Anne Bonny #BookReview Murder At The Grand Raj Palace by @VaseemKhanUK 5* Genius #CosyCrime #CrimeFiction #India @MulhollandUK ‘Perfect escapism and a cracking cosy crime mystery!’

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Murder At The Grand Raj Palace by Vaseem Khan
My own copy
Synopsis:

In the enchanting new Baby Ganesh Agency novel, Inspector Chopra and his elephant sidekick investigate a murder at Mumbai’s grandest hotel.

For a century the iconic Grand Raj Palace Hotel has welcomed the world’s elite. From film stars to foreign dignitaries, anyone who is anyone stays at the Grand Raj.
The last thing the venerable old hotel needs is a murder…

When American billionaire Hollis Burbank is found dead – the day after buying India’s most expensive painting – the authorities are keen to label it a suicide. But the man in charge of the investigation is not so sure. Chopra is called in – and discovers a hotel full of people with a reason to want Burbank dead.

Accompanied by his sidekick, baby elephant Ganesha, Chopra navigates his way through the palatial building, a journey that leads him steadily to a killer, and into the heart of darkness . . .

My Review:

‘It was said that the Grand Raj Palace owed its existence to an insult’

The novel opens with the history of the Grand Raj Palace. A history that is rotted in the British colonialism. The hotel was then and is now, revered as a symbol of India’s ambition and self-worth. I love how the author has cleverly weaved historical details into the story and the novel itself is scattered with them.
It really adds to the beauty of what makes this series to great!

What also makes this series so great is the brilliant characterisation of Chopra and Poppy. They compliment each other perfectly and in this particular case poppy gets a mystery of her own to solve.
Their relationship and the way it flows from the page, makes for brilliant reading. With them both playing the role of ‘investigator’ in this novel, we the reader are in for a double treat!

‘The thought of confronting his wife when her temper was up was as attractive to him as placing his head into the mouth of a ravenous tiger’

Chopra is summoned to the hotel by a former police colleague Rohan Tripathi. After the death of American billionaire and hotel client Hollis Burbank. It is a case that will lead Chopra into the murky side of the side industry. Burbank was found with a knife in his chest in his hotel room. On the wall written in blood are the words ‘I am sorry’.
But what is Burbank sorry for? What is his motive for suicide?

Irfan, Chopra and Poppy’s adopted son and previous street urchin, makes a brief appearance in the novel. He is still tainted by his previous life and at 10yrs old has experienced far too much for a child. We hear Poppy’s thoughts on parenting and they every much echo my own.
‘The true definition of parenthood was the ability to love, to care, to put the welfare of another before one’s own’

Whilst Chopra persists to look into hotel security and deal with Lisa Taylor of the art auction house. Poppy determined not to be forgotten on her 25th wedding anniversary, makes herself and Irfan guests of the hotel. Where she stumbles upon a mysterious case. The case of the missing bride.

‘Everything is illusion,
and no one is who we believe they are’ – Chopra

It would appear that Burbank’s secrets lead deeper into India’s past and deeper within the ruthless and competitive art world.
But can Chopra solve the case?

There is a brilliant opening to a chapter on page 222. Where the author details the colonial history and India’s railway system. It is some of the finest writing, I even took a photo of it on my phone to save. I think that has been the niche of this particular novel, Vaseem Khan’s ability to merge the past and the present and write a brilliant story.

There is also a devious monkey, which adds a comedy element into the plot!
I found myself giggling whilst poor Ganesh shoulders the blame.

My favourite part of the novel is Poppy’s development as a main character. There is a particular scene where Poppy sticks up for herself and Irfan and it just reminded me that Poppy can hold her own. Poppy is a modern woman and the mystery she solves suits her character perfectly.

Perfect escapism and a cracking cosy crime mystery! 5* Genius!

Vaseem Khan
Vaseem Khan
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Anne Bonny Q&A with @karinamelvin #ArtfulEating The psychology of lasting weight loss #EatingDisorders #Recovery @bwpublishing

artful-eating
Artful Eating by Karina Melvin
Book description:

This book can change your life forever!
Rediscover the magic of eating for pleasure and enjoy a life of balance with the freedom to eat the foods you want without dieting.

Artful Eating will take you on a journey filled with stories, life lessons, practical tools and strategies all rooted in the most up to date scientific and psychological research. Learn how to reprogram your mind to lose weight and achieve the body you desire, by changing your thoughts, behaviours and approach to pleasure.

