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on 11 October 2015
Very hard going. Didn't finish it. I just couldn't follow the story. Sorry
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VINE VOICEon 8 April 2014
Emily Castle is gaining a reputation as a future crimes investigator, something she herself doesn't even think she believes in! This time Emily has been brought in to investigate the vision of one psychic called Perspicacious Peg that someone will be drowned at a conference in Torquay. We follow Emily to Torquay to be introduced to multiple interesting characters including Bobby Blue Suit and his psychic sausage dogs, and Madame Nova (with her wierd obsession with pantomime wigs). As the conference progresses the bodies mount up and Emily starts to worry for her own safety, with good reason!

I really enjoyed this little book, so much so that i sat down one Sunday morning to start it and didn't get up until i had finished it later that day. The book did cause me a little confusion at the beginning as lots of new characters were introduced with nothing to seemingly link them. But once i'd got through the first couple of chapters everything made a little more sense and i really started to enjoy myself. I have to say that i didn't figure out who was murdering everyone until right at the very end , which in my book means that this was a very well written mystery.

Overall i would definitely recommend this as a bit of cosy reading, nothing too taxing but really enjoyable. Helen Smith has joined my list of authors to look out for in the future.

This is technically book three in the series but i haven't read any of the others and felt that it worked very well as a stand alone. I didn't feel that i was missing anything not having read the first few book/novellas in the series.

I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 28 January 2014
Thank you for the review copy via netgalley.

When famed psychic Perspicacious Peg predicts a murder will occur at England’s Belief and Beyond conference, her science-minded colleagues recruit twenty-six-year-old budding sleuth Emily Castles to attend the event as a “future crimes investigator.” The suspected victim: celebrated magician Edmund Zenon, who plans to perform a daring stunt at the conference—and is offering fifty thousand pounds to any attendee who can prove that the paranormal exists.

A wonderful old school cosy mystery with some fascinating characters and a well imagined story I very much enjoyed this one.

Quintessentially english this is a book to read with a cup of tea by your side – and it felt very much like a homage to the Queen of Crime Agatha Christie and also put me in mind of the Agatha Raisin books which have always been favourites of mine, so if you like either of those you will probably enjoy this especially as the author has put her own voice and twist to this genre that is highly imaginative.

As the bodies pile up Emily Castle has her work cut out for her and this is pure escapism at its best. Peppered with fascinating quirky characters and some humerous asides the story romps along to a great “reveal” conclusion and I really did have tremendous fun with it.

Overall this makes me want to put Helen Smith on my list of “comfort read” authors. This is the first novel of hers that I have read but it certainly will not be the last. Perfect for curling up on a rainy Sunday afternoon and leaving the world behind for a while.

Happy Reading Folks!
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 10 February 2014
Beyond Belief is the fourth in Helen Smith's series of Emily Castles mysteries. This fascinating story unfolds during a weekend conference on the paranormal held in a British seaside resort. Emily Castles, part-time London sleuth, is co-opted by a Royal Society to investigate a premonition of murder.

The reader is destined to meet a collection of delightfully eccentric conference attendees and local residents, all connected in some way with different aspects of the paranormal. Helen Smith's characters are always extremely well-observed and in Beyond Belief even the secondary characters receive their individual splashes of colour and contrast. Each has something to prove, or an axe to grind, and a theory about the predicted murder. Meanwhile a magician, who uses the conference to stage a publicity stunt, draws most of the attention and all of the crowds. With rumours spreading about who is to die and how, everyone is just a little on edge.

This book is at least as intriguing as the previous Emily Castles ones and, being longer, has many more red herrings and deaths occurring in suspicious circumstances. I am very happy to say that my favourite character (aside from Emily) the delightful Dr Muriel, is on hand to support the sleuth in her endeavours. However, even she is unable to anticipate the danger that is stalking Emily herself.

The mystery is expertly constructed and is written in Helen Smith's unmistakable style. The final chapter is extremely clever, providing the story with an exceptionally strong and satisfying ending which maintains, right to the conclusion, a mystery within a mystery. Any fan of Helen Smith's Emily Castles stories should be delighted with this one and will doubtless wish to read it more than once.

