Anne Bonny #BookReview A High Mortality Of Doves & The Boy Who Lived With The Dead by Kate Ellis @kateellisauthor 5* Genius #HistoricalFiction @PiatkusBooks #AlbertLincoln #Series

A High Mortality Of Doves by Kate Ellis
My own Copy ~ Paperback Book

Synopsis ~

1919. The Derbyshire village of Wenfield is still reeling from four terrible years of war, and now, just when the village is coming to terms with the loss of so many of its sons, the brutal murder of a young girl shatters its hard-won tranquillity.

Myrtle Bligh is found stabbed and left in woodland, her mouth slit to accommodate a dead dove, a bird of peace.

During the war Myrtle worked as a volunteer nurse with Flora Winsmore, the local doctor’s daughter, caring for badly wounded soldiers at the nearby big house, Tarnhey Court.

When two more women are found murdered in identical circumstances, Inspector Albert Lincoln is sent up from London, a man not only wounded in war but damaged in peace by the death of his young son and his cold, loveless marriage. Once in Wenfield, Albert begins to investigate the three recent murders and the Cartwright family of Tarnhey Court and their staff fall under suspicion as their hidden lives and secrets are uncovered.

With rumours of a ghostly soldier with a painted face being spotted near the scene of the murders, the village is thrown into a state of panic – and with the killer still on the loose, who will be the next to die at the hands of this vicious angel of death?

My Review ~

A High Morality Of Doves is set in the Derbyshire village of Wenfield in 1919. The village is reeling after 4yrs of war. The novel surrounds the cases of murdered females, left on display with a dead dove in their mouths.
With the dove being the symbolic bird of peace, is someone trying to send a bizarre message to the local community? Or to the local police? In steps Inspector Albert Lincoln from London and the Met police, to crack the case.

Local resident Myrtle is lured to the woods via a letter from her dead fiancé Stanley. Myrtle was aware of the telegram notification of his death and even consulted mediums in the local New Mills. But with the letter, also comes hope. Is Stanley alive?

‘She’d been in these woods a hundred times or more. But she’d never gone there alone’

Only for Myrtle, this mistake will cost her, her life.

Flora is the local doctor’s daughter and was friend and confidant to Myrtle. The women had previously worked together as VADs during the war. But when war was over Myrtle must return to the mills and Flora to her father’s surgery. The different places in the class system, keeping them apart.
When Jack Blemthwaite discovers Myrtle’s body, Flora’s father is summoned. But Flora is unsettled by the local communities rush to blame Jack due to his absence at war!

Local resident Annie, receives notification her son Harold is MIA
‘Better a hero than a coward. Cowards were the lowest of the low and being the mother of a coward would have been the ultimate humiliation’

The novel fully portrays life for village residents in war time and the harsh reality of shame on those deemed ‘coward’s’. The war impacts on everyone’s lives and it was refreshing to see this be brought to the main theme of the novel and not used as a backdrop.
Then Annie receives a note…

Flora attempts to involve herself into the case, assisting a reluctant Sgt Teague. She attempts to use her influence to help clear Jack’s name.
‘The self-appointed jury that’s found Jack guilty without the benefit of a trial’
We become aware Jack is developmentally delayed and appears as a child trapped in a man’s body. But if Jack isn’t the killer then who is?

The callous lure continues, with more women lured to their deaths. Then Inspector Albert Lincoln is called in to assist. Albert is a broken man himself both physically and emotionally. His wife Mary barely talks to him after the death of their son Fredrick. Albert has a broken soul, but can he catch the killer before he takes more souls for his own.

The village has seen so much change in five years, with the effects of the war impacting nearly all the individual families.
‘For four years life had been cheap. Now it was precious’
The village residents are desperate to see an end to the tragic loss of lives. But what is the killer’s motive?

‘Who can fathom the mysteries of the human mind, especially after this war’

Kate Ellis brings the post ww1 are alive on the pages and via the emotions of the characters within the village of Wenfield.
The final reveal is simply astounding and worth every second spent reading. 5* Genius

The Boy Who Lives With The Dead by Kate Ellis ~ #2 Albert Lincoln Series
My Own Copy ~ Hardback Book

Synopsis ~ 

The second historical thriller in the Albert Lincoln series by acclaimed crime writer Kate Ellis.

A child haunted by the past . . . A village troubled by secrets . . .

It is 1920 and Scotland Yard detective DI Albert Lincoln is still reeling from the disturbing events of the previous year. Trapped in a loveless marriage and tired of his life in London, he’s pleased when he’s called to a new case in the North West of England.

