Top Ten Tuesday: Authors Whose Books I’ve Read the Most

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish and now hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. For the rules see her blog. This week’s topic is  Authors Whose Books I’ve Read the Most.

My list is of the authors whose books I’ve read the most since I began my blog. I’ve linked them to their pages on the Fantastic Fiction website. They are a mix of crime fiction and historical fiction.

  1. Agatha Christie
  2. Ian Rankin
  3. Ann Cleeves
  4. Peter Robinson
  5. Andrew Taylor
  6. Robert Harris
  7. Elly Griffiths
  8. Georges Simenon
  9. Daphne du Maurier
  10. Sharon Bolton

Top Ten Tuesday: Most Anticipated Releases for the Second Half of 2020

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish and now hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. For the rules see her blog. This week’s topic is Most Anticipated Releases for the Second Half of 2020.

I have previously read books by these authors, so I am eagerly looking forward to reading their new books – if not now, then later!

The book descriptions are either from Amazon or Goodreads.

A Song for the Dark Times by Ian Rankin – 1 October 2020

The 23rd Rebus book

When his daughter Samantha calls in the dead of night, John Rebus knows it’s not good news. Her husband has been missing for two days. Rebus fears the worst – and knows from his lifetime in the police that his daughter will be the prime suspect. He wasn’t the best father – the job always came first – but now his daughter needs him more than ever. But is he going as a father or a detective? As he leaves at dawn to drive to the windswept coast – and a small town with big secrets – he wonders whether this might be the first time in his life where the truth is the one thing he doesn’t want to find…

Still Life by Val McDermid – 20 August 2020

Inspector Karen Pirie book 6

On a freezing winter morning, fishermen pull a body from the sea. It is quickly discovered that the dead man was the prime suspect in a decade-old investigation, when a prominent civil servant disappeared without trace. DCI Karen Pirie was the last detective to review the file and is drawn into a sinister world of betrayal and dark secrets. But Karen is already grappling with another case, one with even more questions and fewer answers. A skeleton has been discovered in an abandoned campervan and all clues point to a killer who never faced justice – a killer who is still out there. In her search for the truth, Karen uncovers a network of lies that has gone unchallenged for years. But lies and secrets can turn deadly when someone is determined to keep them hidden for good …

Just Like the Other Girls by Claire Douglas – 6 August 2020

Una Richardson’s heart is broken after the death of her mother. Seeking a place to heal, she responds to an advertisement and steps into the rich, comforting world of Elspeth McKenzie. But Elspeth’s home is not as safe as it seems. Kathryn, her cold and bitter daughter, resents Una’s presence. But more disturbing is the realization that two girls had lived here before. Two girls who ended up dead.

Why won’t the McKenzies talk about them? What other secrets are locked inside this house? As the walls close in around her, Una starts to fear that she will end up just like the other girls . . .

Invisible Girl by Lisa Jewell – 6 August 2020

It is nearly midnight, and very cold. Yet in this dark place of long grass and tall trees where cats hunt and foxes shriek, a girl is waiting…

When Saffyre Maddox was ten something terrible happened and she’s carried the pain of it around with her ever since. The man who she thought was going to heal her didn’t, and now she hides from him, invisible in the shadows, learning his secrets; secrets she could use to blow his safe, cosy world apart.

Owen Pick is invisible too. He’s thirty-three years old and he’s never had a girlfriend, he’s never even had a friend. Nobody sees him. Nobody cares about him. But when Saffyre Maddox disappears from opposite his house on Valentine’s night, suddenly the whole world is looking at him. Accusing him. Holding him responsible. Because he’s just the type, isn’t he? A bit creepy?

The Evening and the Morning by Ken Follett – 15 September 2020

The prequel to The Pillars of the Earth.

It is 997 CE, the end of the Dark Ages, and England faces attacks from the Welsh in the west and the Vikings in the east. Life is hard, and those with power wield it harshly, bending justice according to their will – often in conflict with the king. With his grip on the country fragile and with no clear rule of law, chaos and bloodshed reign. Into this uncertain world three people come to the fore: a young boatbuilder, who dreams of a better future when a devastating Viking raid shatters the life that he and the woman he loves hoped for; a Norman noblewoman, who follows her beloved husband across the sea to a new land only to find her life there shockingly different; and a capable monk at Shiring Abbey, who dreams of transforming his humble abbey into a centre of learning admired throughout Europe.

