**Book Review**Cherringham – A cosy crime series

Cherringham – Book 1 – 3

by Matthew Costello and Neil Richards

On my quest to balance my love for books and reading with work/kids/life, I once again turned to Audible. I am absolutely loving my audible monthly credit, where I can choose one book to listen to.

So this week was Cherringham – A cosy crime series compilation. The first three books in a cosy crime drama series: Murder on Thames, Mystery at the Manor and Murder by Moonlight.

"Jack's a retired ex-cop from New York, seeking the simple life in 
Cherringham. Sarah's a Web designer who's moved back to the village 
to find herself. But their lives are anything but quiet as the two 
team up to solve Cherringham's criminal mysteries."

The two main characters although from two very different backgrounds form an unlikely alliance to dig through murder mysteries in the very “Midsomer” village of Cherringham.  It’s a very stereotypical view of an English village and the character portrayal are also somewhat stereotypical, Jack is a hardened retired ex New York policeman whose wife has died and he has retired to the English Village for some peace. Sarah has returned to her home village after a messy divorce where her husband cheated on her, and she has to return to her hometown to mend her broken heart with two kids in tow.

However, this does not distract from the storyline, I really enjoyed the Midsomer vibe, the mysteries were not too easy that I could guess straight away and neither were they so far out of the ordinary genre of murder mystery that I couldn’t believe what I was reading.

The writing style is somewhat peculiar as it is written by dual authors, an Englishman and an American, so the language can sometimes swap and change depending on the author I guess, but as there is an English and American character, I rather enjoyed this reflection of the characters in the writing. I think it gives it a quirky feel o the story and really helps you bond with the characters and the story.

All three stories, are independent. You don’t need to read them in order, as each mystery is a stand alone murder mystery our crime solving duo have to work on. However, the personal life of the characters is somewhat fluid throughout the series. SO if like me you love to find about characters and fall in love with them, then reading in order is probably for the best.

I have only heard the first three in this series, but I thoroughly enjoyed it and will definitely be carrying on with the series. It was a quick and entertaining read, a good length for a cosy crime thriller. I could curl up and listen in the evenings and still have time to make tea and fit in some work if I needed. I didn’t get bored and I couldn’t wait to start the next one. All of these things for me are signs of a good book.

The first in the series is possibly the least enjoyable if I had to pick one, but I feel its because it has to fit quite a lot in a short story. The authors had to introduce us to the characters and Cherringham, and the murder plot and tie it all up in a neat bow, which meant the first book maybe wasn’t as exciting or as enjoyable as the others. I still really liked it and I couldn’t wait to hear the rest of the books in this first edition.

My one and only question I have from this whole series: Whilst Jack and Sarah are out finding all this evidence and solving the crimes? What are the police doing to miss some huge plot points in the murders? Obviously, we need the police to miss somethings to give Jack and Sarah something to do, but seriously, sometimes makes me wonder. lol!

Overall, I really enjoyed the first three books and I cannot wait to listen to the rest. The narrator audible chose also is a pleasure to listen to which makes the experience even better. I would post certainly recommend it too.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️5/5 stars. Thoroughly enjoyable especially if you like your cosy English crime dramas as I do.

If you want to have a read, why not check it out for yourself over on Amazon.

****This blog post has a affiliated link in it, if you click through on it and make any purchases, I may receive a small fee.**

 

**Book Review** Memory Man

Memory Man (Amos Decker #1)

By David Baldacci

I picked this book up a while ago but it got added to my to read pile, which has slowly become my to read bookcase. I wanted a crime story and was hoping to start a series I could really get into, so I picked this from my shelf.

I liked it but I didn’t love it.

Amos Decker is a Police Officer and a good one by all accounts. Early on we see that something horrific has happened to him, and he has lost his job, his life has spiralled and he is now living on the streets, and taking small PI jobs to earn a bit of money. The awful event that made his life spiral, his family: wife, daughter and brother in law were brutally murdered.

To add to this sad tale, Decker also had an accident when he was younger, as a school football player. He collided with another player and it caused changes to his brain, he was left with Synesthesia and Hyperthymesia. I didn’t realise these were real things, and I spent a good long time googling them, they are very interesting to read about.

