CHARMAN’S DEBUT IS MORE A LOOSE FLOCK OF FEATHERY TALES THAN ONE COMPLETE MURMURATION

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The Crow is one member of the Corvus family of medium to large sized birds. Other members are the Rook, Raven, Carrion Crow, and Hooded Crow. They are one of the most intelligent species of birds on the planet, being widely know for using tools and constructing tools. They mate for life, but also gather in large colonies and so when a member of the colony dies, they can hold funerals for the deceased bird and are also known for having long memories and being able to remember faces. The collective name for a group of crows is a murder of crows, also they can take the life of another crow following a crow court, where another bird has entered their territory or has tried to steal food. This brings us to this month’s first book review, which follows the lives of the residents of a small English town in the 1840’s after the discovery of a scandal in the community. It’s called Crow Court by Andy Charman and is published by Unbound ( www.unbound.com ) on the 24th February.

In the Spring of 1840, the Dorset town of Wimbourne Minster is rocked by the discovery of the body of a choirboy, who has drowned himself in the local river. Shortly after the Choirmaster, a belligerent and vicious man, is found murdered. The repercussions and the scandal associated with it will reverberate through the community for years to come.

The premise of this book is very appealing, the blurb on the back sells it as a quaint story of murder, mystery and betrayal in a small rural town on the south coast of England. But when you get into reading it you are met with something completely different. it’s not one complete story, but series a collection of short stories, vignettes even. Set around, loosely in some cases, and connected to the characters and events of the suicide and murder depicted in the first two. I didn’t actually realise what was happening until over half way through the book.

Andy Charman

Charmans’s story telling and writing style is unusual too and this is what led to realise I was reading a collection of short stories. Because it regularly jumps from first to third person narrative. His use of the Dorset dialect is at times earthy, and some people maybe delighted at the inclusion of a glossary at the back of the book, but for me I did wonder if some of the characters were actually supposed to be foreign with the bad English or the over use of  the letter ‘z’ in the dialogue. But I think if this book comes out on Audible down the road, I may get to appreciate the Dorset dialect a bit more when read by a local.

This English author Andy Charman’s ( https://www.crow-court.com/ ) first book. His short stories have appeared in various anthologies and magazines over the years. He grew up in Dorset not far from Wimbourne Minster, but now lives in Surrey.

I enjoyed reading this book and would see it as a nice choice for a book group. So if you feel your group needs to spread its wings a bit, then flit down to your local book shop or order a copy online to wing its way to you physically or digitally.

Reviewed by Adrian Murphy

This book review is part of a Random Things blog tour, to see what the other readers thought, visit their sites listed below. Then, if you get a copy, comeback and tell us what you thought. We’d really appreciate the feedback.

HARRISON’S MIX OF MURDER, MYSTERY AND SCI-FI KEEPS READERS IN THE LOOP AND ON EDGE

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The American author and psychic Ray Stanford, whose books include ‘Fatima Prophecy’ and ‘What Your Aura Tells You’, claimed that in the 1970s he was driving himself and his wife to a meeting in Austin Texas with Uri Geller. They were stuck in traffic and wished they were closer, a couple of minutes later they suddenly found themselves and their car 60km further up the road. Stanford also tells of a prior story where while out riding he saw low hanging bough of a tree and with his horse galloping at speed and realising that he wouldn’t be able to stop, he was going to be seriously hurt. Next thing, he found himself standing upright a short distance from his horse. He was unable to deduce how he got where he was. These are more on the side of examples of teleportation, than time slips, but in both cases, Stanford seems to move forward in time and distance. Similarly British paranormal authors John and Anne Spencer in their numerous books on the supernatural, catalogue examples of various people walking around towns and villages in the UK, Europe and seeing buildings and people from another period in time.  Two eyewitnesses who claim they were in the Palace of Versailles, France. when they started seeing people in period dress and parts of the building that had long since been renovated. This month’s third book review features time slips in its central plot, the book is Recursion by David J. Harrison and published by The Book Guild ( www.bookguild.co.uk ) on 28th October.

When high-flying London based artist Huraki Kensagi goes through a breakdown following the ending his marriage. His agent recommends he spends time at a remote cottage in the north of England, to getaway from it all and get his career back on track. On arrival in the little village of Barrowthwaite, he runs into Frank a local shopkeeper, who talks in the third person, while his landlord is a mysterious chap called “The Captain”. The town has no mobile coverage and the weather changes abruptly every quarter of an hour or so. When his estranged wife Jane also arrives in the village a couple of hours after his arrival, she sees Huraki having sex with Maggie the caretaker of the cottage. When she realises, he’s actually ok, and confronts him shortly afterwards, she tells him no one has heard from him in three months and his agent has been trying to reach him. But then Jane uses the only working phone in the village at “The Captain’s” house to call her employers, to say she is returning to London the next day. But is surprised to be told she has been let go, as she hasn’t been heard from in six months! When she only left London 24 hours ago! The couple soon realise they the central focus of a malignant entity who has been interfering in their lives from the very beginning. Can they escape the Lake District and the alien dangers that lie beneath it with their sanity and lives intact?

