Skansen zoo is a popular sight in Stockholm popular with tourists and locals alike but there is shock when a gangster recently arrive in the city is found murdered in the most macabre of situations, his body consumed by animals.
Elsewhere in the city, a group of eight Eastern European women vanish from a refugee centre. Then an elderly professor is found executed at a Jewish cemetery, the tattooed number on his arm a disturbing sign to his past.
The Intercrime unit dedicated to international violent crime has a dark dark series of cases to investigate and their search will take them back through the recesses of history.
Place and Setting
A macabre scene at Skansen zoo, refugees missing from a refugee centre and a dead professor in a Jewish cemetery. Stockholm’s intercrime unit has a difficult time ahead as these crimes have a dark nature to them and the investigations will leave a trail from one continent to another.
The zoo takes on a grim and grisly tinge –
They drive him towards the Skansen fence, right by the wolves, They’d probably already clipped a hole in the fence next toit, alongside the wolf enclosure
From present day Stockholm, the crimes have their origins in greek gangsters and their links to a Milan crime family as well as what happened during the second world war. Historic crimes, an historical legacy and bad blood can have serious and deadly repercussions.
This is a grim, gritty delve into the past with murder, torture, slavery and war time butchery seeping into Stockholm’s streets. What role did Sweden have during the war and how neutral was it really? How did fascism then and now keep rearing its ugly head?
They went out there to get drunk, break gravestones and sing Nazi battle songs in the Jewish cemetery
The landscape of Stockholm now is one of ugly repercussions – and the war, the holocaust has some horrific secrets to share. The Intercrime unit is to have some complicated threads to unravel. A deeply disturbing view of nationalism is permeating every crevice of the city and beyond.
With the literary train pulling into the last station of the @transworldbooks booktrail tour, train travel via a book is the new way to travel! There’s sometimes a murder, sometimes a little romance but always intrigue…
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
The last book featured in the Transworld booktrail tour was the Girl on the Train. Now this wasa cracking read I took on the train back in January to recreate the atmosphere and the setting, oh and the ability to do just as Rachel did and look out the window and wonder….
This is apparently being made into a film with Emily Blunt and I can’t wait!
I read this on a train for the ultimate booktrail and I really recommend this as you can spy into houses and watch your fellow passengers just as Rachel does….
Agatha Christie – Murder on the Orient Express
Just watched the TV version of this again with Albert Finney in the staring role. Now, there’s something about murder on a train – closed compartments, a limited chance to get away, the murderer must still be on the train scenario…..
This is still the classic of all murder mysteries and classic Agatha Christie.Just after midnight, a snowdrift stops the Orient Express in its tracks. An American businessman who was travelling on the busy train was found murdered in his bed – with the door locked from the inside. Hercule Poirot slowly starts to unravel the stories of each of the passengers and finds that nothing is as it seems.
I don’t know how many times I’ve read this but I can read it again and again and get the same amount of pleasure from it each time. It’s nostalgic and a classic.
Mr Briggs’ Hat: A Sensational Account of Britain’s First Railway Murder – Kate Colquhoun
A very real life case of a murder on a train was explored in the novel by Kate Colquhoun – Mr Brigg’s Hat explores how in July 1864, Thomas Briggs was travelling home when he got on the 9.45pm Hackney service of the North London railway.
By the time the train had arrived in Hackney, Mr Briggs has seemingly disappeared yet the carriage he was travelling in was stained in blood and a hat was found on the seat.
This is a great read as there is a real sense of police work and investigations back at a time when police procedure was new and unlike that it is today. The whole affair is more shocking and suprising as it’s true and this book really gripped for the way it immersed me into the time, the attitudes and society of the time.
A happy train journey to end with – one with romance, flowers and the ultimate destination of all – The Orient Express is back but this time, it’s a case of strangers meeting, families getting along and young lovers spending time together….
I really felt like an observer on this train. Seeing so many people and wondering who they were travelling with and why they were on the most iconic train in the world. Maybe I’m just nosy and love people watching…..but I really enjoyed meeting everyone and finding out their stories.
