“Persons  Reported Trapped,” is the cryptic fire service message that accompanies every call to an incident where life is at risk. However, despite every effort of the Fire Brigade, and of Detective Sergeant Judy Kane who had been first on the scene, Helen Douglas had died. But it was not the fire that had killed her, Helen had been murdered.

            Helen was the wife of Mike Douglas, an Assistant Divisional Officer at Granchester Fire Station. Judy is married to Granchester’s Station Officer, Ben Kane. The four had become close friends, and so for Judy the police investigation becomes a double nightmare, with Ben and Mike heading the list of possible suspects.


Read the first chapter on my Far Horizons travel blog, or download it here.

PERSONS REPORTED. First chapter.docx
Microsoft Word Document 66.1 KB






            The sudden appearance of a fifty year old human skull in a lorry load of sugar beet could hardly have come at a more inconvenient time. The top ranks of the Breckland CID were focussing on the final stages of a combined, three-county police operation that was coming to fruition after six months of dedicated, pains-taking work. The targets for Operation Longship were in their sights and any distraction was unwanted.

            However, the old wartime mystery could not be ignored and it was left to DS Judy Kane to unravel a tangled skein of ancient sins. It was a tortuous trail of lost loves and fiery passions that would lead her into terrible danger.




             Judy and Ben Kane have moved to Porto Viejo in Spain to run a small, harbor-front bar. A car accident has forced Ben’s early retirement from the Breckland Fire brigade and Judy has resigned from her job as a Detective Sergeant in the Breckland Police to join him. However, Judy’s crime fighting instincts soon come to the fore when a body is trawled up from the sea in the nets of a local fishing boat. Judy recognizes the photo-fit picture that appears in the newspapers as an old friend from her training days.

            Soon it becomes clear that they are up against a highly skilled gang running a joint piracy and drug smuggling operation. Yachts are disappearing regularly in the Mediterranean. The owners are presumably being murdered and thrown overboard and the vessels then used to run one or two drug running trips before being re-registered and sold on.

            There are two prime suspects, both named Harry.

            “Tweedledum and Tweedledee,” Ben observes wryly, “Harry A or Harry B?”

            Just one question to answer, but as Judy doggedly gets closer to the truth she finds that their lives depend upon getting the answer right.




          The small Breckland town of Barford was shocked when Sandra Bishop was found strangled in the boot of a burned out car. Suspicion automatically fell upon Denis Hamilton, the man at the wheel when the crash occurred, especially as Hamilton had argued violently with the dead girl the night before.

          To Detective Inspector Ron Harding the case seemed clear enough, but Detective Superintendent Charles Grant was an advocate of precision police work. He leaned on Barford to be sure. Then, despite crippled hands that had been damaged by third-degree burns, Hamilton went on the run.

Hamilton is the author of a dozen crime novels suddenly caught up in a tangled mesh of the kind of events he usually creates. His behavior becomes irrational and it begins to seem that he may have lost all sense of the dividing line between reality and fiction. Slowly the question of whether Hamilton murdered Sandra Bishop gives way to the question of whether Hamilton can any longer be considered sane.



DEAD BEFORE MIDNIGHT was written when the debate over whether authors should be entitled to a public lending right payment was being discussed in the English Parliament. One side of the argument was that authors should not be expected to subsidize the free reading of their books but should receive one or two pence of PLR each time their books were borrowed from a Public Library. I was a member of the Crime Writer’s Association at the time and the CWA was urging all its members to write to their MP in support of the proposal.

I duly wrote to Sir Eldon Griffiths who was then the Member of Parliament for my constituency at Bury St Edmunds. I received a very friendly letter in return inviting me to lunch at the Angel Hotel.

Over the meal we discussed the issue. Sir Eldon was sympathetic to the cause. However, he pointed out the political truth that authors were a very small section of the voting public as a whole and so could not carry much weight. His advice was that we had in effect the skills and means to put our own case to the general public. We were writers.

So I went home and wrote this crime thriller about an author who becomes the prime suspect in the murder of a librarian. It was published in English hardback by Robert Hale, and was also published in Germany, Sweden and Norway. Ulverscoft published it in their large print Lynford Mystery Libray. Eventually Public Lending Right did become accepted as an author’s due, and I like to think that that my book did play its small part.

Barford is a thinly disguised reinvention of Brandon which was then my home town. Granchester is a similar recreation of Bury St Edmunds where I now live. Where the struggling author hero came from I cannot image.

DEAD BEFORE MIDNIGHT is offered here as a free read to introduce the  Breckland Crime series, so read and enjoy.


Dead Before Midnight.doc
Microsoft Word Document 458.5 KB




          I spent 20 years on call as a retained firefighter with the Suffolk Fire Brigade, so I suppose it was inevitable that I would write a crime mystery set on a fire station. I resurrected the Breckland Crime team and to update it added a woman detective sergeant. She was Judy Kane.

          I liked the idea of a series of novels set at that interface where police and fire investigations merged and so I teamed her with a Fire Officer husband. I thought it was something original and that some bright young producer might see the TV potential. It hasn’t happened yet so the TV rights are still up for grabs.

          The three Judy Kane Crime novels were first published as Lynford Mystery thrillers by Ulverscroft Large Print Publishing. THEY ARE NOW PUBLISHED AGAIN AND AVAILABLE FROM AMAZON AND KINDLE.

To get to my author page and purchase any of my books through Amazon please highlight and click on go to:




Or in the UK




All three paperbacks published at $12.50. Kindle $3.08


UK paperbacks £7.50. Kindle £1.99