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"Peter Bartram"

THE POKER GAME MYSTERY . . . Between the covers

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H redistorical crime fiction is all the more accessible when the history is recent enough for readers such as I to recognise it as authentic, and give a nostalgic sigh when some piece of popular consumer ephemera – a brand of chocolate, a radio programme or a make of car – crops up in the narrative. Colin Crampton may possibly be the autobiographical alter ego of author Peter Bartram, himself a distinguished and experienced journalist who remembers the deafening sound of the printing presses, the smell of ink, the jangle of telephones in the press room, the scratch of a pen on the paper of a notebook, and the overiding miasma of Woodbines and Senior Service drifting on the air. The Poker Game Mystery is the latest episode in the eventful career of Colin Crampton, crime reporter for the Brighton Evening Chronicle.

51D8xOLcEFLOne of the many joys of the Colin Crampton novels is that Peter Bartram usually manages to set the tales against actual circumstances appropriate to the period and, sometimes, we have a very thinly disguised version of a real person. In this case, we meet an outlandish minor aristocrat, heir to daddy’s millions but, more luridly, a fancier of young women. He collects them, rather like a lepidopterist collects butterflies, but rather than sticking his prizes into a display case with a pin, he keeps his young lovelies in cottages the length and breadth of the extensive estate, and has managed to organise one for each day of the week. For the life of me, I can’t think of whom Peter might have as his template for this roué, but I expect it will come to me in the middle of the night, rather like Ms Monday and the others do to their lord and master.

W redhen the body of a widely disliked local bouncer is found – his face a rictus of horror and agony – with a suspiciously large sum of used notes beside him, Crampton is sucked into a case which involves a shadowy WW2 home defence unit known as The Scallywags. Crampton discovers that they were a strange combination of Dad’s Army and the SAS – trained to wreak havoc on the Germans should they ever succeed in invading Britain. To enliven matters further, the aforementioned noble Lothario becomes the new owner of The Chronicle on the death of his father, but then promptly signs away the paper as a stake in a losing card game, this threatening the existence of The Chronicle – and those who sail in her.

A redided by his feisty (and rather beautiful) Australian girlfriend, Crampton is up to his neck in a sea of trouble involving, among other things, dead bodies, wartime gold bullion, a predatory newspaper baron, and the arcane skill of doctoring a set of playing cards. It’s wonderful stuff – not just a crime caper, but another fine novel from a writer who wears his learning lightly.

pbColin Crampton’s Brighton is slightly down at heel but all the more charming for not yet having succumbed to the deadening hand which has now made it the world capital of all things green, ‘woke’, diverse and inclusive. There are still saucy postcards to be bought at the sea-front newsagent, and incorrect jokes to be delivered by Brylcreemed comedians in faded variety halls. Peter Bartram (right) has set the bar very high with his previous Crampton novels but he just gets better and better, and The Poker Game Mystery clears that bar with loads to spare. We even have a finale worthy of Indiana Jones, albeit in a murky tunnel somewhere in Sussex rather than in some more exotic location. A word of warning. If the words Atrax Robustus make you feel queasy, then you might need someone to mop your fearful brow while you read the final pages. Clue – not all of Australia’s exports are as cuddly as Crampton’s gorgeous girlfriend, Shirley Goldsmith.

The Poker Game Mystery is published by The Bartram Partnership
and is out now.

For further enjoyment of all things Colin Crampton
and Peter Bartram click the image below









COVER REVEAL . . . The Comedy Club Mystery

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pbI have become a great fan of the Crampton of the Chronicle mysteries. Despite having multifarious murders and diverse dirty deeds, they are breezy, funny, beautifully written and they have a definite feel-good factor. Peter Bartram (left) is an old newspaper hand himself, and the background of a 1960s newsroom in a provincial newspaper is as authentic as it can get. Colin Crampton’s latest journey into the criminal underworld of Brighton is The Comedy Club Mystery. The cover blurb tells us:

ComClub“When theatrical agent Daniel Bernstein sues the Evening Chronicle for libel, crime reporter Colin Crampton is called in to sort out the problem.

 But trouble escalates when Bernstein turns up murdered. Colin discovers that any of five comedians competing for the chance to appear on a top TV show could be behind the killing.

