Anne Bonny #BlogTour #BookReview The Shrouded Path by @sarahrward1 5* #NewRelease #CrimeFiction #Mystery #DerbyshireNoir @FaberBooks #DCConnieChilds #Series

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The Shrouded Path by Sarah Ward
Review Copy
Synopsis:

The past won’t stay buried forever.

November, 1957: Six teenage girls walk in the churning Derbyshire mists, the first chills of winter in the air. Their voices carrying across the fields, they follow the old train tracks into the dark tunnel of the Cutting. Only five appear on the other side.

October, 2014: a dying mother, feverishly fixated on a friend from her childhood, makes a plea: ‘Find Valerie.’ Mina’s elderly mother had never discussed her childhood with her daughter before. So who was Valerie? Where does her obsession spring from?

DC Connie Childs, off balance after her last big case, is partnered up with new arrival to Bampton, Peter Dahl. Following up on what seems like a simple natural death, DC Childs’ old instincts kick in, pointing her right back to one cold evening in 1957. As Connie starts to broaden her enquiries, the investigation begins to spiral increasingly close to home.

My Review:

I am a huge fan of Sarah Ward’s Derbyshire noir series. I love how each title jumps between the past and the present. Something I imagine is not easy to execute. Nevertheless, the author manages to weave November 1957 and October 2015 brilliantly. The case in 1957 does surround six teenage girls, which keeps you on your toes, remembering the various names!

The novel opens in November 1957, Bampton.
Six teenage girls enter a tunnel but only five leave. . .

In October 2017 Mina is visiting her mother on the oncology ward. Her mother is terminally ill and receiving end of life care. Then her mother claims to have seen a woman named Valerie. She urges Mina to find Valerie and makes the confession…..
‘We Killed her’
Mina is rattled by this statement but is unsure if this is an admission of guilt or merely a vision due to the end of life medication such as Morphine etc. She brushes off her concerns, but can’t ignore the conversation.
The she starts receiving warning notes……..

DC Connie Childs is back, but with Sadler away is paired up with DC Peter Dahl. Peter is new to the area and seeking a quieter pace of life.
Only in Bampton it is never quiet for long.
Despite the atmospheric descriptions of Derbyshire, we become aware a there is a prowler in the mist.

Connie and Peter’s most recent case is two potentially suspicious deaths. As the victims are elderly it is unclear if they are simply natural causes or something more sinister. In this post Harold Shipman world, Connie is reluctant to let them go without any further digging and in doing so she unearths many secrets about Bampton of yesteryear.

‘This isn’t the journey’s end, it’s the beginning’

As we jump back to 1957, we meet Valerie and we learn about the purity and punishment ‘friendship’ circle.
As Mina Discovers a photo from the past with the image of five teenage girls. One of which has clear links back to the central characters.
A secret memoir will eventually reveal the truth. But what are the secrets that lurk in the past? Why have the girls gone to such lengths to keep them secret all these years?

The secrets of the past, catch up with the elderly residents of Bampton and bring death with them. 5*

SW
Sarah Ward
Twitter
Website/Book review blog
My Q&A with Sarah ward
My Review for, A Patient Fury

***Don’t miss the other blogger on the blog tour***
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Anne Bonny #BookReview Summer Of Secrets by @nikola_scott 5* #NewRelease #HistoricalFiction #HistoricalRomance #ww2Fiction @headlinepg #SummerOfSecrets

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Summer Of Secrets by Nikola Scott
Review Copy
Synopsis:

August 1939
At peaceful Summerhill, orphaned Maddy hides from the world and the rumours of war. Then her adored sister Georgina returns from a long trip with a new friend, the handsome Victor. Maddy fears that Victor is not all he seems, but she has no idea just what kind of danger has come into their lives…

Today
Chloe is newly pregnant. This should be a joyful time, but she is fearful for the future, despite her husband’s devotion. When chance takes her to Summerhill, she’s drawn into the mystery of what happened there decades before. And the past reaches out to touch her in ways that could change everything…

My Review:

I was a huge fan of My Mother’s Shadow the authors debut novel. So, I couldn’t wait to read Summer Of Secrets, I was also delighted to discover is had a narrative set in the ww2 era. I am a huge ww2 fiction fan and it is my favourite era within the historical fiction genre. So, I was excited to visit Summerhill.

The novel opens with 16yr old Maddy awaiting the return of her sister Georgie from a six-month trip around Europe. Only when Georgie returns she doesn’t return alone.
The sisters live with their Aunt Marjorie at Summerhill. Their father survived The Great war, only to perish off the cliffs at Hangman’s Bluff, nearby.
A death Maddy has never overcome.

In the present day narrative Chloe is a young woman, at the start of what should be a beautiful life. She is newly married and just found out she is pregnant. But instead of being filled with excitement and hope. She is filled with dread, anxiety and fear. Her husband Dr Aidan MacAllister is dominant and controlling. When Chloe is offered the chance of some work, photographing a recluse children’s author, Aidan insists it is a bad idea.

‘No wife of mine will ever have to work’ – Aidan MacAllister

Maddy is adjusting to life at Summerhill with the presence of her sister and six friends. She is introduced to the group and Georgie’s new ‘beau’ Victor Deverill. But there is something about Victor she just can’t trust.
Maddy and Georgie live out a socialite, bohemian existence at Summerhill. There lives are filled with parties and cocktails. Much to the annoyance to Aunt Marjorie who is obsessed with the onset of ww2.

