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Thursday, 30 November 2017

Linda Regan and Hugh Fraser

Stage to a Page

- actors turned to crime writing,

11 November 2017

 at the

Phoenix Arts theatre in London.

Linda Regan
Hugh Fraser
David Barry

 talked about their books and their writing day.

They are appearing together again in May 2018,
at Phoenix Arts, Charing Cross Road WC2
when Linda will be interviewing Hugh
plus a few more actors who appeared in the Jack the Ripper film,
starring Michael Caine.

  To read a review of Linda's most recent book
click on the title.

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

‘All The World's A Stage’ by Boris Akunin

Published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson,
5 October 2017.
ISBN: 978-1-4746-0440-6 (HB)

It is 1911 and Erast Petravich Fandorin, among other things, is a private investigator and lives in Moscow. He receives a telephone call from Olga, the widow of Chekhov, an actress and old friend of Fandorin. She is concerned about her fellow actress and friend Eliza who when she last saw her burst into floods of tears but wouldn't tell her what was wrong. She begs Fandorin to see if he can find out the problem, he reluctantly agrees and goes to the new theatre where Eliza is performing that evening.

As Fandorin watches Eliza on stage he falls desperately in love with her. Then to his horror as the play ends there is an incident which if it had not been for the quick action of Nonarikin a member of the cast, could have caused her serious injury or even cost her her life.

Fandorin starts with his investigations by meeting all the cast, the manager of the theatre, Noah Stern and their benefactor Andrei Shustrov. He becomes aware of an undercurrent within the theatre, the cast seem jealous of each other and all seem to think they should have the leading parts.

Desperate to get Eliza to take an interest in him, Fandorin takes his servant Masa's advice and writes a play especially for her. It is a great success and she falls for Fandorin but keeps her feelings hidden.

Unknown to him, Eliza's estranged husband Iskander has threatened her not to take any lovers or even admirers, if she does he says it will be her fault if something happens to them.  When one is found dead the police think it is suicide but Eliza is convinced it is murder, so she is determined not to let Fandorin know how she feels about him, she fears for his life and even for her own.

When more deaths occur the police are convinced they are all suicides but Fandorin believes otherwise and is determined to find the truth.  Of course he has no idea of the threats to Eliza and is puzzled as to the connection of the deaths, could they be suicides after all? When the theatre itself is threatened, all becomes clear. However his hardest task is to win over Eliza's love, he really is desperate, does he stand a chance, will there be a happy ending?

Although there are a number of deaths in the book I would still describe it as a lovely “gentle” story. Akunin has a wonderful way of describing emotions and I could feel poor Fandorin's pain when Eliza rejects him. The solving of the deaths is almost secondary to the real trauma Fandorin goes through.

At the end of the book is the play he writes for Eliza, well worth reading too.

Recommended for those who enjoy a crime story without the gore!
Reviewer: Tricia Chappell

Boris Akunin is the pen name of Grigory Shalvovich Chkhartishvili, a Russian writer of Georgian origin. He was born 20 May 1956. He is best known as writer of detective and historical fiction. His Erast Fandorin books have sold over 18 million copies in Russia alone. He lives in London.

Tricia Chappell. I have a great love of books and reading, especially crime and thrillers. I play the occasional game of golf  (when I am not reading). My great love is cruising especially to far flung places, when there are long days at sea for plenty more reading! I am really enjoying reviewing books and have found lots of great new authors.

Monday, 27 November 2017

‘The House at Ladywell’ by Nicola Slade

Published by Crooked Cat Books,
8 September 2017.
ISBN: 978-1976203244.
ASIN: B075D9F35H

Freya Gibson is in her early thirties and, following her parents’ deaths, she is alone in the world, apart from her childhood friend Louise Barton. Freya works in London as PA for popular novelist Patrick Underwood. Still fragile after a destructive relationship and the loss of her parents, Freya is worried that Patrick’s attitude to her has become strangely remote and she is afraid that he wishes to replace her and get a new PA. Patrick is going on a business trip to America and Freya is planning to have a holiday when she hears that she has been left a house in Hampshire by Violet Wellman, a very distant cousin that she has never met.

Freya goes to view 2 Ladywell House and immediately falls in love with it. When she enters the house, she is greeted by the smell of roses, which makes her think of her late father’s garden. Later Freya discovers that some women and a few men can smell the scent of the flowers that mean a lot to them when they are in the house. The house has many carvings of hares and there are hares on the hill behind the house. An old legend prophesies disaster for anyone who harms a hare on the land of Ladywell.