 As Colin and his feisty girlfriend Shirley Goldsmith investigate, they encounter a cast of colourful characters – identical twin gangsters, an Irishman who lives underground, and a failed magician’s assistant.

 And it’s not long before their own lives are in peril. Join Colin and Shirley for a rollercoaster of an adventure in Swinging Sixties England – where the laughs are never far from the action.”

The story will be published on 24th May and there will, of course, be a full review in due course, plus news of a Blog Tour and other goodies. In the meantime, you can check out why I am so fond of the series by clicking on the image below.



Murder In Mt Martha by Janice Simpson 20 December 2016

The Domino Killer by Neil White 8 December 2016

Scared To Death by Rachel Amphlett – 4 December 2016

The Iron Water by Chris Nickson – 29 November 2016

The Book of Mirrors by E O Chirovici – 25 November 2016

Truth Will Out by AD Garrett – 11 November 2016

House Of Bones by Annie Hauxwell – 8 November 2016

The Missing Hours by Emma Kavanagh – 5 November 2016

Moskva by Jack Grimwood – 1 November 2016

Skin and Bone by Robin Blake – 25 October 2016

The Black Friar by Shona MacLean – 5 October 2016

The Trespasser by Tana French – 23 September 2016

Home by Harlan Coben – 17 September 2016

Beneath The Surface by Jo Spain – 8 September 2016

Death Ship by Jim Kelly – 1 September 2016

Out of Bounds by Val McDermid – 31 August 2016

Stop Press Murder by Peter Bartram – 30 August 2016

Charcoal Joe by Walter Mosley – 14 August 2016

The History Of Blood by Paul Mendelson – 10 August 2016

When The Music’s Over by Peter Robinson – 3 August 2016

The Dead House by Harry Bingham – 29 July 2016

The Monster’s Daughter by Michelle Pretorius – 23 July 2016

So Say The Fallen by Stuart Neville – 11 July 2016

 Deadly Deceit by Jean Harrod – 6 July 2016

Burned and Broken by Mark Hardie – 4 July 2016


and will open the feature in another tab/window

CRIME ACROSS ENGLAND – A road trip around the country
1: London and Cambridge
2: North Norfolk and Boston
3: Scunthorpe and Leeds
4: York and Preston
5. Manchester and Shrewsbury
6. Worcester and Bath
7. Exmouth and Isle of Wight
8. Brighton and London

DARK WATER & LOST SOULS – The tragic waters of the Louth Canal
Part one
Part two
Part three
Part four

GLADYS MITCHELL . . .  A writer revisited

SHERLOCK HOLMES . . . Personation, pastiche & parody

THE TV DETECTIVES . . . Part Three



BASED ON THE BOOK BY – The Killer Inside Me

BASED ON THE BOOK BY . . . Hell Is A City

BASED ON THE BOOK BY . . . Villain

THE AMERICAN SOUTH . . . A Crime Fiction Odyssey (4): The Natchez Trilogy by Greg Iles

THE AMERICAN SOUTH. . . A Crime Fiction Odyssey (3): The Dead Are Still With Us

THE AMERICAN SOUTH . . . A Crime Fiction Odyssey (2): Tropes, Tribes and Trauma

THE AMERICAN SOUTH . . . A Crime Fiction Odyssey: Introduction

LAUGH LINES . . .By Peter Bartram

CALLAN . . . A forgotten hero

Past Times – Old Crimes (4): PB Yuill and Hazell

Past Times – Old Crimes (3): A Hive of Glass by PM Hubbard

Past Times – Old Crimes (2) :Best of A Winter’s Crimes

Past Times – Old Crimes (1): The Big Bow Mystery by Israel Zangwill

Jim Kelly: Landscape, memory – and murder

Vehicles For The Violent by Frank Westworth (part two)

Vehicles For The Violent by Frank Westworth (part one)

Back To The Fen – a short story by Alex Mitchell (part two)

Back To The Fen – a short story by Alex Mitchell (part one)

The Flaxborough Chronicles of Colin Watson (2)

The Flaxborough Chronicles of Colin Watson (1)

The Nero Wolfe Novels of Rex Stout (2)

The Nero Wolfe Novels of Rex Stout (1)

The novels of PM Hubbard (2)

Making Characters Genuine by Cheryl L Reed

The novels of PM Hubbard (1)

The Music of Crime Fiction 4: Scherzo

The Music of Crime Fiction 3: Rondo

The Music of Crime Fiction 2: Marche Funebre

The Music of Crime Fiction. I: Prelude and Fugue

Author Spotlight – Brian Stoddart

Killing Goldfinger by Wensley Clarkson

I Was Dora Suarez … read by the author, Derek Raymond

Sins Of The Father

Rachel Amphlett’s Dazzling Debuts

Everyone Loves A List!