Before the War, he led the unsuccessful investigation into the murder of little Jimmy Rudyard in the village of Mabley Ridge. Now a woman has been murdered there and another child is missing, the sole witness being a traumatised boy who lives in a cemetery lodge. Albert’s first investigation was a failure but this time he is determined to find the truth . . . and the missing child.

As Albert delves into the lives of the village residents he uncovers shocking secrets and obsessions. With the help of a village schoolmistress with her own secret past, Albert closes in on Jimmy’s killer. Then, as more bodies are discovered, he realises that his young witness from the cemetery lodge is in grave danger, from somebody he calls ‘the Shadow Man’. As Albert discovers more about the victims he finds information that might bring him a step closer to solving a mystery of his own: the whereabouts of his lost son.

My Review ~

The Boy Who Lived With The Dead, picks up 18 months after the previous novel in the series A High Morality Of Doves. This time the case that Albert Lincoln is called to is in Cheshire. It is the location of a previous murder, that Albert was unsuccessful in solving. The case of little Jimmy Rudyard weighs heavy on his mind. With a woman murdered and a baby now missing. Albert must work quickly to solve the case and locate the baby.

The novel opens in September 1920, at the village of Mabley Ridge, Cheshire. Patience Bailey is found buried alive in a local graveyard. With local child Peter confiding in his school teacher Miss Davies (Gwen) that he witnessed somebody at the scene. Someone he refers to as the shadow man. Only the situation becomes more complex, when Peter is revealed to be the brother of Jimmy Rudyard.

Gwen’s backstory is more complex, and she makes for a likely sleuth alongside Albert.
‘According to her family, her loss was a punishment that had to be endured; sometimes she hated her family’

Mallory Ghent married his wife Jane for her wealth, their marriage is not one of love or romance. Patience was Jane’s paid companion, having helped Jane overcome her own personal demons. Jane seeks justice for her companion’s killer.

Albert has developed into a full workaholic to avoid his wife Mary. His wife has become consumed with visiting spiritualists aided by her mother Vera. Mary wishes to contact their son Fredrick, But Albert firmly believes she has merely been taken in by a bunch of charlatans. He relishes the chance to escape his home life.

‘Corpses don’t bury themselves, somebody in Mabley Ridge had killed her’

With the introduction of Albert into Patience’s case, we finally learn the facts of Jimmy Rudyard’s murder. Peter claimed a man on horseback took Jimmy, he was never believed, but was he telling the truth?

Albert seek redemption for failing to find Jimmy’s killer and plans to unearth all the secrets of the village, if that is what it takes.

I have pages of note and quotes, but to include them all would provide spoilers. The novel is very similar to the first in the series. This is not a criticism, I am merely just referencing the era, themes and development of characters etc. The novels are best read in order to get the most from the series.

The novel has a perfect ending that leads straight into the next novel.
Which I cannot wait to read!
The series is pure perfection.
5* Genius

Kate Ellis

Anne Bonny #BookReview My Love Story by Tina Turner #TheAutobiography 5* Genius @LoveTinaTurner

My Love Story by Tina Turner ~ The Autobiography
My Own Copy ~ Hardback Book

Synopsis ~

Love’s got everything to do with it.

Tina Turner is the Queen of Rock ‘n’ Roll, a musical icon celebrating her 60th year in the industry. In this dramatic autobiography, she tells the story of a truly remarkable life in the spotlight.

From her early years picking cotton in Nutbush, Tennessee to her rise to fame alongside Ike Turner, and finally to her phenomenal success in the 1980s and beyond, Tina candidly examines her personal history, from her darkest hours to her happiest moments and everything in between.

In her honest and heart-felt voice, Tina reveals:

· How (love) and a kidney transplant saved her life – and how her new husband made an incredible personal sacrifice
· How she has coped with the tragic suicide of her son
· How ex-husband Ike Turner forced her to go to a brothel on their wedding night… and why she tried to kill herself because of Ike’s mistresses
· The Cinderella moment when David Bowie made Tina a star …
· …and the day Mick Jagger ripped her skirt off!

Brimming with her trademark blend of strength, energy, heart and soul, My Love Story is a gripping, surprising memoir, as memorable and entertaining as any of her greatest hits.

