Coffin Road by Peter May

iuA man stands bewildered on a deserted beach on the Hebridean Isle of Harris. He cannot remember who he is. The only clue to his identity is a folded map of a path named the Coffin Road. He does not know where this search will take him.

A detective from Lewis sits aboard a boat, filled with doubt. DS George Gunn knows that a bludgeoned corpse has been discovered on a remote rock twenty miles offshore. He does not know if he has what it takes to uncover how and why.

A teenage girl lies in her Edinburgh bedroom, desperate to discover the truth about her scientist father’s suicide. Two years on, Karen Fleming still cannot accept that he would willfully abandon her. She doesn’t yet know his secret.

Coffin Road follows three perilous journeys towards one shocking truth – and the realization that ignorance can kill us.

Another great book by Peter May. Great tension, atmosphere and character. Except for the teenage girl. It was a little unbelievable for me and the relationship didn’t come across as that close somehow to me either. But, the book is still an excellent read. Hard to put down. I’m curious if you’ve read it what you thought of the teenager part, don’t want to give away anything here for those of you who haven’t read it.

The whole mystery is wrapped up in bees and what’s killing them. Lots of interesting stuff in this one, folks! Although this is a stand-alone book DS Gunn from the Lewis Trilogy is the main law enforcement character in this one. Fin and Marsaili are mentioned once too. It was nice revisiting the characters. A nice touch!

Here’s a nice article about this book in The Scotsman if your interested! Counts towards Read Scotland 2017 on Goodreads

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A Tale of Two Murders by Elizabeth Ferrars

A witty man, quietly charming, could be good company: that was Stephen Gazeley.

and yet… And yet…

His sister Hilda, housekeeping for him since the  tragic death of his wife, had to admit that people did turn against him. Even his own wife in the year before she died. Daughter Katherine’s fiancé and his parents. His oldest friend. Even the gardener…

But it was only after the first murder that Hilda began to see things as they were, rather than as she wished they could be.

And found the process very, very uncomfortable…

Another solid page turner by Elizabeth Ferrars. I haven’t read one yet that I didn’t enjoy!

Peggy Ann

Last and First

The last book I read in 2016 was Murder for Christmas

A CLASSIC MYSTERY FOR THE FESTIVE SEASON: MULLED WINE, MINCE PIES… AND MURDER

Mordecai Tremaine, former tobacconist and perennial lover of romance novels, has been invited to spend Christmas in the sleepy village of Sherbroome at the country retreat of one Benedict Grame.

Arriving on Christmas Eve, he finds that the revelries are in full flow – but so too are tensions amongst the assortment of guests.

Midnight strikes and the party-goers discover that it’s not just presents nestling under the tree…there’s a dead body too. A dead body that bears a striking resemblance to Father Christmas.

With the snow falling and the suspicions flying, it’s up to Mordecai to sniff out the culprit – and prevent someone else from getting murder for Christmas.

This book was first published in 1949. Frances Duncan was the author of over twenty crime novels published between 1937 and 1959. Every year I say I’m going to read a Christmas mystery for Christmas and never get around to it. Finally I did! I picked this book up in Scotland last August.

It is a good solid mystery. I didn’t figure it out thats for sure! I didn’t warm up to any of the characters so it’s a good thing the plot was good. I liked Denys and her boyfriend Roger, but they didn’t really have a big enough play in the telling of the story to get to spend enough time with them. I’d like to come across more by this author. Have you read any of his books?

The first book of this year is Bodies in a Bookshop by R.T. Campbell

Botanist Max Boyle visits “a curious little shop in a side-street off the Tottenham Court Road” in London and is delighted with the bibliophile treasures he finds. He also stumbles across something less pleasant: in a back room, an unlit gas ring emits its noxious fumes and two corpses lie sprawled on the floor.

Boyles calls in ‘the Bishop’ – Chief Inspector Reginald F. Bishop of Scotland Yard – who in turn coaxes professor John Stubbs, a rotund old Scottish botanist and amateur criminologist, to lend his assistance. The salty old professor, quaffing pint after pint of good British beer, his pipe emitting clouds of foul smoke: the protesting Boyle, who would rather be basking in the sun on the Scilly Islands: and the polite, skeptical, world-weary Bishop soon delve beneath the tip of a sinister iceberg to discover skulduggery and dark deeds. Fueled as much by friction among themselves as by enthusiasm, the little crime-solving club threads a maze through London’s book and print emporia, grappling with a puzzle that is likely to baffle even the most astute armchair detective.

Bodies in a Bookshop is filled with amusing sallies of wit, quaint and pungent observations, droll characters and rambles among many a volume of forgotten lore. Crisp dialogue keeps the plot moving at top speed. After forty years, Bodies in a Bookshop is as exuberantly readable as ever, a welcome and refreshing relief from so many of today’s flat and colorless mystery puzzles.