Which ever book you curl with, enjoy your journey!
Italy, 1932. Mussolini’s Italy is growing from strength to strength, but at what cost?
Story in a nutshell
One bright sunny morning, architect Isabella Berotti sits at a café in the vibrant centre of Bellina in Italy. A woman comes up to her and asks if she will watch her ten year old daughter just for a moment. Isabella agrees but moments later, watches in horror as the woman throws herself from the square’s clock tower
Trying to protect the young child, Isabella is thrown into a dangerous situation as she attempts to keep the child away from the authorities. These are dangerous times in Italy and you can’t trust your neighbours. But something niggles Isabella, something the woman said before she committed suicide.
Isabella is compelled to work out the secrets of this encounter, and of the child’s family but she does so at a very grave risk to herself
Place and setting
Kate Furnivall takes you to a side of Italy you have never seen before. The Pontine Marshes have such a history and story behind them that is recreated here against a backdrop of mystery and intrigue
Mussolini and his fascist regime had a vision – to recreate a brave new world, to give homes and work to those in the Great War. More than 124,000 men were involved in building the five towns on the marshes and what a historical backdrop this turns out to be.
A wide open plain of some 30 miles by 20 miles, 30 miles SW of Rome, the town of Bellina is fictional but is based on Latina, one of the towns Mussolini helped create.
A barren and godforsaken place..
But he had to admire Mussolini’s audacity. His sheer strength of will to succeed where Roman emperors, popes and even Napoleon ha failed before him
The historical background is important since Isabella Berotti’s husband was involved in the fighting and was one of Mussolini’s Blackshirts– the tension as they roam the streetson the outskirts of Bellina is palpable –
Isabella had heard rumours from Francesca of unrest in the zone, stories of the blackshirts sweeping through it with their truncheons. Here the dust was thick, at its worst when the wind raced down the mountains.
The history of the country and Mussolini’s legacy therefore is Isabella’s story too. She fears her husband’s death was more complicated that it was made out to be but fears searching for the truth will reveal so much more. Standing up to such a cruel regime is frightening – as Isabella stands in Mussolini’s presence
It was like being in a cage with a lion. Nothing less. He didn’t need to roar orsnarl. Just his presence was danger enough
Danger, unrest and betrayal are behind every corner as Rosa, the young girl looks set to remain trapped in the town’s convent. The authorities want to stop Isabella from trying to rescue her with a photographer at her side.
But why exactly does the atmosphere of suspicion and danger which lingers?
Booktrail review – Susan
If you love Italy, history or simply a very intriguing historical mystery then this is the book for you. From the very first page, the action and intrigue come thick and fast and the twists of the plot are as winding as the small Italian streets. You can smell the fear and tension all around, as Isabella tries to find out what Rosa’s mother told her just before she killed herself.
I was totally enraptured from the very first page. Why, who, what? I never stopped asking myself what was happening and the pages practically slipped through my fingers. Set against a real historical time period and event which I had never heard of, I was intrigued to know more and by reading this fascinating story of Isabelle and little Rosa, you will learn, feel and experience much more than in any history book.
The fear of a woman trying to protect a young child whilst uncovering the real past of her dead husband was a thrilling premise which was layered with dramatic effect. This needs to be a movie – it was so epically evoked and played out so vividly in my mind’s eye
Most definitely recommended for a trail but a gorgeously swept novel of history, the search for the truth and the true meaning of human legacy.
A tasty treat to be devoured with a spoonful of olive oil in a crumbly old farmhouse in Puglia. Careful what you buy on ebay…and watch out for goats…..
Story in an olive
It’s something most of us have done at some point – sat in front of a computer fuelled by alcohol. What most of us haven’t done however is to then go on Ebay and buy an Italian farmhouse.
Well Ruthie Collins does just that and before long she is thrown head first into a way of life, a raging family feud and the art of olive oil growing. Ruthie of course knows nothing of what to expect and even less about olive oil. Marco Bellanuovo, the rather handsome neighbour does however. The farmhouse has been in his family for years and Marco is at the heart of the feud and his mother’s apron strings. Marco and his family are suspicious of Ruthie’s motives and Marco is particularly keen to test her being there.
