INTRODUCTION

I have been an avid reader since childhood, but it was not until I joined my local library's reading circle in 2007 that I started making notes on the books I was reading.  At first it was just the novel that the group was reading that month, but I quickly began to record my thoughts about every book I read, which now runs to over 700 titles in ten years.

Hopefully these notes will give you a flavour of each book without revealing too much about the story, and an indication of how much I enjoyed it.  So if you are looking for some inspiration for choosing your next book then please browse my reading choices by title, author, genre and rating for some ideas.

Details for each book include the title, author's name, my notes, publication date, genre and my rating.

  • Genres are: biography, classical, detective, espionage, family saga, historical, novel, romance, short stories, science fiction, thriller and war.
  • Ratings are from 5 stars (best) to 1 star (worst); five star ratings are highlighted in yellow.
The order in which the books are listed may be selected by clicking one of the three buttons:

  • 'Title' orders the books by the first significant word in each title.
  • 'Author' orders the books by the author's surname.  Click 'Locate' to scroll the book list to match the author list.
  • 'Genre' orders the books alphabetically by genre, and then by star ratings within each genre.

I hope you find this information helpful in choosing an enjoyable read. - Elsa

         List by:

TITLE ORDER (705 BOOKS on 12th July 2017)

TitleAuthorReviewGenre/Pub

15 Seconds
Andrew GrossA well paced thriller: Dr Henry Steadman is carefully framed for the murder of a police officer. He goes on the run determined to prove his innocence and save the life of his daughter who is being held hostage by a vindictive and embittered man who holds Steadman responsible for his daughter's drug addiction and subsequent imprisonment for killing a mother and her baby whilst driving her car when drugged up.Detective
2012
The 19th Wife
David EbershoffThe themes of this novel are modern and historical pleural marriages within the Mormon community. Intertwined with a fictional murder of a modern Mormon husband of nineteen wives is the history of Ann Eliza Young, thought to be the nineteenth wife of Brigham Young, the founder of the religion. In fact neither of the women were the nineteenth wife as the Mormon practice when a wife died, left (very unusual), or the husband stopped visiting her, was to discount that wife altogether. Some of the papers and letters included in the novel were rather tedious, but the story gave a fascinating insight into the religion and was a really good read. Novel
2009
61 Hours
Lee ChildJack Reacher gets a ride on a tour bus which flounders in deep snow in a small town in South Dakota. The town is awaiting the trial of a group of people for making and dealing in drugs. There is a massive infrastructure behind this, run by Plate, a Mexican drugs baron. The main witnesses, a lawyer and a senior police officer are killed. Into this steps Reacher with help from the girl in the CIA office in Va. Together they unravel the problem and sort out the bad boys.Thriller
2010
Absolutist
John BoyneEngaging and interesting novel about WW1. An 'absolutist' was someone who would have nothing at all to do with war, not just not fighting, but not doing anything that would help the war effort. The novel covers other issues such as firing squads and homosexuality. Spoilt by the use of idioms certainly not in use during WW1, 'we were an item', 'any time soon' and 'Thought she'd died and gone to heaven.'War
2011
The Accident
Linwood BarclayA woman dies in a car accident deemed to be her own fault; two people in the car that hit her are killed. As the story develops a web of crime is revealed in the selling of fake designer handbags and poor quality electrical components and building materials. Three more people are killed before the mystery is solved . A real page turner.Thriller
2011
The Affair
Lee ChildThe story of the events that led up to Reacher's discharge from the army. He uncovers murder and corruption on a marine base perpetrated by the son of a high ranking marine officer. Lots of smoke and mirrors but with a good ending.Thriller
2011
After Such Kindness
Gaynor ArnoldThis novel is a take on the relationship between Lewis Carroll and the Liddell family, particularly Alice. It is very well fictionalised, Alice becomes daisy Baxter and LC is John Jameson. The story deviates from what is thought about the relationship, in that it is the father, on the verge of insanity, who abuses Daisy. It is never explicit in the story but certainly confirmed. A satisfactory conclusion.Historical
2012
After the Funeral
Agatha ChristiePoirot is called in to help solve the mystery of the death of a woman following the funeral of her uncle whom she claimed had been murdered. Trademark large country house setting with a family gathering for the denouementDetective
1958
After the Bombing
Clare MorrellVery descriptive novel describing the life of Alma Braithwaite, a boarder in a school in Exeter which was bombed in 1942. She finds herself unable to move on following the loss of her parents and brother WWII. She becomes a music teacher and returns to the school and is teaching there in 1963 when JFK is assassinated, and the concert she had worked hard to organise is cancelled. Her parallel is Miss Yates, the new head who lost her entire family in the Coventry bombings. The story has undercurrents which are never fully explained.Novel
2014
After You
Jojo MoyesAn excellent sequel to 'Me Before You'. Lou Clark still hasn't recovered from the death of Will Traynor at Dignitas when his daughter, Lily, appears. She is the result of an affair Will had in his final term at university and has never had any knowledge of. Lou takes the very troubled out of contro 16yr old under her wing.Novel
2016
Aftermath
Peter RobinsonA horrific revelation of murders and sexual perversions emerges when a 'domestic' is reported to the police by a neighbour. Historical abuse is revealed and a local girl is missing; residents of The Hill have their peace shattered and Alan Banks has his work cut out to get to the bottom of the many issues which are thrown up.Thriller
2001
Afterwards
Rosamund LiptonGrace and her daughter Jenny are both in hospital following a fire at Jenny's brother's school, deemed to be arson. Jenny with severe burns and a damaged heart, Grace in a vegetative state after being struck on the head by falling beams. The two exist only in spirit but can communicate with each other and follow others around. Between them they piece together who was responsible for the fire, fortunately reaching the same conclusion as the police. Requires a large dollop of suspension of disbelief, but a brilliant story.Novel
2011
The Age of Doubt
Andrea CamilleriOn a stormy morning Salvo Montalbano gives a lift into Vigata to a young woman. She is very interested in a yacht that has just put in to the harbour. This piques Salvo's curiosity and eventually after the yacht turns out to have a dinghy containing a corpse he uncovers a blood diamond scam.Detective
2014
Alfred and Emily
Doris LessingThis is a story of two halves. The first part is Lessing's idea of what her parents' lives might have been like had the Great War not happened, based on what she knew of what they would have liked to have done with their lives. The second half claims to be a close examination of their actual lives. There a lot of very staccato sentences and unnecessary hyphenations such as strikingly! Part one ends very abruptly, Emily now in middle age opens a home for unmarried mothers and on the next page dies at the age of 73. The second part is shorter and rather disorganised and repetitive.Biography
2008
All the Colours of Darkness
Peter RobinsonA DCI Banks novel - well written but contains too much about the music Banks listens to. It involves the murder/suicide of 2 gay men provoked by an acquaintance scared of losing his position in an amateur theatre group. MI5 and MI6 are involved towards the end but do little to clarify the story.Detective
2008
Almost a Crime
Penny VincenziDoor stop volume: 700+ plus pages. It interweaves the lives of three main families with intricate affaires, romances, high profile metro-centric glamorous characters, involving near bankruptcy, madness, teen crime and baby snatching. Some of the sub-plots are shallow and not satisfactorily resolved. A bit lightweight.Novel
2007
The Amber Keeper
Freda LightfootA fascinating saga about an English girl employed as nanny to a Russian countess in St Petersburg before and during the 1919 revolution.The parallel story of her grandaughter coming to terms with the suicide of her mother intertwines with the historical one. Dual narration is well handledNovel
2014
Ammonites and Leaping Fish
Penelope LivelyA charming memoir about old age. Lively looks back over her eighty years and discusses the things that have influenced her. She writes about her Egyptian childhood where most of her education was acquired through reading a wide variety of books. She considers how memory shapes us and in her final chapter considers six treasures, how she acquired them and what they mean to her.Biography
2013
And the Band Played on
Christopher WardA fascinating account of the aftermath of the Titanic disaster. The author's grandfather was a violinist on board and one of the group playing 'Nearer my God to Thee' as the ship went down. The book contains lots of interesting detail about the rescue ship and the numbers buried at sea because there were not enough coffins on board the ship detailed to pick up the bodies. Not everyone could be identified and many bodies are buried in Halifax Nova Scotia as families could not afford the expense of repatriating the bodies.Historical
2012
Angel
Colleen McCulloughSet in the King's Cross district of Sydney it tells the story of Harriet Purcell who has had enough of living at home and sharing a bedroom with her grandmother. She finds rooms in a house owned by Delviccia Shwarz and her 4yr old daughter. Other rooms are let out to a variety of oddball characters who add colour to the novel. Delviccia is a clairvoyant so a selection of clients appear from time to time. When Delviccia dies suddenly Harriet fights hard to get custody of the child with whom so has developed a strong bond.Novel
2005
Animal Instincts
Alan TitchmarshAn early novel by Titchmarsh, lacking in sophistication. The plot is straightforward but with no real surprises. Kit Lavery, an Australian returns to England to tidy up her father's affairs after his death. The death duties on her father's nature reserve are crippling and selling the farm and nature reserve seem the only option, but an unknown interest of the old man comes to the rescue. Novel
2004
Aphrodite's Hat
Salley VickersA satisfying collection of short stories, most of which are well rounded. They all deal with aspects of love of one kind or another.Short Stories
2013
The Art of Love
Elisabeth EdmonsonSet in the 1930s in London and the South of France; Polly Sullivan discovers that she is not who she thinks she is when she tries to get a copy of her birth certificate. Brought up by her mother's sister Polly is an artist working on restoration in a modest gallery. Lots of interwoven threads all tie up nicely at the end and several lives are intertwined, relationships fall apart and others are revealed. A well written novel with a denouements rather like a Shakespeare comedy.Novel
2008
Arthur and George
Julian BarnesGeorge Edalji, a Birmingham solicitor and the son of the vicar of Great Wyrly, was falsely accused and ultimately convicted of mutilating livestock in the village. He sought the help of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in getting to the bottom of the mystery and helping prove his innocence. The novel spends a lot of time on interior monologues of both main characters and is narrated in the first person by them both. It covers the trial and imprisonment of Edalji, Doyle's relationship with his first wife and mistress Jean Leckie and latterly his attempt to find the real culprit of the crimes and clear Edalji's name. Barnes describes it as a contemporary novel set in the past. The novel has its roots in fact, but Barnes has embroidered it with ideas of his own.Biography
2005
As Easy as Murder
Quintin JardineA passable murder mystery set in Spain, but with rather too much detail about golf. Well developed characters , but the denouement a bit convoluted. Rather too many references to characters from previous novels by the author.Detective
2012
Ashes of the Elements
Alys ClareA twelfth century murder mystery. Josse Acquil visits the Abbess of Hawkenlye to investigate the murder of a poacher in the forest. He uncovers the secrets of a wandering forest community. An unusual and interesting novel with a satisfying conclusion.Detective
2000
Astonishing Splashes of Colour
Clare MorrallKitty Wellington is mourning the death of her baby which she tragically miscarried and had to have a hysterectomy to save her life. She is supposed to be seeing a psychiatrist and taking anti-depressants, but misses her appointments and fails to take the medication. This makes her behave very erratically. She is the youngest of a family of 6; one sister who ran away when she was sixteen and four brothers. Her mother is dead and father an artist. As the novel proceeds the family relationships begin to fall apart, then gradually reassemble themselves in a different order.Novel
2003
At Risk
Stella RimingtonRimington's debut novel set in Norfolk and introduces Liz Carlyle. An Afghan jihadist and an English-born girl are planning a bomb attack, the target of which is not revealed until the end of the novel. Well written and briskly paced.Espionage
2004
Avalanche
Jack DrummondSet in the french Alps, the story is of a ski resort all set for the annual ski race, but on the eve of the event a huge avalanche engulfs the village. Drummond introduces a variety of characters and scenarios in the first half of the novel then the reader follows them through the events of the disaster. Very well constucted.Novel
2007
Back of Beyond
C J BoxSet largely in Yellowstone Park, rogue cop Cody Hoyte sets out to discover who is killing members of an AA group and why. It leads him to an 'outfitter' who takes groups on wilderness tours on horseback. A light plane full of drugs money is involved. A lot of people get killed There are several twists and revelations, has a good ending. Thriller
2012
Back When we were Grownups
Anne TylerAn amusing insight into the life of widowed Rebecca, mother, stepmother and general dogsbody to a large multigeneration family. Poppy her father-in-law is about to celebrate his 100th birthday, her own daughter and three stepdaughters with their husbands and children all make demands on her. The background theme concerns Rebecca's attempt to reconnect with the boyfriend, Will, she dumped in order to marry Joe who was many years her senior. Entertaining, with a multiplicity of characters.Novel
2001
Bad Luck and Trouble
Lee ChildThe deaths of two of his former army colleagues involves Reacher in a trip to LA and joining forces with three other ex-military policemen to solve the mystery of the deaths of their colleagues and retribution for those responsible. Two more die in the process so there is only half of the original team left.Thriller
2007
Badger's Moon
Peter TremayneSister Fidelma mystery. She and Eadulf leave their baby son with his nurse to solve the mystery of the killing of 3 girls on consecutive full moons. Well set up but a slightly disappointing resolutionDetective
2004
Badlands
C J BoxA violent story set in a fracking area of N Dakota. Mancamps are set up to house the workers and drug running is rife. When 12yr old Kyle Westergaad observes a car being run off the road and finds a package full of cash and drugs his life is in danger.Detective
2015
A Balancing Act
Joanna TrollopeA matriarchal family pottery business is thriving, but relations between the mother and three daughters are strained, and her long suffering musician husband realises he has let the best years of his life slip away whilst deferring to her needs.Family Saga
2014
Bare Bones
Kathy ReichsSet in N Carolina; a variety of non-human bones are unearthed and Tempe Brennan's job is to discover what they have to do with other deaths. Quite a complicated storyline but satisfactorily concluded. It involves the illegal sale of animal products for use in Oriental medicine.Detective
2003
Bay of Secrets
Rosamund LeyA search for natural parents saga, but cleverly linked to the Spanish state/church traffic of babies in 30-40 years ago called ninos robados. Following the death of her mother Nina discovers she was adopted and sets out to find her birth parents. In the meantime she meets Andre from Fuertaventura living near her in Dorset. He subsequently discovers that he to is adopte. There is no complete resolution but the prospect of one through Andre's sister, a nun who had been part of the ninos robados scheme. A few too many coincidences to make this a convincing story.Novel
2013
Beatrice and Benedick
Marina FioratoThe full story of Much Ado About Nothing providing the back story with enhanced characters and introducing new ones.Historical
2014
The Bed I Made
Lucie WhitehouseA brilliant psychological thriller set on the Isle of Wight. Kate is haunted by her ex-lover whom she discovered to be possessive and cruel, a control freak if not a psychopath. She decamps to a rented cottage in Yarmouth to work on her translating job and put some distance between herself and London. But eventually Richard tracks her down. This would make a great film.Thriller
2010
The Beekeeper's Daughter
Santa MontefioreGrace lives with her husband and 19 year-old daughter Trixie on a Massachusetts island. During the summer a group of musicians come to stay on the island and Trixie falls in love with the lead singer, Jasper. This awakens memories of her childhood in Grace, and her early life in rural England as the daughter of the gardener and beekeeper to a stately home. History starts to repeat itself and the past is beginning to unravel for Grace before their lives can be happily continued.Romance
2014
Before the Storm
Judith LennoxA compelling family saga set in the first half of the twentieth century. Richard Farnborough is a wealthy business man who marries Isobel Zeale, a housekeeper with a secret. The story follows their lives and those of their children and Isobels relatives in NorfolkNovel
2009
Before I go to Sleep
S J WatsonAfter a slow start this novel became very engaging. Christine has lost her long term memory as the result of an accident 20 years earlier. Each morning, when she wakes her memory is blank - she has to be told who she is and all the important facts for everyday living. Her therapist, Dr Nash encourages her to keep a journal updated every evening. This is done without the knowledge of her husband. Surprises and twists turn this into a fascinating crime thriller.Novel
2011
The Beginner's Goodbye
Anne TylerA brilliant novel about a man who is recently widowed. He is helped to come to terms with the changes in his life caused by his wife's loss when an oak tree falls through his sun lounge during a storm. The wife reappears in odd situations and they have brief conversations. Both poignant and humorous. Very well written.Novel
2012
The Believers
Zoe HellerJoel Livener, a lawyer and Jewish by birth is married to Audrey, an Englishwoman also Jewish, but neither both are non-practising and both hold very left wing views. At the beginning of a high profile trial in New York Joel has a stroke and lies in hospital in a coma. The story is narrated through the voices of Audrey and his two daughters, none of whom are particularly engaging characters. In Audrey Heller has created a self absorbed virago who has a love/hate relationship with her adopted son Leonard, a thirty something lay-about who is constantly in and out of rehab for his drug addiction. The two daughters are unlikely characters, one is about to embrace traditional Judaism, with all the ritual that entails and the other having an affair and about to leave her husband although going through the motions of adopting a child. As the novel progresses secrets about Joel's life are revealed which shake the family. Although there is resolution for some of the characters by the end of the story the reader has to make assumption about the others.Novel
2008
Below Zero
J C BoxA Joe Pickett novel. Daughter Sheridan suddenly receives text messages from years her step sister April who was thought to have been killed seven years earlier. Joe begins a hunt for her after the messages indicate that she has been abducted by an aging gangster and his son, an anti-pollulution fanatic who attacks people and companies he thinks are polluting the world.Detective
2009
Beneath the Bleeding
Val McDermidA Tony Hill murder. A Div I footballer has died of poisoning; a stand at a football stadium is bombed and an expoliceman steward dies; a millionaire lottery winner dies. Tony Hill's job is to find the link even though he is recovering in hospital from a broken knee. Very well plotted and convincing.Detective
2007
Beneath the Skin
Nicci FrenchA killer is sending letters to young women telling them he is going to kill them. First Zoe, a young teacher, then Jennifer an almost 40 wealthy housewife, then Nadia a children's party organiser. The first two die, but Nadia gets protection and despite her police guard manages to get out and work out who the killer is and gets to him before he gets to her. Very tense and well written.Detective
2000
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Deborah MoggachHumorous story set in a hotel in Bangalore, which is really an old people's home. The concerns and relationships between the residents are the main content of the story. I felt it lost its way a little towards the end and fizzled out. nevertheless it was a good read, and certainly different!Novel
2004
Best Kept Secret
Jeffrey ArcherThis novel is part 3 of a series concerning two families in the 1950s. It invoves politics and a shipping company. Lots of wheeling and dealing and art fraud. The ending leaves the reader on a cliff hanger.Novel
2013
The Betrayal
Helen DunmoreSet in 1950s Soviet Russia Andrei and Anna live in fear of a ring of the door bell as no one was safe from the powers that be during Stalin's reign of terror.Novel
2010
A Better Quality of Murder
Ann GrangerA Victorian murder mystery involving Ben and Lizzie Ross. Allegra Benedict, beautiful young Italian wife of wealthy art dealer is strangled in Green park. Ben officially and Lizzie, unofficially set out to find the murderer.Detective
2010
Beyond the Sunset
Anna JacobsA very readable saga, the third in a series about nineteenth century Lancashire sisters who emigrate to Australia. Pandora is unhappy in Western Australia and when Zachary Carr arrives from England to tell her and her sisters that they have inherited a thriving grocery business she decides to return to England with him.Historical
2010
Beyond the Silence
Andrew ChapmanBased on the last months of the life of Vincent van Gough in the French village of Auvers sur Oise. The partly fictional events are interspersed with the story of an English GP who is undergoing severe mental stress. Their stories are told in parallel and are quite compelling.Biography
2010
The Big Picture
Douglas KennedyBen Bradford, a NY high flying lawyer and serious amateur photographer discovers his wife is having an affair with a sleazy guy from across the street. He confronts the man and a fight ensues. Ben has to flee the city and reinvent himself, twice!Thriller
2010
The Birdcage
Marcia WillettThis novel is written partly in 3rd person present and partly in 3rd person past. Lizzie, a fifty-something actress, goes to Dunster in Somerset to try to discover the facts about the past and trace her mother's lover. It is well written with a few twists and turns and very recognisable as a Marcia Willetts novel.Romance
2005
The Black Ice
Michael ConnellyFeaturing police officer Harry Bosch the story involves his search for thedrugs baron half brother of a fellow policeman who has been murdered. The search leads to Mexico and the bull fighting scene. It has a good twist near the end.Thriller
1993
The Black Box
Michael ConnellyA Harry Bosch page turner. Bosch investigates the murder of a Danish journalist 20 years earlier during the LA riots following the Rodney King killing. Bosch discovers links back to Iraq and Desert Storm where the journalist met a group of LA soldiers.Thriller
2012
The Black Hills
Nora RobertsA romantic thriller set in S Dakota. Lil and Cooper were childhood sweethearts but their relationship faded as they grew older and pursued their own careers. It is not until the wildlife sanctuary that Lil runs is threatened by a serial killer with native American blood that their relationship is restored. A very dramatic ending.Thriller
2009
Black Rose
Nora RobertsSet in Tennessee, Roz Harper has a thriving garden centre business which she runs from the grounds of a large house which has been passed down through generations of her family. She is anxious to catalogue the family history and employs a researcher. The resident ghost 'the Harper Bride' causes trouble. The novel is the middle one of a trilogy.Novel
2005
Blacklight Blue
Peter MaySomeone is out to get Enzo MacLeod and his family. Set in several locations in France and London, near-death experiences dog him. Kirsy, his daughter, narrowly escapes death when a bomb meant for her explodes and kills a colleague. Sophie and Barnard's gym goes up in flames and Enzo himself is framed for the murder of a woman. Someone is out to get him. Well written but not an altogether satisfactory resolution.Detective
2008
Blindfold Game
Dana StabenowSet mostly aboard a coastguard cutter hunting for a ship thought to be carrying a missile armed with cesium. The story jumps from place to place and character to character so is not easy to follow. There is no resolution to the dirty bomb. Some years later the hero's friend and son both die of pancreatic cancer having been close to the bomb when attempts to prevent its launch failedNovel
2006
The Blood Detective
Dan WaddellAn excellent detective novel set in London. A serial killer is targetting seemingly disparate characteres and mutilating the bodies in different ways. There are strong links with the ancestry of the victims and people who trace their ancestry through various record offices.Detective
2008
Blood Sisters
Graham MastersonA well told murder mystery but with some events which stretch credulity. The story intertwines three themes, the continuing murders of retired nuns, the mystery of racehorse being shoved to their deaths over a cliff and the 'suicide' of a young prostitute. Katy Maguire solves them all but at great cost to herself and her colleagues.Detective
2015
Blood Count
Robert Goddard13 years before the beginning of the novel a liver-transplant surgeon performed a life-saving operation on a wealthy Serb. Later the Serb was indicted for war crimes and on trial at the Hague. Edward Hammond, the surgeon receives a threat from the man's daughter - help release my father's money or he will reveal that part of the payment was the murder of Hammond's wife who was about to divorce you. There followed several weeks of charging about Europe before the situation was satisfactorily resolved. Thriller
2011
Blood from Stone
Frances FyfieldThere is a big emphasis on fashion, style and renovation in this novel. Marianne Shearer QC is found dead after appearing to throw herself from the balcony of a 6th floor hotel room. Hen Joyce, the sister of a woman decimated in the witness box by Shearer and who subsequently committed suicide, is the hero of the story. It is well told but a bit over-wordy in places. Novel
2008
Blood Line
Mark BillinghamThe son of a serial killer starts a murdering spree killing the offspring of his father's victims. The father died of a brain tumour and the son is convinced that this caused his murderous behaviour and that he should have a free pardon. Tom Thorne and his team work hard to find and protect all the remaining offspring. Not as satisfying as some other Tom Thorne novels.Detective
2009
Blood on the Line
Edward MarstonThe Railway Detective and his team set out to discover the killer of two policemen who were taking a murderer to his trial. The chase leads them across the Atlantic where they finally capture the villain and bring him back to be hanged.Detective
2012
Blood on the Tongue
Stephen BoothA Ben Cooper detective story involving people investigating the crashed Lancaster bomber from WWII, still lying on the moors. A Canadian woman and a Polish family are involved. It is well crafted with a realistic denouement.Detective
2002
The Blood Pit
Kate EllisSet in Devon, it brings together several of the characters of her other Devon- based novels. The story links an archaeological a dig in a Tudor monastery site to a current murder investigation. Cleverly plotted with a satisfactory outcome.Detective
2008
Blood Red
Quintin JardineA murder mystery set in a quiet Spanish holiday resort. The priest is arrested, suspected of two murders. The main protagonist Primavera Blackstone is at one point a suspect herself, but is the person who actually solves the mystery.Detective
2010
Blood Test
Jonathan KellermanAn engaging story about the abduction of a child suffering from cancer from the hospital where he is being treated. It involves a strange sect to which the parents belong.Novel
1986
Bloodline
Felix FrancisTaut racing thriller set against the TV commentaries of events. Clare and Mark Shillingford are twins, he a TV commentator and she an up and coming jockey. Clare appears to commit suicide, apparently jumping to her death from the 15th floor of the Park Lane Hilton. Serious blackmail is involved along with race fixing and 3 murders. A gripping read.Thriller
2013
Blow Back
Peter MaySet in the Auvergne in a 3 star Michelin hotel, Marc Fraysse is found dead with a bullet through him in a shelter high on the mountain. The death is unsolved until Enzo McLeod is called in to investigate. A compelling mystery.Detective
2011
Blue Lightning
Ann Cleeves4th of the Shetland Quartet this time set on Fair Isle, Jimmy Perez's birth place. A woman, the wife of the curator of a bird sanctuary and study centre is murdered. Most of the people staying at the field centre have a reason to be glad she's dead. Perez is on hand to investigate, but it is Fiona his fiancé who solves the mystery, with unfortunate results. Thoroughly engaging until the very end.Detective
2010
Blue-Eyed Boy
Joanne HarrisA weird book which messes with your mind. Written as a series of postings on a website 'badguysrock' it features two characters telling different people the same story, 'Blue Eyed Boy' and 'Albertine'. BEB starts off telling the story then halfway through a middle one takes over, but he's supposed to be dead. Very confusing and unsatisfactory - or I missed something vitalNovel
2011
Body Surfing
Anita ShreeveAn accomplished novel. Sydney, divorced then widowed by the age of 29 is tutoring Julie during the summer vacation at the family's beach house in New Hampshire. The two older brother's arrive and Jeff, a thirty one year old begins to woo her, but Ben, his brother is jealous. Sydney discovers that Julie has a talent for art which she encourages. Julie's father is pleased but the mother is hostile. A wedding is arranged between Jeff and Sydney but Jeff fails to turn up. Two years later Sydney discovers the truth behind his failure to turn up. The novel ends on a positive note. Novel
2003
The Bolter
Frances OsborneThe story of Indina Sackville, a five times divorcee who was the great grandmother of the author. The hedonistic self indulgent lifestyle of post WWI is vividly portrayed. Upper class open marriages were common, enabling both partners free to take lovers as and when they wanted. After leaving her first husband Indina goes to Kenya and four husbands later in 1955 she dies there. In between she lives a wild lifestyle, constantly looking for love and contentment but never finding it. A shocking but poignant portrayal of upper class life in England and the Happy Valley scene in Kenya.Biography
2008
The Bone Vault
Linda FairsteinSet in museums in New York Assistant DA Alex Cooper is invoved in finding the murderer of a young female worker in the museum whose body turns up some months after she first went missing perfectly preserved in a stone sarcophagus ready to be shipped overseas. Alex sets about finding out about the girl and who wanted her dead. Interdepartmental rivalries hamper her investigations but she finally gets her man. The description of a long weekend Alex spends with girlfriends adds nothing to the story and only serves to lengthen the book.Detective
2003
The Book Thief
Markus Zusac Liesel is the foster child of Rosa and Hans Uberman, her mother and younger brother having been killed in an air raid. Her friend is Rudi and during the course of the novel they find and hide a Jewish man Max Vandenberg in the cellar of the Ubermann's house. Vandenburg eventually leaves his hiding place in order not to implicate the family. Liesel steals books from the library of the mayor and his wife. When the street is bombed and Liesel is the only survivor she goes to live with the mayor and his wife and after the war Max returns. In the epilogue it is revealed that Liesel goes to Australia, eventually marries and has children.War
2005
Born in Fire
Nora RobertsSet in Ireland, Maggie Concannon is a glassblower creating beautiful and imaginative pieces. Rogan Sweeney, a Dublin art entrepreneur commissions pices from her for his gallery and puts on an exhibition of her work. Inevitably the two fall in love but Maggie is reluctant to marry him because of the experience of her parents' bitter breakup. The details of the art of glassblowing are fascinating, but the book looses points as the author is American and doesn't bother to research Irish vernacular - 'gotten' and 'sidewalk' are not in common usage in Ireland neither is the use of 'the fall' for Autumn.Romance
1994
The Brass Verdict
Michael ConnellyA well crafter page turner featuring Mickey Halley and his half brother Detective Harry Bosch. Jack McEvoy, a journalist from a previous novel is also included. There are plenty of twists to the story but they are always believable. Haller inherits the caseload of a fellow lawyer who has been murdered and takes on the case of Walter Elliot a fim maker.Detective
2008
The Brave
Nicholas EvansA different sort of story for NE. It involves Tom, brought up by his grandparents, who he thinks are his actual parents. His 'sister' takes him to Hollywood where she is idolized as a new rising star. He is thrilled because he is a coyboys and Indians fan. The story dips between Tom, past and present and his sister Diane. It is well written with drama and poignancy.Novel
2011
Breaking Point
C J BoxA cracking Joe Picket thriller. Greed and corruption involved with real estate and the Environment Protection Agency. It involves long treks through the Wyoming mountains, a wildfire and an unscheduled journey down a river through a canyon holding onto a log. The idea for the story came from a real situation.Thriller
2013
Breaking Point
CJ BoxCompelling thriller set in Wyoming. A man is told he cannot build on the land he has bought; he must restore it to its natural state immediately and pay an exorbitant fine for every day until the job is complete. Joe Pickett is called in when two men who came to enforce the order are found dead and buried in the plot.Detective
2013
Bring Up the Bodies
Hilary MantelA sequel to Wolf Hall, this novel traces the demise of Anne Boleyn during the last months of her life. It is told in the third person through the voice of Thomas Cromwell and is easier to follow that Wolf Hall.Historical
2016
Bring me Home
Alan TitchmarshSet in a castle in the Scottish Highlands which Charlie Stuart(!) inherits, along with a grouse moor and acres of farmland, from his father who goes to live in Edinburgh with his new wife. The new wife turns out to be a gold-digger and tries to swindle the castle out of Charlie when his father dies. Charlie's wife dies in childbirth which does nothing for the plot except to heap trials on Charlie and emphasise how well he survives. A sub-plot involving Eastern European students doesn't get anywhere and in the final chapters a very unlikely event occurs. Very lightweight and stretches credulity to the limit - but nicely written.Novel
2014
Broken Harbour
Tana FrenchMichael Kennedy is a senior detective in the Dublin police force. A multiple murder case brings him into contact with rookie detective Richie Curran. The two soon achieve a rapport and are working well together. The murder involves a father and his two children with the wife seriously ill with knife wounds. There are several likely suspects but it takes over 500 pages for the situation to be resolved. A good plot marred by too much unnecessary introspective detail and Keneddy's mentally disturbed sister which added nothing to the story.Detective
2013
Broken Promise
Linwood BarclayDavid Harwood returns to his home town, Promise Falls, after the death of his wife. He is a journalist and has taken a job with the local paper only to find it closed down on the day he arrives in the town. He becomes involved in looking for the murderer of a woman and the abduction of a baby. A good story line well told.Detective
2015
Broken Angels
Graham MastersonKatie McGuire is working on a case of murdered priests. They have all been castrated before being killed and left in easy to find locations. Eventually she discovers what links the priests and the grim reason for their deaths, comitted by a team of choirboys who were trained for the Pope's visit to Ireland in the early 1980s.Detective
2013
The Brotherhood of the Holy Shroud
Julia NavarroThis is something of a Da Vinci Code look-alike. It jumps about from various periods in history to a Turkish community in present day Turin. The Turks are trying to retrieve the holy shroud which they insist belongs to them and was stolen.Novel
2004
The Brutal Telling
Louise PennyAn Inspector Gamache story set in Three Pines near Montreal. A hermit is found dead in the bistro of Gabri and Olivier. No one knows who he is or how he got into the bistro, as it is clear frpm the head wound but lack of blood at the scene, that he was not killed there. Engaging and the best of the three Louise Penny mysteries I have read.Detective
2014
Buckingham Palace Blues
James CraigPolice investigation into possible child abuse perpetrated by a minor royal linked to the palace. DI John Carlyle is involved when he finds a child alone in St James Park. The story has a good conclusion, but keeps going a bit too long after the denouement, so the end is a bit flat.Detective
2012
Burial of Ghosts
Ann CleevesLizzie Bartholomew, a social worker, meets Phillip Sansom on holiday in Morocco where they have a brief affair. A few months later a letter arrives from a solicitor telling of Phillip's death and his legacy to her of £15000 and asking her to trace a man called Thomas Mariner and befriend him. The hunt leads to two murders and a huge fraud. Detective
2003
Buried
Mark BillinghamA convoluted crime story with a lot of characters, mostly police personnel. It involves kidnap and murder squads and paedophilia. However Billingham draws all the pieces together at the end to result in a satisfactory conclusion.Detective
2007
Buried
Graham MastersonThe most recent Katie Maguire crime novel. A family is discovered buried beneath the floorboards of an old house which is being renovated. From their clothes it looks as if they died around the 1920s. Revenge and family feuds linger long in Cork and some people feel they still have scores to settleThriller
2016
Burning Bright
Tracy ChevalierSet in 1792 -93 this novel tells the story of the Kallaway family whose move from a village in Dorset to London. Tom Callaway, a chair maker by trade, gets work with Philip Astley a circus owner. The Kellaway family rent a house next door to William Blake. After involvement with the Levellers the Kellaways decide to return to Dorset. The book is well researched and convincing, especially the relationship between the Kellaways and the Blake's. A good portrait of eighteenth century LondonHistorical
2007
The Burning Room
Michael ConnellyBosch is teamed with rookie Lucy Soto to research the cold case murder of Orando Merced. Ten years after he was shot he died of complications caused by the bullet. Bosch quickly decides that the bullet was not intended for Orando. Lucy introduces another cold case about a fire in a basement children's nursery, a fire she escaped from, but others didn;t. A well constucted well paced detective story.Detective
2014
Bury Your Dead
Louise PennyA convoluted murder mystery set in Quebec city during the winter. Armand Gamache is asked to help with finding the killer of a francophone Renand, who had been obsessed with finding the burial place of Champlain the founder of Quebec. Armand is supposed to be on leave recovering from gunshot wounds sustained during a shootout with terrorists during which other officers were killed. A last-minute wrong decision by Armand resulted in the death of a young colleague. This haunts him throughout the story which also involves the wrongful conviction of a man in Three Pines. Very convoluted and hard to follow.Detective
2011
The Butterfly Box
Santa MontefioreFederica Camprone adores her father, but when her parents' marrigae breaks up she leaves her native Chile to live in England with her mother and younger brother. Devastated at not seeing her father she embraces the friendship of a neighbouring chaotic family, the Applebys. The main themes of the novel are undeserving love, betrayal and possessiveness, which is rather a lot to cram into one novel which jumps from character to character and place to place.Novel
2002
The Calling of the Grave
Simon BeckettForensic pathologist David Hunter is involved in helping to find the graves of women murdered by serial killer Jerome Monk. Well written but a bit slow in parts - the story spans 9 years but with an 8 year break in the middle! Plenty of tension towards the end with some issues to make the reader think in the middle.Detective
2010
Career of Evil
Robert GalbraithThird of the Cormorant Strike series, Strike and Robin are hunting down the killer of a young woman who always cuts off parts of his victims as a trophy. It opens with Robin receiving a parcel containing a leg.Detective
2016
Cell
Robin CookGeorge Wilson is a radiologist in LA. He becomes invoved with a company producing IDoc, a mobile phone app which monitors people's health and treatment. Five people die in unexpected circumstances, one of them his fiance, a diabetic. The app is still at the developmental stage and the dead people were all taking part in trials of it. Wilson is suspicious and starts to investigate what is causing the deaths. Well paced but the situation is resoved a little too quickly in the end.Detective
2014
The Champion
Elizabeth ChadwickSet in 12C France and England on the tourney circuit where knights and lesser men joust for money. Alexander has escaped from the tortures of the monastery to be trained by his brother Henri Montrou, a respected jouster. He meets Monday, the daughter of Henri's friend. For a long time they are just friends, but after a night of drinking he takes her to bed. Monday's parents are now dead but she decides to run away to try to find Aline her mother's former mistress. It is four years and many adventures later before Monday and Alexander meet up again. The story is well related but it took a while to get going and there was too much description of jousting.Historical
2006
Chasing the Dime
Michael ConnellyHenry Pierce is a chemical/IT wonder. He is about to sell his latest brainchild to a big company when his girlfriend leaves him and he moves to a new apartment. He he keeps getting phone calls for a girl called Lily who it becomes clear is a call girl. Curious, he tries to track her down but becomes enmeshed in business intrigue, betrayal and is suspected of murder. Thriller
2002
Chasing Darkness
Robert CraisAn average LA crime thriller featuring Elvis Cole, a private detective. When a body is found during a fire evacuation an old crime is resurrected. The dead man had been cleared of a murder by evidence procured by Cole, but the body is holding an album of photographs of murder scenes which could only have been taken at the point of death. Cole has to work hard to clear himself of saving the life of a murderer and then find the real culprit.Detective
2008
The Chateau on the Lake
Charlotte BettsSet in revolutionary France; after the deaths of her French parents in London Madeleine Moreau returns to France with her disgraced friend to find her French relatives. They are under the guidance of a recent French acquaintance Comte Etienne d'Aubery, but the revolution cathes up with them.Historical
2014
Chessmen
Peter MayFin has left the police force and returned to Lewis to work as security for a big fishing and game concern. Fin finds himself involved with Whistler an old friend from his school days. Whistler has carved a life-size set of chessmen for the laird but has not been paid for them. He is bitter and angry and trying to win custody of his natural daughter from her stepfather. Many old animosities come to the surface during the course of the novel.Detective
2013
The Child Garden
McPherson CatrionaA well paced thriller; expupils from a small progressive school are dying one by one. When at the school a group of them camped out overnight and during the night one of the boys drowned in a nearby river. Thirty years later the two remaining members of the group try to find out what has been going on and if any one person is responsible.Thriller
2015
Children of the Revolution
Peter RobinsonThe latest Inspector Banks mystery concerning the death of an ex-college lecturer and the people who might have good reason to wish him dead. It is well plotted with a long list of suspicious characters and a bit of female interest for Banks. It has a satisfactory conclusion, but again, with the more recent Banks stories there is too much of Banks' taste in music which just feels like padding.Detective
2013
The Children Act
Ian McEwanAn almost 18year old boy is dying from leukiemia and is desperate need of a blood tranfusion, but the family are Jehovas' Witnesses and will not allow it. The hospital take the matter to court and the female judge, in whose voice the story is told, rules in favour of the hospital, and the boy lives. Later the judge visits the boy in hospital and they find they share a love of music, and later she takes him to a concert. He becomes obseessed with her which leads to problems and when he has a subsequent relapse refuses treatment.Novel
2014
The Christmas Angel
Marcia WillettA very light read, set in Cornwall it tells the story of a community of Anglican nuns and the people who live around them. Well written but not a very satisfactory ending with 2 broken marriages.Novel
2012
Citadel
Kate Mosse3rd of the set of novels set in the Languedoc. It covers 1942-44. It involves the maquis and an underground group working against the Nazi regime. The sub-plot is a map and codex sought by a French collaborator. Audric Baillard reappears and the main character Sandrine has close links with Alys of Labyrinth. A bit overlong but very engrossing and brings the reader up to 2009 when Alice (Sepulchre) attends a commemoration ceremony at Chateau du Baudrienes and meets two of the women and remembers Baillard from her experiences years before.Historical
2012
City of Hope
Kate KerriganThis is part 2 of a trilogy about wealthy native Irishwoman Ellie Hogan, recently widowed, who returns to New York to recover from the death of her husband. It is set in the depression years. Kate uses her money to renovate houses and set up a co-operative in Yonkers. There are some conflicts regarding a protection racket but mostly everything falls into place rather too quickly. It is as if the author wanted to cram every aspect of NY life into her novel.Novel
2012
Cleopatra's Sister
Penelope LivelyA novel depicting the parallel lives of Cleopatra and her fictional sister reigning over the equally fictional country of Callimbia set between Egypt and Libya. Howard and Lucy find themselves hostages after their plane has to land in Callimbia because of engine trouble. Compelling.Novel
1994
The Clock Winder
Anne TylerElizabeth Abbott has a year off from her studies and takes a job working as 'handyman' to recently widowed Pamela Emerson. Mrs E has just sacked her gardener for 'tinkling' on the roses and while still in a bad temper, her housemaid, Emmeline. Elizabeth proves to be very competent and gets on well with the large family, all now adult, but who call to see their mother fairly regularly. Two of the sons, Timothy and Matthew vie for her attention. After an accident with a gun, a rather unlikely event, Timothy is killed and Elizabeth returns home to N Carolina. The action then switches to Elizabeth in NC where she almost gets married. In Elizabeth Tyler has created an independent single minded woman who will not be diverted from what she wants to do - when she can decide what that is. Time moves on and eventually Elizabeth is persuaded to return to the Emerson household to nurse Mrs E who has had a stroke. No real allusion is made to the title in the text, but it is mentioned in the opening chapter that there was a clock in every room, all of which needed winding on a different day each week.Novel
1972
The Clock Winder
Anne TylerElizabeth Abbot takes a year off from her studies and ends up working as handyman to the recently widowed Mrs Emerson who has just sacked the gardener and cleaner. The story moves between characters and places. Elizabeth is very independent but compassionate and is quickly drawn into the disorganized lives of the large adult Emerson family, where she becomes indispensable. An unusual and compelling story.Novel
1972
Close Call
Stella RimingtonLiz Carlyle suspects arms are being shipped into the UK from Eastern Europe in order to perpetrate an attack akin to the London bombings of July 07. She and Martin Seurat , who controls th French side of things work hard to prevent an atrocity.Espionage
2014
The Closers
Michael ConnellyA Bosch mystery. Harry is working on cold cases with his partener when they are trying to track down the killer of a teenage student murdered 17 years earlier. One or two hints provide the clues but the main story is a red herring, however it is well constructed and engaging.Thriller
2005
The Clothes on their Backs
Linda GrantA multi themed novel: clothes feature prominently in the story; Vivien Kovak likes old clothes and buys them from street markets. Eunice has a very smart dress shop. Vivian is trying to find out about her past, her parents are secretive Hungarian immigrants who will tell her nothing. It is set largely in the 1970s when NF thugs roamed London streets. V's uncle, husband of Eunice, and whom her father has disowned, is based on Rachman the notorious slum landlord of the 1960s. Good characterisations but some events not necessary to the main story, eg V's fiancé's death and encouragement from her mother to have an abortion, seemed tucked in as a marker of the times as it had just become legalNovel
2009
Coffin Road
Peter MaySuperb thriller set in Lewis and Harris. Invoves the memory loss of a scientific researcher and a scary ethical situation with world wide implications. Very well paced with a few subtle hooks which lead to a satisfactory denouement.Detective
2014
Cold Kill
Neil WhiteAn engaging murder mystery. A serial killer has brutally murdered 2 young women who at first seem unconnected. However with closer investigation a link is found between the women's fathers. DI Laura McGinty and her boy friend Jack Garrett find themselves deeply involved before the the case is concludedDetective
2011
The Cold Nowhere
Brian FreemantleJonathan Stride is a detective in Duluth USA. Before Cat's mother is killed she tells her daughter that if ever she is in danger she must find Stride. One night she arrives at Stride's home, soaking wet and covered in blood and claiming to have narrowly escaped a sadistic killer.Detective
2013
Cold to the Touch
Frances FyfieldSarah Fortune tries to help her friend Jess sort out her chaotic life. Sarah goes to stay in a seaside cottage rented from Jess's mother. However, before Sarah can begin to sort out Jess's problems the girl is found dead, frozen in a local butchers cold room. Bizarre and rather unbelievable.Detective
2009
Cold Wind
C J BoxSet in Wyoming; the murder of a millionaire owner of a wind farm. A Joe Pickett thriller; very atmospheric with convoluted sub plots.Thriller
2011
The Collector
Nora RobertsA far fetched story set in NY. Lila is a house sitter looking after a high rise apartment when she observes a murder taking place in a similar apartment opposite. The story involves the theft of Faberge eggs and a character who thinks himself to be descended from the Romanovs.Novel
2014
The Colour
Rose TremainSet in New Zealand in the 1860s this is the story of Joseph and Harriet Blackstone who have recently emigrated from England. Joseph builds a cob home for them and Lillian his mother to live in. Ignoring local advice he builds it in an open area in the path of harsh winter winds. He finds a small amount of gold in one of the creeks and becomes obsessed with the 'colour'. He leaves Harriet and his mother, but is unsuccessful in his search and returns to England. After Lillian's death Harriet looks for gold herself, and has more success than her husband. The story is rich in detail and includes a few shocks.Historical
2003
All the Colours of Darkness
Peter RobinsonA DI Banks mystery with excellent potential and quite a long read at 501 pp. However a lot of time was spent on red herrings. Early suspicions of murder are confirmed. It involves the suicide of a jealous gay lover. The person who instigated the investigation is accidentally killed and there is a lot of peripheral MI6 involvement which causes unnecessary problems.Detective
2008
The Confession
John GrishamAfter a slow beginning the story started to pick up pace. A man confesses to a Lutheran priest that he is responsible for the rape and murder of a girl. A young black man is about to be executed for the crime and the priest has a race against time to sort out the mystery before the man goes to the gas chamber.Thriller
2010
The Conspiracy Club
Jonathan KellermanJeremy Carrier is an American Psychchiatrist working in an East Coast hospital. Six months before the opening of the story his girl friend was brutally murdered. Carrier is persuaded by semi-retired pathologist to hunt down her killer. It is intelligent and well written after a slightly slow startThriller
2004
Constance
Rosie ThomasA romantic novel with a difference. Connie, a musician, returns to England from Bali when she has an email from her sister Jeanette informing her that she is dying of cancer. The two women have had a difficult relationship as they were both in love with the same man but it was Jeanette who married him. The novel picks out the threads of their lives and those of the people closest to them. A good read with a satisfactory ending.Romance
2011
Constance
Rosie ThomasAlmost as good as Kashmir Shawl. Good scene setting and regular dipping into the past. Mostly about relationships between sisters, lovers, parents and children and the need to know who you are. There is an excellent opening to draw the reader in.Family Saga
2011
The Creeper
Tanya CarverSet in Chelmsford; women, all similar in age and appearance disappear, then their mutilated bodies are discovered. A profiler is called in but behaves oddly and is of little help. Gruesome in parts but well structured with strong plot and convincing characters.Detective
2010
The Critic
Peter MayEnzo McLeod investigates the murder of Gil Petty an American wine connoisseur who was foun dead in Gaillard SE France after being drowned in a vat of wine. The murdered man's daughter is involved in the investigation as is Nicole, Enzo's daughter and her boyfriend. Well structured with lots of details about wine making.Detective
2007
Critical
Robin CookCook has lost his pace. This novel contained far too many sets of initials of US medical and Govt depts. and illnesses for the reader to remember. MRSA was the main one. One situation was set up but never resolved, the ending was predictable but not entirely satisfactory.Thriller
2007
Crossfire
Dick & Felix FrancisAnother page turner from Francis. Tom returns from Afghanistan minus a foot and after being discharged from hospital goes to stay with his trainer mother and stepfather. Discovering that they are being blackmailed for inadvertently not having paid some taxes. Tom sets out to solve the mystery of who is behind it. Taut and exciting.Thriller
2010
Crow Stone
Jenni MillsKit Parry is a quarry engineer who returns to her home town of Bath on an assignment to do with the undergound quarries beneath parts of the city. She finally manages to set to rest the demons which haunt her since her troubled childhood, the details of which are gradually released through flashbacks throughout the book.Novel
2007
The Crowning Mercy
Bernard CornwellSet during the English Civil War, Dorcas Slythe falls in love with Toby Lazander. One is from a Royalist family, the other a member of a Puritan family. The secret of a set of seals and a covenant is revealed to Dorcas on the death of her father. She narrowly escapes being burnt as a witch, before the story is resolved.Historical
2003
The Cuckoo's Calling
Robert GalbraithFirst in a series about private detective Cormorant Strike and Robin Ellacott his secretary. A super model appears to have committed suicide by jumping off a balcony, but her uncle thinks it could have been murder and employs Strike to investigate.Detective
2013
Cut Throat
Lyndon StaceyRoss Waklyn, an American jockey, comes to England to put behind him a dreadful riding accident. However he finds himself enmeshed in a web of intrigue and blackmail which almost results in his death. Exciting and well paced but with perhaps just a little too much detail of the horse racing scene.Detective
2003
Damage
Felix FrancisWell written but with a weak ending and some padding. Jeff Hinkley is an undercover investigator for the British Horseracing Authority. Someone is sabotaging big racing events and Jeff is trying to get to the bottom of it. The BHA is being blackmailed. There is a sub-plot involving his step-nephew who is about to be charged with drug dealing. Some side issues which have no real relevance to the main plot. The ending, though satisfactory, is very abrupt.Detective
2014
Dancing Backwards
Salley VickersEngaging story set aboard a transatlantic liner. Retired Vi Hetherington is taking a trip to New York to look up an old friend, Edwin, with the intention of continuing on to the Caribbean. As the voyage progresses she reflects on episodes of her life which she is reminded of by the people and events she encounters on board ship. Very well written, will read more of her books.Novel
2009
Dark Horse
John FrancomeA readable mystery set in the Yorkshire racing world. Claire, the wife of a vet, is killed in a car accident and 5 years on her husband is still grieving. Vet nurse/administrator Alice starts digging after another fatal road accident and Mark, an ex-jockey writes to the vet wanting to confess what he knows about Claire's accident. But others involved are desperate to shut him up. Detective
2008
Dark Fire
C J SansomLord Cromwell is on the verge of losing his head as he tries to sustain Henry's marriage to Anne of Cleves. A young girl is accused of murdering her cousin and Shardlake is called in. He sets out with Guy Malton and Barak to investigate the source of 'Greek Fire' believed to have been created by two alchemist and is a powerful killer. The novel provides a good study in relationships with the interplay of the three main characters.Historical
2007
The darkest Hour
Barabar ErskineSet in the summer of 1940 and the present day. This supernatural novel links family members past and present through pictures painted by the now deceased Evie Lucas. Recently widowed Lucy Standish, owner of a Chichester gallery has one of her paintings, a self portrait. One part of the picture has been painted over and on cleaning it she discovers the figure of a young man standing beside Evie. It is then that Lucy becomes haunted by a malevolent ghost who is determined that the picture should not survive. Lucy has stirred up old enmities which require the help of others to resolve.Novel
2014
Daughters of Fire
Barbara ErskineThe narrative is split between a twenty-first century historian and the first century Celtic Queen Cartimandua and her husband Venutios. The ghosts of the past have unfinished business and try to resolve it through the twenty-first century characters who are deeply involved in their story. The narrative switches from character to character and time to time quite naturally. It is rather overly long at 560 pp but a good read nevertheless.Historical
2006
Daughter of Siena
Marina FioratoSet in Siena in the summer of 1723 around the horse races of the Palio. It concerns the rivalries and infighting of the jockeys and their masters. Pia of Tolema has been forced into a betrothal with one of the riders. When he is killed in one of the races she is then forced to marry his cruel albino brother, but has already fallen in love with Ricardo Bruni, the son of an ostler.Historical
2011
Daughters of the Silk Road
Debbie RixMiranda inherits an antique vase from her great aunt which turns out to be from the Ming dynasty and of immense value. The novel follows the lives of the various women who have owned the vase, and the good fortune it was believed to have brought them. Well researched with a lot of real people featuring in the past story. Novel
2016
Day
A L KennedyA fascinating account of the life of a WWII Lancaster rear gunner written from the perspective of five years after the war when Day is an extra in a film about life in a German POW camp.Novel
2003
The Day You Saved my Life
Louise CandlishHolly, single mother is suffering from post natal depression when she goes to Paris for the weekend with her mother and almost 2 year old son. On a Seine tour the son slips overboard and James, enjoying an anniversary weekend with his wife rescues him. Holly's life turns around, she attaches herself to James who eventually leaves his wife to be with her. Parts of the story are hard to believe - people's behaviour in certain situations and the speed with which James leaves his wife. The novel is slowed down by too much back story and introspection.Novel
2012
Dead and Buried
Stephen BoothThe usual complicated story line associated with Booth's novels. A body is found high up on the Derbyshire moors in a deserted pub from where a couple had disappeared two years earlier. Ben Cooper is about to marry Liz Petty, the scenes of crimes investigator. The denouement ends with a fire in the pub in which Liz dies rather pointlessly. Is this the end of the series?Detective
2012
The Dead Can Wait
Robert RyanSet in 1916 and featuring a now retired Sherlock Holmes and Watson. Watson is helping the military over the development of a new weapon, the tank, but 8 men died in the first trials and Watson's job is to find out why. The novel moves rapidly from character to character, some friendly others not. There is a large element of spying involved and a satisfactory denouement which lines up the reader for the next book in the series.Detective
2014
Dead Cold
Louise PennyA murder mystery set in rural Quebec in the middle of winter. The story is complicated by too many unnecessary characters and the weather is a character in itself. The denouement is flatDetective
2011
Dead Heat
Dick & Felix FrancisAnother exciting thriller from the Francis stable. Max is a restaurateur whose establishment is under threat from food poisoning. With the help of Caroline Aston, a viola player, he succeeds in nailing the drug smuggling Russian responsible not only for the food poisoning, but for a bomb which killed 9 people at the 2000 guineas box that Max was catering. Slightly too neat ending, but a good read neverthelessThriller
2008
Dead Line
Stella RimingtonM15 and MI6 attempt to derail a sabotage attempt on a peace convention about Syria due to take place at Gleneagles. 35 year old Liz Carlyle is assigned to investigate and prevent the attack. It is a light read but nevertheless seems authentic as far as the security services go and an ordinary citizen can tell.Espionage
2008
Dead Like You
Peter JamesAfter a New Year's Eve ball a young woman is brutally raped and another woman attacked. On both occasions the women's designer shoes are stolen. Det Roy Grace recognises the MO of the 'Shoe Man' who was never caught back in 1997. There is a race against time to catch the man before another woman is attacked.Detective
2010
Dead Man's Time
Peter JamesRoy Grace investigates a vicious murder/robbery where millions of poundsworth of antiques are stolen. The haul includes a 100 year old damaged Patek Phillipe watch. The thieves had inside knowledge of what they would find and in committing the robbery an old lady was killed. The hunt for the robbers and killer takes Grace's team to Spain and New York before the crime is solved.Detective
2014
Dead Man's Land
Robert RyanVery densely written story set in the trenches of WWI. Dr Watson realises that there are some unusual casualties arriving for treatment at the field hospital, not casualties of war but suffering from poisoning. He works hard to uncover the murderer and the reason for the deaths. Compelling and very well writtenDetective
2012
Dead Right
Peter RobinsonA very early Inspector Banks story about an ultra right wing group murder. There are a lot of minor characters which sometimes detract from the maain story and Banks is trying to cope with his wife leaving him.Detective
1997
Dead Water
Ann CleevesThe 5th of the Shetland series. An ex-Shetland journalist is murdered on a visit to his parents. The girl he ditched years before is about to be married but then her fiance is murdered. Jimmy Perez is on compassionate leave following the murder of his fiancee but gets involved and solves the mystery with the help of Willow Reeves, a DI flown if from Uist to help. Detective
2013
Deadly Finish
John FrancomePotentially a good plot but not very satisfactorily handled. Brazilian ex-call girl is engaged to a Yorkshire racehorse trainer. Blackmail is involved as low-life thugs threaten to tell the boy friend about her past. A potential winner who is a friend of the trainer knows about the girl complicates the plot. Not particularly well finished.Thriller
2009
Death at the Clos du Lac
Adrian MagsonRocco is called in to investigate the death of a patient found standing in the therapy pool of the Clos du Lac sanatorium. He has been chained to the bottom and left to drown. The sanatorium staff are unwilling to talk. Ministry officials from Paris seem intent on hindering rather than helping with the investigation. It quickly becomes obvious that the Clos du Lacis no ordinary sanatorium and Rocco has to work very hard to unearth the truth.Detective
2013
Death in St James Park
Susannah GregorySet in the reign of Charles II, Thomas Chaloner, spy for the Earl of Clarendon is charged with discovering who is killing the King's water birds in St James Park. His investigations lead Chalenor to the Post Office where where the new Postmaster is stealing letters and taking bribes. Rumbling in the background are rumours of further revolution. Very colourful with a good insight into the social mores and behavious of the day.Historical
2013
Death on the River Nord
Adrian MagsonThe second of Magson's Insp Lucas Rocco series. It concerns the arrival of a group of illegal immigrants from Algeria. One of the group is the runaway wife of an Algerian mafia-style crime boss who is controlling operations in Paris. She has concealed her young son and is afraid for both their lives when she learns that her husband has arrived in the area to find her. Rocco and his team finally bring people to justice. Well written with a touch of humour, which is evident in all four books in the series.Detective
2011
Death on the Pont Noir
Adrian MagsonSet in Picardy in northern France not long after the assassination of JFK, there are fears for the safety of General de Gaulle. An unexplained car smash sets Insp Rocco investigating why the vehicles have been doctored with heavy padding in one and the addition of a sturdy bar of wood on the other. There seem to be no casualties. It points to an attack on the life of de Gaulle. Rocco has to come to London to get help as it transpires that the people involved are English. Detective
2012
Death on the Marais
Adrian MagsonThe first of the Lucas Rocco murders set in France in the 1960s. Detective Rocco has recently been relocated from paris to rural Picardy where he finds himself investigating the murder of an influential Paris businessman. It is full of intrigue with links to the wartime Maqui activities and their betrayal.Detective
2011
Debts of Dishonhour
Jill Paton WalshAn amateur sleuth novel set in Cambridge. It is well paced with a few twists and turns. Imogen Quay, the nurse at St Agatha's College, is suspicious about some dodgy investments made on behalf of the college and a sudden death. Several issues are interlinked and are nicely resolved.Detective
2006
December
Elizabeth WinthropA well written but sometimes frustrating read narrated in the present tense. It is the tense story of angst in a family when the daughter suddenly stops speaking. When the story opens this has been going on for nine months with no reason given. The girl is very wilful, self absorbed and self important. There are long passages of description and introspection by the main character. One character, Jimmy, seems to have been introduced just to effect a resolution and seemed to me to be a bit forced.Novel
2008
Deception
Ken McClureSteven Dunbar works for Scimed, a government agency investigating dodgy practice in the medical/scientific world. He goes to Scotland to investigate a GM crop causing local hostility as it been licensed right next to a newly established organic farm. In the immediate vicinity rats have become ultra vicious and deaths have occured as a result of their bites. The investigation uncovers horrifying issues, all the more so because it is based on fact. It is a well written novel with quite a bit of scientific explanation to satisfy purists.Novel
2002
Deception
Jonathan KellermanA well paced crime novel involving Alex Delaware, psychologist. Fast moving and witty.Detective
2010
A Dedicated Man
Peter RobinsonSecond of the Banks novels. A local industrial archaeologist is found dead partly buried beneath a dry stone wall There are several people Banks suspects would like to see the man dead, but the least likely turns out to be the killer. The novel is well constructed and engaging.Detective
1988
the Detective's Daughter
Lesley ThomsonStella, owner of a cleaning company, tries her hand at solving the murder of a young mother, a case her father, a DI had never managed to get to the bottom of. Rather a convoluted tale and there were moments when I almost lost the plot - literallyDetective
2013
Devil May Care
Sebastian FaulksThis is Seb Faulks writing as Ian Fleming. A true to Fleming fast moving thriller. bond is recalled from recuperation to take on an assignment against a new adversary. Contains the usual ingredients a ruthless megalomaniac with a grudge against the British, a bizarre assassin from SE Asia and a stunning female. Thriller
2008
The Devil's Feather
Minette WaltersConnie Burns is kidnapped in Baghdad and held captive for three days. After escaping she returns to England and hides out in a secluded farmhouse in Dorset. She had revealed to several sources that her kidnapper was a serial rapist and murderer and she knew he would try to find her. A second thread to the novel involves the woman who owns the neighbouring farm who has been traumatised by the loss of her family in a car accident. Despite is some ambiguity it is a well crafted story with a satisfying conclusionThriller
2005
The Devil's Edge
Stephen BoothSet in Edenvale, Derbyshire, in the village of Riddings. there have been a lot of burglaries by a group nicknamed 'the savages' but in the latest a woman is killed and her husband badly injured. Has this been committed by the same group? Cooper doesn't think so. Very atmospheric.Detective
2011
Different Class
Joanne HarrisA sequel to Gentlemen and Players, it is set in the same boys' independent school in Yorkshire. Roy Straightly is still head of classics, but thinking of retirement. He is horrified to find that the newly appointed head, Johnny Harrington, is an old boy of the school who had been involved in a disturbing situation back in the 1980s. The Michaelmas Term of 2005 is a fraught one for many in the school.Thriller
2016
Digging to America
Anne TylerTyler's skill is in her delightfully accurate but often very ironic portrayal of her characters. Two US families one Iranian-American and one all-American meet at an airport where they are both collecting baby girls they have adopted from Korea. The American family arrived armed with a video camera and tape recorder, while the Iranian family play it much more gently. The two families keep in close touch and the novel concentrates on the differences in attitudes to the upbringing of the children. The Iranians becoming American takes hard work but they join in the celebrations of the American and invite them to their own less lavish affairs. The point of view passes from character to character quite seamlessly which is a tribute to Tyler's skill and subtly. Novel
2006
Dirty Money
Barry TroySet in Dublin; financial 'operator' Paddy Brett is found murdered and no one knows where he has concealed his untaxed income. Johnny Constantine, an old friend is brought in to help the family unearth it. Written in the first person from the point of view of Constantine, as the story evolves Paddy comes to realise that there was more to his old friend than he ever knew.Detective
2001
Dissolution
C J SansomAn investigator is murdered when he goes to assess a monastery in Scarnsea on the Sussex coast. Lord Cromwell dispatches lawyer Matthew Shardlake to investigate. He discovers that the establishment is out of control and sinister acts of sacrilege have been committed. A very well constructed and satisfying whodunit with convincing historical background.Historical
2003
The Distant Echo
Val McDermidA crime thriller set in the St Andrews area of Scotland. It opens with the murder of a barmaid in 1978. The four students who find the body are all suspects, but the police never find the real killer. In 2003 the case is reopened as a cold case following the successful use of DNA matching. The suspicions surrounding the murder has greatly affected the lives of the four students, and when two of them are murdered the remaining two take it upon themselves to further the slow police progress. There is quite a lot of violence, but it is integral to the story. A real page turner.Detective
2003
Distant Hours
Kate MortonA lengthy but satisfying read. The plot becomes a little over-complicated at times and includes a few red herrings, but it draws together nicely at the end. The main premise on which the plot is based is a bit unlikely but Morton works it through. She uses her usual tactic of dodging beween eras and points of view, but the central character, Edith Burchall holds the story together; her parts are written in the first person the rest is in the third.Novel
2010
The Divide
Nicholas EvansJudged one of the best books of the year. The body of a girl is found frozen into river ice in Montana. She was an eco-warrior and had been accused of murder and arson. The novel traces the lives of her and her family then takes the story beyond her death to reveal the circumstances of how she died. Very well constructed.Thriller
2005
Do No Harm
Henry MarshStories of the life of an eminent neuro surgeon. Gives great insight into the highs and lows and the problems of neurosurgery. It is very honestly written and at times self depracating; give good insight into the inner workings and complication of hospitals and the frustrations for medics and patients alike.Biography
2014
Don't Look at me Like That
Diana AthillWritten in the first person this novel tells the story of Meg brought up by old fashioned parents during the 1940s. After leaving boarding school Meg goes to Art School in Oxford where she lives with her school friend, Roxanne, and Roxanne's mother. Roxanne marries Richard and Meg moves to London. Richard has to go to London frequently on business and stays with Meg. They become lovers, but Richard has to go to work in America. After he has gone Meg realises she is pregnant and has a big decision to make.Novel
1967
Doors Open
Ian RankinMike MacKenzie is a software expert looking for amusement. He has become interested in works of art and plans to steal some interesting pieces when the Scottish Natioal Gallery has its 'Doors Open' day at which they bring out some of their stored pices for dispaly. He teams up with a forger and plans a scam to replace the masterpices with forgeries.Detective
2008
Double Comfort Safari Club
Alexander McCall SmithGentle stories with thoughtful comments by many characters. Simple problems are solved quite quickly, more complex ones take a little longer. A slow, gentle readDetective
2010
Dr Death
Jonathan KellermanConvoluted murder mystery involving Alex Delaware and Milo Sturgis, an LA cop. Eldon Mate AKA Dr Death helps people to commit suicide. Delaware has become involved in the investigation of the murder of Mate himself thought to have been committed by a relative of one of Mate's recent clients. Detective
2000
Dreams of the Good Life
Richard MabeyA commentary on the life of Flora Thompson (Lark Rise) discussing her positive attitudes to country life while at the same time wanting to escape to the wider experiences of urban life.Biography
2014
The Dress Thief
Natalie Meg EvansSet in Paris against the rumblings of WWII and the Spanish Civil War, this novel tells the story of Alix, working in the haute couture world of late 1030s Paris. In order to support her sick grandmother she steals the designs from her Paris fashion house and sells them to an American house. Before things can go disastrously wrong her own design talents enable her to open her own business.Novel
2014
The Dressmaker
Kate AlcottSet in 1912, Tess Collins leaps at the chance to work for famous dress designer Lucile Duff Gordon. She join Lucile and her husband Cosmo on the Titanic to sail for NY. When the ship is sinking the Duff Gordons are accused of refusing to allow any more people on their life boat. Tess was in a different boat and knew nothing of this until later told in NY by a sailor who was also on board the Duff Gordon boat. Later in NY Tess has difficult choices to make.Novel
2012
The Drop
Michael ConnellyAn excellent Harry Bosch page turner. Bosch and Chu are put on to a cold case involving the rape and murder of a young girl, but the DNA which has been recovered belongs to a man who was only 8 years old at the time of the murder. Alongside this crime they are investigating the the death of the son of a councillor, Irving, who has been giving the LAPD a lot of trouble. Bosch and Chu work on both cases side by side resolving both.Detective
2011
Dry Bones That Dream
Peter RobinsonA murder mystery involving the execution of an accountant. As the investigation procedes it becomes clear that the murdered man was doing much more than helping people with their income tax. Several interesting twists lead to the denouement.Detective
1994
Dying to Sin
Stephen BoothSet in the Derbyshire Peak district,; bodies are found when an old farmhouse is being renovated. There are some red herrings. Excellent portrayal of the landscape and attitudes of people living in remote villages.Detective
2007
The Dying Hours
Mark BillingtonAn intriguing and clever hypothesis - a man, released from prison after serving a life sentence for the murder of a police officer, sets out to dispose of all the people who have been involved in his arrest and imprisonment, no matter how small a part they played. The murders he then commits all have a different MO and are made to look like suicides, but he reckons without Tom Thorne, whose investigations has to be done carefully as he has been demoted to uniform and is now only an inspector and not a detective inspector.Detective
2013
East of the Sun
Julia GregsonIn 1928 three young women sail for India ill-prepared for what they will find there. The point of view jumps between the three women and other characters to reveal the story. Victoria Rose and Vivid are all well rounded characters as are all the other players, major and minor. The style and vocabulary seem authentic for the period. Woven into the story is the mysterious young Guy Glover who, once in India causes serious trouble. A convincing and enjoyable novel. Novel
2008
Echoes of the Dance
Marcia WillettA wide ranging family story set in the West Country. Daisy is a professional ballet dancer trying to come to terms with injuries which are ending her career. During the course of the novel she finds a new life and purpose.Novel
2007
Echoes in Death
J D RobbGruesome murders and rape are being perpertrated on wealthy NY society couples. Det Eve Dallas takes charge of the investigations and gets it all sewn up. No real surprises.Detective
2016
The Edge of Madness
Michael DobbsHarry Jones is co-opted by the Prime Minister as his right hand man at a power conference with Russia and the USA about war with China. A fast paced thriller which dodges around China and the Middle East. The scenario test the loyalties and integrity of those involved and points up the corruption associated with power.Thriller
2008
Edge of Eternity
Ken FollettFinal part of 'The Century' trilogy. Follett picks up the descendents of the families in Part 1 to carry their lives through from 1951 to 1989, the building of the Berlin Wall to its destruction. A good read but quite hard to keep tabs on all the characters.Historical
2014
At the Edge of the Orchard
Tracy ChevalierA convincing story about life in the USA in the 1840s and 50s. The Goodenough family scratch a living growing apples in the Blackswamp area of Ohio. After a furious row between the drunken parents during which they manage to kill each other, Martha, the youngest child is taken in by neighbours. Caleb, one brother is a drunkard and and the older brother Robert has already left home, and become a successful woodsman, working for an established forester. Eventually Martha manages to track down Robert just before he sails to England with a consignment of redwoods and sequoias.Historical
2016
Elegy for Eddie
Jacqueline WinspearSet in 1933, Masie Dobbs, a detective, investigates the death of Eddie, an autistic man with the remarkable gift of being able to draw from memory. She has known him for many years and when she learns of his death in a paper mill she suspects murder. Her investigations reveal disturbing issues which eventually lead to World War IIDetective
2012
Eloise
Judy FinneganA lightweight holiday read. It is rather melodramatic and overwritten. The plot is fine but too reliant on flouncy description and the character's thoughts and remembrances. Cathy is haunted by the ghost of her friend Eloise who has recently died of cancer. It is set in the West Country.Novel
2013
End Games
Michael DibdinAn Aurelio Zen Mystery in Calabria, Italy. A man is kidnapped and then murdered. Old scores are settled amid a scam to acquire ancient artefacts. Secrets and loyalties go back centuries. A well paced and very satisfying read.Detective
2007
Enduring Love
Ian McEwanIt all starts off with a rescue from an hot air balloon; this brilliantly written novel is all about obsession. The dramatic scenes are skilfully engineered with language that is compelling. Joe Rose’s life is profoundly affected by a man whom he met by chance and from whom there seems to be no escape. The situation wrecks his relationship with his partner. The underlying themes in the novel are to do with trust and lack of it.Novel
1997
The Enemy
Lee ChildSet in Reacher's army days, a general is found dead in a sleazy motel room. Reacher is called in to investigate and in doing so uncovers a hornet's nest of vice. It is rather contrived and although a good read is not among his best.Thriller
2004
Enlightenment
Maureen FreelyVery complicated and convoluted, set in Istanbul between1970 and 71, then later around 1985 and finally between 2004 and 2005. A journalist is asked by a US lawyer to investigate the events surrounding the arrest of a Turkish man, the disappearance of his wife and their 5 year old son. Freely uses diaries, letters and interviews to convey the story, which in the end only hints at what actually happened. Cleverly written with more than a little factual material included.Novel
2007
Entry Island
Peter MayI crime novel set in eastern Canada. Sime McKenzie is a detective working on the murder of a wealthy man living on Entry Island in the St Lawrence estuary. The dead man's wife, the main suspect, reminds McKenzie of a picture of his grandmother. The story switches between the murder investigation and events of 150 years earlier when his ancestors first came to Canada.Detective
2014
Esspresso Tales
Alexander McCall SmithA ramble through the lives of the various people living in Scotland Street. Young Bertie, dominated by his mother and her pseudo-psychology: Pat, in a gap year before going to university: Domenica, a sixtyish anthropologist: Cyril, the dog: Matthew and Bruce, both egotistical in their different ways. Some of it is quite compelling, other parts utterly boring. The author has an annoying habit of digressing during conversations into the bizarre and ridiculous. Novel
2005
Evangelista's Fan
Rose TremainA collection of short stories, many dealing with obsession, as do some of her novels. She is good at capturing atmosphere and getting inside the characters of her main protagonists. Short Stories
1994
Even Money
Dick & Felix FrancisA racing novel but this time told from a bookies point of view. Well paced with a good plot.Thriller
2009
Exit Music
Ian RankinThe final Inspector Rebus case. A Russian is found dead near a multi-storey car park and Rankin and Siobhan Clarke are trying to solve the crime before Rebus's time runs out at the end of the week when he retires. Politocos and bankers also want it solved quickly, but for their own different reasons.Detective
2007
Extraordinary People
Peter MayAn Enzo Mcleod mystery set in France; Enzo has a bet with a journalist friend, Roger Raffin, that he can track down the killer of a famous academic murdered some years ago. In fact it turns out that several people had been involved and the hunt turns into a da Vinci Code style of treasure hunt, but much better written. The denouement takes place in the tunnels beneath the centre of Paris.Detective
2013
Fall from Grace
Tim WeaverIntricately woven detective thriller. David Raker specializes in searching for missing persons and is asked to find retired DI Leonard Franks who disappeared from his home on Dartmoor one Sunday evening when going outside to fetch logs for the fire. A bit contrived in places but a good read all the same.Detective
2014
The Fall of Angels
Ken FollettNovel covering the years 1911 to 1924. Involves 5 families of widely differing status in Britain, Germany and Russia. Historical
2010
The Falls
Joyce Carol OatesSet in Niagara Falls the novel features a woman whose husband commits suicide by throwing himself into the falls on the first morning of their honeymoon. The widow subsequently marries a lawyer and has three children. Later in the novel the theme involves toxic pollution of the canal in which nuclear waste was dumped in the 1950s. There is a continual underlying theme of self destruction.Novel
2004
False Friends
Stephen LeatherA well paced thriller giving excellent insight into the processes of following and being followed when working undercover for MI5. The tension is well built up and there is a good denouementThriller
2012
False Impressions
Jeffrey ArcherA mystery thriller set around 9/11. It involves the art world and the obsessions of collecters. It is set in New York, London,Tokyo and Eastern Europe.Thriller
2005
Family Album
Penelope LivelyShort listed for the 2009 Costa prize, this is a perceptive novel about relationships in a large family. Allersmead is a large rambling house acquired by earth-mother Alison and her husband Charles as newly-weds. The novel opens in the present on Alison's birthday with her now grown up family reuniting along with Ingrid the 'au pair' who has been with the family since Paul, the eldest child was born. One by one we meet the members of the family and are given differing perspectives of various events and situations as viewed through different eyes, and secrets are revealed.Family Saga
2009
Fatal Voyage
Kathy ReichsTempe Brennan is called in to do the forensics after a private plane crashes in a forest in N Carolina. During her search for body parts she comes across something which has nothing to do with the crash but leads her into danger and myserious practices linked with the English Hell Fire Club of the 18th C.Detective
2001
Father Figure
Anne WiddecombeA story of life in the 21st century. Without any warning Kat walks out of her home taking her two children with her. 'It wasn't the same' is her only excuse. As the desperate story of her husband Jason unfolds we discover the shallow nature of the woman. She makes it as difficult as possible for him to visit his children and eventually remarries and moves hundreds of miles away from her old home. The story ends satisfactorily for Jason and the children, but Jason sees some disquiet in the eyes of Dan, the new husband as he begins to recognise the kind of person he has married. A very compelling read.Novel
2005
Fault Lines
Nancy HustonA compelling story of four generations of a family in the USA. The different family members give the accounts of their lives which gradually unravels a dreadful truth. It begins with the fourth generation six year old and each member tells of the sixth year of their life which had dramatic effects on themselves and their family, all told in the first person. All the children are very clever and all have a distinctive birthmark, but not all on the same part of their bodyNovel
2006
Fear Index
Robert HarrisA disappointing read. Fast moving futuristic thriller about a huge computer in Switzerland which learns heuristically and can work out the stock market making millions for its investors. It searches the internet for disaster situations which will affect the stock market. It all goes wrong in the end.Thriller
2011
Fear the Worst
Linwood BarclaySydney Blake disappears. When her father,Tim, tries to find out more no one seems to have heard of her at the motel where she had claimed to have a holiday job. Apart from her father, other dubious people are also looking for her. Very tense and suspenseful, but with some unconvincing coincidences. Who will find her first?Detective
2010
Her Fearful Symmetry
Audrey NiefeneggerTwin sisters come to England following the death of their aunt, their mother's twin, to claim their inheritance. There is a lot of involvement with Highgate Cemetery, which is close to the house they have inherited. The girls are haunted by their aunt's ghost and one of the girls falls in love with their aunt's young boyfriend. The ghostly aunt discovers she can remove life from the cat, but then restore it. She tries the same trick on her niece and inhabits her body, leaving the soul of the girl marooned in the house. A bit weird but a good read.Novel
2009
The Fifth Witness
Michael ConnellyA Mickey Haller story with lots of twists and turns. Haller defends a woman accused of killing the head of a company who is foreclosing on her mortgage. Lots of action and satisfactory endingDetective
2011
Final Cut
Lin AndersonAfter a car accident a child wanders off into the wood and comes back to his mother cradling a child's skull. The characterisations are good and events realistic.Detective
2009
Final Account
Peter RobinsonAn accountant is found murdered in his barn. Chief Inspector Alan Banks learns from the dead man's wife that two masked men had burst into the farmhouse and taken the accountant out to the barn and shot him. As Banks investigates the crime he learns that the dead man was leading a double life and was involved in a money laundering scam.Detective
2004
Final Breath
John FrancomeA racing who-done-it involving the murder of Kirsty, the girl friend of Danny, a jockey whose mother is a trainer. Unknown to her partner Kirsty had been having affairs with a number of people. Her friend Tara takes her place in the affections of Danny. There are a lot of characters to sort out and it does not have a very satisfactory endingDetective
2008
Fire in the Blood
Irene NemirovskyThis is a novella set in Burgundy during the 1930s and concerns an old man reminiscing about his life and the people in the village, particularly the events leading up to the murder of a relative's husband. It is very evocative of rural French life during that period and is beautifully written.Novel
2008
First Degree
David RosenfeltA quirky legal thriller written in the first person present tense. There are lots of jokey asides which in no way interfere with the main narrative or horror of some of the situations described. Andy Carpeneter ends up having to defend his girl friend on a charge of murdering a corrupt policeman.Detective
2003
The First Wife
Emily BarrLily Button has looked after her grandparents and lived a very sheltered life. After their deaths she takes a cleaning job and lodges with a family in Truro. One of the houses she cleans is that of Harry Summers and his wife Sarah. When Sarah is mysteriously drowned Lily becomes very close to Harry and they are soon engaged. But Lily soon begins to have suspicions about her new husband.Detective
2011
The Flesh Tailor
Kate EllisA Wes Patterson story There are links with a GP shot on his doorstep and Elizabethan drawings of human body parts uncovered on the walls of an ancient farmhouse which is being renovated. Set in the present it involves evacuees who were sent to wartime Devon.Detective
2010
Flowers of the Field
Sarah HarrisonA long family saga set during WW1. The author explores the work of Thea first in a munitions factory then ambulance driving in France. Then Aubrey being taken prisoner during the first weeks of the war. Dulcie the spoiled younger sister who runs away but eventually makes a nice living for herself providing 'home comforts' for officers and upper class gents in Paris. Maurice, the aesthetic cousin is a pacifist and spends most of the war in various prisons. Harrison then dips into the suffragette movement. The novel is very long at 666 pages and might have been better written in two separate parts.Historical
1980
Folly
Alan TitchmarshProbably the best of Tichmarsh's work so far. It has an interesting story line and is set in the art world of Bath. There is an interesting time line which dips backwards and forwards and adds texture and generates speculation. The ending is a bit predictable and a little too convenient. It involves art fraud, copies and originals.Novel
2008
Force of Nature
C J BoxWilderness thriller set in Wyoming. Ranger Joe Pickett's friend Nate is on the run from the 'Five' a murder squad. Violent and very fast moving. Required great concentration to follow the intricate plot.Thriller
2012
The Forgotten Garden
Kate MortonA young Australian woman sets out to discover the secret of her grandmother's roots. Her investigations bring her to England and the house her grandmother had bought twenty years earlier. The characterisations are good and the plot well sustained with plenty of intrigue.Novel
2008
Forgotten Memories
Marcia WillettSet in Devon thre novel has multiple points of view. Louise has a tragedy in her past about which she is in denial. She finds peace and tranquility in the Exmoor countryside. Her problems are satisfactorily resolved. Not a challenging read.Novel
2003
The Forgotten
David BaldacciA Jack Reacher style thriller involving slave trading of Colombians into Florida. John Pullen is ex-army with plenty of contacts to help him achieve his goal. A well paced story.Detective
2012
The French Gardener
Santa MontefioreAn unashamedly romantic novel and something of a weepie at the end. The garden of Hartington House is as much a character in the novel as the humans portrayed. Jean-Paul is the eponymous gardener who turns up to help Miranda with the overgrown garden of the property she and her husband have just bought. The reader realises early on that Jean-Paul actually designed the garden for the previous owner, a woman he had fallen in love with.Romance
2008
The French Promise
Fiona McIntoshA sequel to The Lavender Keeper, Luc and Lisette come to England at the end of the war, marry and have a son and a daughter. They decide to emigrate to Tasmania and successfully set up a lavender farm there. However, Lisette and their son are drowned in a rip tide and Luc returns to Europe to lay to rest the ghosts of his past.Novel
2013
From the Dead
Mark BillinghamAnother Tom Thorne thriller. A man thought to have been burnt to death 10 years ago seems to be alive. His wife, just released from prison for conspiring to murder him receives photos of him taken recently. Several people die before the situation is resolved.Detective
2010
The Frozen Lake
Elizabeth EdmonsonTwo families are drawn to the frozen lake near their homes in Westmoreland. There are family secrets which gradually unravel during the freezing Christmas and New Year of 1936 when there is unrest and rumours of war.Family Saga
2004
Frozen Moment
Camilla CedarTranslated from the Swedish: a complicated murder mystery which delves deep into the past. The main police character is Christian Tell, a middle aged divorcee. Some of the nuances of the story are lost in translation I think. A man is murdered by being shot then run over and in another part of the country a second murder takes place in just the same way. The denouement is satisfactoryDetective
2009
Gallows View
Peter RobinsonPeter Robinson's first Inspector Banks novel, this is a murder mystery set in the Yorkshire Dales. Petty thefts are taking place in the small town, then one of them results in the death of an old lady. Someone is also creeping around at night watching women undress. There are several likely suspects and a clever unearthing of some evidence but Banks inevitably gets to the bottom of it. Detective
1987
Gamble
