Date for Your Diary: Hunting for a Reading Pleasure

‘A Date To Die For’ by Evie Hunter

The start of brand-new Cozy Crime series! Welcome to Hopgood Hall.


An unlikely duo…

When investigative journalist, Alexi Ellis, falls victim to cutbacks, she and Cosmo, her anti-social feral cat, head for beautiful Hopgood Hall, where they plan to lick their wounds in the boutique hotel run by her old friends, Cheryl and Drew Hopgood.

A missing woman…

But when she arrives Alexi discovers Cheryl and Drew both distraught. Their close friend, Natalie Parker, who recently settled in the area, has gone missing. Alexi’s sure the woman has just taken a trip somewhere, but she still has a nose for a story and agrees to look into it.

A case to solve!So too does ex-Met Police detective turned private eye, Jack Maddox. Natalie Parker had been using his sister’s online dating agency and Jack needs to find her before his sister’s business is ruined.

Reluctantly, Alexi, Jack – and Cosmo! – join forces to find out what happened to Natalie. But soon they discover secrets that someone desperately wants to make sure are never revealed!

Perfect for fans of Faith Martin, Frances Evesham and Emma Davies.

Purchase Link –  https://amzn.to/3UF1kYy

I think most of us have been there, haven’t we? Escaping to the metaphorical arms of friends when our business or personal life has gone the way of all things?

And there’s something especially true with journalists: fat can twist on a dime and what was once pearls can become swine overnight with little in the way of warning.

When that happens to Alexi in Evie Hunter’s ‘A Date to Die For’, there is at least the comfort of having a mysterious disappearance to investigate, alongside her protective giant cat and private eye, Jack Maddox.

All good clean fun. I’ve read some of Evie Hunter’s work for Boldwood before, https://pajnewman.com/2022/06/06/best-forelock-forward/ and she is a writer with real talent. Hunter weaves her tales with satisfying twists and turns and, although on the face of it this novel has a fairly traditional structure: mysterious disappearance, lovely rural location, small-ish cast of suspects, Hunter handles her ingredients like the competent authorial chef she truly is.

If you like a modern turn on traditional fare, then ‘A Date to Die For,’ will leave you pleasingly sated and is an excellent novel for this time of year as the gloom of winter is lifting, let Hunter take you on a tour.

Author Bio –

Evie Hunter has written a great many successful regency romances as Wendy Soliman and is now redirecting her talents to produce dark gritty thrillers and cozy crime for BoldwoodFor the past twenty years she has lived the life of a nomad, roaming the world on interesting forms of transport, but has now settled back in the UK. 

Social Media Links –  

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/wendy.soliman.author

Twitter https://twitter.com/Wendyswriter

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/wendy_soliman/

Newsletter Sign Up: https://bit.ly/EvieHunter

Bookbub profile: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/evie-hunter-572c1816-05f2-47c2-9c13-6d10a229670b

@rararesources

Boldwood’s IG account – https://www.instagram.com/bookandtonic/

Secrets and Students by the Seaside

‘A Notable Omission’ by Isabella Muir

A 1970s debate on equality is overshadowed by a deadly secret…



Spring 1970. Sussex University is hosting a debate about equality for women. But when one of the debating group goes missing, attention turns away from social injustice to something more sinister.

It seems every one of the group has something to hide, and when a second tragedy occurs, two of the delegates – amateur sleuth Janie Juke, and reporter Libby Frobisher – are prepared to make themselves unpopular to flush out the truth. Who is lying and why?

Alongside the police investigation, Janie and Libby are determined to prise answers from the tight-lipped group, as they find themselves in a race against time to stop another victim being targeted.


In ‘A Notable Omission’ we meet Janie at the start of a new decade. When we left Janie at the end of ‘The Invisible Case’ she was enjoying her new found skills and success as an amateur sleuth. Here we meet her a few months later, stealing a few days away from being a wife and mother, attending a local conference on women’s liberation to do some soul-searching…

“My daughter Lucy wishes to spend her next long vacation on a kibbutz. Or perhaps I should say, as she’s at the University of Sussex, another kibbutz.” (Jim Hacker, Yes Minister, season 2)

There was something in those red bricks, wasn’t there? Sussex had the reputation alluded to in that episode of the greatest sitcom ever (fact: not opinion. Honest) My own alma mater, Stirling, was the place where the Queen was egged. Malcolm Bradbury and Tom Sharpe built literary careers on skewering the absurdities of the new universities and their idiosyncrasies.

