Bryant & May – Hall of Mirrors by Christopher Fowler


The year is 1969 and ten guests are about to enjoy a country house weekend at Tavistock Hall. But one amongst them is harbouring thoughts of murder. . .

The guests also include the young detectives Arthur Bryant and John May – undercover, in disguise and tasked with protecting Monty Hatton-Jones, a whistle-blower turning Queen’s evidence in a massive bribery trial. Luckily, they’ve got a decent chap on the inside who can help them – the one-armed Brigadier, Nigel ‘Fruity’ Metcalf.

The scene is set for what could be the perfect country house murder mystery, except that this particular get-together is nothing like a Golden Age classic. For the good times are, it seems, coming to an end. The house’s owner – a penniless, dope-smoking aristocrat – is intent on selling the estate (complete with its own hippy encampment) to a secretive millionaire but the weekend has only just started when the millionaire goes missing and murder is on the cards. But army manoeuvres have closed the only access road and without a forensic examiner, Bryant and May can’t solve the case. It’s when a falling gargoyle fells another guest that the two incognito detectives decide to place their future reputations on the line. And in the process discover that in Swinging Britain nothing is quite what it seems…
So gentle reader, you are cordially invited to a weekend in the country. Expect murder, madness and mayhem in the mansion!

Man, oh man, oh man, I loved this. I even had to go against all my instincts and stretch out the reading, because I just didn’t want to get to the end and have to wait another year for the next one.  Just *love* Bryant & May.

The release of a new Bryant and May novel is always a big event at Manor.  Each eagerly awaited edition is devoured, normally, and when the opportunity arises to get a chance of an early copy it’s one that I won’t miss.  As such I found myself getting to grips with John May and Arthur Bryant in full on throwback mode, with Hall of Mirrors being set in 1969, and trying desperately to slow down my reading and swallow up each and every delicious word.

It’s definitely my favourite of the series so far, mainly because it’s one of my favourite styles of tale.  Hall of Mirrors is what Fowler calls a ‘precinct’ novel (as was White Corridor).  Everything happens in a limited space and time.  In this case an old manor house, a flooded and a closed off village, alongside a small cast of vivid characters, and of course the requisite murder.

I adored meeting younger versions of Bryant and May, and seeing the beginnings of some of their well known idiosyncrasies.  It was also fun to meet some of the earlier generations of staff at the PCU, names you will be familiar with from earlier novels but have only met fleetingly.

All of this makes Hall of Mirrors as amazing a read to satisfy the most ardent of followers, whilst making the entire series completely accessible to anyone new to Bryant and May, because it can be read and enjoyed as a completely standalone novel.  If you are new to these pair, I’m sure you will be hooked, and more than pleased to know there are another 14 books you can catch up with!

Highly recommended by me.


Captor – Anita Waller


Liz Chambers is a devoted mother who works for a successful law firm. She has two children, a husband and a blossoming career. But behind closed doors, Liz is harbouring a secret that could destroy her life.

Then the unthinkable happens, and in a frenzied attack, her young son is snatched from the home of the childminder charged with looking after him.

As Liz’s life unfolds, it becomes clear that someone is out for revenge.

Desperate to get her baby boy back, Liz must work out who is responsible for his kidnap, and why.

But as the body count begins to mount, Liz’s concern grows for the safety of her child.

Who has taken her baby?

And why is Captor so determined on revenge?

Loved, loved, loved it….

Wow. what an amazing book.  To say I couldn’t put it down doesn’t seem enough.  I felt like it was glued not just to my fingers, but to my eyes and my mind.  I didn’t have a choice. It’s *that* good.

We begin, with the disappearance of Liz’s son, and we follow through as she struggles to find him.  At the same time as uncovering the ‘secret; she has been keeping and it’s far reaching consequences.

It’s a great tale of how even the simplest of our actions, all taken with the best of intentions create ripples, like a stone thrown in pond, that can unsettle the foundations of everything we believe in.

