Enola Holmes: The Case of the Missing Marquess (Enola Holmes #1) by Nancy Springer

Enola Holmes 1.jpgTitle: Enola Holmes: The Case of the Missing Marquess (Enola Holmes #1)

Author: Nancy Springer

Genre: Mystery/Crime, Historical Fiction

Publisher: Allen and Unwin

Published: 26th September 2018

Format: Paperback

Pages:240

Price: $14.99

Synopsis: Enola Holmes might be the much younger sister of Sherlock Holmes, but she manages to outsmart him at every turn, solving thrilling mysteries in her very own way…

When Enola Holmes, sister to the detective Sherlock Holmes, discovers her mother has disappeared, she quickly embarks on a journey to London in search of her. But nothing can prepare her for what awaits. Because when she arrives, she finds herself involved in the kidnapping of a young marquess, fleeing murderous villains, and trying to elude her shrewd older brothers-all while attempting to piece together clues to her mother’s strange disappearance. Amid all the mayhem, will Enola be able to decode the necessary clues and find her mother?

~*~

When Enola Holmes, the much younger sister of legendary detective, Sherlock Holmes, awakens on her fourteenth birthday to find herself quite alone – her mother has up and left, leaving no clues as to her whereabouts, apart from a book of ciphers that Enola must follow to uncover the truth. In the days following her mother’s disappearance, Enola’s much older brothers, Mycroft and Sherlock arrive to make proper arrangements for their sister in London in light of the situation they find her in, where her education befitting a proper lady has been woeful, and the money sent to assist has been spent elsewhere. So, whilst Mycroft prepares his sister for boarding school, and Sherlock returns to his mysterious ways in London, Enola sneaks off and soon finds herself embroiled in disguises, a search for her mother and knowledge of a kidnapped marquess, whom she is determined to track down. At the same time, she must dodge her brothers, so they cannot find her, hide from her murderous villains and help the marquess get home. With all this chaos going on, can Enola maintain her cover and make sure she is undetected?

The Enola Holmes series takes a new look at Sherlock Holmes and his family, and inserts a what if – what if Sherlock and Mycroft had a sister – what would she be like? In this reimagining, she takes more after Sherlock, the detective, than Mycroft, who is the more responsible of the two.   Written in a style akin to the original Holmes stories, but with a feminine twist, the Enola Holmes mysteries looks to be an intriguing series, with books one and two published by Allen and Unwin out today.

Enola is very much like her brother, Sherlock, taking advantage of disguises she picks up along the way and puts together with the clothes Mycroft orders for her to attend boarding school. She is good with ciphers, and manages to elude those pursuing her, and is a master of escapes. Using her skill with ciphers to create new identities for herself, Enola is about to embark on a series of quests and mysteries that will hopefully lead her to her mother, whilst her brother, Sherlock, is hot on her heels – it will be interesting to see whether they eventually team up to defy Mycroft in future books.

What I enjoyed about this book was not only the female lead, but the very different take on the Sherlock Holmes stories and the detective story trope, set in Victorian London with the underlying theme of Jack the Ripper, and other nefarious people weaving in and out of the shadows Enola keeps to, yet fears as she tries to find her mother and solve the mysteries that she stumbles upon along her way.

An excellent start to the series, and my review of book two will be following this one.

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Murder Mile by Lynda La Plante

murder mile.jpgTitle: Murder Mile

Author: Lynda La Plante

Genre: Crime/Mystery

Publisher: Allen and Unwin

Published: 15th August, 2018

Format: Paperback

Pages: 400

Price:  $32.99

Synopsis: Four brutal murders, a city living in fear, a killer on the streets…Prime Suspect’s Jane Tennison returns in the 4th book in the bestselling Tennison series, from the doyenne of crime fiction.

February, 1979, ‘The Winter of Discontent’. Economic chaos has led to widespread strikes across Britain.

Jane Tennison, now a Detective Sergeant, has been posted to Peckham CID, one of London’s toughest areas. As the rubbish on the streets begins to pile up, so does the murder count: two bodies in as many days.

There are no suspects and the manner of death is different in each case. The only link between the two victims is the location of the bodies, found within a short distance of each other near Rye Lane in Peckham. Three days later another murder occurs in the same area. Press headlines scream that a serial killer is loose on ‘Murder Mile’ and that police incompetence is hampering the investigation.

