Book Review: Death in Captivity by Michael Gilbert

Quick Review (read on for full review)

An engaging thriller-style murder mystery that kept me guessing until the very end. A great cast of characters, a compelling setting and wonderful storytelling ensured there was never a dull moment. 4 / 5

Summary (from back of book)

A man is found dead in an escape tunnel beneath an Italian prisoner-of-war camp. Did he die in an accidental collapse – or was this murder? Captain Henry ‘Cuckoo’ Goyles, master tunneller and amateur detective, takes up the case.

This classic locked-room mystery with a closed circle of suspects is woven together with a thrilling story of escape from the camo, as the Second World War nears its endgame and the British prisoners prepare to flee into the Italian countryside.

Favourite Quote

“I’ve no objection to them playing baseball, as long as they don’t do it on the rugger pitch.”

(From Death in Captivity by Michael Gilbert, page 78)


This story is quite different to other British Library Crime Classics I have so far read.

From the title of the book you would be forgiven for thinking is a sombre, dark story but it’s not. More in the vein of The Great Escape, this story is a light, very British tale of prisoners-of-war being held in an Italian prison camp during WWII, where rank and hierarchy are maintained and the main goals are escape and deception. That is, until one of the prisoners is found dead in one of the escape tunnels.

This was a very interesting mystery that kept me guessing until the end. The complex relationships between those being held in the camp ensure you’re never quite certain of some of the characters motivations. Not only are British POWs being interred at this camp but other nationalities too, as well as the possibility or double agents and spies. Discovery is always a danger and heightened the tension throughout.

If you enjoy WWII films, especially of the ilk of The Great Escape, I have no doubt you’ll enjoy this one too. The author himself spent time in an Italian POW camp, and so brought his first-hand knowledge to the tale. It exudes authenticity and I was interested to learn the book was made into a film, which I would love to see one day.



Book Review: The Grave Tattoo by Val McDermid

Quick Review (read on for full review)

The Grave Tattoo is a complex, intelligent mystery with a great setting and engaging cast of characters. 4 / 5

Summary (from Goodreads)

From bestselling author Val McDermid comes a modern thriller about an ancient murder set on the high seas…

After summer rains uncover a corpse bearing tattoos like those of eighteenth-century seafarers, many residents of the English Lake District can’t help but wonder whether it’s the body of one of the town’s most legendary fugitives.

Scholar and native Lakelander Jane Gresham feels compelled to finally discover the truth about the myths and buried secrets rooted in her hometown. What she never expected was to find herself at the heart of a 200-year-old mystery that still has the power to put lives on the line. And with each new lead she pursues, death follows hard on her heels….

Favourite Quote

“Jane couldn’t remember a time when Langmere Force hadn’t mesmerised her, taking her out of what ever ailed her and making her feel healed.”

(From The Grave Tattoo by Val McDermid, page, 363)

[Note: Langmere Force is a waterfall]


I’ve had a few Val McDermid novels on my bookshelf for a while but The Grave Tattoo is the first one I’ve read, and I must say, I wish I had got to this one sooner.

The Grave Tattoo is a complex, intelligent mystery with a great setting and engaging cast of characters.

I really enjoyed how the two mysteries, the one from 200 years ago and the one unfolding as we read, played out. All the characters were expertly crafted and their personalities and motivations came across as authentic. I also enjoyed the setting. The majority of the story was set in the Lake District and descriptions of waterfalls and hills and lakes, as always, appealed to the geography geek in me.

I found how the older tale was divulged to the reader to be clever, fun and imaginative. Snippets of a manuscript are provided at the end of the chapters, so we can get to hear the story as it was told to the one who recorded it. This way the reader doesn’t have to navigate what can sometimes be difficult changes in POV, time and setting, whilst at the same time the primary modern narrative isn’t interrupted. I thought this worked so well.