Felix FrancisNicholas Foxton, an exjockey turned financier is being targeted after his colleague is shot while watching a horse race. It turns out to be an EU financial fraud.Thriller
2011
Game of Mirrors
Andrea CamilleriDrug smuggling on the island leads Montalbano into danger. Lured by the charms of Liliana Lombard, his new neighbour, he becomes enrangled in a web of deceit when nothing is what it seems.Detective
2011
A Gathering Light
Jennifer DonnellySet at the beginning of the twentieth century in the Adirondaks, this is the story of Mattie who dreams of going to college and becoming a writer. Before her mother died Mattie had promised her that she would look after her younger brothers and sisters, which now stands in the way of her achieving her dream. The story is fictional but is set against the actual death of a girl, Grace Brown, who was staying with her fiancé at the hotel where Mattie worked. The death by drowning was assumed to be accidental, but the letters that Grace had entrusted to Mattie make her think otherwise. Mattie is being wooed by the son of a neighbouring farmer and almost agrees to the union when she realises that he only wants the marriage to give him access to her father’s land. The story paints a vivid picture of small town American life at the timeNovel
2004
A Gathering Storm
Rachel HoreSet in Cornwall past and present, war time London and Normandy. Lucy is trying to find out her father's family who originally came from Cornwall. The story is narrated by Beatrice an elderly lady who knew the family well in her younger days, and Lucy. Elements of courage and betrayal.Family Saga
2011
The Gathering Storm
Rachel HoreSet in Cornwall, past and present, wartime London, and Normandy, Lucy is trying to find out about her late father's troubled past. His family came from Cornwall and Lucy goes there to meet Beatrice an old Cornish woman who knew the family. The story is mostly narrated by Beatrice and contains elements of courage and betrayal.Novel
2011
The Geneva Trap
Stella RimingtonA great spy thriller set in Geneva and the South of France. It is well paced with interesting sub plots. Liz Carlyle is the main character. There is a good denouement.Espionage
2012
Genius
Graham MastersonThriller set in USA concerns a drug concocted to improve intelligence and memory which feeds off live brain cells, a fact not realised until halfway through the book. It involves the injections of live serum given to a young man, but the final one made to a different formula will give him dementia. Will the goodies reach him in time to stop him taking it? Detective
1998
The Ghost
Robert HarrisA superb read: an unnamed ghost writer takes over the ghosting of the memoirs of a recent British exPM, Adam Long after the drowning of Mike McCara, the original 'ghost'. Long is currently living in Martha's Vineyard where most of the action takes place. The new ghost stumbles across the same secrets which cost his predecessor his life. Novel
2007
A Ghost at the Door
Michael DobbsQuite a page turner. Harry Jones is trying to track down details of his father's past through an old photo of him with friends taken at Oxford when they were all students. One by one the people in the photo seem to be dying, and not through old age. Harry and Jen his fiancé, try to find them but just as they get close they die. There is some mysterious secret they all share which has made them all very wealthy. There is a good twist at the end.Thriller
2013
The Girl on the Train
Paula HawkinsA disturbing read about an alcoholic woman, who despite having lost her job, continues to travel daily to London. On her journey she passes the back garden of the house she used to live in before her divorce, and observes her old neighbours in their garden. One day she sees the wife with another man, then she disappears. Novel
2015
The Girl at the Lion d'Or
Sebastian FaulksSet in northern France in the mid thirties, the novel relates a few months in the life of Anne, age unstated, but probably in her late teens or early twenties. The novel describes places and events in beautiful detail and deals with thoughts and emotions with similar care. However, the novel has no real denouement, Anne arrives from Paris to find work, gets a job in a small hotel/bar, has an affair with a local land owner then returns to Paris to look for work again.Novel
1989
Girl in a Blue Dress
Gaynor ArnoldBased on the life of Charles Dickens this novel is written through his wife's eyes. It presents a picture a the novelist as a very cruel and vain man. Dickens tired of his wife Dorothea and set her up in lodgings with Wilson a servant/housekeeper. He took his wife's sister has housekeeper and turned the children against their mother, forbidding them to visit her. Contriving and conniving he set up actress Wilhelmena Ricketts and her mother in a house which he visited every day. After his death the children realised what their father had done and were reconciled with her.Novel
2008
The Girl who Played with Fire
Stieg LarssonLisbeth Salander has taken refuge in the Caribbean. She has 'inherited' a large amount of money from the stash accrued by Wonnerstrom in the first plot. She and Blomkvist don't meet physically but work alongside each other to catch Zalachenko, Lisbeth's natural father. She manages to kill him after he has tried to kill her and has buried her alive in a shallow grave. The book ends with her in hospital with a bullet lodged in her skullThriller
2009
The Girl who Kicked the Hornets' Nest
Stieg LarssonThe third part of the trilogy opens with Lisbeth in hospital recovering from surgery. Again she works with Blomkvist at a distance to bring to trial the people responsible for protecting Zalachenko and keeping her in a mental institution during her teenage years. It is a good resolution to the sagaThriller
2009
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Stieg LarssonA very complex and involved thriller concerning a journalist and Lisbeth, who seeks his help. There is a large cast of characters and plenty of conflict between them. There are two elements to the story, Mikael's job, which is at stake, and Lisbeth's need for revenge. It is totally absorbing with satisfactory results for both main characters.Thriller
2008
The Girl You Left Behind
Jojo MoyesNovel centres on a painting of a young woman, Sophie, in around 1936. Sophie is forced to cook for the German soldiers stationed in her village. The portrait was painted by her husband and hung in the hall of their small hotel, the Coque Rouge in Peronne in N France. In 2008 it hangs in the bedroom of a young widow in London, bought for her by her husband from a Spanish woman. The artist's descendents want it back under a repatriation law. The widow's fight to keep it and the story of what happened to Sophie is told brilliantly with many twists and turn.Historical
2012
The Glass Blowers
Daphne Du MaurierStory of a family of glass manufacturers set in 18th & 19th C France It encompasses the revolutions and various changes of fortune for the family, particularly that of the elder daughter Sophie who narrates the story, and her brother Robert who has to flee to England because he supports the crownHistorical
1963
The Glass Painter's Daughter
Rachel HoreA very engaging novel which reveals a lot about the art of stained glass. Fran returns from a European tour with her music group in which she plays the tuba to find her father in hospital after a stroke. With the help of the assistant Zac she manages to keep the business going and through repairing a stained glass window for a nearby church finds out a lot about her ancestors.Novel
2013
The Glass Room
Ann CleevesA Vera Stanhope murder mystery set in a writers retreat in Northumberland. Two murders take place during a single week and there is almost a third. Vera and Joe Ashton have to do a lot of digging to discover the culprit.Detective
2012
The Glassblower
Petra Durst BenningSet in Germany in late 19thC it tell the story of three sisters living in Lausche still famous for glassblowing. Following the sudden death of their father the three girls carry on the business becoming inventive and developing the first Christmas tree baubles.Historical
2003
The Glassblower of Murano
Marina FioratoLeonora, born in Venice but raised in England after the death of her Italian father, is determined to find out the full story of the life and death of her ancestor Corradino Mannin, a famous master glassblower. The story switches between the life of Corradino and the activites of LeonoraHistorical
2008
A God in Ruins
Kate AtkinsonA brilliant companion to 'Life after Life'. This novel relates the life of Teddy Todd covering his childhood, war years spent in the RAF as a fighter pilot and old age. It is poignant and dodges backwards and forwards through his life focussing on his relationships with different members of his family including his children and grandchildren. There are a lot of characters to remember and the non-sequential plot requires concentration, but is well worth the effort.Novel
2015
The Gods of Guilt
Michael ConnellyA Mickey Haller case concerning a murdered call girl and organised crime. The gods of guilt of the title are the jury. It was quite slow to begin with but it became a page turner.Detective
2013
Gold Diggers
Frances FyfieldA fascinating page turner. Di Quigley is a young thief just released from prison. A gang forced her to break into a big old property to steal the keys to a vintage car. They had tied up the owner but Di released him and he encouraged her to escape. The house is full of beautiful paintings which attract Di. When she gets out of prison she returns to the house, and before long marries the aging Thomas Porteus, the owner. She helps him to turn the house into a showcase for all the artwork. Thomas's greedy and monstrous daughters plot revenge after his death but Di's dubious friends plot to foil them. Very unusual but totally engaging. Detective
2012
Gone Girl
Gillian FlynnA clever plot spoilt by thoroughly unlikeable characters. Amy the rich self absorbed wife of Nick goes missing. The kitchen of their house is in disarray and there are traces of her blood. Nick is suspected of her murder. The novel is related in turn by extracts of her diary and regular narrative in Nick's voice. Gradually the truth about their seemingly idyllic relationship emerges and both turn out to be deeply unpleasant people. Certainly not my 'thriller of the year'!Novel
2012
Gone Tomorrow
Lee ChildVery readable but not his best. Set in NY, Reacher is in a subway train when a woman shoots herself. The story involves Afghan terrorists, a presidential candidate and a photograph of bin Laden with the candidate.Thriller
2009
The Good Father
Noah HawleyThis didn't live up to expectations and in some ways reminded me of Shriver's Kevin, but is nothing like as good or compelling. Paul Allen is soul searching, blaming the fact that he and Danny's mother divorced and live on opposite sides of the USA so Danny spent his childhood flying between the east and west coasts of USA. The parts of the story narrated by Danny in 3rd P are quite well written but not really revealing of his nature, or why he chose to murder the prospective next president of the USA. Too much time is spent on researching other r famous American killings but adds nothing to our understanding of Danny. At the end, when facing execution Danny still appears to have no remorse at all for what he has done.Espionage
2012
Grave Secrets
Kathy ReichsIn Guatemala Tempe Brennan is working on the forensic investigation of the massacre of women and children. Four teenage girls appear to have disappeared and the partial remains of one girl is found in the septic tank of a cheap motel. Two of the girls are discovered to have run away to Montreal, the home town of one of them. One of the dead girls had been working for a clinic where research into harvesting material for stem cell treatment was being carried out. Very readable but with a few too many coincidences.Detective
2002
Gray Mountain
John GrishamA legal story involving unscupulous coal mining companies wriggling out of paying compensation to workers with lung disorders caused by their operations.The ending is rather inconclusive and I suspect there may be a sequel in the offing.Detective
2015
On Green Dolphin Street
Sebastian FaulksA story of a love affair set against the backdrop of the 1960 election run up betwen John F Kennedy and Nixon. Mary is the wife of an alcoholic British diplomat in the British embassy in Washington who falls for Frank Renzo a journalist based in NY. It is written un Faulks' usual impeccable style.Romance
2001
Guenevere Child of the Holy Grail
Rosalind MillsPart three of a trilogy about the life of Guenevere. It follows the failed quest by the young Galahad for the holy grail and the power battle for Summer County of Camelot and Avon between Arthur and Mordred. The Round Table is destroyed and the fellowship of the knights scattered for ever.Historical
2001
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
M A SchafferWritten as a series of letters between a large group of people. This novel tells the story of events and life in Guernsey during the German Occupation. It is full of humour as well as pathos won The Times Paperback of the year award in 2008.Novel
2008
The Gypsy Madonna
Santa MontefioreThe gypsy madonna is the title of a painting by Titian. Santa Fonteine is the son of a French girl and a Nazi soldier; when the story opens he is living in New York in 1985 and his mother has just died. She has donated a painting, believed to be Titian's first attempt at the well known gypsy madonna to an art gallery. The novel traces the lives of mother and son from 1948 in France to New York in 1985. Quite well plotted but with rather too many coincidences, unlikely connections and a predictable happy ever after ending.Novel
2006
The Hand That First Held Mine
Maggie O'FarrellThis is the compelling story of the lives of Lexie Sinclaire in the 1950s/60s and Elina and Ted in the 21st century. O'Farrell uses alternate chapters and present tense for most of the time but it slips back into the past on occasions. There are obvious hints that Lexie is not going to live long, so her death by drowning when her little boy is only three is not unexpected. Characters introduced early on disappear only to reappear later in the novel. A very compelling story.Novel
2010
The Hare with the Amber Eyes
Edmund De WaalAlthough this is the biography of the enormously wealthy Jewish Ephrussi family beginning in 1871, is written with a light touch and is more like a novel. The hare in question is just one of a collection of 264 of Japanese netsuke which has been passed down through the generations and provides a link to the various characters included in the biography. It survived the war years thanks to the cunning of a maid of the household. De Waal brings to life the different members of the family who have had guardianship of the collection and explains how it came to be in his possession. The family trees at the beginning of the novel are invaluable.Biography
2010
Hattie's Mill
Marcia WillettA pleasant easy read, this novel has lots of characters and sometimes quite abrupt changes in point of view, even that of a dog! Hattie buys an old water mill with adjacent cottage and a journey of five years takes the reader through the seasons and the ups and downs of the characters fortunes. Novel
1997
The Haunting
Alan TitchmarshAn engaging story about a divorcee, Harry Flint, buying an old mill cottage in Hampshire. His next-door neighbour is a widow with a young daughter. Harry is keen to find out about his ancestors. After knocking a hole in an upstairs wall in order to put a door in Harry senses a ghostly presence. Research and old diaries reveal that he is descended from a girl who died there in 1816. His neighbour may be a descendent of a stable lad who was in love with her, and Harry's best friend descended from the people who owned the mill - all tied up with bows or what?! Some over constructed metaphors which leap off the page. Despite this, a good readRomance
2012
Heartstone
C J SansomIt is 1545 and Shardlake and Barak travel to Portsmouth to investigate a case given to them by a servant of Catherine Parr. The young Princess Elizabeth plays a minor role, but the Battle of the Solent and the Mary Rose a much bigger one. Historical
2010
Heartstone
Clive SansomShardlake and Barak are heavily involved in sorting out the legalities and complications involved with the wardship of a brother and sister. The investigations eventually take Shardlake to Portsmouth where the fleet is preparing to fight the French. The Mary Rose lies at anchor and Shardlake is aboard... A real page turner.Historical
2011
Hell Gate
Linda FairsteinAlex Cooper is involved in investigating the deaths of illegal immigrants who have been shipwrecked on the shores of NY. She is also concerned about the disappearance of the mistress of a would-be politician who has vanished with their child. A satisfactory story but overly complicated and not as tight and satifying as some of her other novels.Detective
2010
The Help
Kathryn StockettA humorous, poignant and shocking story. It depicts the lives of black housemaids in Jackson Miss. in 1960s and has been made into a film. The novel is very well written with excellent characterisations and voices. The dialogue of the black women takes some getting used to. The story ends well. Historical
2009
The Heretic Queen
Michelle MoranA compelling story of an Egyptian princess, Nefertiti, who becomes the wife of Rameses II. The novel is full of court intrigue, politcs and wars. Historical
2008
The Hidden Assassins
Robert WilsonA complicated thriller whith a huge cast list. Terrorists blow up a block of flats in Seville resulting in many casualties and fatalities. There are several side issues which are unrelated to the main story. A marathon 642 pages, however the denouement is satisfactory.Detective
2007
Hidden Depths
Ann CleevesA Vera Stanhope story involving the separate murders of two young people found lying in water strewn with flowers, but both having been strangled. The lives of comfortable families are disrupted. Detective
2007
Hiding from the Light
Barbara ErskineA dark occult novel set on the coast of Essex. On a nostalgic whim, Emma Dickson, a city girl, buys a cottage in an old Essex village. She gives up her career and relationship with Piers. The area is haunted with the ghosts of seventeeth century women killed as witches and Matthew Hopkins, the Witchfinder General. There are several modern deaths and some scary scenes.Thriller
2002
The Highway
C J BoxSet largely in Montana. a trio of men, one of them a long distance truck driver, set up a secret room where they rape and torture women the truck driver picks up. Cassie Denell a rookie cop sets out to discover what has happened to 2 teenage girls who disappear en route to visit the older girl's boyfriend. It is rather too drawn out with not a completely satisfying ending and some very gruesome scenes. Not up to the standard of his Joe Pickett stories.Thriller
2013
Holding my Breath
Sidura LudwigFamily story set in Winnipeg. Beth Levy is the only daughter of a Jewish couple and dreams of becoming an astronomer. Her ambition is fed by stories of her Uncle Phil who was killed in WW2. Various family skeletons emerge which explain the behaviour of some members of the extended family, as things are not always as they seem. Some episodes seem superfluous to the plot and not everything has an explanation or seems relevant to the story. Good style, but plot rather weak with an abrupt ending.Family Saga
2008
The Homesman
Glendon SwarthoutSet in the midwest of USA in the nineteenth century. In the absence of a husband prepared to do it, Mary Bee Cuddy escorts four wives, driven to lunacy by the privations and conditions of life in the wildernes, back to civilisation. She persuades George Briggs, a claimjumper, to accompany her and they begin the trek east to return the women to their original families.Historical
1988
The Hopeless Life of Charlie Summers
Paul TordayWell written with unusual metaphors and comparisons. It traces the parallel fortunes of characters Charlie Summers and Eck. The novel is largely concerned with the financial world of 2008, hedge funds and subprime mortgages but the serious stuff is counterbalanced with a lot of humour and a good twist at the end. Novel
2010
The Horse Dancer
Jojo MoyesSet in London, Natasha, a lawyer who represents children in court cases, helps Sarah a young teenager when she is accused of shoplifting. Sarah lives with her grandfather who has been taken into hospital and Natasha assumes quite a lot of responsibility for the girl. The grandfather was once a member of Le Cadre Noir a renowned French equestrian establishment. He and Sarah have been keeping and training a horse in a stableyard nearby. Sarah has run out of money for Bo, the horses, keep so decides to run away with Bo and take him to France. A well paced story told with conviction and a good denouement. Novel
2009
Hot Money
Dick FrancisTypical horse racing novel. Reunited with his father amateur steeplechase jockey tries to discover which member of the family is trying to kill his extremely rich father. Slightly less violence than in many of his previous novels.Thriller
1987
The House on Bellvue Gardens
Rachel HoreThe story of various inhabitants of the large Georgian mansion in Bellvue Gardens. The ownership of the house is under dispute and the assorted group living there have to come to terms with the possibility of having to find somewhere else to live. The ending is a bit too trite but narration generally good.Novel
2016
The House at Midnight
Lucie WhitehouseThis first person narrative concerns a group of ex-university friends and opens in a large country house which Lucas has inherited from his Uncle Patrick. The interplay of relationships is narrated by Jo. Danny, a gay member of the group has his sights set on Lucas and manipulates him. A lot of drinking and drug taking is involved. It doesn't have a very satisfactory ending despite the fact there are some elements of 'The Bed I Made' in it.Novel
2008
The House by the Sea
Santa MontefioreA light holiday read set in the past in Italy and the present in Devon. The 'house' of the title could be in Italy or a hotel in Devon. Marina was born in Italy but comes to England as a seventeen year-old after the birth of her son who is adopted. It all ties up a little bit too tidily.Novel
2011
House of Silk
Anthony HorowitzA Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson story narrated by Watson and told from his point of view. It involves drug taking and child abuse centred in a seemingly respectable boy's school and rescue centre.Detective
2011
The House on the Strand
Daphne Du MaurierSet in Cornwall in 1960s. Marcus Lane is a biochemist experimenting with a new drug he has developed. The drug has the effect of taking people back into the past. One day when Marcus uses it he is killed by a train. His friend Richard is befriended by a local doctor who suspects what is going on. They finally discover that the drug has the side effect of paralysing parts of the body.Science Fiction
1969
The Housekeeper and the Professor
Yoko OgawaThis novella is set in Japan and depicts the relationship between a professor and his housekeeper and her son. Following an accident the professor of mathematics has a memory span of only eighty minutes but can remember the distant past. The housekeeper who does not live in has to reintroduce herself every day. There are lots of mathematic principles included in the story but despite that it is a very intriguing read.Novel
2003
How it all Began
Penelope LivelyCharlotte, an elderly widow is mugged and in the fall breaks her hip. The incident sparks off a chain of events involving several people. Charlotte's daughter, Rose, can't accompany her employer to a lunch because she is looking after her mother. Marion, the employer's niece takes her placeand the text she sends to her lover is read by his wife. Anton, a Polish manwhom Charlotte is helping with his English comes to Rose's home insteadand he and Rose gradually, over the ten week span of the book, fall in love. Brilliantly written, Lively juggles the three stories very skillfully.Novel
2011
How the Light Gets In
Louise PennyInvestigating the death of a spinster in a quiet Montreal suburb Inps. Gamache is drawn back to Three Pines just before the Christmas holiday. As usual the investigation is more complicated than it seems at first and old enemies are drawn in, including a massive feud invoving the Provincial Governor. Very atmospheric and full of suspense.Detective
2012
Human Croquet
Kate AtkinsonAn intriguing time slipping novel with time as a definite theme. It is quirky with lots of asides. Although it was published in 1997 the last chapter describes events in the 21st century. It portrays aspects of the lives of members of the Fairfax family in the second half of the twentieth century; other themes include dreams and incest. Bizarre but fascinating.Novel
1997
Human Traces
Sebastian FaulksA doorstop novel at 609 pages! It took Faulks five years to write and concerns the development of psychiatry during the end of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The two heroes, one English, and one French are both born in 1860 and eventually set up a clinic together in Austria. Their backgrounds are vastly different. The Englishman, Thomas Midwinter is the son of a well off English business man, but Jacques Rebiere is a poor man with a mad brother who is kept locked in a stable. By the end of the novel Jacques has married Sonia, Midwinter’s sister. Most of the novel is engrossing, revealing the way psychiatric patients were handled during that time period, but later in the book there is a huge amount of detailed discussion about late Victorian theories regarding the causes of mental illness and how patients should be treated. This is presented in the form of discussions and oral presentations by the doctors and becomes somewhat tedious. The human aspects of the novel are good and certainly up to the standard of Faulks’s earlier novels, but the medical detail spoils the book. Faulks did the research and he was damned well going to let his readers have the lot!Historical
2005
I Alex Cross
James PattersonDet Alex Cross's niece has been brutally murdered. He soon discovers that she was mixed up in one of Washington's slimiest schemes. Girls were taken to a 'special' club for the delectation of the high and mighty in DC, and did not always survive. Cross closes in on the killesr after a dangerous hunt.Detective
2009
Ignorance
Michele RobertsSet in northern France just before and during WWII. The story is related through the voices of Jeanne, Marie-Angele, Dolly and Jeanne's daughter, Andree. Jeanne and Marie-Angele are school friends but from different social backgrounds, Jeanne's mother is a cleaner and washer woman, while her friend's parents own and run the village grocery shop. Jeanne and her mother are Jews but have been baptized into the Catholic faith in order to fit into the community. The novel is well written literature but without a meaningful thread, and I didn't care enough about any of the characters.Novel
2012
The Illusionists
Rosie ThomasEliza knows she doesn't want a life of Victorian mundae domesticity, and when she gets the opportunity to work with Devil Wix, performer in a rundown theatre company she joins him. Dwarf, Carlo Bodoni, aka Charlie Morris, is in love with her, but she has her sights set on Devil Wix. The novel traces the rise of Wix and Eliza, his purchase of the theatre and the ups and downs of life as an illusionists. Fascinating and unusual but the ending rather trickles away.Novel
2014
The Importance of Being Kennedy
Laurie GrahamWritten in the style of an autobiography the novel traces the lives of the youg Kennedy family through the eyes of Nora Brennan the children's nursemaid. A compelling read tracing the deeds and misdeeds of JFK and his siblings and the rigid keeping up of appearances of matriarch Rose Kennedy. The family 'skeleton' is poor Rose junior, damaged at birth by her mother dleiberately holding back frpm dleivery so that the doctor with ether could arrive. Nora is torn between marriage and looking after the younger members of the family. When visiting grand houses in the UK, staff were always known by the name of the family they worked for, hence the title of the novel.Biography
2007
In a Dry Season
Peter RobinsonInsp Banks and Annie Cabot investigate a murder committed over 50 years ago when an extreme drought dries up a reservoir and uncovers a drowned village and the skeleton of a woman which shows evidence of repeated stabbings.Detective
2000
The Information Officer
Mark MillsA well written murder mystery set in war time Malta. It is known that a British man is a Nazi agent who is murdering local girls to destroy the trust the Maltese population had in Britain. Max Chadwick sets out to discover the agent and end the killings.War
2009
Intervention
Robin CookA very unlikely and convoluted pseudo-medical novel interweaving alternative medicine, the theft of an ossiary in Rome believed to contain the bones of the Virgin Mary and faith healing. Rather ridiculous and not very well writtenNovel
2010
The Invisible Ones
Stef PennyRay Lovell, a PI is half gypsy. He is sought out to find out what happened to Rose Janks who disappeared some six or seven years ago. There is much secrecy, suspicion and deception in the story, narrated alternately by Ray and JJ an adolescent gypsy boy living on the settlement where Ivo, Rose's husband also lives with his sick son Christie. Very well constructed with a twist at the end. Detective
2012
Iris and Ruby
Rosie ThomasAnother one to match the Kashmir shawl. Portrayal of wartime and present day Cairo is brilliant. Characterisations are excellent, the time changes tidily executed as are the voice changes. The plot is rather transparent, but that doesn't matter as the narrative carries the reader along and doesn't spoil the enjoyment.Novel
2006
Isa and May
Margaret ForsterAn infuriating novel which promised much but delivered little. Isa and May are Isamay's grandmothers. Isamay is writing an MA dissertation on the relationships between famous grandmothers and their granddaughters. During the writing of the dissertation Isamay becomes pregnant. She is trying to find out about the past of her paternal grandmother, who turns out not to be her grandmother at all. Her boyfriend's mother, who has never been spoken about, turns up and it soon becomes clear why he has never had anything to do with her. Lots of hares set running but a disappointing ending.Novel
2011
Isle of the Dead
Alex ConnorA murder mystery set mainly in the art world of London and Venice. Angelico Vespucci was a notorious serial killer in 16thC Venice who flayed the skin off the 4 women he murdered. He knew Titian and it was rumoured that Titian had painted him but the painting had never come to light until it was found floating in the Thames in 21st C London. A convoluted story with several narrators, the carries you along but the ending is rather unsatisfactory. A 21st C man is trying to emulate Vespucci but he is thwarted, though not before 4 people have been killed. 490ppThriller
2013
The Italian Garden
Judith LennoxAn intricately woven story of the life of Joanna Zulian a beautiful free spirited gypsy girl. She is coveted by men of power as well as ordinary men. Set in the sixteenth centurythe novel focusses on wars in Europe, love and greed. The POV is constantly changing.Historical
2010
The Jackal Man
Kate EllisAn engaging murder mystery set in Devon and involving a serial killer who uses Egyptian death rites to arrange his victims after garrotting them. A sub-plot is the diary of an Edwardian governess who knew of similar murders in the early twentieth century.Detective
2011
Jeeves and the Wedding Bells
Sebastian FaulkesA homage by Faulkes to P G Wodehouse. A funny and well constucted story of Jeeves and Wooster swapping roles at a house party to assist the smoothing over of a discord between an engaged couple. The novel ends with both Jeeves and Wooster preparing for their own nuptuals.Novel
2013
The Jewel of St Petersburg
Kate FurnivallValentina Ivanova is the daughter of a minister in the Tsar's government; not a comfortable position in pr-erevolutioary St Petersburg. She is beautiful and Stepan Charnov, son of a wealthy aristocrat has his sights on her. However Valentina is in love with Jens Frits, a Danish engineer. Whe her sister,Katya, is cripled by a terrorist bomb Valentina fights her father to be allowed to train as a nurse. Well written and well paced.Romance
2010
The Jigsaw Man
Elonora ForbesIntersting plot line but complicated by two separate murder enquiries totally unconnected. 'Bodies' turn up which on examination turn out to be parts of several corpse reassembled. In case 2 the body of the sister of an ex-policewoman is found in a hotel room. The narrative switches from one case to the other and any insight into the culprits is fragmented and leaves the reader not sure which crime each is responsible for. Not very satisfactory.Detective
2014
The Judas Pair
Jonathan GashAn indifferent crime story set in the world of antiques. The Judas pair of the title are a pair of antique duelling pistols stolen from the owner who was murdered before the theft. A lot of detail about antiques and the only real action comes in the last few chapters.Detective
1971
The Kashmir Shawl
Rosie ThomasOne of the best books I've ever read. Intertwines the search for information about a beautiful Kashmir shawl, found after her father's death by Mair, with the story of her grandparent's life in Indian Kashmir in the 1930s. Well portrayed rounded characters, lots of intrigue, excellent plot and satisfactory denouementFamily Saga
2012
The Kennedy Conspiracy
Michael WhiteThrough hypnotic regression Mark Bretton is taken back to Nov 22nd, 1963, the day JFK was assassinated. The novel relies on the suspension of disbelief and reincarnation. Through several therapy sessions Mark and meeting other people undergoing the same treatment the conspiracy behind JFK's death is realised. Mark is the only person left alive from the original enclave - he awaits his next incarnation.Thriller
2012
The Kill Call
Stephen BoothA man is found dead on the Derbyshire moors. The story mixes foxhunting with the horsemeat trade. Fry and Cooper finally unravel the tangled background to the killing, the reasons based on a cold war lookout bunker dating from the late 1960s which very few people knew about.Detective
2009
The Kill List
Frederick ForsytheAn Islamist fanatic is preaching hate of non-Muslims over the internet and several hate murders have taken place in England and USA as a result of his influence. 'The Tracker', a US army colonel is charged with disposing of him. The novel is rather overburdened with detail which slows down the action.Thriller
2013
Killer Head
Linda FairsteinAlex Cooper is involved in the investigation of a serialkiller in NY who rapes his victims before bludeoning them to death. The denouement is on Governors' Island and an ex-military camp with which the psychopathic killer is obsessed. Quite a lot of US military history is involved.Detective
2008
The Killing Floor
Lee ChildIn the small Georgian town of Margrave Reacher runs into trouble. The town is 'owned' by a crook who is cleverly forging $100 bills by using old $1 dollar bills, bleaching the stock and reprinting them as hundreds. Joe Reacher, Jack's brother, who works for the US treasury is killed and Jack is out for revenge. Thriller
1997
Killing Hour
Andrew GrossJay, a doctor in NY has a phone call from his brother in CA saying his son, Evan, is dead. Jay goes to the aid of Charlie and his wife, Cathy, who both have drug problems, and Charlie and his son are bipolar. Jay begins to uncover events in Charlie's early life which are having repercussions now and soon his life is in danger.Detective
2011
Kind of Cruel
Sophie HannahA murder mystery involving an arson attack in which Amber's best friend dies but her daughters are rescued by a mystery fireman. Amber is determined to get to thr bottom of the arson attack but is plagued by the phrase kind, cruel, kind of cruel which she knows she has seen written down somewhere but cannot bring it to mind.Detective
2012
Kissing the Demons
Kate EllisSet in York, known in the novel as Eborby, DI Joe Plantaganet and Emily Thwaite are investigating the murder of a student which appears to be linked to several murders which have happened in the past. Quite interesting and quite gory but overcomplicated.Detective
2011
Labyrinth
Kate MosseA very involved story with time slips between the thirteenth and twentyfirst centuries. It involves the persecution of the Cathars in southern France. Alais and her modern counterpart Alice face threats and dangers. Alais dies trying to preserve the secrets enshrined in the three documents with which she has been entrusted by her father. The novel is set in and around the ancient city of Caracassonne and involves a lot of ancient French history which is well integrated with the narrative.Historical
2005
Lady of Hay
Barbara ErskineAn over-long fantasy story dipping between 1970s and the time of King John. There is too much history and petty events which get in the way of the main story. The modern main characters are generally not very nice people. This is the first of Erskine's fantasy novels about past events entering the lives of modern people; her more recent ones are much better and the reader more ready to suspend disbelief.Science Fiction
1986
The Lake House
Kate MortonAn excellent family history saga set mostly in Cornwall. Featuring a well-to-do family of parents, 3 daughters and a later-born son it covers 1903 to the present day. It is framed by a WDC who is about to be sacked for talking to the press. Whilst on holiday with her grandfather she digs into the mystery of Locanneth, the house by the lake and the family who lived there. She is intrigued by a missing son for whom there was a major police hunt. The coincidence at the end is a little bit forced. Family Saga
2015
Lamentation
C J SansomMatthew Shardlake is summoned to find out what has happened to the missing writings on religion by Catherine Parr, Henry VIII's sixth wife. In them she has made clear her sympathies for the reformation, but Henry and others in power are wavering to return to Rome, so her writings could be considered heresy. It takes Shardlake and his loyal team over 600 pages to get to the bottom of the mystery. Thoroughly researched and very well written but a bit overlong.Historical
2014
The land of Summer
Charlotte BinghamEmmaline Nesbit leaves New England to be married to Julius Aubrey, whom she met when Aubrey was doing business with her father. The couple do not meet again until she arrives in England a few weeks before the wedding when Aubrey seems, offhand and distracted. The marriage is not consummated and Emmaline starts to write poetry to relieve her unhappiness. Family failings haunt the marriage but when the past is revealed the wounds are healed. The novel seems a little padded out in places.Novel
1991
Land of the Long White Cloud
Sarah LarkA long but well related saga about two women who emigrate to New Zealand in the 1850s to marry men they have never met. However, the otherwise very good novel is marred by anachronisms and language which would not have been in use at the time; they are mostly Americanisms as the original novel was translated from the German into English by an American. - 'drapes', 'onesie', 'dollars', 'math' etc etc. Historical
2012
Lark Rise to Candleford
Flora ThompsonThe autobiographical story of coutry and small-town life in the last forty years of the nineteenth century. There is great emphasis on the natural world and country events.Family Saga
1945
The Last Coyote
Michael ConnellyBosch is in search of the man who murdered his mother thirty yeas earlier. He unearths a web of corruption in high places and finally discovers the culprit, the last person he would have imagined.Thriller
1995
Last Dance with Valentino
Daisy WaughPoignant romantic novel about a fictional long standing relationship between Jenny Doyle aka Lola Nightingale and Rudolf Valentio. Dips between 1916 and 1926. The two keep losing each other losing each other and only meet up again a few days before his death in 1926. Some parts lack conviction and some sections irritatingly long before reaching action.Romance
2011
The Last Dance
Victoria HislopShort stories set in Greece and Crete, nicely rounded and interesting. They are not the usual modern short stories which leave the reader wondering what it was all about.Short Stories
2013
The Last Detective
Robert CraisSet in LA and featuring PIs Elvis Cole and Joe Pike. Elvis's girlfriend's son is abducted whilst Elvis is looking after him. After trying to find the child himself, with Joe's help, Lucy has to inform her ex-husband, the child's father, of the situation. He insists on informing the police. Elvis investigates more deeply and discovers that the boy's father has organised the kidnapping himself in order to prove to Lucy that being with Elvis is too dangerous. But he doesn't realise how ruthless the abductors are and when they up the ransome things get very dangerous. Good plot but Crais has a 'bitty' style and the story doesn't flow well.Detective
2003
The Last Girl
Jane CaseyMurder mystery - the daughter of an eminent criminal lawyer finds her mother and sister with their throats cut. A complex thriller which leaves at least one situation unresolved ... until the next book?Thriller
2012
The Last Gospel
David GibbinsThe story of the search for a scroll believed to have been written by Christ at the request of the Emperor Claudius around AD 27. The novel opens in the Mediterranean, goes to Naples, Rome, London, Los Angeles and Jerusalem in the space of one week. The writing style is convincing, but a Bit Dan Brownish. A long read at 560pp but nevertheless engagingNovel
2008
The Last Letter from your Lover
Jojo MoyesAn engaging novel spanning lives over fifty years. In 1960 Jennifer Stirling recovers from a road accident but is left with huge blanks in her memory. Ellie is a journalist in 21st C and in helping the newspaper she works for to relocate to new premises discovers an old love letter. Through determined research she eventually manages to reunite Jennifer with her lover of 40 years earlier.Novel
2010
The Last Runaway
Tracy ChevalierA great story set in Ohio involving runaway slaves and the underground train of willing white Americans who helped them. An Englishwoman finds herself in this community ; there are themes of Quakerism, family relationships and a big emphasis on quiltingHistorical
2013
Last Song
Nicholas SparkesThis was coded as adult fiction but fits better as Young Adult. Ronnie and Jonah go to spend the summer with their father in N Carolina. Although the children don't know this their father is dying of pancreatic cancer. Ronnie, who is almost 18 falls in love with Will, a beach bum and things do not go smoothly. Predictable ending with a large dollop of God.Novel
2009
The Last Testament
Sam BourneAn exciting and fast moving thriller set in Jerusalem. Maggie Costello, a political negotiator, is sent to facilitate peace talks between Israel and Palestine. A small clay tablet on which is written the last will and testament of the Patriarch Abraham has been discovered and rehidden. Three groups are desperate to find it, some to destroy it in case it gives Jerusalem completely to one side. It is a well written but quite complicated story which jumps from faction to fiction and character to character but still keeps the reader engaged.Thriller
2007
The Last Voyage
Jessica StirlingSet between 1907 and 1912 it tells of the lives of Julie and Anne, sisters who both marry artists, who have very different personalities.Historical
2011
The Lavender Keeper
Fiona McIntoshLissette the daughter of a German father and French mother is recruited in WWII to spy on a German general in Paris. There is a love triangle as Lissette has fallen in love with Luc, her guide through rural France and her spying target the General. Sound a bit corny but is well written and convincing.Espionage
2012
Leaving the World
Douglas KennedyJane Howard takes her Harvard degree in English to the world of high finance in New York. When her father is investigated for fraud it is the end of her job. She returns to academia and after an affair with her tutor which ends with his death she moves to a professorship in a New England. Her new partner Theo leaves her and their daughter and soon afterwards the little girl is killed in a road accident. She tries to start a new life in Calgary but grief gets in the way. It is not until she is instrumental in saving the life of another child that she can move on.Novel
2009
The Legacy
Katherine WebbAn intriguing novel which flips between modern England and early 20th C USA. Erica and Beth Calcott return to Storton Manor in the depths of Wiltshire to sort out the house following their grandmother's death. Erica goes through her grandmother's things and finds an old photo of her great-grandmother nursing a child, but dated prior to her marriage. She is flooded with memories of childhood summers spent at Calcott and the disappearance of her horrid cousin Henry. Erica sifts through the family history to discover the truth about Henry and her great grandma but only the reader knows the awful truth about the baby.Novel
2010
The Leper's Bell
Peter TremayneA Sister Fidelma murder mystery. Fidelma and Eadwulf's baby son is kidnapped and his nurse murdered. Their search for their child takes them into enemey country where Eadwulf almost dies. The subplot is their relationship; they are in a temporary marriage which can end after a year and a day. The tension throughout the novel is what Fidelma's decision will be.Historical
2004
Lethal Legacy
Linda FairsteinSet in the libraries of New York, Alex Cooper, assistant DA sets out to hunt down the murderer of a book restorer and a housekeeper. Valuable ancient maps, centuries old, and greed are the main features of the novel. Proceeds at a steady pace and stays in th efirst person, Alex Cooper.Detective
2009
Lewis Man
Peter MayGood crime thriller set on the Isle of Lewis. A body is dug up during the annual turf cutting and is well preserved by the soil conditions. An elderly man with dementia is found to have a good DNA match, but can't be any direct help in the investigation because of his mental state. However through his eternal rambling the past is revealed and the mystery solved.Detective
2012
The Liberation
Kate FurnivalSet in Naples in 1945 when the British and American troops are trying to bring order to Italy and prevent the looting of all the art treasures. Caterina has taken over the cabinet making workshop after the death of her father. She looks after her grandfather and young brother and tries to prove that her father had not been involved in illegal looting and faking copies of antique furniture during the war.Novel
2016
Life After Life
Kate AtkinsonAn amazing book! Having read most of Kate Atkinson’s work and enjoyed quirky characters like Jackson Brodie, this novel came as quite a surprise, but a very pleasant one. In it she tells of the life of Ursula Todd, who dies within seconds of her birth in 1910. Her second and subsequent rebirths all take place in 1910, but each time she survives a little longer. In fact her life is rehearsed time and time again until she is satisfied with it. The novel follows her through the first and second world wars and Atkinson skilfully conjures the authentic atmosphere of all the periods of Ursula’s life. This novel won the 2013 Costa Prize.Novel
2013
Lifetime
Liza MarklundJournalist Anneka Bengtson's husband has just left her and their two children when her house is set on fire. An acquaintance, Julia, a policewoman has been arrested for the murder of her husband, also a police officer, and the presumed murder of their son who is also missing. Anneka has met Julia on a previous assignment and cannot believe her to be guilty. The novel describes how she sets about proving it. Set in Scandanavia.Detective
2013
The Lincoln Lawyer
Michael ConnellyMickey Haller cannot afford offices in LA so he works from his home and Lincoln Continental. He defends a real estate agent whom he believes to be innocent of murder. When he realises he is wrong and the man is also guilty of another murder for which someone else has been imprisoned, he starts to plot the man's downfall.Detective
2005
The Lion's Mouth
Anne HoltA hard to follow murder mystery. The PM of Norway is found shot in her locked office. No one has entered and no weapon found. Very oblique and unsatisfactory.Detective
1999
Listen to the Moon
Michael MorpurgoA very engaging junior fiction novel set in 1915 in the Scilly Isles. Merry and her mother set off for England on the Lusitania to visit the girl's father who is wounded and in hospital in London during WW1. After the wreck Merry is found, barely alive, on one of the uninhabited Scilly islands. Alfie's family nurse her back to health but the islanders are suspicious as a blanket she is found with has a German label. An excellent portrayal of how a small community behaves in such circumstances.Historical
2014
The Litigators
John GrishamHot shot lawyer who has never been inside a courtroom leaves a big legal outfit to join a pair of LA street lawyers - ambulance chasers. It's a bit slow to start with as the aces are trying, unsuccessfully to sue a drugs company, but speeds up when he pursues a case concerning lead in a toy which has caused brain damage to the son of a Burmese family. Good ending.Detective
2011
The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul
Debora RodrieguezDepicts the lives and events in and around the coffee shop owned and run by Sunny, an American woman. More chic-lit than real novel with a predictable assortment of larger than life characters, tragedies and the ultimate happy ever after ending.Novel
2011
The Little Red Chairs
Edna O'BreinA 'literature' novel set mainly in Ireland, fleetingly in London and the Hague.Novel
2015
The Lives of Stella Bain
Anita ShreeveSet during and after WW1 in France, England and USA. Stella is a VAD in Marne. At the opening of the novel she is in a military field hospital having been injured in a raid and is suffering from memory loss. She knows she has to get to England and find someone in the Admiralty building. She is feeling a great sense of guilt but doesn't know why. As the story unfolds and her memory gradually returns the puzzles are solved. Very well written and totally absorbing.Novel
2013
The Lollipop Shoes
Joanne HarrisA sequel to Chocolat. Vianne and Anouk are now living in Montmartre with four year old Rosette under different names. Zozie, a mysterious woman with a very chequered past has a huge influence on Vianne, persuading her to begin making chocolate again instead of just selling it. The story progresses at a pace and covers just two months, November and December. During the period Vianne comes to terms with herself and what she wants from life but only after nearly losing Anouk to the evil Zozie. The novel has a very satidfactory ending.Novel
2007
A Long Time Coming
Goddard RobertAn absorbing story. Stephen Swan is amazed to discover that his uncle, whom he had thought long dead is very much alive and recently released from a Dublin jail. The book traces the convoluted story of why he was imprisoned and who was responsible for his wrongful incarceration.Thriller
2010
The Long Way Home
Louise PennyNow retired, Armand Gamache and son in law Bauvoir help Clara Morrow search for her missing husband Peter. They had separated but he had promised to return in one year to see if they wanted to try again, but he fails to appear. The search leads them to a remote island in the mouth of the St Lawrence RiverDetective
2014
The Long Lost Journey
Jennifer PotterStory of a female archaeologist's search for the temple of the Queen of Sheba supposed to be in the Empty Quarter of the Yemen. The story is told in journal form. The last part of the story is told in letter form revealing the fact that her travelling companion stole her notes and artefacts and published an account of the expedition as his research and work.Historical
1990
Looking Good Dead
Peter JamesA Roy Grace mystery thriller involving snuff movies. Well paced with satisfactory endingDetective
2006
Lords Day
Michael DobbsIt is the State Opening of Parliament and the Queen is making her speech in the House of Lords when there is a terrorist attack. Various well known MPs make an thinly disguised appearance. The novel spans a little over 24 hours. The main character, MP Harry Jones is exSAS and acts as the go-between and focus for the counter-terrorist activities.Thriller
2007
The Lost Daughter
Diane ChamberlaineA 16 year old girl, Cee Cee, gets involved with Tim, an older man who persuades her to take part in the kidnapping of Genevieve Russell the wife of the State Governor who is insisting on the death sentence for murder committed by his sister. All Cee Cee has to do is take care of the woman until the deal is done, but things go badly wrong. The woman is heavily pregnant and while in Cee Cee's care gives birth but dies of a haemorrhage. Cee Cee is left holding the baby. The novel follows her life until the truth comes out.Novel
2006
Lost Light
Miachael ConnellyAn early Harry Bosch novel. Bosch investigates a cold case, the death of a young FBI woman who was murdered during the during a raid on a film set. The film makers had arranged for the loan of millions of dollars for a scene in the film. Detective
2004
Lost River
Stephen BoothThere are two themes to this crime novel. Cooper is investigating the death of an eight year old in Dovedale while Diane Fry is in Birmingham trying to get to the bottom of her own rape many years earlier. Booth dodges from one scenario to the other as if he hadn't enough material in either story to make a single novel out of each. Although the Derbyshire crime is resolved it is not a very satisfactory read.Detective
2010
Love and Dr Devon
Alan TitchmarshThe novel is set in a rural community where Dr Devon, a widower, is trying to get his life together after being forcibly retired from the medical practice he belonged to for challenging a senior partner. The love interest comes from the daughter of the woman who cleans for him. A light read.Romance
2006
Love you More
Lisa GardnerBoston State Trooper, DD Miller, is on the run, her young daughter kidnapped and her husband dead. She is in the early stages of pregnancy and finding it tough going. A well written thriller with plenty of twists. She plays cat and mouse with the kidnappers until they are either dead or in custody and her little girl safe.Thriller
2011
The Loveday Conspiracy
Kate TremayneThis is part of a series of novels in the style of du Maurier and the Poldark sequence. It is set in the early nineteenth century and centres on a sprawling Cornish family with scores to settle and problems to solve. It is well written and briskly paced but rather overpopulated with too many characters. The family tree at the beginning is very necessary. It has a real page turning denouement,Historical
2009
The Lovely Bones
Alice SeboldSusie Salmon watches down on her family and friends from heaven after she has been raped and murdered by a neighbour. She observes their triumphs and successes as they try to find out who the murderer is. From time to time they catch fleeting glimpses of her or feel the comfort of her presence. Susie's father suspects a particular man but nothing can be proved. The denoumement is very satisfactory. The novel was made into a film in 2009.Novel
2002
Lovers & Newcomers
Rosie ThomasMiranda, recently widowed, invites her oldest friends from uni days to share the rambling house she inherited from her husband. It starts well, but then the bones of an iron age woman are uncovered during building work. This halts progress which causes great friction and gradually things begin to unravel. They all realise they cannot put the clock back; relationships change over the years and nothing can be as it was 40 years ago.Novel
2010
Loving Frank
Nancy HoranA fictionalised biography of Mamah Cheney who left her husband and children to go to Europe with Frank Lloyd Wright, the innovative American architect. Well educated and feminist in her thinking she suffered public humiliation for her actions. On their return from a year in Europe FLW built a house in Wyoming where they lived together until 1914. Mamah's children came to stay for the school holidays and the public hoo-ha had subsided. They employed a negro couple as cook and house servant, Gertrude and Julian Carlton, but Julian was difficult in his attitude to Mamah and it ended in tragedy.Biography
2007
The Luminous Life of Lilly Aphrodite
Beatrice ColinSet in Berlin between 1900 and 1934 the novel tells the story of Lilly Nelly Aphrodite, the illegitimate daughter of a cabaret singer and her aristocratic lover. Lilly is sent to a Catholic orphanage and eventually becomes a film actress and popular star of the 1920s. At 16 she marries an Uhlan who is subsequently declared missing during WWI. Later she marries a Russian film director, Yuri, and moves to Hollywood, but returns to Germany in 1934 to make a film for Hitler, organised by Goebbels. The first marriage to the Uhlan is discovered as is the fact that he is still alive. Eventually she escapes to the USA with the Uhlan and Yuri ends his days in Dachau. Biography
2008
Lustrum
Robert HarrisSet in Rome in 63 BC Cicero is about to become a Consul for one year. The novel tells of the political infighting and intrigue of Roman life. Plots and counterplots, tricks and rumours. It depicts his successes and failures and his banishment at the end of this second novel of the trilogy. Lively for the most part but a bit turgid in others.Historical
2009
Lying Together
Gaynor ArnoldA collection of short stories, some of them the same story from a different POV. They are all in the modern vein with little obvious plot. They are snippets of life, mostly rather opaque and irritating, if well written.Short Stories
2011
The Magic Flutes
Eva IbbotsonTessa works as wardrobe assistant and stage hand to a failing opera company. In reality she is an Austrian princess whose family have lost their wealth. Guy Farne a rich English diplomat comes to their aid financially. he is engaged to a beautiful widow, but Ibbotson manages to spin out the engaging story so that Guy and Tessa get together.Romance
2009
The Man from St Petersburg
Ken FollettSet in 1914 with war in Europe imminent, communist Felicks wants revolution in Russia and to bring this about he need to assassinate Prince Alecks Orlov, a relative of the Czar. Orlov comes to London to stay with his aunt Lydia, Lady Walden. He attempts the assination of Orlovafter Charlotte, the 18yr old daughter's coming out ball. Lydia and Felicks had an affair before her marriage and Charlotte is the result. Usual Follett intrigues.Historical
1982
The Man in the Wooden Hat
Jane GardamThe story of Old Filth (failed in London try Hong Kong) a lawyer, told by his wife Betty in 3rd person. Amusing and poignant by degrees. Often found it hard to identify with Betty but could sympathise at times.Novel
2009
A Man of Some Repute
Elizabeth EdmundsonSet in 1957, Hugo goes to work for the Secret Service and takes his younger sister with him to stay in a castle whilst investigating the disappearance of its previous owner. A very English mystery somewhat in the style of Agatha Christie. Book 1Detective
2015
Me Before You
Jojo MoyesThe compelling story of a young woman who takes a job as the daytime companion to a quadriplegic man, injured in a motor cycle accident. The job is only for six months. She realises that the man has promised his parents he will give it six months before having himself taken to Dignitas. She is imaginative in the things events and outings and experiences she arranges for him, some work wonderfully, others are a disaster. She is desperately trying to persuade him that his life can be worth something...Novel
2012
Meet me Under the Ombu Tree
Santa MontefioreAn overly long and drawn out saga set in Argentina and England. Sofia and Santi are cousins growing up on a wealthy estancia owned by three brothers. They fall in love and Sofia becomes pregnant. She is sent to Europe for a termination which she does not have. She is staying with a young distant relative who helps her arrange an adoption. Years later, married with two children she returns to Argentina to find that her son was adopted by the family's housekeeper and her husband.Romance
2001
Memories of the Storm
Marcia WillettA family story in which Hester, the main character, recalls the events of 1946 when her brother returned from a Japanese POW camp. Her story is intertwined with that of Lucy, whose son Jonah meets Hester's god-daughter through their work. Hester's family had cared for Lucy during the war when she was only 3-4 years old. There are a lot of 'in your face' religious references and elements of her previous novels and links with chararacters in 'The Birdcage'.Novel
2007
The Memory Box
Margaret ForsterSusannah, Catherine's mother, who died when Catherine was a baby left her a memory box. At the age of 31, after both her father and step-mother have died she opens the box and gradually, through following up the contents of the box, learns a lot about mother and also about herself. Beautifully written but with quite a lot of 'telling'.Novel
1999
The Memory of Blood
Christopher FowlerA clever plot full of black humour and witty asides. At an opening night party for a new play the baby of the play's backer is thrown out of a bedroom window and killed. Left in the child's room is a macabre puppet of Mr Punch. The two detectives, Bryant and May set to work to find the killer.Detective
2011
The Merry Devils
Edward MarstonWestfield's Men have a new play to perform but things do not go according to plan. Edmund Hoode had a collaborator in writing the play who has introduced a darker side to the performance. Problems dog the company until they think that banbury's men are trying to sabotage their performances. However other more serious issues are behind the sabotage and it takes Nicholas Bracewell to sort them out.Historical
1989
Sun at Midnight
Rosie ThomasGreat descriptions of Antarctica, but the story is a bit slow in parts. Enjoyable, but the denouement comes about 100 pages before the end and then there is a slow section before the main protagonists resolve their situation. In parts it stretches credulity in that Alex is 4 months pregnant before she realises and by the time she is full term still no one else has realised!Novel
2004
Miss Garnet's Angel
Salley VickersJulia Garnet goes to Venice after her companion of many years, Harriet, dies. Julia is entranced by the story of Tobias and the Angel when she is shown part of a diptych depicting it. The story is interspersed with the narrative of Miss Garnet. As the novel progresses Julia's up-tight sense of right and wrong is challenged and she ends a more compassionate and broader minded person.Novel
2000
Mistress of Charlecote
M E LucyA first hand account of life at Charlecote Park from 1823 to 1889. The house, park and the inhabitants are vividly brough to life by Mary Elizabeth the wife of George Lucy inheritor of the house. She relates grand occasions as well as every day events and the hardships of finding the money for the upkeep of the estate.Biography
1983
The Moment
Douglas KennedySet in 1980s Berlin and present-day Maine the novel relates the story of the love affair between a journalist, Thomas Nesbitt and Petra Dussman a refugee from East Berlin. The novel opens when the now middle aged and about-to-be divorced Nesbitt receives a packet from Berlin. On opening it he finds notebooks and letters relating to his relationship there with Dussman sent by her son. Nesbitt is transported to the cold-war days and his relationship with Dussman who has strong links with the GDR. They live together for a while until he discovers she is photographing his material and is actually working for the Stasi. Feeling used and betrayed he returns to America. Now twenty five years later he reads the notebooks and letters and regrets leaving her in Berlin. The novel has twists and turns and leaves Nesbitt regretting his missed opportunities.Novel
2012
The Morning Gift
Eva IbbotsonThe book opens in Vienna in 1938 with a Jewish family escaping to England, but Ruth, the eighteen year old daughter, supposed to be travelling on student transport is left behind. The novel tells of how she eventually she reaches England and is reunited with her family, and what happens to her subsequentlyWar
2007
A Mortal Curiosity
Ann GrangerSet in the late 19th Century. After the death of her aunt Elizabeth Martin goes to the New Forest to be a companion to a young woman who has recently lost her baby. She uncovers a web of deceit and murder and her gentleman friend from London, a plain clothes policeman is summoned to get to the bottom of this Victorian murder mystery. Well written and convincing.Detective
2008
The Moth Catcher
Anne CleevesA Vera Stanhope novel; two men are found dead in a pretty area of Northumberland. One is a young man who is house sitting a large country house, the other is an older man, an ex-teacher and voluntary social worker for exprisoners. The inhabitants of recently renovated farmhouse and stables conversions find themselves involved. Clever links and good denouement.Detective
2015
And the mountains Echoed
Kahlid HussainSet in Afghanistan, Greece and the USA, the story follows the lives of a brother and sister through their separate journeys through life. Following the death of their mother the father sell the two year old girl to a wealthy Kabul couple who cannot have children of their own. The narrative flips between countries and characters with no warning - a signature of Hussain's writing.Novel
2014
Mr Golightly's Holiday
Salley VickersMr Golightly, first name never revealed, rents a cottage on Dartmoor for 6 months. He observes the relationships and activities of the people he comes to know and befriends Johnny Spence a teenage truant. There are lots of reflective passages but the plot is not complicated. Not until almost the end of the novel, when Mr G has a long conversation with an old adversary who appears out of nowhere, does the reader realise Mr G's identity.Novel
2003
Mr MacGregor
Alan TitchmarshThis is a lightweight novel about a celebrity gardener who seems to be losing popularity. There is a romantic theme plus a mystery surrounding his father's nursery. Pleasant but untaxing. The Rob MacGregor character is clearly based on how the author liked to see himself. Published in 1998 there are many references current to the time that date it.Novel
1998
Mud Muck and Dead Things
Ann GrangerA man drives to a prearranged rendezvous only to find the body of a girl and no sign of the man he was supposed to be meeting. Set in a small village in the Cotswolds, a police investigation ensues, only to find the corpse of the man who found the body in his own lock-up garage. A well paced murder mystery with believable characters and events. Detective
2009
Murder at the Museum
Simon BrettOne of a series of mysteries involving Jude and Carole, next door neighbours in a Sussex village. An old skeleton is unearthed when a kitchen garden of 'Bracketts', an Elizabethan manor house is dug over to prepare for the building of a museum. The trustees of the house, the former home of a poet, squabble a lot but after two further deaths the identity of the body is established and old lies revealed.Detective
2004
Murder is Easy
Agatha ChristieA page turner that doesn't involve the usual suspects, Poirot, Miss Marple etc. In a small village people are dying. There are several suspects, all eliminated one by one by Luke Fitzwilliam, who takes it upon himself to investigate after he learns of the death of Lavinia Pinkerton whom he met on a train where she told him she was on her way to Scotland Yard to report the deaths.Detective
1939
The Murder Road
Stephen BoothA Peak District murder mystery. A lorry driver takes a wrong turning and becomes wedged under a low railway bridge. There are links with a fatal accident some years earlier in the same area when a lorry veered off the road into a layby killing a young woman in a parked car. Realistic, but not quite all the ends tied up.Detective
2014
Murphy's Revenge
Colin BatemanMurphy is an under-cover cop working with a group calling themselves 'Confront'. Outwardly they are a therapy group for people who have lost loved ones as a result of crime. However, the perpetrators of the crimes are dying, or meeting with accidents. The dialogue is good with lots of black humour. Detective
2005
Music and Silence
Rose TremainSet in Denmark between 1629 and 1631 in and around the court of Christian IV, the novel has an almost fairytale presentation. There are several subplots , one of which features English lutenist, Peter Claire, a musician in the court, and Emilie Tilsen, the daughter of a court servant. There are references to events in Danish history and flashbacks to the king's childhood. 1999 Whitbread Award winnerHistorical
1999
My Dear I wanted to Tell You
Louisa YoungSet during WW1 it depicts the lives and relationships of two soldiers, an enlisted man and an officer and how their partners coped with the separation and uncertainties. There is quite a bit of 'Birdsong' style detail about life in the trenches, but about halfway through the action returns to England and the hospital in Sidcup where Harold Gillies and his team pioneered facial reconstruction.Historical
2011
Name to a Face
Robert GoddardAn intricately woven plot involving the search for a missing ring. Tim Harding is persuaded to go to Cornwall to bid for the ring at an auction. In doing so he finds himself involved in a tangled web of mystery and suspicion over the death of a journalist some years before and which leads to other deaths before the mystery is solved.Novel
2008
Naming the Bones
Louise WalshSet in Edinburgh, Glasgow and the island of Lisemore off the Scottish west coast. Murray Watson is researching the life and death of a poet in order to write his biography. He suspects the poet may have been murdered. The author takes rather a long time to get to the meat of the story.Novel
2010
The Necessary End
Peter RobinsonA well paced murder mystery involving a group of hippies living in a commune on the moors. Although it was written over twenty-five years ago it still feels fresh.Detective
1989
Never Let Me Go
Kazno IshiguroFantasy story about human tissue donation. At 'Hailsham' a boarding school children are nurtured and prepared mentally and physically to provide the spare parts for organ transplants. The novel follows the lives of three youngsters who after leaving school become carers for people who are about to become donors.Science Fiction
2005
Never Look Away
Linwood BarclayThe life of journalist David Harwood begins to unravel when he and his wife take their young son to a theme park. The child disappears and husband and wife split up to search for him. David finds the child but then cannot locate his wife who seems to have vanished without trace. The police are called in and discover that only two tickets to the theme park were purchased. David is suspected of killing his wife to stop her leaving him and taking their son with her. He has to work hard and fast to prove his innocence and get to the truthDetective
2010
Never go Back
Lee ChildA rather complicated plot which takes a while to get going. Reacher returns to his old army base when he learns that a woman is now doing his old job. Shortly after he arrives 2 charges are laid against him, one a paternity suit and 2 an assault against 'The Dog' who was selling army guns on the streets of LA. Both were trumped up. At the bottom of it all were a couple of high ranking Washington guys who had set up a very up-market opium den in Washington DC getting their supplies from AfghanistanThriller
2013
Never saw it Coming
Linwood BarclayFast moving suspense. Keisha Ceylon is a 'mystic' duping people into believing she can bring back their missing relatives - for a fee. She scours the papers and TV channels for missing persons then moves in. But this time a relative sees through her scam and fights back. The story has several twists which are somewhat telegraphed. Not Barclay's best but still a good read.Thriller
2010
The Next Room
Sarah HarrisonThis is a novella with a ghostly theme. Fiona, a single mother, and Hannah her daughter move into a new flat. Fiona keeps seeing the face of a dark haired child and a 'damp patch' on the wall which echoes the child's shape comes and goes. It is well written and convincing, but a few issues are not fully explained, nevertheless I found it a captivating read.Novel
2005
Next of Kin
Joanna TrollopeGrief and lack of communication tear a family apart following the death of Caro, wife of Robin, co-owner of a farm he works with his brother Joe. Caro, born in the USA, has died of cancer, and because of her American background has been less involved with farm affairs than the rest of the family. Her death has a profound effect on the whole family and undercurrents emerge in the shape of worries about finance and the fact that not everything has been put through the books as it should. The novel, though something of an aga saga reflects the problems and worries of modern day farming.Novel
1997
Night Train to Lisbon
Pascal MercierRaimond Gregorius's whole life is turned around by a chance encounter with a woman who seemed about to jump off a river bridge in Berne. She is Portugese and Raimond is a linguist. He is given a book in Portugese by a second hand bookseller when he tries to buy a Portugese tutorial. He becomes intrigued by the author and sets off on a journey to find out about the man. His journey to Lisbon becomes a journey of self-revalation.Novel
2004
Night Music
Jojo MoyesIsabel and her children move into the 'Spanish House',a derelict property in a mishmash of styles which she has inherited from a great-uncle who died intestate. But others want the house, particularly Matt McCarthy a local builder who expected to inherit the property as his wife had looked after the old man. A propert developer also wants the house as he sees the potential in the land for a small estate of homes. A variety of other characters add interest to the novel.Novel
2008
Night Circus
Erin MorganA fantasy novel about a circus which only appears at night. It arrives in various locations around the world with all the performers - illusionists, contortionists, fortune tellers etc. The performers all have magical abilities. A book I thought I wouldn't enjoy but became enthralled, suspended disbelief and was carried along by the writing style, despite the ending being a bit ambiguous.Novel
2012
Night School
Lee ChildThe 21st Jack Reacher novel and rather disappointing. Set in the 1990s when Reacher was still a major in the US army; he is sent to Hamburg to retrieve material stolen by a serving officer who is AWOL. A frantic search is set in motion involving the German police and the US military. Not as engaging as the rest of his novels.Detective
2016
Nights of Rain and Stars
Maeve BinchyAn assortment of people - American, English, Irish and German, all with different problems to solve, are thrown together in Anna Aghis in Greece, where they meet Vonni an expat irish woman and Andreas the taverna keeper. During the course of the novel their disparate problems are resolved. A light but entertaining read.Novel
2004
Nine Dragons
Michael ConnellyA fast paced Harry Bosch novel partly set in Kowloon. After a seemingly triad killing Bosch is threatened. He then receives a photo of his daughter, who is living in Hong Kong, she is tied to a chair and gagged. Bosch rushes to Hong Kong to rescue her. A real page turner with a neat twist at the end.Detective
2009
The Nine Giants
Edward MarstonNicholas Bracewell, a member of a theatrical group, and the writer of their plays has a big problem to solve when he discovers the corpse of a man floating in the Thames. The company is under threat as the inn they perform in is about to be sold, and the prospective owner does not want them using his yard.Historical
1991
No Time for Goodbye
Linwood BarclayA very well crafted mystery which reverses the usual trend of mother searching for child. A 14 year old girl wakes up one morning to find her parents and brother are missing. No trace of them is found and she goes to live with her Aunt Tess. Twenty five years later, now married to a schoolteacher and with an 8 year old daughter, she participates in a TV show which tries to jog memories about past crimes. Not until three quarters of the way through the novel is it revealed what her father was doing and why the events occurred. There are several twists which all fit neatly into the jigsaw. Detective
2007
Noah's Compass
Anne TylerLiam Pennywell, divorced 60 year old has just been let go from his teaching post. He moves to a smaller apartment and on his first night there he is mugged and rendered unconscious. With no memory of what happened he feels adrift in his life - an allusion to Noah adrift in a sea with no land in sight. Memory and loss are the main themes of the novel.Novel
2010
Northanger Abbey
Val McDermidA pastiche of Jane Austen's novel of the same name. Set around the Edinburgh festival, Cat Morland visits the city with a couple from the Dorset village where she lives. She meets the handsome Henry Tilney and his sister Ellie and is invited to stay with them in their home Northanger Abbey. Cat is obsessed with vampires and begins to think the Tilney family are vampires. All very silly but pretty faithful to Austin's original.Novel
2014
Not Dead Enough
Peter JamesRoy Grace is on the trail of a serial killer. Many threads run through the plot, one of which is the recurring mystery of Grace's missing wife which added nothing to the story. There are lots of 'reddish' herrings - you think, like Grace, that you have it sussed, only to discover an extra dimension. A bit overlong at 604 pages.Detective
2011
Not Dead Yet
Peter JamesRoy Grace it detailed to guard Gaia an American pop/film idol while she shoots a film at Brighton Pavilion. But someone wants her dead. There are a few red herrings set up and the appearance of Sandy (Grace's ex-wife) though not to him add intrigue. Some threads are left hanging - who sent photos showing a grateful Gaia kissing Grace to the Brighton Argos, and who put the death announcement about Grace and Cleo's new born son in the paper. Detective
2012
Notes from an Exhibition
Patrick GaleThis is a patchwork of a novel which the reader has to piece together. Rachel Kelly, bipolar artist, dies and her family try find out what they can about her life before she came to England. The title comes from the information cards displayed by works in an exhibition. Roughly half the novel is told in Rachel's voice, but she leaves behind a legacy of secrets which her family try to unravel and which causes them emotional havoc as they discover more about her early life.Novel
2007
Notes on Scandal
Zoe HellerBarbara is a vey controlling senior teacher at a comprehensive school who takes Sheba, a young art teacher under her wing. Throughout the novel it is Barbara's voice that dominates. Sheba is both weak and naive and puts her career at risk by starting a relationship with fifteen year old Steven Connolly.Novel
2003
Nothing to Lose
Lee ChildIn the Colorado towns of Hope and Despair something is going on in the company town of Despair. Outwardly the recycling of old cars etc is what the town is built around, but Reacher and a policewoman, Vaughan, search out the awful truth but not without a lot of fist fights...Thriller
2008
Number 11
Jonathan CoeA witty and surprising story of the progression of the lives of Rachel and Alison, friends from the age of eleven, when they were staying with Rachel's grandparents, to when they are in their twenties. A commentary on life in the first years of the twenty first century full of satire with a surreal ending.Novel
2015
NYPD Red
James PattersonSet in new York, Zack Jordan and Kylie MacDonald hunt down the 'Hazmat' killers; vigilante killers who brutally murder people they think are murderers themselves. Their latest would-be victim is a single mother recently found not guilty of murdering her small daughter.Detective
2014
Old Enemies
Michael DobbsHarry Jones is called in to assist in the negotiations of a high profile kidnapping. A little drawn out at times with plenty of suspense and violence.Detective
2011
Olive Kitteridge
Elizabeth StroutOlive is a retired maths teacher living with her husband and adult son in small town Maine. She struggles to make sense of the changes in her life and can often be abrupt and is not universally liked, but as the reader you can feel sympathy for her.Novel
2008
One Day
David NicholsCleverly written book describing the events of 15th July every year from 1989 to 2005. Emma and Dexter meet at a graduation party on July 15th 1989. They become good friends and over the years their feelings for each other fluctuate. Sometimes she thinks herself in love with him but not him with her, sometimes it's vice versa. Some irritating characters, but quite readable and certainly different.Novel
2009
Only the Innocent
Rachel AbbottA famous philanthropist is found dead in his London flat in a compromising position. Clearly he has been murdered but by whom? Suspicion falls on a number of people who all have cast iron alibis. As the story unfolds it becomes obvious that all the members of the man's family have devious backgrounds.Detective
2011
Ordinary Thunderstorms
William BoydAdam Kindred, a climatologist, encounters a man in a cafe which subsequently leads to him finding the man dead in his apartment. He is suspected of the man's murder. In going into hiding he loses everything and as the story evolves he begins to regain aspects of his life bit by bit. The novel is a bit overlong and the ending leaves the possibility for a sequel. Quite similar in plot to 'The Big Picture' by Douglas Kennedy.Thriller
2009
The Other Rebecca
Maureen FreelyThis is a modern take on Daphne du Maurier’s novel in a more up to date setting. All the original characters have their parallels; again the story is set in the first person and again we never know the narrator’s name. The husband becomes Max Midwinter and the Mrs Danvers character is ‘Danny’, the housekeeper and acolyte of Rebecca with the same sinister aura. The story has a lot of twists and turns and some extra characters but is a good comparison with du Marier’s version. However, there seem to be a few loose ends left untied.Novel
2008
The Other Side of You
Salley VickersA story within a story related by a psychologist, David McBride. It features the Caravaggio paintings of The supper at Emmaus when Christ appears to the disciples. There are subplots of a broken marriage and a long friendship. It is very well written with deep themes, not all of which I fully understood. McBride realises the truth behind the death of his older brother.Novel
2006
The Other Child
Lucy AtkinsTess, a single mother marries Greg a paediatric heart surgeon and goes to live with him and her son in Boston USA. She becomes unsettled by events, like a demented woman shadowing them and watching the house. Gradually she uncovers her new husband's secret and becomes afraid fer herself, her son Joe and the new baby Lily. The ending is a bit predictable in a skewed way and a bit contrived.Novel
2014
The Outcast
Sadie JonesThe story of a boy whose mother drowns when he is ten years old. The father is a very uptight person and not father material at all, he shows no affection for his son and remarries within a few months of his wife's death. Over the next few years the boy is practically catatonic and does awful things, then, even at seventeen years old apologises like a child. He drinks and self harms and is sentenced to two years in Brixton Prison for arson. On the summer of his release he returns to his home village and meets Kit and Tamsin Carmichael, the daughters of a hateful pompous man who abuses them as well as his wife. Somewhat slow in parts but with a satisfactory ending.Novel
2008
Outside Chance
Lyndon StaceyA horse racing thriller about the theft of a potential winner of the Cheltenham Gold Cup. There are links with a family mystery and a troupe of Rumanian horsemen giving performances around the country.Thriller
2006
The Painted Veil
W Somerset MaughamSet in Hong Kong, Kitty is trapped in an unsatisfactory marriage to Walter Fane, a taciturn biological researcher. She embarks on an affair with Charlie Townsend who is also married. When Walter discovers the liason he gives her an ultimatum, she must go with him to Mai-Tan-Fu where ther is an outbreak of cholera or he will divorce her and demand that Walter divorces his wife and marries Kitty within a week of the nisi becoming absolute. Townsend backs off and Kitty has to accompany her husband to Mai-Fan-Tu. Whilst there she discovers she is pregnant, but Walter experiments on himself with possible cures and dies. Kitty finally returns to England only to find that her mother has died and her father is about to sail for Barbados to become Chief Justice. Novel
1925
The Painter of Silence
Georgina HardingNominated for the 2012 Orange Prize this is a compelling novel set in Rumania between 1939 and 1949. Augustin (Tinu)is a deaf mute born to Paraschina the cook at a big country house. Safta, the daughter of the house befriends him. Tinu works in the stables and is good with horses. he communicates with drawings on odd bits of paper. When the war comes Safta goes to Bucharest to become a nurse and Tinu ends up as a construction worker. He is injured and taken to the hospital where Safta works. It is here where the reader meets him for the first time and the back story is told in flashes of memories of Safta and Tim and is well concluded.Novel
2012
Pantheon
Sam BourneBrilliant account of WW1 skulduggery, eugenics and American isolationism. Good narrative played out in England and USA. Convincing comparisons between wartime England and America, not then at war, particularly with regard to food. Many elements of the book are true, which makes it quite scary. Left wing intellectuals from Oxford and New England are involved in trying to create a super-class.Historical
2012
The Paradise of Glass
Petra Durst BenningRather disappointing after the pace of the first two in the trilogy. Wanda, the American daughter of Ruth, is the main character and dominates the story of how the villagers are able to obtain a loan and buy the furnace they rely on, but not before they lose all their money to a fraudster, but Wanda helps to get it back again.Family Saga
2015
Past Lives
Ken McClureA medical story about a neurosurgeon set in Kansas City. People having certain types of brain tumours removed develop multiple personalities. In Israel renegade priest Dom Ignatius is hunting down Israelis who can trace their ancestry in Israel back through many generations. He uses a drug to help them regress, trying to find someone who can get back to the first century AD. There are plenty of twists and turns to the story; most loose ends are satisfactorily tied up in a good endingNovel
2006
The Patience of the Spider
Andrea CamilleriSet in Scicily; a local girl goes missing, believed kidnapped, but the case is not adhering to the usual Mafia pattern and Montalbano is intrigued. Hate and revenge turns out to be at the bottom of the mystery.Detective
2004
The Paying Guests
Sarah WatersLesbian Frances Wray lives with her mother in a London house which is too big for the two of them since Frances's brothers were killed in WWI. They let some of their upstairs rooms to Len and Lilian Barber, a married couple. Frances is strongly attracted to Lilian and they soon become lovers. In an altercation Lilian hits Len with a large ashtray and kills him. The two women drag the body to a back lane so that his death looks like a street attack. A young man is charged with murder. Frances and Lilian are devastated and very relieved when he is found not guilty. The two women begin to plan a new life for themselves, but it is hard to see how this will work as they are both full of guilt for what they have done.Novel
2014
Peaches for M le Cure
Joanne HarrisThird of Harris's novels featuring Vianne Rochet and her two daughters. Back in Lansquerent, summoned by a letter from the past, Vianne needs all her powers to help sort out the troubles of the village. The old chocolatier has become an Islam school for the girls of Les Marauds across the river. The priest, Francis Reynard is temporarily suspended from his position and is suspected of setting fire to the Muslim school, and the Muslim population is very unsettled. It takes Vianne some time and a lot of chocolate to help sort out the problems. She is tempted to stay but Roux is unsettled.Novel
2012
The Pearl Locket
Kathleen McGurlSet in 1944/5 and 2014; a family inherit an Edwardian house from a great aunt. Kelly, the 17 year old daughter feels a strange attachment to her ancestor who had lived in the house 70 years earlier. An engaging story but a bit hackneyed with some anomolies, like a teenage boy wearing aftershave in 1944. Ends all neatly secured.Novel
2014
Perfect People
Peter JamesA scientist has perfected the art of genetic engineering and charges couples vast sums of money to create the perfect baby, but the mother always ends up having twins, a boy and a girl. Naomi and John Klaesson are clients of his, and their twins are amazing and their development is incredibly rapid. A fanatical group calling themselves Disciples of the third millennium are trying to kill off all the 'Devil's Spawn' . The Klaesson twins vanish only to reappear a few years later as wizened old people needing wheel chairs. Shades of 'Midwich Cuckoos'.Novel
2011
A Perfect Heritage
Penny VincenziA very long book (753pp) about the infighting within a cosmetic house undergoing difficult times and with financial problems. With a massive cast of characters the novel portrays their personal lives as well as the main theatre of action, the business. There is a constant neeed to refer to the cast list at the front of the book.Family Saga
2012
Perfectly Dead
Iain McDowallRun of the mill police investigation. A lot of characters on both side to keep track of. Written in 3rd person omniscient so good overall picture of events, from a variety of POVs. Drugs involved; a man kills his family then himself.Detective
2003
Personal
Lee ChildA political summit is due to take place in London. Reacher is summoned to find a killer who may make an assassination attempt. It is a bit more convoluted than Child's usual stories and has rather too much description of Reacher's hand to hand fighting with a 7 foot tall man.Detective
2015
Philomena
Martin SixsmithThis is the sory of a three year old boy, adopted from a Catholic orphanage and settled with an American family without his natural mother's permission. I was engaged by the first third of the book, but Philomena, the mother, disappeared from the text. The boy grew up disliked by his adoptive father and brothers who preferred Mary, adopted at the same time and from the same place. He grew to be a very troubled man, gay and depraved, never settling properly into a permanent relationship preferring to visit gay dives. He tries to trace Philomena but without success. Inevitably he contracts aids which he passes on to the man he lives with. When he dies his ashes are brought to the Irelish orphanage where he was born.Biography
2013
A Place of Secrets
Rachel HoreAn engaging novel set in Norfolk. Jude, an auctioneer is sent to a big house in Norfolk to evaluate 18th century books on astronomy and various related artefacts. Papers she finds reveal details of the man who made the collection and dreams she has and those her young niece describe help her to piece together what happened to the astronomer's adopted daughter.Novel
2010
A Place Called Winter
Patrick GaleSet between the beginning of the twentieth century and the 1920s in London and the wilds of Canada. Harry Care is packed off to Canada when his family discover he is gay, despite beining married with a wife and daughter. The main story follows his progress in establishing himself on a farmstead in a settlement called Winter. It is tender and poignant and totally engrossing.Historical
2014
A Place of Hiding
Elizabeth GeorgeIn intricately plotted novel set in Guernsey. A brother and sister courier a set of plans to Guernsey for Guy Brouard, supposedly neither knowing that hidden inside the rolled up documents is a priceless painting which Brouard acquired illegally. On discovering the secret the sister plans to steal the painting, but her attempt ends in disaster. There are rather a lot of unanswered questions and loose ends. The basic idea is sound but is spoilt by an overcomplicated plot and too many red herrings.Novel
2003
The Plague Maiden
Kate EllisAn archaeological dig unearths bodies from a plague pit. A letter arrives at the local police station claiming that a man convicted of murder 12 years ago is innocent. Someone is putting botulism culture into jam in a supermarket chain about to build on the land that is being excavated. DI Wes Peterson and his team discover the connections between the crimes. It is a well written crime story which ties up the loose ends satisfactorilyDetective
2004
Plain Truth
Jodie PicoultThis novel gives a fascinating insight into Amish life and beliefs, eg they Katie Fisher has a baby out of wedlock and is charged with its murder. Ellie Hathaway, a defence lawyer is persuaded to take her case and has to live on the farm in the Amish community as part of the girl's bail conditions. Katie claims she cannot remember the birth, just that the baby was born and then it disappeared. Novel
1999
The Poet
Michael ConnellyJack McEvoy, a journalist, is trying to track down a child killer who has been called The Poet on account of the extracts of Edgar Allan Poe's verse he leaves at crime scenes. A cleverly plotted novel which raises the question of are there two killers? The answer comes at the end of the story and the culprit is the last person the reader would think of.Detective
1998
The Poisonwood Bible
Barbara KingsolverBrilliant novel set largely in the Congo. Nathan Price, a hellfire Baptist missionary takes his wife and 4 daughters to the Belgian Congo in 1961. The women of the family suffer all kinds of deprivations and even when war comes and their funding stops because the mission calls them back to the States the father refuses to go. Ruth May the youngest daughter dies of a snakebite and eventually the women led by the young schoolmaster make their escape. The novel is narrated largely by the daughters and despite the deprivations they suffer there is a lot of humour in it.Novel
1998
A Possible Life
Sebastian FaulksThe blurb describes this as a novel in five parts but to me it was five separate short stories with no obvious links. They were all very readable but all quite different in time, setting and themes, ranging from POW camp, Vichy France, London in the late nineteenth century, Italy and the USA.Novel
2012
The Post Birthday World
Lionel ShriverAn unusual book which presents alternating scenarios. Irana McGovern faces a dilemma while Lawrence, her partner is away on business. Encouraged by Lawrence she goes to dinner with Ramsay Acton, a famous snooker player on his birthday in order to maintain a tradition. After the meal they go to his house and whilst he is demonstrating snooker shots to her they almost kiss. The rest of the novel follows two courses, alternate chapters relate what happens if she had allowed the kiss and the other set what happened if she hadn't. Events in the parallel stories often mirror each other .Novel
2007
The Potter's House
Rosie ThomasVery well constructed and engaging novel set on a small Greek island close to the Turkish coast. Cary, staying on the Turkish mainland is caught up in an earthquake and ensuing tsunami. She is rescued by a fishing boat and landed the Greek island . She is taken in by Olivia, an English woman married to Xan an islander. At first Olivia befriends her but soon feels afraid that Cary, who now calls herself Kitty, is disrupting the comfortable and settle life she now has.Novel
2001
The Potter's House
Rosie ThomasSet on a small Greek island close to the Turkish mainland. Cary, on holiday in a Turkish coastal resort is caught up in an earthquake and ensuing tsunami. She is rescued by a man in a fishing boat and is landed on a small Greek island where she is taken in by Olivia an English woman married to a Greek islander. At first the two women are great friends but gradually Olivia begins to feel that Cary, who now calls herself Kitty, is disrupting her settled life. Several questions remain unanswered at the end, who was the fisherman who rescued her, them disappeared, only to reappear towards the end, and which the change of name?Novel
2001
Precious Time
Erica JamesClara gives up her lucrative job to take off in a campervan with her four year old son Ned. The end up in the Derbyshire Peak District staying in the grounds of Mermaid House, the home of a grumpy recluse Gabriel Liberty. A good read with frequent changes of points of view but a story line that is compelling.Romance
2002
Prey
Linda HowardWell paced thriller/love story. Set in Montana, Angie runs a wilderness camp and takes people on hunting trips, but her business is failing as an ex-soldier has set up a rival business nearby. Angie takes two men on a bear hunt at the end of the season, but her clients are not what they seem and bears feature large in the plot. Angie is rescued by her rival Dare Callaghan. Good ending.Thriller
2012
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie
Muriel SparkSet in 1930s Edinburgh Jean Brodie selects a group of six ten year old girls and is dedicated to giving them an education in all aspects of life. They are her elite and soon begin to stand out and are known as the 'Brodie Set'. As they grow up and disperse they are still held together by Jean Brodie's continual interest in them.Classical
1961
A Prisoner of Birth
Jeffrey ArcherThis novel, one of Archer's better plots, tells the compelling story of Danny Cartwright, falsely convicted of the murder of his fiancée's brother, Bernie. In Belmarsh he shares a cell with Nick Montcrieff and Big Al. Just a few weeks before his release date Nick is murdered in mistake for Danny. So similar in appearance are the two men that the prison officers think the dead man is Danny, who committed suicide because his appeal has been rejected. Danny takes on the persona of Nick, is released from prison and begins a comfortable life with Big Al as his driver. Danny wreaks revenge on the three men who murdered Nick. There are some excellent twists and the final words of the book encapsulate the fate of the men who tried to ruin his life.Novel
2008
The Private Patient
