Blogtober 10 – Murder in Tuscany – a review

I read a lot of what is classed as ‘cosy crime’. It’s undemanding but the puzzles are generally interesting so it’s a great form of relaxation. There are so many new series that it’s hard for any one to stand out. I did however, think that this one is a brilliant start to a new series set in the gorgeous Tuscan countryside

DCI Dan Armstrong has retired and for a retirement gift, his colleagues have brought him a two week writing course high in the hills of Tuscany. The joke is that the course is a course in erotic writing! His fellow course members are a varied lot including a brother and sister who seem far too close in the wrong sort of way and a couple of elderly ladies who write extremely erotic fiction. It doesn’t take long for the murder to occur and Armstrong becomes involved in the investigation.

I really liked the character of Dan Armstrong and feel that this will be an interesting series. As an ex-detective, it doesn’t feel unreasonable that he would become part of the investigation and the growing friendship between him and the Italian detective in charge of the case feels very realistic. Dan is on a journey through this book as he comes to terms with his retirement as well as his impending divorce and I enjoyed seeing how he developed through the novel.

The other course members were interesting with very varied backgrounds meaning that any of them could have been the murderer. There were some great scenes with snappy dialogue which made me laugh out loud at some points. In addition, there is also a gorgeous, cute dog. An unruly pet seems almost obligatory in cosy crime stories at the moment but Oscar is one of the best I have come across.

However, the stand-out character for me was Tuscany itself; the descriptions of the towns and villages as well as the meals eaten were a great addition to an intriguing mystery. The detail was enough to really let the reader picture the scene but not overwhelming and I always love novels that transport me to somewhere new.

This was an intriguing mystery with lots of plot twists which certainly kept me interested.

I’ve never read any of this author’s previous novels but I will certainly look out for the next one in this series.

Thank you to Net Galley and Boldwood Books for providing this ARC in exchange for my honest review.

Murder in Tuscany will be published on October 18th 2022

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The Girl on the 88 Bus (or The Lost Ticket) – a review

I loved Freya Sampson’s debut novel last year and was excited when I was approved to read her latest book and what a gorgeous story it is. I read it in an evening and was torn between wanting to rush through it so that I could find out how it all ended and taking my time so I could enjoy all the lovely descriptive details.

Libby has been dumped by her boyfriend who also happens to be her employer. As a result, she is temporarily homeless and has to go and live with her sister and act as an unpaid nanny to her nephew. On her way there, she meets Frank who tells her the story of how he met a red haired girl 60 years ago on this very bus route and has been looking for her ever since. Libby is inspired by his story and offers to help him in his search. She is also helped by Frank’s punk rocker carer Dylan, who is not as scary as he seems despite his appearance.

This was a lovely story about how chance conversations can have a huge impact on someone’s life. The main characters are all brilliantly written and the relationships between them feel very real. I especially loved the character of Esme who has Down’s Syndrome and said exactly what she thought about things. She reminded me very much of a girl I knew who had a very similar manner and outlook.

The book has a lot of humour but that is balanced by some sadder parts especially involving Frank’s increasing dementia which is handled sensitively. I love the author’s attention to detail which makes all of her characters and the locations seem so real. I would definitely recommend this book.

Thank you to Net Galley and Bonnier Books for my ARC in exchange for my honest review.

The Girl on the 88 bus was published in the UK by Bonnier Books on June 9th. It is due to be published in the US on August 30th by Berkley under the title The Lost Ticket.

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

Top 5 Tuesday – Anticipated Reads April – June

Welcome to this week’s Top 5 Tuesday post. Top 5 Tuesday was created by Shanah at Bionic Book Worm, and it is now being hosted at Meeghan reads!! For details of all of the prompts for April to June see Meeghans page here

There are so many amazing books being published this Spring that it’s really hard to narrow it down to just 5. However, these are the five that I think I am looking forward to the most.

A new Beth O’Leary book is always something to celebrate and I can’t wait to read this one.
The No Show is published on April 12th

I loved The Last Chance Library last year and I’m really looking forward to this new book by Freya Sampson
The Girl on the 88 Bus is published on June 9th

The Washington Poe novels by M W Craven are among my favourite crime novels and I am really excited about this new one coming out in June.
The Botanist is published on June 2nd

Sarah Morgan is another of my favourite authors. This one is set in California and I’m really looking forward to reading it.
Beach House Summer is published on May 26th

This is probably the book that I’m looking forward to the most. I’ve been reading Mercedes Lackey’s Valdemar books for nearly 30 years and I’m so excited for this trilogy about the founding of Valdemar.
Into the West is published on June 23rd

Thank you Meeghan for another fun week.

What new releases are you most looking forward to?


