Category Archives: crime

Review of The Blood Card (Stephens & Mephisto Mystery #3) by Elly Griffiths

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Another solid very readable atmospheric crime thriller from Elly Griffiths

This is the third outing of the “Magic Men” and I’m really enjoying the characters.

It is May 1953 and England is on the cusp of crowning a new Queen. The murder of a gypsy fortune and the stabbing of their old boss from the Magic Men days are linked as DI Edgar Stephens investigates.

Loads of strong characters here and excellent period details that provide and enjoyable and compelling British whodunit.

Elly Griffiths continues to capture the seedy, down at heel feel of the English South Coast expertly creating another highly readable atmospheric crime thriller, with a great sense of time and place. I can’t wait for the fourth instalment of the “Magic Men”.

My thanks go to NetGalley and the Publisher for the chance to read an advance copy of this book.

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Review of ” The Woman in Blue (Ruth Galloway, #8)” by Elly Griffiths

Another great labyrinthine Norfolk murder mystery.

Book 8 in the Ruth Galloway series and this centres around Walsingham, site of a popular religious pilgrimage & shrine. A young woman is found dead in a ditch and as always archaeology and history play a significant part in the story.

Having read previous books in the series this is like a comfortable pair of shoes as I’m already familiar with the great cast of characters and their complicated personal lives. New readers will find it easy to pick up, but best to start from the 1st book in the series.

The character of Ruth works really well. She’s strong, but with the human frailties we all have and prefer to keep hidden and the book captures the beautiful Norfolk coast well with a blend of fictional and real locations sprinkled through the story.

There are plenty of twists to keep you guessing and I for one didn’t guess the culprit at all!

I’d recommend the whole series for fans of Midsomer Murders, Morse, Endeavour, etc.

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review of ” Smoke and Mirrors” (DI Stephens & Max Mephisto #2) by Elly Griffiths

A highly readable atmospheric crime thriller, with a great sense of time and place.

A double murder is committed as pantomime season is in full swing in Brighton in the 1950s.

Somehow the two are connected and DI Edgar Stephens has plenty of leads to investigate.

Assisting Stephens is Max, one of the pantomime’s stars who served with Stephens in a shadowy, secret unit called the Magic Men, formed to use stage trickery to confuse the enemy.

This is the second book by Elly Griffiths to feature the “Magic Men” and she continues to capture the seedy, down at heel feel of the English South Coast expertly. Reading the end notes it is clear she has researched the period extensively and illustrates well the showbiz element.

There’s many other characters richly portrayed and watch out for Emma the only female in DI Stephens investigative team. I can see a spin off coming featuring her career!

The book itself twists and turns and I failed to spot the culprit, with Elly expertly sending me down various blind alleys .

All in all a highly readable atmospheric crime thriller, with a great sense of time and place. I’m really looking forward to the further adventures of the “Magic Men”.

Review of " Death in Shanghai" by M.J. Lee

Review of ” Death in Shanghai” by M.J. Lee

Solid police procedural set in rarely covered location.

Set in the Shanghai International Settlement, Russian Inspector Danilov is working for the Shanghai Municipal Police, a predominantly British force who policed the British and American Concessions.

It’s worth explaining the origins of the Shanghai International Settlement as it’s an interesting 19th century and early 20th century anomaly.

It originated following the Treaty of Nanking. Under the terms of the treaty, the Chinese city of Shanghai opened to foreign trade. The British, already active in Hong Kong, which had been ceded to them under the Treaty of Nanking, quickly established a settlement.

American and French involvement followed with distinct areas of settlement for the French in the south and the Americans to the north drawn out of the British settlement. The three countries created the Shanghai Municipal Council to serve all their interests, but in 1862, the French concession dropped out of the arrangement. The following year the British and American settlements formally united to create the Shanghai International Settlement.

The book is set in 1928 and the book starts with Danilov’s arrival on the scene of one of a series of brutal killings. A number of interesting characters populate the book which effectively shows the limitation of the police force at that time and the ethnic friction created by the overtly racist views of some of the British population.

Danilov’s background story is an interesting one and certainly provides further subject matter for what appears to be planned as a series of books.

Although compared to Philip Kerr and the Bernie Gunther books I’m not sure that’s fair, it’s an entertaining read and bodes well for further stories in the series.

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review of ” Stasi Child (Karin Müller #1)” by David Young

Excellent and unusually located police procedural set in the former East Germany.

I can’t think of many English language detective novels set in the former East Germany and David Young has created a fascinating character in the damaged but tenacious Oberleutnant Karin Müller.

In most countries she’d be just a regular cop in charge of the murder team, however this is communist ruled East Germany and she’s a card carrying party member believing in “real and existing socialism”.

Investigating a teenage girl’s body at the foot of the Berlin wall Karin has to walk a political tightrope that adds an extra frisson to the story as she deals with her superiors and the Stasi, the East German secret police.

Whilst many police procedurals have conflict with superiors in East Germany conflict with superiors can mean at best dismissal then demotion to a menial job or at worst death.

David Young’s research is impeccable with fantastic attention to detail from the procedures in the Stasi remand prisons to the uniqueness of Volvo tyre tracks as well as capturing well the feel of 1970’s East Germany.

If you like police procedurals, strong female characters, along with an Orwellian landscape then read “Stasi Child”.

Review of ” Direct Hit” by Mike Hollow

Compelling police procedural set during the London Blitz.

Apparently the first book by Mike Hollow, but an impressive debut. Hollow brings together a rich cocktail of characters as Detective Inspector John Jago investigates a compelling murder story set against the backdrop of the early World War 2 air raids on East London.

The author has obviously done his research well with a great attention to detail that brings both the characters and the environment alive.

There’s inevitable comparisons with Foyle’s War, but Jago is a different sort of detective with a fascinating back story that reveals itself through the course of the book.

Fans of Foyle’s War will definitely enjoy this book as will readers interested in the reality of the British home front during the Blitz.

Review of ” Innocence; or, Murder on Steep Street” by Heda Margolius Kovaly, Alex Zucker (Translation)

A dark brooding and haunting novel of life in Communist Prague.

More like a novella Heda Margolius Kovály wrote this based on her own experiences and details the claustrophobic early days of Communist Czechoslovakia during the 1950s.

She portrays a country soaked in fear where the slightest wrong word or mis-interpretation of even a simple act could result in a prison sentence.

Whilst the book could be read as a simple murder mystery, the multiple layers that the author adds to the story make a very dark tale as well as documenting the realities of life under communism in 1950s Prague.