The Secrets of Saint Madeleine by Tilly Bagshaw, Am I Lying to You? by Aliya Ali-Afzal, One by One by Helen Bridgett and Breakneck Point by T. Orr Munro
Janet Gordon, who lives in Takeley, reviews bestsellers and early fiction for the Bishop’s Stortford Independent…
Secrets of Saint Magdalene by Tilly Bagshawe (HarperCollins £12.99)
Pure escapism is definitely what’s been wanted for my column this week and one of my favorite authors is Tilly Bagshawe, who’s been writing bestselling sagas forever. Adored was a worldwide hit in 1999, with Flawless hitting the diamond industry 10 years later in 2009.
His latest is Les Secrets de Sainte Madeleine, set in the beautiful wine region of the Burgundy hills. Sainte Madeleine is a fairy tale castle and the ancestral home of the Salignac family.
The year is 1923 when seven-year-old Elise, her older brother Alexandre, 11, and her even older brother Didier, 12, are having a snowball fight in the grounds of their enchanting home. Once home to Benedictine monks in the 14th century, the Salignac vineyard today produces some of the best Grand Cru wines in Burgundy.
Enriched over the years, the castle is now a delightful mix of all manner of styles and eras, yet still retains the calm of the long-forgotten abbey. The saga takes us from 1920s Burgundy to World War II and beyond.
It’s an epic tale of three generations and their secrets. Elise would do anything to inherit the chateau with its vines. Alexandre can’t stand to see what their stupid drunken father is doing to the estate. Didier is harassed. Add to that Laurent Senard, a cousin who is very fond of Elise, and you have all the ingredients for a bewitching and captivating generational saga.
Would I lie to you? by Aliya Ali-Afzal (Aries £8.99)
I wonder if there’s anyone who hasn’t felt uncomfortable waiting outside the school gates while all around Insta moms parade their perfect lives. My school hours were long before Insta (or even cellphones!) existed, but I still remember the cliques that formed and looked down if you didn’t belong.
Living in Wimbledon Village, Faiza fits in – well, a few years, a new wardrobe and thousands of pounds thrown at it kept posh mums from thinking she was the nanny.
All is well until her darling husband, Tom, loses his well-paying job in City. Faiza is desperate to conceal the fact that their emergency savings – all £75,000 – have been spent on her quest to fit in, stay comfortable and ensure her three beautiful children are not abused by those who cannot see past the color of their skin.
I just loved it – Faiza’s attempts to hide the truth from Tom, her quest to find another job in the city (having given up work to be a stay-at-home mom), and her attempts to hide the truth from everyone. world. I almost read it in one go. Absolutely loved it.
One by One by Helen Bridgett (Ruby @ Choc-lit Publishing £8.99)
Professor Maxine Reddick lectures on criminology and also has a crime podcast, but becomes a full-time criminal investigator when a young woman she knows is brutally attacked.
No longer able to view an attack as an academic exercise, Professor Reddick becomes a real-life detective, as the one-off attack is no longer just one-off.
It’s certainly a change from regular police procedure as Maxine goes off on tangents and becomes completely obsessed with finding the assailant, to the detriment of everything else.
It’s definitely a different kind of “technical” novel, but I enjoyed it a lot.
Breakneck Point by T. Orr Munro (HQ £14.99)
This is the first novel by Tina Munro, whose heroine is CSI Ally Dymond. Sent to the doghouse for exposing corruption within the police force where she was previously stationed in a major crimes unit, she is posted to a sleepy coastal town in North Devon as punishment and asked to investigate the lesser of crimes.
As the senior crime scene officer, she has the power to call a murder when she sees it. So when the body of 19-year-old Janie appears in the seaside town of Bidecombe, Ally – simply because there is no one else available – is asked to attend.
Well accustomed to making good use of her senior status and uncovering evidence, she is taken aback when the evidence contradicts the decision of the lead detective who won’t listen to an expert who had the audacity to uncover corruption and put his colleagues in prison.
Despite all the abuse and skepticism, Ally perseveres with the odds against her and begins to feel that, incredibly, the serial killer needs to look at the crime scene tape on her own.
This is the first outing for CSI Ally Dymond, a single mother and determined seeker of justice, and I can’t wait to find out what Ally does next. We don’t often hear about a real CSI, so it’s great to get a glimpse of what they can and can’t do. I think she would have been quite proud to have participated in International Women’s Day.