Jane is under immense pressure to catch the killer before they strike again. Working long hours with little sleep, what she uncovers leaves her doubting her own mind.

~*~

As the winter of 1979 inches along, WDS Jane Tennison is working with the Peckham CID when bodies start showing up along Rye Lane, and with a serial killer on the loose, the press soon christen it “Murder Mile”. As the bodies pile up, Jane and her team search for connections between them, and in the seventies, prevailing attitudes against women in the force and ideas about how people should conduct themselves, and the various disagreements that crop up when friends are brought into suspicion, tensions arise as Jane tries to keep an open mind and not let prior relationships and connections get in the way of justice. As the plot moves along, suspects fall in and out of favour, some fizzle away into nothing, some disappear and others are let loose – yet one suspect looms large on Jane’s list – the only one connected to each victim, a dentist who is good friends with someone Jane works with, yet Jane doesn’t seem keen to let him off the hook.

As the case progresses, tensions rise amongst the cops and detectives, the complexities of the case become clearer , and soon, all attention turns to one viable suspect as Jane convinces the team leaders to look into them – making for an intriguing and fast-paced, and surprising finale as conflicts of the law and privilege, class and gender intersect to bring to life a story and characters that are vibrant and deep, exploring policing in an era when, as Jane observes, its still very much a male-dominated job, yet at the same time, showing the varying array and approaches to people and attitudes of the late seventies, and how these were dealt with.

The fourth in the Jane Tennison series, these stories see Jane starting out in her career, facing prejudice from some older detectives, and pressures to conform to what her family expects of her, and what society sees as right – despite the changes in society at the time as well. Caught between these changes and traditions that some characters seem to hold onto, Jane manages to find her way in the world, and her own path, and is open-minded and determined – she has to be, to get the bosses at work to listen to her.

Even though I had not read the previous three books in the series, it was easy to understand what was happening, and engage with the characters and story. It had an interesting plot, complex and intriguing yet not overwhelmingly so, and allowed room for character growth and change. It is a series I would recommend to mystery fans and is one that is in the middle ground of easy and complex- easy enough to knock out in a few reading sessions, yet the complex enough to be engaging and not be rushed, which is what makes reading it quickly possible. It can be savoured too, though I found I read it quickly because I wanted to know what happened.

An enjoyable read for new and old fans.

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Rather Be The Devil by Ian Rankin

rather-be-the-devil

 

 

Title: Rather Be The Devil

Author: Ian Rankin

Genre: Crime

Publisher: Hachette

Published: 3rd November, 2016

Format: Paperback

Pages: 310

Price: $32.99

Synopsis: Some cases never leave you.

For John Rebus, forty years may have passed, but the death of beautiful, promiscuous Maria Turquand still preys on his mind. Murdered in her hotel room on the night a famous rock star and his entourage were staying there, Maria’s killer has never been found.

Meanwhile, the dark heart of Edinburgh remains up for grabs. A young pretender, Darryl Christie, may have staked his claim, but a vicious attack leaves him weakened and vulnerable, and an inquiry into a major money laundering scheme threatens his position. Has old-time crime boss Big Ger Cafferty really given up the ghost, or is he biding his time until Edinburgh is once more ripe for the picking?

In a tale of twisted power, deep-rooted corruption and bitter rivalries, RATHER BE THE DEVIL showcases Rankin and Rebus at their unstoppable best.

~*~

ian-rankin-2In Rebus’ twenty-first outing, Rather Be The Devil, which marks thirty years since the misanthropic detective who investigates the dark underside of Edinburgh and the crimes it tries to conceal. In Rather Be The Devil, Rebus is retired, though rather unwillingly, and is haunted by an unsolved murder from forty years ago: Maria Turquand. Alongside this, a crime syndicate is trying to evade justice and capture. Naturally, a retired Rebus becomes embroiled in these cases, assisting his former colleagues as he grapples with health issues that he is hiding from those who care about him.

Told in third person, most scenes involve Rebus but there are a few that are seen from the perspective of another character, giving the reader insight into the world Rebus lives in. It is a world of history and darkness, in a city I have visited and could picture in my mind: Princes Street lined by old buildings, the Royal Mile and cobblestones leading up to Edinburgh Castle. Even the names of some of the surrounding areas of Leith were familiar. It is set in a place that has a varied history, an interesting one, that towers architecturally over Rebus and his colleagues as they uncover the unsavoury figures that seek to destroy lives.

