“Addictive” WWII series continues with detective investigating art heist and multiple London murders


‘This is to my shame the first Mark Ellis book I’ve read. If the others evoke a vanished London so impressively, are graced with such complex plots and deep characterisation, and, above all, are written so well I shall have to read them all.‘ –THE LONDON TIMES

LONDON, England – In “Dead in the Water” (Jan. 17, 2023, Hachette) Detective Chief Inspector Frank Merlin is back in Mark Ellis’ vividly atmospheric WWII crime series. The newest addition to the series that NYT-bestselling author Andrew Roberts calls “masterly and compelling” does not disappoint as readers dive into DCI Frank Merlin’s next case.

In the summer of 1942, the Second World War rages on but Britain now faces the Nazi threat with America at its side. In a bombed-out London swarming with gangsters and spies, DCI Frank Merlin continues his battle against rampant wartime crime. A mangled body is found in the Thames just as some items of priceless art go mysteriously missing. What sinister connection links the two?

Merlin and his team follow a twisting trail of secrets as they investigate a baffling and deadly puzzle–and lovers of mystery, espionage and historical crime fiction will eagerly consume every new clue until the novel’s thrilling end.

“Dead in the Water”
Mark Ellis | January 17, 2023 | Hachette | Historical Crime Fiction
Paperback | 978-1786159885 | $17.99
Ebook | B09NVP3PCF | $4.99

More about MARK ELLIS

Mark Ellis is a thriller writer from Swansea and a former barrister and entrepreneur. His books treat the reader to a vivid portrait of London during the war skilfully blended with gripping plots, political intrigue and a charismatic protagonist.

Mark grew up under the shadow of his parents’ experience of the Second World War. His father served in the wartime navy and died a young man. His mother told him stories of watching the heavy bombardment of Swansea from the safe vantage point of a hill in Llanelli, and of attending tea dances in wartime London under the bombs and doodlebugs. In consequence Mark has always been fascinated by WW2 and in particular the Home Front and the fact that while the nation was engaged in a heroic endeavor, crime flourished. Murder, robbery, theft and rape were rife and the Blitz provided scope for widespread looting.
This was an intriguing, harsh and cruel world. This is the world of DCI Frank Merlin. Learn more at https://markellisauthor.com/.

Follow Mark on social media
Facebook: Mark Ellis- Author Page | Twitter: @MarkEllis15 | Instagram: @markell1


In an interview, Mark Ellis can discuss:

  • What inspired DCI Frank Merlin and his detective thriller series
  • His interest in wartime crime and espionage stories, and the continued popularity of wartime stories
  • His research process and his desire to make his series historically accurate
  • How his family’s background inspired his writing
  • How his time in America versus his time in England has shaped his stories

Praise for “Dead in the Water”

“This is to my shame the first Mark Ellis book I’ve read. If the others evoke a vanished London so impressively, are graced with such complex plots and deep characterisation, and, above all are written so well I shall have to read them all.” The London Times

“Extraordinarily atmospheric and compelling, Dead in the Water is a wonderfully intelligent and complex story.” Chris Lloyd, winner of The Historical Writers Association Gold Crown 2021

“A very satisfying puzzle, expertly crafted.” Historical Novel Society

“Mark Ellis has shown himself to be a historical crime writer of the first rank. This is a pacy, gripping, taut thriller that rampages across the bombed out landscape of wartime London. Loved it!” Alec Marsh, author of the acclaimed Drabble and Harris crime series

“A whirlwind of an international historical thriller…another incredible addition to a phenomenal series…I firmly believe that the Frank Merlin series is one of the best to be written over the past 10 years.” Dorset Book Detective

“A terrifically enjoyable historical thriller…characters drawn so brilliantly…keeps you guessing all the way to the end” The Last Word Book Review

“An exceptional story and a terrifically engaging and entertaining read.” AMW Books

“A fantastic novel of wartime Noir at its best, gritty, tense and intelligent.” Jude’s Bookworm Blog

“This thrilling mystery is a must-read on your summer reading list…will keep you reading late into the night.” Toronto Filming

“An illuminating and enjoyable read.” Aspects of History Magazine


Praise for the Frank Merlin Series

“A richly atmospheric, authentic, and suspenseful detective series set during World War II on the UK’s home front. Mark Ellis calls to mind Ken Follett, Alan Furst, and P.D. James.” Joseph Finder, New York Times bestselling thriller writer

“Masterly…compelling…one of the most attractive characters to emerge in recent detective thriller-fiction.” Andrew Roberts New York Times bestselling historian

“Historically realistic and dramatically enthralling.” Kirkus Reviews

“Compelling…perceptive…engaging.” Foreword Reviews

“A vivid and often surprising portrayal of wartime London.” The Western Mail


An Interview with Mark Ellis

DCI Frank Merlin is a unique and memorable character. What inspired his creation?

Originally my hero was going to be a more prosaic Cockney character but I then decided to make him a little more exotic. On holiday in Spain I thought why not make him half-Spanish? I happened to be in the countryside when the idea came to me and a herd of Merino sheep were nearby. I suddenly decided that Merino was a good name. Thus was born Francisco Merino, born in London to a Spanish sailor and his English wife. In due course, the father Javier decided to Anglicise his name and those of his children. Thus Francisco Merino became Frank Merlin.

How did time living in the U.S. influenced your writing?

In 1972, I went on a school exchange trip to America. The school I attended was Shady Side Academy in Pittsburgh and I was looked after by a wonderful family called the Denneys. When school was finished I bought a Greyhound monthly bus pass for $200 and then travelled right around the country. It was on this journey that I first read great classic American crime writers like Chandler, Hammett, James M Cain and Patricia Highsmith. This was when I first had the idea of one day becoming a crime writer myself. Later in the 80s and 90s I worked for a while in the US, specifically in New York and Los Angeles. My exploration of American crime writers continued. My business life also provided me with ideas and characters for my future fiction.

Who are some of your favorite authors and what inspiration have you drawn from them?

I love the writers mentioned above. Other favourites in crime fiction include Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers, Michael Connelly, Ruth Rendell, Robert Crais, Don Winslow, Henning Mankell, Jo Nesbo, PD James…I could go on! Other favourite general authors include Tolstoy, Dickens, Gore Vidal, Hilary Mantel.

Historical fiction often requires a lot of research. What is your process for making sure the books are as accurate as possible?

I am writing a series set in wartime London. The books progress in roughly 6-9 monthly intervals. I am just embarking on Book 6 of the series which will be set in the Spring of 1943. Before I start writing I immerse myself in the particular period and usually my research will yield ideas for the plot or plots of the new book. As I am well into the series, I have already built up a large library of war-related books. Online information has grown hugely since I started the series and I get much from that source. Biographies, collections of letters and fiction of the period are all excellent sources as well as more straightforward wartime histories.

Why do you think wartime stories continue to be so popular with readers?

As a period of history retreats further into the past, it inevitably becomes more strange and exotic. Also, interest in the war has been prompted by a number of major anniversaries in recent years. Overall the war is a fantastic story on a large level and a more intimate one. I focus mainly on the level of ordinary people, good or bad, trying to go about their lives against a tumultuous background. I find the details of their lives fascinating as do, apparently, the readers of my books.

What does Frank’s future look like?

I have always said that I intend to take Merlin all the way through the war. At the normal pacing of the books, that implies another 3 or 4. What his adventures will be I cannot say. I do not plan my books in advance. The plots come to me as I am writing them. All I can say is that every time I research a book I find something new and exciting to incorporate into it.

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