Review: ST KILDA BLUES, Geoffrey McGeachin

Synopsis (Publisher)

Melbourne’s first serial killer is at work and only one man can stop him.

It’s 1967, the summer of love, and in swinging Melbourne Detective Sergeant Charlie Berlin has been hauled out of exile in the Fraud Squad to investigate the disappearance of a teenage girl, the daughter of a powerful and politically connected property developer. As Berlin’s inquiries uncover more missing girls he gets an uneasy feeling he may be dealing with the city’s first serial killer.

Berlin’s investigation leads him through inner-city discothèques, hip photographic studios, the emerging drug culture and into the seedy back streets of St Kilda. The investigation also brings up ghosts of Berlin’s past, disturbing memories of the casual murder of a young woman he witnessed in dying days of WW11.

As in war, some victories come at a terrible cost and Berlin will have to face an awful truth and endure an unimaginable loss before his investigation is over.

ST KILDA BLUES is the third novel in the Charlie Berlin series. Both previous novels, THE DIGGERS REST HOTEL and BLACKWATTLE CREEK, won the Ned Kelly Award for Best Fiction in 2011 and 2013 respectively.

My Take

There is such an assured hand behind these crime fiction novels from Australian author Geoffrey McGeachin. There are plenty of historical details to place this novel in 1967, and to anchor it firmly in Melbourne. 

It is twenty years since the first novel in the series and Charlie’s son Peter has gone into the army, and his daughter Sarah has gone to Israel to learn more of her Jewish past. Charlie’s wife Rebecca has become a well known photographer with her own studio in the CBD. There’s plenty in the novel to fill in the details of what has happened in the Berlin family in that twenty years.

While there are those who recognise Detective
Sergeant Charlie Berlin’s value to the Victorian Police force, there are
also those who would love to see him fall flat on his face.

It appears that nine teenage girls have gone have gone missing in Melbourne in the last year. When number 3 was reported Charlie was taken off the case and sidetracked to the Fraud squad. Now somebody has decided that he should take over the investigation again, but on the quiet. The State Premier is Sir Henry Bolte, his own position on a knife edge, and he wants all stops pulled out. Only one of the girls who have gone missing has turned and she was found dead on the shores of the Albert Lake. An observant copper gives Charlie and his offsider Bob Roberts their first clue. 

There is a side story that surfaces in the first half of the novel about a boy who was sent to Australia from the UK shortly after the Second World War, as part of a child emigration scheme. He arrives in Adelaide and is then taken north to a mission station. This is an interesting plot line because the treatment of such children has been the focus of recent investigations, worldwide, into the way children were treated in orphanages. In Australia the investigation has provoked a Royal Commission into Child Abuse.

So there is plenty in this novel for the reader to think about. The historical validity owes a lot to meticulous research, while the principal characters come through loud and clear. There’s also a distinctively Australian flavour to the novel.

My rating: 4.9

I’ve also reviewed

4.4, D-E-D DEAD!

Review: PRESENT DARKNESS, Malla Nunn

  • US publication date June 3, 2014
  • Publisher Atria/Emily Bestler Books
  • ISBN 9781451616965
  • review copy made available through publisher via Net Galley
  • #4 in the Detective Emmanuel Cooper series

Synopsis (publisher)

Five days before Christmas (1953), Detective Sergeant Emmanuel Cooper sits at
his desk at the Johannesburg major crimes squad, ready for his holiday in Mozambique. A call comes in: a respectable white couple has been assaulted and left for dead in their bedroom. The couple’s teenage daughter identifies the attacker as Aaron Shabalala— the youngest son of Zulu Detective Constable Samuel Shabalala—Cooper’s best friend and a
man to whom he owes his life.

The Detective Branch isn’t interested in evidence that might contradict their star witness’s story, especially so close to the holidays. Determined to ensure justice for Aaron, Cooper, Shabalala, and their trusted friend Dr. Daniel Zweigman hunt for the truth. Their investigation uncovers a violent world of Sophiatown gangs, thieves, and corrupt government officials who will do anything to keep their dark world intact.

 My take

Australian author Malla Nunn continues to write very credible stories in the Emmanuel Cooper series, full of atmosphere. A white school principal and his wife who invite coloured students to their home for meals are attacked one night after dinner. Their shocked daughter identifies the two students who were at dinner that night as the culprits. One has an unshakeable alibi but the other one, the son of Cooper’s best friend, refuses to say where he was.

