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May 2019



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February Books

The English Girl , Katherine Webb
One Summer, Ruby M Ayres
Out of Sorts , Aurélie Valognes, Wendeline A. Hardenberg
Summertime , Raffaella Barker
The End of Law , Thérèse Down
Miss Buncle’s Book, D E Stevenson
The Shadow Hour , Kate Riordan
Coming up Roses, Rachael Lucas
The Bungalow Mystery, Annie Haynes
The Summer Before the War, Helen Simonson
Remember the Moment, Denise Robertson

Dean Street Press are releasing five more books by Annie Haynes today.
The Crystal Beads Murder, which I’d already read, was published posthumously. The Bungalow Mystery (1923), was Annie Haynes’ first full length published work. It has a very complex plot which revolves around a question of identity.

One evening Dr. Roger Lavington is called to a nearby house, the eponymous Bungalow, to examine a dead body. Having established that the death is murder and not suicide, he discovers a girl hiding behind the curtains of the room where the body was found. His behaviour then sets the pattern for the rest of the novel. Does he keep her there and tell the police what has happened? Of course not. Beguiled by a pretty face, the silly fool assists her escape, passes her off as his cousin come to help out with local amateur dramatics and then gets her away from the scene. The police know that a blonde woman has been seen at the Bungalow but believe her to have been killed in a train crash, bringing the investigation to a temporary halt.

By a great coincidence, Lavington’s old school friend James Courtney was terribly injured in the same accident and is now a cripple. He asks Lavington to be his live-in physician, which suits the doctor well as his practice was unsuccessful and he will now have time to pursue his scientific researches. He is shocked by the way his friend has changed from a pleasant, easy-going fellow and kind landlord to a grumpy misogynist who refuses to see his ex-fiancée.

The police re-open the case and Lavington thinks he sees a beautiful blonde whom he believes to be the girl from the Bungalow. Just how many blonde look-alikes can there be? They seem to be everywhere. The police have a tough task on their hands, with mystery blondes all over the place, everybody lying in order to protect someone else and the doctor always in the way. Eventually a solution is found, but not as a result of the police investigation. An entertaining book but not entirely satisfactory and not, IMO, a wrongly neglected masterpiece of Golden Age crime fiction.

Dean Street Press were kind enough to send me this book to read. Maybe three stars. I’m hoping the others will be better because these old books do have a special charm of their own.

One Summer was a truly random selection. Dorset Libraries started offering e-books for loan a while ago but as there was no Kindle support I abandoned the idea of using the new facility. It suddenly occurred to me that I might now be able to download books to my iPad Mini and a frustrating time ensued. In order to borrow a book you have to sign in (fair enough) and then download an app called Overdrive. All this took me so long (I could have driven down to the physical library and back in the time it took) that I decided to download *any* book, just to see if I could. Success! Sadly, I can’t remember what the book was about!

Summertime and Miss Buncle’s Book were re-reads, picked because I wanted something reliably ‘nice’. I then read another ‘nice book’, Coming up Roses by Rachael Lucas *waves*. I’m a sucker for any book with a gardener as a heroine and this one ticked a lot of boxes. Restoring a neglected garden? Check. A busy village with a mix of nice and nasty characters? Check. Love rats to hate? Check. Romance? Check. It’s rather Trisha Ashley (a recommendation from me) and I’ll be reading more of Rachael’s books.

The Summer Before the War is the new book by the author of Major Pettigrew's Last Stand. The publishers have barred all reviews until after publication later this month, so I can’t say anything about it yet. Remember the Moment (1990) is one of the books I bought at the market last Saturday. I was expecting an old fashioned romance but it turned out to be a good mystery story, set in the north east of England. I’d never heard of Denise Robertson but apparently she is quite famous.


It sounds a lovely list. Are there less books than your usual monthly lists?
Grr, why won't LJ put replies to comments in the right order?

A very mixed bunch and about the average number, I think. I have a couple of anthologies on the go which I'm reading regularly but not straight through, so they don't appear.

Grr, why won't LJ put replies to comments in the right order?

I don't know, maybe I commented in the wrong place?
Ha! I daren't say a word. Haven't written the review yet and it won't be easy.
I do agree that not all the golden age crime surfacing these days has been unfairly neglected. There is a lot of very average crime fiction out there.
Glad we agree :-)

I put a shorter version of the review on Amazon to please the publisher and some trolling commenter has criticised me. Puts me off bothering.


Hens Dancing and Summertime are two of my most favorite books. A note I made in 2002: Hens Dancing by Raffaela Barker 2001 A+
My perfect book! British countryside, warmth, humor, wit. It reminds me of a modern day Diary of A Provincial Lady by E. M. Delafield. The main character, Venetia, is divorced and raising her three kids on a little farm in the country. The book is her diary of a year in her life. I laughed out loud several times. The author can say so much in one little sentence, again like Delafield. Very wonderful descriptions of daily life and contentment even in the midst of mess and confusion. A book I will have to buy. " How do hens dance? Chick to chick."
ISTR we've discussed this before! I've read several other books by Raffaella Barker but haven't enjoyed any as much as those two. I dote on The Beauty.


I know we have. You are the only person with whom I share a love of these two books! What does ISTR mean?
Really? Definitely kindred spirits :-)

ISTR = I seem to recall.