* 10 September 2021: The Man On Hackpen Hill is reviewed by Geoffrey Wansell in the Daily Mail: “Impeccably researched… an unusual mystery told with exceptional skill.” Full Daily Mail review, below.
“Crop circles are not unknown in Wiltshire, where this intriguing story is set, but when a body is found at the centre of one on Hackpen Hill, DI Silas Hart is sent to investigate.
Then another body turns up in another crop circle and the plot quickly thickens as aspiring journalist Bella meets Jim, a scientist at the secretive government laboratory at nearby Porton Down.
Impeccably researched — for example in explaining the mathematical elements to crop circles — Monroe manages to make them fascinating and even exciting. Inevitably, Bella and Jim find themselves pitted against those dark forces that led to the novichok poisonings in Salisbury in March 2018. Meanwhile, the ever-dependable DI Hart struggles to keep up with the complexities of the case, in spite of the mathematical insights offered by his fearsomely intelligent female assistant.
It all adds up to an unusual mystery told with exceptional skill.”
* 7 September 2021: Martin Chilton chooses The Man on Hackpen Hill as The Independent’s ‘Thriller of the Month’.
* 2 September 2021: The Man On Hackpen Hill is published in the UK by Head of Zeus.
* August 2021: Early reviews start to appear for The Man on Hackpen Hill, including this thoughtful 5-star cracker from Fiction-books.biz/@fiction_
I haven’t read too many of the flurry of post Coronavirus pandemic books, as I just know that some are going to be much better than others – but boy oh boy! This has to be one of the best!!
I deliberately chose to download this one, first and foremost, because I have to admit that I had a vested interest in this story long before I even opened the cover on my Kindle. It is set in a location I know so well, having been born and raised in Swindon, a mere couple of miles from Hackpen Hill. When we were first married we lived up on the edge of the Cotswolds, so Oxford was our local ‘stamping ground’. We now live just as close in the opposite direction and within a virtual stones throw of Porton Down, near to Salisbury. I therefore found myself trying to catch the author out with his continuity of place names and journey times, but this storyline has been so well researched and authentically presented, with an obvious enthusiasm that doesn’t take prisoners, so there was not much chance of me finding fault, leaving me able to enjoy a lovely trip down memory lane, although the Swindon Police HQ has been relocated to Gable Cross since I moved away and is no longer a central feature and deterrent in the heart of the town.
Those were about the only parts which were lovely though, as this story hit the ground running from those very first opening lines, with the action and suspense being relentless right until the last, when an ending which was carefully considered, gently brought down the pace and offered peace and hope for the future, for Bella and Jim. Some short, punchy chapters kept the gathering momentum of the storyline evenly paced and fluid; seen, heard and told as it was, through the eyes, ears and voices of the three main protagonists, Bella, Jim and DI Silas Hart.
Crop circles have formed a large and important part of the narrative of the Wiltshire landscape from as far back as I can remember, including the wrath and ire they invoke within the local farming community, for the damage and havoc they can wreak on a crop. Also, having a husband who is ex-military, the concept of the Porton Down “£15 help us find a cure for the common cold” which used to be offered to serving service personnel, is legendary! However, this book raises the game of both strands of local folklore, to a totally different, elevated and nauseatingly twisted level, then deftly weaves them together, with the addition of an unscrupulous US pharmaceutical company, into a tale of chilling proportions, which plays with the minds and emotions of protagonists and readers alike. Nothing is what it seems in the distorted reality of this disparate cast of characters and it is left to DI Silas Hart and DC Strover to unravel fact from fiction, truth from lie, reality from imagination, as they try to bust open a cartel which has already destroyed so many lives. I wonder if perhaps in these times of the whistle-blower culture , a beleaguered Porton Down might, on this occasion, come away with some of its reputation and code of ethics as a protector of the country, intact?
Supremely dark and intensely multi-faceted; wonderfully researched and authentic; compelling and gripping; sympathetically nuanced and told with real heart. The immersive qualities an author who is skilled in the imagery of words and the art of storytelling can engender, makes reading this book both a delight and a troubling experience, at one and the same time. A penetrating and profoundly touching study in human behaviour, encompassing mental health issues and the power of drug induced mind manipulation, whilst never loosing sight of the overarching crime thriller storyline at its core.
The author has created a cast of characters, which aside from the Swindon CID team, are definitely not what they seem to all outward appearances, but I dare you spot the anomalies and join up all the dots. So well have they all been drawn and defined, so genuinely believable, so raw and passionate, they totally had me fooled, right until the bitter end. Complex, emotionally damaged, desperately driven by imagined and instilled beliefs and reactions, all of which made them difficult to relate to or invest in, until unfolding events turn everything on its head and the devastation wrought by an unscrupulous few individuals becomes terrifyingly apparent, to them and me.
Oh! and the ‘locals’ in the village pub, ‘The Slaughtered Lamb’ (not the real name of a pub in this area from what I can ascertain, but I would love to know on which establishment it is based) are probably quite fairly representative of this rural, insular corner of the county, although perhaps I shouldn’t admit to that and I defy most people to find it anything other than a struggle to relate or become engaged with them, they do have their own particularly unique customs and ‘quirky’ ways!
Hart and Strover are a new team of detectives to the world of crime fiction, but to my thinking, they really do warrant and demand a series of their own, so well do they gel and work together. Keen to encourage his young protegee, in a CID section he considers to be too male dominated, Hart not only gives a methodical, process driven and ‘nerdy’ Strover a free reign during the course of the investigation, but he also refreshingly, finds himself actually listening, being informed and acting on, her attention to detail. As the investigation progresses, it does transpire that Hart has more than a purely professional interest in this case, which sets his policing and parental responsibilities, rather at odds with each other. Happily, they do not collide too spectacularly and the outcome should also help his family get back on track, as like all fictional detectives, he does carry an inordinate amount of emotional baggage and leads a complicated and turbulent home life.