P D JamesThe subject of the novel is an investigative journalist in a private nursing home having cosmetic surgery to remove a facial scar. There are some surprising revalations with excellent descriptions of places and people and very thoughtful plot management.Detective
2008
Promises to Keep
Rachel MooreSet in 1944/45 in rural Cornwall. A group of GIs arrive in Falmouth in preparation for D Day, and their presence affects the lives of people in a nearby village. Engaging but a bit predictable.Romance
2011
Prophecy
Peter JamesAn early Peter James psychological thrille: Frannie Monsanto becomes involved with Oliver, a widower with an 8yr old son. Strange coincidences keep occurring and there is something very malevolent about the child - all linked with a silly experiences with a ouija board Frannie and her student friend experimented with 3 years earlier.Detective
1992
PS I Love You
Cecelia AhernChick lit! An unusual story line as Holly keeps receiving letter from her dead husband, so intriguing it kept me reading. However, I did get tired of the tantrums and wine soaked orgies depicted. I felt alternately sorry for and cross with Holly. Do women of around thirty behave like the characters in the book - everyone is so selfish!Novel
2007
Puppet Show
Patrick RedmondThis is another of Redmond's stories of control and manipulation about people with disturbing childhoods carrying a lot of emotional baggage. Max Somerton is very wealthy but needs to be loved. However, he cannot just love in return but has to control and possess - to the point of engineering murder. Well written but not terribly convincing.Novel
2000
The Pure in Heart
Susan HillOstensibly this is a crime novel dealing with the disappearance of a nine year old boy. However there is a multiplicity of threads, some of which get tied up but many don't, including the disappearance of the child. DCI Simon Serailler is the central character, but has too many personal issues to distract him from the case. It is very well written with emotions truthfully portayed but the ending is less than satisfactory.Detective
2005
Pure
Andrew MillerA strong stomach is needed for this novel; it is a fascinating account of a period in the life of Jean Baptiste Baratte in pre-revolutionary Paris and is a fictionalised version of based on true events. Baratte is an engineer engaged to supervise the demolition of a church and the disposal of bodies buried within the church and cemetery of Les Innocents as the rotting corpses are stinking and unhealthy. The novel charts his progress and the pitfalls he encounters during the year it takes to complete the job. Over all looms the threat of forthcoming revolution. It is a compelling story evocative of the period in which it is set, with lots of symmetry of both phrases and situations.Historical
2011
The Quality of Silence
Rosamund LiptonTen year old Ruby is deaf but signs, can lip read and has many other aids through which she can communicate. She goes with Yasmin, her mother, to spend Christmas with her father who is doing research in the Arctic Circle. En route in Chicago they learn that there has been a fire in the Inuit village where he is staying, and there are no survivors. Yasmin is determined to reach the village and flies to Fairbanks then hitches a ride for the two of them with a truck driver who is taking a prefab house to the nearest Inuit village to the disaster. Very atmospheric, but the ending is too abrupt and resolution isn't evident.Novel
2015
The Queen's Head
Edward MarstonSet in Elizabethan London mystery centring on a licensed theatre group, their triumphs and problems. Nicholas Bracewell is the 'bookman' who helps to solve the mystery of three deaths. A good atmosphere is created and the story has a satisfactory resolutionHistorical
2012
A Question of Blood
Ian RankinA killer enters a school, shoots two boys then turns the gun on himself. Rebus and Siobhan investigate. Complicated, convoluted and not very satisfactory.Detective
2002
Rack Ruin and Murder
Ann GrangerA gently paced murder mystery set in the Cotswolds. Old Monty arrives home from a visit to the shops to find a corpse on the settee in his living room. Campbell and Carter join forces to solve the mystery.Detective
2011
The Racketeer
John GrishamBlack lawyer Malcolm Bannister is 5years into a 10 year sentence for a fraud he did not commit. He persuades the FBI that he knows the identity of the murderer of a judge recently found dead in his cabin in the wilderness. A bit slow to begin with but it picks up and keeps you guessing to the end.Detective
2012
A Rare Interest in Corpses
Ann GrangerSet in London in the 1890s this novel is the forerunner to 'A Mortal Curiosity'. Elizabeth Morton becomes companion to her late godfather's second wife, taking the place of a previous woman who disappeared leaving all her belongings behind. Some weeks later she is found dead in a street about to be demolished for the construction of the new underground railway lines.Detective
1988
Rattling the Bones
Ann GrangerFran Varady, an out of work actress and part time Private Investigator recognises Edna, a bag lady she has had dealings with before, wandering around the town. She wants to check that everything is all right but Edna is very independent and secretive. When other people seem to be taking more than a passing interest in Edna Fran gets into action.Detective
2007
Raven Black
Ann CleevesA young girl is found strangled close to the cottage of a reclusive old man. He was suspected, but never charged with the murder of a younger child some years earlier. It is set on Shetland and involves the Up Hellyha festival. Well constructed, good characterisations, engaging story.Detective
2006
Red Bones
Ann CleevesThis is the third of the Jimmy Perez Shetland quartet. Set on Wharsay, archaeologists uncover bones though to be mediaeval but not all of them are. An old woman is shot dead and later one of the archaeologists is also found dead. They both would have been capable about revealing secrets from the past which some people wanted to remain hidden.Detective
2009
Red Light
Graham MastersonThe third in the Katie Mcguire series set in Cork and involving the trafficing of young girls for the sex trade. One of them kills herself and a relative is looking for vengeance. Three men die vicious deaths before the problem is solved.Detective
2014
The Red Queen
Margaret DrabbleA two part story; part one is about the life of a Korean princess narrated by her or her 'ghost'. Part two is about a modern academic, Barbara Halliwell who is sent, anonymously, a biography of the crown princess shortly before she is to visit Korea to give a paper at a conference. Halliwell becomes intrigued by the princess and through a series of accidents and coincidences visits the palace where the princess had lived. She has an intense three day love affair with an elderly Dutch academic who dies in bed beside her of a heart attack. She contacts his widow about the adoption of a Korean baby girl the professor had been arranging. Towards the end of the novel Barbara meets Margaret Drabble who is interested in her story ... An unconventional style having the author as a character in her own book, but a good read.Biography
2004
Redcap
Brian CallisonSet in Cyprus in 1957 and Germany in 1967, this novel is a study in revenge and psychology. Staff Sergeant Walker falls foul of a Major Steadman, both Redcaps. Steadman is a psychopath determined to ruin Walker's career when Walker is forced toignore Steadman's murder of a Cypriot child and an EOKA terrorist. Very satisfactory ending.Novel
2006
The Redeemer
Jo NesboCrime thriller set in Oslo. A Salvation Army man is shot dead in a city square. Harry Hole is the crime squad officer in charge of investigations. There are ambiguous sections in the story where 'he' could refer to any one of several characters. Where violence is involved the reader has to assume it is the killer! But not necessarily so... The assassin was hired by someone in Oslo and it is though shot the wrong target. A page turner, but rather convoluted.Detective
2005
Refusal
Felix FrancisSid Halley returns. He is persuaded to investigate race fixing going on a grand scale. Halley discovers it is an ex-republican Irishman living in Manchester who is masterminding it. He is terrorising jocks, fixing races, and juggling the on course betting. There is the usual good dollop of violence but Halley wins through with the aid of his old friend Chico.Thriller
2013
The Reluctant Hero
Michael DobbsSet mainly in a fictional communist country between Russia and Afghanistan. Harry Jones is on a mission to rescue an old friend frrom a death sentence under cover of being part of a trade/diplomatic mission. The rescue is compromised and Jones takes the place if the imprisoned man. He manages to escape by the same route used to free the prisoner and with the help of some locals and Martha Riley MP, also on the mission, he finally makes it back to the UK.Thriller
2010
The Reluctant Hero
Michael DobbsSet largely in an imaginary ex-Soviet country, Harry Jones rescues an old friend from a death sentence. The rescue is bungled and Jones ends up in the cell recently vacated by his friend. The rescue team eventually achieve his escape but not before he has been badly beaten up. American politician, Martha Riley, helps him but on their trek across the border into Afghanistan she is shot and killed. The ending is contrived and not very satifactoryEspionage
2010
Remarkable Creatures
Tracy ChevalierThis novel is set mostly in Dorset in the early 19th century and is a fictionalised version of the lives of Mary Anning and Elizabeth Philpot. Mary Anning collects the fossils she finds on the beach to sell to tourists who visit Lyme Regis. Elizabeth Philpot, an educated woman, is forced to live in the area when the family home was inherited by her brother on the death of their parents. In her fossil hunting Mary Anning uncovers the first known example of a fossilised pterodactyl and ichthyosaurus. Elizabeth, who has befriended her, has the connections in London to bring it to the notice of palaeontologists of the day. The novel highlights the sexism and male prejudice of the era.Historical
2009
The Rembrandt Secret
Alex ConnorThis story is based on the supposed discovery of letters written by Rembrandt's lover to him when she was either in jail or a madhouse. They reveal that most of the work attributed to him were done by their son Carel. If this secret is revealed it would shake the art world. There is bluff and double bluff and several suspects. The ending is unexpected but feasible.Thriller
2011
The Rembrandt Secret
Alex ConnorLetters which purport to have been written by Rembrandt's mistress claim that many pictures attributed to him were in fact painted by his son. If this were to be proved true it would rock the art world. Four murders are committed before the situation is resolved.Detective
2011
Rescue
Anita ShreeveNot one of Shreeve's best. History begins to repeat itself when a teenage girl, Rowan, suddenly becomes wayward. Her father a paramedic had rescued her mother from a car wreck and saved her from a DD conviction. He married her and she seemed a reformed character, but after their daughter was born she started drinking again, and the father divorced her because she couldn't look after their daughter properly. On prom night, Rowan is badly injured as the result of a silly dare and the father tracks down his ex-wife. The girl recovers and their is the possibility of a family reconciliation. Rather too predictable.Novel
2010
Resistance
Anita ShreeveSet in Belgium in 1944, a USAF pilot is shot down and rescued from his wrecked plane by members of the Belgian Resistance. He falls in love with the woman who looks after him who is married to a much older man. Both are captured and taken to different prisons and at the end of the war the pilot is returned to the States. Many years later the pilot's son finds the woman and visits her, telling her that his father died quite young as a result of his wounds and infections, but did marry his fiance from before the war.Historical
1995
A Restless Evil
Ann GrangerSet in the Cotswolds, bones are found in some remote woodland close to an old drovers' road. This sets in train the reopening of a twenty year old unsolved murder case and opens another when the churchwarden is found dead in the church.Detective
2002
Restless
William BoydSet during WWII and 1976. Ruth Gilmartin is amazed to discover that her mother, Russian by birth, had been part of an undercover spy network during WWII. The complicated story is told in the first person by Ruth and in the third via diary entries by her mother. Very engaging with a satisfying ending.Espionage
2006
The Return
Victoria HislopThis novel has a similar format to 'The Island' in that Sonia a young woman returns to her Spanish mother's homeland. Hislop presents an excellent overview of events in the Spanish civil war through the accounts of Spanish people who talk to Sonia. The oppression and cruelty are vividly portrayed and it is extremely harrowing in places. Even though the revelations are rather predictable the story is well told and it has a good introduction. The occasional references to the present day are useful as it keeps the reader in touch with the present as well as the past.Novel
2008
The Return
Evelyn AnthonyA French refugee survives Auschwitz and marries a US officer, her rescuer. She undergoes psychological treatment to eradicate the memories of the horrors she has endured. At a New York party she meets a Swiss man to whom she is very attracted. In reality he is a German Nazi escapee who has acquired a new identity courtesy of his stay in Argentina after the war. He was the man responsible for her wartimeinterrogations with whom she had developed a strong rapport. After sleeping with him she regains her memory and the two go on the run. Novel
1979
Return to Mandalay
Rosanna LeyVery like Rosie Thomas in style and content, but not quite as polished and concise. Eva gatsby goes to Burma as part of her job in the antique business and also for her grandfather who had been in Burma before and during WWII. He had been in love with a woman and wants Eva to track her down. Very coincidentally she meets Ramon who is her grandson and also in the furniture businesss. She had taken with her one of a pair of carved lion chinthes given to him by the woman, only to find when she finally meets her that its mate has been stolen by a rival dealer. Its retrieval could have been material for a very tense scene, but it happens 'off stage'. Nevertheless it is a very enjoyable read.Biography
2014
Revelation
C J SansomHenry VIII is set to marry Catherine Parr but Cranmer and the Protestant Faction are nervous as she has reformist sympathies. Shardlake is working on a case involving a teenage boy committed to Bedlam as his relious beliefs could end in him being burned as a heretic. When an old friend is murdered Shardlake promises to investigate. With the help of Barak and his apothecary friend Guy Malton he investigates, only to be led in the direction of Cranmer and Catherine Parr, and the prophesies of the Book of Revelation.Historical
2008
The Reversal
Michael ConnellyMicky Haller is persuaded to work for the prosecution in a case involving the retrial of an old murder. Haller and Bosch have to work hard and combine their talents to find the killer of a twelve year old girl in 1986.Thriller
2010
The Riddle of the River
Catherine ShawA nineteenth century whodunit with a lady detective who tracks down the killer of an actress/prostitute. The denouement involves the use of Marconi's new invention, wireless. Interspersed with the main story are details of Marconi's progress with wireless.Detective
2008
Rip Tide
Stella RimingtonWell written and convincing espionage thriller. Very topical. Ships carrying aid to Kenya are being hijacks by Somalian pirates. Links with a Birmingham Muslim activist group are established by Liz Carlyle who works hard to resolve the situationEspionage
2012
Rip Tide
Stella RimingtonA well written and convincing novel. Ships carrying aid to Kenya are being hijacked by Somalian pirates. Liz Carlyle discovers there are connection to Birmingham Muslim activists and establishes links with the girl friend of one of them and they work hard to resolve the situation.Espionage
2012
River of Destiny
Barbara ErskineDespite the dramatic title this is a much better novel than her first effort. It is page turner set largely in the present day but interspersed with sequences from 865AD. This is different from her previous novels of this genre as the 21stC characters only sense the ghosts from the past rather than take on their persona. This makes the story much more believable. It is set in Suffolk and the 865AD action is to do with Viking raiders sailing up the river.Novel
2013
The Road to Litchfield
Penelope LivelyA gentle story which unfolds during the course of a summer in the 1970s. Anne Linton travels up to Litchfield week after week to visit her dying father who is in a nursing home. During the visits she meets an angling friend of his, David Fielding, which leads to an affair. At the end of the summer the affair fizzles out, but not before her husband, Don realises the situation. Her father dies and the story draws to a close. Not a lot happens, but the story is very well written and strangely satisfying.Novel
1983
The Road Home
Rose TremainLev, an eastern European immigrant, tries to make a life for himself in England. He is a widower with a young daughter who is being looked after by his mother until he can support her in England. He is a dreamer and his, attitudes, lack of understanding of the country he is in and his quick temper cause him some problems. However he gradually works his way from kitchen porter, to waiter, to chef in a variety of restaurants. Eventually he makes enough money to think of returning home to set up his own restaurant. There are several side issues which add to the story which has now been made into a filmNovel
2007
The Road to Little Dribbling
Bill BrysonA witty personal travelogue reprising Bryson's earlier book, 'Notes on a Small Island.' He travels around Britain revisiting his earlier haunts, noting changes for better and worse. Clearly he admires the countryside, but after living in Britain for most of his adult life still doesn't fully understand the British mentality and sense of humour.Biography
2015
Mrs Robinson's Disgrace
Kate SummerscaleA biography of an 'affair' and the subsequent divorce of Isabella Robinson from her husband in the 1860s. Isabella falls for the handsome Edward Lane, some ten years her junior. Lane sets up a hydrotherapy clinic which Isabella partonises regularly and keeps a diary of her meetings with him, in which she expands on her feelings about him. When she is ill with diphtheria Henry, her husband finds the diary and uses it as the grounds for divorce, then a very rare occurence and requiring a high court to grant it. Isabella claims that it was all fanciful and nothing ever happened between her and Lane, but the decree is granted. The truth remains a mystery.Historical
2012
Rosie
Lesley PearceQuite an engaging story but made unnecessarily long by mini biographies of a number of peripheral characters which add nothing to the main story. Several anomalies spoil it - Queen coming back from Australia when George VI died is just one of many. It is the story of orphan girls makes good after many difficulties, but has a happy ending. Novel
1998
Rotters' Club
Jonathan CoeSet in 1970s Birmingham with a background of the pub bombings, Leyland strikes and Red Robbo.The main characters are all pupils at King William's aka King Edward's and KEHS The story follows their relationships through the fifth form to post sixth form. Some chapters are narrated in first person by Benjamin Trotter, others in the third person about other characters in the story; some are diary entries, school newspaper articles or monologues. Pretty well every 'voice' is available. The ending is somewhat ambiguous but there is a sequel which takes their lives further.Novel
2001
Rough Music
Patrick GaleWill is given a two week holiday in a cottage in Cornwall by his sister. He takes his parents with him, his mother has Alzheimer's. The cottage is one the family had stayed in when Will was a child and as the holiday progresses memories of tragic events, betrayals and the consequences emerge. The author camouflages the earlier characters by using childhood pet names for the past which is not particularly useful. Will is gay and has been having a relationship with his brother-in-law Sandy since he married Will's sister! The title comes from a piece of metallic sculpture bought by Will in the early stages of the book. It creates music of a sort when left outside in the wind.Novel
2008
Runaway
Peter MayVery different from anything of May's I have read before. A group of old men from Glasgow take off to London with their sick friand Maurie. Their journey is not without incident and the telling of it is interspersed with details of their first trip to London in the 1960s and the adventures they had then. An excellent denouementNovel
2015
Rush Home Road
Lori LansensSeventy yearold negress Addy Shadd finds herself looking after six year old mixed race Sharla Cody while her mother, Addy's neighbour in the trailer park where they live, spends the summer with her new boyfriend. As Addy gets to know and love young Sharla she is drawn back to her own childhood, at first happy then tragic as her story unfolds through the novel. Addy worries constantly about who will care for Sharla if her feckless mother fails to return. In her mind Addy talks to her dead brother, Leam, who was drowned while trying to get even with the man who had raped her when she was fourteen. Through her adult life Addy had lived in various places along the American/Canadian border, but ends up, without fully realising it, very close to Rusholme, the exslave settlement where she grew up. The story comes full circle with a satisfactory conclusion.Biography
2002
Rush of Blood
Mark BillinghamSet in Florida and England. Three English couples meet at a holiday resort in Florida. Near the end of their stay a 13 yearold girl with learning difficulties disappears. Back home in England the couples are interviewd by the police at different times. They meet up to compare notes at each others homes. It is written mostly in the 3rd person but from time to time we hear the killers voice. Not until a similar disappearance occurs in West Kent do they fall under suspicion.Detective
2012
Sacred Treason
James ForresterElizabethan thriller: William Harley, Clarenceau King of Arms is deputed by an old friend, Henry Machyn, to assemble a group of men known as Knights of the Round Table in order to reveal a secret which could Damage Elizabeth and her rights to the throne. The story has its roots in real people and the Machyn Chronicles. Very well written and historically convincing.Historical
2011
The Far Side of the Sun
Kate FurnivallSet in the Bahamas in 1943, Dodie Wyatt is on her way home from her job in a restaurant when she finds an injured man in an alley close to her home. Ella Stanford, the wife of a wealthy diplomat has secrets to keep which can put her life in danger. The two women form an unlikely alliance to get to the bottom of the mystery of why the man was attacked. The Duke and Duchess of Windsor make an appearance in the novel Novel
2013
Sarah Thornhill
Kate GrenvilleSet in New South Wales it tells the story of a girl growing up on a farmstead on the Hawkesbury River. It is a sequel to 'The Secret River', the tale of her pioneer parents. It is a coming-of-age story, captivating and beautifully written with well drawn characters. Historical
2011
Sashenka
Simon MontefioreEpic family novel set in Russia between 1916 and 1994. It covers the worst of the communist era and ends with a descendant of the family researching the history, not knowing that Sashenka is actually her grandmother. A lot of dense detail, some of which becomes a little tedious as it slowed down the pot.Family Saga
2008
The Savage Garden
Mark MillsThis is a double murder mystery set in Tuscany in 1958. Adam Strickland, a Cambridge student, is employed by the aristocratic Docci family to uncover the secrets of a renaissance garden in need of renovation. As Adam studies the structure of the garden and reads old accounts of its construction he uncovers secrets of long ago. The character of Adam is well drawn and convincing, but his hostess Signora Francesca Docci is a little too accommodating to be true, but she has an ulterior motive in arranging for the study to be made of the garden. Her plans might have gone hopelessly wrong if a different kind of student had turned up to do the research. The secret of the garden involves Dante’s Divine Comedy and is like a cryptic crossword puzzle.Novel
2007
Say You're Sorry
Michael RobothamTwo girls have beeen missing for several years and presumed dead. They had told friends they were planning to run away from home, but in fact were being held captive by 'George'. Tash, one of the girls, escapes but is found frozen to death and gives no indication of what has happened to her, or where she has been held. The race is on to discover if her friend is still alive and where she is.Detective
2012
A Scandalous Man
Gavin EstlerA well written political novel concerning events in 1982 and 2005, culminating with the London tube/bus bombings in Tavistock Square and Edgeware Rd, Moves between 1980s and 2005 filling in the stories of father and son and political manoeuvring between Blair and Bush.Novel
2005
The Scarecrow
Michael ConnellyA fast moving crime thriller. Journalist Jack McEvoy has been given notice by the LA Times in a down-sizing move. McEvoy involves himself in a new story about a black youth arrested for the murder of a white dancer. He has to mentor his female replacement and between them they discover that the murder has all the hallmarks of another dancer in Las Vegas. Through computer hacking the actual perpertrator of the murders realises that he is about to be discovered and sets out to have McEvoy and the woman journalist killed.Thriller
2009
Scared to Live
Stephen BoothSet around Matlock, Derbyshire: a woman is shot in her bedroom in the middle of the night and a house burns down killing a woman and her two sons. Ben Cooper and Diane Fry realise there is a link and work together to find the husband and adopted daughter and find a link to the murdered woman.Detective
2006
The Scent of the Night
Andrea CamilleriInspector Montalbano is hunting for the financier who has defrauded investors of millions of lira. Missing too is his young colleague, thought to have fled to Germany. The young man has recently had a house built which is being looked after by his uncle. Very comic in parts with richly drawn charactersDetective
2005
The Sea Garden
Marcia WillettWhen Jess leaves Australia to live in England she decides to visit distant relatives in the West Country. Through the autumn as she gets to know the family and learns the family history she discovers secrets about her grandparents' past which explain a lot about the relationships between the members of the current generations. There are rather too many characters poorly explained in the early stages of the novel.Novel
2011
Sea Change
Joanna RossiterThe story switches between pre-war England in Imber in Wilshire and 197 India following a tsunami. Alice has just married her boyfriend, James, on the beach the day before the disaster happens. The novel moves between the search for James, missing after the tsunami, and her mother, growing up in Imber, the village taken over by the MOD on Salisbury Plain. Alice has never had an easy relationship with her mother, Vi, and as the story progresses you understand the reason, complicated by the bitter resentment of the MOD for what they did to Vi's young life. Historical
2013
In Search of Hope
Anna JacobsAfter receiving an inheritance a woman escapes with her son from an abusive marriage. She returns to her native Lancashire and finds refuge with a retired detective. The reunion with her birth mother whom she had never known was a bit too unbelievableNovel
2013
Second Honeymoon
Joanna TrollopeA family drama: Edie is lost when the last of her offspring leaves home. During the course of the novel they return as their independent lives begin to fall apart. The novel is written in the third person and the point of view changes rapidly from character to character.Novel
2006
Second Term
Simon WaltersA political novel which promised much but delivered little. The socialist party is preparing for a general election and hoping to win a second term. The central character, Charlie Redpath, is Press Secretary to the PM. She is ruthless and devious in ensuring the second term is won, but at a cost. The ending is weak, relying on too many unlikely scenarios to be believable.Novel
2000
The Second Husband
Louise CandlishUnusual story about a divorcee who, short of money divides up her apartment in order to take in a lodger. She falls in love with the teacher who rents the flat and they marry, then her world falls apart. Within a short time her new husbands runs away to France with her 17 yr old daughter. The resolution is only partly satisfactory.Novel
2008
The Secret Keeper
Kate MortonLaurel's mother is dying but before she finally goes Laurel wants to uncover the secrets of her mother's past and who exactly was the man she had stabbed with a cake knife all those years ago. A well told story with some surprises - things are rarely exactly how they seemNovel
2012
The Secret Scripture
Sebastian BarryA 2013 WBN gift. A disturbing story of the life of a 100 year old woman, Rosanne, who is about to be moved from a decrepit mental asylum in Ireland to a new facility. The story is narrated by Roseanne via her own written testimony dating back many years. Her psychiatrist visits her and interrupts the narrative of the novel with his own thoughts and facts, which keeps the story moving along. It is a tale of a narrow-minded bigoted Catholic community, powerful and wicked priests, and incredible manipulation and cruelty. The ending was satisfactory but a bit too coincidental.Novel
2008
Secrets of the Lighthouse
Santa MontefioreEllen escapes to her aunt's cottage in Connemara to sort out her life. She is being edged into a 'good' marriage by her ambitious mother who herself has escaped the confines of the narrow Irish community. Ellen is welcomed by her Irish relatives and the enigmatic Con whose wife died in suspicious circumstances. The introduction of the voice of the dead wife adds nothing to the story and a lot of the action is telegraphed.Romance
2013
Secrets of the Tides
Hannah RiddellCompelling novel describing the fortunes and misfortunes of the Tide family. Darting backwards and forwards in time was irritating to begin with because the time change was usually a character change too. Often the secrets were suspected but only revealed bit by bit. Events which happened in the past are narrated in the past tense and those in the present in the present tense.Novel
2012
Secrets of the Sea
Nicholas ShakespeareThis story ebbed and flowed. Set in Tasmania, firstly in a small town then in the countryside. Alex Dove has just returned from England where he was sent to live after the death of his parents when he was eleven. he falls in love with Merredy and decides to stay in Tasmania and farm. He and Merredy, who suffered a childhood tragedy too when her brother disappeared, get married, but despite tests and IV treatment fail to have any children. They take in a troubled delinquent after rescuing him from an overturned boat in a storm. There is quite a bit of casual sex and a lot of heavy drinking in the novel. Towards the end of the novel Merredy has sex with Ray Grogan who is married to her cousin and becomes pregnant. Thus setting up future trouble in such a small community.Novel
2007
Secrets of the Sea House
Elizabeth GiffordSet in Harris and Lewis, a couple are renovating an old manse which they have bought with the intention of turning it into a guest house. They find buried beneath a floor the body of a baby born with deformed fused legs. Ruth, whose late mother came fromm the Isles is drawn to the fables about silkies and mermaids. The modern story is interspersed with that of one a century earlier involving Alexander, the then resident of their manse, and the secret of the baby is revealed.Detective
2014
A Sentimental Traitor
Michael DobbsA political thriller with the impact opening of a plane being brought town by a missile. Harry Jones gets involved big time.Espionage
2012
The Separation
Dinah JeffriesGood setting describing events in 1950s Malaya during the 'emergency'. While Gwen is visiting a sick friend her husband takes their daughters back to England, expecting her to follow him. The novel is split between Gwen looking for her daughters as she has been led to believe they are in another part of the country, and Emma, her elder daughter now back in England, who has been told that their mother died in a fire caused by insurgents. Family Saga
2014
Separate Lives
Kathryn FlettThis should really be categorised as chick lit. Alex and Susie have lived together for over 8 years and have 2 children. Pippa is divorced with a 12 yr old son. The story is related mostly by Susie and Pippa, the latter via a long letter to her dead mother. The time line is confusing as the 2 narratives are out of kilter. The novel follows the ups and downs of their relationships. There is some very witty writing which kept my interest, but it's not great literature.Novel
2012
Sepulchre
Kate MosseThis story has a similar geographical setting to Labyrinth and Winter Ghosts. Characters from the previous books reappear in the 18th C time frame. There is involvement with Tarot cards, ghosts and time slips, for all of which it is not too difficult to suspend disbelief, but the existence of physical demons is a step too far. The novel is enaging and very well written.Historical
2007
The Seven Sisters
Margaret DrabbleA diary style novel about Candida Wilton, a late middle aged divorcee who has moved from being the wife of a headmaster of a boys; boarding school in Norfolkto a one bedroom flat in Ladbroke Grove. It is a good depiction of the life of a single woman living in London. Candida is somewhat estranged from her three daughters and when a life policy matures she chooses to go on holiday with five friends to tour Tunisia and Naples, the territory of Candida's class on the Aeneid. The seventh sister is made up by their tour guide. Novel
2002
The Shadow Collector
Kate EllisA Wesley Peterson murder mystery set in rural Devon. It involves witchcraft past and present and a seventeenth century outbreak of ergot poisoning like that in Salem. The modern aspect of the story involves murders though two be committed by women branded by the locals as witches. It ties up well with a sudden extra twist at the end.Detective
2013
Where Shadows Lie
Michael RidpathSet in Iceland with strong links to 'Lord of the Rings.' Murder mystery with the search for a ring thrown in. Magnus Jonson, a Boston cop and an Icelander by birth comes to Iceland to assist the local police force, but his recent past almost catches up with him.Thriller
2011
Shadows on the Nile
Kate FurnivalSet mostly in the 1930s; Jessie Kenton goes to Egypt in search of her archaeologist brother who has disappeared. She is helped in her search by Sir Montague Chamford and is plunged into the mysterious world of seances. The Egyptian scenes are very well written and atmospheric, especially when Jessie uncovers family secrets from the past which have always disturbed her.Novel
2013
Shakespeare
Bill BrysonA very readable biography of WS. Well researched in respect of the historical detail of the time which a lot of 'serious' biographers miss out.Biography
2007
Ship of Brides
Jojo MoyesFascinating novel about Australian war brides being shipped over to England to be reunited with their husbands/fiancés. The ship was an aircraft carrier with very few facilities and very crowded. The novel follows the situations of four of the women and jumps from one character to another, but all comes together in the end, but leaving the readers to do a little work for themselves.Novel
2005
A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian
Marina LewyckaWarring sisters Nadia and Vera have to put aside their differnces when their eighty-four year old father announces he is about to marry a thirty-six year old bottle blonde Ukrainian whose British visa is about to expire. Beneath the humour of the book lies deeper themes of famine and war in Ukraine.Novel
2005
Shots Fired
C J BoxA collection of short stories, mostly set in Wyoming with some involving Joe Pickett. Dramatic with excellent descriptions of the countryside and remorseless weather.Short Stories
2014
The Shroud Maker
Kate EllisA Wes Patterson mystery set against the background of the 'Palkin' festival in Tradmouth. Wes and Gerry are trying to find the killer of a young musician, Kassia Graylem who is found in historic costume drifting in an inflatable dinghy. There are links to a website and online game called 'Shipworld' and in particular the character of the shroud maker. There are a lot of characters and events to keep track of and the plot is a bit convoluted. from time to time Ellis resorts to 'telling' to inform the reader. Nevertheless an engaging read.Detective
2014
The Silent Woman
Edward MarstonThe Westfield's Men lose their theatrical rights at the Queen's Head when they accidentally set light to the outbuildings. They have to go on tour to earn money and keep the group together. Nicholas Bracewell makes for Barnstaple as a messenger has come from his home town with news, but she dies of poisoning before she can pass on her news. He accompanies the actors as far as Bristol where he takes a ship heading for Barnstaple. He eventually unravels the mystery there, but his travels separate him from his landlady and occasional bed mate. The actors have many adventures and skirmishes before they all meet up again.Historical
1994
Silent Voices
Ann CleevesA crime novel set in Northumberland featuring DI Vera Stanhope. A well paced story with some twists and turns. It centres around a country house hotel and spa where Vera finds the body of a woman strangled in the steam room.Detective
2011
The Silent Tide
Rachel HoreA very engaging story set in post-war England and the present and involving 2 main characters, Elizabeth (1950s) and Emily (present day) . Emily is the editor for a small printing house. Her boy friend Joel is writing the biography of a recently dead author whose books the printing house had published. It eventually becomes clear that Joel is more interested in the dead author than Emily. There is a twist to the ending involving an historical event which is totally unexpected.Novel
2013
The Silk Merchant's Daughter
Dinah JefferiesSet in the early 1950s in Vietnam when it was under French rule. Nicole and Sylvie are the daughter a a French silk merchant and His Vietnamese wife. who died giving birth to Nicole. War i stirring and the country is in upheaval. Nicole has to escape to safety with her baby daughter an her sister whom she cannot trust. Lost of detail about the countryside but lacking in other area. Mostly engaging but stretches the suspension of disbelief.Historical
2016
Silks
Dick & Felix FrancisBarrister, Geoffrey Mason, known to his friends as Perry, finds himself defending a professional jockey against the murder of fellow jockey Scott Barlow. Lots of twists and turns, a dollop of romance and several helpings of violence. Good denouement.Thriller
2009
The Silkworm
Robert GalbraithThe second Cormorant Strike story, involving publishing houses. Very well plotted with several possible suspects for the murder of Owen Quine, author of sadistic sex novels. Secretary and assistant Robin becomes more involved in the sleuthing.Detective
2014
Silver Bay
Jojo MoyesSet largely in NSW Mark goes to Silver Bay to investigate and arrange for the purchase of land on which to build a holiday complex. He falls for, Liza, the niece of the woman who owns the run-down hotel in the area which has access to the best beach and sealife. Liza has secrets and a daughter she protects fiercely. A good plot, well narrated through the voices of the various main characters.Novel
2007
Simple Lives
Rosie ThomasOverlong novel about an English couple living in New England. 14 years earlier they had had a Down's daughter whom they had put up for adoption. Dinah, though she has 2 healthy sons longs to know what happened to the little girl and returns to England to track her down, which she does half way through the novel. She causes havoc by virtually abducting the girl after a minor road accident involving the school minibus in which she was travelling. The story then becomes less and less believable. An example of how her writing has improved since 1995.Novel
1995
City of Sins
Daniel BlakeFrancis Pasco is seconded to New Orleans police dept only to find himself in the middle of what seem like voodoo killings. He discovers corruption in high places, but it is all brought to naught by hurricane Katrina which features towards the end of the story Thriller
2011
Sister
Rosamund LiptonWhen she receives a phone call from her mothe saying her sister has disappeared, living in New York, Beatrice rushes home to London and takes on the role of detective to try to discover who has murdered her sister. Framed by a report to a lawyer and a letter to her sister, the end is slightly ambiguous.Novel
2010
Sleep Tight
Rachael AbbottOlivia Brooks has gone missing and so have her children. This isn't the first time it has happened and DI Tom Douglas is investigating. Themes are domestic and emotional abuse. The story is told from several points of view, Olivia's being the only one in first person. Quite taut, well written.Detective
2014
The Sleeper
Emily BarrA well paced psychological thriller; Lara Firth after spending all their money on unsuccessful IVF treatment takes a job in London, despite living in Cornwall. On the Friday night sleeper when going home to her husband for the weekend, she meets and falls in love with Guy, but one Friday night he is stabbed to death in his cabin and Lara has disappeared. Only her new friend Iris is sure she is not the murderer.Detective
2013
Sleeper's Castle
Barbara ErskineSet in Hay on Wye, recently widowed Andy is renting an ancient home, Sleeper's Castle, from her friend. The compelling story is very atmospheric, dodging between the present and 1400 depicting the battles between the Welsh and the Crown. Full of suspense and tension - a really good read.Novel
2016
Sleeping with the Enemy
Evelyn AnthonyOriginally published in 1973 under the title 'Stranger at the Gates.' The opening of the novel is a flashback to occupied France in 1944, the week before D Day. The story then moves on to post war America where a young woman from the village is now living with her husband. For many years all has been well in the marriage but now the wife starts to feel very unsettled and has frightening dreams. Eventually the secret of what happened to her at the hands of the Nazis is revealed with terrifying truth. War
2003
The Sleeping and the Dead
Ann CleevesA murder mystery set in the past and present in NE England. During a hot dry summer the level of a reservoir falls to reveal a body anchored to the end of a breakwater. Later is connected to the murder of an 18 year old girl.Detective
2001
Sleepyhead
Mark BillinghamWomen are dying of strokes, but all have faint bruising on their necks. Then a similar case turns up where the victim isn't dead but 'locked in'. It appears that this is what the murderer has been trying to achieve. Doctors become the chief suspects. Story is well written but a bit predictable at times.Detective
2002
Smoke in the Wind
Peter TremayneSet in the seventh century 'Smoke in the Wind' is eleventh in Tremayne's Sister Fidelma mysteries. Fidelma, nun and sister of King Muman of Ireland is travelling to visit the Archbishop of Canterbury but the ship is blown off course and they come ashore in Wales. Here they find that a whole community of monks has disappeared and eventually seems to be linked with the murder of a young girl. Fidelma and her companion Eadulf work hard to solve the mystery. An engaging mystery in what seems to be an authentic setting.Historical
2002
The Snow Child
Eowyn IveyA rewrite of a fantasy story set in Alaska. It contains good descriptions but very elongated. It ended as I expected with the 'snow child' disappearing leaving behind her husband and baby son and all the people who had cared for and sheltered her during the winters.Science Fiction
2013
Snow White Must Die
Nek NeuhausTranslated from the German; Tobias Sartorius is released from prison having served a 10 year sentence for the murder of two girls. He returns to his own village but finds no welcome there. The plot is complicated with a multiplicity of characters to keep track of. There are several twists during the novel which turn things on their heads and the denouement is rather drawn out, with a further chapter tacked on to tie up all the loose ends.Detective
2010
So Much for That
Lionel ShriverLong novel (532pp) mainly about serious illnesses - Familial Dysantonomia and Peritoneal Mesothelioma affecting the lining of the abdomen, the former condition found only in Ashkenasi Jews. It charts the time Glynis discovers her problem until she dies. Glynis and Flicka are both angry about their conditions, but deep down Glynis knows she has only herself to blame for hers. Other quite bizarre incidents make the book amusing and the various characters are well rounded and convincing.Novel
2005
Solar
Ian McEwanThis is a darkly funny satire featuring Michael Beard who, despite his complicated and chaotic lifestyle, holds a Nobel Prize for physics. He is intent on making his fortune out of a new solar energy which is being prototyped in New Mexico. He is a thoroughly unlikeable philanderer whose fifth wife, Patrice, is about to leave him just as he finally decides that he actually does love her. His personal life is in a tangle, and his professional life isn’t any better, and now in his sixties, overweight and unfit, the sun seems to be sinking for Beard.Novel
2010
Something Dangerous
Penny VincentiSecond in a trilogy about the Lytton family and their publishing house. It is set between 1926 and 1946 and moves between the younger generation and their activities in London and the Home Counties and Paris and New York. Some very good sections describing war conditions and D Day.Family Saga
2006
A Song for Summer
Eva IbbotsonSet in Austria in the late 1930s. Ellen is working as a house mother in an unorthodox boarding school where she meets and falls in love with Czech musician Marek. The war comes and they escape to Canada where they are married, but later return to visit the school with their 9 year old son when Marek conducts music he had written for a pageant before the war.Romance
1997
Songs of Love and War
Santa MontefioreSet mainly in Co Cork around the Deverill family who are running out of funds and desperately trying to maintain standards during WW1 and the Easter Rising. It became very predictable and ended with enough loose ends to justify a sequel.Novel
2015
Sovereign
C J SansomIt is 1541 and Henry VII sets out on a magnificent progress to attend a submission by his rebellious subjects in York. Shardlake is already there with his assistant Jack Barak. As well as assisting the King Shardlake has also been instructed by Archbishop Cranmer to ensure the welfare of a conspirator who is to be transported back to London.Historical
2007
Spiderweb
Penelope LivelyStella is a retired anthropologist who goes to live in rural Somerset where she finds village life very restricting and puzzling. When the teenage brothers from the nearby farm kill her dog just for fun she has had enough and puts her house on the market. Her old friend's widowed husband proposes marriage but Stella gently declines knowing it wouldn't work. Instead she goes to live with another old friend who is an archeologist. The novel is more a slice of life than a rounded story, but is well written and engagingNovel
2000
Spider Light
Sarah RayneA rather gothic thriller which is set in an old cottage and nearby watermill and the events and deaths which have taken place there. Antonia Weston, a psycholgist has been released from prison after serving a 5 year sentence for the manslaughter of a man who had killed her brother. Three stories are interwined but not all have satsifactory conclusions or explanations.Detective
2006
Spies of Warsaw
Alan FurstSet in Warsaw in 1938 and 1939. Jean-François Mercier has been appointed as French attaché to Poland and his job is to promote good relations between the French and Polish staffs, but his real job is to gather military intelligence from wherever he can. He has a passionate affair with a Polish woman of French extraction which provides an extra dimension to the story. Espionage
2008
Spitfire Girl
Lily BaxterVery readable but rather lightweight in places; required the suspension of disbelief. Set in 1939 onwards. Susan, brought up in a Children's home has a burning ambition to fly a Spitfire. Through many trials and tribulations she achieves her dream, but Baxter stretches the credulity of the reader in tying up all the loose ends rather too neatly.Novel
2011
The St Zita Society
Ruth RendallA rather disappointing murder story. St Zita is the patron saint of domestic workers and all those who work in the big houses of Hexam Place in London have formed themselves into a group. The story is really about the lives and loves of the people living in Hexham Place and although three murders take place during the course of the novel only one killer gets his come uppance in a very abrupt ending.Detective
2012
Still Alice
Lisa GenovaA novel depicting the the progression of dementia in Alice Howland, a university professor. First she forgets the odd word, then delivers the wrong lecture, then forgets what she is lecturing about and finally forgets to turn up at all. The year of the progression of her illness is documented and Alice wonders if she will survive long enough to recognise her first grandchild, and see her youngest daughter in the leading role in the theatre. Very thoughtfully writtenNovel
2007
Still Life
Louise PennyThe first of the Inspector Gamache stories introducing the village of Three Pines and its inhabitants. Jane Neal is found dead, believed to have been accidentally shot by a deer hunter. The death hinges around a painting submitted to the annual art exhibition by the murdered woman.Detective
2008
Stolen
Lesley PearceRather unlikely plot, poorly researched. A girl is washed up on the beach at Brighton, alive but with total memory loss. Gradually as it returns bit by bit she reveals her story. Pearce is at pains to tell the reader that Brighton is in Sussex, and Chiswick in London, but fails to inform that Ushuaia is in Argentina, but implies it is somewhere in Chile. She also has a cruise ship docking in Santiago which is in the middle of Chile and landlocked. Perhaps she meant Buenos Aires which would make more sense. The plot stretches credulity and some of the interaction is quite unbelievable, but it all ends happily ever after.Novel
2010
Stone Cold
C J BoxA formulaic thriller with all the usual Box characters, including Missy who features as the love interest of the super-rich baddie. Joe Picket is sent to an adjoining region to help with an investigation and uncovers a killing factory where bad guys are taken out then kept in a cold room to add spice to a sausage and burger making enterprise. How ludicrous!!Thriller
2014
Storm Rider
John FrancomeA crime novel with a horse racing background. Less tense and violent than the Dick Francis oeuvre but a good read nevertheless. After a heavy storm a corpse is found hanging in a tree from which branches have been torn down. The main characters know who the corpse was and how the body got into the tree, but the murderer's identity is concealed until the end.Thriller
2010
Strange Affair
Peter RobinsonInpector Banks's brother leaves an urgent message on the answerphone. Near Easedale a girl is found murdered in her car. Banks goes to London to find his brother but is too late - his body is found in the Thames. Eastern European trafficers are behind the killings. Taut and well writtenDetective
2005
In a Strange Room
Damon GalgutA short literary novel covering three journeys made by the same man in different parts of the world - Greece, S Africa and India. Related in first and third person which changes at random. A best seller in South Africa but I was left wondering what was the point of it all.Novel
2010
Strangers
Rosie ThomasAnnie and Steve are trapped in a building when a bomb explodes. For about 8 hours they are trapped side by side in a lift pinned down by a fire door. To pass the time they tell each other about their lives, both are quite badly injured, Steve with seval broken bones and Annie with internal injuries. In hospital they keep in contact through visits to the day ward. By this time they are deeply in love, but Annie is married with two children. Novel
1987
Suffragette
Emeline PankhurstThe autobiography of Mrs Pankhurst and the suffragette movement up to the beginning of WW1. Pankhurst grives graphic descriptions of the force feeding of imprisoned women and the intransigence of the Liberal PM Herbert Asquith.Biography
1914
Sugarmilk Falls
Ilona van MilThis novel is set in Canada north of Toronto and spans about forty years. A stranger arrives in the remote village and interrogates residents about events of some forty years earlier. The story gradually unfolds as one reads not just about what the people tell the questioner, but as their own private thoughts are revealed. A mass murder of a family of Oswkan Indians and a burnt body had been discovered. The body was thought to be that of the school teacher, a European. Several possibilities are hinted at but it is left to the readers to make up their own minds. Someone confesses, but is he telling the truth? The identity of the questioner is finally revealed but the ending is left to chance - a game of dice, which has been a theme throughout the book.Novel
2006
Suite Francaise
Irene NemirovskyThis volume contains the first two parts of what Nemirovsky, a Ukrainian-born Jew, intended to be a five part novel. Part one, ‘A Storm in June’ describes the fall of Paris in 1940 and the journeys south made by people trying to escape. It contains some dark humour such as when a grandfather is accidentally left behind in a hotel en route for the south. The second part ‘Dolce’ centres on an occupied village where some of those fleeing Paris stayed for a while. It is written in a very lyrical style. Nemirovsky died in Auschwitz before the final three parts could be written. The manuscripts were found by her daughter and finally published in 2004. This second part has just been made into a film, released in March 2015.War
2004
The Summer House
Santa MontefioreOnce again a Montefiore novel set in a grand English house. Can she only write about wealthy or titled people? The plot starts off reasonably enough but becomes rather far-fetched. Very flowery descriptions and silly metaphors. Lord George Frampton has just died and at his funeral a young woman turns up claiming to be his illegitimate daughter. From the onset it is clear to the reader that she isn't but the family are taken in by her, but then David the eldest son falls in love with her. It's all resolved a bit too easily and is very formulaic.Novel
2013
That Summer in Ischia
Penny FeenyAllie goes to Ischia to try to discover something of her origins. Her Bohemian mother has only hinted at Allie's paternity. When she meets Liddy, a friend of her mother's in her youth, Allie learns that her father could be her mother's employer when she worked in Ischia one summer. Going there Allie meets Max, the son of the family and wonders if he is her half brother. There are lots of twists and turns, too many really. The novel should be about 70 pages shorter.Family Saga
2007
Summer School
Domenica de RosaA frothy novel about an English woman who opens a summer school for writers in her renovated villa in the hills above Sienna inTuscany. The information about her clients is presented as resumes about themselves and their writing. An entertaining but light read.Novel
2008
The Summer That Never Was
Peter RobinsonCleverly constructed crime novel intertwining the historic diasappearance of a 15 year old boy juxtaposed with a current investigation into the death of a 14 year old boy . Human bones are unearthed. Huge cast list which can get a bit confusingDetective
2003
The Summons
John GrishamA professor of law is summoned to his father's home in Mississippi. He goes to the house but finds that the old man has already died - very recently. He pokes around the house and finds three and a half million dollars in cash in cupboards. He hides it all before his drug addicted brother turns up.Detective
2002
Sunrise
Rosie ThomasSet in N Wales and London. Angharad meets Laura Cotton when she first goes to boarding school from her tiny Welsh community. They become firm friends, but when her father discovers the friendship he forbids it. Secretly Angharad visits her friend during the school holidays and meets Harry her older brother and they fall desperately in love. The Cottons' father had cheated Angharads father many years earlier which creates plenty of tension. Pregnant by Harry at 18 she goes to tell him but is horrified to find him in bed with his sister. She runs away to London and with the help of Jamie Duff her employer she makes a successful career out of catering. It is not until she returns to her home village that the even pace of her life with Jamie is shaken. A compelling read.Novel
2004
The Sunrise
Victoria HislopThe Sunrise is a super luxury hotel built in 1972 in Famagusta in Cyprus. The main theme is the fighting going on between the Turks and Greeks and the effects it has on the citizens of both sides who are living side by side in the town. The themes are loyalty and betrayal. Not as good as her previous novels.Novel
2014
The Suspicions of Mr Wicher
Kate SummerscaleThis is a true story of an unsolved death in the 1890s. The body of four year old Savile Kent is found stuffed in an outside privy with his throat cut. After much investigation of the complicated family no one is charged with the murder. The book details the progress of the Mr Wicher's investigations and makes comparisons with other murders of the time, both fact and fiction. After Constance, a daughter of the family by the first wife, confesses to the murder years later the author traces the lives of the rest of the siblings and links them to Constance's later life. Now a TV series.Historical
2009
The Swallow and the Hummingbird
Santa MontefioreSet in England and Argentina, firstly just post war then two decades later. A convoluted romance involving a West Country farmer who goes to Argentina to live for a while with his uncle and aunt on their ranch, just after becoming engaged to the girl who had waited for him throughout the war. More of a fantasy than a romance.Romance
2004
Sworn to Silence
Linda CostelloA real page turner - Set in wintry Ohio in the small town of Painters' Mill. Chief of Police Kate Burkholder, an ex-Amish woman is faced with catching a serial killer using an MO favoured by a killer of some 16 years previously when Kate was just a teenager. A captivating thriller.Detective
2009
Sycamore Row
John GrishamThis novel is a sequel to 'A Time to Kill', one of Grisham's early novels. Jake Brigance is charged with executing the unusual holographic will of Seth Hubbard who has left most of his fortune to Lettie Lang, his black housekeeper. Hubbard's family hire lawyers to contest it. The research in the middle section of the story becomes a bit tedious, but otherwise it is very engaging.Detective
2013
Tangled Web
Ken McClureAs the title suggests this is a rather convoluted story set in Bangor, Wales. A GP becomes involved in a desperate mission to save a friend and patient from being sentenced for the murder of his baby daughter. The local hospital is pioneering IV fertilization, but someone is cloning cells to create spare parts, and one baby has been kidnapped. The body of a cot death infant disappears. A well written page turner although it does stretch credibility a little, not on the medical side but with smaller issues. Thriller
2000
A Tap at the Window
Linwood BarclayA PI in New York State is investigating the disappearance of a teenage girl. She had begged a lift from him on the night she went missing. It is complicated by the death of his teenage son who jumped from a building while in a drug induced state. Generally well paced but the ending is a little drawn out and over complicatedDetective
2013
The Taxidermist's Daughter
Kate MosseSet in Fishbourne near Chichester in 1912. Connie's father is a taxidermist living in a remote cottage. He is a morose man and a hard drinker. Connie had an accident when she was 12 and can only remember fleeting images of her earlier childhood. Through the events of a few days in March of 2012 Connie begins to recall oddments of what happened and the reason for her father's depression. Fast moving with a good denouement.Novel
2014
The Tea Planter's Wife
Dinah JeffriesSet in Ceylon in 1920-30s. Gwen is the young bride of a widowed tea planter, Laurence. They live a luxurious life in the foothills and she soon gives birth to twins, a boy and a dark skinned girl. On her first night in Ceylon Gwen had too much to drink and was put to bed by a Ceylonese friend of her husband, and when the girl is born she fears that he had raped her. The children are born during the husbands' absence and the girl is taken away to be raised by 'relatives' of their native housekeeper, before he returns.Novel
2014
Tell it to the Bees
Fiona ShawBrilliant young character in Charlie Weekes. His father leaves the family home to live with a younger woman. Charlie makes friends with the local doctor, Jean Markham and as Charlie's mother, Lydia, and the doctor get to know each other they fall in love. Charlie helps the doctor with her bees and as the scandal develops he tells his troubles to the bees. In small town 1950s the scandal is stirred by Lydia's sister-in-law so the three go abroad to escape the notoriety. Compelling, well developed and believable characters.Novel
2010
Tell me Tomorrow
Linda BellinghamA lightweight novel about four generations of women from the same family who all have an illegitimate child. Too much telling and not very believable.Novel
2013
Telling Tales
Anne CleeveA Vera Stanhope detective story. Vera is sent down to Yorkshire to investigate an old murder. New evidence has emerged about a ten year old murder and the woman found guilty of it has just killed herself in prison.Detective
2005
Testimony
Anita ShreeveAn unusual novel about accounts of sexual misdemeanors in a boys' boarding school in the NE of England. The book presents the testimonies of the people involved and their relatives, building up their lives and personalities on the pretext of a) providing information for the researcher's postgrad thesis, and b) as catharsis for the dreadful impact it had on those involved in or affected by it - a suicide, destruction of ambitions and three marriages destroyed. The novel ends with a note of redemption as one of the boys involved decides that after he has served his two years probation he will apply to help build a hospital in Uganda or take part in a vaccination programme in Thailand. Novel
2008
The man who disappeared
Clare MorrallA compelling novel about a comfortable family whose lives suddenly fall apart. The father Felix Kendall disappears when he's supposed to be on a business trip to Hamburg. The first his wife, Kate, knows about it is when her credit card is refused. All their joint assets have been frozen and Kate has to borrow from her parents to buy food. Eventually they discover that Felix is suspected of money laundering. The novel tracks how the lives of Kate and the three children are changed and how they adapt. Convincing outcome but their are few aspects of the story which contribute little to the plot.Novel
2010
The One Plus One
Jojo MoyesA 'journey' novel; Jess is a single mother to her daughter and stepson. Her exhusband has paid no mainenance claiming he is too ill to work, even though she is caring for and supporting his son. When she wants to raise money to take her daughter to Aberdeen to take part in a maths competition she meets Ed who is very wealthy. He offers to drive them all up there. Most of the novel concerns the events of the return journey. Good denouement.Novel
2014
The Red Room
Nikki FrenchA psychological drama: women are being killed and there is no obvious link between the deaths. Kit Quinn a psychologist becomes involved in the investigation and she soon finds a connection between the women. A young loner is suspected of the killings and is found murdered by a 'vigilante'. The denouement ties it all together.Thriller
2001
The Turn of the Screw
Henry JamesA reasonable ghost story ruined by pretentious narration (even for the period) overlong and convoluted sentences, and attributing a governess with unlikely characteristics. It is a narration within a narration - reading aloud to a group of friends from a letter from the central character, an unreliable narrator. The children in the story are poorly depicted with unlikely behaviour; James never bothers to say how old he means them to be. A classic novella that has not stood the test of time.Classical
1898
Theodore Boone Kid Lawyer
John GrishamThis novel is really suited to 'young adult' as the protagonist is a 13 year old youth. His parents are both lawyers and young Theodore has spent many hours in courtrooms intends to follow in his parents' footsteps. There are now four Theodore Boone titles involving the boy getting to the bottom of mysteries and solving crimes in a small town in the US. Very readable.Detective
2010
They Came to Baghdad
Agatha ChristieA seeming 'air-head' gets herself to Baghdad to follow a young man she met in a London park. Once there she uncovers a plot to assassinate world leaders who are meeting to discuss nuclear weapons.Thriller
1951
The Third Circle
Amanda QuickA fantasy story set in the late nineteenth century. Leona Hewitt can work crystals and early in the story 'retrieves' an especially powerful crystal from the home of Lord Delbridge, as it was originally stolen from her family years ago. She encouners Thaddeus Ware a hypnotist and they join forces to again retrieve the stone when it is once again stolen from Leona. Along the way they solve a few murders and fall in love, then her long lost uncle turns up having been in America for several years and made his fortune.Detective
2008
The Thread
Victoria HislopSet in Thessalonica it spans 1917 to 2007 depicting life in the Greek city through 2 world wars. Katerina and Dimitri are the main characters. she is a refugee from Turkey, he the only son of a wealthy but disinterested father. Katerina is a very talented needlewoman. She and her foster mother have been guarding Jewish relics for friends taken to a Polish POW camp during WW2. Katarina and Dimitri are now very old and K worries about what will happen to the relics. Their grandson visits them from London and after hearing the full story of their lives and the family history decides to move to the city and continue to guard the relics.Family Saga
2011
Three Cups of Tea
Greg MortensenA very densely written and detailed account of building girls' schools in remote villages in Pakistan, and how millions of dollars were raised for the project. David Relin was the co-author and there were rumours that Relin committed suicide after claims were made that some of the money raised was spent fraudulently.Biography
2007
Three Weeks to say Goodbye
C J BoxA young couple are shattered when the natural father of their adopted daughter announces he wants her back. He never signed the release papers when the adoption took place and had disappeared at the time of her birth. The child's grandfather is a prominent federal judge in Denver and makes it clear that they will get their way. The adoptive father and his friends work hard to uncover a sordid paedophilic conspiracy and the fact that the judge was responsible for the death of his first wife. They need the child to present a 'happy families' face to the public prior to the forthcoming election.Novel
2010
Thursdays in the Park
Hilary BoydLight romance about two grandparents who happen to meet on Thursday afternoon when taking their grandchildren to the park. A gentle story with a good endingRomance
2012
A Ticket to Oblivion
Edward MarstonSet in 1858 this story relates the disappearance of Imogen Burnthorpe and her maid who vanish on a railway journey from Worcester to Oxford. It turns out to be a clever kidnap in which the women themselves were unwittingly complicit. The Railway Inspector Detective Inspector Robert Colbeck and Sergeant Leeming pit their wits agains the two ruthless killers.Detective
2014
The Tiger's Wife
Tea ObrehtUnusual story set in an unnamed eastern European country. It is like a set of Russian dolls, no sooner have you engaged with the story than another thread opens and then another. It opens with a young doctor going to vaccinate children in an orphanage. A tiger, which as escaped from a zoo during bombing is living in the hills and is being fed by a young wife. There is a lot of folklore involved and it is hard to tell fact from fantasy.Novel
2011
Perfect Match
Jodie PicoultNina Frost's five year old son suddenly starts bed-wetting and stops talking. After a physical examination it is discovered that he has been sexually abused. After some confusion it is revealed that the abuser was a priest. There is even more confusion about which priest it was who committed the crime. Revenge is extracted with a nice revalation at the end of the story.Novel
2002
A Time for Renewal
Anna JacobsSet in the summer of 1945 when service people are returning home after the war. Victor Travers is trying to escape from the clutches of his manipulative and controling mother in law with his young daughter, Betty, to join forces with his friend on a building project in the north of England. But the wealthy mother in law is anxious to hang on to her grandaughter, and is used to getting her own way. Novel
2015
Time's Legacy
Barbara ErskineA compelling novel about a woman priest, Abi, who keeps seeing scenes from events around Glastonbury which took place thousands of years ago. The background story is based on the legend that Christ came to Glastonbury before he began his ministry in Galilee. A fellow priest has evil intentions.Science Fiction
2006
The Tin Roof Blowdown
James Lee BurkeSet in Louisianna in and around New Orleans during and immediately after the hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Looting is rampant in the aftermath of the storms and Detective Dave Robichaux finds himself involved in getting to the bottom or not only robberies and murder but hoodlums wanting payback for existing grievances. The descriptions are vivid and characters and locations convincing.Detective
2007
Toast
Nigel SlaterA great autobiography recalling all the culinary delights of the nineteen sixties - the must have prawn cocktail and black forest gateau at the upmarket end and Surprise peas and Birds Eye chicken pies at the lower end of the scale. His revelling in the confectionary of the era brings back memories of walnut whips and Maltesers, space dust and flying saucers. Very evocative, poignant and funny in alternating sections.Biography
2004
Toast and Marmalade
Emma BridgewaterA memoir relating incidents in the life and career of Emma Bridgewater. She mentions several times that her business is in need of money and I felt that this book was an attempt to swell the coffers.Biography
2014
Toby's Room
Pat BarkerElinor Brooke is studying art at the Slade and her brother Toby is a medical student in the days before the outbreak of WWI. Barker relates their intermingled stories and those of their mutual friends as the war progresses. Time spans are jumped which maintains the impetus of the story. Elinor becomes involved in drawing injured faces of men at Gillies' clinic when she visits an ex-boyfriend, Kit Neville. Toby is posted missing presumed killed and Kit was him when the event happened, but refuses to tell Elinor or her family what exactly took place. Beautifully written and peppered with clever and convincing metaphors.Historical
2012
Trains and Lovers
Alexander McCall SmithCharming novella portraying the conversations in a train travelling from Edinburgh to London. Four people all have a story to tell about love in their life, though not necessarily their own. One has a mystery element to it. The actual situations test one's ability to suspend disbelief, but it is well written and worth the read for the writing style.Romance
2012
Trespass
Rose TremainSet in the Cevennes region of France Tremain details the lives of 5 people and involves love, jealousy, greed and guilt. An old farmhouse is being put on sale and the owner wants to demolish the bungalow of his sister which he says is an eyesore and will detract from the price. The novel deals a lot with the past but is nicely framed in the present by a party of schoolchildren on an outing to learn about silkwormsNovel
2011
Tribute
Nora RobertsCilla McGowan is trying to restore her grandmother's old house in Virginia. Janet Hardy, the grandmother, had been a famous film star who had committed suicide at 39. Cilla is making a good job of the house, but some people in the community don't want her there. Her relationship with Ford Sawyer develops to the point of engagement, and with his help she manages to track down who is trying to drive her away and who was actually responsible for her grandmother's deathNovel
2009
The Trip to Jerusalem
Edward MarstonA Nicholas Bracewell story about the theatrical group Westfield's Men. They are driven out of London by the plague and begin a tour northwards, but are constantly frustrated by the rival group Banbury's Men who always seem to reach the towns before them and are performing plays written by Westfield's Men.Treachery and murder are afoot and Bracewll finds himself in mortal danger several time.Historical
2013
Triple Crown
Felix FrancisInvestigator Jeff Hinckley goes to the USA discover the mole in the Fed Anti Corruption in Sports Agency who is tipping off suspects in cases of horse doping before the raid can take place. Generally well paced but lost its impetus a bit by th e end.Detective
2016
Tripwire
Lee ChildThe first Jack Reacher novel. Reacher and the daughter of his ex-army boss track down what happened to the GI son of an elderly couple. The son was missing from Vietnam and could never be traced or declared dead. There is a lot of violence by a villain called 'Hook' Hobie! A page-turner.Thriller
1999
Trust Your Eyes
Linwood BarclayA compelling thriller set in New York and NY State. Thomas Kilbride is a schizophrenic obsessed with maps and rarely leaves his bedroom. He is a compulsive viewer of 'Whirl 360' and 'travels' the world taking in every detail of the cities and streets he sees. One day he observes what appears to be a woman being murdered behind a window in a NY street. He tells his brother,Ray, and persuades him to investigate. A further aspect is their father's recent accidental death and Ray is in the process of sorting out his estate. Novel
2011
Tuesday's Gone
Nicci FrenchPsychologist Frieda is helping police investigate the murder of a man found in the flat of a woman with severe mental problems. The dead man turns out to be a con man cheating people out of hundreds of thousands of pounds. Intrigue is sustained through the plight of a woman dependent on the dead man. Good denouement.Detective
2012
Twilight
Peter JamesThis is an early novel and it shows. Rather indifferent plot about near death experiences. Some interesting and well written parts, but not an overall satisfactory read.Detective
1991
Ultimatum
Simon KernickTerrorists are trying to bring London to its knees - at 8.00am a blast wrecks a cafe in central London, then comes the ultimatum with a deadline of Thriller
2013
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry
Rachel JoyceRetired Henry Fry receives a note from a former colleague, Queenie, telling him she is dying of cancer and just wanted to say goodbye. Harold writes her a letter and sets out to post it, but instead decides to visit her. The novel traces his pilgrimage, mostly on foot from Kingsbridge in Devon to Berwick on the border of England and Scotland. 'Unlikely' is the most relevant word in the title. En route he keeps in touch with Queenie and his wife Maureen, with Queenie in the hope that she will hang on at least until he arrives, and with Maureen to let her know where he is. He has no hiking boots, or map but manages to keep going and as he does recalls his past life and has regrets about how he has behaved in all sorts of circumstances. A very quirky novel, moving in parts but unsentimental It was a Sunday Times best seller in 2012.Novel
2012
The Unquiet Grave
Steven DunnA hard hitting crime thriller set over a two decades. Involves a police hunt for a missing teenager and is quite convoluted with a large character list. Involves the usual trouble policeman; has a satisfactory denouemente.Detective
2013
The Vanishing of Ruth
Janet McLeod TrotterAmber sets out to discover what happened to her Aunt Ruth back in the hippie era of 1976 when she set out on an overland journey to India. When the bus she had been travelling in reached Afghanistan Ruth and her boyfriend Marcus had disappeared. The novel has three time frames, 1976, the recent past and the present. A well written novel with a convincing denouement.Novel
2010
The Vault
Ruth RendallAn Inspector Wexfor mystery. Now retired Wexford is invited to help out in solving the murders of four people found in a bricked up cellar in London. Three of the bodies date back ten years, but one only two years. It is a rather convoluted story with too many peripheral characters.Detective
2011
The Vendetta
Jenny PitmanA horse racing novel describing the antagonism between two women trainers. Jan Hardy is involved in a car accident in which a man is killed and her boy friend badly injured. Some of the events seem a little unlikely to the cynical mind but the plot is reasonable and certainly readable.Thriller
2005
The Venetian Contract
Marino FioratoA brilliant historical novel set first in Constantinople and then in Venice. Feyra, the daughter of a sea captain and the sister of the Doge of Venice, is a harem doctor. She is sent by her dying mother on a mission to her uncle the Doge. Bubonic plague is raging in the Turkish capital and Fera's father is already infected before he sets out on the voyage to Venice. Feyra and her father are offloaded onto a Venetian island where he dies. On a visit to the city Fera meets a Venetian doctor and together they set up a Lazarus hospital to help Venetian sufferers.Historical
2012
The Villa
Nora RobertsSet in Italy and Napa Valley California it tells the story of a winemaking family and is a cross between a whodunit and a family saga. Fast moving with a good plot and a few surprises; it ends satisfactorilyNovel
2002
The Villa
Rosanna LeyTess inherits a villa in Scicily from someone her mother had known as a girl when she had lived there. Flavia, the mother refuses to return to her native Scicily which she left as a young woman. Tess's daughter Ginny is at a crossroads in her teenage life and the story follows the three women; old hostilities are resolved.Novel
2012
The Virgin Blue
Tracy ChevalierAmerican Ella Turner goes to France with her husband and young child. They rent a house in Lile sur Tarn. Although not made particularly welcome by the locals Ella feels a strong connection with the area knowing her father's ancestors had come from there many years ago. She has unsettling dreams involving the colour blue and through research and with the help of a local librarian she uncovers a mystery of the 16th C when the Heugenots forbade the wearing of blue because of its association with the Virgin Mary. Chevalier's first novel; a good read but not as polished as her later work.Novel
1997
The Visitor
Lee ChildEx-military women are being murdered and placed in a bath of paint. Reacher is summoned by the FBI and the Military to help in the investigation. Jodie, his girlfriend, is about to be made a partner in her law firm and has to go to England for 2 years. Reacher has decisions to make.Thriller
2000
The Visitors
sally BeaumanSet mainly in the 1920s around the discovery of Tutenkhamen's tomb. 11 year old Lucy Payne and her governess are the visitors to the site where Lucy's father is working. Many of the characters are real, the fictional ones add detail and interest to the events, then and later.Novel
2014
The Voice of the Violin
Andrea CamilleriAn Inspecter Montalbano mystery. A beautiful woman is found raped and brutally murdered. Missing from her home is expensive jewellery and a priceless violin. Montalbano and his team sift through the evidence to discover the killer.Detective
1997
Waiting for Sunrise
William BoydSet in Vienna and London between1913 and 1915. Actor Lysander Rief joins up and quite soon is sent to Vienna to investigate the disappearance of masses of military equipment. The plot involves several odd characters who don't quite ring true, and the clue to a code being based on a new opera Andromeda and Perseus. began with much promise but became very fanciful and complicated.Novel
2012
Waiting for Wednesday
Nicci FrenchPsychologist Frieda helps to solve the mystery of several girls missing girls who have disappeared over a number of years, and is involved in bringing to justice the murder of a seemingly ordinary housewife and mother.Detective
2013
Walking at Night
Kate EllisA short (217pp) detective novel set in York. DI Joe Plantaganet investigates the murder of an actress whose body had been moved from the place of her death, witnessed by a teenager who had had too much to drink. There are several more deaths and a motley group of suspects before the murderer is identified.Detective
2005
Want You Dead
Peter JamesThe most recent of the Roy Green thrillers. Red Westwood is in fear of her life after she ends a relationship with control freak Bryce Laurent. He stalks her and threatens to kill her but not before he has killed her current lover., two police officers and set fire to several buildings connnected with her. Really a bit too far fetched to be believable, which detracts from engagement with the story. James finally gets rid of Roy Grace's first wife in a car accident in Germany - we think!Detective
2014
A Wanted Man
Lee ChildA page turning thriller involving FBI, CIA and maverick Jack Reacher. Reacher hitch hikes and is picked up by two men who appear to have kidnapped the woman passenger. But all in not what it seems.Thriller
2012
The Warrior's Princess
Barbara ErskineA fascinationg time slip novel about a princess. daughter of King Cadre of Wales who is captured by the Romans and the family taken to Rome. A twentyfirst century teacher living in the area where the historical family had lived is haunted by the girl and her life is put in danger in her attempt to bring peace to the princess's restless spiritHistorical
2009
Watching You
Michael RobothamMarnie Logan's husband has disappeared leaving behind him a pile of gambling debts. After 13 months Marnie is broke and the gambling bosses are threatening her and her children. Suddenly people who are causing her trouble are turning up dead. Marnie feels she is being watched and discusses it with her psychiatrist who is counselling her for past bi-polar experiences. Her two children Zoe and Elijah are drawn into the web. Sinister and compulsiveNovel
2013
Watching Out
Ann GrangerA Fran Varady murder mystery told in the first person. Fran is working in a pizzeria part time and acting in a one-off play to be performed in a local pub. She is sucked into investigating the death of Ion an illegal immigrant who seems to have links with the pizzeria where she works. There are lots of good descriptions of scenery and reflection on life but rather too much 'telling' of the explanation of events at the end, hence only three stars!Detective
2003
Watching the Dark
Peter RobinsonA very readable Insp. Banks murder mystery. Banks is investigating the murder of a fellow police officer who had been involved in investigating the disappearance of a young girl in Tallin when on a hen party weekend several years previously. The section set in Tallin is very descriptive,Detective
2012
The Water Horse
Julia GregsonA novel about Catherine, a Welsh farmer's daughter who rains as a nurse and goes to Crimea, first to Scutari and then to Crimea itself. Her childhood companion, Dewi, goes out with replacement horses. To become a nurse Catherine had to escape from the farm dressed as a boy and ride with Dewi and the drovers to the docks. There are very good descriptions of the squalor and hardship of nursing in Crimea. Florence Nightingale is depicted as a bit of a tyrant but who could charm her superiors to get what she wanted. The novel has a satisfactory denouementHistorical
2010
Waterslain
Kevin Crossley HollandThis is really junior fiction, but a very engaging story. Set in early 1955 it is about two children's search for one a set of carved wooden angels missing for centuries from their village church. There are some narrow escapes and the possibility of being beaten in the race by a local no-gooder. A satisfactory ending and charming storyNovel
2008
The Way I Live Now
Meg RosoffA World Book Night Gift. Set in the future during a world war of terrorism. American Daisy is sent to live with her English cousins for the summer, just prior to the outbreak of the war. Part 1 is in the voice of the 15 year old girl and talks of how the 5 children between the ages of 5 and 17 survived during the 5 years of the war. They are separated and Part 2 describes the reunion some 8 years later when daisy, having been repatriated to the US returns to England.Science Fiction
2004
The Way Back Home
Freya NorthOriana returns to her childhood home in North Derbyshire after living in America for 18 years. Her home was an artist's commune when she was a child and has now been modernised and divided into separate apartments. Still living there are some of the people Freya knows from her childhood. Oriana was sent away from the commune as a sixteen-yearold for reasons not revealed until almost the end of the novel. A well crafted novel with believable characters.Novel
2014
The Way You Look Tonight
Richard MadeleyOverflowery style in places with unlikely characters and events. Stella Arnold is a super clever psychologist specializing in psychopaths studying for a PhD in the USA. At a barbeque in Martha's Vineyard she meets the Kennedy clan and becomes invoved in the hunt for a serial killer. The scene moves to the Florida Keys and is all set against the backdrop of the Cuban Missile CrisisNovel
2014
Wednesday's Child
Peter RobinsonDI Banks is investigating the disappearance of a young schoolgirl taken from her feckless mother by a couple claiming to be from child protection. Banks finds himself coping with paedophilia and a race against time to find the child and bring her abducters to justice.Detective
1992
A week in December
Sebastian FaulksThe lives of four disparate Londoners are featured in the week leading up to the 22nd December. The main character is John Veals a hedge fund manager is a total snake and lesser one are two terrorists, one a Muslim suicide bomber, and a city banker, all have the potential to ruin lives one way or another.Novel
2009
A Week in Paris
Rachel HoreKitty Travers enrols in the Paris Conservertoire in 1937. In the 1960s her daughter, a violinist spends a week in Paris performing with an orchestra in Paris, and while there manages to uncover the secrets her late mother had been hiding, and learns about her forgotten history.Novel
2014
The Welsh Girl
Peter Ho DaviesA WWII story of the relationship between people of different sides. It is mainly set in a Welsh village which is hosting a POW camp during the last months of the war. Esther inadvertantly becomes involved with a prisoner who manages to escape. Framing the story is a German Jewish refugee who is detailed to interview Rudolf Hess to gain intelligence. The novel was nominated for the Judy and Richard Book of the Year.War
2007
What was Lost
Katherine FlynnI gave this 4 stars for the quality of the writing, not the story line. It won the Costa prize for a first novel, but the story is weak. It tied things up well enough in the end, but there was a lot of repetitive description and introspection needed to sustain the plot. Some drama, some tragedy and no happy ending. The setting is a Birmingham shopping centre circa 1970s.Novel
2007
What Lies Beneath
Sarah RayneAn intriguing crime novel covering three generations set in rural England, London and the Levant. During the cold war the village of Priors Bromley was evacuated and closed for the testing of chemical weapons. More than fifty years later the village and surrounding area is declared safe, but some people would rather the past stayed hidden away.Detective
2011
What to do When Someone Dies
Nicci FrenchA well paced tale of a widow trying to find out the circumstances leading up to her husband's death in a car accident. Who was the woman passenger who died in the burnt out car with him, a lover or a colleague? Ellie has to find out.Thriller
2008
When Will There be Good News
Kate AtkinsonA compelling mystery with some familiar characters. A man guilty of murdering a mother and 2 of her children is about to be released from prison after serving a thirty year sentence. The themes are more to do with friendship and relationships rather than family ties. One or two side plots which detract from rather than improve the reading experience. Despite this the story is engaging and the characters well drawn.Detective
2008
When God was a Rabbit
Sarah WinmanThe god of the title really was a rabbit. The novel is about love in all its forms, romantic, family ties, gay relationships and best friends. Involves 911 in part 2 of the novel.Novel
2011
When We Were Bad
Charlotte MendelsonNominated for the 2007 Orange Prize. The novel tells the story of the lives of a dysfunctional Jewish family. The offspring are all adult but still dominated by their rabbi mother Claudia. Two younger children Melanie and Simon are rather minor characters. Norman, the father, overshadowed by his clever wife is the only really sympathetic character in the book. By the end of the novel Claudia knows she has a terminal illness but doesn't tell her family as she can't bear to be seen to be weak or in need of sympathy. Family Saga
2007
Whispers in the Sand
Barbara ErskineSet mostly on a Nile cruise ship, a recently divorced woman takes her grandmother's diary of her time in Egypt with her when she embarks on a similar journey. Also in her luggage is a small blue scent bottle which had belonged to the grandmother. As she reads the diary she becomes more and more connected with the ancient gods until one of them begins to work through her to seek revenge for the looting of his tomb. The scent bottle had been unearthed from the tomb in the past and deemed to be insignificant. The woman is severely traumatised and has to abandon the holiday and return to England.Novel
2000
The White Tiger
Aravind AdigaWriiten in the form of a very long letter to the Premier of China who is about to visit Bangalore, this novel won the 2008 Man Booker Prize. It is full of black humour as it traces Balram's journey from a small village to the city life of Bangalore. It highlights the corruption of those who aspire to make a lot of money and how they drag others into it. It is an unflattering portrait of modern Indian city life.Novel
2008
White
Rosie ThomasWith a setting largely on Everest and its foothills the novel cannot help but have the mountain as one of its characters. Wonderful descriptions of the scenery and weather conditions. Passions and ambition are high both literally and metaphorically, with tragic consequences. The ending is a bit dragged out and overworked.Novel
2000
White Nights
Ann CleevesA Jimmy Perez mystery set on Shetland. He investigates the apparent hanging of a strange visitor to the island who had interrupted an art exhibition in a bizarre fashion.Detective
2008
The White Pearl
Kate FurnivalSet in Malaya at the beginning or WWII, Connie Hadley is the wife of a rubber plantation owner and lives a life of luxury with her husband and young son. She takes over the care of a pair of native 16 year old twins whose mother was killed in a car accident caused by Connie herself. Japan enters the war and life changes dramatically when Connie engages Fitzpayne to sail herself and her family and friends away from danger in her yacht the White Pearl.Novel
2012
The White Road
Edmund de WaalDe Waal traces the history of porcelain manufacture froms its earliest beginnings in China to the discovery of chia clay in other parts of the world.Biography
2015
White Bones
Graham MastersonSet around the city of Cork; when clearing a field several sets of bones are unearthed. On inspection date back to the early 20th century and all appear to have been physically cleaned of flesh and have a weird disc like a fetish attached to the thigh bones. DI Katie McGuire investigates, but before she gets very far two girls disappear. The case relates to an old Irish myth. Gory but engaging.Detective
2003
The Wife's Story
Lori LansensMary Gooch's husband leaves her on their twenty fifth wedding anniversary. Unknown to her he has just won a large amount of money on the lottery. Mary is grossly obese and after his disappearnce just eats and eats. After a week she receives a letter from him telling her that he is not coming back but she can do as she wishes with the money in their bank account. Mary goes to LA where George's mother lives, thinking he might be there. In her search she helps a lot of people with either practical or financial help and although she never finds George she has turned her own life around, stops eating so much and is resigned to his disappearance.Novel
2010
The Wings of the Sphinx
Andrea CamilleriSalvo investigates the murder of a young woman with a butterfly tattoo on her shoulder. He discovers that she is one of a group of Russian women 'befriended' by a Catholic charity. His relationship with Livia is shaky and he is feeling his age.Detective
2006
The Winter Ghosts
Kate MosseShorter than the novels of the Labyrinth trilogy this story is again set in France and with the usual time slip scenario. Freddie is still mourning the loss of his brother George in the Great War, when he crashes his car on a rocky road in the Pyrenees and slips back into the twelfth century. There he meets Fabrissa ,a Cathacar girl who with the rest of her village is walled up in a labyrynth of caves where they were all hiding from their persecutors. Through meeting her and putting the past of the villagers to rest he is able to lay to rest his own ghosts.Historical
2009
Winter of the World
Ken FollettA very long but engrossing read, the second of the trilogy. The old characters and their descendents emerge, along with some new ones. Covers 1933 to 1949 and includes the Berlin air lift and the execution of an American couple for passing details of the nuclear bomb to a Russian spy. Rather too many coincidences regarding people meeting up again to make the novel entirely convincing. Family Saga
2012
The Wishing Game
Patrick RedmondA forceful psychological story set in a boys' boarding school in the 1950s. A manipulative boy takes on another who is easily led. Dreadful things start to happen; suicides, accidents and other disruptions. The boys use a ouija board to find out about events from the past then use the information for their own ends. The novel has very evil undertones and is both disturbing and compelling in equal measure.Novel
2003
Without a Trace
Lesley PearceSet in a small Somerset village in 1953-4. A child goes missing and her mother is found dead. Molly Heywood, a friend of the victim is concered about the disappearance of the child and as the police don't seem interested in searching for her Molly decides to look for herself. Rather predictable in places, and not very believable, but quite engaging.Detective
2015
Not Without You
Harriet EvansA very disappointing and convoluted story about two Hollywood actresses, one in the early sixties and the other in the present day whose stories intertwine. Novel
2013
Wolf Hall
Hilary MantelA very detailed novel with a huge cast list. Unusual authorial style - written in 3rd person present tense. Confusing at times as Cromwell is often refered to just as 'he'; many of the characters have titles, sometimes used in the text, but sometimes referred to by their given names. It depicts the role of Cromwell during the period of the end Henry VIII's marriage to Ann Boleyn and his desire for Jane Seymour who's family home is Wolf Hall.Historical
2009
The Woman Who Went to Bed for a Year
Sue TownsendAmusing beginning but Townsend ran out of ideas and the novel deteriorated rapidly from about halfway through. It became just plain silly and the ending was patheticNovel
2012
The Woman in the Fifth
Douglas KennedyA compelling and unusual novel. Harry Ricks has escaped to Paris from Ohio to forget the reality of his life which is falling apart. But he goes from one kind of hell to another. Things improve when he meets Magrit, a forceful intriguing woman who turns his life around provided he visits her every 3 days for sex. But she is not what she seems and he is soon under her thrall. The 'fifth 'of the title is the fifth arondissment.Novel
2007
All our Worldly Goods
Irene NemirovskySet in France between 1911 and 1940 the novel follows the fortunes of the Hardelot family. It contains drama and pathos and moves swiftly from event to event . Beautifully written.Novel
2008
Worth Dying For
Lee ChildEn route for Virginia Reacher stops off at the Apollo Motel in Nabraska for the night. He becomes embroiled in the Duncan family's ruthless control of the area through their ownership of all the long haul vehicles needed for crop transport. The middle section of the story is a bit slow, but reaches a satisfactory denouement.Thriller
2010
Written in Bone
Simon BeckettDr David Hunter goes to the island of Runa in the Hebrides to investigate bones discovered there. He encounters a grisly situation which appears to be spontaneous human combustion. The police decide that it's a case of accidental death, but Hunter is not convinced and soon finds evidence of murder. Detective
2007
The Wrong Side of Goodbye
Michael ConnellyA brilliant detective thriller. Bosch is chared with finding the possible heir to a multimillionaire whilst also chasing a rapist in San Fernando. Fast moving and thoroughly engrossing.Thriller
2016

