Portrait of a Murderer

by Anne Meredith

1464209049.01._SX142_SY224_SCLZZZZZZZ_“Adrian Gray was born in May 1862 and met his death through violence, at the hands of one of his own children, at Christmas, 1931.” Thus begins a classic crime novel published in 1933, a riveting portrait of the psychology of a murderer.

Each December, Adrian Gray invites his extended family to stay at his lonely house, Kings Poplars. None of Gray’s six surviving children is fond of him; several have cause to wish him dead. The family gathers on Christmas Eve – and by the following morning, their wish has been granted. This fascinating and unusual novel tells the story of what happened that dark Christmas night; and what the murderer did next.

This was quite different from most murder tales. Right up front in the first paragraph we know who is murdered. We are shown the murder and who did it. The mystery in this one is will they get away with it! I almost gave up on the book as the characters were so unlovely! Lots of characters and descriptions and getting to know them and the family dynamics and this family is not a pleasant family. But I hung in there, mostly because Tracy @ Bitter Tea and Mystery reviewed it right about that time and her review spurred me on.

It really was a character study with a murder thrown in. And in the end there were, as Tracy said, redeeming qualities to some of the characters. I’m glad I finished it. Stop over and read Tracy’s review, she does such a nice job!

I read this book through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you so much to Poison Pen for letting me read it. I adore these British Library Crime Classics!

This book fulfills the Who category (an artist) in the Gold Era for Just the Facts M’am over @ My Reader’s Block.

On the Black Hill by Bruce Chatwin

  • File Size: 6409 KB
  • Print Length: 236 pages
  • Publisher: Open Road Media
  • Publication Date: October 18, 2016
  • ISBN: 9781504038348
My Source: Review copy from Publisher via Netgalley

The award-winning first novel from a legendary travel writer, about a pair of twins and their long, remarkable lives in the farmlands of Wales.

For forty-two years, identical twins Lewis and Benjamin Jones have shared a bed, a farm, and a life. But the world has scarred and warped them each in different ways. Lewis is sturdy, still strong enough at eighty to wield an ax all day, and though he’s hardly ever ventured outside his little village on the English border, he dreams of far-off lands. Benjamin is gentler, a cook whose favorite task is delivering baby lambs, and even in his old age, he remains devoted to the memory of his mother.

The unusual twins have seen a country change and an empire fall, and in their shared memory lies an epic story of the century that remade Britain. From the stories of their father’s youth to their own dotage, there is nothing these farmers haven’t seen—or heard.

Famed travel author Bruce Chatwin brings his unique understanding of landscape and culture to his debut novel, an intense examination of a little patch of Wales. Winner of the James Tait Black Memorial Prize and the Whitbread Literary Award, and written in the tradition of Wuthering Heights and The Mayor of Casterbridge, this entry on the list of “1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die” is an all-time classic from the author of bestsellers such as In Patagonia and The Songlines.

This ebook features an illustrated biography of Bruce Chatwin including rare images and never-before-seen documents from the author’s estate.

I read Margaret’s review over @ Books Please and just had to read this book. It was just as she described it. I enjoyed this book, the lovely writing and the wonderful characters. Full of quirky people and quirky ways. Set in Wales, a striking, harsh landscape. Most of all the rich relationships are what draw you in. Highly recommend!
Peek inside and read a bit or Purchase this book at Amazon US

The Cornish Coast Murder by John Bude

Never, even in his most optimistic moments, had he visualised a scene of this nature – himself in one arm-chair, a police officer in another, and between them… a mystery.’
The Reverend Dodd, vicar of the quiet Cornish village of Boscawen, spends his evenings reading detective stories by the fireside – but heaven forbid that the shadow of any real crime should ever fall across his seaside parish.
But the vicar’s peace is shattered one stormy night when Julius Tregarthan, a secretive and ill-tempered magistrate, is found at his house in Boscawen with a bullet through his head.
The local police inspector is baffled by the complete absence of clues. Luckily for Inspector Bigswell, the Reverend Dodd is on hand, and ready to put his keen understanding of the criminal mind to the test.
This classic mystery novel of the golden age of British crime fiction is set against the vividly described backdrop of a fishing village on Cornwall’s Atlantic coast. It is now republished for the first time since the 1930s with an introduction by the award-winning crime writer Martin Edwards.

