Tag Archives: Mike Hollow

Top 10 Tuesday — Mysteries I Still Haven’t Read

17 May

It is not a mystery why I have not read the books on my list yet. I cannot resist a shiny new book, even if I have a stack of others ahead of it. I refuse to believe that I have more books than time, though, so I continue to buy more and more. One day cannot get here fast enough. 😉 The books that I have chosen to confess are all mysteries — my very favorite genre. They at least have a fighting chance of being read. My list contains classic mysteries, cozy mysteries, historical mysteries — I read them all. And in the spirit of honesty, this list is just the tip of the iceberg. Let me know if you have read any. I need some motivation!

For more confessions, check out That Artsy Reader Girl.

Top Mysteries I Haven’t Read Yet

( though they reside on my shelves)

The Boy Who Followed Ripley by Patricia Highsmith

The Cairo Brief by Fiona Veitch Smith

The Cat’s Pajamas by Gilbert Morris

The Club Dumas by Arturo Perez-Reverte

Enemy Action by Mike Hollow

Jane And The Twelve Days of Christmas by Stephanie Barron

The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler

Sidney Chambers And The Shadow of Death by James Runcie

The Sweetness at The Bottom of The Pie by Alan Bradley

The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett

Top 10 Tuesday — Historical Mystery Series

7 Dec

Today’s Top 10 Tuesday is a Freebie! Since I am reading the first book in a historical mystery series, I thought I would highlight it and a few other mysteries set in the past. One of the things I love about historical mysteries is the main character’s reliance on wit and intuition, rather than high tech forensics. If you are a fan of mysteries, I hope you find a book or two to love.

For more Top Ten Tuesday fun, check out That Artsy Reader Girl.

Top Historical Mystery Series

Middle Ages

The Chronicles of Hugh de Singleton, Surgeon by Mel Starr (14 books in the series!)

Hugh of Singleton, fourth son of a minor knight, has been educated as a clerk, usually a prelude to taking holy orders.

However, feeling no certain calling despite a lively faith, he turns to the profession of surgeon, training in Paris and then hanging out his sign in Oxford. A local lord asks him to track the killer of a young woman whose bones have been found in the castle cess pit. She is identified as the impetuous missing daughter of a local blacksmith, and her young man, whom she had provoked very publicly, is in due course arrested and sentenced at the Oxford assizes.

From there the tale unfolds, with graphic medical procedures, droll medieval wit, misdirection, ambition, romantic distractions and a consistent underlying Christian compassion.

Regency England

Thorndyke And Swann Regency Mysteries by Erica Vetsch (1 book so far)

Jane Austen meets Sherlock Holmes in this new Regency mystery series

Newly returned from finishing school, Lady Juliette Thorndike is ready to debut in London society. Due to her years away, she hasn’t spent much time with her parents, and sees them only as the flighty, dilettante couple the other nobles love. But when they disappear, she discovers she never really knew them at all. They’ve been living double lives as government spies–and they’re only the latest in a long history of espionage that is the family’s legacy.

Now Lady Juliette is determined to continue their work. Mentored by her uncle, she plunges into the dangerous world of spy craft. From the glittering ballrooms of London to the fox hunts, regattas, and soirees of country high society, she must chase down hidden clues, solve the mysterious code her parents left behind, and stay out of danger. All the while, she has to keep her endeavors a secret from her best friend and her suitors–not to mention nosy, irritatingly handsome Bow Street runner Daniel Swann, who suspects her of a daring theft.

Can Lady Juliette outwit her enemies and complete her parents’ last mission? Or will it lead her to a terrible end?

Best-selling author Erica Vetsch is back with a rollicking, exciting new series destined to be a hit with Regency readers who enjoy a touch of mystery in their love stories. Fans of Julie Klassen, Sarah Ladd, and Anne Perry will love the wit, action, and romance.

Edwardian Canada

Herringford And Watts Mysteries by Rachel McMillan (3 books)

In 1910 Toronto, while other bachelor girls perfect their domestic skills and find husbands, two friends perfect their sleuthing skills and find a murderer.