The cast of characters is extensive but necessary to the story, and is handled well by the author. I liked the unlikely friendship between Dr Jane Gresham and 13 year old Tenille, who had been written off because of her background. And with my interest in history and archaeology, I found the passages regarding the bog body, affectionately nicknamed “Pirate Peat” in the book by the forensic pathologist studying him, fascinating.

I will certainly be reading more of the author’s books because I thoroughly enjoyed this one.


Book Review: The Mistletoe Murder and Other Stories by P.D. James

The Mistletoe Murder and Other Stories is a collection of four Christmas-themed stories by P.D. James.  I have reviewed each of the four stories in turn…

Summary from Goodreads

P. D. James was frequently commissioned by newspapers and magazines to write a short story for Christmas, and four of the best have been drawn from the archives and published here together for the first time. From the title story about a strained country-house Christmas party, to another about an illicit affair that ends in murder, plus two cases for detective Adam Dalgliesh, these are masterfully atmospheric stories by the acknowledged ‘Queen of Crime’.

Overall Review

Expertly written, engaging and atmospheric, this collection of four short stories are a wonderful addition to a wintry reading list! Highly recommended! 4.5 / 5

A note on the cover: I loved the cover. My copy was paperback, printed on very thick cardstock. Rather wonderfully the cover was double-sided with lino print-style artwork.

Overall Rating

4.5 / 5

The Mistletoe Murder


When an RAF pilot is shot down and killed early in WWII, his widow is invited to her estranged grandmother’s for Christmas. Looking for peace and healing, she accepts, but it is not quite the holiday she hoped for.

Favourite Quote

Bereavement is like a serious illness.  One dies or one survives, and the medicine is time, not a change of scene.

(From The Mistletoe Murder by P.D. James)


Expertly written.  All the information needed to solve the crime was there from the beginning, yet it is not until the very end when you realise its worth. Clever and atmospheric, you could feel the tension in that country house that wartime Christmas.  Only once I finished the story did I realise how evilly the main character had been used by her own family, using her grief to their advantage. But equally, there’s no getting away from the fact the victim was the worst sort of person, and there is little sympathy to be found for such a man.



A Very Commonplace Murder


Ernest Gabriel takes atrip down memory lane, quite literally, by visiting his former place of work and recalls a local-interest crime story that unfolded before his very eyes…

Favourite Quote

He was surprised and a little disappointed by the court. He had expected a more imposing, more dramatic setting for justice than this modern, clean-smelling, business-like room.

(From A Very Commonplace Murder by P.D.James)


Another cleverly written story, which on the face of it looks surprisingly bland, yet the mystery is actually terribly sinister. We are presented with a very interesting and remarkably accurate look into human reasoning and thought.  “I will do this because I am a good person…but…” Cue the reasons why doing the right thing is not a good idea or can negatively impact the person trying to be good.  Sigh.  But a great read!


The Boxdale Inheritance


Chief Superintendent Adam Dalgliesh goes to visit his godfather Hubery Boxdale and is asked to look into a murder which happened in 1902…

Favourite Quote

It was only surprising that the Canon had managed to live to seventy-one in a carnivorous world in which gentleness, humility and unworldliness are hardly conducive to survival, let alone success.

(From The Boxdale Inheritance by P.D. James)


I’ve neither read one of P.D. James’s Adam Dalgliesh novels nor seen any of the TV adaptations, but I quite enjoyed this story and the next one. In The Boxdale Inheritance we are introduced to quite an eccentric cast of characters, and an interesting, engaging story. I guessed the culprit but it was an entertaining read to see if I was right.


The Twelve Clues of Christmas


Adam Dalgliesh is on his way to his Aunt’s Suffolk coast home for Christmas, when, a few miles from his destination, a stranger steps out in front of his car.  He needs the police…his uncle has committed suicide.

Favourite Quote

They took it remarkably calmly. Anyone would think people in this county kill themselves routinely at Christmas.

(From The Twelve Clues of Christmas by P.D. James)


This story felt a little but more of a lighter read than the others as Dalgliesh tried to make the crime appear a little more seasonal, fitting the case into “The Twelve Clues of Christmas”.  And it was this that I felt was the real star of the story, perhaps even more so than the crime and its solution.  An enjoyable read, and the humorous tone was certainly appreciated by this reader!


