Family Matters by Yvonne Thomas
In 1844 John returns from four years in the newly merged provinces of Canada, thankful to be returning to civilisation. The new steam technology carries him across the ocean, and swiftly back home to Brackley. But not to the comfortable family home he remembers. He arrives to find his mother newly dead and his family in disarray, each of the brothers longing to escape the control of their autocratic father; Edward the compliant eldest brother who yearns to go to the new lands in the USA; Robin forced by his father to be a land surveyor when the only thing that interests him is steam technology and the inventions which are springing up from it; Arthur held under his Father’s thumb in the family business; Charles longing for the gaiety of London society. Only Augustus has escaped – he ran away to sea years ago. After his semi independent life putting their lands in Canada into order, John obeys his father reluctantly, scheming to escape to the glories of British India. And he is uneasy over the manner of his mother’s death. The inquest finds her death natural, but, in what had seemed to him a united family, he discovers rifts and shoals, hatreds and conflicting wishes.
Set in 1844, Family Matters portrays life in a stratum of society seldom covered by historians – not the upper classes, not the poor, but the respectable middle classes. The story is told from the viewpoint of young men starting their lives, fired with enthusiasm for the times they live in, a time of great social and technological change.
Enormously Improved by Death by Poppy Raven
Most people disliked Liz Ellerman, and with good reason. Perhaps her abrasive personality, and lack of consideration for others were not enough to get her killed. However many people have guilty secrets, perhaps minor, but not something they want generally known. Liz had a way of finding out about secrets – she enjoyed having power and used it to get her own way.
At Peter’s party, Liz very clearly shows her contempt for Molly and other women who give up a career to look after their family full time. Molly, shaken by this encounter, escapes from the party into Peter’s beloved garden – only to find Liz’s dead body hanging over the edge of the swimming pool.
Though Molly ridicules the idea of employing a detective – ‘I get a vision of a long thin blue-stocking of a woman in a deer-stalker, studying everything through a magnifying glass’ – when her husband Howard is arrested she changes her mind. But Hazel is quite unlike her idea of a modern Miss Marple…
The Coward’s Weapon by Poppy Raven
Edwin Bessner is a bully. When he is poisoned at a company ‘jolly’ in Barcelona nobody in Tessuto regrets the loss of their CEO. Least of all Zoë, selected by Bessner as his latest sexual conquest. But the new CEO is also impossible. Tom alternates between friendliness and disdain. He thinks that she slept with Bessner to get promotion, and is trying the same trick with him.
When the poisoner strikes again, Tessuto employees become less complacent. Who would be next? Zoë and amateur sleuth Hazel put their heads together to work out which of their workmates is a murderer.