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Madeleine

Madeleine's Book Log - ongoing

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The Chalet by Catherine Cooper - this book is set in 2 time periods, it begins with a ski-ing accident in 1998, then comes forward to January 2020, where 2 couples, Ria and Hugo, and Simon and Cass, are spending a week at a luxury chalet in the resort where the accident happened.  Hugo is wooing Simon to be an investor in his leisure company, he desperately needs him on board, but Simon is a boorish man who bosses around his young wife Cass, who has recently had their first baby and is clearly suffering from depression.  Ria can't stand him and is reluctant to play the perfect hostess, although luckily there are staff to provide food and hospitality.  In 1998 we get the story of Louisa, who's on holiday with her boyfriend Will and his showoff brother Adam, who's brought his trophy girlfriend Nell along.  Louisa is terrified of ski-ing but starts to learn, then there is an accident and only one brother survives.  Back in 2020, a fierce storm causes an avalanche which reveals a long hidden body.  The surviving brother comes over, reluctantly, to identify his sibling, and ends up staying at the chalet as well, but there are people in the village who remember him, and one of them in particular has a score to settle.  I enjoyed this, it's a fast-paced  thriller and it was fun trying to guess who is out for revenge, although it's easy to narrow it down to a few suspects.  And judging by the ending, it looks like they're not finished yet! 7/10

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The Devil's Garden by Aline Templeton - this is the third book in the Kelso Strang series, but the first I've read, and Kelso is a detective based In Edinburgh, but who works for the Serious Rural Crimes Squad, and in this book he's called to a small town in the Borders, supposedly to investigate a so-called County Lines drugs ring, but unofficially to look at possible police corruption in the small force there, to which he's been alerted by a former colleague. In the meantime local author Anne Harper is convinced that he son's drug overdose was not fatal, and when her daughter goes missing she is convinced that a secret from long ago is behind it all. Trouble is, the author is incredibly reclusive, only emerging to take a session at the writers' retreat which she runs every year, and as this is the week of the retreat, there are several possible new suspects too, including at least one prospective author with a grudge. However she is so secretive that not even the police know the full extent of the secrets she is trying to keep, until inevitably her past finally catches up with her. I did eventually enjoy this, although it took a long time - about 2/3rds of the book, before the action finally got going, and after that it was quite gripping. The arrival of the massive storm we had 3 years ago, the Beast from the East, also hampers the investigation somewhat when the residents find themselves snowed in. So after a slow start a good read, and I would probably read more by her (I do in fact have another of her books, but from a different series). 7/10

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Now you see them by Elly Griffiths - this is the latest in the Brighton Murder mysteries and the action has moved on from the 1950s to 1964. It takes a while to catch up with the two main characters - policeman Edgar Stephens has been promoted, has married his sergeant, Emma Holmes, and now has 3 young children. Max Mephisto, the former stage magician, has gone to Hollywood, become a film star and is now married to an actress, lives in a fabulous house and has 2 young children. The friends are reunited at the funeral of their former fellow magician and friend, Diablo, and afterwards Max stays in Brighton and London, as he's considering making a film in England. Then young women and teenage girls go missing, and when one of them is found dead near the famous girls' school Roedean, Edgar finds himself in a race against time to save the other missing women from the same fate. his wife Emma is bored at home, and can't help getting involved too, and then Max's daughter, fellow celebrity Ruby, is also drawn in. After a slow start the pace really picked up and became quite gripping, although the ending felt a little bit like the old Nancy Drew books I used to read as a teenager! An easy read with likeable main characters. 7/10

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"The Moor" by L J Ross - after a short prologue, we're back to the present day and DCI Ryan and his wife find a rare day off at home disturbed when a ten year old girl knocks on their front door, and asks him to help find out who killed her mother. She'd always been told that her mum left her father and went off with another man, but a sudden flashback has been triggered and young Samantha now realises that she almost certainly witnessed her mother's murder. A trawl of missing persons from the time this happened throws up a cold case, and a previously unidentified young woman matches up with Sam's DNA, and the police can confirm that this is now a murder enquiry. Everything seems to be linked to the famous circus which regularly visits Town Moor, Sam's dad is now the ringmaster and the team have a job on their hands to try to find out just what happened all those years ago. Whilst this was an enjoyable read, I didn't find it the most involving of the series so far, but the cliffhanger ending involving a member of Ryan's team looks like the next book will be a good one! 7/10

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These reviews are making me want to read a good crime novel again :lol:. The Moor sounds particularly good!