And here, Isabella Muir reintroduces our heroine, Janie Juke librarian-turned-amateur sleuth Janie is a young Miss Marple, here married and back on the prowl as she attends that famously louche institution, thrusting the stifling Sussex atmosphere of the respectable classes with those long haired, rebellious students.

Picking up mere months after The Invisible Case, https://pajnewman.com/2021/02/09/aunty-and-niece-on-the-case, Muir continues her rich vein of form. Rattling along and wearing the writer’s love of Agatha Christie on her sleeve, the crime fighting duo of Juke and reporter Libby Frobisher are always welcome on the winter nights.

Purchase Link

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Notable-Omission-Janie-Juke-mystery-ebook/dp/B0BQCLRYS6

US – https://www.amazon.com/Notable-Omission-Janie-Juke-mystery-ebook/dp/B0BQCLRYS6

Author Bio –

Isabella is never happier than when she is immersing herself in the sights, sounds and experiences of family life in southern England in past decades – specifically those years from the Second World War through to the early 1970s. Researching all aspects of life back then has formed the perfect launch pad for her works of fiction. It was during two happy years working on and completing her MA in Professional Writing when Isabella rekindled her love of writing fiction and since then she has gone on to publish seven novels, six novellas and two short story collections.

This latest novel, ‘A Notable Omission’, is the fourth book in her successful Sussex Crime Mystery series, featuring young librarian and amateur sleuth, Janie Juke. The early books in the series are set in the late 1960s in the fictional seaside town of Tamarisk Bay, where we meet Janie, who looks after the mobile library. She is an avid lover of Agatha Christie stories – in particular Hercule Poirot. Janie uses all she has learned from the Queen of Crime to help solve crimes and mysteries. This latest novel in the series is set along the south coast in Brighton in early 1970, a time when young people were finding their voice and using it to rail against social injustice.

As well as four novels, there are six novellas in the series, set during the Second World War, exploring some of the back story to the Tamarisk Bay characters.

Isabella’s love of Italy shines through all her work and, as she is half-Italian, she has enjoyed bringing all her crime novels to an Italian audience with Italian translations, which are very well received.

Isabella has also written a second series of Sussex Crimes, set in the sixties, featuring retired Italian detective, Giuseppe Bianchi, who is escaping from tragedy in Rome, only to arrive in the quiet seaside town of Bexhill-on-Sea, East Sussex, to come face-to-face with it once more.

Isabella’s standalone novel, ‘The Forgotten Children’, deals with the emotive subject of the child migrants who were sent to Australia – again focusing on family life in the 1960s, when the child migrant policy was still in force.

Find out more about Isabella and her books by visiting her website at: http://www.isabellamuir.com

Social Media Links –

https://www.facebook.com/IsabellaMuirAuthor

All Under Control Here

‘Chaos at Carnegie Hall’ by Kelly Oliver

Also on the tour today, InsomniacBookwormBookreviews and Books by Bindu

Agatha Christie meets ‘Downton Abbey’ in the Fiona Figg and Kitty Lane Mystery series opener.

Can Fiona catch a killer and find a decent cup of tea before her moustache wax melts?

1917. New York.

Notorious spy, Fredrick Fredricks, has invited Fiona to Carnegie Hall to hear a famous soprano. It’s an opportunity the War Office can’t turn down. Fiona and Clifford are soon on their way, but not before Fiona is saddled with chaperon duties for Captain Hall’s niece. Is Fiona a spy or a glorified babysitter?

From the minute Fiona meets the soprano aboard the RMS Adriatic it’s treble on the high C’s. Fiona sees something—or someone—thrown overboard, and then she overhears a chemist plotting in German with one of her own countrymen!

And the trouble doesn’t stop when they disembark. Soon Fiona is doing time with a group of suffragettes and investigating America’s most impressive inventor Thomas Edison.

When her number one suspect turns up dead at the opera and Fredrick Fredricks is caught red-handed, it looks like it’s finally curtains for the notorious spy.

But all the evidence points to his innocence. Will Fiona change her tune and clear her nemesis’ name? Or will she do her duty? And just what is she going to do with the pesky Kitty Lane? Not to mention swoon-worthy Archie Somersby . . .

