Tag Archives: #mystery

Catch Us The Foxes by Nicola West -a review

catch us the foxesCatch Us The Foxes by Nicola West

Some secrets you try to hide. Others you don’t dare let out …

Twin Peaks meets The Dry in a deliciously dark and twisted tale that unravels a small Australian country town

Ambitious young journalist Marlowe ‘Lo’ Robertson would do anything to escape the suffocating confines of her small home town. While begrudgingly covering the annual show for the local newspaper, Lo is horrified to discover the mutilated corpse of her best friend – the town’s reigning showgirl, Lily Williams.

Seven strange symbols have been ruthlessly carved into Lily’s back. But when Lo reports her grisly find to the town’s police chief, he makes her promise not to tell anyone about the symbols. Lo obliges, though it’s not like she has much of a choice – after all, he is also her father.

When Lily’s murder makes headlines around the country and the town is invaded by the media, Lo seizes the opportunity to track down the killer and make a name for herself by breaking the biggest story of her life.

What Lo uncovers is that her sleepy home town has been harbouring a deadly secret, one so shocking that it will captivate the entire nation.

Lo’s story will change the course of her life forever, but in a way she could never have dreamed of.

Published 7 July 2021|  Publisher: Simon & Schuster Australia  |  RRP: AUD$29.99

Buy it at: Dymocks |  Booktopia |  A&R  |  Abbey’s  | QBD

My Blurb (5 / 5 stars)

I don’t often get NetGalley’s pre-approval emails and when I do, I don’t usually find those books that interesting and so was my first thought about this novel. I’m very much a cover girl so I have to say that cover really didn’t interest me and I can’t really remember why I decided to take up this offer anyway. In any case, good job, past me, because I would’ve really missed out! I thoroughly enjoyed Catch Us The Foxes.

The novel opens with a prologue where protagonist, Marlowe ‘Lo’ Robertson, is about to speak about a book she wrote. A book about what happened in the past. A book that we all gets to read because this is the main meat of Catch Us The Foxes. It is a book within a book. The Showgirl’s Secret is the title of Lo’s book where she told the story of her friend’s suspicious death and the ordeal she went through as she determinedly tried her best to discover the truth.

But what is the truth? Does she even truly know her friend? or her town? What secrets are such small sunny beach tourist town like Kiama could keep in their hearts? A town where she has lived her whole life. Lo must uncover layers of lies and decide who she can trust.

Within the first few minutes, I knew that this was a novel I would really liked. I found Lo easily likeable even if her character sounds a little unstable at times but then again, that is the way Lo portrayed herself in her book so, without too much spoiler, you do have to wonder what her character truly is like.

The setting, Kiama, being only a couple of hours’ drive away, really made me want to just nip down there for a day but… lockdown 😦 However, if you visit author’s insta, you can see some of the views there. I have been previously so it was a tad difficult to imagine such a dark foreboding secret at such a beautiful spot.

Catch Us The Foxes is a thrilling suspense where tension is taut from the very beginning right to the very last word. It was creepy. It was tense. It was one hell of a ride. I was caught by twist upon twist right up to the end of the epilogue where only the readers, us, know what is ‘true’. I’d highly recommend this to all thriller fans.

My thanks to Simon & Schuster Australia for ecopy of book via NetGalley in exchange of my honest thoughts

About the author

Find author on:  goodreads  |  website  |  twitterinstagram

Digging Up Dirt by Pamela Hart -a review

digging up dirtDigging Up Dirt (Poppy McGowan #1) by Pamela Hart

Renovations are hell. And that’s before you find the body beneath the floorboards. An intriguing mystery from a stylish new voice in crime fiction, for readers of Kerry Greenwood and Holly Throsby.

When your builder finds bones under the floor of your heritage home, what do you do? For TV researcher Poppy McGowan, the first step is to find out if the bones are human (which means calling in the cops and delaying her renovations) or animal (which doesn’t).