From a purely personal point of view, part of the joy of reading, is the unique and individual journey a book takes me on and The Man On Hackpen Hill, is so much more than a daring crime thriller – Where will your journey take you?
* May 2021: Forget My Name is published by Foksal in Poland as “Zapomnij, jak się nazywam”
* 4 February 2021: Cover reveal! First glimpse of the cover of the new JS Monroe thriller, The Man on Hackpen Hill, due out in September 2021.
* 7 January 2021: Publication of the UK paperback edition of The Other You
* 10 June 2020: The Spanish edition of Forget My Name is published.
*5 March 2020: The Italian edition of Find Me is published.
20 January 2020: Nice review of The Other You on eNCA, South Africa’s biggest 24-hour news channel, by the estimable Andrea van Wyk. “At the end you have this delicious twist that you just don’t see coming.”
* 17 January 2020: Daily Mail reviews The Other You:
“This is a clever mash-up of psychological thriller and police procedural with a dash of sci-fi. The imaginatively constructed plot and the carefully written character of Katy prompt some disturbing and unusual questions about who we trust and why in our rapidly changing world of everyday technological progress.”
* 16 January 2020: J.S.Monroe is a guest on Emma Barnett’s BBC Radio5Live morning show, talking about super recognisers with Emma Mitchell, a real life super recogniser who helped with the research for The Other You.
* 11 January 2020: Jake Kerridge welcomes “an unusually pacy twist on the standard domestic thriller” in today’s Telegraph. In his glowing review, he concludes: “I doubt many other psychological thrillers published this year will be as propulsive and fun.” ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
* 9 January 2020: UK publication day for The Other You is marked with a double page spread in The Express about super recognisers:
* …and a Page 3 splash The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald:
* 3 January 2020: Here are the details for the forthcoming blog tour for The Other You.
* 18 December 2019: In an extraordinary encounter, J.S.Monroe is interviewed by his doppelgänger about the big themes in his new thriller, The Other You:
* 17 December 2019: Vergiss Nie, the German edition of Forget My Name, is reviewed by Lea Bischoff on SWR3, one of Germany’s biggest radio stations, for its reading day. Read review here.
* December 2019: Quotes coming in for The Other You. “Brilliantly original and intriguing… Kept me hooked, enthralled and guessing to the very end” – Peter James. And also some juicy hard copies arrived today of the real thing…
* November 2019: German release of Forget My Name – Vergiss Nie.
* October 2019: Korean, Russian, and Czech editions of Forget My Name:
* 9 October 2019: Sneak previous of the cover for The Other You, out on 9 January 2020.
* 18 July 2019: J.S.Monroe appears on the ‘pace’ panel at this year’s Harrogate Crime Writing Festival with Steve Cavanagh, Rachel Abbott and Shari Lapena, chaired by the inestimable Mark Lawson.
* 17 June 2019: Interview with The Strand in the US about The Last Thing She Remembers
* 17 June 2019: UK publicity campaign kicks off for Forget My Name with posters on GWR trains – including the one taken by Jemma at the beginning of the book – and lightbox animations outside WHSmith’s Travel outlets across Heathrow T2, T3, T4 and T5, Gatwick South, Birmingham Air, Liverpool Air, London City, Manchester Air T1 and Kings Cross.
* 16 June 2019: Jon Land in The Providence Journal (Rhode Island), the US’s oldest newspaper, gives a big thumbs up to The Last Thing She Remembers:
“Psychological thrillers have a higher bar to meet, given the lack of action to propel them from scene to scene. But J.S. Monroe’s “The Last Thing She Remembers” (Park Row Books, $15.99, 400 pages) maintains relentless propulsion absent bombs and falling bodies — well, at least far fewer.
The Hitchcockian setup casts Jemma Huish as an amnesiac, her condition induced by a seemingly random robbery in London’s Heathrow Airport. Before you can say “Spellbound,” though, Monroe has thrown enough twists and turns into Jemma’s plight to turn his follow-up to the equally superb “Find Me” into a splendid slice of post-modern noir with just enough gothic overtones thrown into the mix for good measure.
“The Last Thing She Remembers” is not a book you’ll easily forget, a riveting, tortuous ride into the depths of psychological despair and angst with the structural complexity of a Rubik’s Cube.”
* 13 June 2019: Mammoth, seven-week UK Blog Tour begins for Forget My Name:
* 13 June 2019: UK paperback publication day of Forget My Name (Head of Zeus)
* 12 June 2019: Gumshoe Review in the US is pleasantly surprised by The Last Thing She Remembers:
“J.S. Monroe’s The Last Thing She Remembers was a genuine surprise – a literary feast. It is both a creepy, unnerving psychological thriller and an intense serial killer thriller all wrapped up into one mystery that was very difficult to put down. Who is this mystery woman and what does she want? Is she planning to kill someone or is someone planning to kill her?… This novel is rife with suspense, shocks, horror, mystery, and romance. It is both heartwarming and tragic. The ending is very bittersweet. It will be a long time before I forget The Last Thing She Remembers.”
* 28 May 2019: Publication day of The Last Thing She Remembers, the US edition of Forget My Name ( Park Row Books)
* 15th November Jon’s The Riot Act, first published in 1997, is re-released by Head of Zeus as an eBook, along with The India Spy, his second novel (2003, then titled The Cardamom Club). Both have striking new covers.
* 5 October 2018Times review: “JS Monroe has woven an absorbing novel full of unpredictable twists, topped by a savage climax” – Marcel Berlins, The Times