I'm a very private and somewhat timid person but make up for both traits by my tastes in reading matter (escapism) and harrowing reviews. Please, authors, don't take anything too seriously.


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JaneofArch's favorite authors on Smashwords

Biddy Jenkinson
Latest book: Full-Bodied Wine : A Vintage Murder.
Published November 16, 2014. (5.00 from 3 reviews)
Daphne Coleridge
Latest book: The Scarecrow Murder.
Published August 16, 2021.

Smashwords book reviews by JaneofArch

  • Sleaford Noir 1 on March 13, 2014

    Holly mackerel, Andy! What a horrible end to a half-innocent life. don't read this if you've a delicate stomach. Bout turned mine. On the other hand, if your taste run toward the tasteless, you might revel in it. Gangster warfare in Jolly Olde England, with a surprise ending.
  • 200 Steps Down on Feb. 25, 2015

    Great crime story, very dark and gritty. Should be made into a series with Nicolae Caramarin as the anti-hero—sort of a James Bond in reverse with a new gal for each story so thew author could demonstrate his talent in erotica.
  • Crystal Creek - An Adventure Story on Feb. 25, 2015
    (no rating)
    Something is wrong here. Despite poor grammar and a certain amount of very marginal writing the author has a good story going until a contest between man and beast plunges into boring everyday narrative. Somebody needs to learn how to plot.
  • Krillaz on Feb. 26, 2015

    Vic Vargo is a disgustingly one-way antihero and downright bum, even worse than my ex-boyfriend. And those animals!( Believe me, I'll never own a pet rat again.) Five stars for downright nastiness.
  • Dante’s 9 on Feb. 28, 2015

    Buckets of blood! Gallons of gore! The perfect quick read for someone whose favourite colour is red. Decently written if quite short. Only question: which Round of Nine?
  • No Leads to the Killer on Feb. 28, 2015

    Has a cute gimmicky ending but so short. Almost flash fiction and no feeling of place due to lack of description. Definitely worth a couple of minutes of ones time, though.
  • The Encounter on Feb. 28, 2015

    Is this horror or fantasy? A bit of both, I reckon. The writing style suggest a young author, still developing her technique. The formatting--dashes rather than quotes--is a bit strange. An intro volume.
  • The Horror From The Blizzard on March 03, 2015

    If there's anything I hate it's people freezing (get it?) at the sight of some horror instead of getting out the blowtorch as they did in The Thing by John Campbell.
  • Playing With Fire on Jan. 04, 2016
    (no rating)
    Clean Teen Publishing? I suppose the heroine learned all those colorful words and phrases from her Marine father?
  • The Wellington Bureau: A Quartermain Mystery on Jan. 04, 2016

    Liked it despite an offbeat premise that requires a fair effort to suspend disbelief. Slow starting but gains in charm as it goes along, ending in a petty good mystery. Unusual number of low-key characters, a change from the typical crime novel. Yes, it could use an edit for better grammar and improved style but definitely worth a read. And you can't beat the price.
  • The Trilisk Ruins on May 12, 2016
    (no rating)
    Jeezy Kirizzo! After the 'Tell, Don't Show' prologue of Trilisk Ruins, chapter 1 opens with the protagonist standing in front of a mirror and describing to herself what she sees. This might be an exciting story but the opening turned me off.
  • A New Prospect on Dec. 18, 2016

    A halfway decent police procedural that takes place in a small southern town. New sheriff comes to town and… Oh wait! That's from the standard western novel. No, in this case a retired New York cop takes the job of police chief and is immediately faced with the first local murder since the Civil War. Or something. He doesn't solve it but that's okay. Not bad writing except for two teensie-weensie items. First, far too much dialect, both Suthrun and N'yawk. Second… let me explain via an old joke. Q: Why don't donkeys go to college? A: Because nobody likes a smart burro.
  • Morning in Melbourne on Dec. 24, 2016

    This is categorized as chick-lit but obviously should be cougar-lit. Not sure it's worth four stars but I want to err on the side of generosity. Pretty well written though with some unfinished side plots, it concerns a woman who despite intelligence, education and looks runs into many hardships in life. It's all THEIR fault, of course—evil parents, evil siblings, a really evil husband, evil employers… The reader may be forgiven, I think, for wondering if the problem starts closer to home. Yet for all that I still found it interesting.
  • Widowmere on Jan. 10, 2017

