Throwback Thursday: Madam Tulip by David Ahern


Throwback Thursday is a weekly meme hosted by Renee at It’s Book Talk. It’s designed as an opportunity to share old favourites as well as books that we’ve finally got around to reading that were published over a year ago. If you decide to take part, please link back to It’s Book Talk.

Today I’m reviewing a book that was kindly sent to me by the author, David Ahern, quite a few months ago now but which has only just reached the top of my review pile. It’s the first in his humorous mystery series, Madam Tulip, published in April 2016.

MadamTulipAbout the Book

Derry O’Donnell, an out-of-work American actress living in Ireland, is young, talented, a teeny bit psychic … and broke. Spurred on by an ultimatum from her awesomely high-achieving mother, and with a little help from her theatrical friends, Derry embarks on a part-time career as Madame Tulip, fortune-teller to the rich and famous. But at her first fortune-telling gig – a celebrity charity weekend in a castle – a famous rap artist will die. As Derry is drawn deeper into a seedy world of celebrities, supermodels and millionaires, she finds herself playing the most dangerous role of her acting life. Trapped in a maze of intrigue, money and drugs, Derry’s attempts at amateur detective could soon destroy her friends, her ex-lover, her father and herself.

Format: eBook, paperback (308 pp.)   Publisher: Malin Press
Published: 3rd April 2016                       Genre: Mystery, Humour

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My Review

This book was a light, easy read although I have to say this reader found it mildly humorous rather than laugh out loud funny. The author has laid the groundwork for future books in the series by giving us a little of Derry’s back story and creating a cast of colourful characters, not least of which are Derry’s mother and father who despite being separated seem to maintain a volatile on-off relationship. I especially liked Derry’s Irish father, Jacko: an artist, gambler and a bit of a lad with an eye for the ladies. He’s the total opposite of Vanessa, Derry’s super-efficient, chic American mother.

Although the book is entitled Madam Tulip, Derry actually spends relatively little of the book in that persona. However, her creation gives her access to Dublin high society and allows her to be privy to information that proves both useful and, it turns out, dangerous to her and those around her. As she says: “Fortune-tellers get told things!” Derry’s gift for fortune telling doesn’t mean she always get things right though as often her visions come in the form of riddles or symbols she can’t necessarily make sense of at the time. The author’s experience as a screenwriter is evident in some of the set pieces which are well-imagined and described.

I guess I would classify Madam Tulip as a ‘cosy’ mystery even though the plot involves drugs and one character does meet a particularly sticky end (but ‘off screen’).  It’s an entertaining, light-hearted mystery that put me in mind of the US TV series “Murder She Wrote” or the UK TV series, “Jonathan Creek”. If you like either of those, I’m sure you will enjoy this.

I received a review copy courtesy of the author in return for an honest and unbiased review.

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In three words: Light, humorous, mystery

Try something similar…Zenka by Alison Brodie (click here to read my review)

David AhernAbout the Author

David Ahern grew up in a theatrical family in Ireland but ran away to Scotland to become a research psychologist and sensible person. He earned his doctorate but soon absconded to work in television. He became a writer, director and producer, creating international documentary series and winning numerous awards, none of which got him free into nightclubs.

Madam Tulip wasn’t David Ahern’s first novel, but writing it was the most fun he’d ever had with a computer. The second in the Madam Tulip mystery series, Madam Tulip and the Knave of Hearts, was published in autumn 2016. He is now writing the third Madam Tulip adventure and enjoys pretending this is actual work.

David Ahern lives in the beautiful West of Ireland with his wife, two cats and a vegetable garden of which he is inordinately proud.

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Christmas 3

Book Review: Zenka by Alison Brodie

Zenka_FinalAbout the Book

Ruthless, stubborn and loyal. Zenka is a Hungarian pole-dancer with a dark past.

When cranky London mob boss, Jack Murray, saves her life she vows to become his guardian angel – whether he likes it or not. Happily, she now has easy access to pistols, knuckle-dusters and shotguns.

Jack learns he has a son, Nicholas, a community nurse with a heart of gold. Problem is, Nicholas is a wimp. Zenka takes charge. Using her feminine wiles and gangland contacts, she aims to turn Nicholas into a son any self-respecting crime boss would be proud of. And she succeeds! Nicholas transforms from pussycat to mad dog, falls in love with Zenka, and finds out where the bodies are buried – because he buries them. He’s learning fast that sometimes you have to kill, or be killed.

As his life becomes more terrifying, questions have to be asked: How do you tell a crime boss you don’t want to be his son? And is Zenka really who she says she is?

Praise for Zenka:

A riveting read. Powerful. Spicy.’ -Midwest Book Review
5* ‘To say I loved this story would be a massive understatement.’ –Bloggers from Down Under
5* ‘Will warm your heart and chill your bones’ –Tome Tender BlogSpot
5* ‘Top of my list for best fiction this year.’ – Lauren Sapala, WriteCity
5* ‘You won’t be able to put this book down.’ –Laura Reading
5* ‘Brodie nails it again. Intelligent wit and outstanding writing.’ –Charlie Elliott, author of Life Unbothered

Format: eBook (299 pp.)                     Publisher:
Published: 6th November 2017         Genre: Suspense, Crime, Comedy

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My Review

Alison Brodie knows how to write a story full of verve, humour and memorable characters and she’s done it again with Zenka.

The story, full of twists and turns, is told largely from the point of view of Nicholas, the son of Jack’s first love, and Trevor, Jack’s accountant and trusted right-hand man. I particularly liked the relationship between Jack and Trevor – a kind of prickly bro-mance. ‘Every Christmas they would have lunch at a ludicrously expensive restaurant, go back to the office and watch The Italian Job (Jack’s choice) then Zulu (Trevor’s choice) while working through a giant box of luxury chocolates.’  Picturing this had me laughing out loud – the film choices of The Italian Job and Zulu were just so perfect! It probably helps that my husband’s name is also Trevor and that he would not be disappointed to watch either of those films on Christmas Day!

Every so often, Zenka, via her hilarious letters to her friend, Alina, pops up to act as the reader’s guide to the other characters and with her own very individual take on events in the book. From her letters, we get a sense of the inner steel behind the bubbly, colourful exterior. As the lady herself says, ‘Nobody can ignore Zenka Valentina Varga if she does not vant to be ignored!’ Actually, I would have been happy to have had more Zenka in the book. I particularly liked the scenes depicting Nicholas and Zenka’s first encounters.

Alison Brodie’s trademark comic touch is evident throughout the book and there are some great one-liners: ‘Jack and Zenka were busy concocting ways to “bring out the gorilla” in Nicholas but the truth was, they’d have more success turning Noddy into The Terminator.’

Alison Brodie does a great job of bringing together all the pieces of the jigsaw at the end of the book and slotting them into place to provide a satisfyingly complete and suitably festive picture – with a few surprises thrown in. Having had just a glimpse of Alison’s writing journey for this book, I know how hard she works on refining it so it’s good as possible. Well, all her efforts have definitely paid off with Zenka. If you love a crime caper with a touch of mystery, a sprinkling of romance and a healthy dose of black humour, this is the book for you.

I received an advance reader copy courtesy of the author in return for an honest and unbiased review.

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In three words: Funny, crime, lively

Try something similar…Brake Failure by Alison Brodie (click here to read my review)

AlisonBrodieAbout the Author

Alison Brodie is a Scot, with French Huguenot ancestors on her mother’s side. She is a writer and animal rights activist. Her books have been published in hardback and paperback by Hodder & Stoughton (UK), Heyne (Germany) and Unieboek (Holland). Alison is now a self-publisher.

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