Unfortunately, ‘help’ comes in the form of Dr Julieanne Weaver, archaeologist, political hopeful, and Poppy’s old enemy. She declares the bones evidence of a rare breed of fat-tailed sheep, and slaps a heritage order on the site. The resultant archaeological dig introduces Poppy to Tol Lang, the best-looking archaeologist she’s ever met – and also Julieanne’s boyfriend.

When Julieanne is found murdered in Poppy’s house, both she and the increasingly attractive Tol are considered suspects – and so Poppy uses her media contacts and news savvy to investigate other suspects. Did Julieanne have enemies in the right-wing Australian Family Party, for which she was seeking preselection, or in the affiliated Radiant Joy Church? Or at the Museum of New South Wales, among her rivals and ex-boyfriends? And who was her secret lover?

Can Poppy save herself, and Tol … and finally get her house back?

Published 2 June 2021|  Publisher: Harlequin Australia  |  RRP: AUD$29.99

Buy it at: Dymocks |  Booktopia |  A&R  |  Abbey’s  | QBD

My Blurb (4 / 5 stars)

I don’t read very many cozy mysteries but when I do, I enjoyed them immensely. There aren’t many set in Australia though (please do correct me if I’m wrong but I just haven’t encountered that many whilst they seem prevalent overseas) so this was, to me, such a fresh breath of air. A romp through my beloved hometown filled with its diverse residents and quirky [read: Aussie] humour.

Within a few minutes of reading, I know I’d have so much fun reading this. And I did. In fact, I read this in a single-sitting [ignoring the fact that I had to cook dinner & feed my kids]. The first moment that I loved in this book is when we met Mirha, a minor character who doesn’t even have anything to do with the plot, but author’s description of her described a friend to a tee that made me so happy lol (you know you are!! x)

As always, her hijab, loose top and trousers in various shades of turquoise…

My next encounter with a minor poc character felt a little funny to me. A description of his office noting wedding photo of mixed race parents just felt a little bit unnecessary and therefore, forced into the book. Maybe I’m being a little sensitive noting my background and the usual whitewashed cozy mysteries I’d read. After the read, however, and I’ve stepped back a little, I noticed that overall, author’s just describing the usual cast of diverse people you’d meet in Sydney but for me, this multicultural mosaic stood out a mile away. And I very much appreciated author’s inclusivity intent.

On that note, however, I found myself a little bit bashed as well with the religious & LGBTQ+ factors of the novel. While these are somewhat relevant to the plot, I do feel that the way Poppy repeated her perspective several times to be unnecessary and superfluous to the story.

As Poppy is living at home with her parents while renovating her new house, we get to see her parents quite a bit and I do love this family picture especially her mother (guilty…😅)

Mum wasn’t satisfied, but of course she would believe a total stranger before she would believe me. That’s what being a mother does to you.

Poppy McGowan is truly an easy protagonist to love and one you can easily imagine of coming across in real life. She’s a down to earth, intelligent, modern & sensible woman. I loved that she’s not trying to justify [too much] why she’s investigating looking into things and that her interaction with the real investigating detectives aren’t fraught with too much secrets. In fact, she tried her best to keep those detectives up to date with her findings without betraying too much confidences. I must say that I did guess the murderer because I think those red herrings are too much in your face so I dismissed them rather easily.

Digging Up Dirt is an absolute joy to read; a setting that says home to me (diverse residents, coffee culture, & some sceneries!) and a fast paced mystery that kept me turning the pages. I just couldn’t put it down.

My thanks to Harlequin Australia for ecopy of book via NetGalley in exchange of my honest thoughts

About the author

Find author on:  goodreads  |  website  |  twitterfacebook  |  pinterest

Blog Tour: Deadly Curious by Cindy Anstey + Giveaway (INT)

Deadly Curious
Cindy Anstey
Published by: Swoon Reads
Publication date: June 23rd 2020
Genres: Historical Romance, Young Adult

A twisty tale reminiscent of Jane Austen—with a dash of murder—Cindy Anstey’s Deadly Curious is perfect for fans of Kerri Maniscalco and Agatha Christie.

