One Good Deed, by David Baldacci

Eight stars

In his latest standalone thriller, David Baldacci captivates readers while taking them on a voyage back in time. It’s 1949 and the War is over, as is the short time Aloysius Archer has spent in prison. Heading west, Archer settles in Poca City to serve out his parole. Seeking employment, Archer is approached by Hank Pittleman to help him retrieve a debt. Archer seems happy to help, as long as his parole officer considers this above board. However, as Archer soon discovers, the debtor is anything but happy to repay what is owed and spins a tale of a lost daughter he wishes to protect. Working his verbal magic, Archer feels he might be making headway, until a murder shakes him to his core. The authorities are happy to look at the ex-con for the crime and the evidence points in Archer’s direction. Trying to clear his name and work with the locals to solve the case, Archer uncovers some interesting secrets that sees the investigation widen. Armed with this news and trying to stay one step ahead of the noose, Archer will do whatever it takes, using the sleuthing he heard in his favourite mystery novels while incarcerated. A wonderful novel that has the potential to begin a new series. Baldacci has done it again and I can recommend this to those who love his work, as well as the reader who finds joy in crime thrillers.

I always enjoy new ventures by established authors, as it pushes them out of their comfort zone while allowing readers to see just how vast their abilities tend to be. David Baldacci has done this many times over the years, taking a standalone and, upon rave reviews, builds it into a new series, letting some of his past collections fade into the background. This novel surely has the potential for that, as it is not only well founded, but its characters are interesting and the narrative flows with ease. Aloysius Archer proves to be a wonderful protagonist, seeking to reinvent himself after fighting in Europe and doing a stint in jail. This backstory alone draws the reader to him, but there is more. As he arrives in town—almost Reacher-esque—knowing no one in particular, Archer soon connects with some of the locals and finds himself in the middle of a feud. His skills as an investigator are second to none and this is utilised effectively throughout, allowing Archer to grow and become even better liked by the reader. Supported by a handful of other strong characters, Archer finds himself trying to stay one step ahead of the law without disappearing entirely. The secondary characters are strong and serve to keep the story moving, though their interactions with Archer cannot be dismissed. There is some strong potential, should Baldacci continue the series, though it is apparent that certain storylines will dominate any future plots. Well written with a perfect mix to keep the reader engaged, Baldacci may have a major success on his hands, should he move in that direction.

Kudos, Mr. Baldacci, for another great novel. I cannot wait to see what you have in store for readers down the road.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

Advertisements

The Queen’s Constables (Tom Lincraft #3), by David Field

Eight stars

With the release of the third novella in David Field’s new series, I returned to Elizabethan England where a new and exciting mystery awaited, full of political implications. Tom Lincraft is the senior constable for Nottinghamshire, working alongside Giles Bradbury, his trusted assistant. While they have been titled “Queen’s Constables”, it seems only a frilly set of words, as they are stuck checking the marketplace for pickpockets. When a note arrives, asking that they come in for a meeting, Lincraft and Bradbury travel to London to meet Francis Walsingham, the Queen’s spymaster. Lincraft is read into a new investigation surrounding a number of Catholic priests brought into English ports from abroad. What these priests are doing remains a mystery, but Lincraft and Bradbury must locate the homes being used to harbour them, then get to the bottom of the larger plot. Working undercover, Lincraft and Bradbury try to infiltrate the network and follow those responsible into rural England. Trouble awaits and there is no guarantee that the mission will run smoothly, particularly when Lincraft comes upon a man who has caused much pain to his family. With their lives on the line, Tom Lincraft and his team must sacrifice all for Queen and country, as England remains somewhat topsy-turvy on its ecclesiastical foundation. Field brings history and mystery together into a wonderful mix of literary flavours, as he has in many past stories. Recommended for those who enjoy short mysteries, as well as fans of David Field and his work.

