Neck and Neck by Leo Bruce

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Lionel Townsend, Beef’s toffee-nosed biographer, finds himself a prime suspect when his aunt in Hastings is poisoned. At the same time, an unpopular publisher is found hanged in the Cotswolds, apparently a suicide. While the two cases seem to have nothing whatsoever in common, Sergeant Beef tramples his flatfooted way to amazing, simultaneous solutions.

I really enjoyed this one! My second Sergeant Beef book. Hoping to find them all.

The Coconut Killings

By Patricia Moyes  born in Dublin 1923

A U.S. Senator is found brutally murdered with a machete on the grounds of an exclusive golf club on one of the British Seaward Islands. John and Margaret Colville, who operate a modest hotel on the island, ask their friends Chief Superintendent Henry Tibbett and his wife, Emmy, to come to St. Mathew’s to conduct an investigation. Although an amiable young islander who tends bar for the Colvilles has been arrested for the crime, Henry soon discovers that the murder rests on complex motives reaching far beyond the Caribbean.

Henry Tibbett, Chief Superintendent of Scotland Yard, has for years delighted those who love a classic British detective story. A modest, self-effacing man, Tibbett possesses an almost uncanny “nose” for crime, and those who know him well realize that his gentlemanly demeanor masks a shrewd mind and a fearless spirit. When he teams up with his wife, Emmy, a cheerful but formidable woman, there isn’t a criminal anywhere who can rest secure.


My first Patricia Moyes book. I really liked the characters of Henry and his wife and think I will enjoy more of this series. I didn’t care for the setting of this one though and didn’t really like any of the other characters. Reading other reviews on this book, others commented that this was their least favorite book in the series. Leave it to me to start with it!

Not quite the ‘cozy’ I expected, it was a cross of cozy and political thriller. American politicians, lobbyists and the cotton industry tie in with the murders. Meanwhile there is political unrest on the island and curfews are set amid riots and burning buildings. Could they be connected? A well plotted mystery.

Henry had the use of a Moke to get around the island. Not sure what that was so I looked up an image of one…

Reading Ireland @746 Books      #begorrathon19

Felicia’s Journey

277207by William Trevor

Felicia is unmarried, pregnant, and penniless. She steals away from a small Irish town and drifts through the industrial English Midlands, searching for the boyfriend who left her. Instead she meets up with Mr. Hilditch, who is looking for a new friend to join the five other girls in his Memory Lane. But strange, sad, terrifying tricks of chance unravel both his and Felicia’s delusions in a story that will magnetize fans of Alfred Hitchcock and Ruth Rendell even as it resonates with William Trevor’s own “impeccable strength and piercing profundity”


WOW! This is a mix, full of suspense, dread, fear. This story is really about the lies we tell ourselves. The delusions we need to make us feel comfortable. Kept me turning the pages for sure. But it is so sad. The last book I read by him was sad too. I like his writing and he keeps me very engaged, I just wish they weren’t so sad. But on the other hand, life doesn’t always turn out peachy keen so his writing is very realistic and I like that. I will definitely read more by William Trevor!

On to an Elizabeth Bowen book!

#begorrathon19  Reading Ireland Month @746 Books

 

Recent Reading

I haven’t been very good at doing book reports on what I’m reading! Eight books from last year and four so far this year. You can check the Books Read tab if your interested in seeing what I read and didn’t post about last year. One worth mentioning is…

The Homestead by Rosina Lippi
Each life has its place, and every variation ripples the surface of the tiny alpine village called Rosenau. Be it a mysteriously misaddressed love letter or a girl’s careless delivery of two helpless relatives into Nazi hands, the town’s balance is ever tested, and ever tender. Here is a novel spanning eighty years — years that bring factories and wars, store-bought cheese and city-trained teachers — weaving the fates of the wives, mothers, and daughters in this remote corner of Austria. To quote Rosellen Brown, “the women in this haunting book are deeply and uniquely of their place, yet they speak (often wordlessly) of women’s longings and satisfactions everywhere.”

