Month: February 2016

Before We Met, or, Why I Extensively Googled Anyone I Went on a Date With.

REVIEW: Before We Met – Lucie Whitehouse

I don’t really read thrillers – not knowingly. They were and have long been in the realms of things-too-scary-for-Katherine-to-handle, but before we met [sic] had a really pretty cover and was on Buy One Get One Half Price at Waterstones, so it seemed rude not to.

Before We Met by Lucie Whitehouse

Ladies love exploding flowers…

So the rough premise is that Hannah Reilly, a commitment-phobe, meets the handsome and wealthy Mark. After a whirlwind romance they marry and settle down in London. She struggles to find a job while he’s flying all over the world working on a big company takeover thing, but none of that matters, because love conquers all!

Until one night, Mark misses his flight home to London. Hannah investigates, at first tentatively and then with more vigour and tenacity as it becomes clear that Mark is hiding A BIG SECRET from her. And really, how can you ever know what someone was like before you met them?

For example, OH doesn't know about my brief fling with a certain high profile celebrity.

For example, OH doesn’t know about my brief fling with a certain high profile celebrity.

As a person who is both suggestible and prone to anxiety,

I was concerned that reading this would cause me to go on a paranoid rampage through all of OH’s things, leading ultimately to the destruction of our relationship. Not because he was hiding A BIG SECRET, but because I had gone on a paranoid rampage through his things.

And perhaps I would have, suggestible as I am, were it not for one thing. When I was dating, I Googled* everyone before I met them. This has always struck me as sensible, because people are scary. Perhaps particularly when you are a single woman living alone. But whenever I’ve spoken to any of my female friends about this, they’ve acted like I was weird for doing it. I worried I was, but now I can wave Before We Met in their faces, as a manifesto for pre-date Googling*.

Considering reading this book but worried you haven’t Googled* your partner? DO IT NOW. I’LL WAIT.

Now, aren’t you glad you know for sure that there’s nothing to worry about? I wonder how many women broke off from reading this book to do exactly that.

I highly recommend Before We Met. It’s edge of your seat stuff, and I only had to read it in two sittings because the first was on my lunch break at day job. For some reason they frown on me taking more than an hour.

Also, it’s always nice to have Wakefield Prison given a shout out in literature, as the most horrible prison in the country with the most awful people in it. Good to see my home town getting some press that isn’t relating to Black Lace.

That’s what we’re famous for in Wakefield. Housing serial killers and Agadoo.

So I think I’m going to read more thrillers now. Even though this is very clearly marketed as a LADY thriller, with quotes from Cosmo and ASOS on, complementing the exploding rose on the front. Perhaps I couldn’t handle one of those thrillers with a dark-grey hue and featuring exposed brickwork and the silhouette of a man with a gun. Who can say?

Are there any thrillers (lady or otherwise) you’d recommend? Let me know in the comments! I’m already two books in to my TBR pile, so looking to stock up again…

Fancy trying before we met? Get it on Amazon here..
*Post not sponsored by Google

These Damned, Decrepit Bones – Death In The Stocks

REVIEW: Death In The Stocks – Georgette Heyer

I started reading on the Kindle mid last year, when my weak, child-wrists and their brittle sparrow bones proved unequal to the task of propping up Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell. No regrets, of course.

Upshot is though, I’ve not touched my TBR paperback pile for over six months. Until now! And so, here’s Death In The Stocks, a Georgette Heyer mystery I’ve had for 7 years!

Death in the Stocks

As an Amazon Affiliate I earn from qualifying purchases.

So, this paperback, physical book thing… How do I read while eating lunch!? How do I read while using hands for other domestic tasks?!

Oh, but the feel of the paper, though. The gentle strain on my weak wrists. The option of hurling it at people who won’t stop talking to me while I’m trying to read.


If you’re remotely into historical romance, chances are you’ve read some Heyer, for all that some can be a difficult read these days. Death in the Stocks was the first crime novel of hers I’ve read, however.

