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Posts Tagged ‘Josephine Bell’

The Innocent (Bello)

 

A girl runs away from home.  She has nowhere to stay and not much money and fears being caught and returned to her parents.  She steals from an elderly woman and takes a coach to London with her meagre luggage.  Here she falls into the hands of a strange religious sect.  A simple straightforward story it would appear but things are far from being what they seem.  Lesley Rivers – the reader knows this isn’t her real name – is the innocent of the title but she is a mixture of contradictions.  At one moment naïve and at the next well able to take care of herself.

 

This is a well written crime novel with some complex characters and an equally complex plot whose ramifications are not fully revealed until close to the end of the book.  Few readers will work out exactly what is happening though most will work out the broad details.  The portrait of the sect is chilling and very well done.  The police investigation totally fascinating.

 

Throughout the book, Lesley herself is trying to create a new life and does not know who she can and can’t trust.  Overall this is a disturbing story and it kept me turning the pages.  I thought the activities of the sect were well described and the ways they used to keep their members in their places were suitably sinister.

 

 

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The Catalyst (Bello)

 

Hugh Wilmot, his wife Florence and his sister-in-law Beatrice are taking a holiday in Greece.  They form an uneasy trio and their fellow holiday makers soon realise all is not well between them.  Bea and Florence bicker constantly and all three of them are quick to tell others their side of the story.

 

When they recognise Rosamund Oakley, a famous and beautiful film star in their party and Hugh strikes up a friendship with her the blue touch paper is lit and the outcome can only be a tragedy. This is a disturbing and unsettling story of human relations gone wrong.  The bickering between Hugh, Florence and Bea is very well done and the tension mounts towards the inevitable crisis.

 

Many of the events in the story can be interpreted in more than one way and this keeps the reader guessing about which of the trio is mad and/or a liar and even whether all three of them are both insane and liars.  This is a very well written book with some horribly believable characters and situations and it is frightening to see how quickly minor disagreements can result in major tragedies

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Charismatic university lecturer Simon Fawcett seems to have an ambivalent relationship with the truth.  He is having an affair with a married woman and various students have broken their hearts over him.  Some people like him but others think he is shallow and evil.

 

Penelope Dane – a student – falls in love with him and finds herself drawn into a web of deceit.  When Mrs Morris, Simon’s cleaning lady is found murdered the police investigation finds itself presented with a wall of silence.

 

This is a gripping story of evil and immorality in which too many people think appearances matter more than anything.  But there are some characters who have not lost all sense of responsibility and gradually the truth comes out and it results in a tragic finale.

 

This is a well written and the tension is carefully built up.  It’s fairly clear from the start who the murderer is but it doesn’t detract from the suspense.  I found I wanted to know how it was all going to work out and how the various characters were going to resolve their tangled relationships

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Safety First (Bello)

Four stories all with the theme of people placing too much emphasis on safety in one form or another. It is always easy to see where other people go wrong in their lives but not always easy to see where you yourself are going wrong.  Muriel in the first story reaps the unexpected cost of placing too much emphasis on one form of safety and Jim in the third story is torn between two different forms of safety.

 

I think my favourite of the four stories is the last one in which a pre-war marriage hits unexpected obstacles.  The ending really made me feel as though I had been physically assaulted.  All four stories are well written and interesting and I could feel sympathy for all the characters.

 

There are no mysteries and no crimes in them but they show ordinary people leading ordinary lives and not always thinking very clearly about their motivations or their actions.  This is an interesting and thought provoking collection which may make the reader think twice about some of their own day to day actions.

 

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Henry Frost and his wife are staying with his daughter and son-in-law in a cottage they have rented on a nature reserve.  When the Frosts arrive it is to find themselves in the middle of a possible criminal case because two young people have gone missing.  Henry – being inquisitive by nature – starts to ask awkward questions and gets himself more involved than his relatives find comfortable.

This is an interesting and atmospheric story in which many secrets will be brought to the surface before the case is final solved.  Henry finds himself in some dangerous situations as well before he can unravel the various strands of the case.

 

I was not quite so keen on this story as I have been on some of Josephine Bell’s mystery/crime novels but it is still well written and worth reading.

 

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A Hole in the Ground (Bello)

 

Martin Filton, a young doctor, is staying in a small Cornish village.  During his holiday he is eating his lunch time sandwiches when he hears shots fired and later has a disturbing encounter with a young woman because something has fallen out of the back of her Land Rover.

 

He later finds some blood stained sacking caught on some barbed wire.  He fears the police will think he is making fuss about nothing so he doesn’t contact them. Instead he takes the sacking to a friend of his who is studying forensic science.

 

Twenty years later – in need of rest and recuperation – Martin returns to the same area curious to find out what really happened, if anything.  He soon realises that there are secrets in the village which will lead to personal danger if he digs too deep.

 

This is an exciting mystery which keeps the reader guessing for most of the book.  Who are Drina’s real parents?  What really happened twenty years ago?  Why is hardly anyone willing to tell him anything about past history?

 

This is a well written story where past and present and cleverly intertwined to make a satisfying whole.  The characters are well drawn and the plot intricate with a background of tin mining in Cornwall.  If you like your mysteries in the classic mould then you will enjoy this one.

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A Pigeon Among the Cats (Bello)

Rose Lawler decides to go on a coach tour of Italy.  She is looking forward to it but she soon starts to wonder whether Gwen Chilton, who seems very disorganised, is going to spoil her pleasure after she attaches herself firmly to Rose.  Before long Rose is sure there is something sinister going on when a strange man keeps turning up everywhere the coach stops.

 

This is an exciting and fast-paced story which proves to Rose herself on several occasions that while she may be old in years she is still fit and active and more than a match for the younger generations.  The ending is especially well done and kept me turning the pages to see how it was all going to work out.

 

I thought the atmosphere of a coach tour was very well done with the mixture of characters and the minor disagreements between dissimilar personalities.  I liked the way the criminal elements in the story were pieced together to produce a satisfying mystery and there was the added bonus of the Italian background.

 

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