Rather Be The Devil refers to events that have occurred in earlier books, and though some things may follow on from what has come before, they do not have a large impact on the story. Hints of what has made Rebus who he is made me want to find out more, so hopefully I can track down some more of the books but overall, I was able to follow the plot as a stand alone story.ian-rankin-2017a

It is a dark and gritty story, but not overly violent. Ian Rankin has taken a beautiful city and placed a gritty misanthrope within it, and contrasted the beauty of Edinburgh with the horror of crime and rankled Rebus, and this works well. The contrast allows for an ongoing story to be told, and for immersion in Edinburgh and the world of Rebus.

With an interesting character, and a mystery that refuses to be let go until it is solved, Rather Be The Devil marks the thirtieth anniversary of Rebus well. Fans new and old will enjoy this outing of Rebus.

ian-rankin-rebus-30-2017

 

Ian Rankin will be appearing at the Sydney Writer’s Festival, held between the 22nd and the 28th of May. Appearances are:

Conversation: Ian Ranking – Rather Be The Devil, Saturday, 27th of May, 2017 7.30 – 8.30 PM at Riverside Theatres, Parramatta

https://www.swf.org.au/festivals/festival-2017/ian-rankin-rather-be-the-devil-parramatta/

Ian Rankin: Who Says Crime Doesn’t Pay?

Friday, 26th of May , 6.30-7.30 PM at City Recital Hall, Angel Place, Sydney

https://www.swf.org.au/festivals/festival-2017/ian-rankin-who-says-crime-doesnt-pay/

Special Event: SWF Gala – Origin Story

Wednesday , 24th of May, 2017 6pm to 7pm at City Recital Hall, Angel Place, Sydney

https://www.swf.org.au/festivals/festival-2017/swf-gala-origin-story/

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The Secrets of Wishtide by Kate Saunders (Laetitia Rodd #1)

wishtide cover

 

I received a copy from the publisher for review

Title: A Laetitia Rodd Mystery: The Secrets of Wishtide

Author: Kate Saunders

Genre: Fiction/Crime Fiction

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Published: 1st August 2016

RRP: $29.99

Format: Trade Paperback edition

Pages: 335

Price: $27.99

Synopsis: Mrs Laetitia Rodd, aged fifty-two, is the impoverished widow of an Archdeacon. Living in Well Walk, Hampstead, with her confidante and landlady, Mrs Benson (who once let rooms to John Keats), Mrs Rodd makes her living as a highly discreet private investigator.

 

Her brother, Frederick Tyson, is a criminal barrister living in the neighbouring village of Highgate with his wife and ten children. Fred finds the cases, and Mrs Rodd solves them, using her arch-intelligence, her iron discretion and her immaculate cover as an unsuspecting widow.

 

When Frederick brings to her attention a case involving the son of the well-respected, highly-connected Sir James Calderstone, Mrs Rodd sets off for Lincolnshire, to take up a position as the family’s new governess – quickly making herself indispensable.

 

But the seemingly simple case – looking into young Charles Calderstone’s ‘inappropriate’ love interest – soon takes a rather unpleasant turn. And as the family’s secrets begin to unfold, Mrs Rodd discovers the Calderstone’s have more to hide than most.

 

~*~

 

The Secrets of Wishtide introduces readers to Mrs Laetitia Rodd, an amateur private detective in the Victorian era. Mrs Rodd uses her discretion and mannerisms as a lady of the times to her advantage to gain access to people and information that might otherwise be hidden away. When she is asked to investigate the female companion of a wealthy family, Mrs Rodd soon finds that some families have deeper secrets than others, and the Calderstones are no exception. The unpleasant turn in the case leads Mrs Rodd into a world of secrets that she never anticipated.

Amateur detective stories seem to be quite popular these days, much like Miss Marple and Poirot were and still are. From Mma Ramotswe, to Rowland Sinclair, Taylor Bridges, Cass Lehmann and now, Laetitia Rodd, I am enjoying investigating cases with these detectives, whether they stumble across them or are purposely engaged to investigate, as Mrs Rodd is. Perhaps the appeal of these amateur detectives is that they are relatable. They are not constrained by the rules that a police force might be, and though a character like Mrs Rodd might be accused of being a busybody, it is this characteristic that makes her appealing and a joy to read.

