Killer Review: Closed Casket by Sophie Hannah

Image result for closed casket book imageBlurb: Hercule Poirot returns in another brilliant murder mystery that can only be solved by the eponymous Belgian detective and his ‘little grey cells’.

‘What I intend to say to you will come as a shock . . .’

Lady Athelinda Playford has planned a house party at her mansion in Clonakilty, County Cork, but it is no ordinary gathering. As guests arrive, Lady Playford summons her lawyer to make an urgent change to her will – one she intends to announce at dinner that night. She has decided to cut off her two children without a penny and leave her fortune to someone who has only weeks to live . . .

Among Lady Playford’s guests are two men she has never met – the famous Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot, and Inspector Edward Catchpool of Scotland Yard. Neither knows why he has been invited . . . until Poirot starts to wonder if Lady Playford expects a murderer to strike. But why does she seem so determined to provoke, in the presence of a possible killer?

When the crime is committed in spite of Poirot’s best efforts to stop it, and the victim is not who he expected it to be, will he be able to find the culprit and solve the mystery?

Lady Athelinda Playford invites Inspector Edward Catchpool and Hercule Poirot to her remote mansion in County Cork along with a number of other guests including her children. When she announces at dinner that she has changed her will cutting off her two children and leaving it to her personal who only has weeks to live, she sets off a chain of events which will end in murder. But can Hercule Poirot and Inspector Catchpool put their differences aside long enough to uncover the true culprit and solve the mystery?

I loved this book from the outset which I read in a day and a half.This story has everything a golden age mystery would have, making this feel authentic.

The point of view character/narrator Inspector Edward Catchpool is an interesting one. He is the underdog which most of the other characters write off  which allows him to investigate under the radar while giving a great insight into the character of Hercule Poirot and his ‘little grey cells’ at work. I did find that Hercule Poirot spent less time on the page than some of the other characters but I think in this novel it does work surprisingly well as it allowed some of the focus to shift between the other characters creating suspense, tension and allowed the mystery to unfold organically.

This novel does have a low body count which I found refreshing as it allowed the focus to be on the ‘closed casket’ mystery. This is a novel which looks at the minds and actions of each character with Hercule Poirot slowly unravelling the motivations behind each one which I loved. This is a brilliant golden age mystery which takes the reader on a journey along with Inspector Catchpool and Hercule Poirot.

Closed Casket is a compelling novel full of twists, surprises with a classic murder mystery at its centre. I would recommend for all crime fans!

With thanks to HarperCollins for an advanced review copy.

To buy this book from Amazon click here.

To buy this book from Waterstones click here.

To find out more about Sophie Hannah follow her on Twitter @sophiehannahCB1.

Blackout Blog Tour

Today I’m delighted to be hosting the next stop on Ragnar Jonasson’s Blackout blog tour. Blackout is the third instalment in the fabulous Dark Iceland series which picks up from where Ragnar’s debut novel Snowblind left off. As part of the blog tour I thought I would share with you part of the opening from Blackout.

Blackout Front VisBlurb:  On the shores of a tranquil fjord in Northern Iceland, a man is brutally beaten to death on a bright summer’s night. As the 24-hour light of the arctic summer is transformed into darkness by an ash cloud from a recent volcanic eruption, a young reporter leaves Reykajvik to investigate on her own, unaware that an innocent person’s life hangs in the balance. Ari Thor Arason and his colleagues on the tiny police force in Siglufjordur struggle with an increasingly perplexing case, while their own serious personal problems push them to the limit. What secrets does the dead man harbour, and what is the young reporter hiding? As silent, unspoken horrors from the past threaten them all, and the darkness deepens, it s a race against time to find the killer before someone else dies… 

Blackout by Ragnar Jonasson

Part 1: Day 1 Summer

‘How do you like Iceland?’ ‘If for nothing else, he had come to Iceland to avoid that kind of question. The day began well, as the find June morning dawned. Not that there was any clear difference between morning and evening at this time of year, when the sun stayed bright around the clock, casting blinding light wherever he looked.

Evan Fein had long anticipated visiting this island at the edge of the habitable world. And now here this Ohio art history student was, on his first visit to Iceland. Nature had pooled its energies, as if to add woes of the financial crash, by presenting Icelanders with two volcanic eruptions, one right after the other. The volcanic activity appeared to have subsided for the moment though, and Evan had just missed the events.