This book is an engrossing tale of murder, mystery, and extra-terrestrial encounters. With the supernatural element thrown in for good measure. I found it enjoyable, but there’s a lot of similarities to the likes of large and small screen productions such as Cocoon, The American Werewolf in London, Close Encounters of the Third kind, as well as Groundhog Day and some of the eeriest episodes of Tales Of The Unexpected.

Harrison’s story telling is good, his characterisations are shudder inducing, especially the when the entities speak in the third person. The references to gang culture are an interesting one and it’s always good to see how the uber confident underworld foot soldiers, deal with the unexplainable.  

David J. Harrison

This is English author David J. Harrison’s ( www.davidjharrisonauthor.com )debut novel. Harrison was read The Lord Of The Rings as a sleeping child, while also being brought up on a diet of classic science fiction and fantasy, including the works of Robert E. Howard, Lin Carter and L. Sprague de Camp. His day job is in Biotechnology, specifically in medical devices and contributed to several new medicines. He currently lives in Cambridge.

So, if you like your books with a heady mixture of science fiction, murder mystery and the paranormal. This new author into the genre should be well worth a read. I enjoyed my introduction to Harrison and his ability keep me turning the pages.

So, head down to your local book shop, pretty sharpish, and snap up a copy. But try not to run into yourself on the way back.  

Reviewed by: Adrian Murphy

This book review is part of a Random Things Blog Tour, to see what the other reviewers thought, visit their blogs listed below. Then if you get a copy, comeback and tell us what you thought. We’d really appreciate the feedback.

MORRIS’ VICTORIAN, IRISH MURDER MYSTERY, STEAMS ONTO SHELVES IN TIME FOR CHRISTMAS

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Over the past year, two independently made tv documentaries have put the spotlight on the small West Cork village of Schull and has led to large numbers of viewers flocking there. The reason for the interest in this remote hamlet, is the unsolved murder of French film producer Sophie Toscan du Plantier in December 1996. In the interim, one man has become the prime suspect, but never been charged or convicted in Ireland. In France, Ian Bailey was found guilty in absentia and sentenced to 25 years in prison. There are similarities to this case and the subject of this month’s second Book Review, the book is the Dublin Railway Murder by Thomas Morris and published by Vintage ( www.penguin.co.uk/company/publishers/vintage.html ) on the 11th November.

Dublin 1856, the Chief Cashier of the Midlands Great Western Railway, Mr George Little. Was discovered dead with his throat cut in his office, which was locked from the inside, at the Broadstone Terminus. No murder weapon was found and thousands of pounds in gold and silver are left lying on his desk. Irelands most experienced detective and Dublin’s leading lawyer team up the investigate the murder. But the mystery defies all explanation and even baffles two of Scotland Yard’s top sleuths. With the days and months dragging on and five suspects arrested and released, along with every twist and turn of the case followed by the press, a local woman suddenly comes forward claiming to know the killer… Is she telling the truth, or is it just another dead end? Also, can a Phrenologist from England also prove that he can tell if a person is a murderer or not by measuring their head, if so, is the new suspect capable of committing such a deed?

I live just south of Dublin in the coastal town of Bray, and was in the city last week when I had to go to the leafy southside suburb of Ballsbridge for a work event. As for being anywhere near the north inner city, it’s been well over two years or more. The Broadstone terminus is now a large Dublin Bus depot, with a Dublin Light Rail (LUAS) stop adjoining it too.  It recently underwent a major multimillion-euro restoration project of the old station building. I’ve never had any need to use it or visit the site or was I aware of an unsolved murder there.

Click the link to take a virtual tour of the refurbished station and The murder scene (KBC / Journal.ie) http://www.thejournal.ie/broadstone-station-vr-tour-3836271-Feb2018

The book is an amazing historical read, which leads the reader through every facet of the investigation and its aftermath. I was enthralled by the historical detail Morris potrayed about Dublin, Ireland, and its citizens, as well as the famous literary connectiuons to the case, like Jane Austen and Oscar Wilde. While reliving how basic murder investigations were back then. Especially considering how easily crime solving is portrayed in books and on the large and small screens these days, with the aid of computers and Forensics.

Back then, for example, the coroner wasn’t a medical man, just someone from the political elite who had friends in high places. Then there’s the strange interpretations of the law, like for example a wife not being able to give evidence against her husband. While forensically, the crime scene is all but rendered useless by hordes of curious onlookers and members of staff of the building entering the office to gawp at the sight of a dead man, let alone mentioning that the body is searched by members of the management of the company before any member of the police force arrives on the scene. This all comes across as very chaotic, but it is of its time and thank God things have moved on.

Broadstone station building (The Irish Times)

This isn’t my first time reading a book detailing the investigation of a real-life murder in Victorian England or Ireland. I’ve previously read the Suspicions of Mr Whicher by Kate Summerscales, Whicher was actually one of the two detectives sent across by Scotland Yard, although the celebrated detective remained very much under the radar and returned home baffled by the case after a fornight. On top of that I’ve also read Patricia Cornwell’s Portrait of a Killer, one of many books written about Jack The Ripper. Here we realise very quickly the haphazard way things were done, even down to the anti-Semitic accusations bandied about by the public and press.

