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The Wartime Book Club by Kate Thompson #Review

  The Wartime Book Club is a marvellous historical novel set on Jersey in World War Two. Written by Kate Thompson , it was published by Hodder $ Stoughton on February 13th. Jersey, 1943. Once a warm and neighbourly community, now German soldiers patrol the cobbled streets, imposing a harsh rule on the people of the island. Grace La Mottée, the island's only librarian, is ordered to destroy books which threaten the new regime. Instead, she hides the stories away in secret. Along with her headstrong best friend, postwoman Bea Rose, she wants to fight back. So she forms the wartime book club: a lifeline, offering fearful islanders the joy and escapism of reading. But as the occupation drags on, the women's quiet acts of bravery become more perilous - and more important - than ever before. And, when tensions turn to violence, they are forced to face the true, terrible cost of resistance . . . Based on astonishing real events, The Wartime Book Club is a love letter

Fatal Music by Peter Morfoot ** Blog Tour Review & Excerpt **

I am thrilled to be kicking off the Blog Tour to celebrate the publication of Peter Morfoot's Fatal Music on April 4th. Today, I have an excerpt from the book for you to read. This is the second book in Peter's Captain Darac Mystery Series :

 Captain Paul Darac of the Brigade Criminelle is called to a potential crime scene – an elderly woman found dead in her hot tub. At first it’s assumed that she died of natural causes, but a surprising link with Darac’s own life leads him to dig deeper. In doing so he uncovers disturbing proof that there may have been a motive to murder the woman, and there is no shortage of suspects.

The investigation leads him from the world of fine art to the desperate poverty of the city’s high-rises. But it is among the winding streets of his own neighbourhood in Nice’s old town, the Babazouk, that Darac faces his severest test yet.

 Just to whet your appetite...

Fatal Music by Peter Morfoot

Jeanne Mesnel loved her hot tub. It was such a wondrous thing, it amused her to recall how sceptical she had been at first. Well, how could ‘those jaunty, jet-propelled bubbles’ soothe and invigorate? But when she tried it, Jeanne could no more have resisted the effect than a sugar cube resist hot coffee. The girl had been right about that.

And relaxing in roiling heat brought other pleasures. She was beguiled by the way spindrifting steam transformed the look of things: blurring her bougainvillea into swathes of magenta silk; smudging the back wall of her villa into dabs of pink and blue. It was like sitting in the middle of an Impressionist sunset, especially on a cold day like today.

Nothing was perfect, of course. The thing did take up most of the lower patio. But if its looking out of place offended visitors, well, screw them.

She took another sip of champagne. Why not throw a hot-tub party? It could seat four comfortably. Six at a squeeze. She smiled. Wouldn’t Alain have loved this?

Jeanne no longer enjoyed the robust health she had once taken for granted. At times, she could hardly get her breath; the increasing stiffness of her joints was a nuisance; and most irritating of all, her hearing was starting to fail. But it wasn’t all bad news. She had no liver spots, or that Roquefort-legged look she sometimes saw among her peers down on the beach. Hats off, anyway, to the varicose bathers of Beaulieu-sur-Mer. They were just as entitled to disport themselves in their dotage as they had been in their slinky youth.

She pressed the play button on the tub’s built-in music console and closed her eyes. Swirling her legs in time with the languid beat of the music, it occurred to her that the only pity was that she hadn’t acquired the hot tub years before. She disowned the thought instantly. What should have happened was irrelevant.

A voice called to her through the spindrift.

‘Come and join me,’ she called back. ‘And bring a glass.’

My Thoughts

Fatal Music turned out to be a complex narrative with several strands of the plot seeming to weave in and out of each other throughout the book. The result of this is to keep the reader on their toes. Hypotheses are put forward and shown to be wrong. There are so many red herrings and twists and turns to wade through but the character of Darac leads you through the maze. 

    I enjoyed the feel and atmosphere which Peter Morfoot has created, with its references to the world of fine art, jazz music and the culture it is part of. There is quite a cast of suspects but the plight of Jeanne Mesnel overshadows everything. The link between her and Darac enhances his character and gives him colour and depth. If you like a cleverly written mystery where nothing can be taken at face value, this book will not disappoint. 

In short: a complex mystery with a strong central character. 

About the Author 

Peter Morfoot has written a number of plays and sketch shows for BBC radio and TV and is the author of the acclaimed satirical novel, Burksey. He has lectured in film, holds a PHd in Art History, and has spent thirty years exploring the life, art and restaurant tables of the French Riviera, the setting for his series of crime novels featuring Captain Paul Darac of Nice's Brigade Criminelle. He lives in Cambridge. 

You can follow Peter on Goodreads.

Thanks to Philippa Ward at Titan Books for a copy of the book and a place on the Blog Tour 

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