A Valiant Deceit (An Olive Bright Mystery Book 2) by Stephanie Graves – #BookReview – #historicalmysteries

Rosepoint Publishing: Five Stars 5 stars

Book Blurb:

A Valiant Deceit by Stephanie GravesYoung pigeoneer Olive Bright has been conscripted, with her racing birds, to aid the fight against the Nazis. It’s not the daring role she’d envisioned for herself, but her quiet little English village is not nearly as sheltered as she imagined . . .

Returning to Pipley following her FANY (First Aid Nursing Yeomanry) training, Olive is eager to step up her involvement in the war effort. Her pigeons are being conscripted to aid the Belgian resistance, and it’s up to Olive to choose the best birds for the mission. To protect the secrecy of their work, she must also continue the ruse of being romantically involved with her superior, Captain Jameson Aldridge, a task made more challenging by the fact that she really does have feelings for the gruff Irish intelligence officer.

But perhaps the greatest challenge of all comes when an instructor at Station XVII, the top-secret training school housed at Brickendonbury Manor, is found dead in Balls Wood by a troop of Girl Guides. The police quickly rule Lieutenant Jeremy Beckett’s death an accident, but based on clues she finds at the scene, Olive begins to suspect he might have been a spy.  Involving the reluctant Jamie, she is determined to solve the murder and possibly stop a threat to their intelligence efforts which could put the Belgians—not to mention her pigeons—in grave danger.

His Review:

Bullets and bombs were not the only weapons in use during WW II. During war, information is extremely valuable. Troop movements, weapons deployment, and stockpiles are viable targets of value. The distance between the British Isles and the European mainland is very small in some locations.

Olive has been using and training pigeons for racing and sport. Small packets of information attached to a pigeon’s legs are usually undetectable. The birds were often dropped into enemy territory with spies. Vital troop movements and concentrations could then be sent back to England via these birds. Olive was very proud of her flock and their accomplishments.

A Valiant Deceit by Stephanie GravesShe became very attached to her aviary friends and gave each of them a name. As they were shuttled into Belgium and France, she would look for them to return to their cages. Attached to their legs were usually a 2 1/2 to 3 inch canister with a coded message inserted. The messages helped to win the war and protect some of the inserted spies and combatants.

Stephanie Graves has added a valuable piece of war history and memorabilia in this entertaining tale. Her character, Olive, is a Nancy Drew want to be who has solved some crimes in her day. Her commanding officer is Jameson Aldridge. He is skeptical of the entire mission and continually questions she and her birds’ abilities to help in the war effort.

CE WilliamsGrudgingly he admits to her accomplishments, but keeps a close rein on her activities, as she tends to get herself into trouble with her constant delving into other people’s affairs. The story is fun and imaginative. I really enjoyed the author and her repartee between the characters. Overall, a very fun and engaging read. 5 stars – CE Williams

We received a complimentary review copy of this book from the author and publisher through NetGalley that in no way influenced this review. These are his honest opinions.

Book Details:

Genre: Historical World War II Fiction, Historical Mysteries
Publisher: Kensington Books
ASIN: B093XVNDBH
Print Length: 329 pages
Publication Date: January 25, 2022
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link(s): A Valiant Deceit [Amazon] 
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Kobo

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Stephanie Graves - authorThe Author: STEPHANIE GRAVES has recently turned from happily-ever-afters to murder. The author of four published novels under the pseudonym Alyssa Goodnight, she transitioned to writing under her real name with her debut historical mystery, OLIVE BRIGHT, PIGEONEER. Her books have been featured in Entertainment Weekly, First for Women and Woman’s World. She lives with her family and two rescue pups in Houston.

Visit her at msstephgraves.com to subscribe to her newsletter or find her on FB, Twitter, Instagram or BookBub.

©2022 CE Williams – V Williams V Williams

Where There’s a Will (Roland Sinclair WWII Mysteries Book 10) by Sulari Gentill – #BookReview – #TuesdayBookBlog

2021 NED KELLY AWARD NOMINEE, BEST CRIME FICTION

Book Blurb:

Hell hath no fury like a family disinherited…

Where There's a Will by Sulari GentillAmerican millionaire Daniel Cartwright has been shot dead: three times in the chest, and once in the head. His body is found in Harvard Yard, dressed in evening attire. No one knows who he planned to meet there, or why the staunch Oxford man would be caught dead at Harvard—literally.

