Lexie Conyngham's Blog: writing, history and gardening.

Monday, 12 October 2020

Interview with Merryn Allingham, author of Caribbean Evil

 I'm delighted today to welcome Merryn Allingham to the blog! I read the first book in her Tremayne crime series last year, and the second, Caribbean Evil, is just out.




Well, with a book set in Venice and another in the Caribbean, I have to ask if you’ve spent time in these places? Is Malfuego based on somewhere real?

 

By now, I know Venice pretty well. Despite the crowds, it’s my favourite Italian city, and as long as you avoid the central heave, it’s magical. I’ve also visited the Caribbean several times, Malfuego being a mix of a number of islands, all sharing the same dreadful history and, in the 1950s, celebrating their independence. The idea for Caribbean Evil came out of a casual remark made by a guide on one of our trips. Novels are born from such snippets!

 

What drew you to writing?

 

For as long as I can remember, I’ve needed to put pen to paper. As a small child, I wrote poems; at secondary school there were short stories that I never dared mention – creative writing was definitely not encouraged. And I kept on writing through the years, but between family, pets and my job as a lecturer, there was little time to do more than dabble. However when the pressures eased, I grabbed the chance to do something I’d always promised myself – to write a novel. I knew I wanted to write popular fiction though I  hadn’t a clue where to start, but since I’d taught 19th century literature for years and grown up reading Georgette Heyer, it seemed natural to gravitate towards the Regency period.  

I’ll come back to that Regency theme! But it seems brave to me to write historical fiction set at a period lots of people can still remember – I quaked when I published a Second World War standalone! What drew you to the 1950s?

 

It’s one of the most fascinating periods you can write about, particularly if you love a feisty heroine. At the beginning of the decade, Britain was a monochrome world and five years of fighting had left behind a general feeling of exhaustion. There was still food rationing and the country was covered in bomb sites. Women, who had proved their worth during the war—as land girls, working in munitions factories, driving ambulances to the most horrific scenes—were pushed back into the kitchen and the nursery. The dead hand of society ensured their lives became narrow and acutely gender-based. But discontent with the status quo was just beneath the surface and during the next ten years rebellion brewed.  Life was transforming. The Fifties were a cauldron ready to explode into the Sixties. And I’m old enough to remember them!

 

The Regency period, where you’ve also set books, is close to home for me! Which is your favourite?

 

I’m going to sit on the fence because I love every period I’ve written on. The Regency for its sheer elegance, the Victorians for their certainty (on the surface at least), and their amazing technological and engineering feats—Bazalgette’s sewers are still working beneath London. The Edwardian period has a special place in my heart. It’s bathed in permanent sunshine, at least in popular memory, and becomes even more poignant when you know it will end in the horrors of the Great War. And then the dreadful years of the Second World War, which still resonate with us today—witness the language used in fighting the Corona virus. I’ve set books in all these periods and each time have loved the sense of being immersed in a wholly different world, of living in different houses, wearing different clothes, meeting different people and confronting different choices.

 

 

You’ve turned to crime relatively recently – what has brought you to our happy genre? And the obvious question from a crime fiction perspective is are you related to Marjory Allingham?

 

No relation, though it would be great to claim one! I’ve only gradually inched my way towards crime. My first six novels were Regency romances, but though they proved a great apprenticeship, I wanted to broaden my scope into mainstream women’s fiction. I also wanted to create something a little darker—it hadn’t escaped me that with each succeeding Regency, the mystery element had become more pronounced. It was a natural progression then to write suspense but with an element of romance, and from there, only a small step further to full-blown crime. But though I have one or more deaths in each book, relationships are still very important, including a romantic temptation that develops throughout the Tremayne series.

The first book in this series beautifully evokes the grandeur and murkiness of Venice. Do you have a favourite scene in Venetian Vendetta?

 

The scenes I like best are those between Nancy and Archie Jago, her husband’s assistant. We’re early in their relationship here, when there’s a good deal of conflict and a general sparring between them. I think the passage encapsulates what infuriates Nancy about Archie, but also lays the ground for changes to come!

 

Luisa was waiting her turn to be served, but looking around expectantly.

‘I bet that’s her,’ Nancy said.

‘Probably. Nice legs. Salvatore has taste.’

‘You can go now.’ She would have liked to hit him, but settled for sounding severe.

He saluted, making her feel stupid. ‘Right away, Mrs Tremayne. Sorry… Nancy. I’ll be back at the vegetable market.’ ……….

