15 April 2017

WALKING WOUNDED by Anna Franklin Osborne


Amazon UK £3.08    £6.99
Amazon US $3.79  $8.63
Amazon CA  $5.18


Family Drama / WWII
1918 - 1950s
London

Most stories about the horrors of war deal with the participants – soldiers, nurses, sailors, airmen etc. But Walking Wounded looks at the women who are left behind to wait, worry and hope.

After a brief background introducing us the family concerned, we follow the lives of Lydia, May and Millie, the latter married to the sisters' brother. Lydia is the eldest and finds herself unexpectedly in the matriarchal role, one which she accepts, however reluctantly, as her lot. May is married to Jimmy, an exciting yet violent man and their sister-in-law Millie to May's slightly older twin, Charlie.

At the outbreak of World War II, Reggie, Bert (the other two brothers) Charlie and Jimmy all volunteer and are sent to various theatres of war, leaving the women to fend for themselves: Lydia to run the family shop, May to pursue her career as a seamstress while Millie is a barmaid. Their adventures – if adventures they be - take us through the terror of nightly air raids and, in May's case, temporary evacuation as she is pregnant.

I was born in Muswell Hill – the main setting for the book – and I have a couple of very minor quibbles about one or two of the facts about the area, but in comparison to the overall effect and feel of the book, these are negligible. It is well written, very atmospheric and emotional and my only disappointment was that it was too short – so much more could have been of the characters, good as they were.

A powerful tribute to those who had no choice but to stay, often with no news good or bad. And I guarantee you one thing: tears will flow.


© Richard Tearle





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14 April 2017

The ASSASSIN'S Mark by David Ebsworth

Amazon UK £3.49    £9.99
Amazon US $4.32  $15.00
Amazon CA  $19.37

Thriller
1938
Spain

Jack Telford Series Book #1

'September 1938. Spain's Civil War has been raging for two years, the outcome still in the balance. But rebel General Franco is so confident of winning that he has opened up battlefield tourism along the country's north coast.
Jack Telford, a left-wing reporter, finds himself with an eccentric group of tourists on one of the War Route's yellow Chrysler buses. Driven by his passion for peace, Telford attempts to uncover the hidden truths beneath the conflict.
But Jack must contend first with his own gullibility, the tragic death of a fellow passenger, capture by Republican guerrilleros, a final showdown at Spain's most holy shrine and the possibility that he has been badly betrayed. Betrayed and in serious danger.'

This is a very well plotted and very readable historical thriller. A slightly left-leaning journalist joins a group of nationalist-leaning tourists on their way to civil-war-torn Spain. Their aim is to learn about the conflict and see the effects of the Civil War, but the story takes a different turn as they are captured soon into their journey.

Ebsworth has created a wide range of brilliant characters for this novel, all bringing slightly different aspects of the war to the story and to the complex and competent portrayal of the political situation in Spain and wider Europe. Set over a period of only two weeks in 1938, as the fate of Czechoslovakia is being decided as well, this is a really gripping and informative read, containing a lot of suspense and delivering some stunning surprises.

I particularly enjoyed the skillful portrayal of the complexity of the conflict in Spain, the manifold vested interests by different groups and their effects.

I never knew there was so much to learn about the Spanish Civil War and I hugely enjoyed this novel. Very accomplished.

© Christoph Fischer




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13 April 2017

MEDICUS: A Novel of the Roman Empire by Ruth Downie

(Previously published in the UK as 
Ruso and the Disappearing Dancing Girls)


Amazon UK £7.99 Audio £3.99
Amazon US $17.99 Audio $4.7
Amazon CA $n/a




Mystery / Crime / Drama Series

Roman Britain

The Medicus Series #1 of seven novels

‘Divorced and down on his luck, Gaius Petreius Ruso has made the rash decision to seek his fortune in an inclement outpost of the Roman Empire, namely Britannia. In a moment of weakness, after a straight thirty-six-hour shift at the army hospital, he succumbs to compassion and rescues an injured slave girl, Tilla, from the hands of her abusive owner.

Now he has a new problem: a slave who won't talk and can't cook, and drags trouble in her wake. Before he knows it, Ruso is caught in the middle of an investigation into the deaths of prostitutes working out of the local bar. Now Ruso must summon all his forensic knowledge to find a killer who may be after him next.’

I loved this novel, not only because Roman Britain is one of my passions and I enjoy mysteries – both of those - but primarily because Ruth Downie is such a wonderful writer, and is a pleasure to read. The detail, of things medical, of Britain at the time of the Roman occupation and of daily life is so rich and vivid. As are the characters who are instantly engaging. 