Kate Saunders has captured the essence of Victorian England and Victorian fiction. The Secrets of Wishtide does not read like a modern author trying to place the story within the 1850s – it has the tone of a Dickens novel, and the feel of Victorian London – something any good novel that has an historical setting or aspect should strive to do. I was immediately transported to 1850 and the Victorian world. As the first book in a series, it did it’s job wonderfully – introducing the main character, and what she does, who she is and where she lives, as well as setting the scene nicely. I look forward to reading more in this series.

The Falls by B Michael Radburn

thefallscover

 

I received a copy from the publisher for review

 

Title: The Falls

Author: B. Michael Radburn

Genre: Fiction/Crime Fiction

Publisher: Pantera Press

Published: August, 2016

RRP: $29.99

Format: Paperback

Pages: 364

Synopsis: A week of despair… a century of evil

Damaged but not yet broken, park ranger Taylor Bridges believes his ghosts are in the past – until a raging forest fire in an isolated canyon of The Falls lays bare the remains of a young woman… and a decade-old killing ground.

After the police enlist Taylor in their investigation, the evidence bizarrely points to a deranged preacher who reigned over The Falls a century ago.

But when a crucial witness and a policewoman disappear, it’s clear that a disciple of The Falls’ dark history is on the loose.

 

~*~

 

The Falls by B. Michael Radburn is the second book in the Taylor Bridges series. Still reeling from the death of his daughter Claire five years ago, The Falls follows on from The Crossing, and Taylor’s struggle with the disappearance and death of Claire. When the daughter of an old friend and her partner stumble across a body whilst exploring the Christiana Goldmine in Eldritch Falls, Taylor is called in to assist the police in the national park. Taylor must grapple with his guilt about Claire, and the emotions that this new case brings to the surface. As the case progresses, links to a string of ritualistic murders that span one hundred years. These murders become linked to a family who has lived in the area for generations, a family determined to keep the secrets of the past hidden away from prying eyes, whatever the cost may be.

The daughter of Taylor’s friend, Aroha, becomes involved as a witness and later, is taken. Taylor and the police must find her before it is too late, and before other lives are endangered during the search for truth and its war with keeping secrets and continuing a legacy that has been in place for over one hundred years.

Michael Radburn has created a story using the natural environment and the fear of the unknown, or the fear of what we don’t understand. This gives the characters, both good, bad, and in between, concrete and believable motivations and desires that drive the story towards its relieving conclusion where the reader can finally take a deep breath and relax after the fast paced ride.

This was my first adventure with Taylor Bridges, and I found that I did not need to have read the first book to enjoy this and understand what drove the characters. The mine and the bush of country Victoria was the perfect setting for this mystery, a place where anything could happen. Where shadows dance at the edges of the darkness, and where fear takes over. The novel kept up a good pace and kept me reading as long as possible to find out what happened, and to find out who survived and who didn’t. It is a story where people aren’t always what they seem, and that speaks to the human condition and its various degrees of sanity, desire and wanting to please people, but also, human desire for belief, and legacy. A haunting tale that will keep you up at night, I enjoyed reading this book, and hope that further books are forthcoming and will be just as intriguing as this one.

Craven by Melanie Casey

cravenBook Title: Craven, Book Two of the Cass Lehman and Ed Dyson series
Author: Melanie Casey
Publisher: Pantera Press
Genre: Crime
Release Date: June 1st, 2014
Book Synopsis: A reluctant psychic, a troubled detective… and a deeply twisted serial killer.

Moving to the city, Cass Lehman hoped to leave her recent notoriety behind her. Her ability to experience the final moments of a violent death helped the local police capture a serial killer, but also meant she was almost his first victim…

With a place of her own and a new job, things are looking up for Cass. But just as she starts to feel settled, Cass is targeted by a deranged stalker.

Are the personal attacks linked to a string of unsettling deaths that have left the police stumped?

Her gift is called on yet again by the one man she vowed she would never contact. Cass and police Detective Ed Dyson are thrown back into each other’s lives but can they overcome their feelings to put an end to the terror?

Will her experiences of death reveal the mind of the killer… or is there no such thing as a happy ending?