This is an exceptional book, which I recommend to all mystery lovers. Looking forward to the next one…
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on 23 February 2014
This murder mystery contains an entire boat load of characters that will appeal to readers everywhere. Fans of thrills, chills and pulse-racing plots will also enjoy Smith's novel because it's humorous at times which gives us them a chance to catch their breath. A wild array of personalities keeps the storyline moving swiftly all the way up to the big finish. The author's imagination and world building is top notch, and this is an extremely entertaining addition to the Emily Castles Mysteries.
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on 29 January 2015
Helen's books couldn't be anything other than British. She peoples her books with wonderfully eccentric and rounded characters so quirky they are thoroughly believable and absolutely entertaining. Set at the Belief and Beyond conference in Torquay, Beyond Belief carries on Smith's trademark humour mixed with mayhem and murder. A large amount of money has been offered to anybody who can prove the existence of an afterlife or the true powers of the spiritualist by magician and non-believer Edmund Xenon. A great potpourri of characters gather at the Torquay hotel for the conference and to witness Edmund's magic, all of course have a back story of their own and once again the unwitting young amateur slueth Emily Castles is drawn into the drama. A great book for fans of Christie, with a good hat tip being paid to her throughout the book both with the setting and the writing. I strongly recommend Beyond Belief. A great rainy Sunday afternoon read for mystery and humour lovers alike.
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on 27 August 2014
Emily Castles is somewhat dismayed to be employed as a 'Future Crimes Investigator', a concept that she regards with great suspicion. Emily travels to Torquay with her friend and mentor Dr Muriel to attend a Belief and Beyond Conference. At the beautiful and busy seaside town Emily encounters a vast cast of eccentric and flamboyant characters, including the famous magician Edmund Zenon who is planning a walking on water 'stunt' and the popular psychic and 'horrorscope' writer Perspicacious Peg. (My personal favourites are the psychic dachshunds.) Of course, death and danger soon occur and Emily is deeply involved in investigating murders that are very much in the present. Helen Smith's characters are outrageous and funny but she also has the gift of engaging the reader's sympathy, especially for bereaved parents, Tim and Sarah, and their quest to contact their dead son. The Emily Castles series is going from strength to strength and Beyond Belief is a page-turning read.
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on 2 February 2014
Beyond belief is the second outing for Emily Castles. This time she is invited to attend a conference of psychics and the like and report on it in a scientific matter.

This is a cosy mystery with some over the top characters and unlikely murders.

I enjoyed this story but it wasn't unputdownable as I put it down and read a few books in between, although I did get back into it and then didn't put it back down until I finished it.

I like this type of story, gently comedic, with murders that aren't bloody or full of gore. I didn't quite get why Emily was there or what she was doing or even what was in her report, but that wasn't important, she was the voice bringing things together.

This was an enjoyable gentle read.
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on 14 May 2014
Emily Castles, that apparently flakey private detective, possessed of an exceptional capacity for lateral thinking and a nose for leading questions, is on the prowl again. This time she’s in Torquay, attending a conference for psychics, mystics, philosophers, and sundry other odd-balls. There’s a challenge from a sceptical magician to prove the existence of the paranormal, complete with cash prize. Helen Smith has assembled a deeply eccentric but utterly believable cast of characters, including the ghostly presence of Emily’s recently deceased dog, Jesse, to scheme, plot and generally stir up a cracking good mystery. It’s a wonderful story, complete with magic tricks, illusion, and clouds of suspicion. An irresistible read and thoroughly enjoyable.
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on 3 November 2015
Another great mystery with Emily Castles! This time she's in Torquay at a Beyond Belief conference where psychics and cynics clash. One of the psychics has had a premonition that someone is going to drown so Emily Castles is roped in to investigate. It isn't long before the bodies stack up and even Emily isn't safe from the killer. Who knew that a weekend in Torquay could be so dangerous?

I love the humour that infuses the book and I particularly liked the references to Twitter. Looking forward to the next book!
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