Ostara Publishing Colourfon

Ostara Publishing

Ostara Crime Series

Ostara Crime aims to collect and republish quality crime writing for new readers. The series editor is Mike Ripley, an award-winning crime writer and editor who was crime fiction critic for the Daily Telegraph and then the Birmingham Post reviewing almost 1,000 crime novels in 18 years. He now writes the Getting Away With Murder column for Shots E-zine on www.shotsmag.co.uk and is also the series editor of Ostara’s Top Notch Thrillers imprint.


Deadly Errand - Christine Green

Kate Kinsella is a disillusioned nurse and a naïve and optimistic private detective. Hubert Humberstone is the local undertaker and displays an unnatural interest in ladies’ shoes. They have one thing in common: they are both in the death business and in the small Midlands town of Longborough, business is booming. Jackie Byfield, a young, dedicated, deeply religious nurse, is found stabbed to death in the grounds of St Dymphna’s Hospital and at first sight seems to be a most unlikely murder victim. So too does the old lady, dressed to go to a funeral, who dies after a fatal fall in her own home. As novice private detective Kate Kinsella uses her nursing experience to investigate, the death toll rises and Kate finds herself at the head of the waiting-list of potential victims.
Deadly Admirer - Christine Green

During a temporary lull in the night shift at Longborough General Hospital, Vanessa Wooten walks into Casualty and calmly announces she has taken a deliberate overdose. She is well aware of her actions as she is herself a District Nurse and has been driven to attempting suicide by a stalker who is trying to kill her. The police think Vanessa neurotic and ignore her pleas for protection so novice private eye Kate Kinsella takes on the task, but as she digs into Vanessa’s background she begins to suspect that the police might be right. Then Vanessa’s deadly admirer begins to leave her presents in the form of corpses…
Deadly Practice - Christine Green

Arriving in a hearse was not the way to get a nursing job. The recession has hit Kate Kinsella hard. Not only can she not find regular nursing work, but her Nursing and Medical Investigations agency is withering due to as lack of clients. The only thriving business in Longborough seems to be that of her landlord Hubert Humberstone, the local undertaker. Then a body found in the boot of a burnt-out car is identified as that of a nurse at the Riverside Medical Centre and it seems that Kate could have both a new job and a new case. But Kate could be stepping into the dead nurse’s shoes in more ways than one…
Saturday of Glory - David Serafin

Strangely, there was no scream. Just a brushing noise as the body passed through the branches of trees, and then a dull squelch as it hit the ground. Investigative journalist Raul Santos plummets to his death from his 8th- floor Madrid flat. Did he jump, fall or was he pushed? A second body found in very gruesome circumstances adds to the workload of Superintendent Luis Bernal, who already has to cope with his pious wife and her appalling cooking, a demanding but loving young mistress, the suspicions of his political masters (who turn out to have very political ambitions) and the introduction of Spain’s first female detective to his elite squad. Is there a secret police spying on the police? And just who in authority can be trusted? For this is Spain in “The Transition” (1975-1982) the period of national uncertainty between the end of decades of Fascism and the establishment of parliamentary democracy. With Government ministries and agencies concentrating on fighting each other for power in the new state, it soon becomes clear that political plotting takes precedence over mere murder enquiries. And one spectacular plot is about to come to fruition on Easter Saturday (Sábado Santo) at the tomb of the recently deceased General Franco.
The Angel of Torremolinos - David Serafin

It would be strange if such a murderer killed five times in ten days without any prior crimes. The psychotic rhythm would be very unusual. He was always around at that time of night. He was a South American who ran an unofficial aid association for young people in need – drunken back-packers, drug addicts, runaways and the like. They called him ‘The Angel of Torremolinos’. It was only later that those he was helping would experience the strangely inhuman indignities, the traumatic horror, blood blinding the eyes, the tearing, searing pain, and then blackness… When the Basque separatist movement ETA launches a terrorist campaign against the crowded tourist beaches of Spain’s Costa del Sol, British newspapers have a field day, calling it the ‘Costa Bomb. Seconded to the area from Madrid, Superintendent Bernal and his trusted team of detectives find that another very real terror stalks the streets of the blossoming holiday resort of Torremolinos after dark. Narrowly escaping death in one bombing, Bernal has to prevent others and discover the fate of the young male tourists who have mysteriously disappeared – just as has one of his brightest young detectives…
The Body in Cadiz Bay - David Serafin