……………….

She found Archie looking morosely at a pile of aubergines. ‘Can’t stand them,’ he said. ‘And they’re in everything you eat here.’

‘Never mind the aubergines, I must tell you what Luisa said.’

‘Do I need to know?’

‘Yes, you’re helping me.’ She said it decidedly. The only way to deal with Archie Jago, she’d realised, was to confront him head on. ‘I’ll tell you as we walk back.’

 

It’s a seriously tantalising triangle between Archie, Nancy and her husband Leo! I’m looking forward to spending more time with these characters. But do you have hobbies that help you escape from the writing or that feed into it?

 

I very much enjoy going to the theatre, to the cinema and to art exhibitions. Mooching around galleries, just looking, is a favourite activity, though sadly not at the moment. Painting and artists come into my books a good deal. Nancy is a former art student, Leo, her husband, an expert on Renaissance art. I love all things Italian and I’m learning the language. That’s evidently fed into the Tremayne series via Venetian Vendetta, but my ballet exercise classes? So far there have been no ballerinas, but I guess there’s still time!

 

 

Ballet exercise? That’s impressive! I fear I would lack the co-ordination … And finally, where can people find you and your books?

 

All my titles are available on Amazon as well as through a distributor such as Ingramspark. My latest novel in the Tremayne Mysteries Series is Caribbean Evil.

 

Universal link: https://bookgoodies.com/a/B08K4MDGRW

If you fancy receiving, The Dangerous Promise FREE (the prequel to the Tremayne series)

do sign up for my newsletter at  https://merrynallingham.com/free-book/

 

or get in touch via Facebook or Twitter. Facebook: https://www.tinyurl.com/m322ovu

                                                                       Twitter: https://twitter.com/merrynwrites

It’s so nice to hear from readers!

My review of Caribbean Evil - well, I was supposed to be reading this carefully for review, but I found myself galloping through it, loving the setting and the characters and letting the plot take me along. Great descriptive language – I can feel the heat of the Caribbean island where Nancy finds herself in company with her husband Leo and his assistant Archie, our companions from A Venetian Vendetta (formerly A Venetian Atonement) which I read a few months ago. The 1950s are delicately evoked with their sensitivities and the sharp contrast between privilege and poverty. Nancy discovers political unrest on the island and is soon drawn in to help a young man determined to reform the very system that is paying Leo for their stay and work. There’s plenty of meat in the plot, and in the difficult relationship between Nancy, Leo and Archie – enough to make me delighted to see there will be a third in the series!

Thank you so much, Merryn!

Monday, 5 October 2020

Dragon in the Snow - the book launch!

 Right, here we go! I'd a great time recording this with Dr. Jacky Collins this morning, and it's going out c.7.45pm (British Summer Time, which it still laughably is) on Wednesday evening, 7th. October. If you go for the Facebook one you can ask questions live and I'll work my little fingers off typing the answers!


https://www.facebook.com/HoneyStagEvents
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o4uUu89eoHw

It will still be available afterwards and I'll be copying it to Facebook and here - you'll not escape it!

Monday, 21 September 2020

Book tour: Along Came a Spyder, by Apeksha Rao

 






Blurb:

 

Are your Spidey senses tingling?

 

At 17, Samira Joshi has only one dream in life. She wants to be a spy.

 And why not? 

Spying runs in the Joshi genes.

Her great-grandmother was famous for sticking her nose in everyone’s business. Her grandmother had a flourishing side-business of tracking down errant husbands and missing servants. Her parents are elite intelligence agents for RAW.

Yet, they want their only daughter to become a doctor.

When she sees a college friend being trapped by a pimp, Samira does some spying of her own, and discovers the existence of a secret sisterhood of teen spies — The Spyders. And, she wants in!

The question is, do they want her?

 

To find out, read this fast-paced, gripping YA novel by brand new author, Apeksha Rao.

 

My review: We hit the ground running in this teen fiction spy adventure! Samira comes from a family of spies and is keen to continue the tradition, but her parents don’t approve. But when Samira gets involved in an incident in Dubai they are forced to let her tag along. There’s lots going on in this book, with plenty of witty asides and intriguing incidents. There’s a good deal of fun poked at Indian civil service habits and Indian family politics, but things do turn serious with the death of a fellow student, and with Samira’s own childhood traumas coming to the surface. The Dubai plot and Samira’s own ‘professional development’ are intertwined with mixed results. Amidst the fun there are some serious issues, too: terrorism, drug running, prostitution, real life. This is a thoroughly entertaining book from start to finish, but it doesn’t shirk the heavy things.