Inspired by their fascination with all things Sherlock Holmes, best friends and flatmates Merinda and Jem launch a consulting detective business. The deaths of young Irish women lead Merinda and Jem deeper into the mire of the city’s underbelly, where the high hopes of those dreaming to make a new life in Canada are met with prejudice and squalor.

While searching for answers, donning disguises, and sneaking around where no proper ladies would ever go, they pair with Jasper Forth, a police constable, and Ray DeLuca, a reporter in whom Jem takes a more than professional interest. Merinda could well be Toronto’s premiere consulting detective, and Jem may just find a way to put her bachelor girlhood behind her forever—if they can stay alive long enough to do so.

Roaring Twenties

Poppy Denby Investigates by Fiona Veitch Smith (6 books)

It is 1920. Twenty-two year old Poppy Denby moves from Northumberland to live with her paraplegic aunt in London. Aunt Dot, a suffragette, was injured in battles with the police in 1910. Her contacts prove invaluable. Poppy lands a position as an editorial assistant at the Daily Globe. Poppy has always wanted to be a journalist and laps up the atmosphere of the news room. Then one of the paper’s hacks dies suddenly and dramatically. His story was going to be the morning lead, but he hasn’t finished writing it. Poppy finds his notes and completes the story, which is a sensation. The editor, realising her valuable suffragette contacts, invites her to dig deeper. Poppy starts sifting through the dead man’s files and unearths a major mystery which takes her to France – and into danger. By the end of the story Poppy is a fixture on the paper, and is being courted by a photographer. Further mysteries lie ahead.

Depression/Pre-WWII

Drew Farthering Mystery series by Julianna Deering (6 books)

Downton Abbey Meets Agatha Christie in This Sparkling Mystery (6 books)

Introducing Drew Farthing. From the tip of his black Homburg hat to the crease in his cheviot trousers, he’s the epitome of a stylish 1930s English gentleman. His only problem? The body he just discovered. Drew Farthering loves a good mystery, although he generally expects to find it in the pages of a novel, not on the grounds of his country estate. With the help of beautiful and whip-smart Madeline Parker, a guest from America, Drew proposes to use the lessons he’s learned reading his mysteries to solve the crime. Before long, he realizes this is no lark, and no one at Farthering Place is who he or she appears to be — not the blackmailer, not the adulterer, not the embezzler and not even Drew himself. Trying hard to remain one step ahead of the killer — and trying harder to impress Madeline — Drew must decide how far to take this dangerous game.

Van Buren And DeLuca Mystery series by Rachel McMillan (2 books)

“Maybe it was time to land straight in the middle of the adventure…”

Hamish DeLuca has spent most of his life trying to hide the anxiety that appears at the most inopportune times — including during his first real court case as a new lawyer. Determined to rise above his father’s expectations, Hamish runs away to Boston where his cousin, Luca Valari, is opening a fashionable nightclub in Scollay Square.  When he meets his cousin’s “right hand man” Reggie, Hamish wonders if his dreams for a more normal life might be at hand. 

Regina “Reggie” Van Buren, heir to a New Haven fortune, has fled fine china, small talk, and the man her parents expect her to marry. Determined to make a life as the self-sufficient city girl she’s seen in her favorite Jean Arthur and Katharine Hepburn pictures, Reggie runs away to Boston, where she finds an easy secretarial job with the suave Luca Valari. But as she and Hamish work together in Luca’s glittering world, they discover a darker side to the smashing Flamingo nightclub.

When a corpse is discovered at the Flamingo, Reggie and Hamish quickly learn there is a vast chasm between the haves and the have-nots in 1937 Boston—and that there’s an underworld that feeds on them both. As Hamish is forced to choose between his conscience and loyalty to his beloved cousin, the unlikely sleuthing duo work to expose a murder before the darkness destroys everything they’ve worked to build. 

