series

Series reminder: TE Kinsey

As I mentioned in the Kindle deals post – the series is on offer at the moment – and it turns out it’s because the new one is out on the 29th, so this Friday I’m taking the opportunity to remind you about the series as well as give you a quick review of the new one – as far as I’m able without spoilers!

You can get the full lowdown in my series post here from June, but the quick set up is that these are late Edwardian/early 1910s murder mystery novels featuring an eccentric widow (but not as old as you think when you see widow!) with a mysterious past and her maid who start solving mysteries after they move to the countryside and stumble upon a body. As the series goes on, extra strands get added and the core group of character widens, but they’re basically pre-World War One historical cozy crime stories.

In the new book, number nine in the series, we’ve reached 1911 and our intrepid duo are at the theatre celebrating Lady Hardcastle’s birthday when murder victim is discovered on stage at the start of the second half. Of course they’re soon investigating and trying to discover what’s going on behind the scenes of the theatre company that could have led to murder. I read it across about 24 hours and really enjoyed it – it was just the break from the day to day that I needed this week. I don’t think you need to have read the rest of the series to enjoy it, although if you have it will obviously work better for you. And as the rest of the series is on Kindle Unlimited at the moment, you can try the series in the next few days ahead of this coming out if you want to.

I got my copy from NetGalley – hence why I’m able to review it a few days before publication – but it looks like it’s going into KU when it comes out as well, so it may just be on Kindle to start with at least. And I’m never sure where this series lands in ease of getting hold of hard copy terms – there is a paperback listed of this new one, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen any of them in the flesh. I will try and remember to check Foyles next time I’m in there though! And if you want more books set in theatres, I have a whole post of those for you too!

Have a great weekend everyone.

bingeable series, Series I love

Series I love: Kate Shackleton

The new book officially came out yesterday – and I was lucky enough to pick up a copy in Foyles earlier in the week, so it seemed like an ideal time to talk about Frances Brody’s historical mystery series. I’ve written about a couple of these individually in the past, but not the series…

Kate Shackleton is a private investigator in Yorkshire in the 1920s. The first book is set in 1922 when she is still finding her feet after her husband was reported missing, presumed dead in the Great War. Her father is a fairly senior policeman so she has some connections which can help her at times, but she also has a male ex-policeman assistant who can go to places that she can’t and a housekeeper who also helps in some of the investigations.

I found the first book in the series a little slow going, but they have really grown and developed across the course of the thirteen novels we’ve had so far. The mysteries are on the cozy side of things, but the settings – mostly around Yorkshire – and the set ups are clever and a bit different. They often feature industrial or semi industrial settings and there is a lot less of the rich people problems – more middle class people problems.

In the new book we have reached 1930, when Kate receives a letter from a stranger asking her to meet him because he has important information. But when she arrives in the mill village, his body has just been discovered. What seems like a tragic accident at first is soon discovered to be rather more than that and Kate is soon investigating…

They should be fairly easy to get hold of if you want to – as well as all the usual places to buy them from, I’ve often spotted them at the library.

Happy Friday everyone!

historical, mystery, series

Historical mysteries: Amory Ames

Back with a historical mystery series this first Friday in August, and we’re in my sweet spot for mysteries again: between the wars!

Amory Ames is a wealthy young woman, who when we meet her in 1932 is somewhat regretting her marriage, five years earlier, to a handsome playboy called Milo. When her former fiancé asks for her help, she joins him in a trip to a hotel where someone soon turns up dead. And of course when her ex-fiancé is arrested for the murder, Amory starts to investigate. And then her husband arrives. You get the idea.

It’s a little bit of a spoiler to say that Amory and Milo’s relationship survives the first book, but their somewhat dysfunctional relationship is one of the threads running through the first couple of books. I actually found myself liking the series more as they went along – there is a lot of setting up and characters to introduce in book one which makes it a little busy! But if you like Royal Spyness, then you should try these – Amory is not royal but there’s definitely some similarities between Georgie and Darcy and Amory and Milo.

There are seven books in the series – which I think might be all we’re going to get, as there hasn’t been a new one since 2020, and Ashley Weaver has started a new series. But as the first two are in Kindle Unlimited at the moment, it’s not a bad time to check the series out.