Book links:

Amazon India: https://amzn.to/3miRgof

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/52663172-along-came-a-spyder

 

Advance praise for Along Came A Spyder:

"A thrilling read with several nail biting moments. Will keep you hooked till the end."

 Andaleeb Wajid, author of The Legend Of The Wolf

 

"A fantastic spy story, keeps you on the edge and you can't stop till you finish the book. A fantastic debut book. Look forward to reading more from the author."

Kanchana Banerjee, author of Nobody's Child and A Forgotten Affair.

 

"Witty, snarky and a thorough entertainer, Along Came a Spyder is a welcome addition to India's YA genre."

Shilpa Suraj, author of Love, Marriage and Other Disasters, Saved by Love, and, Driven by Desire

 

"Apeksha Rao writes a taut espionage thriller with a twist-a-minute narrative that is sure to get all readers hooked. The language is flawless, the characterization spot-on, and the plot is filled with rich details. It is the kind of story that you'd leave all your other work aside to read. Be warned!"

Neil D'Silva, author of Haunted, Yakshini and Maya's New Husband

 



 

Author bio:

 

Apeksha Rao fell in love with words very early in life.

While other kids of her age were still learning to spell, she was already reading her older brother’s books and comics.

She wrote her first story at the age of seven and submitted it to Tinkle, a very popular children’s magazine.

Writing took a backseat, as she established a thriving medical practice.

But Apeksha rekindled her love affair with words, while on maternity leave.

She would tap away at her keyboard while rocking her twin babies to sleep, as sleep deprivation stimulated her dormant creativity.

She wrote numerous short stories, that she published on her blog.

Apeksha has been lauded for her taut and gripping stories, that always come with a twist at the end.

In addition to Along Came A Spyder, she has written The Itsy Bitsy Spyder, a prequel novella to the Spyders series.

A Mumbaikar, born and bred, Apeksha comes from a family of doctors.

At the ripe age of thirty-four, she wound up her practice and moved with her family, to Bengaluru.

She is now a full-time writer.

She is also a die-hard foodie, who’s still trying to find the best vada-pav in Bengaluru.

She has twin boys, who keep her on her toes.

Apeksha’s husband is her inspiration to write, as well as her biggest critic.

 

 

Website – https://apeksharao.in/

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/ApekshaRaoOfficial/

Twitter – https://twitter.com/apekshar

Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/rao.apeksha/

 

Thursday, 3 September 2020

A few books from August

 First, just to let you know that the launch of Dragon in the Snow has been postponed to 7th October and will be viewable on Facebook, so if you can't make it live you can see it later! Let us know at 



contact@kellascatpress.co.uk if you need a link nearer the time.

 

Right, I seem to be halfway through a lot of books and haven't actually finished so many in August, so here we are in no particular order (this won't take you long, and I think I might have been a bit grumpy this month!):

Past Crimes: A Compendium of Historical Mysteries

OtherJennifer Ashley Gardner, Past Crimes: A collection of shorts from her three series. Well written with only a few Americanisms and they’re quite subtle, like picking up a fork instead of a knife and fork, and cooking ‘flat muffins’ for breakfast. The first centres on a young Victorian cook in London, the second on a Roman gladiator, and the third on Captain Lacey (I’d read one of those books before). I like the style of each, perhaps Captain Lacey least of the three, but then I’m picky about my Georgian crime. Something that particularly irks me (though Gardner is perhaps less guilty of this than other authors) is that neologism to want for ‘I wanted for her to be nice to me’. No. I wanted her to be nice to me. It seems to be creeping in from America and however correct you might argue it to be now, it certainly wasn’t even thought of in Georgian London.

A Corpse in A Caravan (An Izzy Palmer Novella, #1)

Benedict Brown, A Corpse in a Caravan: Roughly novella-sized, this was nicely set in a dismal winter caravan park in the rain, with tantalising allusions to books in the series which I have not read. I liked the quickly-sculpted social circle with all their issues and the way the plot was resolved.

Murder by Misrule (Francis Bacon Mystery #1)

Anna Castle, Murder byMisrule: Francis Bacon, who has offended the Queen, is bemoaning his lot when he comes across the corpse of a venerable lawyer, his old tutor. We’re straight into the action of Elizabethan London here. The style is good if a bit convoluted, and there’s a touch too much background information all at once, but the plot is pleasantly complex and it’s fairly easy to imagine ourselves in the setting.

