Anne Bonny #BookReview The Mobster’s Lament by Ray Celestin 5* Genius #NewRelease #HistoricalFiction @MantleBooks ‘Jazz musicians, dirty politicians, private eyes, the mob, hitmen and scam artists come together to make one hell of a story!’

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The Mobster’s Lament by Ray Celestin ~ #3 in the City Blues Quartet
My Own Copy ~ Hardback Book

Synopsis ~

* In Ray Celestin’s gripping third book, The Mobster’s Lament, it’s a mobster’s last chance to escape the clutches of New York’s mafia crime families: but as a blizzard descends on NYC, a ruthless serial killer is tracking his every move. *

Fall, 1947. Private Investigator Ida Davis has been called to New York by her old partner, Michael Talbot, to investigate a brutal killing spree in a Harlem flophouse that has left four people dead. But as they delve deeper into the case, Ida and Michael realize the murders are part of a larger conspiracy that stretches further than they ever could have imagined.

Meanwhile, Ida’s childhood friend, Louis Armstrong, is at his lowest ebb. His big band is bankrupt, he’s playing to empty venues, and he’s in danger of becoming a has-been, until a promoter approaches him with a strange offer to reignite his career . . .

And across the city, nightclub manager and mob fixer Gabriel Leveson’s plans to flee New York are upset when he’s called in for a meeting with the ‘boss of all bosses’, Frank Costello. Tasked with tracking down stolen mob money, Gabriel must embark on a journey through New York’s seedy underbelly, forcing him to confront demons from his own past, all while the clock is ticking on his evermore precarious escape plans.

From its tenements to its luxury hotels, from its bebop clubs to the bustling wharves of the Brooklyn waterfront, award-winning author Ray Celestin’s The Mobster’s Lament is both a gripping crime novel and a vivid, panoramic portrait of 1940s New York as the mob rises to the height of its powers . . .

My Review ~

This series has proven to be phenomenal reading. The author knows how to capture the historical era and atmosphere of post war America perfectly. The characters of Ida Davies and Michael Talbot have continued to grow with added depth to their circumstance. In this novel the focus is heavily on Michael and his doctor son Thomas, who finds himself facing the electric chair for multiple murders….

The title opens with a newspaper article dated August 1947. The article tells of a local NYC hospital worker who is charged with five counts of first-degree murder. Violent and gory deaths scandalised as a ‘Harlem voodoo cult’. The murders took place at a negro flophouse and with the accused an African American male, he is going to need a miracle to be either found not-guilty or acquitted.
This is when Michael brings in Ida to investigate.

Thomas Talbot is the only man left alive, which begs the question; what was he doing there? And how is he connected to the murder victims?

‘Welcome to Harlem’

The novels take’s you on a journey through Harlem, with a variety of characters telling their story. From hookers and their pimps, to junkies and runaways. Ida must interview anyone and everyone, if Thomas is to be set free. But is Thomas telling the truth?

‘The empire of night had arisen’

‘Michael had navigated the torments of people out on the streets’

Aside from Ida and Michael trying to solve Tom’s case. We also meet Gabriel, a man with a painful past who works for the mob. Gabriel works predominately out of the Copa Lounge, when he is asked to investigate missing money. In total 2 million dollars is missing and the mob’s approach to being ripped off is well-known.
Gabriel is a deep, thoughtful individual who has had enough of the ‘gangster’ way of life. He is making his own plans and re-writing his destiny.

‘Like every other mobster, the longer he stayed in the life, the closer he got to a prison cell or a shallow grave’

The novel details the various mobster families the relationships between each other and Gabriel’s connection to each member. I found this fascinating. I think we tend to romanticise the 1940’s, the mob and the post-war feeling. With The Mobster’s Lament the author leaves you under no illusion about how violent the gangsters can be.

There are a series of newspaper articles throughout the novel itself. They add to the atmospheric feel. When I opened the novel, I felt that I was walking amongst the characters and watching all the action unfold.
Ray Celestin does not disappoint, not on one chapter, paragraph or sentence.

The characterisation is superb, from hitmen with murder counts into the treble digits. To following Louis Armstrong and the rise of the American jazz music scene.
To an intelligent black hoodlum who is aware of the way the land lies and he doesn’t miss a trick.

