Today, it’s my turn on the #blogtour for Jane Dunn’s new historical romance, The Marriage Season. (There’s a lot of horses in this, so yes, I loved it:)

Here’s the blurb

‘It’s not a fair world I’m afraid. Beauty or fortune carries the day. You have the beauty and I the fortune, so there’s every chance we’ll succeed’

In Regency England, marriage is everything. For young widow Sybella Lovatt, the time has come to find a suitable husband for her sister and ward Lucie. Male suitors are scarce near their Wiltshire estate, so the sisters resolve to head to London in time for The Season to begin.

Once ensconced at the Mayfair home of Lady Godley, Lucie’s godmother, the whirl of balls, parties and promenades can begin. But the job of finding a husband is fraught with rules and tradition. Jostling for attention are the two lords – the charming and irresistible Freddie Lynwood and the preternaturally handsome Valentine Ravenell, their enigmatic neighbour from Shotten Hall, Mr Brabazon, and the dangerous libertine Lord Rockliffe, with whom the brooding Brabazon is locked in deadly rivalry.

Against the backdrop of glamorous Regency England, Sybella must settle Lucie’s future, protect her own reputation, and resist the disreputable rakes determined to seduce the beautiful widow. As the Season ends, will the sisters have found the rarest of things – a suitable marriage with a love story to match? 

Purchase Link

https://amzn.to/3DqXPOI

My Review

The Marriage Season by Jane Dunn is a delightful Regency romance that’s a little different to similar tales I’ve read, for the story is not just of a young woman trying to find a husband but of a widow deciding if she is perhaps prepared to love again, and her small son, James, or Jim as he likes to be called.

As much as Lucie and Sybella are fabulous creations, as are the men they encounter, it is little Jim and his love of ‘prancers’ that truly steals the show, and why not? That said, the story of Lucie and Sybella is delightful and well-told. Yes, it contains the twisting storylines we might expect, but the author has also littered the narrative with some delightful, period-specific words, which make the story really sparkle. And it’s not just young Jim and his roguish words that bring that charm.

I really adored The Marriage Season. Yes, it was fairly obvious what was going to happen, but that’s not truly the charm of the story but rather the detours the reader is taken on along the way, and of course, young Jim and his love of prancers is a true delight.

Meet the author

Jane Dunn is an historian and biographer and the author of seven acclaimed biographies, including Daphne du Maurier and her Sisters and the Sunday Times and NYT bestseller, Elizabeth & Mary: Cousins, Rivals, Queens. She comes to Boldwood with her first fiction outing – a trilogy of novels set in the Regency period, the first of which is to be published in January 2023. She lives in Berkshire with her husband, the linguist Nicholas Ostler.

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Today, I’m delighted to welcome Isabella Muir and her new novel, A Notable Omission, to the blog with a fab post about historical research #blogtour

A Notable Omission is the seventh novel from Isabella Muir – all of them set during the 1960s and 1970s.  Here Isabella Muir provides some insight into one particular resource that helped her set the story in this particular historical period…

Having fun with historical research

Online research is fun, of course, but right now I’m saying thank goodness for libraries!  With all my novels being set during those iconic decades of the 1960s and 1970s I’ve built up a broad range of resources to support my research into all things ‘sixties’. And along the way, in my local library, I tracked down a fascinating book.  The Neophiliacs was written by Christopher Booker and published in 1969.  It turns out that it is now out of print and Amazon are asking over £100 for a copy!  So, you can imagine my delight when my wonderful library managed to retrieve a copy from their ‘rare and out-of-print’ books.

Wanting to find out more about Christopher Booker, I did what many do nowadays in these times of instant ‘information’ – I Googled him.  I discovered that back in 1961 he became the founder and one of the early editors of the satirical magazine Private Eye.  He was the first jazz critic for the Sunday and Daily Telegraph and continued as a weekly columnist for the Telegraph right up to 2019, when he finally retired at the age of 81.  As well as The Neophiliacs Booker has written a number of books studying British society, as well as commenting on wider issues, such as the European Union.  Some of his views regarding climate change, health issues, such as the dangers of asbestos and cigarettes, have been controversial; he would appear to be someone who is not afraid to say what he thinks, even if it means going against the grain.

