I went to a wedding a week ago in Tallahassee and, on my drive back, stopped at a couple of Goodwill Stores as they always seem to have a good selection of used books. One of the ones I purchased was The Family Upstairs. I hadn’t read any of this author before, but I’m a fan now. The book was intriguing as well as a quick read. A house with dark secrets is at the center of the tale.
The story is told from three points of view and I enjoyed all of them. Each had a distinctive voice and were compelling in different ways. The movement from each voice to the other was smooth and kept me turning pages.
In the author note, she stated her inspiration for the book came from seeing a woman in Nice, France sneaking her children into the public baths near the beach. From that, a tale of family terror, loss, and lives shattered was born. I loved how all the threads of the story came together. I figured out most of it, but a surprise or two in the pages made this reader happy as I usually solve it all before the end.
Each of the three protagonists were dramatically affected by their upbringings and the way the author showed how those experiences carried over into their adult lives was genius. It’s a dark tale, but moments of light and love shine through. I throughly recommend this one for a few hours of entertainment mixed with a little anxiety for the characters.
I’m a big fan of cozy mysteries, especially those set in Britain. I’m also a huge animal lover so this one intrigued me from the cover and title. It was a bit of a slow start and I almost stopped reading it because nothing much was happening in the first chapters. The writing style wasn’t really up my alley either, but that’s a personal preference. Others may love it, so I’m not downgrading my review due to that.
I persevered and the story got better. One thing that bothered me was I couldn’t tell how old the heroine was. She seemed young and stylish, and men kept asking her out- ones that seemed young and also ones that seemed older- (which could really mean she’s any age—but, it was a bit confusing not to be able to picture her properly) but she kept calling herself an old lady and she took a ton of naps. Every day, she got so tired she had to nap. Her age may not matter in the grand scheme of the plot, but it stayed in the back of my mind as I read. I confess, it was distracting as she’d seem young one moment and older the next.
The Cotswold village was well-described and had all the elements one would expect, from the pub to the tea room, to the bookstore and inn. The village was peopled with an interesting cast of characters as well. The premise surrounding the murder and the author of the Peter Pan books, J.M. Barrie was clever and well done.
While I did figure out who was the red herring and who was the culprit pretty early on, I enjoyed the story as it unfolded. The added fun of the cat, Christie, and the dog, Dickens, who the heroine could understand as if they spoke English rather than barking and meowing, was a neat take on the cozy mystery genre. I liked that some of the characters had names with ties to the Peter Pan tales and the pets were named after writers.
There was lots of wine and lots of Greek salad in the book which made me hungry and I was glad the author included her father’s recipe for the salad and dressing. That was a nice surprise at the end of the book.
I’m giving it three stars for the slow start, but I recommend the reader keep going if discouraged by the lack of action at the beginning. It gets better.
I received this book in exchange for an honest review.
Let me start by saying how much I love Edinburgh and historical novels so this was right up my alley. I think I was already half-inclined to love it just from the cover and the setting. The author did the rest. His writing is visual and visceral. Some parts were a bit gruesome but the story called for it, in my opinion. This was not a lovely picnic on Arthur’s Seat on an early fall day. This was a murder mystery with a number of grisly murders….all in the name of science. A touch of Burke and Hare and their life of crime/murder adds to the historical feel of the book.
The protagonist, Liz, is a medical student who happens to be female. An uphill battle in the 19th Century for sure. She makes friends with another female student as they fight for their rightful place in the school. She also makes friends with a young man and the local police medical examiner. She’s accepted as an assistant with the coroner and gets some valuable experience in actual medical science, albeit on dead bodies, not living patients. But then she is also asked to assist in a local clinic and learns valuable skills. She seems to be on her way to being successful as a doctoress even though the powers that be at the school want the females out.
The story has many twists and turns and a number of exciting sequences where the reader fears for the protagonist and her friends’ safety. It was a ride for sure. The author is excellent at building suspense and even though I figured out the villain early, the book was still a page turner and very enjoyable. The side plot with the medical examiner is a great addition to the tale.
Overall, this was a delightful read…even with the violence and macabre parts. I give it 4.5 stars.
It seems there will be more adventures with this protagonist and I, for one, plan to be on the lookout for the next volume.
Jillian Chantal has a new release – a time travel story set in 1788. It is available in e-book and Kindle.
In 1788 Scotland, Rowena Maitland doesn’t realize how lonely and odd her life is, until, alone one night, she is surprised by an intruder dressed in medieval armor crashing around in her home.
The stranger, Pembroke Burroughs, is a large man, but seems harmless enough with his battered helmet causing him distress. Until she assists him in removing the helmet and he insists he’s from 1568 and was just engaged in battle with the Earl of Moray fighting against Mary Queen of Scots’ forces at the battle of Langside.
Worried about being alone with him and fearing he is deranged, she drugs his drink and prays her caretakers will return before he awakens.
Her plan fails, and once he wakes, he questions everything in her life and she realizes her situation is decidedly strange. Maybe even stranger than a man claiming to be from two-hundred years ago.
I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Detective Chief Inspector Galbraith is called to the home of Lord Penrith when the lord’s body is found dead. The strangeness of the death is that the body has been drained of all its blood but the room is not covered in blood.
The investigation begins and soon, DCI Galbraith is joined by a mysterious visitor from Section S—a section no one in the precinct has heard of before. This mysterious officer is John Pole and he explains his section deals with issues of national security and the investigation of the death of Penrith flagged in their office.
They team up to try to figure out who killed the lord and how. DCI Galbraith learns some things about an unknown group who operate in the dark in London. There are some scenes of the past that are intriguing and enjoyable to read.