‘It seemed like madness and addiction followed the whole generation around’

Jazz musicians, dirty politicians, private eyes, the mob, hitmen and scam artists come together to make one hell of a story!
5* Genius

RC
Ray Celestin
Website ~ Well worth a visit!
Instagram ~ Also worth a visit to get a feel for the series!

TAJ
The Axeman’s Jazz by Ray Celestin ~ #1 in the City Blues Jazz Quartet

Synopsis ~

Winner of the CWA John Creasey New Blood Dagger for Best Debut Crime Novel of the Year.
Shortlisted for the Theakston’s Crime Novel of the Year Award.
As recommended on the Radio 2 Arts Show with Claudia Winkleman.

Inspired by a true story, set against the heady backdrop of jazz-filled, mob-ruled New Orleans, The Axeman’s Jazz by Ray Celestin is a gripping thriller announcing a major talent in historical crime fiction.

New Orleans, 1919. As a dark serial killer – the Axeman – stalks the city, three individuals set out to unmask him:

Detective Lieutenant Michael Talbot – heading up the official investigation, but struggling to find leads, and harbouring a grave secret of his own.

Former detective Luca d’Andrea – now working for the mafia; his need to solve the mystery of the Axeman is every bit as urgent as that of the authorities.

And Ida – a secretary at the Pinkerton Detective Agency. Obsessed with Sherlock Holmes and dreaming of a better life, she stumbles across a clue which lures her and her musician friend, Louis Armstrong, to the case –and into terrible danger . . .

As Michael, Luca and Ida each draw closer to discovering the killer’s identity, the Axeman himself will issue a challenge to the people of New Orleans: play jazz or risk becoming the next victim.

DMB
Dead Man’s Blues by Ray Celestin ~ #2 in the City Blues Quartet

Synopsis ~

*Shortlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger for Best Crime Novel of 2017*
Dead Man’s Blues is the gripping historical crime novel from Ray Celestin, following on from the events of his debut The Axeman’s Jazz, winner of the CWA John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger for Best First Novel 2014.

Chicago, 1928. In the stifling summer heat three disturbing events take place. A clique of city leaders is poisoned in a fancy hotel. A white gangster is found mutilated in an alleyway in the Blackbelt. And a famous heiress vanishes without a trace.

Pinkerton detectives Michael Talbot and Ida Davis are hired to find the missing heiress by the girl’s troubled mother. But it proves harder than expected to find a face that is known across the city, and Ida must elicit the help of her friend Louis Armstrong.

While the police take little interest in the Blackbelt murder crime scene photographer, Jacob Russo, can’t get the dead man’s image out of his head, and so he embarks on his own investigation.

And Dante Sanfelippo – rum-runner and fixer – is back in Chicago on the orders of Al Capone, who suspects there’s a traitor in the ranks and wants Dante to investigate. But Dante is struggling with problems of his own as he is forced to return to the city he thought he’d never see again . . .

As the three parties edge closer to the truth, their paths cross and their lives are threatened. But will any of them find the answers they need in the capital of blues, booze and corruption?

Anne Bonny #BlogTour #BookReview The Forgotten Village by @LornaCookAuthor 5* #NewRelease #HistFic #Mystery #Romance @AvonBooksUK #DebutAuthor

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The Forgotten Village by Lorna Cook ~ (Titled, The Forgotten Wife in the US)
Review Copy

Synopsis ~

1943: The world is at war, and the villagers of Tyneham are being asked to make one more sacrifice: to give their homes over to the British army. But on the eve of their departure, a terrible act will cause three of them to disappear forever.

2018: Melissa had hoped a break on the coast of Dorset would rekindle her stagnant relationship, but despite the idyllic scenery, it’s pushing her and Liam to the brink. When Melissa discovers a strange photograph of a woman who once lived in the forgotten local village of Tyneham, she becomes determined to find out more about her story. But Tyneham hides a terrible secret, and Melissa’s search for the truth will change her life in ways she never imagined possible.

‘A coastal village abandoned in wartime, a haunting expression in an old photograph, and a charismatic TV historian: from these raw ingredients Lorna Cook creates an intriguing mystery that will keep you wanting to read more’ ~ Gill Paul

My Review ~

The Forgotten Village is the perfect summer read. It really has a little bit of everything to draw the reader in and warm the heart! It is a dual timeline novel split between the modern day and the historical era of 1943. There is a mystery at the core of the title and a brilliant dash of romance! As I type that, I am aware, I am not known to read romance as such. But with The Forgotten Village I was completely taken in, as much as I was when I devoured the entire series of Poldark!