AUTHOR LIST

Author   Titles    

Abbott, Rachael1  
Abbott, Rachel1  
Adiga, Aravind1  
Ahern, Cecelia1  
Alcott, Kate1  
Anderson, Lin1  
Anthony, Evelyn2  
Archer, Jeffrey3  
Arnold, Gaynor3  
Athill, Diana1  
Atkins, Lucy1  
Atkinson, Kate4  
Baldacci, David1  
Barclay, Linwood8  
Barker, Pat1  
Barnes, Julian1  
Barr, Emily2  
Barry, Sebastian1  
Bateman, Colin1  
Baxter, Lily1  
Beauman, sally1  
Beckett, Simon2  
Bellingham, Linda1  
Betts, Charlotte1  
Billingham, Mark5  
Billington, Mark1  
Binchy, Maeve1  
Bingham, Charlotte1  
Blake, Daniel1  
Booth, Stephen8  
Bourne, Sam2  
Box, C J9  
Box, CJ1  
Box, J C1  
Boyd, Hilary1  
Boyd, William3  
Boyne, John1  
Brett, Simon1  
Bridgewater, Emma1  
Bryson, Bill2  
Callison, Brian1  
Camilleri, Andrea6  
Candlish, Louise2  
Carver, Tanya1  
Casey, Jane1  
Catriona, McPherson1  
Cedar, Camilla1  
Chadwick, Elizabeth1  
Chamberlaine, Diane1  
Chapman, Andrew1  
Chevalier, Tracy5  
Child, Lee14  
Christie, Agatha3  
Clare, Alys1  
Cleeve, Anne1  
Cleeves, Ann10  
Cleeves, Anne1  
Coe, Jonathan2  
Colin, Beatrice1  
Connelly, Miachael1  
Connelly, Michael16  
Connor, Alex3  
Cook, Robin3  
Cornwell, Bernard1  
Costello, Linda1  
Craig, James1  
Crais, Robert2  
Crossley Holland, Kevin1  
Davies, Peter Ho1  
De Waal, Edmund1  
Dibdin, Michael1  
Dobbs, Michael7  
Donnelly, Jennifer1  
Drabble, Margaret2  
Drummond, Jack1  
Du Maurier, Daphne2  
Dunmore, Helen1  
Dunn, Steven1  
Durst Benning, Petra2  
Ebershoff, David1  
Edmonson, Elisabeth1  
Edmonson, Elizabeth1  
Edmundson, Elizabeth1  
Ellis, Kate8  
Erskine, Barabar1  
Erskine, Barbara8  
Estler, Gavin1  
Evans, Harriet1  
Evans, Natalie Meg1  
Evans, Nicholas2  
Fairstein, Linda4  
Faulkes, Sebastian1  
Faulks, Sebastian6  
Feeny, Penny1  
Finnegan, Judy1  
Fiorato, Marina3  
Fiorato, Marino1  
Flett, Kathryn1  
Flynn, Gillian1  
Flynn, Katherine1  
Follett, Ken4  
Forbes, Elonora1  
Forrester, James1  
Forster, Margaret2  
Forsythe, Frederick1  
Fowler, Christopher1  
Francis, Dick & Felix4  
Francis, Dick1  
Francis, Felix5  
Francome, John4  
Freely, Maureen2  
Freemantle, Brian1  
French, Nicci4  
French, Nikki1  
French, Tana1  
Furnival, Kate3  
Furnivall, Kate2  
Furst, Alan1  
Fyfield, Frances3  
Galbraith, Robert3  
Gale, Patrick3  
Galgut, Damon1  
Gardam, Jane1  
Gardner, Lisa1  
Gash, Jonathan1  
Genova, Lisa1  
George, Elizabeth1  
Gibbins, David1  
Gifford, Elizabeth1  
Goddard, Robert2  
Graham, Laurie1  
Granger, Ann8  
Grant, Linda1  
Gregory, Susannah1  
Gregson, Julia2  
Grenville, Kate1  
Grisham, John7  
Gross, Andrew2  
Hannah, Sophie1  
Harding, Georgina1  
Harris, Joanne4  
Harris, Robert3  
Harrison, Sarah2  
Hawkins, Paula1  
Hawley, Noah1  
Heller, Zoe2  
Hill, Susan1  
Hislop, Victoria4  
Holt, Anne1  
Horan, Nancy1  
Hore, Rachel7  
Horowitz, Anthony1  
Howard, Linda1  
Hussain, Kahlid1  
Huston, Nancy1  
Ibbotson, Eva3  
Ishiguro, Kazno1  
Ivey, Eowyn1  
Jacobs, Anna3  
James, Erica1  
James, Henry1  
James, P D1  
James, Peter9  
Jardine, Quintin2  
Jefferies, Dinah1  
Jeffries, Dinah2  
Jones, Sadie1  
Joyce, Rachel1  
Kellerman, Jonathan4  
Kennedy, A L1  
Kennedy, Douglas4  
Kernick, Simon1  
Kerrigan, Kate1  
Kingsolver, Barbara1  
Lansens, Lori2  
Lark, Sarah1  
Larsson, Stieg3  
Leather, Stephen1  
Lee Burke, James1  
Lennox, Judith2  
Lessing, Doris1  
Lewycka, Marina1  
Ley, Rosamund1  
Ley, Rosanna2  
Lightfoot, Freda1  
Lipton, Rosamund3  
Lively, Penelope6  
Lucy, M E1  
Ludwig, Sidura1  
Mabey, Richard1  
Madeley, Richard1  
Magson, Adrian4  
Mantel, Hilary2  
Marklund, Liza1  
Marsh, Henry1  
Marston, Edward7  
Masterson, Graham6  
Maugham, W Somerset1  
May, Peter9  
McCall Smith, Alexander3  
McClure, Ken3  
McCullough, Colleen1  
McDermid, Val3  
McDowall, Iain1  
McEwan, Ian3  
McGurl, Kathleen1  
McIntosh, Fiona2  
Mendelson, Charlotte1  
Mercier, Pascal1  
Miller, Andrew1  
Mills, Jenni1  
Mills, Mark2  
Mills, Rosalind1  
Moggach, Deborah1  
Montefiore, Santa10  
Montefiore, Simon1  
Moore, Rachel1  
Moran, Michelle1  
Morgan, Erin1  
Morpurgo, Michael1  
Morrall, Clare2  
Morrell, Clare1  
Mortensen, Greg1  
Morton, Kate4  
Mosse, Kate5  
Moyes, Jojo9  
Navarro, Julia1  
Nemirovsky, Irene3  
Nesbo, Jo1  
Neuhaus, Nek1  
Nichols, David1  
Niefenegger, Audrey1  
North, Freya1  
O'Brein, Edna1  
O'Farrell, Maggie1  
Oates, Joyce Carol1  
Obreht, Tea1  
Ogawa, Yoko1  
Osborne, Frances1  
Pankhurst, Emeline1  
Paton Walsh, Jill1  
Patterson, James2  
Pearce, Lesley3  
Penny, Louise6  
Penny, Stef1  
Picoult, Jodie2  
Pitman, Jenny1  
Potter, Jennifer1  
Quick, Amanda1  
Rankin, Ian3  
Rayne, Sarah2  
Redmond, Patrick2  
Reichs, Kathy3  
Rendall, Ruth2  
Riddell, Hannah1  
Ridpath, Michael1  
Rimington, Stella6  
Rix, Debbie1  
Robb, J D1  
Robert, Goddard1  
Roberts, Michele1  
Roberts, Nora6  
Robinson, Peter15  
Robotham, Michael2  
Rodrieguez, Debora1  
Rosenfelt, David1  
Rosoff, Meg1  
Rossiter, Joanna1  
Ryan, Robert2  
Sansom, C J6  
Sansom, Clive1  
Schaffer, M A1  
Sebold, Alice1  
Shakespeare, Nicholas1  
Shaw, Catherine1  
Shaw, Fiona1  
Shreeve, Anita5  
Shriver, Lionel2  
Sixsmith, Martin1  
Slater, Nigel1  
Spark, Muriel1  
Sparkes, Nicholas1  
Stabenow, Dana1  
Stacey, Lyndon2  
Stirling, Jessica1  
Stockett, Kathryn1  
Strout, Elizabeth1  
Summerscale, Kate2  
Swarthout, Glendon1  
Thomas, Rosie13  
Thompson, Flora1  
Thomson, Lesley1  
Titchmarsh, Alan6  
Torday, Paul1  
Townsend, Sue1  
Tremain, Rose5  
Tremayne, Kate1  
Tremayne, Peter3  
Trollope, Joanna3  
Trotter, Janet McLeod1  
Troy, Barry1  
Tyler, Anne6  
Vickers, Salley5  
Vincenti, Penny1  
Vincenzi, Penny2  
Waddell, Dan1  
Walsh, Louise1  
Walters, Minette1  
Walters, Simon1  
Ward, Christopher1  
Waters, Sarah1  
Watson, S J1  
Waugh, Daisy1  
Weaver, Tim1  
Webb, Katherine1  
White, Michael1  
White, Neil1  
Whitehouse, Lucie2  
Widdecombe, Anne1  
Willett, Marcia7  
Wilson, Robert1  
Winman, Sarah1  
Winspear, Jacqueline1  
Winthrop, Elizabeth1  
Young, Louisa1  
Zusac, Markus1  
de Rosa, Domenica1  
de Waal, Edmund1  
van Mil, Ilona1  

Authors: 329Titles: 705    

AUTHOR ORDER (705 BOOKS on 12th July 2017)

