that the world must be wrong in assuming him a cruel and callous killer who murdered the princes in the tower and many others. The book describes Grant’s work dissecting historical material and testing out his ideas on those surrounding him in the hospital. The book reminds me of the later work by Colin Dexter called The Wench Is Dead, and is a great example of the historical cold case revisited by a recuperating Inspector that has peppered both the crime book and TV market for the following decades.

Books I’m Excited For In 2022

Happy New Year Dorset Book Detective Readers! Hopefully things will get better this year, and we’ll all survive and thrive.

For me and my blog, it’s that time of year again! A New Year means exciting new book releases for us bookworms to drool over and get pumped for.

This year there are so many awesome new releases coming that I’m sure everyone, no matter what your tastes are, will find plenty to keep you entertained.

So, without further ado, here are some of the books I’m most looking forward to reading later in the year.

Good Rich People

This exciting new release from Eliza Jane Brazier looks like an exhilarating combination of crime fiction and social commentary. It tells the story of an unusual wealth couple who rent out the downstairs part of their luxury home to so-called ‘self-made’ success stories. Then the pair work with their wits to torment and torture their lodgers to get back at them for being interlopers into the world of wealth and privilege that they believe is rightfully theres. However, when a destitute young woman tricks her way into their home, the couple have to engage in an extraordinary game of cat and mouse that could have devastating consequences. This looks like a great read and I love a good book that questions social class and involves crime, so I’m looking forward to checking this out.

The Thursday Murder Club 3

While we don’t have many details about the new addition of Richard Osman’s addictive series, but we do know that it’s due to be released later next year, probably around the early Autumn. Following on from the success of The Thursday Murder Club and The Man Who Died Twice, I’m looking forward to seeing what else is coming for the intrepid group of elderly sleuths who gather together to uncover the truth behind crimes in and around their luxury retirement community. Osman has gone from a popular quiz show host to a respected author, and his work stands alone away from the rest of is success. If you love Golden Age crime fiction, then this cosy series could be the perfect choice for you. If you haven’t already checked it out, then you’ve still got plenty of time before the third novel is released!

The Marlow Murder Club 2

Remarkably similar to Osman’s series, The Marlow Murder Club was created by Robert Thorogood, the writer behind the longstanding TV show Death In Paradise. The first book was a hit, so it’s no surprise that a second is due to be released later in 2022. Again, as the next book in this captivating series is set for later in the year, we don’t have much information about it right now, but if it’s anything like the first novel then it’ll be a kooky classic crime caper that’s not too violent and perfect for fans of cosy crime stories. Set in modern society, using a small village as its base and featuring a cast of older women, including a vicar’s wife, a dog walker and an elderly crossword setter as the sleuths, the first book had all the makings of the start of a great series, and I expect big things from this second instalment.

The Christie Affair

As a huge Agatha Christie fan who also loves historical mystery novels and weird conspiracy theories, I am extremely excited for Nina de Gramont’s The Christie Affair. Due to be published later this month, it tells the tale of Christie’s mysterious disappearance in 1926 and presents her first husband’s ambitious mistress as somehow linked to still unsolved mystery. I love books that offer unique perspective on an often covered event, so I’m intrigued to see what theories de Gramont presents and how her new novel will give readers the chance to immerse themselves in the world of 1920s luxury and decadence. I’m confident that we’ll get a novel that’s both unique and comforting, which will be the perfect option for Christie fans and crime fiction lovers in general.

Run, Rose, Run

Something you might not know about me is that as well as loving crime fiction and thrillers, I’m also a huge Western and Country Music lover. That’s why I’m looking forward to the first crime fiction novel from Country legend Dolly Parton. In partnership with mystery writing aficionado James Patterson, she’s created a book about a young singer who’s on the run from a murky past. Now in Nashville, she’s singing about how she’s turned her life around and making a name for herself in the music business. But the past never stays buried for long, leaving her to confront her past and protect her future as a music star. I love Dolly Parton, and I think that her influence could help to make Patterson’s story less formulaic. Whatever happens, I’ll defiantly be checking out Dolly’s debut crime fiction novel! There’s also an album of original songs produced to go with the novel, making this the perfect choice for any Country lover and crime fiction fan.

Chronicles Of A Cairo Bookseller

It’s not crime fiction, but I think Nadia Wassef’s autobiographical tale of opening a bookshop in Cairo, a city with no other independent shops selling books, seems like an intriguing and important read. The book is funny and insightful, offering readers the chance to peer into the unique world of Egypt’s capital city and the perils and passions that collide in Wassef’s bookshop. The book features a unique cast of characters who are stranger than fiction, and showcase the beauty of bookstores and why independent shops like Diwan are so important and need to be protected at all costs. Wassef writes a funny and insightful book that I think will make a great read, and allow you to check out some non-fiction and learn new things.

