PANDORA by Susan Stokes-Chapman (Harvill Secker £14.99, 352pp)

PANDORA Susan Stokes Chapman (Harvill Secker £14.99, 352pp)


by Susan Stokes-Chapman (Harvill Secker £14.99, 352pp) 

Susan Stokes-Chapman’s debut is just gorgeous. Set in Georgian London and vibrant with the sounds, sights and smells of the city, it tells the beguiling story of Dora Blake and a Greek vase that’s been smuggled by her villainous uncle into the basement of her departed parents’ once reputable antiquities shop.

Ambitious, inquisitive Dora longs to be a jewellery designer for the beau monde, but she’s also determined to unravel the mysteries behind the vase.

Edward Lawrence and Hermes Lawrence, Hermes’ pet cat, are Edward Lawrence and Hermes’ companions. They visit Somerset House, dockside slums and grand ballrooms in their search for hidden treasures.

It is romantic, suspenseful, beautiful, and a wonderful treat. 

THE CHRISTIE AFFAIR by Nina de Gramont (Mantle £16.99, 368pp)

THE CHRISTIE AFFAIR by Nina de Gramont (Mantle £16.99, 368pp)


by Nina de Gramont (Mantle £16.99, 368pp)  

Agatha Christie vanished for eleven days in 1926. Dismayed by her husband’s admission that he was having an affair and planning on divorce, she packed her typewriter and drove off into the night.

The author was not found, but her car and luggage were abandoned. These few facts are interpreted into a speculative, scintillating tale. The story includes revenge, lost love and Harrogate double murder.

Narrated by Nan O’Dea, the mistress of the unappealing Archie (Agatha’s spouse), Nan elegantly unravels the complicated connections between herself and Agatha, and slowly reveals how a charismatic, war-damaged Irishman and a rumpled, equally battle-scarred policeman tie in with endearing Agatha’s vanishment and the surprising identity of the two murder victims. 

THE KEY IN THE LOCK by Beth Underdown (Penguin £14.99, 288pp)

THE KEY IN THE LOCK Beth Underdown (Penguin £14.99, 288pp)


by Beth Underdown (Penguin £14.99, 288pp)

Ivy Boscawen’s ghost haunts her. Felled by grief at the death of her son, Tim, in the Great War, her dreams are full of embers and fire and the charred ruins of a room in a Cornish big house called Polneath; a house where a young child perished, hidden under a maid’s bed, as the smoke took hold.

Ivy was a naive 19-year-old at the time, a doctor’s daughter, who had a yearning love for Edward Tremain, the son of the volatile, violent master of Polneath.

Now, 30 years on, she’s unhappily married, disconsolate at her loss, puzzling over the past and regretful of her dubious role in the inquest into the fire. Darkly gothic, with many secrets and an eerie atmosphere, this tale is full of dark humor.

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