Parallel with this investigation is Cooper’s uncomfortable relationship with the sergeant at the Johannesburg Detective Branch. Running in the background, chapter by chapter, is also the story of a prostitute who has been taken prisoner and is being held on a remote farm.

Cooper’s own relationship with Davida, the mixed race mother of his baby daughter Rebekah, reflects the knife edge that is South African apartheid. Exposure would mean the loss of his job and probably imprisonment. 

An excellent read.  My rating: 4.8.

I’ve already reviewed

Review: FATAL IMPACT, Kathryn Fox

  • published by Pan Macmillan Australia 2014
  • ISBN 978-1-74261-232-4
  • 389 pages
  • review copy supplied by publisher
  • #7 in the Anya Crichton series

Synopsis (Publisher)

When a girl’s dead body is found in a toy box, forensic physician and pathologist Anya Crichton joins the police hunt in her home state of
Tasmania for the child’s missing mother and sister.

Staying with her increasingly erratic mother, Dr Jocelyn Reynolds, Anya fears the long shadow of her  sister Miriam’s disappearance has finally driven her mother past the brink of sanity. But Anya soon discovers that Jocelyn is keeping a deadly secret.

When tests conclude a virulent strain of food poisoning was responsible for the child’s death, the outbreak begins to spread. Anya pairs up with Internal Affairs detective Oliver Parke to unravel the sinister connections between the fatal epidemic, a covered-up study, the shady deals of a multinational corporation and the alleged murder of a local
scientist. Anya has strayed into a high-stakes game so dangerous the players will kill to keep it quiet. With time running short, Anya must uncover the truth before she is silenced – permanently.

My take

I’ve long been a fan of Kathryn Fox’s work, and this novel did not disappoint me. As always Kathryn has combined interesting issues, excellent research, and a well plotted mystery that makes the pages just fly past. Although the character of Dr. Anya Crichton has now been developed over a span of seven novels, there is nothing to stop a reader from beginning with this one.

The setting of the novel is Tasmania with the issues of genetic modification of stock and products and foreign ownership of Australian land and industries running strongly in the background. Anya initially goes to Tasmania to give an address at a conference and then intends to pay a quick visit to her mother who lives near Launceston. She first of all gets caught up with the disappearance of a mother and her child, and then her father’s wife becomes critically ill. Her visit to her mother is extended when she finds her mother is not well, and then her mother’s neighbour dies.There is lots going on and the writing is fast paced.

My rating: 4.8

I’ve also reviewed


My mini-review for MALICIOUS INTENT – my rating 4.7

Dr. Anya Crichton has recently struck out to work on her own as a freelance
forensic pathologist.

Work is a bit hard to find but she is gaining a reputation as a credible courtroom authority. She is not without friends in the police, the New South Wales State Forensic Institute, and
among the criminal barristers. Something about the apparent suicide of Clare Matthews doesn’t sit quite right: the fact that, a nun, she disappeared shortly before she was due to take her vows, that she suicided by jumping off the Gap, that she was 6 weeks pregnant, and that she had strange fibres in her lungs. And now another case with similarities crops up: Fatima Deab overdoses on heroine after being missing for some days and her lungs contain the same fibres.
Debut publication by Australian author. It is obvious to the reader that Kathryn Fox has a lot to say, lots of issues that she wants to make us aware of, and sometimes this novel takes on a bit of a didactic tone. But the plotting is so good, the tension so well built that by the end I could forgive her anything! 

About the author:
Kathryn Fox is  a medical practitioner with a special interest in forensic medicine. She has worked as a family physician, medical journalist and freelance writer. Her debut novel received international acclaim and won the 2005 Davitt award for best crime novel. This is her seventh novel following Malicious Intent, Without Consent, Skin and Bone, Blood Born, Death Mask and Cold Grave.

Review: HUNTER: INTREPID 2 by Chris Allen

Hunter: Intrepid 2 (INTREPID, #2)HUNTER, the follow-up to the first in the INTREPID series, DEFENDER, is just as action packed as its predecessor. This time round, Intrepid agent Alex Morgan dons more of a police/investigator persona in search of kidnapped star Charly. Further enhancing his mission is that Charly, not only a famous pianist, is also the goddaughter of Morgan’s boss, Davenport and the daughter of a prominent ICTY judge heading up a complex trial to put away a bunch of dangerous war criminals.