Some secrets are better left buried…

1834. Sophia Thompson wants nothing more than to be one of the famed Bow Street Runners, London’s most elite corps of detectives. Never mind that a woman has never before joined their ranks—and certainly never mind that her reclusive family has forbidden her from pursuing such an unladylike goal.

She gets the chance to prove her capabilities when an urgent letter arrives from her frantic cousin Daphne, begging Sophia to come look into the suspicious death of Daphne’s brother.

As Sophia begins to unravel the tangled threads of the case—with the help of a charming young policeman—she soon realizes that the murderer may be even closer to her family than she ever suspected.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo / Google Play

My Blurb (4 / 5 stars)

Cindy Anstey is one of my favourite authors so, of course, I just have to read whatever she writes! Her books are usually young adult mystery set in regency period and this is a winner! I love Jane Austen and throw in a mix of YA mystery, it’s like candy to my brain.

Sophia Thompson is an easily likeable heroine. As her family’s social situation has altered, she does not think that she’s eligible for the marriage market anymore. Therefore, she must look to her own future welfare by finding a suitable job/career and she’s settled on becoming a Bow Street Runner because she loves solving puzzles. There isn’t a female Bow Street Runner but she’s sure she can be the first.

Her chance to prove herself comes when her cousin begs her to solve her brother’s murder. When Sophia arrives, she finds that there are sinister workings to hurt her cousin and family. She also finds that Bow Street has sent a young Runner of their own to look into this case. As she and Jeremy, the young detective, put their heads together, they find that they work very well as a team and maybe, also as partners in life.

I was hoping for a romp through the regency period and that’s exactly what I got. The mystery was okay and the romance was sort of cute but I really did enjoy the setting a lot. I just sat back and be entertained for a few hours; Deadly Curious was a candy-floss-fun read.

Thank you Swoon Reads and Xpresso Book Tours for including me in this blog tour & ecopy of book in exchange of my honest thoughts

GIVEAWAY (International)

Follow below Rafflecopter link to enter to win a print copy of Deadly Curious

(ends Jul-02)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About the author

Whenever she is not sitting at the computer, throwing a ball in the backyard, gardening or reading, Cindy can be found–actually, not found–adventuring around the world with her hubby.

She has lived on three continents, had a monkey in her yard and a scorpion under her sink, dwelt among castles and canals, enjoyed the jazz of Beale St and attempted to speak French.

Cindy loves history, mystery and… a chocolate Labrador called Chester.

Find author on: Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

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Review: Sticks and Stones by Katherine Firkin

Sticks and Stones by Katherine Firkin

A terrifying, twisting debut from TV news journalist Katherine Firkin. It’s time for a killer to leave his mark . . .

It’s winter in Melbourne and Detective Emmett Corban is starting to regret his promotion to head of the Missing Persons Unit, as the routine reports pile up on his desk.

So when Natale Gibson goes missing, he’s convinced this is the big case he’s been waiting for – the woman’s husband and parents insist the devoted mother would never abandon her children, and her personal accounts remain untouched.

But things aren’t all they seem. The close-knit Italian family is keeping secrets – none bigger than the one Natale has been hiding.

Just as the net seems to be tightening, the investigation is turned on its head. The body of a woman is found . . . then another.

What had seemed like a standard missing person’s case has turned into a frightening hunt for a serial killer, and time is running out.

But to really understand these shocking crimes, Emmett and his team will need to delve back through decades of neglect – back to a squalid inner-city flat, where a young boy is left huddling over his mother’s body . . .

Published 2 June 2020 |  Publisher: Penguin Random House Australia  |  RRP: AUD$32.99

Buy it at: Dymocks |  Booktopia |  A&R  |  Abbey’s  | QBD

My Blurb (4 / 5 stars)

Firstly, I am hoping that this is going to turn out to be a first in a series because it’s got some good premises and am keen to follow Detective Emmett Corban’s career and a more developed characters of his colleagues.

