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Reviews Written by
Andrew Puckett

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Fool's Mate
Fool's Mate
Price: £2.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 22 Jun. 2016
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This review is from: Fool's Mate (Kindle Edition)
A genuinely funny thriller, a great read throughout. Will look for his others.


Conquests
Conquests
Price: £2.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Women became chattels whom their Norman Lords could treat exactly how they pleased. Avis is the daughter of a Saxon Nobleman ..., 16 Jun. 2016
This review is from: Conquests (Kindle Edition)
This book was given me by the author for honest review.

In 1066, William The Bastard (a significant fact!) defeated Harold and became King of England, and the Saxons became subject to the Norman Feudal System, in which they were very much second class citizens. Women became chattels whom their Norman Lords could treat exactly how they pleased.

Avis is the daughter of a Saxon Nobleman killed at Hastings, and what had been her home becomes the property of the repulsive Richard, a Norman Lord. She becomes his ward, which means that she is effectively his property.

William decrees, as part of his plan to subjugate England, that Norman Lords must marry Saxon women, and Avis is offered a choice: marry Richard, whom she detests, or Melville, a man she has never even set eyes on.

She plumps for the devil she doesn’t know, and she and Melville are married. He, at least, is not as repulsive in appearance or manners as Richard, but it turns out that he was as reluctant to marry her as she him.

They travel to his estate in the north, and settle down to a very uneasy peace. Being Norman, he tries to dominate her and she has to use her wits to maintain at least a modicum of freedom.

Then they learn that William is intending to “harry the North” as punishment for its perceived treachery, which means that villages and communities, including their own, will be destroyed. They have no choice but to work together to try and protect their estate and its people, whom Avis has come to love.

Now, at last, they begin to respect each others’ qualities – is it possible that this can evolve into affection, even love?

This book is a Historical Romance (with all that entails) but it’s also much more than that – it’s a well-written and interesting study of one of our most interesting periods of history, the Norman Conquest: how did the Normans make a nation of their very reluctant Saxon subjects.

The author is a medieval historian and makes very good use of her knowledge in this very entertaining book.


The Girl at the End of the Road
The Girl at the End of the Road
Price: £5.99

5.0 out of 5 stars This may sound like the beginning of a conventional romantic novel, 10 April 2016
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This is a remarkable book.

Vincent, having been “let go” from his job in the city, slinks back home to his parents in East Anglia both to lick his wounds and plan his campaign to return to London. Here, he meets Sarah, a girl he went to school with, now an apparently dowdy librarian. He offers to teach her to drive. Despite (or perhaps because of) there being something odd about her, he finds himself becoming increasingly fascinated.

This may sound like the beginning of a conventional romantic novel, but it isn’t. For a start, it’s a romance without any sex, although plenty of sexual electricity, which is different, and far more interesting.

At first Vincent tries to keep with his city hours and habits, not to mention trying to impress his old friends with how glamorous his lifestyle was and how it’s only a matter of time before he gets it back. But the slower pace of the countryside has its effect, and when he returns to London for an interview, he finds the pace too much and his exciting friends not as nice as he thought.

This novel explores the problems of autism and the way autistic people relate with those around them. The writing is excellent and the plot holds the attention throughout. The story is told in the first person by Vincent. It’s not as easy as you might think for a woman to write as a man (or vice versa - I’ve done it myself) and Hitchins manages it very convincingly. I don’t give many books five stars, but this is one of them.


Outside Chance
Outside Chance
Price: £3.99

4.0 out of 5 stars the favourite for the Cheltenham Gold Cup, 29 Feb. 2016
This review is from: Outside Chance (Kindle Edition)
I found this book in the library (thus not a verified purchase), but feel it is well worth a review.

Cajun King, the favourite for the Cheltenham Gold Cup, has been kidnapped, and Ben Copperfield, an investigative journalist, is asked by the owner to help find him in time for the race. He agrees to do this, although he is already busy working on an article about a Hungarian Gypsy Circus that is touring Britain.

Ben’s investigations, although not particularly fruitful at first, have clearly irritated someone, because he finds himself threatened, and when he doggedly continues, beaten up. He is also hampered by his increasing antipathy for Truman, the domineering owner of the horse.
Eventually, all the threads come together in a neat and satisfying conclusion.

The book is a great read and held me throughout, partly because of the well timed shocks and revelations, but just as importantly, the quality of the writing. Warmly recommended, especially for those who enjoy Dick Francis’ thrillers.


A Proper Family Christmas
A Proper Family Christmas
Price: £1.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Soon his house is filled with unwelcome guests who (mostly) have motives other than paternal affection and a desire to give him, 12 Feb. 2016
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This book could well be re-titled A New Comedy Of Errors.

William, eighty years old and living in a crumbling pile, wants nothing more than to spend Christmas alone with his anti-social cat, Scratch, but his loving family have other ideas. Soon his house is filled with unwelcome guests who (mostly) have motives other than paternal affection and a desire to give him a Happy Christmas. His son and daughter-in-law want to pack him off to a nursing home and appropriate his house. His daughter and-son-in law ditto. They each try to blacken the characters of their rivals. Add in two children, both unappealing, their nannies, one sluttish and the other a "good girl", a widowed daughter-in-law and two eligible males (plus a distinctly ineligible one) and you have a wonderfully toxic brew. Oh, mustn't forget the dowager aged aunt.