My Review ~

‘I knew when to run away from snakes’

This title was a Christmas present from my husband, and I could not wait to start reading it. What I found inside was an incredible story of a woman that has fascinated me for many years.
After all, before there was Beyonce, there was Tina Turner…

‘I’d laboured all my life. Nobody gave me one thing’

The novel opens telling the childhood of Anna Mae Bullock, it is emotionally painful to digest. As it is revealed that Tina’s relationship with her mother was an extremely difficult one. I knew what was about to come with Ike and I at least wanted Tina to have known a childhood of love and warmth. But for Tina, it was not to be…

‘I knew that my mother didn’t love me’

It is worth noting that despite Tina never having had her mother’s affections, she never let it prevent her from taking care of her in later years. Something I found reminiscent of my own life, in a different way.
Then Tina meets Ike…

‘Ike didn’t just look dangerous. He was dangerous’

The brutality of their marriage is detailed and again, makes for painful reading. Eventually resulting in Tina’s attempt to take her own life…

‘I was meant to survive. I was here for a reason’

‘What had been ugly and hateful between us before he started using drugs became worse with every snort’
Ike’s decline into drug addiction, would ultimately force Tina to leave.

‘I wasn’t just running away from Ike. I was running toward a new life’
Tina would end their 14yr marriage and find herself alone and beginning a new start at 37yrs old. When her divorce was finally settled 2yrs later, she would leave with her children, two car’s and her name. Tina would have to start over! And start over she did, becoming a figure of female empowerment and strength.

With a little help and some much needed love from stars of the music industry. Tina would re-launch her music career, which is also when I became a fan. I was only born in 1983, so for Tina’s first popularity in music and marriage to Ike, I was mostly unaware until I became much older.

My introduction to Tina’s music would come when my father bought the album Foreign Affair. I was only 6yrs old when this album was released. Yet I know all the words of by heart and would spend my days with a hairbrush microphone screaming out the hits and storming the lounge carpet, like Tina stormed the stage. Of course, I also flicked my hair, in true Tina style!

Tina has long been a hero of mine, but this autobiography filled in the gaps of her history, I never knew. It is an incredible read.
I discovered along the read, that not only am I a huge fan of Tina Turner the stage persona, but I am also a huge fan of Anna Mae Bullock too. 5* Genius

Tina Turner

Anne Bonny #BookReview Woman 99 by Greer Macallister @theladygreer 5* #NewRelease #HistoricalFiction

woman 99
Woman 99 by Greer Macallister
Review Copy

Synopsis ~

She’s only a number now.

When Charlotte Smith’s wealthy parents commit her beloved sister Phoebe to the infamous Goldengrove Asylum, Charlotte knows there’s more to the story than madness. She risks everything and follows her sister inside, surrendering her real identity as a privileged young lady of San Francisco society to become a nameless inmate, Woman 99.

The longer she stays, the more she realizes that many of the women of Goldengrove aren’t insane, merely inconvenient — and that her search for the truth threatens to dig up secrets that some very powerful people would do anything to keep.

A historical thriller rich in detail, deception, and revelation, Woman 99 honors the fierce women of the past, born into a world that denied them power but underestimated their strength.

My Review ~

Woman 99 is the story of two sisters in 1888, effected by mental illness. The lengths one sister will go to, to protect the other…

‘The mind did not discriminate between classes’

Charlotte Smith is the envy of ever San Francisco woman, she comes from wealth and has a fiancé already lined up. However, Charlotte blames herself for her sister Phoebe’s commitment at Goldengrove Asylum. Charlotte hatches a plan to get herself committed to the asylum and in turn free her sister.
Inspired by the writing of Nellie Bly (Ten Days In A MadHouse), she has become consumed with the worry of cruel punishments.

Upon her arrival at the asylum, Charlotte learns immediately that violence and disobedience will not be tolerated. The patients must obey the staff at all times. After being hosed down in an undignified manner as a ‘shower’ and receiving a warning from woman 125 regarding the drinking water, Charlotte begins to wonder what has she let herself in for…

‘It only takes two things to make a woman insane: the word of a man who stands to benefit and a doctor willing to sell his say-so’

The other fellow patients offer their stories and provide much food for thought. The reasoning for their commitment varies amongst the patients and not all are insane.
The novel is a thought-provoking read about the strength of women through history to overcome adversity, mistreatment and abuse. 5*

Greer Macallister

Anne Bonny #BlogTour #Extract The Confessions Of Frannie Langton by Sara Collins @mrsjaneymac #FrannieLangton #NewRelease #HistFic @VikingBooksUK

The Confessions Of Frannie Langton by Sara Collins
Currently Reading – Review To Follow

Synopsis ~

‘They say I must be put to death for what happened to Madame, and they want me to confess. But how can I confess what I don’t believe I’ve done?’

1826, and all of London is in a frenzy. Crowds gather at the gates of the Old Bailey to watch as Frannie Langton, maid to Mr and Mrs Benham, goes on trial for their murder. The testimonies against her are damning – slave, whore, seductress. And they may be the truth. But they are not the whole truth.

