book of the month for March is Kerry Bell's HOPE COMES TO EMMERDALE,
the fourth in the stunning series of family sagas that tells the
fantastic back story to the nation's favourite soap.
of the Month - Kerry
Bell: Hope Comes To Emmerdale
by Trapeze 20th January 2020
World War II wages on. Rationing,
blackouts, evacuees and military
training camps have become the norm in the village of Beckindale, but
happiness has been found during these hard times. Lily Dingle is
getting married, Annie Pearson has returned after volunteering with the
Wrens, and there are new neighbours to get to know... including a
female vet of all things.
The new inhabitants are about to learn
things are never dull for the families of Emmerdale.
the lives of Emmerdale's much-loved families during World War II,
including favourites such as the Sugdens and the Dingles, Hope Comes to Emmerdale is
a hopeful and nostalgic novel about community, friendship and love.
have been a fan of Emmerdale since it began on ITV as Emmerdale Farm on
16th October 1972. In the first round of awards this year, Emmerdale
was deservedly voted best soap (or best serial drama). I used to watch
Coronation Street in the "good old days", when there were characters
like Albert Tatlock, Elsie Tanner, Len Fairclough, Minnie Caldwell
etc., but as time progressed I fell out of love with Corrie and watched
Emmerdale instead. I have to admit there was a time when Eastenders was
my favourite, but that was a long, long time ago - when they got rid of
my favourite character, Bradley, that was it for me. My wife and I
spend more time complaining about the ridiculous plots and storylines
in Enders than we do watching it. It is high time they got rid of the
Mitchells, the Beales, and most of the Slaters, along with Tina Carter, Shirley
Carter, Linda Carter, Whitney, etc. Why oh why did they bring Sonia
back? But I have digressed, this is supposed to be about Emmerdale, and
in particular the spectacularly good new series of books. HOPE COMES TO
EMMERDALE is book four in the series, and the first to be written by
Kerry Bell (the first three were written by Pamela Bell (apparently no
relation)). I remember comparing this new book series to the very best
family sagas (the Whiteoaks, by Mazo de la Roche, and Poldark, by
Winston Graham), and as the series has progressed, I stand by that
comparison. Both Pamela and now Kerry have brought the backstory of
Emmerdale to life in a way that makes the series instantly collectable
and essential reading for anyone who loves Emmerdale.
book four, we find Nancy Tate, the stand-in vet whilst Beckindale's
regular vet has enlisted; we find Betty Prendagast, who will later
become Betty Eggleton, and then Seth Armstrong's long-time live-in
partner; and we see Jacob Sugden's hopes raised that Annie will one day
forgive him for sending her sweetheart Edward off to war. There are now
very obvious links to some of the inhabitants of the village in the
current episodes, and the stories are very similar to what goes on
nowadays. Kerry has captured the essence of Emmerdale to absolute
perfection, especially a Dales village caught up in the machinations of
the second world war; Kerry's characters are real people with real
feelings, fears and joys. Although I was born the year after the war
ended, I have enough knowledge of the war years gleaned from quizzing
family members to know that Kerry paints a perfect picture of village
life in the war years. I particularly enjoyed the episode with Bella
the sheepdog looking after Susan when she becomes terrified by the
storm and taking shelter, then subsequently giving birth to puppies and
those same puppies being promised to various characters in the book,
including Susan. I enjoyed reading HOPE COMES TO EMMERDALE immensely
and am already looking forward to reading and reviewing book 5! All I
can say is that when an Emmerdale book arrives in the post, everything
stops whilst I read it! Well done Kerry, you've done Emmerdale proud!
JAlex Gray: When Shadows Fall
by Sphere 19th February 2020
his old friend and former colleague is shot dead at his home, Detective
Superintendent William Lorimer is devastated. And his problems are only
just beginning. It's not long before two further deaths are reported:
both victims ex-policemen.
clear this is a targeted campaign against their own, yet with no other
link between the victims to identify the killer, Lorimer's police team
are starting to panic. Who will be next?
knows he must keep his cool if he is to solve the case. But with time
running out before the next attack, he's struggling to ignore the
sickening question at the back of his mind:
Will he get to the killer, before the killer gets to him?
you've read them all, or whether you're coming to Alex Gray's highly
acclaimed Lorimer series for the very first time, this is the perfect,
page-turning winter read if you love Ann Cleeves, Val McDermid or Ian
is the seventeenth outing for Detective Superintendent William Lorimer,
and for me, it's Alex's best to date. Pollice Scotland is well served
by Jimmy Perez, Logan MacRae, William Lorimer and others (including
Rebus, of course), each have their unique merits, each have different
stories to tell. Alex ramps up the tension as Lorimer fights to uncover
a killer who may have him in his sights, and you will be caught up in
it for sure. Faultless writing from one of the top murder mystery
writers in the UK. (This book just arrived, and I am half way through
it, but I can tell you that Alex never disappoints, and is on
absolutely top form in When Shadows Fall. I wonder if Alex is an ELO
fan, as the title is a phrase that occurs in one of Jeff Lynne's
greatest ever songs: Don't Walk Away... Just wondering... Despite
having just read three top mysteries by the great Jim Kelly, I'm still
in the mood for murder, and Alex's book arrived at just the right time.
