Posts Tagged ‘series’


Yet another audiobook! This is the first book in a series set in St Andrew’s, Scotland and featuring DI Andy Gilchrist.

Someone is killing men in St Andrew’s. All of the victims are men who are known to abuse women and all of them are stabbed through one eye and then murdered. DI Andy Gilchrist is head of the investigation, and there are plenty of potential suspects to choose from, as well as severe pressure from his superiors, the public and the press to get a result. Gilchrist has a patchy past, relationship-wise – divorced from his former wife Gail and not as close as he would like to his two children Jack and Maureen, he has had a couple of relationships since his marriage ended, but nothing permanent. Add to this the fact that his boss wants him out of the police service and times are tough for DI Gilchrist.

When I started this book, I felt that it had lots of potential and I was fairly sure that I was going to enjoy it. While I cannot fault the narrator David Monteath, who did a good job of ratcheting up the tension, I actually became disillusioned the story, the more I listened. I am not against violence or gore in books (American Psycho is, for my money, one of the best books I have ever read), the violence here just seemed gratuitous and there was too much of it. I also thought that the author possibly tried too hard to create a huge pool of suspects, and the way he finally worked out who the stabber was seemed highly unrealistic. Let’s just say it involved a cat and lots of convoluted thinking. I got the impression that everything but the kitchen sink had been included in the book!

I did prefer the parts where Andy interacts with others, such as his children and some of the witnesses in the case, although apart from Andy himself, none of the characters really made much of an impression on me.

All in all, it wasn’t terrible – the descriptions of St Andrew’s were interesting and obviously come from a place of intimacy with the area – however, I don’t think I would read any more books in this series.

Read Full Post »


This is the first book in the Cape Bay Cafe series, and it definitely falls into the cozy murder mystery category. It introduces us to Francesca Amaro, who, following a broken engagement and the death of her mother, has moved back to the sleepy seaside town of Cape Bay, Massachusetts, from her high powered life in New York. Francesca runs the Antonia’s Coffee Shop – previously run by her grandparents and then her mother – which serves the best coffee in town.

When Mr Cardosi, the father of her childhood friend Matt, is murdered, Francesca and Matt set out to solve the crime and bring the perpetrator to justice. Along the way there are hints of romance, a colourful cast of local characters, and lots of talk of sweet treats!

I listened to this as an audiobook, narrated by Marguerite Gavin, who did a great job. The story is told in the first person and while the romance part is fairly predictable, the mystery part did keep me guessing and there were plenty of red herrings. I really enjoyed listening to this story. I had to suspend my disbelief quite a lot, as Francesca had a habit of jumping to conclusions based on very little, but both she and Matt were very likeable characters, and sometimes you need something that just makes you smile and is easy to listen to. Coming in at under 5 hours, it’s probably half the length of an average novel, and for this reason, once we have been introduced to Francesca and her background, the story rattles along at a nice pace.

If you are a fan of the genre, I highly recommend giving this book a try, and I look forward to reading the next one in the series.

Read Full Post »


I picked up this book because I had heard lots of good things about it, and because despite the fact that fantasy is not, and never has been a favourite genre of mine, the premise intrigued me.

The story is set in London and is narrated by Peter Jones, a young PC in the Metropolitan Police Service. This strange tale starts when he is trying to glean information about a vicious and unprovoked murder, only to find himself interviewing a witness who died more than a hundred years ago…

More murders follow and Jones and his partner Lesley and mentor Thomas Nightingale quickly work out that they are all linked, and something strange and unusual is causing them.

As if that weren’t enough, Peter and Nightingale also find themselves caught up in a feud between Mother Thames and Father Thames, who are arguing over who has jurisdiction of their River Thames; as a result, Peter meets the exotic and alluring Beverley Brook.

I enjoyed this book a lot – but not quite as much as I had hoped to, or indeed quite as much as the first fifty pages or so led me to think I might. I really liked the characters of Peter and Nightingale, and as narrators go, Peter is witty, likeable and extremely engaging. However, I think the plot got a bit too convoluted, mainly because the feud over the River Thames seemed pointless and really added nothing whatsoever to the main mystery, which was that of the murders. The  murders themselves were quite interesting and I liked that Peter had a foot in both the mortal world and the underworld of London where he could learn magic and make deals with ghosts.

So despite feeling that it was something of an anti-climax, the main two characters are enough for me to want to try the next book in the series. I also find that generally with series such as this one, the first book is never the strongest. This book has had very strong reviews elsewhere, so if you are thinking of reading it – and especially if fantasy is a genre you enjoy (bearing in mind that it is not one I usually choose to read) I would recommend giving this a try.

Read Full Post »

This is chronologically the first book in the Hornblower series, but was not the first one which Forester wrote, and so it (presumably) serves as a prequel of sorts.  I wanted to read the Hornblower series, and decided to start with this one, where we first meet Hornblower, at the tender age of 17.  It is the late 1700s, and he is a nervous new recruit to the British Navy.

The book is more of a collection of short stories, rather than a novel.  Each story presents Hornblower with a new dilemma, from having to stand up to a bully (which he does – and how!), dealing with enemy ships from Spain, or transporting a Duchess home across the sea.  Hornblower matures throughout the book, and learns some tough lessons.

I enjoyed the book a lot, although I think that some knowledge of a ship’s structure would have helped when reading this, as there are lots of references to how a ship is built and manned.  However, I could usually understand enough of the jargon to workout exactly what character was doing what task, and in any event, the character of Hornblower himself was enough to keep me reading.

Somewhat stiff and awkward, and not always the most socially confident, but with a strong moral backbone and plenty of courage, I really warmed to the young Hornblower, and enjoyed reading about his adventures.  There were some other interesting characters along the way, and some moments of humour, as well as some sadder events which were described with little emotion.

