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

Friday 30 September 2022

Shroud for a Sinner and autumn newsletter

Murray 13, Shroud for a Sinner, is available for preorder now - paperback available shortly!


Meanwhile, the autumn Letho Observer should be hitting your inboxes - let us know at contact@kellascatpress.co.uk if it doesn't appear!

Friday 9 September 2022

Reading in August

Well, the first full day of the reign of King Charles III. It's quite hard to think straight, but I'd better do my usual post.

Old Bones Lie (Detective Clare Mackay #6)

Marion Todd, Old Bones Lie: This has a good start, two prison officers, their prisoner, and their wives, all going missing at once. The writing seems more relaxed than the previous book I read (not the previous one the series – think I’ve skipped one or two) and I enjoyed it much more. Have to say I think my favourite character is the unflappable Jim, who never seems to be off-duty but just turns up and sorts stuff out (there seems to be a similar Jim, a PCSO, in the David Gatward books - every police station needs a Jim!). But I’m afraid Claire has gone down in my estimation – ketchup with fish and chips? No, and particularly not with fish and chips from Tailend in Market Street. Just no. Stop it now.

A Shetland Winter Mystery (The Shetland Sailing Mysteries Book 10)

Marsali Taylor, A Shetland Winter Mystery: This series grows more political in a good way, and here there is some debate over windfarms. The mystery moves a little slowly but in a satisfying way, and in my opinion culminates in Cass’s high-level escape – benefitting from her mast work on tall ships. Domestically this is also a very pleasing book.

The Last Smile in Sunder City (The Fetch Phillips Archives #1)

Luke Arnold, The Last Smile in Sunder City: No idea how I happened on this one – perhaps I just thought the cover looked a bit Rivers-of-London-ish. It’s not, but it is fantasy with some crime. All magic has been destroyed by a clumsy human attempt to take control of it, and erstwhile magical creatures are having to find new ways of living in a different world. In the middle of this, an elderly vampire teacher has gone missing, and his school would like him back. We’re somewhere between Raymond Chandler and Terry Pratchett here, with a dark occasional humour and a fascinating backstory. It took me a while to get moving on it though I kept going back for more – the last thirty percent, though, sped by. Intriguing.

A Harvest Murder (The Ham Hill Murder Mysteries #3)

Frances Evesham, A Harvest Murder: I was hesitant at the start where there were some very long sentences that were a bit confusing for dim people like me. But it began to take shape – might have been easier if I’d started at the beginning of a series like a sensible person. It’s more cosy than my usual style of read, but the plot was good and the characters were pleasant to spend time with, and I enjoyed it. I might well return when I need a cosy again!

Not Forgotten

Nicola Clifford, Not Forgotten: Triggering Corrs songs with the title but a gripping start, as Stacey’s policeman partner vanishes, and the officer in charge of the case is convinced that he has gone voluntarily. Fortunately all Stacey’s chums at the station conspire to continue investigating behind this chap’s back, and soon we’re beginning to think he’s a wrong ‘un. These do need a little suspension of disbelief (ambulances still appear with the promptness of fairy godmothers, and every female giggles at the least provocation, not to mention very intelligent police officers knowingly endangering both an operation and a civilian in one go) but are good enough reads.

A Year in the Life of Leah Brand

Lucinda E Clarke, A Year in the Life of Leah Brand: This is a psychological domestic noir thriller, with a good deal of ‘No, don’t do that! Why did you marry him?’ from the start, and fluid, intriguing writing that is hard to put down. While I could guess at some of the solution, the ending was quite enough to make one want to go on and buy the next book to find out more.

The Botanist (Washington Poe #5)

M.W. Craven, The Botanist: Poe continues his social education of Tilly in this excellent next instalment of the series, where a killer is disposing of people society has no real problem with seeing dead. Clever plot, more of a howwasitdone than a whodunnit, and the ending was very neat.

The Healing

Joy Margetts, The Healing: A soldier, wounded in a battle he had no intention of surviving, finds himself recovering in a monastery. There are so many unanswered questions at the beginning of this book you have to read on, and if the soldier himself is grumpy, you do want to know why, and the monks are lovely, good-humoured and clever. This is an overtly Christian book with Bible passages included – if I have a gripe it is that they are from a translation I don’t much like, but otherwise it’s a very well-written, beautifully researched, and well-plotted book, and I’m eager to read the next in the – not sure it’s a series, as such, but the family!

The Patient Killer (DCI Morton #4)

Sean Campbell, The PatientKiller: There are some oddities in the English here (I’m really fed up with unnecessary prepositions as in ‘parked up’ or ‘swapped out’), and Americanisms, but I enjoyed this. An intriguing plot, quite interesting tension amongst the investigating officers, and a good pace – I was always ready to get back to it each reading-time! The last quarter or so is devoted to the final trap of the guilty party, which is always quite tense and here is well done.

Callum and The Other

Alan McClure, Callum and the Other: The second in this fast-paced, chatty, fantasy series for teenagers. Life is moving on for Callum and his pals, but they are thrown back into the mysterious experiences they had in the previous book and face a new threat to their village and to the future. Tapping into many of the things that worry teenagers these days, this book gives hope for our own futures, as well as the incentive to put in a bit of work to get things right.

The Ring Breaker

Jean Gill, The Ringbreaker: Something of a young adult book but definitely suitable for older adults, too! This is a skilfully written, beautifully researched coming-of-age story set in Viking Orkney, after the death of Jarl Magnus. I loved the persistent imagery of the cormorant, and the way the skaldic verse was woven into the story. Hlif, too, is a strong and interesting character shining a powerful light on Viking domestic life, while the warriors about them, including Jarl Rognvald, are well defined. Everything from fighting to stone masonry is convincingly portrayed, and from the practical to the mystical a scene in Maeshowe brings its known history to life and touches on the magical. A rich and compelling read.

That last one is part of the reason there might not be another Viking book for a bit - I feel distinctly outclassed!

Anyway, Murray 13, Shroud for a Sinner, is with beta readers and should be out soon (unless they really don't like it!)

The Contentious Business of Samuel Seabury, a kind of standalone sequel to The Slaughter of Leith Hall, is scheduled for 14th. November, all being well.

And I'm now writing a Hippolyta prequel novella for a Christmas collection - and it is not going well! But I need to press on, as contracts have been signed.