“The most puzzling thing is that he didn’t drown…” “But what cause of death do we put in the report? Cardiac arrest?” “That would be a last resort.” When fishermen in Cadiz Bay catch the body of a dead frogman in their nets, it raises far more questions than answers, not the least being: how did the unidentified diver die? Is it possible he was shot with a laser-beam and if he was, who would have such a top-secret weapon? When a sergeant of the Marine division of the Civil Guard is found hanged from a coastal jetty, it seems that Cadiz – and its surrounding Spanish and American naval bases – could be under attack. Fortunately, the unflappable Superintendent Luis Bernal is in Cadiz on very personal business (which involves a balancing act between his religious zealot of a wife and his pregnant mistress) and is ordered to take command of the situation.
The Pizza House Crash - Denise Danks

One and, two and, three and … FORGET THE KEY, the green letters said. One and, two and, three and … FORGET THE KEY. One and, two and, three and … FORGET THE KEY. It was mesmerising even at that speed. A message that shouldn’t have been in a pizza-house computer had resulted in the death of technology journalist Georgina Powers’ cousin; but if a similar virus had been had been insinuated into one of the biggest and most complex financial systems in the world, that meant a killing of a different kind. London in the late 1980s and the ‘Big Bang’ in the City is at the cutting edge of the computing and information revolution and where there are stocks to be traded and money to be made, there are also thieves waiting to employ the latest technology. Georgina Powers – brilliant with computers but terrible with men – soon realises that the source of the virus is very dangerously close to home.
Better Off Dead - Denise Danks

Carla Blue, rising pop star dies tragically from a cocktail of booze, drugs and excess at the iconic age of 27, a year to the day after rock legend Johnny Waits had also made the ultimate career move, only for posthumous sales of his music to sky-rocket. Carla may be dead, but she’s still in business. The music industry had made death a marketing tool, with computer software predicting when to ‘terminate’ a product for maximum returns. It’s not that difficult to do with a machine, but you have to be a wicked bastard to want to… Guilt-ridden technology journalist, and Carla Blue’s closest friend, Georgina Powers smells the first rat when she stumbles across wide boy and street trader Tommy Levi selling pirated cassette tapes of Carla’s last album even before it is released posthumously. Her investigations lead her into a web of drugs, lust, violence and corruption encompassing both the glittering lifestyle of the world of rock and roll, and the less glamorous but just as ruthless territory of some very hard East End ‘businessmen’. Better Off Dead offers a bleak, but probably accurate, picture of London at the end of the 1980s. London and its music industry are on the edge of the computer technology revolution, but where there is money to be made, the old values of greed and envy will always survive.
Frame Grabber - Denise Danks

Georgina Powers, the feisty journalist who is good with technology is also terrible in her choice of men .. .. something which just may be the death of her. It is the early 1990s and the dawn of the age of personal computers and virtual reality role-playing games; and with the new technology come new and frightening ways of providing pornography to pander to every depraved taste. What begins for Georgina as a spontaneous but ill-judged affair with an interviewee in New York, becomes a shaming obsession which follows her home to London and she finds herself an unwitting participant in the computer-generated ‘Pornoland’ role-play game. Virtual reality has become all too real.
The Wages of Zen - James Melville

In 1979 James Melville introduced a significant new figure in to British crime fiction the Japanese detective Superintendent Tetsuo Otani of the Hyogo Prefectural Police. Otani, a very human but also very Japanese policeman, has to supervise an investigation which begins with a murder (a relatively rare crime in Japan) in a small Zen temple community where all the suspects are foreigners, but expands into the murky waters of drug trafficking and organised crime. Praised for its ‘entrancing, splendidly intricate description of Japanese society (straight, criminal and official)’ The Wages of Zen was not only well-received in the UK and the US but also appeared in a Japanese edition under the title The Chishoji Temple Murder Case.
The Chrysanthemum Chain - James Melville

The second case for Superintendent Otani of the Hyogo Prefecture of Honshu, the main island of Japan, where the death of a respected foreign academic presents a problem not just for the police but also for Andrew Walker the young British Vice-Consul in the Prefecture’s capital Kobe, who has to master the formal intricacies and rituals of Japanese mourning as well as police procedure. With his vast knowledge and experience of Japan, James Melville again weaves an intriguing murder mystery into a subtle and affectionate depiction of Japanese life, often as seen through Japanese eyes observing western visitors observing them! Published in Japan as The English Teacher Murder Case.
A Sort of Samurai - James Melville