However, as much as Mr Booker and I do not see eye-to-eye over such issues as climate change, his insight into the long-term implications of social change during the 1950s and 1960s have really struck a chord with me.

This paragraph in particular made me sit up and think:

‘…the twentieth century has also provided two other factors to aggravate and to feed the general neurosis; the first being the image-conveying apparatus of films, radio, television, advertising, mass-circulation newspapers and magazines; the second the feverishly increased pace of life, from communications and transport to the bewildering speed of change and innovation, all of which has created a profound subconscious restlessness which neurotically demands to be assuaged by more speed and more change of every kind.’

From: THE NEOPHILIACS: A STUDY OF THE REVOLUTION IN ENGLISH LIFE IN THE FIFTIES AND SIXTIES BY CHRISTOPHER BOOKER

Of course, now in 2023 the desire for speed is all around us – from the need for ever faster broadband, to high-speed rail links and non-stop Transatlantic flights.  Some will point out that the changes started when the Industrial Revolution resulted in horse-drawn carriages and ploughs being replaced with the engine and the first railways.  Social change is ongoing, but it does appear that some eras are more significant than others.

What is fascinating is to realise that at least sixty or seventy years ago Booker was able to identify ‘restlessness’ as it was happening, knowing that people would need more of the same, on and on until we reach the present day addiction to online and social media, where we constantly flick through images to gratify our seemingly ever reducing attention span.

Sadly, when my loan period expired, I had to return The Neophiliacs to the library, but not before making copious notes. Notes that helped no end as I drafted A Notable Omissionand insights that I hope have helped to set the scene for the novel, transporting readers back to an era when the pace of life was a tad gentler than it is today.

Here’s the blurb

A 1970s debate on equality is overshadowed by a deadly secret…

Spring 1970. Sussex University is hosting a debate about equality for women. But when one of the debating group goes missing, attention turns away from social injustice to something more sinister.

It seems every one of the group has something to hide, and when a second tragedy occurs, two of the delegates – amateur sleuth Janie Juke, and reporter Libby Frobisher – are prepared to make themselves unpopular to flush out the truth. Who is lying and why?

Alongside the police investigation, Janie and Libby are determined to prise answers from the tight-lipped group, as they find themselves in a race against time to stop another victim being targeted.

In A Notable Omission we meet Janie at the start of a new decade. When we left Janie at the end of The Invisible Case she was enjoying her new found skills and success as an amateur sleuth. Here we meet her a few months later, stealing a few days away from being a wife and mother, attending a local conference on women’s liberation to do some soul-searching…

Purchase Link

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Notable-Omission-Janie-Juke-mystery-ebook/dp/B0BQCLRYS6

US – https://www.amazon.com/Notable-Omission-Janie-Juke-mystery-ebook/dp/B0BQCLRYS6

Meet the author

Isabella is never happier than when she is immersing herself in the sights, sounds and experiences of family life in southern England in past decades – specifically those years from the Second World War through to the early 1970s. Researching all aspects of life back then has formed the perfect launch pad for her works of fiction. It was during two happy years working on and completing her MA in Professional Writing when Isabella rekindled her love of writing fiction and since then she has gone on to publish seven novels, six novellas and two short story collections.

This latest novel, A Notable Omission, is the fourth book in her successful Sussex Crime Mystery series, featuring young librarian and amateur sleuth, Janie Juke. The early books in the series are set in the late 1960s in the fictional seaside town of Tamarisk Bay, where we meet Janie, who looks after the mobile library. She is an avid lover of Agatha Christie stories – in particular Hercule Poirot. Janie uses all she has learned from the Queen of Crime to help solve crimes and mysteries. This latest novel in the series is set along the south coast in Brighton in early 1970, a time when young people were finding their voice and using it to rail against social injustice.