Cape Bay Cozy Mysteries – Harper Lin


Cappuccinos, Cupcakes and  a Corpse

Francesca Amaro moves back to her hometown of Cape Bay, Massachusetts, and takes over the family business, Antonia’s Italian Cafe. She spends her days making delicious artisan cappuccinos – until she stumbles upon her neighbor’s dead body. When the police discover Mr. Cardosi was poisoned, Francesca becomes a suspect. The victim’s son, Matty, happens to be Francesca’s old high school friend. Together they uncover the secrets of the locals in order to find the killer in their idyllic beach town.

Tea, Tiramisu and Tough Guys

When Francesca’s old high school crush, Todd, is accused of murder, she is convinced he is innocent. The police don’t believe Todd’s story, and neither does Matty. During the busy summer tourist season at Cape Bay, Francesca sets out to prove Todd’s innocence. Matty, however, investigates to prove Todd is guilty. Why does Matty detest Todd so much? But what if he’s right – what if Todd is a murderer?

Margaritas, Marzipan and Murder

Summer tourist season is winding down, but the Cape Bay police find a dead body in the alley beside Mary Ellen’s Souvenirs and Gifts. Police rule it a suicide, but Francesca Amaro knows it’s murder. Who would buy a bag of souvenirs, including a box of delicious marzipan, only to commit suicide moments later?

Even though the police tell her to stay out of the case, Fran is too curious not to investigate, even though she’s running a busy and popular cafe.

Lattes, Ladyfingers and Lies

Fran is anticipating her trip to Italy with Matty…until a precious diamond ring is stolen from the town’s jewelry store and an employee is murdered. Fran suspects the store owner of insurance fraud, but what if she’s wrong? Would her life be at stake again if she butts in on another police investigation?

Americanos, Apple Pies and Art Thieves

It’s almost Thanksgiving, and Fran is baking her family’s famous apple pies for the cafe. While pie fever spreads through Cape Bay, a world-famous artist holds a special art show in the town’s modest museum in honor of his late mother, who grew up there.

Louis Cliffton’s paintings are encrusted with valuable gems and gold. At the opening night, the centerpiece of the show is stolen. When Fran investigates the case, she receives threats, and someone follows her home and vandalizes her cafe.

What kind of thief would do this? A crazy outsider – or someone from her very own town?

Cremas, Christmas Cookies and Crooks

It’s almost Christmastime in Cape Bay, and another murder has everyone in town talking. A despised new drama teacher at the local high school is killed in the school’s parking lot. The police arrest a beloved teacher, Mrs. Crowsdale, but everyone else thinks she is too nice to murder anyone. Mike, however, says they have solid evidence that proves she did it.

Sammy is particularly devastated. Mrs. Crowsdale was her favorite teacher and still her hero. Sammy begs Fran to find the real culprit. Fran isn’t so sure. Mike would be angry with her for butting in on another case. And what if more danger befalls her? After all, there are some pretty dangerous people in town….

If you love cozy crime, with good plots, cheery characters, and the occasional recipe, then this is a series for you….

Every now and the I enjoy shaking up my crime routine with some cozy crime.  Sometimes you just need to be able to giggle to yourself while still trying to figure out a mystery.

I discovered this series thanks to a random freebie purchase on Amazon, I was looking for a break from the usual and took a chance on Cappuccinos, Cupcakes and a Corpse.  I’m glad I did, devouring all six books in a little under four days.  They were such easy reads, that flowed well, kept me pleasantly entertained, and I didn’t want to put them down until I was done, as I was enjoying the growth of the stories and the writing.

There are some delightful characters in here.  I love Fran and Mattie, who bounce off  each other well. I love one of Fran’s closest friends a part time police patrol officer / detective who is trying to balance his duty, his appreciation of assistance, his dislike of civilian ‘interference’ in his cases, and their eventual consequences.

If you want a break from the ‘harder crime novels’ I recommend these.

If you want cozy crime that ‘doesn’t include cats’, I recommend these.

If you want a great mystery, without the ‘gory details’, I recommend these.