The title opens in Tyneham, Dorset in December 1943. We become acquainted with Sir Albert and Lady veronica Standish. Their entire village is to be requisitioned and to say Bertie is unhappy about it, is a major understatement. He is furious!

In the Alternative timeline we meet Melissa who is holidaying in the area with her boyfriend Liam. She is captivated by the history of the area, when she reads in the Purbeck Times of the village’s re-opening. Only when she meets historian Guy Cameron and becomes intrigued by an old photo, she is driven to investigate the mystery that lays deep in the war time past.

The novel then  jumps between 1943/2018. We learn how relationships between men and women have changed dramatically. Especially as we follow the events in Melissa and Veronica’s lives. When Melissa fails to uncover death records for the Standish’s; the investigation really heats up! Can Melissa uncover the mysteries of the past? Can Melissa she the romance blossoming before her eyes? Will Veronica find peace in her life? What lengths will Bertie go to, to ensure veronica remains with him for eternity?

‘She had no idea that the worst was yet to come’

There are mysteries and secrets galore and it is the perfect summer read! With a mix of the ‘feel good’ cosy crime. Which would make an ideal Sunday evening TV drama. Huge congratulations to the author on pulling off a fantastic debut novel and I wish her all the best in her future writing career. 5* 

LC
Lorna Cook
Website
Twitter

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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*

GM
Greer Macallister
Website
Twitter

Anne Bonny #BookReview Not That Bad: Dispatches From Rape Culture Edited by Roxane Gay #NonFiction #RapeCulture @HarperNonFic

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Not That Bad: Dispatches From Rape Culture Edited by Roxane Gay
Review Copy

Synopsis:

In this valuable and timely anthology, cultural critic and bestselling author Roxane Gay collects original and previously published pieces that address what it means to live in a world where women have to measure the harassment, violence and aggression they face, and where sexual-abuse survivors are ‘routinely second-guessed, blown off, discredited, denigrated, besmirched, belittled, patronized, mocked, shamed, gaslit, insulted, bullied’ for speaking out.
Highlighting the stories of well-known actors, writers and experts, as well as new voices being published for the first time, Not That Bad covers a wide range of topics and experiences, from an exploration of the rape epidemic embedded in the refugee crisis to first-person accounts of child molestation and street harrassment.
Often deeply personal and always unflinchingly honest, this provocative collection both reflects the world we live in and offers a call to arms insisting that ‘not that bad’ must no longer be good enough.

My Review:

I picked this title as my first non-fiction read of 2019. It is timely, relevant and something I wanted to share with my teenage daughter. It explores the entire spectrum of abuse, harassment and assaults that exist when rape culture is allowed to thrive in society.
A society, we are all far too familiar with…

‘If rape culture had its own cuisine, it would be all this shit you have to swallow’

‘Rape culture speaks in every language’

There are a variety of ways these narratives are delivered, and each portray a differing experience. From victim blaming in society, from the point of view of a victim and male entitlement to female attention etc. Every page helps shape your opinion of abuse, from victim, to abuser.

This book carries with it, so many truths, women need to hear

The narratives are explored in such a way, that I felt I was listening in to the conversations of a group therapy session. It is incredibly powerful writing which touches on LGBT, trans, self-blame, risky behaviour and coming to terms with abuse.

‘Angry women are always the villains’

Highly recommended 5*

RG
Roxane Gay
Website
Twitter

 

Anne Bonny #BookReview Murder In Belgravia & A Death In Chelsea by @LynnBrittney2 5* @TheMirrorBooks #HistoricalFiction #HistFic #London #ADeathInChelsea #Mayfair100

MIB cover
Murder In Belgravia by Lynn Brittney
Review Copy

Synopsis:

The first in the exciting new Mayfair 100 series of nostalgic crime sagas.

Set against the backdrop of WW1, Mayfair 100 is the telephone number for a small, specially formed crimebusting team based in a house in Mayfair, London in 1915. Just 10 months into the First World War, the City is flooded with women taking over the work vacated by men in the Armed Services.

Chief Inspector Peter Beech, a young man invalided out of the war in one of the first battles, is tasked with investigating the murder of an aristocrat. The man’s wife, a key witness and suspect, will only speak to a woman about the unpleasant details of the case. After persuading the Chief Commissioner to allow him to set up a clandestine team to deal with such situations, Beech puts together a small motley crew of well-educated women and professional policemen.