David Field has flooded the market of late with many books that span a handful of time periods. Each series has its own flavour and I have felt a strong tie to each of the protagonists that lead the narrative. I was yet again impressed with this Elizabethan police procedural series, noticing how the reader can attach themselves to Thomas Lincraft with ease. Field offers more backstory as it relates to the man who serves as a Senior Constable. Lincraft is dedicated to his work and yet appears to have more social connections than in the first two novellas. Lincraft is faced with his past head-on during this piece, which may prove highly entertaining to readers, though its resolution will not appeal to all. Others serve an interesting supporting role, mainly new faces and names within this short piece. There is little time to develop characters, but Field makes a concerted effort in his concise narrative. I enjoy the Tudor period, particularly the latter Elizabethan timeframe, which is rich in history and action. The story develops well and gives the reader something on which to feast, contrasting nicely with the back alleys and into the taverns, as well as with some of the more official and royal individuals who grace the pages of this piece. Field offers short chapters to push the story along, enticing the reader with a mix of action and history. A great trilogy on which FIeld could surely develop more novellas, should to spirit move him.

Kudos, Mr. Field, for another wonderful piece of writing. I am eager to see what else you have in store for readers, be it building on established pieces or new ideas.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

The Scribe (Kramer and Carver #1), by A. A. Chaudhuri

Nine stars

In her genre debut, A. A. Chaudhuri pens a sensational crime thriller that will have readers forging ahead late into the night to discover what drives a curious and cunning serial killer. When the body of a young lawyer and security guard are discovered at an elite London law firm, DCI Jake Carver and his team are baffled. Not only was the lawyer an up and coming star, but Sarah Morrell has had her torso inscribed with ‘Contract’. Who could have wanted to commit such a heinous act? Fellow lawyer Maddy Kramer is chilled to the bone, having attended law school with Sarah, even if they were not close. When a second lawyer is murdered and an equally chilling word carved into her chest, Mandy can no longer sit idly by. She approaches DCI Carver and offers some of her own insights, as well as providing some interesting information about one of her former law professors, who also happened to have had a sexual relationship with both victims. James Stirling has a long reputation for racking up the conquests, though he refuses to admit as much when the police come knocking. Soon, both Mandy and DCI Carver are contacted by the killer, offering insight into future kills, though it will take teamwork and determination to crack the code. As the kills mount and Stirling becomes the most likely suspect, a break in the case sends the investigation in new and troubling directions. Seven presumed victims, all tied together by one man, but could he have done all this without ever being detected? Chaudhuri does a masterful job in her writing and delivery of this stellar police procedural. Recommended to those who love fast-paced crime thrillers, as well as the reader who enjoys new and upcoming authors.

I stumbled upon this book and the dust jacket blurb alone was enough to pull me in. I wanted to try the book, though the fact that A. A. Chaudhuri was writing her first crime novel left me unsure of what to expect. From the opening pages, I was hooked, with a killer lurking in the shadows and slaying an unsuspecting young lawyer. From there, the story grew, allowing me to connect with both protagonists. DCI Jake Carver is a dedicated copper, whose time on the force has both helped him hone his skills and lose what little connection he has with his family. Trying to balance homicide work with being a dad to his son who seems to have turned away after the divorce, Carver can only hope that he is able to use what little downtime he has effectively. He’s in tune with his caseload and dedicated to finding answers, wherever they may be, though is not too proud to accept help. I am eager to see how his character grows in any follow-up novels. Carver is contrasted nicely with Maddy Kramer, a young lawyer whose backstory is full of pain. Orphaned at nine, Maddy learned how to grow up with her grandmother, though she is not beyond sacrificing others to make it in the world of the law. That said, she has a great deal of compassion and is determined not to let the killer in the novel get the upper hand. Working with Carver, they are able to develop a strategy to crack the code and save a number of victims from meeting an untimely fate. Other characters complement the narrative nicely and keep the reader affixed to the story at hand. As the book is listed as “#1”, I can only hope others will be published and some of the minor characters appear again, able to work more cases with equally disturbing killers. The story was as strong as I could have expected, more than I predicted this novel would bring. The narrative is full of impactful plots and races from one chapter to the next. A mix of longer and short chapters keep the reader on their toes and makes for a thrilling adventure, until the final page turn. This is one novel not to be missed by those who like the genre. A wonderful novel, no matter where the reader chooses to experience this book.

