Murder in Midwinter by Various Authors (Review)

Murder in Midwinter: Ten Classic Crime Stories for Christmas by Various. 

Blurb

Midwinter. As snow falls softly outside and frost sparkles on tree branches, it’s time to curl up before a roaring fire, wrap your hands around a steaming mug of mulled wine, and forget your worries for now.

But as the temperature drops outside, malice is sharpening its claws … and murder walks abroad. In these classic stories of mystery and mayhem, let ten of the great crime writers in history surprise and delight you with twists and turns as shocking as an icicle in the heart.

Featuring stories by Dorothy L. Sayers, Cyril Hare, Anthony Berkeley, Ruth Rendell, Margery Allingham, Ellis Peters … and more.

Review

I love the books from the Murderous Christmas Stories series and tend to read one every December to help put me in the festive spirit. Although I was surprised to find that this book only actually had 3 stories set at Christmas and the rest were set in the Autumn or Winter months, but I suppose it is called Murder in Midwinter rather than Murder at Christmas.

I enjoyed all but one of the stories but my favourites were The Adventure of the Beryl Coronet by Arthur Conan Doyle and Rumpole and the Health Farm Murder by John Mortimer. Rumpole was a brilliant character and made me laugh a great deal, he is set in his ways and no matter how much his wife tries he will not change. Sherlock was up to his usual fantastic deductions in The Adventure of the Beryl Coronet. 

There was only one story in the book that I was not keen on which was the first one in the book The Queen’s Square by Sayers. I really did not get into it and found the relentless costume descriptions rather boring. However, thankfully I did not let the story put me off the rest of the book because the rest of the stories were excellent. 

Overall, I give this book 5 out of 5 Dragons because to be honest Rumpole and the Health Farm deserves 5 Dragons all to itself because I enjoyed it so much. 

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Purchase Links

Book Depository | Foyles | Waterstones | Wordery

(All purchases made using one of the above affiliate links gives a small percentage of money to myself with no extra cost to yourself. All proceeds go towards the upkeep of this blog. Thank you ever so much, your support is gratefully received.)

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The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie (Review)

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie

Blurb

Roger Ackroyd knew too much. He knew that the woman he loved had poisoned her brutal first husband. He suspected also that someone had been blackmailing her. Then, tragically, came the news that she had taken her own life with an apparent drug overdose.

However, the evening post brought Roger one last fatal scrap of information, but before he could finish reading the letter, he was stabbed to death. Luckily one of Roger’s friends and the newest resident to retire to this normally quiet village takes over—none other than Monsieur Hercule Poirot . . .

Review

Is there anything better than reading a book where the great detective Hercule Poirot is first introduced on the scene by him hurling a marrow over his garden fence? In my humble opinion no and I burst out laughing when it happened. I just love how eccentric Poirot is in the books which they never capture in the TV series, he is far too serious on TV in my opinion. 

The book is narrated not by the usual Hastings but by Doctor Sheppard. The good doctor lives with his sister Caroline who is a spinster who lives to find out all the gossip of their tiny village. This leaves the poor doctor rather exasperated and you can tell his life with his sister is one that he would happily like to escape at times. This means that the doctor jumps at the chance to be the sidekick of Poirot as Poirot investigates the murder of Roger Ackroyd. 

Roger Ackroyd is a very wealthy man with a step son who always needs money and a sister in law and a niece who are now in his care and also want his money. But Roger Ackroyd is very tight with his money, he also knows too much. So when Roger Ackroyd is found murdered his friend Poirot is asked to investigate. 

Poirot has apparently retired from his detective work and is now growing marrows in the country. However, you can tell that he relishes the chance to investigate the crime and leave his marrows to themselves. Poirot is on fine form in this book and I just love how quite often the inspector and Dr Sheppard think that Poirot has lost the plot and is not what he used to be. But in true Poirot fashion that is exactly what he wants people to think. 

Christie throws so many red herrings at you in this book that I spent all my time thinking it’s him! it’s her! I have no clue anymore! I definitely did not see the ending and even now I’m still not sure that the ending is all as it seems. Is Christie still holding something back? I give this book 5 out of 5 Dragons. 