Have a good Friday everyone!

bingeable series, Series I love

Series revisit: Phryne Fisher

Oh I know. I’ve already written about one Phryne book this week and I did one of my very first Series I Love posts on the series, but today I thought I’d mention some of my other favourites now I’ve been back through them again. I mean obviously start at the beginning for preference – and Miss Phryne Fisher Investigates is also called Cocaine Blues depending on where in the world you are. I have that one on audiobook too and Stephanie Daniel did a great job of the audiobooks (with a few tiny exceptions, mostly around singing!) and it really does set everything up. But with that proviso out of the way, my particular favourite of the rest of the series are coming up!

Murder on the Ballerat Train is a creepy mystery – when an entire carriage of people is knocked out how can it be anything else? – and you also first meet Jane and Ruth who form a key part of the Fisher household going forward. I love a good theatre-set book (see posts passim ad nauseum) and Ruddy Gore is one of these and a good mystery too. I’m not a operetta person really, but every time I read it I think that I must really get a ticket to see a good production of something Gilbert and Sullivan! Plus it has the bonus of being the first appearance of Lin Chung.

Away with the Fairies is another favourite – as I love the women’s magazine and its staff. It has a similar added appeal to me as Pym’s Publicity in Murder Must Advertise (which is on offer this month!) – seeing how things used to be done (or at least how Kerry Greenwood has managed to find out they were done!) as well as solving a mystery. And I like the Phryne out and about books too. I mentioned Death by Water a few weeks ago, but there are several other Phryne on holiday stories – like Dead Man’s Chest which has added early movie making to boot.

And finally the next book in the series looks like it is going to be another house party book – and if it’s anything like Murder in the Dark it will be a lot of fun. That has some Bright Young Yhings having a final hurrah to see in the new year and features threats and kidnapping rather than actual murder, which does make for a nice change.

Murder in Williamstown is due out in the autumn – all the rest are available now and if anyone knows why my kindle doesn’t group Murder by Mendelssohn in the series with all the others, let me know! (I have Death in Daylesford in a different format so that’s also not there).

Happy Friday everyone.

Authors I love, bingeable series, Book of the Week, detective, mystery

Book of the Week: Murder and Mendelssohn

So a slightly cheaty pick this week, as it’s not a book I haven’t read before, but as I finished the Phryne reread last week, I’m going to let myself break the rules!

Murder and Mendelssohn is the twentieth book in Kerry Greenwood’s Phryne Fisher series and has a lot of the key threads in the series running through it. Inspector Jack Robinson asks Phryne for help investigating the murder of an unpopular conductor. Jack thinks the killer may come from among the choir he has been rehearsing so Phryne decides to infiltrate the choir and find out. But at the same time, one of her old friends from World War One is in town and needs her help keeping a mathematical genius alive.

My favourite Phrynes are the ones with a large cast of suspects, a love interest and a historical connection – and this has all of that. The full Fisher menage is here – with the exception of Lin Chung, and it has has Greenwood’s take on Sherlock Holmes in Rupert Sheffield, former codebreaker and current irritant to all around him except John Wilson.

I wouldn’t suggest you start the series here, because you’ll miss all the fun of getting to this point, but if you do make this your first taste of Miss Fisher, then it will give you a pretty good flavour of what everything is all about. One last thing – a warning: if you’ve watched the TV show, don’t expect this to be the same. I’ve enjoyed the series, but it’s a teatime drama and they have adapted the series to fit that – which means they’ve done a few things to Phryne’s love life, added some running plot strands that don’t exist in the book and reduced the size of the Fisher household somewhat. So treat them as separate entities if you can.

You can get Murder and Mendelssohn in all the usual ebook formats – Kindle, Kobo and the rest – and that’s probably the easiest way to get hold of them.

Happy reading!

bingeable series, historical, mystery

Mystery series: Grantchester Chronicles

Hot off the heels of the vicar mystery recommendsday post, here is another historical mystery series featuring a vicar, written by someone with a clerical connection. James Runcie’s father was the Archbishop of Canterbury at the time when Richard Coles’ novel is set!