If I finish it by 1st March I may update this review, but I'm hard
pressed, with lots of things going on in my life right now that are
taking priority, so don't hold me to it!
Kelly: The Night Raids
by Allison & Busby 20th February 2020
lone German bomber crosses the East coast of Britain on a moonless
night in the long hot summer of 1940. The pilot picks up the silver
thread of a river and following it to his target, drops his bomb over
Cambridge's rail yards. The shell falls short of its mark, and lands in
a maze-like neighbourhood of terraced streets on the edge of the city's
medieval centre. D I Eden Brooke is first on the scene and discovers
the body of an elderly woman, Nora Wylde, beside her shattered bed in a
terrace house on Elm Street, two fingers on her left hand severed, in
what looks like a brutal attempt by looters to steal her rings. When
the next day Nora's teenage granddaughter, Peggy, a munitions worker at
Marshall's Airfield, is reported missing, Brooke realises there is more
to the situation that meets the eye.
is a brilliant Inspector Foyle type of mystery, set in wartime
Cambridge and the surrounding area. Inspector Brooke is a quiet,
unassuming kind of policeman, just like Foyle, who quietly gets things
done with the aid of his sergeant, Edison, who is very much like the
Sergeant Lewis from the Morse books (not like in the TV series). Jim
Kelly (this is the first of his books I've ever read, sadly) conjures
up the perfect wartime atmosphere and characters, and you are literally
transported back to wartime Cambridge as Brooke and Edison attempt to
unravel the strange nature of the thefts that have occurred when the
Luftwaffe bombs fell on Brooke's patch. Hugely enjoyable, terrific
plot, terrific atmosphere...
Kelly: The Water Clock
by Allison & Busby 20th February 2020
the bleak snowbound landscape of the Cambridgeshire Fens, a car is
winched from a frozen river. Inside, locked in a block of ice, is a
man's mutilated body. Later, high on Ely Cathedral, a second body is
found, grotesquely riding a stone gargoyle. The decaying corpse has
been there more than thirty years. When forensic evidence links both
victims to one awful event in 1966, local reporter Philip Dryden knows
he's on to a great story. But as his investigations uncover some
disturbing truths, they also point towards one terrifying foggy night
in the Fens two years ago. A night that changed Dryden's life forever.
don't think you can describe this as a "police procedural" because the
central character, in his very first outing, is a reporter, Philip
Dryden. Again the action takes place in Cambridge, firstly 1966, then
nearly thirty years later. There's forensic evidence, so some police
activity, but it's really Philip that gets to grips with what's going
on, and the end result is extremely satisfying. Why I've never
discovered Jim Kelly before I simply do not know! His ability to switch
between eras is uncannily good. Absolutely superb crime writing of the
highest calibre. Now for The Fire Baby.
Kelly: The Fire Baby
by Allison & Busby 20th February 2020
1976. A plane crashes on a farm in the Cambridgeshire Fens. Out of the
flames walks young Maggie Beck, clutching a baby in her arms…
years later, investigative journalist Philip Dryden – visiting his
wife, Laura in hospital – is witness to Maggie’s deathbed confession.
But some secrets are best kept secret, and what started out for Dryden
as a small and curious story about the only survivor of an
almost-forgotten plane crash soon escalates into a full-blown murder
while Dryden is wondering what other secrets Maggie carried, his
semi-conscious wife is trying to tell him something that might just
save his life…
Dryden's second outing involves a plane crash in the fens near to
Cambridge, with a young mother emerging from the wreckage carrying a
baby. Philip is present when Maggie, dying, makes a shocking and
disturbing confession, and things spiral out of control shortly
afterwards, bringing Philip's own family into the investigation, and
even his own life is at risk. This is the equivalent of the famous
locked room mysteries that prevailed in the 1920s, and is expertly
handled by Jim Kelly. I'm hooked on Jim's novels now, and can't wait to
read more! I really, really loved it!
Tope: The Patterdale Plot
by Allison & Busby 20th February 2020
Brown had hoped that her autumn would be less frantic than usual to
give her a chance to enjoy her pregnancy, her upcoming nuptials, and
some time looking for a new house in the Patterdale area of the Lake
District. But it is not to be . When one of the lodgers at her parents'
Bed & Breakfast dies in her arms after seemingly being poisoned,
she becomes embroiled in a complex investigation, headed up by her
friend D I Moxon. It is clear the victim had some connection to a
controversial new building project near Patterdale and Simmy's ideas of
a quiet run up to Christmas are cruelly dashed.
have read and reviewed most of Rebecca Tope's wonderful Miss
Marple-like mysteries set in the Lake District and festuring the
brilliant character of Simmy Brown, but this one has to be Rebecca's
finest! Simmy is pregnant but inevitably becomes embroiled in a murder
mystery when a fellow lodger at her B&B dies from poisoning.