Book Review: Mystery In White by J. Jefferson Farjeon

Quick Review (read on for full review)

A fun, solid wintry classic crime read, perfect for reading over the Christmas holiday. 3 / 5

Summary (from Goodreads)

On Christmas Eve, heavy snowfall brings a train to a halt near the village of Hemmersby. Several passengers take shelter in a deserted country house, where the fire has been lit and the table laid for tea – but no one is at home.

Trapped together for Christmas, the passengers are seeking to unravel the secrets of the empty house when a murderer strikes in their midst.

This classic Christmas mystery is republished for the first time since the 1930s, with an introduction by the award-winning crime writer Martin Edwards.

Favourite Quote

“Miss Noyes,” replied Lydia, “suppose this house belonged to you, and you returned to it after the world’s worst snowstorm, would you rather find your larder empty or seven skeletons?…”

(From Mystery in White by J. Jefferson Farjeon, page 79)


I read this story for Festive Reads Fortnight 2019 but never got around to posting the review, so I waited a whole year so that I could as I thought it would seem quite out of season to do anything else.

Mystery in White is a fun, entertaining read.  Now, if you think from the summary or even the book cover, which is just so lovely, that this story is like Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express, it is not. The stories are very much different.

The premise is very good and the isolated location and set up of what’s to come pulled me right into the story.  The cast of characters was interesting and varied. Each brought something different to the narrative, but that being said, I didn’t particularly warm to many of them. The setting was my favourite part of the story. Set one Christmas Eve in the 1930s, we are treated to a train ride, snowstorm and isolated country house. The story itself has a number of elements of the classic crime story: a locked room mystery, a murder, a list of suspects who hitherto have been strangers to one another, a little atmospheric spookiness…

The main problem I had with this story (and it is the same problem I had with the only other J. Jefferson Farjeon story I have read, The Z Murders – see my review here), is that the author has a habit of introducing new characters much later in the story than is often usual for a mystery.  And these characters are main characters around which the rest of the story seems to build. Most readers who enjoy mysteries, enjoy trying to solve it as the story unfolds, and that becomes a little difficult when important elements of the tale are deliberately withheld by the author.

However, it is still a fun read if you’re looking for a typically British golden age crime story, and I think it would be an entertaining choice if it was ever picked up for TV or film.

I’ve really been enjoying making a way through the British Library Crime Classics, and although Mystery in White is not my favourite out of the ones I’ve so far read, it was certainly worth a read, especially in the run up to Christmas.


Book Review: Agatha Raisin and the Walkers of Dembley by M.C. Beaton

Agatha Raisin and the Walkers of Dembley is the fourth book in the Agatha Raisin series by M.C. Beaton.

Quick Review (read on for full review)

Agatha Raisin is always a fun and entertaining read and this was no exception. Cosy village murder mystery at its finest! 4 / 5

Summary (from back of book)

After six gruelling months spent in London, Agatha Raisin returns to her beloved Cotswolds village of Carsely – and to her attractive neighbour, James Lacey. True, James is less than thrilled to see her, but Agatha is soon consoled by a sensational murder.

The victim, found in a field, is hiker Jessica Tartinck, who spent her life enraging wealthy landowners by insisting on her walking club’s right to hike over their properties. And now she has been found in a cornfield, battered over the head. Agatha lures the reluctant James into helping with her investigation – and there are so many leads to follow, for Jessica’s fellow walkers seem able, even willing to commit her murder!

Favourite Quote

‘It’s not that they suffer from material poverty,’ he said. ‘It’s a poverty of the mind, wouldn’t you say?’

Deborah, head down, murmured, ‘Oh, ignore them.  They might have knives.’

