This is the second of Val Penny’s Hunter series that I have read. Although they can all be read as stand-alone stories, they are tied together by the continuity thread of the characters who reveal more of themselves as you read on. Once again, I struggled to keep up with the relationships between the characters as there are so many of them, but it does all tie together and make sense in the end.
Hunter’s Blood is about the circumstances surrounding the suspicious deaths of three old ladies, one of whom is Hunter’s aunt, the disappearance of a young girl from a travellers’ camp and a fatal car crash that remains undiscovered for far too long.
I was drawn into the story to the extent that it was impossible to escape. I needed to know the outcomes. There are some nasty characters, the worst of whom escapes to Ireland. I hope that he gets his come-uppance in a subsequent volume.
This is a great series and I would say that Hunter has already established himself as one of Edinburgh’s greatest fictional detectives.
Hunter’s Secret by Val Penny is the fifth book in the Edinburgh Crime mysteries featuring DI Hunter, although this is the first time I have read this author. This book does work as a standalone but by the time you have read it you will wish you had started at the beginning, I did.
This is a story in which the past and present collide for Hunter. Two of his team, Bear Zewedu and Tim Myerscough discover a corpse when they are out running, but then, when they return to the scene, it’s disappeared. Hunter realises this is almost a replica of something he experienced when he was younger and we time slips back to that time with him. It was a mystery then and now, they are dealing with something that can only be described as traumatic for him.
I really enjoyed getting to know the team and all the banter they had. They all seem really comfy around each other and their chemistry really made me wish I had started at the beginning of the series. I liked the mistrust that Val had created it added excitement to the mounting investigation, and I did need to work out who were the people to ‘watch’ and that piqued my interest as well. As the title suggests it is Hunter’s secret that connects the past to the present and we do find out some of Hunter’s past. I do like to find out about the back story of any new main character, it makes them relatable and likeable (depending upon the character of course).
I thoroughly enjoyed the vividness of Val’s writing, It brought the book to life for me. A fast-paced skilfully crafted murder mystery that had me hooked from the start, now I’m off to add the others to my never decreasing the pile!
I have always enjoyed books by Linda Huber and I had had The Cold, Cold Sea in my TBR pile for far too long. I suppose lockdown had to be good for something, I made a dent into the bundle!
Maggie stared across the beach. The tide was coming in. But where was her daughter?
When three-year-old Olivia disappears from the beach, a happy family holiday comes to an abrupt end. Maggie is plunged into the darkest nightmare imaginable – what happened to her little girl?
Further along the coast, another mother is having problems too. Jennifer’s daughter Hailey is starting school, and it should be such a happy time, but the child has become moody and silent. Family life has never seemed so awkward, and Jennifer struggles to maintain control.
The tide ebbs and flows, and summer dies, but there is no comfort for Maggie, alone now at the cottage, or for Jennifer, still swamped by doubts.
The Cold, Cold Sea tells two desperately sad stories, each is about the loss of a child and how it affects the families involved and how they react to their devastating grief and lives going forward. The school teachers become involved too and are crucial to the resolution for the families
About half way through this book, I thought the story was too obvious and nearly set it aside. However, I had read this author’s work before and guessed she would have a twist to come.
Indeed she did! What a twist it was!. I do not want to say anything that would spoil the story for other readers, suffice to say that every member of both families tries to make the best of the hand they are dealt. This is a clever book with a human touch. I really enjoyed it and highly recommend it. I think this book would make an excellent book group read.
Linda Huber is an ex-physiotherapist who grew up in Glasgow but has lived over half her life in Switzerland, where she writes psychological suspense novels as Linda Huber as well as feel-good novellas under her pen name Melinda Huber.
The inspiration for her books comes from everyday life – a family member’s struggle with dementia, the discovery that a child in her extended family drowned in the 1940s, and more.
I am thrilled to share a fine review of Hunter’s Secret that appears on the brilliant blog, Jess Bookish Life Read the review there or below. It is part of the blog tour arranged by Rachel’s Random Resources.
This is the fifth book in The Edinburgh Crime Mysteries Series and if you are reading this review, and don’t know the series or the author, I highly recommend you go check out her books, because I honestly believe this is a series you should read from the beginning.
Since this is part of the series, I like to keep it free of facts that could be spoilers for any of the books. You know I have read the previous ones and I loved this one as much as the others.
The amazing thing about this entire series is that each time we follow DI Hunter in one of the journeys of figuring out the truth and reveal the culprit of the crime, we are also unveiling Hunter’s background and secrets.