Comparisons between Bond and Morgan are easily apparent yet Morgan has more of a hardened blue blooded edge – think Shane Schofield (aka Scarecrow) by Aussie author Matthew Reilly. Author Chris Allen continues to build on Morgan by bumping up the Aussie bloke angle, incorporating more of the mannerisms typical of the stereotype. This creates a more realistic feel to Morgan, making him come across as a good-hearted, honest and reliable down-to-earth character. In a way, the perfect compliment to the ruthless bad guys.

Wolves in sheep clothing, a Serbian mafia inner circle power
struggle, double crosses by informants and Interpol agents alike, all formulate the latest Intrepid novel which sees conflict traverse the globe via one long high octane action sequence which incorporates brutal hand to hand and elaborate stunts. I made the comment in DEFENDER that it was like a big budget Hollywood blockbuster and this is no different, the combat scenes are delivered in efficient brutality, the stunts akin to the finest Bond.

With HUNTER there is a noticeable focus on character development with Morgan’s boss Davenport growing into a more fatherly role and a clear sense of camaraderie evident between the two. Some major players from DEFENDER, notably Arena Hall are less prominent in HUNTER yet this is offset by the introduction new characters, with the most impressionable being Key (Messrs Braunschweiger), a man mountain who looms as a larger than life agent and fast friend of Morgan’s.

HUNTER is a must read for fans of the series. The action is first class. The writing precise and the plot wholly enjoyable throughout. Chris Allen is onto a winner with Intrepid – 4 stars.


Review: A DISSECTION OF MURDER, Felicity Young

  • published 2012
  • e-book supplied to me by publishers Harper Collins Australia through

Synopsis (author website)

At the turn of the twentieth century, London’s political climate is in turmoil, as women fight for the right to vote.
Dody McCleland has her own battles to fight.
As England’s first female autopsy surgeon, she must prove herself as she proves that murder treats everyone equally.

After a heated women’s rights rally turns violent, an innocent suffragette is found murdered.
When she examines the body, Dody McCleland is shocked to realize that the victim was a friend of her sister – fuelling her determination to uncover the cause of the protestor’s suspicious death.

For Dody, gathering clues from a body is often easier than handling the living –
especially Chief Detective Inspector Pike. Pike is looking to get to the bottom of this case but has a hard time trusting anyone-including Dody.
Determined to earn Pike’s trust and to find the killer, Dody will have to sort through real and imagined secrets.
But if she’s not careful, she may end up on her own examination table.

My Take

The first of the Doctor Dody McCleland series, A DISSECTION OF MURDER (aka THE ANATOMY OF DEATH – US) was published in March (Australia/NZ) and will be published June (US with UK distribution) 2012.
It will be available in all good bookshops as well as Amazon and Kindle.

For Felicity Young this novel is a successful departure from her Australia-based police procedurals into the world of historical crime fiction. Felicity confesses that she has blended fictional characters with historical ones. I think she has done an excellent job of populating authentic settings with interesting and believable characters. She has captured the essence of the suffragette era that preceded the First World War, a world that was about to change forever. I certainly hope A DISSECTION OF MURDER is just the first in a long series.

My rating: 4.7

Another review on Fair Dinkum Crime.

Review: SINK OR SWIM, Ross Collier

Many thanks to Katie Turner at Turner’s Antics for this review.

Goodreads: Harry Gordon, sports hero and merchant banker, finds that despite his best efforts, a year after taking over the family steel business it is on the brink of collapse. Then he discovers that the seemingly random events leading to this point are not simply related to market forces. In a race against time that becomes a matter of life and death, Harry is forced to draw on all his skill and courage to avoid certain disaster.

Title: Sink or Swim
Author: Ross Collier
Published: 6th August 2011
Type: Kindle eBook
Source: Author (via Kindle Book Review) thank you
My Rating: 5 STARS

This book is from Australian author Ross Collier.  One of the things I loved about it, was the location.  AUSTRALIA, Melbourne and of course being in Melbourne at this minute, loved all the terminology and locations throughout.

Meet Harry Gordon, an ex-football star and an ex-merchant banker!  He had to take over the family business when his Father passed away.  Gordon Steel is a supplier to the building industry and this book follows all the trials and tribulations that follows running a business based on tender applications.

Poor Harry gets a phone call early one morning from a work colleague to say a worker has been found dead in the office.  This is where it all starts….  Who killed poor old Edna??  Was it another employee or somebody with ulterior motives?

Harry likes puzzles and when his old football coach asks for Harry to check up on his daughter, he can’t refuse.  The only problem is that Rebecca is his ex-girlfriend.  Harry gets involved in helping Rebecca sort out her life as well.  Poor Harry!

