Archive for the ‘Book Review’ Category

Cambridge Black by Alison Bruce, a review.

Cambridge Black written by Alison Bruce

I find it is always a balancing act when writing reviews, trying not to spoil the plot for would-be readers but giving some sense of what lies between the book’s covers.

Cambridge Black is the seventh in Alison Bruce’s DC Gary Goodhew series. I am sure most readers will like myself have read some, possibly all of the preceding books and have a familiarity with the characters.

The story centres around three quest’s, Amy’s for the truth concerning her father’s conviction for murder, Sue Gully’s search for her father and Gary Goodhew’s hunt for those responsible for his grandfather’s murder.

The story is well-plotted and paced.

Cambridge is as all the Goodhew novels the setting for Cambridge Black. Alison Bruce has a great affection for the city which shows in the writing. I enjoy the familiarity of many places in the story, probably something I share with other fans.

I thoroughly enjoyed the twisting turning story as DC Goodhew and the team pursue the perpetrators of a current and simultaneously two other historic unsolved cases. The writing as always is exceptionally fine, the descriptions and scene-setting excellent. I was racing through the pages towards the end as the story reached its nail-biting climax.

This was retiring DI Marx’s last case; I hope it won’t be the last case for DC Gary Goodhew too.

The Authorised Guide to Grunty Fen (Gateway to the East) by Christopher South. A review.

The Authorised Guide to Grunty Fen by Christopher South

I was at Niche Comics Bookshop in Huntingdon a few weeks ago delivering copies of my books, when my gaze fell on The Authorised Guide to Grunty Fen by Christopher South.

Dennis of Grunty Fen was a celebrated resident of this unusual place and appeared weekly in conversation with Christopher South on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire. When I managed to listen to them I was usually reduced to uncontrollable laughter, accounts of Hereward the Wake and his racing punt, the undiscovered vaults beneath Ely Cathedral are just two of the incidents discussed by Dennis and Christopher. There is many, many, many, more each one a gem.

This book gives an account of the area its architecture and inhabitants, it is a long time since I laughed so much that the tears rolled down my face. The Grunty Fen in this book has only mild exaggerations of some of the buildings in the fens. Rusting corrugated iron, railway sleepers together with leaning buildings of all shapes and sizes are not uncommon. The book contains many excellent drawings by John Holder enhancing visually the pictures so eloquently painted in words by the author.

Day to day life in this remote area of the fens is described in detail. For example, the importance of rhubarb both as a staple part of the diet and a means of communication is carefully described as are local competitive sports, Drain Rodding as a sport is unique to the area.

Sadly Dennis, Pete Sayers, is no longer with us but his spirit lives on I am grateful for the pleasure he and Mr South gave me. Even now there are pilgrims asking directions to Grunty Fen from the surrounding villages in search if not of Dennis but Potts Garage, Mrs Edwards at the Post Office, The Wolseley Hen Coop Car and of course Dennis’s home the LNER carriage. Visitors are advised to be wary of Feral Nuns on Vespas.

This book is a wonderful reminder of Sunday mornings on Radio Cambridgeshire, the world is a poorer place without Dennis and the community of Grunty Fen.

There is actually a place called Grunty Fen
This was Grunty Fen in 1648 before much of the fens was drained

To learn more about Grunty Fen and its most celebrated resident, Dennis visit: https://www.dennisofgruntyfen.co.uk/

To find out more about the wonderful bookshop that is Niche Comics Bookshop, visit: https://huntsbooks.co.uk/

The Promise by Alison Bruce, a review.

The Promise by Alison Bruce

I am gradually reading all of Mrs Bruce’s Gary Goodhew books, The Promise is number six of seven.

Each succeeding book is better than the one preceding it; a difficult accomplishment when the first one, Cambridge Blue is so good.

The brutal murder of a homeless man, known to DC Gary Goodhew, prompts his early return to work while still recovering from injuries received during his last case. Cambridge is the setting for this and the books before it, is captured perfectly; the plot is intricate and convoluted, the characters are well drawn, the ending unexpected.

It is a really difficult book to put down until you have finished reading it I have ordered Cambridge Black and I am looking forward to reading it. It has The Promise of being an excellent read.

Meet Me in the Treehouse by Kelly Tink, a review.

Meet Me in the Treehouse

I confess Romantic Fiction is not a genre I would normally read, “Meet me in the tree house” is the first ever book of romantic fiction I have tried.

Kelly’s book is a well written, well crafted novel, exploring Emma’s grief and her accommodation with loss. The grief is for a dead friend. The loss is that of her marriage, itself another form of grieving. Grieving for the hopes, plans and dreams of a future now gone. Emma hesitates to form new relationships or revisit old ones; she is wary; worried that the history of her failed marriage may repeat itself.

We follow Emma as she tries to reconstruct her life and move on from a troubled past, it is an interesting journey and for me an informative one.

Kelly has I understand started on a second book, I can’t wait to read it.

Meet Me in the Treehouse is available on Amazon

Meet Me in the Treehouse

The Backs Written by Alison Bruce a review.

The Backs written by Alison Bruce

Alison has become one of my favourite authors and I am gradually reading her Gary Goodhew series. I say gradually with good reason. I enjoy her writing and read the books one at a time with an interval in between each one, so I enjoy each one as a fresh read.

“The Backs” is number five in the series and number six “The Promise” is sitting on the shelf ready for my next special occasion.

The Backs, as is all of Alison’s books, the ones I have read so far, set in and around Cambridge. I am familiar with the city and the surrounding area. For me, this familiarity is a bonus.

Following a violent scene-setting prologue the action moves what was for the story the present day, the Gog Magog hills at night, a burning car and the discovery of a gruesome murder.

