The Pemberton Books
"The Pemberton series is distinctive and deserves to be better known"
The series of books featuring Detective Superintendent Mark Pemberton are classic detective mysteries, and are Nicholas Rhea's major contribution to the crime genre. Rhea uses a mixture of entertaining story-telling and police procedure based on personal experience.
Endeavour Press, the UK's leading independent digital publisher, have reissued three 'Pemberton' titles which are sure to appeal to readers with a desire to be held in suspense, to think about the clues, and who appreciate the meticulous depiction of police procedure. These digital editions proved so popular that they have been followed by a reissue in paperback.
Detective Superintendent Mark Pemberton wants to solve the 15 year old murder of Muriel Brown before he retires.
Pemberton is well liked and respected in the force, yet a dark and thrilling mystery unravels under his watch when one of his detectives is replaced by Inspector Hadley.
Vic Hadley has been on sick leave and needs undemanding work - so handling the admin for the murder case seemed ideal.
e is left in charge of processing data for the case and seems to be productive and content with his role... for the time being.
However, some members of the force are unsettled by this new addition to their branch.
It is public knowledge that Hadley had shot and killed a man during an armed raid, and the subsequent allegations of murder and a cover-up had caused his breakdown.
Initially Pemberton is willing to accept Hadley's version of events and makes him feel welcome and supported.
However the rumours surrounding Hadley refuse to go away, some known criminals regularly voice their hostility towards him and the press have sensationalised the matter.
The investigation that followed the shooting seems to be inconclusive and there are plenty of people who think Hadley has a lot to answer for. Police officers don't think he is to be trusted.
Suddenly Hadley's withdrawn and lonely lifestyle causes alarm and in order to satisfy himself of Hadley's innocence, Pemberton decides to investigate the man's past.
He finds himself having to reevaluate his personal and professional attitude as further deaths are discovered and new evidence emerges concerning Hadley ...
Nicholas Rhea comments:
Suspect was originally published in 1995 in hardback by Constable; there was also a Magna Large Print edition. Now it is available once more, as an Endeavour Press Kindle edition and in a new paperback edition.
Hardworking Detective Superintendent Mark Pemberton has been instructed to take it easy, and is therefore assigned a supposedly laid-back assignment - to guard the American Vice-President Caleb Hartley on a visit to the UK.
However, the task turns out to be anything but straightforward.
The Vice-President believes he has British ancestors and wants to track down his family history.
Pemberton is one step ahead of him, and decides to delve into his ancestry prior to his arrival. What he discovers threatens to shake the family history to the core: the unsolved murder of Private James Hartley in 1916.
At the time, there hadn't been a detailed murder investigation, and initial suspicions had put the death down to a suicide. But the detective soon realises that this was not a suicide dressed up to look like a murder, but that beyond all doubt, it was murder.
The plot thickens as the suspicious circumstances surrounding the death come to light. James Hartley was about to join the war effort in France the night he was shot dead with a bullet to his brain.
Pemberton becomes increasingly convinced that Hartley was lured to his death, and that others within the family helped to conceal the truth about what happened that fateful night.
He refuses to let old ghosts be put to rest, and begins to dig up past clues that could help piece together the gruesome story.
Who would want to murder this hard-working, well-loved private? And is it too late to uncover the truth of a dark family secret that has remained concealed for decades?
Family Ties was published in 1994 in hardback by Constable, and in a large print version by Magna Large Print. It is now back in print in a new paperback edition, as well as a Kindle edition to download from Amazon.
Detective Superintendent Mark Pemberton is the first on the scene as he witnesses a fatal car accident.
In the victim's last living moments he makes a confession that sets Pemberton's senses on full alert.
James Browning admits murdering a woman and despairs of his action with the words "she did not deserve it".
When a prostitute's corpse is discovered in the woods in Penthorne a few days later it seems impossible not to connect the two incidents.
As Pemberton realises the body is mysteriously missing its shoes he remembers the chain of abusive murders performed by a killer nicknamed the 'Sandal Strangler'.
Could he have accidentally stumbled upon the path of this mass murderer?
Confession is a gripping murder mystery from a master of the genre.
Nicholas Rhea comments:
In 1997, reviewing the original Constable edition for Crime Time, Martin Edwards wrote:
"This latest novel illustrates Rhea's particular strengths. It is a book about a serial killer, and gives an unusual and intriguing spin to a well-worn theme...
"The plan is that we will stage a fake murder investigation..."
The top secret directive to Detective Superintendent Mark Pemberton, quick-tempered high-flier in a northern county's CID, came from the Chief Constable himself. The idea was to get local villains on the run, obtain their admissions and confessions, clear up lots of minor crimes, secure a wealth of valuable information about the criminal world and, primarily, to flush out any threat of violence during the forthcoming visit by the Prime Minister.
An anonymous, naked female corpse - her remains bequeathed for the benefit of the nation - is planted by the police in Green Lane. But at almost the same time, the body of a popular, good-time barmaid is discovered in the Blue Beck with a massive shotgun wound.
Mark Pemberton now has more on his plate than he or his Chief Constable bargained for. And the townspeople are terrified: Is this the work of a maniac, a rapist, a sex-killer? And is there a link between the slaying of the two women? Besides a handful of murder suspects and a major drugs dealer behind bars on a different rap, the threat of an IRA mainland bombing blitz also keeps Pemberton and his Detective Constable lover, Amanda, at fever pitch. And hours before the PM's visit, Amanda disappears...