Where The Truth Lies (DI Ridpath #1)

M.J. Lee, Where the TruthLies: I’ve enjoyed a book by this author before, but in a different series. The main character is a police officer just back from major sick leave and sent to work in the coroner’s office – an interesting set-up, and the first case starts with great promise. Not sure about some of the names – Eileen and Irene (though Eileen is sometimes Cecilia) for young women is unusual these days. There are some nasty scenes, but the main character is very likeable and the secondary characters are unusual without being freakish.

The Scent of Guilt (DI Bliss, #2)

Tony Forder, The Scent ofGuilt: There are a lot of people very enthusiastic about this series, but I'm afraid I don't quite understand the hype - just me, perhaps. Confusingly this starts years after the first in the series, though I gather the author had a good reason for it – just be warned. I’m confused too about the first two victims here, referred to as ‘elderly’ and aged, apparently, 60 and 58, and living in sheltered accommodation – goodness! I waited to hear if there was some odd reason for this. He also refers to his DCI’s PA as ‘elderly, bespectacled’ – I doubt the police keeps them on past 67. Bliss is no spring chicken – he’s 55, to judge by his reminiscences about his wife. Increasingly irritable, I don’t need to know every time he drives that it’s an Insignia, just that it’s a car and not a tractor. In the same vein, I don’t need to know what brand of mobile phone he uses. Bliss is a likeable character, though: he is supportive of junior officers with potential (their glowing remarks about him are a little less credible), has a better degree of common sense than a lot of his fictional equivalents, deals sensibly with his health problems and applies himself to his work without veering into obsession, yet has his believable faults, too, and in the end the book is very readable and enjoyable. But sorry, I still don't think it's outstanding.

The Secrets of Pain (Merrily Watkins, #11)

Phil Rickman, The Secrets of Pain: Perhaps not my favourite in this terrific series, but that might be because I kept being interrupted in reading it and kept losing my way. But as usual the characters continue to grow and the plot, entangling crime and the supernatural, is intriguing.

Thursday, 27 August 2020

Book tour - The Backyard Tales, by Aniesha Brahma

 


About The Book

 

 

The Backyard Tales is the story of the bond shared between 17-year-old Mia Basu Roy and her beloved cat, Pippo. She seems to understand him far too well for a human. And he seems have another life that Mia begins to suspect. She follows her cat to their backyard and down a very dangerous road which leads her to witches, talking animals, and a story that’s much bigger than what she initially suspected.

 

Read this story to discover all of Mia and Pippo’s secrets, be enchanted by magic, and get the answer to a question that has haunted us for ages: does a cat truly love their owner?

 

Book Purchase Link

 

Amazon India | Amazon USA

 

Book Review

This is a sweet book for young teens set in Kolkata and involving cats and an awkward but benevolent young witch - and lots of action, hazard to local animals, travelling between worlds, and crushes on your next door neighbour. Mia is a very sympathetic heroine if a little mad, and the cats are, of course, lovely. Besides the sweetness there is a fair amount of reflection on the pain of teenagers with parents who don't get on,and how they deal with it. The ending is a little rushed and complicated - a bit more gentle explanation would have helped - but pretty satisfying! 


Author Bio

 

 

 

Young Adult and Children’s novelist, Aniesha Brahma, studied Comparative Literature. She started her career has as a social media manager in a publishing house. Currently works as a senior content writer in a digital media agency. When she is not working, she is dreaming up stories, conducting sessions for her popular YouTube Series, Chai & Chill, or planning how to get even more books and bookish content to readers via BUZZ Magazine. You can read more of her work at Aniesha’s Musings and drop a line at: aniesha.brahma@gmail.com

Catch Up with Aniesha Brahma on Social Media

 

Instagram: www.instagram.com/anieshabrahma

Twitter: www.twitter.com/anieshabrahma

Facebook: www.facebook.com/anieshabrahmaauthor

Website: www.anieshabrahma.com

Email: aniesha.brahma@gmail.com



Monday, 24 August 2020

Some refreshment for a book launch!

The launch of Dragon in the Snow will be on 12th September at 8p.m. British Summer Time, and you're all welcome (on Zoom)!

If you're interested, email contact@kellascatpress.co.uk and we'll be in touch with the link nearer the time. You can also ask questions in advance. 

