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Wednesday 5 June 2024

‘Guard Her with Your Life’ by Joy Ellis

Published by Joffe Books,
21st February 2024.
ISBN: 978-1-83526391-4 (PB)

Guard Her with Your Life is a departure from Joy Ellis’s earlier books in that it is not only a novella but is also a standalone thriller which is not linked to any of her four existing series featuring Nikki Galena, Jackman and Evans, Detective Matt Ballard or Ellie McEwan.

Sam Helsdown hasn’t seen his ten-year-old daughter in two years. After their divorce his ex-wife Julia has consistently refused to allow Zoe to return to Britain to stay with him but out of the blue, Julia writes to say she has a situation and is sending their daughter to spend some time with him.

The novel opens with Sam waiting at the airport for the child’s arrival. Just as he is beginning to wonder if she was on the flight, he spots a fair-haired child with one of the airline staff. The girl runs towards him and jumps into his arms saying, ‘Oh Daddy I was scared you wouldn’t be here.’ Only then does he realise the child is not Zoe.

The next morning, he has a phone call from Julia, but all she says is, ‘Help will come. Until then, guard her with your life.’ From that moment on, life turns into a nightmare. The young girl’s life is under threat and the only solution is for Sam and the child to go on the run aided my Sam’s brother Matt.

The tension builds from page to page. To call it fast paced is to underestimate the speed at which the story whips along. There are no clues as to who their ruthless pursuers might be or why they are so determined to get hold of the child.

Sam Helsdown may be a member of the Fenland constabulary, but ‘Guard Her with your Life’ is a far cry from Joy Ellis’s previous police procedural novels. There are no suspects, no leads to follow only the certain knowledge that Sam must protect the child at all costs. Lives are at risk, and he is all she has.

I found the book difficult to put down and read it in only a few sessions.    
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!’ Her most recent book is Passage to Greenland . 

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