Over the coming months there will doubtless be many more books announced, which means there’ll be even more incredible new books for us to check out. Happy reading and I hope the New Year is prosperous for all of my lovely followers!

Bodies From The Library 4 Review: Another Engrossing Collection Of Undiscovered Golden Age Crime Stories

Before I get down to the fun part and start reviewing this amazing anthology series, I’d like to apologise for neglecting my blog. I’ve been very busy and I’ve been working very hard at my day job, particularly in the run up to Christmas.

I’m hoping to get things back on track soon, so for now, thanks ever so much for bearing with me. I really appreciate all of the ongoing support and I’m excited to start getting back to posting on the blog more often in the future.

With that done, I’d like to love to tell you about the fourth instalment of the Bodies From The Library series. The series is linked to a lecture series of the same name, which aims to educate crime fiction fans on the Golden Age and how it came to influence almost every aspect of the genre and popular culture in general.

Edited, introduced and compiled by crime fiction connoisseur Tony Medawar, the series gives the reader the chance to read previously undiscovered short stories and novellas from the Golden Age of Crime Fiction. These stories might be from old archives, have been previously unpublished, or have not been included in old magazines but not collected in a printed book before.

Beginning with the introduction from Medawar, Bodies From The Library 4 then goes on to offer each story followed by a short biography of the author and an overview of where and when the text was originally published and how it came to be selected for the anthology. That means you can learn a bit about prominent and influential authors from the Golden Age without having to read

The one thing I found disappointing about the fourth instalment of the series of Bodies From The Library books is that it doesn’t contain an Agatha Christie story this time. As she was one of the key writers from the era, it’s a shame they didn’t include her work in this latest edition, especially as she was included in the past. Dorthy L. Sayers is another notable name who is missing from volume four, but it does mean that we get to read tales from new names that weren’t in previous books in the series, so that’s a bonus.

However, with many other major writers from the period, including Leo Bruce, Ngaio Marsh and Edmund Crispin, there are still plenty of big names that you’ll have heard of. So, you’ll get the chance to discover some awesome tales by authors you love, as well as some you might not have necessarily heard of, but who’ve influenced popular culture. For example, the short story that inspired Alfred Hitchcock’s The Lady Vanishes is included in the anthology.

At the end of the book, there is a section of stories from the Sunday Dispatch, which were commissioned as part of a writing challenge for crime fiction authors during 1938. A previous set of stories from an earlier Sunday Dispatch competition was included in the previous edition of the anthology series, and this next one was a set of pieces centred around specific and unusual pictures. The 6 writers were challenged to write a brief story about these unique images, which include an anvil with a glass of wine perched on top of it, a pub sign, and a drawing of a creepy skeleton hand with what appears to be a pocket watch perched on top of it.

Each tale incorporates the content of the image, in some cases in very inventive and uniquely creative ways. These short stories, most of which are less than 3 pages in length, are incredible feats of writing and unforgettable examples of crime fiction prowess. They’re so good, and I’ve not seen them collected like this before, so I’d recommend reading the book for this section alone.

That being said, there are loads of other great examples of crime fiction writing from the 1920s and 30s in the book, so it’s an ideal choice for lovers of the genre. One of the best is the novella Shadowed Sunlight by Chrisitianna Brand, a story about a poisoning during a yacht race on board one of the vessels. The assembled family and friends are all suspects, but as each food and drink item the victim ingested was also eaten or drunk by another member of the company, who wasn’t harmed, it’s difficult for the detectives to uncover the truth.

Another incredible tale from the anthology is The Only Husband by H.C. Bailey, a play script about the shooting of an elderly nobleman in the grounds of his country estate just as an investigator he asked to help him deal with an unspecified family issue arrives. Alongside local lawmakers, the detective has to deal with lies, secrets and family disloyalty to uncover the truth about who shot the murder victim or if his death was merely an unfortunate and tragic, if timely, accident. The script’s dialogue is witty and punchy, and the characters are believably droll and unscrupulous, so it’s a great read for crime fiction lovers who want to discover something new from the Golden Age of Crime Fiction.

In summary, Bodies From The Library 4 is another great addition to this gripping anthology series. While it might not contain as many big name authors as past editions, the fourth part of the series is engaging and contains some great tales that you’ll enjoy. As a result, I’d throughly recommend checking it out.

The Top Five Inspector Montalbano Books For Fans Of European Crime Fiction

The Inspector Montalbano TV series has become popular in the UK and around the world, but it differs greatly from the unique and pioneering series of books on which it is based.