This had a good balance for me, with past and present cases and Hunter leading us through the path to question, learn and be excited, until we finally arrive to the ending. Quite a fantastic mystery adventure, just the kind that makes me wanting. That may be why I always get very curious when a new book comes out.
From Hunter keeping me intrigued with his past and the relationship between him and everyone else… To the plot itself, and the motivations behind the crime… I was amazed by everything. It appears that Val Penny doesn’t get tired of surprising the readers, which makes me so happy.
Overall, I love the book. The uncovering of the truth. Learning more about Hunter and is past. See the action, the interactions, the brilliant descriptions and dialogues. Can’t wait to see what Val Penny comes up with next.
I recently made a journey to London by train. I was meant to have my husband’s company, but he was unwell and not able to travel, so I took Rose McClelland’s new novel, Under Your Skin with me. I had read Rose’s earlier novel The Year of no Rules a while back and really enjoyed it. The book is reviewed on this site. https://bookreviewstoday.info/2017/11/15/the-year-of-no-rules-by-rose-mcclelland/
Although this book is a different genre I knew that I liked the author’s writing style. I was not disappointed.
Under Your Skin tells the story of the seemingly perfect couple, Kyle and Hannah. Of course there is no such thing as a perfect couple and when Hannah goes missing, the police suspect foul play by Kyle.
He is adamant he knows nothing of her whereabouts and even leads a campaign to find her. Their whole town comes out in force to try to find her. But one person knows where she is and that one person is keeping a secret. Hannah has left no traces and Kyle says he has no clues.
Local Belfast resident Julia Matthews joins the campaign to find Hannah and becomes friendly with Kyle because she sympathises with his plight. As Julia becomes more involved in the case, and Kyle, than she bargained for, she begins to uncover more secrets than the Police.
This mystery gets deeper and darker as the novel progresses and I was gripped by it. I did not see the twist coming and found the end of the novel satisfying and thrilling.
I think this book would make an excellent read for a book group. I enjoyed it very much and definitely recommend it.
“Under your skin” is Rose’s fourth novel. Her previous three novels were romantic fiction published by Crooked Cat. She has made the genre jump from “chick lit” to psychological thriller and is enjoying delving into a darker corner of her mind!
Rose has also written two short plays which were performed in the Black Box theatre in Belfast.
She discusses book reviews on her You Tube channel and writes theatre reviews for her blog.
She loves nothing more than curling up with her cats and a good book. She has two rescue cats – Toots, who is ginger with an inquisitive face and Soots, who is black and hops along on his 3 legs looking ever so cute.
I am thrilled to welcome author and fellow Swanwicker, Maggie Cobbett who hales from the North of England. Thank you for coming to talk to me today, Maggie.
I was born and raised in Leeds but I ventured across the Pennines to study at the University of Manchester and spent the next few decades teaching modern languages in the UK and abroad. Back in Yorkshire for the foreseeable future, I live on the edge of the Dales with family and cat.
I’ve always felt the need to put my thoughts down on paper and was an avid letter writer in pre-email days. Pen friends came and went, but I still correspond with an American lady who first got in touch when we were both twelve years old. Almost from the time I first learned to write, I kept a diary and I still do. It’s an invaluable source of inspiration.
Writing is such a portable occupation. I can write just about anywhere, with one of my favourite places being a bench by the Moon Pond on the Fountains Abbey/Studley Royal estate.
I wish I could say that I had a regular writing routine. The truth, though, is that I can work for long hours at a stretch or do nothing for several days. Unless I have a deadline to spur me on, I can procrastinate for England.
Much of my writing has an historical background and I spend hundreds of hours on that, which is why my longest novel to date took me twelve years to write. ‘Shadows of the Past’ with its semi-autobiographical core involved spending a lot of time in France, revisiting the places that inspired it, conducting interviews and researching in local museums.
In the case of ‘Wheels on Fire’, I had the whole story in my head before I began to set it down. The same was true of ‘Workhouse Orphan’, whose main character was sent on a quest to reunite his family. ‘Shadows of the Past’, however, was only originally intended to be a memoir of a strange summer in the 1960s and, like Topsy, it ‘just growed’. The result was 130+ words set over three distinct time periods. The section dealing with WW2 and the German occupation of France took by far the longest to research and became something of an obsession.
For me, the relative importance of characters, plot and setting fluctuates between stories. My WIP is a short story set in a bowling alley and I’m currently focussing on the background and atmosphere. Characters and plot will follow.
I’m attempting to put together all my recollections of working as a television/film extra.
Moving from classroom to studio was quite a leap, but I’ve never regretted it. As well as giving me far more time to write, sharing experiences with the many people I’ve met over the last few years has provided more ideas than I could ever exploit.
