Books by J.M. Gregson

J. M. Gregson taught for twenty-seven years in schools, colleges and universities before concentrating on full-time writing. He has written books on subjects as diverse as golf and Shakespeare.


FINAL ACT by J.M. Gregson
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Sept. 1, 2016

"An appealing cast of characters both on set and off makes Gregson's latest outing a pleasure for procedural buffs."
Lambert and Hook (A Necessary End, 2015, etc.) are stymied by an array of suspects who all make their living by deception. Read full book review >
BACKHAND SMASH by J.M. Gregson
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: March 1, 2016

"The competition to see who hated Fitton most overshadows any rivalry on Birch Fields' courts, and it's a sure bet that the final outcome of Gregson's solid procedural won't be 1-love."
A recently integrated tennis club is the scene of a murder. Read full book review >
A NECESSARY END by J.M. Gregson
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Feb. 1, 2015

"Gregson's lively portraits of suspects don't quite make up for slapdash plotting and an unforeseeable solution."
A book club gets off to a rocky start when one of its members is murdered. Read full book review >
REST ASSURED by J.M. Gregson
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: July 1, 2014

"Solid police procedure once again saves the day, as death doesn't take a holiday."
A foray into a holiday community turns out anything but restful for Chief Superintendent Lambert and DS Hook (Cry of the Children, 2014, etc.) of Oldford CID. Read full book review >
CRY OF THE CHILDREN by J.M. Gregson
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Jan. 1, 2014

"Gregson knows when to up the ante and when to bring his case to a close in this tense procedural."
Chief Supt. John Lambert and DS Bert Hook (Die Happy, 2011, etc.) face what every policeman dreads: a child-killer. Read full book review >
BROTHERS' TEARS by J.M. Gregson
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Aug. 1, 2013

"Another solid outing for Gregson and the indomitable Peach."
Two murders within a week pose a formidable puzzle for Brunton CID's most irreverent DCI, Percy Peach (Least of Evils, 2012, etc.). Read full book review >
MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE by J.M. Gregson
Released: Dec. 1, 2012

"Once again, Lambert and Hook tread ground already better trod by DCI Percy Peach in Gregson's alternative, slightly edgier series."
Chief Superintendent Lambert and Sgt. Bert Hook (Die Happy, 2011, etc.) investigate the death of a National Trust curator. Read full book review >
LEAST OF EVILS by J.M. Gregson
Released: July 1, 2012

"Peach is a formidable opponent whose insight and persistence earn him top honors among British procedurals."
A foiled robbery pits DCI Percy Peach (Merely Players, 2011, etc.) against a wolf in philanthropist's clothing. Read full book review >
DIE HAPPY by J.M. Gregson
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Dec. 1, 2011

"Like Marjorie's committee, Gregson's 14th Lambert and Hook adventure plows forward steadily, providing enjoyment for fans of the grill-'em-till-you-got-'em British procedural. "
Death threats to a literary festival's planning committee seem more potent when one of the board's members is shot to death in his study. Read full book review >
MERELY PLAYERS by J.M. Gregson
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: May 1, 2011

"Another meat-and-potatoes procedural from the reliable Gregson."
The murder of a TV actor leaves too many suspects and too few clues to suit DCI Percy Peach (Wild Justice, 2009, etc.). Read full book review >
IN VINO VERITAS by J.M. Gregson
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Nov. 1, 2010

"Gregson's focus on the routine side of policing unfortunately makes for a routine read."
Lambert and Hook (A Good Walk Spoiled, 2008, etc.) investigate the murder of an obnoxious English vintner. Read full book review >
WILD JUSTICE by J.M. Gregson
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: May 1, 2009

"To say that Peach's latest outing apes Gregson's last tale about DCS John Lambert and DS Bert Hook (A Good Walk Spoiled, 2008) is an insult to our fellow primates. The author should sue himself for plagiarism. "
There's something awfully familiar about the investigation DCI Peach and DS Blake (Remains to be Seen, 2007, etc.) conduct into the violent death of a successful businessman. Read full book review >
A GOOD WALK SPOILED by J.M. Gregson
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Dec. 1, 2008

