Tuesday 23 April 2024

Five Bad Deeds by Caz Frear BLOG TOUR #FiveBadDeeds @CazziF @simonschusterUK @RandomTTours #BookReview


Ellen Walsh has done something very, very bad. If only she knew what it was . . .

Teacher, mother, wife, and all-around good citizen Ellen is juggling non-stop commitments, from raising a teen and two toddlers to job-hunting, to finally renovating her dream home, the Meadowhouse. Amidst the chaos, an ominous note arrives in the mail declaring:


Why would someone send her this note? Ellen has no clue. She's no angel - a white lie here and there, an occasional sharp tongue - but nothing to incur the wrath of an anonymous enemy.

Everyone around Ellen - her husband, her teenage daughter, her sister, her best friend, her neighbours - can guess why, though.  They all know from bitter experience that while Ellen’s intentions are always good, this ultimately counts for very little when you’ve (unintentionally?) blown up someone’s life.  Could the five bad deeds that come to haunt Ellen explain why things have gone so horribly wrong?

As she races to discover who’s set on destroying her life, Ellen receives more anonymous messages, each one more threatening than the last . . . and each hitting closer and closer to home and everything she cherishes.

Five Bad Deeds by Caz Frear was published on 11 April 2024 by Simon and Schuster. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review as part of this #RandomThingsTours Blog Tour

This is the first of Caz Frear's books that I have read. I have no idea why, I've just looked up her other books and they sound just my thing. Of course, I've now purchased her first book! 

I do love characters that are utterly despicable and you won't find a nastier, more self entitled bunch than in Five Bad Deeds. Frear's creations are just incredibly well done. Don't get me wrong, I'm fond of a nice person in the right setting, but for goodness sake, this crowd are deliciously devilish. I don't think the reader is supposed to like them, and whilst I have never written a book, or created a character, I'm positive it must be harder to create these obnoxious people than to draw the lovely ones. 

Despite their toxicity, I was totally invested in this story and lapped it up in one day over the weekend. To be fair, the blurb doesn't give a lot away, so I'm not going to go into the details of the story, I will let future readers discover the ins and outs of it for themselves. 

We do know that Ellen has begun to feel uneasy. It starts with an anonymous note that clearly shows that the writer knows more about Ellen than she is comfortable with. On the surface, she's a busy mum to toddler twin boys and a hormone raging teen girl. She and her husband have recently bought her dream house which needs total renovation, and a load of money. Ellen's background couldn't be more different to her husband. She was raised on a council estate with a house full of siblings, a pretty useless mother. Lots of studying, and a chance meeting with wealthy bloke changes her life. 

What I loved most of all about this, apart from the total mystery of who wanted to harm Ellen was the relationship building between the characters. From Ellen's fraught and quite frankly toxic interactions with her teenage daughter Orla, to the faux friendships, passive aggressive comments and absolute gossip fest that makes up the remaining (mainly) female cast. It's beautifully done, and hearing from other characters's point of view adds such a depth. We hear their innermost thoughts, we see the real character, not just what they want us to see. All of it in its full, dirty glory. 

It's a complex plot that slowly unravels with twists and unexpected reveals that left me totally shocked in places. Dark, sharp and perfectly created. I loved it. Highly recommended. 

Caz Frear has a first class degree in History and Politics, and spent twelve years working
as a headhunter before she started writing.  

She hasn’t lost her enthusiasm for networking, and is a popular member of the crime fraternity.  

She lives in Coventry with her husband. 

Her debut, the number one bestseller Sweet Little Lies, was the winner of the Richard & Judy Search for a Bestseller Competition 2017 and went on to sell over 250,000 copies. It was followed by Stone Cold Heart and Shed No Tears, both of which feature her police detective Cat Kinsella. 

Five Bad Deeds is her first standalone thriller. 

X @CazziF

Instagram @cazzifwrites

Monday 22 April 2024

The Woman in Me by Britney Spears #TheWomaninMe @britneyspears @GalleryBooks #BookReview


The Woman in Me is a brave and astonishingly moving story about freedom, fame, motherhood, survival, faith, and hope.