Kudos, Madam Chaudhuri, for a stunning series debut. I cannot wait to see what else you have in story for readers.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

Jack of Diamonds, by Bryce Courtenay

Nine stars

It is always a great pleasure to read anything by Bryce Courtenay, as he takes a simple story idea and allows it to blossom. This style takes an idea and allows it to develop into something miraculous by the final page. In this novel, set mostly in Canada, I was able to have a true sense of nationalism as I allowed Courtenay to direct the story throughout the decades and lull me into a sense of reading comfort. Jack Spayd began life in the poorest part of Toronto, referred to as Cabbagetown. Making the best of the lot he has been given, Jack finds a lovely connection with his mother, but cowers whenever his alcoholic father approaches. With the Depression in full swing, Jack and his family are barely able to rub two coins together, but somehow they can find some degree of happiness. When, as a belated birthday present, Jack receives a harmonica from his father, he learns the power of music. Hanging outside the local jazz club, Jack hones his skills and makes an impression of the proprietress, Ms. Frostbite, who wants top open as many doors for him as she can. Enrolling him in formal piano lessons, Ms. Frostbite hopes that a classical foundation will allow him to develop further as a jazz musician. As with most everything else he tries, Jack masters it, though he pines for for the blues than anything Bach. Still not yet eighteen, Jack muddles around on the piano for Ms. Frostbite and others at the club, though he needs more experience and to make a name for himself. Jack heads out west, finding work and a new set of passions in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, where yet another female influence steers him along a new and exciting pathway. Juicy Fruit may be a prostitute, but she has aspirations of being more under the big lights of New York. After a brief sojourn in Canada’s Prairies, Jack learns the art of poker, though it helps get him into more trouble than he can handle. Leaving trouble in the rear view mirror, Jack takes up the war effort and serves overseas, where he is able to discover new and exciting skills, before returning and trying to make a name for himself. An invitation to work in a still developing Las Vegas opens his eyes to both the racial divide of the United States and the mafia-run casinos of the city. While working as a jazz pianist, Jack discovers that Vegas is more than bright lights, seeing its seedier sides behind the proverbial curtain. There is much for him to learn at a time when Jack is coming of age, including more voyages and new-found friendships. Courtenay’s final novel before his death is as riveting as any of the others I have read. Full of powerful themes and highly entertaining plots, the reader is in for a treat as they watch the story come to life. Highly recommended for those readers who love detailed stories than have numerous plot twists, as well as those who love Bryce Courtenay’s work.

