Two Erskines and a Cleeves

Inspector Septimus Finch of Scotland Yard: He has an instinct for impending crime, a sixh sense for murder. His deceptively bland face and lazy walk hide an uncanny acumen for investigation. And from the busy pub on Fleet Street below his London flat to lonely country inns in the nooks and crannies of England, they raise a tankard of good Guinnes stout to salute him as the Yard’s top specialist in cases of sudden death.

The Family at Tammerton 1966 Book 14 in the Inspector Septimus Finch series

Murder by the Sea – Tammerton Hall stood in dark magnificence in an isolated spot near the seaside town of Lockbridge. Its mullioned windows had reflected the long thin faces of the Maule family since Tudor times. London nurse Louise Morton had taken an assignment there because she felt a sudden longing for the country – and because the patient was a dear friend of Matron’s. That was what made the arrival of the telegram so odd. “MRS. CRANE IS DEAD. DO NOT SEND NURSE.” Mrs. Crane was very much alive and expecting her. But someone didn’t want Nurse Morton at Tammerton. Some one desperate enough to murder.

I enjoy these Septimus Finch novels. Ms. Erskine does characters so well! I get invested in them right off the get go. Even after I finished this little gothic mystery I found myself thinking about Louise Morton and wondering about her. Crazy, I know! Louise Morton took this job to get out of the city and enjoy some time in the country. She met Inspector Finch on the train out to Lockbridge. In conversation she told him about the telegram and he warned her…

Finch nodded. “There’s the possibility that you may find yourself in considerable danger.”

Louise shook her head. “I don’t think that’s likely,” she said decidedly. “With the possible exception of Roger Crane, the Maules are all madly respectable.”

“My dear girl, it’s the respectable ones who are most to be feared because they have the most to lose. Consider, for instance,” Finch begged her earnestly, “the high ratio of murders committed simply to avoid the scandal of a divorce.”

Louise suppressed a giggle with difficulty. “You’re not suggesting that anyone’s likely to try and murder me?”

“I’m suggesting that someone at Tammerton has a very good reason for not wanting you there. And, that being so, they may try to remove you.”

Louise thought it silly and didn’t see any danger – until she met Kathie Kelvin! They had a past together. Could she be in danger? Would Kathie hurt her to keep the secret secret? Then Miss Chumleigh is found murdered. She knew of the secret. So many suspects! Good suspects, interesting suspects. I loved eccentric Aunt Agnes. More murders followed, would Finch find the killer in time to protect Louise? Would Louise find love with one of the supects?

Case with Three Husbands   1967   Book 15 Inspector Finch series

Murder at the Towers – Grey and gloomy, the Towers, a vast Victorian Mansion, was a most appropriate home for the eccentric Bonner family – and the perfect setting for murder. The mystery actually began when the beautiful and much-married Rose Bonner became suspicious that one of her late husbands was not as dead as she thought. But was it this ghost of a marriage past that gave old Aunt Agatha such a terrible shock on the eve of her seventy-fifth birthday – and then murdered her in her bed? The Bonner family felt that only Inspector Finch could catch the flesh and blood killer, and he quite agreed, for he had already dug up the crucial clue: a buried pair of size ten men’s shoes.

Inspector Finch is recuperating from a gun shot wound in this one. He goes to the shore with his surgeon and friend Adam Braithwaite to recuperate. Adam is taking over his dad’s local office and patients while he is on vacation and thought it would be the perfect place for Finch to recover and rest. Before he even gets to White Cottage outside of Tynan he overhears a frantic woman speaking to Adam’s father in the next exam room and his interest is peaked and he thinks he has a juicy mystery to keep him busy as he convalesces…

“…always known us,” it said. “My family and yours have been neighbours for years. We’re eccentric but, not neurotic…”   “…you may not approve but under the circumstances it did give a certain amount of…”   “…those three late husbands had become friends. That’s not as unlikely as it might seem. All of them were…”   “…there was this light I tell you. Yet when I got down there was no one. No one at all. He’d gone. Like a ghost…”   “…someone spoke my name. The way one might if onesmet unexpectedly – after a long time. I called out, but no one answered… It was dark. I couldn’t see…”

There followed only silence. The overheard conversation suggested several things to Finch. Illegal entry for one. bigamy perhaps. Even blackmail. Was the doctor now persuading her to see a psychaitrist? What she really wantd was a policeman. An astute and experienced officer such as himself.  