Successful weight loss is not about what you eat, it’s about why and how you eat. We are missing the most vital ingredient in the weight loss battle: the mind. It is our mind that fuels every decision we make about food and by focusing solely on the symptom, the excess weight, we have lost sight of the cause.

There is no strenuous exercise regime, no food elimination, no strict meal plan, just powerful psychological tools and strategies which will create lasting change. You will be amazed at how easy it is to achieve the body you desire and truly deserve.

Q&A:

Q) Who is your perfect reader?

A) I wrote my book for anyone who is tired of ‘trying’ to lose weight. What I mean by this is anyone who has spent years feeling dissatisfied with their body and uncomfortable around food. My hope is to emancipate people from restrictive eating and the oscillation between being ‘good’ and ‘bad’ when it comes to dieting. What my readers consistently tell me is that they feel such freedom after reading this book, so I guess the perfect reader is someone who feels trapped in their relationship with food and their body. There is another way- and its all about enjoyment!

Q) What books are on your bedside table?

A) Jacques Lacan’s Seminar VIII On Transference, which is full of post-it notes and coloured tabs as I’m lecturing on it in UCD. Lacan is a psychoanalyst and his writings are notoriously challenging to read, but so worthwhile. I’m also dipping in and out of Audrey at Home: Memoirs of my Mothers Kitchen, which is written by Audrey Hepburn’s son, Luca Dotti. Its a gorgeous book, filled with anecdotes, beautiful home pictures and delicious recipes. Finally I just finish the Elena Ferrante Neapolitan novels and I am so saddened, I cant bring myself to take them off my nightstand! I cannot recommend them highly enough, her writing is sublime and I was completely immersed.

Q) Do you have a writing routine?

A) I used to, before my daughter was born and when she was newborn and breastfeeding, writing was a doddle! Now my routine consists of grabbing time whenever its quiet, I do need it to be quiet to write. I’ve taken recently to waking up at 5am as its very bright and peaceful and I can get so much written before the hustle and bustle of the day begins.

Q) Where do you write best?

A) In my old place it used to be at this big old bankers desk I bought in a warehouse sale for 80 euro, the thing is a beast! So solid, huge and welcoming. But since we’ve moved I now enjoy sitting at the table in our front room facing the window. We’re currently in an apartment in a very grand, old Georgian house so the rooms are huge, with very high ceilings and large sash windows, so its light, bright and airy. The Irish writer Patrick Kavanagh used to live here, so I feel in very good company when I’m writing.

Q) Where did your inspiration for Artful Eating come from?

A) There were a lot of little “bread crumbs” which amassed over time to come together in the form of Artful Eating. I think the penny really dropped for me though in Barcelona. We were there for a long weekend and I was really struck by the mini versions of everything. Their cortados, which are sort of micro lattes or the una caña which is a very small beer – and of course their tapas. We ate like kings over the weekend, not denying ourselves anything, but also never over indulging. I’d been to Spain before; in fact I spent a wonderful summer in Madrid when I was 16, so I was familiar with their approach to food, but the inspiration to create Artful Eating happened while I was away that weekend. It was actually my 33rd birthday, now that I think of it! Around that time I had been noticing how so many of my clients, regardless of their size, were struggling with their relationship with food and their body and the idea hit me like a lightning bolt in Barcelona that I had to do something about it. After a lot of research and trials I created an online program and it was through the course that I got approached to write a book!

Q) What would your top ten store-cupboard ingredients be?

A) Oooh… This is a good question! And one which probably changes depending on my mood…
Butter- everything tastes better with butter!
All- purpose Flour
Chickpeas- great for anything- curries, hummus, salads…
Seeds and nuts
maple syrup
dried mushrooms
bullion
cuscus
Mustard
tinned tomatoes

This is too hard! I always think it’s incredibly helpful to have a well stocked pantry and I love collecting different jars of preserves and chutney’s, herbs and spices, sauces and alcohol when I’m travelling- way better than a fridge magnet or a postcard!

Q) What are you working on next?

A) I’m working on another book, which is a slight departure from Artful Eating. It’s all about enjoying life and I cannot wait to share it with you.