Ruthie is not about to crawl back to England. No she is there to fight for her dream.
Place and setting
Well of course Puglia just jumps from the page. And that’s just the high kicking goat called Daphne..
The author evokes vivid images of an idyllic Italian community – a village with a street market where the lemons on the trees are like‘big gold cricket balls’ dripping from the branches.
And then there’s the countryside – the hills, the rugged landscape and the animals (goats and chickens abound), the crumbling farmhouse, ramshackle buildings…
Right at the heart of the novel is the Bellanouvo family – with Marcobeaten down by his Italian Mama ( who is as flamboyant and a dab hand in the kitchen as you would wish)
But it’s the smell and story of olives that will have you licking your lips..
Let the oil sit on your tongue and you will find the flavours work like a balloon, first at the tip of your tongue and then expanding to touch the sides.
It’s a good every day oil. You should get the taste of tomatoes, apple and then pepper
Ruthie’s Italian skills don’t help her to explore this new world since the dialect and way of talking here is not what she learnt! What she does learn however is the Italian way of life, olive farming and the art of olive oil tasting. She makes rather too much piccalilli and uses this as a peace offering in the village – much to their amusement.
The joys of living the dream coupled with the harsh reality. The farmhouse in question is fraught with problems but the jovial, heartwarming and utterly chaotic Italian family community more than make up for it.
A joy for all the senses.
Like being at the heart of the Mama Dolmio Advert with the larger than life characters, italian greetings sprinkled all over like the herbs on a good lasagne, this is life in Italy evoked for your taste buds.
I knew nothing of olive oil and farming and this was fascinating in the extreme! The hard work involved in working on a farm, orchard and mending the ornate Trullo roofs – such craftsmanship!
This world the author has created is a fascinating one which warms your heart and puts you at the heartof the Italian family bosom. You can hear them shouting and waving their arms even off the page which makes for one very funny read.
Oh and be careful of goats…they tend to have characters of their own and pop up everywhere at the most awkward of times!
A olive oil fused gem of a book with a duck poo aperitif…
Ever wanted to escape to an island far far away? Corsica and Sardinia grab you?
Octavia Shelton’s life was not how she had imagined it. She’s married yes but to safe reliable Jonathan and instead of packing the suitcase and travelling the world with him and free -spirited children, the only packing she does these days is the family’s packed lunches.The only mountains she climbs are the mounds of dirty washing.
when her best friend’s marriage breaks up, she dreams of escape herself and wonders what would happen if she returned to the islands of Corsica and Sardinia and met the man she used to love?
Place and setting
You can imagine the scenario – the drudgery of daily life and marriage and days spent wondering what could have been. Best friends Octavia and Roberta are both in unhappy marriages and so when Roberta’s marriage ends, Octavia starts to get ever restless.
The opening sentence draws you right in to the life and plight of these women –
“I was wearing the wrong bra for sitting in a police cell.”
From then on this is a journey that takes you through the myriad of serious problems that any 30 odd year old woman could be going through – marriage struggles, break ups, career issues, children and inner torment of what might have been
The island part of the story doesn’t come into play in to much later inthe novel that you might expect. Rather this is a tale of two female friends journeying the rocky road of unhappiness together. No sad tale this one though as its full of laughter, humour and wry smiles. As Octavia prepares seeking the man she was once in love with –
Age was my disguise. I put on my sun hat anyway . Less Room with a View and more Carry on Corsica
Once the island comes into play however the affect is summery and mysterious in equal measure –
I almost didn’t want to look across the waves. A little ferry boat made white tracks across the sea, Corsica bound…
But the shadowy clouds of doubt and regret are always on the horizon and Octavia and Roberta have taken very different paths in life, Octavia now searching for her past in the sandy beaches of Corsica. There are many surprises buried there and the digging is a whole lot of fun..
A tale of travelling actors, and the stage is set for murder and intrigue in 16th century Italy
Story in a nutshell
Modena, Italy, 1582.