The Survivors by Jane Harper – 22 September 2020

Kieran Elliott’s life changed forever on a single day when a reckless mistake led to devastating consequences. The guilt that haunts him still resurfaces during a visit with his young family to the small coastal town he once called home. Kieran’s parents are struggling in a community which is bound, for better or worse, to the sea that is both a lifeline and a threat. Between them all is his absent brother Finn. When a body is discovered on the beach, long-held secrets threaten to emerge in the murder investigation that follows. A sunken wreck, a missing girl, and questions that have never washed away…

The House of Lamentations by S G MacLean – 9 July 2020

The final historical thriller in the award-winning Seeker series (Damian Seeker 5)

Summer, 1658, and the Republic may finally be safe: the combined Stuart and Spanish forces have been heavily defeated by the English and French armies on the coast of Flanders, and the King’s cause appears finished.

Yet one final, desperate throw of the dice is planned. And who can stop them if not Captain Damian Seeker?

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig – 13 August 2020

Between life and death there is a library.

When Nora Seed finds herself in the Midnight Library, she has a chance to make things right. Up until now, her life has been full of misery and regret. She feels she has let everyone down, including herself. But things are about to change. The books in the Midnight Library enable Nora to live as if she had done things differently. With the help of an old friend, she can now undo every one of her regrets as she tries to work out her perfect life. But things aren’t always what she imagined they’d be, and soon her choices place the library and herself in extreme danger. Before time runs out, she must answer the ultimate question: what is the best way to live?

Piranesi by Susanna Clarke – 15 September 2020

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell transported over four million readers into its mysterious world. It became an instant classic and has been hailed as one of the finest works of fiction of the twenty-first century.

Piranesi’s house is no ordinary building: its rooms are infinite, its corridors endless, its walls are lined with thousands upon thousands of statues, each one different from all the others. Within the labyrinth of halls an ocean is imprisoned; waves thunder up staircases, rooms are flooded in an instant. But Piranesi is not afraid; he understands the tides as he understands the pattern of the labyrinth itself. He lives to explore the house.

A Room Made of Leaves by Kate Grenville – 6 August 2020

It is 1788. Twenty-one-year-old Elizabeth is hungry for life but, as the ward of a Devon clergyman, knows she has few prospects. When proud, scarred soldier John Macarthur promises her the earth one midsummer’s night, she believes him.

But Elizabeth soon realises she has made a terrible mistake. Her new husband is reckless, tormented, driven by some dark rage at the world. He tells her he is to take up a position as Lieutenant in a New South Wales penal colony and she has no choice but to go. Sailing for six months to the far side of the globe with a child growing inside her, she arrives to find Sydney Town a brutal, dusty, hungry place of makeshift shelters, failing crops, scheming and rumours.

All her life she has learned to be obliging, to fold herself up small. Now, in the vast landscapes of an unknown continent, Elizabeth has to discover a strength she never imagined, and passions she could never express.

Inspired by the real life of a remarkable woman, this is an extraordinarily rich, beautifully wrought novel of resilience, courage and the mystery of human desire.

Top Ten Tuesday is Ten Years Old!

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish and now hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. For the rules see her blog. For this week’s topic there are a number of options and as I only posted my first TTT in December 2018, I decided to pick a past TTT topic from March 2018.

It’s Books that Take Place in Another Country, because although travel is restricted right now, I can virtually go anywhere in place and time through books.

These are all books I own but haven’t read – yet.

Greece in Cartes Postales from Greece by Victoria Hislop – ‘a tantalising glimpse of a country far removed from the usual tourist resorts and beaches.’

Australia in The Lieutenant by Kate Grenville – based on real events, this tells the unforgettable story of Lt Rooke’s connection to an Aboriginal child – a remarkable friendship that resonates across the oceans and the centuries.

France in Black Water Lilies by Michel Bussi – crime fiction – where a man has been found dead in the stream running through Monet’s garden of Giverney. Bussi explains the descriptions of Giverney, Monet’s house, the water lily pond – all the locations are as exact as possible and the information about Monet’s life and works are authentic.