“Beneath a sky the colour of sapphires and the sinister moonlight, a gentleman in evening dress is discovered slumped in the stocks on the village green – he is dead. Superintendent Hannasyde’s consummate powers of detection and solicitor Giles Carrington’s amateur sleuthing are tested to their limits as they grapple with the Vereker family – a group of outrageously eccentric and corrupt suspects”

If you like Jeeves and Wooster, I reckon you’ll like this. There’s a very similar tone and the Verekers, the family around whom suspicion of the murder centres, have that same sort of basic stupidity as Bertie Wooster and his friends. It’s almost irritating at times, but I couldn’t help but be entertained.

 “You were angry enough to write a letter telling your half brother that it would give you great pleasure to wring his neck-“

“Bloody neck,” corrected Kenneth.

“Yes, his bloody neck is the term you used. You felt strongly enough to write it, and then forgot all about it?”

“No, I forgot I’d written it,” said Kenneth. “I didn’t forget that I wanted to wring his neck. My memory’s not as bad as that.” 

Our main suspects are bull-terrier breeder Antonia (Tony) Vereker and her artist brother Kenneth, both of whom have beef with the deceased, their wealthy and unpleasant half brother. They make no secret of their joy at his demise, and aren’t really bothered by being suspects, except for finding it something of an inconvenience that the police keep popping round unannounced.

I suppose this falls into the cosy category of mysteries, and it’s definitely the fluffy end of the murder scale. It’s hardly a brain teaser and I think the “whodunnit” aspect is a pretty easy solve. Don’t read it for the mystery, read it for the japes. While I wouldn’t want to be the Vereker’s downstairs neighbours, I wouldn’t mind going to one of their parties.

Have you read any of Heyer’s mysteries? I’ve still got Penhallow on my bookshelf, which I’ll probably dig out next time I need a bit of light-hearted escape. That’s likely to be soon, since we’re about to enter the terrifying realms of buying a property…

If you fancy giving Death In The Stocks a go, you can find it on Amazon here.

Want another period mystery? Try this…


Katherine Holt, Gothic Mystery Writer

I’ve been thinking for a while about how to start this blog off. It seems wise to just start with an introduction, so we can get to know one another, and figure out what’s going on here. Murder and Manners!? What the hell!?

Hi, I’m Katherine, and I’m a Gothic Mystery writer.

When I was little, I was scared of everything. If anything was remotely frightening, I was traumatised, unable to sleep for days. I’d make myself sick with it, with everything from shadows to moths to bad vibes to… well, pick a thing that isn’t pink fluffy cats, and I was probably scared of that too. I was squeamish to the point where I couldn’t even hear about someone cutting their finger without having to leave the room. But as I got older it became necessary to toughen up a little bit and, like Batman, I realised that to conquer fear, I must become fear itself. I didn’t watch Batman, though. Too scary.

So I started forcing myself to face my fear. I read to the end of the scary books, made myself turn off the night light. I read and watched things which were a little bit grosser than I thought I could handle, just so I knew that I could, and didn’t need to be frightened any more.

It took a long time.

I realised that fiction, for all that some of it might scare me, was a safe place. Allowing myself to be scared by things – things which aren’t even scary, really – was quite fun. Because it wasn’t real, it just felt real for a little while.

I discovered historical romance in my late teens, and the more Gothic they were, the better. I ended up finding that if there wasn’t any death in a book at all, I couldn’t believe it. This was history – people were dying all the time! Then I started writing books, and found that if they weren’t just a little bit murdery, a little bit deathy, I wasn’t interested in writing them. And before you know it… I’m a Gothic Mystery writer!

I’m still scared of lots of things. I won’t read or watch horror, for example. Then there’s the anxiety which stops me talking to people easily, the perpetual fear that I’ve offended friends, strangers, or the fear that if I don’t say “take care”, before my boyfriend leaves for work, that he won’t take care and therefore die. The nagging feeling that I will inadvertently start a train of events leading to the end of humanity as we know it, and the dawn of the age of moths. I’m also still scared of moths. But historical fiction and things which are, for want of a better term, “deathy” no longer give me sleepless nights.

They fascinate me.

I’ve written five Gothic Mystery books to date, and each one has had more murder than the last. My next series is set in a mortuary, so that trend seems set to continue!

I’ve set this blog up as a place to share the cool things I find out when I’m doing research, some awesome historical fiction I love, and hopefully to meet people who are just as into this stuff as I am.

So, welcome. Whether you’re a devotee of Christie or a die-hard Bones fanatic, hopefully there’ll be something for you here.

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