I really liked this one. It was quite different. Written in individual chapters for each woman with each linked to their village life and each other. From 1909-1977 in Austria. Through WWI and WWII. Pretty much read this in one sitting because it was hard to put down.

I started on the Elly Griffiths Ruth Galloway series last year too. Got the first two books read. I enjoyed those and will continue the series.

So far this year I’ve read these…

The Other Side of the Bay by Sean Dietrich is my favorite so far…

Small towns have a way of burying things, and small-town people have a way of keeping things that way.

With reminiscence and narration, a local sheriff must comb through his own humid world to unravel the truth behind the death of a local boy. But it’s not as easy as it seems, because no one is talking.

The Other Side of the Bay is a remarkable portrait of the unique people in the Panhandle of Florida. The story weaves itself into the tall longleaf forests, and along the crests of the uneasy bay, telling a tale of the human spirit. This is a novel of how things aren’t always as black and white as they ought to be, and how right and wrong aren’t always easy to tell apart.

It’s an evocative tale that delivers its reader to the apricot sun rises and sepulchral storm clouds of their own bittersweet memories.

I adore Sean Dietrich‘s oral storytelling and follow his blog, Facebook and Instagram. He does a radio show/podcast similar to Prairie Home Companion only his is Sean of the South, set in the south. I posted about it earlier. I got three of his books. This one is a bit of a mystery. I couldn’t put it down. Reading it was like him sitting across the room telling me a tale. Check him out, I think you’ll like him.

The Footsteps at the Lock by Ronald Knox written in 1928, was one I never in a million years thought I would find! I put it on my wishlist on paperbackswap knowing it would never turn up on there and low and behold it did and I grabbed it up! Ronald Knox was a Catholic Priest and the brother of Winifred Peck. He is well known in the Golden Age of Detective Fiction. My book is a 1983 Dover Book.

Urbane mystery, set in the pastoral reaches of the upper Thames, concerns the disappearance of young heir to a fortune. Insurance company investigator Miles Bredon takes on the case. Delightfully tongue-in-cheek tone, baffling clues, challenging mystery counterpointed by poetic evocation of the river and countryside. Fine novel by author of 10 celebrated “commandments” for writing detective fiction.

Slow starting and hard for me to get interested in. It is plot driven vs character, not my favorite. The plot was fairly complex and Knox’s writing was more ‘formal’ than I’m use too. I stuck with it though and ended up enjoying it. Lovely descriptions of the countryside along the Thames and witty banter between characters.

The Devil By the Sea by Nina Bawden a Virago Modern Classics #433.

“The first time the children saw the Devil, he was sitting next to them in the second row of deck chairs in the bandstand. He was biting his nails.” So begins the horrifying story of a madman loose in a small seaside town—his prey the very young and the very old. Seen through the eyes of Hilary, a precocious, highly imaginative, and lonely child, it is a chilling story about the perceptiveness of children, the blindness of parents, and the allure of strangers. As the adults carry on with their own grown-up antics, Hilary is led further and further into the twilight world of one man’s terrifyingly distorted view of normal life. But will she have the sense to resist it?

This was a chilling story! Not one likable character, but Ms. Bawden wrote them magnificently! The suspense kept me turning the pages. A very good read! Can’t wait to read more by her. Have you read any? Which would you recommend?

I’m 3/4 of the way through The Crow Trap by Ann Cleeves now. The first in the Vera Stanhope Series. Cleeves is a guaranteed good read! I have to say that I much prefer the Vera of the TV series to the one of the book though. Brenda Blethyn makes her a much more likable character. I’m working my way through all 9 series on Acorn and Britbox!

They Rang Up the Police

by Joanna Cannan
Rue Morgue Vintage Mystery first American edition – 1999

When murder strikes in the quiet English countryside
only Inspector Guy Northeast of Scotland Yard sees the vital clue.