Iceland in Snowblind by Ragnar Jonasson in an isolated fishing town, Siglufjordur, in Northern Iceland, only accessible via a small mountain tunnel. Crime fiction where a killer is on the loose as an avalanche closes the mountain pass.

America in Travels with Charley: In Search of America by John Steinbeck – In 1960, John Steinbeck set out in his pick-up truck with his dog Charley to rediscover and chronicle his native USA, from Maine to California.

Italy in Italian Neighbours an Englishman in Verona by Tim Parks – this book is the story of Tim Parks’ love affair with life in Verona. Gradually he comes to accept what the locals take for granted. Infused with an objective passion, he unpicks the idiosyncrasies and nuances of Italian culture with wit and affection.

Germany in Death in Berlin by M M Kaye – this is set against a background of war-scarred Berlin in the early 1950s, when Miranda is on a holiday in Germany. When murder strikes on the night train to Berlin, she gets involved in a complex chain of events that will soon throw her own life into peril.

South Africa in Disgrace by J M Coetzee – set in post-apartheid South Africa, this book won the Booker Prize in 1999. Professor, David Lurie and his daughter, Lucy, moved to an isolated smallholding in the bush, after he had an affair with a student. The balance of power in the country is shifting and they are savagely attacked. A multilayered story about what it means to be human.

Europe in Between the Woods and the Water by Patrick Leigh Fermor – continuing his journey on foot across Europe in 1933, begun in A Time of Gifts (a book I have read). This book begins on the bridge over the Danube in Esztergom in Hungary as he continues his journey to Constantinople, following ancient ways that were later destroyed during the Second World War.

Europe in New Europe by Michael Palin, continuing on from Between the Woods and Water, I think it’s interesting to see how this area has changed since 1933. New Europe does just that, beginning in the mountains of Slovenia, he travels down through the area in Between the Woods, on his way to Estonia.

Top Ten Tuesday: Books on My Summer 2020 TBR

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish and now hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. For the rules see her blog. This week’s topic is Books on My Summer 2020 TBR.

As I’m taking part in the 20 Books of Summer Challenge I’ve included some of the books I’ve identified for that challenge together with a few other books. Some of these books are ones that have been on my TBR list for ages and some are more recent additions from NetGalley.

Moonflower Murders by Anthony Horowitz – The second book in the Magpie Murders series featuring literary detective Atticus Pund and Susan Ryeland, a retired publisher, as the amateur sleuth. I loved Magpie Murders, so I have high expectations of this book. It’ll be released on 20 August 2020.

Susan Ryeland is running a small hotel on a Greek island with her long-term boyfriend. But life isn’t as idyllic as it should be. So when an English couple come to visit with tales of a murder that took place in a hotel on the same day their daughter Cecily was married there, Susan can’t help but find herself fascinated.

Exit by Belinda Bauer – due to be released 4 February 2021. When Felix lets himself in to Number 3 Black Lane, he’s there to perform an act of charity: to keep a dying man company as he takes his final breath . . . But just fifteen minutes later Felix is on the run from the police – after making the biggest mistake of his life.

The Butcher’s Hook by Janet Ellis – historical fiction, set in Georgian London the summer of 1763, when Anne wants to marry Fub, a butcher’s apprentice, but her parents have chosen a more suitable husband for her.

Missing Joseph: An Inspector Lynley Novel by Elizabeth George. This is the sixth in the series, telling the story of a woman’s quest to solve the mystery of the death of her friend, an Anglican priest. Deborah and her husband, Simon, turn to their old friend, Inspector Lynley.

Invisible Girl by Lisa Jewell – more crime fiction, from a favourite author. A story of secrets and injustices, and of how we look in the wrong places for the bad people while the real predators walk among us in plain sight

The Silent Wife by Karin Slaughter – a new-to-me author who has written many books. This is a crime thriller. due to be released on 23 June. A woman runs alone in the woods. She convinces herself she has no reason to be afraid, but she’s wrong. A predator is stalking the women of Grant County. He lingers in the shadows, until the time is just right to snatch his victim.

How to Disappear by Gillian McAllister- a psychological-suspense thriller, to be released on 9 July. I’ve read three of her books and loved each one, so I really hope I’ll love this one too. It’s about Zara who witnessed a murder, but she becomes a target and has to disappear.

Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell – On a summer’s day in 1596, a young girl in Stratford-upon-Avon takes to her bed with a fever. Her twin brother, Hamnet, searches everywhere for help. Why is nobody at home? This is historical fiction inspired by Hamnet, Shakespeare’s son and is a story of the bond between twins. Maggie O’Farrell is another favourite author and I am really looking forward to reading this book.

The Ghost of the Mary Celeste by Valerie Martin – more historical fiction about the mystery of the ship that was discovered in the middle of the Atlantic, headed for Gibraltar, with no one aboard. It weaves fact and fiction told from different viewpoints. This is a book I’ve had for years and it’s about time I read it.

The Second Sleep by Robert Harris – another book by one of my favourite authors. It begins in 1468 when a young priest, Christopher Fairfax, arrives in a remote Exmoor village to conduct the funeral of his predecessor. He’s lost and he’s becoming anxious as he slowly picks his way across a countryside strewn with the ancient artefacts of a civilisation that seems to have ended in cataclysm.

I was intrigued by the blurb, so this morning I began reading and the ‘ancient artefacts’ include plastic and a mobile phone. Not the 15th century then?

Top Ten Tuesday: Recent Additions to My TBRs

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish and now hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. For the rules see her blog. This week’s topic is Books I’ve Added to my TBR and Forgotten Why, but instead I’ve listed ten of the e-books I’ve added to my TBRs since the lockdown.

They are:

  • The Boy Who Fell by Jo Spain – An Inspector Tom Reynolds Mystery Book 5. Jo Spain is one of my favourite crime fiction writers. In this one Tom investigates the death of Luke Connolly who was found in the garden of an abandoned house.
  • Six Wicked Reasons by Jo Spain – a standalone book, crime fiction, a thriller set in Wexford and Spanish Cove in Ireland about a dysfunctional family.
  • The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov – a powerful picture of Stalin’s regime in this allegorical classic. I’ve seen favourable reviews on other blogs.
  • The Godfather by Mario Puzo – a story of the Mafia and the Corleone family. I’ve seen the film and want to read the book to see how it compares.
  • A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles – another book other bloggers recommend. It’s historical fiction about a man who is sentenced to permanent house arrest in the luxurious Metropol Hotel in Moscow. 
  • The Second Sleep by Robert Harris – another favourite author. 1468. A young priest, Christopher Fairfax, arrives in a remote Exmoor village to conduct the funeral of his predecessor.
  • Miss Austen by Gill Hornby historical fiction that delves into why Cassandra burned a treasure trove of letters written by her sister, Jane Austen – an act of destruction that has troubled academics for centuries.
  • Conviction by Denise Mina – crime fiction, about a woman listening to a true crime podcast when she realises she knows the victim and is convinced she knows what really happened.
  • Blood Orange by Harriet Tyce – Obsession, revenge, lust and murder play out on the pages as a female barrister tries to hold her life together while her personality tries to tear it apart.
  • An Air That Kills by Andrew Taylor – the first book in the Lydmouth series. I’ve read this one already – here’s my post.

Opening Lines: A Top Ten Tuesday Post

Top Ten Tuesday 2020

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish and now hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. For the rules see her blog.This week’s topic is Opening Lines (Best, favorite, funny, unique, shocking, gripping, lines that grabbed you immediately, etc.)

These are all opening lines that made me keen to read on. I could have chosen many others but these came to mind first.

‘Once the queen’s head is severed, he walks away.‘ ( From The Mirror and The Light by Hilary Mantel)

I will always remember exactly where I was and what I was doing when I heard that my father had died.’ (From The Seven Sisters by Lucinda Riley)

The thing I later remembered the most about the day the gunman came was my teacher Miss Russell’s breath.’ (From Only Child by Rhiannon Navin)

‘It was the day my grandmother exploded.’ (From The Crow Road by Iain Banks)

‘I went to Manderley again.’ (From Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier)

I’m that girl.’ (From I Know Who You Are by Alice Feeney)

‘Theirs was a land of awesome grandeur, a land of mountains and moorlands and cherished myths.’ (From Here Be Dragons by Sharon Penman)

‘It starts with a selfie.’ (From Anything You Do Say by Gillian McAllister)

‘The red stain was like a scream in the silence.’ (From Snowblind by Ragnar Jonasson)

’ Dying is not as easy as it looks in the movies.‘ (From Rubbernecker by Belinda Bauer)

Books I Enjoyed But Rarely Talk About


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish and now hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. For the rules see her blog.

