If you like a human crime story this is for you. I’m definitely giving it 5.
Cathedral of Lies by John Pye
The action starts in Exeter Crown Court in 1986 during a multimillion pound drugs trial. The blast from a powerful handgun brings a halt to proceedings as the defendant makes his escape taking his barrister with him as hostage.
Three days and two hundred miles away a mutilated and burnt corpse is found in a Staffordshire beauty spot – there seems to be no connection between the two but diligent and lengthy police work alongside pathology establish a link. Detective inspector Doug Taylor is a determined man – the body found in Staffordshire belonged to an Exeter man and didn’t the defendant in the drugs trail originate from Staffordshire? And then the barrister from Exeter is found dead in a burnt-out jaguar on Cannock Chase.
The two police forces work together and uncover rape, murder and corruption at a high level.
Matters become all the more curious when a bizarre secret held by a cathedral and a church appear central to the affair – it is a secret surrounded by lies, a secret which stretches back decades and one which the main players will go to any lengths to obtain and regardless of who they are prepared to hurt or kill in the process.
If you like a well-written, fast-paced crime thriller that has more twists and turns than the Corkscrew at Alton Towers then you’ll love this book.
I can’t wait to start the second book in the Doug Taylor series.
Ed. Alex O’Neill with Rachel Shipp & M.M. Dixon
The Persolus Race is an interesting concept in that it is an anthology of collected science fiction stories written by different people from different countries but all embracing the same theme which is “Are we alone?”
The stories explore the concept of “Rare Earth” and why complex life is likely to be rare in the universe.
The stories have a common setting in that the human race has been around for a very long time; time enough to realise that intelligent life is so rare that it is confined to humankind.
So, no aliens? Not quite. Humankind has evolved in different ways; science has made sure of that. Cybernetics have enhanced human existence and not always to our advantage. (The Snake in Eden.) Meddling in genetics has had severe consequences for those caught up in it. (Oisettio.)
The concepts explored are thought provoking. Teleportation always works in the films but have you ever considered the science? Not so much fun in this story. (The Man in the Mountain.)
The science may have moved on in this fictional future and other planets explored but humankind still has to battle with wear and tear, worn out machinery and the need to survive.
As a collection the book reminds me of The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury, and I applaud everyone involved for getting together so diverse a group in the midst of the pandemic and publishing such a well thought out anthology.
I have deliberately not included spoilers. If you want to know more then buy the book. If you, like me, enjoy old-school science fiction you won’t regret it.
by Misha Herwin
The house at Kingsfield that stands above the estate at Western Ridge, hides a violent history. Built by a slave owner for his beloved wife, it is a place of lost children, where time fractures and two lonely girls from different centuries cut their fingers and swear to be best friends for ever.
When Jo returns as an adult, long buried memories of her childhood begin to surface. As she slips in and out of time, she realises that she has to face the consequences of her actions, and a friendship forged in blood two hundred years ago will force her to make to a heart-breaking choice.
Jo’s mind is in turmoil following a miscarriage and she decides to retreat to the house she has bought as a studio in order to work. This is a converted barn on the Kingsfield estate overlooking the Weston Ridge council estate where she had grown up.
On arriving she decides to throw herself into her work but instead of the eighteenth-century elegance of the house set against the brutal architecture of the factories she found she had drawn a figure, a girl in a blue dress with her arms stretched out as if pleading for help.
When buying furniture for the Granary Jo befriends Mother and daughter Helene and Cecile who, when they heard where she was living, reminded her of the Satan Stones that stood at the end of the west drive.
Jo is not religious, nor does she believe in the supernatural but her beliefs are put to the test by the unexplained happenings. The house has a disturbed history and its ghosts are set on revenge. When Jo’s step-daughter arrives, the fact she is heavily pregnant brings things to a dramatic finale for a child has been lost and its mother want a replacement and will stop at nothing to get what she wants.
This well-crafted book will have you turning pages long after you should have turned out the light. In fact you may well not want to turn out any lights until you have checked the dark corners of your house. A riveting read from start to finish.
By Misha Herwin pub: Penkhull Press
Sadie and Thea were abandoned as babies and were brought up by Great-Aunt Jane. When Jane dies they inherit her house in Belvedere Crescent, the only home they have ever known. It is a place where time slips and slides, and what once might have seemed safe is revealed to be full of dark secrets and hidden dangers.
As twins they are both incredibly close but also very different with Sadie an actress with hidden abilities and Thea a lawyer wishing her sister didn’t keep secret them secret from her.
When Sadie meets with an accident Thea struggles to retain a grip on reality. Her fiancé, William takes over, but his actions are smothering and Thea finally manages to escape his care and return to the home of her childhood feeling ready to continue with the clearance at her own pace. But all is not what it seems. Thea is drawn deeper and deeper into the house as time slips and flutters straining relationships.
I have no intention of including spoilers. Suffice it to say this beautifully crafted book is well worth a read. I thoroughly enjoyed it and will looking to read other books by this talented author.
Things seem to be getting back to some sort of normal in my little world. On Saturday I attended my first book sale since covid struck.
Covid has had a specific effect on the sale of my first novel due to the fact that it was published by a company called Corona Books. The name had been chosen long before the corona virus struck but it had connotations and life slowed considerably.
St Andrew’s church in Porthill, Stoke-on-Trent hosted and warm and friendly event. I sold a number of books, renewed an acquaintance (I hesitate to say ‘old’) and was able to chat with new ones. And to top it all there was tea and cake!
There will be more such events, it will be lovely to see you there.