Mrs England by Stacey Halls (Review)

Mrs England by Stacey Halls 

Blurb

West Yorkshire, 1904.

When newly graduated nurse Ruby May takes a position looking after the children of Charles and Lilian England, a wealthy couple from a powerful dynasty of mill owners, she hopes it will be the fresh start she needs. But as she adapts to life at the isolated Hardcastle House, it becomes clear there’s something not quite right about the beautiful, mysterious Mrs England. Ostracised by the servants and feeling increasingly uneasy, Ruby is forced to confront her own demons in order to prevent history from repeating itself. After all, there’s no such thing as the perfect family – and she should know.

Simmering with slow-burning menace, Mrs England is a portrait of an Edwardian marriage, weaving an enthralling story of men and women, power and control, courage, truth and the very darkest deception. Set against the atmospheric landscape of West Yorkshire, Stacey Halls’ third novel proves her one of the most exciting and compelling new storytellers of our times.

Review

I thought I was in the beginning of a reading slump but then I started reading this book and the reading slump soon disappeared. I just could not put this down it kept me riveted from beginning to end. 

This book is mainly set in Yorkshire and is a true gothic novel with more than one mystery to solve. Ruby May is a Norland nurse who spends her time keeping busy with her charges and sending all the money she can afford home to help her family but it is also clear that Nurse May has a secret in her past and this secret she keeps locked up in a tin in her trunk but you can tell that the secret weighs heavily on Nurse May and she is never free from it. 

Nurse May finds herself working for the England family but soon realises something is not right with her mistress Mrs England but she can’t work out what it is. Due to Mrs England’s aloofness Nurse May directs all questions about the children to Mr England and  soon finds Mr England to be the perfect master. However, something is still not right about the house and Nurse May can sense this and you soon realise as the reader that there is another mystery to try and work out that surrounds the house.

The setting in the Yorkshire countryside really adds to this book, the wild crags, waterfall and forest all make the characters seem isolated and in danger. The other fact that all doors need to be locked at all times really adds to this fear of something or someone. 

I loved reading this book the atmosphere and the mystery meant that I just could not stop reading the book until I had all the answers I wanted. I will definitely be reading more books by Stacey Halls and I give this book 5 out of 5 Dragons.

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About the author

Stacey Halls grew up in Rossendale, Lancashire, as the daughter of market traders. She has always been fascinated by the Pendle witches. She studied journalism at the University of Central Lancashire and moved to London aged 21. She was media editor at The Bookseller and books editor at Stylist.co.uk, and has also written for Psychologies, the Independent and Fabulous magazine, where she now works as Deputy Chief Sub Editor. The Familiars is her first novel.

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The Man in the Brown Suit by Agatha Christie (Review)

The Man in the Brown Suit by Agatha Christie

Blurb

A young woman investigates an accidental death at a London tube station, and finds herself on a ship bound for South Africa… Pretty, young Anne came to London looking for adventure. In fact, adventure comes looking for her – and finds her immediately at Hyde Park Corner tube station. Anne is present on the platform when a thin man, reeking of mothballs, loses his balance and is electrocuted on the rails.The Scotland Yard verdict is accidental death. But Anne is not satisfied. After all, who was the man in the brown suit who examined the body? And why did he race off, leaving a cryptic message behind: ‘17-122 Kilmorden Castle’? 

Review

This is the fourth book in my Agatha Christie challenge and I will be honest it is the first Agatha Christie novel that I actually considered not finishing. The main reason for this was that I just found the lead character Anne Beddingfield ridiculous and extremely annoying. The only thing that kept me reading was the very humorous diary entries of Sir Eustace and wanting to find out who the culprit was. 

Anne has had an odd childhood and spent most her life making sure her genius but eccentric father doesn’t do anything crazy but when he passes away she decides it is time for an adventure and gets the chance to move to London. She then witnesses the death of a man and decides to investigate. This leads to her going off all on her own with barely any money on a ship bound for South Africa. Thankfully she meets Colonel Race and Suzanne who can keep an eye on her but this doesn’t stop her falling into ridiculous traps and just walking into trouble. The amount of times she got into trouble really started to annoy me as the girl really had no common sense. 

Sir Eustace just wants an easy, comfortable life but due to his mysterious secretary Pagett he never gets a moment’s peace from work or the annoying stationary trunk. Sir Eustace, who is also ship-bound for Cape Town, befriends Anne, Suzanne and Colonel Race. Sir Eustace has a very odd obsession for girls with fine legs and liquid eyes and complains a great deal if women do not have these items. 