    Well, well. Literary fiction, which I usually hate, and loaded with description to the point where I suffered from simile overload. Long, too, but fascinating enough that I soldiered on to the very deft ending. Lots of weird eccentric characters with the heroine among the most strange. Strange names, too—Eden, Selena, Bryony, Krista, Ruby, Hunter, Griff, Freddie. Okay, the last one's not so odd but the plot certainly is. People are dying in a small town in the Lake District of England, and Eden, a suspect herself, is unwillingly on the trail of the cause. Cause? Yes, for the deaths seem to be suicide and accidents—but are they that or something far more sinister? In fact, is Eden more likely to be arrested or become a suicide herself? I know, but you'll need to do some reading. I've penalized Widowmere for excess description and a couple of instances of name confusion late in the tale when the author was tired of editing.
  • Mud Pie on Jan. 17, 2017

    The previous review tells all you need of the premise and plot so I'll merely add some praise. The pseudonymous Miss Bole can not only write but plot, something she proved with Widowmere. I've a few complaints: she hates to round off her tales with a happy ending, and she rather likes the sound of her own voice. I presume so, at least, because both books run on a bit. OTOH she manages to create a sense of peril and nicely brings off the well-regarded surprise ending. In Widowmere she educated readers about painting—particularly watercoloring—and touring the English Lake District. In Mud Pie we are educated about chefery (commercial cooking, in plain American) and Rugby football. In addition, from reading between the lines of this book, a hint for those who plan to tour England. Avoid Manchester.
  • Reel Sharpe on June 25, 2017

    Not at all bad, though the main character's mode of expression got on my nerves for some reason. Struggling TV producer for new real-life adventure strives to follow two police detectives as they trace a hit-and-run death that might be murder. She finds herself falling for the obnoxious lead detective and steps into a good deal of danger while following the investigation. All ends well with romance in the offing. I'd like to see more by this writer. 4-1/2 stars.
  • The Fanshawe Murder on June 25, 2017

    Takes place in 1920 and shows some of the authorial weaknesses of that period. Still worth a read, though. Remarkably self-assured (and beauteous, of course) American gal heads for England to take over the business she's inherited. Mystery immediately raises its weird head, and with the aid of an old retainer she embarks on a dangerous investigation. Adventure and romance quickly follow, along with a frightful antagonist.
  • Jack of All Trades on June 27, 2017

    Excellent beginning, so well written that the reader is surprised when, about 90% of the way through, the fatal act finally occurs. The writer 'then alters the relationships between the subsidiary characters and the villainess to weaken the tension. Unfortunate in my opinion Still a good tale but the author's surprise angle drops my estimate from 5+++ to 4 stars. Too bad, but none the less I'll be looking forward to the next thriller by this fellow. He seems to have a talent for suspense.
  • Not Dead Yet on June 27, 2017

    I'm going to have to give this an over-generous five stars, though it's really only a nine out of ten, simply because of the pile of bodies encountered and the total amount of villainy. In other words it's not perfect, being a bit too bloody and with the hero getting into danger too often for a detective of his experience. Thus plenty of action as he manages to stay alive without loss of an excessive number of body parts. Main lesson I took away? Australian mobsters are as nasty as the American variety despite laws that make it harder to get your hands on a firearm. Must be the upside-down orientation on the southern side of the world.
  • Charlie Spark - Villain Extraordinaire on June 27, 2017

    Quite a jolly and competently-written farce about neer-do-wells on a felony rampage. Those rampaged against are almost as villainous as the criminals but haven't been penalized by the law… as yet. Tongue solidly in cheek, the author gives us an entertaining farce of criminality and pretense leading to an almost-happy ending with an almost-believable moral. Not quite the equal of his other book, Plantation, but credit this one for a good entertaining try.
  • The Rosebush Murders (Helen Mirkin 1) on June 30, 2017
    (no rating)
    Here we have a decently-written police procedural that takes place in Jerusalem—the original one. It has gore, puzzle solving, technical info, relationships… Yeah, that's it. That's why I didn't like it.. Lots of relationships, practically all of them homosexual. Plus a whole lot of blather about food, dress, feelings… all those icky female things that if deftly used bring color to a tale but can so easily be overdone. And it lacks excitement. Too bad, because the exotic locale enriched the tale, and it could have been so much more if the author hadn't seemed to be selling a point of view.
  • Betrayal: A Nova Scotia Murder Mystery on July 03, 2017
    (no rating)
    I don't wish to be cruel but neither writing nor plot realism reach a very high standard.
  • The Dolos Conspiracy on July 03, 2017

