Category Archives: Ellis, Joy

‘Their Lost Daughters’ by Joy Ellis

Oh Joy!

DI Rowan Jackman and DS Marie Evans (of ‘The Murderer’s Son’ fame) are starting a murder  investigation for one teenage girl when they are asked, by their inappropriately named chief inspector, Ruth Crooke, to renew the cold case of Kenya Black, a child who vanished eight years ago.  Ooh, and then they are commanded, by detested Superintendent Cade, to investigate the disappearance of Toni Clarkson, the teenage daughter of one of Cade’s masonic mates.  You feel their stress.  But luckily for them Toni Clarkson’s case provides helpful leads into the murder of the first girl.  The storyline is complex, but unfaltering executed, with twist after twist and pitching the breathless readers into another angle, another set of characters and another facet of the main plot.  However, without giving away any spoilers, the conclusion of the plot was a little too neat.  In my opinion, Ellis should have stopped three or two chapters before she did.

This story involves a huge number of characters, many with just a walk-on part in one short scene, yet the author expects to remember all of them.  At one point, a chapter begins with ‘William Hickey…” and launching into a serious bit of action, leaving me wondering ‘Who he?’  (I catch up after a page or so.)   As a result, none of the characters are developed in any depth.  I remember (from ‘The Murderer’s Son’) that Marie was into motorbikes and was widowed when her husband had a motorbike accident, but this wasn’t mentioned specifically in this book (and, actually, Dear Reader, that I did remember this is pretty remarkable, because I read a lot of books).  But I don’t know anything about Rowan Jackman at all, except that he lives in a nice property, in some comfort, and is looked after by a housekeeper.   Other crime writers (like Ruth Rendell) write about their detective’s family life, providing a counter-balance to the, often grim, main story, and, also showing the reader more about him/her as a character.  I must say, though, I prefer Jackman and Evans to Nikki Galena (Joy Ellis’s other mc) who does have a backstory and some character, which comes on a bit too strong at times.

Joy Ellis writes illuminatingly of the Lincolnshire Fens, with which she is clearly familiar.  The reader readily picks up the bleak landscape, yet I read the whole story wondering what time of year it was.   I think I must’ve overlooked this because I was too engrossed in the plot.

Amazon tell me I purchased this book on 21 May 2017.  What kept me so long?

This book is available from Amazon.

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Police Procedurals – Is There Anything Fresh to Write About?

Lincolnshire Fens

Lincolnshire Fens (not my pic)

Yes, I think so, and Joy Ellis is writing them.

Joy Ellis self-publishes eminently readable crime fiction, set in the Lincolnshire Fens.   Like many other contemporary British crime writers, Joy writes police-procedural and about strong, women women in the police, and she does it very well.  Altogether Joy has eight novels to her name – see her page on the very useful Books Series in Order site – and, for the latest book, Their Lost Daughters, Joy’s own website.  Joy writes about two sets of characters (both police officers and both based in the Fens):  ultra-tough and ultra-bitter Nikki Galena and gentler Joseph Easter and crew;  young, university-educated and fast-tracked DI Jackman and older, experienced DS Marie Evans, who happens also to be a biker.

Stalker on the Fens (Nikki Galena and Joseph Easter)

Nikki Galena and Joseph Easter are the better defined characters, the characters Joy seems most confident in writing about.  The two are a complete contrast, with Joseph Easter being sympathetically-drawn, gentle, wise and temperature, whereas Nikki Galena is just hard and tough.  The relationship between the two is well evolved, the sort of relationship that develops between colleagues in a tough environment, of mutual trust and dependence – a man and woman without any sexual or romantic element (Ohmigod!  Surely no such thing could ever happen!)

However, the plot line in ‘Stalker on the Fens’ just did not work for me.  Elements of it were good:  Helen, an aromatherapist, trapped in a building following an explosion, remembers another person, who is trapped in there with her, confessing to a murder.  Years down the line, she is being stalked and cannot come to terms with her memories.   Her partner is behaving strangely and seems unsupportive.   Then Helen is murdered.  Many questions are being asked, but the answers are too complicated and not satisfying.  Also, I do not believe that thousands of people would attend an event, which included flower floats being launched in the river at midnight, for an aromatherapist, however good she was.

The Murderer’s Son (DI Jackman and Marie Evans)

Marie Evans and DI Jackman are not so well drawn.  In fact, DI Jackman did not come alive to me at all, and we don’t realise that Marie is a bikey until well into the book.  I’ve ordered Their Lost Daughters and am hoping to get to know them better.

The plot to ‘The Murderer’s Son’ is compelling from the word go.  Daniel Kinder, a successful journalist, has a lot going for him, a developing career and a lovely girlfriend, Skye, with whom he has a good relationship, and a supportive home life with his adoptive mother.  However, he has come to believe that his natural mother was the violent murderer, Francoise Thayer, and,  when he  comes into the police station to confess to a particularly bloody recently committed murder,  Marie Evans disbelieves him.  When she asks him why, he answers that he ‘has it in him’.  We readers don’t want Daniel to be guilty, but he is obviously suffering from psychiatric problems, particularly from ‘absences’, when he cannot account from his actions.  The plot progressed well and the ending was satisfying.

Do I recommend these books?  Yes, definitely.

I’ve read several more books since then.  I’d better carry on reviewing!