Colonel Race is a true gentleman who I must admit I felt rather sorry for during this book. Suzanne is the wife of a wealthy man and she delights in travelling without her husband and spending all of his money. She is a rather spoiled character who also drove me a little insane.

Overall, the plot was interesting and had plenty of red herrings to keep you on your toes but sadly the female characters just drove me a little bit mad. I think that with a different lead character I would have been a lot happier with the book. I give this book 2 Dragons out of 5. 

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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 Hanged Man of Saint-Pholien by Georges Simenon (Review)

The Hanged Man of Saint-Pholien by Georges Simenon

Blurb

On a trip to Brussels, Maigret unwittingly causes a man’s suicide, but his own remorse is overshadowed by the discovery of the sordid events that drove the desperate man to shoot himself.

Review

I found this story so sad especially at the beginning. At the beginning we find Maigret following a man who is clearly very poor and troubled and for some reason Maigret has decided to follow the man because Maigret finds his behaviour intriguing. However, because of Maigret’s actions the man commits suicide and this really disturbs Maigret so Maigret decides to find out what drove this poor man to his actions. I must admit I was rather angry with Maigret at the beginning because of his silly actions causing a suicide. They were a bit childish for me and it was like Maigret was bored so decided to follow this poor man. 

This story takes place in France, Belgium and Germany and Maigret has to move from country to country to find the answers he requires and there is considerable danger involved for Maigret as well. 

This story is so atmospheric and full of drama you were never quite sure what would happen next. There were also some very suspicious and creepy characters involved as well which you just know are wrong. People try to prevent Maigret from finding out the truth but Maigret in his terrier like fashion hunts down the facts that he needs to build the picture and find the truth.

Overall, I found this story very sad. I was sad for the man who committed suicide and sad for the hanged man of Saint Pholien. I could not put this book down once I started it because I needed to know what happened in the past. I 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

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.

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

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

The Late Monsieur Gallet by Georges Simenon (Review)

The Late Monsieur Gallet by Georges Simenon

Blurb

In the second Maigret mystery, the circumstances of Monsieur Gallet’s death all seem fake: the name he was traveling under, his presumed profession, and, more worryingly, his family’s grief. Their haughtiness seems to hide ambiguous feelings about the hapless man. Soon Maigret discovers the appalling truth and the real crime hidden beneath the surface of their lies.

Review

This was my fifth Maigret novel that I have read this year and I must admit this one did make me laugh. The best word to describe Maigret in this novel is ‘grumpy’. 

It is the holiday season in Paris and this means that Maigret is left in charge with only a skeleton staff to keep law and order and when a royal visit takes away all the police officers but himself he is left to solve a murder without any of his usual staff to do the leg work for him in the scorching summer heat. It also means he has to stay in a second class hotel which really upsets him!

Maigret must find who murdered Monsieur Gallet but everything about the murder seems very wrong to Maigret and as he investigates he realises more and more that the facts don’t fit the crime. In his investigations Maigret meets Madame Gallet the wife of the deceased and dislikes her immensely, she appears very aloof, proud and cold to Maigret. In fact I have noticed in the Maigret novels that it is very rare to find a woman other than Mrs Maigret who Maigret actually thinks highly of. Although I did feel sorry for Mrs Maigret in this book because during all of his investigations Maigret never rang to tell his wife where he was even though he was staying in a different town and not coming home. Mrs Maigret must have the patience of a saint is all that I can say. 

I loved how this story unfolded and due to several very well placed red herrings I never had a clue till the end of who was the murderer or why. Maigret follows the clues and builds the picture of what happened and he comes across as the most eccentric character at times, from standing on random walls to climbing through windows he really made me laugh. 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

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.

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

Pietr the Latvian by Georges Simenon (Review)

Pietr the Latvian by Georges Simenon

Blurb

A gripping new translation of the first novel in the famous Inspector Maigret series. What he sought, and what he waited and watched out for, was the crack in the wall. In other words, the instant when the human being comes out from behind the opponent.

Who is Pietr the Latvian? Is he a gentleman thief? A Russian drinking absinthe in a grimy bar? A married Norwegian sea captain? A twisted corpse in a train bathroom? Or is he all of these men? Inspector Maigret, tracking a mysterious adversary and a trail of bodies, must bide his time before the answer can come into focus.

