Tag Archives: Patrick Canning

Hawthorn Woods by Patrick Canning – book review

Disclosure.  This post is a review of an e-book I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.

I have received a free e-copy of the book Hawthorn Woods by Patrick Canning to review, which is a very different genre to his previous book The Colonel and the Bee which I read a couple of years ago.

Hawthorn Woods by Patrick Canning

Here is the book blurb.

Seeking to rediscover herself after a divorce, a detective-minded woman embarks on solving the small mysteries of a Midwest neighborhood, only to learn the secrets hidden there are more horrifying than she could have ever imagined.

Summer, 1989. Reeling from a catastrophic divorce, Francine Haddix flees San Francisco for a two week stay at her sister’s house in Hawthorn Woods, Illinois. The quaint neighborhood of shady trees and friendly neighbors seems like the perfect place for her to sort through her pain and move on with her life.

But Francine quickly discovers the “idyllic” neighborhood is hiding a number of disturbing mysteries. Behind every door and window there’s marital strife, simmering grudges, and a secret so terrible, someone will kill to keep it quiet.

Francine rewrites her prescription from relaxation to investigation. If she can remember how to trust herself, she might discover what’s hidden in Hawthorn Woods. She might even be able to believe the future can be good again, assuming she stays alive long enough to be in it…

This story is set in 1989 when Francine house-sits for her sister Ellie, whilst trying to get her life back on track after a messy divorce. Before Ellie and husband Pete leave for their own holiday, they throw a party introducing Francine to all their neighbours.

Francine bonds with Ellie’s best friend Laura-Jean and elderly Roland Gerber at the party, but why does Magdalena throw a cocktail in Francine’s face? Following in the footsteps of her heroine Nancy Drew, this is the first mystery that Francine tries to investigate. She gets Laura-Jean to give her a gossipy tour of the neighbourhood, which helps to build a picture of all the characters. The neighbourhood feels very much in period with the time it is set.

But one thing leads to another, as Francine makes more discoveries. There are certainly some very unexpected twists that I didn’t see coming.

Initially I wasn’t sure what to make of this story, but it certainly grew on me as the storyline developed.

Hawthorn Woods is available on Amazon, in paperback or Kindle format. A psychological suspense filled mystery.

About the author

Patrick Canning is the author of three novels, including Cryptofauna (2018), The Colonel and the Bee (2018), and his latest, Hawthorn Woods (2020). He has also published several short stories. When he isn’t writing, he enjoys playing beach volleyball, following space exploration, and losing at bar trivia. Patrick lives in Los Angeles with his dog Hank, who some consider to be the greatest dog of all time.

To find out more about the author you may visit his website.

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The Colonel and the Bee by Patrick Canning

I have received a free e-copy of the book The Colonel and the Bee by Patrick Canning to review. For more information on the author, you may see his website.

The Colonel and the Bee by Patrick Canning

Here is the book blurb.

A peculiar explorer and downtrodden acrobat span the globe on a building-sized hot air balloon, in search of a precious artifact and the murderous treasure hunter who seeks it.

Beatrix, a spirited but abused acrobat in a traveling circus, seeks more than her prison-like employment offers. More than anything, she wants to know her place in the world of the halcyon 19th century, a time when the last dark corners of the map were being sketched out and travel still possessed a kind of magic.

One night in Switzerland, the mysterious Colonel James Bacchus attends Beatrix’s show. This larger-than-life English gentleman, reputed to have a voracious appetite for female conquests, is most notable for traveling the world in a four-story hot air balloon called The Ox.

Beatrix flees that night to join the Colonel, and the two of them make a narrow escape—Beatrix from her abusive ringleader, the Colonel from a freshly-made cuckold. Beatrix, feeling the Colonel may have the answers to her problems, pledges to help him catch the criminal he seeks in exchange for passage on his magnificent balloon.

The criminal seeks a precious figurine, The Blue Star Sphinx, but he’s not alone. The Sphinx’s immense value has also drawn the attention of the world’s most deadly treasure hunters. A murder in Antwerp begins a path of mystery that leads all the way to the most isolated island on Earth.

What dangers await the Colonel and the acrobat?

Well this is certainly a unique storyline like no other. The book starts in 19th century Switzerland where “The Amazing Beatrix” is an acrobat in Ziro’s touring circus. After the performance in the Big Top, Ziro takes her to perform at a private dinner at Chartish Manor. Here she meets the Colonel James Bacchus, a jolly character with flowers in his hat, who travels the world in a multi-storey hot air balloon. My mind boggled at how many rooms were under this colossal balloon.

Beatrix makes up her mind to escape the circus from Ziro’s whippings and flees with the Colonel in his balloon, who is also running from an enraged Lord Chartish, having just slept with his wife. But he only permits her to stay one night, as he is on a mission to find a dangerous criminal. Bee persuades him that she can help.

From Switzerland, they follow a lead to Antwerp, where they meet the Colonel’s friends, Thelma and George, but too late. They find a murdered man and a clue. The trail leads through Spain, Gibraltar, Britain, Africa and on and on, meeting friends, foes and treasure hunters along the way. What will the outcome be?

I salute this author for his inspired creativity with this storyline. So far-fetched that this book stands in a genre of its own. I wasn’t sure what to think when I first read the blurb, but I definitely liked it.

The Colonel and the Bee is available on Amazon, currently priced at £12.95 in paperback or £3.99 in Kindle format. A fantastical adventure.

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Disclosure.  This post is a review of an e-book I was sent for free.  All opinions are my own.