The Black Country – Evil Games – Angela Marsons

Screen shot 2015-11-05 at 16.11.43

Why a booktrail?

Early 2000s: Detective Kim Stone is about to face one of the most sickening cases of her career

Story

Detective Kim Stone and her team are called into resolve the case of a rapist who has just been found stabbed to death. However the case turns out to be anything but straight forward as there appears to be something much more sinister at work.

The investigation into a sick paedophile ring is not what Kim wanted or hoped to find herself working on. And someone appears to be doing their own twisted experiment. Detective Stone could be in real danger. For as the body count starts to rise, she has to face something of her own in order to try and stop the killing.

Place and setting

To see the nicer side of The Black Country visit this museum! http://www.bclm.co.uk/
To see the nicer side of The Black Country visit this museum!
http://www.bclm.co.uk/

The title says it all for there are some evil games going on in the aptly named (in this case) Black Country. You sure won’t find a more disturbing sociopath/psychopath stalking the streets in any other crime novel or at least it will be hard pushed to find one this horrific.

The Black Country might be a nice rural yet close to the city setting but this is merely a landscape in this case for utter depravity. The cat and mouse game that is going on across  the region between the police and the psycho is chilling and raw.

There are moments of humour as well though – chilling humour recalling childhood memories of a sort –

“I can see it in your face. You look like someone stole your Barbie doll and boiled it.”

DI Stone is the officer on the case and she and her team have her work cut out as there are many horrific crime occurring on her patch. Luckily DI Stone also manages to reveal some of her softer side and her adoption of Barney the dog is a real step forward in this direction. Nevertheless her dismissal and annoyance at times towards authority is where she really shines. You need a gut feeling to solve cases here it would seem.

The Black Country has never looked so dark!

Review

I thought that Angela Marsons had put the black into the Black County with her first book Silent Scream for the title is exactly what I did when reading it. Phew well at least I thought I could  read the second once the breath in my body had returned. The writing was so good and the tension so high I was addicted.

Well this second book is even blacker, darker and a lot more sinister than the first. Disturbingly so – still a great novel mind with vile being just as much a main character as the human ones ( well sub human for many of them)

I find novels about child abuse hard to read and often avoid them but Angela’s first book really made me change my habits – and I’m very pleased I did. The detail of the cases, the background and personal experience of the detective make for some interesting angles I’ve not seen in crime fiction before. It was like being inside the mind of a depraved and sick killer and it was gross but fascinating all at once. I hated them on sight and hoped that DI Stone would be able to stay balanced on that tricky line between fragility and complete collapse.

Evil Games – now there’s a title. Perfectly sums up what goes on here although “Oxygen Shortage” and “Curveball comes from nowhere to knock the wind out of your sails” could be alternative titles although not so catchy of course.

The Black Country – Silent Scream – Angela Marsons

Silent-Scream-Angela-Marsons-570px

Why a booktrail?

2000s: It’s rather black and gruesome in the Black Country…

Story

Five figures gather round a shallow grave. A grave that each one has taken turns to dig. This had been part of their pact and now their secrets would be buried.

Years after this day, the Black Country is witness to what seems tp be a spate of horrific murders. The first victim? A local headmistress.

It’s when human remains are unearthed at a former children’s home, that D.I. Kim Stone realises with some horror that this murder spree started many years ago.

More victims, more of a desperate need to find the person responsible, but to do that Kim has to face the demons of her own past or it could all be too late.

Place and setting

Black Country - the novel opens up in Rowley Regis
Black Country – the novel opens up in Rowley Regis

The graveside

“Five figures formed a pentagram around a freshly dug mound. Only they knew it was a grave. Digging the frozen earth beneath the layers of ice and snow had been like trying to carve stone but they’d taken turns.”

This cold dark place with secrets buried is  a good start to a novel where digging up the past and burying secrets is the overall setting and tense atmosphere.

A derelict children’s home

There’s something especially morbid about the finding of bones at a children’s home and what that could mean. This is a creepy and chilling place now derelict and somewhat eerie since a professor has tried several times to get the site excavated but to no avail. Why would his requests be turned down time and time again? He wanted to see if he could find ancient coins but Kim like the reader becomes suspicious as to what this refusal really could mean.

