Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Open House Sunday Interview – Author Joy Lennick

A chance to meet the wonderful author Joy Lennick in an interview about her fascinating life and publishing adventures

Smorgasbord - Variety is the spice of life

Please welcome my guest this week, author Joy Lennick who shares her love of the 20th century, her adventures she has encountered during her 30 years as an author, her favourite colour and music.

Before we find out more… a little bit about Joy.

About Joy Lennick

Having worn several hats in my life: wife, mum, secretary, shop-keeper, hotelier; my favourite is the multi-coloured author’s creation. I am an eclectic writer: diary, articles, poetry, short stories and five books. Two books were factual, the third as biographer: HURRICANE HALSEY (a true sea adventure), fourth my Memoir MY GENTLE WAR and my current faction novel is THE CATALYST. Plenty more simmering…

Supposedly ‘Retired,’ I now live in Spain with my husband and have three great sons.

Given a choice of centuries to live in which would it be and why?

As I’m fascinated by Georgian architecture and dress, plus something indefinable…

View original post 2,818 more words


New Release: “Zyklon” by John Hazen

John Hazen is one of my favourite indie authors as my many previous blog posts on him should prove. I’m delighted to announce his new release in the Fava series: “Zyklon”, which I had th epleasure of reading ahead of its release.

“Zyklon” is a gripping thriller with depth and plenty of rather contemporary themes and issues in it. For that alone it is worth reading.
Remarkable here is the figure of Reverend McKenzie, a controversial, Islam hating outsider in the presidential candidate race.
Our main heroine, Fran, is a journalist who has become a news anchor, chosing an easier albeit somewhat more boring life over investigative journalism. Her predecessor is covering the campaign of presidential candidate Peter Kent. While the focus on the campaign trails, a sinister serial killer, the so-called Zyklon murder, grabs our attention by killing five descendants of Nazis with Zyklon gas.
Fran can’t resist to get involved in the investigation.
The story is complex with an inter-woven plot that links the murder and the campaigns, but it also links the present investigation with the previous thriller “Fava”, explaining some of the backstory and characters, which gives a rewarding sense of continuity and character development.

The themes are all very relevant to current affairs but this novel is far from a black and white scenario as one might expect. It’s fast paced with plenty of surprises and twists, character evolvement and character depth, humanity and morals.

Hazen has a knack for subtlety and nuances, unpredictable turns and a intelligent and sensitive writing style. I’m a big fan of all of his novels so far and cannot recommend this enough. A true gem.

Bio: John Hazen came to writing novels relatively late in life, but once he started he hasn’t looked back. He was born and raised in Massachusetts but has lived in the New York City/New Jersey area for the past forty years. Degrees from Rutgers, The New School and NYU buttress a lifelong passion for learning and a love of history. Inspired by Lynn, his wife of over thirty-five years, he pursued the dream of becoming an established author and is now working on his fifth book. John and Lynn love to travel, and the experiences of those travels find their way into his writing. John’s reading tastes are eclectic, ranging from histories to classic novels to an occasional piece of modern trash. His absolute “must reads” are Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potterseries and Doris Kearns Goodwin’s No Ordinary Time.

JOhn Hazen

Website –

Twitter – @john_hazen

Facebook –

Book links:

Aceldama – or

Fava – or

Journey of an American Son – or

Dear Dad –

Guest Post: “In The Shadow Of The Gallows” by Helen Hollick

Here is a guest post by the wonderful Helen Hollick, award winning author and a great supporter of other writers.

Pirates have fascinated people for several centuries. They were the  terrorists of their age, these sailors of the early eighteenth century who went ‘On the Account’ hoping to gain a fortune  often led a short, but exciting life. Albeit one supplemented by rum and debauchery. Theirs was a harsh life, overshadowed by the presence of death by injury, illness or the hangman’s noose. But the lure of gold, the excitement of the Chase – and the freedom that life aboard a pirate ship offered, was worth the risk.

Or was it? 

Helen has written a series of nautical Voyages based around her fictional pirate, Captain Jesamiah Acorne and his ship, Sea Witch, but her latest UK release in paperback is a non-fiction book – Pirates: Truth and Tales published by Amberley Press, which explores our fascination with the real pirates and those who are favourites in fiction. Today, Helen drops anchor for another interesting addition to her on-line two-week Voyage around the Blogs with a pirate or two for company…


The ‘Golden Age’ of piracy. The early 1700s, the Caribbean, the Spanish Main and the get-rich-quick lure of treasure. Not via the illusive map with ‘X marks the spot’, however, as very few pirates buried their ill-gotten-gains on deserted islands. Most of the profit from what they plundered from their unfortunate sea-going victims was frittered away in the brothels and taverns of Tortuga, Port Royal and Nassau, the most popular harbours to drop anchor. At least until the hangman came along.