In June 2021, the whole world was listening as Britney Spears spoke in open court. The impact of sharing her voice—her truth—was undeniable, and it changed the course of her life and the lives of countless others. The Woman in Me reveals for the first time her incredible journey—and the strength at the core of one of the greatest performers in pop music history.

 Written with remarkable candour and humour, Spears’s ground-breaking book illuminates the enduring power of music and love—and the importance of a woman telling her own story, on her own terms, at last. 

The Woman in Me by Britney Spears was published in hardback by Gallery UK / Simon & Schuster on 24 October 2024. The paperback will be published in July this year. My copy was a gift at Christmas.

I doubt there's anyone on the planet who hasn't heard of Britney Spears and watched in horror as her life unravelled in full view of the world's media. I'm not a huge fan of her music, it's all a bit after my time, but I have been fascinated by the whole story. We are exposed constantly to her life, through social media, the news on TV, various documentaries and of course, her music. I was looking forward to reading her story, told in her own words, for a change. 

This book just made me feel really sad, all the way through. To be honest, it's not written that well, I'm assuming that Britney told her story to a ghost writer who then put it into words. However, it does ring true. Britney is not an academic, she's a woman who was thrust into the spotlight at a very young age, her life has been a whirlwind of singing, dancing, becoming famous and then becoming infamous. 

What really struck me about her story is the fact that she appears older than she is during her childhood years; drinking, smoking, driving a car, all supported by and at times encouraged by, her parents. As the story goes on, covering her rise to fame, her marriages and then of course, the thirteen years under her conservatorship, she seems to appear younger and younger. Her growth into adulthood was stilted by the actions of her father, her relationships and their endings were traumatic. 

It's clear that she adores her children and does appear settled at the end of the book with her new husband, but there's still an air of immaturity about her. It must be so very difficult for her to even try to lead a normal life with the eyes of the press still on her every move. 

The conservatorship, taken out by her father and his allies was cruel and I have no idea how or why any judge would have passed this. There seems to have been no external, impartial assessment of her mental health, and the words of her father were taken as truth by the courts. Having to account for every minute of your day as a grown woman is unnatural, not being allowed to eat what you want, talk to who you are fond of, and being incarcerated for very minor things is just appalling. 

I have no idea what is next for Britney. It would be perfect if she could just disappear from all types of media and try her best to live her life out of the spotlight, concentrating on her closest friends and family; those people she has chosen to spend time with and not those who just wish to control her. 

The Woman In Me is a simple, easy to read book that is just so sad, and shocking. 

Multi-platinum, Grammy Award–winning pop icon Britney Spears is one of the most
successful and celebrated entertainers in music history, with more than 100 million records sold worldwide. 

In 2021, she was named one of Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People. 

Spears’s album Blackout was added to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s Library & Archives in 2012. She lives in Los Angeles, California.

Friday 19 April 2024

Are You A Junkaholic? by Schar Ward with Debra Varin #AreYouAJunkaholic #ScharWard #BookReview


Are You a Junkaholic? Is an insightful new book written by the founders of Twin Cities Hoarding Clean Up, Schar Ward, and Debra Varin. Schar and Debra offer invaluable advice and support for those grappling with Junk Collecting Disorder (JCD). This compelling resource sheds light on the complexities of JCD and provides practical strategies to help individuals transform their cluttered living spaces into organized and harmonious homes. Are You a Junkaholic is not just a book; it’s a guiding light towards a clean and more fulfilling life.

Does your blood pressure rise and your heart speed up when you see a garage sale? Do you find yourself buying one more used umbrella even though you already own four? You could be suffering from Junkaholism! It's a disease that can destroy relationships and wreak havoc with your life. The good news is that there is a cure!

Schar Ward and Debre Varin are on a mission to rid people of their excess stuff. Their six-step program will leave you junk free. Whether you are making more space in your present home, downsizing to move to assisted living, or preparing to depart (to anywhere), their advice is, "Dejunk because you can’t take it with you."