This week’s topic is Books I Enjoyed but Rarely Talk About (This is for the books you liked, but rarely come up in conversation or rarely fit a TTT topic, etc.)

These are books I read before I began blogging. First is book I bought in an airport bookshop waiting to board a plane:

It’s Fortune’s Rocks by Anita Shreve. I had never heard of Anita Shreve, but I liked the look of this book – and the fact that it’s a chunky book of nearly 600 pages, so, good to read on holiday. It’s set in the summer of 1899 when Olympia Biddeford and her parents are on holiday at the family’s vacation home in Fortune’s Rocks, a coastal resort in New Hampshire. She is fifteen years old and this is the story of her love affair with an older man. I read more by her later and whilst I enjoyed her early books, I wasn’t so taken with her later ones.

Carol Shields is another author I’d never heard of until picked up Happenstance whilst at Gatwick Airport, waiting for another plane to go on holiday. I began reading it in the departure lounge, then on the plane and round the hotel pool, then passed it on to my husband. It’s written in two halves – one telling the wife’s story, then you turn the book round and upside down and there is the second half  telling the husband’s. Both tell their stories of a certain period in their lives from their own point of view. I read the wife’s side first. I didn’t talk about it to my husband just gave him the book and he read the husband’s side first. Then we discussed it and of course we both had different views on it. I’ve since read and enjoyed several more of her books

The Memory Box – Margaret Forster – A young woman leaves a sealed memory box for her baby daughter before she dies. Years later, as a young woman herself, Catherine finds her mother’s box full of unexplained, even bizarre objects. Finding out what the objects represent is her only chance to find out about the mother she never knew. A lovely book.

The Thornbirds – Colleen McCullough. I read this many years ago and have never forgotten it. In the rugged Australian Outback, three extraordinary generations of Cleary’s live through joy and sadness, bitter defeat and magnificent triumph – driven by their dreams, sustained by remarkable strength of character…and torn by dark passions, violence and a scandalous family legacy of forbidden love.

The Falls – Joyce Carol Oates. this was the first of Oates’ books I read and I loved it. A man climbs over the railings and plunges into Niagara Falls. He’s a newly-wed, and his bride has been left behind in the honeymoon suite the morning after their wedding. For two weeks, Ariah, the deserted bride, waits by the side of the roaring waterfall for news of her husband’s recovered body.

Possession – A S Byatt is an exhilarating novel of wit and romance, at once a literary detective novel and a triumphant love story. It is the tale of a pair of young scholars investigating the lives of two Victorian poets. Following a trail of letters, journals and poems they uncover a web of passion, deceit and tragedy, and their quest becomes a battle against time.

Miss Garnet’s Angel by Salley Vickers combines two stories, that of Julia Garnet, a retired school teacher, who goes to Venice prompted by the death of a friend, and that of  Tobias and the Angel, which she sees in the Guardi panels in the Chiesa dell’ Angelo Raffaele. This is a beautiful book.

The Soldier’s Return – Melvyn Bragg, a novel about the aftermath of the Second World War. Sam Richardson returns home to Wigton in Cumbria where he finds the town little changed. But the war has changed him. His six year old son barely remembers him and his wife has gained a sense of independence from her wartime jobs. There are two further books to complete the story – A Son of War and Crossing the Lines. All three books are outstandingly good.

Glittering Images – Susan Howatch. The first in her Church of England series. I loved the whole series when I read them years ago. This book is set in 1937 and beneath the smooth surface of an episcopal palace lurks the sordid breath of scandal. Charles Ashworth, a Canon to the Archbishop of Canterbury is sent to untangle the web of corruption, only to become involved himself. I’m not an Anglican so I was fascinated by the description of the hierarchy within the church as well as all the scandals.