Meanwhile, if you are one who loves James Patterson’s style of serving up chapters a single page long, then you are in for a let-down, so meaty and in-depth is Morris’ research and attention to detail, they are on average twenty plus pages in length. Each one ends on a teasing and page turning high point, meaning that this could lead to a few late nights. Who needs Netflix when you can binge your way through the salacious details of a murder mystery that makes this book a thoroughly engaging and enjoyable read? So delighted was I with this book, that had it arrived a couple of weeks earlier, I’d have presented it to my book group as my December choice. I suppose there’s always next year,

Thomas Morris

This is English author and historian Thomas Morris’ ( www.thomas-morris.uk )  third book, his others are The Matter Of The Heart (2017) and The Mystery Of The Exploding Teeth (2018). Before becoming a write he was a BBC Radio Producer for 18years and his freelance journalism has appeared in The Times, The Lancet and TLS. He also has a blog is subtitled “Making You Grateful for Modern Medicine”, he currently lives in London.

So, if you are interested in Irish history, or like me a local resident fascinated to learn about the capital city’s dark past, then this enthralling and highly addictive book is a must for you, or an excellent Christmas present for friends or family at home or abroad.

Reviewed by   Adrian Murphy

This review is part of a Random Things Blog Tour. To see what the other reviewers thought visit their blogs listed below. Then, if you get a copy and read it, comeback and tell us what you thought. We’d really appreciate the feedback.

SCARROW’S THIRTY FOURTH BOOK SURGES OUT OF THE DARKNESS AHEAD OF ITS PEERS

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I’ve enjoyed the chance to review several novels set in war time for this blog. Some of the books have been romance stories such as the Dressmaker of Paris, by Georgia Kaufmann and While Paris Slept by Ruth Druart. Most have been thrillers such as Liberation Square , by Gareth Rubin  The American Agent, by Jacqueline Winspear,  and Ben Pastor’s The Horseman’s Song. War provides a great background to any story with ready-made elements of danger and villains. This months second book review is a detective thriller set in WW2, and whilst I may have initially thought this would re-tread of familiar territory, I was pleasantly surprised.The book is of Blackout by Simon Scarrow and published by Headline (www.headline.co.uk) on the 24th September .

Blackout is set in Berlin at the beginning of WW2, while Hitler is invading Poland and undertaking ‘peace’ negotiations with Britain and France. Every aspect of German life is run and ruled by the Nazi Party including the police force. Paranoia is intensified by the blackout which plunges the city into darkness every night. When a woman is murdered, Criminal Inspector Horst Schenke is under pressure to solve the case. Treated with suspicion by his superiors for failing to join the Nazi Party, Schenke walks a perilous line – for disloyalty is a death sentence. When a second victim is found and the investigation takes him closer to the sinister heart of the regime, Schenke realises the warring factions of the Reich are as dangerous as the killer.

What you quickly realise about this book, is that it has all the things you’d expect to find in a standard detective novel.  A smart, but isolated lead character, with a medical disability. Which makes him somewhat unique to the usual suspects in this genre , who are usually burdened with a mental health or addiction problem; there’s also a stalwart team of lower ranking staff; difficult superiors, and a love interest. Not forgetting the politics and a public who have biased views of certain other people . 

However, Scarrow’s knowledge of the workings of the Reich, the paranoia amongst the public, and the level of bullying, make this book stand out from its peers. He does also show the misery of the cold winter and deprivations faced  by the general public, many of whom had little appetite for another war. The persecution of the Jewish people of course come up and here we see the moral dilemma faced by Schenke.  While also seeing his frustration at wanting to follow the evidence but being thwarted by politics and those wielding the power.

This book is very technically correct but Scarrow has converted some of the German job titles in the Krippo  to their English counterpart to make it easier and more familiar for the reader. At heart this plot could have been set in any era including modern times but the war time background added layers of tension, intrigue and interest for the reader as well as leaving you feeling you had learned a little more of the social history of that period and place. It was interesting to hear of the hardships and fears faced by the German public, when we’re mainly aware of the Londoner’s in the Blitz etc. 

Schenke is a great new addition to a list of great cerebral detectives like Morse and Adam Dalgleish. while we are also introduced to a number of interesting chracters on his team, like the OCD Liebwitz, and the loyal Sergent Hauser.  I hope to see all develop further in future stories. And what of Katrin, Schenke’s girlfriend with her outspoken views? Will their romance go the course or cause more drama?

Simon Scarrow (Historiska Media)

This is english author Simon Scarrow’s (www.simonscarrow.co.uk) thirty fourth book, the majority are historical fiction, and Most of have been top of the Sunday Times bestseller lists. On leaving school he followed his love of history by becoming a teacher, before taking up writing full time. His Roman era Eagles of the Empire series sold over 4 million copies of the books in the UK alone and his work has been translated into 24 languages. He lives in Norfolk.

Blackout is highly recommended by The Library Door. It should appeal to fans of detective fiction and historical thrillers. It also joins the many crime stories set at Christmas so will make an ideal Christmas present for the crime fan in your circle.

Reviewed by: Georgina Murphy

This book review is part of a Random Things Blog Tour. To see what the other reviewers thought of the book, visit their blogs listed below. Then if you get a copy, comeback and tell us what you thought. We’d really appreciate the feedback.