I am one of those who does not look / read the book description just before I read the book. The fact that I’ve, earlier, chosen to read it should suffice, so I sort of dived in without knowing / remembering much. The first chapter sort of confused me a little as there are so many characters introduced already and I didn’t know if I could keep track of who’s who. A couple of chapters on, I got used to the structure of chapters and just flew through the book. Retrospectively, I read the book description and behold, I could have saved my earlier confusion if I read it first lol

As we jump quite quickly from one scene to another with different characters, I thought the author has done quite well in keeping my attention and not getting me confused at all. It was quite good being able to get near 360-degree view of the ‘case’ and it got me to wonder how each character was going to be implicated in the case, the next victim or the murderer or just a red herring. I kept changing my opinion from one chapter to another on who the murderer was! The only think I’m missing is backgrounds on the detectives as we don’t seem to hear very much of them & their past.

Sticks and Stones is a fast-paced thrilling crime novel that will get you to flick pages without noticing the time. A great riveting read to cuddle with this winter!

Thanks to Penguin Random House Australia for copy of book in exchange of honest review

About the author

Katherine Firkin is a Melbourne journalist, currently with CBS New York.

She has over a decade of experience and has worked across every medium – print, online, television and radio.

Katherine began her career at the Herald Sun newspaper (News Corp), where she specialised in sports reporting (winning an AFL Media award in 2008), before moving to breaking news, including crime and court reporting. During this time, she covered some of Victoria’s most notorious criminal affairs, including the death and funeral of underworld figure Carl Williams.

She has also worked for Seven West Media (7 News, 7 Sport), 3AW Radio, the Nine Network’s Today show, and Network Ten, and has been a regular international correspondent for multiple global outlets.

Katherine has been writing fiction from a young age, and she studied literature and journalism at university. Her debut novel is inspired by the many criminal trials she has covered.

Find author on:  goodreads  |  website  |  twitter  |  instagram

Review: Find Them Dead by Peter James

Find Them Dead (Roy Grace #16) by Peter James

Roy Grace, creation of the award-winning author Peter James, unearths a powerful criminal network in Find Them Dead.

A Brighton gangster is on trial for conspiracy to murder, following the death of a rival crime family boss. As the jury file into Lewes Crown Court, twelve anonymous people selected randomly from fifty, there is one person sitting in the public gallery observing them with keen interest, and secretly filming them. Later, a group of the accused’s henchmen sit around a table with the full personal details of each of the twelve jurors in front of them. They need to influence two of them – a jury can convict if directed on a 10-2 majority verdict but no less. But which two?

When Roy Grace is called in to investigate a murder that has links to the accused and the trial, and the suspicion that an attempt has been made to intimidate jurors, he finds the reach and power of the accused’s tentacles go higher than he had ever imagined.

Published 12 May 2020 |  Publisher: Pan MacMillan Australia  |  RRP: AUD$32.99

Buy it at: Dymocks |  Booktopia |  A&R  |  Abbey’s  | QBD

My Blurb (3.5 / 5 stars)

I received this book as an unsolicited review copy. While I’m familiar with the author’s name, I’ve not read any of his books. I was sort of excited to try as I do love my crime novels until… I found out that this book is 16th(!!) in a series. I’m not keen to read a book in the middle of a series but thought I’m going to break out of my mould and read out of sequence!! To be fair, I did listen to books 2 & 3 (all I could managed) before reading this 16th book.

Soooo, could you read this without having read previous books? I’m leaning towards yes because even as you miss a lot (and I do mean Heaps!) of backstories, serial crime novels would usually stand alone. I wouldn’t really recommend reading it out of sequence though as I do wonder at certain things Roy Grace is facing and how that came about. However, this isn’t actually a huge part of the book. And that’s another thing, this book is nearly double the size of the first few in the series…??!!

