Dumb Witness (Hercule Poirot Book 16) by Agatha Christie #MurderMystery #AudiobookReview #TuesdayBookBlog

Author: Agatha Christie

Performed by Hugh Fraser

Category: Murder, Mystery, Book Review

Everyone blamed Emily’s accident on a rubber ball left on the stairs by her frisky terrier. But the more she thought about her fall, the more convinced she became that one of her relatives was trying to kill her. On April 17th she wrote her suspicions in a letter to Hercule Poirot. Mysteriously he didn’t receive the letter until June 28th… 

When Miss Emily Arundel died, not unexpectedly as her health had been delicate, the contents of her will caused a variety of emotions, including surprise, anger, criticism, excitement and gossip. The residents of Market Basing talked and speculated for weeks, and theories were numerous. Although Miss Lawson, Miss Arundel’s companion, professed to be as astonished as everyone else when the will was read, not everyone believed her, especially the Arundel family.

Emily Arundel had not been looking forward to Easter weekend in the least, when her family, and potential heirs, would all be staying with her. She knew they were only interested in her money. During their visit Emily had an accident, a tumble down the stairs, which was blamed on her tripping over the dog’s ball. 

Dazed and confused Emily Arundel lay in a crushed heap. Her shoulder hurt her and her ankle — her whole body was a confused mass of pain. She was conscious of people standing over her, of that fool Minnie Lawson crying and making ineffectual gestures with her hands, of Theresa with a startled look in her eyes, of Bella standing with her mouth open looking expectant, of the voice of Charles saying from somewhere — very far away so it seemed — ‘ It’s that damned dog’s ball! He must have left it here and she tripped over it. See? Here it is!’

Emily however, was not convinced. Something was wrong. It was nagging at her but she couldn’t grasp it. When her thoughts became clearer, she wrote a long winded and somewhat confused letter to Hercule Poirot. The letter was somehow delayed and only received by Poirot two months later, by which time Emily Arundel was already dead. Still, Poirot was intrigued wasted no time in beginning an investigation with his usual extreme attention to details.

Narrated perfectly by Hugh Fraser as Captain Hastings (the perfect foil for Poirot) in the first person, Dumb Witness was a treat to listen to. There was a host of suspects—including Miss Lawson, the potential heirs and their spouses—plus, of course, several twists and red herrings. This enjoyable mystery, it’s always a plus when Hastings is ‘working’ alongside Poirot, is laid out skilfully and kept me guessing until the end. 

Book links ~ Book Depository | Hive Books | Bookshop.org | Amazon UK

Agatha Christie is the best-selling author of all time. She wrote 66 crime novels and story collections, fourteen plays, and six novels under a pseudonym in Romance. Her books have sold over a billion copies in the English language and a billion in translation. According to Index Translationum, she remains the most-translated individual author, having been translated into at least 103 languages. She is the creator of two of the most enduring figures in crime literature-Hercule Poirot and Miss Jane Marple-and author of The Mousetrap, the longest-running play in the history of modern theatre.

Historical Stories of Betrayal by Judith Arnopp, Cryssa Bazos, Anna Belfrage et al #HistoricalFiction #ShortStories #RBRT

Published: November 2020 by Historical Fictioneers 

“Loyalty breaks as easily as a silken thread.”

Misplaced trust, power hunger, emotional blackmail, and greed haunt twelve characters from post-Roman Britain to the present day. And betrayal by family, lover, comrade can be even more devastating.

Historical Stories of Betrayal is a wonderful collection of short stories written by a variety of authors, with dates ranging from AD 455 when Roman leader Ambrosius needs people around him he can trust, up to 1849 and the present when Carina must discover the ancestor who betrayed the family or it will result in devastation for the family.

A couple of my personal favourites include Heart of a Falcon by Amy Maroney which tells the story of Estelle, a young Frenchwoman, whose family live in Rhodes town where her father is falconer to the Grand Master. When Estelle is invited by the King of Cyprus to be companion to his daughter and tutor his forthcoming grandchild her dreams are dashed as she soon discovers the underlying reason behind her being sent away.