NO OXFORD BLUES ABOUT GRIFFEE’S THIRD NARROWBOAT MYSTERY, IT’S A RED HOT READ

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Probably like most people, I always associate Oxford with education and in recent times with the development of a Covid vaccine. But in terms of literature and in particular crime fiction, whenever someone mentions the city, I think of the Inspector Morse books, as well as the hugely successful TV series and its spin-off Endeavour series. So I was delighted when I got sent a copy of the third Johnson and Wilde mystery series. This months Third book review is Oxford Blues by Andy Griffee and published by Orphans publishing (www.orphanspublishing.co.uk) in July.

Jack Johnson is suffering from a severe case of the boating blues as we join him aboard Jumping Jack Flash in Oxford. He has moved there following his erstwhile companion, Nina Wilde. Nina’s niece, Anna, has recently started studying in Oxford and Nina has moved to be near her. Jack hopes they can have a fresh start but finds they’re drifting apart. He throws himself into a new job and makes friends amongst his boating neighbours. Then a young woman’s body is pulled from Iffley Lock. The victim’s boyfriend is a good friend of Anna. Nina, who is still grieving the loss of her husband is keen to support him. Reluctantly, Jack is pulled into the investigation.

Followers of this blog will know I previously reviewed the first of the series, ‘Canal Pushers’. As a former boater myself, I was impressed with the technical explanations and representations of the joys and hardships of living on the water. I haven’t boated around Oxford, but I’ve experienced some river cruising around York and Cambridge. Being at the whim of the river in terms of currents, tides and floods made for interesting and testing times and sometimes inventive boat handling techniques. I recall a boating holiday around York one winter. We’d cruised up the river Ouse ok, then spent some time on the Ripon Canal, during which it snowed. We thought nothing of it until we wanted to re-join the Ouse and found it in full flood. Trying to close the lock gates at the end of the canal where the two water courses met was a nightmare, due to the strong river current and that the landing stage where I planned to hop back aboard was under several feet of water. I remember some scary acrobatic climbing down onto the boat with the gates open.  I was always afraid of weirs, and to a certain extent locks. I can remember being concerned that we’d be pulled onto the weirs rather than being able to take the safe channel around. What a holiday! Even currently, any nightmarish dreams involve floods, water crossings, weirs and locks!  All thrilling enough without murder and intrigue thrown in!

Andy Griffee (Worcester Observer)

The job of freelance journalist and the use of a narrowboat are ideal vehicles for this crime series. They allow the story to move to different settings easily and for the main character to have both nose for trouble and an insight into how to investigate. The fact that Andy Griffee has experience, both as a journalist and boater, shines through. Everything rings true and doesn’t seem forced or unbelievable. I loved the addition of a few new characters to the story, who I hope will reappear in future adventures. There was some humour again here. Andy Griffee seems to have a fixation with naturists! Perhaps that’s another life experience he’s drawing on? Who knows! There was also some moments of well written tension, that got my heart thumping, as well as the will they, wont they aspect of Jack’s romantic interest in Nina.  Certainly, there were enough twists and turns to keep me guessing until the end.

This is English Author Andy Griffee’s (www.andygriffee.co.uk) third book, his others are Canal Pushers (2019) and Riiver Rats (2020). A former journalist with the Bath Chronic;le and 25 year stint as a regional controller with the BBC, he finished his career in charge of the redevelopment of the BBC’s iconic Broadcasting House in London. He lives in Worcestersire with his wife and three dogs, where he also rears rare pigs and maintains a 1964 triumph spitfire.

 I’d highly recommended Oxford Blues to other crime readers. You could read this as a standalone but it’s well worth acquainting yourselves with the previous books. I’m already looking forward to number four. So cast off to your local bookseller and hook yourself a copy.

Reviewed by Georgina Murphy

BENJAMIN GIVES ME A NEW SEASON ANNUALLY WITH HIS SECOND BOOK

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Do you have a “Bucket list”? Most people have some sort of one, but what about one made up entirely of foods and rare delicacies from around the world, that you want to try before you die, and if so what’s on it? I know mine has Caviar, which I have eaten, Dover Sole which I ate a couple of years ago when on a holiday in Devon, I’d been waiting around for years thinking I’d have to go to a high-class restaurant to order it. But no, it was a lovely little family run restaurant just off the harbour in Ilfracombe.

I’ve had kangaroo and crocodile too.  Really, I’m doing quite well, although there is still plenty on the list, like a coffee made up of Kopi Luwak, the rare coffee bean (the most expensive type) passed through the intestines of a wild Asian Civet. Wagyu beef steak from Japan, again rather pricey. Getting closer to home, I haven’t had lobster or whelks, a delicacy in the UK. Georgina (my wife and fellow Librarian)  laughed at me when she saw this, saying we can have the the latter anytime we visit her mum in Skegness. Another thing on that list is truffles, I’ve had the chocolate confectionary shaped one’s, mass produced for Christmas, but the original ones found growing wild in France, Italy and Spain particularly, no. There are two types, a black one and a rarer white truffle. They are harvested from the wild using pigs or specially trained dogs (which are less likely to eat them, unlike their porcine colleagues). This brings us to this months second book review, it’s The Hunting Season by Tom Benjamin and published by Constable Books (www.littlebrown.co.uk/imprint/constable/page/lbbg-imprint-constable) in November 2020.