False Alibi was the first of Peter N. Walker (Nicholas Rhea)'s novels about DS Mark Pemberton: it was published by Constable in 1991. it is out of print, but you may be able to find a collectable copy of the original hardback edition; False Alibi has also been published in a large print edition.
Louisa Mary Potter, the century's most notorious child killer, has been granted parole after twenty-five years.
A convert to Catholicism and considered to be a reformed character, this living argument for the retention of the death penalty is in urgent need of protection. Someone wants to kill Potter when she is released, someone who knows that she is about to leave prison.
In charge of her safety is Detective Superintendent Mark Pemberton. A widower workaholic, revolted by his new assignment, he is nevertheless determined both to protect Potter and also to return her to gaol by re-opening the case of three missing girls she supposedly murdered, but whose bodies have never been found.
During enquiries into the past activities of Britain's most evil woman, Pemberton discovers that Potter's Irish boyfriend, Joseph Patrick Baleen, has vanished and that a hidden fortune awaits her release. So where is Baleen now? Is he waiting to gain revenge and at the same time acquire that fortune? And what is the secret held by a quiet nun, the only survivor of a schoolgirl society called the Secret Seven? The other six were all murdered by Louisa Mary Potter.
This is a police thriller of extraordinary compulsion on a subject not so deeply buried in the public's consciousness.
Grave Secrets, Peter N. Walker (Nicholas Rhea)'s second Pemberton novel, was published by Constable in 1992. It is out of print, but second hand copies may be available; it was also issued by Magna Story Sound as an audiobook, read by Christopher Scott.
Death of a Princess
As Detective Superintendent Mark Pemberton investigates the death of a woman nicknamed The Princess, he finds himself asking the same question time and time again. Accident or murder?
The last of the wealthy Milverdale family, The Princess has been found shot in the grounds of her estate. Was the bullet that killed her a stray from a local poacher's gun? Or did someone deliberately set out to shoot her dead?
Pemberton soon begins to suspect murder as he uncovers unsavoury rumours which suggest there are many who would wish The Princess harm - and the dissolution of the Milverdale Estate means tenants are entitled to buy their properties, revealing yet more suspects.
Nonetheless, Pemberton becomes convinced that the key to her death is a deep family secret. Could there be an heir? And would an heir do anything to gain his inheritance - such as making The Princess's death look like a tragic accident?
Death of a Princess, originally published by Constable in 1999, was reissued in an e-book edition under Nicholas Rhea's real name of Peter Walker; this is still available from Amazon UK in a Kindle edition.
DS Mark Pemberton arrives in the small Yorkshire village of Robersthorpe to investigate the death of an elderly, church-going man - but when he sees the crime scene, he can think of only one word - execution. Kenneth Flint, a harmless old man, was shot in the chest, and the gunman left no trace behind him.
As Pemberton and his team begin to dig, Flint's unsavoury character comes to the surface. The villagers kept their children away from him, so it looks as if this a revenge killing.
Then two similar murders occur in different parts of the country and it seems certain the killer is on a mission. With no forensic evidence to work with it's like looking for a needle in a haystack - until something as small as an orange pip proves the sniper's undoing.
The disappearance of a smart young criminal, Darren Mallory, is cause for some concern but his family, all seasoned villains, refuse to cooperate with the police.
Despite the relatives' unwillingness to help with his investigation, Detective Superintendent Mark Pemberton pushes ahead and launches an official search for the missing man.
But it's as if Mallory has vanished off the face of the earth. The meagre information they do manage to find suggests his abduction was orchestrated by a team of fake police officers, and the faint trail leads Pemberton on into the murky world of drugs, and one particular drug baron. But when all leads to that individual mysteriously come to an end, Pemberton really starts to lose his bearings on the case.
So is the drugs baron just another red herring, concocted to throw him further off the scent?
Nicholas Rhea comments:
Dead Ends was published by Constable Robinson in November 2003. It is currently out of print, but you may be able to find secondhand copies of the following editions:
The splendidly macabre image on the right shows the cover of the Magna large print edition of Dead Ends published in the US and Canada.
Murder under the Midnight Sun
In Murder under the Midnight Sun DS Mark Pemberton embarks on a cruise to the Arctic Circle. He's very much off duty, and simply wants to experience the spectacle of the Midnight Sun and the splendour of the glaciers and fjords.
But then a man is found stabbed in a locked cabin and the captain turns to Pemberton - can he assist in investigating the death without alarming the other passengers?
It's a fraught situation: with the liner still at sea the killer must be on board, and there is no way of knowing if he or she will strike again...
Nicholas Rhea told us:
"The idea for this book came about after a trip on a cruise ship to the Arctic. It's a version of the Country House Murder idea where all the suspects are in one place and the detective has to work out the identity of the killer before everyone disappears. I think I have even got the suspects assembled in the library of the ship. Another aspect, of course, is that it allowed me to make use of good old-fashioned detective skills rather than relying on modern scientific assistance."You can read Peter Walker (Nicholas Rhea)'s account of his Arctic cruise in his online diary.
Murder under the Midnight Sun was first published by Constable in 2008; it is currently out of print. You may be able to find secondhand copies of the following editions: