Author: Jan Edwards
Expected Publication in Paperback ~ 4th April by Penkhull Press
Category: Historical Fiction, Cosy Mystery, Book Review
Bunch Courtney’s hopes for a quiet market-day lunch with her sister are shattered when a Dutch refugee dies a horribly painful death before their eyes. A few days later Bunch receives a letter from her old friend Cecile saying that her father, Professor Benoir, has been murdered in an eerily similar fashion. Two deaths by poisoning in a single week. Co-incidence? Bunch does not believe that any more than Chief Inspector William Wright.
In Her Defence is set in Sussex in 1940 as the German army advances through Europe. Bunch (Rose) Courtney’s home, Perringham House, has been requisitioned by the MoD and Bunch is living with her grandmother in the Dower House while running the family estate.
Bunch had made her purchase of two Jersey heifers at auction on a busy market day. She and her recently widowed sister, Dodo (Daphne) were lunching at the local pub, along with Dodo’s father-in-law. Bunch noticed that a young woman sat alone at the bar, looking unwell, was attracting attention from the other patrons. Suddenly the woman fell to the floor writhing in agony. Panic broke out and Bunch, who is a trained nurse, tried to help but to no avail.
Several days later Bunch received a letter from an old school friend, Cecile Benoir, asking to meet her in the village. Cecile and her father left Berlin via France for England due to the war and now, after his untimely death, she is in need of a job and somewhere to live.
The woman seated in the May sunshine was slim, elegant, showing not a hint of the slightly gauche sixteen-year old Bunch recalled from school. Had the outfit she wore been less faded, this woman would have been the height of Paris chic. Her trademark mass of dark hair was tamed beneath a saucer hat, tendrils escaping to flutter around her face in a frame of tiny ringlets. Cecile Benoir was twining one of those coils around her forefinger, her expression pensive as she gazed at an ivy-covered wall.
Two suspected poisonings so close together are too much of a coincidence for Bunch. Although this is the second book in the series (I haven’t read Winter Downs, the first) there are enough back references to get a sense of the characters and know that Bunch and Chief Inspector William Wright are meeting again in less than auspicious circumstances. I get the feeling each of them would like to take their acquaintance a little further—but perhaps are held back because of the political and economic climate.
The story is told from Bunch’s perspective and it’s clear her view of the world is limited and sometimes tested due to her gender and social position. Jan Edwards conveys the time and place and the atmosphere of the war years very well. The characters are realistic, doing the best they can under the circumstances with the inclusion of rationing, land girls and the military presence. Not to mention the negative attitude towards anyone seen as a foreigner. The uncertainty and difficulty in adjusting to the changes in their way of life has affected everyone.
Bunch is a resourceful, likeable and unconventional protagonist, kind but very well able to stand her ground, and determined to find out whatever information she can regarding the deaths.
An enjoyable cosy murder mystery reminiscent of vintage classic crime.
I chose to read and review In Her Defence for Rosie Amber’s book review team, based on a digital copy kindly supplied by the author.
About the Author
Jan Edwards – Winner of the Arnold Bennett Book Prize (for her crime novel ‘Winter Downs’) Recipient of a Karl Edward Wagner award (British Fantasy Awards) and Recipient of the Winchester Slim Volume award (for Sussex Tales). Short listed for both the British Fantasy Award for Best Short Fiction and Best Collection.
Her short fiction has appeared in many crime, folk horror, horror, pulp, weird fiction, main stream and urban fantasy anthologies. For full list of writing credits follow the link to: Author Bibliography (Details here) inc Bookmuse Recommended Read award for her crime novel, Winter Downs!
She is part of the script team writing Olive Hawthorne: Daemons of Devils End – a 3 disc Dr Who DVD. As an editor Jan has produced fiction anthologies with editing partner Jenny Barber for The Alchemy Press and Fox Spirit Press. Jan has ghost written for several other titles.
Born in Sussex, despite her thoroughly celtic parentage, Jan is currently living in Staffs Moorlands with 3 cats and husband, Peter Coleborn. In addition to being a writer she is also a Reiki Master Teacher and Meditational Healer and has been (in no particular order) Master Locksmith, motorcycle seller, bookseller, civil servant, ostler, market gardener, librarian…
BA hons, Eng. Lit. with creative writing; past chairperson of the British Fantasy Society and Fantasycon organiser.
