The Tournament Of Blood by Michael Jecks

Tournament of Blood 1Spring 1322, and the money lenders of Oakhampton are anticipating a good trade. Lord Hugh de Courtnenay is planning a tournament and any knight who is defeated is duty bound to pay a ransom to their captor – a ransom that they can usually not afford. The only money lender who is not rubbing his hands is Benjamin Dudenay of Exeter, because he has had his caved in.

Jump forward a month to the tournament itself, and Sir Baldwin Furnshill, Keeper of the King’s Peace and Bailiff Simon Puttock are in attendance when Wymond Carpenter, a carpenter (what else?) charged with building the stands is found with identical injuries to Dudenay. Surely none of the noble knights or squires could be responsible? Well that would be great if there was an ounce to nobility in the competitors.

This is an important book for me in the Michael Jecks series which is why I’ve been putting off reading this one. You see, once upon a time, it was the book that caused me to stop reading the series…

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Posted in Furnshill & Puttock, Historical Mysteries, Michael Jecks | 3 Comments

The Tomb In Turkey by Simon Brett

Tomb In TurkeyOur intrepid sleuths, Carole and Jude, are off on holiday. As a thank you for her healing services, Barney Willingdon has offered Jude free use of one his villas in Turkey. Jude readily accepts and Carole (who doesn’t really do holidays) accepts Jude’s invite to join her somewhat reluctantly. But even before they reach the airport, Jude is starting to have second thoughts. She starts to hear some worrying stories about Barney, and that’s before Barney starts to imply that there may be a hidden cost to the holiday. Barney and Jude have a romantic history, and Barney seems intent on re-kindling it, something that Barney’s wife may not be too impressed by…

Once they arrive at the villa, typically the women have different ways of spending their time. Jude is happy to relax by the pool with a trashy novel while Carol decides to take the hire car to check out the local area – the town, the countryside, the tombs… one of which, needless to say, has a fresh body inside it. One that has vanished by the time Carol returns with Jude…

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Posted in Simon Brett, The Fethering Mysteries | 3 Comments

The Murder At The Murder At The Mimosa Inn by Joan Hess

Mimosa InnNo, that’s not a misprint in the title.

Following her success at catching a murderer in Strangled Prose, Claire Molloy, academic bookstore owner, widow and mother, heads to the Mimosa Inn where there’s going to be a murder-mystery weekend. Her teenage daughter is less than impressed to be dragged along, but Claire herself is rather surprised to see Peter Rosen turn up as well. Lieutenant Rosen works for the local CID and has dismissed this sort of event as a waste of time. So why has he turned up?

It’s not long before the game kicks off and Claire is determined to solve the clues first – especially before Peter, who she doesn’t like at all, honest… But when the victim turns up with a sizeable dent in his skull, it seems that someone is taking the game a little to seriously…

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Posted in Claire Malloy, Joan Hess | 12 Comments

The Devil In Disguise by Martin Edwards

Devil In DisguiseHarry Devlin, Liverpool lawyer and some-time sleuth, has a new client, the Kavaunagh Trust. They want to contest the will of the trust’s founder, who has left everything to Vera Blackhust, an apparent gold-digger. Harry’s suspicions are aroused when Luke, the Chairman of the Trust starts acting oddly – something seems to be troubling him, but was it enough to make him throw himself out of a third floor hotel window?

For once, Harry isn’t sticking his nose in, until one of the other trustees shares his suspicions with him. As he delves deeper into the background of the trustees and their nearest and dearest, he becomes convinced that Luke was murdered. But what secrets was the killer protecting? And who else might be standing in their way?