I believe that I have read every one of Bryce Courtenay’s novels and have loved them all! His attention to detail is like no author I have ever read, taking a story idea and spinning it in many directions, whereby the early characters seem to fade into the background as plots thicken and narratives weave in countless directions. Courtenay novels are not for the inexperienced reader, as they encompass not only a massive amount of information, but also go on for hundreds of pages, captivating those who can endure the journey. Jack Spayd is the perfect protagonist throughout this piece, allowing Courtenay to paint a wonderful portrait of his life through decades of life experiences, from the shanty homes in Cabbagetown to the pinnacle of his career as a piano bar worker in Las Vegas. Jack experiences much along the way and encounters a number of influential people along the way. As with many of Courtenay’s pieces, these characters enrich the life of the protagonist and serve to offer wonderful life lessons, even if they are only discovered later on in the novel. As Jack grows, his passion turns from protecting his mother to the wonders of music and even the love of various women in a romantic sense. His coming of age transpires in his late teens, though Courtenay eases him into it with experiences that keep the reader wanting to know more. I am blessed to have had the time to see Jack grow and develop all his skills, as the journey is one that could not be quickly stitched together by a lesser author. As I mentioned before, there are a handful of strong secondary characters whose influence and unique nature is an indelible mark on both the lives of the reader and Jack himself. Growth occurs throughout and the helpful advice resonates throughout this piece, helping the reader and Jack himself grow on a personal level. The story, Courtenay’s last, is as strong as any I have read, hitting the mark on the plight of history in the early to mid-20th century. Courtenay uses actual events in history as a backdrop while honing the wonders of this created plot that serves to teach the reader something along the way. While I will miss Bryce Courtenay and his ideas a great deal, I have many wonderful novels on which to pull insightful ideas and with a strong collection of characters. Be it the painful existence of apartheid-era South Africa, Australia’s outback, Dickensian England, or even the Orient (to name a few), Courtenay has left a mark just as strong as he did in this piece. For that I am blessed, as is any reader who accepts the challenge to come along as well.

Kudos, Mr. Courtenay, for a spectacular personal farewell. You will be missed and it was a blessing to be a part of your writing life. May the angels gather at your feet for more storytelling!

The book fulfils Topic #4: Other Than Books in the Equinox #8 Reading Challenge.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

The King’s Commoner: The Rise and Fall of Cardinal Wolsey, by David Field

Eight stars

David Field continues his new series, perfect for fans of all things Tudor. In another story that draws on historical record, Field is able to recount the life of Thomas Wolsey. When Tom Wulcy was young, he found himself on the losing end of much bullying. While keen on his academic studies, this son of a butcher had no aristocratic blood to better himself. However, his passion for his studies saw Wulcy earn a degree by the age of fifteen and, through a trick of the times, relabelled himself as Thomas Wolsey. From there, with his studies in divinity, Wolsey joined the priesthood and was able to find favour with the Tudors, during the time of Henry VII, who was in the midst of trying to secure political alliances with Spain and ensure his eldest son, Arthur, had a fitting bride. Wolsey worked to smooth the way, though the union was doomed when the heir to the throne died of the sweating sickness. FIeld moves the narrative along with Wolsey developing a strong connection to both Queen Katherine and Henry VIII, independently, as well as a royal unit. As the years progressed, no male heir was forthcoming, though Katherine did confide that her countless stillbirths must have had some spiritual symbolism. As many Tudor fans will be aware, it was around this time that a young and beautiful Anne Boleyn arrived on the scene, seemingly to serve Katherine. As Wolsey sought to help find the young Boleyn a suitor, things took a turn as the Court began to come apart. With his inherent connection to Rome, Wolsey rose through the ranks to the position of Cardinal, while Henry VIII sought to take drastic measures that would violate all that Wolsey—and Rome—held dear. Field takes the reader along the monumental events that Wolsey witnessed as the Tudor dynasty took a sharp turn. How long could Cardinal Wolsey hold onto his beliefs in the face of a monarch eager to get his own way? Stellar in its telling, Field shows that he is a master at historical fiction and keeps the reader enthralled until the final sentences. Recommended for Tudor fans an those who love the work of David Field.