Road to the Tower by Elizabeth St. John tells of events in 1483 when Lady Elysabeth Scrope stood as godmother to the young Prince Edward. When she received an urgent summons for herself and her husband from the Duke of Gloucester her husband was not at home. King Edward IV was dead and the prince was in danger. He must be taken to London immediately for the coronation. Elysabeth believed in Sovereynté – the right of women to make their own decisions…so she undertook the journey to London.

All the stories are of a high standard, offering a glimpse into the past when treachery, injustice and treason were rife, and includes historical figures such as Thomas Percy who is trapped in a no-win situation, Francis Drake coping with trouble at sea, Margaret Beaufort found guilty of treason, and pirates Anne Bonny and Calico Jack to name but a few. Anyone who loves historical fiction would find stories to enjoy in this collection.

I chose to read and review Historical Stories of Betrayal for Rosie Amber’s book review team, based on the digital copy received. 

Book links ~ Amazon UK | Amazon US

A concise synopsis of each story from Amazon…

AD455—Roman leader Ambrosius is caught in a whirlpool of shifting allegiances

AD940—Alyeva and cleric Dunstan navigate the dangers of the Anglo Saxon court

1185—Knight Stephan fights for comradeship, duty, and honour. But what about love?

1330—The powerful Edmund of Kent enters a tangled web of intrigue

1403—Thomas Percy must decide whether to betray his sovereign or his family

1457—Estelle is invited to the King of Cyprus’s court, but deception awaits

1483—Has Elysabeth made the right decision to bring Prince Edward to London?

1484—Margaret Beaufort contemplates the path to treason

1577—Francis Drake contends with disloyalty at sea

1650—Can James Hart, Royalist highwayman, stop a nemesis destroying his friend?

1718—Pirate Annie Bonny, her lover Calico Jack, and a pirate hunter. Who will win?

1849/present—Carina must discover her ancestor’s betrayer in Italy or face ruin.

#ThrowbackThursday ~ Murder at the Bridge (Exham on Sea Mysteries 5) by Frances Evesham #CosyMurderMystery

Murder at the Bridge is part of a very enjoyable cosy murder mystery series, published in June 2017.

My Thoughts

Taking a moment to relax in the marquee after her son, Robert’s wedding to Sarah, Libby Forrest has a strange conversation with Belinda, the bride’s mother, interrupted by an unnerving man in a kaftan, causing Libby to prickle with discomfort and Belinda to make a hasty exit. Libby’s innate curiosity is aroused but before she could process her thoughts she is dismayed to hear an altercation break out over a supposedly stolen ring. 

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Mini #BookReviews ~ My Favourite Witch/To Catch A Witch (The Witches of Castle Clair, Books 2&3) by @Sharon_Booth1 #Romance #TuesdayBookBlog

Events are about to unfold that will challenge both Star and Benedict, and everything they believe to be true. In an attic room in North Yorkshire and a village hall in Ireland, unpalatable truths must be told, secrets must unfold, and life-changing decisions must be made.
Is forgiveness truly impossible? Are witches really that scary? And can a solution be reached before time, patience, and all the bourbon biscuits run out?
A story of pride, prejudice, and a whole lot of magic …

I really enjoyed Sky’s story in the first book in this series, Belle, Book and Christmas Candle. My Favourite Witch, the second instalment, is Star’s story and she’s definitely not having the best of times. Benedict, who she was about to get engaged to, was horrified when he found out the truth about the St Clair family and Star’s magical powers. He left Castle Clair and Star behind but is back to visit his grandmother — with Elsie, a new, seemingly perfect girlfriend in tow. The question on Benedict’s mind is why Star is being so nice to Elsie and does this bode ill for both of them?

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#ThrowbackThursday ~ State vs Lassiter (Jake Lassiter Series) by Paul Levine #LegalThriller

The Jake Lassiter series was one I really enjoyed. State vs Lassiter is one of the later ones, released in May 2017 by Brilliance Audio and performed by Luke Daniels.

My Thoughts

Life is good for Jake Lassiter, ex Miami Dolphins linebacker turned lawyer…..until he wakes up on the beach with the hangover from hell and no memory of how he got there. He and his lover, Pamela Baylins were spending a romantic weekend at the Fontainebleau Hotel, courtesy of a grateful client.