I found the book to be slightly off from my expectation of a serial police procedural crime novels. The first being that about 80% of the book reads like a legal thriller and in addition to that, Roy Grace and his team barely featured in that part of the book. It nearly felt like reading 2 separate books?! The second thing I thought a bit weird was that I didn’t feel like there was much investigating happening; barely any action from the policing team. And this linked back to my first issue about the book being a legal thriller than a police procedural I expected it to be.

From the legal thriller part of the book, the story is told from the perspective of a juror being nobbled. As legal thrillers go (I went through a John Grisham phase years ago), I thought the suspense was excellent. Hence, my more positive rating of the book even as I wondered whether the series fan will love it or not. For now, I’m happy to leave off the series but who knows, maybe I’ll pick one up one day just because…

Thanks to Pan MacMillan Australia for copy of book in exchange of honest review

About the author

Peter James is a UK number one bestselling author, best known for writing crime and thriller novels, and the creator of the much-loved Detective Superintendent Roy Grace. Globally, his books have been translated into thirty-seven languages.

Synonymous with plot-twisting page-turners, Peter has garnered an army of loyal fans throughout his storytelling career – which also included stints writing for TV and producing films. He has won over forty awards for his work, including the WHSmith Best Crime Author of All Time Award, Crime Writers’ Association Diamond Dagger and a BAFTA nomination for The Merchant of Venice starring Al Pacino and Jeremy Irons for which he was an Executive Producer. Many of Peter’s novels have been adapted for film, TV and stage.

Find author on:  goodreads  |  website  |  facebook  |  twitter  |  instagram  |  youtube

Review: Lizard’s Tale by Weng Wai Chan

Lizard’s Tale by Weng Wai Chan

A thief. A spy. A mysterious codebook. And a whole lot of trouble.

It’s 1940 and World War II is being fought in faraway Europe. Lizard doesn’t know much about that. He lives in Singapore’s Chinatown, surviving on odd jobs and petty theft.

When Boss Man Beng asks him to steal a teak box from a suite in the glamorous Raffles Hotel, Lizard knows the job is important. But can he know just how dangerous it is?

A sinister man appears in the shadows, and Lizard’s best friend, Lili, shows up with unexpected fighting skills and her eyeon what’s in the box.

And Lizard finds himself on an exciting, action-packed adventure in a world of coded secrets, Japanese invasion plans and undercover spies.

Published 2 July 2019 |  Publisher: Text Publishing |  RRP: USD$16.99

Buy it at: Dymocks |  Booktopia |  A&R  |  Abbey’s

My Blurb (5 / 5 stars)

Gosh, I loved this now as I read it in my late 30s and I can just imagine how much I would’ve adored this book were I to read it 30 years ago! It has everything I love from the cute cover, a very capable Chinese girl, to a beautiful bittersweet ending.

Lizard is the name of this 12 year-old boy who has no one is known by. While he himself if a clever young fellow, he does not know his way around big cities. Luckily, he found help in a Chinese girl called Lili and the two formed a friendship, of sort. Lizard, these days, will do all sorts of things to stay above water. Meantime, he kept an eye out for his missing uncle. Until the day that he inadvertently got involved in something well beyond his ken. Lucky for him, there are friends who cared for him who are willing to help.

Let me provide a complete list of things I loved of this novel:
🦎 Cute eye-catching cover
🦎 own voice (POC) author
🦎 Great characters: resilient & courageous MC with brave & resourceful sidekicks
🦎 Friendship Friendship Friendship
🦎 Set in Asia (Singapore)
🦎 Diverse characters (and let me stress the DIVERSE here)
🦎 Set in WW2 (or just before)

A terrific mystery, fast paced plot, and marvellous characters, Lizard’s Tale is highly recommended for readers of ALL ages!

Thanks to Text Publishing via Netgalley for ecopy of book in exchange of honest review

About the author

Weng Wai Chan was born and grew up in Singapore. She now lives in Auckland with her husband and three children. Lizard’s Tale is her first book.

Find author on:  goodreads  |  twitter

Review: The Dry by Jane Harper

The Dry (Aaron Falk #1) by Jane Harper

WHO REALLY KILLED THE HADLER FAMILY?