~*~

Picking up a year after where the devastating and traumatic events for both Cass and Ed left us in Hindsight, Craven brings a new world of threats to Cass and those she cares about. Things start out innocently enough in Adelaide with Cass house hunting. Though a vision of a death in one house, foreshadowed in the prologue, counts that house out. An effective way to bring Casey’s fans back into the fold, and reintroducing us to Cass and her gift, was the vision she had about the death that had taken place there. I would have liked to have known more about that victim and the case, but it served its purpose in the context of the novel and plot that was to follow.
Also in Adelaide, is Detective Ed Dyson, her former boyfriend and the police officer she assisted in the Fleurieu Killer case back in Jewel Bay twelve months ago, working with a new partner, in the Major Crime Investigative Branch, or MCIB, on a twelve-month secondment. When her car is vandalised, Cass calls Ed for help, spurring on a series of events that continue to throw them together, along with Dave, Ed’s new partner, and the only person Cass has been able to confide in since her move to Adelaide, Claire. Along with investigating his serial killer, Ed is thrown back into Cass’s life, trying to protect her from a stalker, yet little do they both know the danger hiding in the shadows that will befall them in the closing chapters of the novel.
Again, Casey has had me on the edge of my seat, with many sleepless nights out of a desire to find out what happens next and fear of the serial killer. I feel this fear is what makes her novels exceptionally well written, because I definitely felt the fear Cass felt. I felt her sleeplessness and I also felt her uncertainty about things. There were moments of sadness though, and moments where I wanted to shake some of the characters into thinking sense – again, this is why I loved this book, because the characters were so believable. They weren’t just black and white, they had grey areas and were flawed: nobody is perfect. Cass and Ed illustrate this in a wonderful way. I am looking forward to reading future Cass Lehman books, and I recommend the series to crime lovers anywhere.

Hindsight by Melanie Casey

hindsightBook Title: Hindsight, Book one of the Cass Lehman and Ed Dyson series
Author: Melanie Casey
Publisher: Pantera Press
Genre: Crime
Release Date: May 1st, 2013
Book Synopsis: Cass Lehman has a terrifying ‘gift’…The youngest in a family of extraordinary women with supernatural talents, Cass is cursed with the not-so-sexy gift of seeing the past…but not just any past; she sees death. For years she’s hidden herself away in her family home. Now, desperate for a better life, she ventures into sleepy Jewel Bay, only to stumble upon murder and mayhem and a killer at large who’s long been lurking in their midst. Taking a chance, Cass volunteers to assist Detective Ed Dyson with the investigation. Will Cass be able to save the latest victim – and herself?

~*~

As a lover of crime books, it took me less than a week to devour this book on my commute to and from an internship. Each page took me along Cass’s journey through her gift and isolation further and further, giving the reader an understanding of Cass that they can carry with them through the reading, and I quite like how the author revealed Cass and what she had been through to us throughout the novel, but at exactly the right times for readers to know. Aside to this, we have Cass, living at home in her twenties, struck by fear of her gift, and doing what she can to avoid it being triggered if she crosses a path where someone has died in the past. Cared for by her mother and grandmother, who also have manifestations of psychic gifts, Cass is sheltered until she meets Ed.
When Cass met Ed Dyson, his sneering attitude, along with the same attitude his partner, Phil, exhibited towards Cass, made me step back from him at first, yet as we learnt more about him and what had happened to his wife, Susan, and as his relationship with Cass developed, I grew to like him, and sympathise with him. I wanted him to find out what had happened to his wife, and when Cass made a connection between several of the victims, this became the turning point in their relationship and their quest to work together to find the perpetrator of the heinous crimes, the serial killer operating within the same time frame every year, leading to a breakthrough in the case of Ed’s wife, Susan. The raw emotion of the characters, especially Ed, when he linked his wife’s case to the other murders with Cass’s help with what seems like an inconsequential or coincidental link, and one that had been brushed aside by the detectives investigating, even Ed, leapt right off the page and kept me reading to see if the link Cass made between the victims became a tangible link instead of a coincidence that the detectives would soon follow.
It is this coincidence that leads them to bring in a suspect towards the end of the novel, and events following Cass attempting to confirm his identity cause a rift between Cass and Ed, and her life is soon in danger. Will Ed be able to save her before it’s too late?

This book had everything a good crime novel should have for me: an dark yet intriguing mystery, characters who have weaknesses and strengths we get to experience, a tight story line and a bad guy who is creepy, slimy and who we want to see chucked jail. A very good first novel from Melanie Casey.