Bruce’s Reading Round-Up: The “Ghostly Murders” Edition…


Welcome to another Reading Round-Up.  I hope you’ve got your paranormal crime-solving hat on today because you’ll need it to round up this group of titles.  All of the books we’ll be chasing down today feature a crime plus at least one ghost and we were lucky enough to receive two of them from the publisher via Netgalley.  The other one we got out of the library.  Let’s kick off with that one, shall we?  It’s early YA mystery series opener…

Mondays are Murder  (Tanya Landman)

Two Sentence Synopsis: mondays are murder

Poppy’s mum sends her to a week-long camp as one of five “guinea pig” kids to test a out a new adventure sport centre before it opens to the public. When Poppy gets to the camp on a desolate island and people start dropping dead from apparent accidents, things start to get serious and Poppy uses her sharp observational skills to try and find the killer before the island becomes unpopulated.

Muster up the motivation because:

At just over one hundred pages, this is a murder mystery that doesn’t hang around and wait for you to catch up.  Straight from the off, we are privy to a seriously nasty “accident” and very soon after that we are introduced to the adult cast – all of whom had better have their wits about them if they don’t want to end up in a murderer’s sights.  Poppy is a likeable narrator and is possessed of very sharp observational skills.  I must say that I was very pleased that Landman decided not to make these skills “extraordinary” or feel the need to give Poppy any other strange quirks.  It was refreshing to read an ordinary teen girl character with some talents in a particular area that aren’t linked to any label or diagnosis.  Graham, Poppy’s schoolmate and partner in not-dying, is also a fun character and I think the pair make an excellent combination. There is a ghostly element to the plot that is not overdone and while the pace is quite quick, as murder mysteries go, there are enough clues and red herrings dropped to keep young fanciers of detective stories well and truly engaged. I enjoyed this brief yet action-packed foray into Landman’s world, so I will definitely be popping a few more of Poppy and Graham’s adventures on my library reserve list.

Brand it with:

Not the outdoorsy type, What could possibly go wrong?, Summer holiday fun

I am submitting this title for the Alphabet Soup Reading Challenge hosted by Escape with Dollycas:

alphabet soup challenge 2016

You can check on my progress for this challenge here.

Next up we have a cosy mystery for lovers of character-driven series:

The Girls in the Woods: Annie Graham Mysteries #5 (Helen Phifer)

Ten Second Synopsis:  girls in the woods

When a skeleton turns up in the woods in Annie’s town, she tries to stay out of things and concentrate on having a happy pregnancy. As more bodies turn up and Annie’s niece goes missing, it looks like Annie will have no choice but to go in on the frontline of investigation.

Muster up the motivation because:

This is a murder mystery with a whole lot going on.  There’s a paranormal element in that Annie can see dead people – indeed they seem to seek her out – there is a heavy dose of domestic violence and more than a passing nod to the Memento Mori photographers of Victorian times.  I didn’t find it was a big problem not having read the earlier books in this series.  The plot was easy enough to follow, but there were some references to Annie’s prior adventures that were quite intriguing and so in that regard it would probably be worth starting at the beginning with this series.  It is made obvious from the beginning and throughout who the perpetrator of the killings is in this novel, but there were a couple of cheeky twists right toward the end that should prove satisfactory to those looking for a more complicated read.  I really liked the premise of this particular murder mystery despite the fact that some aspects of it beggared belief – surely someone would comment on the whacking great mortuary fridges tucked away in the killer’s garage?! – but there were a number of sections that concentrated on developing character relationships that I probably would have appreciated more had I read the earlier books.  As it was I just wanted Annie to get on and solve it!

Brand it with:

If you love her, let her go; fun with photography; I see dead people

And finally, one for the banter-fiends with:

The Haunting of Melmerby Manor: Spookies #1 (David W. Robinson)

Ten Second Synopsis:melmerby manor

Paranormal investigator Lady Concepta Rand-Epping (Sceptre), ex-cop Pete Brennan and all-round chicken Kevin Keeley make up the Spookies detection agency…despite the fact that one of them is a card-carrying sceptic where the paranormal is concerned.  When a routine investigation of a haunted manor house reveals 2500 pirated DVDs, the influence of the paranormal may give way to a much more mundane sort of danger.

Muster up the motivation because:  

If you enjoy a rollicking sort of tale featuring quirky characters and a lot of banter then you’ll probably get a kick out of this one.  Along with the three protagonists mentioned above, Sceptre is ably assisted by the centuries-dead gentleman’s gentleman of her ancestral home, Fishwick, who handles some of the herding of the recently deceased toward the Light.  Along with the host of paranormal characters generally bothering our heroes, the trio becomes inveigled in a more down-to-earth problem involving local thugs and a pirate DVD racket.  I quite enjoyed the paranormal elements to be honest and the banter between the three main characters was a lot of fun but the sections dealing with the pirate DVDs slowed things down, such that by the end I was feeling that this was an okay read, but not great.  While this title didn’t particularly do it for me,  I can see it having a great appeal to those who enjoy irreverent urban fantasy with a realistic, edgy twist in the style of Guy Adams or Lee Battersby.

Brand it with:

Keep your friends close; dirty old men; dirty DVDs done dirt cheap

Get them before they get you my friends!

Until next time,





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