Reading Justin Richards...
I read Richards’ books in order, beginning with ‘The Paranormal Puppet Show’. In doing so, once started, I found that I couldn’t put it down. Now that is brilliant writing! Not only did the subject and time settings (contemporary as well as the 1930s) enthrall me, but the interweaving of the current mystery under investigation, plus intrinsic subplots and placements of information regarding further mysteries that are dealt with in future stories. When I was in my early teens, I would have thought these books were so cool to read, let alone keep. Even at my age, the writing captured my enthusiasm as well as my interest. Richards doesn’t talk down the reader in any way, but involves he or she in what ever is happening like a fellow conspirator. Yes, I did say conspirator. The situation involving the base set up of the Invisible Detective, Brandon Lake, is created and kept secret by four children: Art Drake, who plays the barely visible detective who gives audiences in a dark room, and is the leader of the little group; Meg Wallace, the suspicious, logical one who can uncannily tell if someone is lying; Jonny, the fastest thing on two legs; and Flinch, a little girl abandoned to the streets, and the reason for the subterfuge. The children, or Cannoniers as they call themselves, are trying to raise enough money to buy Flinch some warm clothes for the winter. So, everyone who comes to consult the Brandon Lake on a Monday evening by asking a question, must leave sixpence in return.
The children investigate things as simple as ‘is the publican at such and such a pub watering his beer?’ to a missing person under suspicious circumstances. All this is done between the serious problems of their own lives. Simple things lead the intrepid children into strange and dire circumstances, some way beyond their control. Sophisticated, imaginative, and very well thought out. The cases of the Invisible Detective are set to intrigue, and they do. I’m currently waiting to receive more of the novels…
Meantime, I read Justin Richards’ newest release ‘The Death Collector’. Set in another time with new characters in a new, but no less fascinating setting: The British Museum, in late Victorian England. The pace is fast, the dangers real, and the murders and mysteries just keep piling up. Even the dead walk – but not in the way you imagine. The opening lines from this book capture you from the start: “Four days after his own funeral, Albert Wilkes came home for tea…Even the dog knew there was something wrong.”
Justin Richards is a writer gifted with a brilliant imagination, a love of clockwork, history, mystery and all of the quirks that human history and pre-history has to offer. And he uses it all to fashion stories and people that intrigue the reader, and fascinate the mind – usually at a breathless pace.
He is the author of currently more than a dozen genre and sf novels, as well as non-fiction books, and audio and television scripts. He has moonlighted by editing anthologies of short stories, collaborated occasionally with well-known author, Jack Higgins, been a technical writer, founded and edited a media journal, and contributed articles to many mainstream magazines. Before all that he worked for a multinational computer company. At present, Justin is best known for his role as Creative Consultant to the BBC Books range of Doctor Who novels, as well as writing his own well-received novels for the series.