‘That war is coming and Summerhill needs a plan’

Despite Aidan’s explicit instructions, Chloe takes the job. Keeping her pregnancy, a secret and filled with angst, she heads to Summerhill to photograph the reclusive Madeline.
Whilst there she uncovers they have a shared history of being orphans and have both known emotional turmoil.
It is the start of a beautiful friendship, one they both need so very much.
Maddy and Georgie continue their idyllic lifestyle. But for Maddy the situation changes when she stumbles upon a hiding pilot William in the potting shed. She promises to keep his secret and hide him in safety for a few days. But with the growing friendship, he forces Maddy to face up to the death of her father she witnessed at just 10yrs old.

‘You know, most women would give anything to have this life’ – Aidan MacAllister

Chloe continues to feel more and more pressure from Aidan. Who it seems will only be content with complete ownership of Chloe. But it is then we uncover that Chloe, as another person close to her heart. Her little brother Danny. Danny was born with Friedreitch’s ataxia, a neurological disorder. Which means his level of care needs are high and his prognosis is further loss of bodily functions/mobility.

‘Chloe didn’t see the big wheelchair or the immobile form inside; just the little boy she’d raised and loved and would never let fall’

Maddy continues to attempt to navigate the various personalities now at Summerhill. She finds this exhausting and her connection to her sister suddenly being lost amongst the noise. When Maddy has an unsavoury encounter with Victor.
Then Georgie makes a shock announcement.

‘I still had no idea what was wrong with Victor Deverill’ – Maddy

The author weaves a beautiful story between the narratives of the modern day and 1939. The setting and location adds the glamour, mystery and beauty of Cornwall. Whilst the characters pack the emotional punch. This is an emotional story of the bond between siblings. A bond that can last a lifetime. 5*

NS
Nikola Scott
Twitter
Website
My review & Q&A for My Mother’s Shadow – (Nikola’s debut novel)
HAPPY PUBLICATION DAY NIKOLA 🙂  

Anne Bonny #BookReview Letters From Alice by @petrinabanfield #HistoricalFiction #Saga @HarperCollinsUK ‘Incredibly moving, a mystery at its heart and great plot twists. 5*’

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Letters From Alice by Petrina Banfield
Review Copy
Synopsis:

Two women. One secret. Will they be able to keep it under wraps?

It is a stormy evening in 1920s London. When newly qualified almoner, Alice, stepped into the home of Charlotte, a terrified teenager who has just given birth out of wedlock, she did not expect to make a pact that would change her life forever. Thrown into secrecy after an unexpected turn, Alice is determined to keep bewildered Charlotte and her newborn baby safe. But when a threatening note appears, she realises that Charlotte may need more protection than she first thought. But from who?

Based on extensive research into the archive material held at the London Metropolitan Archives, and enriched with lively social history and excerpts from newspaper articles, LETTERS FROM ALICE is a gripping and deeply moving tale, which brings the colourful world of 1920s London to life. Full of grit, mystery and hope, it will have readers enthralled from the very first page.

My Review:

Letters from Alice is a mix of two of my favourite genre’s. It is very similar to a saga novel, yet there is a huge element of historical fiction. The research is outstanding; and I have a huge respect for the author on her accuracy.

The novel opens in April 1921 with young impressionable Alice Hudson summoned by PC Hardwicke to the London district of Bow. The scene is that of death, poverty and misery. A scene that will forever stay with Alice.

By New Years Eve 1921, Alice is now a much more experienced Almoner. She works hard to find Financial assistance, practical support and crisis management to family’s in dire need. When she makes an unannounced home visit to the Redbourne family. What she uncovers will stir up her previous trauma and compel her to take action.
The Redbourne family have five children, Charlotte (15yrs) is the one that causes Alice the most alarm. Although all the children appear to be undernourished and unkempt.

The history the Almoners and what they do, is fully explored. I had no previous knowledge of their existence and was able to fully enjoy the dramatic story. I felt the author did a fantastic job of explaining to the reader, rather than TELL the reader.
If you get what I mean.

Alice is called out to the Redbourne house again. This time it appears Charlotte has ‘lost her mind’. But Alice is determined to get to the bottom of the case and how Charlotte came to be with child at just 15yrs old.

‘Fear and grief masqueraded as madness’

‘She’s beyond helping, she’s morally corrupt’ – Mrs Redbourne

Whilst Mrs Redbourne maybe quick to condemn Charlotte on the unexpected arrival of her twin babies. Alice is not.
Charlotte’s son is stillborn but her daughter (Daisy) survives. With Charlotte’s future looking extremely bleak between the workhouse, asylum or a hostel.
Is there anything Alice can do to save these young girls?

‘It was as if the asylum were tainted with the same stigma that clung to those they treated’

The treatment of the staff at the asylum is often grim as they are regarded as lower class etc.
Charlotte appears frozen, warning Alice of ‘bad people, whom pretend to help’. Words that Alice makes it her duty to investigate.

Then Alice begins to receive threatening notes…..
‘I know what you did’

The novel fully explores the hardship faced by the poor. Also, how Alice must navigate the males in superior roles their ego’s and dominance over her duty of care.

‘The poor are blamed for everything that is wrong with this country as it is. Well, the poor and the refugees’ – Alice Hudson

Incredibly moving, a mystery at its heart and great plot twists. 5*

PB
Petrina Banfield
Twitter
Website