#BlogTour #Review : An Oriental Murder by Jane Bastin. @rararesources @JaneJanebastin 

Today I am taking part in the blog tour for An Oriental Murder. While there is nothing unusual in me reading crime fiction, this book is set in Istanbul and is the first book I’ve set there or anywhere in Turkey. So, read on and find out what I thought….

Blurb:   The Pera Palas hotel in Istanbul, Turkey plays host to the Agatha Christie Writers’ Congress when real life imitates fiction. The bodies of the Prime Minister and his occasional mistress are found dead in one of the hotel’s locked rooms surrounded by bodyguards. Seemingly, no one could get in or out, and yet… 

Inspector Sinan Kaya is convinced that foreign agents are culpable, and that the murders are linked to the recent spate of killings of Turkish government officials.

Within this complicated, crime riddled city, Sinan Kaya’s moral compass never falters. Not concerned with threats of dismissal from the force, he cuts his own path through the investigation, determined to uncover the truth.

An Oriental Murder is a tale of espionage and murder set against the backdrop of beautiful Istanbul, the ancient city where east and west meet.

Purchase Link – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Oriental-Murder-Jane-Bastin-ebook/dp/B07CKZW2WD/

My Review:  I have to admit that when I began this book I wasn’t too keen on it. Some of the initial characters I found quite irritating and had little patience for them. However, through them, like a quietly flowing stream came Inspector Sinan Kaya, and from then on the book improved hugely. Sinan is a character I would compare to M J Lee’s Inspector Danilov, quiet, methodical, focused on getting the job done, and with some unusual methods that mean few want to work with him. However, like Danilov, Sinan has someone who wants to work with him and recognises and tolerates his quirks because he understands that they make him a better Inspector rather than one to be avoided. 

The pairing of Sinan and Sergeant Mehmet is a good one, almost at times like Morse and Lewis back in the day. One focused almost solely on the job and the other with a few other responsibilities to consider. I really enjoyed their pairing and the contrast between the characters. I also liked Sinan’s no-nonsense attitude, not uncaring just not interested in the superfluous details. 

The city of Istanbul came alive as well, the descriptions were vivid and clear though there were a few times when I struggled to get a picture of where the characters were going but there were only a few of these which meant they didn’t detract too much from the story itself. There are a lot of threads going on in this story, many of which are political or politically linked in some way. However, these threads are handled in such a way that means they don’t get confusing or tangled, always a plus for a reader. 

I really enjoy detective pairings that are a little unusual and this one is no different. I can only hope that this book is not a stand alone but the first of a series so that I can follow Sinan and see where his life takes him next.
About the author:

Jane is a storyteller, writer, traveller and educator. Having lived and worked for over thirty years in Turkey, Jane has amassed a breadth of experiences that have led to the writing of the Sinan Kaya series of novels. Of course all characters and events are fictitious!  

Fluent in both English and Turkish, Jane writes in both languages and has had a range of articles published in Turkish periodicals and magazines alongside British newspapers. 

Jane now divides her time between rainy Devon and sunny Turkey.

Social Media Links –  https://twitter.com/JaneJanebastin 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jane.bastin.9887 

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#BlogTour #GuestPost : The Vanished Child by M J Lee. @rararesources @writermjlee

I am delighted to be involved in this blog tour today. I have a fascinating guest post from the author about the truth behind the story in The Vanished Child. It’s a really interesting, though sad, read that I would recommend everyone reads before reading the book itself.

Blurb:  What would you do if you discovered you had a brother you never knew existed?

On her deathbed, Freda Duckworth confesses to giving birth to an illegitimate child in 1944 and temporarily placing him in a children’s home. She returned later but he had vanished. 

What happened to the child? Why did he disappear? Where did he go? 

Jayne Sinclair, genealogical investigator, is faced with lies, secrets, and one of the most shameful episodes in recent history as she attempts to uncover the truth.

Can she find the vanished child?

This book is the fourth in the Jayne Sinclair Genealogical Mystery series, but can be read as a standalone novel.

Every childhood lasts a lifetime.

Purchase Link – myBook.to/vanishedchild


Guest post: How true is the family history in The Vanished Child?

Between 1869 and the end of the 1960s, around 130,000 British children, both boys and girls, and some as young as four years old, were sent to the former colonies. This is a best guess, as nobody has come up with an exact figure yet.

