First up: The Arsenic Labyrinth by Martin Edwards.
Some ten years ago a young woman, Emma Bestwick, disappeared in The Lake District and a journalist is pestering DCI Hannah Scarlett and her cold case team to reopen the case. Hannah is reluctant because it could be a simple case of the woman wanting to disappear, not a murder case, until someone starts calling the journalist with new information. Hannah reopens the case and is brought into contact with Daniel Kind again, as it was his father who headed the original case ten years ago. The attraction is still there and not helped by the fact that both of them are having troubles with their relationships with their partners. Hannah needs to employ all her skills as a detective to sort this one and keep Daniel out of her thoughts.
Brilliant. The first two books in this series were excellent and I think this one was even better. Fast paced, full of twists and turns, I just couldn't put this down. I like the use of an unknown narrator in parts of the book; that kept me guessing. I love the Lake Distrist setting but most off all I'm fascinated by Hannah and Daniel's relationship, and certain aspects of that move on apace in this instalment. Loved it and hope there are many more to come.
Next - A Beautiful Blue Death by Charles Finch.
Charles Lennox is an amateur detective in Victorian times. His neighbour and friend, Lady Jane, calls him in to investigate the murder of a former maid who left her service to work for the employer of her fiance. There are many suspects in the house and many secrets that Charles simply cannot fathom. Someone else dies during a ball and Charles has his work cut out to untangle the web of deceit and lies surrounding these murders.
Well, I made it to the end so that says something but 'oh dear'. So many factual errors, implausibilities and lord knows what else really annoyed me about this one. The jacket proudly announces that the author went to Cambridge and (I think) Harvard or Yale. Goodness, if that's the case you would have thought he could have done some decent research into the period and got his facts right. Best sentence, from a British, Victorian, peer of the realm: 'He must've gotten it from the maid!' I actually laughed out loud. Which is a shame because there was a decent mystery here, trying to get out, which is why I did actually make it to the end.
Lastly - Over the Gate by Miss Read.
More about the village of Fairacre and its village school mistress, Miss Read. Includes a ghost story, strange tales of the history of the village and its inhabitants, harvest festival, Christmas, the annual outing to the seaside and much more. Perfect bedtime reading, gentle, evocative, delightful. Bought for a quid in the market in Carmarthen - bargain! - and going spare if anyone wants it.