Not all pirates were successful, a few were downright inept, a couple retired with an amassed fortune, although even they had their hopes of a quiet life ashore as a Gentleman thwarted. Henry Morgan among them, (yes he of the Rum Label fame.) Morgan was, in theory, a privateer – which meant he had a government-granted license to plunder the Spanish, or whomever England happened to be at war with, so basically, the Spanish! Eventually, Morgan was made Governor of Jamaica and he raked in a nice little earner from taxing the goods the pirates brought in to sell. There was so much wealth in Port Royal – known for a time as the ‘wickedest place in the world’ – that even the humblest servant could afford to buy trinkets and luxuries. Morgan fell out of favour with the government though, and ended his days as a ‘has been’, although many mourners who remembered those bygone better days lined the route of his funeral procession. Several years later an earthquake struck Jamaica and an entire section of the town sank beneath the sea. Morgan’s grave along with it.

Captain William Kidd claimed he had been commissioned as a privateer, originally as a pirate hunter, although evidence against him showed otherwise and he was hanged at Wapping on the River Thames. The evidence seems circumstantial and was probably brought about because Kidd failed to bring home a fortune for his sponsors.

The crew of a ship known as Bachelor’s Delight amassed a good bit of wealth between them, but again their claim of being privateers was challenged and the wealth was confiscated by King William and Queen Mary. They put it towards building a college in Williamsburg, Virginia. Although not the original building, the William and Mary College is still there today – founded on pirate loot.

Several of the famous pirates we know of hanged: Charles Vane, ‘Calico’ Jack Rackham and his crew – although not the two women who sailed with him. Anne Bonney and Mary Read had their execution delayed because they were pregnant. Mary died in gaol, but we don’t know what happened to Anne. Stede Bonnet hanged, as did the captured crew who sailed with Edward Teach – Blackbeard. Teach himself died in a ferocious battle with the Royal Navy. After the fight, his corpse was found to have several gunshot and cutlass wounds. The body was decapitated then flung overboard, with the head displayed aboard as a trophy. He is said to haunt the area of the Ocracoke where he died. Apparently, his ghost is looking for its head.


Hanging, back then in the eighteenth century, was regarded as a family day out, a festival day where traders could guarantee good sales from the people who came to gawp at the victim: man or woman, pirate, thief, murderer – or alas a poor soul caught for ‘indecency’. Homosexual men were hanged along with the criminals, their sexuality regarded as a crime.

The one to be hanged was expected to put on a good ‘show’. Any quivering cowards were booed and pelted with detritus, those who had an air of swaggering bravado were cheered and heartily applauded.

Hanging was not a pleasant way to die; until the ‘long drop and short stop’ was introduced it could take anything up to twenty minutes to slowly strangle to death, a process quickened if family or friends hanged on to the victim’s legs and torso. And yes, that is where the term ‘hangers on’ comes from.


What the condemned wore was also important. Many a pirate headed for the gallows dressed in style and finery, with French lace at cuff and throat, plumed hat and colourful ribbons braided into the hair. The better quality these clothes and trinkets, the better advantage for the executioner, for he would later sell them for a handsome profit. One woman, Hannah Dagoe, arrested for stealing in 1763 cheated the hangman out of his extra money by stripping off her clothes as she was taken to the gallows, tossing bits of finery to the admiring crowd and arriving at the place of execution with very little on. She then further insulted the hangman by kneeing him in the groin as he put the noose in place and jumped out of the cart, breaking her own neck.


The rope itself, after it had done its job, would be cut into short lengths and sold as souvenirs by the hangman, who was more often than not a criminal himself, reprieved with the condition that he executed others. For this reason it is very rare to have the hangman’s name or identity recorded.


The sixth Sea Witch Voyage of my nautical adventure series (or the seventh if you count a prequel e-format novella, When The Mermaid Sings) featuring ex-pirate Captain Jesamiah Acorne is in process of being written. (Mid-2018, publication intended by early 2019.) It is entitled Gallows Wake. But which character is to face the threat of the noose, I am not revealing…


Trouble follows pirate captain Jesamiah Acorne like a ship’s wake. Can a white witch tame him, or will the sea or the noose claim him first?