They were part of a child migration scheme involving children from problem families and single-parent families, illegitimate children and children whose parents had abandoned them. Despite their description at the time, very few of these child migrants were actually orphans. The majority still had at least one parent still alive in the United Kingdom.

Until 1987, the plight of these children lay buried beneath a shroud of official blindness, bureaucratic incompetence, official secrecy and downright lies. At this time, Margaret Humphreys, then working for Nottingham Council as a social worker, became aware of the children by accident when a case she was working on revealed their existence. She went on to form the Child Migrants Trust, which is still the leading charitable organisation for these children.

My own knowledge of their plight came by accident too. I was researching in Manchester Central Library one summer’s day, on June 30, 2016, when I came across an exhibition in the foyer of old inmate books, dated 1894, from a children’s charity. 

One of the books was open at the page for Mary Nettleship from Ardwick in Manchester. Her story was sad but unfortunately typical. Her mother had died and her father was an alcoholic. She and her sister were placed in a care home at the ages of 9 and 12. On May 9, 1895, both sisters were sent aboard the SS Vancouver, bound for Canada. There was a picture in the book taken of Mary, wearing a long black dress, with short, cropped hair and a lonely look in her eyes. On the next page were two reports from a Canadian inspector, detailing that Mary had been placed with a Canadian family in Adolphstown, Ontario to work as a domestic. She had also been separated from her younger sister.

My curiosity was aroused. How had a young girl from Manchester ended up across the Atlantic? How had her father allowed this? (In the book it stated that he couldn’t be found.) Had he given permission? Why were the sisters separated? What happened to young Mary?

A week later I was in London to meet with my editors and publishers at the HarperCollins summer party, being held in the Victoria and Albert Museum. By chance, I noticed the museum had an exhibition on child migrants. I went back the following day and spent the afternoon looking at the exhibits. 

The seed for the book was planted that day, and I spent the next two months researching the history and personal stories of the child migrants.

The more I researched, the more I became perturbed by their experiences of transportation to Australia.  The Australian Commission into the Child Migrants concluded that between 7,000 and 10,000 children were sent to the country in the post-war period, mostly in the 1950s. The organisations involved were the Catholic Child Welfare Society, the Fairbridge Society, Dr Barnado’s, the Salvation Army and the Church of England. 

In a difference from Canada, most were not sent to people’s homes or adopted. Instead, they were placed in institutions to be ‘trained’ as farmers and domestics before entering the workforce at the age of fifteen. Again, most were boys and girls, aged between four and fourteen at the time of transportation.

My book is a novel, and all the main characters are creations. However, I have tried to remain true to the experiences of the child migrants.

Harry’s early life with the Sisters of Mercy is based on contemporary memoirs and notes. The voyage out to Australia uses a wonderful book by David Hill, The Forgotten Children, as its main source, plus a host of archival material from government reports, Royal Commissions, oral histories and memoirs from the child migrants themselves.

The speech of welcome given to Harry and the child migrants in Perth is actually an earlier speech given in 1938 to a group of children by the Archbishop of Perth. But there are other examples in the post-war archives of the church’s involvement in the White Australia policy, and a desire to increase the population of young Catholics in Australia. 

Harry’s experiences in Bindoon Boys Town are shocking but unfortunately confirmed by the memoirs and evidence presented at a number of Royal Commissions. 

Emotional, physical and sexual abuse were all rife in the institution. The migrants were used as child labour to build the place itself; long hours of work were accompanied by severe beatings. Emotionally, they received little or no affection or love, and were treated as objects rather than children. 

Sexual abuse was also commonplace in the Boys Town. Several of the former brothers were convicted of the abuse of children, but others were not charged with any offence.

As a consequence of their treatment, many of the residents have reported the inability to form relationships with other human beings as a consequence of their treatment at Bindoon. Many have also experienced problems with alcohol, drugs or an inability to settle in one place. 

One of the most painful things to do is watch the  children arriving in Fremantle in the newsreels of the period, seeing the smiles on their faces as they looked forward to a new life in a new country and knowing what actually awaited them.

As a Roman Catholic myself, I have no desire to excoriate the church. In truth, the abuses of children and child migrants were systemic in government homes and in other charitable institutions, both in the United Kingdom and Australia. However, the treatment of the child migrants in the four Christian Brothers institutions in Western Australia was particularly cruel, calculating and abusive. 