Author: Heather Morris
Published: January 2018 by Zaffre
Category: Historical Fiction based on a true story, Love Story, WWII, Auschwitz, Holocaust, Book Review
The incredible story of the Auschwitz-Birkenau tattooist and the woman he loved.
Lale Sokolov is well-dressed, a charmer, a ladies’ man. He is also a Jew. On the first transport from Slovakia to Auschwitz in 1942, Lale immediately stands out to his fellow prisoners. In the camp, he is looked up to, looked out for, and put to work in the privileged position of Tätowierer– the tattooist – to mark his fellow prisoners, forever. One of them is a young woman, Gita, who steals his heart at first glance.
The Tattooist of Auschwitz is incredibly powerful and moving, all the more so for being the true story of Lale and Gita Sokolov.
- Author: Liza Perrat
- Published: October 2013 by Perrat Publishing
- Category: Historical Fiction, WWII, Book Review, Books, Reading
Seven decades after German troops march into her village, Céleste Roussel is still unable to assuage her guilt.
1943. German soldiers occupy provincial Lucie-sur-Vionne, and as the villagers pursue treacherous schemes to deceive and swindle the enemy, Céleste embarks on her own perilous mission as her passion for a Reich officer flourishes.
We first meet Céleste Roussel as an elderly lady attending a memorial ceremony with the remaining survivors of their village, along with their families. The atrocities and personal losses of WWII still weigh heavily and as Céleste reads the engraved names she is assaulted by memories, the decisions she made, actions she took, the feelings of guilt and sorrow which never truly leave her. Her granddaughter now wears the bone angel talisman passed down through the women of her family for generations. Continue reading
Welcome to my final spot with Clink Street’s Blogival. Today we have a guest post from Monika with her tips for writing historical fiction
One of the main difficulties of researching for historical fiction is just that – the research! Or more specifically getting bogged down in the research. Research is important of course and reality is so often stranger than fiction, which is why history provides such good fodder for novelists, but at the end of the day we are writing historical fiction. As a reader, if you want to read a history book, I would suggest you don’t pick up a novel. As a writer, I would suggest, that as soon as something you research sparks your imagination, get writing and stop researching. I often have blank spaces in the pages I write; spaces where a fact or detail needs to be added, but it is not so vital to keep me from actually writing the drama my characters are going through. Later on, after the writing is done, I can go back and fill in the blanks. The internet, being just a click away, is a very tempting and useful tool, but it can lead you down labyrinths that are a massive distraction sometimes. It’s better not to go there until after or before your actual writing time. Continue reading
- Author: William Ryan
- Published: This edition, June 2017 by Pan
- Category: WWII, Historical Fiction, Books, Reading
The pain woke him up. He was grateful for it. The train had stopped and somewhere, up above them, the drone of aircraft engines filled the night sky. He could almost remember her smile . . . It must be the morphine . . . He had managed not to think about her for months now.
It’s 1944 and Paul Brandt, a German soldier, horrifically wounded and returning from the front, is on a hospital train bound for recuperation, convalescence and finally, home and his father. The village he had left years before, and the people, were not the same. By the same token, neither was Paul. His experiences have left him demoralised and guilt ridden. Continue reading
- Author: A.P. Martin
- Published: July 2016 by Troubador
- Category: Historical Fiction, WWII
Spring 1938: Great Britain is facing potentially lethal threats: the looming war with Germany; the fear that her Secret Service has been penetrated by Nazi agents and the existence of hundreds of British citizens, who are keen to pass information to her enemies.
Codename Lazarus is taken from a true story and set in pre World War II Britain and Germany. It’s John King’s last day of an eighteen month research stay in Heidelberg. Although he will be sorry to leave his friends, the threatening climate in Germany, the increase in Hitler’s dictatorship and the ensuing violence against Jews only disgusts and horrifies, somewhat neutralising the sadness at leaving.
The young SS officer and the rangy, fair-haired man looked equally shocked and baffled that things between them could have come to this. As the German picked himself tentatively from the floor, trying in vain to maintain what dignity he could, the Englishman was taken in the unforgiving grip of two SS soldiers. Briefly their eyes met, full of sadness and incomprehension, for they both knew instinctively that this would change everything.