If Fiona’s going to come out on top, she’s going to have to make the most difficult decision of her life: the choice between her head and her heart.

In the best spirit of the Golden Age detective fiction, Kelly Oliver’s opening instalment of her new series, the Fiona Figg and Kitty Lane Mysteries.

Oliver is an accomplished author – her Pet Detective Mysteries are particular favourites of mine – and she is clearly a very busy lady (Professor of Philosophy too? Slow down, Prof, you’re showing the rest of us up).

Here, the Tennessee-based writer is ticking a number of my boxes – transatlantic travel, Golden Age setting, spies and espionage chicanery. What’s not to like?

Oliver has crafted an engaging cast of characters for such a cosy, escapist adventure. There’s a healthy dose of the appropriate period attitudes for Figg to navigate and we can only imagine the frustration which women of her ability must have felt at the shoddy nature of their treatment.

If you are looking for a tidily written, transatlantic romp in the best traditions of the old school, ‘Chaos at Carnegie Hall’ belings on your to be read pile.

Purchase Link – https://amzn.to/3dMIUoT

Author Bio –

Kelly Oliver is the award-winning, bestselling author of three mysteries series: The Jessica James Mysteries, The Pet Detective Mysteries, and the historical cozies The Fiona Figg Mysteries, set in WW1. She is also the Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at Vanderbilt University and lives in Nashville, Tennessee. She is bringing new titles in the Fiona Figg series to Boldwood, the first of which, ‘Chaos in Carnegie Hall’, will be published in November 2022.

Social Media Links –  

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kellyoliverauthor 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/kellyoliverbook 

Bookbub profile: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/kelly-oliver

Golden by Name…

‘Spruced Up for Murder’ by Helen Golden

Death at Francis Court Now Confirmed as Murder!

Speculation is rife that the victim, estate manager Alex Sterling (44), was found by Lady Beatrice (35), the Countess of Rossex, niece of King James. Lady Beatrice, who has finally come out of hiding following her son’s departure to boarding school, has been managing the project to refurbish and redesign the Events Suite at Francis Court, alongside Perry Juke.

Heading up the murder investigation is Detective Chief Inspector Richard Fitzwilliam. Rumour has it that he and Lady Beatrice have a fractious history…

Awful man! How dare Fitzwilliam suggest Lady Beatrice’s sister is the number one suspect for Alex’s murder. It could be any one of the staff who were on-site that morning. Well, she’ll show Mr High and Mighty Fitzwilliam! With her attention to detail, her clever dog Daisy, Perry’s imagination, and his partner’s contacts at Fenshire CID, they’ll find the murderer before him.

Unless the murderer finds her first…

Early on in ‘Spruced Up for Murder’, Helen Golden’s delightful tale of murder amongst the minor aristocracy, there is a scene where a mother needs to channel her best stiff upper lip impression as her son departs for boarding school.

I well remember the handshake I was given as my parent drove away leaving me at my public school and the sight of my mother dabbing at her eyes as the car pulled away.

It is an image which has been much in my mind lately due to her increasingly diminished health the caring role I have now assumed. There’s an entire circle of life thing going on which seems to fit with the autumnal weather, the turning of the leaves doing some form of work for the pathetic fallacy as they turn their golden hues, die and descend to the ground.

All of which is adding an air of poignancy to a jaunty little novel which nips along with pacy plotting and a dash of humour which makes the medicine of murder go down sweetly. Short, punchy chapters, characters who say things like, “oh my giddy aunt,” and the internecine squabbles between the fairly haughty Countess of Rossex and our Chief Inspector Fitzwilliam make this a perfect mystery for the rapidly cooling nights by the fire.

Purchase Links

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Spruced-Murder-Right-Royal-Investigation-ebook/dp/B0BDGN7PSB

Amazon US – https://www.amazon.com/Spruced-Murder-Right-Royal-Investigation-ebook/dp/B0BDGN7PSB

Author Bio –

Hello. I’m Helen Golden. I write British contemporary cozy whodunnits with a hint of humour. I live in small village in Lincolnshire in the UK with my husband, my step-daughter, her two cats, our two dogs, sometimes my step-son, and our tortoise.

I used to work in senior management, but after my recent job came to a natural end I had the opportunity to follow my dreams and start writing. It’s very early in my life as an author, but so far I’m loving it.