(From Agatha Raisin and the Walkers of Dembley, page 103)


I mentioned in one of my Bookish Reflections post earlier in the year, that I was given a bag full of books by a family member.  In it were a handful of Agatha Raisin books, some I had read, others I hadn’t.  And, recalling how I attempted to read a few of the books out of order and not enjoying the experience…and one of the books in said bag being the next one in the proper reading order, I thought I would revisit these cosy mysteries, so expect a handful in quick succession 😉

I really enjoy these books.  They don’t require too much effort on my part, and they are always entertaining.  The characters are colourful, especially Agatha with her mean streak which you can visibly see fading the longer she is in Carsely. I found this book to be the funniest I’ve read so far.  Fast-paced and witty, this is cosy village murder mystery at its finest.  I enjoy the interplay between Agatha and James, their sometimes awkward friendship reads as authentic.

There’s a bit of an extensive cast of characters in this book, mainly because the ramblers come from another Cotswold village, but it’s not so vast that you can’t keep track of who’s who.  There’s nothing overly complex here but there are plenty of suspects to ensure that the story remains engaging. Light and undemanding, this is the sort of stress-free reading I love.

I had already read the next book in the series, Agatha Raisin and the Murderous Marriage, but as soon as I finished this one, I re-read it and updated the review posted on this site.  You can find that here.  Soon I hope to get around to reading book six, Agatha Raisin and the Terrible Tourist.


Book Review: The Railway Detective by Edward Marston

The Railway Detective is the first book in the series of the same name by Edward Marston.

Quick Review (read on for full review)

An interesting and well-described setting.  A promising first book in a series. 3 / 5

Summary (from Goodreads)

London 1851. With the opening of the Great Exhibition at hand, interest is mounting in the engineering triumphs of the railways, but not everyone feels like celebrating… In an audacious attack, the London to Birmingham mail train is robbed and derailed, causing many casualties. Planned with military precision, this crime proves a challenge to Detective Inspector Robert Colbeck who fights to untangle a web of murder, blackmail and destruction. As Colbeck closes in on the criminal masterminds, events take an unexpected turn when the beautiful Madeleine, daughter of the injured train driver, becomes a pawn in the criminals’ game. With time running out, good and evil, new and old, battle against each other. But will the long arm of the law have speed on its side? The Railway Detective is an action-packed dip into murky 1850s London. Full of historical detail, unexpected twists and memorable characters, this is a mystery that will surprise you at every turn.

Favourite Quote

My favourite quote from this book was a description of the slum area of London known as Devil’s Acre:

Colbeck knew the area only too well. It was a favoured haunt of the criminal fraternity and notorious for its brothels and gambling dens…No decent or sensible man would even dare to venture into such a hazardous district.

(From The Railway Detective by Edward Marston, page 57)


Having already read the first few instalments in Edward Marston’s Elizabethan Bracewell Mysteries, which I love, I thought I would give another one of his popular historical series a try.  With an interest in the Victorian period and having already enjoyed a number of stories based on or around trains (Agatha Christie’s 4.50 from Paddington and Carola Dunn’s Murder on The Flying Scotsman), I had high hopes for The Railway Detective

I enjoyed the setting of this story, but unfortunately I didn’t really connect with the characters.  Most of them came across as excessively aggressive and antagonistic, which I accept, given the areas these characters worked in and came from, is probably historically accurate, but it didn’t make for particularly enjoyable reading.  And then there were the characters who had particular personality traits which were continually stressed, in very clear and basic terms. I’m not sure the points needed to be laboured as hard as they were.  A reader can often work out which of the characters are bad and which are good.

The setting on the other hand, was well-described, vivid, and most importantly of all authentic.  I could see the slums of Devil’s Acre, the orderliness of the police headquarters, the grand country estate, the trains, and perhaps my favourite of the settings, the Crystal Palace…

Was The Railway Detective really a mystery book though?  I didn’t find it particularly mysterious as we are told pretty early on in the story who is behind the crime.  Instead the narrative focuses on watching the case unfold.  The reader gets to witness the detectives chase down the criminals, with the only questions being whether they will get away and what cost they might inflict upon the other characters before the book ends.