He had already spent a few days in Iceland, starting by taking in the sights of Reykjavik and the tourist spots around the city. Then he had hired a car and set off for the north. After a night at a campsite at Blönduós he had made an early start, setting out for Skagafjörður. He had purchased a CD of old-fashioned Icelandic ballads and now slotted it into the car’s player, enjoying the music without understanding a word of the lyrics, proud to be something of a travel nerd, immersing himself in the culture of the countries he visited.

He took the winding Thverárfjall road, turning off before he got as far as the town of Sauðarkrókur  on the far side of the peninsula. He wanted to take a look at Grettir’s pool, the ancient stone-flagged hot bath he knew had to be somewhere nearby, not far from the shore. It was a slow drive along the rutted track to the pool, and he wondered if trying to find it was a waste of time. But the thought of relaxing for a while in the steaming water and taking in both the beauty of his surroundings and the tranquillity of the morning was a tempting one. He drove at a snail’s pace, lambs scattering from the sides of the road as he passed, but the pool stubbornly refused to be found. Evan started to wonder if he had missed the turning, and slowed down at every farm gate, trying to work out if the entrance to the pool might be hidden away – across a farmer’s land, or down a side turning, a country lane. Had he driven too far?

Finally he saw a handsome house, which on closer inspection, looked to be half built. It stood not far from the road with a small grey van parked in front of it. Evan pulled his car to the side of the road and stopped. And then started with surprise…’

If you want to know what happens next you’ll just have to buy your very own copy of Blackout which I would thoroughly recommend!

Blackout is published by Orenda Books and is out to buy now.

To buy this book on Amazon click here.

To buy this book on Waterstones click here.

To find out more about Ragnar Jonasson follow him on Twitter @ragnarjo or check out his website here.

 

A Death In The Family Blog Tour

Today, I’m delighted to host the next stop on the A Death in the Family blog tour by Michael Stanley. I have added the opening paragraph of the novel so you can see how beautifully written it is along with my review.

Opening Paragraph:

‘Assistant Superintendent David ‘Kubu’ Bengu was enjoying his dream. He was at an all-you-can-eat buffet at The Palms hotel. His table was on the patio away from the noisy bar, and Joy, his wife, was visiting her sister, so she couldn’t limit how much he could eat.’

Death in the Family, A (Detective Kubu)

Blurb:

Faced with the violent death of his own father, even Assistant Superintendent David ‘Kubu’ Bengu, Botswana’s keenest mind, is baffled. Who would kill such a frail old man? The picture becomes even murkier with the apparent suicide of a government official. Are Chinese mine-owners involved? And what role does the US Embassy have to play?

Set amidst the dark beauty of modern Botswana, A Death in the Family is a thrilling insight into a world of riots, corruption and greed, as a complex series of murders present the opera-loving, wine connoisseur detective with his most challenging case yet. When grief-stricken Kubu defies orders and sets out on the killers’ trail, startling and chilling links emerge, spanning the globe and setting a sequence of shocking events in motion. Will Kubu catch the killers in time…and find justice for his father?

This is another instalment in the Kubu series which sees Assistant Superintendent David ‘Kubu’ Benga woken in the middle of the night only to be told devastating news that his own father has been violently murdered.As events unfold and Kubu is assigned to a ‘suspected’ suicide he starts to suspect that the murder of his father is not the first and he is on the hunt for a killer who will not stop until they get what they want.

Amazing!!

I loved this novel which is so beautifully written with its vivid imagery which really brings the world of Botswana to life for me, showing the traditions of this culture and its authentic language making this a rich and compelling story.

Detective Kubu is an interesting character who has an inquisitive mind, a thirst for justice and is a wine drinking connoisseurwho has a deep rooted sense of family. This theme of family ties is reflected through the relationships Kubu has with his mother, wife and children which brought in an added dimension to my reading experience. Kubu does struggle with his grief throughout the story which brought some very touching moments in the book which I adored.

I thought this book was full of pace, suspense and has a dark undertone. What amazed me when reading was I had no idea who the killer was until very late on in the novel! The authors did a fantastic job of keeping the culprit hidden with the many red herrings and twists.