It’s crazy busy at our house, so when I’m writing I retreat to our caravan (an impulsive lockdown purchase) which is mostly parked on our drive. When I really need total peace and quiet, I take it to a lovely site about 15 minutes away and hide there until my family runs out of food or clean clothes

Social Media Links – insta – https://www.instagram.com/helengolden_author/

Tik Tok – https://www.tiktok.com/@helengoldenauthor  

Website – https://helengoldenauthor.com/

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/helengoldenauthor

Warm Prose with Williams

‘Murder in Tuscany’ by TA Williams

Also on the tour today, Scrapping&Playing and The Book Decoder

A remote retreat…

Nestled high in the Tuscan hills lies Villa Volpone, home to renowned crime writer Jonah Moore and his creative writing course. It’s also the last place retired DCI Dan Armstrong expected to spend his retirement! Dan’s no writer, but maybe this break will help him to think about the next chapter in his own life story?

A gruesome murder…

But only days into the course, Jonah Moore is found stabbed to death with his award-winning silver dagger! And Dan finds himself pulled out of retirement with a killer to catch.

Eleven possible suspects.

The other guests all seem shocked by Jonah’s death, but Dan knows that one of them must be lying. And as he and Italian Commissario Virgilio Pisano begin to investigate it quickly becomes clear that everyone at Villa Volpone has secrets to hide…

But can Dan discover who the murderer is before they strike again?

Purchase Link: https://amzn.to/3Pnw7q3

I’ve never met TA Williams but I can’t help thinking that I would get on with him. I respected his courage to unapologetically write romantic as a man and not be embarrassed by that. I like reading them and still feel like an outlier for doing so.

I’ve reviewed a couple of Williams’ earlier novels in this genre, ‘A Little Piece of Paradise’ and ‘A Chance in a Million’. These are two impressively accomplished examples of their genre (you should definitely check them out if this is your sort of thing.)

Another thing I definitely have in common with Mr Williams is a love of Italy. La Dolce Vita – yes please. I would happily have been zipping about on a Vespa in a well cut suit on my way for a tiny coffee under sunny skies if I wasn’t a pasty middle aged Englishman in dreary Britain.

And now he’s branching out into crime fiction. Well, yes please, grazie mille!

‘A Murder in Tuscany’ is just as accomplished, entertaining and well written as we have come to expect from Williams. There’s the Agatha Christie-style limited suspect line up, there’s the exotic location, putting readers in mind of Donna Leon or Michael Dibden and there’s the easy going charm of the flowing prose which is all Williams.

As the nights draw in and the fire goes on, I’ve really enjoyed curling up with DCI Dan Armstrong and Oscar as the retired detective finds himself pulled back into the fray of another murder.

Bravo! Bellissimo!

Author Bio –

T A Williams is the author of over twenty bestselling romances for HQ and Canelo and is now turning his hand to cosy crime, set in his beloved Italy, for Boldwood. The series will introduce us to retired DCI Armstrong and his labrador Oscar and the first book, entitled ‘Murder in Tuscany’, will be published in October 2022. Trevor lives in Devon with his Italian wife.

Social Media Links –   

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TrevorWilliamsBooks

Twitter: https://twitter.com/TAWilliamsBooks

Boldwood’s IG account – https://www.instagram.com/bookandtonic/

Theatrical Frames, Plenty of Twists

You can support the blog by purchasing ‘The Twist of a Knife’ from Bookshop.org here

‘Our deal is over.’

That’s what reluctant author Anthony Horowitz tells ex-detective Daniel Hawthorne in an awkward meeting. The truth is that Anthony has other things on his mind.

His new play, ‘Mindgame’, is about to open in London’s Vaudeville theatre. Not surprisingly Hawthorne declines a ticket.

On opening night, ‘Sunday Times’ critic Harriet Throsby gives the play a savage review, focusing particularly on the writing. The next morning she is found dead, stabbed in the heart with an ornamental dagger which, it turns out, belongs to Anthony and which has his finger prints all over it.

Anthony is arrested, charged with Throsby’s murder, thrown into prison and interrogated.

Alone and increasingly desperate, he realises only one man can help him.

But will Hawthorne take his call?
(Synopsis courtesy of Penguin)

Everyone is always so grouchy about targeted advertising. Big companies like Amazon and Apple mining your online behaviour to sell you products people like you have already bought, their algorithms churning away in the background to manipulate you into parting with your hard earned cash.

