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Published by Puffin

Back in April 2015 I wrote a post about the first volume of this series: A Murder Most Unladylike. Since then Robin Stevens has written a further eight volumes. At the moment there are seven full sized books and this one A Murder Most Unladylike Mini Mystery.

This is a small nugget of a book – truly a pocket book. Set around London’s Museums and in particular The British Museum. I am a fan of the British Museum, and in particular the Egyptian Galleries – and this small volume’s denouement occurs in those extraordinary rooms.

It starts with a Treasure Hunt that Daisy’s uncle Felix sets his niece to celebrate her birthday. Which results in a visit to the British Museum and the Rosetta stone…

The story is just 148 pages in length, however, there are some interesting notes about the B.M., Egypt and hieroglyphs and just a snifter, a small mouthful, from Robin Steven’s new book in the series Death in the Spotlight.

If you are fans, or even if you are not – you may be excited to hear that

Robin Stevens

is coming to Waterstones Finchley Road

to sign copies of this new volume on the

28th of October…at 11.30 am!

If you haven’t tried these yet,  I suggest you come and purchase the first volume – A Murder Most Unladylike, and have it signed.

If you are a fan, I have no doubt you will have all the books in the series. Come and buy the latest and meet your favourite author!

We still have a few copies of The Case of the Missing Treasure, which was published for Waterstones and those along with the rest of the series, will be available to be signed and purchased.

I hope to see all of you there and in particular those of you I now think of as Followers of Sue (FOS)!



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Published by Egmont.

2015 – actually the 4th of June, was when I wrote a small post about The Clockwork Sparrow – The Sinclair Mysteries. I remember loving that one, because it was a mystery based in a shop similar in style to Harrods.

Since then Katherine Woodfine has continued to write crime novels for the younger readers – The Jewelled Moth, The Painted Dragon and The Midnight Peacock. All of which have meant that she has quite a following (that is an understatement).

Rope is made up of fibres woven together and this book is made up of two tales / fibres that make a fantastic rope of a story. Kidnap, insurgence, early aeroplanes, adventure and mystery set in Paris in 1911 –

What’s there not to love? Two characters we already know and love, new friends to read about, including a very brave small dog and a story to keep you reading late into the night.

This is brilliant.

Waterstones Finchley Road O2 have a number of this book signed. Buy them whilst stocks last!


Published by Macmillan.

I have been a fan of Chris Riddell for many years. This is his latest picture book – published initially in hardback, though I am sure a paperback will be available in due course.

With a cut-out board and free end paper, this is rather a special book. With full page spread of pictures this tells a tale of Little Green Rain Cape – who

‘set off through the woods. She felt well prepared. She had…a strong straight stick, comfortable clumpy boots, and a backpack containing: a good book, breadcrumbs, a pair of clean socks and an invitation to a party. She was wearing her green rain cape.’





On her journey she meets: a wolf, a kindly old lady, a troll, a beast, a harp, three bears, a girl in a red cape, a songbird, a prince, three little pigs, seven dwarves and a witch… to name just a few of the numerous characters that bring this book to life. Those who are well read, will recognise many of them…

A picture book with more text than usual, for those who enjoy a good, long story. It is another wonderful book to add to my collection of picture books…of which I have, a few. Well, actually more than a few….








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Published by Harper Collins

For some reason, I cannot fathom, we received just a single copy of this. Which I noticed on the shelf and nicked to read as it looked as though it might be a book for you Followers of Sue (FOS) and I am pleased to confirm it is.

Agatha Oddly is a fan of Agatha Christie. Actually she is a fan of detective novels in general, but in particular she is a fan of Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot.

She reads detective novels, studies them and has been a detective herself for as long as she can remember. Though most of her mysteries are of the more prosaic sort.

She lives with her Dad in Hyde Park as he is one of the park’s horticulturists and as a result she knows the park well. What she doesn’t realise is what is  under Hyde Park.

When an elderly lady is knocked over by a motorbike rider in the park, just in front of Agatha, as she makes her way to school, she realises things are not quite what they seem.

1. Old lady knocked down in Hyde Park. The path was wide. Was this deliberate? What could the motive be?
2. Her perfume was expensive and she had an unusual tattoo (sketch overleaf). Something seems odd here – what is her story?
3.Business card says she is a member of the Royal Geographical Society – do they know more about her?


Her investigations have extraordinary consequences, just as the water supply in London becomes contaminated…

We have more copies of Agatha Oddly arriving (probably today, but I’m off) – so you can get copies, direct from the shelf from Waterstones O2, very soon, if not immediately.

Well worth dropping in for a good mystery.

This is also, I am pleased to say just the start of Agatha Oddly’s adventures. The next adventure is

coming soon…

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Published by Egmont

My big sister, is bigger than me. Well actually I’m not sure she is any more, but she was. She is, though four years my elder.