A dark dark place

This is a novel of dark places and even darker situations. The Black Country it certainly is. This time the name suits the settings within.

The setting as well as the subject matter are dark and disturbing and there is more than a morbid sense of doom in the air. There are heartbreaking scenes, a real sense of despair as to why these events could happen and a horrific sense of reality. when the former staff turn up murdered as well….

Review

There’s so much to say about this novel but to say too much will spoil the thrills and spills that you’ll encounter. This novel both spooked and fascinated me as and that grave scene is still giving me the chills. I was a bit scared of Kim at first – she’s not your usual DI in a crime novel that’s for sure. I mean she doesn’t take any nonsense and really pushes the boundaries of everything she comes across, racing past them even in her motorcycle of choice.She may have a hard exterior but she’s definitely the one to have on your investigation.

The whole atmosphere of this book – troubled teens, a former home and the victims of the past really comes back to haunt. Having Kim in charge with her own demons really adds a sense of grim reality to it all as she has the sense and the knowledge to get to the truth, however painful that might be.

This is a complex, twisty turny read but one which will keep you awake long into the hours until you finish. It’s not a book for putting down. Amidst the darkness there is many a shining light in the form of Kim, her ‘sidekick’ Bryant and their joined banter which makes this a novel of many different layers and shades.

There is a gem shining in the Black Country you see and this novel is it.

Fictional friends from around the world

FRIENDSFictional characters are good people to know. They’re like our friends, share many of our milestones in life – those we meet at school, those in classic novels, the first person we admire and want to be, the person who teaches us about life and those that give us a sense of adventure…

Here we’ve chosen four characters as represented on book covers. Fictional friends and people we admire and want to spend time with for various reasons..

the-enchanted-wood-2A Childhood friend – Moon Face from Enid Blyton’s Enchanted Wood series

The stories take place in an enchanted forest in which there is the most magical of trees called the ‘Faraway Tree’.  It’s very tall and the top of it disappears into the clouds. Many characters live in the cave like dwellings that are carved into its trunk. When Jo, Bessie and Fanny move into a house nearby and meet Moonface, one of the characters in the novel, I wanted to be his friend and have adventures in the Faraway Tree. He has rounded furniture and a magic slide that goes all the way to the bottom of the tree. How I wanted to go on that slide!

the-miniaturistA friend to introduce you to a new world of intrigue -Nella from The Miniaturist – Set in Amsterdam

The Miniaturist was the hit book of 2014 and deservedly so as this novel, set in Amsterdam 1686 had such an amazing premise of a miniaturist who predicted events in the small objects she created, was an immediate draw. Nella is portrayed on the front cover which I just really wanted to climb inside and explore along with the others in the story. But it was Nella and her journey I wanted to go on – despite the difficulties and heartbreak she suffers as it was her spirit and personality I liked and I wanted to befriend her pet Peebo as well if I’m honest. Put Marin in her place as well perhaps. And furnish that exquisite dollshouse! A world to disappear inside – rather like that in the novel itself. 

https://thebooktrail.wordpress.com/2014/06/23/the-miniaturist-amsterdam-1686/

ann cleevesTough friend you need when in trouble – Vera from Ann Cleeves crime fiction novels set in Northumberland

Vera doesn’t take any prisoners – well she does in her job since she’s a very effective police Detective, but in her coarse comments and witty but gritty asides, you know where you stand.

This is the kind of person I would love to meet for she would be loyal yet honest, brutally so perhaps but you know you can always depend on her and she always gets the job done. She might rub you up the wrong way, like the creases in her raincoat, but you know what you are getting from Vera. No nonsense results and a loyalty that you will never forget.

https://thebooktrail.wordpress.com/2015/04/19/silent-voices-northumberland-tyne-valley-ann-cleeves/

BOOK 1A friend to go travelling with – Passepartout from Around the World in 80 Days

Passepartout was my inspiration for everything – from booktrailing to learning languages, this guy has been my lifelong travelling companion. As I followed him and his ideas around the world and even studied French to be more like him. What started as a childhood adventure has taken me to so many places and languages via books and for real and for that I can consider him a friend in a million who I would love to meet for real and shake his hand. He represents travel, adventure, the sense of never giving up and solving problems for his friend Phileas Fogg and I would love to go travelling with him.

