blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Death on the Crags – Jo Allen

Everybody loves Thomas Davies. Don’t they?
When policeman Thomas Davies falls from a crag on a visit to the Lake District in full view of his partner, Mia, it looks for all the world like a terrible but unfortunate accident — until a second witness comes forward with a different story.
Alerted to the incident, DCI Jude Satterthwaite is inclined to take it seriously — not least because of Mia’s reluctance to speak to the police about the incident. As Jude and his colleagues,
including his on-off partner DS Ashleigh O’Halloran, tackle the case, they’re astonished by how many people seem to have a reason to want all-round good guy Thomas out of the way.
With the arrival of one of Thomas’s colleagues to assist the local force, the investigation intensifies. As the team unpick the complicated lives of those who claim to care for Thomas but have good reasons to want him dead, they find themselves digging deeper and deeper into a web of blackmail and cruelty … and investigating a second death.
A traditional British police procedural mystery set in Cumbria.

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Jo Allen was born in Wolverhampton and is a graduate of Edinburgh, Strathclyde and the Open University, with undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in geography and Earth science. She’s
been writing for pleasure and publication for as long as she can remember. After a career in economic consultancy she took up writing and was first published under the name Jennifer Young, in genres of short stories, romance and romantic suspense. She wrote online articles on travel and on her favourite academic subject, Earth science. In 2017 she took the plunge and began writing the genre she most likes to read — crime.
Jo lives in the English Lakes, where the DCI Satterthwaite series is set. In common with all her favourite characters, she loves football (she’s a season ticket holder with her beloved Wolverhampton Wanderers) and cats.

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My thoughts: this was another excellent outing for DCI Jude Satterthwaite and the team as a holidaying Welsh policeman is pushed off one of the Lakes peaks in front of his partner.

But why would anyone want to murder the very nice Thomas Davies – what secrets are his loved ones hiding? Jude is determined to solve this mystery.

Things get complicated by the arrival of a colleague from the North Wales police who has her own agenda. Jude and Ashleigh’s relationship is a bit rocky, Ashleigh being a very astute person knows Jude and Becca still have feelings for each other that they haven’t acted on. Will that change things?

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: The Velvet Badge – Bob Mantel

Forty years in the making, Bob Mantel’s thrilling debut novel challenges today’s social standards with compelling characters while infusing the Big Apple’s unmistakable presence.

In The Velvet Badge: A New York Noir a tasteless nightclub run by a failed JFK assassination co-conspirator brings out the worst in 1970s New York. Songbird Sadasia Trayne runs into a disco-era buzz saw of wine, women, and murder when she hooks up with the Brooklyn-based creator of a notorious TV sitcom. Her frantic SOS to a long-lost love, the Big Apple’s closeted lesbian Chief of Police Detectives, drives this tale of memory and regret, compromise and topiary, politics and a corrupt press, Kris Kringle and twisted acts of love. Will the headline-grabbing sex crime she sets out to solve max out the Chief’s investigative skills or deep-six her career?

The Velvet Badge combines edge-of-your-seat storytelling with stone-cold hilarity and just a touch of holiday ho-ho-ho. A fast-paced novel embedded with elements of suspense and dark humor, The Velvet Badge is perfect for readers who enjoyed Meatpacking by Michael Heslin, The Burn by Kathleen Kent, or Cold Evidence by Robin James.

Mantel creates a world of mystery while infusing dark comedy in a fresh way. “The novel’s New York episodes were inspired by the 1970s city I lived in during my Columbia College days…I was a classic hick, struggling with classes and discovering the highs and lows of the city. Many of these stories found their way into The Velvet Badge,” he said.

Authentically reflecting the sights and sounds of the city he loves, Mantel’s talent for bringing the diversity of New York to life on the page may seem effortless, but it wasn’t always easy. “Like many other writers, I knew what I wanted to accomplish in my first book but didn’t know how to pull it off,” he said. “I worked on The Velvet Badge, off and on for many years, and even completed several drafts, but never to my satisfaction. I took it up again after I retired in 2017 and, this time, all the missing pieces seemed to fall into place–including an ending that I’d previously been unable to conjure.”

Bob Mantel was educated at Columbia College, where he won the Cornell Woolrich Award for Fiction, and the University of Chicago. He lives in New York and enjoys visiting cities that have ballparks and concert halls. The Velvet Badge is his first novel. Learn more at bobmantel.wordpress.com and follow him on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.