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Purchase Links

Book Depository | Foyles | Waterstones | Wordery

About the author

Agatha Christie (1890-1976) was an English writer known for her 66 detective novels and 14 short story collections. She also wrote the world’s longest running play, The Mousetrap. She also wrote 6 novels under the name Mary Westmacott.

If you enjoy reading my blog and would like to make a donation I would be very grateful. Thank you

The Secret of Chimneys by Agatha Christie (Review)

The Secret of Chimneys by Agatha Christie

Blurb

What is The Secret of Chimneys? A young drifter finds out when a favour for a friend pulls him into the heart of a deadly conspiracy in this captivating classic from Agatha Christie.

Little did Anthony Cade suspect that an errand for a friend would place him at the centre of a deadly conspiracy. Drawn into a web of intrigue, he begins to realise that the simple favour has placed him in serious danger.

As events unfold, the combined forces of Scotland Yard and the French Sûreté gradually converge on Chimneys, the great country estate that hides an amazing secret. . . . 

Review

This was the next book in my Christie challenge and I think it is probably my favourite so far. I really could not put this book down and just loved all the red herrings that Christie throws at you. 

Now I will be honest there is an element of the ridiculous in this story and usually that annoys me but this time I just found it added to the story. Anthony Cade is doing a favour for a friend because the money is good and because he likes an outrageous adventure and he thinks that this favour will throw him into some interesting circumstances and he is not disappointed. 

As the story moves on Cade is drawn to the house Chimneys which is the setting of a house party for political reasons. Virginia Revel is also at this house party and she is definitely the star of the show. Virginia is a woman that men find themselves drawn to and she knows how to use this to her advantage. She is also a woman who likes a weird experience or adventure and because of this she finds herself dealing with the mysterious events at Chimneys. 

This is essentially a political thriller with a few surprises and some fun characters. The book is fast paced like Bundle’s driving, who I also think was my favourite character. I must admit I did not see the ending at all which was really good because I hate a predictable book. I happily give this book 5 out of 5 Dragons.

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Purchase links

Book Depository | Foyles | Waterstones | Wordery

(All purchases made using one of the above affiliate links gives a small percentage of money to myself with no extra cost to yourself. All proceeds go towards the upkeep of this blog. Thank you ever so much, your support is gratefully received.)

About the author

Agatha Christie (1890-1976) was an English writer known for her 66 detective novels and 14 short story collections. She also wrote the world’s longest running play, The Mousetrap. She also wrote 6 novels under the name Mary Westmacott.

If you enjoy reading my blog and would like to make a donation I would be very grateful. Thank you

The Night Hawks by Elly Griffiths (Review)

The Night Hawks by Elly Griffiths

Blurb

The night hawks, a group of metal detectorists, are searching for buried treasure when they find a body on the beach. DCI Nelson believes that the dead man might be an asylum seeker, but he turns out to be a local boy, Jem Taylor, recently released from prison.

Review

I do love a Dr Ruth Galloway novel so I was very happy when I finally got my hands on a copy of this book. 

Ruth has moved back to Norfolk and is back living in her little cottage in the middle of nowhere. However, not everything is the same because she is now head of the department she used to work for and that means she has staff working for her and she has hired a new lecturer. 

Ruth is called out to examine a site of interest that the metal detectorists were digging when they found a body on the same beach. This means that Ruth is back working with DCI Nelson and even though she tries to not think about him her mind is always drawn to him and wishes to see more of him. Nelson on the other hand does not know what to think but knows his life can not go on the way it is and he needs to make some decisions but one thing is for sure and that is he is not retiring!

As the story unfolds more bodies are discovered some new, some old and one not even human and Nelson and Ruth start to unpick the threads of the case. The one frustrating thing for me was the room that looked like a doctors surgery, why did Nelson not investigate it immediately? Surely it was suspicious to the police because it certainly was to me. The other thing that I found frustrating was the massive clue that Ruth ignored regarding the text messages, as a reader it was obvious so I was screaming at the book at this point. 

