Anatomy of a Scandal

Anatomy of a Scandal
Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughn

The Travelling Cat Chronicles

The Travelling Cat Chronicles
The Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughn- Feature and Review


Sophie’s husband James is a loving father, a handsome man, a charismatic and successful public figure. And yet he stands accused of a terrible crime. Sophie is convinced he is innocent and desperate to protect her precious family from the lies that threaten to rip them apart.

Kate is the lawyer hired to prosecute the case: an experienced professional who knows that the law is all about winning the argument. And yet Kate seeks the truth at all times. She is certain James is guilty and is determined he will pay for his crimes.

Who is right about James? Sophie or Kate? And is either of them informed by anything more than instinct and personal experience? Despite her privileged upbringing, Sophie is well aware that her beautiful life is not inviolable. She has known it since she and James were first lovers, at Oxford, and she witnessed how easily pleasure could tip into tragedy.

Most people would prefer not to try to understand what passes between a man and a woman when they are alone: alone in bed, alone in an embrace, alone in an elevator… Or alone in the moonlit courtyard of an Oxford college, where a girl once stood before a boy, heart pounding with excitement, then fear. Sophie never understood why her tutorial partner Holly left Oxford so abruptly. What would she think, if she knew the truth?



Anatomy of a ScandalAnatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughn is a 2018 Atria/Emily Bestler Books Publication.

Timely, with a few very intriguing twists!

When the Junior Member of England, James Whitehouse, is caught out in an affair, it looks as though he will weather the storm, both professionally and personally- until his mistress, Olivia, comes forward with an accusation of rape.

Kate, a prosecutor/barrister believes James is guilty as sin. But, his wife, Sophie, despite enduring the humiliation of his affair, doesn’t think her husband is capable of sexual assault. She plays the part of the supportive politician's wife- a cliche if there ever was one, going along with James' management team, saying and doing what was expected of her, while she denies the lie her life has become.

During the investigation and subsequent trial, Sophie, Kate, and James all reveal their inner thoughts, revealing their innermost secrets, some of which are explosive, dangerous, and raise many questions about ethics, about the rape culture, the way the courts handle rape cases. It examines the mindset of the elite and entitled, the nature of politics, and the rationalizations people make, the lies they tell to maintain a way of life they are accustomed to, or to have a taste of power. It also examines gray areas of human nature, which can make the reader think- "What would I do in that situation?"

The story grabbed my attention right away, although the story moved in a predictable fashion, at least in the beginning. But, then a very, very, unique twist develops along the way, which puts a fresh spin on a familiar plot. This revelation creates a suspenseful situation that had me holding my breath, sitting on the edge of my seat. I love courtroom dramas and am always especially interested in the court systems outside the US, so I found the trial segments of great interest, as well.

Usually I’m not a big fanof multiple POV novels, but in this case, it was quite effective and really gave readers deep insight into the characters moral code, the lines they draw in the sand and the ones they are willing to cross- for revenge or for justice.

I thought this book was thought provoking, and of course, it’s very timely and emotional topic. The pacing drags in some places, but other than that, the book is polished, well- constructed, with a unique style and presentation. Legal thrillers have been too few and far between for a long time, so it’s good to find one that well and truly fits into that category!



Sarah Vaughan read English at Oxford and went on to become a journalist. She spent eleven years at the Guardian as a news reporter, health correspondent, and political correspondent. She left to freelance and began writing fiction the week she turned forty. Her debut novel, The Art of Baking Blind, published by Hodder & Stoughton, St. Martin's Press, and in seven other languages, was the result. The Farm at the Edge of the World was published in June 2016 and will be published in Germany and France. Sarah lives in Cambridge with her husband and two children.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

The Traveling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa, Philip Gabriel (Translator) - Feature and Review


Sometimes you have to leave behind everything you know to find the place you truly belong... 