The Grantchester of the series title is the village just outside Cambridge where Sidney Chambers is vicar. The books start in 1953 and move through towards the changes of the 1960s. Sidney is a bachelor in his early thirties and Grantchester is his first parish of his own. His best friend in the village is the detective Geordie Keating and the two of them solve mysteries together. The books usually feature a series of smaller mysteries alongside Sidney’s attempts to balance his calling and his previous life. There is also a romantic thread to the series – there are several women who Sidney is interested in at various points, although of course their relationships have to follow the rules because: vicar in the 1950s. In fact the fact that he is ordained is one of the major obstacles to his romantic life. The other major characters in the series are his housekeeper and then a few years in, his curate.

The books have been made into a TV series, which is now onto its third or fourth vicar of Grantchester, still solving crimes with Geordie after they ran out of the plot from the books with Sidney…

cozy crime, crime, mystery, Recommendsday

Recommendsday: Antipodean mysteries

So as you know from the weekly lists, I’m on a big old re-read of Phryne Fisher mysteries at the moment, so I’ve taken my inspiration for this week’s Recommendsday from that!

A Few Right Thinking Men by Sulari Gentill

Lets start with something set just after Phryne – the first book in the Rowland Sinclair series is set in the 1930s. Like Phryne, Rowland is spending money and causing scandal – he’s the son of a well-to-do Sydney family – but rather than embracing a life of gentlemanly pursuits, he’s an artist. I’ve only read one of this series, I have the second book on the kindle and a couple more on the physical to read pile (see Books Incoming) but the first one sees Rowland investigating the death of his uncle – the only other Bohemian-y member of the family. This has politics and tensions and you see some of the same factors you see on the rise in Europe at the same time at play in Australia. It’s not witty like Phryne, and it’s further towards the thriller end of the spectrum than the cozy, but I liked it (as you can tell from the fact I have more waiting to be read!

Murder in the Telephone Exchange by June Wright

This was a really interesting murder mystery, written in the late 1940s and set in an Australian telephone exchange: When Maggie finds one of her unpopular colleagues with her head smashed in, she finds herself drawn into the mystery – not just because she was the person who found the body, but because she’s not sure that the police are on the right track. But soon the danger is increasing and someone else turns up dead. I read this a couple of years ago and loved the setting, liked Maggie, I though the mystery was clever and tense and packed with suspense. I’ve been looking for something else set in a telephone exchange ever since. And then…

A Matter of Love and Death by Carmen Radtke

I read this the other week: and it’s a murder mystery with a telephone exchange! Frances overhears a threatening message while she’s on shift at the exchange and thinks it might be linked to a robbery where a man died that she sees in the paper a few days later. Along with her family’s new lodger Phil and nightclub owner Jack, they decide to investigate. This is the first in a series that has gone through several covers and a change in author name and is trying to do quite a lot, but it was in Kindle Unlimited and wasn’t a total bust!

I’m fairly sure I read a contemporary murder mystery set in the outback not that long ago, but I can’t for the life of me remember what it was called or who wrote it, so I can’t look up what I thought of it on Goodreads! And I called this Antipodean mysteries – so I ought to mention a New Zealand-set book or two – so here’s a reminder that Ngaio Marsh set some of the Inspector Alleyn series in her home country. Vintage Murder sees Roderick investigating a murder at a cast party after the first night of a play. He is somewhat taken with the leading lady – which always makes me smile because this is the trip to that he’s on ship home from when he meets Agatha Troy in the next book in the series (Artists in Crime). Marsh sends Alleyn back to New Zealand during the Second World War and that’s where we get Colour Scheme – victim lured into boiling mud (yuck), complete with espionage and counter espionage – and Dyed in the Wool – a country house-style murder mystery but set on a farm and where the victim turns up packed in a bale of wool (also yuck). And even later in the series there is Photo Finish, with an opera diva who is taken to an island by her boyfriend to escape the paparazzi, where she plans a performance of a piece written specially for her by her younger lover and who is then murdered. And an honourable mention should go to A Surfeit of Lampreys, which starts off in New Zealand before the action moves to London and the murder happens, and Opening Night (also known as Night at the Vulcan) where the leading lady is newly arrived from New Zealand.

You’re welcome!

historical, mystery, series

Mystery series: Guy Harford

Happy Friday everyone. Here I am with another Friday series post about a historical mystery series, although as there are only three books so far, it’s more of a trilogy…

So T P Fielden’s three Guy Harford books follow an artist who is reluctantly drawn into the orbit of the Royal Family during World War Two. Guy finds himself in London after an Incident in Tangier. Officially he’s employed by the Foreign Office, but in reality he’s mostly doing the bidding of Buckingham Palace. Across the course of the three books, he solves murders and travels at home and abroad as he tries to find the killers.