When the body of a German businessman is found in a disused warehouse in the aftermath of a local earthquake, Superintendent Otani and his trusted detectives – the streetwise ‘Ninja’ Noguchi and the flamboyant Jiro Kimura – believe it to be a routine investigation, albeit into the murky side of Western behaviour. But the clues they uncover seem to point to corruption in the highly conservative Japanese establishment and Otani’s personal and professional honour are called into question. Published in Japan as The Kobe Harbour Murder Case, James Melville’s third novel was described by the critics as ‘subtle and exotically flavoured’.
Sometimes You Could Die - James Mitchell

Most writers consider themselves blessed if they create one memorable protagonist in their careers. James Mitchell, novelist and television dramatist, created four: the violent, tortured secret agent John Craig, the enigmatic assassin David Callan, the wily Jack Ford from When The Boat Comes In and, in the mid-1980s, the Anglo-Italian private eye Tommaso Ronald Hogget in a trilogy of fast-paced crime novels which Allan Prior in the Daily Mail described as: ‘Crisply written, the dialogue is bright and it carries the reader along like – well, like Callan used to.’ Ron Hogget is a private detective who excels at finding missing things and missing people – sometimes when they’re dead. Sometimes You Could Die, first published in 1985, revolves around the fate of Jane Donner – society beauty, philanthropist and patron of the arts – who was kidnapped whilst in northern Italy and even though a million dollar ransom was paid, the beautiful Mrs Donner has been killed and decapitated. Now super-rich businessman Martin Donner wants revenge on his wife’s murderers, but first he has to find them….or rather Ron Hogget does.
Dead Ernest - James Mitchell

The unfortunately named Ernest Fluck is by all accounts a computer genius. He also has a reputation as being unpleasant, impossible to work with, a fanatical gambler and possibly a crook. Rather remarkably, he seems to be engaged to Irish socialite and racehorse owner Imogen Courtney-Lithgoe. He’s also missing – and so is one of her racehorses. Then a potential witness disappears and a body turns up only to go missing almost immediately and the case develops into a search for a man, a woman, a horse and a corpse and private detective Ron Hogget has his work cut out. The search for answers takes Ron and his minder, former paratrooper and would-be philosopher Dave Baxter, on a dangerous journey to Ireland, to Spain and eventually Australia.
Dying Day - James Mitchell

London private eye Ron Hogget finds things for people, though the finding sometimes involves fearful activities. Ron is often fearful — he’s that sort of person — but he usually gets the job done. And he has Dave Baxter, a friend and minder who drives a mini-cab, reads philosophy, who knows everything about guns and self-defence and nothing about fear. In Dying Day, Hogget is hired to find nothing smaller than an airplane, and one that’s been missing for thirty years. It is ex-RAF officer Tony Palliser, filthy rich from a business that began with airplanes — Dakotas — participating in the Berlin airlift in 1948, who calls on Hogget’s services. But why, after all these years? Palliser’s reasons are thin, but his money is good so Ron takes on the job only to find he’s not alone on the hunt and that the real reason behind finding the aircraft must be quite impressive for all the deaths being arranged on its behalf. Including, very likely, his own… When first published in 1988, respected American critic Allen J. Hubin, reviewing Dying Day, wrote: ‘A solidly constructed, high-tension story with a well-crafted array of characters’.
O Gentle Death - Janet Neel

“She looked at him, seriously, then suddenly smiled and twirled, provocatively, so that he could get the full benefit, flirting a bit like any teenage daughter, and Vivienne sighed with relief. ‘Now, am I smart enough for you two good-looking women?’ he asked, and they walked round him, considering him carefully, for a blessed moment like any ordinary family going to a party.”
Death's Bright Angel - Janet Neel

"He heard the sodden dead leaves on the pavement squeak, and an indrawn breath, and as he turned just saw an upraised arm, elongated by something held in the hand; but before he could cry out, his head exploded and he felt himself falling…" It may be that Death’s bright angel Will speak in that chord again
Death of a Partner - Janet Neel

\"As his eyes focused he realized he was looking at a hideously swollen human body, and just then, as the light breeze shifted, he caught the stomach-turning odour of decay…\" Start with the balance sheet. That’s where the bodies are.
Death Among the Dons - Janet Neel

\"Probably in her mid-fifties, healthy, well-nourished, not fat, but the skin looked smooth on the bones, and the skin was clear and supple. A woman who looked after herself… Good looking, even in death.\"
A Timely Death - Janet Neel