David Field writes in such a way that the reader is enveloped in the tale from the opening pages. Mixing Tudor history with a flowing narrative, this fictional account gains momentum and keeps the lay reader wondering where the truths end. Field uses characters who remain relatable while sticking to how history has portrayed them, none more than Wolsey in this piece. Born as common a resident of England as they come, Thomas rose through the ranks due to his attentive nature, both with his studies and by following those in positions of power. His role with the Tudors is documented throughout this piece, as he found a form of royalty only his faith could bring. From a priest until he attained the position of cardinal, Wolsey was able to find his own nobility, which worked for him, as he connected with the likes of Katherine of Aragon and Henry VIII. However, as Field eloquently depicts, this connection and royalty was tested when the King sought to divorce his wife and take another. His Catholic faith and friendship with Katherine outshone the loyalty he had for his monarch, forcing Wolsey to lose everything at a time when Henry VIII turned his back on the Church. Field creates this narrative to effectively show what became of a man whose faith could not be swayed by political or monarchical power. The novel takes events to the fall, albeit not necessarily the earthly end to Wolsey’s life, allowing the reader to descend just as they climbed the proverbial ladder with him. While I did sometimes struggle to make sense of some of the subplots, this is not from a lack of strong writing by Field or a disinterest in the topic at hand. The reader with a keen interest in learning can use Field’s attention to detail while witnessing this key event in the Tudor dynasty. A powerful piece that should not be missed, though denser than some of his other series.

Kudos, Mr. Field, for a great continuation of all things Tudor. I will keep reading and hope to learn more, as I journey through this exciting time of English history.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

Justice Delayed (DCI Mike Saxby #2), by David Field

Eight stars

As I have with his other series, I find David Field’s DCI Mike Saxby novellas to pack the same punch without all the unnecessary writing fluff. Picking up where the series debut ended, Field drops the reader into the middle of a DCI Mike Saxby situation. News has hit the wire that journalist Jeremy Giles is dead. Arriving at the scene, his body has been hanging from a roof beam with an odd ‘U’ carved into the skin. Surely not your run of the mill suicide or murder, but with Giles’ past connection to Saxby, he’ll want to look a little deeper. It was Giles who brought Saxby the news of 17 Cavendish Square, a high-end brothel that was the centre of a recent case (see Book 1), that was supposed to have been haunted for over four centuries. Giles was also working on a book to tell of all the mysterious goings-on along Cavendish Square, something that might be useful when trying to draw a list of suspects. Might Giles have stepped on a toe or two while researching his book? DCI Saxby and his team begin looking into some of the genealogy related to Cavendish and some unsolved cases from the recent past, trying to tie things together. Could there be a connection to the murder of a purported witch centuries ago? Saxby will have to juggle this and some personal things that have come to the surface with a member of the team. It’s Saxby’s call to tread lightly or forge ahead full speed, in this case that has elements of the paranormal. Field does it again, pulling together a strong story and events from the past to shape his narrative and keep the reader enthralled. Recommended for those who enjoy police procedurals, as well as the reader who wants something quick to digest.

I have enjoyed David Field for a while now. He knows how to create an alluring tale, a full mystery, and telling it without all the bells and whistles of extemporaneous characters and setting development. This story works well in its modern setting—dabbling into the past when needed—with a well-paced narrative and strong characters. DCI Mike Saxby emerges as a better protagonist this time around, holding the story in his proverbial palm as the investigation takes on many twists and turns. Through the eyes of a senior administrator, the reader is able to see the building the case and its various pitfalls, as interviews lead in a variety of directions. The reader is able to see a little more of the Saxby family, though the struggle is replaced with Field offering up some more ‘personal’ sides to Mike Saxby that were not as evident when I read the debut. There are some interesting character development moments with the secondary characters, which adds a little drama to the story and gives the reader others with whom they can relate. Pulling on some of the crumbs left in the debut novella, Field builds new and interesting sub plots throughout and I found the storytelling to be just as intense as anything else Field has penned. I enjoyed the story and found the mix of personal and professional tensions leaving me wanting more in this series. The reader must find an attachment to the story early on or risk losing the overall reading experience. I’m pleased to see how well things progressed throughout and hope Field has more pieces in this and his other newly-released series to keep readers coming back.