A tragic event occurs at the local school which draws Decker back into the policing game, just as someone also steps forward to confess to his family’s murder. Is all of this linked to Decker, or just a huge coincidence? Is he somehow connected to everything and this is all a revenge plot? Will Decker overcome his personal issues and work out the mystery surrounding all these events?

Unfortunately, I’m not sure the brain issues add to much to the story in this case, I just couldn’t connect with him, I felt bad for him with the murder of his family and as a crime story I think it could have been great, but somewhere it fell flat. I don’t think I was drawn into the world or the characters enough to really feel the story.

For me, having the family die before the story really starts means I don’t really get to love/sympathise and connect to the character. So it’s hard to understand and see where all the characters emotions and feelings are coming from.

I liked how we went through how the stories were connected, and I really liked how we got a clear view of the school and how everything is linked and viewed. He described really well and I could imagine the old abandoned army base and the connection to the school. The crime part of the story, was really good. I just struggled to connect with Decker.

I think David Baldacci builds up Decker to be this awesome detective who just had an awful time and it lead him down this path, but from what we see, the other characters don’t act too much like he is this great detective and if I’m honest, I couldn’t see it myself either.

I really enjoy other David Baldacci books so I honestly wanted to love this, but if I’m honest I struggled. It hasn’t put me off though.

I think I’d like to read the next in the series to see how he grows, and what he does next, as I did enjoy it somewhat, but I don’t think it will ever be a favourite and I won’t be running to buy the next one anytime soon.

Overall, it was a good plot for a story, the linking of the crimes and how it came together sounds like it could be an awesome read, but unfortunately it doesn’t quite live up to what could have been.

⭐️⭐️⭐️3/5 stars I’m not rushing out to buy the next one but I will be trying it. I would recommend to crime readers if they like stories with a twist.

 

*Book Review* The Oxford Murders

The Oxford Murders 

By Guillermo Martinez

My best friends and I went on a trip to Oxford for Christmas, it is a beautiful place and was a wonderful shopping experience. Whilst there, obviously I stopped into the Waterstones for a couple of books, I couldn’t resist really. It was huge and filled with all my favourite things.

Whilst there I saw a copy of The Oxford Murders and as I was in Oxford, I thought why not? And I am so glad I did.

So over the Easter weekend, we went away with family for a special trip which I will update you all about later, but we had lots of adults around to help with the children, which meant I got to read to my hearts content.

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A young Argentinian maths scholar has recently moved to Oxford. What he hoped would be a quiet time to finish up his graduate studies, soon turns into a mathematical murder mystery.

A sensation in Argentina and in the UK – Guillermo Martinez writes with a flair for the dramatic and mathematical ease – he easily kept me on the edge of my seat. I think myself a bit of a murder mystery aficionado, I thought I had the murderer pegged from relatively early on, but as with any good mystery, and adding the element of mathematical intrigue, I was actually still second guessing myself right to the end.

Our young Argentinian finds himself in the middle of a murder enquiry when he finds his landlady dead in her house, alongside a mathematical clue which suggest it may the start of a serial killer. A well known mathematician is called upon for his expertise or he is a suspect. With a wealth of guilty looking people, suspicious characters and well if I am honest a whole cast of likely suspects. As I began reading, and the book took its mathematical turn, I found I started suspecting everyone.

From the protagonists lover – a nurse working in the local hospital – whom I thought was a little too interested in the case for my liking, to the poor father of a child who needed a lung transplant – whom was going a little crazy waiting for a donor, to everyone else he met along his way. I also recently had a a bit if a binge read of a couple of stories with unreliable narrators, so even our Argentinian grad student didn’t make it out of my sleuthing.

I love a story that can make me think I have a theory and then make me change my mind sixteen times before the end of the story. If I could easily guess who did it or why they did it straight away, it doesn’t make for a very interesting read. I second guessed myself all the way through. I won’t spoil it by saying if my theories proved correct in the end, you should check it out for yourself. It is a very worthwhile read.