WWII

Blitz Detective by Mike Hollow (6 books)

Saturday 7th September, 1940. The sun is shining, and in the midst of the good weather Londoners could be mistaken for forgetting their country was at war – until the familiar wail of the air-raid sirens heralds an enemy attack. The Blitz has started, and normal life has abruptly ended – but crime has not.
That night a man’s body is discovered in an unmarked van in the back streets of West Ham. When Detective Inspector John Jago is called to the scene, he recognises the victim: local Justice of the Peace, Charles Villiers. The death looks suspicious, but then a German bomb obliterates all evidence. War or no war, murder is still murder, and it’s Jago’s job to find the truth.

If You Liked The Sky Above Us …

30 Apr

My book club loved The Sky Above Us by Sarah Sundin. It has a unique perspective — the Army Air Force pilots who aided the Allied effort before and during D Day and the mission of the American Red Cross in England. So, for today’s If You Liked post I decided to recommend WWII novels also with a unique perspective. Two focus on incidents early in the war — Dunkirk and the Blitz. The other novel explores the end of the Reich from the perspective of an American caught in Nazi Germany. All three are great reads — enjoy!

Direct Hit by Mike Hollow

The jagged blast of high explosives rips through the evening air. In the sky over East London the searchlights criss-cross in search of the enemy.

On the first night of the Blitz, a corpse is discovered in a van in the back streets of West Ham. Detective Inspector John Jago recognizes the dead man as local Justice of the Peace Charles Villiers. But then a German bomb obliterates all evidence.

Villiers, not a popular man, was both powerful and feared. As the sirens wail, the detective must start matching motive to opportunity – and it doesn’t help when his boss foists an intrusive American journalist on him.

Jago soon discovers the dead man held many secrets, some reaching back to World War I. A lot of people wished Villiers dead – and an air raid is a good time to conceal a murder.

Maggie Bright by Tracy Groot

England, 1940. Clare Childs knew life would change when she unexpectedly inherited the Maggie Bright―a noble fifty-two-foot yacht. In fact, she’s counting on it. But the boat harbors secrets. When a stranger arrives, searching for documents hidden onboard, Clare is pulled into a Scotland Yard investigation that could shed light on Hitler’s darkest schemes and prompt America to action.

Across the Channel, Hitler’s Blitzkrieg has the entire British army in retreat with little hope for rescue at the shallow beaches of Dunkirk. With time running out, Churchill recruits civilian watercraft to help. Hitler is attacking from land, air, and sea, and any boat that goes might not return. Yet Clare knows Maggie Bright must answer the call―piloted by an American who has refused to join the war effort until now and a detective with a very personal motive for exposing the truth.

The fate of the war hinges on this rescue. While two men join the desperate fight, a nation prays for a miracle.

Daises Are Forever by Liz Tolsma

In the final days of Nazi Germany, the strength of one woman’s heart will determine the fate of a family.

Prussia, 1945

The fall of the Third Reich is imminent. As the merciless Red Army advances from the East, the German people of Prussia await the worst.
Among them is twenty-year-old Gisela Cramer, an American living in Heiligenbeil with her cousin Ella and their ailing grandfather. When word arrives that the Russians will invade overnight, Ella urges Gisela to escape to Berlin—and take Ella’s two small daughters with her.

The journey is miserable and relentless. But when Gisela hears the British accent of a phony SS officer, she poses as his wife to keep him safe among the indignant German refugees. In the blink of an eye, Mitch Edwards and Gisela are Herr and Frau Joseph Cramer.

Through their tragic and difficult journey, the fabricated couple strives to protect Ella’s daughters, hoping against hope for a reunion. But even as Gisela and Mitch develop feelings beyond the make–believe, the reality of war terrorizes their makeshift family.