Jane Osborne’s return to Cambridge sets the story off in another direction and the plot weaves around several different strands. DC Gary Goodhew and the team he belongs to gradually, start to untangle the events leading up to the murder and hitherto undiscovered crimes of the past. In the process darker, secrets emerge from their hiding places.

As with all Alison’s novels (the ones I have read so far), the characters are well-drawn and the plot multilayered, as each layer is lifted more is revealed underneath. Each time the reader thinks they may have an inkling of who the villain may be or the possible outcome the ground shifts underneath.

All in all a damn good read.

The Scent of Guilt by Tony J Forder, a review.

The Scent of Guilt by Tony J Forder

This is the second of Tony J Forder’s books featuring D I Bliss and his partner Detective Sergeant Penny Chandler.

Newly returned to Peterborough after twelve years away policing organised crime, DI Bliss joins the Major Crimes Team and immediately is thrown into a brutal murder enquiry. The murder appears to be the latest in a series. Bliss very quickly spots a possible link between a series of rapes and murders.

Penny Chandler now promoted to Detective Sergeant joins the enquiry as the rapes she has been investigating seem linked to the murders.

The search for the serial killer and rapist then becomes a desperate race against time to apprehend the culprit before he can add to his growing list of rape and murder victims.

The enquiry involves a trawl through old cases and incidents. When a pattern emerges a trip to the U.S.A. becomes a necessity to follow old leads. Bliss and Chandler know they are up against a deadline but don’t know what it is. Speed and accuracy are needed, the plot twists and turns as the desperate search accelerates to a cliff-hanging conclusion.

A satisfying, engaging, read, the characters are well-drawn and apart from the U.S.A., the settings are familiar to me.

Excellent, thank you, Mr Forder.

Degrees of Darkness is the next in the series and I shall be obtaining it before very long.

The Scent of Guilt is available on Amazon and from bookshops.

The Secret Life of Bletchley Park Written by Sinclair McKay a review

The Secret Life of Bletchley Park by Sinclair McKay

The Secret Life of Bletchley Park by Sinclair McKay, a review.

Few people today are unaware of Bletchley Park and its vital work during World War 2, cracking the German Codes. Although many of us now know of the Enigma machine and have heard of Alan Turing there is much about Bletchley Park that wasn’t known, even amongst its veterans.

Mr McKay has taken the opportunity to talk to as many of the surviving Bletchley veterans as he could, to learn more of the Park’s back story. He sheds light on what went on behind the scenes. How mainly young, men and women drawn from all over the country came to work together on one of the most secret and important projects of the war.

The lives of the listeners, translators, code breakers and those who analysed the intelligence are discussed the problems of accommodation and travel are covered as is the social life of the park.

It is a fascinating book and illustrates the remarkable calibre of the people who worked at the park. Their tremendous sense of loyalty, is something to marvel at. Many took the secret of their vital wartime careers to the grave, children and spouses unaware of the value that work.

It is possible that had the true value of Turing’s work been more widely known he wouldn’t have been subjected to the terrible treatment that led to his early tragic death.

This is a testament to part of a great generation that did so much for those of us who followed, a story that needed to be told.

What Lies Beyond Sci-Fi Stories of the Future, Edited byJ K Larkin, a review

What Lies Beyond

Stephen Oliver, one of the book’s contributing authors gave me the heads up on this terrific collection.

The Generalist is Stephen’s contribution and thoroughly deserves its place in this book with the other excellent stories. Stephen’s stories are always unusual and quirky not only displaying an orignality of thought but also quality writing.

A cousin of mine named Startruck her favourite in an earlier collection “Where the Wild Winds Blow.” Another book showcasing some of Stephen’s work.

So what of the other stories? they were all exceptionally good but I particularly enjoyed Preacher by Lisa Diaz Meyer and The Felinedae Mission by Debbie De Louise, those who have cats would regard this as entirely plausible.

The Moment Before Impact by Alison Bruce, a review

The Moment Before Impact by Alison Bruce

Most of us I am sure are familiar with books that you can’t put down because you want to know what happens next but don’t want to the story to end because they are so good, this is one of those books.

The story is set in and around Cambridge, the streets and places are familiar to those who live in or visit the city. For others who do not share that familiarity with the city, a Google search makes it accessible and I am sure encourages readers to visit and see it for themselves.

The plot is engaging and draws the reader in, Celia Henry a tenacious former reporter tries to make sense of the circumstances leading up to a serious road accident. Those involved have become  the adults she watched growing up as children while their neighbour.

An open and shut case becomes increasing more open and less shut as the story moves on with Celia prompting the police to look again. The story grips and holds the reader as it twists and turns revealing more of the back story.

One word describes it for me “Brilliant” but don’t take my word for it, read it yourself.

More please Mrs. Bruce

The Moment Before Impact is available on Amazon and in book shops.

Witch Way a review

Witch Way

Witch Way

Cathy Cade’s book of short stories and poems is a wonderful collection of well-written pieces, each one beautifully crafted.

The range of subjects is wide and eclectic embracing beautifully written children’s stories, fascinating mysteries together with truly delightful poetry. There is something in here for everyone, every item is a brightly polished gem.

My favourite but only just is the beautifully picturesque Witch Way. The characters inhabit your imagination, so beautifully are they drawn. It is for me like watching a film of the story rather than reading the words on the page.

It is a gift few writers have.

Cathy is a writer of extraordinary ability I am looking forward to reading more of her work.

Available on Amazon

Witch Way on Amazon

It will soon be available on Smash Words too:

Smashwords

Cathy’s Blog is always worth a visit:

Cathy’s Blog

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