Six very different books that we read and enjoyed last month.

This month’s list of books might seem a strange mix, but they’re all titles we enjoyed reading and talked about at our book group meeting. Maybe one of them will catch your eye.

Neil Broadfoot – The Point of no Return
Set in Stirling, this is the third book to feature Connor Fraser, an ex-policeman now running his own security business. The story begins with the release of Colin Sanderson who has spent 10 years in prison for murder. Now his conviction has been found to be unsafe and he wants to make as much money from his story as he can. Facing death threats, Sanderson refuses police protection but his PR company insist on hiring Fraser to protect him. When a body is found, mutilated in the same way as Sanderson’s victims were, it seems that Connor Fraser will be the one to provide his alibi. The story has many twists and turns before the truth is discovered. Norfolk Gal says although the story took a while to hook her she really enjoyed it and will be looking for more books by Neil Broadfoot.

Gretchen Berg – The Operator
This isn’t crime fiction but it’s a well-told and interesting story. Set in small-town America in the 1950s it’s about Viv, a telephone exchange operator, who (like all her colleagues) listens in to the phone conversations she puts through. One day she hears something devastating about herself and her family, which shatters her life. When this piece of gossip reaches the ears of the town’s leading lady, she sees it as an opportunity to get back at Viv and so tells as many people as she can. In due course Viv manages to get her situation sorted but in doing so finds some secrets relating to the leading lady and her father, the town’s mayor.  Freyja says this is well written and paints a vivid picture of the little town. There were no great surprises, but the story bowls along nicely and it had a good ending.

Robert Galbraith – Troubled Blood
This latest Cormoran Strike mystery by Robert Galbraith earns a unanimous thumbs up from everyone in our group who’s read it so far. It’s 900+ pages but is an absolute page-turner and the story is so well written it’s engrossing from the first page. This is a series that just gets better and better, and we can’t wait for the next instalment! You can read a fuller review here.

Sarah Hawkswood – Blood Runs Thicker
This a medieval mystery set in 1145 around the Malvern Hills. A local lord of the manor – a violent and irascible man – is found murdered and the Under Sheriff and his Serjeant are called in to investigate. The man’s heir is equally violent and is only just prevented from hanging his young half-brother, and later from killing an innocent passer-by. By listening, asking questions and following clues, the Sheriff and the much more experienced Serjeant eventually arrive at the truth. Freyja says the culprit wasn’t hard to guess but there are enough red herrings in this tale to make it an interesting and enjoyable historical mystery.

Alan Judd – A Fine Madness
Set in Elizabethan England this is the story of the playwright and spy, Kit Marlowe, as told by Sir Francis Walsingham’s codebreaker, Thomas Phelippes. Very little is known of Marlowe so the device of having Phelippes tell his story allows Alan Judd to flesh things out. It’s a surprisingly interesting tale, well-written and easy to read, and you find yourself absorbed in the story before you realise it. No wonder it was chosen as the Sunday Times’ ‘Historical Fiction Book of the Month’. If you’re looking for something a bit different, read this.

Daniel Silva – The New Girl
One of the Gabriel Allon series and published in 2019. The daughter of the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia is kidnapped and he contacts Allon, the chief of Israeli intelligence for help. The novel then travels all over the place and involves the American, British and French secret services, as well as a plot against Russia and the murder of a journalist in the Saudi Turkish Embassy. It’s frantic stuff, with several familiar characters and a cliff-hanger ending. An exciting read which rolls along at breakneck pace. Very enjoyable!

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