Nana the cat is on a road trip. He is not sure where he's going or why, but it means that he gets to sit in the front seat of a silver van with his beloved owner, Satoru. Side by side, they cruise around Japan through the changing seasons, visiting Satoru's old friends. He meets Yoshimine, the brusque and unsentimental farmer for whom cats are just ratters; Sugi and Chikako, the warm-hearted couple who run a pet-friendly B&B; and Kosuke, the mournful husband whose cat-loving wife has just left him. There's even a very special dog who forces Nana to reassess his disdain for the canine species.

But what is the purpose of this road trip? And why is everyone so interested in Nana? Nana does not know and Satoru won't say. But when Nana finally works it out, his small heart will break...



 The Travelling Cat ChroniclesThe Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa, Philip Gabriel (Translator) is a 2018 Viking publication. (Originally published in 2012).

An emotional, poignant story featuring an amazing cat named Nana-

Nana is a stray cat who enjoys sleeping in the sun on the hood of a van, and tolerating humans if necessary, especially if he is given crunchy bits to eat.

But, when tragedy strikes, by way of getting hit by a car, Nana is taken in by the human, Satoru, the van owner who leaves him food. Satoru names him Nana, because his crooked tail is shaped like the Japanese number seven. They have some great times together, but suddenly, after several years, Satoru, must re-home his beloved cat.

So, he goes on a journey with Nana, to find him a new home.

The journey takes us back in time to Satoru’s childhood where we learn about his life and his friendships and relationship with a cat he knew before he had Nana, for whom he still mourns. He gets to reconnect with old friends, but has a hard time finding someone who can take Nana.

Nana is our storyteller and narrates this journey in a way only a cat could. If you are a cat lover, you will know exactly what I mean. Nana, of course, knows in his infinite wisdom, the lessons that will enlighten Satoru, and the reader, upon his journey.

This is such a wonderful fable, despite the tearjerker premise, centering on friendship, and human connections. Satoru may have led a life of isolation, but he is a such a warm -hearted man, and of course I recognized in him a fellow ‘cat person’, which endeared him to me, even more. But, perhaps to those who may feel cats are too aloof for your taste, this book dispels that notion, in countless ways.

We realize right away that Satoru is helping Nana, taking care of him even before his accident, giving him a very nice, pampered life. We see what a gentle soul, he is, despite some very difficult times in his life. But it is what Nana does for Satoru that is at the heart of the story. What Satoru learns on their journey and how Nana remains his best friend, is loyal to him in all ways, and eternally grateful, will bring tears to your eyes.

Yes, this story is sentimental and bittersweet, but the message is profound, despite or maybe because of its simplicity, and will resonate with pet lovers of all stripes, but certainly to those who have a truly special bond with their feline companions.



Hiro Arikawa (有川浩 Arikawa Hiro, born on June 9, 1972) is a Japanese writer. She is from Kōchi Prefecture. She is known for Library War (図書館戦争 Toshokan sensou). Library War won the Seiun Award in 2008.

An Elderly Lady Up to No Good by Helene Tursten-Translated by Marlaine Delargy Feature and Review


Maud is an irascible 88-year-old Swedish woman with no family, no friends, and…no qualms about a little murder. This funny, irreverent story collection by Helene Tursten, author of the Irene Huss investigations, features two-never-before translated stories that will keep you laughing all the way to the retirement home.

Ever since her darling father’s untimely death when she was only eighteen, Maud has lived in the family’s spacious apartment in downtown Gothenburg rent-free, thanks to a minor clause in a hastily negotiated contract. That was how Maud learned that good things can come from tragedy. Now in her late eighties, Maud contents herself with traveling the world and surfing the net from the comfort of her father’s ancient armchair. It’s a solitary existence, but she likes it that way.

Over the course of her adventures—or misadventures—this little bold lady will handle a crisis with a local celebrity who has her eyes on Maud’s apartment, foil the engagement of her long-ago lover, and dispose of some pesky neighbors. But when the local authorities are called to investigate a murder in her apartment complex, will Maud be able to avoid suspicion, or will Detective Inspector Irene Huss see through her charade?