© Helen Hollick

Pirates: Truth And Tales published in paperback in the UK July 2018 and November 2018 in the US – but available for pre-order.


Buy the Books: Amazon Author Page (Universal Link)

Sign up for Helen’s Newsletter and be entered for an annual prize draw.

One name ‘picked from the hat’ in December will win a £10/$10 Amazon gift voucher.

Subscribe here:




Main Blog:


Twitter: @HelenHollick

Discovering Diamonds:


Follow Helen’s Tour:

These links will take you to the Home Page of each blog host – Helen says thank you for their interest and enthusiasm! For exact URL links to each article go to Helen’s website:  which will be updated every day of the tour.


30th July: Cryssa Bazos Dropping Anchor to Talk About Pirates

31st July: Anna Belfrage Ships That Pass…

1st August: Carolyn Hughes Pirates of the Middle Ages

2nd August: Alison Morton From Pirate to Emperor

3rd August: Annie Whitehead The Vikings: Raiders or Pirates?

4th August: Tony Riches An Interview With Helen Hollick (and maybe a couple of pirates thrown in for good measure?)

5th August: Lucienne Boyce Anne and Mary. Pirates.

6th August: Laura Pilli Why Pirates?

7th August: Mary Tod That Essential Element… For A Pirate.

8th August: Pauline Barclay Writing Non-Fiction. How Hard Can It Be?

9th August: Nicola Smith Pirates: The Tales Mixed With The Truth

10th August: Christoph Fischer In The Shadow Of The Gallows

11th August: Debdatta What Is It About Pirates?

12th August: Discovering Diamonds It’s Been An Interesting Voyage…

13th August: Sarah Greenwood Pirates: The Truth and the Tales

14th August: Antoine Vanner The Man Who Knew About Pirates



Helen moved from London in 2013 and now lives with her family in North Devon, in an eighteenth century farmhouse. First published in 1994, her passion now is her pirate character, Captain Jesamiah Acorne of the nautical adventure series, The Sea Witch Voyages. Helen became a USA Today Bestseller with her historical novel, The Forever Queen (UK title A Hollow Crown) the story of Saxon Queen, Emma of Normandy. Her novel Harold the King (US title I Am The Chosen King) explores the events that led to the 1066 Battle of Hastings. Her Pendragon’s Banner Trilogy, set in the fifth century, is widely praised as a more down-to-earth historical version of the Arthurian legend. She has written three non-fiction books, Pirates: Truth and Tales, Smugglers in Fact and Fiction (to be published 2019) and as a supporter of indie writers, co-wrote Discovering the Diamond with her editor, Jo Field, a short advice guide for new writers. She runs the Discovering Diamonds review blog for historical fiction assisted by a team of enthusiastic reviewers.

Helen is published in various languages.

Author Spotlight: Geoff Le Pard

Sometimes a short article can say more about an author and their work than a page of great reviews and marketing slogans.
Geoff Le Pard is a gifted author (I featured him on my blog a few times), a fascinating and remarkable man (great cook, obscure beard colourer) and this is a lovely post he wrote about his departed mother who’s featured in his new book.

M J Mallon Author

I’m thrilled to welcome Geoff Le Pard to my blog home today. Anyone who writes about family gets my undivided attention. There’s nothing like family!

His new book Apprenticed To My Mother was released on Tuesday 12th June.

He’s written a lovely moving anecdote about his dear departed mother, Barbara’s funeral and her brother Ted especially for this Author Spotlight.

Read on:

When I came to write my memoir of the period between my father’s death and my mother’s, I started by focusing on the two funerals. My father’s was the first where I played any significant role, and mostly I wanted to make sure whatever happened, it met Mum’s approval. With Mum’s, since my brother and I were now orphaned I felt freer to let it reflect how I imagined it could be the best recognition and, in my judgement, celebration of a life well lived. My brother was…

View original post 1,177 more words

Historical Saturday: Olga NM’s review of “The Artist and the Soldier” #LGBT #WW2 #Histfic


, ,

Originally posted on Olga NMThe Artist and the Soldier by Angelle PettaThe Artist and the Soldier by Angelle Petta

The Artist and the Soldier by Angelle Petta

Two young men come of age and fall in love against the backdrop of true events in World War II—It’s 1938. Bastian Fisher and Max Amsel meet at a Nazi-American summer camp, Siegfried. Neither boy has any idea what to do with their blooming, confusing feelings for one another. Before they can begin to understand, the pair is yanked back into reality and forced in opposite directions. Five years later, during the heart of World War II, Bastian’s American army platoon has landed in Salerno, Italy. Max is in Nazi-occupied Rome where he has negotiated a plan to hire Jews as ‘extras’ in a movie—an elaborate ruse to escape the Nazis. Brought together by circumstance and war Bastian and Max find one another again in Rome.
Exploring the true stories of Camp Siegfried, a Nazi-American summer camp in New York and the making of the film, La Porta del Cielo, which saved hundreds of lives, The Artist, and the Soldier is intense, fast-moving, and sheds light on largely untouched stories in American and Italian history.

