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Wendy McFarlane (Aviemore)

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The Outcast Dead: A Ruth Galloway Investigation
The Outcast Dead: A Ruth Galloway Investigation
by Elly Griffiths
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 13.59

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A light read revisited by some familiar characters., 24 Feb 2014
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Having loved this series from the beginning I do look forward to Elly Griffiths new book which she releases each year. The mystery plot this time seemed only to be in the background; another abduction of a child putting Norfolk as a dangerous place to live, secondary to Midsommer! There was little if none archeological content this time and an almost vague murder plot floating around in the distance but for me, seeing the return of a favorite, Cathbad and his purple cloak, he saved the day! Ruth is as ever; cynical, insecure and a bit lost at times. Nelson still has his issues with her and his "love child" and the whole of the North Norfolk constabulary is thrown into turmoil when one of their own becomes personally involved in the unfolding tragedy. I enjoyed reading this as I love to revisit Ruth and her gang and the way Elly bounces her off against Nelson is often hillarious and moving at the same time. I missed the history which often has the reader gripped and also the lack of forensic archeology but saying that, to revisit the "family" once a year is rather nice and I am sure next year Ruth will be up to her neck in another mystery from the past and hopefully back digging to save someone's life in the present. A good light read with some memorable characters and a smile along the way.


The Island House
The Island House
by Posie Graeme-Evans
Edition: Paperback
Price: 5.59

5.0 out of 5 stars A love story through the ages., 19 Feb 2014
This review is from: The Island House (Paperback)
Oh what a joy to find this book! I have been lost in a mist of history in the Islands far in the North of Scotland, close to where I live. This book is a treasure and a real find and I hope this author has another in mind in a similar vein as she tells this story beautifully, (which I have now recommended to my book group.) Present day...Freya Dane has received an inheritance; an island called Findnar in the North of Scotland from her recently deceased Father. Arriving from Australia, she discovers not only a derelict house called Compline, a ruined Church and some standing stones but also a hoarde of artifacts hidden in the undercroft which her archaeologist Father has hidden away. Intent on finding out the mysteries of the Island she sets out to familiarize herself with the locals on the mainland of Portsolly, meeting the man who had been severely injured while trying to rescue her Father from his sinking boat. It seems Dan and Freya have much in common as it's not before long they discover they are both having visions, locked into the past history of Findnar. Past story and here we read of AD800 as the Vikings raid the island leaving only a few survivors...Signy a young Pictish girl, Magni a young Norse boy and two of the Christian settlers who have come to try to set up a sanctuary on Findnar, the Abbot and Abbess. As Magni is injured in a burning hut the three then care for him healing his burns and his horribly disfigured body. The four try to communicate but as each speaks a different language it seems an impossible task. As time passes they are forced to live together, the Christians attempting to force their religious beliefs on the two young children. But Signy is a commited Pagan and Magni a follower of the old Norse Gods so it is not an easy feat. The two grow into adulthood and so inevitably fall in love but its a love not to be granted by the devout Christians nor the Vikings who rule Magni's past. It is left for Freya and Dan, present day to reveal the outcome of this doomed relationship and in doing so try to discover their own fears and troubles along the way. Oh this is a remarkable story. I have long had a love of Norse and Pagan history so this was a dream for me to read. Anyone who loves the past, Celtic history and life long ago on the Islands will love this. This is one of those books you come across by chance then treasure, making a special place on your "keepers" bookshelf. I only wish she had written more but hope she will conjur up another gem in the future. Highly recommended.


A Finer End
A Finer End
Price: 2.99

4.0 out of 5 stars A good read., 15 Feb 2014
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This review is from: A Finer End (Kindle Edition)
Jack Montefort moves back to the place of his childhood, Glastonbury, when his wife dies. After some time he becomes close to Winnie, the parish priest whilst at the same time experiencing episodes of automatic writing. It's as if a dead monk from Glastobury's past is trying to get an urgent message across. Freaked out and convinced he is suffering a breakdown possibly due to his berevement he confides in Winnie; but she has other ideas what this could be. Jack calls on his cousin DS Kincaid when an attempt on Winnie's life is made and so the investigation into these strange occurances begins. Here we have automatic writing, a splash of the supernatural, dead monks, mystery chants and angelic music floating around in the night, you would imagine this to be a bit of a disaster... but it's not! It had me gripped all the way through. Close on Winne's attack comes murder and when Kincaid's partner arrives a full investigation gets underway. It's a very imaginative story but told so well it's believable. The story of the Holy Grail not actually being an object but something quite different I found fasinating and you become absorbed into the myths and legends associated with this special place known as Avalon. A really engrossing read, very well told and a must if you enjoy your books to be imaginative.