I don't mind what you drink on the evening - ale and wine were both popular with Vikings - but I thought I should probably stick to something non-alcoholic. Meadowsweet, also known as mead-sweet as it was used to sweeten drinks, was plentiful in Orkney, so last Friday I went and picked some near the allotment, with a view to making a cordial. It likes the damp, but I wasn't quite invisaging having to wade through a temporary stream to get to it ... bit soggy. A cordial like this would have been made in Viking times but my recipe was not very authentic on this occasion! 

WARNING! I BELIEVE MEADOWSWEET CONTAINS AN ANALGESIC SO IF YOU ARE ON ASPIRIN OR RELATED MEDICATION PLEASE CHECK BEFORE CONSUMING!

You need about twenty heads of meadowsweet, a lemon, a tablespoonful of citric acid and water - and a bit of patience.

Stick the flower heads in a saucepan, 


add the citric acid (traditionally out of date) 


and the quartered lemon. 


Boil a litre or so of water, add it to the saucepan and bring quickly back to the boil. Cover and leave for three days in a coolish place.

Strain the flowers into a large jug ...


And what does it taste like? Well ... if I were you I'd add a bit of runny honey, or maybe some lemonade: it's pretty sharp! But a nice flavour, and very refreshing.

Tuesday, 4 August 2020

Summer reading

    

                                         I forgot to post last month! What are months, anyway? So here is June's
                                            reading and July's reading, in no particular order ...


Tales from Daggy Bottom

Tales from Daggy Bottom, Kath Middleton: very funny series of short stories set in the same little village, involving ghosts, thieves, drug dealers, wellie dancers, and all kinds of miscreants. An absolute delight!


Singapore Ghost (Ash Carter #4)
Murray Bailey, Singapore Ghost: I picked this up free and found it's the fourth in the series, but it didn't matter much. I wondered a bit about the tagline,  'A Mystery-Crime Story with an Historical Twist'. It's set in post-Second World War Malaya - that's not an historical twist, that's an historical setting. Some Ian Fleming flavour to it, and I did love the setting, the jungle and the towns and the army bases. For a book which at first sight seems rather gungho, the female characters are stronger than you would expect. I'm not sure I would necessarily make an effort to read more in the series but if you put one in front of me, I'd pick it up.

Paula Williams, Burying Bad News: Kat is in trouble again, trying to balance three dodgy jobs. The hair salon is at risk, and her bar job is threatened, but her newspaper is also bought over by someone whse journalistic values are not her own. And then someone else is murdered. Entertaining but very human, this is another good read in the series.


The Mathematical Bridge (Nighthawk #2)
Jim Kelly, The Mathematical Bridge: This lovely, meditative atmosphere again, though we start with a child swept away in the river on an icy night. These are intriguing books, filled with memories of the first war, technicalities of living in Cambridge, the duties of police when war is coming, and nocturnal hospital scenes, and I find them bewitching. 

The Blood Card (Stephens & Mephisto Mystery, #3)
Elly Griffiths, The Blood Card: I picked this up thinking, for some reason, that it was the first in the Stephens and Mephisto series, but it's actually the third. It didn't take long to get into it, though, and to wriggle into the lives of the two main characters. I've always thought it's brave to write a historical about a period people still remember, particularly when the author themselves would not be of an age to recall it, but this rings very true with the research lightly worn. It was very enjoyable with a tense, exciting ending and lots of interesting detail as well as the usual well-rounded, complicated characters one expects from Elly Griffiths.

Dead Scared (Lacey Flint, #2)
Sharon Bolton, Dead Scared: It's a while since I've read one of these, remembering them as very well-written but a bit too gritty for my mood. But having dived in, I found this one very good. An investigation into too many strange suicides at Cambridge draws Lacey Flint into an undercover job. It's a picky thing, I know, but I find the name Mark Joesbury really irritating - I don't like it at all! But if you take that away the rest of the book was terrific.


Jeremiah's Bell
Denzil Meyrick, Jeremiah's Bell: Excellent as always, chilling in several places, an exciting and hilarious read.



The French Heir (Brighton Heirs 2)
Cecilia Peartree, The French Heir: I do like this series, a kind of Brighton Jane Austen with a spin of adventure and peril. It's interesting, too, that the author moves from one character to another from book to book: in the first the focus was Jack, eventually heir to Marshingdean, and now we're seeing things from the perspective (mostly) of Sebastian, with his mysterious French background. There is a very different atmosphere here from the author's Pitkirtly series, which I absolutely love - you'd almost think you had hit a different writer - but it's very appealing still.


