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Death in the Stars by Frances Brody – a review BLOG TOUR

As anyone who knows me knows, I’m not normally a fan of historical fiction. Despite a degree in history, on the whole I prefer my crime to be a more modern gruesome experience. However I do like my crime to have smart powerful women and a good mystery, and the Kate Shackleton series most definitely has those.
I was lucky enough to read a previous novel by Frances and despite my initial reservations I absolutely loved it. Therefore I jumped at the chance to be part of the blog tour for Frances’ latest novel Death in the Stars.

Death in the Stars is set in 1927 and starts during the total eclipse. The enigmatic Italian singer Selina wants to view the eclipse from the Giggleswick School. According to the Astronomy Society this is going to be the best vantage point. She asks Mrs Shackleton to accompany her and her friend Billy on their flight to the school. During this visit Billy is found dead, which increases Selina’s fears that people close to her are dying in suspicious circumstance. Kate Shackleton runs an investigation agency so is clearly intrigued and starts to look into what is happening.

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. This is the 9th novel in the series. I haven’t yet read all of them although am looking forward to going back to the start. However, each of her novels work just as well as a standalone one. I really enjoy all the background in the stories. The descriptions of places ranging from windswept Yorkshire Dales, to inner city Leeds variety houses really bring the stories to life. I think the character of Kate Shackleton is intriguing; although some of her back story has been revealed in the books I’ve read so far it is her that makes me want to start the series from the beginning to find out more about her life. She comes across as a Miss Marple type with added glamour and confidence.

Death in the Stars is an absolutely charming book, and its setting in the 1920’s is the perfect backdrop to this cast of characters. I would recommend to anyone who likes a bit of glamour and gentleness with their murders. This series has definitely changed my mind about historical fiction.

Death in the Stars by Frances Brody was out on the 5th October.

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Burned and Broken by Mark Hardie – a review BLOG TOUR

I was lucky enough to be asked by the publisher to take part in the blog tour for the debut novel by Mark Hardie called Burned and Broken.

Burned and Broken introduces us to Detectives Pearson and Russell. They are called to a car fire, as inside is a body suspected to be one of their colleagues. This same colleague is currently the focus of an internal investigation which Cat Russell seems to be getting caught up in. Alongside this we meet Donna. She is mourning the loss of her friend Alicia. Both girls were in a care home together until Alicia was found dead. Donna suspects that she was murdered.

Burned and Broken was an interesting read. Set by the sea in Southend the story was written from multiple viewpoints, and with overlapping time frames. This at first was a little confusing if, like me, you didn’t realise this was going to be the case. However once I worked that out, this novel absolutely flew for me. The two cases of potential murder that are mentioned in the blurb on the back are not the only issues within the book. There is pretty much every issue a police procedural can cover – seedy nightclubs, dodgy brother in laws, suicides, debt, corruption, paedophiles and bent coppers. All of this means that it is a novel that needs concentrating on but that isn’t always a bad thing.

There were a lot of characters in the book and it was only due to the novel’s blurb explicitly saying who the two main characters are that I really knew. Yet all of this simply adds to what I thought was a brilliantly layered novel. The switching between viewpoints was clearly done with ease as I found it easy to keep up. Equally although there were lots of characters but they are all clearly defined and each chapter was easy to follow. I enjoyed the storyline, and although I did suspect the main twists it was still a bit of a shock when it actually appeared.

I do have a slight gripe in that it was clearly a novel written with a second in mind from the offset. This meant that there were loose ends which I don’t like. However,  overall this was an excellent debut novel, and at least the loose ends mean that there is definitely a second novel coming.


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