The setting for the Fitzjohn Mystery series is Sydney. It features Detective Chief Inspector Alistair Fitzjohn, a police officer of the old guard, his methodical, painstaking methods viewed by some as archaic. Nevertheless, over the years, they have brought him success as well as the respect of all but one of his colleagues; Superintendent Grieg, the man Fitzjohn regards as his nemesis.
Fitzjohn lives alone in his Birchgrove sandstone cottage where he escapes the harrowing realities of his job by tending his orchids, a legacy from his late wife, Edith. But he can’t escape his sister, Meg, who is determined to help him through his grief, nor his neighbour, Rhonda Butler, who is determined to rid him of his greenhouse.
His sergeant, Martin Betts, is an eager young detective even though having difficulty when it comes to viewing the unfortunate victims of crime, and occasionally finding himself a pawn in Chief Superintendent Grieg's war against Fitzjohn.
The settings for the series are primarily Sydney, Australia and its environs.
THE CELTIC DAGGER
The Celtic Dagger is the first book in the series and its settings include Sydney University where James Wearing lectures in archaeology, the Bird Gallery at the Australian Museum, and the Blue Mountains.
University professor Alex Wearing is found murdered in his study by the Post Graduate Co-coordinator, Vera Trenbath, a nosey interfering busybody. Assigned to the case is Detective Chief Inspector Alistair Fitzjohn. Fitzjohn is a detective from the old guard, whose methodical, painstaking methods are viewed by some as archaic. His relentless pursuit for the killer zeros in on Alex’s brother, James, as a key suspect in his investigation.
Compelled to clear himself of suspicion, James starts his own investigation and finds himself immersed in a web of intrigue, ultimately uncovering long hidden secrets about his brother’s life that could easily be the very reasons he was murdered.
This gripping tale of murder and suspense winds its way through the university’s hallowed halls to emerge into the beautiful, yet unpredictable, Blue Mountain region where more challenges and obstacles await James in his quest to clear himself of suspicion and uncover the truth about his brother.
Dear Prospective Reader,
Please note that The Celtic Dagger was written as a stand-alone story. It was not until after the book was published that I decided to write a series featuring Detective Chief Inspector Alistair Fitzjohn. Consequently, Fitzjohn does not play a leading role in The Celtic Dagger.
The Bird Gallery at the Australian Museum
Sydney University quadrangle
The Blue Mountains
MURDER AT THE ROCKS
Murder At The Rocks is set in 'The Rocks' area of Sydney and is the second book in the series. The Rocks is the historic heart of Sydney city being established soon after the colony formed in 1788. It was named The Rocks by convicts who made their homes there. Today, it is a vibrant tourist destination filled with restaurants, shops and markets. In the book, Laurence Harford's jewellery business is set in The Rocks. Other settings in the book include First Fleet Park, Circular Quay, and Bowral.
When Laurence Harford, a prominent businessman and philanthropist, is found murdered in the historic Rocks area of Sydney, Detective Chief Inspector Fitzjohn is asked to solve the crime quickly and discreetly. After barely starting his investigation, uncovering a discarded mistress and disgruntled employees, a second killing occurs.
Meanwhile, Laurence’s nephew, Nicholas Harford, has his certainties in life shaken when he becomes a suspect in his uncle’s death, and receives a mysterious gold locket that starts a chain of events unravelling his family’s dark truths.
The Sir Stamford where Nicholas stayed on his return to Sydney
The Bar where Nicholas met with Piers LaSalle
First Fleet Park
ONCE UPON A LIE
Once Upon A Lie is the third book in the series and its settings include the marina in Rushcutters Bay where Michael Rossi's body was found and the Hunter Valley, New South Wales's wine growing region.
The marina at Rushcutters Bay where Michael Rossi's body was found.
Little did businessman and entrepreneur, Michael Rossi, know that the telephone call he answered on that fateful Friday would be the catalyst for his death, and the subsequent recovery of his body from the waters of Sydney Harbour the following morning.