And what happened to Mary Nettleship, the young girl who started me on this path?

I researched her history as far as I could through the documents available in Canada. She worked as an unpaid domestic until she was eighteen, and then she married a carpenter, with whom she had four children. She settled down in Toronto to bring up her family, but unfortunately died of heart disease in 1929, aged just 42. Her husband died later in the year, leaving their children as orphans. Was her death precipitated by her early life and the domestic labour she endured from twelve years of age? We will never know.

And what of Mary’s younger sister?

I have been unable to find her after the census of 1901. Did she marry? Did she die? I have not been able to find out what happened to her so far.

Perhaps, I will be able to discover the truth one day. So that she will not be forgotten like so many of the other migrant children from the cities of Great Britain.

I don’t believe any writer can do justice to the experience of the child migrants, but their story needs to be told.

As David Hall says in his book, ‘Every childhood lasts a lifetime.’

This is true for all of us.

About the author:

Martin has spent most of his adult life writing in one form or another. As a University researcher in history, he wrote pages of notes on reams of obscure topics. As a social worker with Vietnamese refugees, he wrote memoranda. And, as the creative director of an advertising agency, he has written print and press ads, tv commercials, short films and innumerable backs of cornflake packets and hotel websites.
He has spent 25 years of his life working outside the North of England. In London, Hong Kong, Taipei, Singapore, Bangkok and Shanghai, winning awards from Cannes, One Show, D&AD, New York and London Festivals, and the United Nations.

When he’s not writing, he splits his time between the UK and Asia, taking pleasure in playing with his daughter, researching his family history, single-handedly solving the problem of the French wine lake and wishing he were George Clooney.

Social Media Links – 

Website: http://www.writermjlee.com

Twitter – https://twitter.com/WriterMJLee

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/writermjlee

#BlogTour #Review : Summer at the Little Duck Pond Cafe by Rosie Green. @rararesources @Rosie_Green1988

I am thrilled today to bring you a review of the lovely Summer at the Little Duck Pond Cafe. This is a follow on from Spring at the Little Duck Pond Cafe but can be read as a stand alone. Many thanks to Rachel’s Random Resources for having me on this tour and sending me a copy of the book for review.  So, without further delay let me tell you what I thought of the book………..

 

Blurb:  Jaz Winters stuck a pin in a map and fled to the village of Sunnybrook, looking for a brand new life – and after a rocky start, it’s beginning to look as if she made the right decision. Her blossoming friendship with Ellie and Fen has seen her through some dark times, and she’s managed to land two jobs – waitress at The Little Duck Pond Café and working as a weekend tour guide at Brambleberry Manor, the country house that’s been in Fen’s family for generations.

Sure, life isn’t totally perfect. There’s the irritating know-it-all guy who keeps popping up on her manor tours, for a start. He seems determined to get under Jaz’s skin whether she likes it or not. But she supposes it’s a small price to pay for the relative peace she’s found, living in Sunnybrook.

But just as Jaz is beginning to think rosier times are on the horizon, a shock encounter looks set to shatter her fragile happiness.

Will she be forced to flee from Sunnybrook and everyone she’s grown so fond of? Or will she find the strength to stand her ground and finally face up to the nightmares of the past?

This novella is part of a trilogy:

Spring at The Little Duck Pond Café

Summer at The Little Duck Pond Café

Winter at The Little Duck Pond Café

Purchase from Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Summer-Little-Duck-Pond-Cafe-ebook/dp/B07C5CL9XF/

My Review:   I’m just going to dive right in here and say this is a lovely story. It can be read as a stand alone as I’ve already said though you do get a bit more depth of the friendship between Jaz, Fen and Ellie if you read the first book too.

For a short, easy read there is a lot of depth to the story. Jaz flees her home, not through choice but because she has to. She ends up in Sunnybrook where, after a bit of time to settle in and find her feet, she is doing quite well.  The village is lovely, it sounds like the typical English village with a village green and the addition of a duck pond. The story centres around the cafe, Brambleberry Manor, the duck pond and the place from which Jaz ran away, because sometimes it’s hard to escape somewhere than you think.

The story really comes to life, the characters are well-rounded and realistic and you find yourself wanting to be there with them, experiencing the highs and lows that they are going through. It’s a lovely, summery read and is ideal escapism if you want a few hours away from the realities of your own life. I really enjoyed this story and can’t wait for the final book of the series to come out.