Through anecdotes, charts, and quizzes, they humorously delve into your junk areas, wardrobe, car, purse, home, and garage-- offering practical ideas for getting rid of unnecessary junk and cutting it off at the root.

* Take the Junk Test that helps you determine how bad your junk problem is.

* Detailed guides for judging junk and how to get it off your back.

* Hundreds of sensible ideas for storing what you need.

They offer a humorous look and a serious remedy for junk collecting. They will keep you smiling as you learn to manage your life and save your sanity, not dozens of worn-out shoes.

Are You a Junkaholic? by Schar Ward with Debra Varin was published on 1 November 2023 by Universal Publishers. My thanks to the author who sent my copy for review. 

Schar Ward and her daughter Debra Varin are the founders of the  Twin Cities Hoarding Clean Up company based in Minnesota in the US. They have been offering their clean up service for fifty years and now three generations of their family work in the business. Not only do they organise cluttered spaces into pristine living spaces by cleaning, organising and dumping, they also offer their knowledge and share their tools and tips to help their customers to keep their homes clutter free. 

Ive always been fascinated by the fact that some people live their lives surrounded by junk. I'm not talking about huge curated collections of thing people like (books in my case!). I'm referring to the homes that a packed full with rubbish. Bin bags overflowing, piles and piles of old newspapers, rotting foods, animal mess etc. I guess we've all seen the TV shows that bring in the house clearers and then leave again. What is different about this book and the service that they provide is that they've examined the psychology behind why people collect junk and come up with simple, effective ideas to try to cure this.

Schar Ward acknowledges that this is a disorder; Junk Collecting Disorder (JCD), and that it can affect people from all walks of life. The book is written in a caring and compassionate way, explaining why this may happen and taking small steps to overcome it.

A 'Junk Test' is provided and to be honest, it did open my eyes a little. I am convinced that I'm not a junk collector, yet I did answer yes to more than one or two questions. I think my tendency to try to keep things neat and tidy overwhelms my need for collecting more than books ... luckily!

The book is filled with practical advice about storage solutions, about how to go through the junk in your house and decide what to keep, and why to keep it. I can imagine that this is a really difficult thing for those with JCD to go through, and the non-judgemental and totally understanding way that the book is structured really will help. 

Like many people, I am a little bit nosey and at the end of the book there are real-life examples included, with photographs. These are fascinating, imagine that your bed is covered in so much junk that you have to create a sleeping space surrounded by bags and bags of rubbish?  Imagine that underneath that junk, there's a house with beautiful finishings, just waiting to be shown the light. 

It is clear that the authors really do care about the people that they work with. This is a fascinating book that anyone will find useful, especially if they have a tendency to over-collect! 

Schar Ward has used her fifty years of cleaning experience to write Coming Clean Dirty Secrets from a Professional Housecleaner, It's About Time, Teaching Children to Clean, and Are You a Junkaholic?, which she co-authored with her daughter Debra Varin. 

Schar wrote a monthly column for Dog Fancy magazine entitled Ask the Cleaning Expert. 

She was known as The Green Cleaning Lady on Twin Cities Live, a local television show, and has contributed to articles in Family Handyman magazine. 

Schar and Debra have entertained and educated attendees at Home and Garden shows nationwide. 

She lives in Stillwater, Minnesota, and happily teaches the world to clean.

Thursday 18 April 2024

The Household by Stacey Halls #TheHousehold @stacey_halls @ZaffreBooks @ElStammeijer #BookReview


London, 1847. In a quiet house in the countryside outside London, the finishing touches are being made to welcome a group of young women. The house and its location are top secret, its residents unknown to one another, but the girls have one thing in common: they are fallen. Offering refuge for prostitutes, petty thieves and the destitute, Urania Cottage is a second chance at life - but how badly do they want it?

