The Seventh Wife, T Kingfisher
Apricot Kisses, Claudia Winter, trans. Maria Poglitsch Bauer
My Shanghai 1942-46, Keiko Itoh
What Katy Did, Susan Coolidge
The Red Notebook, Antoine Laurin
Comes a Stranger, E R Punshon
Priorsford, O Douglas
The Crystal Beads Murder, Annie Haynes
Presumption of Death, Jill Paton Walsh/Dorothy L Sayers
Christmas at the Vicarage, Rebecca Boxall
Most of these books have been reviewed already, so not a lot to say. Apricot Kisses was my choice for free Kindle book of the month. The heroine is a Berlin-based food critic who gets herself into a lot of trouble writing a bad review of a restaurant in Italy. It’s one of those romances where two people are obviously destined for each other but there’s a whole lot of anger and trouble in the way before they realise it. Light but enjoyable and the Italian apricot farm makes a charming setting.
I had a very stressful month and wanted a ‘nice’ book to read in bed. I picked Priorsford, which I’d read several times already. I couldn’t have chosen better. In the book, writer Merren Strang quotes a reviewer condemning one of her own novels as ‘a sweet book to read yourself to sleep with.’ O Douglas obviously thought there was nothing wrong with that and I agree.
The Crystal Beads Murder is another of Dean Street Press’s reprints of a neglected and out of print crime writer. It was possibly a bad idea to read it immediately after the Punshon as it wasn’t as good, but there was still much to like about it. Published in 1930, it features Haynes’ Inspector Stoddart. When an unpopular man is found dead in a summer house, it’s a mystery to all why he should have some crystal beads in a pocket. Classic country house stuff in which all the characters seem to be lying and Stoddart has to catch them out. It’s possibly not Haynes’ best book as it was finished by another writer and published posthumously.
Oh dear, how is it that I can’t resist Jill Paton Walsh’s Wimsey continuation books even though I think there’s so much wrong with them? Just can’t get enough of Peter and Harriet, I suppose. This is the second book in the series and when it came up as a Kindle deal I realised it was one I’d missed. Presumption of Death is set in wartime. Peter is away on a dangerous mission which is so secret we never find out what it was. The redoubtable Harriet has decamped to Tallboys with her own children and is looking after the Parker ones as well. Lucky she has domestic help. A land girl based nearby is murdered in the village street during an air raid rehearsal, just when most people are underground. Unbelievably, Inspector Kirk (the quotation lover) asks Harriet to help him unofficially, in the absence of Lord Peter. Equally unlikely is that Miss Twitterton should suddenly be described as Harriet’s ‘friend’. Why? Grrr. It is enjoyable as a spy story. My comments on another book in the series can be found here.
Christmas at the Vicarage will be reviewed separately.