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The Winterkeeper by Anna Schmidt #HistoricalFiction @annaschmidt70 #TuesdayBookBlog

Author: Anna Schmidt

Published: March 2019 by Bucket Line Books

Category: Historical Fiction, Coming of Age, Book Review

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Gardiner MT, just outside Yellowstone National Park, Winter, 1933.

Three people—each with the toughness and desire to survive whatever adversity fate throws in their path. But will that be enough to overcome a financial Depression in its third year with no sign of abating or the brutally cold wilderness that is Yellowstone in winter?

Fourteen year old Millie Chase had never known her father, he’d been killed in battle just before she was born, so it had been just her and her mum…until Roger Fitzgerald had come into their lives. Now Millie was standing watching as her mother’s coffin was lowered into the ground. 

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The Burning Girls by C. J. Tudor @cjtudor #AudiobookReview #Thriller #TuesdayBookBlog

Author: C. J. Tudor

Published: January 2021 by Michael Joseph

Category: Contemporary Fiction, Horror, Supernatural, Thriller, Book Review

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500 years ago: eight martyrs were burnt to death

30 years ago: two teenagers vanished without trace

Two months ago: the vicar committed suicide

Welcome to Chapel Croft.

Single parent Rev. Jack Brooks and her teenage daughter Flo, moved to Chapel Croft ostensibly for a new start, and for Jack a chance to perhaps find some peace. An ‘unfortunate situation’, as described by the residing bishop in her Nottingham parish, resulted in a move neither Jack or Flo wanted to a much smaller parish in rural Sussex. It was an interim position until a full time replacement could be found. However, no-one had seen fit to mention that the last vicar had committed suicide.

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Dangerous Women by Hope Adams #HistoricalFiction based on fact #NetGalley #FridayReads

Author: Hope Adams

Due to be published 4th March 2021 by Penguin

Category: Historical Fiction, Murder Mystery, Book Review

London, 1841.

The Rajah sails for Australia.

On board are 180 women convicted of petty crimes.

Daughters, sisters, mothers – they’ll never see home or family again. Despised and damned, they have only one another.

Until the murder.

As the fearful hunt for a killer begins, everyone on board is a suspect . . .

Based on the very real 1841 voyage of the convict ship Rajah and including several historical characters, Dangerous Women is the story of a group of women, convicted mostly of petty crimes, being transported to Tasmania, then known as Van Diemen’s Land. The chapters alternate between ‘then’ and ‘now’ giving insights into the women’s individual situations, how and why they found themselves being deported. Many had been forced into petty thievery by controlling husbands or fathers. Others stole just in order to survive.

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#ThrowbackThursday ~ Sealskin by Su Bristow #MagicalRealism #Selkies

 Sealskin was released as an audiobook in Februaury 2017 and performed extremely well by Angus King. 

My Thoughts

Based on the selkie myths, this is a wonderfully original debut novel. An extraordinary tale with dark undercurrents, it’s about the power of love, magic, forgiveness and conversely violence, loss and atonement. It explores the meaning of community, the story giving the impression of being set in times gone by, which combined with the complexities of living in a small fishing village, intensifies the atmosphere. When life could be extremely harsh, villagers didn’t stray far from home and weather and sea dictated their way of life. 

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#BookReview ~ The Arctic Fury by Greer Macallister #HistoricalFiction @theladygreer #TuesdayBookBlog

Author: Greer Macallister

Published: Published November 2020 by Melia Publishing Services Ltd

Category: Historical Fiction, Courtroom Drama, Book Review

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A dozen women join a secret 1850s Arctic expedition—and a sensational murder trial unfolds when some of them don’t come back.

Eccentric Lady Jane Franklin makes an outlandish offer to adventurer Virginia Reeve: take a dozen women, trek into the Arctic, and find her husband’s lost expedition. Four parties have failed to find him, and Lady Franklin wants a radical new approach: put the women in charge.

Based around two historical figures, Greer Macallister has woven a tale with its roots in the true story of Lady Jane Franklin’s determined attempts to find her husband’s lost Arctic expedition.

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