Monday Mourning by Kathy Reichs

Val Penny's Book Reviews

Kathleen Joan Toele Reichs was born on July 7, 1948.  She now writes crime novels but is also an academic and qualified forensic anthropologist.   She is a professor of anthropology at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte USA.  She divides her work time between the Laboratoire des Sciences Judiciaires et de Médecine Légale for the province of Quebec in Canada and her professorship at UNC, Charlotte.   She is one of only eighty-two forensic anthropologists certified by the American Board of Forensic Anthropology.  She is also on the Board of Directors of the American Board of Anthropology.   Her schedule also involves a number of speaking engagements around the world.  Reichs has been a producer for the TV series  Bones which is based on her series of “Bones” books.  She has two daughters, Kerry and Courtney, and one son, Brendan.


In this book, the bones of three young women are…

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Beneath the Bleeding by Val McDermid

Val Penny's Book Reviews

Beneath the Bleeding is an ambitious novel, written on a grand scale.  It tackles pertinent social issues and is the fifth of McDermid’s novels that develops her two highly memorable characters: forensic profiler Tony Hill and his police ally DCI Carol Jordan.  Image

This book, is as disturbing as it is compulsively readable.  The author continues to add new levels to this psychological thriller — something that McDermid seems able to do in every new book.

The story starts when a star footballer has been murdered in the city of Bradfield. Shortly aftewards, an explosion rocks the town’s football stadium and wreaks mass carnage. In the current climate of fear regarding home-grown terrorism, it is inevitable that suspicion falls in this direction but DCI Jordan and her time must discover if that really is what is involved here.  It might be a bloody working out of some kind of revenge…

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Aftershock by Quintin Jardine

I really like Quintin Jardine’s books.

Val Penny's Book Reviews

Quintin Jardine is a major Scottish crime writer who hails from Motherwell in Scotland.  He was born there on 29th June 1945 and educated at University of Glasgow.  He now lives in Scotland and in Spain.


Quintin Jardine writes a number of serial style books about recurring characters.  The one I like best is Bob Skinner, the Deputy Chief Constable for the Edinburgh area of Scotland.   Another Quintin Jardine review on this site are…uintin-jardine/.

He bends rules when he needs to, and breaks them when he has no alternative.  He is also respected and liked by those he works with.

However, this is not my favourite Bob Skinner book.  The problem with this novel is that Skinner does not appear in much of the book.

This book focuses on police procedure.  Skinner’s subordinates are investigating the deaths of two Edinburgh artists who have been shot.   The boyfriends of one…

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The Village Inn, Fairlie, Scotland

Val Penny's Hotel and Restaurant Reviews

My husband and I went out to dinner with friends.  They suggested The Village Inn, Fairlie.  I knew nothing about it. so was happy to go with their suggestion. However, my husband knew this restaurant of old.  He was dubious about their choice.  The restaurant had been closed for over a year before the present owners took it over.  They have carried out an extensive refurbishment.  The result is a warm, welcoming pub and restaurant with an extensive menu, a good wine list and polite, friendly staff. bar 

The portions are generous and the food very tasty indeed.  For starters one of our friends chose garlic mushrooms and the other had prawns.  My husband had a chicken starter while I had tempura vegetables.  All the plates were cleared as the dishes were delicious.

Our main courses were equally good. We chose fajitas, steak pie, chicken and fish and chips.  All…

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Gusella’s Ristorante, 90 Eltham High Street, Eltham, Kent, England

Val Penny's Hotel and Restaurant Reviews

This is a small family run restaurant.  It is warm, the staff welcoming and the menu wide and varied.  When my husband and I recently visited London, our elder daughter suggested we go to Gusella’s for a family meal.  There were six of us, so she booked a table in advance.  This proved to be a very wise precaution.  We were there on a Friday evening and the restaurant was busy.  Nevertheless, the service was friendly and unhurried.

The menu includes a wide variety of Mediterranean dishes.  There are also main course specials, but none of these was vegetarian.  Indeed,  there is not a wide choice for vegetarians, the options that are available are very tasty.  Access for disabled people is very good.  The restaurant is bright and clean.


Each of us had a starter, just salads or brushetta.  We all enjoyed them.  Our main courses were more varied.  Our…

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Delicio’s Restaurant, 116 Eltham High Street, Eltham, Kent, England

Val Penny's Hotel and Restaurant Reviews



My husband and I stopped off here for coffee one morning and enjoyed the friendly service so much we returned the same evening for an evening meal with our daughter and her fiance.  The waitress remembered us and made us welcome.  It made us feel like really valued customers.

The restaurant was warm and very clean. The menu contained a wide choice of dishes. Our order was taken promptly. Our first courses included fish cakes, deep fried brie and also hummus. They were all very tasty. The main courses we chose were also varied. These included lamb kebab, pizza and falafel burger. We all had soft drinks.

We enjoyed a good meal with good company. There was only one fault with the service: my husband was offered a choice of fries or rice with his meal. He ordered fries, but the meal came with rice. When the mistake was…

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Goodnight Nobody by Jennifer Weiner

Val Penny's Book Reviews

Goodnight Nobody is Weiner’s first attempt at writing a mystery.    Although, I suppose this book would be classed as chick lit, it is still a really well written mystery.   Perhaps this is not so very surprising as Jennifer Weiner is a former journalist who now works as a writer and television producer.

She was born in De Ridder, Louisiana, USA on March 28, 1970.  She was educated at Simsbury High School and Princeton University and now lives with her husband and two daughters in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.

goodnightIn this book, our  protagonist, Kate Klein’s life is not what she thought it would be.   She feels trapped in suburbia with three young children.  Her days drone endlessly by in a never-ending parade of carpools, play dates, snooty super mothers, and household chores.

Kitty Cavanaugh is the undisputed queen of the mothers in Upchurch.  On the surface, she is…

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The gleaming clouds by Murray Alfredson

Val Penny's Book Reviews

Murray Alfredson is an Australian writer and poet who lives on the Fleurieu Peninsula by Gulf St Vincent in South Australia. He is a former librarian, lecturer in librarianship and Buddhist Associate in the Multi-Faith Chaplaincy at Flinders University. He has previously published essays on Buddhist meditation and on inter-faith relations in Theravada, The middle way, In the round, and Eremos.  He has also published poetry translations and essays on poetics.  Last year he published his second poetry collection: The gleaming clouds.


In this collection, Murray Alfredson displays many moods, many styles of writing and covers many themes. He glories in and laments the ephemeral as the only lasting quality. This view also harmonises with his Buddhist outlook on life.

I was excited and amazed by the wide variety of styles of poetry: each at a thought provoking level.  The anthology displays a sound knowledge and understanding of the important ideologies and…

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Killing the Shadows by Val Mcdermid

I really liked this book.

Val Penny's Book Reviews

Val McDermid is an author who was born and educated on the east coast of Scotland and then attended Oxford University. Upon leaving university, she became a journalist.  She and her cats now live in Manchester, England.  Her first book, Report for Murder was published in 1987 and since then she has gone on to have 25 more books published.  I normally really enjoy Val McDermid’s books, however, to my mind, this is not one of her best.


In this novel, a killer is on the loose, and his prey is the crime writers who have turned psychological profilers into heroes in their books. This killer has a blood lust that shatters all the conventional wisdom of how serial killers operate.  For one woman, the desperate hunt to uncover his identity becomes a matter of life and death when the case comes to the attention of Professor Fiona Cameron who…

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Dead and Buried by Quintin Jardine

Val Penny's Book Reviews

Quintin Jardine is the author of two much-acclaimed and best-selling series of detective novels.  I much prefer his Bob Skinner books.  The author was born in Motherwell, Lanarkshire, Scotland and educated there and then read law at  Glasgow University, Scotland. He proceeded to have an eventful career as a journalist, government information officer, political spin-doctor and media relations consultant.  Only after all this, did he  start writing crime fiction.


In this book, which is one of his Bob Skinner series, a serial killer, stalker, spy and a forty year old mystery make this a fast-moving crime thriller.  I really enjoyed it and found it a very good read. There was a little bit of everything going on culminating in the main investigation. It was good to see Bob Skinner actually accept that he  infallible.

As in any murder mystery, the murder is rarely cut and dried, motive and means, cause…

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