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Posted in Harry Devlin, Martin Edwards | 5 Comments

Close To The Bone by Stuart MacBride

Close To The BoneTwo years have passed since the traumatic events of Shatter The Bones and Logan MacRae is now acting-Detective Inspector of the Aberdeen CID. With his boss constantly on his back, a new pushy Detective Sergeant to deal with and his girlfriend pestering him to get a kitten, the last thing he needs is a vicious killer on the prowl…

So when someone is found “necklaced” – strangled, stabbed and shoved into a rubber tyre before being set on fire – a young couple vanishes, a gang war begins to kick off, Logan has his hands full. And when things start to become linked to the production of a film based on a book with a lot of dedicated fans, that’s when things get complicated…

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Posted in Logan McRae, Stuart MacBride | 5 Comments

Top Five Underappreciated Books – My 600th Post

I’ve been banging on about mystery novels since 20th December 2010 and, at an average rate of 2.32 days per post, we hit post number 600. I didn’t do anything special for the 500th post – mainly as I didn’t notice it coming until I was writing the relevant review – so I thought I’d do something a little different for this one.

I’ve done various Top Five posts throughout the last four years – Hercule Poirot, Miss Marple, Gideon Fell, Henry Merrivale, Non-Series Carr and Paul Doherty – so here’s another one. The Top Five Underappreciated Books – the very best books that haven’t had as much attention as others. I’ve been delving through the stats page that WordPress gives me and have come up with these.

  1. Yesterday’s Papers by Martin Edwards.

Yesterday's PapersActually, most of the Harry Devlin posts don’t get much traffic – there’s also All The Lonely People, Suspicious Minds, I Remember You, Eve Of Destruction and Waterloo Sunset. Well-constructed mysteries with a strong believably-flawed central character with the background of 1990s Liverpool, these are always entertaining reads. And if you like these, there are also Martin’s Lake District series – reviews of The Cipher Garden, The Arsenic Labyrinth, The Serpent Pool and The Hanging Wood are hereabouts as well.

  1. The Ambush Of My Name by Jeffrey Marks

The Ambush of My NameOK, the book’s a little silly in places, but this historical whodunnit, with not-yet-President Ulysses S Grant as detective and one of the daftest endings I’ve read but Marks gets away with it. There’s also a review of the sequel, A Good Soldier as well. Must get round to reading book three.

  1. Dream Of The Dead by M G Scarsbrook

Dream Of The DeadA theatrical whodunit – a policeman from a London acting dynasty investigates an intricate murder plot while getting advice from absinthe induced visions in his old family theatre. Yes, that last bit sounds weird, but this is a cracking read and well worth a look.

  1. Thirteenth Night by Alan Gordon

Thirteenth NightAnother theatrical entry, but in a different way. A sequel to Twelfth Night – by that Shakespeare bloke – revealing the truth between the lines of that play, combined with a clever mystery. Winner of the Grand Puzzly for 2013, this needs more of an airing. It probably has more of impact if you know the original play, but it’s well worth a look.

  1. Shadows In The Night by Jane Finnis

shadows_newcover_smallAurelia Marcilla, a Roman innkeeper at a tavern on the road to York, is drawn into the struggle against The Shadow of Death, a hidden figure determined to drive the Romans back home. A clever mystery with some great sequences that still takes time to build characters. The villain is pretty spottable, but that doesn’t detract from a great read.

Well, that’s the top five – although I could mention a heap from the usual suspects – Paul Doherty, Michael Jecks and Kate Ellis. Now I have at least four more books shooting to the top of my TBR list (M G Scarsbrook hasn’t published the sequel to Dream… yet). Do check out the full reviews by clicking on the link. Back soon for more authors that I sort of forgot about.


Posted in General, Jane Finnis, Jeffrey Marks, M G Scarsbrook, Martin Edwards | 14 Comments

An Excellent Mystery by Ellis Peters

Excellent Mystery1141 and the Empress Matilda, despite capturing King Stephen, has been beaten back by the Queen’s army as the tide is turning during the so-called Anarchy. Two monks, fleeing the conflict, take sanctuary at Shrewsbury, in the monastical home of Brother Cadfael, but they are pursued by a young noble who is desperate to find his one true love. She was wronged by the elder monk, who took holy orders rather than marry her, but seems to have vanished off the face of the earth. Cadfael finds himself drawn into the events, but can even he get to the bottom of this “Excellent Mystery”?

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Posted in Brother Cadfael, Ellis Peters, Historical Mysteries | 5 Comments