Blogotober – Bleeding Heart Yard – a Review

Bleeding Heart Yard by Elly Griffiths

I love Elly Griffiths’ crime novels especially the Ruth Dalloway series. This is a newish series featuring a young Sikh policewoman but is promising to be just as good as the Dalloway books.

Bleeding Heart Yard is another great outing for the newly promoted Inspector Harbinder Kaur. No longer living in Sussex, in this third book, she has now moved to take up a new role in London heading a detective team. This means she has finally moved out of her parents’ house and is now sharing a flat in London. A new life beckons.

Her first murder enquiry is a high profile one when a prominent MP is found murdered at a school reunion. To complicate matters, her sergeant, Cassie, was also at the event and as a possible witness, cannot be involved in the case. The murder victim was one of an elite group who were all pupils at the school and there seems to some link to the unexplained death of one of their school mates 21 years ago. When another of the group is murdered, things become darker and it is unclear who can be trusted

I enjoyed both of the previous books in this series but this is my favourite one so far. I love the character of Harbinder and it’s great to see her moving on both in her career and her life. She is gay, non-white and small of stature so life in the police is likely to be difficult. However, she is completely competent and soon gains the confidence of her new colleagues. Harbinder’s character seems very real to me. She knows that she is good at her job and has confidence that she can do it properly. However, in her personal life she is a lot less confident and Elly Griffiths does a great job in showing us the different sides of her character. I have really enjoyed seeing how Harbinder has developed over the three books so far.

The other characters are all written with the author’s customary skill. Harbinder’s colleagues are a mixed bag including one who is a friend of the murder victim and could possibly be a suspect. I also love the way that the settings are so vivid in Elly’s books. Bleeding Heart Yard is a real place in London with an actual bistro and the author’s use of this setting adds a feeling of reality to the story

The book is written from different points of view and sometimes we see the same scene twice as we revisit it through the eyes of a different character. I enjoyed this aspect of the book as it’s always interesting to see how different people can view the same event.

I loved this book and am eagerly looking forward to the next one.

I received this ARC from the publishers and Net Galley in exchange for my honest review.

Bleeding Heart Yard was published by Quercus Books on September 29th

This is post 3 for Blogtober 2022

Most Anticipated Autumn/Fall Releases

Autumn is always a brilliant time of year for new books as the publishers hope to get us all to put books on our lists for Father Christmas. This year, there seem to be even more amazing books coming out than usual over the next couple of months. These are some of the ones that I am really looking forward to.

Published September 29th

Detective Superintendent Roy Grace finds himself plunged into an unfamiliar and rarefied world of fine art. Outwardly it appears respectable, gentlemanly, above reproach. But beneath the veneer, he rapidly finds that greed, deception and violence walk hand-in-hand.

Harry and Freya, an ordinary couple, dreamed for years of finding something priceless buried amongst the tat in a car boot sale.

It was a dream they knew in their hearts would never come true – until the day it did…
They buy the drab portrait for a few pounds, for its beautiful frame, planning to cut the painting out. Then studying it back at home there seems to be another picture beneath, of a stunning landscape. Could it be a long-lost masterpiece from 1770? If genuine, it could be worth millions.

One collector is certain that the painting is genuine. Someone who will use any method he can to get what he wants and will stop at nothing.

And Harry and Freya are about to discover that their dream is turning into their worst nightmare. .

I’ve read all the Roy Grace books since Peter James first started the series and am definitely looking forward to this next instalment which is actually published today.

Published November 29th

This is the 18th book in the Inspector Gamache series and he’s still going strong in the small town of Three Pines. There doesn’t seem to be any blurb available for this one though.

November 7th

1917. New York.

Notorious spy, Fredrick Fredricks, has invited Fiona to Carnegie Hall to hear a famous soprano. It’s an opportunity the War Office can’t turn down. Fiona and Clifford are soon on their way, but not before Fiona is saddled with chaperon duties for Captain Hall’s niece. Is Fiona a spy or a glorified babysitter?

