Cover Image: MARSHLIGHT

MARSHLIGHT

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Member Reviews

Another well written and descriptive read from Joy Ellis in the Matt Ballard series. I loved the characterisation, Margaret has to be my favourite character but I can't say the same for Gina! Plenty tension and descriptive passages of the Lincolnshire Fens and a complex case, make this another winner for the author which fans will enjoy. Thanks to Net Galley for my ARC.
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Joy Ellis books are always so entertaining. The fourth book in the Matt Ballard series and in my opinion the best one yet.The characters are interesting and the plot keeps you guessing right till the end.A thoroughly enjoyable book .
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The many characters and plot of this book are relatable and the twists and turns makes for an interesting story. I loved the different connections and was drawn to the mysterious Fen marshes however it took me a little time to get my head around the storyline as a whole.

I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Thanks to Netgalley and Joffe Books.
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You can always count on Joy Ellis to provide a gripping murder mystery with twists and turns but this time she has excelled herself, a truly physiological thriller of the highest sort. Once you start you just can’t put it down the story line gets more intense and intriguing with every turn of the page. Great story well written more please
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Holy moly! Marshlight by Joy Ellis really had me on the edge of my seat! Christie, a researcher for a famous author, travels all over the world to experience different locations as her blind boss cannot.  His next book will be taking place in the Fens, where her favorite cousin, Liz, just happens to live. The Fens is a magical place. It's also the subject of many superstitions and there are several people eager to share their knowledge of all it has to offer.. It's a good thing that Liz and her partner, Matt, are Private Investigators because there is too much going on, in this town, for Christie to handle on her own.
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This is a very enjoyable, easy read in the cosy crime category. The book is in fact the fourth in a series but seems to sit well as a standalone novel - certainly no prior knowledge of the characters is required and there do not seem to be any spoilers for previous books in the series. 

The location - the Fens - plays a major part in the story, in fact it is probably better drawn than any of the characters, most of whom are fairly one-dimensional. Ellis seems to know the area and does a great job of integrating her local knowledge into the story - and the local legends presented at the end of the book.

The plot starts off with a missing person being reported, but that storyline isn't really followed through the book - there is a conclusion to the case at the end, but the story is more concerned with the psychological games being played (or are they?) - I can't say any more without spoilers.

Having never read anything by Joy Ellis before, I came to this - fairly long - book with no expectations - the writing is competent but there is an awful lot of exposition which is the reason for dropping one star from my rating. However, the book kept me reading. It's too long to complete in one sitting but it kept drawing me back and I looked forward to each reading session. I will definitely read more Joy Ellis if I have the opportunity, although she isn't an author that I would actively seek out.
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This was a compelling and thoroughly enjoyable read from start to finish with a great storyline, interesting cast of characters and all capped off by skilful writing. It's well worth your time if you appreciate great storytellers.
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Liz & and Matt were previously police detectives , now retired and working as private investigators .
When I read this book I was unaware that this title was the fourth in a series. 
If I'm being honest this did detract the story for me a little , perhaps because I wonder what I may have missed out on !
The story is a friends sister disappears , after acting strangely.  Then someone else disappears as well.
There are quite a few characters in the book which takes you down the road of thinking , is it her , or perhaps him.
The area the book takes place in  ( the fens ) is a spooky , slightly oppressive atmosphere , and this shows in the book.
A twisty , full on suspense read, which keeps you guessing until the end.
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When I requested this Joy Ellis novel I didn't realise that it was  book 4 of the Detective Matt Ballard series but I'm glad I did, as the story works quite well as a standalone novel, It was just as atmospheric as the other Joy Ellis books with this one set amongst the Fenlands of Lincolnshire and it has a backstory of the mystery of the willo wisp and hobbylight storys from the area and it is a nice touch having some of the short stories at the end, Marshlight is a slow builder but Joy Ellis cleverly builds up the suspense to a interesting yet satifying conclusion, leaving it perfectly for another book, for which I can't wait.
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I usually really enjoy Joy Ellis novels, they have lots of twists and keep the reader going until the end. Unfortunately I found this book quite disappointing, certainly not Joys best. It was fairly obvious from quite early on what the outcome was going to be. The characters were one dimensional and stereotyped . Not the best
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Set in rural England's fen country, this story is deliciously atmospheric with superb descriptions of the land, plants (I want that arbour!), Reading Room (want that, too) and renowned marshes.  Smidgens of folklore contribute to the air of mystery.