Susan Booktrailer

Who are your fictional friends and why?

Cornwall, London – The Lake House – Kate Morton

KAte morton novel

Why a booktrail?

1933, 2003 -An abandoned lake house holds on to the secrets of what happened one fateful night when a baby disappeared never to be seen again.

Story

June 1933 Cornwall

A summer’s evening sitting by the lake house, a sumptuous garden, a happy family…hours later the peace shattered and a baby missing. Years later, the abandoned house still holds the secrets of what happened that night.

Eleanor and Anthony live in the gorgeous home with their children Deborah, Alice, Clemmie and baby Theo. The family seem happy, the mood idyllic, but behind the happy facade, all is not what it seems. For as the evening draws to a close, baby Theo disappears, nowhere to be found. Despite a frantic search, he has seemingly vanished from the face of the earth.  The family home, is never the same again and soon becomes an abandoned shrine to its sad fate.

Modern day – 2003

Sadie Sparrow returns to her Grandfather’s home in Cornwall on leave from her job as a police detective. One day she stumbles across the abandoned lake house and starts to wonder about its past. What did really happen that night and what secrets are buried in the tangled and derelict mess of the lake house? Alice Edevane, now a famous author, has spent years trying to contain the unravelling of secrets to within her novels’ plots. However she cannot escape the most intriguing case – that of her very own past.

PLACE AND SETTING

The Lost Gardens of Heligan Inspiration for the lake house and surrounding area Visit - http://heligan.com/ Newquay- The Gardens of Trerice Kate mentions this in an interview as having reminded her of her lake house  - the beautiful gardens of Trerice  Visit - http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/trerice/ Polperro harbour The walks and harbour here are just like those the characters experience in the story Polperro Harbour Heritage Museum Gives a flavour of life back in time... Visit - Polperro Harbour Heritage Museum http://www.polperro.org/museum.html
The Lost Gardens of Heligan
Inspiration for the lake house and surrounding area? Kate’s been inspired by these in other novels
Visit – http://heligan.com/
Newquay- The Gardens of Trerice
Kate mentions this in an interview as having reminded her of her lake house – the beautiful gardens of Trerice
Visit – http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/trerice/
Polperro harbour
The walks and harbour here are just like those the characters experience in the story
Polperro Harbour Heritage Museum
Gives a flavour of life back in time…
Visit – Polperro Harbour Heritage Museum

Welcome to Loeanneth, the lake house, home of the Edevane family. A sumptuous home in the gorgeous setting of Cornwall. A beautiful garden and peaceful lake, gardeners toiling in the background and a family enjoying midsummer on the lawn..

A narrow stream chattered its way across the estate, delighting in the brief sunny respite before being reeled inexorably back towards the woods, and  a stone bridge, the legacy of some long ago great -uncle straddled the banks allowing access to Loeanneth.

The family estate of Eleanor Edevane and her family. This is a house and a setting that inspires fairy tales – Eleanor and the Magic Doorway – written by a family friend. Alice herself skips into the woods, imagining plotlines, characters and scenarios she wants to happen. The Lake House and its grounds are like a fairytale setting but with a dark mystery at its core.

Imagine this as a photograph – captured as a moment in time. Fast forward 70 years and the photograph is now faded, the rooms abandoned, the garden ramshackle and the secrets tucked away. The secret of a house still standing and still the only shrine to a missing baby appeals to a police detective. But the walls and gardens seem keen to hang on to what they know, the fresh air now weaving its way along its corridors,  chilling what has lain within for seventy years.

