Mini #BookReviews ~ The Jackman and Evans Series by #JoyEllis, narrated by #RichardArmitage #CrimeFiction #FridayReads

I’ve been binge listening to this series and somehow missed book one but it didn’t really matter with regard to getting to know the characters and their backstories. Detective Inspector Rowan Jackman leads the team. He’s a private person from an affluent background, well respected and liked, and is good at motivating his team. His passion is horses. Detective Sergeant Marie Evans is a widow who lost her husband in a motorbike accident. She’s able to assess situations and people with accuracy and is nicknamed Super Mario by her colleagues. Marie’s passion is motorbikes.

Their Lost Daughters ~ Book 2

Jackman’s current investigation involves a missing teenager, so when he gets an early morning call from his sergeant with the news the body of a young woman has been found on the beach, he fears the worst. On top of that the team are given a cold case which is attracting the attention of the media. Kenya Black’s disappearance was never solved and her mother is putting pressure on the police to re-open the case. It’s now high priority. If that wasn’t enough, another teenager is found wandering through fields, apparently drugged, but sure she saw her friend abducted.

There’s a palpable sense of darkness and menace running through this story with several threads merging together and unspeakable crimes uncovered as the complex investigation progresses. The plot did need a suspension of belief at times but nevertheless it was a riveting listen.

The Fourth Friend ~ Book 3

This is a complicated case involving several mysteries. Detective Carter McLean is the sole survivor of the light aircraft crash that killed his four best friends. When Carter is judged fit to resume full duties, Marie and Jackman are investigating the disappearance of Suzanne Holland, the wife of one of Carter’s dead friends. Struggling to come to terms with his feelings of guilt, Carter is receiving counselling but not allowing his deepest thoughts to surface. Despite that, he’s not quite deceiving his counsellor. Or his good friend Marie, who both believe he is still suffering from post traumatic stress.

Jackman and Marie, along with the regulars, are developing nicely and Carter McLean is written well and realistically given what happened to him. An interesting plot with psychological and supernatural threads and an ending I wasn’t expecting. There was a little unnecessary introspective repetition regarding Carter by Marie and Laura, the counsellor, which slowed the story slightly, but other than that it was very enjoyable.

The Guilty Ones ~ Book 4

The Guilty Ones is a difficult and personal case for DI Jackman, striking far too close to home. His sister-in-law, Sarah, is found drowned in the Thames. The CCTV footage show an apparent suicide. Jackman finds it hard to believe she’d leave behind the husband she loves, much less their two sons. Jackman needs to find out all he can about Sarah’s past and what might have prompted her to take such a drastic step. Strangely, he can’t find any reference to Sarah before she was married and when two more deaths occur in suspicious and similar circumstances, the team begin to make connections, which lead them to a historic case none of them were familiar with.

The effect this case has on those investigating adds an extra punch to the complex storyline. It moved between police procedural and psychological. I couldn’t make up my mind about the main plot device but who knows what people could be driven to in certain circumstances. The story did keep my attention throughout.

Jackman and Evans are likeable and realistic protagonists who continue to develop as we get to know more about their personal lives and personalities. I just hope Jackman isn’t portrayed as too perfect going forward. Marie is a strong female lead and I love that she arrives to work in leathers, riding a motorbike. The team, each with individual strengths, work really well together. The evocative and atmospheric fenland setting is apparent throughout.

Richard Armitage’s narration and flair for voices is perfect, brings the stories to life and is very easy to listen to.

About the author 

Joy Ellis is not your ordinary newcomer to crime fiction. She started work in the 1960s as an apprentice florist in Covent Garden before opening her own flower shop in Lincolnshire. Later in life, she began to consider a career change towards crime writing and attended a workshop in Greece led by Sue Townsend, author of Adrian Mole. Ellis has now left the flowers behind and dedicates her life to writing gritty crime thrillers set in the Fens, where she lives with her police officer partner. 

About the narrator 

Richard Armitage is a British actor known for his vast array of film, television and theatre work, including The HobbitSpooks and The Crucible. His trademark baritone voice has earned him recognition, too, through his performance on many notable audiobooks as well as in TV and radio show narration.  His audiobook credits include The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde featured in The Monster CollectionDavid Copperfield, and Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber, and this experience shines through in Armitage’s gripping performance of Their Lost Daughters

There’s a short YouTube clip here with Richard Armitage answering Twitter questions—a very interesting one about the Jackman and Evans series.

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