Bob Mantel Blogger Q&A

How long did it take you to complete The Velvet Badge?

An embarrassingly long time–more than 40 years–although I didn’t work on it steadily and often left it untouched for years. One of my problems was taking Ulysses too much to heart and spending nearly a decade badly imitating Joyce’s prose. I’m sure I’m not alone in this, which is why I call that magnificent book “the great crippler of young adults.” Long story short: you may know what you want to write but have no idea how to bring it off. I completed any number of drafts until I finally figured out a decent ending for the book. After that, everything else finally fell into place.

Have you ever experienced writer’s/creator’s block? How do you get out of it?

Writer’s block for me turns out being a function of not having thought through my material to the point where it’s ready to work on. Whenever one crops up, I make a backup copy of the chapter I’m working on, save it as Chapter X-GARBAGE, then write away as well as I can, not expecting to keep much of what I’m producing. If I keep at it, I eventually understand how I need to shape my material and I can get back to my original draft, revise as needed and move forward.

How much of your work is autobiographical?

All of it, just like every first novel is autobiography. I’ve been inspired and stimulated by the places I’ve lived and the people I’ve known and loved. But I’m not out to draw their portraits “from life.” Instead, I’m interested in drawing on the autobiography of the emotions I felt about them to create unique places and characters that I’m free to work with as I choose.

You use a lot of what used to be called “hard jokes” in your fiction. Are you concerned about offending your readers?

No. The Velvet Badge is a hard-edge black comedy/murder mystery set largely in the 1970s. Much of the book’s humor derives from its describing characters in two ways: first, as they’d be seen in the 1970s and then authorially commenting from the present day. There’s shock value in the first and, hopefully, laughter and healing balm in the second. If any of my readers are looking for hate speech, they should track down the TV channels and websites offering plenty of that these days.

The Velvet Badge seems to contain quite a few references to operas and old movies. Could you mention just a few?

Name-dropping like that isn’t surprising when you consider what was going on in New York back when I first knew it. Take the book’s Oscar Wilde/Richard Strauss “Salome” reference. Back in the day, standing room at the Met was three bucks–and didn’t come with subtitles! More importantly, you could get into any number of revival movie house double features up and down Broadway for only $2.50. There’s a big scene in “Badge” that riffs on “The Pride of The Yankees,” after the book previously sang the praises of the talented, ever-lovely Teresa Wright. Of course, a major plot point in “The Velvet Badge” is a direct homage to Orson Welles’ “Citizen Kane.” And the book closes with a bit of dialogue straight-up stolen from Alida Valli in Carol Reed’s “The Third Man.”

What’s your favorite book-movie adaptation?

I’d have to say it’s a three-way tie between Raymond Chandler and Robert Altman’s “The Long Goodbye,” Thomas Pynchon and Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Inherent Vice” and Larry McMurtry and Peter Bogdanovich’s “The Last Picture Show.” By the way, if anybody wants to buy “The Velvet Badge” movies rights, please give me a call. I’m in the book.


Extract from The Velvet Badge

Faced with life’s deep dish pie of pain, Donny Damon always ordered his slices á la mode. It was a habit he’d acquired from his old man Harry, who’d been born in a land where the streets were paved with gold, days before the Blizzard of ’88 paralyzed the East Coast, and who did little to hang his hat on until 1923, when Harding’s sudden death out west landed brine-faced Coolidge in the Oval Office.

Silent Cal’s pronouncement that “the chief business of the American people is business” was a turning point for Harry Damon, inspiring the colorless street pug to scrape together whatever cash he could, marry the first woman he could fast-talk in front of an altar and make a go of “Damon Truss & Convalescent Supply” on New York’s Lower East Side. The driving force behind this enterprise’s success was the 35-year-old’s decision to have his child bride strut her fine, precocious stuff behind the shop’s plate-glass window, wearing little beyond a leg cast, neck brace and strategically placed Ace bandages. Since such a display was an insult to community standards, it drew the smutty-minded, bogus lame and halt to his establishment from a twelve-block radius and kept its cash register ringing for as long as Olivia Damon continued her risqué showcase.

Harry’s missus gave the act the hook during FDR’s first administration and would eventually divorce her husband claiming alienation of affection. But by then the small business owner hardly even remembered being married and had gone all in on racketeering practices that expanded Damon Truss ten-fold during the Great Depression. By the time the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, he was piloting a regional wheelchair powerhouse while also heading a body bag monopoly in New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey. Damon’s stranglehold on these markets, however, couldn’t and didn’t last. America’s entry into World War II gave Feds the excuse they’d been waiting for to nationalize his enterprises rather than let Harry spend the next several years dodging profiteering charges. 