When she was bigger than me, though, we didn’t always get on. She was bigger than me. Could do things I couldn’t. Did do things I couldn’t or wasn’t allowed to. She also used to tease me with the result that I used to get cross. I think that was the word we would have used. Furious would probably have been better. She would wind and wind and wind again and then without any warning whatsoever, she would back off and stop. There seemed no reason as to why this might be. It was only when we became older that she admitted to me that at a certain point I would develop red triangles on my cheeks. Beyond that point she feared to go. I’m not surprised.

I am still a person of determination. I believe in fairness. So I still get cross. Though rarely now (though I can’t be sure of this)  so cross my red triangles appear. My anger though, was then and is now, full of energy. Not a little like an earthquake…

Which brings me to this extraordinary book.

When emotionally driven, Jane Doe’s anger and or fear sparks earthquakes.

The rock shaking sort.

For this alone, I would review this book.

I am pleased to report, though, that the rest of the book is as brilliant.  Though it is certainly a darker tale of bravery, friendship, other worlds and a desperate attempt to save them all, than perhaps I usually read. I should, obviously, read more.

Characters include Jane Doe – our heroine, a teenager trying to trace her father, who is, incidentally, the epicentre of the aforementioned earthquakes. Her father – who has disappeared. Tin-skins – mechanical dogs and not the nice sort, either. Hickory, a boy with history. More than his share. Leatherheads. A key. Violet who is eight, but not any more and Roth.

You really don’t want to know about Roth. Not someone you want to meet. A mix of all those evil characters from all the books you have read, (from those books, you know the titles I mean) mixed well with the ethics and views of the Nazis.

He is an entity that really can mess with your brain, your thoughts, and who you are and, who, incidentally, it is said, happens to be immortal.

His olfactory presence too, leaves something to be desired…

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A book to read, if you dare. Dark, full of adventure, with stupendous new characters.

Sadly Jeremy Lachlan lives in Australia. Too far to come and sign his books. If, however, should he ever come for a trip ‘Up Above’, I would be extremely pleased to welcome him to Waterstones Finchley Road O2.
This also means that the cover may not be the one that was on the copy I read. It may be the other, also depicted on this post…

Please note – I have now finished this, and find that there will be more to come! This is marvellous news…stupendous book – hopefully Jeremy will one day come all the way from Australia and sign books in Finchley Road O2 – just not just yet!

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Published by Constable.

Susan was a pretty, pert blonde girl with a tilted bra and an accentuated behind. She wore a smile as a natural part of her equipment. She had a snub nose and dimples and a pleased expression, and had a general super-charged look, as though she was liable to burst out of her black dress and stockings into a fierce nudity.

Related imageBetween 1977 and 1983 LWT/ITV aired The Professionals. One of the main characters was played by Martin Shaw.  Since then he has ‘gone one’ as they say, to play characters in quite a range of genres: most recently John Deed and of course the TV production of the Inspector Gently series. I have always enjoyed his work – ever since sitting with my peers at school, waiting for The Professionals to start. Though then, I suppose, it wasn’t his acting ability that I was admiring…

Recently I have been watching the odd Inspector Gently programmes – and suddenly noticed that they were based on books by Alan Hunter. So – I bought this, which contains the first two books. I am half way through the first volume – Gently Does It and am loving Alan Hunter’s use of English, his ability to observe and relate small details to the reader.

There is a gentle reminder at the start of the book from the author.

This is a detective story, but NOT a ‘whodunit’. Its aim is to give a picture of a police investigator slowly building up his knowledge of a crime to a point, not where he knows who did it – both you and me know that at a fairly early stage – but to a point where he can bring a charge which will convince a jury. I thought it worthwhile mentioning this. I hate being criticised for not doing what I had no intention of doing. Sincerely yours, Alan Hunter.

He need not have worried. The story is superbly crafted with generous gorgeous clear and detailed language – and I am enjoying it as much for that, as the character of Inspector Gently and I can highly recommend them. He often gives things a life to which they could never aspire. Its a pleasure to read and I suspect I will be looking for the other books in the series.

Sadly Alan Hunter (1922 – 2005) is deceased. I would so much have enjoyed telling him how much I am enjoying his writing. He sounds as though he was a gentleman, of the old school.

Image result for inspector george gently martin shawFantastic Fiction lists an astonishing 46 titles (certainly enough for me), but the list within this first compilation volume details just the first 26 – and there are one or two discrepancies with the titles….I will be investigating. Those discrepancies, however, only occur around volume 24…so there’s no urgency.

Pleasingly, I find that Martin Shaw & the adaption of the books seem to have been able to reflect the original stories, the essence of the books. Its quite remarkable.