 

 

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Echoes of the Runes by Christina Courtenay - this is a dual time frame, and the first of a linked series, set in Sweden, between the Viking period and the present day. When Mia inherits her Swedish grandmother's farm and land, she decides to spend the summer there, much to the annoyance of her fiance, who is hoping she would sell the property so that they could upgrade their London home and move to a better part of the city. But Mia feels drawn to the property, takes leave from her job at the British Museum and moves in. An earlier chance encounter with an archaeologist leads to a dig on the property, and as various artefacts are uncovered both Mia and Hakkon, the archaeologist, start to feel as if they're reliving the lives of the people from the Viking settlement. We also get the story of the people from the past - the Viking jarl, Hakkur, has taken as "thralls" many people from a Welsh village, which he raids and then takes back to Sweden. One woman, Ceridwen, bonds with his young daughter Jorun, much to the annoyance of his wife, Ragnhild, who becomes increasingly jealous of the obvious attraction between Hakkur and Ceri. In the present day, there are issues with one of Mia's neighbours, whose teenage son is helping with the dig. And so both stories play out, and although there were no real surprises, this was an enjoyable read, not quite as atmospheric as Barbara Erskine, but a nice addition to the dual time frame list of authors in this genre.. 7/10

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The Potter's Field - Andrea Camilleri - Inspector Montalbano wakes after a nightmare to be called out in a Biblical grade rainstorm when a body is discovered in a remote part of Sicily, and as it's been dismembered identification is tricky, but a lucky break, as well as a stunningly beautiful woman reporting her husband missing, does lead to an ID of the unfortunate victim. Once the police realise that the victim's father had Mafia connections, the case seems to take on a sinister, and much more difficult angle where they have to tread carefully. Meanwhile there is also trouble at the police station, with Montalbano's deputy Augello, out of sorts and snapping at everyone, to the extent that no one can work with him. This too seems to be connected to the case, and after a convoluted set up in order to reel in the suspects, the outcome turns out to be rather simple. this was an enjoyable, typically quirky read, with Montalbano as usual despairing at one point, but finally all is resolved. 7/10

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The Darkest Evening by Ann Cleeves -this is the latest book in the Vera Stanhope series and the case turns out to be a personal one for the detective, as her own family are involved. She's driving home one night just before Christmas, in a severe snowstorm, so severe that she misses her own turning and ends up getting lost, when she discovers an abandoned car, with it's doors open and most worryingly of all, a toddler still in the back seat. She grabs the boy and heads for the nearest house, which she realises belongs to her cousin Juliet. Vera has had very little to do with this side of her family, so they are beyond surprised when she bursts in on their house party, covered in snow and carrying a small child. Worse is to come though, when one of the tenant farmers arrives with the shocking news of a young woman's body outside, she's been murdered and the family recognise her as the mother of the toddler. But why did she abandon her car, with her child inside, on such a bitterly cold night, and of course what happened after? The close knit community is difficult to penetrate; the murder victim was well known and had a troubled upbringing, and Vera believes that the answer lies with her baby's father; trouble is, no one knows who it is and none of the men in the village are willing to own up. The young woman did seem to be getting her life together, and was starting to socialise more, which of course means even more suspects. Then there's another murder and Vera finds herself in personal danger. Once the book got going, I really enjoyed it and found it gripping, but I thought the first half was too sluggish and could have done with a bit of ending. But Vera is as reliable as ever, and perhaps might even be softening a bit towards her hardworking team! 7/10

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It sounds a lot better than The Long Call which is the first in her new series. That one just didn't hit the mark.