Meanwhile, a few miles away in a Piccadilly mansion, millionairess Angela Burdett-Coutts, one of the benefactors of Urania Cottage, makes a discovery that leaves her cold. Her stalker of ten years has been released from prison, and she knows it's only a matter of time before their nightmarish game resumes once more.

As the women's worlds collide in ways they could never have expected, they will discover that freedom always comes at a price . . .

The Household is the new novel from the award-winning, Sunday Times bestselling author of The Familiars, The Foundling and Mrs England. Set against Charles Dickens' home for fallen women and inspired by real figures from history, it is Stacey Halls' most ambitious and captivating novel yet.

The Household by Stacey Halls was published on 11 April 2024 by Manilla Press / Zaffre Books. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review. 

The Household opens as the first resident of the newly opened Urania House begins to settle in. Martha feels quite alone in the house, with only the housekeeper, Mrs Holdsworth for company. 
Urania House is situated just outside of the city of London, surrounded by countryside, away from the hustle and bustle and the dirty streets. The house is the brainchild of novelist Charles Dickens and has been funded by Angela Coutts; by far the richest single woman in the country. 

Dickens and Coutts vision is to help young women who have fallen on hard times, some of them will have been in prison, some of them in the Magdalen hospital for prostitutes. They believe that given a clean and comfortable home, allowed to learn new skills and dress in brightly coloured clothes, they can pave their way to a new life in Australia. 

Whilst Dickens is the instigator of the project, it is Angela Coutts who features more heavily in the story. Despite her wealth and status in London, Angela has lived in fear for many years. She has been followed and pestered and stalked by Richard Dunn since she was a teenager. Even though he has been imprisoned many times, he's very clever, a barrister by trade and always finds a way to get back to her.

The lives of the girls at Urania House, along with Angela's story are the main plot of this novel and they interweave beautifully together. Stacey Halls has created a cast of characters who are colourful, larger than life and in the main, very strong and able women, despite the difficulties they may have faced. 

As the reader gets to know more about Martha, Josephine, Polly and the others, we see young women with different upbringings who have found themselves in trouble for varying reasons. As they begin to learn new skills and live together comfortably, we really feel that Dickens' idea is going to work. However, as always, there are people who work against the good and some of these young women are tempted. Some leave, some return, and each one of them has a story to tell 

This is a fabulous historical novel, rich in detail and whilst more character driven than plot driven, the central mysteries are intriguing and toward the end of the book, the story really gathers pace.

I've enjoyed Stacey Halls' previous novels and this one is also a great read. I do love to discover things about our history that I had no idea about before and have spent time reading up about Urania House and Dickens' work.  Recommended by me. 

Stacey Halls was born in 1989 and grew up in Rossendale, Lancashire. 

She studied journalism at the University of Central Lancashire and has written for publications including the Guardian, Stylist, Psychologies, the Independent, the Sun and Fabulous. 
Her first book, The Familiars, was the bestselling debut hardback novel of 2019, won a Betty Trask Award and was shortlisted for the British Book Awards Debut Book of the Year. 
The Foundling, her second, was a Sunday Times bestseller, as was her third Mrs England. 
Mrs England was longlisted for the Portico Prize, the Walter Scott Prize and won the Women's Prize Futures Award.

The Maiden of Florence by Katherine Mezzacappa BLOG TOUR #TheMaidenofFlorence @katmezzacappa @rararesources #BookExtract #Giveaway #Win #Prize #Competition


'My defloration was talked about in all the courts of Europe. The Prince boasted of his prowess, even as preparations were being made for his wedding, as boldly as if he had ridden across that causeway with bloodstained sheet tied to his lance.' 

1584, Italy: Twenty-year-old Giulia expects she will live and die incarcerated as a silk weaver within the walls of her Florentine orphanage, where she has never so much as glimpsed her own face. This all changes with the visit of the Medici family's most trusted advisor, promising her a generous dowry and a husband if she agrees to a small sacrifice that will bring honour and glory to her native city. 