An Alien at St Wilfred’s by Adrian Plass is another book about an Anglican church, but this is very different from Susan Howatch’s series. It’s very funny, about a small alien, calling himself Nunc who comes to live in a parish church and learns to speak Prayer Book English. His effect on the vicar and the congregation is hilarious.

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Bought/Borrowed Because…


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish and now hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. For the rules see her blog.

This week’s topic is Books I Bought/Borrowed Because… (Fill in the blank. You can do 10 books you bought for the same reason, i.e., pretty cover, recommended by a friend, blurbed by a favorite authors, etc. OR you could do a different reason for each pick.) 

These are some books I’ve bought:

  • All Change by Elizabeth Jane Howard – because this is the last book in her Cazalet series and I’d read all the others. I’d love to re-read the whole series sometime.
  • Bleak House by Charles Dickens after watching the TV series. I much prefer to watch a dramatised version before reading a book – the other way round can be so disappointing.
  • The Help by Kathryn Stockett  after watching the film. Both were good – in different ways.

  • The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie because I was reading all her books for The Agatha Christie Reading Challenge run by Kerrie at Mysteries in Paradise.
  • The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce because I was browsing in a bookshop and saw that it’s about Harold’s journey on foot from one end of the country to the other – from South Devon to Berwick-upon-Tweed and I was intrigued. I wondered which places he went through.
  • L S Lowry: A Life by Shelley Rhode because I love his paintings, so when I saw this book at an exhibition of his work I bought it.

And some books I’ve borrowed:

  • The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters – this is just one of the many books I’ve bought/borrowed because so many other bloggers had praised it, so when I saw at at the library I borrowed it.
  • Quite Ugly One Morning by Christopher Brookmyre – because I went to his author event and then borrowed this book from my son.
  • The Hand That First Held Mine by Maggie O’Farrell because I read her book, Instructions for a Heatwave for book group and as I loved that book one of the other members lent it to me.
  • The Mystery of Princess Louise by Lucinda Hawksley, subtitled Queen Victoria’s Rebellious Daughter. I’ve borrowed it from the library as a friend had borrowed it before me and said it’s very good – and it is.

Top Ten Tuesday: Historical Mysteries


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish and now hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. For the rules see her blog.

This week’s topic is Genre Freebie and I’ve chosen Historical Mysteries, a combination of two of my favourite genres Historical Fiction and Crime Fiction. I’ve read lots of historical mysteries, so these ten are just a selection – and just see how people coped in the past with the ‘plague’ and new diseases in the 19th century:

Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood – based on the true story of the murder of Thomas Kinnear and his housekeeper in Canada in 1843. Grace and fellow servant James are found guilty of the murders. James was hanged and Grace imprisoned for life. The question, never answered to my satisfaction, all through the book is, was Grace guilty?

The Art of Dying by Ambrose Parry, a combination of historical fact and fiction; the social scene, historical and medical facts slotting perfectly into an intricate murder mystery.  It is mainly set in 1850 in Edinburgh, when a mysterious illness baffles doctors, who are unable to identify the disease, let alone cure their patients. When Dr Simpson is blamed for the death of a patient in suspicious circumstances, Dr Will Raven attempts to clear his name and in doing so uncovers more unexplained deaths.

Arthur and George by Julian Barnes – based on the true story of Arthur Conan Doyle and George Edalji, a solicitor from Birmingham. In 1903, George was found guilty of a terrible crime and sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment. Desperate to prove his innocence, he recruited Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes, to help solve his mysterious case and win him a pardon.

Asta’s Book by Barbara Vine,  published as Anna’s Book in the USA. It begins in 1905. There’s a murder, a missing child, a question of identity and overarching it all are the stories of two families – the Westerbys and the Ropers and all the people connected to them.

The Plague Charmer by Karen Maitland, a fascinating medieval tale full of atmosphere and superstition, set in Porlock Weir in 1361 where a village is isolated by the plague when the Black Death spreads once more across England. It’s a complex story, told from different characters’ perspectives, following the lives of Will, a ‘fake’ dwarf, Sara, a packhorse man’s wife and her family, Matilda, a religious zealot, and Christina at nearby Porlock Manor amongst others. It’s also a tale of murder and of love.

