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Sunday, 25 June 2017

‘Don't Look For Me’ by Mason Cross

Published by Orion Fiction,
20 April 2017.
ISBN: 978-1-4091-5968-1         

It was a simple instruction: Don't look for me, and for six years Carter Blake followed it - he hasn't gone looking for the woman he had once loved and lost. But when he finds out her life is in danger, Blake is forced to break that promise.

Trenton Gage is a hitman without a conscience and with a talent for finding people. His latest job is to track down a woman on the run who has a secret many would kill for.

It turns out Blake and Gage are after the same person. But who will find her first?

This is the fourth outing for Carter Blake (the second, The Samaritan, was a Richard and Judy book club pick last year), and this time it's personal. At the beginning of the book, Blake, who is an expert in finding people who don't want to be found, is relaxing after his last job, but he is bored. Then he hears from Sarah Blackwell, a woman who is worried about her neighbour and friend who has disappeared, along with her shady husband. We soon learn that the woman who is missing is the same one Blake hasn't seen for six years. Used to working alone, he unwillingly teams up with Sarah to look for her. It becomes a race against time - they have to find her before Trenton Gage does.

The addition of the character of Sarah, and Blake's emotional investment in the hunt, is a departure from the first three novels in the series, but works extremely well, and I hope Sarah is going to be a regular because she is a great character, and characters are what Mason Cross does so brilliantly, making them well-rounded and believable. His writing is pacy, and the plot is extremely well constructed, with plenty of twists, turns and misdirection.

Although this is one of a series, it is possible to read as a standalone, but even better to begin with the first, The Killing Season. If you like to be thrilled by your thrillers, then this is for you.
Reviewer: Mary-Jane Riley

Mason Cross was born in Glasgow in 1979. He studied English at the University of Stirling and has worked as a tax officer, events coordinator, project manager and pizza delivery boy. He has written a number of short stories. His first novel The Killing Season was longlisted for the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Book of the Year 2015, and the sequel, The Samaritan, was selected for the Richard and Judy Book Club. His latest book Don’t Look For Me was published in April 2017. He lives near Glasgow with his wife and three children.

Mary-Jane Riley wrote her first story on her newly acquired blue Petite typewriter. She was eight. It was about a gang of children who had adventures on mysterious islands, but she soon realised Enid Blyton had cornered that particular market. So she wrote about the Wild West instead. When she grew up she had to earn a living, and became a BBC radio talk show presenter and journalist. She has covered many life-affirming stories, but also some of the darkest events of the past two decades. Then, in true journalistic style, she decided not to let the facts get in the way of a good story and got creative. She wrote for women's magazines and small presses. She formed WriteOutLoud with two writer friends to help charities get their message across using their life stories. Now she is writing psychological suspense, drawing on her experiences in journalism. The Bad Things by Mary-Jane Riley was published by Harper Collins/Killer Reads. Her second book, After She Fell, also published by Killer Reads in April 2016.  To read the review of Killer reads click here

Saturday, 24 June 2017

'The Cardinal's Court by Cora Harrison

Published by The History Press,
24 April 2017.  
ISBN 978-0-7509-6839-3

Hilary Mantell isn't the only one to write about Anne Boleyn - here is a fascinating story about Anne’s earlier life as lady in waiting to Queen Catherine at the English Court.  The book is set in 1522 with the action almost all happening at Hampton Court.  Hugh Mac Egan is an Irish lawyer whose task is to draw up a marriage contract between James Butler, son of his employer, an Irish Earl, and Anne Boleyn thus solving an inheritance dispute.  Unfortunately, the lady has fallen in love with Harry Percy, son of the Earl of Northumberland.  

A member of the Cardinal's staff is found dead in the Great Hall and an arrow has fallen from his body.   Both Percy and Anne say that they saw the arrow fired by James Butler and that it was a real arrow unlike the imitation arrows that were being fired during a pageant by Butler and others.