The characters are relatable and likeable, the story keep the flow and kept me on the edge of my seat. Overall, the story is well worth a read and as its a relatively short novel, it would be a good introduction to a crime mystery for anyone looking for a short easy read that will pull in to the mystery.

A short but sweet review for a short but exhilarating story.

★⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4/5 stars. A wonderful story in a beautiful back drop, well worth a read.

*Book Review* And then there were none

And then there were none. 

By Agatha Christie.

Agatha Christie never fails to impress me, she really might be the Queen of Crime Writing. I chose this book for my online book club. I have read a couple of other Christies, that I have thoroughly enjoyed. The hardest but most satisfying and rewarding part of a book club, is sharing a book or an author with a group of people and not knowing if they are going to enjoy it as much as you. Thankfully, we are two books in and everyone has, I hope, enjoyed them. As this is a review for my book club, my review is going to be slightly different, I don’t usually go into synopsis much, or have to add spoilers but for this one, I am adding a *SPOILER ALERT*. If you have never read it and want to in the future, please stop reading now and come back when you’ve read it!

Back to And then there were none, I think the novel starts of as quite a slow burner, I think it had to do this to get you drawn in, and understanding the characters. I don’t believe this knowledge of the characters, helps with guessing the mystery or following every twist and turn, but I think thats the huge draw of this book. The psychology of this book, the characters, their history and individual storylines, all mix and twist together, and at every point, I as a reader, thought “ooh maybe thats a clue,” or “I have an idea who is behind it all”, only to be proven wrong or the clue to be a red herring or such.

I would say I am not a novice when it comes to crime/mystery/thrillers, I know my way around a whodunnit, and even though I came awfully close to guessing the end, it had me and I was shocked and amazed by the ending.

The premise for the mystery has probably been written about a few more times since Christie first wrote it, a group fo strangers on an island, something was bound to happen. But I believe this maybe the original premise in this story, and even with the slow start, kept me intrigued from start to finish.

A group of strangers, all with interesting and wicked pasts, are invited to holiday at an unknown millionaires private residence. Here they will each face their past, look upon their wicked deeds of the past and face judge, jury and executioner for the crimes they each got away. Someone knows about their past, has decided they won’t be getting away with their crimes and has come to seek justice. The story moves along in pace with a creepy and chilling poem about ten little “soldiers” (in the newer printings. I have an older copy that still refers to little “niggers” in the poem- which makes the whole story slightly more chilling, as it really gives the book an older viewpoint, so when reading it, you realise the visitors have no way fo escape, there is no wifi or proper phones. The poem is horrible and completely rascist and sensitive – but the way the killer uses it to pysche put the victims is cunning and clever) whom all meet a terrible fate and soon, the visitors start to face similar fates.

Ten little Indian boys went out to dine,

One choked his little self and then there were nine.

Nine little Indian boys sat up very late,

One overslept himself and then there were eight.

Eight little Indian boys travelling in Devon,

One said he’d stay there and then there were seven.

Seven little Indian boys chopping up some sticks,

One chopped himself in half and then there were six.

Six little Indian boys playing with a hive,

A bumblebee stung one of them and then there were five.

Five little Indian boys going in for law,

One got in Chancery and then there were four.

Four little Indian boys going out to sea,

A red herring swallowed one and then there were three.

Three little Indian boys walking in the zoo,

A big bear hugged one and then there were two.

Two little Indian boys sitting in the sun,

One got all frizzled up and then there was one.

One little Indian boy left all alone,

He went and hanged himself, and then there were none.

And with all these characters putting each other under scrutiny, so does the reader. Yet no one on the Island feels like they fit the bill for this mysterious owner or seeker of Justice. There are plenty who tick a few boxes, but at each twist and turn, it gets harder and harder to see who the killer might be. Even when the final character meets their surprising end, we are still left wondering what the hell happened.

I won’t completely spoil this for you, but it was an interesting and amazing read, I finished within two days (I know, I’m not sure what happened) and passed it onto Mamma Butterfly, whom also finished it in 1 day and we then spent the next week discussing, disecting and generally enjoying the conversations it presented. My sister also borrowed it and thoroughly enjoyed it too.