Its truffle hunting season in the hills around Bologna and the search is on to find the elusive ‘Boscuri’ white truffle. But when Ryan Lee, an American “Supertaster”, goes missing in the area, widower and local private eye Daniel Leicester is hired by the young man’s parents to find him. Daniel’s search finds him delving into the multi million euro culinary trade, while the ever present hint of Mafiosa involvement rears its ugly head. Soon after a high a profile Italian chef is found murdered, forcing Daniel to team up with a glamorous Italian TV journalist, but before long there’s another murder connected to the case and this time Daniel finds himself the prime suspect. Can he clear his name along with the help his ex-Carabinieri father in law and find the truth behind the disappearance of Ryan Lee…

I love Italy and have been there on numerous occasions, the nearest I’ve been to Bologna is a day trip to Florence 100 km away so I was quite looking forward to reading this murder mystery by Tom Benjamin. It’s a nice easy enough read at just under three hundred and thirty pages long. There’s a hint of a mash up between Graham Greene’s Our Man in Havana and A Year in Provence.

Also, with it being set in the historical environs of Bologna, there’s a sort of Morse / Lewis vibe to it with Daniel representing the Sgt Lewis Character and his father-in-law the “The Comandante” Giovanni, a retired senior member of the Carabinieri, providing the excellent fatherly role similar to Colin Dexter’s Iconic hero.

I liked this book and could get to really yearn for an annual fix of Daniel Leicester, as I do with the Jack Reacher series. He’s a nice and very believable character, who hates Brexit and loves BBC radio 4. The widower aspect and his relationship with his daughter Rosie, was a nice angle and could appeal to male and female readers alike.

There are a few minor downsides. There are quite a number of random characters, that pop in the story. Also I did sometimes feel like there was no real distinction between when Daniel is speaking Italian to Italians and English to English speaking characters, so at times you think everyone is speaking English, when actually Daniel is speaking Italian to them, and every now and then Benjamin does highlight it, but not enough.

Tom Benjamin

This is English born author Tom Benjamin’s (www.tombenjamin.com) second novel featuring Daniel Leicester, the first and his debut book was A Quiet death in Italy (2019). Benjamin began his working career as a journalist, before becoming a spokesman for Scotland Yard. He later moved into Public Health, where he developed England’s first national campaign against alcohol abuse. He now lives in Bologna.

So if, like me, you want to immerse yourself in a well written and very atmospheric Italian crime novel, while staycationing this year, observe the covid regulations and Click and Collect from your local book shop or download a copy and join Daniel Leicester and the team from Faidate Investigations as they hunt a killer around Bologna. Then go and pick up Tom Benjamin’s first book too.

Reviewed by: Adrian Murphy

This book review is part of a Random Things blog tour, to see what the other reviewers thought visit their pages listed below, then if you get a copy comeback and tell us what you thought, we’d really appreciate the feedback.

BRENNAN AND REICHS STILL KNOW THE CODE TO DELIVER A SCALPEL SHARP THRILLER

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The arrival of Covid 19 brought with it a whole raft of conspiracy theories. Was it all a plan by Bill Gates to microchip us and track our movements? Was the virus released by the Chinese to cause the West’s economies to crash? Was it all a lie by governments to help control their citizens? Was it spread by new generation WIFI transmitters? The list is endless and its scary to see what some people will spout as truth and how many gullible people will believe them.

So what will the world be like post covid? What truths will eventually be revealed? Are some people using the global pandemic to make a fortune? No doubt. This brings me to this month’s first book review. Its of the Bone Code by Kathy Reichs and was published bt Simon &n Schuster (www.simonandschuster.com) on the 29th April. 

It is set immediately post covid/ current day in Canada. The population are vaccinated and life seems very much back to normal, air travel, dining out, staying with friends etc. When a hurricane hits, it uncovers two bodies which share a striking resemblance to a fifteen year old cold case, which has haunted Temperance Brennan. Meanwhile a rare bacterium, which eats human flesh is discovered and people rush for genetic testing as there’s a genetic mutation, which makes you more susceptible. In a search that soon proves dangerous, Temperance discovers a startling connection between the cold case and the outbreak.

I’ve always looked forward to reading the next Temperance Brennan book. So, I started this one as soon as I could, after almost trampling my husband in the clamour to get my hands on it, the moment it arrived in the post. In true Kathy Reichs’ style , it had a cliff-hanger at the end of each chapter, which draws you onto read the next one (very late nights were involved!) Also there’s a lot of scientific detail and acronyms.  I now know far more about vaccine development and manufacture than I ever thought I would need to, even as a medical professional. For new readers there’ adequate explanation of how Temperance’s  bi-location job and relationships work so you could read this as a standalone. I had, however, forgotten how scientifically detailed and complex the stories are, so I may do a reread under less time and academic pressures myself to enjoy it again. The story had several threads, one of which I found unnecessary and therefore slightly confusing. I felt it would have made a good novella or a great episode of ‘Bones’ , if the series still ran. Note to new readers, the Temperance Brennan here bears no similarity to the one in the TV series apart from the name.