An Elderly Lady Is Up to No GoodAn Elderly Lady Is Up to No Good by Helene Tursten
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An Elderly Lady is Up to No Good by Helene Tursten, Marlaine Delargy (Translator) is a 2018 SOHO Crime publication.

Well, if you’ve had your fill of gooey, saccharine sweet holiday books or movies, then this collection of vignettes featuring Maud, an eighty-eight year old serial killer, will cure your holiday sugar rush.

To be completely honest, I didn’t do much homework when I borrowed this book from the library. One of my fine friends on Goodreads added this book to their TBR list and I thought it sounded like a cozy mystery, and the cover didn’t do a lot to dispel that theory, although the title should have given me pause. However, I was taken by surprise when it became blatantly obvious that Maud isn’t one of those nosy, but endearing amateur sleuths.

Nope, our Maud is a calculating killer, who slides under the radar of law enforcement with chilling regularity, until a certain Inspector comes along who might see through Maud’s innocent old lady persona. Will she beat the rap or has her luck finally run out?

“ Freedom, no idle chatter, and no problems. Idle chatter and problems were the worst things she could think of…”

This collection of vignettes/short stories had me in stitches. It is, of course, darkly humorous, but also very clever. ‘An Elderly Lady Seeks Peace at Christmas’, was the first short story the author wrote, featuring Maud, but it was just the beginning of Maud’s various travels and interventions.

Part of the fun is in the details. Maud thinks fast, makes unhesitant decisions, without raising any suspicions. Of course, these scenarios are highly implausible, but wickedly fun, all the same. The reader is given access to Maud’s inner thoughts and once more I am struck by how utterly fascinating it is to crawl inside the mind of a killer. One of the most effective aspects of these stories is waiting to see if Maude will make a mistake, if she will be found out or not, while simultaneously hoping to never find oneself in the crosshairs of a mad elderly woman!!



Helene Tursten (born in Gothenburg in 1954) is a Swedish writer of crime fiction. The main character in her stories is Detective Inspector Irene Huss. Before becoming an author, Tursten worked as a nurse and then a dentist, but was forced to leave due to illness. During her illness she worked as a translator of medical articles.


Marlaine Delargy is based in the UK. She has translated novels by Swedish writers including Åsa Larsson, Ninni Holmqvist and Johan Theorin--with whom she won the CWA International Dagger 2010 for The Darkest Room.

Monday, December 17, 2018

MONDAY'S MUSICAL MOMENT: Thanks a Lot Mr. Kibblewhite-by Roger Daltrey- Feature and Review


The frontman of one of the greatest bands of all time tells the story of his rise from nothing to rock 'n' roll megastar, and his wild journey as the voice of The Who.

“It’s taken me three years to unpack the events of my life, to remember who did what when and why, to separate the myths from the reality, to unravel what really happened at the Holiday Inn on Keith Moon’s 21st birthday,” says Roger Daltrey, the powerhouse vocalist of The Who. The result of this introspection is a remarkable memoir, instantly captivating, funny and frank, chock-full of well-earned wisdom and one-of-kind anecdotes from a raucous life that spans a tumultuous time of change in Britain and America. 

Born during the air bombing of London in 1944, Daltrey fought his way (literally) through school and poverty and began to assemble the band that would become The Who while working at a sheet metal factory in 1961. In Daltrey’s voice, the familiar stories—how they got into smashing up their kit, the infighting, Keith Moon’s antics—take on a new, intimate life. Also here is the creative journey through the unforgettable hits including My Generation, Substitute, Pinball Wizard, and the great albums, Who’s Next, Tommy, and Quadrophenia. Amidst all the music and mayhem, the drugs, the premature deaths, the ruined hotel rooms, Roger is our perfect narrator, remaining sober (relatively) and observant and determined to make The Who bigger and bigger. Not only his personal story, this is the definitive biography of The Who.



Thanks a Lot, Mr. Kibblewhite: My StoryThanks a Lot, Mr. Kibblewhite: My Story by Roger Daltrey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Thanks a Lot Mr. Kibblewhite by Roger Daltrey is a 2018 Henry Holt and Co. Publication.