Originally published in Italian, and now translated into many languages and popular around the world, Andrea Camilleri’s series about a police inspector with a unique combination of underworld connections and moral compass, is intriguing and unrivalled.

The series is still going to this very day, with the books spanning nearly 20 years, from the early 90s to the 2020s. As well as the nearly 30 full-length Inspector Montalbano novels, the author also wrote a selection of short stories, compiled into many collections.

Set in a fictional town on the Italian coast, called Vigata, the stories are famed for being violent and featuring some of the worst of human behaviour. From prostitutes to gangsters, thieves to kidnappers and beyond, almost every character in this series is up to no good in some form or another.

Montalbano’s world is one of vice and deception, but the man himself has an unwavering, if unusual, moral compass. He lives by his own code and has a set of rules that keep him grounded as he navigates the murky world underground world of crime in his beloved city.

Known for their dark humour and raw depiction of human life, the Inspector Montalbano novels paint a unique picture of life in Italy and the serious crimes committed in this beautiful and diverse country.

So, if you’re looking to explore the sleazy and devious world of Inspector Montalbano, then here are five books you should definitely check out.

5.The Sicilian Method: One of the newer books in the series, The Sicilian Method features two dead bodies that are considered to be connected. One is a body found by an absconding lover fleeing from his girlfriend’s husband when he spies a corpse in the flat below. The other is a vicious and cruel theatre director, who’s harsh methods of training actors could hold the key to his death. The Inspector finds numerous notebooks in the dead director’s home, including lists of everyone he’s ever worked with, his past plays and some strange notes featuring numbers, dates and names. Working back through a long list of wronged actors and trying to figure out what the notes mean leads the Inspector back to the theatre where the director worked, and where he is sure the truth behind his death lies.

4.The Other End Of The Line: Vigata is welcoming migrants to its shores in search of a better life, with Inspector Montalbano and his men working hard to support them and find the people traffickers responsible for the harsh conditions in which many of them had to travel. Then another crime occurs: this time, it’s the death of the town’s most revered dressmaker, who is brutally murdered with her own scissors. The Inspector and his mean are now dealing with organised crime on one hand and a seemingly unconnected and domestic murder on the other. As the title suggests, the Inspector comes to view each clue as part of a thread, but he soon comes to believe that they could be connected and that the person at the other end of the line is more powerful and dastardly than he ever expected.

3. The Treasure Hunt: After being reluctantly shoved into the spotlight by a pair of crazed lunatics wielding guns, Inspector Montalbano is targeted by an anonymous criminal who sends him on a treasure hunt with disastrous consequences. His obsession with uncovering who’s behind the scheme takes on toll on the Inspector’s personal and professional lives, and he finds himself faced with horrendous crimes that show that this more than a harmless game to the person who orchestrated it. From the personal nature of the hunt, it’s clear that the Inspector is in danger, but it soon becomes apparent just how much, and it quickly becomes clear that there’s more than his reputation as a detective at stake if he can’t uncover the mystery and find the culprit in time. This book features a twisted mystery and showcases the author’s mastery of the detective fiction format.

2. The Snack Thief: I’m not going to lie: I initially picked this novel up because of the title. I love a good snack, and I thought this would be a great read for me. I wasn’t wrong, although the novel is less about snacks than I would have liked. It features the death of a Tunisian sailor, the stabbing of a former merchant and the disappearance of a cleaning lady, who also happens to be from Tunisia. With so many crimes to deal with a suspects to handle, Montalbano and his men already have enough on their hands when they’re approached by a group of disgruntled mothers who are blaming the theft of snacks from their primary school aged kids on the new foreign boy, who happens to be Tunisian and linked to the disappeared cleaning lady. During all of this, the Inspector has to deal with a personal crisis which shows his emotional vulnerability. The novel is deeply human and speaks to a variety of emotions.

1. The Shape of Water: Yet again, I’ll recommend you start with the first book in the series. Not to be confused with the Guillermo del Toro film with the same name about a cleaner who becomes obsessed with a weird alien fish thing, this is a gripping thriller that sets the stage for this popular series. In the first book featuring the intrepid Italian sleuth, Andrea Camilleri’s police detective deals with the death of a semi-prominent member of the fictional town of Vigata. He dies during sex with his nephew and lover, who reaches out to a local attorney who was friends with his uncle. This man turns the tables and tries to use his knowledge of the death to his own political advantage. Using his connections in the murky underworld of the local sex trade, Inspector Montalbano uncovers the truth and plays God in this incredible, Golden-Age esq crime novel.