Review

This is the first Maigret book and our first introduction to the amazing detective Maigret. Maigret is trying to hunt down the criminal Pietr the Latvian with nothing but a description but the mystery deepens when Maigret realises that Pietr the Latvian is not all that he seems.

In this book we have a detailed description of Maigret and he appears to be a formidable presence in any room. He is described as a muscular man who dominates a room with his size. He will also dominate any stove, fire or radiator in any room as he is obsessed with being by a heat source which was a surprise as the later novels in the series I have read have him obsessed with alcohol but obviously in the first book he isn’t a functional alcoholic yet.

Maigret starts to unravel the mystery that is Pietr the Latvian but as he does so the case turns dangerous for Maigret and his colleagues. However, the danger only makes Maigret more determined to find out the truth and nothing will stop him.

I enjoyed this book and liked how Maigret unravelled the case but I must admit it did seem to lack the finesse of the later novels I have read but it is the first Maigret book. I also felt very sorry for Mrs Maigret as through this book she heard nothing from her husband for days and kept making his meals without him showing up to eat them but she never complained. 

The mystery in this book was really fascinating and I enjoyed seeing how Maigret worked it all out. However, I didn’t find the book as good as the other Maigret books I have read so I have only given the book 3 out of 5 Dragons. A good read but was just lacking that special something.

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.

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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.)

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

The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman (Review)

The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman

Blurb

Four septuagenarians with a few tricks up their sleeves

A female cop with her first big case

A brutal murder

Welcome to…

The Thursday Murder Club

In a peaceful retirement village, four unlikely friends meet weekly in the Jigsaw Room to discuss unsolved crimes; together they call themselves The Thursday Murder Club. Elizabeth, Joyce, Ibrahim and Ron might be pushing eighty but they still have a few tricks up their sleeves. 

When a local developer is found dead with a mysterious photograph left next to the body, the Thursday Murder Club suddenly find themselves in the middle of their first live case. As the bodies begin to pile up, can our unorthodox but brilliant gang catch the killer, before it’s too late? 

Review

I am always a bit dubious about reading books by celebrities because sometimes I find that they have only been published because they are already famous but I heard so many good things about this book I decided to give it a go and I am pleased I did.

I started this book and I was immediately hooked. The introduction is so intriguing you can’t help but be hooked. One old lady asking another old lady her opinion on whether someone with multiple stab wounds could have been saved and how long it would take for them to bleed out if left untreated can’t help but intrigue the reader. These two characters are Joyce and Elizabeth. Joyce is a dear lady who is a retired nurse who just wants everyone to like her. She is also clearly rather lonely and loves her new found friends in the Thursday Murder Club. Elizabeth clearly has an interesting past and is an interesting character but she also has her problems but she is very good at hiding them from the outside world.

The other two members of the club are Ron and Ibrahim. Ibrahim is a retired psychiatrist and knows how to read people. Ron, who was my favourite character, is very good at speaking out against any injustice and made a name for himself when he was younger. Ron is a real character, who is clearly a tough guy but who also has a heart of gold and is always the man to give a consoling hug. 

The two official investigators are Donna and Chris. They become members of the Thursday Murder Club. I do feel sorry for Chris and Donna. They are trying to do their jobs but are also trying to control four elderly people who insist on interfering. 

I really enjoyed the beginning of this book but I will be honest I got a little bored in the middle and lost interest but thankfully I kept reading and it picked back up towards the end. I was also rather pleased that I had worked out who the murderer of Tony Curran was although I struggled to work out who the killer of Ian Ventham was. 

This book was humorous, well written with some wonderful characters that I would happily read about again. I give this book 3 out 5 Dragons just because I lost interest in the middle.

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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

Richard Osman (1970) is an English television presenter, producer, comedian and writer best known for being the creator and co-presenter of the television show Pointless. 

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

Maigret and the Wine Merchant by Georges Simenon (Review)

Maigret and the Wine Merchant by Georges Simenon

Blurb

When a wealthy wine merchant is shot in a Paris street, Maigret must investigate a long list of the ruthless businessman’s enemies before he can get to the sad truth of the affair.

Review

Another Maigret novel, I have been on a roll with reading Maigret books but now I have run out so this will be the last one until I get some more and I will definitely be getting some more. 

I was surprised at the lack of alcohol in this book in comparison to the two previous books but Maigret still drank more than the average human being.