Author Angelle Petta
Author Angelle Petta

About the author:

Petta holds an MA from Emerson College and a master’s equivalency in Drama Therapy through the NADTA. She is a registered drama therapist and a Ph.D. student at Lesley University. She works as a Drama Therapist at an Expressive Arts Center in Virginia called A Place To Be.

She lives, works, and writes in Northern Virginia with her husband, two delightful dogs, and one fat cat.

Olga’s review:

When I was approached about the possibility of reviewing this book, I was fascinated by the historical background behind it, which I was not familiar with. A book combining World War II, Nazi summer camps in the US, the filming of a movie by Vittorio De Sicca in Rome during the war, and a love story, had to be a winner.

The author manages to combine a coming-of-age (both male protagonists, Max and Bastian, are very young at the beginning of the book) and love story with a fascinating historical background. The two youths meet at a Nazi summer camp in New York. Both their fathers are German and want them to grow up aware of their heritage. Max and Bastian are, in many ways, mirror images of each other, opposites that, indeed, attract. Bastian looks German (blond, tall, strong), is impulsive and always excels when it comes to sports, and outdoor activities, whilst Max takes after his Italian mother, is quiet, and has the soul of an artist. They both suffer trauma and have difficult childhoods, although in different ways. The unlikely pair becomes close and Bastian supports Max when tragedy strikes, although things take a bad turn, and they end up separated by life and circumstances.

They go their separate ways, and we keep waiting, convinced they will meet again. Bastian is still daring, impulsive, and is plagued by self-hatred and doubt. Max, who has always been more accepting of his own identity and has become stronger and more determined, has been living in Italy, has studied film, and finds a great opportunity to help Italian Jews. He takes part in the project of filming a movie under the protection of the Vatican and comes up with the idea of offering them contracts there. De Sica is determined to keep filming for as long as he can to keep all those people safe, and this historical fact provides a fascinating backdrop to the story of the two lovers.

The story, told in the third person, follows the point of view of the two male characters first, and later we also get to read about the adventures of Ilsa, Bastian’s sister, a fantastic character, from her point of view. She is strong, a fighter, and is determined to find her brother, no matter how far she has to go and what she has to do. Her experiences as a nurse during the war are gripping, and she keeps working despite terrible personal loss, hardship, and deprivation. Her character allows us to see things from a different perspective and also provides us more background into Bastian’s character, that is, perhaps, the most complex of the book, at least in my opinion.

Although the love story is central to the book, this is not a light and easy book to read. Apart from the tragedy and the terrible events that happen during the war, there is child abuse, mental illness, bullying, and the novel does not shy away from the unsavoury aspects of life. The characters are not all good and perfect either, and they sometimes do things that are questionable, while at others they can behave like true heroes.

The writing beautifully conveys the emotions of the characters, the setting (Rome as an open city provides a great backdrop), and the relationships, without going over the top with the descriptions, and ensuring the story keeps moving at a good pace. Being a big movie fan, I would have liked to read more about the filming of the movie, but the author refrains from getting sidetracked, and the guest appearances by the actors of the film and the interventions by De Sica are all the more enjoyable for being kept under control and not overwhelming the main story.

I wanted to share a couple of quotes from the book:

“Travel safely, signora. It is a dangerous world we are living in.” Her world had always been a dangerous one. A gun instead of a fist, a war instead of an irate father, her present didn’t feel so different from her past.” (This reflection belongs to Ilsa, Bastian’s sister).

Did something as inconsequential as film belong in this new world? It was De Sica who’d helped him see his misconception. “We need film, and music, and art, more than ever now,” De Sica had said. “These mediums help us remember that we are humans living in a world filled with monsters. What we are doing here is not frivolous. It is saving us, our humanity.” (Max questions his vocation, but De Sica comes to the rescue).