The Great War and Crime Fiction – part 2

The Great War and Crime Fiction – part 1

The Great War and Crime Fiction – an introduction

WW2 Historical Crime Fiction – (5) A Man Without Breath

An extract from Poisonfeather by Matthew Fitzsimmons

My Top Five Fictional Villains by Kate Moretti

Oh I Do Like To Be Beside The Seaside by Peter Bartram

The Journey of Michael Parker – An American Odyssey

Killing Me Softly – a guide to murder, by Frank Westworth

WW2 Historical Crime Fiction – (4) The Dead of Winter

Books Behind Bars – The Story of Roy Harper (2)

Books Behind Bars – The Story of Roy Harper (1)

The Seaweed That Started A War

WW2 Historical Crime Fiction – (3) The Pale House

Jim Kelly – A landscape of secrets

Walter Mosley Competition

Joint Judgment – a lovely freebie!

WW2 Historical Crime Fiction – (2) A Coin For The Hangman

WW2 Historical Crime Fiction – (1) A Lily of the Field

Testing The Waters of Noir

The Poet and the Noir novelist

The Black World of Derek Raymond



Lock 13 by Peter Helton – 28 December 2017

The Island by MJ Trow – 26 December 2017

Blame by Jeff Abbott – 20 December 2017

The Gathering Dark by James Oswald 17 December 2017

If I Die Tonight by AL Gaylin 5 December 2017

A Death In The Night by Guy Fraser-Sampson26 November 2017

Front Page Murder by Peter Bartram 17 November 2017

The Hanged Man by Simon Kernick 31 October 2017

The People v Alex Cross by James Patterson20 October 2017

Sleeping Beauties by Jo Spain 17 October 2017

Friends and Traitors by John Lawton10 October 2017

The House by Simon Lelic 29 September 2017

Can You Keep A Secret? by Karen Perry23 September 2017

Don’t Let Go by Harlan Coben 20 September 2017

The Year of The Gun by Chris Nickson 9 September 2017

An Oxford Scandal by Norman Russell 26 August 2017

The Adversary by Emmanuel Carrere 21 August 2017

The Walls by Hollie Overton 6 August 2017

The Word Is Murder by Anthony Horowitz3 August 2017

I Am Missing by Tim Weaver 27 July 2017

The Nutting Girl by Fred De Vecca26 July 2017

Unleashed by Peter Laws 21 July 2017

The Secrets on Chicory Lane by Raymond Benson16 July 2017

Soho Dead by Greg Keen 12 July 2017

Deadly Dance by Hilary Bonner11 July 2017

The Secrets She Keeps by Michael Robotham6 July 2017

The Breaking of Liam Glass by Charles Harris 29 June 2017

The Orphans by Annemarie Neary14 June 2017

The Lighterman by Simon Michael – 12 June 2017

Two Nights by Kathy Reichs – 7 June 2017

A Whiff of Cyanide by Guy Fraser-Sampson – 1 June 2017

Love Like Blood by Mark Billingham – 30 May 2017

Choke by Lisa Towles – 13 May 2017

Thrill Kill by Don Bruns – 9 May 2017

 Dangerous Crossing by Rachel Rhys8 May 2017

The Well Of The Dead by Clive Allan – 4 May 2017

On Copper Street by Chris Nickson1 May 2017

What Alice Knew by A T Cotterell – 28 April 2017

Skeleton God by Eliot Pattison – 21 April 2017

The Killer On The Wall by Emma Kavanagh – 19 April 2017

Die Last by Tony Parsons – 12 April 2017

Prussian Blue by Philip Kerr – 10 April 2017

The Redemption of Charm by Frank Westworth – 1 April 2017

Wild Chamber by Christopher Fowler – 26 March 2017

Dark Asylum by ES Thomson – 17 March 2017

Written In Bones by James Oswald – 12 March 2017

The Shimmering Road by Hester Young – 24 February 2017

At What Cost by James L’Etoile – 14 February 2017

Blue Light Yokohama by Nicolás Obregón – 10 February 2017

Watch Her Disappear by Eva Dolan – 29 January 2017

