Tongued with Fire by Norman Russell

Tongued With Fire - Norman Russell

Baron Renfield,the proud owner of Renfield Hall,has serious problems. He is bankrupt and both his wife and the Baron want to keep their estate and their way of living but there seems to be no straightforward solution unless…his rebellious daughter marries a very wealthy American. But the daughter has no such intentions because she is madly in love with Alan Lavender,the nephew of Guy Lavender, a mean book antiquarian. Guy discovers some hidden secrets in the Renfield family their historical past and attempts a spot of blackmail. When Guy is found murdered suspicion falls on Baron Renfield. But it is not the only enigma. There is the story of an incident in Renfield’s past when he was an officer, there is a ghost somewhere and there is another murder and a suicide…so there is really a lot going on. But it works. The characters are well developed and the storyline is, albeit not always straightforward, easy to follow and keeps one’s interest. And although it takes place in the present,there is a bit of an interbellum atmosphere. If you are not looking for a psychological thriller with gory details and really depraved characters but for a good mystery with a certain charm,then this is definitely a very good choice.

 

Deadland by William Shaw

Deadland - William Shaw

Two young teenagers, Tap and Sloth decide to take the road to petty crime so they can forge a place for themselves in a rather bleak and uninspiring environment. Unfortunately they have more ambition than talent and they steal a holdall containing a rather expensive iPhone and a cheap Alcatel phone. But the owner is very serious about retrieving his possessions and the threats become very quickly life-threatening and deadly. Meanwhile DS Alexandra Cupidi and Constable Jill Ferriter are asked to look into a rather morbid incident. A severed arm is found in a modern art installation in the Turner Museum in Margate. It is their introduction to the hazy world of art collectors,foundations and financial Maecenases. Although at first sight both cases seem to have nothing in common, very slowly a connection is made between the two boys of a council estate and the glittering world of art with a capital A.

It is a good story,it is well written,the coastal location in Kent next to a nuclear power plant is very well chosen and it definitely keeps your attention until the end.

The why only three stars? Well,and I know this is personal,but I just couldn’t connect with Cupidi and Ferriter. Sometimes they felt a bit contrived,then a bit bland and then over the top. I did not understand their reactions or attitudes on certain occasions and I therefore found it very hard to like (or dislike) them,to be moved by them or to be very interested in them…

Ah well, it happens!

 

 

The Stone Circle by Elly Griffiths

The Stone Circle - Elly Griffiths

DCI Nelson receives anonymous letters letting him know that he has to look for a stone circle and all will be revealed. Those letters remind him of a previous dramatic case which ended with the death of a young child and two men (one of them a murderer). Meanwhile next to an archaeological dig on a beach in Norfolk a new site is started. The bones of a young girl (Bronze Age) is discovered but after futher excavation another,more recent skeleton is found. It is quickly identified as the remains of Margaret Lacey,a 12 year old girl gone missing some 20 years ago. Ruth Galloway is asked to give some forensic backup and is so one more time involved in a crime investigation run by Harry Nelson,lover,not lover,maybe lover… In the meantime, one of the original suspects is found dead,shot through the head in a more modern variation of a stone circle. There are of course many meandering storylines,a missing baby,a new baby for Nelson,druids and their outlook on life and a blast from the past …. To be fair,after the 10th instalment in this series, I was a bit fed up with this Nelson and Galloway thing,it basically took up most of the story! It is still a big deal and frankly I wish they just made up their minds,personally I think it doesn’t add anything of major interest …but the storyline is good,the tension is absolutely there ,the outcome suprising and it really was a very decent mystery story!

 

A Venetian Masquerade by Philip Gwynne Jones

The Venetian Masquerade - Philip Gwynne Jones

Nathan Sutherland,honorary consul and part time translator is asked to help the famous conductor, Thomas Lockwood, and his gorgeous talented partner,Isotta Baldan, an opera singer, in their quest for a mythical,but unfortunately lost,opera of Monteverdi. But death seems to follow in the wake of their investigations…

The setting,Venice during carnival, is of course absolutely stunning but somehow I’m missing some personal link to the city. We get all the names of the calle,piazza’s…but there is a certain warmth,a deep involvement lacking. The relationship between Nathan and his partner Frederica is a bit soppy,a lot of tesoro,mio cuore,caro mio(and I mean a lot!). There is also a lot foodstuff going on,but there again, I don’t have the feeling they are particularly enjoying their food apart from huge amounts of Spritzes (basically vermouth/Campari,white wine/prosecco and sparkling water.) Yes,Spritz is definitely an on going theme!

It is an easy read and it is not a bad story as the mystery of a long lost manuscript is captivating but it is certainly not as sparkling as the already mentioned Spritz…