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Wednesday 17 November 2021

‘Fear on the Fens’ by Joy Ellis

Published by Joffe Books,
8 October 2021.
ISBN 9781789319767

This is the thirteenth book in Joy Ellis’s Detective Nikki Galena series. Nikki and her partner DS Joseph Easter are called to investigate the horrific murder of a young man who was burnt to death and his body dumped in a wheelbarrow in the gardens of Shelly House. The culprit is quickly identified as a young man who worked in the gardens under a false name. To complicate the situation, the culprit’s brother Harry arrives in Greenborough and books into a local hotel. He is keen to talk to Nikki and Joseph about his brother Lucas who disappeared from the family home twenty years ago as a thirteen-ear-old after the death of his father, an eminent scientist who worked with the CIA on a clandestine US project using psychic abilities. Desperate to find his long-lost brother, Harry offers to help.

Lucus lives in his own magical fantasy world. He sees faeries and woodland spirits and believes in just retribution for those who harm nature – the murdered boy burnt a venerable tree thereby killing its spirit and consequently deserved to suffer the same end.

A second murder soon follows. The killings will continue until Lucus is found.

Lucus grew up in this fenland area of woods and waterways and manages to evade capture. Not even a trace of anywhere he might have made camp can be found.

Nikki and her team attempt to learn more about Lucus and his family, but their efforts are seriously hampered by the arrival of Vernon Hackett, a senior government official. They are informed that any attempts to uncover information about Lucus’s father and the Stargate project he was working on would result in the case being taken from their hands.

Forthright Nikki, with her feet firmly planted in the real world, has little patience with the ethereal, spiritual existence that appears to fascinate many of her colleagues, but her concern for her boss who appears to have his own troubles, shows her softer side. Joy handles a large cast of minor characters skilfully and manages to make each one memorable including the looming Hackett and caring Karen Cotton who knows a different Lucus, at one with nature and all its beauty.

As in all of Joy Ellis’s books, the complex plot has a great many twists and turns right up to the final chapters. The pace is fast and furious and keeps the readers turning the page till all is revealed.

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!’

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