 


About the author:  

Rosie Green has been scribbling stories ever since she was little. Back then they were rip-roaring adventure tales with a young heroine in perilous danger of falling off a cliff or being tied up by ‘the baddies’. Thankfully, Rosie has moved on somewhat, and now much prefers to write romantic comedies that melt your heart and make you smile, with really not much perilous danger involved at all, unless you count the heroine losing her heart in love.

Rosie’s brand new series of novellas is centred on life in a village café. Summer at The Little Duck Pond Café, published on 18th June 2018, follows the first in the series, Spring at The Little Duck Pond Café.

Twitter – https://twitter.com/Rosie_Green1988

 

#BlogTour #Review : Safe Houses by Dan Fesperman. @AAknopf @crimebythebook 

Today I’m bringing you a review of Safe Houses, a bit of an unusual read for me but a really good one. Many thanks to Abby and Knopf for letting me be a part of this tour and for giving me a copy of the book to review. 

Blurb: West Berlin, 1979. Helen Abell oversees the CIA’s network of safe houses, rare havens for field agents and case officers amidst the dangerous milieu of a city in the grips of the Cold War. 

Helen’s world is upended when, during her routine inspection of an agency property, she overhears a meeting between two people unfamiliar to her speaking a coded language that hints at shadowy realities far beyond her comprehension. Before the day is out, she witnesses a second unauthorized encounter, one that will place her in the sightlines of the most ruthless and powerful man at the agency.

Her attempts to expose the dark truths about what she has witnessed will bring about repercussions that reach across decades and continents into the present day, when, in a farm town in Maryland, a young man is arrested for the double murder of his parents, and his sister takes it upon herself to find out why he did it.


My Review: Espionage stories have never really been of interest to me, aside from James Bond and the recent film of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy but this book, with its mystery and secrecy and a double murder, may have changed that. 

I’m not old enough to remember the Cold War but I felt I got a good sense of the bleakness and constant suspicion from the authors descriptions of Berlin and the experiences of Helen. Naturally, having discovered things she shouldn’t have done, she becomes agitated and fearful and that came off the pages in waves. The story moves between Helen in 1979 and the double murder in 2014. The 2014 scenes were like a patch of blue sky after the grey, claustrophobia of 1979. Although there is a lot of intrigue and wariness in 2014 it does feel like I had more room to breathe when reading those scenes. 

I’ve realised recently that I enjoy much more those books where the descriptions are such that I have a movie running in my head as I read. It’s an entirely subconscious thing that I can’t control but makes a huge difference to my enjoyment of a book. In this case, the descriptions were perfect, not too wordy but also crisp and clear. At one point Helen jumps somewhere and not only could I see that happening but I was also holding my breath in case she didn’t land safely. Writing like that is what I love and why I kept reading. 

The characters were equally well written. I kept willing Helen to succeed and feeling frustrated with her when she was annoyed or things didn’t quite work as she’d hoped. In the 2014 scenes, the daughter hires an investigator whose life we know a reasonable amount about (given his chosen profession) and I appreciated and shared some of his emotions too, the daughter not so much for some reason. I think I was more interested in the investigator’s story than the daughters but I can’t figure out why that is. 

I’ve not said a lot about the story but that’s because it would be tricky to do so without spoilers and I don’t do spoilers but believe me it is a book well worth reading. 

Because the double murder and investigation of it is a big piece of the story I think this book would appeal to many crime fiction fans. This book would appeal to obviously, fans of espionage stories, but equally those who like psychological thrillers but that is what this book is, it plays with your brain so you view everything with suspicion, even banal, everday occurrences. 

Given what I’ve said I’m going to leave you with a few tips: when you are reading, always make sure you’re facing the door, you don’t want people walking in behind you particularly during some scenes. Also you might want to have a stiff drink to hand, this is something that crops up a few times in the story and having read it I can certainly understand why!

About the author:

Dan Fesperman’s travels as a writer have taken him to thirty countries and three war zones. Lie in the Dark won the Crime Writers’ Association of Britain’s John Creasey Memorial Dagger Award for best first crime novel, The Small Boat of Great Sorrows won their Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award for best thriller, and The Prisoner of Guantánamo won the Dashiell Hammett Award from the International Association of Crime Writers. He lives in Baltimore.