Vincenzo Gonzaga, libertine heir to the dukedom of Mantua, wants to marry the Grand-Duke of Tuscany's eldest daughter, but the rumours around his unconsummated first marriage must be silenced first. Eager for a dynastic alliance that will be a bulwark against the threat of Protestant heresy beyond the Alps, the Pope and his cardinals turn a blind eye to a mortal sin. 

A powerful #MeToo story of the Renaissance, based on true events.

The Maiden of Florence by Katherine Mezzacappa is published today, 18 April 2024 by Fairlight Books.  
As part of this Blog Tour organised by Rachel's Random Resources I am delighted to share an extract from the book with you today. 

Extract from The Maiden of Florence by Katherine Mezzacappa 

Giulia has been taken from her Dominican-run orphanage to enable a proof of virility for Vincenzo Gonzaga, heir to the dukedom of Mantua, a condition imposed by the parents of his prospective bride, a Medici princess. Their meeting happens in Venice, under conditions of secrecy. Giulia will have a husband chosen for her; he will be bribed with a generous dowry. In this extract the test has been successful, and Vincenzo suggests an alternative career to marriage to Giulia.

Some time later, in darkness, he came at me again, wordless in his attack. I tensed, expecting more pain, but it was easier. I confess also, and have learned not to blush when I think this, that it was pleasurable, only that he finished too soon. I wanted him to put his fingers, or his mouth to me again, but he did not and I did not dare to ask him. But I stroked his body, the way that Vinta had told me to, and he rewarded me with happy murmurs and by stretching like a cat. He complemented me on the gentleness of my touch. I wish that is all he had said.

‘Why don’t you stay in Venice? A girl like you with such a pretty way about her could sell her maidenhead again and again. There are women in this city practised in those arts: some astringent to tighten the passage, a little bladder of pig’s blood, a modest expression and some regretful tears, and one of your dupes would want to keep you, in recompense for having dishonoured you.’

I do not think he could have hurt me more if he had struck me across the face.

‘I want to go back to Florence. I want my dowry. I want a husband,’ I said, fighting the tears. I shifted away from him on the bed; I hated him – the touch, the smell of him, but most of all those cruel words.
‘Ah yes, the dowry! That will be the sixth one paid out over this matter – an expensive business, getting me wed!’

‘The sixth!’ I exclaimed.

‘Ssh! Let old Vinta and the others sleep. There were four in Parma, I believe.’ 

I listened to him in a kind of horrified delirium.

‘Yes, when they examined poor Margherita – that was my first wife, who was malformed, as you, lovely maiden, are not! They didn’t know quite what they were looking for, those doctors. They could have asked me. Probably the only maidenheads any of them had encountered had been owned by their virtuous wives, and the desires of a young husband trump the curiosity of the doctor, so they never stopped to look first, and there is but one eye in the head of a penis, even if it weeps when it is happy, and that eye is blind. The only women they ever got to anatomise were hanged whores, you see.

 Virtuous girls and chaste wives may go to their graves unmolested. Four peasant girls were brought to them, all of an age with Margherita, so that they could see how a normal girl was made. I wish I’d been there; what a winsome parade that must have been! I’m told Cardinal Borromeo – it was he who signed to make me a free man – lived on bread and water for days in expiation. I don’t know why – those girls were all paid off with dowries, so they could make better marriages than they would have dreamed of.’

‘Who was the other?’ 

‘Oh, I never saw her either.’

He had one arm behind his head as he said this, and with the other played idly with his member, which was stirring again. I could see him now, for outside it had to be day, and a sliver of light was visible around the closed door, so that gradually the details of the room, and of the Prince himself, became visible. I remember the hair of his body, dense to the top of his thighs, where it stopped as though a line had been drawn across, only for it to blaze out again around his sex, and to shade that little well in his stomach that all of us have, that once connected every one of us to a mother.

‘That girl was in Ferrara, and had been prepared just as you were. I wanted to see her beforehand, but they wouldn’t let me. I couldn’t stand their handwringing, their orders, their insistence, and most of all I couldn’t abide the Medici ambassador, dull old fool! At least Vinta one can reason with. So I left for Mantua.’

