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Tuesday, 20 February 2018

‘The Mother’ by Jaime Raven

Published by Avon/HarperCollins,
7 September 2017.
ISBN: 978-0-00-825346-2

This very commercial thriller kept me engrossed: it is an absolute page-turner. I picked it up every available minute in mid-December and Christmas preparations suffered as a result.

The protagonist is Sarah Mason, a divorced female detective. Her little girl Molly is abducted and Sarah receives a series of scary messages from the kidnapper saying she’s been taken to punish Sarah, and won’t ever be given back. Instead Sarah will be sent photos of her daughter settling into a new life and forgetting that Sarah was ever her mummy. Meanwhile, if Sarah should do anything the kidnapper doesn’t want her to do, like releasing the photos to the media, as inadvertently happens, her little girl will suffer the consequences. It is a very frightening premise and it’s not surprising that Sarah, unaware of any such vicious enemy, falls to pieces.

Sarah’s ex-husband Adam meanwhile, also a detective, is devastated too, but channels his fear into action. Ignoring orders from the police team investigating, he acts on his own suspicions and begins to make progress, handing the police useful leads through some ballsy confrontations. I won’t say more for fear of spoilers, but the novel is well plotted and hangs together beautifully, with a particularly nice twist relating to the reason for the abduction. The solution to who had taken Molly, and why, is convincing and while I was a little ahead of Sarah and Adam in reaching the answer, it added to the enjoyment – I suspect that was the author’s plan. Nothing more satisfying than thinking: I was right. And the climax was as heart-stopping as you could wish for.

The Mother is going to please mightily. And it was certainly un-putdownable; thank goodness I finished it before Christmas Eve!
Reviewer: Dea Parkin

DeaParkin  is an editor with her consultancy Fiction Feedback and is also Secretary of the Crime Writers’ Association. She writes poetry and occasionally re-engages with The Novel. When she isn't editing, managing or writing she is usually to be found on the tennis court – or following the international tour at home on TV. Usually with several books on the go, she entertains a penchant for crime fiction, history, and novels with a mystical edge. She is engaged in a continual struggle to find space for bookshelves and time for her friends and her cat.

Monday, 19 February 2018

Mystery People at Portsmouth BookFest 3 March 2018

An exciting all day MysteryFest has been arranged
in collaboration with Mystery People.
Below is theProgramme

10.15am Introduction by Clare to Bookfest/ Mystery People/library/facilities/ safety precautions.
Brief introduction by Carol Westron.

10.25am: Contemporary Crime Panel. Why Crime? Crime fiction is one of the most popular genres. Why do the panel enjoy writing crime fiction? What do the panel think that crime fiction offers readers?
Linda Regan (participating moderator), Leigh Russell, Peter Tickler, Christine Hammacott, Jeff Dowson and Carol Westron.

11.45am: Break- Tea/coffee and cream scones will be served in the cafe.
Other food may also be available in the cafe.

12.45pm: Interview with Linda Regan and Brian Murphy.
The Life Of Brian.

1.15pm: Talks 1,2, 3, 4 (20 mins each):

Agatha Christie - Stranger than Death: Gaynor Baker
A study of Christie's use of Spiritualism in her inter-war books and short stories.

Not much like The Gentle Touch!: Dot Marshall-Gent
A personal perspective of life as a 1980s Woman Police Constable.

Murder and Moving Car-Parks in Oxford: Peter Tickler
Oxford crime writer Peter Tickler confesses all (well, some of it) about the problems, joys and sneaky tricks involved in writing crime fiction set in an authentic Oxford. And why one particular TV series set there has a tendency to drive him wild.

Writing a Bestselling Series: Leigh Russell
The challenges  and rewards of writing a series
Tea and coffee.

2.50pm: Audience questions for the 4 speakers

3.15pm: Mystery History Panel: The Past is a Foreign Country: How do members of the panel create the period they are writing about without over-burdening the reader with details? Do they think that certain crimes occur at specific times in the past?
Carol Westron (participating moderator), Linda Stratmann, Ann Granger, Barbara Nadel, Nicola Slade, William Shaw.

4.30pm: Bookshop

5pm: Close

 The MysteryFest day will be held at
Portsmouth Central Library,
Guildhall Walk,
Portsmouth PO1 2DX.
The Venue is the 3rd Floor Arts Centre which has a Large hall (the Menuhin Room)
Tickets for this event are £15 and are available to buy from any Portsmouth library or online at
(Ticket price includes Tea/Coffee and cream scones)


‘The Malice of Angels’ by Wendy Percival

Published by Silverwood Books,
13 October 2017.
ISBN 978-1-78132-694-7

Esme Quentin does genealogical research and is asked to find out about the mystery of Vivienne, a wartime nurse who never came home from WW2.  Esme’s friend, Ruth, wants to know what happened to her aunt so that Bea (Ruth’s mother and Vivienne‘s sister) can come to terms with this loss.   Bea, however, is reluctant to sanction such an investigation.  Esme has just moved to a cottage in North Devon near to her friend, Ruth.  Just before her move Max, a friend of her murdered husband, Tim, contacted her to see if Tim’s notebooks mentioned a particular matter.   Both Tim and Max were investigative journalists but she had not seen Max since Tim’s funeral, about 15 years earlier.     Esme doesn’t find anything significant in a cursory search of Tim’s files. She is, therefore, considering two separate problems but gradually she realises that there are connections.

In Devon she starts to look at Vivienne’s past and soon discovers that Vivienne did far more complicated and dangerous wartime work.  Vivienne seemed to have worked for SOE (Special Operations Executive).   Esme finds a apparent link to the death of the ex-soldier, Gerald Gallimore, that Tim had been investigating before his death.  As the story builds up Esme finds these two deaths are definitely linked.  The WW2 activities of SOE and the defences set up in GB against a German invasion become relevant in a fascinating story.  Modern events combine with dangerous memories in a toxic mix.
Reviewer: Jennifer S. Palmer
This is the third story about Esme - the first is Blood-Tied
Wendy Percival was born in the West Midlands and grew up in rural Worcestershire. After training as a primary school teacher, she moved to North Devon to take up her first teaching post and remained in teaching for 20 years. An impulse buy of Writing Magazine prompting her to start writing seriously. She won the magazine's 2002 Summer Ghost Story Competition and had a short story published before focusing on full length fiction. The time honoured ‘box of old documents’ in the attic stirred her interest in genealogy. When she began researching her Shropshire roots she realised how little most of us know about our family history.  This became the inspiration behind the first Esme Quentin novel, Blood-Tied.  Wendy continues to be intrigued by genealogy, its mysteries and family secrets and writes about this in her family history blog.

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.