This is my second book by R.T. Campbell (you can read my review of Unholy Dying here), and a gift from Joan @ Planet Joan! She’s such a thoughtful person. After she read it she thought of me and mailed it right off. Thank you, Joan!

Once again the wonderful John Stubbs with all his eccentricities. The story is told by Max and he is very drool and serious compared to Stubbs flamboyant personality. As in the first book Stubbs car, a Bentley, is almost a character and his driving is outrageous. There is always little comments by Max when they jump in and take off to search out a clue…

  “I’ll drive ye down.” he announced, “that’ll blow the depression out o’ yer head.”
  The Bishop shuddered, but apparently felt that he had nothing to live for anyhow and climbed in the Bentley. the journey passed without incident. We managed to negotiate Hyde Park Corner and finally found ourselves in the King’s Road.

This mystery was extra special as it was set in a bookshop and a quite smart book theft ring was uncovered in the solving of the murders. Lots of talk about beautiful old copies of rare books…

I had never held a genuine Blake illuminated book in my hands before. It was certainly very beautiful. I could almost, for a moment, understand the temptation that would fall on a collector if the book was offered to him. It was such a beautiful piece of work that to have it in the house would be a continual pleasure.

A man after my own heart! Another grand romp and solid mystery.

This book counts for Read Scotland 2017 and Bev’s Vintage Cover Scavenger Hunt 2017 – Gold era with a staircase on the cover and is the first book in my chain for Bev’s Follow the Clues Challenge

Peggy Ann

Fear the Light by Elizabeth Ferrars

First Published in 1960

Home of Horror
Peggy Robertson thought she had left the small town where she was raised for behind her. Peggy had won honors at college, settled in the city, and now, despite her good looks and comparative youth, already had launched a brilliant career as a scholar and teacher.

But now Peggy was coming home…back to a house haunted by violent death and strange mystery…back to a man who was a genius or a devil or both…back to a love that could not be spokeand to a deadly danger that would not be denied…

This synopsis on the back of the book is a bit deceiving as Peggy’s cousin Charles is really the main character and her named is spelled differently inside the book! It’s Peggie in the book. Hmm…

Peggie makes a minor appearance in the first part of the book after her granny is found dead on the stairs and then goes back home (or does she?). But she does play a bigger part in the last quarter of the book as does a secret romance.

Charles’ Aunt Alice, Peggie’s granny, is found dead on the stairs when Charles returns from a short walk to the mailbox the first evening he is home after a 3 year absence. He stayed away all that time as he was in love with the neighbor’s wife, but she loved her husband. In that three years a lot had changed mostly his Aunt Alice’s health. She’d had a bad fall. Alice never attempted the stairs since her fall. What was she doing on them? Why was the attic door open when Charles is sure David Baldrey, the odd jobs man, had closed it earlier in the day? Who is this Professor Stacey thats been writing Aunt Alice about researching long dead relatives and why is he here a week before he was expected? Then there is a second murder!

Well plotted, lots of good suspects, secrets and illicit love affairs and a grand old house. Good read. Never disappointed by Elizabeth Ferrars.

This book qualifies for Bev’s Vintage Mystery Cover Scavenger Hunt Silver Age Mysteries for the category A Statue. That brings me up to a total of 6, 4 for Silver Age and 2 for Golden Age.

Also qualifies for Gothic Fiction Reading Challenge @Book of SecretsT his is my second book for this one.

And of course Read Scotland 2016 as Ms. Ferrars is Scottish! 7 of 21 books needed for this one.
3 birds with one book!

Peggy Ann

 

Bloq by Alan Jones

‘A father waits in Glasgow’s Central Station for his daughter, returning home from London for Christmas. When the last train has pulled in, and she doesn’t get off it, he makes a desperate overnight dash to find out why. His search for her takes over his life, costing him his job and, as he withdraws from home, family and friends, he finds himself alone, despairing of ever seeing her again.’

Another good tale from Alan Jones! This is a gritty crime novel with sexual content. Alan hits on the hot topic of slavery/human trafficking in this book. Not a pleasant subject, but that seems to be Alan’s speciality!
It took awhile for me to connect with a character in this one, but by the middle of the book I was invested with the character of Bill, the father. I was really impressed with the amount of technical knowledge used by Bill to track the doings at the Albanian mob owned nightclub Bloq! The lengths Bill goes to find his daughter are amazing.  Another WOW twist ending in this one too! I love those kinds of endings! Alan has it perfected!
The early reviews are glowing for this book! You can read the first four chapters at the website Bloq and pre-order the book due out April 1st here or in the UK here.
A blog tour begins March 29th. Alan will be here on April 5th explaining the technical bits Bill uses to catch his man! Be sure and drop in then!
Thanks Alan for the advance copy!
Peggy Ann

Book Update Part 2

I recently posted about the audio books I’ve read in the last 2 1/2 months, now for the print books…

I read two Jane Langton mysteries. I LOVE her books! I read the first two in her Homer Kelly series and of course I read the second one first and the first one second. Oh well…

The Minuteman Murder (the first Home Kelly book. previously titled The Transcendental Murder)
Set in Concord Massachusetts, home to the transcendental American past. Seems everyone there is infatuated with the Transcendentalists, Emerson, Thoreau, Alcott, Dickinson. Homer Kelly, a detective is in Concord researching for a book he is writing on one of the Transcendentalists. He meets Mary Morgan in the library. She is also working on a book, hers is about the Women of the Transcendental movement. It’s love/hate at first sight!