AuthorTitleReviewGenre/Pub

Rachael AbbottSleep Tight
Olivia Brooks has gone missing and so have her children. This isn't the first time it has happened and DI Tom Douglas is investigating. Themes are domestic and emotional abuse. The story is told from several points of view, Olivia's being the only one in first person. Quite taut, well written.Detective
2014
Rachel AbbottOnly the Innocent
A famous philanthropist is found dead in his London flat in a compromising position. Clearly he has been murdered but by whom? Suspicion falls on a number of people who all have cast iron alibis. As the story unfolds it becomes obvious that all the members of the man's family have devious backgrounds.Detective
2011
Aravind AdigaThe White Tiger
Wriiten in the form of a very long letter to the Premier of China who is about to visit Bangalore, this novel won the 2008 Man Booker Prize. It is full of black humour as it traces Balram's journey from a small village to the city life of Bangalore. It highlights the corruption of those who aspire to make a lot of money and how they drag others into it. It is an unflattering portrait of modern Indian city life.Novel
2008
Cecelia AhernPS I Love You
Chick lit! An unusual story line as Holly keeps receiving letter from her dead husband, so intriguing it kept me reading. However, I did get tired of the tantrums and wine soaked orgies depicted. I felt alternately sorry for and cross with Holly. Do women of around thirty behave like the characters in the book - everyone is so selfish!Novel
2007
Kate AlcottThe Dressmaker
Set in 1912, Tess Collins leaps at the chance to work for famous dress designer Lucile Duff Gordon. She join Lucile and her husband Cosmo on the Titanic to sail for NY. When the ship is sinking the Duff Gordons are accused of refusing to allow any more people on their life boat. Tess was in a different boat and knew nothing of this until later told in NY by a sailor who was also on board the Duff Gordon boat. Later in NY Tess has difficult choices to make.Novel
2012
Lin AndersonFinal Cut
After a car accident a child wanders off into the wood and comes back to his mother cradling a child's skull. The characterisations are good and events realistic.Detective
2009
Evelyn AnthonyThe Return
A French refugee survives Auschwitz and marries a US officer, her rescuer. She undergoes psychological treatment to eradicate the memories of the horrors she has endured. At a New York party she meets a Swiss man to whom she is very attracted. In reality he is a German Nazi escapee who has acquired a new identity courtesy of his stay in Argentina after the war. He was the man responsible for her wartimeinterrogations with whom she had developed a strong rapport. After sleeping with him she regains her memory and the two go on the run. Novel
1979
Evelyn AnthonySleeping with the Enemy
Originally published in 1973 under the title 'Stranger at the Gates.' The opening of the novel is a flashback to occupied France in 1944, the week before D Day. The story then moves on to post war America where a young woman from the village is now living with her husband. For many years all has been well in the marriage but now the wife starts to feel very unsettled and has frightening dreams. Eventually the secret of what happened to her at the hands of the Nazis is revealed with terrifying truth. War
2003
Jeffrey ArcherFalse Impressions
A mystery thriller set around 9/11. It involves the art world and the obsessions of collecters. It is set in New York, London,Tokyo and Eastern Europe.Thriller
2005
Jeffrey ArcherA Prisoner of Birth
This novel, one of Archer's better plots, tells the compelling story of Danny Cartwright, falsely convicted of the murder of his fiancée's brother, Bernie. In Belmarsh he shares a cell with Nick Montcrieff and Big Al. Just a few weeks before his release date Nick is murdered in mistake for Danny. So similar in appearance are the two men that the prison officers think the dead man is Danny, who committed suicide because his appeal has been rejected. Danny takes on the persona of Nick, is released from prison and begins a comfortable life with Big Al as his driver. Danny wreaks revenge on the three men who murdered Nick. There are some excellent twists and the final words of the book encapsulate the fate of the men who tried to ruin his life.Novel
2008
Jeffrey ArcherBest Kept Secret
This novel is part 3 of a series concerning two families in the 1950s. It invoves politics and a shipping company. Lots of wheeling and dealing and art fraud. The ending leaves the reader on a cliff hanger.Novel
2013
Gaynor ArnoldGirl in a Blue Dress
Based on the life of Charles Dickens this novel is written through his wife's eyes. It presents a picture a the novelist as a very cruel and vain man. Dickens tired of his wife Dorothea and set her up in lodgings with Wilson a servant/housekeeper. He took his wife's sister has housekeeper and turned the children against their mother, forbidding them to visit her. Contriving and conniving he set up actress Wilhelmena Ricketts and her mother in a house which he visited every day. After his death the children realised what their father had done and were reconciled with her.Novel
2008
Gaynor ArnoldLying Together
A collection of short stories, some of them the same story from a different POV. They are all in the modern vein with little obvious plot. They are snippets of life, mostly rather opaque and irritating, if well written.Short Stories
2011
Gaynor ArnoldAfter Such Kindness
This novel is a take on the relationship between Lewis Carroll and the Liddell family, particularly Alice. It is very well fictionalised, Alice becomes daisy Baxter and LC is John Jameson. The story deviates from what is thought about the relationship, in that it is the father, on the verge of insanity, who abuses Daisy. It is never explicit in the story but certainly confirmed. A satisfactory conclusion.Historical
2012
Diana AthillDon't Look at me Like That
Written in the first person this novel tells the story of Meg brought up by old fashioned parents during the 1940s. After leaving boarding school Meg goes to Art School in Oxford where she lives with her school friend, Roxanne, and Roxanne's mother. Roxanne marries Richard and Meg moves to London. Richard has to go to London frequently on business and stays with Meg. They become lovers, but Richard has to go to work in America. After he has gone Meg realises she is pregnant and has a big decision to make.Novel
1967
Lucy AtkinsThe Other Child
Tess, a single mother marries Greg a paediatric heart surgeon and goes to live with him and her son in Boston USA. She becomes unsettled by events, like a demented woman shadowing them and watching the house. Gradually she uncovers her new husband's secret and becomes afraid fer herself, her son Joe and the new baby Lily. The ending is a bit predictable in a skewed way and a bit contrived.Novel
2014
Kate AtkinsonA God in Ruins
A brilliant companion to 'Life after Life'. This novel relates the life of Teddy Todd covering his childhood, war years spent in the RAF as a fighter pilot and old age. It is poignant and dodges backwards and forwards through his life focussing on his relationships with different members of his family including his children and grandchildren. There are a lot of characters to remember and the non-sequential plot requires concentration, but is well worth the effort.Novel
2015
Kate AtkinsonHuman Croquet
An intriguing time slipping novel with time as a definite theme. It is quirky with lots of asides. Although it was published in 1997 the last chapter describes events in the 21st century. It portrays aspects of the lives of members of the Fairfax family in the second half of the twentieth century; other themes include dreams and incest. Bizarre but fascinating.Novel
1997
Kate AtkinsonLife After Life
An amazing book! Having read most of Kate Atkinson’s work and enjoyed quirky characters like Jackson Brodie, this novel came as quite a surprise, but a very pleasant one. In it she tells of the life of Ursula Todd, who dies within seconds of her birth in 1910. Her second and subsequent rebirths all take place in 1910, but each time she survives a little longer. In fact her life is rehearsed time and time again until she is satisfied with it. The novel follows her through the first and second world wars and Atkinson skilfully conjures the authentic atmosphere of all the periods of Ursula’s life. This novel won the 2013 Costa Prize.Novel
2013
Kate AtkinsonWhen Will There be Good News
A compelling mystery with some familiar characters. A man guilty of murdering a mother and 2 of her children is about to be released from prison after serving a thirty year sentence. The themes are more to do with friendship and relationships rather than family ties. One or two side plots which detract from rather than improve the reading experience. Despite this the story is engaging and the characters well drawn.Detective
2008
David BaldacciThe Forgotten
A Jack Reacher style thriller involving slave trading of Colombians into Florida. John Pullen is ex-army with plenty of contacts to help him achieve his goal. A well paced story.Detective
2012
Linwood BarclayFear the Worst
Sydney Blake disappears. When her father,Tim, tries to find out more no one seems to have heard of her at the motel where she had claimed to have a holiday job. Apart from her father, other dubious people are also looking for her. Very tense and suspenseful, but with some unconvincing coincidences. Who will find her first?Detective
2010
Linwood BarclayThe Accident
A woman dies in a car accident deemed to be her own fault; two people in the car that hit her are killed. As the story develops a web of crime is revealed in the selling of fake designer handbags and poor quality electrical components and building materials. Three more people are killed before the mystery is solved . A real page turner.Thriller
2011
Linwood BarclayNever Look Away
The life of journalist David Harwood begins to unravel when he and his wife take their young son to a theme park. The child disappears and husband and wife split up to search for him. David finds the child but then cannot locate his wife who seems to have vanished without trace. The police are called in and discover that only two tickets to the theme park were purchased. David is suspected of killing his wife to stop her leaving him and taking their son with her. He has to work hard and fast to prove his innocence and get to the truthDetective
2010
Linwood BarclayNever saw it Coming
Fast moving suspense. Keisha Ceylon is a 'mystic' duping people into believing she can bring back their missing relatives - for a fee. She scours the papers and TV channels for missing persons then moves in. But this time a relative sees through her scam and fights back. The story has several twists which are somewhat telegraphed. Not Barclay's best but still a good read.Thriller
2010
Linwood BarclayNo Time for Goodbye
A very well crafted mystery which reverses the usual trend of mother searching for child. A 14 year old girl wakes up one morning to find her parents and brother are missing. No trace of them is found and she goes to live with her Aunt Tess. Twenty five years later, now married to a schoolteacher and with an 8 year old daughter, she participates in a TV show which tries to jog memories about past crimes. Not until three quarters of the way through the novel is it revealed what her father was doing and why the events occurred. There are several twists which all fit neatly into the jigsaw. Detective
2007
Linwood BarclayA Tap at the Window
A PI in New York State is investigating the disappearance of a teenage girl. She had begged a lift from him on the night she went missing. It is complicated by the death of his teenage son who jumped from a building while in a drug induced state. Generally well paced but the ending is a little drawn out and over complicatedDetective
2013
Linwood BarclayTrust Your Eyes
A compelling thriller set in New York and NY State. Thomas Kilbride is a schizophrenic obsessed with maps and rarely leaves his bedroom. He is a compulsive viewer of 'Whirl 360' and 'travels' the world taking in every detail of the cities and streets he sees. One day he observes what appears to be a woman being murdered behind a window in a NY street. He tells his brother,Ray, and persuades him to investigate. A further aspect is their father's recent accidental death and Ray is in the process of sorting out his estate. Novel
2011
Linwood BarclayBroken Promise
David Harwood returns to his home town, Promise Falls, after the death of his wife. He is a journalist and has taken a job with the local paper only to find it closed down on the day he arrives in the town. He becomes involved in looking for the murderer of a woman and the abduction of a baby. A good story line well told.Detective
2015
Pat BarkerToby's Room
Elinor Brooke is studying art at the Slade and her brother Toby is a medical student in the days before the outbreak of WWI. Barker relates their intermingled stories and those of their mutual friends as the war progresses. Time spans are jumped which maintains the impetus of the story. Elinor becomes involved in drawing injured faces of men at Gillies' clinic when she visits an ex-boyfriend, Kit Neville. Toby is posted missing presumed killed and Kit was him when the event happened, but refuses to tell Elinor or her family what exactly took place. Beautifully written and peppered with clever and convincing metaphors.Historical
2012
Julian BarnesArthur and George
George Edalji, a Birmingham solicitor and the son of the vicar of Great Wyrly, was falsely accused and ultimately convicted of mutilating livestock in the village. He sought the help of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in getting to the bottom of the mystery and helping prove his innocence. The novel spends a lot of time on interior monologues of both main characters and is narrated in the first person by them both. It covers the trial and imprisonment of Edalji, Doyle's relationship with his first wife and mistress Jean Leckie and latterly his attempt to find the real culprit of the crimes and clear Edalji's name. Barnes describes it as a contemporary novel set in the past. The novel has its roots in fact, but Barnes has embroidered it with ideas of his own.Biography
2005
Emily BarrThe First Wife
Lily Button has looked after her grandparents and lived a very sheltered life. After their deaths she takes a cleaning job and lodges with a family in Truro. One of the houses she cleans is that of Harry Summers and his wife Sarah. When Sarah is mysteriously drowned Lily becomes very close to Harry and they are soon engaged. But Lily soon begins to have suspicions about her new husband.Detective
2011
Emily BarrThe Sleeper
A well paced psychological thriller; Lara Firth after spending all their money on unsuccessful IVF treatment takes a job in London, despite living in Cornwall. On the Friday night sleeper when going home to her husband for the weekend, she meets and falls in love with Guy, but one Friday night he is stabbed to death in his cabin and Lara has disappeared. Only her new friend Iris is sure she is not the murderer.Detective
2013
Sebastian BarryThe Secret Scripture
A 2013 WBN gift. A disturbing story of the life of a 100 year old woman, Rosanne, who is about to be moved from a decrepit mental asylum in Ireland to a new facility. The story is narrated by Roseanne via her own written testimony dating back many years. Her psychiatrist visits her and interrupts the narrative of the novel with his own thoughts and facts, which keeps the story moving along. It is a tale of a narrow-minded bigoted Catholic community, powerful and wicked priests, and incredible manipulation and cruelty. The ending was satisfactory but a bit too coincidental.Novel
2008
Colin BatemanMurphy's Revenge
Murphy is an under-cover cop working with a group calling themselves 'Confront'. Outwardly they are a therapy group for people who have lost loved ones as a result of crime. However, the perpetrators of the crimes are dying, or meeting with accidents. The dialogue is good with lots of black humour. Detective
2005
Lily BaxterSpitfire Girl
Very readable but rather lightweight in places; required the suspension of disbelief. Set in 1939 onwards. Susan, brought up in a Children's home has a burning ambition to fly a Spitfire. Through many trials and tribulations she achieves her dream, but Baxter stretches the credulity of the reader in tying up all the loose ends rather too neatly.Novel
2011
sally BeaumanThe Visitors
Set mainly in the 1920s around the discovery of Tutenkhamen's tomb. 11 year old Lucy Payne and her governess are the visitors to the site where Lucy's father is working. Many of the characters are real, the fictional ones add detail and interest to the events, then and later.Novel
2014
Simon BeckettWritten in Bone
Dr David Hunter goes to the island of Runa in the Hebrides to investigate bones discovered there. He encounters a grisly situation which appears to be spontaneous human combustion. The police decide that it's a case of accidental death, but Hunter is not convinced and soon finds evidence of murder. Detective
2007
Simon BeckettThe Calling of the Grave
Forensic pathologist David Hunter is involved in helping to find the graves of women murdered by serial killer Jerome Monk. Well written but a bit slow in parts - the story spans 9 years but with an 8 year break in the middle! Plenty of tension towards the end with some issues to make the reader think in the middle.Detective
2010
Linda BellinghamTell me Tomorrow
A lightweight novel about four generations of women from the same family who all have an illegitimate child. Too much telling and not very believable.Novel
2013
Charlotte BettsThe Chateau on the Lake
Set in revolutionary France; after the deaths of her French parents in London Madeleine Moreau returns to France with her disgraced friend to find her French relatives. They are under the guidance of a recent French acquaintance Comte Etienne d'Aubery, but the revolution cathes up with them.Historical
2014
Mark BillinghamFrom the Dead
Another Tom Thorne thriller. A man thought to have been burnt to death 10 years ago seems to be alive. His wife, just released from prison for conspiring to murder him receives photos of him taken recently. Several people die before the situation is resolved.Detective
2010
Mark BillinghamRush of Blood
Set in Florida and England. Three English couples meet at a holiday resort in Florida. Near the end of their stay a 13 yearold girl with learning difficulties disappears. Back home in England the couples are interviewd by the police at different times. They meet up to compare notes at each others homes. It is written mostly in the 3rd person but from time to time we hear the killers voice. Not until a similar disappearance occurs in West Kent do they fall under suspicion.Detective
2012
Mark BillinghamSleepyhead
Women are dying of strokes, but all have faint bruising on their necks. Then a similar case turns up where the victim isn't dead but 'locked in'. It appears that this is what the murderer has been trying to achieve. Doctors become the chief suspects. Story is well written but a bit predictable at times.Detective
2002
Mark BillinghamBlood Line
The son of a serial killer starts a murdering spree killing the offspring of his father's victims. The father died of a brain tumour and the son is convinced that this caused his murderous behaviour and that he should have a free pardon. Tom Thorne and his team work hard to find and protect all the remaining offspring. Not as satisfying as some other Tom Thorne novels.Detective
2009
Mark BillinghamBuried
A convoluted crime story with a lot of characters, mostly police personnel. It involves kidnap and murder squads and paedophilia. However Billingham draws all the pieces together at the end to result in a satisfactory conclusion.Detective
2007
Mark BillingtonThe Dying Hours
An intriguing and clever hypothesis - a man, released from prison after serving a life sentence for the murder of a police officer, sets out to dispose of all the people who have been involved in his arrest and imprisonment, no matter how small a part they played. The murders he then commits all have a different MO and are made to look like suicides, but he reckons without Tom Thorne, whose investigations has to be done carefully as he has been demoted to uniform and is now only an inspector and not a detective inspector.Detective
2013
Maeve BinchyNights of Rain and Stars
An assortment of people - American, English, Irish and German, all with different problems to solve, are thrown together in Anna Aghis in Greece, where they meet Vonni an expat irish woman and Andreas the taverna keeper. During the course of the novel their disparate problems are resolved. A light but entertaining read.Novel
2004
Charlotte BinghamThe land of Summer
Emmaline Nesbit leaves New England to be married to Julius Aubrey, whom she met when Aubrey was doing business with her father. The couple do not meet again until she arrives in England a few weeks before the wedding when Aubrey seems, offhand and distracted. The marriage is not consummated and Emmaline starts to write poetry to relieve her unhappiness. Family failings haunt the marriage but when the past is revealed the wounds are healed. The novel seems a little padded out in places.Novel
1991
Daniel BlakeCity of Sins
Francis Pasco is seconded to New Orleans police dept only to find himself in the middle of what seem like voodoo killings. He discovers corruption in high places, but it is all brought to naught by hurricane Katrina which features towards the end of the story Thriller
2011
Stephen BoothDead and Buried
The usual complicated story line associated with Booth's novels. A body is found high up on the Derbyshire moors in a deserted pub from where a couple had disappeared two years earlier. Ben Cooper is about to marry Liz Petty, the scenes of crimes investigator. The denouement ends with a fire in the pub in which Liz dies rather pointlessly. Is this the end of the series?Detective
2012
Stephen BoothThe Devil's Edge
Set in Edenvale, Derbyshire, in the village of Riddings. there have been a lot of burglaries by a group nicknamed 'the savages' but in the latest a woman is killed and her husband badly injured. Has this been committed by the same group? Cooper doesn't think so. Very atmospheric.Detective
2011
Stephen BoothDying to Sin
Set in the Derbyshire Peak district,; bodies are found when an old farmhouse is being renovated. There are some red herrings. Excellent portrayal of the landscape and attitudes of people living in remote villages.Detective
2007
Stephen BoothThe Kill Call
A man is found dead on the Derbyshire moors. The story mixes foxhunting with the horsemeat trade. Fry and Cooper finally unravel the tangled background to the killing, the reasons based on a cold war lookout bunker dating from the late 1960s which very few people knew about.Detective
2009
Stephen BoothLost River
There are two themes to this crime novel. Cooper is investigating the death of an eight year old in Dovedale while Diane Fry is in Birmingham trying to get to the bottom of her own rape many years earlier. Booth dodges from one scenario to the other as if he hadn't enough material in either story to make a single novel out of each. Although the Derbyshire crime is resolved it is not a very satisfactory read.Detective
2010
Stephen BoothThe Murder Road
A Peak District murder mystery. A lorry driver takes a wrong turning and becomes wedged under a low railway bridge. There are links with a fatal accident some years earlier in the same area when a lorry veered off the road into a layby killing a young woman in a parked car. Realistic, but not quite all the ends tied up.Detective
2014
Stephen BoothScared to Live
Set around Matlock, Derbyshire: a woman is shot in her bedroom in the middle of the night and a house burns down killing a woman and her two sons. Ben Cooper and Diane Fry realise there is a link and work together to find the husband and adopted daughter and find a link to the murdered woman.Detective
2006
Stephen BoothBlood on the Tongue
A Ben Cooper detective story involving people investigating the crashed Lancaster bomber from WWII, still lying on the moors. A Canadian woman and a Polish family are involved. It is well crafted with a realistic denouement.Detective
2002
Sam BourneThe Last Testament
An exciting and fast moving thriller set in Jerusalem. Maggie Costello, a political negotiator, is sent to facilitate peace talks between Israel and Palestine. A small clay tablet on which is written the last will and testament of the Patriarch Abraham has been discovered and rehidden. Three groups are desperate to find it, some to destroy it in case it gives Jerusalem completely to one side. It is a well written but quite complicated story which jumps from faction to fiction and character to character but still keeps the reader engaged.Thriller
2007
Sam BournePantheon
Brilliant account of WW1 skulduggery, eugenics and American isolationism. Good narrative played out in England and USA. Convincing comparisons between wartime England and America, not then at war, particularly with regard to food. Many elements of the book are true, which makes it quite scary. Left wing intellectuals from Oxford and New England are involved in trying to create a super-class.Historical
2012
C J BoxCold Wind
Set in Wyoming; the murder of a millionaire owner of a wind farm. A Joe Pickett thriller; very atmospheric with convoluted sub plots.Thriller
2011
C J BoxForce of Nature
Wilderness thriller set in Wyoming. Ranger Joe Pickett's friend Nate is on the run from the 'Five' a murder squad. Violent and very fast moving. Required great concentration to follow the intricate plot.Thriller
2012
C J BoxThe Highway
Set largely in Montana. a trio of men, one of them a long distance truck driver, set up a secret room where they rape and torture women the truck driver picks up. Cassie Denell a rookie cop sets out to discover what has happened to 2 teenage girls who disappear en route to visit the older girl's boyfriend. It is rather too drawn out with not a completely satisfying ending and some very gruesome scenes. Not up to the standard of his Joe Pickett stories.Thriller
2013
C J BoxBack of Beyond
Set largely in Yellowstone Park, rogue cop Cody Hoyte sets out to discover who is killing members of an AA group and why. It leads him to an 'outfitter' who takes groups on wilderness tours on horseback. A light plane full of drugs money is involved. A lot of people get killed There are several twists and revelations, has a good ending. Thriller
2012
C J BoxBadlands
A violent story set in a fracking area of N Dakota. Mancamps are set up to house the workers and drug running is rife. When 12yr old Kyle Westergaad observes a car being run off the road and finds a package full of cash and drugs his life is in danger.Detective
2015
C J BoxShots Fired
A collection of short stories, mostly set in Wyoming with some involving Joe Pickett. Dramatic with excellent descriptions of the countryside and remorseless weather.Short Stories
2014
C J BoxStone Cold
A formulaic thriller with all the usual Box characters, including Missy who features as the love interest of the super-rich baddie. Joe Picket is sent to an adjoining region to help with an investigation and uncovers a killing factory where bad guys are taken out then kept in a cold room to add spice to a sausage and burger making enterprise. How ludicrous!!Thriller
2014
C J BoxThree Weeks to say Goodbye
A young couple are shattered when the natural father of their adopted daughter announces he wants her back. He never signed the release papers when the adoption took place and had disappeared at the time of her birth. The child's grandfather is a prominent federal judge in Denver and makes it clear that they will get their way. The adoptive father and his friends work hard to uncover a sordid paedophilic conspiracy and the fact that the judge was responsible for the death of his first wife. They need the child to present a 'happy families' face to the public prior to the forthcoming election.Novel
2010
C J BoxBreaking Point
A cracking Joe Picket thriller. Greed and corruption involved with real estate and the Environment Protection Agency. It involves long treks through the Wyoming mountains, a wildfire and an unscheduled journey down a river through a canyon holding onto a log. The idea for the story came from a real situation.Thriller
2013
CJ BoxBreaking Point
Compelling thriller set in Wyoming. A man is told he cannot build on the land he has bought; he must restore it to its natural state immediately and pay an exorbitant fine for every day until the job is complete. Joe Pickett is called in when two men who came to enforce the order are found dead and buried in the plot.Detective
2013
J C BoxBelow Zero
A Joe Pickett novel. Daughter Sheridan suddenly receives text messages from years her step sister April who was thought to have been killed seven years earlier. Joe begins a hunt for her after the messages indicate that she has been abducted by an aging gangster and his son, an anti-pollulution fanatic who attacks people and companies he thinks are polluting the world.Detective
2009
Hilary BoydThursdays in the Park
Light romance about two grandparents who happen to meet on Thursday afternoon when taking their grandchildren to the park. A gentle story with a good endingRomance
2012
William BoydOrdinary Thunderstorms
Adam Kindred, a climatologist, encounters a man in a cafe which subsequently leads to him finding the man dead in his apartment. He is suspected of the man's murder. In going into hiding he loses everything and as the story evolves he begins to regain aspects of his life bit by bit. The novel is a bit overlong and the ending leaves the possibility for a sequel. Quite similar in plot to 'The Big Picture' by Douglas Kennedy.Thriller
2009
William BoydRestless
Set during WWII and 1976. Ruth Gilmartin is amazed to discover that her mother, Russian by birth, had been part of an undercover spy network during WWII. The complicated story is told in the first person by Ruth and in the third via diary entries by her mother. Very engaging with a satisfying ending.Espionage
2006
William BoydWaiting for Sunrise
Set in Vienna and London between1913 and 1915. Actor Lysander Rief joins up and quite soon is sent to Vienna to investigate the disappearance of masses of military equipment. The plot involves several odd characters who don't quite ring true, and the clue to a code being based on a new opera Andromeda and Perseus. began with much promise but became very fanciful and complicated.Novel
2012
John BoyneAbsolutist
Engaging and interesting novel about WW1. An 'absolutist' was someone who would have nothing at all to do with war, not just not fighting, but not doing anything that would help the war effort. The novel covers other issues such as firing squads and homosexuality. Spoilt by the use of idioms certainly not in use during WW1, 'we were an item', 'any time soon' and 'Thought she'd died and gone to heaven.'War
2011
Simon BrettMurder at the Museum
One of a series of mysteries involving Jude and Carole, next door neighbours in a Sussex village. An old skeleton is unearthed when a kitchen garden of 'Bracketts', an Elizabethan manor house is dug over to prepare for the building of a museum. The trustees of the house, the former home of a poet, squabble a lot but after two further deaths the identity of the body is established and old lies revealed.Detective
2004
Emma BridgewaterToast and Marmalade
A memoir relating incidents in the life and career of Emma Bridgewater. She mentions several times that her business is in need of money and I felt that this book was an attempt to swell the coffers.Biography
2014
Bill BrysonThe Road to Little Dribbling
A witty personal travelogue reprising Bryson's earlier book, 'Notes on a Small Island.' He travels around Britain revisiting his earlier haunts, noting changes for better and worse. Clearly he admires the countryside, but after living in Britain for most of his adult life still doesn't fully understand the British mentality and sense of humour.Biography
2015
Bill BrysonShakespeare
A very readable biography of WS. Well researched in respect of the historical detail of the time which a lot of 'serious' biographers miss out.Biography
2007
Brian CallisonRedcap
Set in Cyprus in 1957 and Germany in 1967, this novel is a study in revenge and psychology. Staff Sergeant Walker falls foul of a Major Steadman, both Redcaps. Steadman is a psychopath determined to ruin Walker's career when Walker is forced toignore Steadman's murder of a Cypriot child and an EOKA terrorist. Very satisfactory ending.Novel
2006
Andrea CamilleriThe Age of Doubt
On a stormy morning Salvo Montalbano gives a lift into Vigata to a young woman. She is very interested in a yacht that has just put in to the harbour. This piques Salvo's curiosity and eventually after the yacht turns out to have a dinghy containing a corpse he uncovers a blood diamond scam.Detective
2014
Andrea CamilleriGame of Mirrors
Drug smuggling on the island leads Montalbano into danger. Lured by the charms of Liliana Lombard, his new neighbour, he becomes enrangled in a web of deceit when nothing is what it seems.Detective
2011
Andrea CamilleriThe Patience of the Spider
Set in Scicily; a local girl goes missing, believed kidnapped, but the case is not adhering to the usual Mafia pattern and Montalbano is intrigued. Hate and revenge turns out to be at the bottom of the mystery.Detective
2004
Andrea CamilleriThe Scent of the Night
Inspector Montalbano is hunting for the financier who has defrauded investors of millions of lira. Missing too is his young colleague, thought to have fled to Germany. The young man has recently had a house built which is being looked after by his uncle. Very comic in parts with richly drawn charactersDetective
2005
Andrea CamilleriThe Voice of the Violin
An Inspecter Montalbano mystery. A beautiful woman is found raped and brutally murdered. Missing from her home is expensive jewellery and a priceless violin. Montalbano and his team sift through the evidence to discover the killer.Detective
1997
Andrea CamilleriThe Wings of the Sphinx
Salvo investigates the murder of a young woman with a butterfly tattoo on her shoulder. He discovers that she is one of a group of Russian women 'befriended' by a Catholic charity. His relationship with Livia is shaky and he is feeling his age.Detective
2006
Louise CandlishThe Day You Saved my Life
Holly, single mother is suffering from post natal depression when she goes to Paris for the weekend with her mother and almost 2 year old son. On a Seine tour the son slips overboard and James, enjoying an anniversary weekend with his wife rescues him. Holly's life turns around, she attaches herself to James who eventually leaves his wife to be with her. Parts of the story are hard to believe - people's behaviour in certain situations and the speed with which James leaves his wife. The novel is slowed down by too much back story and introspection.Novel
2012
Louise CandlishThe Second Husband
Unusual story about a divorcee who, short of money divides up her apartment in order to take in a lodger. She falls in love with the teacher who rents the flat and they marry, then her world falls apart. Within a short time her new husbands runs away to France with her 17 yr old daughter. The resolution is only partly satisfactory.Novel
2008
Tanya CarverThe Creeper
Set in Chelmsford; women, all similar in age and appearance disappear, then their mutilated bodies are discovered. A profiler is called in but behaves oddly and is of little help. Gruesome in parts but well structured with strong plot and convincing characters.Detective
2010
Jane CaseyThe Last Girl
Murder mystery - the daughter of an eminent criminal lawyer finds her mother and sister with their throats cut. A complex thriller which leaves at least one situation unresolved ... until the next book?Thriller
2012
McPherson CatrionaThe Child Garden
A well paced thriller; expupils from a small progressive school are dying one by one. When at the school a group of them camped out overnight and during the night one of the boys drowned in a nearby river. Thirty years later the two remaining members of the group try to find out what has been going on and if any one person is responsible.Thriller
2015
Camilla CedarFrozen Moment
Translated from the Swedish: a complicated murder mystery which delves deep into the past. The main police character is Christian Tell, a middle aged divorcee. Some of the nuances of the story are lost in translation I think. A man is murdered by being shot then run over and in another part of the country a second murder takes place in just the same way. The denouement is satisfactoryDetective
2009
Elizabeth ChadwickThe Champion
Set in 12C France and England on the tourney circuit where knights and lesser men joust for money. Alexander has escaped from the tortures of the monastery to be trained by his brother Henri Montrou, a respected jouster. He meets Monday, the daughter of Henri's friend. For a long time they are just friends, but after a night of drinking he takes her to bed. Monday's parents are now dead but she decides to run away to try to find Aline her mother's former mistress. It is four years and many adventures later before Monday and Alexander meet up again. The story is well related but it took a while to get going and there was too much description of jousting.Historical
2006
Diane ChamberlaineThe Lost Daughter
A 16 year old girl, Cee Cee, gets involved with Tim, an older man who persuades her to take part in the kidnapping of Genevieve Russell the wife of the State Governor who is insisting on the death sentence for murder committed by his sister. All Cee Cee has to do is take care of the woman until the deal is done, but things go badly wrong. The woman is heavily pregnant and while in Cee Cee's care gives birth but dies of a haemorrhage. Cee Cee is left holding the baby. The novel follows her life until the truth comes out.Novel
2006
Andrew ChapmanBeyond the Silence
Based on the last months of the life of Vincent van Gough in the French village of Auvers sur Oise. The partly fictional events are interspersed with the story of an English GP who is undergoing severe mental stress. Their stories are told in parallel and are quite compelling.Biography
2010
Tracy ChevalierAt the Edge of the Orchard
A convincing story about life in the USA in the 1840s and 50s. The Goodenough family scratch a living growing apples in the Blackswamp area of Ohio. After a furious row between the drunken parents during which they manage to kill each other, Martha, the youngest child is taken in by neighbours. Caleb, one brother is a drunkard and and the older brother Robert has already left home, and become a successful woodsman, working for an established forester. Eventually Martha manages to track down Robert just before he sails to England with a consignment of redwoods and sequoias.Historical
2016
Tracy ChevalierThe Last Runaway
A great story set in Ohio involving runaway slaves and the underground train of willing white Americans who helped them. An Englishwoman finds herself in this community ; there are themes of Quakerism, family relationships and a big emphasis on quiltingHistorical
2013
Tracy ChevalierRemarkable Creatures
This novel is set mostly in Dorset in the early 19th century and is a fictionalised version of the lives of Mary Anning and Elizabeth Philpot. Mary Anning collects the fossils she finds on the beach to sell to tourists who visit Lyme Regis. Elizabeth Philpot, an educated woman, is forced to live in the area when the family home was inherited by her brother on the death of their parents. In her fossil hunting Mary Anning uncovers the first known example of a fossilised pterodactyl and ichthyosaurus. Elizabeth, who has befriended her, has the connections in London to bring it to the notice of palaeontologists of the day. The novel highlights the sexism and male prejudice of the era.Historical
2009
Tracy ChevalierThe Virgin Blue
American Ella Turner goes to France with her husband and young child. They rent a house in Lile sur Tarn. Although not made particularly welcome by the locals Ella feels a strong connection with the area knowing her father's ancestors had come from there many years ago. She has unsettling dreams involving the colour blue and through research and with the help of a local librarian she uncovers a mystery of the 16th C when the Heugenots forbade the wearing of blue because of its association with the Virgin Mary. Chevalier's first novel; a good read but not as polished as her later work.Novel
1997
Tracy ChevalierBurning Bright
Set in 1792 -93 this novel tells the story of the Kallaway family whose move from a village in Dorset to London. Tom Callaway, a chair maker by trade, gets work with Philip Astley a circus owner. The Kellaway family rent a house next door to William Blake. After involvement with the Levellers the Kellaways decide to return to Dorset. The book is well researched and convincing, especially the relationship between the Kellaways and the Blake's. A good portrait of eighteenth century LondonHistorical
2007
Lee Child61 Hours
Jack Reacher gets a ride on a tour bus which flounders in deep snow in a small town in South Dakota. The town is awaiting the trial of a group of people for making and dealing in drugs. There is a massive infrastructure behind this, run by Plate, a Mexican drugs baron. The main witnesses, a lawyer and a senior police officer are killed. Into this steps Reacher with help from the girl in the CIA office in Va. Together they unravel the problem and sort out the bad boys.Thriller
2010
Lee ChildThe Enemy
Set in Reacher's army days, a general is found dead in a sleazy motel room. Reacher is called in to investigate and in doing so uncovers a hornet's nest of vice. It is rather contrived and although a good read is not among his best.Thriller
2004
Lee ChildGone Tomorrow
Very readable but not his best. Set in NY, Reacher is in a subway train when a woman shoots herself. The story involves Afghan terrorists, a presidential candidate and a photograph of bin Laden with the candidate.Thriller
2009
Lee ChildBad Luck and Trouble
The deaths of two of his former army colleagues involves Reacher in a trip to LA and joining forces with three other ex-military policemen to solve the mystery of the deaths of their colleagues and retribution for those responsible. Two more die in the process so there is only half of the original team left.Thriller
2007
Lee ChildThe Killing Floor
In the small Georgian town of Margrave Reacher runs into trouble. The town is 'owned' by a crook who is cleverly forging $100 bills by using old $1 dollar bills, bleaching the stock and reprinting them as hundreds. Joe Reacher, Jack's brother, who works for the US treasury is killed and Jack is out for revenge. Thriller
1997
Lee ChildNever go Back
A rather complicated plot which takes a while to get going. Reacher returns to his old army base when he learns that a woman is now doing his old job. Shortly after he arrives 2 charges are laid against him, one a paternity suit and 2 an assault against 'The Dog' who was selling army guns on the streets of LA. Both were trumped up. At the bottom of it all were a couple of high ranking Washington guys who had set up a very up-market opium den in Washington DC getting their supplies from AfghanistanThriller
2013
Lee ChildNight School
The 21st Jack Reacher novel and rather disappointing. Set in the 1990s when Reacher was still a major in the US army; he is sent to Hamburg to retrieve material stolen by a serving officer who is AWOL. A frantic search is set in motion involving the German police and the US military. Not as engaging as the rest of his novels.Detective
2016
Lee ChildNothing to Lose
In the Colorado towns of Hope and Despair something is going on in the company town of Despair. Outwardly the recycling of old cars etc is what the town is built around, but Reacher and a policewoman, Vaughan, search out the awful truth but not without a lot of fist fights...Thriller
2008
Lee ChildPersonal
A political summit is due to take place in London. Reacher is summoned to find a killer who may make an assassination attempt. It is a bit more convoluted than Child's usual stories and has rather too much description of Reacher's hand to hand fighting with a 7 foot tall man.Detective
2015
Lee ChildThe Affair
The story of the events that led up to Reacher's discharge from the army. He uncovers murder and corruption on a marine base perpetrated by the son of a high ranking marine officer. Lots of smoke and mirrors but with a good ending.Thriller
2011
Lee ChildTripwire
The first Jack Reacher novel. Reacher and the daughter of his ex-army boss track down what happened to the GI son of an elderly couple. The son was missing from Vietnam and could never be traced or declared dead. There is a lot of violence by a villain called 'Hook' Hobie! A page-turner.Thriller
1999
Lee ChildThe Visitor
Ex-military women are being murdered and placed in a bath of paint. Reacher is summoned by the FBI and the Military to help in the investigation. Jodie, his girlfriend, is about to be made a partner in her law firm and has to go to England for 2 years. Reacher has decisions to make.Thriller
2000
Lee ChildA Wanted Man
A page turning thriller involving FBI, CIA and maverick Jack Reacher. Reacher hitch hikes and is picked up by two men who appear to have kidnapped the woman passenger. But all in not what it seems.Thriller
2012
Lee ChildWorth Dying For
En route for Virginia Reacher stops off at the Apollo Motel in Nabraska for the night. He becomes embroiled in the Duncan family's ruthless control of the area through their ownership of all the long haul vehicles needed for crop transport. The middle section of the story is a bit slow, but reaches a satisfactory denouement.Thriller
2010
Agatha ChristieMurder is Easy
A page turner that doesn't involve the usual suspects, Poirot, Miss Marple etc. In a small village people are dying. There are several suspects, all eliminated one by one by Luke Fitzwilliam, who takes it upon himself to investigate after he learns of the death of Lavinia Pinkerton whom he met on a train where she told him she was on her way to Scotland Yard to report the deaths.Detective
1939
Agatha ChristieThey Came to Baghdad
A seeming 'air-head' gets herself to Baghdad to follow a young man she met in a London park. Once there she uncovers a plot to assassinate world leaders who are meeting to discuss nuclear weapons.Thriller
1951
Agatha ChristieAfter the Funeral
Poirot is called in to help solve the mystery of the death of a woman following the funeral of her uncle whom she claimed had been murdered. Trademark large country house setting with a family gathering for the denouementDetective
1958
Alys ClareAshes of the Elements
A twelfth century murder mystery. Josse Acquil visits the Abbess of Hawkenlye to investigate the murder of a poacher in the forest. He uncovers the secrets of a wandering forest community. An unusual and interesting novel with a satisfying conclusion.Detective
2000
Anne CleeveTelling Tales
A Vera Stanhope detective story. Vera is sent down to Yorkshire to investigate an old murder. New evidence has emerged about a ten year old murder and the woman found guilty of it has just killed herself in prison.Detective
2005
Ann CleevesDead Water
The 5th of the Shetland series. An ex-Shetland journalist is murdered on a visit to his parents. The girl he ditched years before is about to be married but then her fiance is murdered. Jimmy Perez is on compassionate leave following the murder of his fiancee but gets involved and solves the mystery with the help of Willow Reeves, a DI flown if from Uist to help. Detective
2013
Ann CleevesThe Glass Room
A Vera Stanhope murder mystery set in a writers retreat in Northumberland. Two murders take place during a single week and there is almost a third. Vera and Joe Ashton have to do a lot of digging to discover the culprit.Detective
2012
Ann CleevesHidden Depths
A Vera Stanhope story involving the separate murders of two young people found lying in water strewn with flowers, but both having been strangled. The lives of comfortable families are disrupted. Detective
2007
Ann CleevesRaven Black
A young girl is found strangled close to the cottage of a reclusive old man. He was suspected, but never charged with the murder of a younger child some years earlier. It is set on Shetland and involves the Up Hellyha festival. Well constructed, good characterisations, engaging story.Detective
2006
Ann CleevesRed Bones
This is the third of the Jimmy Perez Shetland quartet. Set on Wharsay, archaeologists uncover bones though to be mediaeval but not all of them are. An old woman is shot dead and later one of the archaeologists is also found dead. They both would have been capable about revealing secrets from the past which some people wanted to remain hidden.Detective
2009
Ann CleevesSilent Voices
A crime novel set in Northumberland featuring DI Vera Stanhope. A well paced story with some twists and turns. It centres around a country house hotel and spa where Vera finds the body of a woman strangled in the steam room.Detective
2011
Ann CleevesThe Sleeping and the Dead
A murder mystery set in the past and present in NE England. During a hot dry summer the level of a reservoir falls to reveal a body anchored to the end of a breakwater. Later is connected to the murder of an 18 year old girl.Detective
2001
Ann CleevesWhite Nights
A Jimmy Perez mystery set on Shetland. He investigates the apparent hanging of a strange visitor to the island who had interrupted an art exhibition in a bizarre fashion.Detective
2008
Ann CleevesBlue Lightning
4th of the Shetland Quartet this time set on Fair Isle, Jimmy Perez's birth place. A woman, the wife of the curator of a bird sanctuary and study centre is murdered. Most of the people staying at the field centre have a reason to be glad she's dead. Perez is on hand to investigate, but it is Fiona his fiancé who solves the mystery, with unfortunate results. Thoroughly engaging until the very end.Detective
2010
Ann CleevesBurial of Ghosts
Lizzie Bartholomew, a social worker, meets Phillip Sansom on holiday in Morocco where they have a brief affair. A few months later a letter arrives from a solicitor telling of Phillip's death and his legacy to her of £15000 and asking her to trace a man called Thomas Mariner and befriend him. The hunt leads to two murders and a huge fraud. Detective
2003
Anne CleevesThe Moth Catcher
A Vera Stanhope novel; two men are found dead in a pretty area of Northumberland. One is a young man who is house sitting a large country house, the other is an older man, an ex-teacher and voluntary social worker for exprisoners. The inhabitants of recently renovated farmhouse and stables conversions find themselves involved. Clever links and good denouement.Detective
2015
Jonathan CoeNumber 11
A witty and surprising story of the progression of the lives of Rachel and Alison, friends from the age of eleven, when they were staying with Rachel's grandparents, to when they are in their twenties. A commentary on life in the first years of the twenty first century full of satire with a surreal ending.Novel
2015
Jonathan CoeRotters' Club
Set in 1970s Birmingham with a background of the pub bombings, Leyland strikes and Red Robbo.The main characters are all pupils at King William's aka King Edward's and KEHS The story follows their relationships through the fifth form to post sixth form. Some chapters are narrated in first person by Benjamin Trotter, others in the third person about other characters in the story; some are diary entries, school newspaper articles or monologues. Pretty well every 'voice' is available. The ending is somewhat ambiguous but there is a sequel which takes their lives further.Novel
2001
Beatrice ColinThe Luminous Life of Lilly Aphrodite
Set in Berlin between 1900 and 1934 the novel tells the story of Lilly Nelly Aphrodite, the illegitimate daughter of a cabaret singer and her aristocratic lover. Lilly is sent to a Catholic orphanage and eventually becomes a film actress and popular star of the 1920s. At 16 she marries an Uhlan who is subsequently declared missing during WWI. Later she marries a Russian film director, Yuri, and moves to Hollywood, but returns to Germany in 1934 to make a film for Hitler, organised by Goebbels. The first marriage to the Uhlan is discovered as is the fact that he is still alive. Eventually she escapes to the USA with the Uhlan and Yuri ends his days in Dachau. Biography
2008
Miachael ConnellyLost Light
An early Harry Bosch novel. Bosch investigates a cold case, the death of a young FBI woman who was murdered during the during a raid on a film set. The film makers had arranged for the loan of millions of dollars for a scene in the film. Detective
2004
Michael ConnellyChasing the Dime
Henry Pierce is a chemical/IT wonder. He is about to sell his latest brainchild to a big company when his girlfriend leaves him and he moves to a new apartment. He he keeps getting phone calls for a girl called Lily who it becomes clear is a call girl. Curious, he tries to track her down but becomes enmeshed in business intrigue, betrayal and is suspected of murder. Thriller
2002
Michael ConnellyThe Closers
A Bosch mystery. Harry is working on cold cases with his partener when they are trying to track down the killer of a teenage student murdered 17 years earlier. One or two hints provide the clues but the main story is a red herring, however it is well constructed and engaging.Thriller
2005
Michael ConnellyThe Drop
An excellent Harry Bosch page turner. Bosch and Chu are put on to a cold case involving the rape and murder of a young girl, but the DNA which has been recovered belongs to a man who was only 8 years old at the time of the murder. Alongside this crime they are investigating the the death of the son of a councillor, Irving, who has been giving the LAPD a lot of trouble. Bosch and Chu work on both cases side by side resolving both.Detective
2011
Michael ConnellyThe Fifth Witness
A Mickey Haller story with lots of twists and turns. Haller defends a woman accused of killing the head of a company who is foreclosing on her mortgage. Lots of action and satisfactory endingDetective
2011
Michael ConnellyThe Gods of Guilt
A Mickey Haller case concerning a murdered call girl and organised crime. The gods of guilt of the title are the jury. It was quite slow to begin with but it became a page turner.Detective
2013
Michael ConnellyThe Last Coyote
Bosch is in search of the man who murdered his mother thirty yeas earlier. He unearths a web of corruption in high places and finally discovers the culprit, the last person he would have imagined.Thriller
1995
Michael ConnellyThe Lincoln Lawyer
Mickey Haller cannot afford offices in LA so he works from his home and Lincoln Continental. He defends a real estate agent whom he believes to be innocent of murder. When he realises he is wrong and the man is also guilty of another murder for which someone else has been imprisoned, he starts to plot the man's downfall.Detective
2005
Michael ConnellyNine Dragons
A fast paced Harry Bosch novel partly set in Kowloon. After a seemingly triad killing Bosch is threatened. He then receives a photo of his daughter, who is living in Hong Kong, she is tied to a chair and gagged. Bosch rushes to Hong Kong to rescue her. A real page turner with a neat twist at the end.Detective
2009
Michael ConnellyThe Poet
Jack McEvoy, a journalist, is trying to track down a child killer who has been called The Poet on account of the extracts of Edgar Allan Poe's verse he leaves at crime scenes. A cleverly plotted novel which raises the question of are there two killers? The answer comes at the end of the story and the culprit is the last person the reader would think of.Detective
1998
Michael ConnellyThe Reversal
Micky Haller is persuaded to work for the prosecution in a case involving the retrial of an old murder. Haller and Bosch have to work hard and combine their talents to find the killer of a twelve year old girl in 1986.Thriller
2010
Michael ConnellyThe Scarecrow
A fast moving crime thriller. Journalist Jack McEvoy has been given notice by the LA Times in a down-sizing move. McEvoy involves himself in a new story about a black youth arrested for the murder of a white dancer. He has to mentor his female replacement and between them they discover that the murder has all the hallmarks of another dancer in Las Vegas. Through computer hacking the actual perpertrator of the murders realises that he is about to be discovered and sets out to have McEvoy and the woman journalist killed.Thriller
2009
Michael ConnellyThe Black Ice
Featuring police officer Harry Bosch the story involves his search for thedrugs baron half brother of a fellow policeman who has been murdered. The search leads to Mexico and the bull fighting scene. It has a good twist near the end.Thriller
1993
Michael ConnellyThe Black Box
A Harry Bosch page turner. Bosch investigates the murder of a Danish journalist 20 years earlier during the LA riots following the Rodney King killing. Bosch discovers links back to Iraq and Desert Storm where the journalist met a group of LA soldiers.Thriller
2012
Michael ConnellyThe Wrong Side of Goodbye
A brilliant detective thriller. Bosch is chared with finding the possible heir to a multimillionaire whilst also chasing a rapist in San Fernando. Fast moving and thoroughly engrossing.Thriller
2016
Michael ConnellyThe Brass Verdict
A well crafter page turner featuring Mickey Halley and his half brother Detective Harry Bosch. Jack McEvoy, a journalist from a previous novel is also included. There are plenty of twists to the story but they are always believable. Haller inherits the caseload of a fellow lawyer who has been murdered and takes on the case of Walter Elliot a fim maker.Detective
2008
Michael ConnellyThe Burning Room
Bosch is teamed with rookie Lucy Soto to research the cold case murder of Orando Merced. Ten years after he was shot he died of complications caused by the bullet. Bosch quickly decides that the bullet was not intended for Orando. Lucy introduces another cold case about a fire in a basement children's nursery, a fire she escaped from, but others didn;t. A well constucted well paced detective story.Detective
2014
Alex ConnorIsle of the Dead
A murder mystery set mainly in the art world of London and Venice. Angelico Vespucci was a notorious serial killer in 16thC Venice who flayed the skin off the 4 women he murdered. He knew Titian and it was rumoured that Titian had painted him but the painting had never come to light until it was found floating in the Thames in 21st C London. A convoluted story with several narrators, the carries you along but the ending is rather unsatisfactory. A 21st C man is trying to emulate Vespucci but he is thwarted, though not before 4 people have been killed. 490ppThriller
2013
Alex ConnorThe Rembrandt Secret
This story is based on the supposed discovery of letters written by Rembrandt's lover to him when she was either in jail or a madhouse. They reveal that most of the work attributed to him were done by their son Carel. If this secret is revealed it would shake the art world. There is bluff and double bluff and several suspects. The ending is unexpected but feasible.Thriller
2011
Alex ConnorThe Rembrandt Secret
Letters which purport to have been written by Rembrandt's mistress claim that many pictures attributed to him were in fact painted by his son. If this were to be proved true it would rock the art world. Four murders are committed before the situation is resolved.Detective
2011
Robin CookCell
George Wilson is a radiologist in LA. He becomes invoved with a company producing IDoc, a mobile phone app which monitors people's health and treatment. Five people die in unexpected circumstances, one of them his fiance, a diabetic. The app is still at the developmental stage and the dead people were all taking part in trials of it. Wilson is suspicious and starts to investigate what is causing the deaths. Well paced but the situation is resoved a little too quickly in the end.Detective
2014
Robin CookCritical
Cook has lost his pace. This novel contained far too many sets of initials of US medical and Govt depts. and illnesses for the reader to remember. MRSA was the main one. One situation was set up but never resolved, the ending was predictable but not entirely satisfactory.Thriller
2007
Robin CookIntervention
A very unlikely and convoluted pseudo-medical novel interweaving alternative medicine, the theft of an ossiary in Rome believed to contain the bones of the Virgin Mary and faith healing. Rather ridiculous and not very well writtenNovel
2010
Bernard CornwellThe Crowning Mercy
Set during the English Civil War, Dorcas Slythe falls in love with Toby Lazander. One is from a Royalist family, the other a member of a Puritan family. The secret of a set of seals and a covenant is revealed to Dorcas on the death of her father. She narrowly escapes being burnt as a witch, before the story is resolved.Historical
2003
Linda CostelloSworn to Silence
A real page turner - Set in wintry Ohio in the small town of Painters' Mill. Chief of Police Kate Burkholder, an ex-Amish woman is faced with catching a serial killer using an MO favoured by a killer of some 16 years previously when Kate was just a teenager. A captivating thriller.Detective
2009
James CraigBuckingham Palace Blues
Police investigation into possible child abuse perpetrated by a minor royal linked to the palace. DI John Carlyle is involved when he finds a child alone in St James Park. The story has a good conclusion, but keeps going a bit too long after the denouement, so the end is a bit flat.Detective
2012
Robert CraisChasing Darkness
An average LA crime thriller featuring Elvis Cole, a private detective. When a body is found during a fire evacuation an old crime is resurrected. The dead man had been cleared of a murder by evidence procured by Cole, but the body is holding an album of photographs of murder scenes which could only have been taken at the point of death. Cole has to work hard to clear himself of saving the life of a murderer and then find the real culprit.Detective
2008
Robert CraisThe Last Detective
Set in LA and featuring PIs Elvis Cole and Joe Pike. Elvis's girlfriend's son is abducted whilst Elvis is looking after him. After trying to find the child himself, with Joe's help, Lucy has to inform her ex-husband, the child's father, of the situation. He insists on informing the police. Elvis investigates more deeply and discovers that the boy's father has organised the kidnapping himself in order to prove to Lucy that being with Elvis is too dangerous. But he doesn't realise how ruthless the abductors are and when they up the ransome things get very dangerous. Good plot but Crais has a 'bitty' style and the story doesn't flow well.Detective
2003
Kevin Crossley HollandWaterslain
This is really junior fiction, but a very engaging story. Set in early 1955 it is about two children's search for one a set of carved wooden angels missing for centuries from their village church. There are some narrow escapes and the possibility of being beaten in the race by a local no-gooder. A satisfactory ending and charming storyNovel
2008
Peter Ho DaviesThe Welsh Girl
A WWII story of the relationship between people of different sides. It is mainly set in a Welsh village which is hosting a POW camp during the last months of the war. Esther inadvertantly becomes involved with a prisoner who manages to escape. Framing the story is a German Jewish refugee who is detailed to interview Rudolf Hess to gain intelligence. The novel was nominated for the Judy and Richard Book of the Year.War
2007
Edmund De WaalThe Hare with the Amber Eyes
Although this is the biography of the enormously wealthy Jewish Ephrussi family beginning in 1871, is written with a light touch and is more like a novel. The hare in question is just one of a collection of 264 of Japanese netsuke which has been passed down through the generations and provides a link to the various characters included in the biography. It survived the war years thanks to the cunning of a maid of the household. De Waal brings to life the different members of the family who have had guardianship of the collection and explains how it came to be in his possession. The family trees at the beginning of the novel are invaluable.Biography
2010
Michael DibdinEnd Games
An Aurelio Zen Mystery in Calabria, Italy. A man is kidnapped and then murdered. Old scores are settled amid a scam to acquire ancient artefacts. Secrets and loyalties go back centuries. A well paced and very satisfying read.Detective
2007
Michael DobbsThe Edge of Madness
Harry Jones is co-opted by the Prime Minister as his right hand man at a power conference with Russia and the USA about war with China. A fast paced thriller which dodges around China and the Middle East. The scenario test the loyalties and integrity of those involved and points up the corruption associated with power.Thriller
2008
Michael DobbsA Ghost at the Door
Quite a page turner. Harry Jones is trying to track down details of his father's past through an old photo of him with friends taken at Oxford when they were all students. One by one the people in the photo seem to be dying, and not through old age. Harry and Jen his fiancé, try to find them but just as they get close they die. There is some mysterious secret they all share which has made them all very wealthy. There is a good twist at the end.Thriller
2013
Michael DobbsLords Day
It is the State Opening of Parliament and the Queen is making her speech in the House of Lords when there is a terrorist attack. Various well known MPs make an thinly disguised appearance. The novel spans a little over 24 hours. The main character, MP Harry Jones is exSAS and acts as the go-between and focus for the counter-terrorist activities.Thriller
2007
Michael DobbsOld Enemies
Harry Jones is called in to assist in the negotiations of a high profile kidnapping. A little drawn out at times with plenty of suspense and violence.Detective
2011
Michael DobbsThe Reluctant Hero
Set mainly in a fictional communist country between Russia and Afghanistan. Harry Jones is on a mission to rescue an old friend frrom a death sentence under cover of being part of a trade/diplomatic mission. The rescue is compromised and Jones takes the place if the imprisoned man. He manages to escape by the same route used to free the prisoner and with the help of some locals and Martha Riley MP, also on the mission, he finally makes it back to the UK.Thriller
2010
Michael DobbsThe Reluctant Hero
Set largely in an imaginary ex-Soviet country, Harry Jones rescues an old friend from a death sentence. The rescue is bungled and Jones ends up in the cell recently vacated by his friend. The rescue team eventually achieve his escape but not before he has been badly beaten up. American politician, Martha Riley, helps him but on their trek across the border into Afghanistan she is shot and killed. The ending is contrived and not very satifactoryEspionage
2010
Michael DobbsA Sentimental Traitor
A political thriller with the impact opening of a plane being brought town by a missile. Harry Jones gets involved big time.Espionage
2012
Jennifer DonnellyA Gathering Light
Set at the beginning of the twentieth century in the Adirondaks, this is the story of Mattie who dreams of going to college and becoming a writer. Before her mother died Mattie had promised her that she would look after her younger brothers and sisters, which now stands in the way of her achieving her dream. The story is fictional but is set against the actual death of a girl, Grace Brown, who was staying with her fiancé at the hotel where Mattie worked. The death by drowning was assumed to be accidental, but the letters that Grace had entrusted to Mattie make her think otherwise. Mattie is being wooed by the son of a neighbouring farmer and almost agrees to the union when she realises that he only wants the marriage to give him access to her father’s land. The story paints a vivid picture of small town American life at the timeNovel
2004
Margaret DrabbleThe Red Queen
A two part story; part one is about the life of a Korean princess narrated by her or her 'ghost'. Part two is about a modern academic, Barbara Halliwell who is sent, anonymously, a biography of the crown princess shortly before she is to visit Korea to give a paper at a conference. Halliwell becomes intrigued by the princess and through a series of accidents and coincidences visits the palace where the princess had lived. She has an intense three day love affair with an elderly Dutch academic who dies in bed beside her of a heart attack. She contacts his widow about the adoption of a Korean baby girl the professor had been arranging. Towards the end of the novel Barbara meets Margaret Drabble who is interested in her story ... An unconventional style having the author as a character in her own book, but a good read.Biography
2004
Margaret DrabbleThe Seven Sisters
A diary style novel about Candida Wilton, a late middle aged divorcee who has moved from being the wife of a headmaster of a boys; boarding school in Norfolkto a one bedroom flat in Ladbroke Grove. It is a good depiction of the life of a single woman living in London. Candida is somewhat estranged from her three daughters and when a life policy matures she chooses to go on holiday with five friends to tour Tunisia and Naples, the territory of Candida's class on the Aeneid. The seventh sister is made up by their tour guide. Novel
2002
Jack DrummondAvalanche
Set in the french Alps, the story is of a ski resort all set for the annual ski race, but on the eve of the event a huge avalanche engulfs the village. Drummond introduces a variety of characters and scenarios in the first half of the novel then the reader follows them through the events of the disaster. Very well constucted.Novel
2007
Daphne Du MaurierThe Glass Blowers
Story of a family of glass manufacturers set in 18th & 19th C France It encompasses the revolutions and various changes of fortune for the family, particularly that of the elder daughter Sophie who narrates the story, and her brother Robert who has to flee to England because he supports the crownHistorical
1963
Daphne Du MaurierThe House on the Strand
Set in Cornwall in 1960s. Marcus Lane is a biochemist experimenting with a new drug he has developed. The drug has the effect of taking people back into the past. One day when Marcus uses it he is killed by a train. His friend Richard is befriended by a local doctor who suspects what is going on. They finally discover that the drug has the side effect of paralysing parts of the body.Science Fiction
1969
Helen DunmoreThe Betrayal
Set in 1950s Soviet Russia Andrei and Anna live in fear of a ring of the door bell as no one was safe from the powers that be during Stalin's reign of terror.Novel
2010
Steven DunnThe Unquiet Grave
A hard hitting crime thriller set over a two decades. Involves a police hunt for a missing teenager and is quite convoluted with a large character list. Involves the usual trouble policeman; has a satisfactory denouemente.Detective
2013
Petra Durst BenningThe Glassblower
Set in Germany in late 19thC it tell the story of three sisters living in Lausche still famous for glassblowing. Following the sudden death of their father the three girls carry on the business becoming inventive and developing the first Christmas tree baubles.Historical
2003
Petra Durst BenningThe Paradise of Glass
Rather disappointing after the pace of the first two in the trilogy. Wanda, the American daughter of Ruth, is the main character and dominates the story of how the villagers are able to obtain a loan and buy the furnace they rely on, but not before they lose all their money to a fraudster, but Wanda helps to get it back again.Family Saga
2015
David EbershoffThe 19th Wife
The themes of this novel are modern and historical pleural marriages within the Mormon community. Intertwined with a fictional murder of a modern Mormon husband of nineteen wives is the history of Ann Eliza Young, thought to be the nineteenth wife of Brigham Young, the founder of the religion. In fact neither of the women were the nineteenth wife as the Mormon practice when a wife died, left (very unusual), or the husband stopped visiting her, was to discount that wife altogether. Some of the papers and letters included in the novel were rather tedious, but the story gave a fascinating insight into the religion and was a really good read. Novel
2009
Elisabeth EdmonsonThe Art of Love
Set in the 1930s in London and the South of France; Polly Sullivan discovers that she is not who she thinks she is when she tries to get a copy of her birth certificate. Brought up by her mother's sister Polly is an artist working on restoration in a modest gallery. Lots of interwoven threads all tie up nicely at the end and several lives are intertwined, relationships fall apart and others are revealed. A well written novel with a denouements rather like a Shakespeare comedy.Novel
2008
Elizabeth EdmonsonThe Frozen Lake
Two families are drawn to the frozen lake near their homes in Westmoreland. There are family secrets which gradually unravel during the freezing Christmas and New Year of 1936 when there is unrest and rumours of war.Family Saga
2004
Elizabeth EdmundsonA Man of Some Repute
Set in 1957, Hugo goes to work for the Secret Service and takes his younger sister with him to stay in a castle whilst investigating the disappearance of its previous owner. A very English mystery somewhat in the style of Agatha Christie. Book 1Detective
2015
Kate EllisThe Flesh Tailor
A Wes Patterson story There are links with a GP shot on his doorstep and Elizabethan drawings of human body parts uncovered on the walls of an ancient farmhouse which is being renovated. Set in the present it involves evacuees who were sent to wartime Devon.Detective
2010
Kate EllisThe Jackal Man
An engaging murder mystery set in Devon and involving a serial killer who uses Egyptian death rites to arrange his victims after garrotting them. A sub-plot is the diary of an Edwardian governess who knew of similar murders in the early twentieth century.Detective
2011
Kate EllisKissing the Demons
Set in York, known in the novel as Eborby, DI Joe Plantaganet and Emily Thwaite are investigating the murder of a student which appears to be linked to several murders which have happened in the past. Quite interesting and quite gory but overcomplicated.Detective
2011
Kate EllisThe Plague Maiden
An archaeological dig unearths bodies from a plague pit. A letter arrives at the local police station claiming that a man convicted of murder 12 years ago is innocent. Someone is putting botulism culture into jam in a supermarket chain about to build on the land that is being excavated. DI Wes Peterson and his team discover the connections between the crimes. It is a well written crime story which ties up the loose ends satisfactorilyDetective
2004
Kate EllisThe Shadow Collector
A Wesley Peterson murder mystery set in rural Devon. It involves witchcraft past and present and a seventeenth century outbreak of ergot poisoning like that in Salem. The modern aspect of the story involves murders though two be committed by women branded by the locals as witches. It ties up well with a sudden extra twist at the end.Detective
2013
Kate EllisThe Shroud Maker
A Wes Patterson mystery set against the background of the 'Palkin' festival in Tradmouth. Wes and Gerry are trying to find the killer of a young musician, Kassia Graylem who is found in historic costume drifting in an inflatable dinghy. There are links to a website and online game called 'Shipworld' and in particular the character of the shroud maker. There are a lot of characters and events to keep track of and the plot is a bit convoluted. from time to time Ellis resorts to 'telling' to inform the reader. Nevertheless an engaging read.Detective
2014
Kate EllisWalking at Night
A short (217pp) detective novel set in York. DI Joe Plantaganet investigates the murder of an actress whose body had been moved from the place of her death, witnessed by a teenager who had had too much to drink. There are several more deaths and a motley group of suspects before the murderer is identified.Detective
2005
Kate EllisThe Blood Pit
Set in Devon, it brings together several of the characters of her other Devon- based novels. The story links an archaeological a dig in a Tudor monastery site to a current murder investigation. Cleverly plotted with a satisfactory outcome.Detective
2008
Barabar ErskineThe darkest Hour
Set in the summer of 1940 and the present day. This supernatural novel links family members past and present through pictures painted by the now deceased Evie Lucas. Recently widowed Lucy Standish, owner of a Chichester gallery has one of her paintings, a self portrait. One part of the picture has been painted over and on cleaning it she discovers the figure of a young man standing beside Evie. It is then that Lucy becomes haunted by a malevolent ghost who is determined that the picture should not survive. Lucy has stirred up old enmities which require the help of others to resolve.Novel
2014
Barbara ErskineDaughters of Fire
The narrative is split between a twenty-first century historian and the first century Celtic Queen Cartimandua and her husband Venutios. The ghosts of the past have unfinished business and try to resolve it through the twenty-first century characters who are deeply involved in their story. The narrative switches from character to character and time to time quite naturally. It is rather overly long at 560 pp but a good read nevertheless.Historical
2006
Barbara ErskineHiding from the Light
A dark occult novel set on the coast of Essex. On a nostalgic whim, Emma Dickson, a city girl, buys a cottage in an old Essex village. She gives up her career and relationship with Piers. The area is haunted with the ghosts of seventeeth century women killed as witches and Matthew Hopkins, the Witchfinder General. There are several modern deaths and some scary scenes.Thriller
2002
Barbara ErskineLady of Hay
An over-long fantasy story dipping between 1970s and the time of King John. There is too much history and petty events which get in the way of the main story. The modern main characters are generally not very nice people. This is the first of Erskine's fantasy novels about past events entering the lives of modern people; her more recent ones are much better and the reader more ready to suspend disbelief.Science Fiction
1986
Barbara ErskineRiver of Destiny
Despite the dramatic title this is a much better novel than her first effort. It is page turner set largely in the present day but interspersed with sequences from 865AD. This is different from her previous novels of this genre as the 21stC characters only sense the ghosts from the past rather than take on their persona. This makes the story much more believable. It is set in Suffolk and the 865AD action is to do with Viking raiders sailing up the river.Novel
2013
Barbara ErskineSleeper's Castle
Set in Hay on Wye, recently widowed Andy is renting an ancient home, Sleeper's Castle, from her friend. The compelling story is very atmospheric, dodging between the present and 1400 depicting the battles between the Welsh and the Crown. Full of suspense and tension - a really good read.Novel
2016
Barbara ErskineTime's Legacy
A compelling novel about a woman priest, Abi, who keeps seeing scenes from events around Glastonbury which took place thousands of years ago. The background story is based on the legend that Christ came to Glastonbury before he began his ministry in Galilee. A fellow priest has evil intentions.Science Fiction
2006
Barbara ErskineThe Warrior's Princess
A fascinationg time slip novel about a princess. daughter of King Cadre of Wales who is captured by the Romans and the family taken to Rome. A twentyfirst century teacher living in the area where the historical family had lived is haunted by the girl and her life is put in danger in her attempt to bring peace to the princess's restless spiritHistorical
2009
Barbara ErskineWhispers in the Sand
Set mostly on a Nile cruise ship, a recently divorced woman takes her grandmother's diary of her time in Egypt with her when she embarks on a similar journey. Also in her luggage is a small blue scent bottle which had belonged to the grandmother. As she reads the diary she becomes more and more connected with the ancient gods until one of them begins to work through her to seek revenge for the looting of his tomb. The scent bottle had been unearthed from the tomb in the past and deemed to be insignificant. The woman is severely traumatised and has to abandon the holiday and return to England.Novel
2000
Gavin EstlerA Scandalous Man
A well written political novel concerning events in 1982 and 2005, culminating with the London tube/bus bombings in Tavistock Square and Edgeware Rd, Moves between 1980s and 2005 filling in the stories of father and son and political manoeuvring between Blair and Bush.Novel
2005
Harriet EvansNot Without You
A very disappointing and convoluted story about two Hollywood actresses, one in the early sixties and the other in the present day whose stories intertwine. Novel
2013
Natalie Meg EvansThe Dress Thief
Set in Paris against the rumblings of WWII and the Spanish Civil War, this novel tells the story of Alix, working in the haute couture world of late 1030s Paris. In order to support her sick grandmother she steals the designs from her Paris fashion house and sells them to an American house. Before things can go disastrously wrong her own design talents enable her to open her own business.Novel
2014
Nicholas EvansThe Divide
Judged one of the best books of the year. The body of a girl is found frozen into river ice in Montana. She was an eco-warrior and had been accused of murder and arson. The novel traces the lives of her and her family then takes the story beyond her death to reveal the circumstances of how she died. Very well constructed.Thriller
2005
Nicholas EvansThe Brave
A different sort of story for NE. It involves Tom, brought up by his grandparents, who he thinks are his actual parents. His 'sister' takes him to Hollywood where she is idolized as a new rising star. He is thrilled because he is a coyboys and Indians fan. The story dips between Tom, past and present and his sister Diane. It is well written with drama and poignancy.Novel
2011
Linda FairsteinHell Gate
Alex Cooper is involved in investigating the deaths of illegal immigrants who have been shipwrecked on the shores of NY. She is also concerned about the disappearance of the mistress of a would-be politician who has vanished with their child. A satisfactory story but overly complicated and not as tight and satifying as some of her other novels.Detective
2010
Linda FairsteinKiller Head
Alex Cooper is involved in the investigation of a serialkiller in NY who rapes his victims before bludeoning them to death. The denouement is on Governors' Island and an ex-military camp with which the psychopathic killer is obsessed. Quite a lot of US military history is involved.Detective
2008
Linda FairsteinLethal Legacy
Set in the libraries of New York, Alex Cooper, assistant DA sets out to hunt down the murderer of a book restorer and a housekeeper. Valuable ancient maps, centuries old, and greed are the main features of the novel. Proceeds at a steady pace and stays in th efirst person, Alex Cooper.Detective
2009
Linda FairsteinThe Bone Vault
Set in museums in New York Assistant DA Alex Cooper is invoved in finding the murderer of a young female worker in the museum whose body turns up some months after she first went missing perfectly preserved in a stone sarcophagus ready to be shipped overseas. Alex sets about finding out about the girl and who wanted her dead. Interdepartmental rivalries hamper her investigations but she finally gets her man. The description of a long weekend Alex spends with girlfriends adds nothing to the story and only serves to lengthen the book.Detective
2003
Sebastian FaulkesJeeves and the Wedding Bells
A homage by Faulkes to P G Wodehouse. A funny and well constucted story of Jeeves and Wooster swapping roles at a house party to assist the smoothing over of a discord between an engaged couple. The novel ends with both Jeeves and Wooster preparing for their own nuptuals.Novel
2013
Sebastian FaulksDevil May Care
This is Seb Faulks writing as Ian Fleming. A true to Fleming fast moving thriller. bond is recalled from recuperation to take on an assignment against a new adversary. Contains the usual ingredients a ruthless megalomaniac with a grudge against the British, a bizarre assassin from SE Asia and a stunning female. Thriller
2008
Sebastian FaulksThe Girl at the Lion d'Or
Set in northern France in the mid thirties, the novel relates a few months in the life of Anne, age unstated, but probably in her late teens or early twenties. The novel describes places and events in beautiful detail and deals with thoughts and emotions with similar care. However, the novel has no real denouement, Anne arrives from Paris to find work, gets a job in a small hotel/bar, has an affair with a local land owner then returns to Paris to look for work again.Novel
1989
Sebastian FaulksOn Green Dolphin Street
A story of a love affair set against the backdrop of the 1960 election run up betwen John F Kennedy and Nixon. Mary is the wife of an alcoholic British diplomat in the British embassy in Washington who falls for Frank Renzo a journalist based in NY. It is written un Faulks' usual impeccable style.Romance
2001
Sebastian FaulksHuman Traces
A doorstop novel at 609 pages! It took Faulks five years to write and concerns the development of psychiatry during the end of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The two heroes, one English, and one French are both born in 1860 and eventually set up a clinic together in Austria. Their backgrounds are vastly different. The Englishman, Thomas Midwinter is the son of a well off English business man, but Jacques Rebiere is a poor man with a mad brother who is kept locked in a stable. By the end of the novel Jacques has married Sonia, Midwinter’s sister. Most of the novel is engrossing, revealing the way psychiatric patients were handled during that time period, but later in the book there is a huge amount of detailed discussion about late Victorian theories regarding the causes of mental illness and how patients should be treated. This is presented in the form of discussions and oral presentations by the doctors and becomes somewhat tedious. The human aspects of the novel are good and certainly up to the standard of Faulks’s earlier novels, but the medical detail spoils the book. Faulks did the research and he was damned well going to let his readers have the lot!Historical
2005
Sebastian FaulksA Possible Life
The blurb describes this as a novel in five parts but to me it was five separate short stories with no obvious links. They were all very readable but all quite different in time, setting and themes, ranging from POW camp, Vichy France, London in the late nineteenth century, Italy and the USA.Novel
2012
Sebastian FaulksA week in December
The lives of four disparate Londoners are featured in the week leading up to the 22nd December. The main character is John Veals a hedge fund manager is a total snake and lesser one are two terrorists, one a Muslim suicide bomber, and a city banker, all have the potential to ruin lives one way or another.Novel
2009
Penny FeenyThat Summer in Ischia
Allie goes to Ischia to try to discover something of her origins. Her Bohemian mother has only hinted at Allie's paternity. When she meets Liddy, a friend of her mother's in her youth, Allie learns that her father could be her mother's employer when she worked in Ischia one summer. Going there Allie meets Max, the son of the family and wonders if he is her half brother. There are lots of twists and turns, too many really. The novel should be about 70 pages shorter.Family Saga
2007
Judy FinneganEloise
A lightweight holiday read. It is rather melodramatic and overwritten. The plot is fine but too reliant on flouncy description and the character's thoughts and remembrances. Cathy is haunted by the ghost of her friend Eloise who has recently died of cancer. It is set in the West Country.Novel
2013
Marina FioratoDaughter of Siena
Set in Siena in the summer of 1723 around the horse races of the Palio. It concerns the rivalries and infighting of the jockeys and their masters. Pia of Tolema has been forced into a betrothal with one of the riders. When he is killed in one of the races she is then forced to marry his cruel albino brother, but has already fallen in love with Ricardo Bruni, the son of an ostler.Historical
2011
Marina FioratoThe Glassblower of Murano
Leonora, born in Venice but raised in England after the death of her Italian father, is determined to find out the full story of the life and death of her ancestor Corradino Mannin, a famous master glassblower. The story switches between the life of Corradino and the activites of LeonoraHistorical
2008
Marina FioratoBeatrice and Benedick
The full story of Much Ado About Nothing providing the back story with enhanced characters and introducing new ones.Historical
2014
Marino FioratoThe Venetian Contract
A brilliant historical novel set first in Constantinople and then in Venice. Feyra, the daughter of a sea captain and the sister of the Doge of Venice, is a harem doctor. She is sent by her dying mother on a mission to her uncle the Doge. Bubonic plague is raging in the Turkish capital and Fera's father is already infected before he sets out on the voyage to Venice. Feyra and her father are offloaded onto a Venetian island where he dies. On a visit to the city Fera meets a Venetian doctor and together they set up a Lazarus hospital to help Venetian sufferers.Historical
2012
Kathryn FlettSeparate Lives
This should really be categorised as chick lit. Alex and Susie have lived together for over 8 years and have 2 children. Pippa is divorced with a 12 yr old son. The story is related mostly by Susie and Pippa, the latter via a long letter to her dead mother. The time line is confusing as the 2 narratives are out of kilter. The novel follows the ups and downs of their relationships. There is some very witty writing which kept my interest, but it's not great literature.Novel
2012
Gillian FlynnGone Girl
A clever plot spoilt by thoroughly unlikeable characters. Amy the rich self absorbed wife of Nick goes missing. The kitchen of their house is in disarray and there are traces of her blood. Nick is suspected of her murder. The novel is related in turn by extracts of her diary and regular narrative in Nick's voice. Gradually the truth about their seemingly idyllic relationship emerges and both turn out to be deeply unpleasant people. Certainly not my 'thriller of the year'!Novel
2012
Katherine FlynnWhat was Lost
I gave this 4 stars for the quality of the writing, not the story line. It won the Costa prize for a first novel, but the story is weak. It tied things up well enough in the end, but there was a lot of repetitive description and introspection needed to sustain the plot. Some drama, some tragedy and no happy ending. The setting is a Birmingham shopping centre circa 1970s.Novel
2007
Ken FollettEdge of Eternity
Final part of 'The Century' trilogy. Follett picks up the descendents of the families in Part 1 to carry their lives through from 1951 to 1989, the building of the Berlin Wall to its destruction. A good read but quite hard to keep tabs on all the characters.Historical
2014
Ken FollettThe Fall of Angels
Novel covering the years 1911 to 1924. Involves 5 families of widely differing status in Britain, Germany and Russia. Historical
2010
Ken FollettThe Man from St Petersburg
Set in 1914 with war in Europe imminent, communist Felicks wants revolution in Russia and to bring this about he need to assassinate Prince Alecks Orlov, a relative of the Czar. Orlov comes to London to stay with his aunt Lydia, Lady Walden. He attempts the assination of Orlovafter Charlotte, the 18yr old daughter's coming out ball. Lydia and Felicks had an affair before her marriage and Charlotte is the result. Usual Follett intrigues.Historical
1982
Ken FollettWinter of the World
A very long but engrossing read, the second of the trilogy. The old characters and their descendents emerge, along with some new ones. Covers 1933 to 1949 and includes the Berlin air lift and the execution of an American couple for passing details of the nuclear bomb to a Russian spy. Rather too many coincidences regarding people meeting up again to make the novel entirely convincing. Family Saga
2012
Elonora ForbesThe Jigsaw Man
Intersting plot line but complicated by two separate murder enquiries totally unconnected. 'Bodies' turn up which on examination turn out to be parts of several corpse reassembled. In case 2 the body of the sister of an ex-policewoman is found in a hotel room. The narrative switches from one case to the other and any insight into the culprits is fragmented and leaves the reader not sure which crime each is responsible for. Not very satisfactory.Detective
2014
James ForresterSacred Treason
Elizabethan thriller: William Harley, Clarenceau King of Arms is deputed by an old friend, Henry Machyn, to assemble a group of men known as Knights of the Round Table in order to reveal a secret which could Damage Elizabeth and her rights to the throne. The story has its roots in real people and the Machyn Chronicles. Very well written and historically convincing.Historical
2011
Margaret ForsterIsa and May
An infuriating novel which promised much but delivered little. Isa and May are Isamay's grandmothers. Isamay is writing an MA dissertation on the relationships between famous grandmothers and their granddaughters. During the writing of the dissertation Isamay becomes pregnant. She is trying to find out about the past of her paternal grandmother, who turns out not to be her grandmother at all. Her boyfriend's mother, who has never been spoken about, turns up and it soon becomes clear why he has never had anything to do with her. Lots of hares set running but a disappointing ending.Novel
2011
Margaret ForsterThe Memory Box
Susannah, Catherine's mother, who died when Catherine was a baby left her a memory box. At the age of 31, after both her father and step-mother have died she opens the box and gradually, through following up the contents of the box, learns a lot about mother and also about herself. Beautifully written but with quite a lot of 'telling'.Novel
1999
Frederick ForsytheThe Kill List
An Islamist fanatic is preaching hate of non-Muslims over the internet and several hate murders have taken place in England and USA as a result of his influence. 'The Tracker', a US army colonel is charged with disposing of him. The novel is rather overburdened with detail which slows down the action.Thriller
2013
Christopher FowlerThe Memory of Blood
A clever plot full of black humour and witty asides. At an opening night party for a new play the baby of the play's backer is thrown out of a bedroom window and killed. Left in the child's room is a macabre puppet of Mr Punch. The two detectives, Bryant and May set to work to find the killer.Detective
2011
Dick & Felix FrancisCrossfire
Another page turner from Francis. Tom returns from Afghanistan minus a foot and after being discharged from hospital goes to stay with his trainer mother and stepfather. Discovering that they are being blackmailed for inadvertently not having paid some taxes. Tom sets out to solve the mystery of who is behind it. Taut and exciting.Thriller
2010
Dick & Felix FrancisDead Heat
Another exciting thriller from the Francis stable. Max is a restaurateur whose establishment is under threat from food poisoning. With the help of Caroline Aston, a viola player, he succeeds in nailing the drug smuggling Russian responsible not only for the food poisoning, but for a bomb which killed 9 people at the 2000 guineas box that Max was catering. Slightly too neat ending, but a good read neverthelessThriller
2008
Dick & Felix FrancisEven Money
A racing novel but this time told from a bookies point of view. Well paced with a good plot.Thriller
2009
Dick & Felix FrancisSilks
Barrister, Geoffrey Mason, known to his friends as Perry, finds himself defending a professional jockey against the murder of fellow jockey Scott Barlow. Lots of twists and turns, a dollop of romance and several helpings of violence. Good denouement.Thriller
2009
Dick FrancisHot Money
Typical horse racing novel. Reunited with his father amateur steeplechase jockey tries to discover which member of the family is trying to kill his extremely rich father. Slightly less violence than in many of his previous novels.Thriller
1987
Felix FrancisDamage
Well written but with a weak ending and some padding. Jeff Hinkley is an undercover investigator for the British Horseracing Authority. Someone is sabotaging big racing events and Jeff is trying to get to the bottom of it. The BHA is being blackmailed. There is a sub-plot involving his step-nephew who is about to be charged with drug dealing. Some side issues which have no real relevance to the main plot. The ending, though satisfactory, is very abrupt.Detective
2014
Felix FrancisGamble
Nicholas Foxton, an exjockey turned financier is being targeted after his colleague is shot while watching a horse race. It turns out to be an EU financial fraud.Thriller
2011
Felix FrancisRefusal
Sid Halley returns. He is persuaded to investigate race fixing going on a grand scale. Halley discovers it is an ex-republican Irishman living in Manchester who is masterminding it. He is terrorising jocks, fixing races, and juggling the on course betting. There is the usual good dollop of violence but Halley wins through with the aid of his old friend Chico.Thriller
2013
Felix FrancisTriple Crown
Investigator Jeff Hinckley goes to the USA discover the mole in the Fed Anti Corruption in Sports Agency who is tipping off suspects in cases of horse doping before the raid can take place. Generally well paced but lost its impetus a bit by th e end.Detective
2016
Felix FrancisBloodline
Taut racing thriller set against the TV commentaries of events. Clare and Mark Shillingford are twins, he a TV commentator and she an up and coming jockey. Clare appears to commit suicide, apparently jumping to her death from the 15th floor of the Park Lane Hilton. Serious blackmail is involved along with race fixing and 3 murders. A gripping read.Thriller
2013
John FrancomeDark Horse