There is drama, mystery of course (a classic who-dun-it) adventure, thrills, spills, tragedy and humour, all of which is so skilfully included you find yourself laughing, almost crying or holding your breath as you turn the pages as swiftly as you can to find out what happens next. 

My advice, read this first adventure in the series then move swiftly on to the next, and the next. You will not be disappointed.

© Helen Hollick


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12 April 2017

A Discovered Diamond review of DEATH of a CUCKOO by Wendy Percival


Amazon UK £0.99
Amazon US $1.23
Amazon CA  $n/a

Novella /Family Drama / Genealogy
Present Day
South West England

Now and again on Discovering Diamonds we review books set in the present day but which have a plot which involves the past or is of interest to history buffs of one sort or another – and Death Of A Cuckoo is such a book.

Following the death of Gina's mother, she is faced with the usual traumas of 'clearing up' her affairs. But in the post comes a photograph enclosed in a letter of condolence and Gina's safe life is changed forever. Added to that, she encounters an intruder in her mother's house. She turns to a genealogist for help and they embark on an investigation to find the truth.

This is a pleasant, light, tale – short enough that it can be devoured on, say, a long journey by train or plane. It has some twists and turns, some of which are a little predictable, but this little story is not meant to be an in-depth who-dun-it type read, it is aimed more at the ‘light entertainment’ reader. Death of a Cuckoo is, I believe, intended to be part of an anthology of similar style stories. As in most mysteries, sometimes things fall too easily into the investigators' lap and perhaps acquiring official documents in real life (birth certificates etc) might take a little longer than they do here. *[H.H. apparently you can obtain documents quickly - see Wendy's comment below!] But it is enjoyable and well written for all that and will especially be of interest to researchers into family history.
[H.H. which is why, at my discretion, Discovering Diamonds has included it in our reviews.]

© Richard Tearle

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11 April 2017

KIN of CAIN by Matthew Harffy


Amazon UK £1.49 £5.99
Amazon US $1.85 $7.99
Amazon CA $N/A

Novella / Military / Adventure
7th Century
North of England

Kin of Cain is a novella from this popular writer of Anglo Saxon saga. At only 104 pages it is shorter than his usual work but if you are not familiar with this writer, this serves as a perfect introduction.

King Edwin is in his hall when the air is rent with a scream. Grabbing swords and knives, the thegns rush to discover the source and cause of the scream, and come across a man, broken and distraught, claiming his son has been killed by an other-worldly beast. King Edwin charges his most fearsome warriors to track down this creature and kill it.

The action starts right away, with little build up and the reader is thrust into this Anglo Saxon world of Harffy's, his Bernicia, centred in the north west around Bamburgh. His Saxons are the stuff of legend, larger-than-life men who live in a world long lost to us, even the names are unfamiliar, and yet it is vividly drawn and tangible. For those who have some understanding of the times, there is a delightful twist to this story, one you may or may not see coming, but one I think the majority of readers drawn to this novella can appreciate and enjoy.

I find it hard to praise this little work highly enough. I was hooked from the first page and the pace never lets up. That it is over so soon is the only disappointment with this accomplished piece of story telling. I loved it.

A Discovered Diamond -  but no surprise there!

© Nicky Galliers
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10 April 2017

UNDER THE APPROACHING DARK by Anna Belfrage

Amazon UK £11.99

Fictionsl Saga / Adventure / Romance / Military
14th century
England

Book #III of The King's Greatest Enemy

In this, the third of the series, we catch up with Adam de Guirande and his wife Lady Kit where Adam is pledged to serve the young King Edward III whose father is held prisoner in Berkeley Castle. Roger Mortimer and the boy's mother, Queen Isabella, rule as joint regents and the times are beset with rumours, jealousies, treason and secrets. Adam is caught between two strong-willed men – Edward and Mortimer – and often has to act as go-between for the two, an invidious position. But Adam has enemies of his own and both his life and that of Kit's are in constant danger. And then there is the problem of how to deal with the dethroned Edward II....

As in all series, it helps to have read the previous volumes, yet this part is eminently readable as a stand alone – the author skilfully fills in the past events when necessary and all without cluttering the story.

The atmosphere of the 14th century is superbly captured and one has to feel sorry for Adam, for he is called to attend the king at a moment’s notice and with no thought or sympathy as to his – or Kit's – disposition. What comes over brilliantly is the position of Edward himself: not quite old enough to rule in his own right, frustrated that he cannot do so and impatient for the time when he can.

Ms Belfrage is an established author and this wonderful novel adds highly to her already respected reputation.

© Richard Tearle


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9 April 2017

The second Sunday of April

No reviews on a Sunday 


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 a personal choice by  Helen Hollick
founder of Discovering Diamonds






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(to be revealed 31st December 2017)


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