"All the interest is in seeing Lambert and Hook turn the suspects against one another in this routine procedural, which ends with one of the shortest putts on record."
A company golf outing turns nasty when the director of research and development ends dinner by keeling over dead. Read full book review >
PASTURES NEW by J.M. Gregson
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: May 1, 2008

"Gregson's well-wrought if routine procedural has enough bursts of humor to keep the pages turning."
A lonely Lancashire businessman who advertises for romance finds more than he bargained for. Read full book review >
SOMETHING IS ROTTEN by J.M. Gregson
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Oct. 1, 2007

"The tried-and-true Lambert and Hook formula—serially interrogate suspects, all of whom have a motive for murder—is livened by a peek into the detectives' private lives."
Murder halts a promising Gloucestershire community-theater production of Hamlet. Read full book review >
REMAINS TO BE SEEN by J.M. Gregson
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: May 1, 2007

"A by-the-book procedural with too many loose ends to satisfy any but the most devoted Peach fans."
A drug bust turns into a murder investigation when a fire leaves a charred corpse on a dealer's posh Lancashire estate. Read full book review >
CLOSE CALL by J.M. Gregson
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Jan. 1, 2007

"As usual, Gregson's coppers squeeze and squeeze the suspects until they've gotten every last one of their not-very-interesting secrets. Not Lambert and Hook's finest hour."
Seven neighbors celebrate the opening of their new homes on Gloucestershire's quiet Gurney Close by throwing a block party. Next morning, one of them is dead. Read full book review >
WITCH’S SABBATH by J.M. Gregson
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: April 1, 2006

"Although he's unconventional in both manner and method, Peach conducts a pedestrian investigation leading to an unsurprising conclusion."
Lancashire DCI Denis "Percy" Peach (Dusty Death, 2005, etc.) continues to sass his boss and sleep with his sergeant while solving the murder of a modern young witch. Read full book review >
TOO MUCH OF WATER by J.M. Gregson
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Nov. 30, 2005

"It's a modest though genuine pleasure watching Lambert and Hook civilly unmask everyone within a five-mile radius but a disappointment when the most obvious and least interesting suspect turns out to be the killer."
Oldford CID veteran Supt. John Lambert and his faithful sidekick, DS Bert Hook, ask who strangled an adult student returning to university and dumped her body in the Severn. Read full book review >
JUST DESSERTS by J.M. Gregson
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Dec. 1, 2004

"Still, it's hard to resist interrogations so suave that the killer, confronted at last, thinks: 'This must be what counselling was like.' "
Det. Insp. John Lambert and Det. Sgt. Bert Hook ask which employee killed a universally popular boss. Read full book review >
THE WAGES OF SIN by J.M. Gregson
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: May 1, 2004

"The only fllies in the ointment are the routine detection itself—brilliant Peach has little chance to shine—and the climactic fingering of a perp who might just as easily have been one of the red herrings."
Unable to tie his shoelaces without the help of his hated subordinate, DCI Percy Peach, Chief Inspector Thomas Tucker Bulstrode (Murder at the Lodge, 2003, etc.) entices him back from the Traffic division to the CID. Read full book review >
MORTAL TASTE by J.M. Gregson
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Dec. 1, 2003

"Like your favorite high-school English teacher, Lambert's winning sixth is both dependable and inventive—and likely to delight procedural fans on both sides of the pond."
Under the watchful, worried eye of his wife Christine, Chief Superintendent John Lambert hopes to solve one last case before he's forced to retire from the CID. Read full book review >
MURDER AT THE LODGE by J.M. Gregson
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: May 1, 2003