This book was a little different to the previous two books, instead of Maigret finding all the pieces of the puzzle the puzzle appeared in front of him instead. However, what Maigret did piece together was the true nature of the murder victim and I must admit he was not a very nice man and it was understandable why someone had decided to kill him. 

There were some interesting characters in this book and one of my favourites was the one nicknamed Grasshopper, she was a real character and I really liked it when she was in the book. This book really showed the class differences and how the very rich seemed to have very loose morals and the lower classes a much higher moral standard and to be honest the characters who weren’t made of money were the better people to be friends with in this book.

I really enjoyed this book and found it rather different to the two previous books I had read. Maigret is such a good character and I just love reading about him solving cases. I give this book 4 out 5 Dragons.

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Purchase Links

Book Depository | Foyles | Waterstones | Wordery

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.

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

Maigret and the Saturday Caller by Georges Simenon (Review)

Maigret and the Saturday Caller by Georges Simenon

Blurb

A man visits Inspector Jules Maigret at his home to tell him he wants to kill his wife and her lover. Although it is not an official case, Maigret is interested, particularly when the man later disappears. 

Review

My second Maigret book and yet again I was shocked by the amount of alcohol that Maigret consumed. I also loved how Maigret was convinced he had a cold brewing so he kept drinking lots of hot rum as a remedy to prevent it.

This book started off very mysteriously with the man nicknamed by Maigret’s colleagues as ‘the Saturday Caller’. This strange ‘Saturday Caller’ has been appearing at the police station like clock work every Saturday but the man never says anything and runs away before anyone speaks to him. However, one evening when Maigret walks through his door he finds ‘the Saturday Caller’ in his living room.

Maigret eventually manages to get the ‘Saturday Caller’ to tell his story, with the help of several glasses of plum brandy. The story unfurls that ‘the Saturday Caller’ wants to kill his wife and the wife’s lover who lives with them. I must admit I felt so sorry for this man as he tells his story to Maigret and you can tell that Maigret also feels the same. Even though there is no crime committed Maigret takes an interest in this man’s story and so agrees with him that they will talk on the phone everyday. 

As soon as Maigret goes back to work he starts his investigations into the non-existent crime and things start to unfold. Maigret does what he does best, he gathers every little scrap of information and builds the picture up. 

I really enjoyed this book and I loved seeing the little tricks that Maigret got his men to use to get the information required even if they were a little underhand. I also loved that the police have a new forensics man who helps them with some signatures and Maigret finds these modern techniques very interesting. I finished this book in less than 24 hours and loved it. I give this book 4 out of 5 Dragons.

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Purchase Links

Foyles | Waterstones | Wordery

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.

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

Maigret and the Calame Report by Georges Simenon (Review)

Maigret and the Calame Report by Georges Simenon

Blurb

In ‘Maigret and the Calame Report’ the detective is reluctantly drawn into the seedy world of political manoeuvring and corruption when 128 children are killed in a collapsing building.

Review

The first impression I had of this book is how does Maigret’s liver cope? I fully expected him to need a new liver at the end of this book. Everywhere he goes he has an alcoholic drink! It did make me giggle when Maigret admits he doesn’t get on with driving as he finds his mind wanders and he has only just managed to avoid an accident whilst driving in the past. I’m not sure about his mind wandering but I am sure the alcohol he is consuming is affecting his driving.

So this is my first Maigret book and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Maigret deals firmly with facts and good old fashioned police work which often involves the use of his officers to gather all the facts he needs to build his case. Maigret lives a simple life of going to work and coming home to his wife who always has his slippers ready and tea on the table and who never complains if he is late or summoned out of the house at random hours. However, there is one thing that Maigret likes to avoid and that is politics but sadly with this case politicians need him to solve the case. Maigret must find the person who stole the all important Calame Report and he needs to do it fast.

The thing I loved about this book is that Maigret is unlike other detectives you read in other detective books. Sherlock Holmes for instance will deduce things and make assumptions on the evidence he has before him but Maigret does not do that. He carefully and painstakingly gathers every little fact and piece of evidence he can find and he starts to build the picture until he has a result. He never tries to predict or assume anything and won’t do anything unless he has all the facts. As the story unfolds Maigret builds the picture of what happened and the reader sees it all happen with Maigret. 

The book is only short and in reality it could be read in one day but due to tiredness it took me nearly a week but I really enjoyed the book and I can’t wait to read the next one and see what Maigret is up to next. 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

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.

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