As Beech, Victoria, Caroline, Rigsby and Tollman investigate the murder, they delve into the seedier parts of WWI London, taking them from criminal gangs to brothels and underground drug rings supplying heroin to the upper classes.

Will the Mayfair 100 team solve the murder? And if they do, will they be allowed to continue working as a team?

My Review:

The novel opens with a confession and a problem…
Lady Harriet makes an emotional and desperate confession to murder. However, due to her society class and position, she refuses to elaborate unless she is allowed to speak to a female. This causes quite a conundrum for Chief Inspector Peter Beech, as there are no females currently on the staff.

Eventually, Peter is able to negotiate the formation of a new team, which will include an unlikely bunch of amateur detectives. Met Commissioner Sir Edward Henry is reluctant to agree, believing females have no place in the police force. Can the team prove him wrong?

The team is formed, it includes Caroline aka Dr Allardyce a young woman who has already defied her class, taking a role in the medical profession treating women. PC Billy Rigsby aka ‘The Creek’ a young and novice police officer. Retired Detective Sargent Arthur Tollman re-recruited back to the police force due to lack of man power with the war. And finally Caroline, a lawyer with an eye for mystery and an old flame of Peter’s.

‘Times had changed with a vengeance and the police force had a long way to go to catch up’

Lady Harriet’s physical condition worsens and it becomes apparent to Caroline and Peter, that she would have lacked the physical wellbeing and strength to commit the murder of her husband Lord Mucheson.
So who killed the Lord?

The team must dig into the private lives of the Lord and Lady and their serving staff. Can they gain the trust of the upper classes and the serving staff? Or will the culprit remain at large?

The historical depth within the novel is insightful, accurate and really enhances the story as a whole. We learn about the impact of the great war on the mental wellbeing of the returning soldiers, the injured and the families left waiting for answers.
Recently I watched author Marlon James give a talk at Oxford Uni about JRR Tolkein; within the talk he breaks down the difference emotionally and on the male psyche between the great war and world war 2. It is easy to see, how this could provide ample inspiration for historical fiction writing and Lynne Brittney does not disappoint, at all!

The novel also touches upon the discrimination women faced in the early days of their relationship with the Met. Ironic really, given that now in 2019 the met is now ran by a female!

Rich in historical detail with a real sense of the era. 1915 is brought alive on the page and I was so pleased to learn this is the first in a new series! 5*

DIC cover
A Death In Chelsea by Lynn Brittney
Review Copy

Synopsis:

Set against the backdrop of WW1, Mayfair 100 is the telephone number for a small, specially-formed crime fighting team based in a house in Mayfair.

A call comes through to Mayfair 100, where the intrepid team of investigators eagerly await their next case. A society gossip queen has been found hanged in her room in mysterious circumstances. Her enemies are numerous – and her family are convinced she was murdered.

Can the group uncover the truth?

My Review:

The novel offers a brief introduction for those readers whom may not have had chance to devour Murder In Belgravia. It does cover the necessary facts, but I am glad I had the chance to read the first in the series as there is four individual characters that form the team and each have great background stories.

July 1915, Chief Inspector Peter Beech is summoned to the office of the met commissioner. There he is introduced to the case which forms the basis of this novel The death of society ‘it girl’ Lady Adeline Treborne. Her mother the Duchess of Penhere, believes it to be a murder…
Adeline was estranged from her family due to the scandalous nature of her profession.
‘Whoever heard of a society columnist who never actually went to any of the events she wrote about’

We are briefly introduced to a new team member Miss Mabel Summersby. I really loved the introduction of a new female team member and I hope the author continues to layer the novels with more intriguing characters.

Adeline’s post mortem brings more mystery to the case and we are left to wonder, who do you solve the death of a woman, many had motive to kill?
Is Adeline the most hated person in all of London?
The team must dig into the pasts of Adeline’s family and those that knew her.

This novel shines a spotlight onto the working relationship between team members Tollman and Billy. I really loved the mix-up of the old and new police tactics and their ability to create funny moments within the novel.

The novel covers differing themes to Murder In Belgravia with blackmail, hidden desires, secrets and hushed up crimes playing a central role in Adeline’s career success…

A real sense of the team spirit and impressive characterisation. 5*

LB
Lynn Brittney
Twitter

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