Retired police officers Liz and Matt are investigating a case as detectives.  Christie, Liz's cousin, is sent to the fens to research the setting for an author's book and at first stays with Matt and Liz.  But, as the book progresses, lives change and the unexpected happens.  Christie quickly becomes friends with locals including Tom, Jane and Delphi.  Condescending and bossy Gina isn't one of them.  Those around her feel Gina is misunderstood.  Christie wants to find out why.  Meanwhile, she feels right at home in rural England.  But murder rears its head and causes angst, rifts and suspicions.

Though atmospheric and tense between characters, this book is a bit light on suspense.  However, the plot and subplots are beautifully written and seamlessly knit together.  There is also a good balance of likeable and unlikeable characters.  

My sincere thank you to Joffe Books and NetGalley for the privilege of reading this fabulous book!
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Matt Ballad and Liz Haynes were at work in their private investigation office which they had set up since leaving the police when an email arrived from her cousin Christie . Christie worked for a best selling author as a researcher and was going to be visiting the Fens for research and local stories from the past as her employer was writing his latest book based  there.  When Christie arrives she makes friends quickly and thinks it would be a nice place to move to but she then meets Gina Spearman , who she takes an instant dislike to.
Events start to take a sinister turn and not everything is as it appears as Christie gets drawn into her friends problems.
I enjoyed reading the book but the characters that Joy Ellis writes about do not make this one of her best books.
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Marshlight is the 4th in Joy Ellis' Matt Ballard series.

from description: "An old friend’s sister disappears without a trace. There’s no sign of foul play, but she’d been acting very peculiarly . . .

Meanwhile, Liz’s cousin Christie comes to stay. She takes an immediate — and uncharacteristic — dislike to the local bookshop owner, Gina. Why does everyone put up with her awful behaviour?"

Joy Ellis is one of my favorite authors, but the Matt Ballard series is not my favorite of her three series.

Gina is a game player, a manipulative woman who manages to berate and coddle, denigrate and reward her employees and friends. Christie sees this, but Gina's victims make excuses for her.

Ellis manages to bring to life some of her characters: Tom's mother Margaret, Ian, even Pip and Dominic. Strangely, the more important characters don't fare as well. The inability of Tom, Delphi, and Jane to see through Gina makes them seem quite dense.

NetGalley/Joffe Books
Mystery/Suspense. July 8, 2021.
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Thanks Netgalley and the Publisher.   I have liked every book this author has written and this was no exception.   Fast paced story telling, great characters and had me hooked to the end.   Would recommend.
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Village life is anything but dull in MARSHLIGHT, an intricately plotted mystery by master storyteller Joy Ellis.

Matt Bowen and Liz Jones are settling into their new careers as private investigators in the Lincolnshire Fens. Liz has just given up the search for a friend’s missing sister who doesn’t seem to want to be found and Matt has been asked by the police to take on a cold case, the four year old murder of a local woman. Liz is delighted when her cousin Christie, a researcher for a popular author, comes to the Fens to stay with her while she gathers information for a new book. Christie quickly forms friendships, especially with Ian Hardy, a retired vicar. When he offers her use of The Mulberries, his late sister’s charming cottage and gardens, she happily moves in. While gathering data for the book, she meets Tom Parrish, manager of the local bookstore, and his employee, the effervescent Delphi. The bookstore is owned by Gina Spearman whom Christie immediately dislikes without apparent reason. There are reasons. Good reasons. Before Christie can understand what is happening, relationships will be fractured, cases will be solved and new deaths will occur.

Joy Ellis brings the fens alive! Her descriptions are so evocative that the marshland becomes a major character in MARSHLIGHT. Christie is a delightful new character. I want to read more about her and The Mulberries. This is a 5 star read.

Thanks to NetGalley, Joffe Books and Joy Ellis for this ARC.
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I'm really enjoying these PI books with exDCI Matt Ballard and his DS Liz Jones.  Very human stories, interesting scenery and believable characters.  A good move after their severe injuries, it would have been unbelievable if Liz had been able to go back to being a copper..

Loved it.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher I read a free advance review copy of the book.  This review is voluntary, honest and my own opinion.
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As a Joy Ellis fan this book didn’t disappoint. I’ve read the others in this series so was delighted to find out whats been happening to Matt and Liz, enjoyed the new character Christie and hope she appears in subsequent books. A fast paced simple thriller that kept me interested with an easy to follow storyline and believable characters.
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Many thanks to NetGalley and Joffe books for a free Advanced Review copy of this book.

