June reviews: books by familiar authors

I apologise for the lateness of June’s reviews. I have been grappling with a new laptop. Microsoft, Chrome, etc. do not play nicely together. I managed Office and OneDrive eventually with the help of the wonderful people at the help desk. Their job would be so much easier if Microsoft used some common sense in the first place. Photoshop is, as yet, a step too far but I might get it transferred by August…

The highly recommended:

The Echo of Bones by Mark Richards***** Another great addition to his Whitby detective series.

The Schoolmaster’s Spy by Ruby Moone**** (Winsford Green series) A lovely story involving mm romance and early nineteenth century secret agents. There were a few delightful cameo appearances from a previous novel in the series.

The Case of the Grey Assassin by Charlie Cochrane**** An intriguing case or cases for the acting duo to solve. Good writing, as ever. I can’t work out why this pair don’t appeal to me as much as the author’s other amateur and professional detectives but they don’t. Also Lock, Stock and Peril**** which is more of a police procedural, with Robin in charge of the case and his husband Adam in the background. The author dealt well with the pandemic and lockdowns, and the whole story was more to my taste. I didn’t guess the solution until Robin did!

Sinders and Ash by Tara Lain**** A nice mm version of Cinderella, cleverly transported to the twenty first century.

The Fever of the World by Phil Rickman**** I have loved the Merrily Watkins series – Merrily (a vicar with doubts) is the diocesan exorcist and finds herself embroiled in cases that seem to point to the paranormal but usually end up with the police making arrests. Her family and friends are delightful. Like others in the Phil Rickman Appreciation group on FB I have been anxious about Phil’s health and looking forward to this long awaited novel in the series. I loved it as a novel. As a mystery it was perhaps a little disappointing and although Merrily’s daughter Jane was very present, other favourite characters made only fleeting appearances. Like Charlie Cochrane, Phil Rickman wasn’t afraid to tackle Covid and lockdown. A fascinating look at Wordsworth’s poems inspired by the Wye Valley, and at Merrily’s problems with the bishop, but not, I think, the author’s best work.

The Witness for the Dead by Katherine Addison.**** I am in awe of this author’s world building. I loved The Goblin Emperor and the story is set in the same world with its complex languages, ethnicities and religions. The main character, who appeared briefly in the previous book, is a cross between a priest and a detective. He has to solve two possible murders, which are eventually partially linked, as well as facing ghosts and ghouls. He is gay, which never overpowers the story as this is not a romance though there is potential for a sequel. Further reading about the author tells me her other pen name is Sarah Monette. I have heard rave reviews of her works but as the ones that appeal to me are out of print and going for extortionate prices I am unlikely to read them which makes me slightly sad.

The Fireman’s Pole by Sue Brown**** Very readable contemporary mm romance set in an English village. The fires that the fireman has to deal with raise it above mere romance status.

Inheritance by Lissa Kasey**** Gripping paranormal thriller with a side helping of mm romance. Seiran is a powerful male witch and that makes him a target for various groups. However, some explanations might have helped earlier in the story since I found it confusing and hard to get into. Just because Seiran didn’t know was no real reason to keep the reader in the dark.

Readable:

Beautifully Unexpected by Lily Morton*** Quite well written if you cope well with present tense narration. I was bored by the story which has a lawyer and an artist get together. There is a great deal of banter where it is hard to follow just who who is saying what, and there is very little in the way of action other than London sightseeing and sex. Even the dog is less than stellar. If you like basic romance with older protagonists you might enjoy it.

The Crazy Bookshop by E Broom.*** Absolutely delighful story set in a magical Brit town with quirky and memorable characters, but oh dear, the proof reading or lack thereof. Better editing would have gained another star.

Abandoned – not for me!

College Days by Rebecca Cohen I should have known from the title. College romances just don’t appeal to me though she’s a good writer so if they’re to your taste it’s probably worth reading!

I shall probably post about authors new to me in June before next weekend.

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