Seventeen-year-old seamstress Sofia Genotti is on the run, falsely accused of theft. Desperate to avoid a life as a whore, she meets a troupe of actors who move around the country performing tales of folklore. She joins them as a seamstress but soon is on the stage herself.
Amidst the face paint and the costumes, danger lies. Sofia meets and falls in love with one of the actors Beppe but they don’t see what lies behind the curtain, tucked out of sight. When a murder takes place, Sofia is accused of the worst crime and could mean that her performing days are over and that a life in prison is what she can expect.
A tragedy of errors takes place off the stage where the real action is a lot worse than make believe.
Place and setting
Smell the greasepaint, hear the actors milling about behind the scenes and can you hear the crowds cheering for the next performance? What about the costumes and the glorious masks where nothing is as it seems?
Welcome to the world of the travelling actors who tour Italy performing on the street of in front of aristocrats
Theyhave performed eleven times in the towns and villages of Emilia Romagna and not once have they met with a hostile crowd
The magic of the theatre is the true setting here and is evoked via each one of the five senses.
Sofia meets the troupe here and we meet her running through the streets to escape her tormentors. But once the theatre comes into play, there is hope.
It is here inPiazza Vecchio where Sofia first meets Signor Zanetti and where she finds hope and salvation amongst the crowded and nosy market square and the carts laden with misshapen loaves and sweetmeats.
Inside the walled city and within the Piazza de Porta di Ravegnana – this is where the troupe are to perform and where Sofia first meets Beppe
We perform in the Piazza de Porta di Ravegnana this afternoon and in the shadows of the two towers
The stage is erected here and the costumes set out, the face paint goes on and the crowds roar. You can hear and smell the excitement in the crowds as they cheer loudly.
Just outside Bologna (which you should ride to in one of the many travelling wagons in the story), a lauded performance at the great Castello della Franceschina
Standing alone, the red brick castle looms squat and square, two storeys high with a stout constellated tower at each corner, uncompromising and simply designed like a child’s toy fortress.
This is the location of murder and intrigue and where the mask slips from the face of the guilty. Dark dealings within its corridors, the sense of entrapment and isolation is the only breeze which makes the candles flicker in disgust. For the castle walls hold secrets
Beppe and Sofia – who live in a world of escapism – will have to achieve their best performance yet. Banished from their towns and villages of Emilia Romagna, From Ferrara in the north to Ravenna in the east to Reggio in the west, they have lost their hearts and their heartland…
A woman is left a Ferrari in her uncle’s will, but to earn it, she must take it on an journey across France, Switzerland and Italy and send postcards from various places. Sounds like fun to us!
Story in a nutshell
Laurie loves comfort and home life- she works in a library, has a reliable boyfriend and thinks she’s happy. But when she’s offered the chance of a Ferrari and has to undertake a road journey across Europe to get it, she is somewhat nervous.
Her uncle Miles was known as an eccentric but what he is proposing – this drive across Europe with the gorgeous but unreliable Cameron Matthews as her guide… seems to be the maddest idea of all.
Cam is there for the ride in more ways than one – he’s got his eye on the flashy car and is prepared to do al he can to get it. It should be easy – he’s the guide after all.
But Uncle Miles is really the one in the driving seat – for the route is a special one and they’re about to see just what twists, turns and bumps he has planned along the way
Place and setting
A trail in a car leaving from the channel tunnel and then going all the way across France, Switzerland and finally to Italy seems like a great way to travel.
Having a preplanned journey with the task of sending a postcard from each one sounds like fun and they’re soon off travelling but at first the journey is not an easy one – with two such very different personalities in the car, the ride is bumpy from the start.
This is a journey with a difference and there are many surprises along the way – think road trip mixed with a treasure hunt of sorts and a few candid camera moments and your picture is almost complete. Laurie and Cam change quite a lot from the beginning and Laurie especially, as she gets further away from her home in Leighton Buzzard and her old life.