A readable mystery set in the Yorkshire racing world. Claire, the wife of a vet, is killed in a car accident and 5 years on her husband is still grieving. Vet nurse/administrator Alice starts digging after another fatal road accident and Mark, an ex-jockey writes to the vet wanting to confess what he knows about Claire's accident. But others involved are desperate to shut him up. Detective
2008
John FrancomeDeadly Finish
Potentially a good plot but not very satisfactorily handled. Brazilian ex-call girl is engaged to a Yorkshire racehorse trainer. Blackmail is involved as low-life thugs threaten to tell the boy friend about her past. A potential winner who is a friend of the trainer knows about the girl complicates the plot. Not particularly well finished.Thriller
2009
John FrancomeFinal Breath
A racing who-done-it involving the murder of Kirsty, the girl friend of Danny, a jockey whose mother is a trainer. Unknown to her partner Kirsty had been having affairs with a number of people. Her friend Tara takes her place in the affections of Danny. There are a lot of characters to sort out and it does not have a very satisfactory endingDetective
2008
John FrancomeStorm Rider
A crime novel with a horse racing background. Less tense and violent than the Dick Francis oeuvre but a good read nevertheless. After a heavy storm a corpse is found hanging in a tree from which branches have been torn down. The main characters know who the corpse was and how the body got into the tree, but the murderer's identity is concealed until the end.Thriller
2010
Maureen FreelyEnlightenment
Very complicated and convoluted, set in Istanbul between1970 and 71, then later around 1985 and finally between 2004 and 2005. A journalist is asked by a US lawyer to investigate the events surrounding the arrest of a Turkish man, the disappearance of his wife and their 5 year old son. Freely uses diaries, letters and interviews to convey the story, which in the end only hints at what actually happened. Cleverly written with more than a little factual material included.Novel
2007
Maureen FreelyThe Other Rebecca
This is a modern take on Daphne du Maurier’s novel in a more up to date setting. All the original characters have their parallels; again the story is set in the first person and again we never know the narrator’s name. The husband becomes Max Midwinter and the Mrs Danvers character is ‘Danny’, the housekeeper and acolyte of Rebecca with the same sinister aura. The story has a lot of twists and turns and some extra characters but is a good comparison with du Marier’s version. However, there seem to be a few loose ends left untied.Novel
2008
Brian FreemantleThe Cold Nowhere
Jonathan Stride is a detective in Duluth USA. Before Cat's mother is killed she tells her daughter that if ever she is in danger she must find Stride. One night she arrives at Stride's home, soaking wet and covered in blood and claiming to have narrowly escaped a sadistic killer.Detective
2013
Nicci FrenchBeneath the Skin
A killer is sending letters to young women telling them he is going to kill them. First Zoe, a young teacher, then Jennifer an almost 40 wealthy housewife, then Nadia a children's party organiser. The first two die, but Nadia gets protection and despite her police guard manages to get out and work out who the killer is and gets to him before he gets to her. Very tense and well written.Detective
2000
Nicci FrenchTuesday's Gone
Psychologist Frieda is helping police investigate the murder of a man found in the flat of a woman with severe mental problems. The dead man turns out to be a con man cheating people out of hundreds of thousands of pounds. Intrigue is sustained through the plight of a woman dependent on the dead man. Good denouement.Detective
2012
Nicci FrenchWaiting for Wednesday
Psychologist Frieda helps to solve the mystery of several girls missing girls who have disappeared over a number of years, and is involved in bringing to justice the murder of a seemingly ordinary housewife and mother.Detective
2013
Nicci FrenchWhat to do When Someone Dies
A well paced tale of a widow trying to find out the circumstances leading up to her husband's death in a car accident. Who was the woman passenger who died in the burnt out car with him, a lover or a colleague? Ellie has to find out.Thriller
2008
Nikki FrenchThe Red Room
A psychological drama: women are being killed and there is no obvious link between the deaths. Kit Quinn a psychologist becomes involved in the investigation and she soon finds a connection between the women. A young loner is suspected of the killings and is found murdered by a 'vigilante'. The denouement ties it all together.Thriller
2001
Tana FrenchBroken Harbour
Michael Kennedy is a senior detective in the Dublin police force. A multiple murder case brings him into contact with rookie detective Richie Curran. The two soon achieve a rapport and are working well together. The murder involves a father and his two children with the wife seriously ill with knife wounds. There are several likely suspects but it takes over 500 pages for the situation to be resolved. A good plot marred by too much unnecessary introspective detail and Keneddy's mentally disturbed sister which added nothing to the story.Detective
2013
Kate FurnivalThe Liberation
Set in Naples in 1945 when the British and American troops are trying to bring order to Italy and prevent the looting of all the art treasures. Caterina has taken over the cabinet making workshop after the death of her father. She looks after her grandfather and young brother and tries to prove that her father had not been involved in illegal looting and faking copies of antique furniture during the war.Novel
2016
Kate FurnivalShadows on the Nile
Set mostly in the 1930s; Jessie Kenton goes to Egypt in search of her archaeologist brother who has disappeared. She is helped in her search by Sir Montague Chamford and is plunged into the mysterious world of seances. The Egyptian scenes are very well written and atmospheric, especially when Jessie uncovers family secrets from the past which have always disturbed her.Novel
2013
Kate FurnivalThe White Pearl
Set in Malaya at the beginning or WWII, Connie Hadley is the wife of a rubber plantation owner and lives a life of luxury with her husband and young son. She takes over the care of a pair of native 16 year old twins whose mother was killed in a car accident caused by Connie herself. Japan enters the war and life changes dramatically when Connie engages Fitzpayne to sail herself and her family and friends away from danger in her yacht the White Pearl.Novel
2012
Kate FurnivallThe Jewel of St Petersburg
Valentina Ivanova is the daughter of a minister in the Tsar's government; not a comfortable position in pr-erevolutioary St Petersburg. She is beautiful and Stepan Charnov, son of a wealthy aristocrat has his sights on her. However Valentina is in love with Jens Frits, a Danish engineer. Whe her sister,Katya, is cripled by a terrorist bomb Valentina fights her father to be allowed to train as a nurse. Well written and well paced.Romance
2010
Kate FurnivallThe Far Side of the Sun
Set in the Bahamas in 1943, Dodie Wyatt is on her way home from her job in a restaurant when she finds an injured man in an alley close to her home. Ella Stanford, the wife of a wealthy diplomat has secrets to keep which can put her life in danger. The two women form an unlikely alliance to get to the bottom of the mystery of why the man was attacked. The Duke and Duchess of Windsor make an appearance in the novel Novel
2013
Alan FurstSpies of Warsaw
Set in Warsaw in 1938 and 1939. Jean-François Mercier has been appointed as French attaché to Poland and his job is to promote good relations between the French and Polish staffs, but his real job is to gather military intelligence from wherever he can. He has a passionate affair with a Polish woman of French extraction which provides an extra dimension to the story. Espionage
2008
Frances FyfieldCold to the Touch
Sarah Fortune tries to help her friend Jess sort out her chaotic life. Sarah goes to stay in a seaside cottage rented from Jess's mother. However, before Sarah can begin to sort out Jess's problems the girl is found dead, frozen in a local butchers cold room. Bizarre and rather unbelievable.Detective
2009
Frances FyfieldGold Diggers
A fascinating page turner. Di Quigley is a young thief just released from prison. A gang forced her to break into a big old property to steal the keys to a vintage car. They had tied up the owner but Di released him and he encouraged her to escape. The house is full of beautiful paintings which attract Di. When she gets out of prison she returns to the house, and before long marries the aging Thomas Porteus, the owner. She helps him to turn the house into a showcase for all the artwork. Thomas's greedy and monstrous daughters plot revenge after his death but Di's dubious friends plot to foil them. Very unusual but totally engaging. Detective
2012
Frances FyfieldBlood from Stone
There is a big emphasis on fashion, style and renovation in this novel. Marianne Shearer QC is found dead after appearing to throw herself from the balcony of a 6th floor hotel room. Hen Joyce, the sister of a woman decimated in the witness box by Shearer and who subsequently committed suicide, is the hero of the story. It is well told but a bit over-wordy in places. Novel
2008
Robert GalbraithCareer of Evil
Third of the Cormorant Strike series, Strike and Robin are hunting down the killer of a young woman who always cuts off parts of his victims as a trophy. It opens with Robin receiving a parcel containing a leg.Detective
2016
Robert GalbraithThe Cuckoo's Calling
First in a series about private detective Cormorant Strike and Robin Ellacott his secretary. A super model appears to have committed suicide by jumping off a balcony, but her uncle thinks it could have been murder and employs Strike to investigate.Detective
2013
Robert GalbraithThe Silkworm
The second Cormorant Strike story, involving publishing houses. Very well plotted with several possible suspects for the murder of Owen Quine, author of sadistic sex novels. Secretary and assistant Robin becomes more involved in the sleuthing.Detective
2014
Patrick GaleNotes from an Exhibition
This is a patchwork of a novel which the reader has to piece together. Rachel Kelly, bipolar artist, dies and her family try find out what they can about her life before she came to England. The title comes from the information cards displayed by works in an exhibition. Roughly half the novel is told in Rachel's voice, but she leaves behind a legacy of secrets which her family try to unravel and which causes them emotional havoc as they discover more about her early life.Novel
2007
Patrick GaleA Place Called Winter
Set between the beginning of the twentieth century and the 1920s in London and the wilds of Canada. Harry Care is packed off to Canada when his family discover he is gay, despite beining married with a wife and daughter. The main story follows his progress in establishing himself on a farmstead in a settlement called Winter. It is tender and poignant and totally engrossing.Historical
2014
Patrick GaleRough Music
Will is given a two week holiday in a cottage in Cornwall by his sister. He takes his parents with him, his mother has Alzheimer's. The cottage is one the family had stayed in when Will was a child and as the holiday progresses memories of tragic events, betrayals and the consequences emerge. The author camouflages the earlier characters by using childhood pet names for the past which is not particularly useful. Will is gay and has been having a relationship with his brother-in-law Sandy since he married Will's sister! The title comes from a piece of metallic sculpture bought by Will in the early stages of the book. It creates music of a sort when left outside in the wind.Novel
2008
Damon GalgutIn a Strange Room
A short literary novel covering three journeys made by the same man in different parts of the world - Greece, S Africa and India. Related in first and third person which changes at random. A best seller in South Africa but I was left wondering what was the point of it all.Novel
2010
Jane GardamThe Man in the Wooden Hat
The story of Old Filth (failed in London try Hong Kong) a lawyer, told by his wife Betty in 3rd person. Amusing and poignant by degrees. Often found it hard to identify with Betty but could sympathise at times.Novel
2009
Lisa GardnerLove you More
Boston State Trooper, DD Miller, is on the run, her young daughter kidnapped and her husband dead. She is in the early stages of pregnancy and finding it tough going. A well written thriller with plenty of twists. She plays cat and mouse with the kidnappers until they are either dead or in custody and her little girl safe.Thriller
2011
Jonathan GashThe Judas Pair
An indifferent crime story set in the world of antiques. The Judas pair of the title are a pair of antique duelling pistols stolen from the owner who was murdered before the theft. A lot of detail about antiques and the only real action comes in the last few chapters.Detective
1971
Lisa GenovaStill Alice
A novel depicting the the progression of dementia in Alice Howland, a university professor. First she forgets the odd word, then delivers the wrong lecture, then forgets what she is lecturing about and finally forgets to turn up at all. The year of the progression of her illness is documented and Alice wonders if she will survive long enough to recognise her first grandchild, and see her youngest daughter in the leading role in the theatre. Very thoughtfully writtenNovel
2007
Elizabeth GeorgeA Place of Hiding
In intricately plotted novel set in Guernsey. A brother and sister courier a set of plans to Guernsey for Guy Brouard, supposedly neither knowing that hidden inside the rolled up documents is a priceless painting which Brouard acquired illegally. On discovering the secret the sister plans to steal the painting, but her attempt ends in disaster. There are rather a lot of unanswered questions and loose ends. The basic idea is sound but is spoilt by an overcomplicated plot and too many red herrings.Novel
2003
David GibbinsThe Last Gospel
The story of the search for a scroll believed to have been written by Christ at the request of the Emperor Claudius around AD 27. The novel opens in the Mediterranean, goes to Naples, Rome, London, Los Angeles and Jerusalem in the space of one week. The writing style is convincing, but a Bit Dan Brownish. A long read at 560pp but nevertheless engagingNovel
2008
Elizabeth GiffordSecrets of the Sea House
Set in Harris and Lewis, a couple are renovating an old manse which they have bought with the intention of turning it into a guest house. They find buried beneath a floor the body of a baby born with deformed fused legs. Ruth, whose late mother came fromm the Isles is drawn to the fables about silkies and mermaids. The modern story is interspersed with that of one a century earlier involving Alexander, the then resident of their manse, and the secret of the baby is revealed.Detective
2014
Robert GoddardName to a Face
An intricately woven plot involving the search for a missing ring. Tim Harding is persuaded to go to Cornwall to bid for the ring at an auction. In doing so he finds himself involved in a tangled web of mystery and suspicion over the death of a journalist some years before and which leads to other deaths before the mystery is solved.Novel
2008
Robert GoddardBlood Count
13 years before the beginning of the novel a liver-transplant surgeon performed a life-saving operation on a wealthy Serb. Later the Serb was indicted for war crimes and on trial at the Hague. Edward Hammond, the surgeon receives a threat from the man's daughter - help release my father's money or he will reveal that part of the payment was the murder of Hammond's wife who was about to divorce you. There followed several weeks of charging about Europe before the situation was satisfactorily resolved. Thriller
2011
Laurie GrahamThe Importance of Being Kennedy
Written in the style of an autobiography the novel traces the lives of the youg Kennedy family through the eyes of Nora Brennan the children's nursemaid. A compelling read tracing the deeds and misdeeds of JFK and his siblings and the rigid keeping up of appearances of matriarch Rose Kennedy. The family 'skeleton' is poor Rose junior, damaged at birth by her mother dleiberately holding back frpm dleivery so that the doctor with ether could arrive. Nora is torn between marriage and looking after the younger members of the family. When visiting grand houses in the UK, staff were always known by the name of the family they worked for, hence the title of the novel.Biography
2007
Ann GrangerA Mortal Curiosity
Set in the late 19th Century. After the death of her aunt Elizabeth Martin goes to the New Forest to be a companion to a young woman who has recently lost her baby. She uncovers a web of deceit and murder and her gentleman friend from London, a plain clothes policeman is summoned to get to the bottom of this Victorian murder mystery. Well written and convincing.Detective
2008
Ann GrangerMud Muck and Dead Things
A man drives to a prearranged rendezvous only to find the body of a girl and no sign of the man he was supposed to be meeting. Set in a small village in the Cotswolds, a police investigation ensues, only to find the corpse of the man who found the body in his own lock-up garage. A well paced murder mystery with believable characters and events. Detective
2009
Ann GrangerRack Ruin and Murder
A gently paced murder mystery set in the Cotswolds. Old Monty arrives home from a visit to the shops to find a corpse on the settee in his living room. Campbell and Carter join forces to solve the mystery.Detective
2011
Ann GrangerA Rare Interest in Corpses
Set in London in the 1890s this novel is the forerunner to 'A Mortal Curiosity'. Elizabeth Morton becomes companion to her late godfather's second wife, taking the place of a previous woman who disappeared leaving all her belongings behind. Some weeks later she is found dead in a street about to be demolished for the construction of the new underground railway lines.Detective
1988
Ann GrangerRattling the Bones
Fran Varady, an out of work actress and part time Private Investigator recognises Edna, a bag lady she has had dealings with before, wandering around the town. She wants to check that everything is all right but Edna is very independent and secretive. When other people seem to be taking more than a passing interest in Edna Fran gets into action.Detective
2007
Ann GrangerA Better Quality of Murder
A Victorian murder mystery involving Ben and Lizzie Ross. Allegra Benedict, beautiful young Italian wife of wealthy art dealer is strangled in Green park. Ben officially and Lizzie, unofficially set out to find the murderer.Detective
2010
Ann GrangerA Restless Evil
Set in the Cotswolds, bones are found in some remote woodland close to an old drovers' road. This sets in train the reopening of a twenty year old unsolved murder case and opens another when the churchwarden is found dead in the church.Detective
2002
Ann GrangerWatching Out
A Fran Varady murder mystery told in the first person. Fran is working in a pizzeria part time and acting in a one-off play to be performed in a local pub. She is sucked into investigating the death of Ion an illegal immigrant who seems to have links with the pizzeria where she works. There are lots of good descriptions of scenery and reflection on life but rather too much 'telling' of the explanation of events at the end, hence only three stars!Detective
2003
Linda GrantThe Clothes on their Backs
A multi themed novel: clothes feature prominently in the story; Vivien Kovak likes old clothes and buys them from street markets. Eunice has a very smart dress shop. Vivian is trying to find out about her past, her parents are secretive Hungarian immigrants who will tell her nothing. It is set largely in the 1970s when NF thugs roamed London streets. V's uncle, husband of Eunice, and whom her father has disowned, is based on Rachman the notorious slum landlord of the 1960s. Good characterisations but some events not necessary to the main story, eg V's fiancé's death and encouragement from her mother to have an abortion, seemed tucked in as a marker of the times as it had just become legalNovel
2009
Susannah GregoryDeath in St James Park
Set in the reign of Charles II, Thomas Chaloner, spy for the Earl of Clarendon is charged with discovering who is killing the King's water birds in St James Park. His investigations lead Chalenor to the Post Office where where the new Postmaster is stealing letters and taking bribes. Rumbling in the background are rumours of further revolution. Very colourful with a good insight into the social mores and behavious of the day.Historical
2013
Julia GregsonEast of the Sun
In 1928 three young women sail for India ill-prepared for what they will find there. The point of view jumps between the three women and other characters to reveal the story. Victoria Rose and Vivid are all well rounded characters as are all the other players, major and minor. The style and vocabulary seem authentic for the period. Woven into the story is the mysterious young Guy Glover who, once in India causes serious trouble. A convincing and enjoyable novel. Novel
2008
Julia GregsonThe Water Horse
A novel about Catherine, a Welsh farmer's daughter who rains as a nurse and goes to Crimea, first to Scutari and then to Crimea itself. Her childhood companion, Dewi, goes out with replacement horses. To become a nurse Catherine had to escape from the farm dressed as a boy and ride with Dewi and the drovers to the docks. There are very good descriptions of the squalor and hardship of nursing in Crimea. Florence Nightingale is depicted as a bit of a tyrant but who could charm her superiors to get what she wanted. The novel has a satisfactory denouementHistorical
2010
Kate GrenvilleSarah Thornhill
Set in New South Wales it tells the story of a girl growing up on a farmstead on the Hawkesbury River. It is a sequel to 'The Secret River', the tale of her pioneer parents. It is a coming-of-age story, captivating and beautifully written with well drawn characters. Historical
2011
John GrishamThe Confession
After a slow beginning the story started to pick up pace. A man confesses to a Lutheran priest that he is responsible for the rape and murder of a girl. A young black man is about to be executed for the crime and the priest has a race against time to sort out the mystery before the man goes to the gas chamber.Thriller
2010
John GrishamGray Mountain
A legal story involving unscupulous coal mining companies wriggling out of paying compensation to workers with lung disorders caused by their operations.The ending is rather inconclusive and I suspect there may be a sequel in the offing.Detective
2015
John GrishamThe Litigators
Hot shot lawyer who has never been inside a courtroom leaves a big legal outfit to join a pair of LA street lawyers - ambulance chasers. It's a bit slow to start with as the aces are trying, unsuccessfully to sue a drugs company, but speeds up when he pursues a case concerning lead in a toy which has caused brain damage to the son of a Burmese family. Good ending.Detective
2011
John GrishamThe Racketeer
Black lawyer Malcolm Bannister is 5years into a 10 year sentence for a fraud he did not commit. He persuades the FBI that he knows the identity of the murderer of a judge recently found dead in his cabin in the wilderness. A bit slow to begin with but it picks up and keeps you guessing to the end.Detective
2012
John GrishamThe Summons
A professor of law is summoned to his father's home in Mississippi. He goes to the house but finds that the old man has already died - very recently. He pokes around the house and finds three and a half million dollars in cash in cupboards. He hides it all before his drug addicted brother turns up.Detective
2002
John GrishamSycamore Row
This novel is a sequel to 'A Time to Kill', one of Grisham's early novels. Jake Brigance is charged with executing the unusual holographic will of Seth Hubbard who has left most of his fortune to Lettie Lang, his black housekeeper. Hubbard's family hire lawyers to contest it. The research in the middle section of the story becomes a bit tedious, but otherwise it is very engaging.Detective
2013
John GrishamTheodore Boone Kid Lawyer
This novel is really suited to 'young adult' as the protagonist is a 13 year old youth. His parents are both lawyers and young Theodore has spent many hours in courtrooms intends to follow in his parents' footsteps. There are now four Theodore Boone titles involving the boy getting to the bottom of mysteries and solving crimes in a small town in the US. Very readable.Detective
2010
Andrew Gross15 Seconds
A well paced thriller: Dr Henry Steadman is carefully framed for the murder of a police officer. He goes on the run determined to prove his innocence and save the life of his daughter who is being held hostage by a vindictive and embittered man who holds Steadman responsible for his daughter's drug addiction and subsequent imprisonment for killing a mother and her baby whilst driving her car when drugged up.Detective
2012
Andrew GrossKilling Hour
Jay, a doctor in NY has a phone call from his brother in CA saying his son, Evan, is dead. Jay goes to the aid of Charlie and his wife, Cathy, who both have drug problems, and Charlie and his son are bipolar. Jay begins to uncover events in Charlie's early life which are having repercussions now and soon his life is in danger.Detective
2011
Sophie HannahKind of Cruel
A murder mystery involving an arson attack in which Amber's best friend dies but her daughters are rescued by a mystery fireman. Amber is determined to get to thr bottom of the arson attack but is plagued by the phrase kind, cruel, kind of cruel which she knows she has seen written down somewhere but cannot bring it to mind.Detective
2012
Georgina HardingThe Painter of Silence
Nominated for the 2012 Orange Prize this is a compelling novel set in Rumania between 1939 and 1949. Augustin (Tinu)is a deaf mute born to Paraschina the cook at a big country house. Safta, the daughter of the house befriends him. Tinu works in the stables and is good with horses. he communicates with drawings on odd bits of paper. When the war comes Safta goes to Bucharest to become a nurse and Tinu ends up as a construction worker. He is injured and taken to the hospital where Safta works. It is here where the reader meets him for the first time and the back story is told in flashes of memories of Safta and Tim and is well concluded.Novel
2012
Joanne HarrisDifferent Class
A sequel to Gentlemen and Players, it is set in the same boys' independent school in Yorkshire. Roy Straightly is still head of classics, but thinking of retirement. He is horrified to find that the newly appointed head, Johnny Harrington, is an old boy of the school who had been involved in a disturbing situation back in the 1980s. The Michaelmas Term of 2005 is a fraught one for many in the school.Thriller
2016
Joanne HarrisThe Lollipop Shoes
A sequel to Chocolat. Vianne and Anouk are now living in Montmartre with four year old Rosette under different names. Zozie, a mysterious woman with a very chequered past has a huge influence on Vianne, persuading her to begin making chocolate again instead of just selling it. The story progresses at a pace and covers just two months, November and December. During the period Vianne comes to terms with herself and what she wants from life but only after nearly losing Anouk to the evil Zozie. The novel has a very satidfactory ending.Novel
2007
Joanne HarrisPeaches for M le Cure
Third of Harris's novels featuring Vianne Rochet and her two daughters. Back in Lansquerent, summoned by a letter from the past, Vianne needs all her powers to help sort out the troubles of the village. The old chocolatier has become an Islam school for the girls of Les Marauds across the river. The priest, Francis Reynard is temporarily suspended from his position and is suspected of setting fire to the Muslim school, and the Muslim population is very unsettled. It takes Vianne some time and a lot of chocolate to help sort out the problems. She is tempted to stay but Roux is unsettled.Novel
2012
Joanne HarrisBlue-Eyed Boy
A weird book which messes with your mind. Written as a series of postings on a website 'badguysrock' it features two characters telling different people the same story, 'Blue Eyed Boy' and 'Albertine'. BEB starts off telling the story then halfway through a middle one takes over, but he's supposed to be dead. Very confusing and unsatisfactory - or I missed something vitalNovel
2011
Robert HarrisFear Index
A disappointing read. Fast moving futuristic thriller about a huge computer in Switzerland which learns heuristically and can work out the stock market making millions for its investors. It searches the internet for disaster situations which will affect the stock market. It all goes wrong in the end.Thriller
2011
Robert HarrisThe Ghost
A superb read: an unnamed ghost writer takes over the ghosting of the memoirs of a recent British exPM, Adam Long after the drowning of Mike McCara, the original 'ghost'. Long is currently living in Martha's Vineyard where most of the action takes place. The new ghost stumbles across the same secrets which cost his predecessor his life. Novel
2007
Robert HarrisLustrum
Set in Rome in 63 BC Cicero is about to become a Consul for one year. The novel tells of the political infighting and intrigue of Roman life. Plots and counterplots, tricks and rumours. It depicts his successes and failures and his banishment at the end of this second novel of the trilogy. Lively for the most part but a bit turgid in others.Historical
2009
Sarah HarrisonFlowers of the Field
A long family saga set during WW1. The author explores the work of Thea first in a munitions factory then ambulance driving in France. Then Aubrey being taken prisoner during the first weeks of the war. Dulcie the spoiled younger sister who runs away but eventually makes a nice living for herself providing 'home comforts' for officers and upper class gents in Paris. Maurice, the aesthetic cousin is a pacifist and spends most of the war in various prisons. Harrison then dips into the suffragette movement. The novel is very long at 666 pages and might have been better written in two separate parts.Historical
1980
Sarah HarrisonThe Next Room
This is a novella with a ghostly theme. Fiona, a single mother, and Hannah her daughter move into a new flat. Fiona keeps seeing the face of a dark haired child and a 'damp patch' on the wall which echoes the child's shape comes and goes. It is well written and convincing, but a few issues are not fully explained, nevertheless I found it a captivating read.Novel
2005
Paula HawkinsThe Girl on the Train
A disturbing read about an alcoholic woman, who despite having lost her job, continues to travel daily to London. On her journey she passes the back garden of the house she used to live in before her divorce, and observes her old neighbours in their garden. One day she sees the wife with another man, then she disappears. Novel
2015
Noah HawleyThe Good Father
This didn't live up to expectations and in some ways reminded me of Shriver's Kevin, but is nothing like as good or compelling. Paul Allen is soul searching, blaming the fact that he and Danny's mother divorced and live on opposite sides of the USA so Danny spent his childhood flying between the east and west coasts of USA. The parts of the story narrated by Danny in 3rd P are quite well written but not really revealing of his nature, or why he chose to murder the prospective next president of the USA. Too much time is spent on researching other r famous American killings but adds nothing to our understanding of Danny. At the end, when facing execution Danny still appears to have no remorse at all for what he has done.Espionage
2012
Zoe HellerThe Believers
Joel Livener, a lawyer and Jewish by birth is married to Audrey, an Englishwoman also Jewish, but neither both are non-practising and both hold very left wing views. At the beginning of a high profile trial in New York Joel has a stroke and lies in hospital in a coma. The story is narrated through the voices of Audrey and his two daughters, none of whom are particularly engaging characters. In Audrey Heller has created a self absorbed virago who has a love/hate relationship with her adopted son Leonard, a thirty something lay-about who is constantly in and out of rehab for his drug addiction. The two daughters are unlikely characters, one is about to embrace traditional Judaism, with all the ritual that entails and the other having an affair and about to leave her husband although going through the motions of adopting a child. As the novel progresses secrets about Joel's life are revealed which shake the family. Although there is resolution for some of the characters by the end of the story the reader has to make assumption about the others.Novel
2008
Zoe HellerNotes on Scandal
Barbara is a vey controlling senior teacher at a comprehensive school who takes Sheba, a young art teacher under her wing. Throughout the novel it is Barbara's voice that dominates. Sheba is both weak and naive and puts her career at risk by starting a relationship with fifteen year old Steven Connolly.Novel
2003
Susan HillThe Pure in Heart
Ostensibly this is a crime novel dealing with the disappearance of a nine year old boy. However there is a multiplicity of threads, some of which get tied up but many don't, including the disappearance of the child. DCI Simon Serailler is the central character, but has too many personal issues to distract him from the case. It is very well written with emotions truthfully portayed but the ending is less than satisfactory.Detective
2005
Victoria HislopThe Last Dance
Short stories set in Greece and Crete, nicely rounded and interesting. They are not the usual modern short stories which leave the reader wondering what it was all about.Short Stories
2013
Victoria HislopThe Return
This novel has a similar format to 'The Island' in that Sonia a young woman returns to her Spanish mother's homeland. Hislop presents an excellent overview of events in the Spanish civil war through the accounts of Spanish people who talk to Sonia. The oppression and cruelty are vividly portrayed and it is extremely harrowing in places. Even though the revelations are rather predictable the story is well told and it has a good introduction. The occasional references to the present day are useful as it keeps the reader in touch with the present as well as the past.Novel
2008
Victoria HislopThe Sunrise
The Sunrise is a super luxury hotel built in 1972 in Famagusta in Cyprus. The main theme is the fighting going on between the Turks and Greeks and the effects it has on the citizens of both sides who are living side by side in the town. The themes are loyalty and betrayal. Not as good as her previous novels.Novel
2014
Victoria HislopThe Thread
Set in Thessalonica it spans 1917 to 2007 depicting life in the Greek city through 2 world wars. Katerina and Dimitri are the main characters. she is a refugee from Turkey, he the only son of a wealthy but disinterested father. Katerina is a very talented needlewoman. She and her foster mother have been guarding Jewish relics for friends taken to a Polish POW camp during WW2. Katarina and Dimitri are now very old and K worries about what will happen to the relics. Their grandson visits them from London and after hearing the full story of their lives and the family history decides to move to the city and continue to guard the relics.Family Saga
2011
Anne HoltThe Lion's Mouth
A hard to follow murder mystery. The PM of Norway is found shot in her locked office. No one has entered and no weapon found. Very oblique and unsatisfactory.Detective
1999
Nancy HoranLoving Frank
A fictionalised biography of Mamah Cheney who left her husband and children to go to Europe with Frank Lloyd Wright, the innovative American architect. Well educated and feminist in her thinking she suffered public humiliation for her actions. On their return from a year in Europe FLW built a house in Wyoming where they lived together until 1914. Mamah's children came to stay for the school holidays and the public hoo-ha had subsided. They employed a negro couple as cook and house servant, Gertrude and Julian Carlton, but Julian was difficult in his attitude to Mamah and it ended in tragedy.Biography
2007
Rachel HoreA Gathering Storm
Set in Cornwall past and present, war time London and Normandy. Lucy is trying to find out her father's family who originally came from Cornwall. The story is narrated by Beatrice an elderly lady who knew the family well in her younger days, and Lucy. Elements of courage and betrayal.Family Saga
2011
Rachel HoreThe Gathering Storm
Set in Cornwall, past and present, wartime London, and Normandy, Lucy is trying to find out about her late father's troubled past. His family came from Cornwall and Lucy goes there to meet Beatrice an old Cornish woman who knew the family. The story is mostly narrated by Beatrice and contains elements of courage and betrayal.Novel
2011
Rachel HoreThe Glass Painter's Daughter
A very engaging novel which reveals a lot about the art of stained glass. Fran returns from a European tour with her music group in which she plays the tuba to find her father in hospital after a stroke. With the help of the assistant Zac she manages to keep the business going and through repairing a stained glass window for a nearby church finds out a lot about her ancestors.Novel
2013
Rachel HoreThe House on Bellvue Gardens
The story of various inhabitants of the large Georgian mansion in Bellvue Gardens. The ownership of the house is under dispute and the assorted group living there have to come to terms with the possibility of having to find somewhere else to live. The ending is a bit too trite but narration generally good.Novel
2016
Rachel HoreA Place of Secrets
An engaging novel set in Norfolk. Jude, an auctioneer is sent to a big house in Norfolk to evaluate 18th century books on astronomy and various related artefacts. Papers she finds reveal details of the man who made the collection and dreams she has and those her young niece describe help her to piece together what happened to the astronomer's adopted daughter.Novel
2010
Rachel HoreThe Silent Tide
A very engaging story set in post-war England and the present and involving 2 main characters, Elizabeth (1950s) and Emily (present day) . Emily is the editor for a small printing house. Her boy friend Joel is writing the biography of a recently dead author whose books the printing house had published. It eventually becomes clear that Joel is more interested in the dead author than Emily. There is a twist to the ending involving an historical event which is totally unexpected.Novel
2013
Rachel HoreA Week in Paris
Kitty Travers enrols in the Paris Conservertoire in 1937. In the 1960s her daughter, a violinist spends a week in Paris performing with an orchestra in Paris, and while there manages to uncover the secrets her late mother had been hiding, and learns about her forgotten history.Novel
2014
Anthony HorowitzHouse of Silk
A Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson story narrated by Watson and told from his point of view. It involves drug taking and child abuse centred in a seemingly respectable boy's school and rescue centre.Detective
2011
Linda HowardPrey
Well paced thriller/love story. Set in Montana, Angie runs a wilderness camp and takes people on hunting trips, but her business is failing as an ex-soldier has set up a rival business nearby. Angie takes two men on a bear hunt at the end of the season, but her clients are not what they seem and bears feature large in the plot. Angie is rescued by her rival Dare Callaghan. Good ending.Thriller
2012
Kahlid HussainAnd the mountains Echoed
Set in Afghanistan, Greece and the USA, the story follows the lives of a brother and sister through their separate journeys through life. Following the death of their mother the father sell the two year old girl to a wealthy Kabul couple who cannot have children of their own. The narrative flips between countries and characters with no warning - a signature of Hussain's writing.Novel
2014
Nancy HustonFault Lines
A compelling story of four generations of a family in the USA. The different family members give the accounts of their lives which gradually unravels a dreadful truth. It begins with the fourth generation six year old and each member tells of the sixth year of their life which had dramatic effects on themselves and their family, all told in the first person. All the children are very clever and all have a distinctive birthmark, but not all on the same part of their bodyNovel
2006
Eva IbbotsonThe Magic Flutes
Tessa works as wardrobe assistant and stage hand to a failing opera company. In reality she is an Austrian princess whose family have lost their wealth. Guy Farne a rich English diplomat comes to their aid financially. he is engaged to a beautiful widow, but Ibbotson manages to spin out the engaging story so that Guy and Tessa get together.Romance
2009
Eva IbbotsonThe Morning Gift
The book opens in Vienna in 1938 with a Jewish family escaping to England, but Ruth, the eighteen year old daughter, supposed to be travelling on student transport is left behind. The novel tells of how she eventually she reaches England and is reunited with her family, and what happens to her subsequentlyWar
2007
Eva IbbotsonA Song for Summer
Set in Austria in the late 1930s. Ellen is working as a house mother in an unorthodox boarding school where she meets and falls in love with Czech musician Marek. The war comes and they escape to Canada where they are married, but later return to visit the school with their 9 year old son when Marek conducts music he had written for a pageant before the war.Romance
1997
Kazno IshiguroNever Let Me Go
Fantasy story about human tissue donation. At 'Hailsham' a boarding school children are nurtured and prepared mentally and physically to provide the spare parts for organ transplants. The novel follows the lives of three youngsters who after leaving school become carers for people who are about to become donors.Science Fiction
2005
Eowyn IveyThe Snow Child
A rewrite of a fantasy story set in Alaska. It contains good descriptions but very elongated. It ended as I expected with the 'snow child' disappearing leaving behind her husband and baby son and all the people who had cared for and sheltered her during the winters.Science Fiction
2013
Anna JacobsBeyond the Sunset
A very readable saga, the third in a series about nineteenth century Lancashire sisters who emigrate to Australia. Pandora is unhappy in Western Australia and when Zachary Carr arrives from England to tell her and her sisters that they have inherited a thriving grocery business she decides to return to England with him.Historical
2010
Anna JacobsIn Search of Hope
After receiving an inheritance a woman escapes with her son from an abusive marriage. She returns to her native Lancashire and finds refuge with a retired detective. The reunion with her birth mother whom she had never known was a bit too unbelievableNovel
2013
Anna JacobsA Time for Renewal
Set in the summer of 1945 when service people are returning home after the war. Victor Travers is trying to escape from the clutches of his manipulative and controling mother in law with his young daughter, Betty, to join forces with his friend on a building project in the north of England. But the wealthy mother in law is anxious to hang on to her grandaughter, and is used to getting her own way. Novel
2015
Erica JamesPrecious Time
Clara gives up her lucrative job to take off in a campervan with her four year old son Ned. The end up in the Derbyshire Peak District staying in the grounds of Mermaid House, the home of a grumpy recluse Gabriel Liberty. A good read with frequent changes of points of view but a story line that is compelling.Romance
2002
Henry JamesThe Turn of the Screw
A reasonable ghost story ruined by pretentious narration (even for the period) overlong and convoluted sentences, and attributing a governess with unlikely characteristics. It is a narration within a narration - reading aloud to a group of friends from a letter from the central character, an unreliable narrator. The children in the story are poorly depicted with unlikely behaviour; James never bothers to say how old he means them to be. A classic novella that has not stood the test of time.Classical
1898
P D JamesThe Private Patient
The subject of the novel is an investigative journalist in a private nursing home having cosmetic surgery to remove a facial scar. There are some surprising revalations with excellent descriptions of places and people and very thoughtful plot management.Detective
2008
Peter JamesDead Like You
After a New Year's Eve ball a young woman is brutally raped and another woman attacked. On both occasions the women's designer shoes are stolen. Det Roy Grace recognises the MO of the 'Shoe Man' who was never caught back in 1997. There is a race against time to catch the man before another woman is attacked.Detective
2010
Peter JamesDead Man's Time
Roy Grace investigates a vicious murder/robbery where millions of poundsworth of antiques are stolen. The haul includes a 100 year old damaged Patek Phillipe watch. The thieves had inside knowledge of what they would find and in committing the robbery an old lady was killed. The hunt for the robbers and killer takes Grace's team to Spain and New York before the crime is solved.Detective
2014
Peter JamesLooking Good Dead
A Roy Grace mystery thriller involving snuff movies. Well paced with satisfactory endingDetective
2006
Peter JamesNot Dead Enough
Roy Grace is on the trail of a serial killer. Many threads run through the plot, one of which is the recurring mystery of Grace's missing wife which added nothing to the story. There are lots of 'reddish' herrings - you think, like Grace, that you have it sussed, only to discover an extra dimension. A bit overlong at 604 pages.Detective
2011
Peter JamesNot Dead Yet
Roy Grace it detailed to guard Gaia an American pop/film idol while she shoots a film at Brighton Pavilion. But someone wants her dead. There are a few red herrings set up and the appearance of Sandy (Grace's ex-wife) though not to him add intrigue. Some threads are left hanging - who sent photos showing a grateful Gaia kissing Grace to the Brighton Argos, and who put the death announcement about Grace and Cleo's new born son in the paper. Detective
2012
Peter JamesPerfect People
A scientist has perfected the art of genetic engineering and charges couples vast sums of money to create the perfect baby, but the mother always ends up having twins, a boy and a girl. Naomi and John Klaesson are clients of his, and their twins are amazing and their development is incredibly rapid. A fanatical group calling themselves Disciples of the third millennium are trying to kill off all the 'Devil's Spawn' . The Klaesson twins vanish only to reappear a few years later as wizened old people needing wheel chairs. Shades of 'Midwich Cuckoos'.Novel
2011
Peter JamesProphecy
An early Peter James psychological thrille: Frannie Monsanto becomes involved with Oliver, a widower with an 8yr old son. Strange coincidences keep occurring and there is something very malevolent about the child - all linked with a silly experiences with a ouija board Frannie and her student friend experimented with 3 years earlier.Detective
1992
Peter JamesTwilight
This is an early novel and it shows. Rather indifferent plot about near death experiences. Some interesting and well written parts, but not an overall satisfactory read.Detective
1991
Peter JamesWant You Dead
The most recent of the Roy Green thrillers. Red Westwood is in fear of her life after she ends a relationship with control freak Bryce Laurent. He stalks her and threatens to kill her but not before he has killed her current lover., two police officers and set fire to several buildings connnected with her. Really a bit too far fetched to be believable, which detracts from engagement with the story. James finally gets rid of Roy Grace's first wife in a car accident in Germany - we think!Detective
2014
Quintin JardineAs Easy as Murder
A passable murder mystery set in Spain, but with rather too much detail about golf. Well developed characters , but the denouement a bit convoluted. Rather too many references to characters from previous novels by the author.Detective
2012
Quintin JardineBlood Red
A murder mystery set in a quiet Spanish holiday resort. The priest is arrested, suspected of two murders. The main protagonist Primavera Blackstone is at one point a suspect herself, but is the person who actually solves the mystery.Detective
2010
Dinah JefferiesThe Silk Merchant's Daughter
Set in the early 1950s in Vietnam when it was under French rule. Nicole and Sylvie are the daughter a a French silk merchant and His Vietnamese wife. who died giving birth to Nicole. War i stirring and the country is in upheaval. Nicole has to escape to safety with her baby daughter an her sister whom she cannot trust. Lost of detail about the countryside but lacking in other area. Mostly engaging but stretches the suspension of disbelief.Historical
2016
Dinah JeffriesThe Separation
Good setting describing events in 1950s Malaya during the 'emergency'. While Gwen is visiting a sick friend her husband takes their daughters back to England, expecting her to follow him. The novel is split between Gwen looking for her daughters as she has been led to believe they are in another part of the country, and Emma, her elder daughter now back in England, who has been told that their mother died in a fire caused by insurgents. Family Saga
2014
Dinah JeffriesThe Tea Planter's Wife
Set in Ceylon in 1920-30s. Gwen is the young bride of a widowed tea planter, Laurence. They live a luxurious life in the foothills and she soon gives birth to twins, a boy and a dark skinned girl. On her first night in Ceylon Gwen had too much to drink and was put to bed by a Ceylonese friend of her husband, and when the girl is born she fears that he had raped her. The children are born during the husbands' absence and the girl is taken away to be raised by 'relatives' of their native housekeeper, before he returns.Novel
2014
Sadie JonesThe Outcast
The story of a boy whose mother drowns when he is ten years old. The father is a very uptight person and not father material at all, he shows no affection for his son and remarries within a few months of his wife's death. Over the next few years the boy is practically catatonic and does awful things, then, even at seventeen years old apologises like a child. He drinks and self harms and is sentenced to two years in Brixton Prison for arson. On the summer of his release he returns to his home village and meets Kit and Tamsin Carmichael, the daughters of a hateful pompous man who abuses them as well as his wife. Somewhat slow in parts but with a satisfactory ending.Novel
2008
Rachel JoyceThe Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry
Retired Henry Fry receives a note from a former colleague, Queenie, telling him she is dying of cancer and just wanted to say goodbye. Harold writes her a letter and sets out to post it, but instead decides to visit her. The novel traces his pilgrimage, mostly on foot from Kingsbridge in Devon to Berwick on the border of England and Scotland. 'Unlikely' is the most relevant word in the title. En route he keeps in touch with Queenie and his wife Maureen, with Queenie in the hope that she will hang on at least until he arrives, and with Maureen to let her know where he is. He has no hiking boots, or map but manages to keep going and as he does recalls his past life and has regrets about how he has behaved in all sorts of circumstances. A very quirky novel, moving in parts but unsentimental It was a Sunday Times best seller in 2012.Novel
2012
Jonathan KellermanThe Conspiracy Club
Jeremy Carrier is an American Psychchiatrist working in an East Coast hospital. Six months before the opening of the story his girl friend was brutally murdered. Carrier is persuaded by semi-retired pathologist to hunt down her killer. It is intelligent and well written after a slightly slow startThriller
2004
Jonathan KellermanDeception
A well paced crime novel involving Alex Delaware, psychologist. Fast moving and witty.Detective
2010
Jonathan KellermanDr Death
Convoluted murder mystery involving Alex Delaware and Milo Sturgis, an LA cop. Eldon Mate AKA Dr Death helps people to commit suicide. Delaware has become involved in the investigation of the murder of Mate himself thought to have been committed by a relative of one of Mate's recent clients. Detective
2000
Jonathan KellermanBlood Test
An engaging story about the abduction of a child suffering from cancer from the hospital where he is being treated. It involves a strange sect to which the parents belong.Novel
1986
A L KennedyDay
A fascinating account of the life of a WWII Lancaster rear gunner written from the perspective of five years after the war when Day is an extra in a film about life in a German POW camp.Novel
2003
Douglas KennedyLeaving the World
Jane Howard takes her Harvard degree in English to the world of high finance in New York. When her father is investigated for fraud it is the end of her job. She returns to academia and after an affair with her tutor which ends with his death she moves to a professorship in a New England. Her new partner Theo leaves her and their daughter and soon afterwards the little girl is killed in a road accident. She tries to start a new life in Calgary but grief gets in the way. It is not until she is instrumental in saving the life of another child that she can move on.Novel
2009
Douglas KennedyThe Moment
Set in 1980s Berlin and present-day Maine the novel relates the story of the love affair between a journalist, Thomas Nesbitt and Petra Dussman a refugee from East Berlin. The novel opens when the now middle aged and about-to-be divorced Nesbitt receives a packet from Berlin. On opening it he finds notebooks and letters relating to his relationship there with Dussman sent by her son. Nesbitt is transported to the cold-war days and his relationship with Dussman who has strong links with the GDR. They live together for a while until he discovers she is photographing his material and is actually working for the Stasi. Feeling used and betrayed he returns to America. Now twenty five years later he reads the notebooks and letters and regrets leaving her in Berlin. The novel has twists and turns and leaves Nesbitt regretting his missed opportunities.Novel
2012
Douglas KennedyThe Big Picture
Ben Bradford, a NY high flying lawyer and serious amateur photographer discovers his wife is having an affair with a sleazy guy from across the street. He confronts the man and a fight ensues. Ben has to flee the city and reinvent himself, twice!Thriller
2010
Douglas KennedyThe Woman in the Fifth
A compelling and unusual novel. Harry Ricks has escaped to Paris from Ohio to forget the reality of his life which is falling apart. But he goes from one kind of hell to another. Things improve when he meets Magrit, a forceful intriguing woman who turns his life around provided he visits her every 3 days for sex. But she is not what she seems and he is soon under her thrall. The 'fifth 'of the title is the fifth arondissment.Novel
2007
Simon KernickUltimatum
Terrorists are trying to bring London to its knees - at 8.00am a blast wrecks a cafe in central London, then comes the ultimatum with a deadline of Thriller
2013
Kate KerriganCity of Hope
This is part 2 of a trilogy about wealthy native Irishwoman Ellie Hogan, recently widowed, who returns to New York to recover from the death of her husband. It is set in the depression years. Kate uses her money to renovate houses and set up a co-operative in Yonkers. There are some conflicts regarding a protection racket but mostly everything falls into place rather too quickly. It is as if the author wanted to cram every aspect of NY life into her novel.Novel
2012
Barbara KingsolverThe Poisonwood Bible
Brilliant novel set largely in the Congo. Nathan Price, a hellfire Baptist missionary takes his wife and 4 daughters to the Belgian Congo in 1961. The women of the family suffer all kinds of deprivations and even when war comes and their funding stops because the mission calls them back to the States the father refuses to go. Ruth May the youngest daughter dies of a snakebite and eventually the women led by the young schoolmaster make their escape. The novel is narrated largely by the daughters and despite the deprivations they suffer there is a lot of humour in it.Novel
1998
Lori LansensRush Home Road
Seventy yearold negress Addy Shadd finds herself looking after six year old mixed race Sharla Cody while her mother, Addy's neighbour in the trailer park where they live, spends the summer with her new boyfriend. As Addy gets to know and love young Sharla she is drawn back to her own childhood, at first happy then tragic as her story unfolds through the novel. Addy worries constantly about who will care for Sharla if her feckless mother fails to return. In her mind Addy talks to her dead brother, Leam, who was drowned while trying to get even with the man who had raped her when she was fourteen. Through her adult life Addy had lived in various places along the American/Canadian border, but ends up, without fully realising it, very close to Rusholme, the exslave settlement where she grew up. The story comes full circle with a satisfactory conclusion.Biography
2002
Lori LansensThe Wife's Story
Mary Gooch's husband leaves her on their twenty fifth wedding anniversary. Unknown to her he has just won a large amount of money on the lottery. Mary is grossly obese and after his disappearnce just eats and eats. After a week she receives a letter from him telling her that he is not coming back but she can do as she wishes with the money in their bank account. Mary goes to LA where George's mother lives, thinking he might be there. In her search she helps a lot of people with either practical or financial help and although she never finds George she has turned her own life around, stops eating so much and is resigned to his disappearance.Novel
2010
Sarah LarkLand of the Long White Cloud
A long but well related saga about two women who emigrate to New Zealand in the 1850s to marry men they have never met. However, the otherwise very good novel is marred by anachronisms and language which would not have been in use at the time; they are mostly Americanisms as the original novel was translated from the German into English by an American. - 'drapes', 'onesie', 'dollars', 'math' etc etc. Historical
2012
Stieg LarssonThe Girl who Played with Fire
Lisbeth Salander has taken refuge in the Caribbean. She has 'inherited' a large amount of money from the stash accrued by Wonnerstrom in the first plot. She and Blomkvist don't meet physically but work alongside each other to catch Zalachenko, Lisbeth's natural father. She manages to kill him after he has tried to kill her and has buried her alive in a shallow grave. The book ends with her in hospital with a bullet lodged in her skullThriller
2009
Stieg LarssonThe Girl who Kicked the Hornets' Nest
The third part of the trilogy opens with Lisbeth in hospital recovering from surgery. Again she works with Blomkvist at a distance to bring to trial the people responsible for protecting Zalachenko and keeping her in a mental institution during her teenage years. It is a good resolution to the sagaThriller
2009
Stieg LarssonThe Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
A very complex and involved thriller concerning a journalist and Lisbeth, who seeks his help. There is a large cast of characters and plenty of conflict between them. There are two elements to the story, Mikael's job, which is at stake, and Lisbeth's need for revenge. It is totally absorbing with satisfactory results for both main characters.Thriller
2008
Stephen LeatherFalse Friends
A well paced thriller giving excellent insight into the processes of following and being followed when working undercover for MI5. The tension is well built up and there is a good denouementThriller
2012
James Lee BurkeThe Tin Roof Blowdown
Set in Louisianna in and around New Orleans during and immediately after the hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Looting is rampant in the aftermath of the storms and Detective Dave Robichaux finds himself involved in getting to the bottom or not only robberies and murder but hoodlums wanting payback for existing grievances. The descriptions are vivid and characters and locations convincing.Detective
2007
Judith LennoxThe Italian Garden
An intricately woven story of the life of Joanna Zulian a beautiful free spirited gypsy girl. She is coveted by men of power as well as ordinary men. Set in the sixteenth centurythe novel focusses on wars in Europe, love and greed. The POV is constantly changing.Historical
2010
Judith LennoxBefore the Storm
A compelling family saga set in the first half of the twentieth century. Richard Farnborough is a wealthy business man who marries Isobel Zeale, a housekeeper with a secret. The story follows their lives and those of their children and Isobels relatives in NorfolkNovel
2009
Doris LessingAlfred and Emily
This is a story of two halves. The first part is Lessing's idea of what her parents' lives might have been like had the Great War not happened, based on what she knew of what they would have liked to have done with their lives. The second half claims to be a close examination of their actual lives. There a lot of very staccato sentences and unnecessary hyphenations such as strikingly! Part one ends very abruptly, Emily now in middle age opens a home for unmarried mothers and on the next page dies at the age of 73. The second part is shorter and rather disorganised and repetitive.Biography
2008
Marina LewyckaA Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian
Warring sisters Nadia and Vera have to put aside their differnces when their eighty-four year old father announces he is about to marry a thirty-six year old bottle blonde Ukrainian whose British visa is about to expire. Beneath the humour of the book lies deeper themes of famine and war in Ukraine.Novel
2005
Rosamund LeyBay of Secrets
A search for natural parents saga, but cleverly linked to the Spanish state/church traffic of babies in 30-40 years ago called ninos robados. Following the death of her mother Nina discovers she was adopted and sets out to find her birth parents. In the meantime she meets Andre from Fuertaventura living near her in Dorset. He subsequently discovers that he to is adopte. There is no complete resolution but the prospect of one through Andre's sister, a nun who had been part of the ninos robados scheme. A few too many coincidences to make this a convincing story.Novel
2013
Rosanna LeyReturn to Mandalay
Very like Rosie Thomas in style and content, but not quite as polished and concise. Eva gatsby goes to Burma as part of her job in the antique business and also for her grandfather who had been in Burma before and during WWII. He had been in love with a woman and wants Eva to track her down. Very coincidentally she meets Ramon who is her grandson and also in the furniture businesss. She had taken with her one of a pair of carved lion chinthes given to him by the woman, only to find when she finally meets her that its mate has been stolen by a rival dealer. Its retrieval could have been material for a very tense scene, but it happens 'off stage'. Nevertheless it is a very enjoyable read.Biography
2014
Rosanna LeyThe Villa
Tess inherits a villa in Scicily from someone her mother had known as a girl when she had lived there. Flavia, the mother refuses to return to her native Scicily which she left as a young woman. Tess's daughter Ginny is at a crossroads in her teenage life and the story follows the three women; old hostilities are resolved.Novel
2012
Freda LightfootThe Amber Keeper
A fascinating saga about an English girl employed as nanny to a Russian countess in St Petersburg before and during the 1919 revolution.The parallel story of her grandaughter coming to terms with the suicide of her mother intertwines with the historical one. Dual narration is well handledNovel
2014
Rosamund LiptonAfterwards
Grace and her daughter Jenny are both in hospital following a fire at Jenny's brother's school, deemed to be arson. Jenny with severe burns and a damaged heart, Grace in a vegetative state after being struck on the head by falling beams. The two exist only in spirit but can communicate with each other and follow others around. Between them they piece together who was responsible for the fire, fortunately reaching the same conclusion as the police. Requires a large dollop of suspension of disbelief, but a brilliant story.Novel
2011
Rosamund LiptonThe Quality of Silence
Ten year old Ruby is deaf but signs, can lip read and has many other aids through which she can communicate. She goes with Yasmin, her mother, to spend Christmas with her father who is doing research in the Arctic Circle. En route in Chicago they learn that there has been a fire in the Inuit village where he is staying, and there are no survivors. Yasmin is determined to reach the village and flies to Fairbanks then hitches a ride for the two of them with a truck driver who is taking a prefab house to the nearest Inuit village to the disaster. Very atmospheric, but the ending is too abrupt and resolution isn't evident.Novel
2015
Rosamund LiptonSister
When she receives a phone call from her mothe saying her sister has disappeared, living in New York, Beatrice rushes home to London and takes on the role of detective to try to discover who has murdered her sister. Framed by a report to a lawyer and a letter to her sister, the end is slightly ambiguous.Novel
2010
Penelope LivelyCleopatra's Sister
A novel depicting the parallel lives of Cleopatra and her fictional sister reigning over the equally fictional country of Callimbia set between Egypt and Libya. Howard and Lucy find themselves hostages after their plane has to land in Callimbia because of engine trouble. Compelling.Novel
1994
Penelope LivelyAmmonites and Leaping Fish
A charming memoir about old age. Lively looks back over her eighty years and discusses the things that have influenced her. She writes about her Egyptian childhood where most of her education was acquired through reading a wide variety of books. She considers how memory shapes us and in her final chapter considers six treasures, how she acquired them and what they mean to her.Biography
2013
Penelope LivelyFamily Album
Short listed for the 2009 Costa prize, this is a perceptive novel about relationships in a large family. Allersmead is a large rambling house acquired by earth-mother Alison and her husband Charles as newly-weds. The novel opens in the present on Alison's birthday with her now grown up family reuniting along with Ingrid the 'au pair' who has been with the family since Paul, the eldest child was born. One by one we meet the members of the family and are given differing perspectives of various events and situations as viewed through different eyes, and secrets are revealed.Family Saga
2009
Penelope LivelyHow it all Began
Charlotte, an elderly widow is mugged and in the fall breaks her hip. The incident sparks off a chain of events involving several people. Charlotte's daughter, Rose, can't accompany her employer to a lunch because she is looking after her mother. Marion, the employer's niece takes her placeand the text she sends to her lover is read by his wife. Anton, a Polish manwhom Charlotte is helping with his English comes to Rose's home insteadand he and Rose gradually, over the ten week span of the book, fall in love. Brilliantly written, Lively juggles the three stories very skillfully.Novel
2011
Penelope LivelyThe Road to Litchfield
A gentle story which unfolds during the course of a summer in the 1970s. Anne Linton travels up to Litchfield week after week to visit her dying father who is in a nursing home. During the visits she meets an angling friend of his, David Fielding, which leads to an affair. At the end of the summer the affair fizzles out, but not before her husband, Don realises the situation. Her father dies and the story draws to a close. Not a lot happens, but the story is very well written and strangely satisfying.Novel
1983
Penelope LivelySpiderweb
Stella is a retired anthropologist who goes to live in rural Somerset where she finds village life very restricting and puzzling. When the teenage brothers from the nearby farm kill her dog just for fun she has had enough and puts her house on the market. Her old friend's widowed husband proposes marriage but Stella gently declines knowing it wouldn't work. Instead she goes to live with another old friend who is an archeologist. The novel is more a slice of life than a rounded story, but is well written and engagingNovel
2000
M E LucyMistress of Charlecote
A first hand account of life at Charlecote Park from 1823 to 1889. The house, park and the inhabitants are vividly brough to life by Mary Elizabeth the wife of George Lucy inheritor of the house. She relates grand occasions as well as every day events and the hardships of finding the money for the upkeep of the estate.Biography
1983
Sidura LudwigHolding my Breath
Family story set in Winnipeg. Beth Levy is the only daughter of a Jewish couple and dreams of becoming an astronomer. Her ambition is fed by stories of her Uncle Phil who was killed in WW2. Various family skeletons emerge which explain the behaviour of some members of the extended family, as things are not always as they seem. Some episodes seem superfluous to the plot and not everything has an explanation or seems relevant to the story. Good style, but plot rather weak with an abrupt ending.Family Saga
2008
Richard MabeyDreams of the Good Life
A commentary on the life of Flora Thompson (Lark Rise) discussing her positive attitudes to country life while at the same time wanting to escape to the wider experiences of urban life.Biography
2014
Richard MadeleyThe Way You Look Tonight
Overflowery style in places with unlikely characters and events. Stella Arnold is a super clever psychologist specializing in psychopaths studying for a PhD in the USA. At a barbeque in Martha's Vineyard she meets the Kennedy clan and becomes invoved in the hunt for a serial killer. The scene moves to the Florida Keys and is all set against the backdrop of the Cuban Missile CrisisNovel
2014
Adrian MagsonDeath at the Clos du Lac
Rocco is called in to investigate the death of a patient found standing in the therapy pool of the Clos du Lac sanatorium. He has been chained to the bottom and left to drown. The sanatorium staff are unwilling to talk. Ministry officials from Paris seem intent on hindering rather than helping with the investigation. It quickly becomes obvious that the Clos du Lacis no ordinary sanatorium and Rocco has to work very hard to unearth the truth.Detective
2013
Adrian MagsonDeath on the River Nord
The second of Magson's Insp Lucas Rocco series. It concerns the arrival of a group of illegal immigrants from Algeria. One of the group is the runaway wife of an Algerian mafia-style crime boss who is controlling operations in Paris. She has concealed her young son and is afraid for both their lives when she learns that her husband has arrived in the area to find her. Rocco and his team finally bring people to justice. Well written with a touch of humour, which is evident in all four books in the series.Detective
2011
Adrian MagsonDeath on the Pont Noir
Set in Picardy in northern France not long after the assassination of JFK, there are fears for the safety of General de Gaulle. An unexplained car smash sets Insp Rocco investigating why the vehicles have been doctored with heavy padding in one and the addition of a sturdy bar of wood on the other. There seem to be no casualties. It points to an attack on the life of de Gaulle. Rocco has to come to London to get help as it transpires that the people involved are English. Detective
2012
Adrian MagsonDeath on the Marais
The first of the Lucas Rocco murders set in France in the 1960s. Detective Rocco has recently been relocated from paris to rural Picardy where he finds himself investigating the murder of an influential Paris businessman. It is full of intrigue with links to the wartime Maqui activities and their betrayal.Detective
2011
Hilary MantelWolf Hall
A very detailed novel with a huge cast list. Unusual authorial style - written in 3rd person present tense. Confusing at times as Cromwell is often refered to just as 'he'; many of the characters have titles, sometimes used in the text, but sometimes referred to by their given names. It depicts the role of Cromwell during the period of the end Henry VIII's marriage to Ann Boleyn and his desire for Jane Seymour who's family home is Wolf Hall.Historical
2009
Hilary MantelBring Up the Bodies
A sequel to Wolf Hall, this novel traces the demise of Anne Boleyn during the last months of her life. It is told in the third person through the voice of Thomas Cromwell and is easier to follow that Wolf Hall.Historical
2016
Liza MarklundLifetime
Journalist Anneka Bengtson's husband has just left her and their two children when her house is set on fire. An acquaintance, Julia, a policewoman has been arrested for the murder of her husband, also a police officer, and the presumed murder of their son who is also missing. Anneka has met Julia on a previous assignment and cannot believe her to be guilty. The novel describes how she sets about proving it. Set in Scandanavia.Detective
2013
Henry MarshDo No Harm
Stories of the life of an eminent neuro surgeon. Gives great insight into the highs and lows and the problems of neurosurgery. It is very honestly written and at times self depracating; give good insight into the inner workings and complication of hospitals and the frustrations for medics and patients alike.Biography
2014
Edward MarstonThe Merry Devils
Westfield's Men have a new play to perform but things do not go according to plan. Edmund Hoode had a collaborator in writing the play who has introduced a darker side to the performance. Problems dog the company until they think that banbury's men are trying to sabotage their performances. However other more serious issues are behind the sabotage and it takes Nicholas Bracewell to sort them out.Historical
1989
Edward MarstonThe Nine Giants
Nicholas Bracewell, a member of a theatrical group, and the writer of their plays has a big problem to solve when he discovers the corpse of a man floating in the Thames. The company is under threat as the inn they perform in is about to be sold, and the prospective owner does not want them using his yard.Historical
1991
Edward MarstonThe Queen's Head
Set in Elizabethan London mystery centring on a licensed theatre group, their triumphs and problems. Nicholas Bracewell is the 'bookman' who helps to solve the mystery of three deaths. A good atmosphere is created and the story has a satisfactory resolutionHistorical
2012
Edward MarstonThe Silent Woman
The Westfield's Men lose their theatrical rights at the Queen's Head when they accidentally set light to the outbuildings. They have to go on tour to earn money and keep the group together. Nicholas Bracewell makes for Barnstaple as a messenger has come from his home town with news, but she dies of poisoning before she can pass on her news. He accompanies the actors as far as Bristol where he takes a ship heading for Barnstaple. He eventually unravels the mystery there, but his travels separate him from his landlady and occasional bed mate. The actors have many adventures and skirmishes before they all meet up again.Historical
1994
Edward MarstonA Ticket to Oblivion
Set in 1858 this story relates the disappearance of Imogen Burnthorpe and her maid who vanish on a railway journey from Worcester to Oxford. It turns out to be a clever kidnap in which the women themselves were unwittingly complicit. The Railway Inspector Detective Inspector Robert Colbeck and Sergeant Leeming pit their wits agains the two ruthless killers.Detective
2014
Edward MarstonThe Trip to Jerusalem
A Nicholas Bracewell story about the theatrical group Westfield's Men. They are driven out of London by the plague and begin a tour northwards, but are constantly frustrated by the rival group Banbury's Men who always seem to reach the towns before them and are performing plays written by Westfield's Men.Treachery and murder are afoot and Bracewll finds himself in mortal danger several time.Historical
2013
Edward MarstonBlood on the Line
The Railway Detective and his team set out to discover the killer of two policemen who were taking a murderer to his trial. The chase leads them across the Atlantic where they finally capture the villain and bring him back to be hanged.Detective
2012
Graham MastersonGenius
Thriller set in USA concerns a drug concocted to improve intelligence and memory which feeds off live brain cells, a fact not realised until halfway through the book. It involves the injections of live serum given to a young man, but the final one made to a different formula will give him dementia. Will the goodies reach him in time to stop him taking it? Detective
1998
Graham MastersonRed Light
The third in the Katie Mcguire series set in Cork and involving the trafficing of young girls for the sex trade. One of them kills herself and a relative is looking for vengeance. Three men die vicious deaths before the problem is solved.Detective
2014
Graham MastersonBlood Sisters
A well told murder mystery but with some events which stretch credulity. The story intertwines three themes, the continuing murders of retired nuns, the mystery of racehorse being shoved to their deaths over a cliff and the 'suicide' of a young prostitute. Katy Maguire solves them all but at great cost to herself and her colleagues.Detective
2015
Graham MastersonWhite Bones
Set around the city of Cork; when clearing a field several sets of bones are unearthed. On inspection date back to the early 20th century and all appear to have been physically cleaned of flesh and have a weird disc like a fetish attached to the thigh bones. DI Katie McGuire investigates, but before she gets very far two girls disappear. The case relates to an old Irish myth. Gory but engaging.Detective
2003
Graham MastersonBroken Angels
Katie McGuire is working on a case of murdered priests. They have all been castrated before being killed and left in easy to find locations. Eventually she discovers what links the priests and the grim reason for their deaths, comitted by a team of choirboys who were trained for the Pope's visit to Ireland in the early 1980s.Detective
2013
Graham MastersonBuried
The most recent Katie Maguire crime novel. A family is discovered buried beneath the floorboards of an old house which is being renovated. From their clothes it looks as if they died around the 1920s. Revenge and family feuds linger long in Cork and some people feel they still have scores to settleThriller
2016
W Somerset MaughamThe Painted Veil
Set in Hong Kong, Kitty is trapped in an unsatisfactory marriage to Walter Fane, a taciturn biological researcher. She embarks on an affair with Charlie Townsend who is also married. When Walter discovers the liason he gives her an ultimatum, she must go with him to Mai-Tan-Fu where ther is an outbreak of cholera or he will divorce her and demand that Walter divorces his wife and marries Kitty within a week of the nisi becoming absolute. Townsend backs off and Kitty has to accompany her husband to Mai-Fan-Tu. Whilst there she discovers she is pregnant, but Walter experiments on himself with possible cures and dies. Kitty finally returns to England only to find that her mother has died and her father is about to sail for Barbados to become Chief Justice. Novel
1925
Peter MayChessmen
Fin has left the police force and returned to Lewis to work as security for a big fishing and game concern. Fin finds himself involved with Whistler an old friend from his school days. Whistler has carved a life-size set of chessmen for the laird but has not been paid for them. He is bitter and angry and trying to win custody of his natural daughter from her stepfather. Many old animosities come to the surface during the course of the novel.Detective
2013
Peter MayCoffin Road
Superb thriller set in Lewis and Harris. Invoves the memory loss of a scientific researcher and a scary ethical situation with world wide implications. Very well paced with a few subtle hooks which lead to a satisfactory denouement.Detective
2014
Peter MayThe Critic
Enzo McLeod investigates the murder of Gil Petty an American wine connoisseur who was foun dead in Gaillard SE France after being drowned in a vat of wine. The murdered man's daughter is involved in the investigation as is Nicole, Enzo's daughter and her boyfriend. Well structured with lots of details about wine making.Detective
2007
Peter MayEntry Island
I crime novel set in eastern Canada. Sime McKenzie is a detective working on the murder of a wealthy man living on Entry Island in the St Lawrence estuary. The dead man's wife, the main suspect, reminds McKenzie of a picture of his grandmother. The story switches between the murder investigation and events of 150 years earlier when his ancestors first came to Canada.Detective
2014
Peter MayExtraordinary People
An Enzo Mcleod mystery set in France; Enzo has a bet with a journalist friend, Roger Raffin, that he can track down the killer of a famous academic murdered some years ago. In fact it turns out that several people had been involved and the hunt turns into a da Vinci Code style of treasure hunt, but much better written. The denouement takes place in the tunnels beneath the centre of Paris.Detective
2013
Peter MayLewis Man
Good crime thriller set on the Isle of Lewis. A body is dug up during the annual turf cutting and is well preserved by the soil conditions. An elderly man with dementia is found to have a good DNA match, but can't be any direct help in the investigation because of his mental state. However through his eternal rambling the past is revealed and the mystery solved.Detective
2012
Peter MayRunaway
Very different from anything of May's I have read before. A group of old men from Glasgow take off to London with their sick friand Maurie. Their journey is not without incident and the telling of it is interspersed with details of their first trip to London in the 1960s and the adventures they had then. An excellent denouementNovel
2015
Peter MayBlacklight Blue
Someone is out to get Enzo MacLeod and his family. Set in several locations in France and London, near-death experiences dog him. Kirsy, his daughter, narrowly escapes death when a bomb meant for her explodes and kills a colleague. Sophie and Barnard's gym goes up in flames and Enzo himself is framed for the murder of a woman. Someone is out to get him. Well written but not an altogether satisfactory resolution.Detective
2008
Peter MayBlow Back
Set in the Auvergne in a 3 star Michelin hotel, Marc Fraysse is found dead with a bullet through him in a shelter high on the mountain. The death is unsolved until Enzo McLeod is called in to investigate. A compelling mystery.Detective
2011
Alexander McCall SmithDouble Comfort Safari Club
Gentle stories with thoughtful comments by many characters. Simple problems are solved quite quickly, more complex ones take a little longer. A slow, gentle readDetective
2010
Alexander McCall SmithEsspresso Tales
A ramble through the lives of the various people living in Scotland Street. Young Bertie, dominated by his mother and her pseudo-psychology: Pat, in a gap year before going to university: Domenica, a sixtyish anthropologist: Cyril, the dog: Matthew and Bruce, both egotistical in their different ways. Some of it is quite compelling, other parts utterly boring. The author has an annoying habit of digressing during conversations into the bizarre and ridiculous. Novel
2005
Alexander McCall SmithTrains and Lovers
Charming novella portraying the conversations in a train travelling from Edinburgh to London. Four people all have a story to tell about love in their life, though not necessarily their own. One has a mystery element to it. The actual situations test one's ability to suspend disbelief, but it is well written and worth the read for the writing style.Romance
2012
Ken McClureDeception
Steven Dunbar works for Scimed, a government agency investigating dodgy practice in the medical/scientific world. He goes to Scotland to investigate a GM crop causing local hostility as it been licensed right next to a newly established organic farm. In the immediate vicinity rats have become ultra vicious and deaths have occured as a result of their bites. The investigation uncovers horrifying issues, all the more so because it is based on fact. It is a well written novel with quite a bit of scientific explanation to satisfy purists.Novel
2002
Ken McClurePast Lives
A medical story about a neurosurgeon set in Kansas City. People having certain types of brain tumours removed develop multiple personalities. In Israel renegade priest Dom Ignatius is hunting down Israelis who can trace their ancestry in Israel back through many generations. He uses a drug to help them regress, trying to find someone who can get back to the first century AD. There are plenty of twists and turns to the story; most loose ends are satisfactorily tied up in a good endingNovel
2006
Ken McClureTangled Web
As the title suggests this is a rather convoluted story set in Bangor, Wales. A GP becomes involved in a desperate mission to save a friend and patient from being sentenced for the murder of his baby daughter. The local hospital is pioneering IV fertilization, but someone is cloning cells to create spare parts, and one baby has been kidnapped. The body of a cot death infant disappears. A well written page turner although it does stretch credibility a little, not on the medical side but with smaller issues. Thriller
2000
Colleen McCulloughAngel
Set in the King's Cross district of Sydney it tells the story of Harriet Purcell who has had enough of living at home and sharing a bedroom with her grandmother. She finds rooms in a house owned by Delviccia Shwarz and her 4yr old daughter. Other rooms are let out to a variety of oddball characters who add colour to the novel. Delviccia is a clairvoyant so a selection of clients appear from time to time. When Delviccia dies suddenly Harriet fights hard to get custody of the child with whom so has developed a strong bond.Novel
2005
Val McDermidThe Distant Echo
A crime thriller set in the St Andrews area of Scotland. It opens with the murder of a barmaid in 1978. The four students who find the body are all suspects, but the police never find the real killer. In 2003 the case is reopened as a cold case following the successful use of DNA matching. The suspicions surrounding the murder has greatly affected the lives of the four students, and when two of them are murdered the remaining two take it upon themselves to further the slow police progress. There is quite a lot of violence, but it is integral to the story. A real page turner.Detective
2003
Val McDermidNorthanger Abbey
A pastiche of Jane Austen's novel of the same name. Set around the Edinburgh festival, Cat Morland visits the city with a couple from the Dorset village where she lives. She meets the handsome Henry Tilney and his sister Ellie and is invited to stay with them in their home Northanger Abbey. Cat is obsessed with vampires and begins to think the Tilney family are vampires. All very silly but pretty faithful to Austin's original.Novel
2014
Val McDermidBeneath the Bleeding
A Tony Hill murder. A Div I footballer has died of poisoning; a stand at a football stadium is bombed and an expoliceman steward dies; a millionaire lottery winner dies. Tony Hill's job is to find the link even though he is recovering in hospital from a broken knee. Very well plotted and convincing.Detective
2007
Iain McDowallPerfectly Dead
Run of the mill police investigation. A lot of characters on both side to keep track of. Written in 3rd person omniscient so good overall picture of events, from a variety of POVs. Drugs involved; a man kills his family then himself.Detective
2003
Ian McEwanThe Children Act
An almost 18year old boy is dying from leukiemia and is desperate need of a blood tranfusion, but the family are Jehovas' Witnesses and will not allow it. The hospital take the matter to court and the female judge, in whose voice the story is told, rules in favour of the hospital, and the boy lives. Later the judge visits the boy in hospital and they find they share a love of music, and later she takes him to a concert. He becomes obseessed with her which leads to problems and when he has a subsequent relapse refuses treatment.Novel
2014
Ian McEwanEnduring Love
It all starts off with a rescue from an hot air balloon; this brilliantly written novel is all about obsession. The dramatic scenes are skilfully engineered with language that is compelling. Joe Rose’s life is profoundly affected by a man whom he met by chance and from whom there seems to be no escape. The situation wrecks his relationship with his partner. The underlying themes in the novel are to do with trust and lack of it.Novel
1997
Ian McEwanSolar
This is a darkly funny satire featuring Michael Beard who, despite his complicated and chaotic lifestyle, holds a Nobel Prize for physics. He is intent on making his fortune out of a new solar energy which is being prototyped in New Mexico. He is a thoroughly unlikeable philanderer whose fifth wife, Patrice, is about to leave him just as he finally decides that he actually does love her. His personal life is in a tangle, and his professional life isn’t any better, and now in his sixties, overweight and unfit, the sun seems to be sinking for Beard.Novel
2010
Kathleen McGurlThe Pearl Locket
Set in 1944/5 and 2014; a family inherit an Edwardian house from a great aunt. Kelly, the 17 year old daughter feels a strange attachment to her ancestor who had lived in the house 70 years earlier. An engaging story but a bit hackneyed with some anomolies, like a teenage boy wearing aftershave in 1944. Ends all neatly secured.Novel
2014
Fiona McIntoshThe French Promise
A sequel to The Lavender Keeper, Luc and Lisette come to England at the end of the war, marry and have a son and a daughter. They decide to emigrate to Tasmania and successfully set up a lavender farm there. However, Lisette and their son are drowned in a rip tide and Luc returns to Europe to lay to rest the ghosts of his past.Novel
2013
Fiona McIntoshThe Lavender Keeper
Lissette the daughter of a German father and French mother is recruited in WWII to spy on a German general in Paris. There is a love triangle as Lissette has fallen in love with Luc, her guide through rural France and her spying target the General. Sound a bit corny but is well written and convincing.Espionage
2012
Charlotte MendelsonWhen We Were Bad
Nominated for the 2007 Orange Prize. The novel tells the story of the lives of a dysfunctional Jewish family. The offspring are all adult but still dominated by their rabbi mother Claudia. Two younger children Melanie and Simon are rather minor characters. Norman, the father, overshadowed by his clever wife is the only really sympathetic character in the book. By the end of the novel Claudia knows she has a terminal illness but doesn't tell her family as she can't bear to be seen to be weak or in need of sympathy. Family Saga
2007
Pascal MercierNight Train to Lisbon
Raimond Gregorius's whole life is turned around by a chance encounter with a woman who seemed about to jump off a river bridge in Berne. She is Portugese and Raimond is a linguist. He is given a book in Portugese by a second hand bookseller when he tries to buy a Portugese tutorial. He becomes intrigued by the author and sets off on a journey to find out about the man. His journey to Lisbon becomes a journey of self-revalation.Novel
2004
Andrew MillerPure
A strong stomach is needed for this novel; it is a fascinating account of a period in the life of Jean Baptiste Baratte in pre-revolutionary Paris and is a fictionalised version of based on true events. Baratte is an engineer engaged to supervise the demolition of a church and the disposal of bodies buried within the church and cemetery of Les Innocents as the rotting corpses are stinking and unhealthy. The novel charts his progress and the pitfalls he encounters during the year it takes to complete the job. Over all looms the threat of forthcoming revolution. It is a compelling story evocative of the period in which it is set, with lots of symmetry of both phrases and situations.Historical
2011
Jenni MillsCrow Stone
Kit Parry is a quarry engineer who returns to her home town of Bath on an assignment to do with the undergound quarries beneath parts of the city. She finally manages to set to rest the demons which haunt her since her troubled childhood, the details of which are gradually released through flashbacks throughout the book.Novel
2007
Mark MillsThe Information Officer
A well written murder mystery set in war time Malta. It is known that a British man is a Nazi agent who is murdering local girls to destroy the trust the Maltese population had in Britain. Max Chadwick sets out to discover the agent and end the killings.War
2009
Mark MillsThe Savage Garden
This is a double murder mystery set in Tuscany in 1958. Adam Strickland, a Cambridge student, is employed by the aristocratic Docci family to uncover the secrets of a renaissance garden in need of renovation. As Adam studies the structure of the garden and reads old accounts of its construction he uncovers secrets of long ago. The character of Adam is well drawn and convincing, but his hostess Signora Francesca Docci is a little too accommodating to be true, but she has an ulterior motive in arranging for the study to be made of the garden. Her plans might have gone hopelessly wrong if a different kind of student had turned up to do the research. The secret of the garden involves Dante’s Divine Comedy and is like a cryptic crossword puzzle.Novel
2007
Rosalind MillsGuenevere Child of the Holy Grail
Part three of a trilogy about the life of Guenevere. It follows the failed quest by the young Galahad for the holy grail and the power battle for Summer County of Camelot and Avon between Arthur and Mordred. The Round Table is destroyed and the fellowship of the knights scattered for ever.Historical
2001
Deborah MoggachThe Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Humorous story set in a hotel in Bangalore, which is really an old people's home. The concerns and relationships between the residents are the main content of the story. I felt it lost its way a little towards the end and fizzled out. nevertheless it was a good read, and certainly different!Novel
2004
Santa MontefioreThe French Gardener
An unashamedly romantic novel and something of a weepie at the end. The garden of Hartington House is as much a character in the novel as the humans portrayed. Jean-Paul is the eponymous gardener who turns up to help Miranda with the overgrown garden of the property she and her husband have just bought. The reader realises early on that Jean-Paul actually designed the garden for the previous owner, a woman he had fallen in love with.Romance
2008
Santa MontefioreThe Gypsy Madonna
The gypsy madonna is the title of a painting by Titian. Santa Fonteine is the son of a French girl and a Nazi soldier; when the story opens he is living in New York in 1985 and his mother has just died. She has donated a painting, believed to be Titian's first attempt at the well known gypsy madonna to an art gallery. The novel traces the lives of mother and son from 1948 in France to New York in 1985. Quite well plotted but with rather too many coincidences, unlikely connections and a predictable happy ever after ending.Novel
2006
Santa MontefioreThe House by the Sea
A light holiday read set in the past in Italy and the present in Devon. The 'house' of the title could be in Italy or a hotel in Devon. Marina was born in Italy but comes to England as a seventeen year-old after the birth of her son who is adopted. It all ties up a little bit too tidily.Novel
2011
Santa MontefioreMeet me Under the Ombu Tree
An overly long and drawn out saga set in Argentina and England. Sofia and Santi are cousins growing up on a wealthy estancia owned by three brothers. They fall in love and Sofia becomes pregnant. She is sent to Europe for a termination which she does not have. She is staying with a young distant relative who helps her arrange an adoption. Years later, married with two children she returns to Argentina to find that her son was adopted by the family's housekeeper and her husband.Romance
2001
Santa MontefioreThe Beekeeper's Daughter
Grace lives with her husband and 19 year-old daughter Trixie on a Massachusetts island. During the summer a group of musicians come to stay on the island and Trixie falls in love with the lead singer, Jasper. This awakens memories of her childhood in Grace, and her early life in rural England as the daughter of the gardener and beekeeper to a stately home. History starts to repeat itself and the past is beginning to unravel for Grace before their lives can be happily continued.Romance
2014
Santa MontefioreSecrets of the Lighthouse
Ellen escapes to her aunt's cottage in Connemara to sort out her life. She is being edged into a 'good' marriage by her ambitious mother who herself has escaped the confines of the narrow Irish community. Ellen is welcomed by her Irish relatives and the enigmatic Con whose wife died in suspicious circumstances. The introduction of the voice of the dead wife adds nothing to the story and a lot of the action is telegraphed.Romance
2013
Santa MontefioreSongs of Love and War
Set mainly in Co Cork around the Deverill family who are running out of funds and desperately trying to maintain standards during WW1 and the Easter Rising. It became very predictable and ended with enough loose ends to justify a sequel.Novel
2015
Santa MontefioreThe Summer House
Once again a Montefiore novel set in a grand English house. Can she only write about wealthy or titled people? The plot starts off reasonably enough but becomes rather far-fetched. Very flowery descriptions and silly metaphors. Lord George Frampton has just died and at his funeral a young woman turns up claiming to be his illegitimate daughter. From the onset it is clear to the reader that she isn't but the family are taken in by her, but then David the eldest son falls in love with her. It's all resolved a bit too easily and is very formulaic.Novel