From the minute Fiona meets the soprano aboard the RMS Adriatic it’s treble on the high C’s. Fiona sees something—or someone—thrown overboard, and then she overhears a chemist plotting in German with one of her own countrymen!

And the trouble doesn’t stop when they disembark. Soon Fiona is doing time with a group of suffragettes and investigating America’s most impressive inventor Thomas Edison.

When her number one suspect turns up dead at the opera and Fredrick Fredricks is caught red-handed, it looks like it’s finally curtains for the notorious spy.

But all the evidence points to his innocence. Will Fiona change her tune and clear her nemesis’ name? Or will she do her duty? And just what is she going to do with the pesky Kitty Lane? Not to mention swoon-worthy Archie Somersby . . .

If Fiona’s going to come out on top, she’s going to have to make the most difficult decision of her life: the choice between her head and her heart.

Spies, music and a New York setting – Who could resist?

Published November 3rd

When Tennal – a rich socialite, inveterate flirt, and walking disaster – is caught using his telepathic powers for illegal activities, the military decides to bind his mind to someone whose coercive powers are strong enough to control him.

Enter Lieutenant Surit, the child of a disgraced general. Out of a desperate need to restore a pension to his other parent, Lieutenant Surit agrees to be bound to Tennal and keep him conscripted in the army, a task that seems impossible even for someone with Surit’s ability to control minds.

Tennal just wants to escape, but Surit isn’t all that he seems. And their bond may just be the key to their freedom.

I loved Winter’s Orbit by the same author last year. This is another stand alone novel set in the same universe.

Published 24th November

Xích Si: bot maker, data analyst, mother, scavenger. But those days are over now-her ship has just been captured by the Red Banner pirate fleet, famous for their double-dealing and cruelty. Xích Si expects to be tortured to death-only for the pirates’ enigmatic leader, Rice Fish, to arrive with a different and shocking proposition: an arranged marriage between Xích Si and herself.

Rice Fish: sentient ship, leader of the infamous Red Banner pirate fleet, wife of the Red Scholar. Or at least, she was the latter before her wife died under suspicious circumstances. Now isolated and alone, Rice Fish wants Xích Si’s help to find out who struck against them and why. Marrying Xích Si means Rice Fish can offer Xích Si protection, in exchange for Xích Si’s technical fluency: a business arrangement with nothing more to it.

But as the investigation goes on, Rice Fish and Xích Si find themselves falling for each other. As the interstellar war against piracy intensifies and the five fleets start fighting each other, they will have to make a stand-and to decide what kind of future they have together…

Another Science Fiction book that sounds so intriguing and has had great reviews. I just hope that I’m not disappointed.

And of course, a couple of Christmas books to look forward to. I love both of these authors.

Published October 27th

Published 13th October

A bit of crime, a bit of Science Fiction and a dash of Christmas romance. These are some of the books that I am looking forward to reading over the next couple of months. What about you?

Book details and images from Net Galley apart from A World of Curiosities.

The Lost Man of Bombay – A Review

The Lost Man of Bombay by Vaseem Khan

I have loved this series since reading Midnight at the Malabar Hotel last year and was really keen to read this latest book in the series.

Persis Wadia is the only female police inspector in India in the years immediately following partition. She has been assigned to the unit based in the Malabar Hotel which is where they put all the officers who they don’t quite know what to do with. She is a gifted detective who achieves great results but constantly has to battle with the prejudice of being a woman doing what is seen as a man’s job. In this book, she is forced to work with the senior detective Oberoi, who makes no secret of the fact that he sees no need for her and in fact, instructs her not to speak during the investigation. The occasions when Persis gets the better of Oberoi and other men who try to put her down provide some of the book’s lighter moments.

The investigation is an intriguing one. It begins when two mountaineers discover a dead body high in the mountains. This discovery is followed by the brutal murder of an Italian businessman and his Indian wife. Both men have their faces destroyed but nothing else seems to link the two cases. Then a further death occurs and the links gradually appear.

