FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Mark Ellis publishes thrilling third novel in DCI Frank Merlin series
#1 Amazon Historical Thriller Bestseller
Many Global Top Ten/Top 20 Amazon Thriller Rankings
An Amazon Top 15 Hot New Historical Mystery Release
LONDON, England – Growing up in Swansea, birthplace of famous poet Dylan Thomas (‘Do not go gentle into that good night’), Ellis always had literary ambitions. He also had a fascination for the Second World War, which cast a long shadow over his family. His father served in the wartime Navy and died a young man from illness acquired on service while his mother told him of her terrible experiences of Luftwaffe bombing. She told him of fun times too like her attendance at tea dances in wartime London with all around laughing scornfully at the bombs and doodlebugs. Her stories made him realise that ordinary life of course carried on during war and Ellis became interested in this facet of the Home Front. While the nation was engaged in its heroic endeavour, crime was one of the ‘ordinary’ things which flourished during the period. Murder, robbery, theft and rape were rife and the Blitz provided scope for widespread looting and other crimes. This was an intriguing, harsh and cruel world. This is the world of DCI Frank Merlin.
Mark Ellis – Mark Ellis is a thriller writer and a former barrister and entrepreneur. He grew up in Swansea, under the shadow of his parents’ experience of the second world war. His father served in the wartime navy and his mother witnessed the bombardment of Swansea in 1941. Mark has always been fascinated by World War II and, in particular, the Home Front and the criminal activity which sprung up during wartime. He has written two previous DCI Frank Merlin novels, Princes Gate and Stalin’s Gold and is a member of the Crime Writers’ Association. He divides his time between homes in London and Oxford. Visit him at www.markellisauthor.com or on Twitter at @MarkEllis15
About the book
It is early summer 1941. Hitler is looking East and secretly preparing his invasion of Russia, giving London a temporary reprieve from the Blitz. The UK continues to suffer severe deprivations of wartime rationing and shortages. British forces have just been defeated in Crete in their first major direct confrontation with the Germans. Vichy France has just agreed to provide the Nazis with military bases in their colonies in Syria and Lebanon provoking the Allies to invade. The US remains outside the conflict and although President Roosevelt strongly favours Britain, he is hampered in his support by influential isolationists like Ford and Lindbergh.
Despite the rousing leadership of Churchill and the resilience of the people, Britain remains a dark and fraught place, with the possibility of invasion very real. Meanwhile across the Channel in France and other occupied countries, the Nazis are strengthening their tyrannical grip and beginning to round up Jews. It is against this grim background that DC Frank Merlin battles to do his duty.
Real life personalities like Churchill, De Gaulle, Petain, Ed Murrow and Laurence Olivier cameo in this wartime thriller. With France under the Nazi thumb and Britain with its back to the wall, Scotland Yard’s detective Merlin investigates a series of disturbing events – a young girl killed in a botched abortion, a French emigré shot in a seedy Notting Hill flat, and a mysterious letter written by a British officer, gunned down in Crete. Merlin and his team are plunged into a dark world of espionage, murder, love and betrayal.
“Merlin at War: A DCI Frank Merlin Novel”
Mark Ellis | October 12, 2017 | London Wall Publishing
Format ISBN-10: 0995566712 | Price: $17.99 Hard Cover
ASIN: B06ZYW8CFB | Price: $3.82 Kindle
Praise for Merlin at War
“Traditional well-plotted whodunit with a protagonist you will believe in and a plot that’s fresh and satisfying. A real treat.” – Oxford Mail
“Superb entertainment” – Eurocrime
“Nostalgia, sex and intrigue all rolled into one – great!” – 50Connect
“An interesting character and era… I’d like to read more” – Shots Magazine
“A real treasure” – Yorkshire Gazette
“Masterly… compelling… one of the most attractive characters to emerge in recent detective-thriller fiction” – Andrew Roberts, bestselling historian
“Richly atmospheric… authentic… calls to mind Ken Follett, Alan Furst and PD James”
–Joseph Finder, New York Times Bestselling Thriller Writer
An Interview with Mark Ellis
One of the most captivating parts of the world of Frank Merlin is the historical detail; how did you decide to weave such notable events and characters into the books?
I want to create as authentic a WW2 London for Frank Merlin’s adventures as I can. Close attention to historical detail and accuracy is imperative. Before I start writing a new book I spend several weeks intensively researching the exact period in which the story is set. In the case of Merlin At War the period is May/June 1941. To help me, I have a large and growing collection of history books, biographies, diaries and novels relating to WW2, good local libraries and then of course there is the Internet, which is now a fantastic resource for a historical novelist – if I want to find out the weather on any particular wartime day, what was on the radio, which RAF squadrons were in the air and so on, I can do do so in minutes on my iPad.