"Another amusing procedural that makes for a lovely evening's entertainment—except, as Peach might observe, for the victim and his killer."
That bulwark of incompetence, Superintendent Thomas Bulstrode Tucker, head of the Brunton CID, sniffs a promotion to Chief Superintendent in the air—and that means a promotion as well for his detested underling, DI Percy Peach, if only the two officers can pull together in presenting their tales of mutual admiration to the Lancashire brass. It's going to be hard to pull together, though, since Tommy Tucker hasn't a clue about the Ladies Night his fellow worthies of the North Brunton Masonic Lodge staged at the White Bull Hotel, an evening that included Master of Lodge John Whiteman's festive toast, ladies' man Eric Walsh's mellifluous baritone salute to the fair sex, and Rosemary Whiteman's heartfelt response, all ending in the discovery of Walsh's strangled corpse in the hotel carpark. What especially rankles Peach (To Kill a Wife, 2002, etc.) is that the victim wasn't urbane loan shark Darren Cartwright, who'd been receiving repeated death threats from someone apparently too shy to pull the trigger. But Peach, unlike his oblivious superior, won't be left in the dark for long, since he and his crew, headed by Lucy Blake, his sergeant and bedmate, display all their customary preternatural ability to ferret out secrets and to hammer at the likes of IRA sympathizer Adrian O'Connor and catering student/gang leader Wasim Afzaal—taking every available opportunity in between times to twit Peach's soon-to-be Chief Superintendent on his surpassing dimness. Read full book review >
DEATH ON THE ELEVENTH HOLE by J.M. Gregson
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Nov. 1, 2002

"Lambert and Hook deliver the goods in this straightforward, conventional, yet touching farewell performance. Well above par."
When Detective Sergeant Bert Hook slices into the rough on the 11th fairway at Ross-on-Wye, it's bad for more than just his score. The corpse of a young woman half-floating in a drainage ditch signals the start of a sad new case for Hook and his longtime partner, Supt. John Lambert (An Unsuitable Death, 2000, etc.). Kate Wharton may have been a prostitute, a drug user, even a pusher, but at barely 20, she had seen more than her share of hard times and hard people—including her mother Julie, who comes to the morgue to identify her body without batting an eye or shedding a tear; Joe Ashton, the boyfriend who moves between the haven of Father Gillespie's shelter and the hell of heroin in the Gloucester slums; and Malcolm Flynn, Kate's connection to the dealers who simply don't allow their subcontractors to quit on them. Even the men at the fringes of Kate's brief life—Richard Ellacott, a sometime client, and Roy Cook, her mother's sometime lover—have a hand in Kate's misery and now try desperately to cover their tracks. But it's up to Lambert, on the eve of his retirement, to distinguish who's merely injured Kate from who's killed her in order to bring his last case to a satisfying close. Read full book review >
A LITTLE EARNING by J.M. Gregson
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: June 1, 2001

"Maybe you have to be a Lancashire native to appreciate Gregson's blunt-instrument approach to humor. Despite clever plotting, though, Peach is no peach."
Two students devise the Perfect Crime: steal a set of Jane Austen first editions from the residence of the pompous Director of the University of East Lancashire, Dr. George Carter, better known as Claptrap Carter. Unfortunately, someone has gotten there first and shot Claptrap, making their stunt look felonious as well as juvenile. Detective Inspector Percy Peach and Read full book review >
AN UNSUITABLE DEATH by J.M. Gregson
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Oct. 1, 2000