Recalled from leave to take on the case, Detective Chief Inspector Fitzjohn confronts the first of many puzzles; how Rossi spent the unaccountable hours before he died. This leads him on a paper-trail into a tangled web of deception, jealousy, and greed that unravels the mystery surrounding Michael’s death.
Unaware of her nephew’s fate, Esme Timmons retires for the evening, unsuspecting of the events about to unfold; events that will, ultimately, expose a grim lie buried deep in the past.
Rushcutters Bay Marina
The El Alamein Memorial Fountain. Esme stopped to read the plaque.
Kings Cross Police Station where Fitzjohn was seconded.
Lane's End is the fourth book in the series and its main settings are Sydney's Observatory and Lane's End at Whale Beach.
The Sydney Observatory where Peter Van Goren's body was found.
Sydney’s Observatory on a balmy summer evening is the perfect venue for a cocktail party and, it would seem, a murder, for Peter Van Goren’s body is discovered bludgeoned to death in the grounds. The first question Detective Chief Inspector Fitzjohn must answer is why Van Goren was present given his name does not appear on the guest list. The second is what was the subject of Van Goren’s vehement argument with Richard Carmichael, one of the function’s hosts.
Meanwhile, Richard’s son, Ben Carmichael, a photojournalist, returns to Sydney from an overseas assignment to find his fiancée, Emma Phillips, has gone missing. Although unavoidably dragged into the police investigation, Ben goes in search of her. In so doing, he is drawn to Lane’s End, the abandoned family estate where the very atmosphere awakens disturbing memories.
Through a maze of twisted stories, Fitzjohn follows a winding path to solve his case, but he is not prepared for the spiralling perplexity his quest creates.
The historical Sydney Observatory
Peter Van Goren's Silver Cane
Spit Bridge, Sydney Harbour
Whale Beach where Lane's End is situated
Deadly Investment is the 5th book in the series with the re-appearance of Esme Timmons who featured in Once Upon A Lie. The settings include North Sydney, Birchgrove, Cremorne, Waverton and Clontarf, all set around the shore of the magnificent Sydney Harbour.
It was an accepted fact that Beatrice Maybrick, owner and operator of the Maybrick Literary Agency, accidentally fell to her death. Or did she? Esme Timmons thought not, her suspicions fuelled by a letter she received from Beatrice following the tragic incident. Faced with this dilemma, Esme takes steps to find the killer.
Meanwhile, Detective Chief Inspector Alistair Fitzjohn commences his investigation into the suspicious death of entrepreneur, Preston Alexander. With robbery ruled out as the motive, Fitzjohn is drawn to Preston’s investment portfolio and the Maybrick Literary Agency.
Finding an antiquated establishment where uncertainty prevails following the demise of its owner, Beatrice Maybrick, Fitzjohn asks himself two questions. Why did the high flying investor, Preston Alexander, invest in such a business, and did it lead to his death?
Poisoned Palette is the sixth book in the Fitzjohn mystery series and is set in the Blue Mountains, just West of Sydney.
Blue Mountains - The Three Sisters
An enthusiastic crowd gathered at Lyrebird Lodge in the Blue Mountains on that crisp autumn morning, all anxious to acquire one of Florence Fontaine’s much sought after paintings. However, the only art on one visitor’s mind is the art of murder.
Detective Chief Inspector Fitzjohn, unwittingly drawn into the case, launches his investigation that reveals a web of past and present jealousy, deceit and revenge, at a time when his own life is unravelling before his eyes.
Meanwhile, Claire Reynolds, Florence’s business manager and organiser of the event, finds herself entangled in the police inquiry as evidence of her involvement is established. Traumatised, Claire is blind to the peril that surrounds her.
The Megalong Valley
The name Megalong Valley is derived from an Aboriginal word thought to mean 'Valley Under The Rock'.
Cherry Blossom in Leura Village where Fitzjohn conducts his investigation
Hydro Majestic Hotel where Patrick Fontaine and Carolyn Winter stayed
Winter Garden Restaurant where Fitzjohn meets with Patrick Fontaine
View of the Blue Mountains from Lyrebird Lodge estate