Overall, while some parts of the book felt somewhat dry, I liked the main character enough to look forward to reading other books in the series.

(For more information about C.S. Forester, please click here.)

Read Full Post »

In the first book in this series, set in the 1920s, the Honourable Daisy Dalrymple, junior reporter for Town and Country Magazine, is sent to Wentwater Court, for the first in her series of articles about stately homes.  However, her visit turns into a murder investigation when a guest at the Court, Lord Stephen Astwick, is found drowned.  Just about every member of the Wentwater family had reason to want Lord Stephen dead, and Daisy finds herself helping Detective Chief Inspector Alec Fletcher, as he tries to work out what happened.

Fans of cozy English mysteries should thoroughly enjoy this book – I found it delightful from beginning to end.  Daisy herself is a loveable character; her tendency to stick her nose into matters could become annoying, were she not also extremely endearing.  The rest of the characters consist of the Wentwater family and some of their staff, and DCI Fletcher and his two assisting Officers.  They were all distinctive and the DCI was especially lovely – a fact not lost on Daisy herself!

I had fun trying to work out who was responsible for Lord Stephen’s death, and there were enough twists to keep me guessing.  The aristocratic way of life of the Wentwater family was well depicted, although there were a few turns of speech that struck me as a little contrived.  This book was just so damn likeable though, that any little niggles paled into obscurity.

This is not a dark or gritty story (despite the subject matter), and not really a book to be taken seriously, but I definitely enjoyed meeting Daisy, and look forward to reading further books in this series.

(Autor’s website can be found here.)

Read Full Post »

This is the second book in the Murdoch Mysteries series, set in Toronto in the late 1800s, and featuring Detective William Murdoch.  The series spawned three movie length television films, and a five (so far) season television show.  The television show is one of my favourite programmes, and I was eager to read the books.  I thoroughly enjoyed the first book in the series, and this one is no disappointment either.

In this installment of the Murdoch Mysteries, a woman named Dolly Merishaw is found murdered in her home.  Murdoch discovers that she was a former midwife, who provided a place for unwed mothers to have their children, as well as providing drugs to aid abortion, but that her mean and greedy nature caused a lot of anger and resentment among the women whom she ‘helped’.  He quickly discovers that she is the victim of murder, and there are no shortage of suspects.  However, when one of her young foster sons is also discovered dead a week later, he has no idea whether he is looking for one murderer or two.  His investigation takes him to some surprising places, and he realises that a lot of people have secrets which they wish to remain hidden.

As with the first book, the story is pacey, and kept me guessing throughout.  (There were clues to point the reader in the right direction, but Maureen Jenning is capable of throwing in some surprises as well!)  I really like the character of Murdoch, although he is quite different from the Murdoch of the tv series.  As portrayed in the book, he comes across as less sensitive and somewhat coarser.  His faithful sidekick Constable Crabtree is as amiable and likeable as viewers of the show know him to be, although in the book, his physical description is very different, and he has a wife, whereas in the tv show, he is a bachelor.  Brackenreid barely appears in the book, and is not a very likeable character when he does(!).  This book gives the first mention of Doctor Julia Ogden – a main character in the tv show.

This particular book takes Murdoch through the upper and lower classes of Toronto, and I thought the portrayal of the city in the late 1800s was particularly evocative and enjoyable.  Clearly, the author has researched her subject extensively.

Overall, I found this to be a very enjoyable read, and would definitely recommend it, especially to fans of crime and/or historical fiction.

(Author’s website can be found here.  For more information about the television show Murdoch Mysteries, please click here.)


Click here for my review of season 1 of the television series, Murdoch Mysteries.

Click here for my review of the first Murdoch Mysteries novel, Except The Dying.


Read Full Post »

This novel – the first in a series – is set in Victorian London and features as it’s main character, Charles Lenox, an armchair investigator, who sometimes helps the police with their enquiries, although they are never prepared to give him the credit he deserves!  When his neighbour and good friend Lady Jane asks him to investigate the suspicious death of her former maid, Prue Smith, Charles finds himself caught up in a web of intrigue.  There are numerous suspects and motives, and Charles’ efforts seem to be blocked whichever way he turns.  But Charles is resourceful and intelligent – and with the help of his brother Edmund, his friend Doctor McConnell and his trusty valet Graham.

I really enjoyed this book.  It reminded me slightly of Sherlock Holmes, but with the social skills that Holmes lacks!  However, this book did not feel like a poor copy of a Holmes story at all.  Lenox was a terrific character, and carried the story beautifully.  I also liked his friendship with Lady Jane (and hope to see more of her in subsequent books), and especially the friendship and mutual respect that he shared with Graham, who was a great character in his own right.

The mystery element of the book had me guessing all the way.  When it came to the final denoument, I realised that the clues had been revealed throughout the story, but I had missed some of them, and I had no idea ‘whodunnit’, although while reading the book I suspect almost everyone at some point!  Crime fiction used to be a favourite genre of mine – not so much these days, however, but when I read a book like this, it makes me want to pick up more of the same.  If I absolutely had to find something to gripe about, it would possibly be the occasional American speech patterns in the book (“gotten off of” for example, instead of “got off”), but these are honestly so few and far between that they should not impact upon anybody’s enjoyment of the book.

Victorian London is portrayed beautifully, and it is clear that the author must have done a lot of research.  The period detail is second to none, and I loved reading the wonderfully descriptive passages.

Overall, a great debut and a very promising start indeed to a series.  I’ll be looking out for more, and would highly recommend this book.

Read Full Post »