The Celtic Dagger



celtic dagger


I loved this book and it’s introduction to Fitzjohn. I have read all of the subsequent books which feature the Inspector in a more stellar capacity. I decided to start at the beginning and this time read them in the order they were published.The characters are believable and interesting. There are enough of them to make the brain work to try and determine the killer. James the brother of the murdered Alex Wearing, plays the main part in the story, with Inspector Fitzjohn hovering in the background. A well-told story with a twist to the tail. Who would have suspected the murderer!



Eternal Youth


Have you discovered Commissario Guido Brunetti, his sidekick Ispettore Vianello, Vice-Questore Guiseppe Patta, Signora Elettra and the other members of the Questura  in Venice?

In this, the twenty-fifth book in the series we find Brunetti involved in a cold case at the request of his Mother-in-Law’s good friend, Contessa Lando-Continui.  Fifteen years earlier the Contessa’s granddaughter had been pulled from a canal late at night, but while she was saved, she suffered severe brain damage and has never moved on from her 7 year old self. This is where the title comes from.  According to Alice Roosevelt Longfellow “The secret to eternal youth is arrested development.”

All the investigations at the time pointed to a tragic accident, but the Contessa is not convinced it was an accident.

Brunetti is not at all sure that there is a case to investigate, but in true form, he finds himself unable to let the case rest. We are swept up in the concerns of contemporary Venetian life from housing issues, to historical preservation, to the African migrants and their effect on the community,  and the posturing and life of those involved in the Questura.  And through it all is Brunetti doing what he does best; he solves the crime.

This is Donna Leon also at her best. She cleverly imbues her stories with literary and musical allusions of which she has a multitude. She takes us on walks through one of my favourite cities And as an added bonus, one can always learn from Ms Leon’s novels.  I strongly recommend this book and indeed the other 24, to anyone who loves thrillers, Venice, and detectives who are slightly different to those who usually reside in books of fiction.



Vow of Silence

Vow of Silence


This was a book that once I started reading, I could not put down.  Having read the first book in the series I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this, the next one.

Once again, we are with Jill Shannon in her new home in Phoenix. Now Jill has met up with the charismatic Conner Manning, the only son of former Arizona Governor, Pierce Manning.

All is going well for Jill.  She has a small daughter born after the murder of her former husband, policeman, Alex Shannon, with whom she lived in Seattle.  Now she has reinvented herself and is planning marriage to Conner when links to her very secret past begin to creep into her present.

She is plagued/hunted/chased by a Phoenix Police Detective, David Shaw, who is convinced that Jill is somehow linked to the recent murder of reporter Joe Gaines.  According to CTV footage, Jill was the last person to speak to Joe and the next morning he was found dead in his hotel room.

We are introduced to Kat married to Luis who is somehow involved with the Mafia and because of this she and her daughter Ana are at risk.

So, another story told with a great plot, well developed and believable characters and all the attention to detail we have come to expect from Chris Patchell.

I strongly recommend this book to those who appreciate a well-told, well-conceived story.

Note – I was given a copy of the book to read by the author, and I choose to write this review.



30 Days of Justis

I have been a John Ellsworth fan for several years and always look forward to a new book from one of my favourite authors. This latest Michael Gresham, legal thriller is a page turner from page one to the totally unexpected finish.

Gresham who is working in the US Attorney’s office in Washington DC receives a letter from a 28-year-old woman about to be executed for murder— she claims to be his daughter.  Gresham believes her when she mentions the name of her mother, a woman from his past.

But the young woman is to be executed in just 30 days and she needs Gresham’s help.  We follow him, and her, though all the legal phases and stages open to him to get her case reopened and the charges and the verdict reversed.  During the 30 days available to him, he re-examines testimony, chases witnesses who were never called on to testify, uncovers a censurable plot by a lawyer and a judge, and fights/comes up against a system that sets out to stop him every step of the way.