Dreaming of the Bones
Dreaming of the Bones
by Deborah Crombie
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.29

4.0 out of 5 stars An absorbing read., 15 Feb 2014
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This review is from: Dreaming of the Bones (Paperback)
I have been reading this author's novels recently and have just completed this one which I did so enjoy. It's not a fast paced novel but engages the reader well throughout. Kincaid's ex wife, Viv calls him to ask for help uncovering a problem she has unearthed while researching her lastest biography. It seems the poet, one Lydia Brooke killed herself five years previously but Val thinks she might have been murdered and someone at her collage is covering it up. Kincaid and James are co-ersed into helping and when they do it opens a can of worms, bringing personal tragedy for Kincaid as he struggles to uncover this complicated case. Well worth a read.


Death and the Lit Chick: A St Just Mystery (Book 2) (St. Just Mysteries)
Death and the Lit Chick: A St Just Mystery (Book 2) (St. Just Mysteries)
by G. M. Malliet
Edition: Paperback
Price: 11.56

4.0 out of 5 stars Thoroughly enjoyable., 15 Feb 2014
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If you take these novels with a tongue in cheek perspective then you will enjoy them to the full. G M Malliet has created a series entering into the world of the cozy murder genre and how well she does it! They can't be taken too literally or too seriously but do guarantee the reader a few hours of distracted bliss. Cliched yes, done before, probably but I feel what you have here which is special,, is the sense of humour this lady has shining through the pages into her characterisations. I laughted and giggled my way through this book and that's what I want when I chose something in this category. Of course you might find a few of her portrayed characters a little stereotyped but for me she has lifted this tired and well worn theme and taken it to a new level with a likeable detective, comfortably familiar characters and a perfect "cozy" setting for each story.. I personally have loved all three in this series and hope she has plans in the future to entertain us and fill us in on the "doings" of dear St Just and his future side kick, the fabulously named Portia De'Ath.


Now May You Weep
Now May You Weep
by Deborah Crombie
Edition: Paperback
Price: 12.84

4.0 out of 5 stars A familiar setting., 8 Feb 2014
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This review is from: Now May You Weep (Paperback)
This is the first book I have read by this author and I enjoyed it very much. I think for me the setting was the initial attraction, living in the immediate area where the story is set. The murder mystery I found quite slow and gentle, not a raging juicy murder; more an investigation into a Highland family from the 18oos whose actions then became the cause of a murder in present day. I have to admit I most enjoyed the author's sense of place which she tapped into so well considering she is an American; never having lived here. The atmosphere, sense of isolation and almost spiritual feel you get living in this wonderful place she captured so well. Duncan and Kincaid work well together, bouncing off each other with familiarity and I think that in itself helps the story to move along. I will certainly read another of her novels, in fact I have A Finer End to read so might start that later. Would recommend this if you like a gentle murder mystery with interesting characters but mostly if you are interested in the Scottish Highlands ,would really recommend, if not for any other reason that you can say at the end of this tale, you might like to visit us!


Secrets of the Sea House
Secrets of the Sea House
by Elisabeth Gifford
Edition: Paperback
Price: 4.92

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A haunting tale., 8 Feb 2014
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As a debut you can't get better than this. The story has been well reviewed by others but I felt I needed to have my say too! I live in the Highlands and have spent time on Harris and Lewis so am familiar with this area. The sense of place this author has created within this story convey exactly the atmosphere on the Outer Hebrides. It's a very spiritual place with unforgiving weather and oodles of myths and legends floating around. The Selkie stories are rife in the Highlands alongside many other fantastical tales and the way this author has incorporated them into this tale is quite wonderful. I loved the back story of Alexander and Moira, the theme throughout of the fierce religious background which is prevelent on the Islands but it was softened so sweetly with some lovely prose and a beautiful imaginative storyline. Present day story and characters also were engaging as often with duel time frame, one of the stories overtakes the other. Not here; I was totally absorbed in this novel and hope the author has plans for more set in this wonderful mystic landscape, fabulous.