The house is the centre of the story and the novel. A character in its own right, it is so beautifully and stunningly evoked that you will see the wallpaper as it fades from one chapter to the next before the flashbacks take you back to when it was vibrant, on the walls of the nursery, when the garden was lush and green, when the lake was clear and the sound of laughter and a baby gurgling in its crib rang through the air.

From the outside, a picture of happiness but the walls would tell another story entirely.

Polperro harbour - (c) Monika Kludka and Visit Cornwall
Polperro harbour – (c) Monika Kludka and Visit Cornwall
Polperro harbour - (c) Adam Gibbard and Visit Cornwall
Polperro harbour – (c) Adam Gibbard and Visit Cornwall

Review

Kate Morton is that rare breed of writers for me who totally and utterly has you captivated and hanging on her every word. She weaves the many threads of two stories into a complex and intriguing tapestry of secrets, red herrings and a world which is so vivid and evocative, it’s as if you could step through the cover and see it for yourself.

The two stories, past and present wove seamlessly together although for me the story of the past was the most absorbing. What did happen that fateful midsummer night? As ever with Kate, you think you know, until the very end when you realise she’s been teasing you with something all along and you’re as lost in that big ramshackle garden as the children in the story.

The idea of going back to an old house and discovering its secrets of what happened that fateful day is captivating. Alice in the present day is a mystery to herself and I particularly loved finding all about her in flashbacks to when she was an excited teenager. Oh and Eleanor and Anthony – I gasped when I found out what was going on and the events leading up to that midsummer night. In the present day, Sadie tries to unravel it all but her own story threatens to cloud her judgement. The stories worked very well together and added a real sense of intrigue.

I was pulled and pushed in one direction after another – from 1933, back to 1911 and then back to 2003 but never once did I feel lost. The characters stories build and flow seamlessly and I particularly loved the idea that Alice was now a mystery writer and had followed her dreams. Oh to read a Diggory Brent novel now!

It’s tricky to review without giving anything away but I totally recommend this for fans of a complex, intricate mystery which will take you on a journey and immerse you in the walls of a utterly captivating Cornish lake house.

Suffolk, London – The Secret Keeper – Kate Morton

KAte morton

Why a booktrail?

1930s, 1960s, 2011: A shocking scene on a Suffolk farm reveals a story of love, loss and mystery which spans the decades

Story

Deep in the heart of the English countryside, sixteen-year-old Laurel Nicholson is reading and dreaming in her treehouse. Her family are having a birthday party at the bottom of the garden. Before the afternoon is over, she will witness a shocking crime that changes everything.

Now, fifty years later, Laurel is a successful and well-regarded actress, living in London. She returns to the family farm for her mother Dorothy’s ninetieth birthday and finds herself overwhelmed by questions concerning ‘that day’ that she now finds she needs answers to since her mother is dying.

From pre-WWII England through the Blitz, to the fifties and beyond, she examines the story of her mother Dorothy and two people she met during the war -Vivien and Jimmy— whose lives soon become forever entwined.

Place and setting

London - 7 and 25 Campden Grove’ - where Dorothy and Vivien live during the war London - Kensington Gardens and the famous Peter Pan statue - and the bench beside it - Dorothy sits here and waits for a certain someone to join her. London - British Library http://www.bl.uk/ Laurel goes looking for answers here Marble Arch Where the famous Lyons Corner House used to be. Try a Patisserie Valerie to evoke the time and place to take tea with Jimmy, Vivien and Dorothy
London – 7 and 25 Campden Grove– where Dorothy and Vivien live during the war
London – Kensington Gardens and the famous Peter Pan statue – and the bench beside it – Dorothy sits here and waits for a certain someone to join her.
London – British Library
Laurel goes looking for answers here
s Marble Arch
Where the famous Lyons Corner House used to be. Try a Patisserie Valerie to evoke the time and place to take tea with Jimmy, Vivien and Dorothy

From the sunny gardens and fields of the Suffolk countryside to the streets of wartime London, this is a story of how the fate of three people from very different backgrounds can become fatally entwined in ways none of them could have imagined.