I do love how the care of Birdie, Tempe’s cat features large. Do they have no catteries in Canada? I speak as someone who prefers homecare myself too . However, the idea of trailing a cat to strange houses by plane ? Too stressful! In too many books and screen-based thrillers I’m left wondering who is taking care of the pet?  I often say,’ that dog must need a wee’ or similar to the annoyance of my husband. I’m saying it’s a vet nurse thing and sticking with that as my excuse!

Kathy Reichs (Ben Mark Holzberg / nationalnews.com)

This is American author and Forensic Pathologist Dr. Kathy Reichs (www.kathyreichs.com) 21st book featuring her heroine Dr. Temperance Brennan, they include DeJa Dead (1997), Fatal Voyage (2002), Bare Bones (2003) , Flash and Bones (2011), she has also written three novellas centred around Brennan. and was the executive producer on the Bones TV series. While also writing a one off tie-in to the series with Max Allan Collins called Bones: Buried Deep (2006). On top of that she’s written five Young Adult books and three YA novellas with her son Brendan Reichs. All the the while working as a forensic pathologist, and serving on numerous boards associated with Pathology and law enforcement in America and internationally.

I’d highly recommend this to Kathy Reich’s aficionados but also to anyone who like a good conspiracy driven thriller and murder mystery set in current times. Its an interesting idea, well thought out and backed by science.  I’m  not  worried at all  about my upcoming vaccination at all, honest!

So get down to your favourite book store or download online for the next injection of thrills and deduction from Kathy Reichs.

Reviewed by : Georgina Murphy

This book Review is part of a random Things Blog Tour. To what the other reviewers though visit their blogs listed below. Then id you get a copy, comeback and tell us what you thought. we’d really appreciate the feedback.

PARKS WILL FOREVER LIVE ON MY MUST READ PILE WITH BOOKS LIKE THIS

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Were back in Scotland’s second city again, following our brief visit late last year, when we reviewed Jeremy Vine’s debut The Diver and The Lover, which told the story behind the painting of Dali’s Christ of Saint John of The Cross and how it came to end up in the city’s famous Kelvingrove Art Museum in 1952. But, for this month’s second book review we jump two decades on to the summer of 1973, and “The Dear Green Place” as it is affectionately known, according to Wiki , is baking in an unusually tropical heat. (Although for someone who lives less than two hundred miles from the city as the crow flies, any time the temperature goes above fifteen degrees in these parts, we think we’re in the tropics). The city is rife with drugs, drink, and poverty, while the new music scene which is sweeping the nation has also landed in Glasgow. In the midst of all this, a gritty and hardened local “Polis” detective is up to his oxters in blood, sweat, booze, bank robberies and walking a fine line between both sides of the law. The book is Bobby March Will Live FOREVER by Alan Parks and published in paperback by Black Thorn Books (www.blackthornbooks.com) on the 25th February.

There’s a heatwave in Glasgow and to add to the city’s problems a young girl Alice Kelly has gone missing. The whole force is put out on the streets to find her, all that is except Harry McCoy. He’s had a run in with his current boss Raeburn, a real brown noser whose doing all he can climb the ladder, and thus Harry is dispatched to investigate the death of local Rockstar Bobby March, who died as a result of an overdose in a city centre hotel. On top that an old colleague has asked Harry to find another young runaway, his niece, as a favour. While McCoy is also looking over some bank robbery cases for his partner “Wattie” Watson, whose now shadowing Raeburn instead of Harry. Talk about rain and pouring, although that is something that is not happening in Glasgow, the mercury is rising and so is the temperament of the city’s residents, fuelled by the press who want blood and the police bigwigs who want results fast. But when Raeburn makes a costly mistake, which threatens not just Harry but Watson’s career, McCoy must use all his cunning and every snout to bring things to a satisfying conclusion, but can he do it in time…

I haven’t been in a pub in seven months and that alone was a once off. All in all for most of us here in Ireland and the UK, it’s been nigh on a year since we were in a pub. As for a real hot sweaty smoky bar, it’s been 17 years. That’s when the smoking ban in Ireland (29th March 2004) came into effect. Yes, it was for the benefit of all our health, but there are some things that you just miss. I did smoke a celebratory cigar last year for my roundy birthday and at a Spanish wedding at the behest of the groom, two years before that.

This is what reading Alan Parks novel did for me. He brought me back to the days of my youth. Jeez, I sound a hundred (I’m in my late forties, early fifties… Covid years). But from page one I was transported back to a time when string vests, bell bottoms, paisley ties and underwear, along with a cigarette hanging off the end of your lip was cool… I was four when this book was set, but like most of us I can remember things from those days that you don’t see now, white dog poo and cultural references such as Tufty, an animated squirrel, used to teach us kids how to cross the road. Along with other things that the PC brigade has run out of town. But it is just so lovely to be able to immerse yourself in a sweet sweaty memory, while being engrossed in a gritty and gripping mystery, unaided by modern technology.