Fascinated by her new house, Freya explores and finds a message from Violet telling her to complete a ritual sacred to the women of Ladywell and begging Freya to ‘restore the balance.’ As Freya delves deeper into the history of her property, she realises that this involves the rowan tree, the hares and a well of pure water, which has vanished but which Freya hopes to rediscover.

Freya is made welcome by her neighbours and the people of the town and, by questioning them and researching locally, she begins to unravel the secrets and history of her new home and of her own life. As she restores the balance in Ladywell, the house also helps her to restore the balance in her life and prepares her for Patrick’s return from America.

The House at Ladywell is a stand-alone novel set near Winchester in Hampshire, where many of the author’s series books are located. Most of the book is narrated in Freya’s First-Person viewpoint but when questions are raised in Freya’s mind about certain aspects of the history of the house, the author provides the reader with a cameo short story of that historical period, all involving the strong, ingenious and single-minded women who lived in and loved the house at Ladywell.

The House at Ladywell is not a crime story, although there are crimes, including murder, in the historical cameos. It is a romantic mystery story, as Freya discovers the secrets of her house and of her own childhood. In tone it reminded me of the writing of Mary Stewart, with its First-Person narrator heroine and the evocative descriptions of the house and countryside and the gentle touches of magic. Freya is a delightful protagonist and it is a very enjoyable read.
Reviewer: Carol Westron
Nicola Slade was brought up in Poole, Dorset. She wrote children’s stories when her three children were growing up, moving onto short stories for several national magazines. Winning a story competition in Family Circle galvanised her into writing seriously and since then her stories and articles have been commissioned regularly. Scuba Dancin, a romantic comedy was her first published novel. After that she wrote a series of Victorian mysteries: Murder Most Welcome  published by Robert Hale Ltd, 2008, featuring Charlotte Richmond, a young widow in the 1850s. Nicola has a second series, featuring former headmistress, Harriet Quigley, and her sidekick and cousin, Rev Sam Hathaway. Nicola, her husband and their cat live near Winchester in Hampshire.

Find out more about Nicola at

Carol Westron is a successful short story writer and a Creative Writing teacher.  She is the moderator for the cosy/historical crime panel, The Deadly Dames.  Her crime novels are set both in contemporary and Victorian times.  The Terminal Velocity of Cats is the first in her Scene of Crimes novels, was published July 2013. Her latest book The Fragility of Poppies was published 10 June 2016.

Read a review of Carol’s latest book
The Fragility of Poppies

’Incognito’ by Khaled Talib

Published by World Castle Publishing,
19 April 2017.
ISBN: 978-1-62989-695-3 (PB)

The Pope has been kidnapped by a group called Sword, but they’re putting the blame on Muslims, and there will be bloody retaliation if three secret agents, led by Ayden Tanner, can’t manage to rescue his Holiness before Sword take them out …

This short novel is told mostly from Tanner’s point of view, moving occasionally to the other members of his team, Isabelle and Guy. All three are now officially dead, and handled by the mysterious Mr Somebody. Their job is simply to try and make bad better. Tanner is an ex-soldier, and we heard about his training for this elite unit. He’s a voracious reader, given to quoting obscure texts, and the situation forces him to think about his beliefs, which adds depth to the story. Isabelle has a dark history, and wields a mean machine gun, though I was sorry that much of her conversation was implausibly girly. Guy has let himself become stable, with a girlfriend. The action is typical secret agent movie mould, but there’s an added level of reality to their actions when we see the police clearing up the bodies after one of their skirmishes – you never see police dealing with 007’s massacres! There’s non-stop action, as the trio move from country to country, with Sword close behind, or sometimes, due to information leaks, in front, and a high body count. There’s loads to enjoy for people who like guns and technology, and a twisty plot which leaves your head spinning as you try to keep track of which side the players are on.

A fast-moving thriller with ambushes, chases, helicopters, disguises, and lots of shooting – perfect for lovers of James Bond and Mission Impossible.
Reviewer: Marsali Taylor

Khaled Talib is the author of Smokescreen, Incognito and Gun Kiss, to be published in 2017 by Imajin Books. The author is a member of the Crime Writers Association and the International Thriller Writers. He resides in Singapore.

Marsali Taylor grew up near Edinburgh, and came to Shetland as a newly-qualified teacher. She is currently a part-time teacher on Shetland's scenic west side, living with her husband and two Shetland ponies. Marsali is a qualified STGA tourist-guide who is fascinated by history, and has published plays in Shetland's distinctive dialect, as well as a history of women's suffrage in Shetland. She's also a keen sailor who enjoys exploring in her own 8m yacht, and an active member of her local drama group.  Marsali also does a regular monthly column for the Mystery People e-zine.

A review of her recent book Ghosts of the Vikings can be read here.