2013
Santa MontefioreThe Swallow and the Hummingbird
Set in England and Argentina, firstly just post war then two decades later. A convoluted romance involving a West Country farmer who goes to Argentina to live for a while with his uncle and aunt on their ranch, just after becoming engaged to the girl who had waited for him throughout the war. More of a fantasy than a romance.Romance
2004
Santa MontefioreThe Butterfly Box
Federica Camprone adores her father, but when her parents' marrigae breaks up she leaves her native Chile to live in England with her mother and younger brother. Devastated at not seeing her father she embraces the friendship of a neighbouring chaotic family, the Applebys. The main themes of the novel are undeserving love, betrayal and possessiveness, which is rather a lot to cram into one novel which jumps from character to character and place to place.Novel
2002
Simon MontefioreSashenka
Epic family novel set in Russia between 1916 and 1994. It covers the worst of the communist era and ends with a descendant of the family researching the history, not knowing that Sashenka is actually her grandmother. A lot of dense detail, some of which becomes a little tedious as it slowed down the pot.Family Saga
2008
Rachel MoorePromises to Keep
Set in 1944/45 in rural Cornwall. A group of GIs arrive in Falmouth in preparation for D Day, and their presence affects the lives of people in a nearby village. Engaging but a bit predictable.Romance
2011
Michelle MoranThe Heretic Queen
A compelling story of an Egyptian princess, Nefertiti, who becomes the wife of Rameses II. The novel is full of court intrigue, politcs and wars. Historical
2008
Erin MorganNight Circus
A fantasy novel about a circus which only appears at night. It arrives in various locations around the world with all the performers - illusionists, contortionists, fortune tellers etc. The performers all have magical abilities. A book I thought I wouldn't enjoy but became enthralled, suspended disbelief and was carried along by the writing style, despite the ending being a bit ambiguous.Novel
2012
Michael MorpurgoListen to the Moon
A very engaging junior fiction novel set in 1915 in the Scilly Isles. Merry and her mother set off for England on the Lusitania to visit the girl's father who is wounded and in hospital in London during WW1. After the wreck Merry is found, barely alive, on one of the uninhabited Scilly islands. Alfie's family nurse her back to health but the islanders are suspicious as a blanket she is found with has a German label. An excellent portrayal of how a small community behaves in such circumstances.Historical
2014
Clare MorrallAstonishing Splashes of Colour
Kitty Wellington is mourning the death of her baby which she tragically miscarried and had to have a hysterectomy to save her life. She is supposed to be seeing a psychiatrist and taking anti-depressants, but misses her appointments and fails to take the medication. This makes her behave very erratically. She is the youngest of a family of 6; one sister who ran away when she was sixteen and four brothers. Her mother is dead and father an artist. As the novel proceeds the family relationships begin to fall apart, then gradually reassemble themselves in a different order.Novel
2003
Clare MorrallThe man who disappeared
A compelling novel about a comfortable family whose lives suddenly fall apart. The father Felix Kendall disappears when he's supposed to be on a business trip to Hamburg. The first his wife, Kate, knows about it is when her credit card is refused. All their joint assets have been frozen and Kate has to borrow from her parents to buy food. Eventually they discover that Felix is suspected of money laundering. The novel tracks how the lives of Kate and the three children are changed and how they adapt. Convincing outcome but their are few aspects of the story which contribute little to the plot.Novel
2010
Clare MorrellAfter the Bombing
Very descriptive novel describing the life of Alma Braithwaite, a boarder in a school in Exeter which was bombed in 1942. She finds herself unable to move on following the loss of her parents and brother WWII. She becomes a music teacher and returns to the school and is teaching there in 1963 when JFK is assassinated, and the concert she had worked hard to organise is cancelled. Her parallel is Miss Yates, the new head who lost her entire family in the Coventry bombings. The story has undercurrents which are never fully explained.Novel
2014
Greg MortensenThree Cups of Tea
A very densely written and detailed account of building girls' schools in remote villages in Pakistan, and how millions of dollars were raised for the project. David Relin was the co-author and there were rumours that Relin committed suicide after claims were made that some of the money raised was spent fraudulently.Biography
2007
Kate MortonDistant Hours
A lengthy but satisfying read. The plot becomes a little over-complicated at times and includes a few red herrings, but it draws together nicely at the end. The main premise on which the plot is based is a bit unlikely but Morton works it through. She uses her usual tactic of dodging beween eras and points of view, but the central character, Edith Burchall holds the story together; her parts are written in the first person the rest is in the third.Novel
2010
Kate MortonThe Forgotten Garden
A young Australian woman sets out to discover the secret of her grandmother's roots. Her investigations bring her to England and the house her grandmother had bought twenty years earlier. The characterisations are good and the plot well sustained with plenty of intrigue.Novel
2008
Kate MortonThe Lake House
An excellent family history saga set mostly in Cornwall. Featuring a well-to-do family of parents, 3 daughters and a later-born son it covers 1903 to the present day. It is framed by a WDC who is about to be sacked for talking to the press. Whilst on holiday with her grandfather she digs into the mystery of Locanneth, the house by the lake and the family who lived there. She is intrigued by a missing son for whom there was a major police hunt. The coincidence at the end is a little bit forced. Family Saga
2015
Kate MortonThe Secret Keeper
Laurel's mother is dying but before she finally goes Laurel wants to uncover the secrets of her mother's past and who exactly was the man she had stabbed with a cake knife all those years ago. A well told story with some surprises - things are rarely exactly how they seemNovel
2012
Kate MosseCitadel
3rd of the set of novels set in the Languedoc. It covers 1942-44. It involves the maquis and an underground group working against the Nazi regime. The sub-plot is a map and codex sought by a French collaborator. Audric Baillard reappears and the main character Sandrine has close links with Alys of Labyrinth. A bit overlong but very engrossing and brings the reader up to 2009 when Alice (Sepulchre) attends a commemoration ceremony at Chateau du Baudrienes and meets two of the women and remembers Baillard from her experiences years before.Historical
2012
Kate MosseLabyrinth
A very involved story with time slips between the thirteenth and twentyfirst centuries. It involves the persecution of the Cathars in southern France. Alais and her modern counterpart Alice face threats and dangers. Alais dies trying to preserve the secrets enshrined in the three documents with which she has been entrusted by her father. The novel is set in and around the ancient city of Caracassonne and involves a lot of ancient French history which is well integrated with the narrative.Historical
2005
Kate MosseSepulchre
This story has a similar geographical setting to Labyrinth and Winter Ghosts. Characters from the previous books reappear in the 18th C time frame. There is involvement with Tarot cards, ghosts and time slips, for all of which it is not too difficult to suspend disbelief, but the existence of physical demons is a step too far. The novel is enaging and very well written.Historical
2007
Kate MosseThe Taxidermist's Daughter
Set in Fishbourne near Chichester in 1912. Connie's father is a taxidermist living in a remote cottage. He is a morose man and a hard drinker. Connie had an accident when she was 12 and can only remember fleeting images of her earlier childhood. Through the events of a few days in March of 2012 Connie begins to recall oddments of what happened and the reason for her father's depression. Fast moving with a good denouement.Novel
2014
Kate MosseThe Winter Ghosts
Shorter than the novels of the Labyrinth trilogy this story is again set in France and with the usual time slip scenario. Freddie is still mourning the loss of his brother George in the Great War, when he crashes his car on a rocky road in the Pyrenees and slips back into the twelfth century. There he meets Fabrissa ,a Cathacar girl who with the rest of her village is walled up in a labyrynth of caves where they were all hiding from their persecutors. Through meeting her and putting the past of the villagers to rest he is able to lay to rest his own ghosts.Historical
2009
Jojo MoyesThe Girl You Left Behind
Novel centres on a painting of a young woman, Sophie, in around 1936. Sophie is forced to cook for the German soldiers stationed in her village. The portrait was painted by her husband and hung in the hall of their small hotel, the Coque Rouge in Peronne in N France. In 2008 it hangs in the bedroom of a young widow in London, bought for her by her husband from a Spanish woman. The artist's descendents want it back under a repatriation law. The widow's fight to keep it and the story of what happened to Sophie is told brilliantly with many twists and turn.Historical
2012
Jojo MoyesThe Horse Dancer
Set in London, Natasha, a lawyer who represents children in court cases, helps Sarah a young teenager when she is accused of shoplifting. Sarah lives with her grandfather who has been taken into hospital and Natasha assumes quite a lot of responsibility for the girl. The grandfather was once a member of Le Cadre Noir a renowned French equestrian establishment. He and Sarah have been keeping and training a horse in a stableyard nearby. Sarah has run out of money for Bo, the horses, keep so decides to run away with Bo and take him to France. A well paced story told with conviction and a good denouement. Novel
2009
Jojo MoyesThe Last Letter from your Lover
An engaging novel spanning lives over fifty years. In 1960 Jennifer Stirling recovers from a road accident but is left with huge blanks in her memory. Ellie is a journalist in 21st C and in helping the newspaper she works for to relocate to new premises discovers an old love letter. Through determined research she eventually manages to reunite Jennifer with her lover of 40 years earlier.Novel
2010
Jojo MoyesMe Before You
The compelling story of a young woman who takes a job as the daytime companion to a quadriplegic man, injured in a motor cycle accident. The job is only for six months. She realises that the man has promised his parents he will give it six months before having himself taken to Dignitas. She is imaginative in the things events and outings and experiences she arranges for him, some work wonderfully, others are a disaster. She is desperately trying to persuade him that his life can be worth something...Novel
2012
Jojo MoyesNight Music
Isabel and her children move into the 'Spanish House',a derelict property in a mishmash of styles which she has inherited from a great-uncle who died intestate. But others want the house, particularly Matt McCarthy a local builder who expected to inherit the property as his wife had looked after the old man. A propert developer also wants the house as he sees the potential in the land for a small estate of homes. A variety of other characters add interest to the novel.Novel
2008
Jojo MoyesShip of Brides
Fascinating novel about Australian war brides being shipped over to England to be reunited with their husbands/fiancés. The ship was an aircraft carrier with very few facilities and very crowded. The novel follows the situations of four of the women and jumps from one character to another, but all comes together in the end, but leaving the readers to do a little work for themselves.Novel
2005
Jojo MoyesSilver Bay
Set largely in NSW Mark goes to Silver Bay to investigate and arrange for the purchase of land on which to build a holiday complex. He falls for, Liza, the niece of the woman who owns the run-down hotel in the area which has access to the best beach and sealife. Liza has secrets and a daughter she protects fiercely. A good plot, well narrated through the voices of the various main characters.Novel
2007
Jojo MoyesThe One Plus One
A 'journey' novel; Jess is a single mother to her daughter and stepson. Her exhusband has paid no mainenance claiming he is too ill to work, even though she is caring for and supporting his son. When she wants to raise money to take her daughter to Aberdeen to take part in a maths competition she meets Ed who is very wealthy. He offers to drive them all up there. Most of the novel concerns the events of the return journey. Good denouement.Novel
2014
Jojo MoyesAfter You
An excellent sequel to 'Me Before You'. Lou Clark still hasn't recovered from the death of Will Traynor at Dignitas when his daughter, Lily, appears. She is the result of an affair Will had in his final term at university and has never had any knowledge of. Lou takes the very troubled out of contro 16yr old under her wing.Novel
2016
Julia NavarroThe Brotherhood of the Holy Shroud
This is something of a Da Vinci Code look-alike. It jumps about from various periods in history to a Turkish community in present day Turin. The Turks are trying to retrieve the holy shroud which they insist belongs to them and was stolen.Novel
2004
Irene NemirovskyFire in the Blood
This is a novella set in Burgundy during the 1930s and concerns an old man reminiscing about his life and the people in the village, particularly the events leading up to the murder of a relative's husband. It is very evocative of rural French life during that period and is beautifully written.Novel
2008
Irene NemirovskySuite Francaise
This volume contains the first two parts of what Nemirovsky, a Ukrainian-born Jew, intended to be a five part novel. Part one, ‘A Storm in June’ describes the fall of Paris in 1940 and the journeys south made by people trying to escape. It contains some dark humour such as when a grandfather is accidentally left behind in a hotel en route for the south. The second part ‘Dolce’ centres on an occupied village where some of those fleeing Paris stayed for a while. It is written in a very lyrical style. Nemirovsky died in Auschwitz before the final three parts could be written. The manuscripts were found by her daughter and finally published in 2004. This second part has just been made into a film, released in March 2015.War
2004
Irene NemirovskyAll our Worldly Goods
Set in France between 1911 and 1940 the novel follows the fortunes of the Hardelot family. It contains drama and pathos and moves swiftly from event to event . Beautifully written.Novel
2008
Jo NesboThe Redeemer
Crime thriller set in Oslo. A Salvation Army man is shot dead in a city square. Harry Hole is the crime squad officer in charge of investigations. There are ambiguous sections in the story where 'he' could refer to any one of several characters. Where violence is involved the reader has to assume it is the killer! But not necessarily so... The assassin was hired by someone in Oslo and it is though shot the wrong target. A page turner, but rather convoluted.Detective
2005
Nek NeuhausSnow White Must Die
Translated from the German; Tobias Sartorius is released from prison having served a 10 year sentence for the murder of two girls. He returns to his own village but finds no welcome there. The plot is complicated with a multiplicity of characters to keep track of. There are several twists during the novel which turn things on their heads and the denouement is rather drawn out, with a further chapter tacked on to tie up all the loose ends.Detective
2010
David NicholsOne Day
Cleverly written book describing the events of 15th July every year from 1989 to 2005. Emma and Dexter meet at a graduation party on July 15th 1989. They become good friends and over the years their feelings for each other fluctuate. Sometimes she thinks herself in love with him but not him with her, sometimes it's vice versa. Some irritating characters, but quite readable and certainly different.Novel
2009
Audrey NiefeneggerHer Fearful Symmetry
Twin sisters come to England following the death of their aunt, their mother's twin, to claim their inheritance. There is a lot of involvement with Highgate Cemetery, which is close to the house they have inherited. The girls are haunted by their aunt's ghost and one of the girls falls in love with their aunt's young boyfriend. The ghostly aunt discovers she can remove life from the cat, but then restore it. She tries the same trick on her niece and inhabits her body, leaving the soul of the girl marooned in the house. A bit weird but a good read.Novel
2009
Freya NorthThe Way Back Home
Oriana returns to her childhood home in North Derbyshire after living in America for 18 years. Her home was an artist's commune when she was a child and has now been modernised and divided into separate apartments. Still living there are some of the people Freya knows from her childhood. Oriana was sent away from the commune as a sixteen-yearold for reasons not revealed until almost the end of the novel. A well crafted novel with believable characters.Novel
2014
Edna O'BreinThe Little Red Chairs
A 'literature' novel set mainly in Ireland, fleetingly in London and the Hague.Novel
2015
Maggie O'FarrellThe Hand That First Held Mine
This is the compelling story of the lives of Lexie Sinclaire in the 1950s/60s and Elina and Ted in the 21st century. O'Farrell uses alternate chapters and present tense for most of the time but it slips back into the past on occasions. There are obvious hints that Lexie is not going to live long, so her death by drowning when her little boy is only three is not unexpected. Characters introduced early on disappear only to reappear later in the novel. A very compelling story.Novel
2010
Joyce Carol OatesThe Falls
Set in Niagara Falls the novel features a woman whose husband commits suicide by throwing himself into the falls on the first morning of their honeymoon. The widow subsequently marries a lawyer and has three children. Later in the novel the theme involves toxic pollution of the canal in which nuclear waste was dumped in the 1950s. There is a continual underlying theme of self destruction.Novel
2004
Tea ObrehtThe Tiger's Wife
Unusual story set in an unnamed eastern European country. It is like a set of Russian dolls, no sooner have you engaged with the story than another thread opens and then another. It opens with a young doctor going to vaccinate children in an orphanage. A tiger, which as escaped from a zoo during bombing is living in the hills and is being fed by a young wife. There is a lot of folklore involved and it is hard to tell fact from fantasy.Novel
2011
Yoko OgawaThe Housekeeper and the Professor
This novella is set in Japan and depicts the relationship between a professor and his housekeeper and her son. Following an accident the professor of mathematics has a memory span of only eighty minutes but can remember the distant past. The housekeeper who does not live in has to reintroduce herself every day. There are lots of mathematic principles included in the story but despite that it is a very intriguing read.Novel
2003
Frances OsborneThe Bolter
The story of Indina Sackville, a five times divorcee who was the great grandmother of the author. The hedonistic self indulgent lifestyle of post WWI is vividly portrayed. Upper class open marriages were common, enabling both partners free to take lovers as and when they wanted. After leaving her first husband Indina goes to Kenya and four husbands later in 1955 she dies there. In between she lives a wild lifestyle, constantly looking for love and contentment but never finding it. A shocking but poignant portrayal of upper class life in England and the Happy Valley scene in Kenya.Biography
2008
Emeline PankhurstSuffragette
The autobiography of Mrs Pankhurst and the suffragette movement up to the beginning of WW1. Pankhurst grives graphic descriptions of the force feeding of imprisoned women and the intransigence of the Liberal PM Herbert Asquith.Biography
1914
Jill Paton WalshDebts of Dishonhour
An amateur sleuth novel set in Cambridge. It is well paced with a few twists and turns. Imogen Quay, the nurse at St Agatha's College, is suspicious about some dodgy investments made on behalf of the college and a sudden death. Several issues are interlinked and are nicely resolved.Detective
2006
James PattersonI Alex Cross
Det Alex Cross's niece has been brutally murdered. He soon discovers that she was mixed up in one of Washington's slimiest schemes. Girls were taken to a 'special' club for the delectation of the high and mighty in DC, and did not always survive. Cross closes in on the killesr after a dangerous hunt.Detective
2009
James PattersonNYPD Red
Set in new York, Zack Jordan and Kylie MacDonald hunt down the 'Hazmat' killers; vigilante killers who brutally murder people they think are murderers themselves. Their latest would-be victim is a single mother recently found not guilty of murdering her small daughter.Detective
2014
Lesley PearceRosie
Quite an engaging story but made unnecessarily long by mini biographies of a number of peripheral characters which add nothing to the main story. Several anomalies spoil it - Queen coming back from Australia when George VI died is just one of many. It is the story of orphan girls makes good after many difficulties, but has a happy ending. Novel
1998
Lesley PearceStolen
Rather unlikely plot, poorly researched. A girl is washed up on the beach at Brighton, alive but with total memory loss. Gradually as it returns bit by bit she reveals her story. Pearce is at pains to tell the reader that Brighton is in Sussex, and Chiswick in London, but fails to inform that Ushuaia is in Argentina, but implies it is somewhere in Chile. She also has a cruise ship docking in Santiago which is in the middle of Chile and landlocked. Perhaps she meant Buenos Aires which would make more sense. The plot stretches credulity and some of the interaction is quite unbelievable, but it all ends happily ever after.Novel
2010
Lesley PearceWithout a Trace
Set in a small Somerset village in 1953-4. A child goes missing and her mother is found dead. Molly Heywood, a friend of the victim is concered about the disappearance of the child and as the police don't seem interested in searching for her Molly decides to look for herself. Rather predictable in places, and not very believable, but quite engaging.Detective
2015
Louise PennyDead Cold
A murder mystery set in rural Quebec in the middle of winter. The story is complicated by too many unnecessary characters and the weather is a character in itself. The denouement is flatDetective
2011
Louise PennyHow the Light Gets In
Investigating the death of a spinster in a quiet Montreal suburb Inps. Gamache is drawn back to Three Pines just before the Christmas holiday. As usual the investigation is more complicated than it seems at first and old enemies are drawn in, including a massive feud invoving the Provincial Governor. Very atmospheric and full of suspense.Detective
2012
Louise PennyThe Long Way Home
Now retired, Armand Gamache and son in law Bauvoir help Clara Morrow search for her missing husband Peter. They had separated but he had promised to return in one year to see if they wanted to try again, but he fails to appear. The search leads them to a remote island in the mouth of the St Lawrence RiverDetective
2014
Louise PennyStill Life
The first of the Inspector Gamache stories introducing the village of Three Pines and its inhabitants. Jane Neal is found dead, believed to have been accidentally shot by a deer hunter. The death hinges around a painting submitted to the annual art exhibition by the murdered woman.Detective
2008
Louise PennyThe Brutal Telling
An Inspector Gamache story set in Three Pines near Montreal. A hermit is found dead in the bistro of Gabri and Olivier. No one knows who he is or how he got into the bistro, as it is clear frpm the head wound but lack of blood at the scene, that he was not killed there. Engaging and the best of the three Louise Penny mysteries I have read.Detective
2014
Louise PennyBury Your Dead
A convoluted murder mystery set in Quebec city during the winter. Armand Gamache is asked to help with finding the killer of a francophone Renand, who had been obsessed with finding the burial place of Champlain the founder of Quebec. Armand is supposed to be on leave recovering from gunshot wounds sustained during a shootout with terrorists during which other officers were killed. A last-minute wrong decision by Armand resulted in the death of a young colleague. This haunts him throughout the story which also involves the wrongful conviction of a man in Three Pines. Very convoluted and hard to follow.Detective
2011
Stef PennyThe Invisible Ones
Ray Lovell, a PI is half gypsy. He is sought out to find out what happened to Rose Janks who disappeared some six or seven years ago. There is much secrecy, suspicion and deception in the story, narrated alternately by Ray and JJ an adolescent gypsy boy living on the settlement where Ivo, Rose's husband also lives with his sick son Christie. Very well constructed with a twist at the end. Detective
2012
Jodie PicoultPlain Truth
This novel gives a fascinating insight into Amish life and beliefs, eg they Katie Fisher has a baby out of wedlock and is charged with its murder. Ellie Hathaway, a defence lawyer is persuaded to take her case and has to live on the farm in the Amish community as part of the girl's bail conditions. Katie claims she cannot remember the birth, just that the baby was born and then it disappeared. Novel
1999
Jodie PicoultPerfect Match
Nina Frost's five year old son suddenly starts bed-wetting and stops talking. After a physical examination it is discovered that he has been sexually abused. After some confusion it is revealed that the abuser was a priest. There is even more confusion about which priest it was who committed the crime. Revenge is extracted with a nice revalation at the end of the story.Novel
2002
Jenny PitmanThe Vendetta
A horse racing novel describing the antagonism between two women trainers. Jan Hardy is involved in a car accident in which a man is killed and her boy friend badly injured. Some of the events seem a little unlikely to the cynical mind but the plot is reasonable and certainly readable.Thriller
2005
Jennifer PotterThe Long Lost Journey
Story of a female archaeologist's search for the temple of the Queen of Sheba supposed to be in the Empty Quarter of the Yemen. The story is told in journal form. The last part of the story is told in letter form revealing the fact that her travelling companion stole her notes and artefacts and published an account of the expedition as his research and work.Historical
1990
Amanda QuickThe Third Circle
A fantasy story set in the late nineteenth century. Leona Hewitt can work crystals and early in the story 'retrieves' an especially powerful crystal from the home of Lord Delbridge, as it was originally stolen from her family years ago. She encouners Thaddeus Ware a hypnotist and they join forces to again retrieve the stone when it is once again stolen from Leona. Along the way they solve a few murders and fall in love, then her long lost uncle turns up having been in America for several years and made his fortune.Detective
2008
Ian RankinDoors Open
Mike MacKenzie is a software expert looking for amusement. He has become interested in works of art and plans to steal some interesting pieces when the Scottish Natioal Gallery has its 'Doors Open' day at which they bring out some of their stored pices for dispaly. He teams up with a forger and plans a scam to replace the masterpices with forgeries.Detective
2008
Ian RankinExit Music
The final Inspector Rebus case. A Russian is found dead near a multi-storey car park and Rankin and Siobhan Clarke are trying to solve the crime before Rebus's time runs out at the end of the week when he retires. Politocos and bankers also want it solved quickly, but for their own different reasons.Detective
2007
Ian RankinA Question of Blood
A killer enters a school, shoots two boys then turns the gun on himself. Rebus and Siobhan investigate. Complicated, convoluted and not very satisfactory.Detective
2002
Sarah RayneSpider Light
A rather gothic thriller which is set in an old cottage and nearby watermill and the events and deaths which have taken place there. Antonia Weston, a psycholgist has been released from prison after serving a 5 year sentence for the manslaughter of a man who had killed her brother. Three stories are interwined but not all have satsifactory conclusions or explanations.Detective
2006
Sarah RayneWhat Lies Beneath
An intriguing crime novel covering three generations set in rural England, London and the Levant. During the cold war the village of Priors Bromley was evacuated and closed for the testing of chemical weapons. More than fifty years later the village and surrounding area is declared safe, but some people would rather the past stayed hidden away.Detective
2011
Patrick RedmondPuppet Show
This is another of Redmond's stories of control and manipulation about people with disturbing childhoods carrying a lot of emotional baggage. Max Somerton is very wealthy but needs to be loved. However, he cannot just love in return but has to control and possess - to the point of engineering murder. Well written but not terribly convincing.Novel
2000
Patrick RedmondThe Wishing Game
A forceful psychological story set in a boys' boarding school in the 1950s. A manipulative boy takes on another who is easily led. Dreadful things start to happen; suicides, accidents and other disruptions. The boys use a ouija board to find out about events from the past then use the information for their own ends. The novel has very evil undertones and is both disturbing and compelling in equal measure.Novel
2003
Kathy ReichsFatal Voyage
Tempe Brennan is called in to do the forensics after a private plane crashes in a forest in N Carolina. During her search for body parts she comes across something which has nothing to do with the crash but leads her into danger and myserious practices linked with the English Hell Fire Club of the 18th C.Detective
2001
Kathy ReichsGrave Secrets
In Guatemala Tempe Brennan is working on the forensic investigation of the massacre of women and children. Four teenage girls appear to have disappeared and the partial remains of one girl is found in the septic tank of a cheap motel. Two of the girls are discovered to have run away to Montreal, the home town of one of them. One of the dead girls had been working for a clinic where research into harvesting material for stem cell treatment was being carried out. Very readable but with a few too many coincidences.Detective
2002
Kathy ReichsBare Bones
Set in N Carolina; a variety of non-human bones are unearthed and Tempe Brennan's job is to discover what they have to do with other deaths. Quite a complicated storyline but satisfactorily concluded. It involves the illegal sale of animal products for use in Oriental medicine.Detective
2003
Ruth RendallThe St Zita Society
A rather disappointing murder story. St Zita is the patron saint of domestic workers and all those who work in the big houses of Hexam Place in London have formed themselves into a group. The story is really about the lives and loves of the people living in Hexham Place and although three murders take place during the course of the novel only one killer gets his come uppance in a very abrupt ending.Detective
2012
Ruth RendallThe Vault
An Inspector Wexfor mystery. Now retired Wexford is invited to help out in solving the murders of four people found in a bricked up cellar in London. Three of the bodies date back ten years, but one only two years. It is a rather convoluted story with too many peripheral characters.Detective
2011
Hannah RiddellSecrets of the Tides
Compelling novel describing the fortunes and misfortunes of the Tide family. Darting backwards and forwards in time was irritating to begin with because the time change was usually a character change too. Often the secrets were suspected but only revealed bit by bit. Events which happened in the past are narrated in the past tense and those in the present in the present tense.Novel
2012
Michael RidpathWhere Shadows Lie
Set in Iceland with strong links to 'Lord of the Rings.' Murder mystery with the search for a ring thrown in. Magnus Jonson, a Boston cop and an Icelander by birth comes to Iceland to assist the local police force, but his recent past almost catches up with him.Thriller
2011
Stella RimingtonClose Call
Liz Carlyle suspects arms are being shipped into the UK from Eastern Europe in order to perpetrate an attack akin to the London bombings of July 07. She and Martin Seurat , who controls th French side of things work hard to prevent an atrocity.Espionage
2014
Stella RimingtonDead Line
M15 and MI6 attempt to derail a sabotage attempt on a peace convention about Syria due to take place at Gleneagles. 35 year old Liz Carlyle is assigned to investigate and prevent the attack. It is a light read but nevertheless seems authentic as far as the security services go and an ordinary citizen can tell.Espionage
2008
Stella RimingtonThe Geneva Trap
A great spy thriller set in Geneva and the South of France. It is well paced with interesting sub plots. Liz Carlyle is the main character. There is a good denouement.Espionage
2012
Stella RimingtonAt Risk
Rimington's debut novel set in Norfolk and introduces Liz Carlyle. An Afghan jihadist and an English-born girl are planning a bomb attack, the target of which is not revealed until the end of the novel. Well written and briskly paced.Espionage
2004
Stella RimingtonRip Tide
Well written and convincing espionage thriller. Very topical. Ships carrying aid to Kenya are being hijacks by Somalian pirates. Links with a Birmingham Muslim activist group are established by Liz Carlyle who works hard to resolve the situationEspionage
2012
Stella RimingtonRip Tide
A well written and convincing novel. Ships carrying aid to Kenya are being hijacked by Somalian pirates. Liz Carlyle discovers there are connection to Birmingham Muslim activists and establishes links with the girl friend of one of them and they work hard to resolve the situation.Espionage
2012
Debbie RixDaughters of the Silk Road
Miranda inherits an antique vase from her great aunt which turns out to be from the Ming dynasty and of immense value. The novel follows the lives of the various women who have owned the vase, and the good fortune it was believed to have brought them. Well researched with a lot of real people featuring in the past story. Novel
2016
J D RobbEchoes in Death
Gruesome murders and rape are being perpertrated on wealthy NY society couples. Det Eve Dallas takes charge of the investigations and gets it all sewn up. No real surprises.Detective
2016
Goddard RobertA Long Time Coming
An absorbing story. Stephen Swan is amazed to discover that his uncle, whom he had thought long dead is very much alive and recently released from a Dublin jail. The book traces the convoluted story of why he was imprisoned and who was responsible for his wrongful incarceration.Thriller
2010
Michele RobertsIgnorance
Set in northern France just before and during WWII. The story is related through the voices of Jeanne, Marie-Angele, Dolly and Jeanne's daughter, Andree. Jeanne and Marie-Angele are school friends but from different social backgrounds, Jeanne's mother is a cleaner and washer woman, while her friend's parents own and run the village grocery shop. Jeanne and her mother are Jews but have been baptized into the Catholic faith in order to fit into the community. The novel is well written literature but without a meaningful thread, and I didn't care enough about any of the characters.Novel
2012
Nora RobertsThe Collector
A far fetched story set in NY. Lila is a house sitter looking after a high rise apartment when she observes a murder taking place in a similar apartment opposite. The story involves the theft of Faberge eggs and a character who thinks himself to be descended from the Romanovs.Novel
2014
Nora RobertsThe Black Hills
A romantic thriller set in S Dakota. Lil and Cooper were childhood sweethearts but their relationship faded as they grew older and pursued their own careers. It is not until the wildlife sanctuary that Lil runs is threatened by a serial killer with native American blood that their relationship is restored. A very dramatic ending.Thriller
2009
Nora RobertsBlack Rose
Set in Tennessee, Roz Harper has a thriving garden centre business which she runs from the grounds of a large house which has been passed down through generations of her family. She is anxious to catalogue the family history and employs a researcher. The resident ghost 'the Harper Bride' causes trouble. The novel is the middle one of a trilogy.Novel
2005
Nora RobertsTribute
Cilla McGowan is trying to restore her grandmother's old house in Virginia. Janet Hardy, the grandmother, had been a famous film star who had committed suicide at 39. Cilla is making a good job of the house, but some people in the community don't want her there. Her relationship with Ford Sawyer develops to the point of engagement, and with his help she manages to track down who is trying to drive her away and who was actually responsible for her grandmother's deathNovel
2009
Nora RobertsThe Villa
Set in Italy and Napa Valley California it tells the story of a winemaking family and is a cross between a whodunit and a family saga. Fast moving with a good plot and a few surprises; it ends satisfactorilyNovel
2002
Nora RobertsBorn in Fire
Set in Ireland, Maggie Concannon is a glassblower creating beautiful and imaginative pieces. Rogan Sweeney, a Dublin art entrepreneur commissions pices from her for his gallery and puts on an exhibition of her work. Inevitably the two fall in love but Maggie is reluctant to marry him because of the experience of her parents' bitter breakup. The details of the art of glassblowing are fascinating, but the book looses points as the author is American and doesn't bother to research Irish vernacular - 'gotten' and 'sidewalk' are not in common usage in Ireland neither is the use of 'the fall' for Autumn.Romance
1994
Peter RobinsonAftermath
A horrific revelation of murders and sexual perversions emerges when a 'domestic' is reported to the police by a neighbour. Historical abuse is revealed and a local girl is missing; residents of The Hill have their peace shattered and Alan Banks has his work cut out to get to the bottom of the many issues which are thrown up.Thriller
2001
Peter RobinsonChildren of the Revolution
The latest Inspector Banks mystery concerning the death of an ex-college lecturer and the people who might have good reason to wish him dead. It is well plotted with a long list of suspicious characters and a bit of female interest for Banks. It has a satisfactory conclusion, but again, with the more recent Banks stories there is too much of Banks' taste in music which just feels like padding.Detective
2013
Peter RobinsonAll the Colours of Darkness
A DI Banks mystery with excellent potential and quite a long read at 501 pp. However a lot of time was spent on red herrings. Early suspicions of murder are confirmed. It involves the suicide of a jealous gay lover. The person who instigated the investigation is accidentally killed and there is a lot of peripheral MI6 involvement which causes unnecessary problems.Detective
2008
Peter RobinsonAll the Colours of Darkness
A DCI Banks novel - well written but contains too much about the music Banks listens to. It involves the murder/suicide of 2 gay men provoked by an acquaintance scared of losing his position in an amateur theatre group. MI5 and MI6 are involved towards the end but do little to clarify the story.Detective
2008
Peter RobinsonDead Right
A very early Inspector Banks story about an ultra right wing group murder. There are a lot of minor characters which sometimes detract from the maain story and Banks is trying to cope with his wife leaving him.Detective
1997
Peter RobinsonA Dedicated Man
Second of the Banks novels. A local industrial archaeologist is found dead partly buried beneath a dry stone wall There are several people Banks suspects would like to see the man dead, but the least likely turns out to be the killer. The novel is well constructed and engaging.Detective
1988
Peter RobinsonDry Bones That Dream
A murder mystery involving the execution of an accountant. As the investigation procedes it becomes clear that the murdered man was doing much more than helping people with their income tax. Several interesting twists lead to the denouement.Detective
1994
Peter RobinsonFinal Account
An accountant is found murdered in his barn. Chief Inspector Alan Banks learns from the dead man's wife that two masked men had burst into the farmhouse and taken the accountant out to the barn and shot him. As Banks investigates the crime he learns that the dead man was leading a double life and was involved in a money laundering scam.Detective
2004
Peter RobinsonGallows View
Peter Robinson's first Inspector Banks novel, this is a murder mystery set in the Yorkshire Dales. Petty thefts are taking place in the small town, then one of them results in the death of an old lady. Someone is also creeping around at night watching women undress. There are several likely suspects and a clever unearthing of some evidence but Banks inevitably gets to the bottom of it. Detective
1987
Peter RobinsonIn a Dry Season
Insp Banks and Annie Cabot investigate a murder committed over 50 years ago when an extreme drought dries up a reservoir and uncovers a drowned village and the skeleton of a woman which shows evidence of repeated stabbings.Detective
2000
Peter RobinsonThe Necessary End
A well paced murder mystery involving a group of hippies living in a commune on the moors. Although it was written over twenty-five years ago it still feels fresh.Detective
1989
Peter RobinsonStrange Affair
Inpector Banks's brother leaves an urgent message on the answerphone. Near Easedale a girl is found murdered in her car. Banks goes to London to find his brother but is too late - his body is found in the Thames. Eastern European trafficers are behind the killings. Taut and well writtenDetective
2005
Peter RobinsonThe Summer That Never Was
Cleverly constructed crime novel intertwining the historic diasappearance of a 15 year old boy juxtaposed with a current investigation into the death of a 14 year old boy . Human bones are unearthed. Huge cast list which can get a bit confusingDetective
2003
Peter RobinsonWatching the Dark
A very readable Insp. Banks murder mystery. Banks is investigating the murder of a fellow police officer who had been involved in investigating the disappearance of a young girl in Tallin when on a hen party weekend several years previously. The section set in Tallin is very descriptive,Detective
2012
Peter RobinsonWednesday's Child
DI Banks is investigating the disappearance of a young schoolgirl taken from her feckless mother by a couple claiming to be from child protection. Banks finds himself coping with paedophilia and a race against time to find the child and bring her abducters to justice.Detective
1992
Michael RobothamSay You're Sorry
Two girls have beeen missing for several years and presumed dead. They had told friends they were planning to run away from home, but in fact were being held captive by 'George'. Tash, one of the girls, escapes but is found frozen to death and gives no indication of what has happened to her, or where she has been held. The race is on to discover if her friend is still alive and where she is.Detective
2012
Michael RobothamWatching You
Marnie Logan's husband has disappeared leaving behind him a pile of gambling debts. After 13 months Marnie is broke and the gambling bosses are threatening her and her children. Suddenly people who are causing her trouble are turning up dead. Marnie feels she is being watched and discusses it with her psychiatrist who is counselling her for past bi-polar experiences. Her two children Zoe and Elijah are drawn into the web. Sinister and compulsiveNovel
2013
Debora RodrieguezThe Little Coffee Shop of Kabul
Depicts the lives and events in and around the coffee shop owned and run by Sunny, an American woman. More chic-lit than real novel with a predictable assortment of larger than life characters, tragedies and the ultimate happy ever after ending.Novel
2011
David RosenfeltFirst Degree
A quirky legal thriller written in the first person present tense. There are lots of jokey asides which in no way interfere with the main narrative or horror of some of the situations described. Andy Carpeneter ends up having to defend his girl friend on a charge of murdering a corrupt policeman.Detective
2003
Meg RosoffThe Way I Live Now
A World Book Night Gift. Set in the future during a world war of terrorism. American Daisy is sent to live with her English cousins for the summer, just prior to the outbreak of the war. Part 1 is in the voice of the 15 year old girl and talks of how the 5 children between the ages of 5 and 17 survived during the 5 years of the war. They are separated and Part 2 describes the reunion some 8 years later when daisy, having been repatriated to the US returns to England.Science Fiction
2004
Joanna RossiterSea Change
The story switches between pre-war England in Imber in Wilshire and 197 India following a tsunami. Alice has just married her boyfriend, James, on the beach the day before the disaster happens. The novel moves between the search for James, missing after the tsunami, and her mother, growing up in Imber, the village taken over by the MOD on Salisbury Plain. Alice has never had an easy relationship with her mother, Vi, and as the story progresses you understand the reason, complicated by the bitter resentment of the MOD for what they did to Vi's young life. Historical
2013
Robert RyanThe Dead Can Wait
Set in 1916 and featuring a now retired Sherlock Holmes and Watson. Watson is helping the military over the development of a new weapon, the tank, but 8 men died in the first trials and Watson's job is to find out why. The novel moves rapidly from character to character, some friendly others not. There is a large element of spying involved and a satisfactory denouement which lines up the reader for the next book in the series.Detective
2014
Robert RyanDead Man's Land
Very densely written story set in the trenches of WWI. Dr Watson realises that there are some unusual casualties arriving for treatment at the field hospital, not casualties of war but suffering from poisoning. He works hard to uncover the murderer and the reason for the deaths. Compelling and very well writtenDetective
2012
C J SansomDark Fire
Lord Cromwell is on the verge of losing his head as he tries to sustain Henry's marriage to Anne of Cleves. A young girl is accused of murdering her cousin and Shardlake is called in. He sets out with Guy Malton and Barak to investigate the source of 'Greek Fire' believed to have been created by two alchemist and is a powerful killer. The novel provides a good study in relationships with the interplay of the three main characters.Historical
2007
C J SansomDissolution
An investigator is murdered when he goes to assess a monastery in Scarnsea on the Sussex coast. Lord Cromwell dispatches lawyer Matthew Shardlake to investigate. He discovers that the establishment is out of control and sinister acts of sacrilege have been committed. A very well constructed and satisfying whodunit with convincing historical background.Historical
2003
C J SansomHeartstone
It is 1545 and Shardlake and Barak travel to Portsmouth to investigate a case given to them by a servant of Catherine Parr. The young Princess Elizabeth plays a minor role, but the Battle of the Solent and the Mary Rose a much bigger one. Historical
2010
C J SansomLamentation
Matthew Shardlake is summoned to find out what has happened to the missing writings on religion by Catherine Parr, Henry VIII's sixth wife. In them she has made clear her sympathies for the reformation, but Henry and others in power are wavering to return to Rome, so her writings could be considered heresy. It takes Shardlake and his loyal team over 600 pages to get to the bottom of the mystery. Thoroughly researched and very well written but a bit overlong.Historical
2014
C J SansomRevelation
Henry VIII is set to marry Catherine Parr but Cranmer and the Protestant Faction are nervous as she has reformist sympathies. Shardlake is working on a case involving a teenage boy committed to Bedlam as his relious beliefs could end in him being burned as a heretic. When an old friend is murdered Shardlake promises to investigate. With the help of Barak and his apothecary friend Guy Malton he investigates, only to be led in the direction of Cranmer and Catherine Parr, and the prophesies of the Book of Revelation.Historical
2008
C J SansomSovereign
It is 1541 and Henry VII sets out on a magnificent progress to attend a submission by his rebellious subjects in York. Shardlake is already there with his assistant Jack Barak. As well as assisting the King Shardlake has also been instructed by Archbishop Cranmer to ensure the welfare of a conspirator who is to be transported back to London.Historical
2007
Clive SansomHeartstone
Shardlake and Barak are heavily involved in sorting out the legalities and complications involved with the wardship of a brother and sister. The investigations eventually take Shardlake to Portsmouth where the fleet is preparing to fight the French. The Mary Rose lies at anchor and Shardlake is aboard... A real page turner.Historical
2011
M A SchafferThe Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Written as a series of letters between a large group of people. This novel tells the story of events and life in Guernsey during the German Occupation. It is full of humour as well as pathos won The Times Paperback of the year award in 2008.Novel
2008
Alice SeboldThe Lovely Bones
Susie Salmon watches down on her family and friends from heaven after she has been raped and murdered by a neighbour. She observes their triumphs and successes as they try to find out who the murderer is. From time to time they catch fleeting glimpses of her or feel the comfort of her presence. Susie's father suspects a particular man but nothing can be proved. The denoumement is very satisfactory. The novel was made into a film in 2009.Novel
2002
Nicholas ShakespeareSecrets of the Sea
This story ebbed and flowed. Set in Tasmania, firstly in a small town then in the countryside. Alex Dove has just returned from England where he was sent to live after the death of his parents when he was eleven. he falls in love with Merredy and decides to stay in Tasmania and farm. He and Merredy, who suffered a childhood tragedy too when her brother disappeared, get married, but despite tests and IV treatment fail to have any children. They take in a troubled delinquent after rescuing him from an overturned boat in a storm. There is quite a bit of casual sex and a lot of heavy drinking in the novel. Towards the end of the novel Merredy has sex with Ray Grogan who is married to her cousin and becomes pregnant. Thus setting up future trouble in such a small community.Novel
2007
Catherine ShawThe Riddle of the River
A nineteenth century whodunit with a lady detective who tracks down the killer of an actress/prostitute. The denouement involves the use of Marconi's new invention, wireless. Interspersed with the main story are details of Marconi's progress with wireless.Detective
2008
Fiona ShawTell it to the Bees
Brilliant young character in Charlie Weekes. His father leaves the family home to live with a younger woman. Charlie makes friends with the local doctor, Jean Markham and as Charlie's mother, Lydia, and the doctor get to know each other they fall in love. Charlie helps the doctor with her bees and as the scandal develops he tells his troubles to the bees. In small town 1950s the scandal is stirred by Lydia's sister-in-law so the three go abroad to escape the notoriety. Compelling, well developed and believable characters.Novel
2010
Anita ShreeveThe Lives of Stella Bain
Set during and after WW1 in France, England and USA. Stella is a VAD in Marne. At the opening of the novel she is in a military field hospital having been injured in a raid and is suffering from memory loss. She knows she has to get to England and find someone in the Admiralty building. She is feeling a great sense of guilt but doesn't know why. As the story unfolds and her memory gradually returns the puzzles are solved. Very well written and totally absorbing.Novel
2013
Anita ShreeveRescue
Not one of Shreeve's best. History begins to repeat itself when a teenage girl, Rowan, suddenly becomes wayward. Her father a paramedic had rescued her mother from a car wreck and saved her from a DD conviction. He married her and she seemed a reformed character, but after their daughter was born she started drinking again, and the father divorced her because she couldn't look after their daughter properly. On prom night, Rowan is badly injured as the result of a silly dare and the father tracks down his ex-wife. The girl recovers and their is the possibility of a family reconciliation. Rather too predictable.Novel
2010
Anita ShreeveResistance
Set in Belgium in 1944, a USAF pilot is shot down and rescued from his wrecked plane by members of the Belgian Resistance. He falls in love with the woman who looks after him who is married to a much older man. Both are captured and taken to different prisons and at the end of the war the pilot is returned to the States. Many years later the pilot's son finds the woman and visits her, telling her that his father died quite young as a result of his wounds and infections, but did marry his fiance from before the war.Historical
1995
Anita ShreeveTestimony
An unusual novel about accounts of sexual misdemeanors in a boys' boarding school in the NE of England. The book presents the testimonies of the people involved and their relatives, building up their lives and personalities on the pretext of a) providing information for the researcher's postgrad thesis, and b) as catharsis for the dreadful impact it had on those involved in or affected by it - a suicide, destruction of ambitions and three marriages destroyed. The novel ends with a note of redemption as one of the boys involved decides that after he has served his two years probation he will apply to help build a hospital in Uganda or take part in a vaccination programme in Thailand. Novel
2008
Anita ShreeveBody Surfing
An accomplished novel. Sydney, divorced then widowed by the age of 29 is tutoring Julie during the summer vacation at the family's beach house in New Hampshire. The two older brother's arrive and Jeff, a thirty one year old begins to woo her, but Ben, his brother is jealous. Sydney discovers that Julie has a talent for art which she encourages. Julie's father is pleased but the mother is hostile. A wedding is arranged between Jeff and Sydney but Jeff fails to turn up. Two years later Sydney discovers the truth behind his failure to turn up. The novel ends on a positive note. Novel
2003
Lionel ShriverThe Post Birthday World
An unusual book which presents alternating scenarios. Irana McGovern faces a dilemma while Lawrence, her partner is away on business. Encouraged by Lawrence she goes to dinner with Ramsay Acton, a famous snooker player on his birthday in order to maintain a tradition. After the meal they go to his house and whilst he is demonstrating snooker shots to her they almost kiss. The rest of the novel follows two courses, alternate chapters relate what happens if she had allowed the kiss and the other set what happened if she hadn't. Events in the parallel stories often mirror each other .Novel
2007
Lionel ShriverSo Much for That
Long novel (532pp) mainly about serious illnesses - Familial Dysantonomia and Peritoneal Mesothelioma affecting the lining of the abdomen, the former condition found only in Ashkenasi Jews. It charts the time Glynis discovers her problem until she dies. Glynis and Flicka are both angry about their conditions, but deep down Glynis knows she has only herself to blame for hers. Other quite bizarre incidents make the book amusing and the various characters are well rounded and convincing.Novel
2005
Martin SixsmithPhilomena
This is the sory of a three year old boy, adopted from a Catholic orphanage and settled with an American family without his natural mother's permission. I was engaged by the first third of the book, but Philomena, the mother, disappeared from the text. The boy grew up disliked by his adoptive father and brothers who preferred Mary, adopted at the same time and from the same place. He grew to be a very troubled man, gay and depraved, never settling properly into a permanent relationship preferring to visit gay dives. He tries to trace Philomena but without success. Inevitably he contracts aids which he passes on to the man he lives with. When he dies his ashes are brought to the Irelish orphanage where he was born.Biography
2013
Nigel SlaterToast
A great autobiography recalling all the culinary delights of the nineteen sixties - the must have prawn cocktail and black forest gateau at the upmarket end and Surprise peas and Birds Eye chicken pies at the lower end of the scale. His revelling in the confectionary of the era brings back memories of walnut whips and Maltesers, space dust and flying saucers. Very evocative, poignant and funny in alternating sections.Biography
2004
Muriel SparkThe Prime of Miss Jean Brodie
Set in 1930s Edinburgh Jean Brodie selects a group of six ten year old girls and is dedicated to giving them an education in all aspects of life. They are her elite and soon begin to stand out and are known as the 'Brodie Set'. As they grow up and disperse they are still held together by Jean Brodie's continual interest in them.Classical
1961
Nicholas SparkesLast Song
This was coded as adult fiction but fits better as Young Adult. Ronnie and Jonah go to spend the summer with their father in N Carolina. Although the children don't know this their father is dying of pancreatic cancer. Ronnie, who is almost 18 falls in love with Will, a beach bum and things do not go smoothly. Predictable ending with a large dollop of God.Novel
2009
Dana StabenowBlindfold Game
Set mostly aboard a coastguard cutter hunting for a ship thought to be carrying a missile armed with cesium. The story jumps from place to place and character to character so is not easy to follow. There is no resolution to the dirty bomb. Some years later the hero's friend and son both die of pancreatic cancer having been close to the bomb when attempts to prevent its launch failedNovel
2006
Lyndon StaceyCut Throat
Ross Waklyn, an American jockey, comes to England to put behind him a dreadful riding accident. However he finds himself enmeshed in a web of intrigue and blackmail which almost results in his death. Exciting and well paced but with perhaps just a little too much detail of the horse racing scene.Detective
2003
Lyndon StaceyOutside Chance
A horse racing thriller about the theft of a potential winner of the Cheltenham Gold Cup. There are links with a family mystery and a troupe of Rumanian horsemen giving performances around the country.Thriller
2006
Jessica StirlingThe Last Voyage
Set between 1907 and 1912 it tells of the lives of Julie and Anne, sisters who both marry artists, who have very different personalities.Historical
2011
Kathryn StockettThe Help
A humorous, poignant and shocking story. It depicts the lives of black housemaids in Jackson Miss. in 1960s and has been made into a film. The novel is very well written with excellent characterisations and voices. The dialogue of the black women takes some getting used to. The story ends well. Historical
2009
Elizabeth StroutOlive Kitteridge
Olive is a retired maths teacher living with her husband and adult son in small town Maine. She struggles to make sense of the changes in her life and can often be abrupt and is not universally liked, but as the reader you can feel sympathy for her.Novel
2008
Kate SummerscaleMrs Robinson's Disgrace
A biography of an 'affair' and the subsequent divorce of Isabella Robinson from her husband in the 1860s. Isabella falls for the handsome Edward Lane, some ten years her junior. Lane sets up a hydrotherapy clinic which Isabella partonises regularly and keeps a diary of her meetings with him, in which she expands on her feelings about him. When she is ill with diphtheria Henry, her husband finds the diary and uses it as the grounds for divorce, then a very rare occurence and requiring a high court to grant it. Isabella claims that it was all fanciful and nothing ever happened between her and Lane, but the decree is granted. The truth remains a mystery.Historical
2012
Kate SummerscaleThe Suspicions of Mr Wicher
This is a true story of an unsolved death in the 1890s. The body of four year old Savile Kent is found stuffed in an outside privy with his throat cut. After much investigation of the complicated family no one is charged with the murder. The book details the progress of the Mr Wicher's investigations and makes comparisons with other murders of the time, both fact and fiction. After Constance, a daughter of the family by the first wife, confesses to the murder years later the author traces the lives of the rest of the siblings and links them to Constance's later life. Now a TV series.Historical
2009
Glendon SwarthoutThe Homesman
Set in the midwest of USA in the nineteenth century. In the absence of a husband prepared to do it, Mary Bee Cuddy escorts four wives, driven to lunacy by the privations and conditions of life in the wildernes, back to civilisation. She persuades George Briggs, a claimjumper, to accompany her and they begin the trek east to return the women to their original families.Historical
1988
Rosie ThomasConstance
A romantic novel with a difference. Connie, a musician, returns to England from Bali when she has an email from her sister Jeanette informing her that she is dying of cancer. The two women have had a difficult relationship as they were both in love with the same man but it was Jeanette who married him. The novel picks out the threads of their lives and those of the people closest to them. A good read with a satisfactory ending.Romance
2011
Rosie ThomasConstance
Almost as good as Kashmir Shawl. Good scene setting and regular dipping into the past. Mostly about relationships between sisters, lovers, parents and children and the need to know who you are. There is an excellent opening to draw the reader in.Family Saga
2011
Rosie ThomasThe Illusionists
Eliza knows she doesn't want a life of Victorian mundae domesticity, and when she gets the opportunity to work with Devil Wix, performer in a rundown theatre company she joins him. Dwarf, Carlo Bodoni, aka Charlie Morris, is in love with her, but she has her sights set on Devil Wix. The novel traces the rise of Wix and Eliza, his purchase of the theatre and the ups and downs of life as an illusionists. Fascinating and unusual but the ending rather trickles away.Novel
2014
Rosie ThomasIris and Ruby
Another one to match the Kashmir shawl. Portrayal of wartime and present day Cairo is brilliant. Characterisations are excellent, the time changes tidily executed as are the voice changes. The plot is rather transparent, but that doesn't matter as the narrative carries the reader along and doesn't spoil the enjoyment.Novel
2006
Rosie ThomasThe Kashmir Shawl
One of the best books I've ever read. Intertwines the search for information about a beautiful Kashmir shawl, found after her father's death by Mair, with the story of her grandparent's life in Indian Kashmir in the 1930s. Well portrayed rounded characters, lots of intrigue, excellent plot and satisfactory denouementFamily Saga
2012
Rosie ThomasLovers & Newcomers
Miranda, recently widowed, invites her oldest friends from uni days to share the rambling house she inherited from her husband. It starts well, but then the bones of an iron age woman are uncovered during building work. This halts progress which causes great friction and gradually things begin to unravel. They all realise they cannot put the clock back; relationships change over the years and nothing can be as it was 40 years ago.Novel
2010
Rosie ThomasSun at Midnight
Great descriptions of Antarctica, but the story is a bit slow in parts. Enjoyable, but the denouement comes about 100 pages before the end and then there is a slow section before the main protagonists resolve their situation. In parts it stretches credulity in that Alex is 4 months pregnant before she realises and by the time she is full term still no one else has realised!Novel
2004
Rosie ThomasThe Potter's House
Very well constructed and engaging novel set on a small Greek island close to the Turkish coast. Cary, staying on the Turkish mainland is caught up in an earthquake and ensuing tsunami. She is rescued by a fishing boat and landed the Greek island . She is taken in by Olivia, an English woman married to Xan an islander. At first Olivia befriends her but soon feels afraid that Cary, who now calls herself Kitty, is disrupting the comfortable and settle life she now has.Novel
2001
Rosie ThomasThe Potter's House
Set on a small Greek island close to the Turkish mainland. Cary, on holiday in a Turkish coastal resort is caught up in an earthquake and ensuing tsunami. She is rescued by a man in a fishing boat and is landed on a small Greek island where she is taken in by Olivia an English woman married to a Greek islander. At first the two women are great friends but gradually Olivia begins to feel that Cary, who now calls herself Kitty, is disrupting her settled life. Several questions remain unanswered at the end, who was the fisherman who rescued her, them disappeared, only to reappear towards the end, and which the change of name?Novel
2001
Rosie ThomasSimple Lives
Overlong novel about an English couple living in New England. 14 years earlier they had had a Down's daughter whom they had put up for adoption. Dinah, though she has 2 healthy sons longs to know what happened to the little girl and returns to England to track her down, which she does half way through the novel. She causes havoc by virtually abducting the girl after a minor road accident involving the school minibus in which she was travelling. The story then becomes less and less believable. An example of how her writing has improved since 1995.Novel
1995
Rosie ThomasStrangers
Annie and Steve are trapped in a building when a bomb explodes. For about 8 hours they are trapped side by side in a lift pinned down by a fire door. To pass the time they tell each other about their lives, both are quite badly injured, Steve with seval broken bones and Annie with internal injuries. In hospital they keep in contact through visits to the day ward. By this time they are deeply in love, but Annie is married with two children. Novel
1987
Rosie ThomasSunrise
Set in N Wales and London. Angharad meets Laura Cotton when she first goes to boarding school from her tiny Welsh community. They become firm friends, but when her father discovers the friendship he forbids it. Secretly Angharad visits her friend during the school holidays and meets Harry her older brother and they fall desperately in love. The Cottons' father had cheated Angharads father many years earlier which creates plenty of tension. Pregnant by Harry at 18 she goes to tell him but is horrified to find him in bed with his sister. She runs away to London and with the help of Jamie Duff her employer she makes a successful career out of catering. It is not until she returns to her home village that the even pace of her life with Jamie is shaken. A compelling read.Novel
2004
Rosie ThomasWhite
With a setting largely on Everest and its foothills the novel cannot help but have the mountain as one of its characters. Wonderful descriptions of the scenery and weather conditions. Passions and ambition are high both literally and metaphorically, with tragic consequences. The ending is a bit dragged out and overworked.Novel
2000
Flora ThompsonLark Rise to Candleford
The autobiographical story of coutry and small-town life in the last forty years of the nineteenth century. There is great emphasis on the natural world and country events.Family Saga
1945
Lesley Thomsonthe Detective's Daughter
Stella, owner of a cleaning company, tries her hand at solving the murder of a young mother, a case her father, a DI had never managed to get to the bottom of. Rather a convoluted tale and there were moments when I almost lost the plot - literallyDetective
2013
Alan TitchmarshAnimal Instincts
An early novel by Titchmarsh, lacking in sophistication. The plot is straightforward but with no real surprises. Kit Lavery, an Australian returns to England to tidy up her father's affairs after his death. The death duties on her father's nature reserve are crippling and selling the farm and nature reserve seem the only option, but an unknown interest of the old man comes to the rescue. Novel
2004
Alan TitchmarshFolly
Probably the best of Tichmarsh's work so far. It has an interesting story line and is set in the art world of Bath. There is an interesting time line which dips backwards and forwards and adds texture and generates speculation. The ending is a bit predictable and a little too convenient. It involves art fraud, copies and originals.Novel
2008
Alan TitchmarshThe Haunting
An engaging story about a divorcee, Harry Flint, buying an old mill cottage in Hampshire. His next-door neighbour is a widow with a young daughter. Harry is keen to find out about his ancestors. After knocking a hole in an upstairs wall in order to put a door in Harry senses a ghostly presence. Research and old diaries reveal that he is descended from a girl who died there in 1816. His neighbour may be a descendent of a stable lad who was in love with her, and Harry's best friend descended from the people who owned the mill - all tied up with bows or what?! Some over constructed metaphors which leap off the page. Despite this, a good readRomance
2012
Alan TitchmarshLove and Dr Devon
The novel is set in a rural community where Dr Devon, a widower, is trying to get his life together after being forcibly retired from the medical practice he belonged to for challenging a senior partner. The love interest comes from the daughter of the woman who cleans for him. A light read.Romance
2006
Alan TitchmarshMr MacGregor
This is a lightweight novel about a celebrity gardener who seems to be losing popularity. There is a romantic theme plus a mystery surrounding his father's nursery. Pleasant but untaxing. The Rob MacGregor character is clearly based on how the author liked to see himself. Published in 1998 there are many references current to the time that date it.Novel
1998
Alan TitchmarshBring me Home
Set in a castle in the Scottish Highlands which Charlie Stuart(!) inherits, along with a grouse moor and acres of farmland, from his father who goes to live in Edinburgh with his new wife. The new wife turns out to be a gold-digger and tries to swindle the castle out of Charlie when his father dies. Charlie's wife dies in childbirth which does nothing for the plot except to heap trials on Charlie and emphasise how well he survives. A sub-plot involving Eastern European students doesn't get anywhere and in the final chapters a very unlikely event occurs. Very lightweight and stretches credulity to the limit - but nicely written.Novel
2014
Paul TordayThe Hopeless Life of Charlie Summers
Well written with unusual metaphors and comparisons. It traces the parallel fortunes of characters Charlie Summers and Eck. The novel is largely concerned with the financial world of 2008, hedge funds and subprime mortgages but the serious stuff is counterbalanced with a lot of humour and a good twist at the end. Novel
2010
Sue TownsendThe Woman Who Went to Bed for a Year
Amusing beginning but Townsend ran out of ideas and the novel deteriorated rapidly from about halfway through. It became just plain silly and the ending was patheticNovel
2012
Rose TremainThe Colour
Set in New Zealand in the 1860s this is the story of Joseph and Harriet Blackstone who have recently emigrated from England. Joseph builds a cob home for them and Lillian his mother to live in. Ignoring local advice he builds it in an open area in the path of harsh winter winds. He finds a small amount of gold in one of the creeks and becomes obsessed with the 'colour'. He leaves Harriet and his mother, but is unsuccessful in his search and returns to England. After Lillian's death Harriet looks for gold herself, and has more success than her husband. The story is rich in detail and includes a few shocks.Historical
2003
Rose TremainEvangelista's Fan
A collection of short stories, many dealing with obsession, as do some of her novels. She is good at capturing atmosphere and getting inside the characters of her main protagonists. Short Stories
1994
Rose TremainMusic and Silence
Set in Denmark between 1629 and 1631 in and around the court of Christian IV, the novel has an almost fairytale presentation. There are several subplots , one of which features English lutenist, Peter Claire, a musician in the court, and Emilie Tilsen, the daughter of a court servant. There are references to events in Danish history and flashbacks to the king's childhood. 1999 Whitbread Award winnerHistorical
1999
Rose TremainThe Road Home
Lev, an eastern European immigrant, tries to make a life for himself in England. He is a widower with a young daughter who is being looked after by his mother until he can support her in England. He is a dreamer and his, attitudes, lack of understanding of the country he is in and his quick temper cause him some problems. However he gradually works his way from kitchen porter, to waiter, to chef in a variety of restaurants. Eventually he makes enough money to think of returning home to set up his own restaurant. There are several side issues which add to the story which has now been made into a filmNovel
2007
Rose TremainTrespass
Set in the Cevennes region of France Tremain details the lives of 5 people and involves love, jealousy, greed and guilt. An old farmhouse is being put on sale and the owner wants to demolish the bungalow of his sister which he says is an eyesore and will detract from the price. The novel deals a lot with the past but is nicely framed in the present by a party of schoolchildren on an outing to learn about silkwormsNovel
2011
Kate TremayneThe Loveday Conspiracy
This is part of a series of novels in the style of du Maurier and the Poldark sequence. It is set in the early nineteenth century and centres on a sprawling Cornish family with scores to settle and problems to solve. It is well written and briskly paced but rather overpopulated with too many characters. The family tree at the beginning is very necessary. It has a real page turning denouement,Historical
2009
Peter TremayneBadger's Moon
Sister Fidelma mystery. She and Eadulf leave their baby son with his nurse to solve the mystery of the killing of 3 girls on consecutive full moons. Well set up but a slightly disappointing resolutionDetective
2004
Peter TremayneThe Leper's Bell
A Sister Fidelma murder mystery. Fidelma and Eadwulf's baby son is kidnapped and his nurse murdered. Their search for their child takes them into enemey country where Eadwulf almost dies. The subplot is their relationship; they are in a temporary marriage which can end after a year and a day. The tension throughout the novel is what Fidelma's decision will be.Historical
2004
Peter TremayneSmoke in the Wind
Set in the seventh century 'Smoke in the Wind' is eleventh in Tremayne's Sister Fidelma mysteries. Fidelma, nun and sister of King Muman of Ireland is travelling to visit the Archbishop of Canterbury but the ship is blown off course and they come ashore in Wales. Here they find that a whole community of monks has disappeared and eventually seems to be linked with the murder of a young girl. Fidelma and her companion Eadulf work hard to solve the mystery. An engaging mystery in what seems to be an authentic setting.Historical
2002
Joanna TrollopeA Balancing Act
A matriarchal family pottery business is thriving, but relations between the mother and three daughters are strained, and her long suffering musician husband realises he has let the best years of his life slip away whilst deferring to her needs.Family Saga
2014
Joanna TrollopeNext of Kin
Grief and lack of communication tear a family apart following the death of Caro, wife of Robin, co-owner of a farm he works with his brother Joe. Caro, born in the USA, has died of cancer, and because of her American background has been less involved with farm affairs than the rest of the family. Her death has a profound effect on the whole family and undercurrents emerge in the shape of worries about finance and the fact that not everything has been put through the books as it should. The novel, though something of an aga saga reflects the problems and worries of modern day farming.Novel
1997
Joanna TrollopeSecond Honeymoon
A family drama: Edie is lost when the last of her offspring leaves home. During the course of the novel they return as their independent lives begin to fall apart. The novel is written in the third person and the point of view changes rapidly from character to character.Novel
2006
Janet McLeod TrotterThe Vanishing of Ruth
Amber sets out to discover what happened to her Aunt Ruth back in the hippie era of 1976 when she set out on an overland journey to India. When the bus she had been travelling in reached Afghanistan Ruth and her boyfriend Marcus had disappeared. The novel has three time frames, 1976, the recent past and the present. A well written novel with a convincing denouement.Novel
2010
Barry TroyDirty Money
Set in Dublin; financial 'operator' Paddy Brett is found murdered and no one knows where he has concealed his untaxed income. Johnny Constantine, an old friend is brought in to help the family unearth it. Written in the first person from the point of view of Constantine, as the story evolves Paddy comes to realise that there was more to his old friend than he ever knew.Detective
2001
Anne TylerThe Clock Winder
Elizabeth Abbott has a year off from her studies and takes a job working as 'handyman' to recently widowed Pamela Emerson. Mrs E has just sacked her gardener for 'tinkling' on the roses and while still in a bad temper, her housemaid, Emmeline. Elizabeth proves to be very competent and gets on well with the large family, all now adult, but who call to see their mother fairly regularly. Two of the sons, Timothy and Matthew vie for her attention. After an accident with a gun, a rather unlikely event, Timothy is killed and Elizabeth returns home to N Carolina. The action then switches to Elizabeth in NC where she almost gets married. In Elizabeth Tyler has created an independent single minded woman who will not be diverted from what she wants to do - when she can decide what that is. Time moves on and eventually Elizabeth is persuaded to return to the Emerson household to nurse Mrs E who has had a stroke. No real allusion is made to the title in the text, but it is mentioned in the opening chapter that there was a clock in every room, all of which needed winding on a different day each week.Novel
1972
Anne TylerThe Clock Winder
Elizabeth Abbot takes a year off from her studies and ends up working as handyman to the recently widowed Mrs Emerson who has just sacked the gardener and cleaner. The story moves between characters and places. Elizabeth is very independent but compassionate and is quickly drawn into the disorganized lives of the large adult Emerson family, where she becomes indispensable. An unusual and compelling story.Novel
1972
Anne TylerDigging to America
Tyler's skill is in her delightfully accurate but often very ironic portrayal of her characters. Two US families one Iranian-American and one all-American meet at an airport where they are both collecting baby girls they have adopted from Korea. The American family arrived armed with a video camera and tape recorder, while the Iranian family play it much more gently. The two families keep in close touch and the novel concentrates on the differences in attitudes to the upbringing of the children. The Iranians becoming American takes hard work but they join in the celebrations of the American and invite them to their own less lavish affairs. The point of view passes from character to character quite seamlessly which is a tribute to Tyler's skill and subtly. Novel
2006
Anne TylerBack When we were Grownups
An amusing insight into the life of widowed Rebecca, mother, stepmother and general dogsbody to a large multigeneration family. Poppy her father-in-law is about to celebrate his 100th birthday, her own daughter and three stepdaughters with their husbands and children all make demands on her. The background theme concerns Rebecca's attempt to reconnect with the boyfriend, Will, she dumped in order to marry Joe who was many years her senior. Entertaining, with a multiplicity of characters.Novel
2001
Anne TylerThe Beginner's Goodbye
A brilliant novel about a man who is recently widowed. He is helped to come to terms with the changes in his life caused by his wife's loss when an oak tree falls through his sun lounge during a storm. The wife reappears in odd situations and they have brief conversations. Both poignant and humorous. Very well written.Novel
2012
Anne TylerNoah's Compass
Liam Pennywell, divorced 60 year old has just been let go from his teaching post. He moves to a smaller apartment and on his first night there he is mugged and rendered unconscious. With no memory of what happened he feels adrift in his life - an allusion to Noah adrift in a sea with no land in sight. Memory and loss are the main themes of the novel.Novel
2010
Salley VickersDancing Backwards
Engaging story set aboard a transatlantic liner. Retired Vi Hetherington is taking a trip to New York to look up an old friend, Edwin, with the intention of continuing on to the Caribbean. As the voyage progresses she reflects on episodes of her life which she is reminded of by the people and events she encounters on board ship. Very well written, will read more of her books.Novel
2009
Salley VickersAphrodite's Hat
A satisfying collection of short stories, most of which are well rounded. They all deal with aspects of love of one kind or another.Short Stories
2013
Salley VickersMiss Garnet's Angel
Julia Garnet goes to Venice after her companion of many years, Harriet, dies. Julia is entranced by the story of Tobias and the Angel when she is shown part of a diptych depicting it. The story is interspersed with the narrative of Miss Garnet. As the novel progresses Julia's up-tight sense of right and wrong is challenged and she ends a more compassionate and broader minded person.Novel
2000
Salley VickersMr Golightly's Holiday
Mr Golightly, first name never revealed, rents a cottage on Dartmoor for 6 months. He observes the relationships and activities of the people he comes to know and befriends Johnny Spence a teenage truant. There are lots of reflective passages but the plot is not complicated. Not until almost the end of the novel, when Mr G has a long conversation with an old adversary who appears out of nowhere, does the reader realise Mr G's identity.Novel
2003
Salley VickersThe Other Side of You
A story within a story related by a psychologist, David McBride. It features the Caravaggio paintings of The supper at Emmaus when Christ appears to the disciples. There are subplots of a broken marriage and a long friendship. It is very well written with deep themes, not all of which I fully understood. McBride realises the truth behind the death of his older brother.Novel
2006
Penny VincentiSomething Dangerous
Second in a trilogy about the Lytton family and their publishing house. It is set between 1926 and 1946 and moves between the younger generation and their activities in London and the Home Counties and Paris and New York. Some very good sections describing war conditions and D Day.Family Saga
2006
Penny VincenziAlmost a Crime
Door stop volume: 700+ plus pages. It interweaves the lives of three main families with intricate affaires, romances, high profile metro-centric glamorous characters, involving near bankruptcy, madness, teen crime and baby snatching. Some of the sub-plots are shallow and not satisfactorily resolved. A bit lightweight.Novel
2007
Penny VincenziA Perfect Heritage
A very long book (753pp) about the infighting within a cosmetic house undergoing difficult times and with financial problems. With a massive cast of characters the novel portrays their personal lives as well as the main theatre of action, the business. There is a constant neeed to refer to the cast list at the front of the book.Family Saga
2012
Dan WaddellThe Blood Detective
An excellent detective novel set in London. A serial killer is targetting seemingly disparate characteres and mutilating the bodies in different ways. There are strong links with the ancestry of the victims and people who trace their ancestry through various record offices.Detective
2008
Louise WalshNaming the Bones
Set in Edinburgh, Glasgow and the island of Lisemore off the Scottish west coast. Murray Watson is researching the life and death of a poet in order to write his biography. He suspects the poet may have been murdered. The author takes rather a long time to get to the meat of the story.Novel
2010
Minette WaltersThe Devil's Feather
Connie Burns is kidnapped in Baghdad and held captive for three days. After escaping she returns to England and hides out in a secluded farmhouse in Dorset. She had revealed to several sources that her kidnapper was a serial rapist and murderer and she knew he would try to find her. A second thread to the novel involves the woman who owns the neighbouring farm who has been traumatised by the loss of her family in a car accident. Despite is some ambiguity it is a well crafted story with a satisfying conclusionThriller
2005
Simon WaltersSecond Term
A political novel which promised much but delivered little. The socialist party is preparing for a general election and hoping to win a second term. The central character, Charlie Redpath, is Press Secretary to the PM. She is ruthless and devious in ensuring the second term is won, but at a cost. The ending is weak, relying on too many unlikely scenarios to be believable.Novel
2000
Christopher WardAnd the Band Played on
A fascinating account of the aftermath of the Titanic disaster. The author's grandfather was a violinist on board and one of the group playing 'Nearer my God to Thee' as the ship went down. The book contains lots of interesting detail about the rescue ship and the numbers buried at sea because there were not enough coffins on board the ship detailed to pick up the bodies. Not everyone could be identified and many bodies are buried in Halifax Nova Scotia as families could not afford the expense of repatriating the bodies.Historical
2012
Sarah WatersThe Paying Guests
Lesbian Frances Wray lives with her mother in a London house which is too big for the two of them since Frances's brothers were killed in WWI. They let some of their upstairs rooms to Len and Lilian Barber, a married couple. Frances is strongly attracted to Lilian and they soon become lovers. In an altercation Lilian hits Len with a large ashtray and kills him. The two women drag the body to a back lane so that his death looks like a street attack. A young man is charged with murder. Frances and Lilian are devastated and very relieved when he is found not guilty. The two women begin to plan a new life for themselves, but it is hard to see how this will work as they are both full of guilt for what they have done.Novel
2014
S J WatsonBefore I go to Sleep
After a slow start this novel became very engaging. Christine has lost her long term memory as the result of an accident 20 years earlier. Each morning, when she wakes her memory is blank - she has to be told who she is and all the important facts for everyday living. Her therapist, Dr Nash encourages her to keep a journal updated every evening. This is done without the knowledge of her husband. Surprises and twists turn this into a fascinating crime thriller.Novel
2011
Daisy WaughLast Dance with Valentino
Poignant romantic novel about a fictional long standing relationship between Jenny Doyle aka Lola Nightingale and Rudolf Valentio. Dips between 1916 and 1926. The two keep losing each other losing each other and only meet up again a few days before his death in 1926. Some parts lack conviction and some sections irritatingly long before reaching action.Romance
2011
Tim WeaverFall from Grace
Intricately woven detective thriller. David Raker specializes in searching for missing persons and is asked to find retired DI Leonard Franks who disappeared from his home on Dartmoor one Sunday evening when going outside to fetch logs for the fire. A bit contrived in places but a good read all the same.Detective
2014
Katherine WebbThe Legacy
An intriguing novel which flips between modern England and early 20th C USA. Erica and Beth Calcott return to Storton Manor in the depths of Wiltshire to sort out the house following their grandmother's death. Erica goes through her grandmother's things and finds an old photo of her great-grandmother nursing a child, but dated prior to her marriage. She is flooded with memories of childhood summers spent at Calcott and the disappearance of her horrid cousin Henry. Erica sifts through the family history to discover the truth about Henry and her great grandma but only the reader knows the awful truth about the baby.Novel
2010
Michael WhiteThe Kennedy Conspiracy
Through hypnotic regression Mark Bretton is taken back to Nov 22nd, 1963, the day JFK was assassinated. The novel relies on the suspension of disbelief and reincarnation. Through several therapy sessions Mark and meeting other people undergoing the same treatment the conspiracy behind JFK's death is realised. Mark is the only person left alive from the original enclave - he awaits his next incarnation.Thriller
2012
Neil WhiteCold Kill
An engaging murder mystery. A serial killer has brutally murdered 2 young women who at first seem unconnected. However with closer investigation a link is found between the women's fathers. DI Laura McGinty and her boy friend Jack Garrett find themselves deeply involved before the the case is concludedDetective
2011
Lucie WhitehouseThe House at Midnight
This first person narrative concerns a group of ex-university friends and opens in a large country house which Lucas has inherited from his Uncle Patrick. The interplay of relationships is narrated by Jo. Danny, a gay member of the group has his sights set on Lucas and manipulates him. A lot of drinking and drug taking is involved. It doesn't have a very satisfactory ending despite the fact there are some elements of 'The Bed I Made' in it.Novel
2008
Lucie WhitehouseThe Bed I Made
A brilliant psychological thriller set on the Isle of Wight. Kate is haunted by her ex-lover whom she discovered to be possessive and cruel, a control freak if not a psychopath. She decamps to a rented cottage in Yarmouth to work on her translating job and put some distance between herself and London. But eventually Richard tracks her down. This would make a great film.Thriller
2010
Anne WiddecombeFather Figure
A story of life in the 21st century. Without any warning Kat walks out of her home taking her two children with her. 'It wasn't the same' is her only excuse. As the desperate story of her husband Jason unfolds we discover the shallow nature of the woman. She makes it as difficult as possible for him to visit his children and eventually remarries and moves hundreds of miles away from her old home. The story ends satisfactorily for Jason and the children, but Jason sees some disquiet in the eyes of Dan, the new husband as he begins to recognise the kind of person he has married. A very compelling read.Novel
2005
Marcia WillettThe Christmas Angel
A very light read, set in Cornwall it tells the story of a community of Anglican nuns and the people who live around them. Well written but not a very satisfactory ending with 2 broken marriages.Novel
2012
Marcia WillettEchoes of the Dance
A wide ranging family story set in the West Country. Daisy is a professional ballet dancer trying to come to terms with injuries which are ending her career. During the course of the novel she finds a new life and purpose.Novel
2007
Marcia WillettForgotten Memories
Set in Devon thre novel has multiple points of view. Louise has a tragedy in her past about which she is in denial. She finds peace and tranquility in the Exmoor countryside. Her problems are satisfactorily resolved. Not a challenging read.Novel
2003
Marcia WillettHattie's Mill
A pleasant easy read, this novel has lots of characters and sometimes quite abrupt changes in point of view, even that of a dog! Hattie buys an old water mill with adjacent cottage and a journey of five years takes the reader through the seasons and the ups and downs of the characters fortunes. Novel
1997
Marcia WillettMemories of the Storm
A family story in which Hester, the main character, recalls the events of 1946 when her brother returned from a Japanese POW camp. Her story is intertwined with that of Lucy, whose son Jonah meets Hester's god-daughter through their work. Hester's family had cared for Lucy during the war when she was only 3-4 years old. There are a lot of 'in your face' religious references and elements of her previous novels and links with chararacters in 'The Birdcage'.Novel
2007
Marcia WillettThe Sea Garden
When Jess leaves Australia to live in England she decides to visit distant relatives in the West Country. Through the autumn as she gets to know the family and learns the family history she discovers secrets about her grandparents' past which explain a lot about the relationships between the members of the current generations. There are rather too many characters poorly explained in the early stages of the novel.Novel
2011
Marcia WillettThe Birdcage
This novel is written partly in 3rd person present and partly in 3rd person past. Lizzie, a fifty-something actress, goes to Dunster in Somerset to try to discover the facts about the past and trace her mother's lover. It is well written with a few twists and turns and very recognisable as a Marcia Willetts novel.Romance
2005
Robert WilsonThe Hidden Assassins
A complicated thriller whith a huge cast list. Terrorists blow up a block of flats in Seville resulting in many casualties and fatalities. There are several side issues which are unrelated to the main story. A marathon 642 pages, however the denouement is satisfactory.Detective
2007
Sarah WinmanWhen God was a Rabbit
The god of the title really was a rabbit. The novel is about love in all its forms, romantic, family ties, gay relationships and best friends. Involves 911 in part 2 of the novel.Novel
2011
Jacqueline WinspearElegy for Eddie
Set in 1933, Masie Dobbs, a detective, investigates the death of Eddie, an autistic man with the remarkable gift of being able to draw from memory. She has known him for many years and when she learns of his death in a paper mill she suspects murder. Her investigations reveal disturbing issues which eventually lead to World War IIDetective
2012
Elizabeth WinthropDecember
A well written but sometimes frustrating read narrated in the present tense. It is the tense story of angst in a family when the daughter suddenly stops speaking. When the story opens this has been going on for nine months with no reason given. The girl is very wilful, self absorbed and self important. There are long passages of description and introspection by the main character. One character, Jimmy, seems to have been introduced just to effect a resolution and seemed to me to be a bit forced.Novel
2008
Louisa YoungMy Dear I wanted to Tell You
Set during WW1 it depicts the lives and relationships of two soldiers, an enlisted man and an officer and how their partners coped with the separation and uncertainties. There is quite a bit of 'Birdsong' style detail about life in the trenches, but about halfway through the action returns to England and the hospital in Sidcup where Harold Gillies and his team pioneered facial reconstruction.Historical
2011
Markus ZusacThe Book Thief
Liesel is the foster child of Rosa and Hans Uberman, her mother and younger brother having been killed in an air raid. Her friend is Rudi and during the course of the novel they find and hide a Jewish man Max Vandenberg in the cellar of the Ubermann's house. Vandenburg eventually leaves his hiding place in order not to implicate the family. Liesel steals books from the library of the mayor and his wife. When the street is bombed and Liesel is the only survivor she goes to live with the mayor and his wife and after the war Max returns. In the epilogue it is revealed that Liesel goes to Australia, eventually marries and has children.War
2005
Domenica de RosaSummer School
A frothy novel about an English woman who opens a summer school for writers in her renovated villa in the hills above Sienna inTuscany. The information about her clients is presented as resumes about themselves and their writing. An entertaining but light read.Novel
2008
Edmund de WaalThe White Road
De Waal traces the history of porcelain manufacture froms its earliest beginnings in China to the discovery of chia clay in other parts of the world.Biography
2015
Ilona van MilSugarmilk Falls
This novel is set in Canada north of Toronto and spans about forty years. A stranger arrives in the remote village and interrogates residents about events of some forty years earlier. The story gradually unfolds as one reads not just about what the people tell the questioner, but as their own private thoughts are revealed. A mass murder of a family of Oswkan Indians and a burnt body had been discovered. The body was thought to be that of the school teacher, a European. Several possibilities are hinted at but it is left to the readers to make up their own minds. Someone confesses, but is he telling the truth? The identity of the questioner is finally revealed but the ending is left to chance - a game of dice, which has been a theme throughout the book.Novel
2006

