Anne Bonny #BookReview The Magpie Tree by @K_Stansfield 5* #HistoricalFiction #Cornwall #Witches #MissingChild #NewRelease @AllisonandBusby 1844 Jamaica Inn, Witches, gossip and a missing child!

The Magpie Tree by Katherine Stansfield
Cornish Mysteries #2

Review copy

Jamaica Inn, 1844: the talk is of witches. A boy has vanished in the woods of Trethevy on the North Cornish coast, and a reward is offered for his return. Shilly has had enough of such dark doings, but her new companion, the woman who calls herself Anna Drake, insists they investigate. Anna wants to open a detective agency, and the reward would fund it. They soon learn of a mysterious pair of strangers who have likely taken the boy, and of Saint Nectan who, legend has it, kept safe the people of the woods. As Shilly and Anna seek the missing child, the case takes another turn – murder. Something is stirring in the woods and old sins have come home to roost.

My Review:

1844 Jamaica Inn, Witches, gossip and a missing child!

‘The day I went to the Jamaica Inn was the day I saw a man hanged’

Right from the opening line, the author sets the scene and the era perfectly. Rumours of local witches and their involvement in a missing child case are rife. A community in fear and two sleuths are on the case. . . .

Shilly and Anna Drake have a desire to set up their own detective agency. But with a lack of funds to do so, their plans haven’t come to fruition. That is until they hear Sir Vivian Orton has offered a reward in the case of the missing child. The women set of on a journey to Trethevy, unaware of what awaits.

Along the journey the women debate the subject of witches, the danger it poses in the persecution of women. They know this case will be far from easy. Small town gossip spreads and has the whole community quickly gripped in fear.

Sir Vivian Orton’s wife (Lady phoebe) is heavily pregnant and this impedes their investigation, they are unable to question her. The missing boy, Paul Hakell also has a twin named Peter. The ladies begin their efforts by organising a search of the local tunnels and mineshafts. Then they are made aware of the local legend of Saint Nectan, protector of children!

Shilly and Anna are an unusual pairing, they are eccentric yet sensible. They each have very different personalities, but they complement each other very well. As the plot unravels their relationship progresses and you have a greater understanding of who they are and the lives that shaped them.

Local man, Simon Proctor claims to have seen the missing boy, near the location of a cottage. A cottage that has two sisters in residence. The locals remark that they often conversate in the ‘devils language’. Which the women quickly recognise as German. It is clear to see, how a miscommunication, in a small-minded community. Can grow into a fear mongering rumour that spreads.
The women have their work cut out in the small village of Trethevy.

Shillly and Anna agree to approach the sisters (with caution) and learn more about who they are and where they come from.
What they learn, will slowly help them unravel the case.

I really enjoyed the prose of this novel, it reminded me of the novel, Himself by Jess Kidd. With its odd characters and similar writing style. Every new development in the case adds more mystery and intrigue. The women quickly learn they can’t trust anyone around them and this makes for a great suspenseful read!

The novel has a very clever ending that reads right up to the very last page.
I look forward to future novels in the series. 5*

Katherine Stansfield

#1 in the Cornish Mysteries series:
Falling Creatures by Katherine Stansfield

1844. A brutal murder rocks Victorian Cornwall. In a place where the dead lie uneasy in their graves, to find a murderer a young woman must first learn who she can trust.

I had loved her, though she was cruel, though she was sly. She and I were just as the rest of the world – creatures falling, creatures failing.

Cornwall, 1844. On a lonely moorland farm not far from Jamaica Inn, farmhand Shilly finds love in the arms of Charlotte Dymond. But Charlotte has many secrets, possessing powers that cause both good and ill. When she’s found on the moor with her throat cut, Shilly is determined to find out who is responsible, and so is the stranger calling himself Mr Williams who asks for Shilly’s help. Mr Williams has secrets too, and Shilly is thrown into the bewildering new world of modern detection.

Anne Bonny #GuestPost by @AuthorMLilly – Vigilantism in fiction #PondScum #RoadRunner #DarkthornSeries @vulpine_press #CrimeFiction #NewRelease

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Pond Scum by Michael Lilly
Darkthorn #1

My name is Jeremy Thorn, and I’m a serial killer.

Jeremy ‘Remy’ Thorn is a detective from a small town in Oregon. He does his job well and keeps to himself. A past of trauma and abuse, and a compulsive need for balance have shaped him into the person he is today: a decisive, effective killer.

His routine is simple but trustworthy.

Step one: Find two targets. The first, an abomination of a human being whose only contribution to the world is as fertilizer. The second, a detriment to society, perhaps a sidekick or accessory.

Step two: Kill the first. Frame the second.


After his latest, and most personal kill, all seems to be going well. He makes it home by morning and continues with his plan as normal, with each perfectly timed maneuver all mapped out. But to his horror, he finds that the man he was trying to frame—a hotshot detective from a major nearby city—has been called in to work the case. And what’s worse … he’s privy to the truth.

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Road Runner by Michael Lilly
Darkthorn #2

Remy and Todd are just getting comfortable when a series of death threats forces them to take refuge in a tiny town in New Mexico. Against his better judgment, an antsy Remy picks up detective work again and is thrust into a murder investigation. He quickly realizes these murders are no coincidence, and disturbing signs lead him to think they are connected to his unfinished business in Riverdell.

In the midst of yet another battle of wit, resources, mental fortitude, and emotional stamina, Remy is forced to confront the demons of his past and present. He can only hope he has what it takes to finish this once and for all.

Guest Post:

Vigilantism in Fiction
Because it’s Illegal in Real Life

While one of the more popular plot dynamics in fiction—specifically action, crime, and suspense—it can be quite a challenge to piece together a story about vigilantism while also keeping it relevant, believable, and engaging. More specifically, it’s difficult to create a character—a vigilante—who’s likeable and relatable while simultaneously building a life for them in which they subvert the law and perpetuate acts that would certainly be frowned upon in real life.

So how exactly does one create such a character?

My first piece of advice is as complex and as simple as this: Keep them human. Have them do human things. Give them pets, hobbies, and a story. Give them reasons for living outside of their vigilante work. Give them flaws and quirks: a stutter they’re self-conscious about, a phobia of an insect that’s not even indigenous in the area, a deep knowledge of plant life, an obsession with another culture (or many other cultures!).

My second piece of advice is to make the work necessary. In the Dexter series, the protagonist, blood spatter analyst Dexter Morgan, has a drive to kill, but it goes beyond simple desire. He needs it, and his father, Harry, recognized this in him and taught him a set of rules to abide by in order to keep it hidden. This is a unique (and mercilessly engaging) perspective, and it works. If your character kills for sheer pleasure, that’s a fast way to create distance between your character and your audience.

In some cases (and as was the plot device I used in Pond Scum), making the vigilantism a necessity is a matter of making the antagonist absolutely untouchable by the law. Make your antagonist arrogant, witty, and fully aware that they can get away with whatever they please, as long as they can’t get caught legally. These antagonists know that they can manipulate, lie, bribe, blackmail, and coerce their way to whatever end they please, as long as the court system continues to operate how it has been for decades. But they don’t count on someone ignoring that system. They think that, by breaking the rules, they have the edge, but when met with an adversary with a similar disregard for rules, they run scared.

An important part, which often seems like an afterthought, is that of how the character’s vigilantism affects their other relationships. Do they have a significant other? Does that person know about these habits? If so, how does that impact the significant other’s perception of the protagonist? And if not, what measures has the main character taken to keep their operations hidden?

M Lilly Headshot
Michael Lilly