Kudos, Mr. Field, for another great piece. Your work never ceases to amaze me and I find your versatility refreshing in this day and age, when authors seem to peddle the same type of work.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

17 Cavendish Square (DCI Mike Saxby #1), by David Field

Eight stars

David Field’s recent police procedural novellas contrast nicely with some of his past writing, which some will know I have enjoyed a great deal. While I discovered Field with his ‘Victorian’ and ‘Tudor’ writing, this modern story has a peppering of times past, which helps to pull things together in a wonderful mix of mystery, history, and grit. When the manager of a high-end brothel is found with a hypodermic needle in her arm, everyone is baffled and highly troubled. It would appear someone injected Linda Clifford with some laced heroin, though the victim had no known enemies. When the authorities arrive, it soon becomes evident that Clifford’s ongoing cooperation with ‘Operation Delilah’ could be one glaring reason to see her exterminated. Delilah has been covertly monitoring sex trafficking from the former Balkan states over the past number of months, something the British authorities have sought to eradicate. Enter, DCI Mike Saxby, who is asked to head up the investigation and oversee two incompatible detectives who are working many angles. He’s also being harassed by a local journalist who wants to share the history of the building. It would seem that 17 Cavendish Square has a long history of hauntings and strange goings-on, though Saxby has not yet accepted that this crime has anything to do with it. Digging a little deeper and trying to find the one employee who was mysteriously absent just after the body was found, Saxby and his team work to gather the numerous shards of information and determine who might know more than they are letting on. If that were not enough, Saxby is trying to deal with his family life, which includes a daughter who seeks ongoing financial compensation for her various needs. With press building on the case, it will be up to Saxby to determine if this was another ghost-related criminal act, or if someone will have to be held accountable for the murder. The motive must be evident, though it will surely take Saxby and his team a great deal of effort to connect the dots. Field does well entering the modern police procedural, keeping his story on point in short order and holding the reader’s attention throughout. Recommended for those who enjoy police procedurals, as well as the reader who wants something quick to digest.

I have enjoyed David Field and his writing since I first stumbled upon his Victorian crime series. He is able to compact a full mystery into a novella and keep the reader wanting to learn more, without weighing them down with too much minutiae. This story works well in its modern setting, as the narrative is fast-paced and the characters take little down time. DCI Mike Saxby proves to be the protagonist, more because he is the spoke in the wheel than being front and centre in the investigation. His management of the information garnered by two DIs helps to show his management style, which is offset with his subordinate role in the Saxby household, with a strong-willed wife and financially dependant university daughter. The reader learns a little about Saxby throughout, both personal and some backstory, though it is his case management that proves to be the most prevalent part of this story. Other characters serve well to keep the story moving in a positive direction, as the reader learns much about the case through their dialogue and some of the narrative direction that pushes them towards certain discoveries. Field uses the compacted time he has to reveal much, while also injecting a great deal of history—modern and more dated—to educate the reader throughout. Deception awaits at every turn, though the reader can revel in it all and try to piece together what’s going on, based on the various bits of information that are revealed. I quite liked the story and found the mix of regional tensions and historical goings-on quite well done. As with many of Field’s pieces, the reader must attach themselves early on or they will be lost in the overall experience. I am pleased to have another DCI Mike Saxby story close at hand, as I am eager to see what threads left to dangle are utilised in the follow-up mystery.

Kudos, Mr. Field, for another entertaining piece. I always enjoy seeing your ides put to paper and marvel at how they are all released at the same time, though prove vastly different.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

