Detective Inspector Montague Pluke
Praise from a fan:
"I read the Montague Pluke ones. Pluke is such an eccentric detective and I love the way he is passionate about horse troughs."
Omens of Death
A bad omen. A sign of sorrow. One for sorrow, two for joy, three for a girl, four for a boy.
Detective Inspector Montague Pluke has always been superstitious, so when he sees a lone crow fly over the Crowthers' home, he's sure death is waiting in the wings.
And it doesn't take long for Pluke's premonitions to become a reality: the naked body of a young woman is found in a Druids' Circle - a place thought by locals to be the site of black magic. Rumours circulate about human sacrifice and dark rituals, but Pluke's not convinced the murder was committed in the circle.
Trusting his intuition, Pluke returns to the scene of that first omen of death: the house of Cyril and May Crowther. And when two more victims perish in suspicious circumstances, Montague Pluke is ready and waiting to catch the killer...Review:
Nicholas Rhea comments:
Omens of Death launched the series of books featuring Montague Pluke in 1996. The original hardback was followed by Large Print and audiobook editions. It has now been reissued by Agora Books in a paperback edition as well as a Kindle edition.
Superstitious Death finds DI Pluke preparing for the annual shoggling festival in the small Yorkshire town of Crickledale. He realises something terrible has happened when Mrs Cholmondeley's bay tree withers and dies for no apparent reason.
His superstition is confirmed when he discovers the body of an attractive young woman in a shallow grave.
The woman's head injury suggests she was murdered, but there is nothing to identify her, and no young women have been reported missing.
All Pluke has to go on is the fact that she was buried with a mirror and the pathologist's declaration that she was a virgin.
Superstitious Death was first published by Constable Crime in 1998; it was also issued in a Large Print edition. It was reissued by Endeavour Press, but is not currently in print.
A Well-Pressed Shroud finds hardworking Detective Inspector Montague Pluke spending a much-needed holiday from his job at the Crickledale CID in search of the Lost Giants' Horse Trough of Trippingdale.
Fresh country air and a visit to the prestigious Trippingdale Castle - what more could anyone want?
But his holiday is abruptly disturbed when, while searching the closed-down estate, Pluke stumbles upon the body of the estate's heir floating face down in shallow waters.
To make matters even stranger, the heir and several other people in the village had recently received a single pressed snowdrop - a well-known sign of death.
Much to Pluke's displeasure, his quiet countryside holiday is turning into a hair-raising hunt for the murderer. It could be anyone in the village...
A Well-Pressed Shroud was originally published by Constable Crime in March 2000; a Magna Large Print edition followed. It was reissued in paperback by Endeavour Press.
Praise for the earlier books:
A Full Churchyard
The most recent Montague Pluke investigation is also available in a Kindle edition.
With crime at its lowest level for years, Pluke decides to conduct a cold-case review. But there are no major unsolved crimes so, alerted by his wife, Millicent, to a large number of recent deaths - all attributed to natural causes - his expert knowledge of superstitions and folklore lead him to identify areas of suspicion sufficient to justify re-opening a case.
Could an undetected mass-murderer be operating in Crickledale? His inquiries reveal that many of the deceased had been attended by Crickledale Voluntary Carers and he quickly produces a list of possible suspects.
Indeed, the entire team of carers falls under suspicion - and Detective Inspector Pluke's wife, Millicent, is one of them.
A Full Churchyard was published by NAG Press (a division of Robert Hale) on 29th August 2014, it has also been published in Large Print and Audio editions.
While seeking the legendary Holy Trough of Blackamoor, Detective Inspector Montague Pluke, detective and lover of horse-troughs, comes across a man's body. Brent Fowler is lying on a patch of moorland normally covered in thick heather; however, a fire has burnt it away to reveal his body. The dead man, Pluke discovers, has been shot in the head.
It is soon established that the victim was a paedophile murder suspect, and so the eccentric and superstitious Pluke is pitched headlong into an investigation which spans both sides of the Pennines. Other paedophiles have also been lured to beauty spots and assassinated; it is known that some received letters saying they had won prizes offering unforgettable experiences.
Relying on his luck-enhancing techniques as he ventures into the city of Manchester upon his quest, Pluke himself is arrested on suspicion of being a paedophile! Then it is his turn to receive a letter saying he has won a Lucky Break weekend in the Lake District. Pluke knows that Brent Fowler won the prize of a weekend shooting party - as its victim - and so it is that the brave and magnificent Montague Pluke allows himself to be carried by the assassins to almost certain death, steadfastly protected by his rabbit's foot, rowan twig, double hazel nut and lucky blackthorn shillelegh.
Nicholas Rhea adds:
"Lots of us have received letters offering chances of winning wonderful competitions, but suppose first prize was your own murder! When Detective Inspector Montague Pluke receives such a letter, he needs all his luck if he is to survive."
Prize Murder was published by Constable Crime on October 26th 2006, ISBN: 978-1-84529-375-8. There were subsequent Large Print and audio editions.