“We’ll be fighting in the streets, with our children at our feet. And the morals that they worship will be gone. And the men who spurred us on, Sit in judgment of all wrong. They decide, and the shotgun sings the song.”

Roger Daltrey. He’s kind of an enigma, I think, or least to me he is. It seems every member of “The Who’ has commanded newspaper headlines over the years, everyone except Roger, that is. No insane antics or stage theatrics or ghastly criminal charges like those of Keith or Pete. Roger, by comparison, seems to be rather square. I honestly didn’t know a thing about him, other than what everyone else knows, which is centered around his career. I couldn’t have told you one single thing about his personal life. I didn’t even know the basics about him, like if he was married or had children, although I’d heard a few tales of his childhood where he had garnered a tough guy reputation. But the details of his upbringing were sketchy.

So, while I’ve become rather picky about memoirs, especially those written by rock stars, my curiosity about Roger Daltrey won the day.

I love ‘The Who’. Having formed in 1964, this is a group I’ve listened to my entire life. This is one of those enduring bands that have weathered many storms and survived over fifty years as a group. Incredible, when you think about it.

Not only has Roger witnessed some monumental historical events, he’s also been a participant in them. Having spent so many years behind that insular rock star barrier, Roger has become accustomed to a way of life most of us couldn’t relate to. That’s part of the reason these books are so alluring, I suppose. We hear stories about conflict within the band, we know Roger and Pete had their moments, we know about Keith Moon’s antics, and of John’s untimely death. But we still want a bird’s eye view, want to hear Roger’s side of the story, want to relive his glory days with him, take a trip down memory lane, and want to know more about the person behind the rock star persona.
Roger’s approach to his memoir is laid back and relaxed. He can be funny, charming, and witty, but does show a vulnerable side of himself on a very rare occasion. Despite spending over fifty years in a rock group, he still carries a blue collar, working class, chip on his shoulder. He’s capable of sensitivity and spoke with some candor regarding childhood and school days, traumas, which left emotional scars he battled much of his adult life, hiding his lack of confidence behind a tough exterior.

“That was the point at which the headmaster, Mr. Kibblewhite, decided I was expelled. “We can’t control you, Daltrey”, he said. “You’re Out.”
And, as I left his office for the last time, a parting gesture: “You’ll never make anything of your life, Daltrey.”
“Thanks a lot, Mr. Kibblewhite, I thought.”

Yet, despite those rare glimpses inside of Roger’s more personal inner workings, the bulk of the book is centered on Roger’s professional life-the road to success, and all the various ups and downs of forming a band, maintaining the unit, and of course coping with the excesses of life on the road and the horrible tragedies the band endured. However, I never really felt the chemistry between Roger and his band-mates, other than a poignant story he shared about Keith shortly before his death.

Roger’s personal relationships with friends, colleagues, and women also lacked warmth or depth. There was one point in the book where, despite knowing this is normal operating procedure for rock stars, I still balked, and yes, passed judgments, on Roger’s view of fidelity or his case- infidelity.

What he described was a one-sided open marriage. He was not to be expected to be ‘a good boy’ while on the road, because it gets lonely out there. I wondered if his wife got lonely during his long absences, and if she were expected to be ‘a good girl’ while he was away or if she was free to engage in emotion-less hookups too. I mean, according to Roger, a shag is just a shag. A bit of a double standard there, I think.

But this was not the only area in which Roger showed his age. It was a bit ironic that one of the ‘My Generation’ performers sounded very old-fashioned at times.

Occasionally Roger would bait the reader with information, only to never mention the subject again or to toss it out as an aside, when it clearly deserved more attention and time than he gave it. The book comes in at less than three hundred pages, which is awfully thin, when there is obviously so much ground to cover, both personally and professionally.

Still, as far as rock memoirs go, this one is not too shabby. Roger is articulate and plain spoken, and as a performer, he knew how to keep the reader’s attention. The material is well-organized, and he does hit upon the major events that shaped his life and career, which for the casual fan will certainly suffice. Diehard fans will be pleased with anything Roger puts out there, but others, like myself, may wish there had been a little more bulk and depth than was provided.