Suffolk

Laurel now an actress returns to the farmhouse and the family home where she witnessed a murder all those years ago. A day which started out so well with a birthday party, laughter, family and reading her book in her secret tree house reading spot, dreaming of a boy named Billy. A day of childhood innocence which changed in a second.

Returning to Suffolk all those years ago brings back memories of every kind. From the creek of the wooden steps to the groans of the house as it seems to remember times past, the old house first seen in the sixties now becomes a house of memories and mystery in Laurel’s adult life.

London

London is the city of glamour for actress Laurel but back when she was growing up, when her mum was living in London during the war, it was a very different place. London in the Blitz was a dangerous place and in the streets of Kensington, Dorothy meets Vivien, a lady she admires for her dress sense, worthy work at the hospital and life she thinks she deserves.

Dorothy grows up in a loving family, spends time on the beach in Coventry but London with its bright lights and promises of adventure calls to her like nothing else has. Living in the rather posh Camden Grove just off Kensington High Street is a dream come true. Lyons Corner House at Marble Arch where she and boyfriend Jimmy eat, the shopping,  the WVS canteen in Kensington and the good work they can all do for the war effort.

Vivien and Dorothy – Two very different women living on the same street. Vivien has the life that Dorothy wants and the clothes of the time, the look, the style is what excites Dorothy in the big city. This is where she feels she is meant to be. Her new life is beginning- love for Jimmy and a new job change her world.

Jimmy Metcalfe is a photographer and captures the war’s effects on the city. His camera tells a story but it’s what’s behind the lens that really matters. London comes alive as he and Dorothy meet in Kensington Gardens, drink at the club at Marble Arch and Vivien works at the local hospital there.

Suffolk

But what Laurel discovers about her mother all those years ago, why a life should end in murder has its roots deep in the heart of history and war. She takes time to travel to Oxford as well and search in the records of time but sometimes the story not written on the page is the strangest of all.

Review

I loved this novel. Loved it and there are no other words really to express how genius the plot and evocative the writing. Absolutely stunning and captivating novel about second chances and how nothing is what it seems. The stabbing of a man in the opening chapters seems such a cruel and random act from a woman who has always been a calm and collected figure. I was intrigued from the very first page as the calm scene was set before that cliff hanger. The story which spirals out from this one event is one of the most captivating and fascinating story lines I have read in a long long while. Don’t hurry it or dismiss seemingly throwaway comments in this book – every word seems to act like a clue towards the final mystery.

Wartime London – oh the detail of this with the meetings at the Lyons Tea House, the scurry of people in the streets and the rations really captured the time and place and the sense that in one street, two women of very different backgrounds could be thrown together. I loved Vivien and finding out about her work and worried about her illness and how she acted. Dorothy’s plan to harm her former friend spiralled out of control and I was dying to reach into the book and pull one of them out for safety. I wanted to hug Jimmy though as he came across as a man in love, blinded by love but good to the core. Oh to sit with him in that canteen and drink tea!

The story builds, twists and turns and shocks you when you least expect it. Kate’s writing immerses you in a world that I didn’t want to leave and when Laurel finally found out what happened that fateful day, I was gobsmacked.

Vivien, Dorothy and Jimmy – never have I been so enamored with three characters in one novel. Read it again once you know the end as it’s fun trying to spot all those clues that were staring you in the face!

Manchester – Vermont – Ireland – The Letter – Kathryn Hughes

LETTER

Why a booktrail?

1930s, 1970s – Manchester. Two women living decades apart in Manchester are united by one very important letter which was never delivered.

Story 

A novel of love and hope across the decades.

1930s/40s –  A letter written on 4th September 1939 will have consequences which reach out across the decades hoping that one day an answer will come and the truth will be discovered. For the letter from a young man named Billy to a girl Christina was never delivered but found in the pocket of an old suit, left in a charity shop.

1970s Manchester – Tina finds this letter and starts to try and find who wrote it and what happened to the people it speaks of. It is a a moving letter, full of heartbreaking emotion and the pull of curiosity is just too great to leave alone. Tina suffers from an abusive marriage and recognises the sentiments of feeling trapped, longing to escape one’s past. She feels that by communicating with a stranger in the past, she can make sense of the future and escape her own reality.