‘And the girl?’

‘Got her dowry, and it paid her way into the convent… ah, I see this talk has pleased him. Look, Giulia, he has raised his head in your honour. Let us oblige him once more.’

After he had joined himself to me that time, he did not sleep, but instead spoke of himself. He described a childhood unimaginable to me, in which he ran laughing from his tutors through endless long galleries hung with tapestries and portraits of people he could name for they were his forebears – and, horrible to relate even now, the mummified corpse of a former lord of his city, vanquished by the Gonzaga, displayed in a sort of cabinet of curiosities along with a unicorn and those strange armoured crawling creatures they call crocodiles, such as Saint Teodoro stands upon on his column looking out from Piazza San Marco.

Katherine Mezzacappa is an Irish writer of mainly historical fiction, currently living in Italy. 
She has published several novels under pen names with publishers Bonnier Zaffre and eXtasy. 
She works as a manuscript assessor for The Literary Consultancy. 
Katherine reviews for Historical Novel Society’s quarterly journal and is one of the organisers of the Society’s 2022 UK conference. 
In her spare time she volunteers with a used book charity of which she is a founder member.

Giveaway to Win a vintage postcard, early 1900s, of the babies from the fa├žade of the Innocenti orphanage. (Open INT)

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday 17 April 2024

Clickbait by L C North BLOG TOUR #Clickbait @Lauren_C_North @TransworldBooks @RandomTTours #BookReview


'We're not famous anymore. We're notorious.'

For over a decade, the Lancasters were celebrity royalty, with millions tuning in every week to watch their reality show, Living with the Lancasters.

But then an old video emerges of one of their legendary parties. Suddenly, they're in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons: witnesses swore they'd seen missing teenager Bradley Wilcox leaving the Lancaster family home on the night of the party, but the video tells a different story

Now true crime investigator and YouTuber Tom Isaac is on the case. He's determined to find out what really happened to Bradley - he just needs to read between the Lancasters' lies . . .

Because when the cameras are always rolling, it won't be long until someone cracks.

Clickbait by L C North was published on 11 April 2024 by Bantam. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review as part of this #RandomThingsTours Blog Tour 

I really enjoy how L C North structures her thriller novels, just like her previous novel The Ugly Truth (published March 2023), this one is written in a mixed media style. With snippets from YouTube episode, transcripts from the police, along with Twitter/X posts and a podcast it makes for an interesting and easy read. I think, due to the amount of time we spend online these days, flitting from platform to platform, this style is really accessible, it makes it feel more real, more up to date and also adds mystery as we read comments from people not connected to the story, but who have plenty to say. 

Living With The Lancasters has been a huge YouTube hit series for many years. In the style of the Kardashians and the Osbournes TV shows, this one follows the life of Lynn Lancaster and her three children. Lynn's late husband was a well known footballer turned agent and after his sudden death, she created the programme to showcase her children's talents ..... and to give them a push into fame. 

When Locke Lancaster shares a video taken at his father's last birthday party as a tribute to his memory, their world begins to crumble around them. This party was famous for the wrong reasons, a young man, Bradley Wilcox,  went missing after the party, never to be seen or heard from again. Locke's video proves that the story given at the time was not the truth. 

Bradley's sister, Cassie, has never believed what was reported that night. She doesn't believe that Bradley would run away and has spent the last twenty years trying to find the truth. She teams up with Tom Isaac, a true crime investigator on YouTube and they are determined to uncover the truth. 

L C North has a real gift for getting into the mindset of people and in Clickbait we learn all about the Lancasters real life. Peel away the glamour and the edited programme and you will find a family who are really not what they appear to be. As Cassie and Tom delve deeper, another sudden death occurs, one that will find a family member held in custody and the others in hiding. 

The addition of comments from the public on Tom's videos is really clever and puts niggles of doubt into the reader's mind. Who can resist a conspiracy theory?  Let's face it, we all read them and despite how crazy they may sound, we do wonder a little. 