I structure my books so that each chapter covers a specific day-June 5th 1941, June 6th 1941 etc. In my research I may be looking for particular details of the day but sometimes unsearched for facts jump out and demand incorporation into my story. People likewise. I do feature a number of historical figures in all of my books. Sometimes they are simply there to help set the historical background to Merlin’s investigations and sometimes they are linked to the plots. In Merlin At War, Churchill features for historical background, while the French leader De Gaulle has a part to play in the plot. In my first book, Princes Gate, Joseph Kennedy provides historical colour but also features in the story. Similarly, Stalin in my second book, Stalin’s Gold. Authenticity, of course, comes just as much from getting the smaller details of ordinary life correct as it does from accurately reflecting the historical developments in the war and the Churchills and Stalins of the world. A great variety of ordinary life features in my books. How people entertained and enjoyed themselves interests me greatly. I loved creating one scene in Merlin At War, where Merlin and his girlfriend go to see a variety show at the famous London Palladium, a theatre in which many of America’s greatest stars have appeared over the years. I was delighted to find an old theatre programme on the internet, which gave full details of a specific show on the night on which Merlin attends. The show starred the biggest English comedian of the time Max Miller, and also on the bill, as a very young woman, was Vera Lynn, later to become an icon of the war as the singer of ‘The White Cliffs of Dover.’ Vera Lynn is amazingly still with us at the age of 100, and I like to think of her reading the book and encountering her youthful self!
How much of an influence did your parents’ experience with the war have on your process for these books?
My parents were the people most responsible for generating my keen interest in WW2 and in particular wartime life on the UK Home Front. My father was a British Navy sailor during the war and was based for some time in East Africa. I listened, fascinated, as a boy to his stories of his service there and remember vividly some frightening carvings he’d brought back with him. Sadly, he died when I was only 7, from a wasting disease he’d caught while in the tropics. My mother survived him by 52 years and so I had a little more time to listen to her tales. In the early part of the war my hometown, Swansea, a major port and industrial centre, was bombed heavily by the Germans on many occasions. My mother, then a teenager, lived on a tall hill some miles outside the town and told tales of gathering with her family in the garden to watch in horror as the bombs fell and the flames rose in the sky.
She also gave me a better perspective on ordinary wartime life. A railway worker, she benefitted from free train passes. She used these regularly to travel up to London later in the war with her friends to enjoy the capital’s sights and night life. This she did despite the fact that London was under frequent attack from the deadly German flying bombs known as ‘doodlebugs’. My mother said she and her friends enjoyed themselves oblivious to the extreme danger. They went dancing at afternoon tea dances, or in the evenings at posher places and she had happy memories of encountering many handsome American officers on the dance floors. I realised, when she was talking of her memories like this, that while the nation was engaged in its epic struggle for survival, ordinary people went on trying to live normal lives as far as they could. The normal things of life, of course, include crime which in fact grew massively during the war. This makes the period a very good one in which to set a crime novel and I thank my parents for leading me to it.
What lessons from your successful business background have helped you as a writer?
After I left Cambridge University many moons ago, I practised for a while as a barrister before going into business, first working for other people and then eventually, in my late thirties, for myself. I set up a computer services company with a friend in a small office by the river in a suburb of London. Luckily we chose to be in the right business at the right time and it prospered. After ten years it was a multi-million pound operation with offices throughout Europe and a Nasdaq public listing in New York. It attracted the attention of the major US corporation NCR and we sold the company. Shortly after I began my writing career.
Some people think that a writing career is a million miles away from a career in business. However, there are aspects of my business career which serve me well in my new life. To build a large and successful business from scratch requires, among other things, tenacity, perseverance, imagination, logical thinking, and organisational and marketing skills. All of these are essential in varying degrees to the process of getting a book down on paper, seeing it published and then selling as many copies as possible. I am, in a way, still carrying on a business career but Frank Merlin is now the enterprise!
What advice do you wish you had received prior to diving into the world of writing historical fiction?
* Not to worry too much about achieving perfection on a first draft.
* To back up drafts on more than one file when editing on a computer.
* To try and exceed your target words every day. You can!
What thriller writers do you admire?
I think we are living in another ‘golden age’ of crime fiction not only in the English speaking world but in many other countries. A non-comprehensive list of writers currently writing whom I admire would include Michael Connelly, Don Winslow, Carl Hiaasen, Lee Child, Alan Furst, Nelson De Mille and in the UK, John Le Carré, William Boyd, CJ Sansom and Philip Kerr. In other countries I love Jo Nesbo, Boris Akunin and many more while of the writers no longer with us my favourites include Simenon, Greene, Buchan, Mankell and Ambler.
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