Place and setting

Manchester, Vermont and Ireland - all featured in a heartbreaking story! Manchester Central Library The bulk of the novel is set in Manchester and without giving anything of the plot away, Central Library in St Peter’s square plays a pivotal part.
Manchester, Vermont and Ireland – all featured in a heartbreaking story!
Manchester Central Library
The bulk of the novel is set in Manchester and without giving anything of the plot away, Central Library in St Peter’s square plays a pivotal part.

Manchester 1970s

– Ireland and Vermont are also mentioned in the novel but the main action is set in and around Manchester –

Tina Craig is married to Rick, a drunken yob who tries to control her at every turn. He steals her escape fund and her life is one of daily drudgery and violence. The moment she finds a letter in the charity shop where she works, her world becomes a bit more hopeful and wider. 1973 is the year of the Grand National and Rick is depending on a win. Red Rum to win for Tina knows what is coming if the horse does not come in.

This letter introduces her to another woman across the years and soon she parallels her life to that of Chrissie from the 1940s also suffering at the hands of a brutal man, this time her father who thinks he can control everything she does. The link between these two women stretches out against a bleak yet hopeful Manchester setting.

Manchester in the 1940s was not the place where women could go out freely with men and when if your parents didn’t like who you were dating, things could get very messy indeed. Girls were not expected to get pregnant outside of wedlock and men were expected to sign up to the war effort.

Manchester in the 1970s – Turns out history can repeat itself as social boundaries and personal freedom can be just as restrictive as they once were. Abusive marriages or the constraints of a father who ousted you from the family home for bringing shame on the family are both signs that what a person wants and what society sees and expects are not always the same thing.

The detail of the 1970s – evoked via tins of peaches, Carnation cream, and power cuts is crisp and clear. The fate of women in both the 1940s and 1970s are frightening and raw. Emotional on every level and a time to sit and think how times have thankfully changed for the better.

Review

Next time you go inside a charity shop, take time to look in the pockets of a coat because if there’s the chance it sets you off on an adventure like this then count me in! This is one heck of an emotional ride mind. It reminded me of the story of Philomena in some respects with a child born out of wedlock and the resulting torment it brings. Abusive relationships and the feeling that history can put things right – or at least try to, is explored with full effect.

I did find the portrayal of domestic violence hard to read and Chrissie didn’t really have it much better – the abuse she suffered from her father was inexcusable. But this was a different time – still wrong though.

I felt so emotional for the two women. Hated what was happening to them and willed that letter to be found and read out. Oh take tissues with you when you read this, it’s heartbreaking and so sad. There is an event which happens later on to Tina which made me really angry and I had to stop reading such was its powerful effect. Brilliantly portrayed and evoked.

How the two stories wove together was really clever and it was like placing a black and white photo underneath a colour one and seeing the two pictures form a new one. Very, very emotional.

One last thing – I love the fact that a library was at the centre of the story. The author tells us that you can actually get married in this library and when you see it, you know why. Ooh this book has introduced me to the wonder of charity shops and the fact that libraries are even more magical than I thought. And that one short letter can have such a huge impact.

London – The Ship – Antonia Honeywell

SHIP

Why a booktrail?

TIME – In the Future. While London burns, and its people live in poverty, a ship holds the only hope for escape…or does it?

Story in a nutshell

London as you know it no longer exists. Civilsation is coming to an end. Oxford Street is burning, Regent’s Street has been bombed and those people who can’t produce an ID card, well you might as well not exist.

The only place which remains remotely recognisable is the British Museum. Well that’s if you can see past the crowds of survivors and disappearing displays from the once grand museum. The Nazareth Act has come into force. All those who can board the ship should do so.

Because the ship is  a floating salvation from this living nightmare….isn’t it?Only the worthy will be chosen but who decides and what kind of world lies on board this ship? 500 people are about to find out.