They are pure pleasure.

Onward puffed the little tub, bold as a fox-terrier, full of aggression and self-assurance, and onward crept the barges, phlegmatic, slow, till the cavalcade was in hailing distance of Railway Bridge. then the little tug slowed down, trod water as it were, allowing the foremost barges to catch up with it.




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Published by Chicken House

I’m not sure what is happening this year – there seems to be a number of books set in water recently. Some ‘straight fiction’ others are a little different, fantasy would,  I suppose, cover most of those.

Fish, mermaids, pirates and the sea are reoccurring themes.

None though are like this one – this is unique.

A book about trust. Who do you trust? Your parents? Friends? Uncles, cousins or aunts? I suppose most of us would trust our aunts or uncles, particularly if they were close to one of our parents. Wouldn’t you? Would you trust your aunt with your little sister? Would you ignore your sister’s seemingly irrational concerns? Would you trust your last relative to care for you and your sister?

This is a story of trust, sisters and …well, you will need to read it to find out. To say water has a lot to do with the story is an understatement. This is a remarkable story – I want to tell you more, but don’t want to spoil this brilliant tale.

Enough to say it was stupendous and I found myself annoyed when I had to stop reading to return to work – time ran out…read remarkably quickly, but then, good books always are.

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Published by Faber & Faber


I enjoy history, but to be honest I have to think quite hard about dates, apart from this one. The year Tutankhamun’s tomb was opened by Howard Carter.

I would love to have been in Egypt then, to have been part of it, if only on the periphery. Though I suspect if I had been alive I’d probably have been in England, and possibly not even aware of this momentous find.

Related imageI always attribute my ability to read to Tutankhamun. I didn’t read until I was taken to the exhibition in 1972 – I was young and should have been reading by then. Everyone read to me, however, so I saw no reason as to why I should learn.

Then my mother took me to the British Museum…and I wanted to know what it was that shone in a perspex box, just above my head. The queue was long, and my mother told me she had no time to read everything to me…and we left…only for me to return to school to demand to learn – ‘My mother has stopped reading to me…’

Ancient Egypt has fascinated me ever since.

Tutankhamun’s history frustrates, fascinates and intrigues us. This pharaoh died as a young man. There have been questions about his ancestry, how he died and his life.  The treasure found within his tomb raised further questions, as did the tomb itself. Some of those questions have been answered and and a little of the mystery has dissipated – but by no means all of it. There are many mysteries and questions that still haven’t been answered, and some that have, haven’t been confirmed, with any certainty.

This story is set in that glorious year – it is filled with fantastic adventure, that curse, a canopic jar containing a further mystery…and an adventure in Egypt.  Mystery, Egyptology, murder, the untold story of a young boy…and a group of 20th century children…setting out into a strange and evocative land to solve a 20th century mystery entwined in an ancient story, never to be completely solved…

Without a doubt I am attracted to this book because of its subject matter. I am also entranced by the story, the adventure. Once more this is another brilliant story written by this consummate of authors.

This is to be the Book of the Month for Waterstones for August. Visit us at Finchley Road O2 and I will be very happy to sell you a copy, along with some other titles you might like.  Emma Carroll is due to visit the store to sign stock at the beginning of the month. So there will be signed stock, whilst it lasts, and I expect them to sell out fast!

Other titles by this author: Frost Hollow Hall / The Girl Who Walked on Air / In Darkling Wood / The Snow Sister / Strange Star / Letters from the Lighthouse

NB. I find it a little strange – I just might be in the picture above…though perhaps not. I was there though – I did go and it was the start of my love of all things Egyptology and the British Museum!


I write a letter to about 30 people, once a month – really about things that have happened to me, or about things I have seen. This piece is part of July’s epistle – published as my first Shop Review because I thought the shop should know how much I enjoyed my visit yesterday…

… but I got distracted (I am so easily distracted by beautiful things), by a shop. Deakin & Francis, in The Piccadilly Arcade just up the road from the bookshop.

In the window were some cufflinks of a diver’s helmet. Now – there are certain shops that you know that are out of your price range – because you have to buzz into them, and there isn’t a price tag to be seen – they have a sort of style, almost of a gallery, an exhibition… Their displays in the window have that certain ‘something’, and so it was with this shop – a shop of cufflinks. Including some of skulls with hair – wild hair – which were amusing to say the least. In fact, they had quite a number of skulls of different designs.

The diver’s helmet stopped me, because I am always on the look out for submarine related things for Peter, who likes them – but I knew that I wouldn’t be buying – it was that sort of place. They were well out of my price range – the black (blackened silver) style of helmet (the better material in my view) were more expensive than the gold, if I remember correctly – and those, the Internet tells me retailed at £270. Really an impossibility. They weren’t even submarines!

