Book Review: The Keeper of Lost Things, by Ruth Hogan

Publisher:  Two Roads

Publication date:  26th January 2017

Source: Kindle [Own purchased copy]

I flocked to The Keeper of Lost Things like a ravenous magpie as the cover and synopsis projected instant, heartwarming appeal. Who can resist a curious story where discarded, random objects find a foster home with an author who collects ‘lost things’ while he walks each day? 

I just adored the care he took to label them with a description of the ‘find’ together with the date and its location before neatly storing it in its own drawer, with the hope that one day they may be reunited with their owner, of course.

But just how crucial is it that a hair bobble, jigsaw piece, or button is reunited with the person it once belonged to?

These unlikely treasures have their own unique story to tell, some with both positive and negative attachments. It offered me a new dimension to the things I take for granted when I’m on my own travels, making me consider how many hundreds of mundane items I have stepped over and never given a second thought to…

What if those inoffensive hair bobbles had fallen from someone’s ponytail if they were running, and was it toward something or away? Was it a significant day that would change their life, or perhaps it was just one like any other? What’s its story, and more importantly that of its owner?

The reason for the collection obsession is this: once upon a time the ‘keeper of lost things’ mislaid something of his own and despite sharing his life with Laura his assistant, Freddy his gardener, and Sunshine, who beautifully refers to herself as a Dancing Drome instead of having Downs Syndrome, he has never been able to find that ‘missing something’ and his heart aches dreadfully.

It’s part love story, part reminiscence and is balanced with sadness and hope. With underlying hints of an unusual clairvoyant perspective it shows how the little connections we make in life can leave behind a legacy of memories that are reawakened at the most unexpected moments.

Overall this book delighted me as it had a curious story-line that is both uplifting and thought-provoking. And yet, like The Keeper of Lost Things, I found myself looking for something; as threads from the past are spun with the present the fascinating and unique stories behind each abandoned object created a very pleasing fabric, just not the luxurious one I had been expecting.

Rating:  3/5

(Courtesy of Amazon UK)

Meet the ‘Keeper of Lost Things’…
Once a celebrated author of short stories now in his twilight years, Anthony Peardew has spent half his life collecting lost objects, trying to atone for a promise broken many years before.

Realising he is running out of time, he leaves his house and all its lost treasures to his assistant Laura, the one person he can trust to fulfil his legacy and reunite the thousands of objects with their rightful owners.

But the final wishes of the ‘Keeper of Lost Things’ have unforeseen repercussions which trigger a most serendipitous series of encounters…

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(Courtesy of Amazon UK)

Hello dear readers, please allow me to introduce myself…

I was born in the house where my parents still live in Bedford. My sister was so pleased to have a sibling that she threw a thrupenny bit at me.

As a child I read everything I could lay my hands on. Luckily, my mum worked in a bookshop. My favourite reads were THE MOOMINTROLLS, A HUNDRED MILLION FRANCS, THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE, and the back of cereal packets, and gravestones.

I passed enough A levels to get a place at Goldsmiths College, University of London, to study English and Drama. It was brilliant and I loved it.  And then I got a proper job. I worked for ten years in a senior local government position: a square peg in round hole, but it paid the bills and mortgage. In my early thirties I had a car accident which left me unable to work full-time and convinced me to start writing seriously.

It was all going well, but then in 2012 I got Cancer, which was bloody inconvenient but precipitated an exciting hair journey from bald to a peroxide blonde Annie Lennox crop. When chemo kept me up all night I passed the time writing and the eventual result was THE KEEPER OF LOST THINGS, my first novel, which was published in hardback and ebook in January 2017 and is coming in paperback in September 2017.

Next year I will publish my second novel, A BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO DROWNING and you can pre-order the book now.

I live in a chaotic Victorian house with an assortment of rescue dogs and my long-suffering husband. I am a magpie; always collecting treasures (or ‘junk’ depending on your point of view) and a huge John Betjeman fan. My favourite word is ‘antimacassar’ and I still like reading gravestones.