With each chapter the plot thickened and the stories evolved.  I couldn’t put it down, it was so addictive and I wanted to find out what happened to Harry in the end.  This book has it all, non-stop action, suspense, intrigue and even love.  A must read for those who love suspenseful thrillers.

You can find Ross at Goodreads, Amazon, Twitter, Facebook or his website.  Other books in Ross’ collection include The Fenians and coming soon Tug of War.

VIOLENT EXPOSURE, Katherine Howell

Format: Kindle Edition

  • File Size: 620 KB
  • Publisher: Macmillan Australia (December 1, 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
  • Language: English
  • Source: I bought the e-book but was also supplied with a hard copy for review by Macmillan Australia.

Publisher’s Blurb

When Suzanne Crawford is found stabbed to death and her husband Connor is discovered to be missing, it looks like just another tragic case of domestic violence to Detective Ella Marconi. But as the investigation progresses, it becomes clear that all is not as it seems. Why is there no record of Connor Crawford beyond a few years ago? Why has a teenager who worked for the pair gone missing too? And above all, what was the secret Suzanne knew Connor was keeping at all costs – even from her?

As Ella begins to build a picture of the Crawfords’ fractured lives, things around her are deteriorating. Her relationship with a fellow officer is hanging by a thread and her parents seem to be keeping secrets of their own. But Ella only has time for the job she loves, and she knows she has to see her way through the tangled web of deceit and lies to get at the truth – before it’s too late.

My take

The structure of VIOLENT EXPOSURE is similar to earlier novels in this series (this is #4): parallel plots that advance in tandem, each generating their own sense of suspense. The link between the main  plots is Detective Ella Marconi. This time, in addition to Marconi providing links to plots of previous novels, there is a continuing thread linking VIOLENT EXPOSURE to the first novel FRANTIC in which the baby son of a police officer and a paramedic was kidnapped. The links reinforce the close nature of the paramedic community.

There is plenty in VIOLENT EXPOSURE to keep the reader engaged: believable characters and scenarios, as well as a building tension as the Marconi and her team race to find Connor Crawford.

Marconi has moved from Sydney’s Cold Case Unit, where she was taking this easy after a bullet wound, into the “real world” of severe crimes. Other strands of the novel involve the paramedics where a trainee does not seem to have the sense of commitment required, and the struggle one of the paramedics and his wife are having to bring a baby to full term.

There is a further crossover between the police and the ambos (paramedics) where one of the latter is running a drama class that is part of a “street kid” project. One of the drama class participants works for the victim in her garden centre. Again this sense of coincidence reinforces how small the worlds are that we move in.

The title also makes the reader contemplate the effects on both police officers and paramedics of constant exposure to violent crimes. Do they become inured to bloodshed, less sensitive emotionally, or undermined morally?

For me VIOLENT EXPOSURE was further affirmation that Katherine Howell’s novels are both unique and of world-class.

My rating: 4.8

Other titles reviewed:

Katherine Howell’s website

Other reviews to check:

Review: The Pericles Commission by Gary Corby

A dead man falls from the sky and lands at the feet of Nicolas son of Sophroniscus the sculptor one Athens morning in 461AD. The body is that of Ephialtes, creator of the world’s first, and still fledgling, democracy and his death could mean civil war. In the absence of a family member to do the job Pericles, a politician and fellow supporter of the move towards democracy, commissions Nicolas to investigate Ephialtes’ death with the hopes of quickly being able to discover the responsible party and bring them to justice. Of course the most obvious suspects are those old-guard politicians who weren’t to keen on handing political power over to the people, so Nicolas is literally putting his life at risk by taking on the job. However he’s young and idealistic and also sees it as the perfect opportunity to get a foothold in politics himself which would mean he doesn’t have to follow in his father’s profession.

Corby has woven and intriguing and plausible fictional tale around the real events of the time in this debut historical mystery. There’s a large cast of characters (helpfully listed at the beginning of the book along with the phonetic pronunciation of their names) at all levels of Athenian society and so we are introduced to many aspects of life in ancient Greece. Slaves, prostitutes, artisans, soldiers, businessmen, politicians and even a priestess in training are all woven into the story to provide lots of interesting background to the old-fashioned whodunnit at the heart of this book. My knowledge of this period of history borders on non-existent so I am unqualified to comment on the veracity of those details but I can attest to their ability to sustain my interest. At the very beginning of the story I worried that it was going to be too much like a history lecture but after the initial slightly awkward exposition of the setting, this information was pretty well incorporated into the ongoing events.