Persis is an engaging but sometimes frustrating main character and love the interweaving of the investigation and her personal life. She is feeling confused and almost hostile as she feels that changes are being forced upon her not only by her father but also the criminologist Archie Blackfinch who she is developing feelings for. Her behaviour towards Archie in particular is frustrating as she certainly doesn’t treat him well due to her conviction that there can be no future for them. She is also initially hostile to the idea of being a mentor to a young girl from the slums. You would expect this to be something she would be keen to do. However, her reluctance   stems from her conviction that she can’t do a good job. This makes her a very real character with positive traits and flaws just like the rest of us

The author paints a vivid picture of Bombay and the surrounding area in 1950. We see clearly the inequalities between the rich and the people who like her young mentee, come from the slums. We also visit other locations such as the Banganga Tank and an old prisoner of war camp. Each different location is described in a way that lets the reader visualise the setting without bogging the story down in detail.

The historical background to this story is fully realised and the difficulties thrown up in the aftermath of the British leaving are clear. I enjoyed the greater importance placed on faith in this story too. The faith of the young girl Seema and the priests makes an interesting counterpart to Persis’s own almost forgotten Parsee religion.

I loved this book and totally recommend it to anyone who loves detective fiction especially with a  historical element.

I am really grateful to Net Galley and the publishers, Hodder and Stoughton,  for my ARC in exchange for my honest review.
The Lost Man of Bombay will be published on August 18th by Hodder and Stoughton.

Sundays in bed with …..The Dead of Winter

Sundays in bed with is a meme hosted by Midnight Book Girl but I came across it recently on Jill’s Book Blog. It is simply a chance to share the book that is by your bed at the moment (or that you wish was by your bed). This week the book by my bed (or on the sofa) is The Dead of Winter by Nicola Upson.

Blurb from the book:
Writer Josephine Tey and Detective Chief Inspector Archie Penrose gather with their friends for a Cornish Christmas but two strange and brutal deaths on St Michael’s Mount – and the unexpected arrival of a world-famous film star in need of sanctuary – interrupt the festivities. Cut off by the sea and the relentless blizzard, can Josephine and Archie prevent the murderer from striking again?

This is probably the least appropriate book to be reading just as we celebrate Midsummer as it takes place at Christmas 1938 with violent snow storms forming part of the plot. I do love this series by Nicola Upson though and so far, this is just as good as the books I have read previously.

I do sometimes wonder if Blurb writers have actually read the book. The arrival of the film star isn’t unexpected at all but is the whole reason why Penrose is on St Michael’s Mount for Christmas. It’s only a small detail but it is important and I really feel that blurbs should be accurate.

What are you reading this Sunday?

Sundays in bed with …….. The Murders at Fleat House

Sundays in bed with is a meme hosted by Midnight Book Girl but I came across it recently on Jill’s Book Blog. It is simply a chance to share the book that is by your bed at the moment (or that you wish was by your bed). This week the book by my bed (or on the sofa) is The Murders at Fleat House by Lucinda Riley.

Blurb from the book:
When a young student is found dead at a private boarding school, its elite reputation is at risk. The headmaster is determined to write the death off as a tragic accident – but Detective Jazz Hunter will soon suspect that a murder has been committed.

Escaping her own problems in London, the beautiful and isolated landscape of rural Norfolk had felt like the ideal place for Jazz to hide. But when it becomes clear the victim was tangled in a web of loyalties and old vendettas that go far beyond just one student and as the body count begins to grow, Jazz knows that she is running out of time.

All roads lead back to the closed world of the school. But Fleat House and its residents refuse to give up their secrets so easily – and as her investigation gathers pace, Jazz realises that that they are even more sinister than she could possibly have imagined.

This is Lucinda Riley’s last published novel after her death last year although she actually wrote it over a decade ago in 2006. It is her only crime novel and so is very different to her more famous Seven Sisters series. I am really enjoying it and can see that the character of Jazz Hunter could easily have become the focus of a new crime series. However, if the author had gone down the route of writing crime fiction, we might never have had the Seven Sisters books and that would have been a real loss.

What are you reading this Sunday?