I’ve never been able to settle down to one genre and often wish that I could. My books are all completely different and I also write short stories, articles, reviews, ‘fillers’ and even the odd poem.
Many of my short stories and articles have been commercially published, but I decided to go down the self- publishing route for my books. For the latter I must give credit to my son Richard, a computer whizz who does all the ‘techie stuff’ for me.
After the success of ‘Bill’s Last Night’, a short drama produced at Swanwick’s ‘Page to Stage’ event last year, I’m hoping to turn it into a radio play. Also ticking away at the back of my mind is a sequel to ‘Workhouse Orphan’, which concluded when the main character was still in his early teens.
Joanne Harris is a favourite author of mine, probably because we share a love of France and all things French. I’m also a huge fan of Diana Gabaldon’s ‘Outlander’ series, which I’ve been rereading during lock down. One guilty pleasure is Jilly Cooper’s set of ‘bonkbusters’ set in the fictional county of Rutshire. As you can tell, I’m not very high brow these days, having spent years studying and teaching literary fiction in several languages.
Carry on writing for as long as you enjoy it. There is no age limit for creativity.
The above, really, and to mix with other writers as much as you can. Join one or more writers’ groups and go to gatherings like the Writers’ Summer School (Swanwick). If money is tight, look into the grants available and/or enter competitions for a free place. (As well as winning my way to Swanwick on two occasions, I once scored a weekend pass to the Harrogate Crime Writers’ Festival.)
My website is www.maggiecobbett.co.uk and I can also be found on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Everything is under my own name, as I’ve yet to feel the need for pseudonyms.
I have just finished the second in Paula Williams series of novels set in Much Winchmoor, Rough and Deadly. Having said that, the book works perfectly well as a stand-alone.
I have read and enjoyed the first book in the series, Murder Served Cold and it was fun to be re-united with Kat Latcham, her on/off boyfriend Will, friend Jules and her parents. Kat’s mother is still running her salon from the front room and her cooking has not improved. However, that is not the only catering issue in the village. Everyone knows Abe Compton’s Headbender cider is as rough as a cider can get. But when the lady of the manor, Margot Duckett-Trimble is murdered, she is found face down in a vat of his cider, a drink she volubly disliked.
Kat’s aunt, comes to stay because she has separated from her husband, Kat’s uncle Richard. She may have known Margot from a previous meeting. The little Somerset village of Much Winchmoor is fast gaining a reputation as the murder capital of the West Country and Kat’s Aunt Tracy decides to stay.
Soon, it is found there is a murderer running loose in the community, but when Abe is arrested, Kat who has known him all her life, is sure that, although he had motive, he didn’t kill Margot. She is determined to investigate but the murderer strikes again. As Kat gets nearer to finding out who the real killer is, the closer to danger she becomes.
This second Much Winchmoor mystery is once again full of humour and sprinkled with romance. The cast of colourful characters, known and new include a manic little dog called Prescott whose bite is definitely worse than his bark.
I really enjoy Paula Williams novels and Rough and Deadly is no exception. I highly recommend it to all who enjoy a good mystery tied up in a well written book.
Paula Williams has been writing since she was old enough to hold a pencil but she’s been making up stories since she was old enough to speak, although her early attempts were more of the “It wasn’t me, Mum, honest. It was him” genre.
Her first ‘serious’ effort was a pageant she wrote at the age of nine to celebrate St George’s Day. Not only was she the writer, but producer, set designer and casting director, which was how she came to have the title role. She also bullied and blackmailed her three younger brothers into taking the supporting roles, something they still claim to be traumatised by.
Many years later, this pageant became the inspiration for her first publishable short story, Angels on Oil Drums, which she sold to the UK magazine Woman’s Weekly. Since then she’s had over four hundred short stories and serials published in the UK and overseas. She also has a number of novels in large print which are available in libraries.
With the changing face of the magazine market, Paula now focuses her attention on her first love, crime fiction and is busy planning and writing a whole series of Much Winchmoor mysteries. She is a proud member of both the Crime Writers’ Association and the Romantic Novelists’ Association. She also writes a monthly column, Ideas Store, for the UK writers’ magazine, Writers’ Forum and for the last five years has written the pantomime for her local village Theatre Group. She still hasn’t run out of things to write about and is waiting for someone to invent the thirty hour day.
She has two grown up sons, two beautiful daughters-in-law and three gorgeous grandchildren. She lives in Somerset with her husband and a handsome rescue Dalmatian called Duke who is completely bonkers and appears frequently on her blog. (The dog, not the husband!)