One of my favourite passages of the story was when Detective Inspector Colbeck’s copy of Bradshaw’s got a mention.

So, this was a bit of mixed review, and if I’m being honest, I was expecting a bit more from The Railway Detective.  I’ve not yet warmed to the characters but the series does hold some promise that it will improve the further we get into it, I think.  I will give the series another book or two to convince me whether I should stick with it or put it aside for good.


Book Review: The Crossing Places by Elly Griffiths

The Crossing Places is the first book in the Ruth Galloway Mysteries by Elly Griffiths.

Quick Review (read on for full review)

Atmospheric and absorbing, The Crossing Places is a dark tale full of twists and turns and rich, vivid storytelling.  Ruth Galloway is an interesting main character, and this a fantastic start to a series.  I can’t wait to read more!  5 / 5

Summary (from Goodreads)

Forensic archaeologist Dr. Ruth Galloway is in her late thirties and lives happily alone with her two cats in a bleak, remote area near Norfolk, land that was sacred to its Iron Age inhabitants—not quite earth, not quite sea. But her routine days of digging up bones and other ancient objects are harshly upended when a child’s bones are found on a desolate beach. Detective Chief Inspector Nelson calls Galloway for help, believing they are the remains of Lucy Downey, a little girl who went missing a decade ago and whose abductor continues to taunt him with bizarre letters containing references to ritual sacrifice, Shakespeare, and the Bible. Then a second girl goes missing and Nelson receives a new letter—exactly like the ones about Lucy. Is it the same killer or a copycat murderer, linked in some way to the site near Ruth’s remote home?

Favourite Quote

“The human desire is to live, to cheat death, to live forever.  It is the same over all the ages.  It is why we build monuments to death so that they live on after we die.”

(From The Crossing Places by Elly Griffiths, page 413)


This book, like so many others, has been languishing on my TBR list for a ridiculous amount of time.  And now I’ve read it, I cannot understand why it had taken me so long to get it.  Every reader has those books which they feel were written for them.  The Crossing Places was one of those books for me.

There was no question of this book earning anything less than a 5 star rating from me…Dark, atmospheric and absorbing, it covers the subjects I have a great love for: archaeology, prehistory, geography, spirituality…all bound up wonderfully with a dark mystery.

The sense of place can not be underestimated in this book; the landscape is almost a character, dangerous yet not malevolent, an ever-present witness but emotionally detached from whatever unfolds.  The setting is brought to life in all its grey starkness.  Indeed, it is the perfect location for this storyline.  Liminality is a big theme running through it: we are between places…the earth and the sea, the past and the present, good and evil.

Ruth Galloway is a wonderfully complex character.  Intelligent, strong, independent and flawed, I warmed to her immediately.  She was depicted as human and imperfect and thus realistic.  DCI Nelson was also a great character.  Sensible, logical, he is practical yet caring.  I’m looking forward to seeing how they get along as the series continues.

The writing style of the author and the numerous plot twists and turns ensured my attention never wavered.  An undercurrent of mystery pervades every aspect of this book.  I guessed the culprit pretty early on, but as the story progressed I was repeatedly left wondering if I was right after all.  There are a few passages that are hard to read, but the topics are handled very sensitively.

The second book in the series is The Janus Stone, and I just know it won’t take me as long to get around to reading that as it did this first instalment.  I can’t recommend this book highly enough!


Sammi Loves Books Reading Challenge 2019 – I’ve chosen this book for challenge #12 in the list: a book that’s sat on your shelf for longer than you care to remember

Book Review: Death on The Cherwell by Mavis Doriel Hay

Quick Review (read on for full review)

An enjoyable, light-hearted mystery, in an interesting setting and with an extensive cast of characters. Cosy and charming. 3.5 / 5

Summary (from Goodreads)

For Miss Cordell, principal of Persephone College, there are two great evils in the world: unladylike behavior among her students and bad publicity for the college. So her prim and cosy world is turned upside down when a secret society of undergraduates meets by the river on a gloomy January afternoon, only to find the drowned body of the college bursar floating in her canoe.

