Friday, October 17, 2014

Meet Author Mark Ellis Whose Historical Police Detective Frank Merlin Gets Rave Reviews

After an interesting and enjoyable career in law and business I decided a few years ago to fullfil a long-held ambition and take up writing. To date I have completed two well-received novels both set in World War Two London and featuring my creation, the Anglo-Spanish Scotland Yard police detective Frank Merlin. The first, PRINCES GATE, has Merlin investigating the deaths of employees at the American Embassy in London in the early days of the war in January 1940. In the second, STALIN’S GOLD, published this year, it is September 1940 and Merlin enquires into the disappearance of a Polish RAF pilot as the Battle of Britain and the Blitz rage around him.
   My stories are fictional but set in a historical period which I have very thoroughly researched. Many hours have been spent reading the numerous diaries, social and military histories of the war. Biographies have also been a helpful source and many fruitful days have been spent in the London Public Records Office, Kensington Library and on the internet. I believe I have built up an accurate picture of a fascinating era. In this context, one of my most pleasing reviews came from the eminent bestselling historian, Andrew Roberts, who commented that ‘as an historian I can attest to Ellis’s impressive accuracy in his fine descriptions of Blitz-hit London of 1940.’ He was also kind enough to describe STALIN’S GOLD as ‘masterly’ and ‘compelling’ and to call Merlin ‘one of the most attractive characters to emerge in recent detective-thriller fiction.’
PRINCESGATE’s setting, early 1940, was called 'the Phoney War' because there was no real sign of war activity in London or the country, with some few exceptions such as rationing and the blackout, while British forces were not yet engaged in military action. This was also a time when many powerful and influential people were supporters of appeasement and favoured a quick settlement with Hitler's Germany. One such was Joseph P. Kennedy, the American Ambassador and father of the future President John F. Kennedy. He is joined in the book by other characters of the same mind, some fictional some not.
  In STALIN’S GOLD set seven months later in September 1940, the appeasers’ influence has waned, Churchill is Prime Minister, the RAF is valiantly fending off the Luftwaffe in the Battle of Britain, and London is enduring heavy bombing in the opening weeks of the Blitz. One surprising fact about the Blitz is that the looting of damaged buildings and areas was rampant. Looters, RAF pilots, Russian crooks and spies and many other I hope entertaining period characters feature in this book.
   I enjoy mixing real historical figures with the fictional characters in my casts. PRINCES GATE features Joseph Kennedy, Cordell Hull (Roosevelt's Secretary of State) and various British politicians. 

In STALIN’S GOLD I have been a little more ambitious including, amongst others, Stalin, Beria, Churchill and the King and Queen.  Some have walk-on parts while others are more integral to the plot. Frank Merlin 3, currently being written and set in the summer of 1941, will have more of this mix.

For more information please visit Mark at

And follow Mark on Twitter at

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