It hasn’t rained in Kiewarra for two years. Tensions in the farming community become unbearable when three members of the Hadler family are discovered shot to death on their property. Everyone assumes Luke Hadler committed suicide after slaughtering his wife and six-year-old son.

Federal Police investigator Aaron Falk returns to his hometown for the funerals and is unwillingly drawn into the investigation. As suspicion spreads through the town, Falk is forced to confront the community that rejected him twenty years earlier. Because Falk and his childhood friend Luke Hadler shared a secret, one which Luke’s death threatens to unearth…

Published 28 February 2017 |  Publisher: Pan Australia  |  RRP: AUD$16.99

Buy it at: Dymocks |  Booktopia |  A&R |  QBD  | Abbey’s

My Blurb (4 / 5 stars)

Red herrings right for the very beginning! They coloured the characters’ perspectives and therefore, the readers’. I absolutely could not pick out who until it all became very obvious. The Dry is an immersive crime novel set in outback Australia. The drought was killing off the environment, animals, and businesses but was it such that it factors in this horrific murder-suicide?

Aaron Falk, a Federal Agent, ran away from this town 20 years ago under a cloud of suspicion from the death of a friend. He has returned for the funeral of another friend and found himself agreeing to “look into” things. However, the past will not leave him be… Is this present case connected to the past?

The novel is told from Falk’s perspective in the present but in between, there are paragraphs (in italics) where the past intrudes whether it be Falk’s perspective or others. As always, the past never seems to be as you remember it to be and always refused to be left behind.

What really got to me in this novel is Falk’s realisation of just what ‘drought’ really means;

“His own naivety taunted him like a flicker of madness. How could he have imagined fresh water still ran by these farms as animals lay dead in the paddocks? How could he nod dumbly as the word drought was thrown around, and never realise this river ran dry?”

I bought this paperback copy for my own reading pleasure

About the author

Jane Harper is the international bestselling author of The Dry, Force of Nature and The Lost Man. Jane is a New York Times and Sunday Times bestseller, and has won numerous top awards including the Australian Book Industry Awards Book of the Year, the Australian Indie Awards Book of the Year, the CWA Gold Dagger Award for Best Crime Novel, and the British Book Awards Crime and Thriller Book of the Year. Her books are published in more than 36 territories worldwide, with The Dry in production as a major motion picture starring Eric Bana. Jane worked as a print journalist for thirteen years both in Australia and the UK, and now lives in Melbourne.

Find Jane on:  goodreads  |   twitter  |  facebook  |  instagram  | website

Review: A Murder at Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey

A Murder at Malabar Hill (Perveen Mistry #1) by Sujata Massey

A legally-minded sleuth takes to the streets of 1920s Bombay in a fascinating new mystery.

Introducing Miss Perveen Mistry, the star of an outstanding new crime series. This courageous, likeable and determined young lawyer-turned-sleuth will appeal to readers of Phryne Fisher and Precious Ramotswe in a stunning combination of crime and mystery set in 1920s Bombay.

Armed with a legal education from Oxford, Perveen Mistry has joined her father’s law firm, becoming one of the first female lawyers in India.

Mistry Law has been appointed to execute the will of Mr Omar Farid, a wealthy mill owner who has left three widows behind. But as Perveen examines the paperwork, she notices something strange: all three wives have signed over their full inheritance to a charity. What future will they have?

Perveen is suspicious, especially since one of the widows has signed her form with an X-could she even read the document? The Farid widows live in strict seclusion, never leaving the women’s quarters or speaking to any men. With her own tragic history close to her heart, Perveen worries that the women are vulnerable to injustice.

As Perveen comes closer to the truth, tensions escalate to murder, the widows fall under suspicion and Perveen must figure out what’s really happening on Malabar Hill.