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Haven't read that one yet.  It's also being adapted by ITV, for TV.

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"Dreaming of Italy" by T A Williams - this is a feelgood story which reads like a love letter to Italy and it's food. Emma is an Englishwoman who's been working in Hollywood for several years, her studio needs a hit and is pinning it's hopes on "Dreaming of Italy", and she is given the horrible job of finding suitable locations in Italy, as the film is set during WW1 a historical adviser, Mark joins her team to make sure that the locations are suitable for the film's period. She's immediately attracted to Mark but as she's waited so long to get to this point in her career she's not sure whether to follow her head or her heart. No surprises for guessing how it all turns out. This was a nice easy read with lovely descriptions of Italy and it's food. 6/10

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Tidelands" by Philippa Gregory - this is the first in the Fairmile trilogy, it's the late 1640s and Charles I is under house arrest on the Isle of Wight whilst the country is divided into supporters of Cromwell's Parliament and the Royalists who want to restore the King. Meanwhile on the Tidelands of the title, which is a marshy estuary in Sussex, near Chichester, Alinor scrapes a living as a midwife and herbalist, helped by her children Rob and Alys. Alinor's husband went to sea several months ago and hasn't been heard of since, and there are suspicions amongst the close knit community that Alinor may have cast a spell on him to make him disappear - this is of course a time when distrust of any woman with so called healing powers led to fears that she was a witch. One day Alinor comes to the help of a young man making his way through the treacherous paths of the tidelands, she agrees to lead him to the local Priory and home of the landlord, where he taking up a post as tutor to the man's son. This however is a cover for his real purpose, he is a Catholic priest (which was a banned religion in England at that time) and is also a spy, for the lord is one of those who is trying to restore the monarchy. When the lord agrees that Alinor's son can be tutored alongside his own son and can therefore move into the Priory, the priest and Alinor are inevitably thrown together even more, and both find themselves in danger, and not only from local gossips. After a slightly slow start this picked up and I really enjoyed it, it's hard to believe now how petty and narrow minded people could be, but that was how it was at the time (and indeed in some areas of the world it still is), but Alinor finds herself in real danger. I did find myself rooting for Alinor and James, although I could have shaken her daughter! Looking forward to the sequel. 8/10

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5 hours ago, Madeleine said:

Tidelands" by Philippa Gregory - ..... 8/10

 

We did this for our book group. I managed the first 60-70 pages and gave up. Other did rather better, but the highest score was a 5!

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Yep I'd say that was probably the slowest part, it did take a while to get going.

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Death in Delft by Graham Brack - this is the first set in a series of historical murder mysteries set in 17th century Holland.  Master Mercurius is a priest who works at the university in Leiden, although in reality he is a Catholic priest.  When 3 young girls go missing, with one found dead, in Delft, he is sent to investigate and finds himself questioning people from all walks of life, from high ranking members of the local guilds to people who barely scrape a living, for girls have been taken from families from both levels of prosperity. No ransom demand though and Mercurius struggles to find a link, until he has a lightbulb moment  He has to read very carefully though. He's ably assisted by an eager clerk, the serving girl at the inn where he is staying, and the artist Vermeer is also a sort of sidekick, and comes across as having an endearingly chaotic lifestyle and a good nature. All this helps to paint a picture of a bustling town, but fear is never far away.   I enjoyed this, it was well written with a real feel for character, and although some of the subject matter is quite dark and rather sad, it's handled well, and there is also a fair bit of humour.  Mercurius is a likeable man as well. not perfect but doing his best, whilst trying to avoid being detected as a Catholic, although Holland isn't quite as strict as England was at the time. A promising start to the series.  8/10