The-Gloss-Magazine-Writers-Block-Karina-Melvin-c-Sean-Cahill
Karina Melvin
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Anne Bonny #BookReview Retribution Road by Antonin Varenne #Historical #CrimeFiction @maclehosepress ‘The depth and the detail regarding the era and British/US social and political climate is what makes it such a fascinating read’

cover
Retribution Road by Antonin Varenne
Translated by Sam Taylor
Review Copy
Synopsis:

“We owe you our lives, Sergeant, but you are our worst nightmare . . .”

Burma, 1852. Sergeant Arthur Bowman, a sergeant in the East India Company, is sent on a secret mission during the Second Anglo-Burmese War. But the expedition is foiled – his men are captured and tortured. Throughout their ordeal, a single word becomes Bowman’s mantra, a word that will stiffen their powers of endurance in the face of unimaginable suffering: “Survival”.
But for all that, only a handful escape with their lives.

Some years later in London, battling his ghosts through a haze of alcohol and opium, Bowman discovers a mutilated corpse in a sewer. The victim appears to have been subjected to the same torments as Bowman endured in the Burmese jungle. And the word “Survival” has been daubed in blood by the body’s side. Persuaded that the culprit is one of the men who shared his captivity, Bowman resolves to hunt him down.
From the Burmese jungle to the slums of London to the conquest of the Wild West, Antonin Varenne takes us on a thrilling journey full of sound and unabated fury, reviving the lapsed tradition of the great writers of boundless adventure. Sergeant Bowman belongs to that breed of heroes who inhabit the imaginations of Conrad, Kipling, Stevenson . . . Lost soldiers who have plunged into the heart of darkness and will cross the globe in search of vengeance and redemption.

Translated from the French by Sam Taylor

My Review:

Firstly, let me say this paperback has a beautiful cover and perfectly sets the scene for the novel. It is brilliantly eye-catching!
The novel is historical crime fiction and very literary in parts. We follow protagonist Sgt Arthur Bowman in his quest for justice.
A quest that will see him travel through various countries on his way.

The novel opens in 1852 Burma, when Lord Dalhousie governor-general of India declared war on the king of Burma. Major Cavendish summons Bowman and informs him he is to take on a secret mission under Cpt Wright. He must intercept the ambassador. The mission is foiled and many men are captured as POW’s. Only ten men are ever liberated.

Edmund Peavish
Peter Clements
Edward Morgan
Christian Bufford
Erik Penders
Fredrick Collins
John Briggs
Horace Grennshaw
Norton Young &
Sgt Arthur Bowman
Are the liberated men.

The novel then jumps to London 1858, with Officer O’Reilly and Superintendent Andrews at the scene of a brutal murder. Bowman is tied to the case, due to his previous run-ins with men down at the docks. When he sees the body, he is in for an almighty shock. . .

‘The corpse in the sewer. I’ve seen that before. In Burma. In the forest’ – Bowman

Andrews becomes convinced Bowman is losing it, fearing he is headed for a nervous breakdown. Something we the reader learn, Bowman fears himself. As Bowman is under suspicion, he is placed under house arrest, until the case is solved. But Bowman is unlikely to just accept being a suspect in a gruesome murder on London’s streets.

‘London really was turning into hell’

Bowman acquires a list of the liberated men but is hindered further when the India company denies their existence and that such a mission took place.
Is there a cover-up at the heart of this murder?

Bowman tracks down each man individually. What her uncovers shows the true nature of the psychological/physical impact of mental and violent torture. There are no graphic details of the POW’s plight, but the readers comes to understand the depths of the soldiers despair. The trail of POW’s lead all the way across the oceans to t America, Where Bowman is reunited with old comrades. . .

‘You don’t even know if you’re seeking an honourable death or an honourable life, Mr Bowman. You’ll have to choose in the end, but until you do. You will not belong here, or anywhere else on this earth’

The murders appear to be continuing on American soil. Where black men and native American’s can be wrongly accused, leading to fatal consequences. Bowman becomes determined to correct this injustice and find the real killer.

‘They say it’s Indians. Because whites aren’t that cruel’ –
Dr Vladislav Brezisky
Bowman meets an array of characters on his travels and they truly enhance the storytelling. The display of the 1860s American landscape is remarkable.
I can see this novel drawing both British and American fans.

There is a brilliant ending, with a twist in the tale. The depth and the detail regarding the era and British/US social and political climate is what makes it such a fascinating read. 4.5*

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