As well as four novels, there are six novellas in the series, set during the Second World War, exploring some of the back story to the Tamarisk Bay characters.

Isabella’s love of Italy shines through all her work and, as she is half-Italian, she has enjoyed bringing all her crime novels to an Italian audience with Italian translations, which are very well received.

Isabella has also written a second series of Sussex Crimes, set in the sixties, featuring retired Italian detective, Giuseppe Bianchi, who is escaping from tragedy in Rome, only to arrive in the quiet seaside town of Bexhill-on-Sea, East Sussex, to come face-to-face with it once more.

Isabella’s standalone novel, The Forgotten Children, deals with the emotive subject of the child migrants who were sent to Australia – again focusing on family life in the 1960s, when the child migrant policy was still in force.

Find out more about Isabella and her books by visiting her website at: http://www.isabellamuir.com

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I’m delighted to share my review for Death at Crookham Hall by Michelle Salter #historicalmystery #cosycrime #highlyrecommended

Here’s the blurb

A fatal jump. A missing suffragette. An inexplicable murder.

London, 1920. When she catches news of a big story, reporter Iris Woodmore rushes to the House of Commons. But it’s a place that holds painful memories. In 1914, her mother died there when she fell into the River Thames during a daring suffragette protest. But in the shadow of Big Ben, a waterman tells Iris her mother didn’t fall – she jumped.

Iris discovers that the suffragette with her mother that fateful day has been missing for years, disappearing just after the protest. Desperate to know the truth behind the fatal jump, Iris’s investigation leads her to Crookham Hall, an ancestral home where secrets and lies lead to murder…

Purchase Link

 https://amzn.to/3DuWBSw

My Review

Death at Crookham Hall is an incredibly well-written historical mystery set in 1920, both in London and Walden.

Our intrepid young report, Iris, finding work as a reporter for the local newspaper, begins to discover much she doesn’t know about her mother’s untimely death following a visit to the House of Parliament.

Iris is a great character, modern but not too modern – wearing trousers is fine, but wearing a dress short enough to show her thighs is too shocking – and she finds herself desperate to gather together the unknown strands of her mother’s death.

This is a really well-written story, interspersed with fascinating tit-bits of information both about the suffragettes and their sister organisation, the suffrage societies, and where the focus is very much on the women of their time, from the lady to the laundry-maid. It’s a very compelling tale, on occasion, fast-paced. Everything Iris does brings her some new information, and her role as a reporter means she gets to interview all of the main suspects without the narration feeling forced.

The resolution of the mystery feels particularly well constructed, and I just thoroughly enjoyed the story. A fabulous, well-written, mystery that holds all the promise of much more to come for young Iris and her fellow reporter, as well as the local policeman, Ben, and her friend, Alice, in Walden.

Meet the author

Michelle Salter is a historical crime fiction writer based in northeast Hampshire. Many local locations appear in her mystery novels. She’s also a copywriter and has written features for national magazines. When she’s not writing, Michelle can be found knee-deep in mud at her local nature reserve. She enjoys working with a team of volunteers undertaking conservation activities.

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I’m delighted to feature Matthew Jones’ new book, Dancing with the Devil on the blog #blogtour #mystery

Here’s the blurb

A wealthy oligarch, a failing business and a man who sacrificed everything for one final shot at freedom.

When Danny accepts a job from wealthy Conrad Szekely to spy on his business partner, Jerry, he finds himself with a world of trouble. Within days of Danny’s arrival, the business is destroyed in a catastrophic fire, which also claims Jerry’s life.

Torn between conflicting interests, Danny starts to suspect that Jerry’s business had been anything but straightforward, and finds himself trapped in a spiral of treachery and lies, which rapidly begins to degenerate into a cat and mouse chase across the fens.

With former allies turning violently against him, Danny tries to solve the mystery that surrounds Jerry’s death. But can Danny find the answers when those answers themselves prove lethal?

