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Sunday, 18 March 2018

‘The Nemesis File’ by James Morley

Published by Benhams Books,
3 October 2004.
ISBN: 978-0-95488800-8(PB)
Forty-five-year-old Steve Simpson, ex-Olympic sailor manages a sail making firm in Chichester, Sussex. He lives with his daughter Sarah and is still grieving his wife who died of cancer. On the second anniversary of her death he learns that a bid has been made by a Company, Winterbirch for the sail making business. It is headed by a Kenneth Lindgrune who is known to the police as a bit of a crook, but they have never been able to prove anything. Winterbirch also has dealings in Copenhagen, and Lindgrune spends quite a bit of his time there.

Later that day Steve and Sarah, also a keen sailor, take their sloop out and to their horror find a body floating in the water. His neck is broken and foul play is suspected. Sarah recognises him from a party held by her friend Francine's, Lindgrune's step daughter. The body is identified as a Per Elgaad from Denmark.

Steve is invited to Copenhagen for a get together of old Olympians. Whilst there and with an old friend of his, Chris, who has had a bad experience concerning Lindgrune, determines Steve to find more information on Lindgrune. This is with the full blessing of the British Police.
They stay with old friends of Steve's from his boat racing days and they know of Lindgrune and his shady dealings. Steve and Chris discover that Lindgrune has close contact with the Elgaad family who own the largest chemical company in Denmark.

The Elgaads are known to have supplied the Germans during the war and are hated for it. The head of the Company is a Kaj Elgaad, the father of Per, and as Steve and Chris make their enquiries it becomes obvious Lindgrune has a hold of some sort over Kaj. What terrible secret can he have discovered about him?
Kaj's niece Kirsten flies back to England with Steve, she knew Per well and between them they uncover evidence of a new drug on the market that he invented. Could this have contributed to his death?

Then there are more deaths and Steve is sure Lindgrune is connected to these crimes in some way. However, proving it is another matter entirely. The whole story culminates in a desperate boat race in a raging gale, which can only end in tragedy.

Right from the Prologue this book moves along at a great pace, like a yacht in full sail. James Morley obviously knows his stuff and I found it all the more interesting as I love the sea and have been to Copenhagen and the places around Chichester mentioned.

As a comment made at the back of the book says it is vital not to read the Epilogue before finishing the story. Recommended especially for those with a love of boats and the sea.
Reviewer: Tricia Chappell

James Morley sis a local author, writing books under the name Benham's Sea Mysteries. Retired from an agricultural background Jim has been writing books since 2005. He is well known in the local area for his novels, short stories and publicity writing. He is chairman of Petersfield Writers’ Circle, and an active member of his local book club. Jim lives in Liss in Hampshire, a widower, in an untidy house filled with books and computers. Jim is a member of the UK Society of Authors, and Mystery People.

Tricia Chappell. I have a great love of books and reading, especially crime and thrillers. I play the occasional game of golf (when I am not reading). My great love is cruising especially to far flung places, when there are long days at sea for plenty more reading! I am really enjoying reviewing books and have found lots of great new authors.

‘Fair of Face’ by Christina James

Published by Salt,
15 October 2017. 
ISBN 978-1-78463-108-6 (PB)

The discovery of the murders of a mother and her child in Spalding Lincolnshire obviously leads to a police inquiry.  DI Tim Yates is leading the investigation with the assistance of Juliet Armstrong, his detective sergeant and various other officers.  There is a complication in the case which is that Tina Brackenbury, one of the victims, was the foster mother for a 10-year-old girl, Grace Winter.  Grace had been staying with her friend Chloe Hebblewhite for the weekend and was, therefore, not killed with the others.  

The police find out that Grace had already survived a massacre when she was six years old, her grandparents, mother and baby sister had been killed.  Her uncle, Tristram Arkwright was convicted of that crime.  Is there some connection between the two events?  We are privy to some of Tristram’s thoughts as he serves his life sentence.  The story centres on the police and their investigation including their interaction with the two children and the involvement of two anxious social workers who support the girls.  The way children are properly treated by police in these circumstances is well shown.  

The gradual accretion of evidence leads to a shocking but logical conclusion. 
Reviewer: Jennifer S. Palmer
Christine James has written five previous books about DI Yates.

Christina James is the author of a crime thriller series set in the Fenlands of South Lincolnshire. Her first crime novel, In the Family, finds Detective Inspector Yates investigating a cold case that leads deep into the secrets of a dysfunctional family. Almost Love, the second of the series, published in June 2013, concerns the mysterious disappearance of a veteran archaeologist. Sausage Hall, published in November 2014, deals with the exploitation of women in both Victorian England and the present day. Christina James is the pseudonym of an established non-fiction writer.

Jennifer Palmer Throughout my reading life crime fiction has been a constant interest; I really enjoyed my 15 years as an expatriate in the Far East, the Netherlands & the USA but occasionally the solace of closing my door to the outside world and sitting reading was highly therapeutic. I now lecture to adults on historical topics including Famous Historical Mysteries.

Friday, 16 March 2018

‘In Strangers’ Houses’ by Elizabeth Mundy

Published by Constable,
8 February 2018.
ISBN 978-1-4721-2636-8

Lena Szarka is a Hungarian making her way in London.  She works as a cleaner and actively enjoys making apartments clean.  I am sure we would all like to have such a reliable hardworking helper as Lena!    Lena is strong, and I use that description for her character as well as her physical prowess.  She has a longstanding friend, Timea, who accompanied her to London, and Lena has always looked after her friend.

Timea disappears and, although Lena reports this to the police, little is done to find her.    Lena is determined to find out what has happened to Timea and so she takes on Timea’s cleaning jobs as well as her own so that she can discover whether one of the clients is responsible for Timea’s disappearance.  Only the new police constable, Cartwright, is prepared to help her in a non-official capacity.

Lena is a force of nature who trawls through all Timea’s employers, friends and acquaintances in search of clues to her whereabouts.   The story inevitably gets steadily darker and Lena suspects various clients and friends of involvement.  Lena is a fresh voice with her Hungarian background of country life which she regularly remembers as she thinks of her friend.  The picture of Islington’s seedy underbelly from Lena’s point of view is also interesting.

The story works well with several surprises, good and bad, along the way.  Lena makes an attractive sleuth.  Observations on the attitudes of the British towards foreign workers are shrewdly made.    A further book on Lena is previewed at the end of this book.


Reviewer: Jennifer S Palmer

Elizabeth Mundy’s grandmother was a Hungarian immigrant to America who raised five children on a chicken farm in Indiana. An English Literature graduate from Edinburgh University, Elizabeth is a marketing director for an investment firm and lives in London with her messy husband. In Strangers Houses is her debut novel and the first in the Lena Szarka mystery series.

Jennifer Palmer Throughout my reading life crime fiction has been a constant interest; I really enjoyed my 15 years as an expatriate in the Far East, the Netherlands & the USA but occasionally the solace of closing my door to the outside world and sitting reading was highly therapeutic. I now lecture to adults on historical topics including Famous Historical Mysteries.