Being put out to early pasture may have caught the wheelchair king off guard, but it couldn’t keep him and his enormous wad of buyout cash down for long. Within a few months, Mr. Damon was steering his Studebaker President north along the mighty Hudson to a sleepy river town founded by the Dutch and re-christened by the Brits to honor the neatly trimmed juniper bushes surrounding its village green. Or so the story went. 

The actual name change to “Carvéd Hedge” dated only from the 1920s, when those eponymous hedges were first planted. Back then, local politicians and the chamber of commerce decided that a little fudged history would attract new business, along with a better class of people, and make the dusty old place a village to be proud of instead of the shoulder-shrug whistlestop it had been sliding into for decades. This effort hadn’t made much of a difference. But every once in a while, a resident would surprise the neighbors, show some talent or initiative and put the community’s general mediocrity to shame.

Sharpie Bev Boslegovich, for example, parleyed her ability to recognize a born patsy when she saw one into a thriving local real-estate business. So when Harry Damon turned his big sedan onto Main Street in 1942, he couldn’t even put the damn thing in park before “Hiya, handsome! Lookin’ to settle down?” came winging his way from under a mop of Shirley Temple curls. 

Since sparkplug Bev believed in telling people what they wanted to hear, she gave a twist to her town’s Jazz Age creation myth that a mark like Damon would be powerless to resist. Namely (“Turn left at this corner!”) that an eyesore property, sitting idle on her books for months, had once been the home of a profligate Tory (“You know, before the Revolution.”) who spent the bulk of his fortune developing a topiary wonderland of trees, bushes and shrubs that a small army of gardeners had stripped, clipped, bent, and chiseled into a stunning array of geometric and animal-shaped confections.

Not a word of this was true, of course, but Bev understood Damon had journeyed to her little piece of heaven on earth because he was in the market for prestige as much as a home. To hear her tell it, the property she was hawking was the true inspiration behind the name of the village that tripped so lightly off her tongue. “Why else would they call it Carvéd Hedge?” Bev demanded as much as wondered.

Moved by the realtor’s aggressive eloquence, Damon’s gullibility made him believe wholeheartedly that the unruly mess he was looking at was precisely the spot where a vital, breathing, European artform had jumped species and taken root in Colonial America. This despite the fact that the “estate,” as Bev called it, was nothing more than a derelict saltbox with a sagging catslide roof, centered on a half-acre lot and thick with oversized, misfit verdure that, if you wanted to believe in it hard enough, at one time might conceivably have served some decorative function. Boslegovich sealed the deal when she told him, “There are some things you just can’t put a price on.” Damon barely flinched when she quoted a ridiculously high ask and bought the place for cash. “None of that buying-on-time crap for me,” he crowed. It was the maraschino cherry topping a forced retirement that had already started to melt. 


My thoughts: this was a crazy, black humoured book taking in JFK’s assassination, a nightclub decorated in homage (?) to that event, a singer who might be amazing but who would ever know when she gets involved in the horrific murder of a lesbian TV producer, and turns to her ex – the Velvet Badge of the title – female chief of detectives, Ellia, who grew up in a house with Christmas obsessed parents and is still scarred by her younger brother’s death.

The murder seems fairly straightforward – the laundry delivery man fits the detective’s motive and suspicions very well, maybe a little too well. But as long as there’s no murder similar to this, he’ll do. There are other bodies, but if you can’t find them, are they there?

A local “businessman” has an interesting story to tell, tying up a few loose ends, but the damage is done and various people (like the mayor) just want this all to go away. A wandering, freewheeling format, slowly connecting the characters together is a bit confusing at first but then brings it all together at The Umbrella Man.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Deuce – Gail Meath

One for sorrow, two for spice triggers a game of three blind mice.

While vacationing in New England, PI Jax Diamond and his courageous canine partner, Ace, bite off more than they can chew when two small town deaths reveal two big time killers, and the locals don’t take too kindly to strangers.

Laura Graystone, Broadway star, auto expert, and Jax’s heartthrob, is once again front and center digging for clues while trying to ditch an old boyfriend. That is, until her brother becomes Jax’s prime suspect. Then all hell breaks loose, and Ace is left in the lurch, tracking down leads with his new sidekick, Susie.