The ending feels appropriate and fits in well with a love story. It shows that both characters have grown and learned to accept who they are and what their relationship means. Other issues are resolved as well, and although some of the coincidences and the way the characters always seem to be in the right place at the right time require some suspension of disbelief, this does not go beyond the expectations for the genre.

In an end note, the author explains the conception of the story and clarifies that although Max, Bastian, and Ilsa are creations of her own imagination, the historical events and backdrop are accurate, and she has used her fictional characters as a conduit to tell the story. I believe this would be a great selection for book clubs, as there is much to discuss and many interesting aspects that will attract readers of different types of stories.

I recommend this book to readers of historical fiction, especially those interested in WWII, Italian cinema, and love stories with complex protagonists. I look forward to following the author’s career in the future.

In case you are interested, the author has shared a link to an article about the Nazi summer camps in the US in an interview. Here it is:

Review for “Time to Let Go” #Alzheimers

Another great surprise to find new reviews for TIME TO LET GO
my #Alzheimers drama

This takes place in England and the style of writing seems to reflect that in some of its writing style and a serious tone/ perspective on a family dealing with Alzheimer’s. Hanna returns home and has opposing ideas how to deal with her Mother’s decline. She prefers distraction and varied experiences vs. Dad who is very much into protective mode and daily routine. Each member chooses how they wish to deal with the reality of the disease, none of which change the decline of Biddy, the wife/mother. The toll of everyone ‘s health and mental well being becomes a heavy burden and responsibility.

Lately, I’ve been reading several novels dealing with Alzheimer’s to help with my friend’s family who is dealing with this. It is devastating and affects everyone in the family differently. It has been researched and the insight to be gained by reading these novels is a learning experience for anyone, whether or not touched by Alzheimer’s.

Customer Review

5.0 out of 5 stars
Hit a nerve – in a good way
Alzheimer’s, the dynamics of a close family, learning to live with saying goodbye (or not). As a reader, Time To Let Go was an utterly compelling read for me. I’m at the point in my life, where I’m starting to look very closely at caring for my aging parents, so I took a lot of deep breaths reading this. What I loved about Time to Let Go was that it’s power was in its simplicity. With chapter titles like “Lunch,” “The Pool” and “Dinner,” I was able to get into the day to day life of this family in a very intimate way. Their losses were mine, and their love became mine, too. A bittersweet and elegant read.


This book had an extremely relevant topic, which will touch many people who read the novel. I have very little first hand knowledge of Alzheimers but the difficulties and frustrations of dealing with a sufferer came across loud and clear in the storyline. Biddy’s family are divided about the kind of care that she should receive and each deals with her condition in very different ways. Some are hands-on, some challenge poor Walter, Biddy’s husband about the style of care he has opted for and some just stay away. It’s a very sad novel and probably a real reflection of what it’s like to watch a loved one slip away at the hands of such a disease.

Of all the characters, I felt that Biddy herself was the most well drawn. I wanted to like Hanna but for that, she needed much more depth. There was an unrealism about the airline thread and I think much more could have been made of that, to stop it just being a book about the disease with more action played out on the journalist issue. It felt as though there were threads in the novel which weren’t grasped hold of, as though the characters wanted to have a mind of their own and were denied it. Without giving spoilers, there were possible relationships that could have been exploited to add another angle and a bit more interest. I felt like the epilogue was a bit of a slap in the face. It was a diary of events that told me more than I got throughout the whole novel. One thing I really struggled with was the lack of contractions in speech. It felt really wooden because real people don’t speak like that.

It has the potential to be a great story, but needs a tidy up with stronger plot lines outside of what Biddy does each day and how Walter does or doesn’t cope with it. The research about Alzheimers is faultless. The reader is left in no doubt how cruel the disease is or the conflicts which rage for carers, not to mention the outside pressures and physical realities for them. With a bit more umph, this novel can be something a carer picks up and finds light relief in, whilst understanding that the author knew exactly how they were feeling.

Latest reviews for Ludwika

A pleasant surprise on my most recent visit to my Amazon page : A bunch of new reviews for Ludwika #gratitude
“Worrying has never done anyone any good,” her father used to say. “When something awful happens you have to deal with it. Do your best and hope it is enough.”
Very interesting account. Ludwika wasn’t a saint, she was a real human, and this was an intimate portrayal.

Ludwika is based on a real person, with her story pieced together and re-imagined by the author. A commendable part of this book is the mission to find Ludwika’s lost relatives in Poland. War separates and destroys people. Veterans often search for former crewmates and soldiers, both living and dead. Refugees do the same.