This is a well-told story, mingled with much court procedure as we expect from Ellsworth who practised law for 40 plus years. All the characters are well crafted and well developed, and believable.

So, if you enjoy a thriller, with many twists and turns I recommend this book to you.  I am sure you won’t be disappointed.


Note – I was given a copy of this book to read by the author.  I chose to make this recommendation.


Manhattan Beach


It is the Depression and many are out of work, Anna Kerrigan is almost 12years old and accompanies her father on his bagman visits in and around New York. One day things change. Her father, Eddie, goes to meet Dexter Styles, nightclub owner with ties to the mob, and from then on he no longer takes Anna on his journeys. Anna senses that this man, Styles will have a long-term effect on her father and their family.

Anna cannot understand what has happened.  The only person she has to confide in is her severely crippled (both in mind and body) sister Lydia.  Lydia is unable to do anything for herself and cannot speak.  Even so, Anna continues to talk to her and share secrets with her. And one day, Eddie fails to return home leaving behind his wife and two daughters and after a time they consider him dead.

The story moves to WW2 where Anna is working in the Naval Shipyard and one evening she goes to a nightclub and sees Dexter Styles again.

There are three separate storylines in the narrative, shifting from time and place and yet interconnected. This is a story of family life, the relationship between fathers and daughters, and the impact of war particularly on women.  We see how easy it is for someone to be caught in a criminal world when families need to be housed and fed and we also see the attraction of this life to some of the young women.

I found this an enthralling read and recommend it.  I particularly like a book that teaches me things and the research into women in the naval dockyards during WW2 is amazing.




The Beautiful Mystery

Another Louise Penny book today.  Just can’t stop reading these.

Do you love Gregorian chants?  If so, then you will be doubly intrigued with this book, although I found this one to be slow-moving.  It was also a strange thing to be kept in one place for the whole book.

Gamache and Beauvoir are called to an isolated monastery where a monk has been murdered. Monks who haven’t seen the outside world for a long time are confronted by these two policemen more used to dealing with criminals, addicts, and murderers than gentle, praying, silent monks. Enter Fancoeur whose motive for being there is unclear. What reason does he have for being there?  Was he checking up on Gamache? Or Beauvoir? He could have manipulated Beauvoir anywhere at any time.  Why does he want Beauvoir on his team?  These questions remain unanswered.

The murderer is finally identified but even that is accomplished in a less than Gamache-style fashion.

The conclusion of this book was such a disappointment. I was left feeling the book was incomplete. The conclusion of all the other books at least left me with a feeling of satisfaction that justice was done and a lot, if not all, loose ends tied up.   But read it for yourself.  You may disagree.


The Nature of the Beast


Nature of the Beast

We are introduced to young Laurent Lepage who annoys the villagers of Three Pines with his daily cry of wolf. Walking trees, aliens invading, dinosaurs and other unlikely things mean nobody believes him when he tells of a huge gun in the woods. But people begin to wonder when the young boy is missing and when he eventually is found, dead what is considered at first to be an accident is quickly determined by Gamache to be a murder. Armand Gamache must face the possibility that, in not believing the boy, he himself played a terrible part in what happened to him.

The search for the boy leads them deep into the forest, his favourite play area and the trail from his murder leads to suspicion of each other among the villagers,  long-held secrets, an old crime, an old betrayal and more.

What is discovered there comes as no surprise to a couple of villagers although they have kept their secret for so long they think it is safe. But it all comes to light following the search by Gamache and his team for the murderer.  Can the peace of the village ever be restored completely?


Read this book to find out.





The Antipodeans

The Antipodeans

Of all the books I have read and reviewed this year, this is outstanding and I think, the best.

It is without a doubt a novel of epic proportions.  It spans three generations of two families on the opposite sides of the world.

It begins with a terminal ill lawyer going to confront his past in and around Venice.  He is accompanied by his recently separated and about to be divorced daughter.  She knows little of his past and almost nothing of the time he spent in Italy after the Second World War.