Purchase Links

Amazon

Until 10th February the ebook is available for only £1.99 

Waterstones

WHSmiths

Bookshop.org

Hive.co.uk

Blackwells

Until 10th February, the paperback can be purchased directly from Troubador with a 25% discount for only £7.49 using this code at checkout – RRRDANCING 

Meet the author

Aged 60 (will be 61 at time of blog tour). Married with 3 children (and grandchild). Consultant paediatric and neonatal surgeon at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool. Have always been an avid reader. Hobbies = outdoor swimming (former long-distance swimmer), hillwalking, painting (did cover illustration myself). Used to play rugby, but sadly no longer. Still enjoy faded prog-rock bands from the nineteen-seventies. 

I’m welcoming Siobhan Daiko and her new book, The Flame Tree to the blog today #blogtour

Here’s the blurb

Based on a little-known true story, from award-winning author Siobhan Daiko comes a tale of love and survival against all the odds set in Hong Kong at the start of the Pacific War.

In the spring of 1939, dashing young William Burton and the beautiful Constance Han set sail from London on the same ocean liner to Hong Kong.

Romance blossoms while they enjoy games of deck quoits and spend sultry tropical evenings dancing under the stars. Connie is intrigued by Will’s talent for writing poetry, and she offers to give him Cantonese lessons to help him with his new job— a cadet in the colonial service.

But once in Hong Kong, Connie is constrained by filial duty towards her Eurasian parents, and their wish for her to marry someone from her own background. She can’t forget Will however and arranges to meet him in secret under the magnificent canopy of a flame of the forest tree—where she fulfils her promise to teach him to speak Chinese.

Before too long, trouble looms as Japanese forces gather on the border between Hong Kong and mainland China. Will joins a commando group tasked with operating behind enemy lines, and Connie becomes involved in the fight against local fifth columnists.

When war breaks out, they find themselves drawn into a wider conflict than their battle against prejudice. Can they survive and achieve a future together? Or do forces beyond their control keep them forever apart?

Perfect for readers of Dinah Jefferies, Ann Bennett and Victoria Hislop.

Purchase Link https://mybook.to/TFTHK

Meet the author

Siobhan Daiko is a British historical fiction author. A lover of all things Italian, she lives in the Veneto region of northern Italy with her husband, a Havanese dog and a rescued cat. Siobhan was born of English parents in Hong Kong, attended boarding school in Australia, and then moved to the UK—where she taught modern foreign languages in a Welsh comprehensive school. She now spends her time writing page-turners and enjoying her life near Venice. Her novels are compelling, poignant, and deeply moving, with strong characters and evocative settings, but always with romance at their heart.

Connect with Siobhan

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Giveaway to Win a signed copy of The Flame Tree (Open INT)

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c69494542/?

I’m delighted to share an excerpt from Tony Bassett’s new novel, Out for Revenge #blogtour #mystery

Here’s the blurb:

When notorious gangland boss Tadeusz Filipowski is released from prison, several people start looking over their shoulder.

A volatile character, not shy of picking fights, Filipowski plans to expand his drugs empire and put his competitors on a backfoot. That’s until he turns up dead. Very dead.

DS Sunita Roy of the Heart of England police is handed the case but it’s a challenge to find the killer of a man with so many enemies.

DCI Gavin Roscoe would lend more support but he is busy nailing down suspicions of corruption plaguing the force.


Soon, however, the investigations will bump into one another. And unless Roy and Roscoe can get to the bottom of the mystery, they could well become the next victims.

OUT FOR REVENGE is the fourth gripping standalone mystery in the Detectives Roy and Roscoe crime fiction series by Tony Bassett.

Purchase Links

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0BK9PJLHK/

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0BK9PJLHK/

EXTRACT FROM  OUT FOR REVENGE BY TONY BASSETT

A serial killer is being driven to Birmingham Crown Court in a prison van, escorted by police, to give evidence for the prosecution in a murder case. But armed members of a criminal gang, including one of two corrupt detectives, are lying in ambush, ready to free the prisoner from custody.

Detective Sergeant Bains flicked off the car radio. He glanced towards the driver sitting beside him, Tahir Khan. They had turned off the main Pershore Road in Edgbaston and were parked in a black Audi Q7, which had tinted rear and side windows, a few metres along a side road, Brunel Way, close to Calthorpe Park.