 

 

Book Review: Firing Line

21 Jun

Flames leap skyward from a blitzed factory in West Ham as an air raid destroys all in its path. When the blaze threatens neighbouring houses a volunteer fireman breaks in to rescue a trapped resident – but instead finds only the body of a young woman, strangled in her bedroom. For Detective Inspector John Jago the scene brings back memories of the Soho Strangler. He suspects this woman had a secret – that she is not what she seems – and that this may be the root of her untimely end. Investigation reveals a drunken sailor may hold the key to what happened in Joan Watson’s flat. But his information points Jago towards family jealousies, violence, robbery, and the underworld of political terrorism. Was Joan as innocent as her friends claim, or was she mixed up in crime? Jago must unpick multifarious motives if he hopes to reach the truth.

 

Mike Hollow was born in West Ham, on the eastern edge of London, and grew up in Romford, Essex. He studied Russian and French at the University of Cambridge and then worked for the BBC and later Tearfund. In 2002 he went freelance as a copywriter, journalist and editor. He’s a published poet, and nowadays when not writing about the Blitz Detective he makes his living as a translator.

 

My Impressions:

Firing Line is the fourth novel in the excellent Blitz Detective series by Mike Hollow. Set during the days of the London Blitz, this historical mystery/police procedural proves that crime does not stop for war. Smart and well-researched, this novel is perfect for those who love the classic mystery genre. Recommended.

DI John Jago is called in for another murder discovered in the aftermath of the nightly bombings ravaging London. Along with his wonderfully-written assistant, DC Craddock, he doggedly investigates the twisting-turning case that involves greed, jealousy, and political intrigue. I loved the historical touches that Hollow uses to achieve an authentic feel. Nightly trekkers, air raid wardens, Anderson Huts, and the bombing debris around every corner give the reader a glimpse into what it must have been like to be a Londoner at this terrifying time. And while the Germans threatened from the skies, criminals don’t take a holiday. Robbery, blackmail, and murder don’t seem to be affected by the turmoil of war. Jago is a consummate professional and uses all the resources of the time plus his intuition and insight to uncover just whodunit.

Jago’s character develops over the course of this series as he reflects on his service in the Great War and his experiences since. The newest world war causes him to explore questions of justice, fairness, hope, and the need to know and be known. The book is not Christian fiction, per se, but does bring up questions that only God can answer. For those who may find it offensive, there is a bit of adult language.

Firing Line proved to be a great read. The mystery was not easily solved by Jago or this reader 😉 , but its conclusion was both credible and satisfying. While it is part of a series, it can easily be read as a standalone. But I recommend you begin with book 1, The Blitz Detective, to follow the interesting cases and the intriguing main character John Jago.

Recommended.

Audience: adults.

To purchase, click HERE.

(Thanks to Lion Hudson and NetGalley for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

Top 10 Tuesday: Books for Lovers of British Mysteries (+ A Canadian Cousin)

15 Aug

Top 10 Tuesday is back! Yay! The folks at The Broke And The Bookish had some well-deserved time off, but now they are back with great topics for book lovers. This week I’m talking about book recommendations for lovers of British mysteries. I love a good mystery and have found the following books to meet all the requirements — puzzling cases set in the British Isles. They run the gamut from historical and contemporary, amateur detectives and police procedurals, to urban and bucolic settings. Ironically, a couple of the series, while definitely having a British vibe, are authored by Americans. All are excellent!

Top Book Recommendations for Lovers of British Mysteries

+ A Canadian Cousin

(please note there may be more books in these series than are pictured)

The Aiden Mysteries by Fay Sampson

 

The Blitz Detective by Mike Hollow

 

The Drew Farthering Mysteries by Julianna Deering

 

The Faith Morgan Mysteries by Martha Ockley

 

A Father Gilbert Mystery by Paul McCusker

 

The Monastery Murders by Donna Fletcher Crow

 

A Mystery for D. I. Costello by Elizabeth Flynn

 

Poppy Denby Investigates by Fiona Veitch Smith

 

A Canadian Cousin!

The Herringford And Watts Mysteries by Rachel McMillan

 

What are some of your favorite mysteries?