One thing I was reminded of, however, is how compared to many other people in his line of work, Roger is very dependable and is a solid performer. He may not have the artistic flair of Pete Townshend, but he puts everything into his shows, has an admirable work ethic, is a highly energetic singer, and a really nice set of pipes. He grew to be a versatile, multi-talented artist in his own right, not only as the ‘The Who’frontman, but with other groups, and in his acting roles. He’s a superstar rock star all the way from the top of those luscious curly locks to the tips of his toes.

Roger has recently experienced some health problems, and is feeling the effects of his age, but he’s still sharp as ever, and still performs with ‘The Who’ on occasion His most recent show took place just this past summer.

One can’t help but feel awed by the longevity of the group, and Roger’s stamina. His body of work is impressive, as is the mark he’s made on the world of music and the arts.



Roger Daltrey came to prominence in the mid-1960s as the founder and lead singer of the rock band The Who. The Who is considered one of the most influential rock bands of the 20th century. In a career spanning more than 50 years, Daltrey has also been a film producer, writer, and an actor on stage, film and television. Since 1973 Daltrey has released eight solo albums. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1990 and has received numerous lifetime achievement awards for his contribution to music.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Fierce, Funny and Female by Marti MacGibbon- Feature and Review + Giveaway

A Journey Through Middle America, the Texas Oil Field, and Standup Comedy
Genre: Memoir / Drama / Humor Publisher: Stay Strong Publishing Publication Date: March 20, 2017
Number of Pages: 412 pages SCROLL DOWN FOR THE GIVEAWAY!

This book is the celebrated prequel to the critically acclaimed, nationally award-winning and bestselling memoir, Never Give in to Fear. In her raw, vivid, and unabashed style, author Marti MacGibbon delivers a sometimes heartbreaking, often hilarious, always engaging account of her passage through trauma, betrayal, and loss in adolescence and young adulthood to discover her inner badass self. As one of the first women to work as a laborer in the Texas oil field, she set off explosives and staked oil wells before realizing her childhood dream of becoming a successful standup comic. Marti introduces readers to a wide range of characters in her life: from sleazy authority figures, wannabe Sixties musicians and crazed Corn Belt cult leaders, to Texas oil billionaires and wildcatters, to wild-eyed redneck coworkers who robbed banks on their lunch hour―in the company truck. The book includes scenes with iconic comedians, Hollywood entertainment industry moguls, and a legendary bluesman, and offers insights into resiliency, courage, and self-empowerment.
WINNER, 2017 Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Awards in Humor
WINNER, 2017 Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Awards in Women’s Studies 
WINNER, 2017 National Indie Excellence Awards in Women’s Health
WINNER, 2017 Beverly Hills Book Awards in Women’s Issues 
WINNER, 2018 Independent Press Award in Humor
WINNER, 2018 Independent Press Award in Women’s Studies 
WINNER, 2018 New York City Book Book Award, Women’s Studies
FINALIST, 2018 Next Generation Indie Book Awards, Memoir (Overcoming Adversity)

┃ Amazon    Baker and Taylor 
“Being funny is a survival skill. Fierce, Funny, and Female is not only a survivor’s tale but an inspirational story of overcoming the unthinkable, again and again…Her courage and comedy make Fierce, Funny, and Female a winner.” — Foreword Clarion Reviews “An effervescently witty…chronicle of perseverance and the power to overcome the darkest of days…Perhaps the most rewarding chapter in this chatty, affecting book is the concluding one, where MacGibbon lists the tried-and-true pearls of wisdom that continue to sustain her…” — Kirkus ReviewsFierce, Funny, and Female is a thoroughly engaging memoir packed with witty observations, high adventure, and a glimpse of behind-the-scenes Hollywood. Highly recommended!” — Midwest Book Review “MacGibbon is a natural storyteller, and her life story is a most interesting one. The characters she has run across during her life journey are well-drawn and absolutely fascinating, particularly the good ol’ boys in the Texas oilfields.” — San Francisco Book Review

Fierce, Funny, and Female: A Journey Through Middle America, the Texas Oil Field, and Standup Comedy by Marti MacGibbon is a 2017 Stay Strong publication.