GENRE / STARS ORDER (705 BOOKS on 12th July 2017)

AuthorTitleReviewGenre/Pub

Edmund De WaalThe Hare with the Amber Eyes
Although this is the biography of the enormously wealthy Jewish Ephrussi family beginning in 1871, is written with a light touch and is more like a novel. The hare in question is just one of a collection of 264 of Japanese netsuke which has been passed down through the generations and provides a link to the various characters included in the biography. It survived the war years thanks to the cunning of a maid of the household. De Waal brings to life the different members of the family who have had guardianship of the collection and explains how it came to be in his possession. The family trees at the beginning of the novel are invaluable.Biography
2010
Nancy HoranLoving Frank
A fictionalised biography of Mamah Cheney who left her husband and children to go to Europe with Frank Lloyd Wright, the innovative American architect. Well educated and feminist in her thinking she suffered public humiliation for her actions. On their return from a year in Europe FLW built a house in Wyoming where they lived together until 1914. Mamah's children came to stay for the school holidays and the public hoo-ha had subsided. They employed a negro couple as cook and house servant, Gertrude and Julian Carlton, but Julian was difficult in his attitude to Mamah and it ended in tragedy.Biography
2007
Lori LansensRush Home Road
Seventy yearold negress Addy Shadd finds herself looking after six year old mixed race Sharla Cody while her mother, Addy's neighbour in the trailer park where they live, spends the summer with her new boyfriend. As Addy gets to know and love young Sharla she is drawn back to her own childhood, at first happy then tragic as her story unfolds through the novel. Addy worries constantly about who will care for Sharla if her feckless mother fails to return. In her mind Addy talks to her dead brother, Leam, who was drowned while trying to get even with the man who had raped her when she was fourteen. Through her adult life Addy had lived in various places along the American/Canadian border, but ends up, without fully realising it, very close to Rusholme, the exslave settlement where she grew up. The story comes full circle with a satisfactory conclusion.Biography
2002
Nigel SlaterToast
A great autobiography recalling all the culinary delights of the nineteen sixties - the must have prawn cocktail and black forest gateau at the upmarket end and Surprise peas and Birds Eye chicken pies at the lower end of the scale. His revelling in the confectionary of the era brings back memories of walnut whips and Maltesers, space dust and flying saucers. Very evocative, poignant and funny in alternating sections.Biography
2004
Penelope LivelyAmmonites and Leaping Fish
A charming memoir about old age. Lively looks back over her eighty years and discusses the things that have influenced her. She writes about her Egyptian childhood where most of her education was acquired through reading a wide variety of books. She considers how memory shapes us and in her final chapter considers six treasures, how she acquired them and what they mean to her.Biography
2013
Henry MarshDo No Harm
Stories of the life of an eminent neuro surgeon. Gives great insight into the highs and lows and the problems of neurosurgery. It is very honestly written and at times self depracating; give good insight into the inner workings and complication of hospitals and the frustrations for medics and patients alike.Biography
2014
Julian BarnesArthur and George
George Edalji, a Birmingham solicitor and the son of the vicar of Great Wyrly, was falsely accused and ultimately convicted of mutilating livestock in the village. He sought the help of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in getting to the bottom of the mystery and helping prove his innocence. The novel spends a lot of time on interior monologues of both main characters and is narrated in the first person by them both. It covers the trial and imprisonment of Edalji, Doyle's relationship with his first wife and mistress Jean Leckie and latterly his attempt to find the real culprit of the crimes and clear Edalji's name. Barnes describes it as a contemporary novel set in the past. The novel has its roots in fact, but Barnes has embroidered it with ideas of his own.Biography
2005
Laurie GrahamThe Importance of Being Kennedy
Written in the style of an autobiography the novel traces the lives of the youg Kennedy family through the eyes of Nora Brennan the children's nursemaid. A compelling read tracing the deeds and misdeeds of JFK and his siblings and the rigid keeping up of appearances of matriarch Rose Kennedy. The family 'skeleton' is poor Rose junior, damaged at birth by her mother dleiberately holding back frpm dleivery so that the doctor with ether could arrive. Nora is torn between marriage and looking after the younger members of the family. When visiting grand houses in the UK, staff were always known by the name of the family they worked for, hence the title of the novel.Biography
2007
Beatrice ColinThe Luminous Life of Lilly Aphrodite
Set in Berlin between 1900 and 1934 the novel tells the story of Lilly Nelly Aphrodite, the illegitimate daughter of a cabaret singer and her aristocratic lover. Lilly is sent to a Catholic orphanage and eventually becomes a film actress and popular star of the 1920s. At 16 she marries an Uhlan who is subsequently declared missing during WWI. Later she marries a Russian film director, Yuri, and moves to Hollywood, but returns to Germany in 1934 to make a film for Hitler, organised by Goebbels. The first marriage to the Uhlan is discovered as is the fact that he is still alive. Eventually she escapes to the USA with the Uhlan and Yuri ends his days in Dachau. Biography
2008
Margaret DrabbleThe Red Queen
A two part story; part one is about the life of a Korean princess narrated by her or her 'ghost'. Part two is about a modern academic, Barbara Halliwell who is sent, anonymously, a biography of the crown princess shortly before she is to visit Korea to give a paper at a conference. Halliwell becomes intrigued by the princess and through a series of accidents and coincidences visits the palace where the princess had lived. She has an intense three day love affair with an elderly Dutch academic who dies in bed beside her of a heart attack. She contacts his widow about the adoption of a Korean baby girl the professor had been arranging. Towards the end of the novel Barbara meets Margaret Drabble who is interested in her story ... An unconventional style having the author as a character in her own book, but a good read.Biography
2004
Rosanna LeyReturn to Mandalay
Very like Rosie Thomas in style and content, but not quite as polished and concise. Eva gatsby goes to Burma as part of her job in the antique business and also for her grandfather who had been in Burma before and during WWII. He had been in love with a woman and wants Eva to track her down. Very coincidentally she meets Ramon who is her grandson and also in the furniture businesss. She had taken with her one of a pair of carved lion chinthes given to him by the woman, only to find when she finally meets her that its mate has been stolen by a rival dealer. Its retrieval could have been material for a very tense scene, but it happens 'off stage'. Nevertheless it is a very enjoyable read.Biography
2014
Bill BrysonThe Road to Little Dribbling
A witty personal travelogue reprising Bryson's earlier book, 'Notes on a Small Island.' He travels around Britain revisiting his earlier haunts, noting changes for better and worse. Clearly he admires the countryside, but after living in Britain for most of his adult life still doesn't fully understand the British mentality and sense of humour.Biography
2015
Andrew ChapmanBeyond the Silence
Based on the last months of the life of Vincent van Gough in the French village of Auvers sur Oise. The partly fictional events are interspersed with the story of an English GP who is undergoing severe mental stress. Their stories are told in parallel and are quite compelling.Biography
2010
Bill BrysonShakespeare
A very readable biography of WS. Well researched in respect of the historical detail of the time which a lot of 'serious' biographers miss out.Biography
2007
Frances OsborneThe Bolter
The story of Indina Sackville, a five times divorcee who was the great grandmother of the author. The hedonistic self indulgent lifestyle of post WWI is vividly portrayed. Upper class open marriages were common, enabling both partners free to take lovers as and when they wanted. After leaving her first husband Indina goes to Kenya and four husbands later in 1955 she dies there. In between she lives a wild lifestyle, constantly looking for love and contentment but never finding it. A shocking but poignant portrayal of upper class life in England and the Happy Valley scene in Kenya.Biography
2008
Doris LessingAlfred and Emily
This is a story of two halves. The first part is Lessing's idea of what her parents' lives might have been like had the Great War not happened, based on what she knew of what they would have liked to have done with their lives. The second half claims to be a close examination of their actual lives. There a lot of very staccato sentences and unnecessary hyphenations such as strikingly! Part one ends very abruptly, Emily now in middle age opens a home for unmarried mothers and on the next page dies at the age of 73. The second part is shorter and rather disorganised and repetitive.Biography
2008
Richard MabeyDreams of the Good Life
A commentary on the life of Flora Thompson (Lark Rise) discussing her positive attitudes to country life while at the same time wanting to escape to the wider experiences of urban life.Biography
2014
M E LucyMistress of Charlecote
A first hand account of life at Charlecote Park from 1823 to 1889. The house, park and the inhabitants are vividly brough to life by Mary Elizabeth the wife of George Lucy inheritor of the house. She relates grand occasions as well as every day events and the hardships of finding the money for the upkeep of the estate.Biography
1983
Martin SixsmithPhilomena
This is the sory of a three year old boy, adopted from a Catholic orphanage and settled with an American family without his natural mother's permission. I was engaged by the first third of the book, but Philomena, the mother, disappeared from the text. The boy grew up disliked by his adoptive father and brothers who preferred Mary, adopted at the same time and from the same place. He grew to be a very troubled man, gay and depraved, never settling properly into a permanent relationship preferring to visit gay dives. He tries to trace Philomena but without success. Inevitably he contracts aids which he passes on to the man he lives with. When he dies his ashes are brought to the Irelish orphanage where he was born.Biography
2013
Emeline PankhurstSuffragette
The autobiography of Mrs Pankhurst and the suffragette movement up to the beginning of WW1. Pankhurst grives graphic descriptions of the force feeding of imprisoned women and the intransigence of the Liberal PM Herbert Asquith.Biography
1914
Emma BridgewaterToast and Marmalade
A memoir relating incidents in the life and career of Emma Bridgewater. She mentions several times that her business is in need of money and I felt that this book was an attempt to swell the coffers.Biography
2014
Edmund de WaalThe White Road
De Waal traces the history of porcelain manufacture froms its earliest beginnings in China to the discovery of chia clay in other parts of the world.Biography
2015
Greg MortensenThree Cups of Tea
A very densely written and detailed account of building girls' schools in remote villages in Pakistan, and how millions of dollars were raised for the project. David Relin was the co-author and there were rumours that Relin committed suicide after claims were made that some of the money raised was spent fraudulently.Biography
2007
Muriel SparkThe Prime of Miss Jean Brodie
Set in 1930s Edinburgh Jean Brodie selects a group of six ten year old girls and is dedicated to giving them an education in all aspects of life. They are her elite and soon begin to stand out and are known as the 'Brodie Set'. As they grow up and disperse they are still held together by Jean Brodie's continual interest in them.Classical
1961
Henry JamesThe Turn of the Screw
A reasonable ghost story ruined by pretentious narration (even for the period) overlong and convoluted sentences, and attributing a governess with unlikely characteristics. It is a narration within a narration - reading aloud to a group of friends from a letter from the central character, an unreliable narrator. The children in the story are poorly depicted with unlikely behaviour; James never bothers to say how old he means them to be. A classic novella that has not stood the test of time.Classical
1898
Peter MayChessmen
Fin has left the police force and returned to Lewis to work as security for a big fishing and game concern. Fin finds himself involved with Whistler an old friend from his school days. Whistler has carved a life-size set of chessmen for the laird but has not been paid for them. He is bitter and angry and trying to win custody of his natural daughter from her stepfather. Many old animosities come to the surface during the course of the novel.Detective
2013
Peter MayCoffin Road
Superb thriller set in Lewis and Harris. Invoves the memory loss of a scientific researcher and a scary ethical situation with world wide implications. Very well paced with a few subtle hooks which lead to a satisfactory denouement.Detective
2014
Robert RyanDead Man's Land
Very densely written story set in the trenches of WWI. Dr Watson realises that there are some unusual casualties arriving for treatment at the field hospital, not casualties of war but suffering from poisoning. He works hard to uncover the murderer and the reason for the deaths. Compelling and very well writtenDetective
2012
Ann CleevesDead Water
The 5th of the Shetland series. An ex-Shetland journalist is murdered on a visit to his parents. The girl he ditched years before is about to be married but then her fiance is murdered. Jimmy Perez is on compassionate leave following the murder of his fiancee but gets involved and solves the mystery with the help of Willow Reeves, a DI flown if from Uist to help. Detective
2013
Adrian MagsonDeath at the Clos du Lac
Rocco is called in to investigate the death of a patient found standing in the therapy pool of the Clos du Lac sanatorium. He has been chained to the bottom and left to drown. The sanatorium staff are unwilling to talk. Ministry officials from Paris seem intent on hindering rather than helping with the investigation. It quickly becomes obvious that the Clos du Lacis no ordinary sanatorium and Rocco has to work very hard to unearth the truth.Detective
2013
Adrian MagsonDeath on the River Nord
The second of Magson's Insp Lucas Rocco series. It concerns the arrival of a group of illegal immigrants from Algeria. One of the group is the runaway wife of an Algerian mafia-style crime boss who is controlling operations in Paris. She has concealed her young son and is afraid for both their lives when she learns that her husband has arrived in the area to find her. Rocco and his team finally bring people to justice. Well written with a touch of humour, which is evident in all four books in the series.Detective
2011
Adrian MagsonDeath on the Pont Noir
Set in Picardy in northern France not long after the assassination of JFK, there are fears for the safety of General de Gaulle. An unexplained car smash sets Insp Rocco investigating why the vehicles have been doctored with heavy padding in one and the addition of a sturdy bar of wood on the other. There seem to be no casualties. It points to an attack on the life of de Gaulle. Rocco has to come to London to get help as it transpires that the people involved are English. Detective
2012
Adrian MagsonDeath on the Marais
The first of the Lucas Rocco murders set in France in the 1960s. Detective Rocco has recently been relocated from paris to rural Picardy where he finds himself investigating the murder of an influential Paris businessman. It is full of intrigue with links to the wartime Maqui activities and their betrayal.Detective
2011
Jill Paton WalshDebts of Dishonhour
An amateur sleuth novel set in Cambridge. It is well paced with a few twists and turns. Imogen Quay, the nurse at St Agatha's College, is suspicious about some dodgy investments made on behalf of the college and a sudden death. Several issues are interlinked and are nicely resolved.Detective
2006
Jonathan KellermanDeception
A well paced crime novel involving Alex Delaware, psychologist. Fast moving and witty.Detective
2010
Val McDermidThe Distant Echo
A crime thriller set in the St Andrews area of Scotland. It opens with the murder of a barmaid in 1978. The four students who find the body are all suspects, but the police never find the real killer. In 2003 the case is reopened as a cold case following the successful use of DNA matching. The suspicions surrounding the murder has greatly affected the lives of the four students, and when two of them are murdered the remaining two take it upon themselves to further the slow police progress. There is quite a lot of violence, but it is integral to the story. A real page turner.Detective
2003
Michael ConnellyThe Drop
An excellent Harry Bosch page turner. Bosch and Chu are put on to a cold case involving the rape and murder of a young girl, but the DNA which has been recovered belongs to a man who was only 8 years old at the time of the murder. Alongside this crime they are investigating the the death of the son of a councillor, Irving, who has been giving the LAPD a lot of trouble. Bosch and Chu work on both cases side by side resolving both.Detective
2011
Peter MayExtraordinary People
An Enzo Mcleod mystery set in France; Enzo has a bet with a journalist friend, Roger Raffin, that he can track down the killer of a famous academic murdered some years ago. In fact it turns out that several people had been involved and the hunt turns into a da Vinci Code style of treasure hunt, but much better written. The denouement takes place in the tunnels beneath the centre of Paris.Detective
2013
Michael ConnellyThe Fifth Witness
A Mickey Haller story with lots of twists and turns. Haller defends a woman accused of killing the head of a company who is foreclosing on her mortgage. Lots of action and satisfactory endingDetective
2011
Frances FyfieldGold Diggers
A fascinating page turner. Di Quigley is a young thief just released from prison. A gang forced her to break into a big old property to steal the keys to a vintage car. They had tied up the owner but Di released him and he encouraged her to escape. The house is full of beautiful paintings which attract Di. When she gets out of prison she returns to the house, and before long marries the aging Thomas Porteus, the owner. She helps him to turn the house into a showcase for all the artwork. Thomas's greedy and monstrous daughters plot revenge after his death but Di's dubious friends plot to foil them. Very unusual but totally engaging. Detective
2012
Ann CleevesHidden Depths
A Vera Stanhope story involving the separate murders of two young people found lying in water strewn with flowers, but both having been strangled. The lives of comfortable families are disrupted. Detective
2007
Stef PennyThe Invisible Ones
Ray Lovell, a PI is half gypsy. He is sought out to find out what happened to Rose Janks who disappeared some six or seven years ago. There is much secrecy, suspicion and deception in the story, narrated alternately by Ray and JJ an adolescent gypsy boy living on the settlement where Ivo, Rose's husband also lives with his sick son Christie. Very well constructed with a twist at the end. Detective
2012
Kate EllisThe Jackal Man
An engaging murder mystery set in Devon and involving a serial killer who uses Egyptian death rites to arrange his victims after garrotting them. A sub-plot is the diary of an Edwardian governess who knew of similar murders in the early twentieth century.Detective
2011
Sophie HannahKind of Cruel
A murder mystery involving an arson attack in which Amber's best friend dies but her daughters are rescued by a mystery fireman. Amber is determined to get to thr bottom of the arson attack but is plagued by the phrase kind, cruel, kind of cruel which she knows she has seen written down somewhere but cannot bring it to mind.Detective
2012
Michael ConnellyThe Lincoln Lawyer
Mickey Haller cannot afford offices in LA so he works from his home and Lincoln Continental. He defends a real estate agent whom he believes to be innocent of murder. When he realises he is wrong and the man is also guilty of another murder for which someone else has been imprisoned, he starts to plot the man's downfall.Detective
2005
Miachael ConnellyLost Light
An early Harry Bosch novel. Bosch investigates a cold case, the death of a young FBI woman who was murdered during the during a raid on a film set. The film makers had arranged for the loan of millions of dollars for a scene in the film. Detective
2004
Agatha ChristieMurder is Easy
A page turner that doesn't involve the usual suspects, Poirot, Miss Marple etc. In a small village people are dying. There are several suspects, all eliminated one by one by Luke Fitzwilliam, who takes it upon himself to investigate after he learns of the death of Lavinia Pinkerton whom he met on a train where she told him she was on her way to Scotland Yard to report the deaths.Detective
1939
Michael ConnellyNine Dragons
A fast paced Harry Bosch novel partly set in Kowloon. After a seemingly triad killing Bosch is threatened. He then receives a photo of his daughter, who is living in Hong Kong, she is tied to a chair and gagged. Bosch rushes to Hong Kong to rescue her. A real page turner with a neat twist at the end.Detective
2009
Linwood BarclayNo Time for Goodbye
A very well crafted mystery which reverses the usual trend of mother searching for child. A 14 year old girl wakes up one morning to find her parents and brother are missing. No trace of them is found and she goes to live with her Aunt Tess. Twenty five years later, now married to a schoolteacher and with an 8 year old daughter, she participates in a TV show which tries to jog memories about past crimes. Not until three quarters of the way through the novel is it revealed what her father was doing and why the events occurred. There are several twists which all fit neatly into the jigsaw. Detective
2007
Val McDermidBeneath the Bleeding
A Tony Hill murder. A Div I footballer has died of poisoning; a stand at a football stadium is bombed and an expoliceman steward dies; a millionaire lottery winner dies. Tony Hill's job is to find the link even though he is recovering in hospital from a broken knee. Very well plotted and convincing.Detective
2007
Nicci FrenchBeneath the Skin
A killer is sending letters to young women telling them he is going to kill them. First Zoe, a young teacher, then Jennifer an almost 40 wealthy housewife, then Nadia a children's party organiser. The first two die, but Nadia gets protection and despite her police guard manages to get out and work out who the killer is and gets to him before he gets to her. Very tense and well written.Detective
2000
P D JamesThe Private Patient
The subject of the novel is an investigative journalist in a private nursing home having cosmetic surgery to remove a facial scar. There are some surprising revalations with excellent descriptions of places and people and very thoughtful plot management.Detective
2008
Ann CleevesRaven Black
A young girl is found strangled close to the cottage of a reclusive old man. He was suspected, but never charged with the murder of a younger child some years earlier. It is set on Shetland and involves the Up Hellyha festival. Well constructed, good characterisations, engaging story.Detective
2006
Ann CleevesRed Bones
This is the third of the Jimmy Perez Shetland quartet. Set on Wharsay, archaeologists uncover bones though to be mediaeval but not all of them are. An old woman is shot dead and later one of the archaeologists is also found dead. They both would have been capable about revealing secrets from the past which some people wanted to remain hidden.Detective
2009
Ann CleevesSilent Voices
A crime novel set in Northumberland featuring DI Vera Stanhope. A well paced story with some twists and turns. It centres around a country house hotel and spa where Vera finds the body of a woman strangled in the steam room.Detective
2011
Robert GalbraithThe Silkworm
The second Cormorant Strike story, involving publishing houses. Very well plotted with several possible suspects for the murder of Owen Quine, author of sadistic sex novels. Secretary and assistant Robin becomes more involved in the sleuthing.Detective
2014
Linda CostelloSworn to Silence
A real page turner - Set in wintry Ohio in the small town of Painters' Mill. Chief of Police Kate Burkholder, an ex-Amish woman is faced with catching a serial killer using an MO favoured by a killer of some 16 years previously when Kate was just a teenager. A captivating thriller.Detective
2009
Dan WaddellThe Blood Detective
An excellent detective novel set in London. A serial killer is targetting seemingly disparate characteres and mutilating the bodies in different ways. There are strong links with the ancestry of the victims and people who trace their ancestry through various record offices.Detective
2008
Anne CleeveTelling Tales
A Vera Stanhope detective story. Vera is sent down to Yorkshire to investigate an old murder. New evidence has emerged about a ten year old murder and the woman found guilty of it has just killed herself in prison.Detective
2005
John GrishamTheodore Boone Kid Lawyer
This novel is really suited to 'young adult' as the protagonist is a 13 year old youth. His parents are both lawyers and young Theodore has spent many hours in courtrooms intends to follow in his parents' footsteps. There are now four Theodore Boone titles involving the boy getting to the bottom of mysteries and solving crimes in a small town in the US. Very readable.Detective
2010
James Lee BurkeThe Tin Roof Blowdown
Set in Louisianna in and around New Orleans during and immediately after the hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Looting is rampant in the aftermath of the storms and Detective Dave Robichaux finds himself involved in getting to the bottom or not only robberies and murder but hoodlums wanting payback for existing grievances. The descriptions are vivid and characters and locations convincing.Detective
2007
Nicci FrenchTuesday's Gone
Psychologist Frieda is helping police investigate the murder of a man found in the flat of a woman with severe mental problems. The dead man turns out to be a con man cheating people out of hundreds of thousands of pounds. Intrigue is sustained through the plight of a woman dependent on the dead man. Good denouement.Detective
2012
Stephen BoothBlood on the Tongue
A Ben Cooper detective story involving people investigating the crashed Lancaster bomber from WWII, still lying on the moors. A Canadian woman and a Polish family are involved. It is well crafted with a realistic denouement.Detective
2002
Sarah RayneWhat Lies Beneath
An intriguing crime novel covering three generations set in rural England, London and the Levant. During the cold war the village of Priors Bromley was evacuated and closed for the testing of chemical weapons. More than fifty years later the village and surrounding area is declared safe, but some people would rather the past stayed hidden away.Detective
2011
Ann CleevesWhite Nights
A Jimmy Perez mystery set on Shetland. He investigates the apparent hanging of a strange visitor to the island who had interrupted an art exhibition in a bizarre fashion.Detective
2008
Simon BeckettWritten in Bone
Dr David Hunter goes to the island of Runa in the Hebrides to investigate bones discovered there. He encounters a grisly situation which appears to be spontaneous human combustion. The police decide that it's a case of accidental death, but Hunter is not convinced and soon finds evidence of murder. Detective
2007
Peter MayBlow Back
Set in the Auvergne in a 3 star Michelin hotel, Marc Fraysse is found dead with a bullet through him in a shelter high on the mountain. The death is unsolved until Enzo McLeod is called in to investigate. A compelling mystery.Detective
2011
Michael ConnellyThe Brass Verdict
A well crafter page turner featuring Mickey Halley and his half brother Detective Harry Bosch. Jack McEvoy, a journalist from a previous novel is also included. There are plenty of twists to the story but they are always believable. Haller inherits the caseload of a fellow lawyer who has been murdered and takes on the case of Walter Elliot a fim maker.Detective
2008
CJ BoxBreaking Point
Compelling thriller set in Wyoming. A man is told he cannot build on the land he has bought; he must restore it to its natural state immediately and pay an exorbitant fine for every day until the job is complete. Joe Pickett is called in when two men who came to enforce the order are found dead and buried in the plot.Detective
2013
Michael ConnellyThe Burning Room
Bosch is teamed with rookie Lucy Soto to research the cold case murder of Orando Merced. Ten years after he was shot he died of complications caused by the bullet. Bosch quickly decides that the bullet was not intended for Orando. Lucy introduces another cold case about a fire in a basement children's nursery, a fire she escaped from, but others didn;t. A well constucted well paced detective story.Detective
2014
Andrew Gross15 Seconds
A well paced thriller: Dr Henry Steadman is carefully framed for the murder of a police officer. He goes on the run determined to prove his innocence and save the life of his daughter who is being held hostage by a vindictive and embittered man who holds Steadman responsible for his daughter's drug addiction and subsequent imprisonment for killing a mother and her baby whilst driving her car when drugged up.Detective
2012
Robert GalbraithCareer of Evil
Third of the Cormorant Strike series, Strike and Robin are hunting down the killer of a young woman who always cuts off parts of his victims as a trophy. It opens with Robin receiving a parcel containing a leg.Detective
2016
Robin CookCell
George Wilson is a radiologist in LA. He becomes invoved with a company producing IDoc, a mobile phone app which monitors people's health and treatment. Five people die in unexpected circumstances, one of them his fiance, a diabetic. The app is still at the developmental stage and the dead people were all taking part in trials of it. Wilson is suspicious and starts to investigate what is causing the deaths. Well paced but the situation is resoved a little too quickly in the end.Detective
2014
Peter RobinsonChildren of the Revolution
The latest Inspector Banks mystery concerning the death of an ex-college lecturer and the people who might have good reason to wish him dead. It is well plotted with a long list of suspicious characters and a bit of female interest for Banks. It has a satisfactory conclusion, but again, with the more recent Banks stories there is too much of Banks' taste in music which just feels like padding.Detective
2013
Andrea CamilleriThe Age of Doubt
On a stormy morning Salvo Montalbano gives a lift into Vigata to a young woman. She is very interested in a yacht that has just put in to the harbour. This piques Salvo's curiosity and eventually after the yacht turns out to have a dinghy containing a corpse he uncovers a blood diamond scam.Detective
2014
Neil WhiteCold Kill
An engaging murder mystery. A serial killer has brutally murdered 2 young women who at first seem unconnected. However with closer investigation a link is found between the women's fathers. DI Laura McGinty and her boy friend Jack Garrett find themselves deeply involved before the the case is concludedDetective
2011
Brian FreemantleThe Cold Nowhere
Jonathan Stride is a detective in Duluth USA. Before Cat's mother is killed she tells her daughter that if ever she is in danger she must find Stride. One night she arrives at Stride's home, soaking wet and covered in blood and claiming to have narrowly escaped a sadistic killer.Detective
2013
Tanya CarverThe Creeper
Set in Chelmsford; women, all similar in age and appearance disappear, then their mutilated bodies are discovered. A profiler is called in but behaves oddly and is of little help. Gruesome in parts but well structured with strong plot and convincing characters.Detective
2010
Peter MayThe Critic
Enzo McLeod investigates the murder of Gil Petty an American wine connoisseur who was foun dead in Gaillard SE France after being drowned in a vat of wine. The murdered man's daughter is involved in the investigation as is Nicole, Enzo's daughter and her boyfriend. Well structured with lots of details about wine making.Detective
2007
Robert GalbraithThe Cuckoo's Calling
First in a series about private detective Cormorant Strike and Robin Ellacott his secretary. A super model appears to have committed suicide by jumping off a balcony, but her uncle thinks it could have been murder and employs Strike to investigate.Detective
2013
Lyndon StaceyCut Throat
Ross Waklyn, an American jockey, comes to England to put behind him a dreadful riding accident. However he finds himself enmeshed in a web of intrigue and blackmail which almost results in his death. Exciting and well paced but with perhaps just a little too much detail of the horse racing scene.Detective
2003
Peter RobinsonAll the Colours of Darkness
A DCI Banks novel - well written but contains too much about the music Banks listens to. It involves the murder/suicide of 2 gay men provoked by an acquaintance scared of losing his position in an amateur theatre group. MI5 and MI6 are involved towards the end but do little to clarify the story.Detective
2008
Stephen BoothDead and Buried
The usual complicated story line associated with Booth's novels. A body is found high up on the Derbyshire moors in a deserted pub from where a couple had disappeared two years earlier. Ben Cooper is about to marry Liz Petty, the scenes of crimes investigator. The denouement ends with a fire in the pub in which Liz dies rather pointlessly. Is this the end of the series?Detective
2012
Robert RyanThe Dead Can Wait
Set in 1916 and featuring a now retired Sherlock Holmes and Watson. Watson is helping the military over the development of a new weapon, the tank, but 8 men died in the first trials and Watson's job is to find out why. The novel moves rapidly from character to character, some friendly others not. There is a large element of spying involved and a satisfactory denouement which lines up the reader for the next book in the series.Detective
2014
Peter JamesDead Like You
After a New Year's Eve ball a young woman is brutally raped and another woman attacked. On both occasions the women's designer shoes are stolen. Det Roy Grace recognises the MO of the 'Shoe Man' who was never caught back in 1997. There is a race against time to catch the man before another woman is attacked.Detective
2010
Peter JamesDead Man's Time
Roy Grace investigates a vicious murder/robbery where millions of poundsworth of antiques are stolen. The haul includes a 100 year old damaged Patek Phillipe watch. The thieves had inside knowledge of what they would find and in committing the robbery an old lady was killed. The hunt for the robbers and killer takes Grace's team to Spain and New York before the crime is solved.Detective
2014
Peter RobinsonA Dedicated Man
Second of the Banks novels. A local industrial archaeologist is found dead partly buried beneath a dry stone wall There are several people Banks suspects would like to see the man dead, but the least likely turns out to be the killer. The novel is well constructed and engaging.Detective
1988
Barry TroyDirty Money
Set in Dublin; financial 'operator' Paddy Brett is found murdered and no one knows where he has concealed his untaxed income. Johnny Constantine, an old friend is brought in to help the family unearth it. Written in the first person from the point of view of Constantine, as the story evolves Paddy comes to realise that there was more to his old friend than he ever knew.Detective
2001
Alexander McCall SmithDouble Comfort Safari Club
Gentle stories with thoughtful comments by many characters. Simple problems are solved quite quickly, more complex ones take a little longer. A slow, gentle readDetective
2010
Jonathan KellermanDr Death
Convoluted murder mystery involving Alex Delaware and Milo Sturgis, an LA cop. Eldon Mate AKA Dr Death helps people to commit suicide. Delaware has become involved in the investigation of the murder of Mate himself thought to have been committed by a relative of one of Mate's recent clients. Detective
2000
Peter RobinsonDry Bones That Dream
A murder mystery involving the execution of an accountant. As the investigation procedes it becomes clear that the murdered man was doing much more than helping people with their income tax. Several interesting twists lead to the denouement.Detective
1994
Stephen BoothDying to Sin
Set in the Derbyshire Peak district,; bodies are found when an old farmhouse is being renovated. There are some red herrings. Excellent portrayal of the landscape and attitudes of people living in remote villages.Detective
2007
Mark BillingtonThe Dying Hours
An intriguing and clever hypothesis - a man, released from prison after serving a life sentence for the murder of a police officer, sets out to dispose of all the people who have been involved in his arrest and imprisonment, no matter how small a part they played. The murders he then commits all have a different MO and are made to look like suicides, but he reckons without Tom Thorne, whose investigations has to be done carefully as he has been demoted to uniform and is now only an inspector and not a detective inspector.Detective
2013
Jacqueline WinspearElegy for Eddie
Set in 1933, Masie Dobbs, a detective, investigates the death of Eddie, an autistic man with the remarkable gift of being able to draw from memory. She has known him for many years and when she learns of his death in a paper mill she suspects murder. Her investigations reveal disturbing issues which eventually lead to World War IIDetective
2012
Michael DibdinEnd Games
An Aurelio Zen Mystery in Calabria, Italy. A man is kidnapped and then murdered. Old scores are settled amid a scam to acquire ancient artefacts. Secrets and loyalties go back centuries. A well paced and very satisfying read.Detective
2007
Peter MayEntry Island
I crime novel set in eastern Canada. Sime McKenzie is a detective working on the murder of a wealthy man living on Entry Island in the St Lawrence estuary. The dead man's wife, the main suspect, reminds McKenzie of a picture of his grandmother. The story switches between the murder investigation and events of 150 years earlier when his ancestors first came to Canada.Detective
2014
Tim WeaverFall from Grace
Intricately woven detective thriller. David Raker specializes in searching for missing persons and is asked to find retired DI Leonard Franks who disappeared from his home on Dartmoor one Sunday evening when going outside to fetch logs for the fire. A bit contrived in places but a good read all the same.Detective
2014
Linwood BarclayFear the Worst
Sydney Blake disappears. When her father,Tim, tries to find out more no one seems to have heard of her at the motel where she had claimed to have a holiday job. Apart from her father, other dubious people are also looking for her. Very tense and suspenseful, but with some unconvincing coincidences. Who will find her first?Detective
2010
Lin AndersonFinal Cut
After a car accident a child wanders off into the wood and comes back to his mother cradling a child's skull. The characterisations are good and events realistic.Detective
2009
Peter RobinsonFinal Account
An accountant is found murdered in his barn. Chief Inspector Alan Banks learns from the dead man's wife that two masked men had burst into the farmhouse and taken the accountant out to the barn and shot him. As Banks investigates the crime he learns that the dead man was leading a double life and was involved in a money laundering scam.Detective
2004
David RosenfeltFirst Degree
A quirky legal thriller written in the first person present tense. There are lots of jokey asides which in no way interfere with the main narrative or horror of some of the situations described. Andy Carpeneter ends up having to defend his girl friend on a charge of murdering a corrupt policeman.Detective
2003
Emily BarrThe First Wife
Lily Button has looked after her grandparents and lived a very sheltered life. After their deaths she takes a cleaning job and lodges with a family in Truro. One of the houses she cleans is that of Harry Summers and his wife Sarah. When Sarah is mysteriously drowned Lily becomes very close to Harry and they are soon engaged. But Lily soon begins to have suspicions about her new husband.Detective
2011
Kate EllisThe Flesh Tailor
A Wes Patterson story There are links with a GP shot on his doorstep and Elizabethan drawings of human body parts uncovered on the walls of an ancient farmhouse which is being renovated. Set in the present it involves evacuees who were sent to wartime Devon.Detective
2010
David BaldacciThe Forgotten
A Jack Reacher style thriller involving slave trading of Colombians into Florida. John Pullen is ex-army with plenty of contacts to help him achieve his goal. A well paced story.Detective
2012
Mark BillinghamFrom the Dead
Another Tom Thorne thriller. A man thought to have been burnt to death 10 years ago seems to be alive. His wife, just released from prison for conspiring to murder him receives photos of him taken recently. Several people die before the situation is resolved.Detective
2010
Peter RobinsonGallows View
Peter Robinson's first Inspector Banks novel, this is a murder mystery set in the Yorkshire Dales. Petty thefts are taking place in the small town, then one of them results in the death of an old lady. Someone is also creeping around at night watching women undress. There are several likely suspects and a clever unearthing of some evidence but Banks inevitably gets to the bottom of it. Detective
1987
Andrea CamilleriGame of Mirrors
Drug smuggling on the island leads Montalbano into danger. Lured by the charms of Liliana Lombard, his new neighbour, he becomes enrangled in a web of deceit when nothing is what it seems.Detective
2011
Alys ClareAshes of the Elements
A twelfth century murder mystery. Josse Acquil visits the Abbess of Hawkenlye to investigate the murder of a poacher in the forest. He uncovers the secrets of a wandering forest community. An unusual and interesting novel with a satisfying conclusion.Detective
2000
Ann CleevesThe Glass Room
A Vera Stanhope murder mystery set in a writers retreat in Northumberland. Two murders take place during a single week and there is almost a third. Vera and Joe Ashton have to do a lot of digging to discover the culprit.Detective
2012
Michael ConnellyThe Gods of Guilt
A Mickey Haller case concerning a murdered call girl and organised crime. The gods of guilt of the title are the jury. It was quite slow to begin with but it became a page turner.Detective
2013
Kathy ReichsGrave Secrets
In Guatemala Tempe Brennan is working on the forensic investigation of the massacre of women and children. Four teenage girls appear to have disappeared and the partial remains of one girl is found in the septic tank of a cheap motel. Two of the girls are discovered to have run away to Montreal, the home town of one of them. One of the dead girls had been working for a clinic where research into harvesting material for stem cell treatment was being carried out. Very readable but with a few too many coincidences.Detective
2002
John GrishamGray Mountain
A legal story involving unscupulous coal mining companies wriggling out of paying compensation to workers with lung disorders caused by their operations.The ending is rather inconclusive and I suspect there may be a sequel in the offing.Detective
2015
Anthony HorowitzHouse of Silk
A Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson story narrated by Watson and told from his point of view. It involves drug taking and child abuse centred in a seemingly respectable boy's school and rescue centre.Detective
2011
Louise PennyHow the Light Gets In
Investigating the death of a spinster in a quiet Montreal suburb Inps. Gamache is drawn back to Three Pines just before the Christmas holiday. As usual the investigation is more complicated than it seems at first and old enemies are drawn in, including a massive feud invoving the Provincial Governor. Very atmospheric and full of suspense.Detective
2012
Peter RobinsonIn a Dry Season
Insp Banks and Annie Cabot investigate a murder committed over 50 years ago when an extreme drought dries up a reservoir and uncovers a drowned village and the skeleton of a woman which shows evidence of repeated stabbings.Detective
2000
Peter TremayneBadger's Moon
Sister Fidelma mystery. She and Eadulf leave their baby son with his nurse to solve the mystery of the killing of 3 girls on consecutive full moons. Well set up but a slightly disappointing resolutionDetective
2004
Stephen BoothThe Kill Call
A man is found dead on the Derbyshire moors. The story mixes foxhunting with the horsemeat trade. Fry and Cooper finally unravel the tangled background to the killing, the reasons based on a cold war lookout bunker dating from the late 1960s which very few people knew about.Detective
2009
Linda FairsteinKiller Head
Alex Cooper is involved in the investigation of a serialkiller in NY who rapes his victims before bludeoning them to death. The denouement is on Governors' Island and an ex-military camp with which the psychopathic killer is obsessed. Quite a lot of US military history is involved.Detective
2008
Andrew GrossKilling Hour
Jay, a doctor in NY has a phone call from his brother in CA saying his son, Evan, is dead. Jay goes to the aid of Charlie and his wife, Cathy, who both have drug problems, and Charlie and his son are bipolar. Jay begins to uncover events in Charlie's early life which are having repercussions now and soon his life is in danger.Detective
2011
C J BoxBadlands
A violent story set in a fracking area of N Dakota. Mancamps are set up to house the workers and drug running is rife. When 12yr old Kyle Westergaad observes a car being run off the road and finds a package full of cash and drugs his life is in danger.Detective
2015
Kathy ReichsBare Bones
Set in N Carolina; a variety of non-human bones are unearthed and Tempe Brennan's job is to discover what they have to do with other deaths. Quite a complicated storyline but satisfactorily concluded. It involves the illegal sale of animal products for use in Oriental medicine.Detective
2003
Linda FairsteinLethal Legacy
Set in the libraries of New York, Alex Cooper, assistant DA sets out to hunt down the murderer of a book restorer and a housekeeper. Valuable ancient maps, centuries old, and greed are the main features of the novel. Proceeds at a steady pace and stays in th efirst person, Alex Cooper.Detective
2009
Peter MayLewis Man
Good crime thriller set on the Isle of Lewis. A body is dug up during the annual turf cutting and is well preserved by the soil conditions. An elderly man with dementia is found to have a good DNA match, but can't be any direct help in the investigation because of his mental state. However through his eternal rambling the past is revealed and the mystery solved.Detective
2012
Liza MarklundLifetime
Journalist Anneka Bengtson's husband has just left her and their two children when her house is set on fire. An acquaintance, Julia, a policewoman has been arrested for the murder of her husband, also a police officer, and the presumed murder of their son who is also missing. Anneka has met Julia on a previous assignment and cannot believe her to be guilty. The novel describes how she sets about proving it. Set in Scandanavia.Detective
2013
John GrishamThe Litigators
Hot shot lawyer who has never been inside a courtroom leaves a big legal outfit to join a pair of LA street lawyers - ambulance chasers. It's a bit slow to start with as the aces are trying, unsuccessfully to sue a drugs company, but speeds up when he pursues a case concerning lead in a toy which has caused brain damage to the son of a Burmese family. Good ending.Detective
2011
Louise PennyThe Long Way Home
Now retired, Armand Gamache and son in law Bauvoir help Clara Morrow search for her missing husband Peter. They had separated but he had promised to return in one year to see if they wanted to try again, but he fails to appear. The search leads them to a remote island in the mouth of the St Lawrence RiverDetective
2014
Peter JamesLooking Good Dead
A Roy Grace mystery thriller involving snuff movies. Well paced with satisfactory endingDetective
2006
Elizabeth EdmundsonA Man of Some Repute
Set in 1957, Hugo goes to work for the Secret Service and takes his younger sister with him to stay in a castle whilst investigating the disappearance of its previous owner. A very English mystery somewhat in the style of Agatha Christie. Book 1Detective
2015
Christopher FowlerThe Memory of Blood
A clever plot full of black humour and witty asides. At an opening night party for a new play the baby of the play's backer is thrown out of a bedroom window and killed. Left in the child's room is a macabre puppet of Mr Punch. The two detectives, Bryant and May set to work to find the killer.Detective
2011
Ann GrangerA Mortal Curiosity
Set in the late 19th Century. After the death of her aunt Elizabeth Martin goes to the New Forest to be a companion to a young woman who has recently lost her baby. She uncovers a web of deceit and murder and her gentleman friend from London, a plain clothes policeman is summoned to get to the bottom of this Victorian murder mystery. Well written and convincing.Detective
2008
Anne CleevesThe Moth Catcher
A Vera Stanhope novel; two men are found dead in a pretty area of Northumberland. One is a young man who is house sitting a large country house, the other is an older man, an ex-teacher and voluntary social worker for exprisoners. The inhabitants of recently renovated farmhouse and stables conversions find themselves involved. Clever links and good denouement.Detective
2015
Ann GrangerMud Muck and Dead Things
A man drives to a prearranged rendezvous only to find the body of a girl and no sign of the man he was supposed to be meeting. Set in a small village in the Cotswolds, a police investigation ensues, only to find the corpse of the man who found the body in his own lock-up garage. A well paced murder mystery with believable characters and events. Detective
2009
Stephen BoothThe Murder Road
A Peak District murder mystery. A lorry driver takes a wrong turning and becomes wedged under a low railway bridge. There are links with a fatal accident some years earlier in the same area when a lorry veered off the road into a layby killing a young woman in a parked car. Realistic, but not quite all the ends tied up.Detective
2014
Colin BatemanMurphy's Revenge
Murphy is an under-cover cop working with a group calling themselves 'Confront'. Outwardly they are a therapy group for people who have lost loved ones as a result of crime. However, the perpetrators of the crimes are dying, or meeting with accidents. The dialogue is good with lots of black humour. Detective
2005
Peter RobinsonThe Necessary End
A well paced murder mystery involving a group of hippies living in a commune on the moors. Although it was written over twenty-five years ago it still feels fresh.Detective
1989
Linwood BarclayNever Look Away
The life of journalist David Harwood begins to unravel when he and his wife take their young son to a theme park. The child disappears and husband and wife split up to search for him. David finds the child but then cannot locate his wife who seems to have vanished without trace. The police are called in and discover that only two tickets to the theme park were purchased. David is suspected of killing his wife to stop her leaving him and taking their son with her. He has to work hard and fast to prove his innocence and get to the truthDetective
2010
Peter JamesNot Dead Enough
Roy Grace is on the trail of a serial killer. Many threads run through the plot, one of which is the recurring mystery of Grace's missing wife which added nothing to the story. There are lots of 'reddish' herrings - you think, like Grace, that you have it sussed, only to discover an extra dimension. A bit overlong at 604 pages.Detective
2011
Peter JamesNot Dead Yet
Roy Grace it detailed to guard Gaia an American pop/film idol while she shoots a film at Brighton Pavilion. But someone wants her dead. There are a few red herrings set up and the appearance of Sandy (Grace's ex-wife) though not to him add intrigue. Some threads are left hanging - who sent photos showing a grateful Gaia kissing Grace to the Brighton Argos, and who put the death announcement about Grace and Cleo's new born son in the paper. Detective
2012
James PattersonNYPD Red
Set in new York, Zack Jordan and Kylie MacDonald hunt down the 'Hazmat' killers; vigilante killers who brutally murder people they think are murderers themselves. Their latest would-be victim is a single mother recently found not guilty of murdering her small daughter.Detective
2014
Michael DobbsOld Enemies
Harry Jones is called in to assist in the negotiations of a high profile kidnapping. A little drawn out at times with plenty of suspense and violence.Detective
2011
Rachel AbbottOnly the Innocent
A famous philanthropist is found dead in his London flat in a compromising position. Clearly he has been murdered but by whom? Suspicion falls on a number of people who all have cast iron alibis. As the story unfolds it becomes obvious that all the members of the man's family have devious backgrounds.Detective
2011
J C BoxBelow Zero
A Joe Pickett novel. Daughter Sheridan suddenly receives text messages from years her step sister April who was thought to have been killed seven years earlier. Joe begins a hunt for her after the messages indicate that she has been abducted by an aging gangster and his son, an anti-pollulution fanatic who attacks people and companies he thinks are polluting the world.Detective
2009
Andrea CamilleriThe Patience of the Spider
Set in Scicily; a local girl goes missing, believed kidnapped, but the case is not adhering to the usual Mafia pattern and Montalbano is intrigued. Hate and revenge turns out to be at the bottom of the mystery.Detective
2004
Lee ChildPersonal
A political summit is due to take place in London. Reacher is summoned to find a killer who may make an assassination attempt. It is a bit more convoluted than Child's usual stories and has rather too much description of Reacher's hand to hand fighting with a 7 foot tall man.Detective
2015
Kate EllisThe Plague Maiden
An archaeological dig unearths bodies from a plague pit. A letter arrives at the local police station claiming that a man convicted of murder 12 years ago is innocent. Someone is putting botulism culture into jam in a supermarket chain about to build on the land that is being excavated. DI Wes Peterson and his team discover the connections between the crimes. It is a well written crime story which ties up the loose ends satisfactorilyDetective
2004
Michael ConnellyThe Poet
Jack McEvoy, a journalist, is trying to track down a child killer who has been called The Poet on account of the extracts of Edgar Allan Poe's verse he leaves at crime scenes. A cleverly plotted novel which raises the question of are there two killers? The answer comes at the end of the story and the culprit is the last person the reader would think of.Detective
1998
Peter JamesProphecy
An early Peter James psychological thrille: Frannie Monsanto becomes involved with Oliver, a widower with an 8yr old son. Strange coincidences keep occurring and there is something very malevolent about the child - all linked with a silly experiences with a ouija board Frannie and her student friend experimented with 3 years earlier.Detective
1992
Ann GrangerRack Ruin and Murder
A gently paced murder mystery set in the Cotswolds. Old Monty arrives home from a visit to the shops to find a corpse on the settee in his living room. Campbell and Carter join forces to solve the mystery.Detective
2011
John GrishamThe Racketeer
Black lawyer Malcolm Bannister is 5years into a 10 year sentence for a fraud he did not commit. He persuades the FBI that he knows the identity of the murderer of a judge recently found dead in his cabin in the wilderness. A bit slow to begin with but it picks up and keeps you guessing to the end.Detective
2012
Ann GrangerA Rare Interest in Corpses
Set in London in the 1890s this novel is the forerunner to 'A Mortal Curiosity'. Elizabeth Morton becomes companion to her late godfather's second wife, taking the place of a previous woman who disappeared leaving all her belongings behind. Some weeks later she is found dead in a street about to be demolished for the construction of the new underground railway lines.Detective
1988
Ann GrangerRattling the Bones
Fran Varady, an out of work actress and part time Private Investigator recognises Edna, a bag lady she has had dealings with before, wandering around the town. She wants to check that everything is all right but Edna is very independent and secretive. When other people seem to be taking more than a passing interest in Edna Fran gets into action.Detective
2007
Graham MastersonRed Light
The third in the Katie Mcguire series set in Cork and involving the trafficing of young girls for the sex trade. One of them kills herself and a relative is looking for vengeance. Three men die vicious deaths before the problem is solved.Detective
2014
Jo NesboThe Redeemer
Crime thriller set in Oslo. A Salvation Army man is shot dead in a city square. Harry Hole is the crime squad officer in charge of investigations. There are ambiguous sections in the story where 'he' could refer to any one of several characters. Where violence is involved the reader has to assume it is the killer! But not necessarily so... The assassin was hired by someone in Oslo and it is though shot the wrong target. A page turner, but rather convoluted.Detective
2005
Alex ConnorThe Rembrandt Secret
Letters which purport to have been written by Rembrandt's mistress claim that many pictures attributed to him were in fact painted by his son. If this were to be proved true it would rock the art world. Four murders are committed before the situation is resolved.Detective
2011
Ann GrangerA Better Quality of Murder
A Victorian murder mystery involving Ben and Lizzie Ross. Allegra Benedict, beautiful young Italian wife of wealthy art dealer is strangled in Green park. Ben officially and Lizzie, unofficially set out to find the murderer.Detective
2010
Ann GrangerA Restless Evil
Set in the Cotswolds, bones are found in some remote woodland close to an old drovers' road. This sets in train the reopening of a twenty year old unsolved murder case and opens another when the churchwarden is found dead in the church.Detective
2002
Catherine ShawThe Riddle of the River
A nineteenth century whodunit with a lady detective who tracks down the killer of an actress/prostitute. The denouement involves the use of Marconi's new invention, wireless. Interspersed with the main story are details of Marconi's progress with wireless.Detective
2008
Mark BillinghamRush of Blood
Set in Florida and England. Three English couples meet at a holiday resort in Florida. Near the end of their stay a 13 yearold girl with learning difficulties disappears. Back home in England the couples are interviewd by the police at different times. They meet up to compare notes at each others homes. It is written mostly in the 3rd person but from time to time we hear the killers voice. Not until a similar disappearance occurs in West Kent do they fall under suspicion.Detective
2012
Michael RobothamSay You're Sorry
Two girls have beeen missing for several years and presumed dead. They had told friends they were planning to run away from home, but in fact were being held captive by 'George'. Tash, one of the girls, escapes but is found frozen to death and gives no indication of what has happened to her, or where she has been held. The race is on to discover if her friend is still alive and where she is.Detective
2012
Stephen BoothScared to Live
Set around Matlock, Derbyshire: a woman is shot in her bedroom in the middle of the night and a house burns down killing a woman and her two sons. Ben Cooper and Diane Fry realise there is a link and work together to find the husband and adopted daughter and find a link to the murdered woman.Detective
2006
Andrea CamilleriThe Scent of the Night
Inspector Montalbano is hunting for the financier who has defrauded investors of millions of lira. Missing too is his young colleague, thought to have fled to Germany. The young man has recently had a house built which is being looked after by his uncle. Very comic in parts with richly drawn charactersDetective
2005
Elizabeth GiffordSecrets of the Sea House
Set in Harris and Lewis, a couple are renovating an old manse which they have bought with the intention of turning it into a guest house. They find buried beneath a floor the body of a baby born with deformed fused legs. Ruth, whose late mother came fromm the Isles is drawn to the fables about silkies and mermaids. The modern story is interspersed with that of one a century earlier involving Alexander, the then resident of their manse, and the secret of the baby is revealed.Detective
2014
Kate EllisThe Shadow Collector
A Wesley Peterson murder mystery set in rural Devon. It involves witchcraft past and present and a seventeenth century outbreak of ergot poisoning like that in Salem. The modern aspect of the story involves murders though two be committed by women branded by the locals as witches. It ties up well with a sudden extra twist at the end.Detective
2013
Kate EllisThe Shroud Maker
A Wes Patterson mystery set against the background of the 'Palkin' festival in Tradmouth. Wes and Gerry are trying to find the killer of a young musician, Kassia Graylem who is found in historic costume drifting in an inflatable dinghy. There are links to a website and online game called 'Shipworld' and in particular the character of the shroud maker. There are a lot of characters and events to keep track of and the plot is a bit convoluted. from time to time Ellis resorts to 'telling' to inform the reader. Nevertheless an engaging read.Detective
2014
Rachael AbbottSleep Tight
Olivia Brooks has gone missing and so have her children. This isn't the first time it has happened and DI Tom Douglas is investigating. Themes are domestic and emotional abuse. The story is told from several points of view, Olivia's being the only one in first person. Quite taut, well written.Detective
2014
Emily BarrThe Sleeper
A well paced psychological thriller; Lara Firth after spending all their money on unsuccessful IVF treatment takes a job in London, despite living in Cornwall. On the Friday night sleeper when going home to her husband for the weekend, she meets and falls in love with Guy, but one Friday night he is stabbed to death in his cabin and Lara has disappeared. Only her new friend Iris is sure she is not the murderer.Detective
2013
Ann CleevesThe Sleeping and the Dead
A murder mystery set in the past and present in NE England. During a hot dry summer the level of a reservoir falls to reveal a body anchored to the end of a breakwater. Later is connected to the murder of an 18 year old girl.Detective
2001
Nek NeuhausSnow White Must Die
Translated from the German; Tobias Sartorius is released from prison having served a 10 year sentence for the murder of two girls. He returns to his own village but finds no welcome there. The plot is complicated with a multiplicity of characters to keep track of. There are several twists during the novel which turn things on their heads and the denouement is rather drawn out, with a further chapter tacked on to tie up all the loose ends.Detective
2010
Louise PennyStill Life
The first of the Inspector Gamache stories introducing the village of Three Pines and its inhabitants. Jane Neal is found dead, believed to have been accidentally shot by a deer hunter. The death hinges around a painting submitted to the annual art exhibition by the murdered woman.Detective
2008
Peter MayBlacklight Blue
Someone is out to get Enzo MacLeod and his family. Set in several locations in France and London, near-death experiences dog him. Kirsy, his daughter, narrowly escapes death when a bomb meant for her explodes and kills a colleague. Sophie and Barnard's gym goes up in flames and Enzo himself is framed for the murder of a woman. Someone is out to get him. Well written but not an altogether satisfactory resolution.Detective
2008
Peter RobinsonStrange Affair
Inpector Banks's brother leaves an urgent message on the answerphone. Near Easedale a girl is found murdered in her car. Banks goes to London to find his brother but is too late - his body is found in the Thames. Eastern European trafficers are behind the killings. Taut and well writtenDetective
2005
Peter RobinsonThe Summer That Never Was
Cleverly constructed crime novel intertwining the historic diasappearance of a 15 year old boy juxtaposed with a current investigation into the death of a 14 year old boy . Human bones are unearthed. Huge cast list which can get a bit confusingDetective
2003
John GrishamThe Summons
A professor of law is summoned to his father's home in Mississippi. He goes to the house but finds that the old man has already died - very recently. He pokes around the house and finds three and a half million dollars in cash in cupboards. He hides it all before his drug addicted brother turns up.Detective
2002
John GrishamSycamore Row
This novel is a sequel to 'A Time to Kill', one of Grisham's early novels. Jake Brigance is charged with executing the unusual holographic will of Seth Hubbard who has left most of his fortune to Lettie Lang, his black housekeeper. Hubbard's family hire lawyers to contest it. The research in the middle section of the story becomes a bit tedious, but otherwise it is very engaging.Detective
2013
Linwood BarclayA Tap at the Window
A PI in New York State is investigating the disappearance of a teenage girl. She had begged a lift from him on the night she went missing. It is complicated by the death of his teenage son who jumped from a building while in a drug induced state. Generally well paced but the ending is a little drawn out and over complicatedDetective
2013
Graham MastersonBlood Sisters
A well told murder mystery but with some events which stretch credulity. The story intertwines three themes, the continuing murders of retired nuns, the mystery of racehorse being shoved to their deaths over a cliff and the 'suicide' of a young prostitute. Katy Maguire solves them all but at great cost to herself and her colleagues.Detective
2015
Edward MarstonA Ticket to Oblivion
Set in 1858 this story relates the disappearance of Imogen Burnthorpe and her maid who vanish on a railway journey from Worcester to Oxford. It turns out to be a clever kidnap in which the women themselves were unwittingly complicit. The Railway Inspector Detective Inspector Robert Colbeck and Sergeant Leeming pit their wits agains the two ruthless killers.Detective
2014
Felix FrancisTriple Crown
Investigator Jeff Hinckley goes to the USA discover the mole in the Fed Anti Corruption in Sports Agency who is tipping off suspects in cases of horse doping before the raid can take place. Generally well paced but lost its impetus a bit by th e end.Detective
2016
Steven DunnThe Unquiet Grave
A hard hitting crime thriller set over a two decades. Involves a police hunt for a missing teenager and is quite convoluted with a large character list. Involves the usual trouble policeman; has a satisfactory denouemente.Detective
2013
Andrea CamilleriThe Voice of the Violin
An Inspecter Montalbano mystery. A beautiful woman is found raped and brutally murdered. Missing from her home is expensive jewellery and a priceless violin. Montalbano and his team sift through the evidence to discover the killer.Detective
1997
Edward MarstonBlood on the Line
The Railway Detective and his team set out to discover the killer of two policemen who were taking a murderer to his trial. The chase leads them across the Atlantic where they finally capture the villain and bring him back to be hanged.Detective
2012
Peter RobinsonWatching the Dark
A very readable Insp. Banks murder mystery. Banks is investigating the murder of a fellow police officer who had been involved in investigating the disappearance of a young girl in Tallin when on a hen party weekend several years previously. The section set in Tallin is very descriptive,Detective
2012
Peter RobinsonWednesday's Child
DI Banks is investigating the disappearance of a young schoolgirl taken from her feckless mother by a couple claiming to be from child protection. Banks finds himself coping with paedophilia and a race against time to find the child and bring her abducters to justice.Detective
1992
Kate EllisThe Blood Pit
Set in Devon, it brings together several of the characters of her other Devon- based novels. The story links an archaeological a dig in a Tudor monastery site to a current murder investigation. Cleverly plotted with a satisfactory outcome.Detective
2008
Kate AtkinsonWhen Will There be Good News
A compelling mystery with some familiar characters. A man guilty of murdering a mother and 2 of her children is about to be released from prison after serving a thirty year sentence. The themes are more to do with friendship and relationships rather than family ties. One or two side plots which detract from rather than improve the reading experience. Despite this the story is engaging and the characters well drawn.Detective
2008
Quintin JardineBlood Red
A murder mystery set in a quiet Spanish holiday resort. The priest is arrested, suspected of two murders. The main protagonist Primavera Blackstone is at one point a suspect herself, but is the person who actually solves the mystery.Detective
2010
Graham MastersonWhite Bones
Set around the city of Cork; when clearing a field several sets of bones are unearthed. On inspection date back to the early 20th century and all appear to have been physically cleaned of flesh and have a weird disc like a fetish attached to the thigh bones. DI Katie McGuire investigates, but before she gets very far two girls disappear. The case relates to an old Irish myth. Gory but engaging.Detective
2003
Andrea CamilleriThe Wings of the Sphinx
Salvo investigates the murder of a young woman with a butterfly tattoo on her shoulder. He discovers that she is one of a group of Russian women 'befriended' by a Catholic charity. His relationship with Livia is shaky and he is feeling his age.Detective
2006
Ann CleevesBlue Lightning
4th of the Shetland Quartet this time set on Fair Isle, Jimmy Perez's birth place. A woman, the wife of the curator of a bird sanctuary and study centre is murdered. Most of the people staying at the field centre have a reason to be glad she's dead. Perez is on hand to investigate, but it is Fiona his fiancé who solves the mystery, with unfortunate results. Thoroughly engaging until the very end.Detective
2010
Linda FairsteinThe Bone Vault
Set in museums in New York Assistant DA Alex Cooper is invoved in finding the murderer of a young female worker in the museum whose body turns up some months after she first went missing perfectly preserved in a stone sarcophagus ready to be shipped overseas. Alex sets about finding out about the girl and who wanted her dead. Interdepartmental rivalries hamper her investigations but she finally gets her man. The description of a long weekend Alex spends with girlfriends adds nothing to the story and only serves to lengthen the book.Detective
2003
Tana FrenchBroken Harbour
Michael Kennedy is a senior detective in the Dublin police force. A multiple murder case brings him into contact with rookie detective Richie Curran. The two soon achieve a rapport and are working well together. The murder involves a father and his two children with the wife seriously ill with knife wounds. There are several likely suspects but it takes over 500 pages for the situation to be resolved. A good plot marred by too much unnecessary introspective detail and Keneddy's mentally disturbed sister which added nothing to the story.Detective
2013
Linwood BarclayBroken Promise
David Harwood returns to his home town, Promise Falls, after the death of his wife. He is a journalist and has taken a job with the local paper only to find it closed down on the day he arrives in the town. He becomes involved in looking for the murderer of a woman and the abduction of a baby. A good story line well told.Detective
2015
Graham MastersonBroken Angels
Katie McGuire is working on a case of murdered priests. They have all been castrated before being killed and left in easy to find locations. Eventually she discovers what links the priests and the grim reason for their deaths, comitted by a team of choirboys who were trained for the Pope's visit to Ireland in the early 1980s.Detective
2013
Louise PennyThe Brutal Telling
An Inspector Gamache story set in Three Pines near Montreal. A hermit is found dead in the bistro of Gabri and Olivier. No one knows who he is or how he got into the bistro, as it is clear frpm the head wound but lack of blood at the scene, that he was not killed there. Engaging and the best of the three Louise Penny mysteries I have read.Detective
2014
James CraigBuckingham Palace Blues
Police investigation into possible child abuse perpetrated by a minor royal linked to the palace. DI John Carlyle is involved when he finds a child alone in St James Park. The story has a good conclusion, but keeps going a bit too long after the denouement, so the end is a bit flat.Detective
2012
Ann CleevesBurial of Ghosts
Lizzie Bartholomew, a social worker, meets Phillip Sansom on holiday in Morocco where they have a brief affair. A few months later a letter arrives from a solicitor telling of Phillip's death and his legacy to her of £15000 and asking her to trace a man called Thomas Mariner and befriend him. The hunt leads to two murders and a huge fraud. Detective
2003
Simon BeckettThe Calling of the Grave
Forensic pathologist David Hunter is involved in helping to find the graves of women murdered by serial killer Jerome Monk. Well written but a bit slow in parts - the story spans 9 years but with an 8 year break in the middle! Plenty of tension towards the end with some issues to make the reader think in the middle.Detective
2010
Robert CraisChasing Darkness
An average LA crime thriller featuring Elvis Cole, a private detective. When a body is found during a fire evacuation an old crime is resurrected. The dead man had been cleared of a murder by evidence procured by Cole, but the body is holding an album of photographs of murder scenes which could only have been taken at the point of death. Cole has to work hard to clear himself of saving the life of a murderer and then find the real culprit.Detective
2008
Frances FyfieldCold to the Touch
Sarah Fortune tries to help her friend Jess sort out her chaotic life. Sarah goes to stay in a seaside cottage rented from Jess's mother. However, before Sarah can begin to sort out Jess's problems the girl is found dead, frozen in a local butchers cold room. Bizarre and rather unbelievable.Detective
2009
Peter RobinsonAll the Colours of Darkness
A DI Banks mystery with excellent potential and quite a long read at 501 pp. However a lot of time was spent on red herrings. Early suspicions of murder are confirmed. It involves the suicide of a jealous gay lover. The person who instigated the investigation is accidentally killed and there is a lot of peripheral MI6 involvement which causes unnecessary problems.Detective
2008
Felix FrancisDamage
Well written but with a weak ending and some padding. Jeff Hinkley is an undercover investigator for the British Horseracing Authority. Someone is sabotaging big racing events and Jeff is trying to get to the bottom of it. The BHA is being blackmailed. There is a sub-plot involving his step-nephew who is about to be charged with drug dealing. Some side issues which have no real relevance to the main plot. The ending, though satisfactory, is very abrupt.Detective
2014
John FrancomeDark Horse
A readable mystery set in the Yorkshire racing world. Claire, the wife of a vet, is killed in a car accident and 5 years on her husband is still grieving. Vet nurse/administrator Alice starts digging after another fatal road accident and Mark, an ex-jockey writes to the vet wanting to confess what he knows about Claire's accident. But others involved are desperate to shut him up. Detective
2008
Louise PennyDead Cold
A murder mystery set in rural Quebec in the middle of winter. The story is complicated by too many unnecessary characters and the weather is a character in itself. The denouement is flatDetective
2011
Peter RobinsonDead Right
A very early Inspector Banks story about an ultra right wing group murder. There are a lot of minor characters which sometimes detract from the maain story and Banks is trying to cope with his wife leaving him.Detective
1997
Lesley Thomsonthe Detective's Daughter
Stella, owner of a cleaning company, tries her hand at solving the murder of a young mother, a case her father, a DI had never managed to get to the bottom of. Rather a convoluted tale and there were moments when I almost lost the plot - literallyDetective
2013
Stephen BoothThe Devil's Edge
Set in Edenvale, Derbyshire, in the village of Riddings. there have been a lot of burglaries by a group nicknamed 'the savages' but in the latest a woman is killed and her husband badly injured. Has this been committed by the same group? Cooper doesn't think so. Very atmospheric.Detective
2011
Ian RankinDoors Open
Mike MacKenzie is a software expert looking for amusement. He has become interested in works of art and plans to steal some interesting pieces when the Scottish Natioal Gallery has its 'Doors Open' day at which they bring out some of their stored pices for dispaly. He teams up with a forger and plans a scam to replace the masterpices with forgeries.Detective
2008
J D RobbEchoes in Death
Gruesome murders and rape are being perpertrated on wealthy NY society couples. Det Eve Dallas takes charge of the investigations and gets it all sewn up. No real surprises.Detective
2016
Ian RankinExit Music
The final Inspector Rebus case. A Russian is found dead near a multi-storey car park and Rankin and Siobhan Clarke are trying to solve the crime before Rebus's time runs out at the end of the week when he retires. Politocos and bankers also want it solved quickly, but for their own different reasons.Detective
2007
Kathy ReichsFatal Voyage
Tempe Brennan is called in to do the forensics after a private plane crashes in a forest in N Carolina. During her search for body parts she comes across something which has nothing to do with the crash but leads her into danger and myserious practices linked with the English Hell Fire Club of the 18th C.Detective
2001
John FrancomeFinal Breath
A racing who-done-it involving the murder of Kirsty, the girl friend of Danny, a jockey whose mother is a trainer. Unknown to her partner Kirsty had been having affairs with a number of people. Her friend Tara takes her place in the affections of Danny. There are a lot of characters to sort out and it does not have a very satisfactory endingDetective
2008
Quintin JardineAs Easy as Murder
A passable murder mystery set in Spain, but with rather too much detail about golf. Well developed characters , but the denouement a bit convoluted. Rather too many references to characters from previous novels by the author.Detective
2012
Camilla CedarFrozen Moment
Translated from the Swedish: a complicated murder mystery which delves deep into the past. The main police character is Christian Tell, a middle aged divorcee. Some of the nuances of the story are lost in translation I think. A man is murdered by being shot then run over and in another part of the country a second murder takes place in just the same way. The denouement is satisfactoryDetective
2009
Graham MastersonGenius
Thriller set in USA concerns a drug concocted to improve intelligence and memory which feeds off live brain cells, a fact not realised until halfway through the book. It involves the injections of live serum given to a young man, but the final one made to a different formula will give him dementia. Will the goodies reach him in time to stop him taking it? Detective
1998
Linda FairsteinHell Gate
Alex Cooper is involved in investigating the deaths of illegal immigrants who have been shipwrecked on the shores of NY. She is also concerned about the disappearance of the mistress of a would-be politician who has vanished with their child. A satisfactory story but overly complicated and not as tight and satifying as some of her other novels.Detective
2010
Robert WilsonThe Hidden Assassins
A complicated thriller whith a huge cast list. Terrorists blow up a block of flats in Seville resulting in many casualties and fatalities. There are several side issues which are unrelated to the main story. A marathon 642 pages, however the denouement is satisfactory.Detective
2007
James PattersonI Alex Cross
Det Alex Cross's niece has been brutally murdered. He soon discovers that she was mixed up in one of Washington's slimiest schemes. Girls were taken to a 'special' club for the delectation of the high and mighty in DC, and did not always survive. Cross closes in on the killesr after a dangerous hunt.Detective
2009
Elonora ForbesThe Jigsaw Man
Intersting plot line but complicated by two separate murder enquiries totally unconnected. 'Bodies' turn up which on examination turn out to be parts of several corpse reassembled. In case 2 the body of the sister of an ex-policewoman is found in a hotel room. The narrative switches from one case to the other and any insight into the culprits is fragmented and leaves the reader not sure which crime each is responsible for. Not very satisfactory.Detective
2014
Jonathan GashThe Judas Pair
An indifferent crime story set in the world of antiques. The Judas pair of the title are a pair of antique duelling pistols stolen from the owner who was murdered before the theft. A lot of detail about antiques and the only real action comes in the last few chapters.Detective
1971
Kate EllisKissing the Demons
Set in York, known in the novel as Eborby, DI Joe Plantaganet and Emily Thwaite are investigating the murder of a student which appears to be linked to several murders which have happened in the past. Quite interesting and quite gory but overcomplicated.Detective
2011
Robert CraisThe Last Detective
Set in LA and featuring PIs Elvis Cole and Joe Pike. Elvis's girlfriend's son is abducted whilst Elvis is looking after him. After trying to find the child himself, with Joe's help, Lucy has to inform her ex-husband, the child's father, of the situation. He insists on informing the police. Elvis investigates more deeply and discovers that the boy's father has organised the kidnapping himself in order to prove to Lucy that being with Elvis is too dangerous. But he doesn't realise how ruthless the abductors are and when they up the ransome things get very dangerous. Good plot but Crais has a 'bitty' style and the story doesn't flow well.Detective
2003
Stephen BoothLost River
There are two themes to this crime novel. Cooper is investigating the death of an eight year old in Dovedale while Diane Fry is in Birmingham trying to get to the bottom of her own rape many years earlier. Booth dodges from one scenario to the other as if he hadn't enough material in either story to make a single novel out of each. Although the Derbyshire crime is resolved it is not a very satisfactory read.Detective
2010
Simon BrettMurder at the Museum
One of a series of mysteries involving Jude and Carole, next door neighbours in a Sussex village. An old skeleton is unearthed when a kitchen garden of 'Bracketts', an Elizabethan manor house is dug over to prepare for the building of a museum. The trustees of the house, the former home of a poet, squabble a lot but after two further deaths the identity of the body is established and old lies revealed.Detective
2004
Lee ChildNight School
The 21st Jack Reacher novel and rather disappointing. Set in the 1990s when Reacher was still a major in the US army; he is sent to Hamburg to retrieve material stolen by a serving officer who is AWOL. A frantic search is set in motion involving the German police and the US military. Not as engaging as the rest of his novels.Detective
2016
Iain McDowallPerfectly Dead
Run of the mill police investigation. A lot of characters on both side to keep track of. Written in 3rd person omniscient so good overall picture of events, from a variety of POVs. Drugs involved; a man kills his family then himself.Detective
2003
Susan HillThe Pure in Heart
Ostensibly this is a crime novel dealing with the disappearance of a nine year old boy. However there is a multiplicity of threads, some of which get tied up but many don't, including the disappearance of the child. DCI Simon Serailler is the central character, but has too many personal issues to distract him from the case. It is very well written with emotions truthfully portayed but the ending is less than satisfactory.Detective
2005
Ian RankinA Question of Blood
A killer enters a school, shoots two boys then turns the gun on himself. Rebus and Siobhan investigate. Complicated, convoluted and not very satisfactory.Detective
2002
Mark BillinghamSleepyhead
Women are dying of strokes, but all have faint bruising on their necks. Then a similar case turns up where the victim isn't dead but 'locked in'. It appears that this is what the murderer has been trying to achieve. Doctors become the chief suspects. Story is well written but a bit predictable at times.Detective
2002
Sarah RayneSpider Light
A rather gothic thriller which is set in an old cottage and nearby watermill and the events and deaths which have taken place there. Antonia Weston, a psycholgist has been released from prison after serving a 5 year sentence for the manslaughter of a man who had killed her brother. Three stories are interwined but not all have satsifactory conclusions or explanations.Detective
2006
Ruth RendallThe St Zita Society
A rather disappointing murder story. St Zita is the patron saint of domestic workers and all those who work in the big houses of Hexam Place in London have formed themselves into a group. The story is really about the lives and loves of the people living in Hexham Place and although three murders take place during the course of the novel only one killer gets his come uppance in a very abrupt ending.Detective
2012
Amanda QuickThe Third Circle
A fantasy story set in the late nineteenth century. Leona Hewitt can work crystals and early in the story 'retrieves' an especially powerful crystal from the home of Lord Delbridge, as it was originally stolen from her family years ago. She encouners Thaddeus Ware a hypnotist and they join forces to again retrieve the stone when it is once again stolen from Leona. Along the way they solve a few murders and fall in love, then her long lost uncle turns up having been in America for several years and made his fortune.Detective
2008
Peter JamesTwilight
This is an early novel and it shows. Rather indifferent plot about near death experiences. Some interesting and well written parts, but not an overall satisfactory read.Detective
1991
Mark BillinghamBlood Line
The son of a serial killer starts a murdering spree killing the offspring of his father's victims. The father died of a brain tumour and the son is convinced that this caused his murderous behaviour and that he should have a free pardon. Tom Thorne and his team work hard to find and protect all the remaining offspring. Not as satisfying as some other Tom Thorne novels.Detective
2009
Ruth RendallThe Vault
An Inspector Wexfor mystery. Now retired Wexford is invited to help out in solving the murders of four people found in a bricked up cellar in London. Three of the bodies date back ten years, but one only two years. It is a rather convoluted story with too many peripheral characters.Detective
2011
Nicci FrenchWaiting for Wednesday
Psychologist Frieda helps to solve the mystery of several girls missing girls who have disappeared over a number of years, and is involved in bringing to justice the murder of a seemingly ordinary housewife and mother.Detective
2013
Kate EllisWalking at Night
A short (217pp) detective novel set in York. DI Joe Plantaganet investigates the murder of an actress whose body had been moved from the place of her death, witnessed by a teenager who had had too much to drink. There are several more deaths and a motley group of suspects before the murderer is identified.Detective
2005
Peter JamesWant You Dead
The most recent of the Roy Green thrillers. Red Westwood is in fear of her life after she ends a relationship with control freak Bryce Laurent. He stalks her and threatens to kill her but not before he has killed her current lover., two police officers and set fire to several buildings connnected with her. Really a bit too far fetched to be believable, which detracts from engagement with the story. James finally gets rid of Roy Grace's first wife in a car accident in Germany - we think!Detective
2014
Ann GrangerWatching Out
A Fran Varady murder mystery told in the first person. Fran is working in a pizzeria part time and acting in a one-off play to be performed in a local pub. She is sucked into investigating the death of Ion an illegal immigrant who seems to have links with the pizzeria where she works. There are lots of good descriptions of scenery and reflection on life but rather too much 'telling' of the explanation of events at the end, hence only three stars!Detective
2003
Lesley PearceWithout a Trace
Set in a small Somerset village in 1953-4. A child goes missing and her mother is found dead. Molly Heywood, a friend of the victim is concered about the disappearance of the child and as the police don't seem interested in searching for her Molly decides to look for herself. Rather predictable in places, and not very believable, but quite engaging.Detective
2015
Agatha ChristieAfter the Funeral
Poirot is called in to help solve the mystery of the death of a woman following the funeral of her uncle whom she claimed had been murdered. Trademark large country house setting with a family gathering for the denouementDetective
1958
Mark BillinghamBuried
A convoluted crime story with a lot of characters, mostly police personnel. It involves kidnap and murder squads and paedophilia. However Billingham draws all the pieces together at the end to result in a satisfactory conclusion.Detective
2007
Louise PennyBury Your Dead
A convoluted murder mystery set in Quebec city during the winter. Armand Gamache is asked to help with finding the killer of a francophone Renand, who had been obsessed with finding the burial place of Champlain the founder of Quebec. Armand is supposed to be on leave recovering from gunshot wounds sustained during a shootout with terrorists during which other officers were killed. A last-minute wrong decision by Armand resulted in the death of a young colleague. This haunts him throughout the story which also involves the wrongful conviction of a man in Three Pines. Very convoluted and hard to follow.Detective
2011
Anne HoltThe Lion's Mouth
A hard to follow murder mystery. The PM of Norway is found shot in her locked office. No one has entered and no weapon found. Very oblique and unsatisfactory.Detective
1999
Stella RimingtonThe Geneva Trap
A great spy thriller set in Geneva and the South of France. It is well paced with interesting sub plots. Liz Carlyle is the main character. There is a good denouement.Espionage
2012
Stella RimingtonRip Tide
Well written and convincing espionage thriller. Very topical. Ships carrying aid to Kenya are being hijacks by Somalian pirates. Links with a Birmingham Muslim activist group are established by Liz Carlyle who works hard to resolve the situationEspionage
2012
Stella RimingtonRip Tide
A well written and convincing novel. Ships carrying aid to Kenya are being hijacked by Somalian pirates. Liz Carlyle discovers there are connection to Birmingham Muslim activists and establishes links with the girl friend of one of them and they work hard to resolve the situation.Espionage
2012
Stella RimingtonClose Call
Liz Carlyle suspects arms are being shipped into the UK from Eastern Europe in order to perpetrate an attack akin to the London bombings of July 07. She and Martin Seurat , who controls th French side of things work hard to prevent an atrocity.Espionage
2014
Stella RimingtonDead Line
M15 and MI6 attempt to derail a sabotage attempt on a peace convention about Syria due to take place at Gleneagles. 35 year old Liz Carlyle is assigned to investigate and prevent the attack. It is a light read but nevertheless seems authentic as far as the security services go and an ordinary citizen can tell.Espionage
2008
Stella RimingtonAt Risk
Rimington's debut novel set in Norfolk and introduces Liz Carlyle. An Afghan jihadist and an English-born girl are planning a bomb attack, the target of which is not revealed until the end of the novel. Well written and briskly paced.Espionage
2004
Fiona McIntoshThe Lavender Keeper
Lissette the daughter of a German father and French mother is recruited in WWII to spy on a German general in Paris. There is a love triangle as Lissette has fallen in love with Luc, her guide through rural France and her spying target the General. Sound a bit corny but is well written and convincing.Espionage
2012
William BoydRestless
Set during WWII and 1976. Ruth Gilmartin is amazed to discover that her mother, Russian by birth, had been part of an undercover spy network during WWII. The complicated story is told in the first person by Ruth and in the third via diary entries by her mother. Very engaging with a satisfying ending.Espionage
2006
Michael DobbsA Sentimental Traitor
A political thriller with the impact opening of a plane being brought town by a missile. Harry Jones gets involved big time.Espionage
2012
Alan FurstSpies of Warsaw
Set in Warsaw in 1938 and 1939. Jean-François Mercier has been appointed as French attaché to Poland and his job is to promote good relations between the French and Polish staffs, but his real job is to gather military intelligence from wherever he can. He has a passionate affair with a Polish woman of French extraction which provides an extra dimension to the story. Espionage
2008
Noah HawleyThe Good Father
This didn't live up to expectations and in some ways reminded me of Shriver's Kevin, but is nothing like as good or compelling. Paul Allen is soul searching, blaming the fact that he and Danny's mother divorced and live on opposite sides of the USA so Danny spent his childhood flying between the east and west coasts of USA. The parts of the story narrated by Danny in 3rd P are quite well written but not really revealing of his nature, or why he chose to murder the prospective next president of the USA. Too much time is spent on researching other r famous American killings but adds nothing to our understanding of Danny. At the end, when facing execution Danny still appears to have no remorse at all for what he has done.Espionage
2012
Michael DobbsThe Reluctant Hero
Set largely in an imaginary ex-Soviet country, Harry Jones rescues an old friend from a death sentence. The rescue is bungled and Jones ends up in the cell recently vacated by his friend. The rescue team eventually achieve his escape but not before he has been badly beaten up. American politician, Martha Riley, helps him but on their trek across the border into Afghanistan she is shot and killed. The ending is contrived and not very satifactoryEspionage
2010
Rosie ThomasConstance
Almost as good as Kashmir Shawl. Good scene setting and regular dipping into the past. Mostly about relationships between sisters, lovers, parents and children and the need to know who you are. There is an excellent opening to draw the reader in.Family Saga
2011
Rachel HoreA Gathering Storm
Set in Cornwall past and present, war time London and Normandy. Lucy is trying to find out her father's family who originally came from Cornwall. The story is narrated by Beatrice an elderly lady who knew the family well in her younger days, and Lucy. Elements of courage and betrayal.Family Saga
2011
Rosie ThomasThe Kashmir Shawl
One of the best books I've ever read. Intertwines the search for information about a beautiful Kashmir shawl, found after her father's death by Mair, with the story of her grandparent's life in Indian Kashmir in the 1930s. Well portrayed rounded characters, lots of intrigue, excellent plot and satisfactory denouementFamily Saga
2012
Kate MortonThe Lake House
An excellent family history saga set mostly in Cornwall. Featuring a well-to-do family of parents, 3 daughters and a later-born son it covers 1903 to the present day. It is framed by a WDC who is about to be sacked for talking to the press. Whilst on holiday with her grandfather she digs into the mystery of Locanneth, the house by the lake and the family who lived there. She is intrigued by a missing son for whom there was a major police hunt. The coincidence at the end is a little bit forced. Family Saga
2015
Victoria HislopThe Thread
Set in Thessalonica it spans 1917 to 2007 depicting life in the Greek city through 2 world wars. Katerina and Dimitri are the main characters. she is a refugee from Turkey, he the only son of a wealthy but disinterested father. Katerina is a very talented needlewoman. She and her foster mother have been guarding Jewish relics for friends taken to a Polish POW camp during WW2. Katarina and Dimitri are now very old and K worries about what will happen to the relics. Their grandson visits them from London and after hearing the full story of their lives and the family history decides to move to the city and continue to guard the relics.Family Saga
2011
Penelope LivelyFamily Album
Short listed for the 2009 Costa prize, this is a perceptive novel about relationships in a large family. Allersmead is a large rambling house acquired by earth-mother Alison and her husband Charles as newly-weds. The novel opens in the present on Alison's birthday with her now grown up family reuniting along with Ingrid the 'au pair' who has been with the family since Paul, the eldest child was born. One by one we meet the members of the family and are given differing perspectives of various events and situations as viewed through different eyes, and secrets are revealed.Family Saga
2009
Elizabeth EdmonsonThe Frozen Lake
Two families are drawn to the frozen lake near their homes in Westmoreland. There are family secrets which gradually unravel during the freezing Christmas and New Year of 1936 when there is unrest and rumours of war.Family Saga
2004
Flora ThompsonLark Rise to Candleford
The autobiographical story of coutry and small-town life in the last forty years of the nineteenth century. There is great emphasis on the natural world and country events.Family Saga
1945
Simon MontefioreSashenka
Epic family novel set in Russia between 1916 and 1994. It covers the worst of the communist era and ends with a descendant of the family researching the history, not knowing that Sashenka is actually her grandmother. A lot of dense detail, some of which becomes a little tedious as it slowed down the pot.Family Saga
2008
Dinah JeffriesThe Separation
Good setting describing events in 1950s Malaya during the 'emergency'. While Gwen is visiting a sick friend her husband takes their daughters back to England, expecting her to follow him. The novel is split between Gwen looking for her daughters as she has been led to believe they are in another part of the country, and Emma, her elder daughter now back in England, who has been told that their mother died in a fire caused by insurgents. Family Saga
2014
Penny VincentiSomething Dangerous
Second in a trilogy about the Lytton family and their publishing house. It is set between 1926 and 1946 and moves between the younger generation and their activities in London and the Home Counties and Paris and New York. Some very good sections describing war conditions and D Day.Family Saga
2006
Charlotte MendelsonWhen We Were Bad
Nominated for the 2007 Orange Prize. The novel tells the story of the lives of a dysfunctional Jewish family. The offspring are all adult but still dominated by their rabbi mother Claudia. Two younger children Melanie and Simon are rather minor characters. Norman, the father, overshadowed by his clever wife is the only really sympathetic character in the book. By the end of the novel Claudia knows she has a terminal illness but doesn't tell her family as she can't bear to be seen to be weak or in need of sympathy. Family Saga
2007
Ken FollettWinter of the World
A very long but engrossing read, the second of the trilogy. The old characters and their descendents emerge, along with some new ones. Covers 1933 to 1949 and includes the Berlin air lift and the execution of an American couple for passing details of the nuclear bomb to a Russian spy. Rather too many coincidences regarding people meeting up again to make the novel entirely convincing. Family Saga
2012
Sidura LudwigHolding my Breath
Family story set in Winnipeg. Beth Levy is the only daughter of a Jewish couple and dreams of becoming an astronomer. Her ambition is fed by stories of her Uncle Phil who was killed in WW2. Various family skeletons emerge which explain the behaviour of some members of the extended family, as things are not always as they seem. Some episodes seem superfluous to the plot and not everything has an explanation or seems relevant to the story. Good style, but plot rather weak with an abrupt ending.Family Saga
2008
Joanna TrollopeA Balancing Act
A matriarchal family pottery business is thriving, but relations between the mother and three daughters are strained, and her long suffering musician husband realises he has let the best years of his life slip away whilst deferring to her needs.Family Saga
2014
Petra Durst BenningThe Paradise of Glass
Rather disappointing after the pace of the first two in the trilogy. Wanda, the American daughter of Ruth, is the main character and dominates the story of how the villagers are able to obtain a loan and buy the furnace they rely on, but not before they lose all their money to a fraudster, but Wanda helps to get it back again.Family Saga
2015
Penny VincenziA Perfect Heritage
A very long book (753pp) about the infighting within a cosmetic house undergoing difficult times and with financial problems. With a massive cast of characters the novel portrays their personal lives as well as the main theatre of action, the business. There is a constant neeed to refer to the cast list at the front of the book.Family Saga
2012
Penny FeenyThat Summer in Ischia
Allie goes to Ischia to try to discover something of her origins. Her Bohemian mother has only hinted at Allie's paternity. When she meets Liddy, a friend of her mother's in her youth, Allie learns that her father could be her mother's employer when she worked in Ischia one summer. Going there Allie meets Max, the son of the family and wonders if he is her half brother. There are lots of twists and turns, too many really. The novel should be about 70 pages shorter.Family Saga
2007
Kate MosseCitadel
3rd of the set of novels set in the Languedoc. It covers 1942-44. It involves the maquis and an underground group working against the Nazi regime. The sub-plot is a map and codex sought by a French collaborator. Audric Baillard reappears and the main character Sandrine has close links with Alys of Labyrinth. A bit overlong but very engrossing and brings the reader up to 2009 when Alice (Sepulchre) attends a commemoration ceremony at Chateau du Baudrienes and meets two of the women and remembers Baillard from her experiences years before.Historical
2012
Rose TremainThe Colour
Set in New Zealand in the 1860s this is the story of Joseph and Harriet Blackstone who have recently emigrated from England. Joseph builds a cob home for them and Lillian his mother to live in. Ignoring local advice he builds it in an open area in the path of harsh winter winds. He finds a small amount of gold in one of the creeks and becomes obsessed with the 'colour'. He leaves Harriet and his mother, but is unsuccessful in his search and returns to England. After Lillian's death Harriet looks for gold herself, and has more success than her husband. The story is rich in detail and includes a few shocks.Historical
2003
Bernard CornwellThe Crowning Mercy
Set during the English Civil War, Dorcas Slythe falls in love with Toby Lazander. One is from a Royalist family, the other a member of a Puritan family. The secret of a set of seals and a covenant is revealed to Dorcas on the death of her father. She narrowly escapes being burnt as a witch, before the story is resolved.Historical
2003
C J SansomDark Fire
Lord Cromwell is on the verge of losing his head as he tries to sustain Henry's marriage to Anne of Cleves. A young girl is accused of murdering her cousin and Shardlake is called in. He sets out with Guy Malton and Barak to investigate the source of 'Greek Fire' believed to have been created by two alchemist and is a powerful killer. The novel provides a good study in relationships with the interplay of the three main characters.Historical
2007
C J SansomDissolution
An investigator is murdered when he goes to assess a monastery in Scarnsea on the Sussex coast. Lord Cromwell dispatches lawyer Matthew Shardlake to investigate. He discovers that the establishment is out of control and sinister acts of sacrilege have been committed. A very well constructed and satisfying whodunit with convincing historical background.Historical
2003
Christopher WardAnd the Band Played on
A fascinating account of the aftermath of the Titanic disaster. The author's grandfather was a violinist on board and one of the group playing 'Nearer my God to Thee' as the ship went down. The book contains lots of interesting detail about the rescue ship and the numbers buried at sea because there were not enough coffins on board the ship detailed to pick up the bodies. Not everyone could be identified and many bodies are buried in Halifax Nova Scotia as families could not afford the expense of repatriating the bodies.Historical
2012
Tracy ChevalierAt the Edge of the Orchard
A convincing story about life in the USA in the 1840s and 50s. The Goodenough family scratch a living growing apples in the Blackswamp area of Ohio. After a furious row between the drunken parents during which they manage to kill each other, Martha, the youngest child is taken in by neighbours. Caleb, one brother is a drunkard and and the older brother Robert has already left home, and become a successful woodsman, working for an established forester. Eventually Martha manages to track down Robert just before he sails to England with a consignment of redwoods and sequoias.Historical
2016
Jojo MoyesThe Girl You Left Behind
Novel centres on a painting of a young woman, Sophie, in around 1936. Sophie is forced to cook for the German soldiers stationed in her village. The portrait was painted by her husband and hung in the hall of their small hotel, the Coque Rouge in Peronne in N France. In 2008 it hangs in the bedroom of a young widow in London, bought for her by her husband from a Spanish woman. The artist's descendents want it back under a repatriation law. The widow's fight to keep it and the story of what happened to Sophie is told brilliantly with many twists and turn.Historical
2012
C J SansomHeartstone
It is 1545 and Shardlake and Barak travel to Portsmouth to investigate a case given to them by a servant of Catherine Parr. The young Princess Elizabeth plays a minor role, but the Battle of the Solent and the Mary Rose a much bigger one. Historical
2010
Clive SansomHeartstone
Shardlake and Barak are heavily involved in sorting out the legalities and complications involved with the wardship of a brother and sister. The investigations eventually take Shardlake to Portsmouth where the fleet is preparing to fight the French. The Mary Rose lies at anchor and Shardlake is aboard... A real page turner.Historical
2011
Kathryn StockettThe Help
A humorous, poignant and shocking story. It depicts the lives of black housemaids in Jackson Miss. in 1960s and has been made into a film. The novel is very well written with excellent characterisations and voices. The dialogue of the black women takes some getting used to. The story ends well. Historical
2009
Kate MosseLabyrinth
A very involved story with time slips between the thirteenth and twentyfirst centuries. It involves the persecution of the Cathars in southern France. Alais and her modern counterpart Alice face threats and dangers. Alais dies trying to preserve the secrets enshrined in the three documents with which she has been entrusted by her father. The novel is set in and around the ancient city of Caracassonne and involves a lot of ancient French history which is well integrated with the narrative.Historical
2005
C J SansomLamentation
Matthew Shardlake is summoned to find out what has happened to the missing writings on religion by Catherine Parr, Henry VIII's sixth wife. In them she has made clear her sympathies for the reformation, but Henry and others in power are wavering to return to Rome, so her writings could be considered heresy. It takes Shardlake and his loyal team over 600 pages to get to the bottom of the mystery. Thoroughly researched and very well written but a bit overlong.Historical
2014
Tracy ChevalierThe Last Runaway
A great story set in Ohio involving runaway slaves and the underground train of willing white Americans who helped them. An Englishwoman finds herself in this community ; there are themes of Quakerism, family relationships and a big emphasis on quiltingHistorical
2013
Michael MorpurgoListen to the Moon
A very engaging junior fiction novel set in 1915 in the Scilly Isles. Merry and her mother set off for England on the Lusitania to visit the girl's father who is wounded and in hospital in London during WW1. After the wreck Merry is found, barely alive, on one of the uninhabited Scilly islands. Alfie's family nurse her back to health but the islanders are suspicious as a blanket she is found with has a German label. An excellent portrayal of how a small community behaves in such circumstances.Historical
2014
Louisa YoungMy Dear I wanted to Tell You
Set during WW1 it depicts the lives and relationships of two soldiers, an enlisted man and an officer and how their partners coped with the separation and uncertainties. There is quite a bit of 'Birdsong' style detail about life in the trenches, but about halfway through the action returns to England and the hospital in Sidcup where Harold Gillies and his team pioneered facial reconstruction.Historical
2011
Sam BournePantheon
Brilliant account of WW1 skulduggery, eugenics and American isolationism. Good narrative played out in England and USA. Convincing comparisons between wartime England and America, not then at war, particularly with regard to food. Many elements of the book are true, which makes it quite scary. Left wing intellectuals from Oxford and New England are involved in trying to create a super-class.Historical
2012
Patrick GaleA Place Called Winter
Set between the beginning of the twentieth century and the 1920s in London and the wilds of Canada. Harry Care is packed off to Canada when his family discover he is gay, despite beining married with a wife and daughter. The main story follows his progress in establishing himself on a farmstead in a settlement called Winter. It is tender and poignant and totally engrossing.Historical
2014
Tracy ChevalierRemarkable Creatures
This novel is set mostly in Dorset in the early 19th century and is a fictionalised version of the lives of Mary Anning and Elizabeth Philpot. Mary Anning collects the fossils she finds on the beach to sell to tourists who visit Lyme Regis. Elizabeth Philpot, an educated woman, is forced to live in the area when the family home was inherited by her brother on the death of their parents. In her fossil hunting Mary Anning uncovers the first known example of a fossilised pterodactyl and ichthyosaurus. Elizabeth, who has befriended her, has the connections in London to bring it to the notice of palaeontologists of the day. The novel highlights the sexism and male prejudice of the era.Historical
2009
C J SansomRevelation
Henry VIII is set to marry Catherine Parr but Cranmer and the Protestant Faction are nervous as she has reformist sympathies. Shardlake is working on a case involving a teenage boy committed to Bedlam as his relious beliefs could end in him being burned as a heretic. When an old friend is murdered Shardlake promises to investigate. With the help of Barak and his apothecary friend Guy Malton he investigates, only to be led in the direction of Cranmer and Catherine Parr, and the prophesies of the Book of Revelation.Historical
2008
James ForresterSacred Treason
Elizabethan thriller: William Harley, Clarenceau King of Arms is deputed by an old friend, Henry Machyn, to assemble a group of men known as Knights of the Round Table in order to reveal a secret which could Damage Elizabeth and her rights to the throne. The story has its roots in real people and the Machyn Chronicles. Very well written and historically convincing.Historical
2011
Joanna RossiterSea Change
The story switches between pre-war England in Imber in Wilshire and 197 India following a tsunami. Alice has just married her boyfriend, James, on the beach the day before the disaster happens. The novel moves between the search for James, missing after the tsunami, and her mother, growing up in Imber, the village taken over by the MOD on Salisbury Plain. Alice has never had an easy relationship with her mother, Vi, and as the story progresses you understand the reason, complicated by the bitter resentment of the MOD for what they did to Vi's young life. Historical
2013
C J SansomSovereign
It is 1541 and Henry VII sets out on a magnificent progress to attend a submission by his rebellious subjects in York. Shardlake is already there with his assistant Jack Barak. As well as assisting the King Shardlake has also been instructed by Archbishop Cranmer to ensure the welfare of a conspirator who is to be transported back to London.Historical
2007
Pat BarkerToby's Room
Elinor Brooke is studying art at the Slade and her brother Toby is a medical student in the days before the outbreak of WWI. Barker relates their intermingled stories and those of their mutual friends as the war progresses. Time spans are jumped which maintains the impetus of the story. Elinor becomes involved in drawing injured faces of men at Gillies' clinic when she visits an ex-boyfriend, Kit Neville. Toby is posted missing presumed killed and Kit was him when the event happened, but refuses to tell Elinor or her family what exactly took place. Beautifully written and peppered with clever and convincing metaphors.Historical
2012
Marino FioratoThe Venetian Contract
A brilliant historical novel set first in Constantinople and then in Venice. Feyra, the daughter of a sea captain and the sister of the Doge of Venice, is a harem doctor. She is sent by her dying mother on a mission to her uncle the Doge. Bubonic plague is raging in the Turkish capital and Fera's father is already infected before he sets out on the voyage to Venice. Feyra and her father are offloaded onto a Venetian island where he dies. On a visit to the city Fera meets a Venetian doctor and together they set up a Lazarus hospital to help Venetian sufferers.Historical
2012
Elizabeth ChadwickThe Champion
Set in 12C France and England on the tourney circuit where knights and lesser men joust for money. Alexander has escaped from the tortures of the monastery to be trained by his brother Henri Montrou, a respected jouster. He meets Monday, the daughter of Henri's friend. For a long time they are just friends, but after a night of drinking he takes her to bed. Monday's parents are now dead but she decides to run away to try to find Aline her mother's former mistress. It is four years and many adventures later before Monday and Alexander meet up again. The story is well related but it took a while to get going and there was too much description of jousting.Historical
2006
Barbara Erskine