‘Shouldn’t be long now,’ Bains remarked. ‘I’ve got three guys on look-out and we should hear from them the minute the convoy appears.’

‘Bloody cold today,’ moaned Khan, who like Bains was wearing suitably dark clothing.

‘Yes, but at least it’s stopped raining.’

‘Why did you decide we should stop here? I’d have thought it would’ve been easier to do this little job in a quiet country lane.’

‘Well, Seymour found out the main route they usually take up from the Vale is along the A441 and then they take the inner ring road. They’re mainly fast roads and, of course, there’s a chance they’d be on a blue light. The only part of the journey where they’re forced to slow down is here. They turn off the Pershore Road and use this street as a cut-through to Bristol Road at the other end. So this is our only chance before they hit the dual carriageway.’

‘How does Seymour know they always come along here?

‘We’ve got an insider. The prison driver’s wife used to live round here, so he’s very familiar with the area. There’s an added bonus for us – there aren’t many shops round here, so there’s not much in the way of CCTV.’

Just then Bains’ mobile phone rang. It was Leroy, one of the new gang members Blake had recently taken on. The sergeant looked at his watch.

‘What did you say, Leroy? … It’s just coming up to twenty past one and they’ve just passed the zoo at Cannon Hill? … OK, thanks, mate,’ said Bains as he ended the call.

‘I’ll just let the brothers know,’ he told Khan, while pressing buttons on his phone.

‘Hello, is that Gabriel? … Hi, it’s Phil. They’ll be here in a couple of minutes. Are you both ready? … Good. Don’t forget to dispose of your phone afterwards … OK, so you know exactly what to do? … Good man!’

The minutes ticked by. The two men put black balaclavas over their heads. The sergeant, who had a Beretta pistol on his lap, was becoming nervous. The adrenalin was beginning to flow. He kept glancing over his shoulder at Khan’s sawn-off shotgun on the back seat and watching in the side mirror as the traffic passed slowly along the Pershore Road behind.

Suddenly they became aware of a siren in the distance. The noise became louder until the pair spotted a glimmering blue light near the junction. Khan flashed his headlights on and off to alert Gabriel and Dominik Nowak – who were two hundred metres ahead at the entrance to the Bedford housing estate. The Nowaks started up their hired box lorry and waited in anticipation just a few metres back from Brunel Way.

Within seconds, a police motorcycle appeared at the Pershore Road junction, where its rider halted briefly to cast his eyes around. Then he set off along the cut-through.

After he had travelled at least a hundred metres up the street, two constables in a police Ford Focus with its siren blaring turned the corner, followed closely by a white prison van with blacked-out windows. A solitary officer in a police Range Rover brought up the rear.

The motorcyclist continued past the entrance on the right to the Bedford estate, but no sooner had he gone by than the eighteen-tonne lorry lurched across the road, at once separating the rider from the police car.

The lorry careered directly in front of the car driver – forcing him to slam on his brakes.

The van driver behind was compelled to do the same. The lorry, which was eleven metres long, completely blocked the road. Despite the police driver turning off his siren and hooting his horn instead, the man in the cab made no attempt to shift it.

Then, just as the constable was thinking of stepping out of the car to have words with the driver, he was stunned into shock. Part of the lorry’s blue webbing was hauled back and a man in a black balaclava strode across the lorry’s floor – like an actor taking to the stage in a chilling melodrama.

What really caught the attention of the two officers in the Focus was that the slim man, Dominik Nowak, was grasping a double-barrelled shotgun. He pointed his menacing weapon at the car’s windscreen, ordering the constables to remain inside.

Meet the author

I am a semi-retired journalist who was born in West Kent. While growing up, I spent hours reading and writing, and, from an early age, nursed an ambition to become first a journalist and then novelist. My theory was that, in order to write novels, one had to have life experiences to colour one’s writing and one could obtain those experiences through journalism.