Now there are several series that do something similar to this – royal-adjacent Second World War mysteries – but what makes these particularly interesting is that T P Fielden is the pen name of Christopher Wilson, who is a noted royal biographer and commentator. Now admittedly most of his books focus on the more modern royals, but the serial about the household make these something a bit different. And he also wrote the 1950s-set Miss Dimont mysteries which I have also really enjoyed.

There are only three of these so far, but we haven’t yet reached the end of the war, so there may still be more. I think I got the first of these as a Kindle First Reads pick, but they’re all in Kindle Unlimited at the moment, so if you’re a subscriber you can read them very easily. And if you like them, you have the option of Miss Dimont to follow on with!

Have a great weekend everyone!

historical, mystery, series

Mystery series: Lady Hardcastle

The new Lady Hardcastle book came out last week and I’ve just finished it so it seems like an ideal week to feature the series here!

These are Edwardian-set mysteries, following the widowed Lady Hardcastle and her lady’s maid. Lady Emily is in her forties and spent most of her marriage abroad with her husband who was in the diplomatic service. She moved to the countryside with the faithful Florence hoping for a quiet life – but they keep stumbling across murders! The books are written in the first person from Florence’s point of view and this gives you a fun perspective on the somewhat eccentric and very headstrong Emily. As you go through the series you discover more about what the two women got up to abroad, which explains why they’re good at solving murders. And the core duo get some regular assistants as the books go on too.

The duo live in the Gloucestershire and their village and the surrounding area provides the settings for the various murders so that it doesn’t seem like the Edwardian version of Midsummer! The series are fun, lightly comic, easy to read, very bingeable and the Edwardian setting makes a change from the various Victorian and 1920s series that are more common.

With the latest release, there are eight books in the series, with a ninth already planned for the autumn. As you can see from the picture, I own a couple and then they’re all in Kindle Unlimited at the moment – so perfect for a binge. And if you’re not in KU, they are somewhat of a bargain at the moment: books one and two are 99p (or free in Kindle Unlimited) A Quiet Life in the Country is the first and In the Market for Murder is the second.

Happy weekend!

bingeable series, mystery

Mystery series: Flavia de Luce

Another Friday, another post about a series here on the blog, another new post title. Today’s series is the Flavia de Luce historical mystery series, inspired by the fact that I was writing about young detectives yesterday – and Flavia is about as young a detective as you can get, although this series is definitely for adults. I last wrote about Flavia in 2016 so it’s been a while…

At the start of the series, it’s 1950 and eleven year old Flavia has a passion for chemistry and poisons and a running feud with her two older sisters. Their mother is dead, their father eccentric and their house is crumbling around them. When Flavia stumbles over a dying man in the first book she is more fascinated than horrified and the series goes from there.

In my Goodreads review of the first book I said that Flavia could occasionally be a little too all knowing, but as the character develops, she gets to a good balance of preternaturally clever but not too all knowing and annoying. And a lot of that is because although she is very book smart, her understanding of people is about what you would expect of someone her age, so there are things – quite a lot of things sometimes – that she just misses or doesn’t understand at all.

There are ten novels in the series, and as there hasn’t been a new one since 2019, I suspect that may be the lot – certainly the last book in the series isn’t my favourite and Flavia was not quite her usual self in it, so it may be that Alan Bradley has got fed up of her or gone as far as he wants with her. Or the delay could just be because of the pandemic. Because we all know that covid has messed up a lot of things.

These are usually fairly easy to get hold of – I picked up a lot of them from The Works, and read the last two from the library, but I see them all the time in bookshops. As you can see from the picture, there has been a redesign/rejacketing exercise done – in my picture the right hand side are the original style, the left the new. And obviously they’re on Kindle and Kobo as well as audiobooks – most of them read by Sophie Aldred, who if you’re my age you will remember from children’s TV and if you’re a bit older will remember as Ace from Doctor Who. You’re probably best reading them in order, but I didn’t and it didn’t really bother me too much – although it was a bit of a pain jumping from slightly more developed Flavia back to the less evolved version!

Happy Weekend!