The character that most annoyed me was David the new lecturer, he was rather rude at times and forced his company on people. Overall, I think he was socially awkward and struggled with people but considering his background it was to be expected. Towards the end though he came across as rather sweet. 

I really enjoyed this book but the reason it did not get the full five Dragons and only four from me was due to the characters ignoring alarmingly obvious things which frustrated me whilst reading. 

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Purchase Links

Book Depository | Foyles | Waterstones | Wordery

(All purchases made using one of the above affiliate links gives a small percentage of money to myself with no extra cost to yourself. All proceeds go towards the upkeep of this blog. Thank you ever so much, your support is gratefully received.)

About the author

Elly Griffiths was born in London and began her career in publishing, she then turned to writing full time. In 2016 she won the CWA Dagger in the Library for her work. Griffiths lives in Brighton with her family and the cat Gus.

If you enjoy reading my blog and would like to make a donation I would be very grateful. Thank you

The Carter of La Providence by Georges Simenon (Review)

The Carter of La Providence by Georges Simenon

Blurb

What was the woman doing here?

In a stable, wearing pearl earrings, her stylish bracelet and white buckskin shoes!

She must have been alive when she got there because the crime had been committed after ten in the evening.

But how? And why? And no one had heard a thing! She had not screamed. The two carters had not woken up.

If the whip had not been mislaid, it was likely the body might not have been discovered for a couple of weeks or a month, by chance when someone turned over the straw.

And other carters passing through would have snored the night away next to a woman’s corpse!

These questions lead Maigret into an unfamiliar world of canals, with its run down cafes, shadowy towpaths, and eccentric inhabitants.

Review

I have been enjoying the Maigret books and I read this one in one sitting as I couldn’t put it down. 

Maigret finds himself investigating another murder case and this one is a big mystery. A very finely dressed woman has been found dead in a stable and nobody knows how she got there. Nobody heard a thing, not even the two carters who were sleeping in the stable with the horses. This means Maigret finds himself having to learn all about lock gates and the ways of the canal. 

The people of the canal are an eccentric bunch and you can tell this annoys Maigret at times but not as much as having to stay in such a run down hotel. Maigret really does like his home comforts. This was another book that I felt sorry for Mrs Maigret who was not even mentioned in this book and Maigret never even bothered to ring her the whole time he was away on the case.

Maigret slowly pieces together all the evidence to eventually get to the answers he needs to find out who the murderer is. I will be honest the murderer was a complete and utter surprise to me and I did not see it until Maigret revealed who it was. There were so many other possibilities of who the killer could have been.

I will be honest the character I most despised was the Colonel in this story and to be honest I disliked the whole party from the yacht and found it all very suspicious and weird. Maigret also felt the same way I think.

My favourite part of the book was the very long bike ride that Maigret did to catch up with a boat and Maigret realising he had been cycling for hours and hadn’t even stopped for a beer. The bike ride was probably also the longest part of the book where Maigret did not have his pipe clamped between his teeth.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and give this 4 out of 5 Dragons. 

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Purchase Links

Book Depository | Foyles | Waterstones | Wordery

(All purchases made using one of the above affiliate links gives a small percentage of money to myself with no extra cost to yourself. All proceeds go towards the upkeep of this blog. Thank you ever so much, your support is gratefully received.)

About the author

Georges Simenon (1903-1989) was a Belgian writer who published nearly 500 novels and many short stories. Simenon is best known as the creator of the Maigret stories.

The Murder on the Links by Agatha Christie (Review)

The Murder on the Links by Agatha Christie

Blurb

An urgent cry for help brings Poirot to France. But he arrives too late to save his client, whose brutally stabbed body now lies face downwards in a shallow grave on a golf course.

But why is the dead man wearing his son’s overcoat? And who was the impassioned love-letter in the pocket for? Before Poirot can answer these questions, the case is turned upside down by the discovery of a second, identically murdered corpse . . . 

Review

This is the second full length Poirot novel I have read and I will be honest it kept me on my toes. This book is so full of red herrings I was never sure of who the murderer was until Poirot explained all at the end. 