I was fortunate enough to be named Time-Life Magazine Student Journalist of the Year in 1971 in a competition organised by the National Union of Students. At the time, I was editing the student newspaper at Hull University, where I gained a BA Honours degree in History and Political Studies.

After six years working on provincial newspapers in Sidcup, Worcester and Cardiff, I became a freelance journalist in London. For 24 years, I was a reporter on the staff of the Sunday People (now part of Reach plc, formerly Trinity Mirror). Over the years, I sold tens of thousands of stories to the national newspapers, including the Daily Mirror, Daily Mail, The Sun, Daily Star, Daily Telegraph and London Evening Standard. I helped cover the Jeremy Thorpe trial at the Old Bailey for the Evening Standard. I broke the news in a Sun newspaper exclusive in April 1989 that Bill Wyman, the Rolling Stones guitarist aged 52, was to marry 18-year-old Mandy Smith. I bought 200 blank MOT forms to expose a trade in fake certificates.

My speciality was tracking people down. For instance, I found evidence about Rod Stewart’s secret love child Sarah Streeter by tracing a retired adoption agent through a library ticket. On one occasion, I took an escaped gangster back to prison. Some of my stories can be read on my website (see below); others are generally available online. For thirty years, I was also employed as a birth and marriage researcher mainly for the Mail on Sunday, Sunday Mirror, Sunday People and The Sun.

I have a grown-up son and four grown-up daughters who all live in South Wales.

Connect with Tony

www.tonybassettauthor.com

www.twitter.com/tonybassett1

www.facebook.com/tony.bassett.92505  

www.instagram.com/tonyba1

I’m delighted to be reviewing Patches Through Time by Sian Turner on the blog #blogtour

Here’s the blurb

An unbelievably believable time travel escapade.

Casual antique dealer Jake Patch picks up an unusual object and can’t put it down. Literally. His find is a time travel device, and he hatches a bold plan to acquire objects from the past and sell them at modern day prices. But when the mysterious Infinity Glass leaves Patch stranded in a dangerous past, it falls to his teen daughter Cass to save him.

With hints of The Time Traveller’s Wife and Back to the Future and a smattering of LovejoyPatches through Time will send you spinning headlong into the past, then spit you back into the twenty-first century.

This book contains occasional profanities. Trigger warning: bereavement (parent, spouse).

Purchase Links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Patches-through-Time-Sian-Turner-ebook/dp/B0BNQ7XGT6

US  – https://www.amazon.com/Patches-through-Time-Sian-Turner-ebook/dp/B0BNQ7XGT6

My Review

Patches Through Time is a really enjoyable novel. It hooked me from the beginning, with its premise of limited and location-specific time travel.

Patch is a great character, but the story really comes to life with the point of view switch to Cass, and having visited a handful of places in the distant past, much of the narrative revolves around events in war-torn Hastings in the early 1940s. The author does an excellent job of reconstructing the past locations, and the characters that Patch and Cass meet there are believable and all bring something new to the story.

I’m not sure if the plan is to write a sequel, but if it is, then, I’ll happily read it, as I think there’s much more that Cass and Patch can do with their time travelling device.

A thoroughly enjoyable novel.

Meet the author

Sian Turner was born in Wales, but lives in East Sussex. She has recently started learning Welsh (and can categorically testify that Welsh is difficult). 

She works as a part-time volunteer in her local RSPCA cat re-homing centre, from where she keeps adopting new family members (only one or two at a time).

Sian enjoys reading and reviewing some of the many truly amazing novels by Independent Authors, and she is secretary of her local writers’ group, Shorelink Writers.

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It’s my turn on the #Payback by Edie Balylis #NewRelease #blogtour #gangland

Here’s the blurb:

Revenge will come at a price…

With his once thriving casino business now in ruins, Seb Stoker is certain about two things: One – he will rebuild bigger and better than ever. And two – someone will pay for torching his club.

But until that day comes, Seb has bigger things to worry about and a business deal that could make or break them all…

Sam Reynold knows Seb is out for revenge, and she’ll do anything she can to help him. But Sam has her own enemies and battles to fight – ones much closer to home.