This novel is also commendable in the arena of ethics and morality. Examples of human cruelty and kindness can lead us to examine our own lives. We might wonder whether we would respond with one or the other in terrible circumstances. We might realize we can be hasty and uninformed in our judgments of those people who have faced such circumstances.

Ludwika, the young Polish woman, makes an initial decision, which is a compromise, meant to save her family. There is no win-win possible for her as the Nazis begin their occupation of Poland and take over her town. She knows her decision to leave Poland with a German officer, to live in Germany, will be seen as betrayal, both of her country and her family, especially her young daughter.

This initial decision sets a series of events in motion, sending her spiraling into the heart of the beast. Throughout it all, though, Ludwika focuses on the better aspects of the people she meets more than on the less palatable. How can this young German officer be so bad if he treats her with such gentleness and apparent love? He seems to be honest, so she trusts him. She believes he will keep his word and her family will be protected.

Ludwika has the desires and passion of a young woman. She is at times selfish and foolish, other times caring and perceptive. She longs for a life partner and a family. Uprooted by war, she strives to belong, but the dangers of her life as an outsider in Nazi Germany fray her nerves, at times making her lose hope or act out of fear, or hope for the wrong thing. Time and again she renews her sense of purpose: to survive and protect her family.

One day, she hopes to return to Poland and be reunited with her family, although she knows it may be impossible due to her own actions. Beyond that, she knows what life in a dictatorship, as a second-class or non-citizen, is like, and toward the end of the war, she is disheartened by the Soviet Union’s takeover of Poland.

The writing style is uneven, and some of the characters inconsistent. I was distracted by the typographical errors as well (warm instead of warn, for instance). Parts of the story were well told, others less believable. I was surprised to learn that several major characters were entirely fictional. Ultimately, though, Ludwika’s story is worth reading. For me, the ending was most interesting.

This was an interesting read. I enjoyed the personalization of what was going on during the war instead of just facts and figures.
Ludwika was left to run her families home & farm after her father never returned from his trip. Even though they were Polish, they still lived in fear as to what would happen if they didn’t get their crops in, as it was well into harvest and her and her sister didn’t know how they would get it done by hand. With rumors that Jewish families were being taken from their homes and the homes given to displaced German families, they still had to hope it wouldn’t come to where they lived. Yet, as their neighbor’s family seem to be gone, they knew they had used the tractor in the past, they took a chance. While trying to get the tractor to their field Ludwika was run off the road by a German officer……..and the beginning of many misfortunes for Ludwika begins, needing to leave her daughter and family to help secure their safety, began a life of uncertainty, heartache and grief, that only faith and hope could see her through of never knowing what happened at home, or what would happen to her next. Her story is sad, yet inspirational and pray that something like this never happens again. This story is well written and kept me turning the pages to see what happened next. Excellent read and looking forward to reading more from Mr. Fischer.
The writing of this book is great as you feel as if you are there and great details. Historical books are my favorite.

Review of “The Night Watchman” by Richard Zimler

download“The Night Watchman” by Richard Zimler was a real surprise treat for me. A big fan of Zimler’s historical fiction I was amazed at how easily Zimler shifted gears into a contemporary crime novel without having to alter his atmospheric, thoughtful and sensitive writing style.

The key to this lies in his careful characterisation of the eccentric and fascinating Chief Inspector Henrique Monroe of the Lisbon Police Department. In a great opening scene our protagonist interviews a suspect and the dialogue gives us a good impression of what to expect.

The actual murder case investigated in the novel is the brutal slaying of a well-connected Portuguese businessman Pedro Coutinho, and this leads into a world of shady political corruption and sexual violence. Monroe gets deeply affected by this and needs to look closer at his own past and childhood back in Colorado.

Zimler has created excellent characters that populate the story and his writing is filled with plenty of sensitive observations, giving us detailed backgrounds for the characters and also a concise picture of present day Portugal and its economic situation. This is a rich and well composed novel that will engage its readers in many different ways.

