Title: The Secrets of Hartwood Hall

Author: Katie Lumsden

Pages: 339 Pages

Publisher: Penguin Random House/Michael Joseph

The Blurb

1852.

Margaret Lennox is offered a position as governess at Hartwood Hall. She quickly accepts, hoping this isolated country house will allow her to leave her past behind.

But Margaret soon starts to feel there’s something odd about her new home, despite her growing fondness for her bright, affectionate pupil, Louis.

Strange figures move through the dark.

Tensions rise between the servants.

The east wing sits eerily abandoned . . .

Even stranger is the local gossip surrounding Mrs Eversham, Louis’s widowed mother, who is deeply distrusted by the nearby village.

Margaret is certain that everyone has something to hide.

But as her own past threatens to catch up with her, she must learn to trust her instincts before it’s too late . . .

The Review

I do love a bit of gothic fiction.

The Secrets of Hartwood Hall is a great example of modern day gothic fiction done well. It uses all the best tropes and themes – creepy mansion, secrets, division between household staff and the owners and it is packaged in an extremely readable story.

Our heroine, Margaret Lennox, has been offered a place at Hartwood Hall to work as a governess and it is just what she needs. Recently widowed, Margaret is escaping her past and hoping to find a successful future, however, when the secrets hidden in Hartwood Hall start to plague her we see just how unsafe she actually is.

The Secrets of Hartwood Hall is a great read. It has mystery, intrigue, prejudice, small town mentality – all the things that heighten the tension in the story. It really is a page turner.

The Secrets of Hartwood Hall by Katie Lumsden is available now.

For more information regarding Katie Lumsden (@katiejlumsden) please visit her Twitter page.

For more information regarding Penguin (@MichaelJBooks) please visit their Twitter page.

Title: The Trial

Author: Rob Rinder

Pages: 358 Pages

Publisher: Random House

The Blurb

ONE MURDER. ONE IMPOSSIBLE CASE. WHO IS GUILTY?

When hero policeman Grant Cliveden dies from a poisoning in the Old Bailey, it threatens to shake the country to its core.

The evidence points to one man. Jimmy Knight has been convicted of multiple offences before and defending him will be no easy task. Not least because this is trainee barrister Adam Green’s first case.

But it will quickly become clear that Jimmy Knight is not the only person in Cliveden’s past with an axe to grind.

The only thing that’s certain is that this is a trial which will push Adam – and the justice system itself – to the limit.

The Review

What an absolute corker of a courtroom thriller.

The Trial by Rob Rinder presents us with Adam Green, trainee solicitor who is desperate to win a coveted place in a respected office. When he is put on a high profile murder case he is expected to do grunt work and kowtow to his teacher. However, the more he looks into the case the more inconsistencies he sees and Adam begins to question whether his client is guilty or not.

This is a fantastic debut from Rob Rinder. When you read it, you know that the legalese is going to be accurate but even better than that is a well crafted story with a likeable protagonist who you feel could carry a whole series. I cannot wait for the sequel!

The Trial by Rob Rinder is available now.

For more information regarding Rob Rinder (@RobbieRinder) please visit his Twitter page.

For more information regarding Random House (@randomhouse) please visit their Twitter page.

Title: The Christmas Appeal

Author: Janice Hallett

Pages: 203 Pages

Publisher: Serpent’s Tail

The Blurb

One dead Santa. A town full of suspects. Will you discover the truth? Christmas in Lower Lockwood, and the Fairway Players are busy rehearsing their festive pantomime, Jack and the Beanstalk, to raise money for the church roof appeal. But despite the season, goodwill is distinctly lacking amongst the amateur dramatics enthusiasts. Sarah-Jane is fending off threats to her new position as Chair, the fibreglass beanstalk might be full of asbestos, and a someone is intent on ruining the panto even before the curtain goes up. Of course there’s also the matter of the dead body. Who could possibly have had the victim on their naughty list? Join lawyers Femi and Charlotte as they read the round robins, examine the emails and pore over the police transcripts. Will the show go on?

The Review

Oh Janice Hallett. I feel like I have just been for a visit with old friends!

The Christmas Appeal takes us back to Lower Lockwood and our favourite amateur actors. This time the Fairway Players are putting on a performance of a pantomime – oh no they’re not – sorry I couldn’t resist. Once again we are faced with the temperamental egos of the players along with a dead body. What could possibly go wrong?