The fifth John McLeish/Francesca Wilson, first published in 1996, was described by critic T. J. Binyon as ‘Her best novel yet’ and as ‘A superior whodunit’ by the Daily Telegraph. William Price is a dodgy businessman already well-known to the Fraud Squad. When his dead body is discovered (by a Member of Parliament no less) following what appears to have been a bizarre sexual experiment, he becomes a matter of interest to Detective Chief Superintendent John McLeish, assisted by his wife Francesca, whose detective skills are as finely honed as her husband’s.
Death on Site - Janet Neel

Janet Neel’s second novel, first published in 1989, was judged by the critics to be a ‘worthy successor’ to her award-winning debut Death’s Bright Angel and firmly established her detective duo of policeman John McLeish and Civil Service high-flyer Francesca Wilson as one of the most endearing double acts in British crime fiction. Whilst on holiday in Scotland, the pair witness a near-fatal climbing accident. Back in London there is another fall, this time fatal and definitely murder, plunging McLeish and Francesca into an investigation of greed and corruption in the construction industry.
To Die For - Janet Neel

Murder is on the menu at the fashionable and stunningly successful Café de la Paix in London’s Covent Garden and there is no shortage of suspects for policeman John McLeish and his strong-minded wife Francesca in their sixth joint investigation, first published in 1998. During her impressive business and financial career, Janet Neel (now Baroness Cohen of Pimlico) founded and financed two successful London restaurants. Her experiences then, and her membership of the famous Detection Club, would seem the ideal recipe for a satisfying murder mystery.
Ticket to Ride - Janet Neel

After her award-winning series featuring civil servant Francesca Wilson and policeman John McLeish (all available from Ostara Crime), Janet Neel created a new heroine in Jules Carlisle, a recently-qualified lawyer struggling to establish herself in a London law firm specialising in immigration issues and helping asylum seekers. First published in 2005, Ticket to Ride is a remarkably prescient mystery, flagging up the exploitation of illegal immigrants tempted by the offer of work in agriculture in East Anglia and begins with the discovery of eight bodies in shallow graves on a beach near King’s Lynn. The trail leads to refugees from the former Yugoslavia and atrocities committed during the conflict in Bosnia in the 1990s. Jules Carlisle’s firm, as well as the police and MI5, become involved in uncovering the network organising this human traffic and whilst Jules’ unconventional upbringing might prove useful to the investigation, her chaotic private life threatens to derail her legal career before it begins as well as distracting her from close and personal danger.
Death on the Appian Way - Kenneth Benton

Kenneth Benton’s 1974 novel is an examination political chicanery and corruption in the last decade of the Roman Republic, which will appeal to fans of Robert Harris’ ‘Cicero’ trilogy. Indeed Cicero plays a key role in the novel, as does the notorious ‘socialite’ Clodia, sister (and possible lover) of the street-fighting politician Clodius Pulcher. Set between the years 63-52 BC, with the power struggle between Caesar and Pompey looming and based on historical incidents and trial proceedings, Death on the Appian Way is a seriously neglected historical novel by an author who made his name with contemporary political adventure thrillers. Kenneth Benton (1909-1999) succeeded Dick Francis as Chairman of the Crime Writers’ Association in 1974 less than five years after publication of his first novel. Benton took up thriller writing only on retirement from a thirty-year career as an MI6 officer, serving initially in Vienna in 1937, then in Riga, Madrid and Rome during World War II and after the war in South America, where several of his spy novels were set. For a time, between 1941 and 1943, his immediate boss in the ‘Iberian section’ of MI6 was a certain Kim Philby.
Patterns in the Dust - Lesley Grant-Adamson

Robin’s brave joke that first day came back to her. ‘All paths lead to the graveyard.’ Now it didn’t seem witty, it was mere fact… Nether Hampton appears on the surface to be the classic Somerset village. All the ingredients are there: the traditional village pub, the |Gothic church, fox-hunting squires, wealthy incomers, crusty old retired generals, an archaeologist digging up the remains of a Norman castle and, this being the 1980s, even some young, tearaway punks. Into these placid surroundings drops Rain Morgan, gossip columnist for the Daily Post, simply looking to relax away from the Fleet Street rat race. Almost immediately, the bodies begin to turn up. Born in London in 1942, Lesley Grant-Adamson made her name as a journalist, notably with The Guardian, before turning to writing crime fiction in 1985. Patterns in the Dust, her first novel, saw the debut of her series heroine Rain Morgan and on first publication was described as a ‘classic English whodunit’ by the Sunday Telegraph. Apart from her novels, Lesley has also written short stories and non-fiction, including a guide to Writing Crime and Suspense Fiction and in 1994 she became the first crime writer to be appointed Writer in Residence to a British university. She currently lives in Suffolk.
Guilty Knowledge - Lesley Grant-Adamson