Edited by Madeleine

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The Light Between Us by Charlotte Betts - this is the first of the Spindrift trilogy but I won't be reading the next one, it just didn't really grab me. Edith is a rather naïve young woman, who's grown up in the shadow of her sister who died young, her mother is obsessed with her sister's memory and constantly criticises Edith, so when she meets the dashing Benedict all her prayers seem to be answered and they marry, but her happiness is shattered on their honeymoon when she catches him in flagrante with their host's sister! They return to Benedict's family home of Spindrift on the Cornish coast, although Edith is surprised when Benedict invites his artist friends, who also came on their honeymoon, to live with them at Spindrift and form an artist's colony! It's not long before children start arriving, and Benedict shows himself to be a feckless cad who is easily bored and doesn't want to be bothered by his children. Luckily the other artists have all bonded and form a close friendship, but their peace is threatened by their neighbours, who have always felt that Spindrift should be theirs (there's a history between the two families) and who do their best to jeopardise and malign the little community, and as Edith starts to find success in her own right as an artist, she knows that everything could fall apart in a few minutes, even her own mother is a hindrance to her happiness. I found the characters very two dimensional, and even though the story is set in late Victorian times, I still thought Edith was a bit "wet", and she never seemed to learn any lessons ad still seemed incredibly naive, I could see most of the plot developments coming from a mile away. Benedict in particular is almost a caricature of the dastardly cad, I wanted to hiss every time he appeared. I like family sagas but this was, overall, disappointing. 6/10

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Penshaw by LJ Ross - the next instalment of the DCI Ryan crime series is set near the former coal mining village of Penshaw, now famous for it's Acropolis-like monument built by a wealthy industrialist as a folly.  But memories of the miners' strike in the 1980s are still strong in the former pit village - the old mine is now a park - and when an elderly man who was actively involved in trying to help striking miners dies in a house fire, the police aren't sure whether to treat it as a suspicious death.  However, when his son also dies, this time of a heroin overdose, just a few days later, Ryan's team have to investigate.  They also have their own problems, there's a mole in their own team and Ryan finds himself suspecting everyone, and he also has to find out just how far he will cross the line to find out the identitiy of the "mole", whilst also protecting his team, one of whom has, rather stupidly, put himself in danger.  This was as enjoyable as ever, but I didn't find it quite as involving as some of the other books in the series, and I found it hard to believe that the team member who is the "mole" would keep their job! 6.5/10

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Hell Bay by Kate Rhodes - this is the first in a new crime series set on the Scilly Isles, off the coast of Cornwall. Det Inspector Ben Kitto has been working with the Met police in London for several years, but following his partner's death (the circumstances of which are gradually revealed) he is given 3 months off work to go back to his place of birth to recover from the shock - he originally wanted to resign but his superior turned it down. He was born on the tiny isalnd of Bryher, and returns to his old family home, accompanied by his partner's dog, Shadow, who is a great character in his own right! Naturally there's little time for recuperation when the body of a teenage girl is found washed up, with a stab wound to her chest so definitely not an accident or misadventure. Ben offers to help the tiny local police force and the boss reluctantly agrees, however as Ben knows, and in many cases grew up with, most of the people on the island he finds himself having to face some difficult possibilities and make some hard decisions, even his own uncle is not above suspicion. When another teenager goes missing ,pressure from both his superiors and the other islanders, not to mention the Press, becomes intolerable. But the case is finally solved, and Ben has to decide what to do about his career. There are so far another four books in the series, I really enjoyed this one, it was well written and the setting was great, with both a good sense of place and excellent descriptions of the ever changing weather in this string of islands in the Atlantic Ocean - next landfall is the USA! A promising start to the series, and Ben is a likeable and believable character. 7.5/10

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I enjoy these too, I've read all of them and I'm beginning to wonder where she can go from there. Each one os set on a different island and surely she's going to run out of them soon.

 

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Yes especially when they're so small, with a limited pool of suspects!

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On 15/07/2021 at 2:38 PM, Madeleine said:

Hell Bay by Kate Rhodes

This sounds good! I'd like to go to the Scilly Isles. I suppose reading a book set there would be the next best thing :lol:

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We tried to do a day trip there once when we were down in Cornwall, but getting there was so expensive it was ridiculous.  Would love to visit  though.

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