by Spencer Quinn
Published by POCKET BOOKS
In this, their first adventure, Chet and Bernie investigate the disappearance of Madison, a teenage girl who may or may not have been kidnapped, but who has definitely gotten mixed up with some very unsavoury characters. A well-behaved, gifted student, she didn't arrive home after school and her divorced mother is frantic. Bernie is quick to take the case - something about a cash flow problem that Chet's not all that clear about - and he's relieved, if vaguely suspicious, when Madison turns up unharmed with a story that doesn't add up. But when she disappears for a second time in a week, Bernie and Chet aren't taking any chances; they launch a full-blown investigation. Without a ransom demand, they're not convinced it's a kidnapping, but they are sure of one thing: something smells funny.
I was intrigued by the concept of this one, and while that held up: I liked seeing the story from the dog's point of view, the plot left a little to be desired. A few too many coincidences and unlikely escapes for my liking.
Daughters of War
by Hilary Green
Published by Severn House Paperbacks Ltd
A thrilling and passionate World War I saga - The year is 1912, and Britain is gripped by fear of war with Germany. Intelligent, headstrong Leonora Malham Brown feels stifled by her middle-class upbringing, so when feisty Victoria Langford introduces her to the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry, she seizes her chance - and when trouble flares in the Balkans, the girls head to Bulgaria to offer their assistance on the battlefield. Neither are prepared for the grim realities of war, but as well as danger, fear and excitement, Leo will find unexpected - and passionate - romance.
I was very excited when I heard that Hilary Green was writing a new series, this time set before and during the First World War. I wasn't disappointed, especially since the friendship between the two central female characters was exactly what I've been looking for. On top of that we get girls dressing as boys, references to Twelfth Night, gritting war reporting from two secondary characters, and a world of differences in attitudes between those on, or close to, the front line of the Balkans Conflict, and those back in England. I can't wait for the next book to come out in paperback.
Flirting with Italian
by Liz Fielding
Published by Mills & Boon
Bag: packed. Flight: booked. Soon I'll be getting to grips with Rome and life in a foreign language! Watch this space...Newly single Sarah Gratton is determined to enjoy her holiday - could a just-for-fun romance with dark-eyed Matteo di Serrone be the answer? This Italian count is ideal flirting material - if Sarah's brave enough to make a move! Well, she might not be - but luckily Matteo is! Matteo decides to keep this mysterious woman close - no hardship at all, given their spine-tingling awareness of each other...It's like something out of a fairytale - until Sarah realises she's made the most rookie mistake of all: falling in love with her holiday fling...
I've worked in Rome, and while this story didn't fully capture the experience of arriving there as a non-Italian-speaker on a working holiday, it came close enough. Plus there was the backstory mystery of a wartime romance, and a thoroughly engaging collection of family and friends for the hero and heroine respectively. I also enjoyed the blog posts that were interspersed with the narrative.
by S. J. Bolton
Published by Corgi Books
Moving to remote Shetland has been unsettling enough for consultant surgeon Tora Hamilton; even before the gruesome discovery she makes one rain-drenched afternoon ...Deep in the peat soil of her field she is shocked to find the perfectly preserved body of a young woman, a gaping hole where her heart has been brutally removed and three rune marks etched into her skin. The marks bear an eerie resemblance to carvings Tora has seen all over the islands, and she quickly uncovers disturbing links to an ancient legend. But as Tora investigates she is warned by the local police, her boss, and even her husband, to leave well alone. And even though it chills her to the bone to admit it ...something tells her their concern isn't genuine.
I didn't get off to a good start with this story, since it began with a dead horse on a day I really didn't want reminders of such things. After that, however, the story just ran away with me. The author's first book, and arguably her best to date.