The Annex

KINDLE version available from Amazon here: The Annex
Barnes & Noble NOOK version h e r e.
The KOBO version can be found h e r e.
ALL OTHER E-VERSIONS available from Smashwords here
HARDBACKS still available from the publisher (Five Star) and internet bookshops.

Russell is published by Prospero and can be found on Facebook

When you reach a certain age you start to question a few of those comfortable fantasies that sustained you through the dark hours – that fantasy about winning a gorgeous young bride, for instance. Would it really be such a breeze? Do you think you’d be up to it, day in, day out – and how do you think the girl would react to being with you, old man, day in, day out?

I’d been reading a clutch of those bloodthirsty Jacobean tragedies and among the stock situations we’re familiar with I pondered on the one about the old man cuckolded by a younger man more virile. Our sympathies are always with the fresh young hunk, and we spend most of the play cheering for him and the young adulteress. In the comedies he gets the girl; in the tragedies, everybody gets a damn sight more than they bargained for. You may not be surprised that I prefer the tragedies. One evening in the theatre I saw a particularly sexy rendering of Thomas Middleton’s prize Jacobean shocker, The Changeling, and I realized that here was a twist on the old plot that would make a great noir story for today.

Now, don’t get me wrong: I wasn’t writing to impress some college professor – I was sitting down to write a good hot story that folks like you and I would want to read. So I didn’t have to follow academic rules. In writing The Annex, I set out by trying to follow the original main plot quite meticulously – but I’m not the kind of writer who can stick within some other person’s tramlines, even if that person is a writer as hot blooded as the 400-year-old Thomas Middleton.

So I gave myself the freedom to play around a little, cutting out some of the more old fashioned coincidences, cutting all the speeches, a good deal of the poetry and some of the minor characters, and concentrating instead on the gripping plot and the three main characters (middle aged husband, his young bride, and their wicked servant). Naturally I threw into the brew the saucy maid, the rival boyfriend and the awful secret – all from the original – and this left me with a plot any author would give his favorite whisky for. From the original play I kept the blood, the sex and above all Middleton’s outrageous sexual premise, and I did my best to serve it up at the same pounding speed as in the original Jacobean play. The result, I hope, is just the thing to pep up one of your sultry summer evenings.

The book was published in the States by Five Star Mysteries, and the ISBN is 0-7862-3931-X


‘The plot of this latest effort from one of Britain’s premiere crime novelists intentionally shadows the famous Jacobean drama of double-crosses, The Changeling, by Thomas Middleton. Even if readers aren’t familiar with the deformed servant who holds the fate of a beautiful woman with a dark secret in his hands, they will succumb to James’ adept characterization and his panache with plot. In this compelling update, a successful middle-aged architect is about to marry a woman half his age. He regards her as a “prize in the game of life”; she regards him as her entry into a finer world. Enter the chauffeur, repellent because of a disfiguring birthmark, who finds out the young beauty has a boyfriend just released from prison. When she begs him to dispose of the troublesome boyfriend, he acts in typically bloody Jacobean fashion, plunging the plot into a cauldron of ever darker secrets.  – Psychological suspense that deepens with every page.’ Connie Fletcher in ‘Booklist’

“The ‘Godfather of British noir’ succeeds once again in this eminently readable, vividly portrayed, and highly suspenseful story.”  Library Journal

“A taut, compelling noir with liberal dollops of sex and violence.” Publishers Weekly

Check the Kindle version here: The Annex


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