We follow the trail from Venice in 2014, to two New Zealand servicemen caught up in the Second World War in Italy  in 1945, where we are introduced to two farming families, to a love that lasts and increases over the decades, to the lawyer’s sojourn in the small village in the hills of southern Italy, to the daughter of the lawyer and a nephew of the Italian family.

This is a story that goes far beyond the activities of these 2 servicemen, strangers initially but coming from the far away land of New Zealand to find themselves caught Italy and having to rely on each other to exist.  A friendship of sorts, perhaps originally, but now they hold a secret that was kept hidden throughout the generations.

The story covers 350 pages and I started reading it and can honestly say I couldn’t put it down.  In fact, I read it into the wee small hours yesterday and finished it this morning before doing anything else.

I strongly recommend this book to you. Buy it, borrow it, perhaps don’t steal it, but read it.





Glass Houses

Glass houses

The story begins with Inspector Gamache giving evidence in a murder trial from where the story flashes back from today’s trial in Montreal to the previous autumn in the village.  And here we learn that a hooded figure dressed all in black appears on the village green in Trois Pines.  It says and does nothing; it just stands there for several days.  The villagers are at first intrigued but rapidly come to fear this figure as they should.  Soon it is followed by death.

The story continues to flash back and forth which initially I found confusing, but I quickly got into the story, accepting that this is the way Penny chose to tell her tale.

This is another skilfully planned and executed story of Gamache and the inhabitants of Three Pines, with their foibles and some eccentricities.  And into this mix are introduced several others who were newcomers to me,  but that may well be because I haven’t read all of the earlier books in the series.

Gamache, Beauvoir, his son-in-law, Isabel Lacoste and other members of the Surete de Quebec are again called on to solve the crime.  And as always, Penny adds twists and turns to the story that also touches on friendships and how long-standing relationships can be queried when faced with murder.

This is the second book I have read in this series and am totally in awe of the author’s ability to keep one amused and intrigued to the very end.  In fact, I challenge you to name the accused who is on trial for the murder before you reach the end of the book.

I can strongly recommend this book. Buy the book or take off to your library to see if they have a copy as I did, and if you have to wait for one, it will be well worth the wait.


Whatever it Takes

Book cover courtesy of Amazon.

Elouise Hamilton has a seemingly perfect life in London.  As a born and bred Londoner she cannot imagine living anywhere else.

But her husband Mark longs to return to his childhood home, Dartmouth, and when his father offers to sell his legal practice to him at a family rate, Mark is very keen to take up the offer and the chance to return.

Eventually, Elouise is persuaded to uproot herself, leaving behind her friends and her special shops and boutiques to move.

She finds it hard initially, but she has a loving and helpful mother in law, Margaret to call on and all seems to be going well.

Enter Sara.  A friend who is bereft at the thought of Elouise moving away.  Apparently, Elouise is her only friend.  Added to that is the fact that several attempts at IVF still haven’t produced the longed-for baby.

And into the life Elouise is making for her family, comes the news that Margaret is suffering early onset of Alzheimer’s  This is another thing for Elouise to deal with as both her Father in law and her husband appear unable to accept this fact.

The turmoil in which Elouise finds herself is further compounded when unexpectedly she meets Sara in London and finds she is undeniably pregnant.  And she learns that Sara has taken matters into her own hands in an attempt to become pregnant,  with no thought of the consequences and the lives she will affect.

This is a story, unlike the usual books I read. I was totally engrossed from the beginning, in Elouise’s life, her attempts to keep the family together and her willingness to take on more and more of the problems of others.  But her life suddenly implodes and we wonder how/if she will cope.

I recommend this book.  It is not particularly light reading, peering as it does delve into Alzheimer’s, overwhelming desire for a child and her own difficulties in moving from the bright lights to a seaside town.

Well worth taking from your local library as I did.