Recent Reads: Mr Scarletti’s Ghost & Cliff House

A recent e-mail by new digital publisher, Sapere Books, alerted me to the fact they’re now publishing Linda Stratmann’s three books in the Mina Scarletti series. I had Mr Scarletti’s Ghost on my bookshelf and I rescued it this week to read. Spirit mediums are all the rage in 1871 Brighton, preying on the bereaved and vulnerable. A Miss Eustace claims to produce apparitions of the dead and ensnares Mina Scarletti’s widowed mother along with many of her friends, gaining financially from the seances. Mina is determined to expose Miss Eustace but comes up against devotees of the medium whose respectability in Brighton society is hard to break. Only by enlisting a band of family and friends can she expose the fraud.

Mr Scarletti’s Ghost is a clever and well written mystery with a wide-scale deception rather than murder at its heart. Particularly strong is the character of Mina Scarletti, disfigured by sclerosis of the spine but with a spirited character.  I’m sure she will carry the series through many books and I look forward to reading more by Stratmann. This new digital edition is out on the 5th February.

The other book I’ve read over the last week isn’t out until May but, if you enjoy a thriller with a  Cornish setting this one’s for you. Cliff House is Amanda Jenning’s fourth book and centres on a clifftop house which holds an enduring fascination for Tamsyn Tresize. She’s drawn to Edie, the daughter of the glamorous family who spend their time between London and the house, bringing a whiff of glamour and dissipation. Tamsyn’s mother, who cleans the house, warns against her getting too close to the family but both she and her brother, Jago are pulled into the destructive circle with tragic consequences.

Jennings cleverly sets most of the book in 1986, a time when bored teenagers drift into friendships just to while away the time. She touches on class divisions and local suspicion of outsiders along with destructive family forces. It’s atmospheric thriller which will delight her readers and if you haven’t read her books before, now’s the time.

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