Club Hub: reviews and opinions from our Readers Groups

Welcome to a page sharing reviews and news from our many book groups across the Wakefield district. Do you agree with the reviews? Please do add your comments and opinions, we’d love to hear from you.

Here are a few reviews of crime novels our Readers Groups have been sampling.

First, two historical crime novels that I loved, set in unusual times and making a refreshing change from the Tudor period!

Flanshaw St Michaels RG read The Devil in the Marshalsea by Amanda Hodgson, set in the early Georgian period. It has since been followed by two more adventures for Tom Hawkins, The Last Confession of Thomas Hawkins and A Death at Fountains Abbey.

HawkinsThe Devil in the Marshalsea


Gripping story of the debters incarcenated there, through the eyes of Tom HAWKINS relating the harsh treatment ,tortures abuse, inflicted to poor debters is vividly portrayed despite repeats :smells, conditons ,one is captivated by this tale based on facts.

To the end, You want to know what happens to Tom .

A book to read for interests rather than enjoyment

Flanshaw St Michaels also read The Seeker, set in Cromwell’s Protectorate. If, like the group, you are fascinated by Damian Seeker, he next appears in The Black Friar.

Seeker Review for The Seeker, by S G Maclean

Winner of the 2015 CWA Endeavour Historical Dagger.

The novel is set in the time of Cromwell’s rule, where the main character, Damian Seeker  is employed to rout out any devious Royalist plots against Cromwell.

The majority of the group  found the book to be a good read, although members who had previously read historical novels by C.J. Sansom had not found it as gripping, and were  therefore disappointed. Members were struck by the atmospheric descriptions of seedy London life in those days, the Coffee House culture, drug smuggling and white slavery, and by the immense cruelty portrayed in the interrogation  and punishment of  suspects and proven offenders.

The character of the Seeker was much appreciated, as a charismatic presence, “all man”, “Darth-Veda- like”, “super- masculine”, with a magnificent horse named after a river-God, Acheron. Ultra- efficient, with an immediate grasp of any situation, and a mission to maintain order, he was capable of cruelty, but also above all was a seeker of the truth, loyal, and with a well hidden softer side. There were many layers to his character, and he was thus “not the average thug.” The plot was felt to be complex, (some felt confusing, as there were plots within plots and a multiplicity of characters) but a good “cloak and dagger” tale, full of suspense with many cliff-hanger paragraphs, and some romantic intrigue. However, there was agreement among members that the ending/resolution was a bit of a let- down compared to the rest of the action.

An outcome of the read was that members felt they had learned a lot about that period of history and were motivated to know more.


And finally,

James PD James An Unsuitable Job for a Woman

An Unsuitable Job for a Woman introduces Cordelia Gray, the first modern female detective in crime fiction. At the time of creating Cordelia Gray, P.D. James worked as a civil servant in the crime department of the Home Office. Regarding this novel, she wrote: “I wanted to have a young heroine of courage and intelligence who faces the problems of life with a determination to be successful in a job which everyone else thinks she won’t be able to do.” It was chosen for the 2016 Harrogate Crime Festival’s Big Read.

A personal review from Josephine Brown (Flanshaw St Michaels RG) for

Although a lifelong avid reader l had never read a detective novel until this early offering ( first published in 1972 ) by PD James was chosen by our Reader’s Group.  Unfortunately it proved to be a disappointing choice for me.

         It was probably one of the initial mysteries of the time featuring a woman detective.   I found the detective inconsistent and at times difficult to believe  in. She was unnecessary critical, at times cruelly so about most of the female characters.

  I also felt that the part of the story line was incredibly unbelievable and contrived.

For instance why would the murderer hire a private detective to investigate the reason why the victim had  ‘committed suicide ‘ and so put himself in danger of discovery ?

In addition would a detective trespass and stay in a cottage in the grounds of her client whilst investigating the case. Also would she perjure herself in court because she felt sympathy for the victim ?

  I understand most of my fellow members of the Readers’ Group were of similar opinion to myself but assured me that the later works of P D James were much better , so l won’t give up on detective novels just yet.

   On the plus side l found  the book well written, with enough action to make it worthwhile to carry on to the end.                                     

                             Josephine Brown





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