Published 7 January 2020 |  Publisher: Allen & Unwin  |  RRP: AUD$29.99

Buy it at: Dymocks |  Booktopia |  A&R |  QBD

My Blurb (4 / 5 stars)

There are certain countries I favour for novel settings and India being one of them. However, I do not like to read too many as they are usually quite heartbreaking to read, for example A Fine Balance, which I read 10+ years ago and still haunted me to this day. Being a mystery lover, too, I just could not walk away from this novel.

A Murder at Malabar Hill follows Perveen Mistry as she conducts her business being the first female lawyer in 1921 Bombay. Even as she works in her father’s firm with the full support of her family (one of the best families I’ve ever read in fiction!), she is mostly working behind the scenes (contracts & wills).

One of her father’s client has passed away without a will and his wives live in purdah necessitating the engagement of a house agent to act on their behalf. Paperworks sent to Perveen, however, raised some interesting questions and as a woman, Perveen can actually interview the ladies. In doing so, unfortunately, she has opened a can of worms… Worse than that, a murder! Yet again, she’s the only woman permitted to enter the zenana to question the ladies. This time, she’s actually courting danger.

In between chapters of the ‘present’, there were chapters relating to her life 3 years ago. I didn’t like these chapters because I never liked reading about the way women were treated then. And it wasn’t just the men, it’s how women treat others too which just makes it sadder. Plus, it was rather disruptive to the ‘present’ narrative. Even if there are only 3 years difference in time, this just highlighted again how amazing the Mistry family is especially Pappa Mistry.

A Murder at Malabar Hill is an enjoyable historical mystery set in an exotic place and time featuring an intelligent & courageous female protagonist who seeks a better future for her country and also her sex. I find the novel to be quite respectful about choice – bad or good, it is the individual’s right to make and no other. Best of all, that ‘girl-power’ moment at the end.

Thanks to Allen & Unwin for copy of book in exchange of honest review

About the author

Sujata Massey was born in England to parents from India and Germany, was raised mostly in St. Paul, Minnesota, and lives in Baltimore, Maryland. She was a features reporter for the Baltimore Evening Sun before becoming a full-time novelist. Her novels have won the Agatha, Shamus and Macavity awards and been finalists for the Edgar, Anthony, Harper Lee Legal Fiction and Mary Higgins Clark prizes. A Murder at Malabar Hill was originally published in the United States under the title The Widows of Malabar Hill.

Find Sujata on:  goodreads  |   twitter  |  facebook  |  instagram  | website  | pinterest

Review: Above the Bay of Angels by Rhys Bowen

Above the Bay of Angels by Rhys Bowen

A single twist of fate puts a servant girl to work in Queen Victoria’s royal kitchen, setting off a suspenseful, historical mystery by the New York Times bestselling author of The Tuscan Child and The Victory Garden.

A single twist of fate puts a servant girl to work in Queen Victoria’s royal kitchen, setting off a suspenseful, historical mystery by the New York Times bestselling author of The Tuscan Child and The Victory Garden.

Arriving as Helen Barton from Yorkshire, she pursues her passion for creating culinary delights, served to the delighted Queen Victoria herself. Best of all, she’s been chosen to accompany the queen to Nice. What fortune! Until the threat of blackmail shadows Bella to the Riviera, and a member of the queen’s retinue falls ill and dies.

Having prepared the royal guest’s last meal, Bella is suspected of the poisonous crime. An investigation is sure to follow. Her charade will be over. And her new life will come crashing down—if it doesn’t send her to the gallows.

Published 11 February 2020 |  Publisher: Lake Union Publishing |  RRP: USD$24.95

Buy it at: Dymocks |  Booktopia |  A&R

My Blurb (3.5 / 5 stars)

I’ve been aware of Rhys Bowen for many years but only read 2 of her books (the first 2 of Molly Murphy Mysteries). I realise that she’s quite a prolific writer and her books are mostly historical mysteries which I do like to read. As I found Above the Bay of Angels being available to read via NetGalley, I thought I’d give this a go.