From the Channel tunnel, they head to Honfleur , Le Mans, Orleans and to the delights of the Loire Valley and the stunning castles there. Then off to Chaumont, Bresancon, Basle, Zurich, Monstein, Bormio and Maranello
But the real challenge is the Stelvio Pass – the journey from Switzerland to Italy and all the way to the home of Formula One – Maranello
For all car enthusiasts, this will cause extreme envy – visiting Bormio and Maranello. In a Ferrari!
No spoilers as to what happens to the car and those in it, but it’s been a rip roaring ride of surprises and romance set against a real life adventure trail and pilgrimage for Ferrari fans everywhere.
Well that was an interesting journey! I could feel the wind in my hair, the roar of the engine and the scenery of various countries and places whizzing by. Such a fun ride and as many twists and turns both in the story and on the road. Never been in a Ferrari but I really want to go in a real one now!
The idea that your uncle had only left you a Ferrari if you drove it half way across Europe appealed to me. Knowing nothing about the world of Ferraris. I now know a little of that buzz world and the places people go on car pilgrimages. Quite an eye opener!
All in all a fun ride and a charming story. It’s a romantic comedy and there were more than one Bridget Jones moment with Laurie! She’d be great to travel with. Laughs all the way.
A fun read with an amazing backdrop across Europe!
Formerly published at 5 e novellas, now you can literally travel the world with Poppy in Paris, Lily in LA, Maggie in Meribel, Rachel in Rome before heading off the to big apple.
Story in a nutshell
Even if you’ve never met the four friends who have the most madcap adventures in far flung places around the world, here you can meet them all ‘ on tour’ for the celebrity travellers that they are. Set together in one volume, the journey almost seems like the most extravagant and mad cap adventure in the world.
Poppy, Lily, Maggie, and Rachel. Who will you want to be and where will you want to go? Well now you can now pick this perfect literary package tour. Holiday destinations and a fair few surprises and giggles along the way…
Place and setting
There should be a poster for this book – Girls on Tour – certainly reads like a tour and with that song ‘ Here come the girls’ ringing in our ears, this is the perfect moment to read this book.
Poppy’s off on a work trip to the city of romance. Ironic when she’s in one of her deepest dry spells. Oh and as soon as she arrives and steps off that metro at Odeon station, she sees the familiar Paris sights: the statue of Danton, broad boulevards with tall white buildings, Saint Suplice and the beautiful Jardins de Luxembourg. Oh but the two most iconic sites for a booktrailer are here too – The Shakespeare ad Company book shop and the nearby tea shop ‘ La Fourmi Ailee’ – literally translated as ‘ant with wings’. A very Parisian Jaunt around the city of love, but will it be love for Poppy?
Lily in LA, where her dream role is ambushed by an all-American dreamboat. Oh the thrills and spills of the city of fame and fortune. Quirky funny observations where Hollywood boulevard reminds her of Bromley! From The treelined avenue of Abbot Kinney boulevard, this is a ride around Venice Beach and the wedding dress shops of the area. But with an American dreamboat not far behind…
Maggie is in Meribel, where a romantic skiing holiday turns topsy-turvy.What’s there not to love with the soft white pure snow, hot chocolate, raclette, vin chaud…and plenty of eye candy too to enjoy on the slopes of the French alps
Ride a Vespa with Rachel in Rome, and follow her and her two besties around the city with history, culture and delectable men. It’s a culinary journey too for it made us want to eat olives, ice cream and sip cappuccinos although not at the same time!
What trip to New York would not want to recreate a little of the Sex and the City magic? Don’t be hungry when reading this for there are cocktails, pancakes and gorgeous treats galore. Oh and when the girls do Manhattan, they do Manhattan – from the tourist sites to the fun things that only girls on holiday can do. There’s a lot of fashion sights too and then Lily shares their real reason for being here..
Well if you love travel, girlie holidays, thrills and spills of the unexpected, adventure and cocktails then you’re in for a fun ride! Such different characters and different settings for their quirky natures to come alive. Nice how the stories are interlinked and the friendships develop, I wanted to be the fifth girl on the tour to be honest. Thought we’d go to somewhere in Spain, Barcelona for example. Oooh I had it all planned out, the things we would do and the things we would see! I feel I know the girls well enough now to know what each one would like to do on their next jaunt away!