This is a fabulous book full of beautiful descriptions, is fast paced with many twists and turns. This is a dark crime novel I would definitely recommend!

To buy this book from Amazon click here.

To buy this book from Waterstones click here.

Michael Stanley is the writing team of Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip. To find out  more follow them  on Twitter @detectivekubu.

September First Monday Crime Event

I have been taking a little bit of an unplanned blogging break for the past two weeks but couldn’t resist sharing my experience last week when I attended the September session of the First Monday Crime Event.

The night featured a host of brilliant authors including, Sophie Hannah author of a number of psychological novels and has recently penned two new Hercule Poirot novels, Tim Weaver author of the successful David Raker series, Rod Reynolds author of the superb Texarkana novels featuring Charlie Yates and debut psychological thriller author Jane Corry.

This was yet another superb night filled with criminal discussions, wine, books, fun and ended with drinks in the local pub.

During the session the authors discussed their inspiration behind their novels, Sophie Hannah was approached by her agent and the Agatha Christie estate to write a new Hercule Poirot novel. Sophie has always been a big fan of Agatha Christie’s novels which are usually ‘puzzle based mysteries’ which she has replicated in the Poirot novels.

Tim Weaver created the David Raker series who features a missing persons investigator still coming to terms with the death of his wife and wanted through his series to ‘give a sense of who the missing people are and Raker.’

Rod Reynolds is a big fan of noir novels and has set his new novel Black Night Falling in the 1940s in Hot Springs, Arkansas, which was ‘the mobs vacation.’ He discovered this little gem of a place while researching his first novel The Dark Inside. Black Night Falling sees reporter Charlie Yates thrown head first into trouble struggling to do the right thing before it is too late.

Jane Corry spent a few years as a writer in residence in a male prison. This experience changed her writing voice creating a darker humorous tone. Jane wanted to stretch family boundaries in My Husbands Wife which I think she does a fab job of as well as featuring a male prison and a charismatic prisoner who rocks one of the main protagonists, Lily’s life.

The authors also discussed the pros and cons of using a lot of physical characterisations within crime novels and the dreaded plotting question. Overall, this was yet another fabulous evening showcasing a range of amazing crime writers.

The next First Monday event will be in October and will feature SJ Watson, Antonia Hodgson, Stuart Neville and William Ryan. Tickets can be purchased here.

Don’t forget to follow at @1stMondayCrime for updates on all their upcoming events.

Don’t forget to follow all of the authors on Twitter as well:


Now for the featured novels:

Closed Casket by Sophie Hannah is the second in the new Hercule Poirot mysteries which sees the return of Hercule Poirot and Inspector Edward Catchpool who has been invited to a house party by Lady Athelinda Playford at her mansion in County Cork, but it is no ordinary gathering. As guests arrive, Lady Playford summons her lawyer to make an urgent change to her will – one she intends to announce at dinner that night  She has decided to cut off her two children without a penny and leave her fortune to someone who has only weeks to live. But after Lady Playford’s announcement a killer strikes…

Broken Heart by Tim Weaver is about a woman who drives to a secluded beauty spot on the Somerset coast. CCTV watches her enter but doesn’t see her leaving. In fact, Lynda Korin is never seen again. How can someone just disappear? Her sister calls missing persons investigator David Raker. For him, the mystery of where she went is only the start. The real question is why a woman with no reason to run would choose to leave her entire life behind? Was it her decision? Or did someone make it for her? Raker is an expert at following the echoes of decades-old lies. But only Lynda Korin knows the most shocking secret of all – and she’s missing, presumed dead…

Black Night Falling by Rod Reynolds is set a few months after The Dark Inside (Reynold’s debut novel) where reporter Charlie Yates, having left Texarkana for the safety of the West Coast finds himself drawn back to the South, to Hot Springs, Arkansas, as an old acquaintance asks for his help. This time it’s less of a story Charlie’s chasing, more of a desperate attempt to do the right thing before it’s too late.

My Husbands Wife by Jane Corry asks the question what if your life was built on a lie? When lawyer Lily marries Ed, she’s determined to make a fresh start. To leave the secrets of the past behind. But when she takes on her first criminal case, she starts to find herself strangely drawn to her client. A man who’s accused of murder. A man she will soon be willing to risk everything for. But is he really innocent? And who is she to judge?