As for Harry, he’s of the Gene Hunt school of policing (Life on Mars, Ashes to Ashes TV series), although there’s now’t to say he and DCI Jim Taggart the lead character from long the running Glasgow based British TV series “Taggart” are that far removed either, in both tenacity and geography. McCoy is of a time when men were cops, female police officers were glorified tea makers and eye candy used to brighten up the offices. While criminals were respectful and knew when the game was up, and both sides of the law used violence in equal measure to achieve an end result.

Alan Parks (HeraldScotland)

The writing is superb and Parks in-depth knowledge of Glasgow life, local humour and idiosyncrasies shines through the heat haze coming off the Clyde. Yes, there’s a lot of strands running through the book and Harry has his hands full, but law enforcement officers, even today with all their computers and technology are under the cosh when it comes to staying on top of their every increasing case load.

The gripping reality of the story left me almost having to wipe the city from my shoes every time I put the book down, along with trying to get the taste of it from my mouth and senses. Something only really allowed by calls of nature, sleep, and the body’s need for sustenance.

This is Scottish author Alan Parks (@AlanJParks) third Harry McCoy Novel, the others are Bloody JANUARY (2017) and February’s SON (2019). His fourth The April DEAD is due out later this year. Before becoming a crime writer Parks worked in the music industry for twenty years managing up and coming bands, before moving into the creative side of the business, working with the likes of New Order, All saints and Enya. Bloody JANUARY was shortlisted for the ‘Grand Prix de Litterature Policiere’, while Bobby March Will Live FOREVER was nominated for an ‘Edgar’ award and selected by The Times as one of their ‘2020 Books of the Year’. Parks still lives and works in Glasgow.

My advice is to pour yourself a large scotch, order online or download Parks first three books. Then prepare to be transported into the past of your youth or your parents’ formative years and walk the sultry streets of 1970’s Glasgow with Harry McCoy and the host of very lifelike and believable characters summoned by the excellent penmanship of Alan Parks.

Reviewed by   Adrian Murphy

This review is part of a Random Things Blog Tour, to see what the other reviewers thought visit their blogs listed below. Then, if you get a copy, comeback and tell us what you thought. We’d really appreciate the feedback.

SHINDLER RETURNS LEAVING LITTLE CHOICE BUT PICK UP HIS KILLER READ

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I have often wondered, if faced with the difficult choices and moral dilemmas that our ancestors faced in times of war, the modern generation would be all for themselves or would they do the right thing , even at cost to themselves? When you read social media and newspaper’s , there’s very little evidence of self sacrifice of thinking of others first but the odd story does stand out. I suppose it really was the same in previous eras. We all like to think we’d do the right thing and are a good person but often we take the easy path through fear of selfishness. In this month’s third review we meet a killer who is testing the theory of making people choose between themselves and others. It’s ‘The Killing Choice’ by Will Shindler, published by Hodder & Stoughton (www.hodder.co.uk) on the 4th February.

This is the second book featuring Detective Inspector Alex Finn. The Library Door reviewed his previous outing in ‘The Burning Men’, a year ago. We were unfortunately late to the blog tour party for the release of this one (due to have been reviewed on the 6th Feb), as our copy was late arriving here in Ireland, due to lockdown, Covid 19, or Brexit. You can take your pick. Deliveries are proving very erratic here. Basically, if there’s a deadline, you’ll miss it but if there’s no rush, the item arrives very quickly.

Enough complaining, back to the book.. In this thriller the victims are faced with a choice by the killer. They must choose between themselves and a loved one or between two loved ones to save one person or themselves. The initial victims, Karl and his daughter Leah, are ambushed by a figure in a blank mask. At knife point, Karl is asked to make an impossible choice. Stay and they both die or leave Leah and accept the killer’s word that they will both live. If Karl leaves and Leah dies will he ever be able to live with himself? Subsequently other seemingly random people are offered similar choices as the killer leaves a trail of bodies across London. DI Finn and his detective constable, Mattie Paulson, must hunt for a killer with no face, no conscience and seemingly no motive , whilst battling problems of their own.

This is another dark crime thriller from Will Shindler, which keeps you turning the pages. It makes you think about what you’d do in the circumstances and also how social media and the mainstream media judge the motives and actions of strangers. The descriptions of the killings are quite graphic and gory, so not for the feint hearted, but the story is neatly resolved at the end, so you are at least able to sleep soundly again after finishing the book. We also get to know a little more about the lives and back stories of Alex, Mattie and another returning team member, Jackie Ojo. Alex is still struggling with grief after the death of his wife. Mattie is dealing with the increasing frailty of her parents and we are introduced to her brother. The characters are rounding out nicely.

Will Shindler

This is English author Will Shindler’s (@willshindlerauthor) second book featuring his crime fighting duo of Detective Inspector Alex Finn and Detective Constable Mattie Paulsen, the other one being Burning Men (2020). Previously Shindler was a broadcast journalist with the BBC, before spending a decade as scriptwriter on such TV drama’s as Born & Bred, The Bill and Doctors. He currently combines reading the news on BBC Radio London and writing crime novels.

What I particularily like about this book and the previous book , is that Shindler has given us a killer with a motive and specific victims. I find too many authors go down the route of putting one of their central characters in the killers sights, and the books become all about the main character and sometimes about a vendetta against them , and  happens in every subsequent book. Shindler has a well-reasoned motive and in these two books , a specific reason for choosing  the victim and the mode of killing. Its all very satisfying when its reasoned out at the end of the book.