I get it. It’s never nice to feel like a sheep, manipulated and herded. Netflix’s documentary, ‘The Social Dilemma‘ does an excellent job of exploring the dystopian overtones of how we live now.

But, here’s the thing – sometimes, it’s quite nice to be offered products people like you would like. Those algorithms are really just the video rental clerks of the 80s, but with about the same level of interaction skills and better personal hygiene.

So, I suspect I was the proverbial fish in a barrel when Audible told me the daily deal was Anthony Horowitz’s ‘A Line to Kill’.

Firstly, it’s written by Anthony Horowitz. I’ve written elsewhere of my affection for the latest adaptation of his Baby Bond series, ‘Alex Ryder, and I have taught the first in that series, Stormbreaker, https://uk.bookshop.org/a/10526/9781406360196 for a good number of years now.

Secondly, I had just finished reading his second James bond continuation novel, ‘Forever and a Day’, the single best continuation of that franchise in literary form since Kingsley Amis’ ‘Colonel Sun written under the pseudonym Robert Markham .

Finally, there was the setting. Alderney is the only Channel Island I have been to – as a child no less – but even as a teen I could see its potential as a locked room murder mystery setting. Throw in a literary festival – very much my “thang” and I was in.

Well, hooked does not do justice. I’ve now read – or more accurately had read to me by the superb Rory Kinnear – all of the novels in the series. Kinnear is – somewhat confusingly – the voice of Anthony Horowitz. Because what this series needed was more meta-overtones.

The latest novel in the series, Book 4, ‘The Twist of a Knife’, continues the conceit of having Horowitz as his own Watson, trailing along behind enigmatic private detective Hawthorne as he strides out in front.

Horowitz clearly has some fun depicting himself as vain and whiny in a way which must have been delightful to write but is also quite cruel and he continues to let Hawthorne get away with all the best lines.

At the opening of the novel, narrator Anthony has to grapple with the reluctance to write any more books in this series and the indisputable fact that the reader is holding/listening to the book he is refusing to write. A deliciously meta conundrum if you like that sort of thing: I do.

The US cover of ‘A Twist of the Knife

As well as being one of the most successful and clearly the hardest working writers in the UK today, Horowitz is a master craftsman. And in these novels, he deploys all of his well-honed talents to best effect.

Suspects are introduced, dismissed and re-interviewed. The theatre is also a motif in another excellent novel of this year, ‘Bad Actors’ by Mick Herron. However, Horowitz does not succumb to the temptation of making theatre related pun after pun. But, Hawthorne can’t resist an Agatha Christie dénouement and it arrives with a welcome theatrical flourish.

Narrator Anthony is worried that the books have run out of steam – after all, he’s even run out of writing allusions after ‘A Line to Kill’ (probably best he didn’t go with ‘The Pun-ishment is Death’ for this one in fairness). He’s damned if he’s going have them named Hawthorne Investigates as well: but, as a reader, I don’t think he need worry.

This is a series with plenty more puff in the tank and for anyone who likes classic murder mystery fiction, crafted by a professional at the top of their game, this is for them.

Purchase Links:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Twist-Knife-bestselling-Hawthorne-Horowitz-ebook/dp/B09MF6Z1CQ

Audible: https://www.audible.co.uk/pd/The-Twist-of-a-Knife-Audiobook/B09TCSCZGN

Blackwells: https://blackwells.co.uk/bookshop/product/9781529124323?a_aid=prh

Bookshop.org: https://uk.bookshop.org/a/10526/9781529124323

Foyles: https://www.foyles.co.uk/all?term=9781529124323&aCode=AFW&awc=1414_1661248936_a7999c61868fb301e8f14dce21d3b564

Waterstones: https://www.waterstones.com/book/the-twist-of-a-knife/anthony-horowitz/2928377085537

Author Bio:

Bestselling author Anthony Horowitz has written two highly acclaimed Sherlock Holmes novels, ‘The House of Silk’ and ‘Moriarty’; three James Bond novels, ‘Trigger Mortis’, ‘Forever and a Day’ and ‘With a Mind to Kill‘; the acclaimed bestselling mystery novels ‘Magpie Murders’ and ‘Moonflower Murders’ and the Detective Hawthorne novels, ‘The Word is Murder’, ‘The Sentence is Death‘, ‘A Line To Kill’, and the latest ‘A Twist of Knife’ is out in August 2022.