Rebecca's stories are soothing, gentle mysteries that unfold before
your very eyes as she delves deep into her characters' lives and
problems, and the whole thing is like watching a TV dramatisation
rather than reading a book, so vivid are her descriptions and prose.
by Allison & Busby 20th February 2020
‘A crime story wound up in supernatural,
nerve-jangling creepiness’ Peterborough Telegraph
a blood-soaked man is discovered with the word Baal-Berith scored into
his flesh, the bewildered police call on expert Professor Matt Hunter
to assist. Before long, a gruesome discovery is made and Hunter is
drawn into a frenzied murder investigation.
a fury of media interest in the case, and the emerging link to a
documentary on demonic possession, Hunter is unable to escape a dark
world of exorcism and violence … even when events spiral frighteningly
out of control.
used to hunt high and low for stories similar to Dennis Wheatley's
black magic tales, fascinated as I was at the time by anything to do
with the occult and witchcraft and magic. Peter Laws' superb crime
thriller Possessed goes a long way to filling such a gap, and is
written so well you have to take it seriously. Having just watched the
BBC's pathetic, tragically-bad adaptation of Agatha Christie's The Pale
Horse, which was so bad it was farcical, I thought I might find it
difficult to read a thriller involving even the hint of magic, but
thankfully Peter Laws manages to rescue the situation brilliantly, and
Possessed ends up a thoroughly creditable and readable occult mystery!
Coates: Perdition's Child
by Urbane 6th February 2020
library is the scene of a baffling murder, followed swiftly by another
in Manchester, the victims linked by nothing other than their
Australian nationality. Police dismiss the idea of a serial killer, but
journalist Hannah Weybridge isn't convinced.
is drawn into an investigation in which more Australian men are killed
as they try to trace their British families. Her research reveals past
horrors and present sadness, and loss linked to children who went
missing after the Second World War. Have those children returned now?
again Hannah finds herself embroiled in a deadly mystery, a mystery
complicated by the murder of Harry Peters; the brother of Lucy, one of
the residents of Cardboard City she had become friendly with. It soon
becomes clear Lucy is protecting secrets of her own.
is Lucy's link to the murders and can Hannah discover the truth before
the killer strikes again?
Coates gripping thriller is the perfect read for fans of Emma Tallon,
K.L.Slater and Laura Marshall.
believe I may have reviewed previous episodes in the career of Hannah
Weybridge, as my friends at Urbane have been sending me books for a few
years now. Hannah is the best possible person to get to the bottom of
these baffling murders, as she's an investigative journalist. It's nice
to have a strong female lead, we know they work because of Vera, and
Hannah is a brilliant character. The story is as unputdownable as
mundane tasks such as sleeping and eating will allow. Hugely
entertaining and highly recommended by Books Monthly!
Berry: The Warsaw Protocol
by Hodder & Stoughton 25th February 2020
the latest thrilling Cotton Malone adventure from international
bestseller Steve Berry, one by one the seven precious relics of the Arma Christi, the weapons of Christ,
are disappearing from sanctuaries across the world.
former Justice Department agent Cotton Malone witnesses the theft of
one of them, he learns from his old boss, Stephanie Nelle, that a
private auction is about to be held where incriminating information on
the president of Poland will be offered to the highest bidder -
blackmail that both the United States and Russia want, but for vastly
price of admission to that auction is one of the relics, so Malone is
first sent to a castle in Poland to steal the Holy Lance, a
thousand-year-old spear sacred not only to Christians but to the Polish
people, and then on to the auction itself. But nothing goes as planned
and Malone is thrust into a bloody battle between three nations over
information that, if exposed, could change the balance of power in
the tranquil canals of Bruges, to the elegant rooms of Wawel Castle, to
deep beneath the earth in an ancient Polish salt mine, Malone is caught
in the middle of a deadly war - the outcome of which turns on a secret
known as the Warsaw Protocol.
Steve Berry outdoes Dan Brown by a country mile in this thrilling and
totally believable ancient relic tale. A nod to Indiana Jones here and
there but this story is utterly compelling and brilliantly written.