"A clever mystery, though the police routine proves in the end a little too routine."
Tamsin Rennie's strangled corpse is found carefully arranged on the Hereford Cathedral Lady Chapel altar, clearly the work of the serial killer dubbed Sacristan—or a copycat killer who's cleverly tailored the evidence to fit the scenario. In their fourth case (Malice Aforethought, 2000, etc.), Supt. John Lambert and Sgt. Bert Hook can be sure of only two things: Tamsin was beautiful and hooked on heroin. The victim's flat was thoroughly cleaned before the police arrive, making it impossible to tell where she was killed. Tamsin's landlady, Janet King, knows nothing about how the unemployed girl paid the rent (prostitution? drug dealing?), since she religiously respects her tenants' privacy. Equally religious, more obviously and perhaps more dangerously, is Tamsin's stepfather, the charismatic leader of a fundamentalist cult who was seen visiting Tamsin's flat after her fanatical mother excommunicated her for her ungodly ways. Druglord Keith Sugden, who lurks ominously in the background, obviously felt differently about any hint that Tamsin was about to reform. Was she cleaning up her act for one authority figure by outraging the other? Two photographs in Tamsin's flat lead to two very different boyfriends, a handsome and volatile actor and a respected politician. Both men claim to have been helping save Tamsin from herself—one of them, it turns out, by impregnating her. Dogged police investigation and a few lucky breaks finally uncover the ruthless killer beneath this tangle of motives and red herrings. Read full book review >
A TURBULENT PRIEST by J.M. Gregson
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: April 1, 2000

" Churchgoers and church doubters are all given a say, but Gregson (To Kill a Wife, 1999, etc.) saves the liveliest discussions in this low-key, indolently plotted English villager for Peach, a bastion of insolence, as he twits the pompous Tucker."
A dog and its master alert the police of a priestly body brought to their attention by Brunton's near-biblical rains. Why, the coppers wonder, wasn't the Sacred Heart Church wondering where Father John was for the past week? Turns out he was supposed to be at one of the church's meditation centers to mull over his vocation—and his unsanctioned habit of accosting altar boys. Det. Insp. Peach, a lapsed Catholic with a bent for wry sarcasm usually flung pokerfaced at his superior, the mediahappy, workophobic Supt. Tommy Tucker, discovers three lads with unhappy memories of private moments with Father John, and a fourth, claiming to be gay, who insists the groping was mutual. All their parents, from the virulently antiCatholic dad to the overburdened single mum to the gaybashing dad and his overly protective wife to the religious parents whose faith remains staunch despite this trial, rank high as suspects—until a batch of kiddie-porn photos, hidden under Father John's Yfronts, leads Peach and his partner, Det. Sgt. Lucy Blake, to an M.P.'s vast collection of child erotica. Using insolence, stoicism, and a distrust of dogma, Peach solves Father John's murder, in the process enjoying a naughty working stopover with his partner. Read full book review >
MALICE AFORETHOUGHT by J.M. Gregson
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: Jan. 1, 2000

Malice Aforethought ($25.00; Jan.; 224 pp.; 0-7278-5454-2) Gregson (To Kill a Wife, p. 676) borrows one of the most famous titles in crime-fiction history for this tale of a John Doe found in a Broughton Ash churchyard. Amiably dickering Supt. John Lambert and Det. Sgt. Bert Hook squeeze the properly British interrogations, which remain civilized even at their most menacing, in between rounds of golf in this low-key whodunit. Read full book review >
TO KILL A WIFE by J.M. Gregson
MYSTERY THRILLER
Released: June 1, 1999

Verna Hume is the kind of woman who's not above stealing their joint employment agency from her trusting partner, blackmailing her father for a long-buried secret, and carrying on two adulterous affairs at once. So when her husband Martin, whose only offense is falling for Verna's divorced sister Sue Thompson, decides to add to his guilt by plotting her murder, it's no great surprise when somebody beats him to the punch, smothering Verna with one of her bed pillows. One of the lovers she may have been expecting that night? The father she was bleeding or his long-suffering second wife? The former partner she betrayed? The sister she'd taunted about her romance with Martin? Or Martin himself, despite the alibi that causes the Brunton CID to release him with red faces shortly after blustering Chief Superintendent T.B. ("Tommy") Tucker has him picked up? Inspector Denis ("Percy") Peach would much rather be baiting his boss than hunting the killer—and no wonder, since he does the former much more memorably than the latter—but after several rounds of squeezing the half-dozen suspects dry of their obligatory secrets, the cheese is left standing alone. A highly competent but bloodless performance from Gregson (Girl Gone Missing, 1998, not reviewed), notable mostly for its police hero's unusually outspoken, and unpunished, impertinence to his boss. Read full book review >