Marti MacGibbon has truly led a very challenging life!! However, she is also a bold inspiration, and living proof that if there is a will, there is a way.

This memoir follows Marti from her teenage years beginning in 1969 up to present day, where she is enjoying the realization of a lifelong dream. Marti’s story is not an easy one to read in many ways.

 I’ll be completely honest and say that most of this book is harrowing, and one should be prepared to read about some uncomfortable topics. Marti lays it all out there, with blunt honesty, with no holds barred. The story is a heavy one, which can take a toll on one’s emotions. I had to take a break from Marti’s reality from time to time for what I nicknamed ‘bleakness-breaks.”

However, if you want to see true feminism, follow Marti’s story. She has worked in male dominated fields her entire life and carved out a niche for herself despite the odds. Finding women out in the Texas Oil Fields was a very rare occurrence in the eighties, but Marti stuck with it, making me feel a little abashed for complaining about the ‘good ole boy’ network I had to cope with, back before I retired.

 She stuck it out, in a rough environment, which, in the end, helped her build both a physical and mental toughness that prepared her for the next stage in her life. Although she was victimized, suffered through addictions and mental health issues, and made some whopping errors in judgment, she also had guts, grit, and determination, and became a survivor. She is a true trailblazer and has come out on the other side of her tribulations to become a successful stand- up comedian, motivational speaker, and author. Seriously, this lady has rubbed elbows with some very well-known comedians!! Not only that, she pays it forward by helping others who have battled the same demons she has.

There is only one hole in the book, which is centered around Marti’s daughter. The fight for custody was one of Marti’s main reasons for toughing it out in the oil fields, but we were never updated on how things turned out on that front.

 Other than that, Marti’s voice is genuine and realistic, and the story flows with a steady pace. I was able to visualize Marti’s life and the various people she introduced me too, as well as the landscape she describes. The ‘oil field’ language can be colorful, so one should be prepared for that, in advance, but I’m glad she didn’t water anything down.

 Although the positive aspects of Marti’s life took a while to surface, it makes her success seem that much sweeter.

One thing that strikes me is how far we’ve come in the time span covered in this book, with Marti paving paths in ways she never realized at the time. Sadly, her last comments in the author segment were written in a time when new and exciting prospects seemed possible in our country. It wasn't all that long ago, but feel like that was ages ago.

 Although there was still much work to be done, we could look back with pride and see the great strides we’d taken over the past decades. However, some of the major progress we’ve made in women’s rights and in civil rights are once more threatened. But, if I gleaned anything from Marti’s story, it is to keep fighting the good fight, to face challenges head on, and to never give up on your hopes and dreams!!

A compelling speaker and storyteller, Marti MacGibbon delivers high-energy presentations and writes books on overcoming adversity, addiction and recovery, and inspiration, with humor and a genuine, down-to-earth style. She’s experienced critical situations that no human being should have to face. In the past, she hit rock bottom in every possible way as a hard-core drug addict, was homeless, and was trafficked to Tokyo and held prisoner by Japanese organized crime. Her story of triumph is testimony to the power of the human spirit. Marti lives her message. She reveals simple, effective strategies that anyone can use to get back on track, build resiliency, reduce stress, and cultivate a sense of humor.
Marti is a bestselling author, inspirational speaker, certified addiction treatment professional, Gorski certified relapse-prevention specialist, and member of the National Speakers Association. She’s been interviewed in Entrepreneur, Investor’s Business Daily, on ABC-TV, CBS-TV, and numerous radio shows. And she’s funny: Marti traveled all over the U.S. as a professional standup comic and performed at the Hollywood Improv and Comedy Store. She is founder, producer and host of Laff-aholics Comedy Benefit for Recovery, an annual charity fundraiser in Indianapolis featuring nationally headlining comedians. She also serves on the outreach committee of IPATH, Indiana Protection for Abused and Trafficked Humans Task Force.
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Friday, December 14, 2018

