Sunday, 22 November 2015

Books to Look Forward to from Allison and Busby

Robin Pagham is dead - drowned in a sailing accident. The reaction of everyone in the village on hearing this tragic news is that Robin must have been drunk. After all, that was what he did best - that and drug dealing and breaking his former girlfriend's nose, with a bit of TV acting on the side. Surprisingly, newspaper reports of the inquest state that no alcohol was found in Robin's blood. It was accidental death, with no clear cause. At the funeral however Robin's latest girlfriend - to whom he has just got engaged - stands up and, lifting back her veil, announces that somebody in the congregation has murdered Robin and that she's going to have their arse. Although estranged, Elsie and Ethelred begin simultaneous investigations into Robin's death - as ever with some comical results.  Cat Among the Herrings is by L C Tyler and is due to be published in February 2016.

The year is 1864 and Detective Inspector Faro's idyllic life has been shattered by the escape of convicted murderer John McLaw. With countless dead end sightings of the killer and further criminal activity Faro realises that this case is far more complicated than he had first assumed. When the disappearance of a maid comes to light, Faro begins to think there could be a link between her disappearance and the murder of Annie McLaw. His determination to unearth the truth becomes personal and in a race against time to solve the anonymities of the case, he takes matters into his own hands.  Akin to Murder is by Alanna Knight and is due to be published in January 2016.

The Murder of Mary Russell is by Laurie R King and is due to be published in April 2016.  Mary Russell is well used to dark secrets-her own, and those of her famous partner and husband, Sherlock Holmes. Trust is a thing slowly given, but over the course of a decade together, the two have forged an indissoluble bond. But what of the other person Mary Russell has opened her heart to, that third member of the Holmes household: Mrs Hudson? Russell has come to love-and trust-the long-time housekeeper like the mother she lost so long ago. Mrs Hudson, once the most long-suffering landlady in all of London, followed Holmes into his Sussex retirement back in 1903. Surely she had good reasons for that? Russell has never questioned why... until a man comes to the door one morning, claiming to be Mrs Hudson's son. What Samuel Hudson tells Russell shatters her childish faith. It cannot possibly be true, yet she believes him. She also believes his threats: both the gun in his hand, and the knowledge he holds.In a devastating instant of choice, Russell declares her loyalty and love, and everything changes.Blood on the floor, a token on the mantelpiece, the smell of gunshot in the air: all point directly at Clara Hudson-or rather, at Clarissa, the woman she was before Baker Street. The key to Russell's sacrifice lies in Mrs Hudson's past, and to uncover the crime, a frantic Sherlock Holmes must put aside his anguish and push deep into his housekeeper's secrets, to a time before her disguise was assumed, before her crimes were buried away. There is death here, and murder, and trust betrayed. And nothing will ever be the same.

Striking Murder is by A J Wright and is due to be published in January 2016.  1893. Wigan is in the grip of a devastating national miners' strike and a harsh winter. Arthur Morris, a wealthy colliery owner whose intransigence on miners' pay is the main cause of the strike, is found brutally murdered in Scholes, a rough working-class district where he is universally hated and blamed for the grinding hardship the strike is causing. Detective Sergeant Brennan is tasked with finding the murderer and when a mysterious stranger is found bludgeoned to death, Brennan starts to unravel a twisted thread of interwoven clues that will lead to the murderer.

The skeleton of Edward Stevenson, an established artist, is found with a shotgun and a suicide note in the basement of a family home in Vermont. Stevenson had told his family he had a terminal illness and was going to Nepal to seek an alternative way of life. When it comes to light that Stevenson had no such illness, suspicions turn to the art gallery who represented him. Just days after the discovery of Stevenson's body, Patrick Merriam, the owner, finds Frank Compton, his partner, dead in an apparent suicide. The police are called in and as the investigation develops, it becomes a murder enquiry. Yet again Sam finds her loyalties tested - this time between her university friend, Patrick Merriam, and her current partner who is leading the investigation.  A Cast of Vultures is by Judith Flanders and is due to be published in March 2016.

The Primrose Pursuit is by Suzette Hill and is due to be published in February 2016. Primrose Oughterard, an eccentric artist living in East Sussex, has recently taken custody of her dead brother's cat and dog, Maurice and Bouncer. The brother - the Revd Francis Oughterard - has had the misfortune to murder one of his parishioners, and (aided and abetted by his pets and sister) had devoted much of his time to concealing the crime and escaping the gallows (which he did). Following his heroic death rescuing another parishioner from impalement on a gargoyle, his sister feels duty-bound to take responsibility for the two animals. The arrangement results in a number of questionable entanglements including the usual mishaps of murder, foiled intentions, concealment of evidence - plus a peculiar manoeuvre on the cliff at Beachy Head.

Steps to the Gallows is by Edward Marston and is due to be published in February 2016. A scurrilous newspaper has built up a large following by publishing details of political and sexual scandals. It is remarkably well-informed and has therefore created a whole host of enemies. When the editor is killed and the printing press smashed to bits, the Invisible Detectives are hired by the man who financed the production of the paper. He wants the killer brought to justice and the scandal sheet revived. Peter and Paul Skillen find themselves in great danger as they unearth an enormous amount of scandal and corruption before the villains are brought to book.

Guilt in the Cotswolds is by Rebecca Tope an is due to be published in March 2016.  Thea Osborne's latest house-sitting assignment is a little different to the rest. Along with her spaniel, Hepzie, Thea finds herself in the village of Chedworth. She is tasked with creating an inventory of Rita Wilshire's possessions, requested by her son, Richard Wilshire, after moving her into a care home. All goes to plan, until Thea and her fiance, Drew Slocombe, find Richard dead in a barn.When family members come knocking, Thea and Drew struggle to give them answers. The Wilshire family has its own past and, whilst Thea knows it is not really her business, she cannot help but become involved in the case. Was Richard's death suicide? Or something more sinister? When the clues lead them in circles, Thea's relationship with Drew is put to the test. But there is a crime to solve, and neither of them is willing to give up just yet...

The first in a series of mysteries set in museums in the 1950s, Murder at the Ashmolean features classicist sleuth Robert Spens and his assistant Henrietta Cave. Spens spent much of World War Two undercover in Greece, subsequently finishing his doctorate at Oxford. He is called to his alma mater by Professor Gilbert Lang, his former supervisor, who is trying to decipher Linear B writing on ancient clay tablets he recently obtained. He is worried that someone is following him. Tragedy ensues and Spens must use his university connections, his knowledge of the ancient world and his wartime experience to track down a ruthless killer.  Murder at the Ashmolean is by Max Hunter and is due to be published in March 2016.

The Hundred Years' War is over and newly-knighted Sir John Hawkswood is headed for France to make his fortune as a freebooter. Violence and extortion are rife, and the freebooters will stop at nothing to capture the Papal City of Avignon. This is only the beginning: Italy beckons, and with it, yet more battles against rival mercenaries, powerful cities and the Papal State.  Hawkhood is by Jack Ludlow and is due to be published in April 2016.

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