I really enjoyed The Christmas Appeal. It was such a tonic – funny, dry and full of warmth. Perfect for when the weather outside is cold and yuck.

The Christmas Appeal by Janice Hallett is available now.

For more information regarding Janice Hallett (@JaniceHallett) please visit her Twitter page.

For more information regarding Serpent’s Tail (@serpentstail) please visit www.serpentstail.com.

Title: The Mysterious Case of the Alperton Angels

Author: Janice Hallett

Pages: 416 Pages

Publisher: Serpent’s Tail

The Blurb

Open the safe deposit box. Inside you will find research material for a true crime book. You must read the documents, then make a decision. Will you destroy them? Or will you take them to the police?

Everyone knows the sad story of the Alperton Angels: the cult who brainwashed a teenage girl and convinced her that her newborn baby was the anti-Christ. Believing they had a divine mission to kill the infant, they were only stopped when the girl came to her senses and called the police. The Angels committed suicide rather than stand trial, while mother and baby disappeared into the care system.

Nearly two decades later, true-crime author Amanda Bailey is writing a book on the Angels. The Alperton baby has turned eighteen and can finally be interviewed; if Amanda can find them, it will be the true-crime scoop of the year, and will save her flagging career. But rival author Oliver Menzies is just as smart, better connected, and is also on the baby’s trail.

As Amanda and Oliver are forced to collaborate, they realise that what everyone thinks they know about the Angels is wrong. The truth is something much darker and stranger than they’d ever imagined. And the story of the Alperton Angels is far from over.

From the bestselling author of The Appeal and The Twyford Code comes a stunning new mystery for fans of Richard Osman and S.J. Bennett. The devil is in the detail…

The Review

I have read Janice Hallett’s previous books The Appeal and The Twyford Code and I really enjoyed the format. Hallett’s unique way of telling stories through mixed media is really engaging. However, I was starting to wonder if it was getting a bit….samey.

I was wrong.

Her latest book, The Mysterious Case of the Alperton Angels, is by far her best in my opinion. It looks at the unsolved case of the Alperton Angels, a cult that set about trying to convince a vulnerable young girl to sacrifice a child.

It is a story about coercion, about police corruption, about the ethical nature of journalism and it was brilliant. Janice Hallett is a master a drip feeling you enough clues to keep you guessing.

The Mysterious Case of the Alperton Angels is a bloody good page turner.

The Mysterious Case of the Alperton Angels by Janice Hallett is available now.

For more information regarding Janice Hallett (@JaniceHallett) please visit her Twitter page.

For more information regarding Serpent’s Tail (@serpentstail) please visit www.serpentstail.com.

Title: How to Die Famous

Author: Benjamin Dean

Pages: 384 Pages

Publisher: Simon and Schuster Children’s UK

The Blurb

London-born Abel has landed the role of a lifetime for an upcoming blockbuster. On the face of it he’s Hollywood’s latest teen star, but below the surface he’s an undercover journalist on a mission to expose the ‘squeaky clean’ entertainment industry and the part they played in his brother’s ‘accidental’ death.

As Abel steps into the spotlight alongside fellow actors Lucky, Ryan and Ella, he soon discovers that beneath the glittering surface of fame and riches lies a darker world of secrecy, scandal and murder. Nobody is who they seem when the cameras are off, and everybody has something to hide. But who’s next in line to die famous?

The Review

I have been reading a lot of YA books lately – a hazard of working in a high school library – and the genres I know my students love are the crime, mystery and thriller. Benjamin Dean’s How to Die Famous encapsulates all three and then throws in a big dollop of celebrity culture.

It is the story of Abel who is trying to find out how his older brother died. Along the way he meets a group of teen celebrities who all have their own reasons to hate the celebrity lifestyle and who are there for him in his quest.

Benjamin Dean has a really lovely syle of writing. I felt compelled to read on further. I needed to know what happened and as is normal for me I didn’t have a clue who the bag guy was.

This is a perfect summer read.

How to Die Famous by Benjamin Dean is available now.

For more information regarding Benjamin Dean (@NotAgainBen) please visit his Twitter page.

For more information regarding Simon and Schuster Children’s UK (@simonkids_UK) please visit www.simonandschuster.co.uk.