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Tuesday 12 January 2021

‘They Disappeared,’ by Joy Ellis

Published by Joffe Books,
30 November 2020.
ISBN 978-178931625-4 (PB)

 They Disappeared, was only published six weeks ago and already has 1,132 reviews on Amazon with an average 4.7-star rating, which is a testimony to Joy Ellis’s popularity and the high standard of her Jackman & Evans police procedural novels.

The story is set in the small town of Saltern-le-Fen in the Lincolnshire Fens where the local police are faced with the unexplained disappearance of two young men from separate remote abandoned buildings. They had gone in under cover of darkness in order to photograph the properties before they fell into complete ruin. Prompted by the urge to record the history of abandoned buildings such as disused airfield towers and factories or those partially destroyed by fire before it was too late, they are members of a growing number of urban explorers. Enthusiasts of this little-known hobby include one of the police team and several ex-colleagues and friends. 

DI Jackman is busy passing over a case he has been working on to another police force where the man he has in custody is wanted for more serious crimes. This leaves DS Marie Evans to begin the investigation. One of the men went missing from an abandoned airfield which lies in an adjoining police district. When Marie attempts to contact her opposite number dealing with the case, she finds the officer strangely uncooperative and is told the missing boy is a runaway and there is no need for further investigation. There also appears to be some mystery attached to the airfield itself. The team cannot determine if it was a military or civil airbase as there are no records. When Marie attempts to visit the airfield for herself, she is refused entry, but is given no explanation as to why it is out of bounds.  

Before long, another urban explorer disappears and not long after, the bodies of all three are discovered dressed in sackcloth and ashes and hanging by one ankle, in the bell tower of a ruined church. 

To add to Marie’s concerns, the station’s head of IT Orla Cracken, known as Orac, has also disappeared. Loner and work fanatic, Orac was previously a government undercover field agent. Because of her past, Orac is a marked woman and needs to stay below the radar.  Has someone found her? Has she been abducted?

This is a complex story with all the twists and turns one might expect from a superb storyteller.

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. Apart from writing, Judith’s great passions are travel and history. Both have influenced her two series of mystery novels. Tour Manager, Fiona Mason takes coach parties throughout Europe, and historian Aunt Jessica is the guest lecturer accompanying tour groups visiting more exotic destinations aided by her nephew Harry. Her published novels also include several award-winning standalone psychological thrillers. 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 her teaching career. Now retired, she is able to indulge her love of writing and has begun a life of crime! ‘Writers are told to write what they know about, but I can assure you, I've never committed a murder. I'm an ex-convent school headmistress for goodness sake!’
To read a review of Judith’s most recent book Blood Follows Jane Austen, click on the title.

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