The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey. Inspector Alan Grant of Scotland Yard, recuperating from a broken leg, becomes fascinated with a contemporary portrait of Richard III that bears no resemblance to the Wicked Uncle of history. He determines to find out, with the help of the British Museum and an American scholar, what kind of man Richard III really was and who killed the Princes in the Tower.

Dissolution by C J Sansom – the first in his Tudor murder mystery series featuring lawyer Matthew Shardlake. This is set in 1537 – Shardlake investigates the death of a Commissioner during the dissolution of the monasteries.

The House at Riverton by Kate Morton, a novel split into two time zones, 1924 and 1999. The novel opens in 1999 with Grace’s dream of the night in 1924 when Robbie Hunter, a poet, committed suicide at Riverton Manor. Grace’s memories are revived after Ursula, an American film director who is making a film of the suicide had asked for her help as the only person involved who was still alive.

Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin, set in Cambridge in 1170 during the reign of Henry II. A child has been murdered and others have disappeared (also found murdered). Adelia is a female doctor, who specialises in studying corpses. Running the risk of being accused of witchcraft, she cannot openly carry out her investigations in England in the 12th century and has to pretend that Mansur, a Muslim eunuch (her bodyguard) is the doctor.

The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco, set in 1327. Franciscans in a wealthy Italian abbey are suspected of heresy, and Brother William of Baskerville arrives to investigate.When his delicate mission is suddenly overshadowed by seven bizarre deaths, Brother William turns detective.


Top Ten Tuesday: Books On My Spring 2020 TBR


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish and now hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. For the rules see her blog.

This week’s topic is Books On My Spring 2020 TBR. Some of these books have been on my shelves unread for a long time, some are new additions and others are e-books from NetGalley. These are just the tip of the iceberg and when the time comes to start a new book it might be one of these – or any of the other TBRs on shelves.

First the physical books

Spring 20 tbr

Deadheads by Reginald Hill, the 7th Dalziel and Pascoe novel. Patrick Alderman’s Great Aunt Florence collapsed into her rose bed leaving him Rosemont House with its splendid gardens. But was it murder?

Edwin: High King of Britain by Edoardo Albert, book 1 of 3 in the Northumbrian Thrones series. Historical fiction set in the 7th century-  Edwin, the deposed king of Northumbria, seeks refuge at the court of King Raedwald of East Anglia. But Raedwald is urged to kill his guest by Aethelfrith, Edwin’s usurper.

Sirens by Joseph Knox, the first Detective Aidan Waits thriller, set in Manchester. I’ve read books two and three, so it’s about time I read the first. It’s described on the back cover as a powerhouse of noir by Val McDermid.

The next two books are historical nonfiction:

As I’m currently reading Hilary Mantel’s third book in her Thomas Cromwell trilogy, it reminded me that I haven’t read historian, Tracy Borman’s biography of him – Thomas Cromwell: the untold story of Henry VIII’s most faithful servant.

Peterloo: the English Uprising by Robert Poole, about the ‘Peterloo massacre’ in St Peter’s field, Manchester on 16th August 1819 when armed cavalry attacked a peaceful rally of some 50,000 pro-democracy reformers. This is described on the back cover as a landmark event in the development of democracy in Britain – the bloodiest political event of the nineteenth century on English soil.

Next e-books

The Last Protector by Andrew Taylor, book 4 in his James Marwood & Cat Lovett series, historical crime fiction set in Restoration England. I loved the first three books, so I have high hopes that I’ll love this one too. It will be published on 2 April.

The Lost Lights of St Kilda by Elisabeth Gifford, historical fiction, a love story that crosses oceans and decades. It’s set on a Scottish island in 1927 and in worn-torn France in 1940.

Fresh Water for Flowers by Valérie Perrin and translated from the French by Hildegarde Serle, to be published in June. A funny, moving, intimately told story of Violette, the caretaker of a cemetery who believes obstinately in happiness.

The Measure of Malice: Scientific Detection Stories edited by Martin Edwards. A collection of classic mystery stories using scientific methods of detection.

The Deep by Alma Katsu, historical fiction set on the Titanic and its sister ship The Britannic. It’s a sinister tale of the occult. Anna Hebbley was a passenger on the Titanic who survived the 1912 disaster and four years later was a nurse on the Britannic, refitted as a hospital ship.