For me it gets to show that Zimler is a multi-facetted and talented author who can bring credibility and depth to any story and genre he turns his mind to. Very impressive and highly recommended. 717gSO4d2rL._UX250_

Richard Zimler was born in Roslyn Heights, a suburb of New York City, in 1956. After earning a bachelor’s degree in comparative religion from Duke University (1977) and a master’s degree in journalism from Stanford University (1982), he worked for eight years as a journalist, mainly in the San Francisco Bay area. In 1990, he moved to Porto, Portugal, and he has taught journalism for the last sixteen years, first at the College of Journalism and now at the University of Porto. Richard has both American and Portuguese nationality. He has published seven novels over the last decade: “The Seventh Gate; “The Search for Sana”; “Guardian of the Dawn”; “Hunting Midnight”; “The Last Kabbalist of Lisbon”; “The Angelic Darkness”; and “Unholy Ghosts.” His novels have appeared on bestseller lists in 12 different countries, including the USA, Great Britain, Portugal, Italy, and Australia. Richard has won numerous prizes for his work, including a 1994 National Endowment of the Arts Fellowship in Fiction and the 1998 Herodotus Award for the best historical novel. “The Last Kabbalist of Lisbon” was picked as 1998 Book of the Year by three British critics and both “The Search for Sana” and “Hunting Midnight” have been nominated by Portuguese libraries for the Internatinal IMPAC Literary Award. “The Last Kabbalist of Lisbon”, “Hunting Midnight”, “Guardian of the Dawn” and “The Seventh Gate” form the “Sephardic Cycle,” a group of inter-connected – but fully independent – novels about different branches and generations of a Portuguese Jewish family. Richard also writes reviews for the L.A. Times and the San Francisco Chronicle. When he’s not writing, he enjoys gardening at his weekend house in the north of Portugal. –

Links: Website

The Night Watchman on Amazon 

I can also recommend his books

Hunting Midnight
The Last Kabbalist of Lisbon
The Warsaw Anagrams
The Seventh Gate”


“MUSICAL MURDERS and MAYHEM in Malmö, Sweden” – Review for “Over my Dead Body: Murder at #Eurovision”

Thanks for this newest review:

This entertaining read took me back to my youth. When I knew Malmö, Sweden and Copenhagen, Denmark well and had a big interest in Eurovision. That being said I think it is a good book for all readers, no need to be familiar with Eurovision or location. I like the main character Bebe Bollinger. it is refreshing to have a modern heroine who feels young and active at 60, looking for a future in entertainment. I liked the supporting cast and her interactions with all of them. The quest for the criminal as well as her desire to succeed and get attention as a singer and presenter were a nice mix and fun to read. Mr. Fischer’s books are always worthwhile and this one was a personal favorite.

About the book

On her return from a cruise ship gig Bebe Bollinger learns that fellow Welsh singer Bonnie Tyler has decided to enter a European Song comptition for the UK. While Bebe jealously watches the pre-publicity trail for ‘Eurovision’ in Malmö, a string of ‘odd accidents’ endangers several participants of the competition. This stirs her desire for playing detective again but also a curiosity to check out the suitability of Eurovision for her own career.
Follow Bebe’s continued search for fame and a comeback before it’s too late, step into the weird world that is Eurovision fandom and see how Bebe gets on with her naughty daughter and deals with those evil TV presenters.

One of the early reviews for the book

This is the second in the Bebe Bollinger series by Christoph Fischer. The is sleuth is once again the charming, talented and a bit snarky Bebe Bollinger, an early 60s chanteuse with a remarkable career behind her but fighting to be back in the spotlight.

It is quite a change up from the first book, the author having chosen the setting to be Eurovision, the longest-running annual international TV song competition, held in a different country each year. I have to admit I didn’t even know Eurovision existed until I started to read this book, but I learned a lot.

Bebe is colorful, intelligent and one of my favorite characters. When her friend Bonnie Tyler (think Holding Out for a Hero and Angel of the Morning) is chosen to represent the UK at Eurovision, Bebe jealously watches the pre-publicity trail for Eurovision in Malmö and discovers a string of odd accidents happening to several participants in the competition. This triggers her detective antennae and she decides to attend the event. Going there also allows her to assess the suitability of a Eurovision appearance for her own career.

The author does an incredible job describing Eurovision, with its countries’ representatives, both new and seasoned, the outrageous costumes, lighting, and most of all the crowds and the carnival atmosphere. I know he’s been to one or two!

We again meet Beth, now a former police detective with a drinking problem who does legwork for Bebe when she is otherwise occupied, and Bebe’s grasping and selfish daughter Helen, who shows up at the festival and promises to ruin Bebe’s renewed and growing reputation. Bebe somehow gets herself into the middle of the action, singing a version of one of Bonnie’s songs on stage with another vocalist and being asked to judge the competition, as well as be a presenter on the day of the event. While her status grows, contestants continue to fall until it becomes clear that what Bebe suspected all along: these are no accidents.