I enjoyed this book and it seems there may be additional stories involving this crime solving duo in the future. Both have good qualities and seem to have a great working relationship. The way they deal with the crime is clever and a bit surprising. I, for one, am hoping for more adventures with these characters. I give this one 4 stars.
My great grandmother, Mallie Phillips Fowler wasn’t your typical sweet little old lady. She was a ball of fire and very sassy. I like to think I inherited some of her moxie. I was in my 20s when she died and she was in her 90s. One of the last times I saw her, she was in her yard with her cane in one hand and a rake in the other and my grandfather, her son, was begging her to go inside and let him do the raking. No way. She was adamant she could do it. He threatened her with the nursing home, but she just laughed and kept on working. She lived a number of months after that. Sadly, I lived over 360 miles away so I didn’t see her as often as I’d have liked.
Two things stand out in my memory of my whole life visiting her. She always, always, always—even those last visits—had a coconut cake on her dining room table. It was the best cake ever. She used fresh coconut and shredded it herself and used the coconut milk in the batter. None of us in the family have ever been able to duplicate it. One of a kind—like her. She also had one of those glass chicken candy dishes and it always had those hard candy mixes in it —you know, the kind you get at Christmas and they get all stuck together? My sister and I spent many hours tugging that junk apart. We each have a candy dish like that in our homes now. Mine holds loose change, though. Lol.
Why am I yakking about this lady? Well, my new book that’s out tomorrow and up for preorder now has a character who has some of my great grandmother’s characteristics. Miss Hattie in my story is one of the minor characters who plays a role in assisting the detectives in solving the murder at the heart of the story. She happens to be pretty sassy and makes a divine coconut cake (I almost said a to-die-for cake, but thought better of it 🙂 )
Overkill is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Black Opal Books, among other retailers. As an ebook or paperback.
Here’s a teaser of The Eisenger Element (release date is Oct 24, 2015) and some more New Orleans pictures.
Wasn’t it bad enough his brother had been wrongly convicted? Now they were trying to hang a rap on him…
“You and your brother are very clever. He’s been convicted of murder himself—”
“Oh, so, in your esteemed opinion, the inclination to murder is something that’s in the genes?” Linc took a step in Emilia’s direction. “First of all, my brother was wrongfully convicted—wrongfully—and secondly, that’s one of the most inane things I think I’ve ever heard in my life.” Linc took another step toward her.
Emilia resisted the urge to back up, as she didn’t want Eisenger to know he’d gotten to her and that she was a bit frightened by the anger in his voice. She threw a grateful glance at Howard as he took hold of Lincoln’s upper arm.
“Hang on, man. No need to threaten the lady,” Howard said.
“She’s no lady and I didn’t threaten her.” Lincoln spread his arms and grinned but to Emilia it appeared to be more of a grimace than an actual smile. “I’m an innocent man standing in his own driveway being needled by an officer of the law. Maybe I need to make a call of my own to the police commissioner. Tell him all about the harassment I’m enduring based on the mere fact that I have a brother in Angola and I have a dead law partner who I couldn’t possibly have had a chance to kill. What do you think?” Linc glared at Emilia. “How do you think that phone call could affect that gold shield that I bet you have had for about five minutes?”
“You don’t have that kind of clout, mister. If you did, your brother wouldn’t be in prison now, would he?”
At that comment, Lincoln did lunge at Emilia. She whipped her gun up and aimed it directly at his chest.
Here is the official blurb for The Eisenger Element. I’ll share a pic or two of New Orleans as well.
She thought she was ready for the hard cases, but that was before she met him…
Emilia Hammond recently earned her gold shield as a detective with the New Orleans police department and is working on her first assignment, eager to prove herself capable of handling her promotion. After a series of attacks on prostitutes in the French Quarter, she finds herself going undercover to investigate. In the process, she’s called to the scene of a murder at an attorney’s office. She has a good lead, a solid case, until her prime suspect turns the tables on her.
He’s trying to clear his innocent brother, and now he’s a murder suspect himself…
Attorney Lincoln Eisenger is from a prominent New Orleans Garden District family. His brother Myles is in Angola Prison for a murder he didn’t commit. Linc is determined to clear his brother’s name and bring him home. But when his law partner is killed, Linc becomes the prime suspect. Now he has to clear himself as well as his brother, all the while trying to ignore the sparks igniting between him and the spunky female detective he thought was a prostitute.
It’s here! YAY- I’m excited to say that Senior Assassin is out in the world. I checked on my publisher’s website for the link but the site appears to be down for maintenance. I found the link on Amazon for the paperback but not kindle. I found the e-version on Kobo and both at Barnes and Noble.
Here are two editorial reviews:
http://www.blackopalbooks.com – Taylor Jones
The story is reminiscent of an Agatha Christie mystery, a cross between Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple. The storyline is intriguing, the characters charming, and the romance sweet. Chancellor gives an authentic view of what life was like for a “middle class” librarian, trying to mingle with “upper class” aristocrats on a luxury train. If you’re looking for something an old-fashioned mystery/romance, it would be hard to go wrong with Senior Assassin.
http://www.blackopalbooks.com – Regan Murphy
I thoroughly enjoyed Senior Assassin. Since I’m a big Agatha Christie fan, this book was right up my alley. It’s a refreshing change from all the blood and gore so prevalent in mysteries today. That’s not to say there’s no blood in the book, but Chancellor does keep it to a minimum. The plot is strong, the characters charming and well-developed, and romance sweet and heartwarming. This is the kind of book you’ll want to keep on your shelf to read over and over again.