The consequent Errors and misunderstandings are legion.

Some might think this book cosy, and to some extent it is. But much more importantly, it is funny, charming and essentially heart warming, even though it examines at fairly close quarters the grubby underside of human nature. And in the end, do the nasty have their come-uppances and the nice their just rewards? Well ... I warmly recommend that you read it and find out. A good honest enjoyable read.


In Search of Glory (The Lost King Book 4)
In Search of Glory (The Lost King Book 4)
Price: £2.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A hero with flaws, but greatness, 30 Dec. 2015
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Martin Lake has written a lot of books, but seems to reserve his best writing for his The Lost King series. This installment is no exception.
Edgar Atheling, heir of Edward The Confessor and the true king of England continues to fight for his kingdom, but all too soon, this becomes a fight for the survival of himself and his friends. For the sake of those he loves, he has to show humility as well as bravery - and showing humility takes a special kind of courage. But when it comes to courage and resourcefulness in battle, Edgar shows us he has lost none of his cunning here.

I like very much the way Edgar's character has developed over the series. I think this is because the books are written in the first person and the tone of the writing has become more mature as Edgar grows in maturity. There have been one or two occasions (no more) when he has seemed almost too good to be true. Not here. This Edgar has real flaws - but they have the effect of making him more human and believable. This is largely down to the skill in the writing. Lake lets us see Edgar's flaws, but at the same time, shows us his understated virtues. This is not an easy thing to do in the first person (I know because I've tried to do the same thing, in both first and third persons!Going Viral )

All Martin Lake's books are worth reading, but The Lost King series is the best. I do hope we have more.


Blackstone and the Great Game (The Blackstone Detective series Book 2)
Blackstone and the Great Game (The Blackstone Detective series Book 2)
Price: £2.99

4.0 out of 5 stars the book sucks you in and you become totally absorbed, 6 Nov. 2015
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When you read the blurb about this book, you think: "Oh yeah, another Blackstone story", but as soon as you start reading, the book sucks you in and you become totally absorbed. A good fast pace throughout, interesting and engaging characters, an ingenious plot full of twists and turns and a neat ending - what more could you want? Also full of the atmosphere of London a hundred years ago. An honest, enjoyable read.


One Fight at a Time
One Fight at a Time
Price: £2.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Like most good crime stories, 2 Nov. 2015
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Ed Grover, a sergeant major in the US army, has been through four years of the Second World War followed by five of a very uneasy peace in Germany. Now, he is being discharged. Before going back to America, he wants to thank the family that showed him kindness in 1940, but when he arrives, he finds that the son of the family has gone missing. He searches for him on their behalf, but all he finds is a dead body ...

This story has an exhilarating pace and a mix of believable and engaging characters, some of them engaging through their sheer wickedness. Like most good crime stories, it has at its heart a fascinating puzzle and plenty of twists and turns. It holds the readers' attention throughout.

The only reasons I have given it four stars rather than five are an unnecessary attention to detail in parts (descriptions of what people are wearing and exactly how their furniture is arranged), and some phrases that that I don't believe would have been used in the Bristol of 1950. Conversely, the descriptions of Bristol itself and the surrounding countryside are very good and give the story an authentic atmosphere.

Overall, this book is a good read and is warmly recommended for all enthusiasts of crime. I think this writer's craftsmanship will improve. Mine did:Going Viral


Blackstone and the Heart of Darkness (The Blackstone Detective series Book 6)
Blackstone and the Heart of Darkness (The Blackstone Detective series Book 6)
Price: £2.99

4.0 out of 5 stars A most enjoyable read, 26 Oct. 2015
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This is the first Blackstone book I've read and it was a most enjoyable read. At first, it seems that three different crimes are being investigated: an old comrade of Blackstone's, now a salt miner in Cheshire, thinks his bosses are involved in a smuggling racket and asks for Blackstone's help, so he travels up to look into it. Meanwhile, his police colleague Sergeant Patterson investigates a brothel in London, and Dr Ellie Carr, a pathologist, assists in the hunt for "The Northern Slasher". Not surprisingly perhaps, these three strands start to merge. This may sound an easy thing to do, but it isn't - as I know from writing my own books: http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Ddigital-text&field-keywords=andrew+puckett

The characters were all interesting, the plot compulsive (not to mention very dark) and the 1900 setting atmospheric and generally accurate - apart from the occasional modern expression creeping in. The quality of writing was engaging throughout. Recommended.


Sword Of Rome: Rubicon
Sword Of Rome: Rubicon
Price: £1.99

4.0 out of 5 stars But for people like Caesar, nothing is ever enough - the portrait ..., 24 Oct. 2015
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This is an enjoyable book, mostly for the depiction of the characters: the centurion Oppius, and his relationship with major figures from history, such as Caesar, Pompey and Cicero.
Oppius has found a woman he loves and wants to leave the army to be with her; he feels, quite reasonably, that he has done enough for Rome and Caesar. But for people like Caesar, nothing is ever enough - the portrait of Caesar, on the banks of the Rubicon, about to cross it and change history, is compelling.
There is pathos in the characters of Pompey - grieving and exhausted, not really wanting another war, and Cicero, desperately trying to find common ground for the sake of peace.
Altogether, an entertaining read.


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