So what would I chose? I guess I wouldn’t know unless it happened. So maybe I shouldn’t support those threads, sites and newsfeeds which are so quick to point a finger. What I do know is that you should order or download a copy of the Killing Choice as soon as possible. That’s a no brainer at least!

Reviewed by : Georgina Murphy

This review was meant to be part of a blog tour organised by Hodder & Stoughton, to see what other reviewers thought, visit their blogs listed below. Then if you get a copy comeback and tell us what you thought, we’d really appreciate the feedback.

GATWARD’S ON THE RIGHT TRACK WITH GRIMM TALES FROM THE DALES

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Most of the roads we travel on these days that connect our large towns and cities, have been there for centuries. The few exceptions are the major motorways, highways and other multi-lane routes that gauge a direct line across from one side of a country to another. These are more often, just large transport veins, that bypass smaller, slower, meandering, routes, and bottle-neck towns.

Britain and Ireland are criss-crossed, especially in rural areas, with old stone roads, that these days are the preserve of hill walkers and ramblers. Their original function apart from taking livestock and crops to markets, was also for the conveyancing of the dead to consecrated burial grounds. These roads are known in England and Ireland as corpse roads, and as coffin roads in Scotland. This month’s second book review features an old burial road, the book is Corpse Road by David J Gatward, published by Amazon in December 2020.

When Detective Chief Inspector Harry Grimm, is awoken in the middle of the night, by his second in command Sergeant Matt Dinsdale, he knows it won’t be good news.  There’s been a body found by Mountain Rescue in the Yorkshire Dales and being part of the Mountain Rescue team, Dinsdale is one of the first on scene to realise the victim hadn’t met their demise by accident. The victim’s has been viciously attacked and there’s blood everywhere, also there is a name scrawled in the victims blood on the side of the tent, which isn’t hers, and strange little balls inside and out. Over the next twenty-four hours Harry and is team, made up of detectives and Community Support officers (Special Constables or part-timers), quickly discover the victim’s marriage was in freefall, but after an eventful visit with the husband, things go awry when he suddenly disappears. This is all while Harry is trying to deal with an overbearing Chief Superintendent who doesn’t hide his contempt for him and a crisis in his personal life involving his father and brother. Is there more to this savage murder or was it just a crime of passion committed by a controlling husband?

I really got into this book from the first page. Which isn’t strange considering I, like many people living in Ireland and England, love the simplicity of rural crime stories and TV dramas. such as Midsomer Murders, Heartbeat and Bergerac for example.

Ok, so Bergerac was based on the Channel Islands, but that is rural to an extent. Suburban and inner-city crime dramas usually have fast cars, flashy offices, and advanced technology, while the rural ones are more likable because, the prevalence of heinous crimes, drugs, gangland killings, and the like are rare and shatter the peace and tranquillity of country life. Also, the equipment and means by which a country copper or detective can solve a crime are a lot more rudimentary than his city and suburban counterparts.

This is what you get with a Corpse Road, a very simple, but modern tale of murder and mystery set among the windswept but beautiful hills and moors of the Yorkshire countryside. Gods own country, as it is often stated, is not immune to crime.

To prove how simple things in his neck of Yorkshire are, Harry and his team’s base of operations is a community centre, not a purpose-built police station, where they share one laptop between them, one step above pencil licking, while taking notes and wearing bicycle clips.

Meanwhile, Gatward’s descriptions of the surrounding countryside and the quaint grey stone buildings of the local towns and villages, are what enable you to really get immersed in this story. If unlike me you’ve never been to this part of country, then when you do eventually get to visit Yorkshire (I personally recommend visiting there and the Peak district, albeit once the pandemic has subsided) you’ll see how immersive and detailed they are.

Harry as a character stands out initially because of his surname, as well as being a blow-in to the local area. Thus having read none of Gatward’s previous Grimm books, I felt we had something in common.

David J. Gatward

This is English author David J Gatward’s (www.davidjgatward.com) Third Harry Grimm novel, the others are Grimm Up North (2020) and Best Served Cold (2020). He’s also the author behind the Padre series of books – featuring a Military Padre fighting supernatural forces. As well as writing numerous young adult books and teaching creative writing courses around England. He now lives in Somerset, South West England, where he pursues a huge number of hobbies when not writing including caving, camping, climbing, archery, shooting and music.

At two hundred and eighty pages, and the rate at which David seems to produce these books, you know from the start you are not getting a meandering tale but a gripping as well as tightly scripted and well researched thriller. I could have read this in one day if I’d had a long train or plane journey. But this helped me endure a couple of very Irish, wet, sleety days as we headed towards to backend of winter and promised brighter evenings of spring.

So, order or download your copy online, which under the current Covid restrictions is the best way to follow Government guidelines. Then prepare to join DCI Harry Grim in the wilds of Yorkshire as he attempts to overcome the fish out of water feeling, while solving crime in Britain’s answer to “Big Sky Country”.

Reviewed by  Adrian Murphy

This book review is part of a Random Things Blog Tour, to see what the others thought, visit their sites listed below. Then if you get a copy, comeback and tell us what you thought. We would really appreciate the feedback.