Ernest Goss, a wealthy resident reveals at a town meeting that he has come into possession of some rather delicate Transcendental letters that shed a rather shady light on the Transcendentalist themselves! Are they genuine or fakes? Several residents don’t want them published but Ernest is determined to make his name with the publication of them. What lengths will the town go to, to stop Ernest publishing them?

Patriots Day is here and the town always has a big festival on April 19th commemorating the Battle of Concord, one of the first battles of the Revolutionary War. The highlight of the festival is the re-enactment of the ride of Paul Revere or Dr. Samuel Prescott who was the one that went on to Concord with the news that the British were coming. Shortly after the ride and the parade a shot is heard and a boy scout finds the body of Ernest Goss! Did one of his sons kill him, or someone who didn’t want the letters published? Mary and Homer are hot on the case.

A good sense of place and quotes from Thoreau, Emerson, Dickinson and the lot at the beginning of each chapter and throughout the book. Wonderful quirky characters and a gem of a detective in Homer Kelly.

This book counts for My Readers Block Scavenger Hunt Silver, a revolver on the cover.

Dark Nantucket Noon by Jane Langton
Homer and Mary are back in this second installment set on Nantucket. An eclipse of the sun turned daytime into chillingly unnatural night and when the light returned, someone was dead! Kitty Clark came to Nantucket to observe the eclipse at a prime location for viewing. Arriving at the lighthouse at Great Point at the very end of the island, she stumbles on a dead woman. The dead woman just happens to be the wife of Joe Green, Kitty’s ex-lover and when the party descends the lighthouse stairs and find Helen dead, Kitty is standing over her with bloody hands. One of the men said, ‘You killed her’ and Kitty said, ‘No, it was the moon, you see. The moon did it.’

An exceptionally well written whodunit. Suspenseful and tense right to the end! Can Homer prove Kitty is innocent with such evidence against her? A real page turner. I enjoyed this one better than the first and it’s a good thing I read the second one first because it made me hungry for more!! This copy was a Penguin book and full of lovely sketches by the author. You can check out a few on a post I did previously about this book here.

This book also counts for Bev’s Scavenger Hunt Silver, the lighthouse meets the a building other than a house square

and counting towards Read Scotland…

The Lion and Unicorn Quest by Cecilia Peartree
I picked up this little ebook as it is written by a Scots author and would count for Read Scotland. Ms. Peartree has a couple different series. I read the first one in her Crime in the Community series set in Scotland and really enjoyed it. This one is in The Quest series and set in 1950’s London. It centers around a couple who search for and find lost art works, usually lost in the war.

Flora and Oliver work together recovering stolen or lost art works and after a silly argument they aren’t speaking to each other. Flora’s past as a secret agent in the war is coming back to haunt her. She is pulled into an investigation surrounding an old nemesis. In the meantime Oliver is asked to help protect a famous painting being loaned out for display at the Festival of Britain. Doesn’t take long before their different paths cross and they find themselves deep in a murder mystery. Not anything really deep, but quite enjoyable and free at Smashwords! Crime in the Community is free too!

The Last of the Line by John MacKay
Cal’s parents are dead and his last remaining blood relative, Aunt Mary, passes away. Cal returns to the Outer Hebrides to arrange her funeral and take care of her estate. He’s a big city boy now and doesn’t care for or understand the the old islanders way of life. But Cal learns Mary had a secret all his life and he is determined to find out what it is. Could she have been his mother? Will he stay on the island or return to the city? Another wonderfully atmospheric book from MacKay. After reading The Road Dance by him I had to get my hands on all his books and all I can say is I hope he writes more!

Heartland by John MacKay
Ian Martin returns home to Lewis after his marriage ends in divorce. He’s looking to re-connect with his roots and start again. Hoping that reconstructing his ancestral home, an old blackhouse, will give him purpose. While digging up the old floor he unearths a human skeleton. Now he has a mystery to unravel as well. Could it be the skeleton of a high school friend thought lost at sea? I LOVED this book. Characters from The Road Dance are mentioned in this one too. Excellent mystery and beautiful location. If you like tales set in Scotland you really need to get your hands on one of his books.