Miss Christie Regrets by Guy Fraser-Sampson – 22 January 2017

The Dry by Jane Harper – 13 January 2017

Sirens by Joseph Knox – 9 January 2017

Purged by Peter Laws – 3 January 2017

All of A Winter’s Night by Phil Rickman – 1 January 2017


The House On Downshire Hill by Guy Fraser-Sampson – 19th December 2018

The Rumour by Lesley Kara – 17th December 2018

The Boy by Tami Hoag – 4th December 2018

We Can See You by Simon Kernick – 28th November 2018

Kingdom of The Blind by Louse Penny – 24th November 2018

The Mother’s Day Mystery by Peter Bartram – 11th November 2018

A Greater God by Brian Stoddart9th November 2018

The Sentence Is Death by Anthony Horowitz 31st October 2018

No Time To Cry by James Oswald – 28th October 2018

Kith and Kin by Jane A Adams –  18th October 2018

Broken Ground by Val McDermid – 13th October 2018

Stealth by Hugh Fraser – 1 October 2018

The Ring by MJ Trow – 25 September 2018

The Hanging Psalm by Chris Nickson – 20 September 2018

What Falls Between The Cracks by Robert Scragg – 16 September 2018

The Darkest Place by Jo Spain – 15 September 2018

The Gilded Ones by Brooke Fieldhouse – 22 August 2018

The Liar’s Room by Simon Lelic – 19 August 2018

The Mosul Legacy by Christopher Lowery – 12 August 2018

The Break Line by James Brabazon – 2 August 2018

The Polish Detective by Hania Allen – 30 July 2018

Morte Point by Robert Parker – 22 July 2018

A Gentleman’s Murder by Christopher Huang – 17 July 2018

Watching You by Lisa Jewell – 6 July 2018

The Dead On Leave by Chris Nickson – 29 June 2018

The Death of Mrs Westaway by Ruth Ware – 22 June 2018

The Hidden Bones by Nicola Ford21 June 2018

Last Time I Lied by Riley Sager11 June 2018

Kill The Angel by Sandrone Dazieri – 29 May 2018

The Killing Habit by Mark Billingham – 22 May 2018

Corrupted by Simon Michael – 15 May 2018

You Were Gone by Tim Weaver – 9 May 2018

Body and Soul by John Harvey – 5 May 2018

Savage Liberty by Eliot Pattison – 4 May 2018

The Tango School Mystery by Peter Bartram – 27 April 2018

The Woman In The Woods by John Connolly – 17 April 2018

Restless Coffins by MP Wright – 17 April 2018

The Long Silence by Gerard O’Donovan – 11 April 2018

Bad Cops by Nick Oldham – 8 April 2018

Mind Of A Killer by Simon Beaufort – 5 April 2018

The Tin God by Chris Nickson – 2 April 2018

Greeks Bearing Gifts by Philip Kerr – 1 April 2018

Hall of Mirrors by Christopher Fowler – 21 March 2018

Only The Dead Can Tell by Alex Gray – 7 March 2018

Panic Room by Robert Goddard – 28 February 2018

Crook’s Hollow by Robert Parker21 February 2018

The Smiling Man by Joseph Knox20 February 2018

Girl On Fire by Tony Parsons 18 February 2018

Insidious Intent by Val McDermid 13 February 2018

The Great Darkness by Jim Kelly9 February 2018

Sepultura by Guy Portman – 27 January 2018

The Innocent Wife by Amy Lloyd – 22 January 2018

Look For Me by Lisa Gardner11 January 2018

The Confession by Jo Spain – 3 January 2018

Robicheaux:You Know My Name by James Lee Burke 2 January 2018


Hold Your Tongue by Deborah Masson – 26th December

Till Morning Is Nigh by Rob Parker – 8th December

Gone by Leona Deakin – 2nd December

The Poker Game Mystery by Peter Bartram – 24th November

Golgotha by Guy Portman – 17th November

Die Alone by Simon Kernick – 15th November

The Photographer of The Lost by Caroline Scott – 9th November

A Minute To Midnight by David Baldacci – 2nd November