I had a couple of friends in my book group whom also enjoyed it, I believe one struggled with the start but once she got into it, enjoyed it. Check out my book group on facebook –  Butterfly Child Book Group – where hopefully I can get a few more opinions on the book to share.

I already loved Agatha Christie Novels, and this book has just taken it one step further. It was an incredible read, I can’t say I liked or disliked characters as I don’t think it was about that. It was more about how some stories we believe and some characters we make opinions about or connect too, and yet if you have an unreliable narrator or even if you just don’t get the full story, it soon goes to show you can’t always trust our instincts, the stories people tell or even base opinions of peoples careers or temperament. As this can all be an act or hide a truly terrifying or horrible person. But thankfully, (not shown in this book), we know in real life, there is plenty of people the other way, who can be frosty or unsociable but are the kindest, most generous people we know. This story would be an amazing study of personality if it were based on real life. Christie makes this novel unique, exciting and brings the shock factor, as I would never have guessed the ending in a million years. With every twist and turn, and ending of a character, we can question everything about what we know about each character, I found myself skipping back to see if I missed something. I started out with normal theories (perhaps it was the man that brought them in on the boat and he returned to do the deeds) and soon ended up down the rabbit hole, into Narnia, around the houses and back again with some much more confusing theories. (Perhaps there was a hidden tunnel that lead from the mainland. Maybe it was all a dream of someone travelling to the island – I know I lost my way with this one. Or my closest idea, to do with fake dying, swapping bodies and coming back to life, but I couldn’t decide who, and then with everyone dead at the end, I thought well its obviously not that, and came back full circle, to what the hell happened on the Island. And I, like so many others, just had to read the epilogue and be shocked and amazed along with everyone else.

Four out of five stars ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️⭐️ ★

This book loses a star due to the slow start. It wasn’t a problem for me as I’m a character focussed reader, but for people who want to dive straight into excitement, its bit of a slow burner. Also, if you’re accustomed to murder mysteries, you may be able to guess the ending, which would take some of the fun out of it. As I say, I was so close to guessing but I got turned off that idea about 3 pages from the end, so it still kept me guessing. This is part of the fun, so for people who aren’t fans of twists and turns or who may guess the ending, this book might not be a five for you. For me, its a five, I think it lays the foundations for so many other crime writing that followed Christies wonderfully work.

I have read two out of the three books in this collection – and thoroughly enjoyed both! Why not give them a go? I’m off to buy Murder on the Orient Express as I write.

THE WORLD’S FAVOURITE: And Then There Were None, Murder on the Orient Express, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd [Boxed Set edition]

***THIS POST CONTAINS AFFILIATE LINKS, WHICH MEANS I RECEIVE A SMALL COMPENSATION IF YOU MAKE A PURCHASE USING THE LINKS ABOVE***

*Book Review* The Murder of Roger Ackroyd

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd

*

By Agatha Christie

My father and I used to watch old detective / murder mysteries together all the time, it was one of my favourite past times. I have since lost my father but my love for old detective stories has not waned. I love to read but had never picked up a point novel as me and my father always watched the tv series, so it felt wrong to read one without him. But I couldn’t help myself when I saw this in a book store. I picked it up and I could not put it down until I had finished.

Set amidst a village of gossips, family drama and mystery abound, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd tells a unique and intriguing tale which keeps you guessing until the very end. As an aficionado of detective stories, I like to think I am good at guessing the end, but I must admit, this one had me second guessing myself every few minutes. Using all the wits of Hercule Poirot, some amazing use of literary devices and Christies wonderful way of bringing you into the story as a witness to the events; Christies tale of poor Mr Akroyd is a wonderful read.

I do not want to give a full summary of the book, as I think it would spoil it for all future readers. I avoided all reviews before reading it, as I wanted to immerse myself in Poirots world spoiler free. And I think I’ll help keep this story going by not summarising.