With pressure mounting for both of them, tensions run high.

And payback will be deadly.

Purchase Link – https://amzn.to/3DK8Xb2

My Review

Payback is the fourth book in the Allegiance series, but the third one I’ve read (I know, I know, I shouldn’t do that, but it’s book 1 I’ve not read, so I feel fairly up to speed now:). Payback picks up immediately after the events of book three (check out my review here) and is a deftly and tightly plotted sequel, taking into account each and every loose end from the previous book.

It’s fast-paced and well-written, ensuring the reader doesn’t have time to catch their breath as it tumbles towards its conclusion, with the main players seemingly unable to stay away from one another, as they intersect and react, sometimes with deadly consequences, in Birmingham of the 1990s.

This is not at all my ‘usual’ read, but Edie is such a fabulous writer, and while her characters are all, in some way or other, flawed or just downright horrible (and there are many of them who are, quite frankly, evil), I find the world she’s created to be hugely entertaining. I rushed to get to the end of the novel to find out how everything was going to play out. Will Payback come or will revenge go ‘wrong?’

Payback is not for those offended by violence or foul language, but it is a very well crafted novel, and I’m really looking forward to book 5, and seeing how the Allegiance series concludes.

Connect with Edie

Edie Baylis a successful self-published author of dark gritty thrillers with violent background settings. She lives in Worcestershire, has a history of owning daft cars and several motorbikes and is licensed to run a pub. She has signed a five-book deal with Boldwood and the first book in her new ganglit series, set in Birmingham, was published in January 2022.

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2022 – A Reading Year in Review

Wow! I think 2022 has been the year that I read (and listened) to the most books EVER! As I write this, I’m up to 99 titles. I have some ‘holiday’ reading I’m keen to do as well – fingers crossed I make it to the magic 100 for the year (I am including audiobooks in this, and also my own books as I have to read them A LOT, and I’ve also been refreshing a few throughout the year as well.) Even so, I’ve read many, many books, across a number of different genres, but the predominant one has certainly been historical mysteries/cozy crime. I’ve found that this is my ‘happy’ place when trying not to think about my own books. And luckily, Boldwood Books (who publish the Eagle of Mercia Chronicles) have a huge collection of mystery writers, and they’ve autoapproved me on Netgalley, so I’ll never struggle to find something to read in my favourite genre.

As has been pointed out to me by a fellow author, I don’t often award a five star review to books. Indeed, while I do rate and review on Amazon and Goodreads, on the blog, I don’t tend to give a rating – I’m just quirky like that. Those books that I have given a five star to, I’ve given a shout out in the Aspects of History Books of 2022. You can find the link here – (of course, these are all historical fiction books) and The Capsarius, Valentia, Twelve Nights and The Maids of Biddenden made it onto that list (and yes, these are all books I was lucky enough to be asked to review on the blog – but I never automatically give a 5 star review just because of that). I also want to add Domitian by SJA Turney as well. I couldn’t include two of his books on Aspecs of History but Domitian is wonderful, just my sort of Roman story with plenty of politics, intrigue, and some fabulous characters.

Three of these books are indie-published, and I can assure you all, that there’s a huge amount of amazing indie stuff out there. Don’t believe me, try one of these titles:)

I’ve also treated myself to a bit of comedy this year. I’ve been listening to the Terry Pratchett Discworld audio books (the new and the original recordings – but not the abridged versions) and it’s reminded me of how much I love a funny book, and so, here are my favourite comedies of the year. Simon Whaley’s Foraging for Murder, Dead in Tune by Stephanie Dagg and Crazy for You by Domhnall O’Donoghue and Unseen Academicals by Terry Pratchett, which I’ve listened to twice!

In terms of cozy crime, I’ve found a few new series of which I’m certainly going to read more. Catherine Coles new 1940s historical mystery series, TA Williams‘ Armstrong and Oscar cosy series, Debbie Young’s St Brides Series, and Helen Golden’s Right Royal Cozy Investigations.