Above the Bay of Angels is a stand alone novel. Set in the beginning of the 20th century, main protagonist, Isabella Waverly, is seeking for a life of independence but what can a single young gentle woman do? Her circumstances were so reduced that she became a servant at the house of a nouveau riche yet fate intercedes when she was first given the opportunity to approach the royal kitchen as an applicant. It may not be under her own name but ‘Carpe diem’!

Things did not go quite smoothly for Bella but yet many times, fate intercede again and again she kept to her philosophy to ‘seize the day!’ It appears that Lady Fortune continues to bless her for no great disaster fell upon her.

A likeable protagonist and a beautiful setting make an enjoyable read but I do feel that I must suspend some disbelief at certain points of the novel. Thinking that I was reading a historical mystery, I also expected the crime being committed near the beginning of the novel but it did not. It didn’t happen until quite later on in the piece and therefore, had to be solved rather quickly. I felt a little cheated but c’est la vie.

Above the Bay of Angels is an historical fiction feast with a splash of mystery and a dash of romance. And oh, be prepared to be hungry while reading!

Thanks to Lake Union Publishing via Netgalley for ecopy of book in exchange of honest review

About the author

Rhys Bowen is the New York TimesWall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling author of two historical mystery series as well as three internationally bestselling stand alone novels. Her books have won multiple awards and been translated into over twenty languages. A transplanted Brit, Rhys now divides her time between California and Arizona, where she escapes from those harsh California winters.

Find Rhys on:  goodreads  |  website  |  twitter  |  facebook

Review: Preservation by Jock Serong

Preservation by Jock Serong

Preservation, based on the true story of the wreck of the Sydney Cove, sees master storyteller Jock Serong turn his talents to historical narrative.

On a beach not far from the isolated settlement of Sydney in 1797, a fishing boat picks up three shipwreck survivors, distressed and terribly injured. They have walked hundreds of miles across a landscape whose features—and inhabitants—they have no way of comprehending. They have lost fourteen companions along the way. Their accounts of the ordeal are evasive.

It is Lieutenant Joshua Grayling’s task to investigate the story. He comes to realise that those fourteen deaths were contrived by one calculating mind and, as the full horror of the men’s journey emerges, he begins to wonder whether the ruthless killer poses a danger to his own family.

Published 29 October 2018 |  Publisher: Text Publishing |  RRP: AUD$22.99

Read a sample chapter from Preservation here.

Buy it at: Dymocks |  Booktopia |  A&R |  Abbey’s  | Text Publishing

My Blurb (4 / 5 stars)

This is one of those books that’s been on my radar but I’ve resisted to add to my TBR because I just wasn’t sure whether it’s something I’d like. I ended up reading it to fulfil a reading challenge, of course, like so many of my reads and… I really quite enjoyed it.

Preservation has the flavour of a psychological thriller set in Colonial Australia. I’m not usually a fan of psychological thrillers – they frighten me somewhat but this novel is not quite the norm. It is inspired and/or based on a true historical event. One which I was not at all familiar with… I’ve just read the Wikipedia entry and the major plotline followed that but since not much else is known, the author really did have a lot of room to play with.

The first few chapters were a bit strange because this story is told through multiple point-of-views and as usual, this takes some getting used to. Each perspective is unique and wide-ranging (the perpetrator, the accomplice, the witness, the investigator and sidekick) so we have a very nearly well-rounded view of the case. For this novel is rather like a case study of a crime with some sprinkling of historical and personal interests to engage the reader.

Thanks to Text Publishing via Netgalley for ecopy of book in exchange of honest review

About the author

Jock Serong is the author of Quota, winner of the 2015 Ned Kelly Award for Best First Fiction; The Rules of Backyard Cricket, shortlisted for the 2017 Victorian Premier’s Award for Fiction, finalist of the 2017 MWA Edgar Awards for Best Paperback Original, and finalist of the 2017 INDIES Adult Mystery Book of the Year; and On the Java Ridge, shortlisted for the 2018 Indie Awards.

Find Jock on:  goodreads  |  twitter