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Book Review: The Body Under the Bridge (A Father Gilbert Mystery, Book 1), by Paul McCusker

Publisher:  Lion Hudson   |   Publication date: 20th November 2015

Body under the Bridge My Review

The Body Under The Bridge - Kindle CoverAn exquisitely written murder mystery of a mild paranormal persuasion, that’s the best description I can muster for this book! Being drenched in local history, longstanding family feuds emerge to take centre stage. With a nod toward a deathly curse, a trio of curious artefacts connected to Cromwell are sure to bring tragedy to the door of St Mark’s Church.

Father Gilbert’s ex-detective instincts battle with his logic after a series of disturbing visions are bestowed upon him. Following the death of his wife, his faith is forever intact and he’s ever the professional, taking his duties seriously. So when he is called to the aide of a parishioner, who is threatening to jump from the tower of the church, he rushes there without delay. What awaits him is a distraught fellow by the name of Colin Doyle, who after an odd conversation exchange, hands Father Gilbert a gold medallion. Shortly afterwards, Doyle jumps to his death. Gilbert calls for his staff to assist, but peculiarly there is no body and it’s determined that Colin Doyle could not have jumped, as he was discovered later, hanging in his garage at home.

And then a body appears on Lord Haysham’s land, a body under a bridge. It’s clear it’s been there since a bygone era.  The ground had already been disturbed before the police arrive on the scene, pressing a further investigation as to why.

More sinister experiences later for both Gilbert and those around him, it seems pentagrams are becoming a popular theme after being discovered at the scene of the most recent crimes. This, plus the rivalry of two families spanning centuries are keeping a so-called curse alive, threatening to haunt Father Gilbert and bring St Mark’s into disrepute. Even the police investigators are competing against one another. It seems this case is bringing out the worst in everyone.

Through sheer tenacity, together with Father Benson’s chauffeuring skills and the watchful eye of the church secretary, who throws a cold stare at the flirtatious artefact expert, Mary Aston, Gilbert must restore order and get to the bottom of the so-called resurrected curse. The task is made more difficult as he is expending precious energy trying to resist Mary’s charms. Gilbert just needs to remember to take a service every now and then before his secretary becomes even more restless!

Exactly how far will the killer be prepared to take their duty is anyone’s guess. One thing’s for sure, good and evil will clash swords and the lives of those who remain connected to the investigation hang precariously by a thread. The paranormal connotations are subtle yet enough to make an impact, and given the church’s unofficial investigation it goes without saying there’ll be references to religion, but it’s not presented in a preachy tone.

This is a genuine, brooding mystery concerning an inheritance that no one wants. The drama unfurls magnificently, with a dash of witty dialogue and a wonderful host of varied characters it kept me engrossed. If you like your crime approached in a traditional way while still having some meat on its bones, then you won’t go far wrong with A Body Under The Bridge.

Rating: 4/5

(My thanks to Rhoda at Lion Hudson for providing this atmospheric-looking paperback copy for review. Much appreciated.)

Body under the Bridge Book Summary

(Courtesy of Amazon UK)

A former Scotland Yard detective, Father Gilbert knows about death. But, now a priest of a modest Anglican church in the small town of Hailsham, he didn’t expect it to show up like this – in the suicide of a man who threw himself off the church tower, and in the discovery of a two-hundred-year-old body beneath an ancient bridge.

The deaths are linked. The mummified corpse under the bridge, a murder victim, reignites a centuries-old battle between two local families – the Todds and the aristocratic Hayshams. Then both David Todd and Lord Haysham begin to act strangely. They are fearful for reasons they won’t explain.

When Lord Haysham is murdered, David Todd is the prime suspect. But Todd is acting maniacal, claiming great forces of evil are at work. An entire history of violence and depravity begins to emerge – interweaving the history of several local families with a secret occult society that engages in Black Masses. Has the Society emerged again?

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Body under the Bridge Author Profile

(Courtesy of Amazon UK)

Paul McCusker is Creative Director at Focus on the Family. He has sold more than a million books and twenty million audio dramas. His name is also heard daily on radio stations all over the world, and by at least two million listeners every weekend through the Adventures in Odyssey series.

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