The more I read the Poirot stories the more I realise just how amazing he is and far better than the TV version. Poirot is funny, eccentric, cheeky and quite naughty at times. Hastings is his usual useless and silly self, always jumping to the wrong conclusions and getting into trouble. 

In this book Poirot and Hastings rush off to France to help a man who has written begging for Poirot’s help as he believes his life is in danger. However, when they get there they realise that they are too late and instead of protecting someone they have a murder to solve instead. 

Poirot has competition in the form of the young French detective Giraud. Giraud believes Poirot is a dinosaur and believes that Poirot will never solve the murder because his methods are old fashioned. Giraud rather amusingly spends most of the time on his hands and knees crawling around for clues and generally not finding them. 

There are so many things that do not add up in this murder but Poirot uses his little grey cells to work them out and also finds time to sort out Hastings’ love life. I also loved how Poirot sometimes called himself Papa Poirot to Hastings. 

I really enjoyed this book and I loved learning more about Poirot’s character but did find Hastings very annoying at times. Christie is so clever at writing a murder plot with so many different aspects you never see what is really happening until the end. I give this book 4 out of 5 Dragons.

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Purchase Links

Book Depository | Foyles | Waterstones | Wordery

(All purchases made using one of the above affiliate links gives a small percentage of money to myself with no extra cost to yourself. All proceeds go towards the upkeep of this blog. Thank you ever so much, your support is gratefully received.)

About the author

Agatha Christie (1890-1976) was an English writer known for her 66 detective novels and 14 short story collections. She also wrote the world’s longest running play, The Mousetrap. She also wrote 6 novels under the name Mary Westmacott.

If you enjoy reading my blog and would like to make a donation I would be very grateful. Thank you

Christmas Murder: A Chilling Short Story Collection by Val McDermid (Review)

Christmas is Murder: A Chilling Short Story Collection by Val McDermid

Blurb

The Queen of Crime Val McDermid is a master of the dark and sinister story, and these powers are demonstrated in full force in Christmas is Murder, a festive collection of chilling tales.

From an irresponsible baron whose body is discovered beneath a silver birch tree, to an author who is haunted by the spiteful presence of a jealous writing partner, the characters McDermid conjures are enigmatic and dangerous, never above suspicion.

Follow Tony Hill and Carol Jordan as they track a deadly killer who is preparing to strike on Christmas Day, and lose yourself in a festive exclusive – a recently unearthed case for a classic detective duo, set as the lights are going out across Europe.

These evocative, atmospheric tales will shock and delight. This is the perfect book to curl up with as the frosty winter draws in and each night gets darker than the last, written by one of our greatest living crime writers.

Review

I was so excited to see this book and immediately ordered it off Waterstones. I love a good Christmas murder mystery but sadly I was rather disappointed with this book.

The first thing I really disliked was the fact that a lot of these short stories seemed like they should have been longer but that McDermid had just removed chunks of the story to make it shorter. They jumped around too much and there was no development which even in a short story should be present.

The second thing that got on my nerves was the fact that some of the stories basically had nothing to do with Christmas and even if they did the link was tenuous at best. For a Christmas murder mystery book this was a disappointment for me.

I did however like some of the stories, my favourite was The Girl who Killed Santa Claus. This story was wonderful and a really good short story and was a welcome change from the rest of the short stories.

I am afraid I have only given 2 out of 5 Dragons to this book and I will be honest and say that I will not be reading another Val McDermid book as I just did not enjoy her writing.

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Purchase Links

Amazon | Book Depository | Foyles | Waterstones

(All purchases made using one of the above affiliate links gives a small percentage of money to myself with no extra cost to yourself. All proceeds go towards the upkeep of this blog. Thank you ever so much, your support is gratefully received.)

About the author

Val McDermid is a No. 1 bestseller whose novels have been translated into more than thirty languages, and have sold over eleven million copies. 

She has won many awards internationally, including the CWA Gold Dagger for best crime novel of the year and the LA Times Book of the Year Award. She was inducted into the ITV3 Crime Thriller Awards Hall of Fame in 2009 and was the recipient of the CWA Cartier Diamond Dagger for 2010. In 2011 she received the Lambda Literary Foundation Pioneer Award. 