Hugh must defend James from an accusation of murder punishable by execution.  Hugh tells us that under Irish law a large fine would be levied on the murderer to be paid to the victim’s family.

Hugh must exonerate his patron's heir by discovering what happened and who the murderer was.  This is no easy process complicated by the machinations of various courtiers and the unpleasant behaviour of the murdered man as a blackmailer.   Further deaths happen.  We get a fascinating picture of the way the Cardinal's Court worked and in particular, of the delicious food served at his banquets.

A most enjoyable historical crime novel.
Reviewer: Jennifer S. Palmer
Cora Harrison has written extensively for children and has the lengthy series of  Burren Mysteries set in 16th century Ireland.
Cora Harrison was born in Cobh, County Cork, Ireland, but lived in Cork city for most of her life until she was twenty-one. While her children were growing up, she became a primary school teacher and loved teaching. Although she enjoyed teaching she enjoys writing stories even more. It still gives her a thrill to see her books in the shops!

Jennifer Palmer Throughout my reading life crime fiction has been a constant interest; I really enjoyed my 15 years as an expatriate in the Far East, the Netherlands & the USA but occasionally the solace of closing my door to the outside world and sitting reading was highly therapeutic. I now lecture to adults on historical topics including Famous Historical Mysteries.

'Family Concerns' by Stuart Fifield

Published by The Book Guild,
28 April 2017.  
ISBN 978-1-911320-50-0
I thought this was an unusual book.  I had not read the preceding adventures of the group in Lucca but I now feel they would be interesting.  The book is from multiple viewpoints as the author looks at individual stories of the members of this group and their dependants and at the practical benevolence of the Contessa di Capezzani- Botelli and her son, Luigi.    

To retrace the development of the tale - the Contessa runs an amateur group that does musical performances in Lucca.  The group is the Chamber Opera Group of Lucca (COGOL) and it has as some of its members a diva, Renata di Sena, Juliette Canmore, suffering a midlife crisis, Amilcare Luchetti  and his wife, Tito Viele whose wife has had a serious brain injury and whose memory is badly affected and Ricardo Fossi who is dealing with people very much on the wrong side of the law.  The experiences of these and other people forms the material of the book with the kindness of the Contessa as the centre of action.

In crime terms the newly promoted policeman, Inspector Conti, is trying to discover the man who has attacked and killed several women; his computer-savvy sergeant Pascoli, offers aid that the Inspector is initially reluctant to accept.  The criminal element is just part of a rich tapestry of characters and events.
Reviewer: Jennifer S. Palmer
This is the third adventure for the Contessa in Lucca.

Stuart Fifield was born in Islington, North London and spent his early years in Uganda and Kenya, where his father was a Civil Servant. Following Kenyan Independence, he moved with the rest of his family first to the Seychelles, and then to Australia and, finally, to South Africa where Stuart finished his education and obtained a Master of Music degree from the South African College of Music, University of Cape Town. He followed a career as a concert soloist in oratorio and opera, singing baritone repertoire, as well as studying both piano and the clarinet. Today he is the Musical Director of the East Grinstead Concert Band and plays euphonium in the Wadhurst Brass Band. Returning to the United Kingdom from Cape Town in 1990, he established and developed, as co-owner, a successful interior design consultancy in Kent. He then went on to become a web page designer, before qualifying as a Music teacher. During his teaching career, he taught several other subjects, including English, History and Drama. In addition, he was actively involved in teaching pupils who had English as a foreign language, as well as pupils with learning difficulties. He lives with his partner and two Burmese cats in East Sussex and is fortunate enough to be able to divide his time between writing, performing and travelling. Stuart is a regular visitor to Italy and to Egypt.

Jennifer Palmer Throughout my reading life crime fiction has been a constant interest; I really enjoyed my 15 years as an expatriate in the Far East, the Netherlands & the USA but occasionally the solace of closing my door to the outside world and sitting reading was highly therapeutic. I now lecture to adults on historical topics including Famous Historical Mysteries.