Australian Rowland Sinclair, his mate from Oxford and longtime friend, is named executor of the will, to his great surprise—and that of Danny’s family. Events turn downright ugly when the will all but disinherits Danny’s siblings in favor of one Otis Norcross, whom no one knows or is able to locate. Amidst assault, kidnapping, and threats of slander, Rowly struggles to understand Danny’s motives, find the missing heir, and identify his friend’s killer before the clock—and his luck—run out.

A deft blend of history and mystery, WHERE THERE’S A WILL offers an alternately charming and chilling snapshot of Boston and New York in the 1930s, with cameo appearances by luminaries of the day including Marion Davies, Randolph Hearst, Errol Flynn, Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, and an arrogantly ardent Joe Kennedy, who proves no match for Rowly’s sculptress friend Edna…

My Review:

I love it when I can get into daily life of the 1930s crowd, although these characters are all so wealthy it was difficult for me to identify.  The background is Boston, New York, and North Carolina and name-dropping throughout the narrative brought some jolting moments. Not that old, but these support or peripheral characters are names even most younger people would recognize.

The protagonist, Rowland Sinclair, and his cronies are Australian called from Singapore to Boston upon notice of the death of a close and dear friend, David Cartwright. Rowland is accompanied by Edna (who he insists on calling Ed), Clyde, and Milton. To Rowland’s horror, he has been named executor of David’s will. Upon reading of the will, however, the family discovers the bulk of David’s wealth is to go to one Otis Norcross—assuming he can be found. The Cartwrights are not happy.

In languid prose, the narrative proceeds with no one breaking out a sweat to find Otis—although that is the declared objective from the beginning as well as the discovery of who killed David. In the meantime, the novel introduces all manner of early to mid-thirties characters, invoking scenes in which Marion Davies, Joseph Kennedy, or William Randolph Hearst might appear. (Followed by Errol Lynn and Orson Wells.)

“Reputation is what you are supposed to be; character is what you are.”

There are gangsters, both Irish and Italian, formal dress codes for dinner, fashions, sights and sounds of the time along with delightful and entertaining quotes from news reports as intro to new chapters.  I also enjoyed the lively scenes of the dance halls, noting the Savoy in New York and the creation and popularity of the Lindy Hop.*

There are twists, turns, and shenanigans that sidetrack the MCs and I loved the tidbits regarding some of those historical figures as well as F Scott Fitzgerald and Monopoly (the Parker Brothers game that saved the company). So many historical luminaries woven into the story!

I must admit that my attention waned several times throughout the book as the gain in the whodunit was rather slow, then something would happen to spark my interest again. Took a while to get to the heart of the matter, the histories of the victim and the missing Otis, and I’d guessed the antagonist shortly after introduction to the plot.

My first experience with the author and the series, it’s obvious that Rowland and Ed have a thing, have had for some time, so I wasn’t particularly thrilled about the solution in the conclusion but any history buff would enjoy the Louella Parsons worthy gossip.

I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the author and publisher through @NetGalley that in no way influenced this review. These are my honest thoughts.

Trigger Warning: Homophobia

Rosepoint Rating: Four Stars 4 stars

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Book Details:

Genre: Organized Crime, Historical Mysteries
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
ISBN: 1464214905
ASIN: B09158FKZ2
Print Length: 386 pages
Publication Date: January 18, 2022
Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble  |  Kobo

Sulari Gentill-authorThe Author: After setting out to study astrophysics, graduating in law and then abandoning her legal career to write books, Sulari now grows French black truffles on her farm in the foothills of the Snowy Mountains of NSW. Sulari is author of The Rowland Sinclair Mystery series, historical crime fiction novels (eight in total) set in the 1930s. Sulari’s A Decline in Prophets (the second book in the series) was the winner of the Davitt Award for Best Adult Crime Fiction 2012. She was also shortlisted for Best First Book (A Few Right Thinking Men) for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize 2011. Paving the New Road was shortlisted for another Davitt in 2013.

[Goodreads] Sulari lives with her husband, Michael, and their boys, Edmund and Atticus, on a small farm in Batlow where she grows French Black Truffles and refers to her writing as “work” so that no one will suggest she get a real job.

* The Lindy Hop is an American dance which was born in the African-American communities in Harlem, New York City, in 1928. [Wikipedia]

©2022 V Williams V Williams

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