She writes full time and divides her time between Cheshire and Edinburgh.

The Lantern Men by Elly Griffiths (Review)

The Lantern Men by Elly Griffiths

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About the author

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Elly Griffiths was born in London and began her career in publishing, she then turned to writing full time. In 2016 she won the CWA Dagger in the Library for her work. Griffiths lives in Brighton with her family and the cat Gus.

Blurb

Everything has changed for Dr Ruth Galloway.

She has a new job, home and partner, and is no longer North Norfolk police’s resident forensic archaeologist. That is, until convicted murderer Amyas March offers to make DCI Nelson a deal. Nelson was always sure that March killed more women than he was charged with. Now March confirms this, and offers to show Nelson where the other bodies are buried – but only if Ruth will do the digging.

Curious, but wary, Ruth agrees. March tells Ruth that he killed four more women and that their bodies are buried near a village bordering the fens, said to be haunted by the Lantern Men, mysterious figures holding lights that lure travellers to their deaths.

Is Amyas March himself a lantern man, luring Ruth back to Norfolk? What is his plan, and why is she so crucial to it? And are the killings really over?

Review

Firstly, I will be honest and say that I am a Dr Ruth Galloway addict. I haven’t read all of the books yet but I try and buy a new book as a treat to myself as often as possible. This one is book 12 in the series and was a massive surprise to me because it has moved on quite a bit from book 11. Ruth now has a new job, a new house and is now with a new partner. This was quite a shock for me after where book 11 left Ruth but a nice surprise.

Ruth is her usual self in the book and now she has what appears to be the dream life but as you read it you can’t help but wonder if she is really happy?

Nelson is trying to solve a murder case where the suspect March is already in prison but will not admit to being guilty of the murders. He later agrees to tell Nelson where other bodies are if he talks to Ruth. Ruth agrees which leads to Ruth and Nelson working a case together again.

As the case developed I must admit I did not see the end result coming and it was a massive surprise how it turned out. What didn’t surprise me was what happened at the very end of the book.

One of my favourite characters in the Dr Galloway series is Cathbad and I must admit I would have liked to have seen a bit more of him in the book. I always love a Cathbad ritual of some kind and sadly that was lacking in the book.

Overall, I absolutely loved this book and could not put it down. I give this book 5 out of 5 Dragons and highly recommend it to all crime and thriller fans.

Purchase Links

 Book DepositoryWaterstones

(All purchases made using one of the above affiliate links gives a small percentage of money to myself with no extra cost to yourself. All proceeds go towards the upkeep of this blog. Thank you)

 

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A Very Murderous Christmas: Ten Classic Crime Stories for the Festive Season by Various Authors (Review)

A Very Murderous Christmas: Ten Classic Crime Stories for the Festive Season by Various Authors and edited by Cecily Gayford

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Blurb

The Christmas season is one of comfort and joy, sparkling lights and steam rising from cups of mulled wine at frosty carol services. A season of goodwill to all men, as families and friends come together to forget their differences and celebrate the year together.

Unless, of course, you happen to be harbouring a grudge. Or hiding a guilty secret. Or you want something so much you just have to have it – whatever the cost. In A Very Murderous Christmas, ten of the best classic crime writers come together to unleash festive havoc, with murder, mayhem and twists aplenty.

Following Murder on Christmas Eve and Murder under the Christmas Tree, this is the perfect accompaniment to a mince pie and a roaring fire. Just make sure you’re really, truly alone …

Review

I bought this book last year just after Christmas so I never read it and thought I would save if for Christmas 2019. I’ve been desperate to start my Christmas reading and so kicked it off by reading this book. I read a short story a night and loved it.

The book has a range of short stories but sadly they are not all murder mysteries and some are just merely mysteries. My favourite story was Camberwell Crackers by Anthony Horowitz, it really made me giggle.

The first story in the book The Man with the Sack by Margery Allingham set the scene of a wonderful Christmas in the old days where the village children would come and visit the big house and someone would dress as Father Christmas and give out presents. I really enjoyed the beginning of this story but must admit I found the ending rather a disappointment and it was all a bit too predictable for me.