The Heir to Nothing (Brighton Heirs Book 3)
Cecilia Peartree, The Heir to Nothing: Back to the same setting again but this time we focus on a third character, Dev, in another well-plotted tale with hints of smuggling and the French wars and a sweet romantic side. I'm delighted there's to be a fourth in the series - I'd thought it was a trilogy!


The Blood is Still (Rebecca Connolly, #2)
Douglas Skelton, The Blood is Still: Rebecca is in more trouble poking her journalistic nose into murder and local banditry. There is plenty of action here and suspense, too, not just over the murder case (a well-handled plot) but also over the future of poor Rebecca's career in the current climate of print journalism. Good characters and a realistic setting.


Small Mercies (Detective Annie Delamere, #1)
Alex Walters, Small Mercies: A new series for me from an author I've enjoyed before. The lead character is very jagged, defensive and uncomfortable, which means it takes a little time to settle in, but as there's a very odd corpse found in the first few pages, the reader is willing to cut her some slack. I particularly liked Burbage and Wharton who play a minor but amusing part, and the book as a whole was very satisfying - less of a whodunnit and more of a how and why.


Hold Your Tongue (DI Eve Hunter, #1)
Deborah Masson, Hold your Tongue: When the author signed my copy at Granite Noir in February she did apologise for treating her character Lexie so appallingly, and now I see why! A gritty, gory book but very well written: the complexities of her main character's troubled background occasionally need a map, but the plot is pacey.


In the Absence of Miracles
Michael Malone, In the Absence of Miracles: It's over two years since I first saw this author at Granite Noir and intended to follow him up, but I've been a bit slow! A shame, too, as this is immediately intriguing and very well written - a plot with a few twists and turns and a very human problem at the centre of it.


A Whisper of Sorrows (DCI Logan Crime Thrillers, #6)
J.D. Kirk, A Whisper of Sorrows: A really excellent, edge-of-your-seat episode in this terrific series. It's a bit more serious than the other books, but still full of wit - and tragedy.


Devil's Porridge (The Kirsty Campbell Mysteries Book 2)
Chris Longmuir, Devil's Porridge: A complex beginning, where nearly everyone on the train to Carlisle seems connected to everyone else. The setting rings true (apart from a girl called Shannon - it might have happened but it was really only a surname until recently and it sounded too modern to me) and I like to learn things from books, all about the massive construction at Gretna for the munitionettes and their work and entertainment. I found the use of commas a little distracting, but good action, exciting end!


The Death Game
Chris Longmuir, The Death Game: We see more of Kirsty's background here when she is relocated to Dundee to help start the Scottish acceptance of police women. It's hard to know who to trust or who might support her, even amidst her own family, but early 20th century Dundee shines through. There are some places where I would argue about the use of commas, and about a good deal of switching points of view, and as with the first book there are occasions when there's a bit too much research shining through, but it's an exciting conclusion and well-plotted.


Death of a Doxy (Kirsty Campbell Mysteries Book 3)
Chris Longmuir, Death of a Doxy - not to be confused with the Nero Wolfe book of the same name! Again, the historical background is very well done, as is the portrayl of early 20th. century Dundee. I enjoyed the story and it was very thoroughly wound up at the end. I'm not sure if there are more Kirsty Campbell books or not, but I would probably read them.


Tempest in the Tea Room (Jewish Regency Mysteries, #1)
Libi Astaire, Tempest in the Tea Room: I enjoyed seeing Regency London from a different perspective in this fairly light historical crime novel. The close-knit Jewish community, taking in every rank in society, clashes with non-Jewish high society when a new young doctor is accused by a lady of trying to poison her. I'd have liked a little more about the family we started with, but I suspect they appear in other books. A very pleasant read, and interesting.

No Simple Death (Dublin Murder Mystery, #1)
Valerie Keogh, No Simple Death: The first by this author for me, set in Dublin and Cork. From the start I found the characters intriguing and sympathetic, and the plot tantalising. There's a little quiet humour, just enough to keep everything ticking over - I really enjoyed this and hope to come back for more. 

And here? Well, as you may know the third in the Orkneyinga Murders series, Dragon in the Snow, is to appear on 31st. August, and I'm currently plot-wrangling the next Murray. It has, at least, a title - 'The Dead Chase'!