Historical Crime Fiction Wrap up

The Historical Reader challenge is hosted by Marg at The Intrepid Reader and details and the sign up page can be found here. I’ve actually read quite a lot of historical crime fiction books but not reviewed them so this post is a catch up of those books with mini reviews of each one.

Rotten to the Core by T E Kinsey

I love this series featuring Lady Emily Hardcastle and her lady’s maid Flo and this one was just as much fun as the previous books. We are in 1911 in the middle of a heatwave with the harvest rapidly approaching when there is a series of murders. All the victims are members of the mysterious Weyrers Society and obviously, Lady Hardcastle and Flo are on hand to help the police with their investigations.

The strength of these books for me is the relationship between Flo and Lady Hardcastle. Flo is a brilliant character who tells us the story from her own viewpoint and although technically, a lady’s maid, her friendship with her employer is clear. The dialogue between them is witty and often made me laugh out loud. The other characters are brilliantly written too and stay just the right side of caricature.

I felt that the book lost something towards the end. Maybe it was the inclusion of Diana Caudle as an addition to the sleuthing team? There were almost too many people involved with solving the mystery. However, this was a thoroughly enjoyable read and the perfect accompaniment to a Summer’s evening with possibly a glass of cider.

Thank you to Net Galley and the publisher for providing this ARC in exchange for my honest review. Rotten to the Core will be published by Amazon on 7th June.

Hungry Death by Robin Blake

I thoroughly enjoyed this historical mystery even though I haven’t read any of the previous books in this series. Although there are one or two references to previous cases, the book works perfectly as a stand-alone.

The novel is set in the 1740s and the coroner, Titus Cragg, has been called to determine the cause of gruesome family deaths at a local farm. The family concerned were all part of a mysterious cult which may have contributed to the killings. In addition to this, another body is discovered at the house of the local magistrate during improvements to his hot house. Cragg and his friend, Doctor Fidelis now have two mysteries to investigate.

I really enjoyed both the mystery and the historical setting of this story. The story was well-plotted and the historical detail gave an excellent idea of life at the time for both rich and some of the poorest people. I really enjoyed the way that the mysteries were solved by Cragg and Fidelis with the help of other people. All the different threads of the story eventually came together in the inquest as the evidence was finally pulled together

This was a great historical murder mystery and  I will certainly look out for other books in this series. Thank you to Net Galley and the publishers, Severn House for my ARC in exchange for my honest review. Hungry Death was published on May 3rd.

Dear Little Corpses by Nicola Upson

I really loved this book. Dear Little Corpses is Nicola Upson’s latest novel in her brilliant series featuring the novelist and playwright, Josephine Tey and I think it is possibly her best yet. Although it is part of a series, it is entirely possible to read this as a stand-alone. After reading this one, I’m now going back and finding the books in the series that I’ve missed so far.

This latest book is set right on the eve of WWII as the country waits for war to be declared. It opens with three apparently unconnected scenes, a murder victim is discovered in a block of flats in London, a family say goodbye to their 5 year old daughter as the evacuation of children begins and in Suffolk, Josephine and her lover Marta are preparing to help with the arrival of the evacuees.

The scene setting and historical detail is brilliant and you really get a feel for what it might have been like in September 1939. The story unfolds very gradually which allows you time to get to know the cast of characters many of whom have their dark secrets. I loved the introduction of Margery Allingham into the novel and the new friendship between her and Josephine was delightful. I really hope that this continues to feature in future books. The plot is brilliantly worked out and as the story develops, we see how the three opening scenes are in fact, connected after all.

I would definitely recommend this book and am grateful to Net Galley and the publishers, Faber and Faber for providing this ARC in exchange for my honest review. Dear Little Corpses was published on May 19th

A Dangerous Engagement by Ashley Weaver

Unlike the previous books in this post, this is one of my current library books and was published in September 2019.

The book is set in the early 1930s when English socialite and amateur detective Amory Ames travels with her husband to New York to attend the wedding of her childhood friend Tabitha Alden. On arrival in New York, Ashley begins to feel that something is very wrong. Both Tabitha and her father seem to be on edge and keeping secrets from the other. Mr Alden’s business seems to be doing suspiciously well and Ashley begins to wonder if he is involved in illegal bootlegging as Prohibition is in force in the US. There are also tensions between Tabitha and one of the friends of her fiance who will be best man at the wedding. However, the tensions don’t prepare anyone for the shock when one of the wedding party is brutally murdered.