A lot of fun and dashing around the globe seeing each different lifestyles personality and adventures was a great literary trip. Interesting how the settings complimented the girls personalities too – and brought out such different behaviours. I had a song ‘ Girls on tour ‘ with a spice girl theme running in my mind all throughout these five picture postcards of literary jaunts and it made for a great soundtrack.
When you read something like this which could be a travelogue, love story, adventure and challenge to overcome troubles in your life all rolled into one, you just know you’re in for a great ride.
The opulence of Puglia contrasted with the horrific poverty of the war veterans and settings that will take your breath away. Based on true historical detail.
Story in a nutshell
Leandro Cardetta, once poor has now returned to southern Italy after having made his fortune in America. he now is rich enough to hire renowned English architect, Boyd Kingsley, to renovate a crumbling palazzo into an Art Deco palace. Once its done he wants to invite his teenage son and his second wife , clare, for a summer.
But 1921 is a difficult time for despite the wealth of this man, there is much tension in the region. Veterans of the Great War are starving and unemployed. Leandro’s nephew Ettore wants revenge for the death of his fiancee and one day comes to Leandro for help. Meeting Clare will change everything
The summer of 1921 will change a great deal for the family and reveal the secrets of how each one really came to be there.
Place and setting
The Italian sun sits high in the sky burning down oneveryone and everything below. Slowly and surely the heat burns and raises the temperature of the landscape and the people going about their business. A family is meeting in luxury in Puglia – they have come from far and wide to be here yet their reasons for doing so are quite different.
Bari’s Streets seem alien after so many weeks in Gioia at at the masseria ; they are too big, too wide, too long.
This could well be the last day she ever spends in Puglia and if the choice is hers it will be.
An italian who has made his fortune in New York returns to Puglia where luxury sits with poverty. Leandro although rich is still not accepted by those he would like to be. With a glamorous American wife, he’s determined to make his mark. But how did he get so wealthy – and just what secrets does his wife hide?
Against the backdrop of war and poverty, the men who toil and sweat for hours doing back braking work only to support their families contrast with the shine and opulent luxury of Leandro’s home seen shallow and unstable –
Hunger is like a stone in your shoe. At first you think it’s an irritation, but it doesn’t really hinder you. But then it makes you limp and makes it hard to walk. The pain grows
The class divides here are revealed by Ettore who lives in poverty and is taken to his uncle’s farmhouse when he is injured and where he reveals his humble background as a slave worker. Rich and poor, those in work and those without – the class divide is strong and unrest lingers in the air and demonstrations are not far away.
Katherine’s portrayal of the poverty and the contrast between the rich and poor was very skillfully done for it included all shades of black, white and grey of the issue and showed the tension and feeling of the people on both sides. The truth and the secret which spill out are horrifying.
Class and politics ruled the roost in the post Great War Era. This is agood way to experience life in Puglia at a very significant and dangerous time.
For information on the area and to see the town of Alberobello which first inspired Katherine to write this story, then please visit the link below. Alberobello is a UNESCO world heritage site.
Katherine Webb is a writer I like more with each book she writes. For the places and people she writes about come alive off the page and you feel their pain and experience their lives with her. The settings are always very strong and evocative and this one, Puglia, is no exception. Perhaps it is even stronger since it is the setting of so many different stories and experiences coming together.
I knew nothing of the situation in Puglia and the situation of latifundism or land ownership and the workings of the large masserias. This was a major time in the south of Italy and the years leading up to Mussolini coming to power, the workers of the south had fought and struggled for their own sense of order. This was a volatile region at that time and so via the eyes of an outsider (Clare) , we can see this in all its shattering and horrifying ‘glory’.
The overlying theme is the haves and the have nots, the poverty of some and the wealth of the few, the harshness of the reality of war and the everlasting consequences.
And throughout this a love story, and not just with the lyrical descriptions of Puglia. Katherine Webb has been inspired by real and actual events and the attention to detail is outstanding.