FLASHBACK FRIDAY-Murder on a Mystery Tour By Marian Babson- Feature and Review


REGGIE & MIDGE...The genteel husband-and-wife proprietors of the failing Chortlesby Manor Hotel, who are carefully staging a "murder weekend" for American tourists.
BRAMWELL...The hard-boiled American detective writer---stuck under Mama's thumb till death them do part.
AMARYLLIS...Bramwell's overbearing mother---whom the hotel staff would dearly love to strangle.
THE CHANDLER TWINS...Two identical, giggling bachelorettes---daffy but dangerous?
ROGER ACKROYD...The Manor's Mouser---he let an uninvited guest into the house.
When a real killer stalks a group of amateur sleuths on holiday, solving murders is no longer fun and games. Too many guests are checking out early from this eerie old English mansion. They're not settling their bills---or leaving enough useful clues.


Murder on a Mystery TourMurder on a Mystery Tour by Marian Babson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Murder on a Mystery Tour by Marian Babson is a 1988 Bantam publication. (Originally published in 1985 by the Title “Not One Word Has Been Omitted”)

I’ve been dying to try out one of Marian Babson’s mystery novels for a long time. I plucked this one out of the pile because it has a very slight holiday/ wintery theme, to go along with my holiday reading this year.

I was concerned a bit by some mixed reviews, but for me, this one is a happy surprise. I thought it was great fun.

If you like ‘Golden Age’ mysteries, you will enjoy this novel and its backdoor homage to mystery novels written between 1920 and 1940.

Reggie and Midge have resorted to hosting ‘Mystery Tours’ to keep their manor house out of debt. The staff, guests and actors work in concert to present the ‘Mystery’.

Guests for this tour include Bramwell, a famous mystery author, and his overbearing mother, Amaryllis and the Chandler twins, who both have a crush on Bramwell.

And let’s not forget, Ackroyd, a cat named after the Agatha Christie novel- Who killed Roger Ackroyd- ironically enough.

While the story does have some issues, it was actually pretty clever. Two mysteries going at once- the staged one and the real one. Naturally, they become snowbound, just for kicks and giggles, adding to the uneasy tension in the house.

There are several big surprises, and red herrings, and is, of course, set up to resemble mystery novels from the Golden Age, which I happen to love, flaws and all.

The story is pretty busy, and can get a little confusing, with so many characters and the two mysteries running simultaneously. But, because the book is so short, I could take my time with it, so I didn't have too much trouble keeping it all straight. I love the dialogue and intrigue, and enjoyed trying to guess who the murderer was- in both mysteries.

Overall, this is a wonderfully entertaining mystery, and I truly had a great time reading it. All of Marian Babson's books are short, usually under three hundred pages, and often feature a feline presence. They probably fit better in the cozy category, but I think all mystery lovers will enjoy these books.



Marian Babson, a pseudonym for Ruth Stenstreem, was born in Salem, Massachusetts, but has lived in London for the greater part of her life. 

She has worked as a librarian; managed a campaign headquarters; been a receptionist, secretary, and den mother to a firm of commercial artists; and was co-editor of a machine knitting magazine, despite the fact that she can’t knit, even with two needles. 

A long sojourn as a temp sent her into the heart of business life all over London, working for architects, law firms, the British Museum, a Soho club, and even a visiting superstar. 

She also served as secretary to the Crime Writers’ Association. Now she is a full-time writer whose many interests include theatre, cinema, art, cooking, travel, and, of course, cats, which feature in many of her mystery books. Her first published work was 'Cover-Up Story' in 1971 and 'Only the Cat' (2007) was her 44th novel.

The publisher's tagline for her style is "Murder Most British," a style reflected in each of her novels. Any violence is not graphically described and the sleuths are usually amateurs. 

She does re-use certain characters, such as the publicity firm Perkins & Tate and a couple of ageing actresses, her books all stand-alone and can be read in any order.