Another excellent plot with engaging characters and lots of wonderful suspects, dead and alive! This one has Cherie the poodle who finds the shoes buried on the beach and digs them up and presents them to Finch as he stands watching a young man swim in the ocean. Cherie is a lovely character in this story. Will Finch and Cherie find the owners of shoes? And more importantly why he doesn’t need them anymore and who put them there? 

I went straight into the third Erskine I had on my shelf since I enjoyed these two so much. I’m reading The Woman at Belguardo now. Previously I read No. 9 Belmont Square. You can read my thoughts on it here.

A Lesson in Dying    1990  Book 1  Inspector Ramsay series

Headmaster Harold Medburn was dead, and nobody in the village regretted it. Appropriately, it was on the evening of the village Halloween party that Medburn’s body, dressed in academic cap and gown, was found swinging from the school’s rusty netball hoop. And although his death brought fear to some hearts, relief was the dominant response, for Medburn had been a bully, taking pleasure in tormenting whoever came within his reach.

The police accuse Medburn’s wife, Kitty, of killing her husband because he was about to leave her for another woman; but Jack Robson, the school caretaker, who had loved Kitty when they were classmates years ago, disagrees. Helped by his clever daughter Patty, he does his homework among Medburn’s friends and neighbors and finds half a dozen of them had powerful motives for murdering the hated headmaster.

But it is in the ugly secrets of Medburn’s life and in the dark passions that sometimes ensnare good people that Robson finally discovers the tragic and desperately dangerous truth…

This was actually the last book I read in 2020. Ann Cleeves always gives us a good puzzler and characters. Some of the reviews I read on Goodreads said they didn’t like this because Robson and his daughter seemed to do more of the sleuthing than Inspector Ramsay, but I liked it. It was a good vehicle for us to see into the inhabitants of the village and to discover who Inspector Ramsay is in this first in the series. I wouldn’t mind reading more with Jack Robson and Patty as amateur sleuths! Cleeves early books are wonderful, but she only gets better with time! Her Shetland books are among my favorite reads!

It’s a dreary February day here in East TN. We are due to get 1-3 inches of snow and things are canceled. We stocked up some on groceries and are looking forward to a couple days just staying in and being lazy and reading and watching old movies. All our birthdays are this week so we will pig out on lemon cake for Donald yesterday, cherry cheese cake for the boyo, who is turning 44 tomorrow! My baby! And cherry pie for me on Thursday. Looking forward to this week! Hope your week is terrific!

Ann Cleeves

I’ve just finished watching the latest series of Vera on Britbox. I LOVE Vera! I’m working through the books now. Recently started following Brenda Blethyn and Ann Cleeves on Twitter. Ann mentioned an interview on Desert Island Discs and I listened and discovered her husband was diagnosed Bi-Polar in mid-life! He had dealt with depression all his life. He was in psychiatric hospital several times before he was accurately diagnosed. I, of course, found this very interesting! She talks about laying next to a husband she felt like she didn’t even know. I can definitely relate to that! Here are a couple radio interviews with her…

Desert Island Discs     and     Australia Radio Interview   and a short article.

Bello has brought back her older series from the 1990’s, the Inspector Ramsay books! I’m looking forward to getting my hands on them! They are based in Northumberland also. There are six of them.

She is also writing the first book in a new series, Twin Rivers series featuring Matthew Venn. It’s set in Devon.

The interview on Australian radio is lengthy but so good!

White Nights

by Ann Cleeves – Shetland Series book 2

In this second thriller of the highly acclaimed Shetland Island series featuring Inspector Jimmy Perez, the launch of an exhibition at the Herring House art gallery is disturbed by a stranger who bursts into tears, then claims not to remember who he is or where he comes from. The next day he’s found dead. Set in midsummer, the book captures the unsettling nature of a landscape where the sun never quite sets and where people are not as they first seem.


Another fantastic book by Ann Cleeves! Excellent plot with an ending you will not be suspecting! I was so sure I knew ‘who did it’ and I was so wrong! You’ll be holding your breathe the last couple of pages!

I really like the unfolding of Perez’s relationship with Fran. The TV series has her already dead from the get go and we miss all that. And the descriptions of the ‘arctic’ light with the sun never setting in the summer was superb!