Death of a Cozy Writer: A St Just Mystery
Death of a Cozy Writer: A St Just Mystery
by G. M. Malliet
Edition: Paperback
Price: 8.14

4.0 out of 5 stars A good start for a new series., 7 Feb 2014
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Book one of the St Just series and this is set in Cambridgeshire. Sir Adrian Beauclerk-Fisk is looking forward to the gathering of his clan as he sits, fat and contented in his Manor House which he bought from the procedes of his series of successful murder mysteries. He has a brand new will and a potential brand new wife which none of his eccentric off spring will like one bit. As they all gather together, each ready to stab the other in the back, someone is murdered...who dun it? The super cool Dci St Just is called in and with his trusty side kick sergeant, they wrap up the case, eventually, but not until body count rises. I love this series. Its easy read, lighthearted fun, just the thing for a winters day sat beside the fire. A good old romp with the beautiful people, perks you up no end, fabulous!


Death at the Alma Mater: Bk. 3: A St Just Mystery (St. Just Mysteries)
Death at the Alma Mater: Bk. 3: A St Just Mystery (St. Just Mysteries)
by G. M. Malliet
Edition: Paperback
Price: 8.78

4.0 out of 5 stars A good old cozy mystery., 7 Feb 2014
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This is book three in the St just series and "just" as enjoyable as the others! It has a feel good effect, set in Cambridge at St Micheal's collage with a cast of eccentric characters; the inventively named Portia De'Ath(St Just's love interest) a sergeant with a sense of humour and some seriously screwed up suspects. Its lighthearted, tongue in cheek reading, just the thing to while away an afternoon, great stuff.,. I wish she would write some more.


Pagan Spring (Max Tudor Novels)
Pagan Spring (Max Tudor Novels)
by G. M. Malliet
Edition: Hardcover

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very enjoyable third in the series., 23 Jan 2014
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Handsome Father Max has two things on his mind; what to write in the Spring/Easter sermons (Imbolc/Ostara to the village New Age followers) and how to justify his relationship with his heavenly love, Awenea, the magical mystical purveyor of all things Neopagan and spiritual, to the Bishop. New incommers arrive in the village of Nether Monkslip and it's during a welcome evening at the house owned by Theaddeus Bottle and his wife Melinda where murder raises its ugly head. Galvanised into action with DCI Cotton by his side, Max sets out to discretely investigate this deadly deed aided ( unofficially) by the intrepid villagers of his parish. I thoroughly enjoyed this and was so pleased for number three the author decided to revert back to her original format of a village murder mystery; book two, A Fatal Winter missing the mark for me having the murder and investigation outwith Nether Monkslip and in the Castle at Chedrow. All the elements which came together in Wicked Autumn making it such a good read reaccured here. Max Tudor is a terrific character but with the backing of his faithful flock, aka the villagers, it really comes into its own. This author is a master of the tongue in cheek observation, witty and smart she pulls you into the lives of this varied cast of characters making you smile when you probably shouldn't and cringe when you should! All manner of personalities pepper this Southern English idyle from Awena, Max's forbidden fruit, the neopagan spiritual Goddess, to Suzzanna the desperate vamp and across to the Writing Square with its eccentric collection of aspiring authors, sadly doomed to be left on the shelf. The village secret agent is a gem disguised as the ex school matron, Miss Pichford along with her troops, a selection of females, young and old, sent out to seek and find at her bidding, often to the exasperation of Father Max who only came to the village for a quiet life when he quit being a secret agent for M15. Mr's Hooser, his accident prone housekeeper is the thorn in his side as Max tries to solve yet another disturbing murder with the help of DCI Cotton, fashion icon of the investigation team, not forgetting the star which is Luther, the church cat, on a mission to upset whoever he can! I absolutely loved this and giggled and smiled throughout. On a more serious note this is no ordinary murder mystery. I don't want to write any spoilers but I feel I must mention the very moving reasons, if there are such things which brought this murder to pass, it raised this small village mystery up from a cozy to something more poigniant. Congratulations to G M Malliet, a murder mystery with a heart, fabulous.


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