World Book Day – New Releases

There are so many fantastic books being released in March and a lot of them seem to have today, March 3rd as their release date. Here are today’s releases that I have been lucky enough to read as ARCs on Net Galley.

Welcome to No.12 Rue des Amants

A beautiful old apartment block, far from the glittering lights of the Eiffel Tower and the bustling banks of the Seine.

Where nothing goes unseen.
And everyone has a story to unlock.

The watchful concierge
The scorned lover
The prying journalist
The naïve student
The unwanted guest

Something terrible happened here last night.
A mystery lies behind the door of apartment three.

Only you – and the killer – hold the key . . .

I really loved this book. Lucy Foley is one of my favourite authors and this is just as good as her previous novels.

Paris, 1750.

In the midst of an icy winter, as birds fall frozen from the sky, chambermaid Madeleine Chastel arrives at the home of the city’s celebrated clockmaker and his clever, unworldly daughter.

Madeleine is hiding a dark past, and a dangerous purpose: to discover the truth of the clockmaker’s experiments and record his every move, in exchange for her own chance of freedom.

For as children quietly vanish from the Parisian streets, rumours are swirling that the clockmaker’s intricate mechanical creations, bejewelled birds and silver spiders, are more than they seem.

And soon Madeleine fears that she has stumbled upon an even greater conspiracy. One which might reach to the very heart of Versailles…

This is a brilliantly atmospheric historical novel that I found really difficult to put down. There are lots of twists and turns to surprise you.

December, 1962
Desperate to salvage something from a disastrous year, Malorie rents a remote house on the Norfolk coast for Christmas. But once there, the strained silence between her and her daughter, Franny, feels louder than ever. Digging for decorations in the attic, she comes across the notebooks of the teenaged Marianne, who lived in the house years before. Though she knows she needs to focus on the present, Malorie finds herself inexorably drawn into the past…

July, 1930
Marianne lives in the Marsh House with her austere father, surrounded by unspoken truths and rumours. So when the glamorous Lafferty family move to the village, she succumbs easily to their charm. Dazzled by the beautiful Hilda and her dashing brother, Franklin, Marianne fails to see the danger that lurks beneath their bright façades…

As Malorie reads on, the boundaries between past and present begin to blur, in this haunting novel about family, obligation and deeply buried secrets.

This is a great gothic mystery with a very strong sense of time and place. I loved the dual time line and the way the two stories intersected.

When the world’s best magicians are offered an extraordinary opportunity, saying yes is easy. Each could join the secretive Alexandrian Society, whose custodians guard lost knowledge from ancient civilizations. Their members enjoy a lifetime of power and prestige. Yet each decade, only six practitioners are invited – to fill five places.

Contenders Libby Rhodes and Nico de Varona are inseparable enemies, cosmologists who can control matter with their minds. Parisa Kamali is a telepath, who sees the mind’s deepest secrets. Reina Mori is a naturalist who can perceive and understand the flow of life itself. And Callum Nova is an empath, who can manipulate the desires of others. Finally there’s Tristan Caine, whose powers mystify even himself.

Following recruitment by the mysterious Atlas Blakely, they travel to the Society’s London headquarters. Here, each must study and innovate within esoteric subject areas. And if they can prove themselves, over the course of a year, they’ll survive. Most of them.

I loved the ideas behind this book but sadly, it wasn’t a book that I enjoyed especially. However, I know that a lot of people have absolutely loved it.

Happy World Book Day everyone and I hope you are all reading something amazing today.

All covers and blurbs taken from Net Galley.

Top 5 Tuesday – Top 5 anticipated reads in early 2022

this week I thought that I would join in with Top 5 Tuesday. Top 5 Tuesday is hosted by Meeghan at Meeghanreads.com. This week’s theme is the top 5 books that you are anticipating reading in the first quarter of 2022.

There are so many books that I’m looking forward to reading in the first few months of 2022 but these are the ones that are top of my list at the moment. This list of course is constantly subject to change as I hear about new books!!!!

The latest in the Inspector Lynley series. I can’t believe that there have now been over 20 books in this series.

I loved Daniel Abrahams series The Dagger and the Coin and this new series telling the story of a city over a year sounds brilliant.

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Raybearer was one of my favourite fantasy books last year and I am definitely looking forward to this next part of the story.

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This is another sequel that I am really looking forward to reading. The Mask of Mirrors was a brilliant read and I’m hoping that this one is just as good.

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This is my final choice for this week’s top 5. I’ve read several reviews of this and am really intrigued.

That’s my top 5 of the books that I am looking forward to reading in the next few months. Along with all the others of course! All cover pictures taken from Goodreads as I haven’t actually got any of these books yet.

What are you most looking to reading?