Place and setting

It's London but not as you know it. The British  Museum is at the centre of this dystopian world www.britishmuseum.org/
It’s London but not as you know it. The British Museum is at the centre of this dystopian world
www.britishmuseum.org/

Set in the not-too-distant future, the setting of a London under siege, burning, fraught with danger, poverty and disease is nevertheless largely recognisable as the city we know today. Minus the dystopian setting obviously but this recognition of present day places and events makes for a chilling and uncomfortable scene.

London is now somewhat changed – the crowds, the comfortable life which Lalla shares with her parents in Central London, the parks, the British Museum and familiar streets such as Oxford Street and Gower Street in a very different light and they become terrifying places.

This is London but not as we know it. Lalla is cut off from most of the horror since her only trips out are to the British Museum where she looks at the exhibits, notices the homeless who have not been registered and so are not entitled to food or supplies. Regents park for example has become a refugee camp of sorts. Bombs fall on those not registered.

The ship comes into dock as being the one place which could save humanity. Lalla’s father has bought it and equipped it for the hundreds of people he has selected to go on board. A human Noah’s ark if you will. Lalla believes with the others that as this is the end of civilsation then the ship is the only way out. But life on the ship is not what is seems. Everything they do on board is controlled, from the food they eat to the news they hear. But who is controlling what and why?

And what has happened to London and the outside world?

REview

Quick someone head over to the British Museum and check it’s still there? And Regent’s Park….and London now you think about it. I live near the sea and I swear if I look out and see a ship, I don’t know what I’ll do. 

The setting for this was so recongisable as was the language and coming of age feel to it all then I really saw London in a new light. Blimey, I’ll certainly take a new look at life now. It was thrilling to see how Lalla was so protective in her world but then how she came to realise what else was just yards from her own door.

I don’t know what other dystopian worlds are like but this was chilling yet also normal which made it even more chilling. Like Lalla, I was unsettled with the idea of the ship but intrigued to board. It did sound a marvellous place in some respects with its blue velvet benches and chandeliers but in a very creepy way. I really was looking over my shoulder reading this such was the feeling that I was being led astray and knew I shouldn’t be going there.

Can’t really say much more without giving spoilers but this was good. Very very good and I really feel as if I’ve read something I have never read before. I’m going on a ferry in few weeks and am getting nervous sweats already…..

England and French Riviera – The Mystery of the Blue Train Agatha Christie

the-mystery-of-the-blue-train

Why a booktrail?

Not the infamous Orient Express maybe, but when a woman is found murdered on the train, Poirot comes on board.

Story in a nutshell

When the luxurious Blue Train pulls into the station at Nice, a guard attempts to wake Ruth Kettering who is still sleeping in her compartment. He is shocked to discover that she is dead and has been felled by a heavy blow  – her features almost unrecognizable. Ruth Kettering was the daughter of an American millionaire and her rubies appear to be missing…

Poirot is called to investigate but he’s not sure that the prime suspect – Ruth’s estranged husband, Derek is the murderer, so he stages an exact and chilling re-enactment of the journey, complete with the murderer on board…

Place and setting

LONDON - Victoria Station Where the train departs from Paris - Place de la Concorde A little man with a face like a  rat crosses the Place de la Concorde France - South of France - France Riviera - Cannes When they arrived at Cannes, Katherine got out and walked up and down the platform France - South of France - France Riviera - Nice The final destination of the train
LONDON – Victoria Station
Where the train departs from
FRANCE – Paris – Place de la Concorde
A little man with a face like a rat crosses the Place de la Concorde
France – South of France – France Riviera – Cannes
When they arrived at Cannes, Katherine got out and walked up and down the platform
France – South of France – France Riviera – Nice
The final destination of the train

Train travel Agatha Christie style? Maybe keep one eye open when you sleep and always look over your shoulder when awake as murders appear to take place on her trains. This might not be the famous Orient Express but it’s a journey which ends in murder all the same.

A leisurely journey by train to the French Riviera might sound nice but poor Ruth is found dead – strangled in her carriage with her ruby “Heart of fire’ missing. This valuable stone had been given to her by her father. Ruth’s husband was on the train but he claims not to have seen Ruth. Others say he did.