The Black Hills by MJ Trow – 25th October

England’s Finest by Christopher Fowler – 22nd October

All His Pretty Girls by Charly Cox – 14th October

The Man On The Street by Trevor Wood – 12th October 2019

Sight Unseen by Graham Hurley – 6th October 2019

The Hocus Girl by Chris Nickson – 3rd October 2019

Shamus Dust by Janet Roger – 28th September 2019

Eight Hours From England by Anthony Quayle – 26th September 2019

The Penny Black by Rob Parker – 20th September 2019

Plenty Under The Counter by Kathleen Hewitt – 20th September 2019

Nothing Else Remains by Robert Scragg – 20th September 2019

Trial By Battle by David Piper – 12th September 2019

From The City, From The Plough by Alexander Baron – 7th September 2019

The Rooks Die Screaming by Clive Tuckett – 1st September 2019

How The Dead Speak by Val McDermid – 16th August 2019

Murder At The British Museum by Jim Eldridge – 9th August 2019

Time For The Dead by Lin Anderson – 5th August 2019

The Bear Pit by SG MacLean – 31st July 2019

Child’s Play by Angela Marsons – 25th July 2019

One Good Deed by David Baldacci – 20th June 2019

The Unseen by Lisa Towles – 19th July 2019

Come Back For Me by Heidi Perks – 12th July 2019

Keep You Close by Karen Cleveland – 10th July 2019

The Sleepwalker by Joseph Knox – 1st July 2019

J SS Bach by Martin Goodman – 29th June 2019

The Killer In Me by Olivia Kiernan – 28th June 2019

The Artemis File by Adam Loxley – 25th June 2019

One Way Out by AA Dhand – 24th June 2019

The White Feather Killer by RN Morris – 17th June 2019

The Serpent’s Mark by SW Perry – 16th June 2019

Lock Every Door by Riley Sager – 13th June 2019

The Boy Who Fell by Jo Spain – 9th June 2019

The Body Lies by Jo Baker – 3rd June 2019

The Comedy Club Mystery by Peter Bartram – 29th May 2019

No One Home by Tim Weaver – 25th May 2019

The Lost Shrine by Nicola Ford – 21st May 2019

The New Iberia Blues by James Lee Burke – 15th May 2019

Their Little Secret by Mark Billingham – 29th April 2019

Night Watch by David C Taylor 23rd April 2019

A Book Of Bones by John Connolly – 15th April 2019

Bones Of The Earth by Eliot Pattison – 11th April 2019

Slow Motion Ghosts by Jeff Noon – 9th April 2019

One More Lie by Amy Lloyd – 8th April 2019

Metropolis by Philip Kerr – 3rd April 2019

The Lonely Hour by Christopher Fowler – 22nd March 2019

The Leaden Heart by Chris Nickson – 15th March 2019

Marked Men by Chris Simms – 12th March 2019

The Boy In The Headlights by Samuel Bjork – 6th March 2019

Hardcastle’s Quandary by Graham Ison – 28th February 2019

Runaway by Harlan Coben – 25th February 2019

#Taken by Tony Parsons – 20th February 2019

The Mathematical Bridge by Jim Kelly – 18th February 2019

Curtain Call by Graham Hurley – 8th February 2019

Cold As The Grave by James Oswald7th February 2019

The Familiars by Stacey Halls – 4th February 2019

Severed by Peter Laws – 28th January 2019

Dangerous Deceits by Cherith Baldry – 22nd January

Dirty Little Secrets by Jo Spain – 16th January 2019

The Suspect by Fiona Barton – 13th January

The Man With No Face by Peter May – 8th January 2019

Rough Music by Robin Blake6th January 2019

Gone By Midnight by Candice Fox – 4th January 2019

BOOKS OF THE YEAR 2018 . . . (5) Best humorous crime novel

Read the Fully Booked appreciation of The Mother’s Day Mystery and share some of Peter Bartram’s excellent gags – and his delightful ability to tell a good story.