 

Top 10 Tuesday — Hidden Gems

17 Jan

The folks at The Broke And The Bookish have challenged us to list those books we term underrated/hidden gems. I really hate the term underrated. It has such a negative feel to it. So I am choosing to focus on books that I consider hidden gems — books that many people may not know about, but would love if they gave them a chance. The last time I tackled a list like this was back in July when the Top 10 Tuesday theme was books with less than 2000 ratings on Goodreads. Well, most of the books I read fit in this category! Why? Perhaps readers are just not motivated to rate books. But ratings mean a lot to authors — it helps with visibility and ultimately sales of their books. If you love a book I encourage you to rate it!

So here is a list of books I read in the last half of 2016 with not a lot of stars following their titles. Many of them made my Best of 2016 list too. To find out what other bloggers consider hidden gems, click HERE.

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Top 10 Hidden Gems

(Books with under 200 ratings on Goodreads)

The Cantaloupe Thief by Deb Richardson-Moore

A Day And A Life by Penelope Wilcock

The Fifth Column by Mike Hollow

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Forest Child by Heather Day Gilbert

The Name I Call Myself by Beth Moran

Of Stillness And Storm by Michele Phoenix

The Raven by Mike Nappa

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Since You’ve Been Gone by Christa Allan

When Death Draws Near by Carrie Stuart Parks

Within The Veil by Brandy Vallance

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Have you read any of these books?

If you haven’t already, head over to Goodreads and rate them!

Book Review: Fifth Column

19 Sep

51jmprwkljl-_sx325_bo1204203200_Detective Inspector Jago investigates, uncovering deception and betrayal.

At first glance, the young woman found in the early hours of the morning where bombs have landed is just another casualty of the previous night’s air raid. But when the post-mortem shows signs of strangulation, Detective Inspector Jago is called on to investigate.

The dead woman is smartly dressed but carries no identification. However, a local engineering company reports a staff member has failed to appear at work that morning and the body is quickly identified as that of Miss Mary Watkins.

DI Jago’s initial interviews yield little fruit; no one can think of a reason why Mary would be murdered. But as the investigation continues DI Jago begins to uncover a trail of deception and betrayal.

 

1___Mike Hollow studied languages at Cambridge, then worked for the BBC and then Tearfund. Now a freelance writer and editor, he lives in Basingstoke (England) with his wife Margaret. A popular poet, his work has been widely performed and has appeared in many collections.

 

My Impressions:

Fifth Column is the second book in Mike Hollow’s Blitz Detective series. Set during the years of the Nazi bombings of London, this mystery is perfect for those who want an authentic look at England during WWII. I loved the attention to detail that Hollow brings to his novel — from women’s fashion and popular culture to the more serious issues of the nightly attacks from the skies and the threat of sabotage from spies (fifth column refers to a group within a country sympathetic to the enemy). While Fifth Column is the sequel to Direct Hit, it can be read as a standalone. But I recommend you begin at the beginning; you don’t want to miss any part of this great series.

The nightly bombings are beginning to wear on Detective Inspector John Jago. A survivor of the Great War, he never thought that his world would be upended in such a way again. But he has a job to do. When a body of a young woman is discovered at the site of a bombing, it becomes obvious that a bomb was not the culprit and a murderer is on the loose.

Rescue squad volunteers search the wreckage of bombed houses in South Molton Road, Canning Town, September 1940. Corrugated-steel Anderson shelter to the left. (Newham Heritage and Archive collection.)

Rescue squad volunteers search the wreckage of bombed houses in South Molton Road, Canning Town, September 1940. Corrugated-steel Anderson shelter to the left. (Newham Heritage and Archive collection.)

Fifth Column has a number of strengths. It is a slowly unfolding mystery that will keep you guessing. There are quite a few suspects all with tenuous connections to the victim. DI Jago, DC Craddock and the reader have their hands full trying to discover just what is going on. Thrown into the mix are blackmarket dealings, pro-Nazi sentiment, thefts and an extortion plot. Sounds like a lot going on and there is, but Hollow allows his detective to methodically and intuitively work through each clue. DI Jago is an interesting and sympathetic character. All alone in the world and with his life revolving around his work, he, nevertheless, looks to the future that seems just out of reach. Other characters are great compliments to the story and to Jago’s character development. For historical accuracy, Fifth Column cannot be beat. It is obvious that Hollow spent a great deal of time on research. Every detail seems just right and adds a depth to the story not often found in mystery fiction. The author’s website is a treasure trove of information surrounding the story and the history of the era.