Nicolas is an engaging character with plenty of room to develop in future books should they arise. Having just left the equivalent of the army he wants to make his way in the world by doing something other than follow in his father’s footsteps, though he loves his parents and doesn’t wish to hurt his father’s feelings. He gets himself into all sorts of scrapes as he tackles his commission because, at the outset of the book anyway, he’s very naive. Fortunately he gets some assistance from a range of unlikely helpers including his younger brother Socrates (yes that Socrates), the daughter Ephialtes fathered with his mistress and a soldier/slave called Pythax. Nicolas’ relationships with these three in particular provide much of the humour that threads through the book which balances nicely with the mounting pile of dead bodies and serious political issues being decided along the way.

My own preference in historical fiction is for there to be some nod to the period in the language used as it helps me to become absorbed in the ‘historicalness’ of the setting and Corby has eschewed any pretence of doing that here. It’s a perfectly valid choice of course as the people would have been speaking incomprehensible ancient Greek not any version of English but I did find it that bit harder to pretend I was wandering in the Athens being depicted than I would have if thoroughly modern language wasn’t being used. That’s a minor quibble though and overall I found the book a surprisingly light and fast read. Its combination of gentle humour, characters with real human foibles and abundance of juicy historical fact and legend should appeal to a wide variety of readers. If you’re already a fan of historical fiction I’d definitely recommend it.

Gary Corby lives in Sydney and blogs at A dead man fell from the sky. The second book in the series is called The Ionia Sanction and is due out next year.

Kerrie already reviewed The Pericles Commission earlier this year

my rating 3.5/5 (my rating scale is explained here)
Publisher Penguin [2011]
ISBN 9781742531618
Length 281 pages
Format eBook (ePub)
Source I bought it

Review: Beyond Fear by Jaye Ford

Jodie, Hannah, Louise and Corinne plan a relaxing weekend away without their kids or husbands. It is Jodie’s turn to select the venue for the friends’ annual getaway and she’s chosen a newly renovated barn in the country town of Bald Hill, a short drive from Newcastle where the women all live. The weekend starts to go wrong when the women have a minor car accident on their drive to the barn, though this does provide the opportunity for them to meet Matt Wiseman, working at his father’s garage while recovering from injuries received in his job as a policeman. Though they do manage to squeeze in some some of the champagne-drinking and chocolate-eating they planned, the weekend turns very grim for the four friends when two men turn up at the barn and won’t leave.

A debut novel by a former journalist, Beyond Fear is a fast-paced psychological thriller and an easy read that I gobbled up in a single sitting. As a reader you know from the outset that something’s going to go wrong with the idyllic weekend but the author manages to build suspense by not taking the obvious route to peril and the lead up to the story’s turning point is very well done. The fact that two of the characters, Jodie and Matt, have secrets from their past that are likely to impact their behaviour in the dangerous circumstances which unfold here just adds to the tension because it is believable that they might do things the average person would not do. For me though the climax of the tension came a bit too early and though the author tried hard to maintain the suspense for the remaining half of the book it did become a little repetitive with long fight sequences and each woman taking her turn to have a mini meltdown before pulling herself together for the sake of her friends.

For the most part the characters were well-depicted and largely credible though I did want to shake both Matt and Jodie for constantly blaming themselves for what was happening. However the people generally behaved as people might in such circumstances and I thought Ford did a good job of depicting the villains of the piece, particularly towards the end where we got some real insight into the pair and what drove them (though we never got a sensible explanation for why they chose to enter the barn when they knew it was full of people given they’d had the same access to the site while it was empty but I suppose I can go with the flow on that one).

There is a lot to like about this thriller including its strong female characters and snappy pace. There’s also a nice hint of romance which, because it’s only a hint, I rather enjoyed. I did think the first half was stronger than the second in terms of suspense but overall it’s a solidly entertaining read.

My rating: 3/5 stars (rating scale is explained here)
Author website:
Publisher: Random House [2011]
ISBN: 9781864711981
Length: 301 pages
Format: ePub
Source: I bought it
Available at Amazon (for Kindle), Boomerang Books (paperback)Kobo Store (ePub),

BLOODY HAM, Brian Kavanagh

published by Bewrite Books 2007
paperback ISBN: 978-1-905202-53-9
ebook ISBN: 978-1-905202-54-6
Details here
I  read this on my Kindle courtesy of a digital copy kindly given to me by the author.