I will admit I think this is one of my new favourite stories and I cannot wait to open up my next read. My favourite character on the tv series, although I love Poirot has to be Captain Hastings, but sadly he was absent from this novel. I love how books can truly bring characters to life, in a way tv/film just cannot. I loved how Christie brought Poirot to life. I loved him in this novel, and as I said previously I cannot wait for my next one. Powering through from one twisty turn to another, second guessing yourself at every turn, and always knowing in the back of your mind that Poirot knows who the killer is, he is just waiting for that all dramatic, climatic ending where all is revealed. Every page is read with anticipation and excitement, and I could not bear to part with it until I completed. It was impossible to put down, and I read it in one night.

I think if anyone is considering a Christie and just isn’t sure, do it! Pick one up, borrow one. The tropes, storylines, narrative might have been used in other books, but no one quite holds the drama quite like Christie.

Overall, I cannot wait for my next Christie and this was an amazing start to a wonderful new adventure.

I give it ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (5/5) Definitely worth a read.

* THIS POST CONTAINS AFFILIATE LINKS, WHICH MEANS I RECEIVE A SMALL COMPENSATION IF YOU MAKE A PURCHASE USING THE LINKS ATTACHED TO THE IMAGE OF THE BOOK ABOVE.

*Book Review* Mistletoe Murders

Mistletoe Murders and other stories

P D James
This was only my second experience of P D James. Being a Jane Austen fan, Death at Pemberley was my first. So I had no expectations. I enjoyed Death at Pemberley, but I could never be sure if this was due to James storytelling or my love of all things Bennet and Darcy.

I can honestly admit, I loved it. James has a way of a setting a scene like no other. I could easily picture the Hall in which she went to stay as a young widower, her vivid descriptions pulled me in and got me trying to seek out clues and figure out the mysteries alongside our heros and heroine. I must admit, as a lover of murder mysteries and crime dramas, I thought I knew a thing or too, but I was tricked and sailed alonged with the rest of the captivated audience.

Mistletoe murder combines all my loves into one, a history of mystery and intriguing characters, a murder, a heroine and Christmas! The story may be similar to other murder mysteries but James tells it in such a way, that when the twist comes, it even fooled me. I saved this book for my lunchtime reading at work, but as I neared the end of the first story, I found I needed to know, so I took it home and completed the first story that evening.

The second story is just as intriguing and shocking. I didn’t enjoy it as much as the first because I do love a story where you can love the titular character. There was  nothing you could like about Ernest Gabriel, I think he was written to be a character you shouldn’t like or feel anything for, but I do love to get attached to my book characters. However, the story still kept me on the edge of my seat and even surprised me at the end.   I honestly did not see the end coming, which thinking about it, was probably quite naive of me, but this just made my experience of the story even better.

For me, the third story is close to my heart as it reminds me of my parents, and is the driving force for choosing my next book. My parents watched Dalgleish on the TVs, and although I never got into that specific programme, they are the reason I love mysteries, crime dramas, thrillers and good old “who dunnits”. I would love to read more of the Dalgleish series. As I said I love a good character, and the little glimpse I got in this short story is begging me for more.  The short story was incredible and really gave a glimpse into the character, and how he works. I also loved the story within this one, the idea of secrets and lies going hidden for years, is exciting and kept me interested right until the end.

The final story in the book, for me was the low point. I did not enjoy it as much, I didn’t feel the suspense or intrigue I had felt with the others. I am a lover on ending on a high, and I don’t believe this booklet did that. The story was not bad, but it gave no insight into characters, I didn’t connect with the story like I had the others. The general storytelling was missing a little bit of James usual vivid atmosphere and descriptions. It also didn’t take much for me to guess what was happening before it happened, which I like to try to solve along with the detective/main character etc.

Overall, this collection of short stories was well worth the money and gave me an insight into P D James that until now I had been missing. I can’t wait until my next visit to the book store, a P D James novel will definitely be on my list. My one objection, is in part due to the last short story, although I guess it was a little evident in all the stories. They sometimes felt a little rushed, sometimes the build up of a mystery, and the character development is what makes a story, and within a short story, there isn’t always time for that. I will definitely be recommending this book to family and friends, and I am on the look out for my next read.

I am giving this collection of short stories:

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ★ (4/5 stars)

Well worth a read, and good for a quick read on your lunch break.