He is also the author of the teen spy Alex Rider series, and responsible for creating and writing some of the UK’s most loved and successful TV series, including ‘Midsomer Murders’ and ‘Foyle’s War’. In January 2022 he was awarded a CBE for his services to literature. (Biography courtesy of https://www.penguin.co.uk/authors/185113/anthony-horowitz?tab=penguin-biography)

Social Media

Twitter: @AnthonyHorowitz

Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/anthony-horowitz/

Baddies in Braddie

‘Unjust Bias’ by Liz Mistry

Also on the tour today, Once Upon A Time Book Reviews, Bibliophilverse, Jane Hunt Writer, Nesie’s Place

A murdered boy disowned by his family.

A teen terrified his past will catch up with him.

A girl with nowhere to go.

Men with rage so visceral they will do anything.

With the unsolved murder of a homeless boy still preying on his mind, DI Gus McGuire is confronted with a similar murder, a missing teen and no clues.

Does the answer lie with an illegal dark web site where ‘slaves’ are auctioned off? Or with an online forum for teens?

How can Gus keep people safe when unjust bias rears its head and being different could cost you your life…?

I’ve only been to Bradford once. I was about eight years old and it was the sort of Keystone Cops holidays my parents specialised in: we travelled to Bradford from some god-forsaken location, the car got a puncture, my Dad’s tooth fell out when biting into a flowery bap twinned with a concrete breezeblock, we couldn’t the KwikFit which had the car.

My overwhelming memory, however, was the Film and Television Museum. It had, what was then, the only IMAX cinema in the UK and a chance to try and be a newsreader, reading an autocue. I couldn’t do it. I cried.

They also had a gigantic copy of that famous mugshot photo of Myra Hindley. After getting my mum to explain who she was, I tootled off but that night, I came down in floods of tears, scared that this real life monster was going to get me.

A tough street kid I was not.

A writer who deals with real life monsters, is Liz Mistry. I reviewed another of her Bradford-set crime novels in February 2021, ‘Dark Memories’. https://pajnewman.com/2021/02/07/unravelling-the-mistry-of-bradford/

‘Unjust Bias’ clearly shares DNA with this earlier novel. Mistry’s hard-bitten representation of the city is here. Her predilection for shifting narrative stances from first to third and back again depending upon the character focus of the chapter is there and her obvious interest in the on-going psychological effects of the world upon these people is baked through the stories like logos through a stick of rock.

These are not happy-go-lucky, easy readers with a cozy element. These are dark and realistic depictions of a hard world and bad things happening to people in the wrong place at the wrong time.

But Mistry is a very fine writer and her Bradford is becoming a character in the way that Rankin’s Edinburgh is central to understanding the events.

Purchase Links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Unjust-Bias-different-Fiction-Procedural-ebook/dp/B0B61NXSZK/

US – https://www.amazon.com/Unjust-Bias-different-Fiction-Procedural-ebook/dp/B0B61NXSZK/

Author Bio –

Born in Scotland, Made in Bradford sums up Liz Mistry’s life. Over thirty years ago she moved from a small village in West Lothian to Yorkshire to get her teaching degree. Once here, Liz fell in love with three things; curries, the rich cultural diversity of the city … and her Indian husband (not necessarily in this order). Now thirty years, three children, two cats and a huge extended family later, Liz uses her experiences of living and working in the inner city to flavour her writing. Her gritty crime fiction police procedural novels set in Bradford embrace the city she describes as ‘Warm, Rich and Fearless’ whilst exploring the darkness that lurks beneath.

Struggling with severe clinical depression and anxiety for a large number of years, Liz often includes mental health themes in her writing. She credits the MA in Creative Writing she took at Leeds Trinity University with helping her find a way of using her writing to navigate her ongoing mental health struggles. Being a debut novelist in her fifties was something Liz had only dreamed of and she counts herself lucky, whilst pinching herself regularly to make sure it’s all real. One of the nicest things about being a published author is chatting with and responding to readers’ feedback and Liz regularly does events at local libraries, universities, literature festivals and open mics. She also teaches creative writing too.  Liz has completed a PhD in Creative Writing on Diverse voices in crime fiction.

In her spare time, Liz loves pub quizzes (although she admits to being rubbish at them), dancing (she does a mean jig to Proud Mary – her opinion, not ratified by her family), visiting the varied Yorkshire landscape, with Robin Hoods Bay being one of her favourite coastal destinations, listening to music, reading and blogging about all things crime fiction on her blog, The Crime Warp. 