The book contains all the ingredients necessary for a story set in this period. The wedding party attend night clubs and speak easies and there is quite a lot of description of Amory’s clothes. It’s an enjoyable read and Amory is an interesting character. I liked the relationship between her and her husband Milo which isn’t always as smooth as it might be. The supporting characters are well written and I especially liked the portrayal of the night club singer Esther who is more than she initially seems to be. The historical setting is well done and feels accurate.

Historical Crime Fiction continues to be one of my favourite genres and I thoroughly enjoyed each one of these books.

Have you read any good historical fiction lately?

Sunday in bed with….. A Dangerous Engagement

Sundays in bed with is a meme hosted by Midnight Book Girl but I came across it recently on Jill’s Book Blog. It is simply a chance to share the book that is by your bed at the moment (or that you wish was by your bed). Today seems like a very good day just to stay curled up in bed with a book as it’s cold and grey. My book is currently A Dangerous Engagement by Ashley Weaver.

I read Ashley Weaver’s previous book in this series last year and really enjoyed it. The books are set in the 1920s and 30s which is a brilliant period for crime fiction.

Blurb from the book cover:
Amory Ames is travelling to New York for her childhood friend Tabitha’s wedding but with Prohibition in full swing, her husband Milo is less than enthused. Then a member of the wedding party is found murdered at the bride’s home and the happy plans take a darker twist.

When the dead man’s links to a notorious gangster come to light, the police are sure that the city’s criminal underworld is a at play, yet Amory remains unconvinced. Drawn into the glamorous, dangerous world of nightclubs and bootleggers, Amory and Milo begin to unravel the web of lies the murdered man has left in his wake, unaware that the killer is weaving one of his own.

I’m only 7 chapters in and so far everyone is in good health but there are a couple of very likely candidates for murder victim.

What are you reading on this cold, grey Sunday?

After Dark – a review

I’m still not entirely sure if I enjoyed reading this book or not. What I am certain about is that I found myself thinking about it and the society portrayed in it for a long while after I finished reading it which means that at the very least, the book has grabbed my attention. I’ve read a lot of books lately about women fighting for their rights in male dominated societies but this book takes women’s rights to a whole new level.

Set in a not too distant future, to stop violence against women, all men over the age of 10 are tagged and are subject to a 12 hour curfew. Despite this, a women’s body is found showing that she has been battered to death.

The police authorities are convinced that the murderer cannot be a man as all the men are under curfew. If the curfew is found not to be working, then that would raise issues about whether it should actually be in place or not and that is unthinkable. However, the police officer running the investigation has a broader view and is prepared to consider wider possibilities even though that brings her into conflict with her superiors.

The book has two timelines, the actual murder investigation carried out in real time and then a timeline four weeks earlier where we meet our cast of characters in the weeks prior to the murder. The murder mystery itself was interesting and I liked the fact that there are different possibilities. The story shows us the lives of several women in the lead up to the murder and we are not sure which one of them is the victim of the murder.

The investigation of the crime and the use of the dual time line was really good and the plot twists kept me interested right up to the end. The individual female characters each had a clear personality and I enjoyed the way that the links between them were gradually revealed.

The idea of men being subject to tags and a curfew to keep women safe felt very uncomfortable to me but fiction has a role in exploring ideas that might disturb us. However, what I really disliked about the novel is that there is not a single sympathetic male character. I don’t want to say too much for fear of spoiling anyone’s reading but I felt that there needed to be much more of a balance in how men were portrayed in the book.

I feel that this is a book that will definitely divide opinions. I thought it was thought provoking and will certainly read more by this author.

I’m very grateful to Net Galley and the publishers, Penguin, for providing this ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.

After Dark was published by Penguin on May 12th. It is published in the USA under the title of Curfew.