The Adventure of the Red Widow by Adrian Conan Doyle and John Dickson Carr was very amusing and it was a nice Sherlock Holmes mystery and I enjoyed the murder mystery immensely but I must admit I found the ending rather sad, not something I wanted from a Christmas book, even a murder mystery Christmas book.

Camberwell Crackers by Anthony Horowitz my absolute favourite of the book and made me giggle. A proper little Christmas story.

The Flying Stars by G. K. Chesterton I must admit I found this story rather annoying in places and rather predictable. Just could not get on with characters in this story and rather pleased it was only short.

A Problem in White by Nicholas Blake this story I did enjoy and loved how it unfurled, a real mystery and set on a train with snow. A perfect Christmas tale with more than one crime to solve.

Loopy by Ruth Rendell now this story I found disturbing and rather worrying. The main character had clearly been over protected by his mother his entire life and also did not live in the real world or cope well when made to deal with it.

Morse’s Greatest Mystery by Colin Dexter. Oh I love a Morse story and this one was excellent. Morse is so eccentric in this story and his usual grumpy self, it did make me laugh.

The Jar of Ginger by Gladys Mitchell. An odd Christmas story and I’m not entirely sure I would have included it in a Christmas book if I had been choosing the stories but the plot was good and overall an interesting concept.

Rumpole and the Old Familiar Faces by John Mortimer. This is another wonderful story that I thoroughly enjoyed. It had all the Christmas requirements: a pantomime, snow, a cold vicarage, Christmas parties and festive spirit. A perfect little Christmas story.

The Problem of Santa’s Lighthouse by Edward Hook. The last story of the book was a great mystery and rather Johnathan Creek in style and not just because of the windmill!

Overall I loved this book and would highly recommend it, especially as you can just dip into it over the festive season. The only reason it didn’t get the full 5/5 Dragons and only 4 was because it did not have a full set of murder mystery stories and because The Flying Stars just annoyed me.

Purchase links;-

Waterstones

Book Depository

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The Janus Stone by Elly Griffiths (Review)

The Janus Stone by Elly Griffiths

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About the author

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Elly Griffiths was born in London and began her career in publishing, she then turned to writing full time. In 2016 she won the CWA Dagger in the Library for her work. Griffiths lives in Brighton with her family and the cat Gus.

Blurb

Forensic archaeologist Dr Ruth Galloway is called in to advise when builders, demolishing a Victorian house in Norwich, uncover the skeleton of a child – minus the skull. Is it some ritual sacrifice or just plain murder?

The house was once a children’s home. DCI Harry Nelson meets the priest who used to run it, who tells him two children did go missing forty years before – a boy and a girl. They were never found.

But someone is trying hard to put both Ruth and Nelson off the scent – and a seemingly forgotten crime becomes terrifyingly real, with deadly consequences.

Review

Firstly, Elly Griffiths is fast becoming an absolute favourite of mine, every book of hers I read I can not put down and look forward to reading the next one.

I loved this story and loved the connections with Roman history and the God Janus. When I was younger I absolutely loved the history of the Roman Gods and Janus was a personal favourite, I became obsessed with closing gates so I didn’t anger him.

It was really nice to be reading about Dr Ruth Galloway again, she is such a wonderful character, she is down to earth, intelligent and not glamorous or hung up on her appearance. DCI Nelson is rough around the edges and does not pull his punches and quite funny.

The character that I really enjoyed in this book is Cathbad, he is so free and funny and really does not care what people think of him. I wish he would feature more in the stories to be honest.

The book was fast paced and kept me hooked from the beginning. I must admit I did work out the culprit but it did not ruin the story for me and it was a nice surprise that the story did not go down the predictable line I thought it was looking like.

The other element I loved was the personal dramas of the characters unfolding and I enjoyed that as much as the actual crime investigation unfolding. Overall I loved this book and have given it 5 out 5 Dragons. I highly recommend it to everyone but especially people who love a good crime drama.

Purchase links:-

Waterstones

Book Depository

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