Along with designs reflecting people’s interests: banking, drones, horses, dice, aeroplanes, ladies, jets, golf, rockets, Great Britain (Bulldogs), and the like, they also had a fine display of enamelled cufflinks, which I’m afraid I felt didn’t have that certain something. Lovely patterns, bright and pretty, but just, in comparison, so boring against the other rather extraordinary designs.

Then there were the crystal cufflinks – the first pair I saw were part of a dress set (cufflinks and studs) – of wasps. They were stunning – quite beautiful, and the detail was extraordinarily clear. They looked so real, that if they hadn’t been in a case, I might have thought they were likely to fly around the shop.

The assistant – I feel he should have had a better title, but it will have to do, was very kind and brought things out for me to look at, even though I made it very clear that I knew I wasn’t able to purchase now and probably wouldn’t be able to in the future either; I was just stunned and curious.

I was told that the image is carved into the crystal, and then that is hand coloured, and placed so that the uncarved side is face up (and domed) – so that it looks three dimensional. Behind the back is placed a piece of mother of pearl to give it more brightness and then the whole is encased in precious metal. I’m afraid I rather fell in love with these. I knew of them – the process was used in Victorian times, but to see them in the real light, as it were, in perfect state, was marvellous. I think I was told that their cufflinks were made by a grandfather and his granddaughter, though it may have been father and daughter. It’s of no matter. Their work is quite remarkable. There were various designs, including pigs, horses head and bears. The bears, depicting a brownImage for 18ct Gold Hand-Painted Crystal Pig Cufflinks  bear and a polar bear were particularly stunning – the polar bear looked to be coming out of the crystal.  There were almost too many designs to gaze at and my new friend was very happy for me to treat the shop as a miniature museum – which was lovely. A museum with price tags. The cost of that wonderful wasp set – two cufflinks and set of studs was only £9,495.00

Quite stunning.

I suggested to my curator that perhaps they should think of producing earrings in a similar style as studs – where they would be much admired. It seemed unfair that it would be mainly men who would receive or wear such pieces of art. Which would be hardly noticed; when worn as stud earrings they would certainly be admired. I was told that they did a selection of ladies’ jewellery, but then a ‘real’ customer came into the store and I told him he should return to serving them and left the shop.

In the evening I went onto their Internet site. Compared to their gem of a shop, it was a poor reflection of the joy to be had in that small emporium. They do ladies’ jewellery its true, but rather prosaic in style, more like the beautiful enamel studs.  Simple earrings of rather traditional styles. Not what I meant when I made my suggestion in the shop at all…then I saw them – something I have often thought should be out there as a piece of jewellery. Ever since I began to collect them. A pair of cuff links made in the shape of Image for Spinning Top Cufflinksspinning tops. When unscrewed one half of each ‘link’ can be spun on the table – a  beautiful simple design – matt black and silver. The price of these tiny toys was a rather pathetic £110.00 which, when compared to those beautiful crystal creations is barely anything at all… They don’t, however, do them as earrings, which is probably a good thing. An item that combines both my collections would be hard to resist.

They also do ‘Accessories’ – including a beautiful Image for Moving Owl Cufflinksmechanical pin in the shape of an owl. Gently put pressure on his feet, and his wings open, and his eyebrows rise in surprise. The cost – just a snip at £205.00 The cuff links to go with him, also mechanical, are priced at £420.00 for the two – why that should be I don’t know, perhaps cuff links are more expensive to produce than pins…

Their Internet site is, but do go and visit this jewel of an emporium – their products are quite exquisite.

Worth every penny, though I’m afraid I don’t have quite enough pennies to be able to have one of these gorgeous things. For those that do, though – the workmanship is worth it, and you can’t go wrong by visiting Deakin and Francis to purchase. For those that don’t – it is worth visiting if only to gaze in wonder, through the window.

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Published by Simon & Schuster.

I have reached page 104 of 323 pp – and already I can’t put this mix of The Hunger Games (Suzanne Collins) and His Dark Materials (Philip Pullman) down.

Though only having read just a third of the book, it has already enticed me away from doing things I should be doing – I can’t put it down. I am not sure that I would have survived the new school that our heroine begins to attend in part two of the book. Somehow, I could probably deal with The Hunger Games scenario more easily than what I think is likely to develop with Jinxed. We will see.

I can, however, confirm that if you enjoyed The Hunger Games or His Dark Materials that this is a book for you. Due out in early August, it really should be a powerful new title for Young Adult and Adult readers alike.

I have a feeling that I am going to be as emotionally involved with this as I was with Patrick Ness’ Knife of Never Letting Go.

With that I cried on the tube.

A sign of a very good book indeed.

Amy McCulloch is also the author of The Potion Diaries.