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Tuesday, 1 October 2019

‘Darkness on the Fens’ by Joy Ellis

Published Joffe Books,
16 July 2019.
ISBN: 978-1-78931150-0 (PB)

Joy Ellis is a prolific writer. Darkness on the Fens is the 10th novel is her best-selling Nikki Galena series. She also has five Jackman & Evans books and two in the Detective Matt Ballard series plus a stand-alone novel.

The setting for Darkness on the Fens is the small town of Greenborough in the Lincolnshire Fens during the annual Dark Festival. This three-day event is a celebration of local folklore, superstition and the darker side of life. Various planned events including talks on a host of ghoulish subjects, ghost walks and even the local manor, Cressy Old Hall, which boasts its own ghosts, is opened to the public for the duration of the festival.

The influx of revellers arriving for the festival is always a testing time for the local police force but this year’s event threatens to put them under even greater pressure when an anonymous letter is sent to the Assistant Chief Constable ending with the cryptic warning – Death is certain; the hour is uncertain.

The nightmare begins when several people die from what appears to be alcohol poisoning and all too soon things begin to escalate. Norma Warden, the efficient manager of Cressey Old Hall dies a horrific death from phosphorus poisoning which is witnessed by several people including one of the police team.

Joy weaves a complex story with a great many subplots involving various groups of characters. In addition to Nikki and her team of officers, additional help from two members of the county force are brought in to assist with the investigation. Nikki’s mother and her three girl friends are also keen to go on the lookout for any suspicious characters. Inevitably, there is a wide range of suspects from those frequenting The Hanged Man pub where the first victims were poisoned to those connected with Cressey Old Hall.

Joy’s characters are well drawn and there is real emotional tension between characters – Nikki and her partner Joseph; Dave and Clive Cressey-Lawson and Bliss and Spooky. Two minor characters I particularly enjoyed were Reggie and his son Tyrone. They were obviously up to some scam or other, but could they be the serial killers?

If you like fast-paced police procedurals with plenty of twists and turns, then this is a novel that will appeal. 
Reviewer: Judith Cranswick  

Joy Ellis was born in Kent but spent most of her working life in London and Surrey. She was an apprentice florist to Constance Spry Ltd, a prestigious Mayfair shop that throughout the Sixties and Seventies teemed with both royalty and ‘real’ celebrities. She swore that one day she would have a shop of her own. It took until the early Eighties, but she did it. Sadly the recession wiped it out, and she embarked on a series of weird and wonderful jobs; the last one being a bookshop manager
Joy now lives in a village in the Lincolnshire Fens with her partner, Jacqueline. She had been writing mysteries for years but never had the time to take it seriously. Now as her partner is a highly decorated retired police officer; her choice of genre was suddenly clear. She has set her crime thrillers in the misty fens.   

Judith Cranswick was born and brought up in Norwich. She wrote her first novel (now languishing in the back of a drawer somewhere) when her two children were toddlers, but there was little time for writing when she returned to work teaching Geography in a large comprehensive. It was only after leaving her headship that she was able to take up writing again in earnest. Judith teaches Tai Chi, and line dancing, yoga, Pilates and Zumba. Her other hobbies include reading and travelling. She is lucky enough to be a cruise lecturer. You can read some of her adventures – the Ups and Downs of Being a Cruise Lecturer on her September 2014 blog on her home page. Judith’s latest book is Blood Flows South to read a review click on the title

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