I loved Fifth Column, and if you are a fan of historically based mysteries, I am betting you will too. A plot line concerning Jago’s personal life is left dangling, ensuring that I’ll have another enjoyable return visit with The Blitz Detective.

 

Highly Recommended. Please note: this is a British novel and contains some language.

Audience: Adults.

To purchase this book, click HERE.

(Thanks to Kregel and Lion Hudson for a review copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

Book Review: Direct Hit

30 Jul

51eyMvsk64L._SX332_BO1,204,203,200_The jagged blast of high explosives rips through the evening air. In the sky over East London the searchlights criss-cross in search of the enemy.

On the first night of the Blitz, a corpse is discovered in a van in the back streets of West Ham. Detective Inspector John Jago recognizes the dead man as local Justice of the Peace Charles Villiers. But then a German bomb obliterates all evidence.

Villiers, not a popular man, was both powerful and feared. As the sirens wail, the detective must start matching motive to opportunity – and it doesn’t help when his boss foists an intrusive American journalist on him.

Jago soon discovers the dead man held many secrets, some reaching back to World War I. A lot of people wished Villiers dead – and an air raid is a good time to conceal a murder.

 

1___Mike Hollow studied languages at Cambridge, then worked for the BBC and then Tearfund. Now a freelance writer and editor, he lives in Basingstoke (England) with his wife Margaret. A popular poet, his work has been widely performed and has appeared in many collections.

 

My Impressions:

I have just found another favorite mystery author! With Direct Hit, Mike Hollow has written an entertaining and educational (that really is a big plus for me!) novel set during the first days of the London Blitz. Fascinating historical detail and cultural insights, a well told story and a mystery that kept me guessing until the end added up to a book I highly recommend. I am looking forward to more from this talented author.

John Jago is a Detective Inspector (DI) with the London CID. The war hasn’t been going well for England with the retreat from Dunkirk a few months before. Now the Germans are dropping bombs on London, inciting fear and dread in its citizens. Add to the fact that his crime scene is now a bomb crater, Jago has his hands full uncovering the murderer while spending sleepless nights in his Anderson shelter. But Jago is a man dedicated to truth and justice and always finishes what he starts.

Direct Hit introduces us to main character DI Jago. He is definitely a man of his time, shaped by his childhood and the trenches of France during the Great War, Jago is a bit cynical, a bit shell-shocked. A bachelor, yet not a confirmed one, he is dedicated to his job. The list of suspects in this case is long, forcing Jago to criss-cross East London and beyond. I really enjoyed the variety of characters Hollow created — young working class men with communist leanings, upper-middle class businessmen, career civil servants, unsavory criminals, wives and mothers — all with motive and opportunity for murder. With an obvious eye to historical detail and rich description, Hollow creates a very vivid London during the Blitz. I had no trouble feeling a part of the story. Hollow adds an American journalist, Dorothy Appleton, to stretch and grow Jago, causing him to examine his beliefs. There is not an overt faith message in Direct Hit. In fact, both Jago and Dorothy are not believers at all. But both are dedicated to uncovering the truth and seeking justice — I expect them to search for more answers in coming books.

While Direct Hit is genre fiction at its best, it is also a great novel for a book club. There is so much to discuss — historical events, the effects of war on those on the front as well as at home, and just what is Truth. The mystery keeps you guessing to the end and there is definitely a twist that provides much to think about.

All in all a great mystery novel. I highly recommend Direct Hit. Be sure to visit the author’s website for interesting info about the novel’s setting and time period.

Highly Recommended.

Audience: adults.

Great for Book Clubs.

To purchase this book, click HERE

(Thanks to Lion Hudson and Kregel for a review copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)