  1553447When Delia Cathcart and Major Willoughby disappear from their quiet English village one Saturday morning in July 1937, it looks like a simple case of a frustrated spinster running off for a bit of fun with a straying husband.
   But as the hours turn into days, Inspector Guy Northeast begins to suspect that she may have been the victim of foul play. On the surface, Delia appeared to be a quite ordinary middle-aged Englishwoman content to spend her evenings with her sisters and mother and her days with her beloved horses. But Delia led a secret life-and Guy turns up more than one person who would like to see Delia dead. Except Delia wasn’t the only person with a secret…
   Never published in the United States, They Rang Up the Police appeared in England in 1939 and is the first of two books to feature young Inspector Guy Northeast, who, as critics Jacques Barzun and Wendell Hertig Taylor point out, “marks a departure from the norm of the thirties.”
   Here’s what critics said about the second Guy Northeast mystery, Death at The Dog, also published by The Rue Morgue Press.
   “Skilled writing and brilliant characterization.” – Times of London.
   “Worthy of being discussed in the same breath with an Agatha Christie or a Josephine Tey…anyone who enjoys Golden Age mysteries will surely enjoy this one.” – Sally Fellows, Mystery News.


Only two Inspector Northeast books and I read them backwards. Didn’t really make any difference, but I think I would like to revisit Death at the Dog now. I really did enjoy both books in this series and wish there were more to read!

So many wonderful suspects and quirky characters! Inspector Northeast, they’re always poking fun at his name:), goes over the clues and even makes a lovely little chart of suspects and rates them…

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But what if the murderer isn’t someone on the list? Hmm… I did ultimately guess correctly who did it, but it didn’t by any means detract from the fun of the journey getting there!

You can check out my thoughts on the other two Cannan mysteries I read HERE and HERE.


This book fulfills the What category (Title contains two words beginning with same letter) in the Gold Era for Just the Facts M’am over @ My Reader’s Block.

The Stately Home Murder

by Catherine Aird

7805179The Earl of Ornum has been forced to open his 300-room ancestral estate to the public, who gladly pay to view the imposing halls and galleries with their fine collections of china, art and antique weaponry. On one memorable Sunday afternoon, the sights include a very recent corpse stuffed into a suit of armor, and soon Detective Inspector Sloan of the Calleshire CID is navigating the treacherous waters of the aristocracy, a copy of Burke’s Peerage in one hand and his earnest young assistant, Constable Crosby, in tow. “There’s something very old-fashioned about this – butlers and bodies in the library,” complains the unhappy Superintendent Leeyes to Sloan. There is also a helpful vicar, a lovelorn steward, a black-sheep nephew, and two very old and eccentric aunts – everything, in fact, you could want in a stately home murder, with the possible exception of a secret passageway. First published in England in 1969 as The Complete Steel, it’s one of the finest and funniest books by this mistress of the gentle art of mayhem.


This was my first Inspector Sloan book. I thoroughly enjoyed it! Great characters, excellent plot with lots of good red herrings, a ghost and humor!

Big fancy words were always being thrown around and poor Inspector Sloan was always at a loss for understanding. Bascinet, burgonet, fealty, muniments… I got a real kick out of it…

“What sort of time would this have been, sir?”
He frowned. “I must have been heading for the ha ha by ten past four.”
“I beg your pardon, sir?”
“The ha ha.”
“That’s what I thought you said.” Sloan tried it out for himself. Tentatively. “The ha ha?”
“That’s right, Inspector.”
“And what” – cautiously – “did you do when you got there?”
“Walked round it.”
“I see, sir.” It was like one of those radio parlor games where everyone else knew the object. He suppressed an urge to say, “Can you eat it?”
Instead he murmured, “Did you see anyone while you were there?”
Miles Cremond frowned again. “Purvis. He was talking to Bert Hackle by the orangery.”
Sloan sighed. It was altogether too simple to suppose that you kept oranges there. “Anyone else?”
“No, Inspector.”
“And when did you get back?”
“Late”
“Late? Late for what?”
“Dinner, Inspector. I’d hardly left myself time to change. M’wife was waiting for me and we went down together a bit late.”
“and you were walKing all the time, sir?”
“Yes, Inspector.”
“Round the ha ha?”
“Yes.”
“Very funny.” said Crosby not quite inaudibly enough.

Very satisfying read!


This book fulfills the What category (Published under more than one title) in the Silver Era for Just the Facts M’am over @ My Reader’s Block.