I received a copy of this book from Poison Pen Press through Netgalley. I am so thrilled Poison Pen is making these books available here in the States!

I’ve read reviews that say it’s not a ‘great’ mystery, but a decent read. I enjoyed it quite a bit and thought it was a decent puzzler. Could have been a little stronger on drawing me into the characters, but on the whole I liked it. Looking forward to reading more from John Bude.

– Posted by Peggy Ann

Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew’d by Alan Bradley

Published by: Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine
Delacorte Press
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Series: Flavia de Luce Mystery #8
Hardcover: 320 pages
ISBN: 9780345539960
Publication Date: September 20, 2016
My Source: Netgalley

In spite of being ejected from Miss Bodycote’s Female Academy in Canada, twelve-year-old Flavia de Luce is excited to be sailing home to England. But instead of a joyous homecoming, she is greeted on the docks with unfortunate news: Her father has fallen ill, and a hospital visit will have to wait while he rests. But with Flavia’s blasted sisters and insufferable cousin underfoot, Buckshaw now seems both too empty—and not empty enough. Only too eager to run an errand for the vicar’s wife, Flavia hops on her trusty bicycle, Gladys, to deliver a message to a reclusive wood-carver. Finding the front door ajar, Flavia enters and stumbles upon the poor man’s body hanging upside down on the back of his bedroom door. The only living creature in the house is a feline that shows little interest in the disturbing scene. Curiosity may not kill this cat, but Flavia is energized at the prospect of a new investigation. It’s amazing what the discovery of a corpse can do for one’s spirits. But what awaits Flavia will shake her to the very core.

Flavia, one of my very favorite book characters is growing up! Alan Bradley has done a nice job of keeping Flavia the sweet irascible girl we love, but showing signs she is growing up. I was a bit worried about that. She can’t stay 11 forever. She is 12 in this book. Her father is very ill in this one and every time she thinks she is going to get to go see him something comes up (like murder) and she misses the visit to the hospital. Remember she’s been away for a year in Canada at school so she hasn’t seen him in a long time. Will she ever get up to the hospital? Will her father recover? Will Alan Bradley write more Flavia books or is this one the end? PLEASE WRITE MORE! I want to see Flavia grow into adulthood!

I would love to see this series made into a movie! I think it would be fantastic and a big success. What is there not to love about  Flavia? What do you think, should it be made into a movie? Do you think it will be made into a movie? Want to see the odds if it will or won’t?

Get this book!
Amazon US
Barnes and Noble
Book Depository

Peggy Ann


The Methods of Sergeant Cluff by Gil North

Book two in series
originally published 1961

Publisher: Poison Pen
Genre: Mystery
My Source: Netgalley
Available September 6, 2016

It is a wet and windy night in the town of Gunnarshaw, on the edge of the Yorkshire moors. The body of young Jane Trundle, assistant in the chemist’s shop, is discovered lying face down on the cobblestones. Sergeant Caleb Cluff is not a man of many words, and neither does he play by the rules. He may exasperate his superiors, but he has the loyal support of his constable and he is the only CID man in the division. The case is his. Life in Gunnarshaw is tough, with its people caught up in a rigid network of social conventions. But as Cluff’s investigation deepens, Gunnarshaw’s veneer of hard-working respectability starts to crumble. Sparse, tense, and moodily evoking the unforgiving landscape, this classic crime novel keeps the reader guessing to the end.