The police assume that a student prank got out of hand, but the resourceful Persephone girls suspect foul play, and take the investigation into their own hands. Soon they uncover the tangled secrets that led to the bursar’s death – and the clues that point to a fellow student.

This classic mystery novel, with its evocative setting in an Oxford women’s college, is now republished for the first time since the 1930s with an introduction by the award-winning crime writer Stephen Booth

Favourite Quote

“Undergraduates, especially those in their first year, are not, of course, quite sane or quite adult.  It is sometimes considered that they are not quite human.”

(From Death on The Cherwell by Mavis Doriel Hay, page 11)


“In the garden she found one of those wooden labels used for marking where you’ve planted things, and on part of this she scratched one of her family curses.  She explained to me later that it wasn’t the worst sort of curse; it wasn’t supposed to kill the victim but only make her hair fall out or her teeth decay or something of that kind.”

(From Death on The Cherwell by Mavis Doriel Hay, page 194)


I’m slowly working my way through the British Library Crime Classics, which I am enjoying immensely. Death on The Cherwell is one of three books by this author in this series.

This book was excellent in parts.  I enjoyed the fact that it was a fairly light-hearted read, and though it was a little predictable in places, it was cosy and charming.  The girls’ secret society was amusing, but their tendency to talk every plan through slowed the pace.

My favourite character was Drega Czernak, a student at Persephone college from Yugoslavia.  Read today, I found her character almost serves to poke fun at the correct way the English did everything. I’m not sure that was the intention when the book was published in 1935, as her role is that of the stereotypical foreigner, but that is how I perceived it reading 85 years later.

I had expected the mystery to be solved by the girls of Persephone college as the story opens with them, giving the impression it is they who are about to investigate the murder they are soon to discover.  This however, was not the case.  Although they remain present throughout the story, it is the police who primarily undertake the investigating while the students maintain a bit more of a “Famous Five” vibe of entertaining adventures in the quest to uncover evidence.

One of the downsides to the story was the extensive cast.  There were students to remember from both the girls’ college (Persephone) and the boys’ college (St Simeon’s), then there were the teaching staff, the murder victim and their family, the police (both local and from Scotland Yard), the suspects and then a good number of people connected to everyone else – staff, family, friends…Although I did manage to keep on top of who was who and where they fitted into the story, it did feel a little overwhelming.

I enjoyed this mystery, and am looking forward to reading the author’s other two novels: Murder Underground and The Santa Klaus Murder, at some point in the future.  I recommend Death on The Cherwell to those who have a connection to the Oxford colleges or Oxford itself, and equally to those who enjoy golden age crime stories.  Well worth a read.


3.5 / 5

Book Review: Death At Gallows Green by Robin Paige

Death at Gallow’s Green is book two in The Victorian Mystery series by Robin Paige.

Quick Summary

A charming, entertaining, cosy mystery read, set in a wonderful location, with a fantastic cast of characters. It was fun to have Beatrix Potter – not to mention, some of the characters from her own stories – make an appearance.  5/5

Summary (from back of book)

In Death at Bishop’s Keep, Kathryn Ardleigh captured the interest of detective Sir Charles Sheridan as they solved their first case together.  Now the demise of a local constable and the disappearance of a child have the sleuthing couple on the trail of deadly greed and criminal mischief once again.  And with the help of a shy woman who calls herself Beatrix Potter, Kate intends to uncover the sinister secrets of Gallows Green…

Favourite Quote

Kate wondered who Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle was and why she might be confined.  Was she some incompetent relative, some mad person, perhaps?