Social Media Links –

Twitter: @LizMistryAuthor  

Facebook: @LizMistryBooks 

Website: lizmistry.com

Someone Had Been Telling Lies About Ellis Neill

‘The Discarded’ by Louis van Schalkwyk

A fast paced thriller you won’t forget!

Also on the tour today, Sylv.net and Peacock’s Book Review


‘There were many moments where I can honestly say ‘I did not see that coming’’ – Tina Simpson

Ellis Neill wakes up next to his family one morning, just as he had done for the last ten years, unaware that it would be his last taste of freedom.

His life soon spirals out of control and he is cast into a remote prison in the Arctic wilderness where nothing is as it seems, the inmates rule and a sinister figure wants him and his family dead.

Resulting from carefully laid plans he is plunged into a fight for survival, sanity and saving those he loves.

Early on in Louis van Schalkwyk’s debut, ‘The Discarded’, there is a fleeting reference to ‘Rambo: First Blood’. Now, while I don’t know whether children’s toy manufacturers are really referencing 40 year old movies to market their products but I also thought it set an interesting tone to van Schalkwyk’s piece.

This is Rambo crossed with Kafka – a man caught up in mystery he doesn’t really understand while all around him the world appears to have gone mad.

What ‘The Discarded’ (and Rambo in fairness) have but Kafka and ‘The Trial’ most certainly do not, is action packed fight scenes with crunching bones and the smell of blood and leather as faces are struck.

Central protagonist Ellis is forced out into the wilds and has to survive in extreme scenarios all the while looking to clear his name and ensure the safety of his family.

An exciting, action packed novel with a fast pace and a debutant writer demonstrating a clear grasp of how to thrill readers and keep the narrative moving.


‘A masterpiece of a story with thrills and twists!’ – Laura, reviewer

Purchase Link – http://mybook.to/thediscarded

Author Bio

Louis van Schalkwyk was born in South Africa and currently resides in Hong Kong. “The Discarded” is his debut novel, inspired by years honing his writing skills and drawing influence from his favorite authors. When Louis isn’t writing he enjoys reading and sampling various cuisines with his wife, Courtney.

Social Media Links –

Author

https://www.facebook.com/louisvsauthor

https://www.instagram.com/louisvsauthor/

https://mobile.twitter.com/louisvanschalk3

Publisher

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/kingsleypublishers/?hl=en-gb

Twitter – https://twitter.com/kingsleypublis1

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Reaping What Was Sown

‘A Harvest Murder’ by Frances Evesham

Also on the tour today Scrapping&Playing and Niki Preston

You can read a previous review of a Frances Evesham novel here: https://pajnewman.com/2021/11/14/murder-and-mayhem-ideal-for-the-time-of-year/

One unexplained disappearance is strange, but two are sinister.

In Lower Hembrow, an idyllic village nestled beneath Ham Hill in Somerset, the villagers are preparing to enjoy the autumn traditions of the rural English countryside until Joe Trevillion, a curmudgeonly local farmer and the father of six children, vanishes.

When Adam Hennessy, the ex-detective proprietor of The Plough, the village’s popular Inn, investigates, he finds ominous undercurrents beneath apparently harmless rumour and gossip.

Meanwhile, a vicious campaign of vindictiveness forces Adam and his three amateur sleuth friends to dig deep into the secret lives of their neighbours to expose the source of a cruel vendetta and prevent another death.

As they uncover the disturbing truth, the friends learn they must also lay their own past lives to rest before they can hope to make their dreams for the future come true.

One of the first jobs I ever had was a freelance gig writing pieces profiling towns for Sussex Life magazine. The money was fine – scarily this is at least 20 years ago and I doubt I could earn as much freelancing now as I did then – but what was really interesting was the opportunity to go nosing about the villages of the Home Counties and trying to pry under their skin a bit.

I’m not exactly sure what it is in crime fiction which attracts us to these small, rural villages but from Agatha Christie through GK Chesterton via Margery Allingham and right up to some of the writers working today – Fiona Leitch, Isabella Muir, Anna Legat and Simon Whaley – readers can’t get enough of peering behind the net curtain and white washed walls of the small English village.