Sadly I did not enjoy this book and actually had to make myself finish it. The dialog was clipped and a little confusing to follow sometimes. I suppose it is just his writing style.
He asked, “Is it pleasant for you, working here?”
He asked again, “You all left together last night?”
She shook her head: “Jane went early.”
“I see”
“She did sometimes.”
“I’ve met her in the streets.”
“She wasn’t always in the shop. She worked with Mr. Greensleeve as well.”
“In the dispensary?’
“He uses it for an office too.”
“When the shop’s open?”
“She was helping him yesterday afternoon.”
There didn’t seem to be much detecting going on in my opinion. Cluff just seemed to stand around town with his head down and his eyes half opened watching and listening. 
‘Barker tried to trace, step by step, the manner in which Cluff had collected his information, how Cluff had got to the point he’d reached. There was nothing connected, when Barker thought of it, in Cluff’s meanderings here and there in Gunnarshaw, no hint of a prearranged plan of campaign. The thing seemed to grow of itself, round Cluff, without Cluff really having anything to do with it.’
He didn’t seem to put much effort into anything. 
‘A man with a handcart, sweeping the gutter, jerked his head at Cluff and the Sergeant jerked his head in return, an exchange of greetings more economical than words but just as effective.’
I did like his constable, Barker and Cluff’s dog, Clive. Best characters in the book. The descriptions of the town and the rooms they were in were very well written and gave you a good sense of atmosphere.
  ‘Clive wriggled past her, making along the passage for his bowl in the kitchen. She let them in and Cluff took Barker into the low-ceilinged living room, where a round, oak table was laid for breakfast. Barker’s nostrils twitched at the smell of frying bacon and his mouth watered.
  The room was warm, dim in the grey morning, a huge fire blazing in the grate, adding its comfort to the comfort of big chintz-covered armchairs and a couch, to the softness of a thick-piled carpet and the cheerful glint of horse-brasses on the walls. Rough-hewn, black-oak beams reached for Barker. An immense cat, long-furred, coiled in a chair on the right of the hearth.’
It seemed to be more about Cluff and his relationship with Gunnarshaw and its residents than the mystery or any detecting. Had it not been for the clipped feeling of the writing I might have enjoyed it still. The ending was quite a surprise! I just would have liked a little more detecting and placing of clues.

This book counts for My Reader’s Block’s Scavenger Hunt – Silver (town scene)

Peggy Ann

The Wicked Boy by Kate Summerscale

Published by: Penguin Press

Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Print Length: 369 pages   
ISBN: 9781594205781
Publication Date: July 12, 2016
My Source: Netgalley

From the internationally bestselling author, a deeply researched and atmospheric murder mystery of late Victorian-era London
In the summer of 1895, Robert Coombes (age 13) and his brother Nattie (age 12) were seen spending lavishly around the docklands of East London — for ten days in July, they ate out at coffee houses and took trips to the seaside and the theater. The boys told neighbors they had been left home alone while their mother visited family in Liverpool, but their aunt was suspicious. When she eventually she forced the brothers to open the house to her, she found the badly decomposed body of their mother in a bedroom upstairs. Robert and Nattie were arrested for matricide and sent for trial at the Old Bailey.
Robert confessed to having stabbed his mother, but his lawyers argued that he was insane. Nattie struck a plea and gave evidence against his brother. The court heard testimony about Robert’s severe headaches, his fascination with violent criminals and his passion for ‘penny dreadfuls’, the pulp fiction of the day. He seemed to feel no remorse for what he had done, and neither the prosecution nor the defense could find a motive for the murder. The judge sentenced the thirteen-year-old to detention in Broadmoor, the most infamous criminal lunatic asylum in the land. Yet Broadmoor turned out to be the beginning of a new life for Robert–one that would have profoundly shocked anyone who thought they understood the Wicked Boy.
At a time of great tumult and uncertainty, Robert Coombes’s case crystallized contemporary anxieties about the education of the working classes, the dangers of pulp fiction, and evolving theories of criminality, childhood, and insanity. With riveting detail and rich atmosphere, Kate Summerscale recreates this terrible crime and its aftermath, uncovering an extraordinary story of man’s capacity to overcome the past.
There was a lot of research went into this book I’m sure! A terrible crime of matricide in 1895. I was a little disappointed in it as it was a lot of detail and info, more so than ‘story’. Lots of info on the published thoughts on insanity and child psychology of the time, which was a little ‘out there’! I would have liked to have gotten to ‘know’ the characters a little more, but this is a true crime book and from so long ago. The last chapters that told about the brothers later in life was very interesting and my favorite part of the book. 
This book will be available in the US on July 12th and is now available in the UK…