    Pretty good stuff although the wrap-up seems to lose steam.
  • Butchery: A Mystery of Tudor London on July 03, 2017

    Although I enjoyed this tale and generally enjoy historical novels, certain writing quirks got on my nerves. First, why is everyone so happy? Times were hard back in 16th century London, and justice a problematical thing. Second, why can't the male and female leads get together? An ingenious author should have been able to hold out some hope. Third, they're involved with food and drink preparation, for Heaven's sake! I don't expect baths but does anyone ever wash his or her hands after visiting the privy? An excessive amount of repetition of minor details, as well. Still, well worth a four-star rating and perhaps more.
  • Mystery at the Fair on July 06, 2017

    Thrills and chills at the county fair! Nicely-written small town mystery, combination thriller and and amateur detective. Transplanted Easterner is forced to step in and run an Arizona county fair, and soon discovers a desiccated corpse. Potential villains abound, and what will she do for show ribbons?.
  • The Cavalier of the Apocalypse on July 06, 2017

    Excellent historical setting (though I'm not perfectly familiar with the period) and smooth writing. Complex plot has a young poverty-stricken writer of anti-aristocratic propaganda pressured into attempting to solve a bizarre crime, not too long before the beginning of the French Revolution. This should be shiver-inducing but the writing is too low-key and unemotional, and the relationships between the classes surprisingly relaxed. Needs to have some poor widows and orphans ground down by the Aristos, or at least run over by gilded carriages. Held my interest, though, partly because of Aristede's broken heart.
  • Smith on July 06, 2017
    (no rating)
    About a hundred rather good pages followed by an author's rush to finish the tale. Too bad. Perhaps the next Smith adventure will show improvement.
  • How to Rob a Bank on July 09, 2017

    Pretty decent Frenchy police procedural. Can't tell the exact cate the action is supposed to be occurring—pre WW II apparently.
  • The Lost Clue - Abridged Edition on July 09, 2017

    Well-written tale of crime and hidden identity from a century back. Only problem—both hero and heroine are too perfect to be carrying human genes. Must be 75% angel species.
  • Murder at Naughton Pharms on July 09, 2017

    Plenty of merit for description of work at a pharmaceutical testing lab. Less merit for male/female relationships. Unfortunately ends in an exciting but unlikely crisis. My rating, therefore, is a tad on the generous side. Maybe the author's next book…
  • Dead False on July 16, 2017
    (no rating)
    That this is blurbed as " for Shakespeare aficionados" is only attributable to the author's imagination, for the Shakespearean aspects are little more than a gimmick on which to hang an unlikely plot. The writing is generally skilled, and some readers might appreciate that aspect of the work. The prime character, though, strikes me as a pathetic example of the male human, weak and morally unattractive. In addition, the ending can hardly be considered satisfying.
  • The Message on July 16, 2017

    Well-constructed depiction of a failing marriage put into crisis by a child abduction. Features an ambitious female surgeon and stay-at-home dad who has sacrificed hopes for a career to care for a bright but emotionally-damaged child. The tension generally runs high though the work is harmed by the author's predilection for incomplete and run-on sentences, and by what seem to be misplaced attempts at humorous aspects of certain characters. Somewhat questionable villains, as well. Could use considerable editing but the depiction of tension smooths over many faults Good if somewhat raw material.
  • Full-Bodied Wine : A Vintage Murder on July 16, 2017