Isles: Cemetery Road
by Harper Collins 5th March 2020
No.1 New York Times bestselling author of the Natchez Burning trilogy
returns with an electrifying standalone. A tale of friendship,
betrayal, and shattering secrets that threaten to destroy a small
Some things should never be uncovered…
successful journalist Marshall McEwan discovers that his father is
terminally ill, he returns to his childhood home in Bienville,
Mississippi – a place he vowed to leave behind forever.
family’s newspaper is failing; and Jet Turner, the love of his youth,
has married into the family of Max Matheson, one of the powerful
patriarchs who rule the town through the exclusive Poker Club.
is on the brink of economic salvation, in the form of a billion-dollar
Chinese paper mill. But as the deal nears completion, two murders rock
the town to its core, threatening far more than the city’s economic
Marshall and Jet soon discover a minefield of
explosive secrets beneath the soil of Mississippi. And by the time
Marshall grasps the long-buried truth about his own history – and the
woman he loves – he would give almost anything not to face it.
town America at its finest and murkiest! Greg Isles is one of my
all-time favourite US writers, and he pulls out all the stops with
Deaver: The Never Game
by Harper Collins 19th March 2020
Escape or die trying…
international bestseller Jeffery Deaver returns with a stunning new
thriller – the first in an exciting series featuring enigmatic
investigator Colter Shaw.
‘Masterful storytelling ― The Never Game is
Deaver’s most riveting, most twisty, most unputdownable novel yet’
A student kidnapped from the park.
Sophie disappears one summer afternoon. She wakes up to find herself
locked inside a derelict warehouse, surrounded by five objects. If she
uses them wisely, she will escape her prison. Otherwise she will die.
An investigator running out of time.
distraught father calls in the one man who can help find his daughter:
unique investigator Colter Shaw. Raised in the wilderness by
survivalist parents, he is an expert tracker with a forensic mind
trained to solve the most challenging cases. But this will be a test
even for him.
A killer playing a dangerous game.
a blogger called Henry is abducted – left to die in the dark heart of a
remote forest – and the whole case gets turned on its head. Because
this killer isn’t following the rules; he’s changing them. One murder
at a time…
Deaver is one of the world's best-selling authors, and his pedigree is
second to nonw. The Never Game is a conventional thriller but with a
villain who seems to have a failsafe method of getting away with
murder, and is playing a cat and mouse game with the pollice. It's up
to Colter Shaw to raise his game and stop the killer before it's too
late. Tense, fast-paced and action-packed, brilliant stuff.
Liz Cowley & Donough O'Brien: Locked In Fear
by Urbane Publications 10th January 2020
a sleepy country village, Detective Inspector Robin Marshal - now in
retirement - is nearly killed by a stranger. His friend Alice, a police
psychiatrist, discovers that the murder attempt was almost certainly
ordered by a terrifying criminal, `Big Mack', currently incarcerated in
a notoriously violent prison. There his criminal kingdom controls not
only the inmates, but many of the guards, through the power of money
and the threat of extreme violence.
Alice goes to work in the prison to find out more, she, too, becomes a
target, her car machine-gunned on a country road; and Robin is attacked
again while recovering in Spain.
pressure from an outraged public and with political concern rising, the
authorities try to put a stop to Big Mack's activities. But everyone is
under threat when he is suddenly at large following a murderous escape.
How can this evil kingpin be stopped?
Locked in Fear is a gripping thriller perfect for fans of JD Kirk, Rob Ashman and Joy Ellis.
have to admit to never having read anything by JD Kirk, Rob Ashman or
Joy Ellis, so I didn't know what to expect from Locked In Fear.
Sometimes it's better that way. Anyway, this is a cross between the
cosy countryside murder such as you'd find in Midsomer Murders, and the
gangland terrors of Lynda La Plante, for example (other gangland terror
novels are available, of course). Big Mack is an horrendous character,
and you really do feel for Marshal - after all, he's retired, and
should be enjoying his retirement! Some great writing in this thriller,
some terrific characters, and a whole heap of tension. An excellent
escape from the horrors of modern day living!
small print: Books
Monthly, now well into its 22nd
year on the web,
is published on or slightly before the first day of each month by Paul
Norman. You can contact me here.
If you wish to submit something for publication in the magazine, let me
remind you there is no payment as I don't make any money from this
publication. If you want to send me something to review, contact me via
email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll let you know where to send it.
Fantasy & Science Fiction Books
Acker Bilk Sleeve Notes
The Stephen King page
Pen and Sword Books
Arch Hades: High
5th July 2018
don't often get to review books of poetry in Books Monthly, and this
was a most welcome diversion from the many, many books of fiction I get
to read during the course of the year. What I like best about Arch's
poetry, other than the fact that it is head and shoulders better than
anything Simon Armitage has ever written, both before and after
becoming Poet Laureate (!), is the fact that Arch's poetry is
recognisable as poetry - that's the first thing, the essential thing
about poetry for me. I love the rhyming which is missing from most
modern day poetry, and I can feel the emotion pouring out of the author
(poet) in this gentle, moving collection of poems and postcards about
love and loss, two things that affect each and every one of us. Very