A crazy duet of crimes sends Jax, Laura and Ace into a tailspin in small-town USA during the Roaring Twenties. Where no one is above the law, everyone is a suspect, and time is running out before the clock strikes one.

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Award-winning author Gail Meath writes historical romance novels that will whisk you away to another time and place in history where you will meet fascinating characters, both fictional and real, who will capture your heart and soul. Meath loves writing about little or unknown people, places and events in history, rather than relying on the typical stories and settings.

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My thoughts: another cracking case for Jax and Co, most importantly Ace, always the best canine PI the Roaring Twenties has. Things are going great till they’re very much not and Jax and Laura find themselves on opposite sides of the case. Ace is helping new pal Susie, while the lovebirds are at odds and the clock is ticking.

I love this team, obviously Ace makes them extra good at crime solving. This was another corker and the historic setting is a bonus as I’m a history nerd!

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

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Blog Blitz: The Automobile Assassination – M.J. Porter


Erdington, September 1944
As events in Europe begin to turn in favour of the Allies, Chief Inspector Mason of Erdington Police Station is once more prevailed upon to solve a seemingly impossible case.
Called to the local mortuary where a man’s body lies, shockingly bent double and lacking any form of identification, Mason and O’Rourke find themselves at Castle Bromwich aerodrome seeking answers
that seem out of reach to them. The men and women of the royal air force stationed there are their prime suspects. Or are they? Was the man a spy, killed on the orders of some higher authority, or is
the place his body was found irrelevant? And why do none of the men and women at the aerodrome recognise the dead man?
Mason, fearing a repeat of the cold case that dogged his career for two decades and that he’s only just solved, is determined to do all he can to uncover the identity of the dead man, and to find out why he was killed and abandoned in such a bizarre way, even as Smythe demands he spends his time solving the counterfeiting case that is leaving local shopkeepers out of pocket.
Join Mason and O’Rourke as they once more attempt to solve the impossible in 1940s Erdington.
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MJ Porter is the author of many historical novels set predominantly in Seventh
to Eleventh-Century England, as well as three twentieth-century mysteries. Raised in the shadow of a building that was believed to house the bones of long-dead Kings of Mercia, meant that the
author’s writing destiny was set.

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My thoughts: this was a good old-fashioned whodunnit, with an intriguing victim – a man with no identifying documents or even clothes, found bent double near the airfield in wartime. Easy to see why Mason and O’Rourke look closely at the RAF stationed there.

Theres other strange goings on too, someone is tampering with the AA’s road side boxes, and there’s still a case Mason doesn’t even want to be investigating to be resolved – Jones would love the counterfeiting case.

But there’s more crime than coppers, so Mason, aided by the very resourceful O’Rourke (not limited to filing and tea making as sadly female police officers really were for a long time) to solve all of these cases and identify the mysterious dead man in order to return him to his family and find his killer. Highly enjoyable.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Suicide Thursday – Will Carver

If words could kill…

Eli Hagin can’t finish anything.

He hates his job, but can’t seem to quit. He doesn’t want to be with his girlfriend, but doesn’t know how end things with her, either. Eli wants to write a novel, but he’s never taken a story beyond the first chapter.

Eli also has trouble separating reality from fiction. When his best friend kills himself, Eli is motivated, for the first time in his life, to finally end something himself, just as Mike did…

Except sessions with his therapist suggest that Eli’s most recent ‘first chapters’ are not as fictitious as he had intended … and a series of text messages that Mike received before his death point to something much, much darker…

Will Carver is the international bestselling author of the January David series and the critically acclaimed, mind-blowingly original Detective Pace series that includes Good Samaritans (2018), Nothing Important Happened Today (2019) and Hinton Hollow Death Trip (2020), all of which were ebook bestsellers and selected as books of the year in the mainstream international press. Nothing Important Happened Today was longlisted for the Goldsboro Glass Bell Award 2020 and Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year. Hinton Hollow Death Trip was longlisted for Guardian Not the Booker Prize, and was followed by three standalone literary thrillers, The Beresford, Psychopaths Anonymous (both optioned for TV) and The Daves Next Door. He lives in Reading with his family.

My thoughts: another strange adventure inside the psyches of some more Carver characters. This time Eli, who can only write first chapters, Jackie, his girlfriend, and Mike, his best friend.

Leading up to and away from Mike’s terrible, tragic death, Eli struggles with what kind of person he is, hates his awful, soul destroying job (reminiscent of Office Space) and keeps planning on dumping Jackie. Who’s cheating on him, and visiting a confessional every week to appease her guilt.