    Biddy Jenkinson presents a subtle and enthralling low-key mystery. An amateur detective is "assigned" to find a true solution when the professional is removed from the case due to government policy. Action takes place in Ankara and other sites in central Turkey as the Third Secretary of the Irish Embassy fumbles his way through an entanglement of corruption and false leads, urged on by a devious Kurd. Thought I was reading a travelog, albeit a fascinating one, during a lengthy opening segment before the excitement abruptly begins. Let us hope Biddy is blessed with a lengthy lit career, preferably leaving bees off the list.
  • Marley Was Dead: A Christmas Carol Mystery on July 16, 2017
    (no rating)
    Marley was Dead has some true merit, and I read to the end with only a tiny bit of skipping. Still, its boring and unintellectual protagonist limps and whines far too much, his personal problems clogging the narrative for no good literary reason. Much of the detection and most of the deduction is left in the hands of an overly-mature juvenile Sherlock Holmes, one of far too many literary insertions. I would have gladly seen the author stop at depicting Scrooge and Marley, eliminating all other second-hand characters and turning ex-Inspector Ian McFergus into a better detective. All in all, considerable potential but a weak performance by the writer.
  • DEVOLUTION: A Sam Jameson Espionage and Suspense Thriller on July 16, 2017
    (no rating)
    Has Smashwords begun to charge writers by the format? If not, why only EPUB?
  • The Losers Reward on July 19, 2017
    (no rating)
    Not the worst book I've ever read on Smash but seems to have been translated from South-African Dutch into Polish, then into English. Becomes harder to understand as you go. Only the foreign flavor kept my interest up.
  • McCullock's Gold on July 19, 2017

    A very nicely written (albeit wordy) piece of mystery fiction from the land of upside-down. Well worth reading for the patient wwannabe sleuth and explorer of desert-scapes.
  • The Man Who Never Was on July 19, 2017

    Perhaps not the most literary of gems but an intriguing mystery or three in one long tale. Following the demolition of an old factory a body from c.1940s slips from under a deluge of mud. Then follows the adventures of two sets of Brit officials—one which wishes to untangle the mystery, and one which attempts to cover it all back up.
  • Killerwatt on July 21, 2017
    (no rating)
    This has some merit, and I enjoyed it to an extent. But as the bodies piled up I began to lose patience with certain aspects of the writing and plot, so quit about two-thirds of the way through. Also, enough with the Camaro for crying out loud!
  • Two Cats and a Chicken Shop Mystery on July 21, 2017
    (no rating)
    A short mystery novel that would have profited by being a whole lot shorter. Plus it's weird. Not too bad on a minor aspect of history, though.
  • The Death of Amelia Marsh: A Sally Nimitz Mystery (Book 1) on July 24, 2017

    Nicely-written mystery, but beware; the excitement is all in the anticipation. A wordy but rather colorless heroine and far less crime than you'd expect. Considerable pointless discussion of food. It kept me reading, though, right through the low-key denouement.
  • Dying to Get Published on July 24, 2017
    (no rating)
    Not bad work for an amateur's first effort. Wordy but amusing, and it's nice that the bedsprings don't get a workout. Oh wait! This is a published author? Can't prove it by me.
  • Iceline on July 24, 2017
    (no rating)
    Strange! Plenty of excitement and interesting settings but low on reality. Despite plenty of action and discoveries we seem never destined to come to a conclusion with the bad guys. Written in incomplete run-on sentences with non-standard formatting and goofy punctuation. I think a co-author might be needed.
  • Clearwater Journals on July 27, 2017
    (no rating)
    Barefoot Canadian cop comes to Clearwater and solves major portion of the town's gang-related crime. Requires major suspension of disbelief, especially in regard to the background of his pancake-flipping girlfriend.
  • Death Comes in the Morning on July 27, 2017
    (no rating)
    A fantasy tale in serious need of an editor. The happenings are unbelievable but a greater problem is the loquaciousness of the author, a man who apparently believes in first telling you, then explaining what he's told you. A third of this book could be cut, both narration and dialog. I hope this was Bissett's first book and that the later ones improve. Plus we have a girlfriend who immediately falls for our hero, an unemployed drifter who doesn't seem all that bright. And guess what! Not only is she beautiful (of course) but has red hair and green eyes, a combination that occurs about twenty times more often in cheap novels than it does in real life.
  • The Good Knight on Aug. 02, 2017

    Good on historical minutiae, weak when it comes to depicting how people of the period would have behaved. The relationship between the main characters struck me as artificial, and the hero seemed more than a little bit slow on the uptake. I quit with a quarter of the book to go.
  • Double Exposure on Aug. 02, 2017

    Stinson is a fine writer and produces excellent work, although almost every character is at least noticeably flawed. It's amazing we can pick this up free on Smashwords.
  • Truck Shot on Aug. 02, 2017