Gossip-columnist Rain Morgan is dispatched to the French Riviera to interview painter Sabine Jourdain, part of the coterie (and mistress) of the legendary octogenarian artist Marius Durance. Rain is accompanied by her lover Oliver, though their relationship is running far from smoothly, but neither of them suspects that the glamorous world of art dealers and their luxury yacht lifestyle in Antibes could be so firmly based on greed, pride and dubious loyalties. And then the dead body of Sabine Jourdain is hauled from the harbour…. When Guilty Knowledge was first published in 1986, Woman magazine acclaimed ‘an outstanding new writer’ and the Sunday Times noted that its ‘Fine, confident brushwork catches every nuance of fraud and worse’.
Wild Justice - Lesley Grant-Adamson

Fleet Street in the 1980s during a heat-wave, a setting which positively thrives on intrigue and where the phrase ‘stab in the back’ is synonymous with a journalist being summarily sacked, often whilst in the pub. The Daily Post has a new proprietor who seems determined to drive the paper down-market, promote extreme political views and ride roughshod over the trades unions and industrial relations. Gossip columnist Rain Morgan feels far from secure in her job, but neither does anyone else, especially when the new proprietor is found, quite literally, stabbed in the back at his desk. During a chaotic summer, life in the offices of the Daily Post becomes even more chaotic than usual, with invasions by protestors (both left and right wing), a heightened sense of megalomania, jealousy and paranoia, the discovery of typewritten death threats and the intervention of the bizarre, publicity-seeking psychic Ruby Dobby. And then knives, similar if not identical to the murder weapon, begin to be delivered to various members of staff, including Rain.
Foiled Again - Peter Guttridge

An “accidental” death during a fencing match in New York and the definitely not accidental stabbing with a sabre of the promoter of the match in – of all places – Ramsbottom in Lancashire cannot be connected, surely? Nick Madrid, fencer, yoga practitioner and accident-prone journalist aims to find out and his often erring aim takes him via a club for sado-masochists, a bizarre art exhibition called ‘The Shock of the Poo’, the history of the British Union of Fascists, a coven of aggressive Sylvia Plath devotees and the mystery of just why Madrid is such an unusual surname in Burnley. Nick’s hilarious stumbling after the truth takes him from the desolate Lancashire moors to the steamy swamps of Florida, pursued by Russian Mafiosi and Colombian drug dealers and, as usual, he manages to lose all his clothes (all done in the best possible taste, of course) and be attacked by the local wildlife. Peter Guttridge’s comic thrillers starring Nick Madrid combined ‘a deep affection for the worst of Fleet Street’ (The Guardian) with outrageous farce and the quickfire gags of a stand-up comedian. Minette Walters called them: ‘Whacky…Hilarious…A great read’ and Deborah Moggach rated them ‘Great fun’.
Cast Adrift - Peter Guttridge

Nick Madrid: the continuing story of a life lived badly. Amiable, accident-prone journalist Nick Madrid has done some competitive fencing in the past and keeps fit by practising astanga vinyasa yoga. He is also something of a film buff, all of which qualify him as the prime (and only) candidate for the job of replacement stuntman on a low-budget (a very low-budget) pirate film (and musical) being shot in the Caribbean. With an oddball cast of Hollywood rejects and has-beens, not to mention a cameo appearance by Madrid’s best friend Bridget ‘The Bitch of the Broadsheets’ Frost, dodgy props and a Second Unit which seems to be very busy doing something totally unconnected with the film, there seems little chance of sticking to the script. To confuse matters further, real, modern-day pirates turn up and the principle cast members are shipwrecked on an island with the sole survivor of Cast Adrift, a reality television game show gone horribly (very horribly) wrong. To add to the chaos, Nick, as usual, ends up naked and once again at the mercy of the predatory wildlife. And just what did happen to the original stuntman? Described as ‘Agatha Christie on laughing gas’, Peter Guttridge’s whacky, over-the-top comedy thrillers quickly found fans among the some of the top names in British crime writing. Val McDermid said of them:‘Managed the rare double of making me laugh out loud and wince in sympathy…enormous fun’ and the late Reginald Hill described the Nick Madrid series as: ‘A fast moving, laugh-a-line frolic…we gasp with amazement, excitement and amusement.’
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