Ruth’s maid is another strange character on the train, mixed up in the events of that day. In fact there are a range of strange characters with dubious backgrounds that Poirot finds it hard to understand at first.

The reenactment – like a reconstruction of the crime and the events is eerily evoked. Taking place just after the real crime and in such a closed space, the atmosphere is eerily evoked.

Old fashioned murder investigations resume  – with a potential jewel thief, a rich woman dead on a train and a cigarette case with the letter K engraved on it.

The plot of this novel is based on the 1923 Poirot short story  ‘The Plymouth Express’ and features the first mention and description of the fictional village St Mary Mead where Christie’s later Miss Marple stories would be set.

Murder at the Vicarage – Agatha Christie Country

MURDER

Why a booktrail?

The first Miss Marple and the start of some of the most classic murder mystery stories  in the world

Story

Miss Marple is a little old lady who lives in the quaint and quiet village of St Mary Mead. Only thing is, this is no little old lady and this certainly isn’t a quiet village! There is murder afoot for one and not only that it’s taken place at the local vicarage!

The victim is one Colonel Protheroe, the magistrate whom everyone in town hated. But who hated him enough to shoot him through the head?Miss Marple sets out to find the killer amongst a community where everyone seems to have a motive.

Place and setting

Nether Wallop - http://www.thewallops.net/NWallop/Village.htm The church in the village of ‘St Mary Mead’ where the TV show was filmed Bracknell Said to be Brackhampton and close to Nether Wallop Milestones Hampshire's Living History Museum http://www.visit-hampshire.co.uk/things-to-do/milestones-p6601 Said to be the fictional Market Basing. To get a feel for times gone by the Milestones Living history Museum is good. Torquay - Grand Hotel Christie Country - this hotel is where Agatha Christie got married to Archie Christie in 1914 Greenway -http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/greenway/ Agatha Christie's summer home and now a National Trust site
Nether Wallophttp://www.thewallops.net/NWallop/Village.htm
The church in the village of ‘St Mary Mead’ where the TV show was filmed
Bracknell
Said to be Brackhampton and close to Nether Wallop
Milestones Hampshire’s Living History Museum
http://www.visit-hampshire.co.uk/things-to-do/milestones-p6601
Said to be the fictional Market Basing. To get a feel for times gone by the Milestones Living history Museum is good.
Torquay – Grand Hotel
Christie Country – this hotel is where Agatha Christie got married to Archie Christie in 1914
Greenwayhttp://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/greenway/ Agatha Christie’s summer home and now a National Trust site

Welcome to St Mary Mead. The quaint and quiet little village which is home to a number of quirky Christie characters which are introduced here and appear in other novels in the series.

Now, in this village they call St Mary Mead live the “Parish cats” otherwise known as Miss Marple and her friends. Nice analogy which gives the impression of female felines wandering about the place, creeping in every nook and cranny looking for clues. Looking at people suspiciously as cats often do.

The church is supposed to be the centre of the community but when a murder is committed there, this shakes up the village to its core. The vicar and his wife, Leonard and Griselda Clement, are the pillars of this community where comments over the roast beef are the words which start a murder investigation….

’Anyone who murdered Colonel Protheroe,’ declared the parson, brandishing a carving knife above a joint of roast beef, ‘would be doing the world at large a service!’

This village is full of characters as you might expect a quaint little village to include – there’s the nosey parkers, the little old ladies, the poachers, grouchy old men and  a colonel who everybody really disliked.

The mystery sets up a series of threads and false trails which Miss Marple and the vicar attempt to unravel. But it’s the snapshot of a village in times gone by, an English village in the countryside with a church at its centre which enwraps you in a cosy glow with tea in a china cup to enjoy while you sleuth away…

St Mary Mead

Miss Marple lives in this fictional yet delightful village which is situated some 25 miles from London and close to the fictional towns of Much Benham and Market Basing according to the novels. In the television adaptation of the novels, the village of Nether Wallop (it’s as if Agatha Christie named it herself) is the inspiration and setting for the stories.