The Cook by Ajay Chowdhury – A Review

May seems to be a bumper month for book publications. Maybe because the publishers want all their lovely new books on the shelves ready for us to read on our holidays. That means I have a bumper load of reviews to publish on the blog and today is the first of them.

The Waiter was one of my favourite crime novels of last year and I was really excited to see that Ajay Chowdhury had written a new story about the ex-detective Kamil Rahman. Kamil is now a cook in The Tandoori Knights restaurant on Brick Lane in London and is feeling almost content with his new life. Then he discovers a customer of the restaurant murdered in her flat. The girl was a fellow student of his girlfriend and he is persuaded to begin his own investigation into her death. At the same time, there is a mysterious spike in deaths among the homeless men in their area. The two things seem to be completely unconnected but things are definitely not as they seem.

The previous novel was set both in Pakistan and London but this one is very firmly based in London and we get a vivid picture of the area around Brick Lane and the other parts of the city that Kamil visits as part of his investigation. I loved the attention to detail in the settings and the double plot works brilliantly. The depiction of the homeless men really brings home their situation although it doesn’t overpower the narrative. It’s also great to have such a positive role for the mosque and the Imam and to see the part that these play in the lives of many people.

Kamil is a really likeable character who wants to do the right thing and is unsure what his path in life is.  Anjoli, his friend and manager of the restaurant is also a brilliantly vivid character who definitely knows her own mind and will not let the issue of the homeless deaths be ignored.

Amateur detectives who get members of the public to talk to them are always a bit dubious but the author deals with this well by Kamil using his status as a detective in Pakistan and also his friendship with one of the police officers actually investigating the crime.

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and can’t wait to find out what happens to Kamil next.

Thank you to Net Galley and the publishers for my ARC in exchange for my honest review. The Cook was published by Random House UK on May 5th

Miss Aldridge Regrets – a review

Happy Publication day to Miss Aldridge Regrets.

When I saw this book on Net Galley, the cover, the blurb and the author all appealed. I thoroughly enjoyed Louise Hare’s previous book, This Lovely City and the idea of a murder mystery aboard a trans-Atlantic cruise liner was something I was definitely eager to read.

The story opens in London in 1936. Lena Aldridge is a singer who has never managed to achieve the heights of success that she dreamed of and is singing in a dingy night club when she receives an almost too good to be true offer of a role in a new musical on Broadway. That night she witnesses the murder of her boss by her best friend and feels that she has no option but to take the job and sail for New York on the Queen Mary.

While on board, she comes into contact with the wealthy Abernathy family and is witness to another death. The story is told as a dual time line: one as she travels across the Atlantic and the other as we see the previous week  and the events that lead up to the voyage. There are also diary entries from an unnamed protagonist who appears to be present at all of the significant events and also pulling the strings of the characters.

I loved reading this story. The settings both in London and on the liner are well described. We go from the sleaziness of the night club to the sumptuousness of travelling first class and both come alive for the reader. The character of Lena was really well written. The issue of race and the treatment of non-white people isn’t such a big part of the book as in This Lovely City but it is still a major part of Lena’s character. She is the mixed race daughter of a black Jazz pianist but is able to pass for someone of southern European heritage and has not really been the subject of racial prejudice before this. Lena grows up in more than one way during this voyage and her understanding of her heritage is part of this.

The other characters cover a wide range: we have the wealthy but unpleasant Abernathys with their sense of entitlement; the corrupt night club owner Tommy who is married to her best friend; Will who is a black pianist on the ship and a host of other minor characters who all flesh out the setting. All of the characters came alive for me and the Louise Hare’s ability to show the different social settings is brilliant.

The plot is interesting and definitely has echoes of an Agatha Christie mystery as the limited cast of characters fall under suspicion one by one. I felt that the weakest part of the book was the conclusion of the mystery and I wasn’t totally convinced by the murderer. However, I did enjoy the journey and love the author’s writing style.

Thanks to Net Galley and the publishers Berkley Books for my ARC in exchange for my honest review. Miss Aldridge Regrets is published today, April 28th.