It's a complex tale, with characters that the reader will really dislike, and a mystery at the heart of it that seems stranger and stranger, the more that is revealed. I'm not sure that I actually like Tom to be honest, but he's certainly a character who could go on to have his own series, there's something of a fame hunter in him too, making him not that different to the people he's investigating.

It's a roller coaster of a read, fast paced and filled with revelations that I didn't expect. Recommended by me. 

L.C. North studied psychology at university before pursuing a career in Public Relations. 

Her book club thrillers - The Ugly Truth and Clickbait - combine her love of psychology and her fascination with the celebrities in the public eye. 
When she's not writing, she co-hosts the crime thriller podcast, In Suspense. 
She lives on the Suffolk borders with her family.

L.C. North is the pen name of Lauren North. 

Readers can follow her on Twitter @Lauren_C_North and Facebook @LaurenNorthAuthor.

Tuesday 16 April 2024

The Antique Hunter's Guide to Murder by C L Miller @CLMillerAuthor @panmacmillan @EmmaHarrowPR #TheAntiqueHuntersGuideToMurder #BookReview


Freya, it’s down to you to finish what I started . . .

Freya Lockwood has avoided the quaint English village in which she grew up for the last 20 years. That is until news arrives that Arthur Crockleford, antiques dealer and Freya’s estranged mentor, has died – and the circumstances seem suspicious.

You will uncover an invitation, I implore you to attend . . .

But when a letter from Arthur is delivered, sent just days before his death, and an ordinary pine chest concealing Arthur’s journals are revealed, Freya finds herself sucked back into a life she’d sworn to leave behind.

But beware, trust no-one. Your life depends on it . . .

Joining forces with her eccentric Aunt Carole, Arthur’s staunch best friend, Freya follows both clues and her instincts to an old manor house for an ‘antiques enthusiasts weekend’. But not is all as it seems; the antiques are bad reproductions and the guests all have something to hide.

Can Freya and Carole solve the mystery and unearth the killer before they strike again? Find out in The Antique Hunter's Guide to Murder, the unputdownable cosy crime caper from C L Miller.

The Antique Hunter's Guide to Murder by C L Miller was published by Pan Macmillan in hardback on 29 February 2024, the paperback will be published on 26 September 2024. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review. 

This review appeared in The Mature Times - March edition 

Freya Lockwood grew up in a small English village, she’s not been back there for over twenty years.

When she hears that her old mentor Arthur Crockleford has died and there appears to be some mystery around his death she is drawn back to the village. Freya had worked as an antiques hunter with Arthur for many years, tracking down missing antiques and returning them to their owners. She gave up that life and had no more contact with Arthur after a shocking tragedy in Egypt.

However, Freya and her Aunt Carole receive a letter written by Arthur before he died, along with a trunk containing his journals. It becomes clear that Arthur’s death was no mystery and Freya and Carole find themselves at an old manor house for an antiques weekend.

The other guests at the manor are all connected to Arthur in some way, there’s the gardener from the USA, the squabbling siblings, the sly solicitor and the hapless housekeeper. Along with the ditzy blonde who appears downtrodden and subservient. Each and every one of them appear to have some sort of motive to get rid of Arthur, and as Freya delves deeper, she learns more about what happened so many years ago too. 

Agatha Christie meets the Antiques Roadshow in this delightful cosy crime novel from talented debut author Miller. 

A classic whodunnit with a very fresh voice. The mystery is fast paced and intricate, the setting is wonderfully described and the characters are rounded and believable.

C. L. Miller started working life in publishing as an editorial assistant for her mother, Judith Miller on the Miller’s Antique Price Guide and as a researcher for the Antique Hunter’s Guide to Europe and then went into hospitality and events. 

After she had children, she decided to follow her long held dream of becoming an author and began writing full-time. 

She was an Undiscovered Voices winner 2022 and showcased in UV 2022 anthology.

C.L lives in a medieval cottage in Dedham Vale, Suffolk with her family.

Instagram @clmillerwriter