    Another fine tale of the Hollywood underside by Stinson.
  • TV Safe on Aug. 02, 2017

    Stinson's four tales of the underside of Hollywood movie-making and TV can't easily be beat. Don't look for typical heroes and heroines, though—all of the characters are bent to one degree or another.
  • The Cosmic Ray Heresy on Aug. 02, 2017

    A pretty good quasi-cozy mystery with some interesting superficial info about relativity and other physics topics. Its main drawback is the unrealistically chirpy attitudes of every character, even the hero when he, his wanna-be lover and his daughter are threatened by a potential killer. "Whee, another near miss by the secret slaughterer! Well, off to the barbecue, Dear, and don't forget the mustard." A good deal of excessively-casual finagling with Roman Catholic doctrine which I found quite unbelievable, having some personal experience in a similar matter or two. I give it a very generous four stars, in part to encourage the writer to upgrade his next effort.
  • Pebbleton-On-Edge on Aug. 06, 2017

    A bit beyond a cozy but not quite a thriller. A slow start but very well done overall and deserves full marks. My only real complaint is the villain's confession at the climax, all complete and tied up with ribbons in an unrealistic manner. Further advice to potential readers: ignore the video.
  • Murder in the South of France, Book 1 of the Maggie Newberry Mysteries on Aug. 11, 2017

    Good but wa-aaa-ay long and not necessarily memorable. Still… deserves a few stars.
  • Murder in Primary Colors on Aug. 11, 2017

    Quite a decent almost-cozy mystery with a collegiate setting, although the author has too great a liking for cutesy details, of which "Christmas" isn't the worst.
  • Killer Twist (Ghostwriter Mystery 1) on Aug. 11, 2017
    (no rating)
    Sad to say but I couldn't quite get into this promising mystery. Too much blather about clothes and cuisine and bizarre acquaintances, as well as too much stress on the heroine's high valuation of her own date-worthiness. Quite enough Aussie slang, as well.
  • Tuppenny Hat Detective on Aug. 22, 2017

    I'm going to be generous and give this a 5 rather than the 4.3 it deserves. A bit slow moving early on but at the conclusion the youthful detectives put on an unbelievable burst of speed. The description of Sheffield, UK and its people mid-twentieth century is superb, although what do I know, never having visited there.
  • Hell In Texas on Aug. 22, 2017
    (no rating)
    I'm sorry but I fail to see how this can be labelled a "mystery" novel. There's a mystery, sure, but the "detective" fails to solve it and the story termination leaves questions hanging. Nope, it's simply the life and times of an insurance investigator. Well enough written and plotted but by no means does it correspond to the genre it claims.
  • The Value of Life on Aug. 30, 2017

    I'd give this six stars if possible. Some problems with wording and spelling, possibly because the author apparently doesn't use English in ordinary life. Most irritating was "loose" instead of "lose." Still a very good read
  • Alpha on Sep. 04, 2017
    (no rating)
    This is SF not adventure. Leaves a lot of questions unanswered.
  • Baiting & Fishing on Sep. 04, 2017
    (no rating)
    Quite a good story and almost believable except the pprotagonists are a bit beyond realism—a smart and ethical feature reporter, and an undercover heroiine who goes through hell. Although the writing deserves top star, I resent the overkill.
  • Butcher and Bolt on Sep. 04, 2017
    (no rating)
    A good story about a Commando officer on a failed raid in Northern France. Unfortunately too fantastic and full of coincidences for my taste. Too bad, because it's quite exciting. Still, if you like that sort of thing, this is the sort of thing you'll like.
  • Rapide on Sep. 04, 2017

    A good tale, somewhat naively written, about air flight in the thirties. Takes place in Britain and Australia, with a considerable amount of the tale featuring the flight of a short-range aircraft between the two locales. Doesn't have an ending suitable for fiction, unfortunately, so I've penalized it a bit..
  • The Ring of the Queen (The Lost Tsar Trilogy Book 1) on Sep. 04, 2017
    (no rating)
    The tale has potential interest but severely needs a read-through for typos, missing words and confusing sentences, particularly starting about a third of the way in. It's written in a first-person teeage fashion, but whether that's meant to reflect the age of the protagonist or simply an excessively casual approach by the author is unclear.