Mike’s death makes them both feel guilty, and wonder whether they could have stopped it. But someone has been nudging him along, will his phone reveal their identity? And what’s with the two Teds in the coffee shoppe next door?

With little references to other Carver books for the careful reader, and clever little moments where you wonder just what’s real and what’s maybe in Eli’s head, like his invisible therapist, this is another clever, twisty turny book from one of my favourite authors.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: A Murder at the Castle – Chris McGeorge

King Eric is dead. And when the motive is succession, murder is a family affair…

During a violent snowstorm, the Royal Family gather at the Castle for a traditional Christmas together. Amid rumours that he plans to name a new successor, King Eric stands to make his traditional after-dinner speech. He sips from a glass of his favourite whisky- and drops dead.

The king has been poisoned, and only one of the royals could have done the deed. Trapped by the raging blizzard, it is up to Eric’s beloved head chef, Jonathan Alleyne, to play detective and get to the bottom of this heinous crime.

Jon is determined to expose the truth, even if it puts him in grave danger, and threatens to shake the entire monarchy to its core…

My thoughts: this was a really interesting and fun read. Set in an alternate world where Edward VIII didn’t abdicate (and married someone else), his son (?) Eric is king. The Royals are gathered for Christmas at Balmoral. Until after a huge lunch, the king dies.

The only staff on site are a security guard, who’s a bit too full of himself, and chef Jon. He’s tasked by the family to solve the crime. But can he? And will they tell him the truth?

I liked Jon, he seemed like a nice guy stuck in a horrible situation – he had a good relationship with the king, his boss, but the rest of the family are fairly grim. Over entitled and pretty toxic when together.

This was an enjoyable, country house style mystery, with the castle snowed in and the suspects all in one place, Jon’s not quite Poirot but he does a good job with the information at hand.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

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Blog Blitz: For Richer For Deader – Helen Golden

Is the Wedding Between Sir Hewitt Willoughby-Franklin’s Step-Daughter and Billionaire’s Son Off?
Rumours are that the recent death of Kelley Lindsell (29), the personal chef of tycoon Rudy (68) and Sheri Trotman (65) at Sir Hewitt’s Fawstead Manor country estate in Fenshire, has spooked Sybil
Bransgrove (36) so badly she’s considering cancelling her nuptials.
Meanwhile the bride and her mother, Lady Grace (61), are being supported by family friend Lady Beatrice (36), the Countess of Rossex, who, alongside her business partner Perry Juke, is currently
managing the project to refurbish the Manor House and Lodge on the estate.
Not again! Now that Lady Grace has asked Lady Beatrice to liaise with the police during the investigation into Kelley’s death, she’ll have to cooperate with boorish Detective Chief Inspector
Richard Fitzwilliam whether she likes it or not. Her only relief will be solving the murder with the help of her friends Perry and Simon and her dog Daisy to get rid of him faster. But with so many wedding party guests staying on-site, any one of them could be the killer. Can they find out who it is before Sybil calls off the wedding…

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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.

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My thoughts: this was a second fun and enjoyable outing for Lady Beatrice and Perry. Doing the interiors for her mother’s friend Lady Grace gets them embroiled in another murder case and once again DCI Fitzwilliam is sent to solve the case, involving as it does celebrity, aristocracy and Lady Bea. A series of threats left with dead animals ends in murder and chaos as someone is trying to stop Lady Grace’s daughter Sybil from getting married. But are the threats and the murder connected? There’s a lot of secrets to find out and sort through.

Obviously the duo of Bea and Perry are aided by Perry’s ex-detective turned writer and cook Simon’s knowledge and connections but so much of what they learn comes from Bea asking awkward questions and her connection to the family. People do seem very happy to tell her things. Accompanied by her terrier Daisy, she’s determined to solve the case so Sybil’s wedding can go ahead without more drama. Tremendous fun and very cleverly done.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

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Blog Tour: Chaos at Carnegie Hall – Kelly Oliver

New York, 1917. 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.
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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.

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My thoughts: I hadn’t read the previous books in this series, but it doesn’t matter, it works just fine as a standalone or as the beginning of Fiona’s collaboration with Kitty Lane.

Sent to New York on the trail of a German spy, Fiona becomes embroiled in several murders, a different potential spy, Thomas Edison, suffragettes, Dorothy Parker’s Algonquin set and escorting her boss’ annoying neice to college. She’s accompanied by the devoted, if long suffering, Clifford, rather against her will. And her beloved Archie keeps popping up everywhere – is he a double agent?