For the first time Frannie must tell her story. It begins with a girl learning to read on a plantation in Jamaica, and it ends in a grand house in London, where a beautiful woman waits to be freed.

But through her fevered confessions, one burning question haunts Frannie Langton: could she have murdered the only person she ever loved?

A beautiful and haunting tale about one woman’s fight to tell her story, The Confessions of Frannie Langton leads you through laudanum-laced dressing rooms and dark-as-night back alleys, into the enthralling heart of Georgian London.

Extract ~

The Old Bailey,
7 April 1826

Chapter One

My trial starts the way my life did: a squall of elbows and shoving and spit. From the prisoners’ hold they take me through the gallery, down the stairs and past the table crawling with barristers and clerks. Around me a river of faces in flood, their mutters rising, blending with the lawyers’ whispers. A noise that hums with all the spite of bees in a bush. Heads turn as I enter. Every eye a skewer.

I duck my head, peer at my boots, grip my hands to stop their awful trembling. It seems all of London is here, but then murder is the story this city likes best. All of them swollen into the same mood, all of them in a stir about the ‘sensation excited by these most ferocious murders’. Those were the words of the Morning Chronicle, itself in the business of harvesting that very sensation link an ink-black crop. I don’t make a habit of reading what the broadsheets say about me, for newspapers are like a mirror I saw once in a fair near the Strand that stretched my reflection like a rack, gave me two heads so I almost didn’t know myself. If you’ve ever had the misfortune to be written about, you know what I mean.

But there are turnkeys at Newgate who read them at you for sport, precious little you can do to get away.

When they see I’m not moving, they shove me forward with the flats of their hands and I shiver, despite the heat, fumble my way down the steps.

Murderer! The word follows me. Murderer! The Mulatta Murderess.
I’m forced to trot to keep up with the turnkeys so I don’t tumble crown over ankle. Fear skitters up my throat as they push me into the dock. The barristers look up from their table, idle as cattle in their mournful gowns. Even those old hacks who’ve seen it all want a glimpse of the Mulatta Murderess. Even the judge stares, fat and glossy in his robes, his face soft and blank as an old potato until he screws his eyes on me and nods at his limp-haired clerk to read the indictment.

FRANCES LANGTON, also known as Ebony Fran or Dusky Fran, is indicted for the wilful murder of GEORGE BENHAM and MARGUERITE BENHAM in that she on the 27th day of January in the year of Our Lord 1826 did feloniously and with malice aforethought assault GEORGE BENHAM and MARGUERITE BENHAM, subjects of our lord the King, in that she did strike and stab them until they were dead, both about the upper and middle chest, their bodies having been discovered by EUSTACIA LINUX, housekeeper, of Montfort Street, London.

MR JESSOP to conduct the prosecution.

The gallery is crowded, all manner of quality folk and ordinary folk and rabble squeezed in, the courtroom being one of the few places they’d ever be caught so cheek to jowl. Paduasoy silk next to Kashmir shawls next to kerchiefs. Fidgeting their backsides along the wood, giving off a smell like milk on the turn, like a slab of pork Phibbah forgot once, under the porch. The kind of smell that sticks your tongue to your throat. Some of them suck candied orange peel fished out of their purses, jaws going like paddles. The ones who can’t stomach being caught in any sort of honest smell. Ladies. I know the sort.

Jessop hooks his gown with his thumbs, pushes to his feet. His voice laps steady as water against a hull. So soft. He could be gabbing with them at his own fireside. Which is how he wants it, for that makes them lean closer, makes them attend.

‘Gentlemen, on the evening of the twenty-seventh of January, Mr and Mrs Benham were stabbed to death. Mr Benham in his library, Mrs Benham in her bedchamber. This . . . woman . . . the prisoner at the bar, stands accused of those crimes. Earlier that night, she confronted them in their drawing room, and threat- ened them with murder. Those threats were witnessed by several guests in attendance that evening, at one of Mrs Benham’s legendary soirées. You will hear from those guests. And you will hear from the housekeeper, Mrs Linux, who will tell you the pris- oner was observed going into Mrs Benham’s rooms shortly after she had retired. Mrs Linux went upstairs herself at around one o’clock that morning, where she discovered her master’s body in his library. Shortly thereafter, she entered Mrs Benham’s bed- chamber and discovered her body, and, next to it, the prisoner. In her mistress’s bed. Asleep. When the prisoner was woken by the housekeeper, she had blood on her hands, blood drying on her sleeves.