THE MOTHER’S DAY MYSTERY . . . Between the covers

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Robin Williams, Paul Krassner, Pete Townshend, Grace Slick, Timothy Leary, and many others have been credited with the saying, “If you can remember the 1960s, you weren’t really there.” Fortunately for us, Peter Bartram can and was. His lifetime of working as a journalist has produced an alter ego, an enterprising young journalist called Colin Crampton who works for The Brighton Evening Chronicle. He has a gorgeous Australian girlfriend called Shirley, a pantomime landlady by the name of Mrs Gribble, a chain-smoking news editor called Frank Figgis, an amazing habit of getting involved in murder mysteries – and he drives an MGB.

mothercoverIn The Mother’s Day Mystery, Crampton discovers the body of a schoolboy who has evidently been knocked off his bike and fatally injured. What on earth was Spencer Hooke doing away from his dormitory in Steyning Grammar School at the dead of night, cycling along a lonely and windswept clifftop road? In pursuing this conundrum, Crampton whisks us into a world of stage vicars, seedy pub landlords, archetypal leather-elbowed schoolmasters and impecunious toffs. There are jokes a-plenty, and Bartram indulges himself – and those of us who are, similarly, in the autumn of our years – with many a knowing cultural reference that might puzzle younger readers. He takes us into a wonderful sweet shop, the kind which can nowadays only be found in museum recreations:

“I stepped into a small room with a wooden counter topped with a glass-fronted case. To the side of the case was a set of balance scales with its weight tokens. Behind the couter were shelves loaded with jars of sweets. There were chocolate drops and sherbert lemons and liquorice allsorts. There were humbugs and fruit gums. There was barley sugar which glowed yellow like it was radioactive.

The air was loaded with a sickly scent like it had been sprinkled with sugar dust. If you breathed in deeply, you felt you were dancing.”

There is an unashamed sense of the risqué seaside postcard about much of the humour:

‘She was pouring coffee into a mug.

I ambled over and said, “Mine’s white but strong.”
Susan said: “So I’d heard. But how about your coffee, honeybunch?”
She guffawed at her joke and made her chins wobble.’

The wisecracks are not all end-of-the-pier stuff, however. When Crampton meets the owner of the gorgeous sweet shop, he is almost Chandleresque:

“She had a figure that would get Brigitte Bardot demanding a recount …. little laugh lines crinkled around her mouth as her full lips parted in the kind of welcome smile I felt I could pay into the bank.”

PBAnyone who is a student of English humour will soon see that Bartram is part of a long and distinguished tradition of comic writers who find meat and drink in the absurdities of English life and social structures. In the world of crime fiction, however, comedy does not always sit well with murder and bloodshed. The great and sadly under-appreciated Colin Watson did the job beautifully in his Flaxborough novels, while modern writers such as MJ Trow and Christopher Fowler perform the balancing act with similar verve. I am happy to put Peter Bartram (right) up there on the podium with those past and present masters. Incidentally, and quite appropriately for a Sussex man, Bartram knows and loves his Kipling, and manages to quote the great man on a number of occasions

Such is the joyful nature of the writing that the plot is almost irrelevant, but Bartram remembers that Crampton has a murder to solve, and he gives us the classic Golden Age denouement scene in the library. Except it’s not in the library, but in the village church, under the shocked gaze of the pompous Rev. Purslowe. Before the riddle of Spencer Hooke’s death is solved (with an “I’m Spartacus” moment) we get the best joke in the book.

“Georgina had caused a stir when she’d walked into the church. She was wearing a low-cut blouse and a mini-skirt which ended a couple of inches below the Book of Revelations.”

The Mother’s Day Mystery is published by The Bartram Partnership, and is out now. Watch the Fully Booked Twitter feed for a chance to win this novel.

Follow the links to check out other features and novels by Peter Bartram.

The News Editor, The Woodbines, and a Eureka Moment

Switched On: The Story of 1960s TV Game Shows

The Tango School Mystery

Front Page Murder

Stop Press Murder

I Do Like To Be Beside The Seaside …

Peter Bartram also has an excellent website where you can Meet The Characters

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