With a wardrobe full of disguises, some subterfuge, a cute but not fully toilet trained dog, Poppy, and some help from a crinkly concierge, Fiona decides to untangle all the various threads, solve the murders, and of course find out what Frederick Fredericks is up to. She might even get to enjoy the sights of the Big Apple.

Lots of fun, and a bit silly, full of real famous names, and some artistic licence, this was an enjoyable historical crime caper.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

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Blog Tour: An Ear For Trouble – K.T. Lee


Elise Butler is a wildlife biologist who enjoys her stable (if somewhat predictable) job in finance at the World Wildlife Trust. However, when the veterinarian at Riverbend Animal Conservation Center goes missing, Elise offers to help the unlucky wildlife Conservation Center get back on its feet. Not only will the job in Riverbend, Indiana let her get back to her roots of working with animals, but it’s also a short drive from her sister’s workplace at Riverbend K-9 Academy, a training center for some
of the FBI’s best explosive detection dogs.
FBI Special Agent Finn Cooper and his canine partner, Sedona, are chasing a well-funded animal trafficking ring. After an injury sidelines Finn from official FBI undercover work, he goes to work at
Riverbend K-9 Academy to stay busy while he recovers…and to investigate his only remaining lead in the animal trafficking case.
Just as Elise begins to settle into life in Riverbend, her sister asks her to help the K-9 Academy by fostering one of their puppies. Finn is eager to keep Elise focused on training Zeke, the enthusiastic German shepherd puppy earmarked to become Riverbend’s first wildlife detection K-9, and keep her well away from his quiet animal trafficking investigation. Zeke quickly proves himself an expert both
at chewing shoes and sniffing out clouded leopards. When Zeke starts finding scents where they don’t belong, Elise and Finn begin to realize that the Conservation Center may be more criminal than
unlucky. And if Elise doesn’t keep her nose out of it, she might be the next target.
An Ear for Trouble is Book 2 in the Riverbend K-9 Series. All books in the Riverbend K-9 Series may be enjoyed as standalone novels or as a series.

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K.T. Lee is a writer, mom, and engineer who grew up on a steady diet of books from a wide variety of genres. She’s the author of multiple books, including those in the Riverbend K-9 Series and The
Calculated Series.

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My thoughts: back to Riverbend K9 training school we go! This time we’re with Elise, a wildlife charity’s accountant and biologist who’s trying to help out a struggling zoo, that might be at the heart of an exotic animal smuggling ring.

Determined to help the FBI stop the trafficking, as well as teaching puppy Zeke to stop eating her shoes, she’s quietly digging into the accounts and every day activity of the conservation centre, even though FBI agent Finn worries she’ll get caught.

Obviously any book with animals is automatically better (frequent followers will know my theory) and this one has a lot of them, from K9 trainees to clouded leopards and lots of other creatures. Animals in danger bothers me, as it should anyone, so I’m glad, in fiction at least, there’s lots of people like Elise and Finn looking out for them. A fun and entertaining crime story with a twist of romance and of course lots of puppy kisses.

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Resources will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Urgent Matters – Paula Rodriguez

A train crashes in the suburbs of Buenos Aires, leaving forty-three people dead. A prayer card of Saint Expeditus, the patron saint of urgent matters, flutters above the wreckage.

Hugo, a criminal on the run for murder, is on the train. He seizes his chance to sneak out of the wreckage unsuspected, abandoning his possessions – and, he hopes, his identity – among bodies mangled beyond recognition.

As the police descend on the scene, only grizzled Detective Domínguez sees a link between the crash and his murder case. Soon, he’s on Hugo’s tail. But he hasn’t banked on everything from the media to his mother-in-law getting in the way.

My thoughts:this is a short book but it packs a real punch as Hugo, suspected of murder, is involved in a terrible train accident. He escapes from hospital and goes into hiding, sort of.

His partner and daughter have no idea if he’s even survived and his mother-in-law sees an opportunity to get herself on TV. Seeking Hugo (but not for any particularly altruistic reasons) her family are suddenly all over the news, and the impact on Marta and her daughter is carefully and cleverly revealed.

This is an intriguing and complex narrative, peopled with a cast of newsreaders, sisters, assistants and stray dogs. A slice of unreal life really. Very interesting and enjoyable.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.