I checked this out at the library and will have to buy them a new book as this one took a swim in Horse Creek! We took the grandkids swimming at the waterfalls there and I thought I would sit on a rock and read, The water is ‘as-cold’, as the locals say with their accents! My 10 year old grandson loves getting to say ice cream, ice cold… with the accent  because he thinks he’s getting away with saying a naughty word! :0 Anyway I sat the book on the rock while I got myself sat down and it slid off and started floating down the stream! I yelled that’s a library book and Bossman grabbed it. It’s a little ‘puffy’ now and the pages are hard to turn. Oh well, at least its a wonderful read since I have to pay for it!

Raven Black

by Ann Cleeves   – first in the Shetland series

11266877Long a celebrated crime writer in Britain, Ann cleeves’ fame went international when she won the coveted Duncan Laurie Dagger for this amazing suspense novel. Like Colin Dexter’s Inspector Morse or Peter Robinson’s Inspector Banks, Cleeves’ new detective, Inspector Jimmy Perez, is a very private and perceptive man whose bailiwick is a remote hamlet in the Shetland Islands.

It is a cold January morning and Shetland lies beneath a deep layer of snow. Trudging home, Fran Hunter’s eye is drawn to a splash of color on the frozen ground, ravens circling above. It is the strangled body of her teenage neighbor, Catherine Ross.

The locals on the quiet island stubbornly focus their gaze on one man – loner and simpleton Magnus Tait. But when detective Jimmy Perez and his colleagues from the mainland insist on opening out the investigation, a veil of suspicion and fear is thrown over the entire community. For the first time in years, Catherine’s neighbors nervously lock their doors, while a killer lives on in their midst.

MV5BZTViMGI2MjQtM2Y5Yi00OTYyLWE0OWQtNmU2NDNjYWM2MzY3XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMjExMjk0ODk@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,707,1000_AL_After watching the ITV series Shetland  I finally decided I needed to read the books in order. Absolutely LOVED this book! The physical description of Perez in the book is nothing like Douglas Henshall, but that’s okay. I love Douglas as Perez so it didn’t matter.

Cleeves’ characterizations are amazing. Her characters are so well drawn and convincing. Especially the troubled ones. You are immediately drawn into their lives and when your done with the book you’ll be thinking about them and wishing you weren’t finished yet because you really need to involved in their world! And the sense of place is amazing!

This one had such an unexpected conclusion! I can’t wait to get the next one in the series and I think I’m going to go to Netflix and re-watch the episode Raven Black from this book. Thankfully my library system has all these books! I’m hooked, Ann Cleeves has to be one of my favorite writers now.

A Prey to Murder

by Ann Cleeves  1989

IMG_1044Eleanor Masefield could be very difficult to handle, but murdering her seemed a bit extreme…

It was Eleanor Masefield’s own idea to sponsor an Open Day at her beautiful Gorse Hill Hotel – a celebration designed to raise funds for the protection of the local peregrine falcons that had been the obsession of her late husband.

But by teatime on Open Day Eleanor lay dead in the weathering grounds of the beautiful birds of prey that had been a major attraction of the afternoon.

Amateur detective George Palmer-Jones, who had always been a little in love with Eleanor, vowed to find her murderer.

This is the fourth book in the George and Molly Palmer-Jones series.George is an elderly birdwatcher – helped by his wife Molly. I didn’t even know Cleeves had other books besides Vera and Shetland! There are eight in this series and the first one, A Bird in Hand, was Cleeves first book published in 1986.

I really enjoyed this little book. The setting in the world of falconry, birds of prey conservationist and the illegal world of wild bird snatching for profit was quite interesting. And the lovely old home turned into a hotel was a nice touch. Interesting characters and family dynamics. I especially like the relationship between George and Molly.  Many good suspects and motives presented and I did not guess who did it! Well done, Ms. Cleeves!

I also have book six in this series. I’d like to find all of them and read them in order. They have been republished for Kindle and print on demand paperback at Amazon. I found my copies at a used book store. Have you read any of these?

A Bird in Hand
Come Death and High Water
Murder in Paradise
A Prey to Murder
Another Man’s Poison
Sea Fever
The Mill on the Shore
High Island Blues

This fulfills the “during a special event” category under “when” in the silver era Just the Facts Notebook @My Reader’s Block.