Mrs Hudson and the Samarkand Conspiracy
by Martin Davies (2020)
Book 4 of 4 in the Mrs Hudson series
Read on Kindle.
"It's summer in London, and things are quiet. But while Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson chafe at their inactivity, a train carrying a vital secret is entering a tunnel in an obscure region of the Balkans – never to be seen again. --- The nation is in danger, and if a diplomatic scandal of disastrous proportions is to be avoided, Sherlock Holmes’ brilliance may not be enough… Mrs Hudson and Flottie, her assistant, will once again turn detective."
I have written about the three previous Mrs Hudson Mysteries before (2016). In general, I'm not usually very impressed with sequels to famous classics written by later authors. But I've come to quite enjoy Martin Davies' version of Sherlock Holmes, in which he lets the housekeeper Mrs Hudson and her kitchen maid Flottie (short for Flotsam) kind of mirror the roles of Holmes and Watson, adding an "upstairs/downstairs" aspect to the Baker Street household. I also think the mysteries as such in each book are presented much in the spirit of the original Sherlock Holmes. So I was happy to find a fourth book in the series published now.
PS. Checking the Amazon page before writing this review, I notice that the first book, Mrs Hudson and the Spirits' Curse, can currently be downloaded for free, in case anyone wants to check it out!
Doughnuts and Deception
by Agatha Frost
Book 3 of 22 [!] in the Peridale Café Mystery series
Read on Kindle
This was a book I downloaded for free. It was advertised as "A light, cozy mystery read with a cat-loving and cafe-owning amateur female sleuth, in a small English village setting with quirky characters." In my opinion, that description is in itself highly deceptive (cf the title). Or tell me, please - would you, from that title and summary, expect this book to be about systematic murder of homeless people?! Even with the 'sleuth' herself being the owner of a cozy bakery and café, the rest of the setting in this book really does not fit into the "cozy" category at all, in my opinion... (Even if I suppose it does also keep its promise to contain "No cliffhanger, swearing, gore or graphic scenes!")
At the same time though, I have to confess that the unexpected theme of the vulnerability of poor and homeless people was also what made the book a lot more interesting than I had expected from a "cozy" freebie belonging to a long series of similar pastry-related titles.
As for the author: From the lack of details to be found about her, I suspect it's a pseudonym which may even represent a team of writers rather than a single author. (A "beta team" of five names is mentioned on the introduction pages in this book - I'm not entirely sure what that means.)
The Nidderdale Murders
by J.R. Ellis
Book 5 of 5 in the Yorkshire Murder Mystery series
Audible narration by Michael Page, 9 hours
Read on Kindle + Audible
This is the fifth book in a murder mystery series set in Yorkshire, and with the landscape itself very much woven into the storytelling in each of the books. I'm not sure if the village of Niddergill exists, by that name, but Nidderdale does: "Nidderdale in the Yorkshire Dales is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, with
beautiful scenery & moorland countryside." For those who want to really get into the Yorkshire atmosphere, I also recommend the audio books, read with the proper dialect! (Available at a bargain price if you also buy the Kindle version.)
In this book, the setting involves the hunting of grouse on the moors, landowners making money from it, hunters paying to take part, and other people protesting against it. Then a man is shot dead outside the Dog and Gun inn in the village of Niddersgill. "There's a witness who saw everything, and the gunman's on the run; the case should be open-and-shut for DCI Jim Oldroyd. But the murderer had no motive --- and, what's more, no trace of him can be found..."
Besides using authentic backgrounds, J.R. Ellis * also does a good job with creating his plots in the tradition of "classic" British mystery novels. Unlike Agatha Frost (above), he also seems to be a genuine person with an actual (Yorkshire) background. *(Link to Goodreads introduction page.)