The Tudor Deception by Scott Mariani

the Tudor Deception by Scott Mariani

Although this is the twenty-eighth book in the Ben Hope series, The Tudor Deception takes the reader back in time, to an earlier point in Ben’s career when he was living in Ireland and using his skills to find and rescue missing children. He is approached by a history professor who wants him to investigate the case of two boys who disappeared centuries ago, but he turns him down. Unfortunately, this decision will have far-reaching consequences and destroy the life of someone he cares about.

The author weaves Tudor history and recent research relating to Richard the Third and the disappearance of the Princes in the Tower into the narrative in a seamless way. Ben has to do quite a lot of detective work, and put the pieces of the puzzle together before he becomes the next victim. I have been a fan of this series since the very beginning, and what keeps me reading is the character of Ben Hope. I know the plots require suspension of disbelief at times, but I enjoy reading how he gets to the heart of the problem and saves the day. I always learn something new and travel vicariously all over the world. I really enjoyed The Tudor Deception and look forward to Ben Hope’s next adventure later in the year.

The Good Liars by Anita Frank

The Good Liars by Anita Frank

The Good Liars is the second book I have read by this author. The setting is Gloucestershire two years after the end of the First World War. Living at Darkacre, a manor house belonging to the Stilwell family, are Maurice, his wife Ida, his brother Leonard, and family friend Victor Monroe. This is not a happy home. Right from the start, there is a tense atmosphere hinting at secrets and unspoken resentments. A police officer calls at the house asking about a young man who disappeared in the summer of 1914, as new evidence has come to light. This sets everyone on edge, and into this atmosphere comes Sarah, a trained nurse, to fill the position of housekeeper, and to help care for Leonard who is in a wheelchair having lost both legs and one arm in the war.

None of the characters are particularly likeable, Ida and Victor the worst by far, but they are all entirely believable. As the title suggests, none of them can be trusted to tell the truth. So many times I thought I had worked out what was going on, only for the author to turn it all on its head. She paints a horrific picture of the war, and its effects on those who survived. Although I did not see it coming, the ending makes perfect sense. While the artwork on the cover is eye-catching, it does not quite match the mood of the story. The Good Liars is an atmospheric and thought-provoking novel that leaves a lasting impression. I definitely plan to read the next book by this author. I received a free copy in exchange for a fair and honest review.

From Now Until Forever by Rowan Coleman

From Now Until Forever by Rowan Coleman

Although I had enjoyed some of Rowan Coleman’s earlier books, I knew nothing about From Now Until Forever before I started reading. I honestly think it was a good thing to go in blind as certain aspects might otherwise have made me hesitate. It is a very unusual book and hard to pigeonhole, with elements of romance, time travel and the supernatural, but it is well written, full of atmosphere, and completely captivating. Some reviewers thought there was too much emphasis on art history, but this was my favourite facet of the story. It was obviously well researched, and basing the narrative around a real Renaissance artist, Leonardo da Vinci, gave it authenticity.

It is told in alternating chapters by the two main characters, Ben and Vita, so we get a rounded picture of what is going on. At the heart of this story is a sense of time running out and living every day as if it is your last, but also how living forever is not necessarily something to covet either. I empathised with the situation both characters found themselves in, and thought the ending was very moving. Reading From Now Until Forever took me on an emotional journey, tugged at my heartstrings, and left me contemplating how much we all take for granted. Thanks to Hodder & Stoughton and NetGalley for a digital copy to review.

Monsters in the Mist by Tom Williams

Monsters in the Mist by Tom Williams

I chose Monsters in the Mist from a list submitted to Rosie’s Book Review Team, and thank Tom Williams for supplying a copy in exchange for a fair and honest review. The last time I had any interest in vampires, Buffy the Vampire Slayer was at its height, but I love crime fiction and was intrigued by the premise of Monsters in the Mist. A dismembered body is found on a remote Welsh hillside and, as it is feared it might be another werewolf attack, Chief Inspector Pole from the Metropolitan Police ‘Section S’ is brought in to investigate. Being a vampire, and the limitations that brings in terms of exposure to sunlight, he seconds his colleague Chief Inspector Galbraith (also from the Met) to help out, ably assisted by DC Jane Ellis from Section S. They make an unlikely pair, but she is very capable and keeps Galbraith on his toes. They pose as a couple of hillwalkers to try and gather some intelligence. What they find is infinitely worse than any werewolf could ever be.

It emerges that the victim worked at Porton Down, in the accounts department, and her suspicions led to her death. She discovered anomalies in a genetic engineering project that had gone way beyond its initial remit. The book is fairly short and can be read in a single sitting, the characters are believable, there is plenty of action and the whole thing is peppered with dark humour. Apparently,Tom Williams writes these as a light-hearted contrast to his more serious historical fiction which I have not read, yet. Despite being the third book in the series, I had no trouble following the plot, but have already downloaded the others and plan to read them very soon to find out how this unusual collaboration came about. Monsters in the Mist is an interesting and unusual take on the detective novel, and I hope Tom Williams plans to write many more in this entertaining series.

Same Time Next Summer by Annabel Monaghan

Same Time Next Summer by Annabel Monaghan

Growing up, Sam and Wyatt spent every summer living next door to each other on Long Island where they embraced beach life. After Wyatt breaks her heart, she avoids visiting her family over the summer. The Sam we meet at the beginning of Same Time Next Summer is a very different person to her younger self. There are lots of flashbacks that show how much she has changed.

Now planning her wedding to Jack, she has no choice and plans to stay for as short a time as possible, but it is obvious how much pleasure she has been denying herself as she starts to relax and enjoy living by the beach again. Jack seems very into rules and control, and likes having things his own way. Coincidentally, Wyatt is also back for the summer and Sam cannot avoid him for long. I struggled to believe that she has never looked him up on the internet, and has no idea if his musical career has taken off or not.

I did not enjoy this as much as her previous book Nora Goes Off Script, but that did set the bar pretty high. Same Time Next Summer is still a very enjoyable read, but perhaps relies too much on backstory at the expense of the here and now. The characters are well drawn and believable, and the Long Island setting just makes you want to go and live at the beach. Thanks to Hodder & Stoughton and NetGalley for a digital copy to review.