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Customer reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
28
4.2 out of 5 stars


on 22 March 2017
A good read if you are a fan of Barbara Cleverly and Joe Sandilands comes to life.
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on 27 April 2017
Good author
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on 18 November 2006
Commander Joe Sandilands is planning to take his 14-year-old niece, Dorcas, to be reunited with her father in the South of France. However, his superior has asked that he stop in Reims. A former soldier, suffering from shell shock, residing at a local sanatorium, is being claimed as the husband of a wealthy owner of a champagne vineyard. The woman's son claims his mother murdered her husband and sealed his body behind a wall. Another complication comes from four other people who also claim the soldier and the patient's doctor who believes the soldier may be English rather than French. With the soldier's considerable pension and well-being involved, it is important the right identity be made.

I am a huge fan of Cleverly's books. She really knows how to set the stage and give the reader a sense of physical, emotional and political place. Along with Charles Todd and Anne Perry, she writes about the horror of WWI and its impact on those who fought and lived it. She creates strong, smart, interesting characters, particularly Sandilands and Dorcas, but all her characters have dimension with dialogue that has a natural flow. But the core of it all is a good, solid traditional mystery that kept me turning the pages in the non-stop read. I highly recommend this book and the entire series.
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on 16 November 2006
The book has a happy ending - surprising but satisfying. Hang on to that! Because on the way, you'll have to run a course that'll tug at your emotions, something we don't expect in the thriller/detective genre.

Set in Champagne, in the misty aftermath of the Great War, the novel picks a tricky course through the landscape of a regenerating France to establish the identity, not of a corpse, but of a man who is inconveniently (for the French authorities) alive. The amnesiac late-return prisoner of war is claimed by several French families with their own sinister reasons for wanting him, but his doctor suspects that he may in fact be British. Sandilands is sent to sort out the problem. On his way to the truth he unearths an old murder, establishes the identity of the mystery soldier and prevents a future crime.

Involving - it kept me up all night turning pages. Cleverly plays her audience with the skill of an Agatha Christie but with ten times the psychological insight. As usual with her books, it's not the who dun it but the why the hell they done it that's gripping.
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on 29 November 2006
The best of the Sandilands so far. Unusual mystery in an unusual setting. I had no idea about the battle of the Chemin des Dames, I didn't know much about Champagne, the region. Ms Cleverly defies the rules of the mystery novel - the detective is assigned the problem of working out the mystery of a man who is still alive, not yet a corpse. The answer to the puzzle is fundamental to the plot but it's not long before Sandilands tracks down a body cleverly hidden. As usual I didn't guess the ending but when I read it I knew there could be no other. You have to hang on right until the last sentence before you know the full story but it's a satisfying end. It's not a question of `eeny-meeny-miney-mo' like in some mysteries. The answer always comes from the character of the people involved and the clues are there all the way through the book, though you don't realise until all the evidence is in. The detective, Joe Sandilands, is always one step ahead of the reader and arrives at his solution with the help of an unusual sidekick. His young niece is as intuitive and resourceful as he is - she's no Doctor Watson, just a sounding board - but adds quite a lot to the action and the interest of the book. Through her fresh eyes we catch a glimpse of a war-torn France, pulling itself back together, licking its wounds and re-asserting its Frenchness.
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on 5 July 2008
As always Barbara Cleverly creates the twenties with an impressive authenticity and understanding. On top of that you have an excellent story. Joe Sandilands is a character you want to keep reading about. I look forward to the next one.
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on 6 February 2013
Set in 1920s rural France, this appears at first to be a cosy, nostalgic detective novel, but the First World War has taken its toll on the psychologically convincing characters. The story is well-plotted, fast-paced and laced with much interesting historical detail and local colour. It kept me turning the pages and I certainly did not foresee the ending. Number 10 in the series, this is the first of Barbara Cleverly's Joe Sandilands novels I have read but I shall be looking out for others. Well-edited Kindle edition.
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on 23 June 2013
I first read Barbara Cleverley's book The Kashmir Rose which introduced me to this author and I have since read nearly all her books! I stand in awe of her research into detail and background, the characters can be a little wooden but the stories rattle along in a good pace, and with her detective returning in book after book, there is a familiarity which feels like a friendship!
I enjoyed this one as much as any of her others.
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on 9 April 2015
I really loved the last Kashmir rose, so much so that I have read it several times, and was reluctant to read the next in the series. I am glad I persevered. This one is definitely equal to it both in terms of writing and in the story line. Really first class.
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on 11 March 2013
Got this as a holiday read and it was fine. Very much in the Christie mode, a bit pedestrian and some cliché characters and situations. Some characters very well drawn though.

I won't be rushing to read more of the series.
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