Black Summer (Washington Poe #2), by M.W. Craven

Nine stars

After devouring M.W. Craven’s series debut, I was quick to get my hands on a copy of this sequel, which packs just as much punch with its sensational storytelling and strong plot. Washington Poe is still reeling from the fallout of the Immolation Man case and he carries the burns on his hands to prove it. When he is called back up to Cumbria, he cannot be sure if there is more he will have to remember. However, it is another of his past cases that comes to the forefront. Six years ago, Poe helped to put Jared Keaton behind bars for the murder of his daughter. While working in the front of house of her father’s restaurant, Elizabeth Keaton was apparently attacked, spilling enough blood in the kitchen to ensure she could not have survived. However, with no body, it was all circumstantial evidence, which Poe used to ensure the Michelin-star chef did not see the light of day. When a woman claiming to be Elizabeth Keaton stumbles up to a police officer, all bets are off. Poe is sure that Elizabeth is dead, citing the forensics found at the scene, though the blood of this woman matches the victim perfectly. Elizabeth claims that she was abducted, but cannot remember much of anything else. Poe must work fast to see what is going on, calling upon his analyst, Tilly Bradshaw, whose book smarts and social awkwardness may help forge ahead. They explore all the evidence once again and thrust themselves into the cutthroat world of the culinary arts, trying to piece the crime together, while Jared Keaton prepares to be exonerated and Poe’s future hangs in the balance. How can the blood lie, twice, and what happened six years ago to turn things completely upside down? ‘Elizabeth’ disappears again, adding depth to an already confusing set of facts. Poe and Bradshaw will have to work quickly, though with the help of their National Crime Agency colleagues to find answers. There may be something embedded in Keaton’s gastronomical gifts that tells the tale, but time is limited. Another stunning novel that Craven uses to captivate the reader throughout. Not to be missed by fans of the first book, and highly recommended to those who want a stunning read to pass the time.

M.W. Craven takes the reader down one rabbit hole and up another in this stunning sequel that carries on not long after the debut piece. It is not only a wonderful story, but the reader can find themselves in the middle of relentless action while discovering the darker sides of police procedurals. Washington Poe is again front and centre in this piece, with grit and determination to solve the crime offset by a desire to be sociable wherever possible. Poe’s desire to see things through to their completion adds a thread to the story, as he forges ahead to ensure that he truth prevails, even if it could cost him everything. Poe refuses to back down and will work outside the chain of command if he feels that he is in the right, though he understands the need for deference during certain situations, usually of his choosing. The other members of the National Crime Agency prove able to complement Poe and contrast nicely with all he does, particularly Tilly Bradshaw. Her social cluelessness is balanced with extensive knowledge and dedication to working no matter the hour. When not adding levity to the story, Bradshaw is extracting needed results to help Poe prove his point, no matter the location of facts and information. Others work well to keep Poe in line (or defying them) and there is no shortage of clashes throughout this piece. The story was stellar, pulling on both past and present, with excellent detail embedded in a narrative that flows freely. The smallest of facts can prove to be the most important, given enough time and effort, forcing the reader not to discount anything that Craven puts to page. Those looking for something deeper, but not wanting to lug around a thick novel ought to locate M.W. Craven’s work, as he packs a punch like no other in a compact writing style. And now we wait for the next book, to help replicate this awesome feeling of excitement I’ve come to know this week!

Kudos, Mr. Craven, for another strong novel. You surely have a way with words and can captivate me like no other when you put your ideas to paper (or on screen).

This book fulfils Topic #6: Current Equinox in the Equinox #8 Reading Challenge.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

Without Fear or Favour (Constable Thomas Lincraft #2), by David Field

Eight stars

With the release of the second novella in this new series by David Field, I was able to transport myself back to Elizabethan England and enjoy a short mystery full of intrigue and political scandal. Senior Constable for Nottinghamshire, Tom Lincraft, is out to investigate the discovery of a body. Edward Franklin is the town miller and was hanging by a rope at his place of work by his son. Under the presumption of foul play, there is a question as to who might have wanted to harm Franklin. Lincraft and his colleague, Giles Bradbury, begin exploring the possible motives, which leads to a few seedy pubs, where the victim had quite the reputation. It is then that Lincraft learns that his young protégé is well-known in his own right. Following leads and whispers, Lincraft discovers that there may have been some secrets the victim knew. In a country still hesitantly accepting the reign of Queen Elizabeth, plotters abound at every turn. Lincraft will have to work his magic, not only to find the killer, but also to discover what is being hatched in secret. Field does well to being history and mystery together into a wonderful mix of literary flavours. Recommended for those who enjoy short mysteries, as well as fans of David Field and his work.