Frances Evesham here provides another accomplished entry into the genre. Lower Hembrow is everything this sort of village should: picturesque, nicely appointed church, local pub.

And, obviously, dark undercurrent with disappearances and dark secrets from the past threatening to raise their ugly heads.

I know Raymond Chandler wanted to take murder out of the drawing rooms and put it back in the streets, but in the same way that Chandler was a Dulwich College educated public schoolboy, I like my murders cozy and my villages adorning the pages of Somerset Life.

Heartily recommended for fans of Midsomer Murders, Miss Marple and Poirot, A Harvest Murder arrives at the best time of year and should allow you a pleasant read as the workers gather the crops around you.

Purchase Link – https://amzn.to/3tNDDDd

Author Bio –

Frances Evesham is the bestselling author of the hugely successful Exham-on-Sea murder mysteries set in her home county of Somerset, and the Ham-Hill cosy crime series set in South Somerset.

Social Media Links

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/frances.evesham.writer/

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Bookbub profile: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/frances-evesham

Junior West(Minster) Wing

‘Mystery in the Palace of Westminster’ by Sarah Lustig

Also on the tour today, The Pufflekitteh Reads

Theo Duncan is just an ordinary student. Except he also happens to be the son of the Prime Minister, Will Duncan. 

When the parliamentary mace is stolen from inside the Houses of Parliament, Theo is determined to help his dad get it back. But he can’t do it alone. And when help is offered, there’s a problem. It comes from the new girl at school, Sammy Jhor, who’s a supporter of the opposition party. 

Theo and Sammy form an unlikely team to spy on government officials, sneak through the corridors of Downing Street and pursue the thief through the Palace of Westminster. 

But when the evidence points to suspects at the highest levels of government, finding the thief could threaten Will Duncan’s leadership. 

Can Theo and Sammy put aside their differences to find the mace – and the thief – before the government is brought to its knees? 

As always with anything which touches on politics in literature, there is the difficulty of life colliding with fiction.

For example, reading this frightfully nice book aimed at children/young adults, the thing which most stands out for a reader in the contemporary age is exactly this collision.

Hear teenage son of a Prime Minister, think Euan Blair.

Hear a Prime Minister even deigning to acknowledge paternity of a child think, ‘Nope, not going to happen’.

Also unbelievable in the modern age – a PM in any way interested in things “like recovering the parliamentary mace and by extension the legitimacy of the government.’ Our glorious leader prefer proroguing.

None of this is the fault of Sarah Lustig who has written a nice, old fashioned novel set around the aforementioned recovery of the mace of state.

Poor 14 – nearly 15, mind – Theo has to contend with the usual embarrassing parents, except his father is flanked by armed personal protection officers and he can’t open his front door without cameras clicking and journalists shouting questions.

On the bright side, Samira (Sammy ) Jhor has just joined his school, and now his heart is aflutter while they set off on a quest to help his father.

I enjoy these sort of young adult(ish) novels when they come across the review queue. A criticism might be that they central protagonists always seem very young – I work in high schools. 15 year olds aren’t this nice. There’s lot more single entendre and vaping.

However, in a world where the Home Secretary would no doubt be deporting Samira unless her parents donated a tennis game’s worth of cash in a suitcase to prove she wasn’t the wrong kind of immigrant and the Prime Minister is trying to spend his time crowbarring his partner into six figure government careers whilst simultaneously turning the heart of government into the last days of Nero’s Rome, it is nice to read a novel as well written, pure hearted and entertaining as ‘Mystery in the Palace of Westminster’.

I sincerely wish that those at the top in the real world has as much civic responsibility and interest in doing what is right for the country as 14 year old Theo.

This is as assured a debut as I have read by an author working in this genre and I look forward to Book Two immensely.  

Purchase Links

https://www.sarahlustig.com/product-page/mystery-in-the-palace-of-westminster

https://www.waterstones.com/book/mystery-in-the-palace-of-westminster/sarah-lustig/9781739773601

Author Bio –

Sarah Lustig grew up in London and went to school in Westminster, with politicians’ children. Her experiences at school and interest in politics inspired the idea for the Westminster Mysteries series. Mystery in the Palace of Westminster is her debut novel. She has been a book editor for nearly 15 years and now lives in Buckinghamshire, where she spends her time reading, writing and pottering on her balcony garden.

Social Media Links –

https://www.instagram.com/sarahlbooks/