The Wintringham Mystery Review: A Classic Cosy Crime Novel That’s The Perfect Winter Comfort Read

If you’re looking to snuggle up with a good book now that the nights are getting longer and the weather colder, then the new Harper Collins edition of Anthony Berkley’s classic crime story The Wintringham Mystery could be the perfect winter read for you.

This printed edition of the complete story, which was initially serialised in the popular newspaper the Daily Mirror, is part of the the Collins Crime Club, a selection of classic crime stories. Many of these books are by members of the Detection Club, a group of 1930s Golden Age detective fiction writers, including Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, Ronald Knox, John Rhode, Jessie Rickard and many more.

In this edition, crime fiction expert Tony Medawar, the editor of the incredible Bodies From The Library, explains the popularity of the puzzle and how prizes were offered to anyone who guessed the explanation. Even Agatha Christie entered the competition, but she couldn’t even solve the mystery.

In the end, no one even came close to solving the puzzle, but the Daily Mirror awarded a share of the prize money to a selection of participants, including Christie, who gave the best guesses. The introduction allows readers to learn more about the story and the author.

Then, we dive right into the novel, which is so seamless that it doesn’t read like a serialised story at all. The Wintringham Mystery introduces readers to the feckless Stephen Munro, esquire, and his former army batman turned manservant Bridger. Stephen is lovesick over his former girlfriend, Pauline Mainwaring, and he’s also seriously running out of funds. In desperation, he pays Bridger his final month’s wages and sets out for his new job, as a footman at an illustrious country house he once might have been a guest at.

The ever-efficient Bridger, who’s very much the Bunter to Stephen’s Lord Peter Wimsey, has already predicted this unusual career path that his boss and friend is taking, and has gotten himself a job as a gardener at the same house to be close to him. Among the guests at Wintringham Hall, the sprawling estate of the curmudgeonly Lady Susan Carey, is Stephen’s former lady love Pauline and her new fiancé, a once prominent businessman who, as Stephen learns from his chauffeur, is in financial difficulties. Many of the other guests are former friends of Stephen’s, who struggle to adapt to his new status as a servant.

They invite him to join in on a seance, which they believe will allow them to converse with the spirit world. Their host sits in disdainful silence and many of the guests ignore them or try to get Freddie, Stephen’s former friend and nephew to their host, to stop his ridiculousness. However, Lady Susan’s live-in niece Millicent and her companion Cecily Rivers, agree to take part. Cecily was supposed to be elsewhere, but she mysteriously reappears to be part of the seance.

Despite learning lots of great gossip about the guests at the hall, Stephen very quickly gets on the wrong side of the butler, Martin, and is promptly sacked after the seance and invited by Lady Susan to stay on as her guest. Stephen works to uncover the truth behind the vanishing of Cecily and promptly discovers that many of the eclectic group of house guests had motives to plot to hide the girl or to do her harm. Convinced Cecily is in on the deception, Stephen teams up with Pauline and starts staking out the room in the hall where she was last seen, sneaking into secret passages and more.

After Cecily disappears, Lady Susan’s jewellery is stolen and a mysterious phone call is made claiming to be the missing girl, who’s apparently in limbo and needs another seance. Then, a member of the staff is killed under mysterious circumstances, leaving it up to Stephen and Pauline, with a little help from Bridger, to figure out what’s going on and restore order to the house party at the hall. Berkeley employs every trick in the book, from red herrings to false trails, to make the mystery tough to unravel.

At the same time, it’s still possible to follow the plot of The Wintringham Mystery. One of the biggest issues I and many other readers often face when reading crime fictions books that are designed to be puzzled out by the reader is that the story is, by necessity, too convoluted and complicated to be understood. The reader simply can’t solve the mystery because it doesn’t make any sense. However, in this book the story is clear and easy to follow, but still devilishly deceitful and tricky to unravel.

When the truth unfolds readers are left stunned and fascinated. The story features bold characters and many twists and turns to keep you on your toes, meaning you’ll struggle to put the book down- I know I did! It was amazing how often I’d tell myself I’d only read one more chapter, then find myself making the same promise 6 chapters down the line. The mystery draws you in then the compelling characters and witty dialogue, particularly between Stephen and Pauline, keeps you gripped.

Ultimately, I really love The Wintringham Mystery, and I think that this new version is a great gift for a classic Golden Age crime fiction lover. The cover art is stunning and the introduction is interesting and brings a new dimension to this intriguing story. So, if you know and love a crime fiction fan and you’re looking for a unique and inventive gift for them Christmas or a winter birthday, then this is a great book to consider. Or, if you want to get yourself a special little treat, then this is an amazing read that will help you to expand your knowledge of Golden Age crime novels, then I’d thoroughly recommend this cosy new edition of this intriguing mystery.