A new series by David Field is always worth celebrating and the first two books have proven that he has quite the magical touch. I am again impressed with the strong start to this series—rumoured to only be a trilogy—and how easily the reader can attach themselves to Thomas Lincraft. While the opening novel offered more of an isolated side to the man, in this piece, Field offers a little more of his family and the compassionate side to the man who serves as a Senior Constable. Lincraft is still dedicated to his work and is strongly religious, at a time when love of country depends on which side of the ecclesiastical aisle you find yourself. He seeks answers and an overall resolution, but is less stuffy than he came across in the opening novella. Others provide an interesting supporting role, mainly new faces and names wedged into this short piece. There is little time to develop characters, yet Field makes time for it in his concise narrative. I enjoy the Tudor period and while this is more of an Elizabethan story, there are still hints of the clashes that came about during the time. The story develops well in this time period and gives the reader something on which to feast as they progress through the back alleys and into the taverns, as well as with some of the more official and royal individuals who grace the pages of this piece. Field offers short chapters to push the story along, whetting the appetite of the reader throughout, while forcing them to ponder the possibilities before the truth comes to the surface. There is much to learn by the end of this piece, which surely paves the way for an intriguing final novella, yet to be released to the reading public!

Kudos, Mr. Field, for another wonderful novella in this short trilogy. I am eager to get my hands on the final chapter, though you have enough being published to keep me occupied.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

She Died Unshriven (Constable Thomas Lincraft #1), by David Field

Eight stars

A fan of David Field and his writing, I was pleased to stumble upon this novella set in Elizabethan times. When the body of a young woman is discovered, the coroner feels it important to call an inquest. Believed to be Amy Brinkley, a domestic servant with a penchant for promiscuity, the initial blame seems to be with her master. During the inquest, evidence begins piling up, though Constable Thomas Lincraft is not so sure. The testimony by witnesses seems weak or quite outlandish, including an apparent clue to the victim’s identity by an apparition. Risking his position, Lincraft vows to get to the bottom of the murder to see if Amy Brinkley is even the victim and who might have wanted her dead. Fuelled by wanting to find the truth, Lincraft will unearth truths that others may not want to see the light of day, in a story that mixes greed, lust, and determination. Time is of the essence in this short piece, as a man’s life hangs in the balance while the townsfolk watch in awe. Field shows that he has a great handle on mystery writing with a legal flavour. Recommended for those who enjoy legal thrillers, particularly set in times past, as well as fans of David Field and his other series.

The first in the series, I am again impressed with the start to another David Field collection. The story develops an interesting legal thriller with a story set centuries ago, which forces the reader to accept both pieces to enjoy the story. There is the usual connection to the protagonist that Field has made a trademark of his writing, as well as the historic backdrop to educate the reader. Thomas Lincraft is unlike many men of his time, questioning all that is put before him. Not happy to accept his role in the larger legal machine, Lincraft seeks answers, even when he is warned away from doing so. His attention to detail and seeking for the truth will surely make many enemies for him, though he seems more concerned with ensuring the right person faces the consequences at the Coroner’s Inquest. Others in this piece offer interesting support for a narrative that has little time to lag. I can see myself curious to see those who make return visits to the series, as it will surely complement Lincraft’s role in the stories. I love history and David Field does a wonderful job at bringing it to life. Using Elizabethan England as the backdrop, the story grows from there and uses the knowledge of the time to flavour the narrative. With a curious mystery and the need for resolution, the reader is left to ponder the possibilities before the truth comes to the surface. However, the jury waits for no one, so it will have to come together as fast as Lincraft can find the central thread to the entire mystery.

Kudos, Mr. Field, for another wonderful novella. I love that I can tackle them in a day or two and feel as though I have accomplished something monumental.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons