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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Here and Gone and A Vigil of Spies

An intense thriller, Here and Gone by Haylen Beck will pull you in and keep you glued to the pages.

Audra has taken her two children and gone on the run from an abusive and controlling husband.  Stopped by  a sheriff in Arizona under false pretenses, Audra finds herself placed in the sheriff's vehicle while a female deputy takes her children to a "safe place" until the situation is resolved.

However, when Audra is placed in a cell and asks about her children, the sheriff replies, "What children?"

Audra finds herself in a nightmare.  No one believes her, and it is likely that she will be charged with killing her son and daughter.

Fortunately, Audra has an ally in Danny Lee, who sees the story on the news.  Danny has endured a similar situation in California where his wife was accused of killing their daughter.  

The premise is definitely far-fetched, but the fear and anxiety of Audra's plight will keep you disturbed and outraged.  It isn't a mystery:  you know who has taken the children and why--it is the suspense that grips and holds attention. 

Haylen Beck is a pseudonym of Stuart Neville, and Here and Gone is certainly good suspense, but does not compare to the layered depths Neville achieved in The Ghosts of Belfast.  Interesting that Beck/Neville can write so well of Arizona and of his native Belfast. 

NetGalley/Crown Publishing

Suspense/Thriller.  June 20, 2017.  Print length:  304 pages.

A Vigil of Spies by Candace Robb continues the Owen Archer series.  This is one of my very favorite medieval mystery series because of the characters, both real and fictional.  Robb's meticulous blend of historical research, exceptional plotting, and believable characters impress me every time.  It is remarkably easy to enter the world she creates and become immersed in events, real and imagined, of the late 14th c.  

I was first introduced to this series in 2015  with The Apothecary Rose and have followed the series enthusiastically without a  single disappointment.

A Vigil of Spies presents a sea-change in the series as John Thoresby, the Archbishop of York is dying.  His death will leave open his powerful and influential position, and those eager to fill the Archbishopric are scrambling for favor.

Owen Archer is one of several who are concerned about the impending visit of Joan, Princess of Wales, and wife to the heir to the throne.  Joan seeks Thoresby's advice about whom to trust for the safety of her young son.  Edward III is dying, and Joan's husband, Edward, The Black Prince, is also dying.  She fears her young son Richard will become king much too young to rule.  (Richard II did succeed to the throne at ten.)  

There are soon to be a lot of vacancies in the power structure of England, and powerful families scheme as they await their chances.

An accident that proves not to be an accident; a suicide that is not a suicide.  Owen Archer struggles to resolve the situation so that the Archbishop can die in peace.

For anyone who loves historical mysteries, this is one of the best.  Robb's knowledge of the period and ability to bring to life the characters and the time period is exceptional.  There are always historical notes and references at the end and her details of the time are fascinating, but the plots, pacing, and characters are always foremost.  

Highly Recommended.

Kindle Unlimited

Medieval Mystery.  2008; 2015.  Print length:  418 pages.


  1. Have not read any Stuart Neville yet but I keep reading such great reviews of his books. Interesting that he explored writing with such a different setting.

    1. I was really impressed with The Ghosts of Belfast--layer on layer of things to think about. Tense and often brutal, the aftermath of the problems in Northern Ireland and what the hard men of the conflict turn to during the uneasy truce. Fegan's ghosts are fascinating.