(Death at Gallows Green by Robin Paige, pg 18)


In the first book in this series, Death at Bishop’s Keep, not only were we introduced to the main character, Kate Ardleigh, and the regular cast of characters (including Sir Charles Sheridan, Bradford and Ellie Marsden) but thanks to the story’s connection to The Order of The Golden Dawn, a number of famous people from history too: Oscar Wilde, Arthur Conan Doyle and W.B. Yeats.  And so, when I picked up book two in the series I wondered if this theme of using real people would continue.  I was not disappointed…

I’m a big fan of Beatrix Potter’s books, and when I first found out that Beatrix was a character in this book, I wasn’t sure what to think.  It would have been very easy for her inclusion to have come across as cringeworthy or childish even, but I’m pleased to say that this wasn’t the case at all.  She – along with her wonderful creations – were a wonderful addition to the story, and I truly hope to see her again in later books, even if it is only briefly.

This book was so cleverly written.  Many of Beatrix Potter’s characters from her stories made an appearance – a particular favourite being that “foolish duck”, Jemima Puddle-Duck, and of course, Peter Rabbit – whilst other characters in the book were made out to be possible inspiration for others. Such examples were the shady Mr McGregor and his wife, Mrs McGregor, and Mr Tod.

The mystery was engaging and held my attention throughout, and the budding possible romance was sweet, and in places, delightfully comical.  I liked how each chapter began with a quote that in some way relates to that particular chapter.  All-in-all, another entertaining cosy mystery read.

I’m really enjoying this series, so much so that I’ve already started collecting the other books from it – out of sequence, I might add, though I am determined to read them in order.  So far I have Death at Devil’s Bridge, Death on Epsom Downs and Death in Hyde Park…I’ve not yet got the third book, Death at Daisy’s Folly, yet.



Book Review: Diamonds and Cole by Michael Maxwell

Diamonds and Cole is the first book in the Cole Sage series by Michael Maxwell.

Quick Review (read on for full review)

Interesting and entertaining, I really like Cole Sage and am looking forward to reading more from this series. 4 / 5

Summary (from Wattpad)

Beaten, bloody but determined, Cole Sage conquers greed and hatred with a strength that only love and a will as hard as diamond can achieve.  He is blocked at every turn by the husband who has abandoned Cole’s great love, his shady real estate deals, violent con men, street thugs and the lure of a fortune in diamonds that bring them all together.  How far would you go for the one that got away?

Favourite Quote

“Any day above ground is a good day, I guess.” Cole replied.

(Diamonds and Cole by Michael Maxwell, Chapter 2)


This story was not what I expected.  In a good way.  I was expecting a straight up mystery, but what I found instead was much deeper than that.  Highly emotional, tender and heart-breaking in places, Diamonds and Cole grabbed my attention from the very beginning and held on to it until the very end.

I love how Cole is described on the series page on Goodreads:

The Cole Sage series brings to life a new kind of hero. Short on vices, long on compassion and dedication to a strong sense of making things right. As a journalist he writes with conviction and purpose. As a friend he is not afraid to bend the law a bit to help and protect those he loves.

As the story unfolds, we get to learn almost everything about Cole Sage from the memories that are stirred by events along the way.  And there are a lot of them.  If you don’t like this particular way of introducing background information, you might have a hard time with this book.  I actually enjoyed them.  I thought they were both interesting and entertaining and provided varied insights into Cole’s character and history.

Cole is a fascinating character.  He is a product of his past mistakes and choices; it is these, rather than his successes and triumphs that have shaped him into the man we see in the story.  Ellie’s character was sensitively – and beautifully – written.

I find it quite difficult to place this story on my bookshelf.  More of a thriller or suspense read, maybe, than a mystery, ultimately, Diamonds and Cole is a story of redemption, and of righting mistakes.  But it has other elements too; romance, drama, danger, crime, characters from all sorts of backgrounds, with all sorts of motives for their action and behaviour.

This was a great first book in a series.  It was well-written and well-thought-out.  The characters and locations all came across as realistic.  Some of the plot twists you can guess before they happen, but it was still a very good read, and I like Cole very much.

I really enjoyed this story, and am interested in seeing where the next book, Cellar Full Of Cole, leads.  It has been added to my TBR list.