Anne Bonny #BookReview The Murderess by @jenwellswriter 4* #WW2 #HistoricalFiction just £1 on Ebook #WeekendReads @Aria_Fiction A family legacy laid bare. . .

The Murderess by Jennifer Wells
From my own TBR pile

1931: Fifteen-year-old Kate witnesses her mother Millicent push a stranger from a station platform into the path of an oncoming train. There was no warning, seemingly no reason, and absolutely no remorse.

1940: Exactly nine years later, Kate returns to the station and notices a tramp laying flowers on the exact spot that the murder was committed; the identity of the victim, still remains unknown.

With a country torn apart by war and her family estate and name in tatters, Kate has nothing to lose as she attempts to uncover family secrets that date back to the Great War and solve a mystery that blights her family name.

My Review:

The novel is set between two timelines 1931 and 1940. It surrounds the childhood and adult life of Kate Bewsey and the mystery that has blighted her life. Kate has grown up in having known wealth and luxury. Living her life at ‘The Grange’ her parents estate in Missensham town. The Grange was once a hot spot of social activity. Parties, cocktails and jazz. Now it just reminds them, of all they have lost since that fateful day; her mother pushed a young woman to her death!

‘My life would not be the same after that day’ – Kate

Kate had an unusual relationship with her mother, her entire childhood. With her mother viewing her more of a possession and smothering her with her love.

‘Always remember you are mine’ – Millicent Bewsey

The novel opens in May 1940, with Kate arriving at Missensham rail station. Awaiting the arrival of her aunt Audrey and cousin Jemima, she notices a homeless man. The man is dressed in the attire of a veteran of the great war and it is this, that catches Kate’s eye at first. He is laying flowers, red peonies and it is then, that Kate recalls the date.

In 1931 a young teenage Kate witnessed her mother greet a woman at the rail station. They discussed the timetable and then for no known reason, Millicent pushed the woman from the platform onto the tracks and into the path of an incoming train. The story created a huge scandal with stories of the ‘well-bred’ woman with murder on her mind. Kate’s mother remains at Holloway prison and has never spoken of the incident.

‘As far as I am concerned, I no longer have a mother’ – Kate

Kate still lives at The Grange, but she is no longer the young lady of the estate. Kate and her father live in the basement, the old servant’s quarters. It is only through the charitable acts of her aunt Audrey, they have kept The Grange in the family.
There life is one of poverty, isolation and waiting.

Despite it having been nine years, since the murder and Kate now being a young woman of 25yrs. It is remembered annually in the newspaper, much to Audrey’s disgust. But this year there is some added news, as Millicent is due a parole hearing and possible release on the tenth anniversary of the crime.

Kate’s father requests that she visit the prison, in the hope at getting a statement from her mother. Which may help with her release.
But Kate refuses to assist in any way shape of form.

‘That woman should have hung’ – Kate

The emotional pull of the entire situation, leads Kate to investigate. Why did her mother push the woman onto the tracks? Who was the victim? And who is the homeless man? What do the flowers mean?

Kate returns to the station to enquire about the homeless man. She learns via the station master that he appears every year, on the anniversary of the murder. At a second glance Kate notices the card on the flowers.

‘For my darling Rosaline’

This becomes the first piece in the mystery and Kate becomes hellbent on solving the secrets that surround her mother’s life. But can Kate uncover the reasons for the murder? And can she live with the truth?

‘Who really ever knew your mother’ – Audrey

This novel is a slow-burning, cosy mystery that is perfect reading for a Sunday afternoon. It has emotionally charged scenes, that are very well written. My heart really warmed to Kate and I longed for her to solve the questions and set her mind to rest. There is a huge twist in the novel halfway through and this has been expertly done by the author. It adds so much more depth to the narratives. It builds and builds to a dramatic and shocking ending.
A family legacy laid bare 4*

Jennifer Wells
LBA Books Website

Anne Bonny #BookReview Death Wish by Brian Garfield 4* #Classic #MovieAdaption 1970s #AmericanNoir @Duckbooks #CrimeFiction #Thriller

cover 2
Death Wish by Brain Garfield
Review copy

In the wake of a chilling attack, an ordinary man decides to take revenge.

When his wife and daughter are attacked in their home, Paul Benjamin is enjoying a three-martini lunch. A professional man, soft around the middle, Paul lives happily isolated from the rougher side of New York City. As he nurses his gin headache, a call comes from his son-in-law asking him to come to the hospital. In a few hours, his world will collapse around him.

As Paul slurped down his lunchtime gin, drug addicts broke into his cozy Upper West Side apartment. For a handful of money, they savagely beat Paul’s wife and daughter, leaving his wife dead and his daughter comatose. After his shock wears off, and Paul realizes the police department is helpless, his thoughts turn to revenge — not just for him, but for every decent family broken by the dark forces of society.

My Review:

Death Wish is a novel originally published in 1972. It was adapted into a feature film in 1974, starring Charles Bronson. It is also being re-made with Bruce Willis in the starring role and directed by Eli Roth. Needless to say, there are some huge names, that have fallen in love with the plot and themes within the novel.

The novel opens with our protagonist Paul Benjamin having a working lunch with fellow professional Sam Kreutzer. Paul receives a call from his son-in-law Jack, that will change his life forever. There has been a home invasion at Paul’s property and both his wife and daughter are seriously injured. Paul must get to Roosevelt Hospital as soon as he can.

When Paul arrives at the hospital, he is filled in on vague details from Jack. His wife Esther is in surgery and they are unsure if she will make it. Local cop Joe Charles from the 20th precinct is in attendance. He shocks both Paul and jack with his brutally honest attitude about apprehending the suspects and bringing them to justice.

‘Sometimes we catch them’ – Joe Charles

Esther Benjamin doesn’t make it through the surgery. Paul is left devastated. His daughter carol, is plagued by such mental anguish and PTSD, at what she witnessed, she is left catatonic. It remains clear at this point, that she will never be the same Carol, she was prior to the attack.

Lieutenant Briggs informs Paul that from the evidence and statements he has managed to gather. The case presents as three young attackers, possibly high on drugs. They laughed throughout the entire attack. Carol passed out watching the savage beating of her mother and when awoken, managed to raise the alarm for help.

Jack tries to persuade Paul, that he must go on living. That any ideas for revenge or retribution will likely just destroy Paul himself. But Paul, can’t let go. Unable to see his daughter, due to his existence being a reminder of her dead mother. He is left isolated and alone, with nothing but his inner rage for company. Paul Benjamin decides to unleash that rage. . . .

With Paul’s desire for revenge having been unleashed, he sees potential suspects everywhere. The impact of the violent crime on his own personal life, changes his fundamental views on crime and punishment in society.

I really enjoyed the novel and the evolution of Paul’s character was intense. The themes of grief and pain creating a lust for vengeance in anger. Is a theme that could work in any given historical era. There are some attitudes in the novel around the themes of race and gun ownership, which give a feeling for the era. I was shocked to discover American gun control was tighter in the 1970s than it is today!

1970s American crime fiction, recommended! 4*

Brain Garfield