Lights! Camera! Action! . Murder! A rollicking puzzle and a turmoil of personal relationships, some happy, some doomed, some downright evil. The third adventure for Belinda and Hazel continuing the pace and humour that readers have come to acknowledge and appreciate. Excitement and tension begin on the first day of filming a Restoration drama on location at the historic Jacobean mansion, Ham House in Surrey when one of the leading players collapses and dies. With the death ruled non-accidental the director, producer and members of the cast are all suspects. An award winning Hollywood star is brought in to replace the dead actor and Belinda is employed as her stand-in. When another member of the crew is found stabbed to death, Belinda is forced to prove her innocence. In all this tumult, Belinda finds herself torn between her long-time English lover, Mark and the energetic and exuberant Australian, Brad she met again on a trip to Australia.

This novel gives Australian author Brian Kavanagh an opportunity to parade both his knowledge of and extensive experience in the film industry and his delight in English history.

His central characters Australian Belinda Lawrence and local woman Hazel Whitby are well created and very believable. Belinda and Hazel are working in partnership: Hazel runs an antique shop in Bath, and provides Belinda with furniture in her heritage listed house and garden. Their business is commissioned to provide authentic cutlery for the feature film being made at Ham House. Hazel’s latest “young man” is a film editor about to begin work on the Ham House film. He’s an Australian who has not visited the West country before and Hazel has been showing him the sights. Belinda, on the other hand, has recently been home to Australia and has just returned, and is feeling a bit ambivalent about her lover Mark. Belinda bears a passing resemblance to one of the stars of the film and is invited to be a stand-in.

The plot of BLOODY HAM is well developed: there are a number of connected deaths before it comes to its conclusion, and a cast of interesting characters. Like earlier novels in the series this novel is really a “cosy”.

I liked the way Kavanagh added a few Australian characters to this novel, and the way he played with their language and characteristics.

My rating: 4.2

Other reviews to enjoy:
Reactions to Reading: Bloody Ham offers an entertaining combination of an old-fashioned whodunit with characters who are fun to meet.

BeWrite Books will be publishing A CANTERBURY CRIME, the exciting fourth book in the popular Belinda Lawrence mystery series. Following on from CAPABLE OF MURDER, THE EMBROIDERED CORPSE, BLOODY HAM, Belinda & Hazel travel to Canterbury in Kent and investigate the death of a Professor who was about to publish a book concerning the murder of St Thomas Becket in Canterbury Cathedral in 1170. Paperback & eBook versions. Publication date to be announced soon.

Video teaser:
Author’s site:

My mini reviews of the two earlier titles in the series:
CAPABLE OF MURDER (2005), my rating 3.9
Young Australian living in London, Belinda Lawrence, is contacted by her great aunt who lives near Bath. The old lady has something important that she wants to tell her. Belinda finds her aunt’s decaying body at the foot of the stairs in her cottage but appearances seem to indicate that she has had an accidental fall.  Various events and coincidences convince Belinda that her aunt was in fact murdered. Belinda decides to live in the cottage she has inherited from her aunt, more people die, and she is not sure who to trust. The book takes a lot from the tradition of English village “cosies”  and reminded me a little of books I used to read decades ago – Victoria Holt, Susan Howatch and similar “gothic” style novelists. For me it was just a little old-fashioned, but it was a quick read, and plot content was interesting enough.

THE EMBROIDERED CORPSE (2006), my rating 4.1
#2 in the Belinda Lawrence series. Set about 2 years after the first (CAPABLE OF MURDER), Belinda now has her inherited cottage set up with its re-constructed Capability Brown garden. Antique collector Hazel Whitby has furnished it with appropriate furniture and it is now on the tourist bus routes, bringing in a small income. Real estate agent Mark Sallinger completes the investigative trio as wll as providing the romance interest. On their way back from an antiques fair at Castle Howard, Belinda and Hazel call in at Kidbrooke House and are shown a framed piece of tapestry by its elderly owner. It reminds Belinda of the Bayeux tapestry and she decides she wants to see the Bayeux replica at Reading. Just after their visit to Kidbrooke House its elderly owner is murdered. Hazel buys some furniture from his deceased estate and accidentally becomes the owner of the tapestry which she gives to Belinda. This book is a delightful romp somewhat in the vein of Margaret Rutherford’s interpretation of Miss Marple. I suspect Brian Kavanagh is rather enjoying writing these stories with their mixture of murder, mayhem and romance.
THE EMBROIDERED CORPSE  has indications that he is constantly honing his craft, and I think they would be popular with YA female readers. Try to read them in order (CAPABLE OF MURDER, then THE EMBROIDERED CORPSE)