What frightens me is dying believing that it was me who killed her

‘All through her arrest and incarceration . . . to this day, she has refused to speak about what happened that night. The refuge of those who are unable to offer a plain and honest defence. Well, if she can now offer an explanation, I am sure you will hear it, gentlemen, I am sure you will hear it. But it seems to me that a satisfactory explanation is impossible when the crime is attended with circumstances such as these.’

I grip the railing, shackles clanking like keys. I can’t hold on to what he’s saying. My eye swings around the room, catches the sword hung behind the judge, silver as a chink of moon. I read the words hammered in gold beneath. ‘A false witness shall not be unpunished, but he that speaketh lies shall perish.’ Well. We’re all going to perish, liars and truth-tellers alike, though the Old Bailey is meant to speed a liar’s progress. But that’s not what frightens me. What frightens me is dying believing that it was me who killed her.

I see you at the barristers’ table. You look up, give me a quick nod that settles on me like a horse blanket. There, laid out like china on a buffet, is the evidence against me: Benham’s cravat, his green brocade waistcoat; Madame’s lavender silk, her chemise, and her bandeau with the swan feather dyed lavender also, to match her dress. And there is Linux’s butchering knife, which, so far as I knew, was in its scabbard in the kitchen the whole time I was in Madame’s room.

But it’s the thing beside them that you’re frowning at. When I see it, worry curdles my guts. It’s curled inside an apothecary’s jar, tight as a fist. The baby. Someone joggles the table and it flattens against the glass, like a cheek. There’s a question in your raised brows, but it’s one I cannot answer. I didn’t expect to see it here. The baby. Why is it allowed here? Will they ask me to speak about it?

When I see it, my knees start to quake, and I feel all the terror of that night again. But the mind is its own place, as Milton said, it can make a Hell of Heaven and a Heaven of Hell. How does it do that? By remembering, or forgetting. The only tricks a mind can play.
A wave of memory breaks. She’s lying in bed, up on her elbows with her toes pointing into the air, in her hand an apple I’m trying in vain to coax her to eat. ‘Listen! Are you listening?’ She kicks one of her heels.

‘I met a traveller from an antique land,

Who said ‒ “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone

Stand in the desert . . . Near them, on the sand

Half sunk, a shattered visage lies . . .’

I’m only half listening, because it is impossible, this thing that is happening, my mistress lying with me in her bed and reading me a poem! But also because it was one of those times, when it fell to me to watch what they called the balance of her mind, like a pot I had on the stove. Is she well? I’m asking myself. Is she well?

A novel is like a long, warm drink but a poem is a spike through the head

She turns to me. ‘Do you like it?’

‘Who is it?’ I ask, stirring her hair with my breath.

‘Shelley. Though I like Byron better, don’t you? The prince of melodrama.’ She turns over suddenly, onto her back, and closes her eyes. ‘Byron is proof, if ever it were needed, that a man is merely spoiled by his vices while a woman is soiled by hers. Oh, Frances, Frances, don’t you think everyone should be prescribed a poem a day? Woman cannot live on novels alone!’

She was right about that. A novel is like a long, warm drink but a poem is a spike through the head.

I told you that story yesterday when we first met. I don’t know why, except maybe I wanted you to know something about me and her other than the terrible things that are being said. You lawyers are as squeamish about hearsay as a planter about cane-rats, yet a trial boils a whole character down to that.

‘John Pettigrew,’ you said, holding out your hand, with your brief still in it so the ribbons dribbled down your wrists. You peered out through all your dark hair. I could see you were even nervier than I was about what lay ahead of us.

Then you said, ‘For God’s sake, give me something I can save your neck with.’

But how can I give you what I do not have? Remembering is a thing that happens or doesn’t, like breathing.

So I told you that story. I suppose I wanted to show you there was love between me and her. Though what good does that do? Whatever she and I were to each other is not a thing you men would care for. At any rate, love is no defence to murder, as you said, though, more often than not, it’s an explanation.

But this is a story of love, not just murder, though I know that’s not the kind of story you’re expecting. In truth, no one expects any kind of story from a woman like me. No doubt you think this will be one of those slave histories, all sugared over with misery and despair. But who’d want to read one of those? No, this is my account of myself and my own life and the happiness that came to it, which was not a thing I thought I’d ever be allowed, the happiness or the account.

I have the paper you gave me, and a fresh quill, and your instructions to explain myself.
Any gaol-bird could tell you that for every crime there are two stories, and that an Old Bailey trial is the story of the crime, not the story of the prisoner.

That story is one only I can tell.

Sara Collins

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