In terms of books set in ‘my’ time period, I’ve been reading Matthew Harffy, SJA Turney or maybe it’s a Simon Turney one (it’s the same author, in case you were confused), Peter Gibbons, Christopher Cervasco, Donovan Cook, Eric Schumacher, Paula De Fougerolles, Richard Cullen, and still historical but a little before and after, Robert M Kidd, Elizabeth R Andersen, Mark Knowles, Dan Jones and Kate Shanahan.

I’ve also dipped my toe into a few dual-timeline novels. As you might expect, my interest is always much more in the historical aspect of the story and not the modern settings, but they were a bit of fun when I was on holiday. The Witches Tree and The Storm Girl.

I’ve only read one fantasy book in 2022, which surprises me (aside from Discworld), but Mark Lawrence is one of my all-time favourite authors, and I will always read his books. The sneaky toad has a theme running through them all and I love it.

I’ve also read surprisingly few non-fiction books, in their entirety. I’ve been working on my non-fiction book and that’s meant a lot of dipping in and out of books I’ve already read. But, the non-fiction books I’ve read have been excellent, Michael Wood’s 40th anniversary of In Search of The Dark Ages, reviews for Aspects of History, Winter in the World by Eleanor Parker, also reviewed for Aspects of History and I also read my first ever writing guide.

And an entirely new genre for me, but one I was strangely drawn to for the location, which is close to where I grew up – a bit of Gangland.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my reviews on the blog. And I’d like to that the publishers that let me read advanced copies, and also, all the writers I’ve mentioned who’ve taken the time to craft these novels so that I can devour them. Now, I need to get back to my reading to make sure I hit that magic 100!

I’m delighted to be reviewing The Watson Letters Volume 6: The Haunting of Roderick Usher on the blog #blogtour #bookreview #historicalmystery

Here’s the blurb:

An invitation. A ghostly spectre. A criminal mastermind.

When Sherlock Holmes is invited to visit an old school friend, he and Doctor Watson are plunged into the first of three adventures involving the Dark Arts and the supernatural. From the ghostly spectre of a dead sister to the search for an ancient book of spells, the detecting duo learn that each case is connected, leading them into a final showdown with their deadliest adversary yet.

Adult humour throughout.

Purchase Link https://geni.us/dymvutk

My Review

The Haunting of Roderick Usher might be volume 6 in the Watson Letters, but it is the first book I’ve read by this author and in this series. But fear not. Building on the ‘lore’ of Sherlock Holmes and adding a few ‘adult’ touches throughout, as well as a slightly alternative universe, this is a fine story in true Sherlock Holmes style and very, very enjoyable.

The Haunting of Roderick Usher is really a string of three separate stories, all building on the other, before coming to a thrilling conclusion. The Haunting of Roderick Usher, The Witch’s Ghost and The Very Last Death of Lord Blackwood are all unique stories in themselves, with a hint of the otherworldly and with a conclusion of their own.

I really enjoyed the building blocks of the stories, and the slightly more flippant Holmes, Watson and Mrs Watson. All three of them, and indeed Lestrade as well, all have their voices throughout these tales.

A lot of fun, provided you’re not going to be offended by the slightly more adult tone – and I certainly wasn’t.

Meet the author

True-born Geordie Colin Garrow grew up in a former mining town in Northumberland and has worked in a plethora of professions including taxi driver, antiques dealer, drama facilitator, theatre director and fish processor. He has also occasionally masqueraded as a pirate. Colin’s published books include the Watson Letters series, the Terry Bell Mysteries and the Rosie Robson Murder Mysteries. His short stories have appeared in several literary mags, including: SN Review, Flash Fiction Magazine, The Grind, A3 Review, Inkapture and Scribble Magazine. These days he lives in a humble cottage in Northeast Scotland.

Connect with the author:

Website (Adults)  Website (Children) 

The Watson Letters  Amazon Author Page  Twitter 

Smashwords  Facebook  Bookbub 

Follow The Haunting of Roderick Usher blog tour with Rachel’s Random Resources