Books by Tony Strong

THE DEATH PIT by Tony Strong
Released: Aug. 1, 1999

Desperate to complete an acceptable dissertation before her funding runs out, Oxford researcher Therese Williams, who's already survived one harrowing brush with murder (The Poison Tree, 1997), gloms onto the unpublished letters of Catherine McCulloch, burned as a witch in 1698, as manna from heaven. Even three centuries later, though, Catherine's death smells more of sulfur and brimstone. Her descendant Magnus McCulloch offers Terry the hospitality of Babcock Castle only because he has his own agenda—one quite apart from Terry's attempt to claim Catherine as a lesbian persecuted for her sexual preferences. Meanwhile, gamekeeper John Hobbes has discovered the corpse of manipulative Donna Fairhead in the pit that neighboring farmer Laura Macpherson throws her dead pigs into. Several feet down, a lost letter of Catherine's lies waiting to be discovered in Donna's rucksack. As Terry, with the ambiguous help of Magnus McCulloch, his wealthy rival David Nicolaides, and a local coven of modern witches, digs deeper into the mystery of Catherine's execution, archeologist Iain Pullen is digging deeper into the death pit, and layer upon layer of dark secrets—rape, illegitimacy, genocide—open like a poisoned flower. A nosegay for historical-mystery fans, and strong stuff for readers hungry for mystery-mongering on a grand scale—assuming they won't be put off by Terry's vigorous pansexuality. Read full book review >
THE POISON TREE by Tony Strong
Released: Dec. 1, 1997

Fleeing her divorce and the lesbian affair it's tumbled her into, ad executive Theresa Williams returns to Oxford to pick up her postgraduate work in detective fiction. But the house she purchases was the site of a grisly murder—undergrad Hugh Scott was burned to death by a soldering iron—whose consequences keep spreading like a contagion. Someone is still prowling the streets of Oxford raping and killing young men. Ensconced in her new home, Terry can't even plaster her bathroom wall without being visited, in rapid succession, by Emily Harris, Hugh's undergraduate lover; Carla Eden, a neighboring don's wife who'd also taken Hugh to bed, and is willing to do the same with Terry; Giles Chawker, a narcissistic stalwart of the Oxford crew equally intent on seducing Terry; Julia Van Glught, whose marriage to a children's-book author hasn't kept her away from Carla's husband Brian; and Brian Eden himself, the magnetic biographer Terry becomes rapidly convinced was Hugh's killer. When her rehabbing uncovers a cache of floridly pornographic letters, Terry's driven to put her interpretive skills to work, since le style, c'est l'homme. The punishing rounds of stylistic analysis that follow will drive a wedge between Terry and her latest lover, the police inspector in charge of the case, before finally revealing the whole sordid plot. Even more brutally than recent work by Peter Robinson and Ruth Rendell, Strong's debut mocks the age-old distinction between cozy and nasty, producing the lowest revelations about higher education you've ever seen. Read full book review >