Bebe deals patiently and with aplomb with nasty TV reporters and career climbing presenters, but ultimately begins to think she may be the next target. I honestly did not know who dunnit or why until the very end.

For fans of Bebe Bollinger, mysteries with a colorful and detailed setting, followers of Eurovision, or women of a certain age (like me), this is the book for you! I anxiously await the next book to find out what happens with Bebe’s career.

Read the reviews and buy the book

And Amazon US:

A  small selection of other books by Christoph Fischer.


Read all the reviews and buy the books:

and on Amazon UK:

Read more reviews and follow Christoph on Goodreads


About Christoph Fischer

Christoph Fischer was born in Germany, near the Austrian border, as the son of a Sudeten-German father and a Bavarian mother. Not a full local in the eyes and ears of his peers he developed an ambiguous sense of belonging and home in Bavaria. He moved to Hamburg in pursuit of his studies and to lead a life of literary indulgence. After a few years he moved on to the UK where he now lives in a small town in West Wales. He and his partner have three Labradoodles to complete their family.

Christoph worked for the British Film Institute, in Libraries, Museums and for an airline. ‘
The Luck of The Weissensteiners’ was published in November 2012; ‘Sebastian’ in May 2013 and ‘The Black Eagle Inn’ in October 2013 – which completes his ‘Three Nations Trilogy’. “Time to Let Go”, his first contemporary work was published in May 2014, and “Conditions”, another contemporary novel, in October 2014. The sequel “Conditioned” was published in October 2015. His medical thriller “The Healer” was released in January 2015 and his second thriller “The Gamblers” in June 2015. He published two more historical novels “In Search of a Revolution” in March 2015 and “Ludwika” in December 2015.

He has written several other novels which are in the later stages of editing and finalisation.

Connect to Christoph


It would be great if you could share the post around and leave you

Mystery Review: “Death in a Mudflat” by N.A. Granger

I’m a big fan of N.A. Granger as my previous blog posts and reviews prove. I’m delighted to share my review of the much anticipated new Rhe Brewster Mystery, Death in a Mudflat by N.A. Granger.

About the book

Fearless detective, ER nurse, devoted mother, and Pequod, Maine’s, answer to Kinsey Milhone, Rhe Brewster is back on the case. When an idyllic seaside wedding is suddenly interrupted by the grotesque sight of a decaying human arm poking out of the tidal mud, Rhe is thrown head first into a treacherous world of duplicity, drugs, and murder.

With her best friend Paulette and her main man Sam, the Chief of Police, Rhe seeks to solve the puzzle of the body found in the muck while also working with the FBI to identify the source of shipments of tainted heroin flooding the local campus and community. Maine’s opioid crisis has hit the town hard, with an escalating number of overdoses. More murders are uncovered, testing Rhe’s detective skills and steely resolve. While she follows the clues, Rhe encounters some sinister inhabitants of Pequod’s underbelly, including a practitioner of the Dark Arts, a hydra-headed crime gang, and an embittered, unhinged lobsterman with an axe to grind and nothing to lose. In her relentless drive to solve the crimes, Rhe narrowly escapes a watery grave, trades blows with Russian goons, and unknowingly prompts Paulette to put her life on the line in an attempt to catch a murderer in the act.

My review:

“Murder by Mudflat” is a hugely enjoyable, fast-paced mystery with excellent attention to forensic and scientific detail. I can promise you this book will keep you at the edge of your seat. Funny and cozy scenes alternate with high-octane, breath-taking action sequences. Rhe is a wonderful character: a mother and vulnerable lover one minute and a thug-chasing and quick-witted heroine the next. Her romance with Sam and the way that Rhe’s son Jack responds to it is beautifully done and adds just the right counter-weight to the fist-punching and at times tough and explosive plot. While generally cozy in style, there are some not so cozy scenes as well.

Grainger serves us some serious issues amongst some very light-hearted and entertaining sections: drug use, murder and some other, deeply personal issues, such as forgiveness and moving on.
Her characters are very real with problems of their own and an ability to reflect that surpasses the often one-dimensional place-holders in the genre. The combination of two separate investigations which may or may not be linked makes this a particularly rich and rewarding read, with plenty of possibilities for the plot and its denouement. This is a well written, breath-taking ride through two cases that show a crime writer at her best.

Head over and buy the book

And Amazon UK

Also by N.A. Granger

51vukhrintl-_uy250_ 515qsuve6yl-_uy250_