I have read and enjoyed previous Joy Ellis books, so I jumped at the chance to read MARSHLIGHT pre-release. Unfortunately, it fell somewhat flat this time for me. By 25% of the way through, nothing big had happened. Both the murder and the disappearance had happened prior to this story beginning. At this point of the narrative, the book had read more like a love affair with the Fen Marshes than anything remotely resembling a 'totally enthralling psychological thriller' as the blurb promised. Also, with the many characters and plot threads, I felt that this diluted my connection. I didn't feel that I cared one way or the other for any but Ian, the bereaved priest.
The final denouement brought no great surprises for me, and the ending was somewhat open and loose.

I enjoyed the portrayal of Gina, which was as brilliantly over-inflated as any megalomaniac would be, and I hated her immediately. So her character was incredibly well drawn and portrayed.

I offer 3 stars, which means it was an okay read. See my notes below.

***

NOTE ON RATINGS: I consider a 3-star rating a positive review. Picky about which books I give 5 stars to, I reserve this highest rating for the stories I find stunning and which moved me.

5 STARS: IT WAS AMAZING! I COULD NOT PUT IT DOWN! — Highly Recommended.
4 STARS: I WOULD PULL AN ALL-NIGHTER — Go read this book.
3 STARS: IT WAS GOOD! — An okay read. Didn’t love it. Didn’t hate it.
2 STARS: I MAY HAVE LIKED A FEW THINGS —Lacking in some areas: writing, characterisation, and/or problematic plot lines.
1 STAR: NOT MY CUP OF TEA —Lots of issues with this book.
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MARSHLIGHT by Joy Ellis
England's rural fenland is a strange place, with its never-ending fields, winding tracks, and long straight droves (the old livestock routes). The lonely lanes are flanked either side by deep drainage ditches and are, for a good part of the year, filled with tall, whispering reeds. Closer to the Wash, high sea-banks form a barrier between river and marsh and the richly fertile soil of the drained land. But when the mists come down, as they so often do, perspective is destroyed, and all sense of direction lost. And then the fens become a rather frightening place of mystery and danger. Somewhere that you do not want to be at night.
Matt and Liz may have retired from the police, but that does not mean a quiet life.
An old friend’s sister disappears without a trace. There is no sign of foul play. But she had been acting very peculiarly recently.
Meanwhile, Liz’s cousin Christie comes to stay. She takes an immediate and uncharacteristic dislike to the local bookshop owner, Gina. Why does everyone put up with her awful behaviour?
Hunting will-o'-the-wisps on the marshes can be a dangerous hobby.
Christie is convinced that Gina is manipulating everyone around her. Is she onto something dangerous or just pushing her new friends away? No one believes her suspicions until another friend goes missing late at night on the misty fen marshes.
Can Matt and Liz uncover the truth in time to save lives?

Marshlight is an atmospheric crime thriller with a difference.
The author paints a vivid, vibrant picture of the Lincolnshire Fens. The ancient folklores, mysterious lights and gases from the marshes all bring a magical ambience to an excellent narrative.

Will o’ the Wisp is caused when marsh gas or methane is formed from rotting vegetation. It bubbles up from submerged mud, sometimes spontaneously combusting to produce a ‘cold’ flame. But it does not detract from the many sightings that permeate the Fens history.

The main protagonists, Matt Ballard and Liz Haynes, gel really well as a team. The characters development has been highlighted in previous books, but it was fascinating to see their progress post-retirement.
On behalf of some ex-colleagues, Matt and Liz have been unofficially looking into a cold case murder of a young adult female, Lindsay Harrison.  This occurred several years ago. But Matt has needed something to get his teeth into. The best thing about this is you will not find the usual police procedure or red tape tying the pair down. 

I did say the main protagonists are Matt and Liz, but they are closely followed by Christie Liz. She is a researcher for a famous blind author. She is currently doing research on the folklore and beauty of the Fens. She ends up staying longer when his illness keeps the author hospitalised. She becomes friendly with some of the locals. But she notices something is not quite right about the local book shop owner, Gina. And here is another excellent sub-plot.

The writing flows really nicely. The language is realistic yet informal. The novel has been well researched and well written. There are a few sub-plots within the narrative, which makes for a genuinely intriguing and engaging read.
Marshlight is a crime-thriller with added mystery. Real-life characters, full of human strengths and weaknesses that we can all relate to. 
This has to be the authors best work to date. 5-stars.
Thanks to NetGalley, Joffe Books and Joy Ellis for the ADC.
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There is a LOT going on in this book!  Several different plot lines to follow, so prepare yourself, as you'll need to keep everyone straight.  To start with, retired detectives and current private investigators/couple Matt and Liz are finishing up a case they could not resolve.  A fanciful sister of a friend of theirs has gone missing but they were unable to locate any trace of her.  Here sister is focused on the loss of her colorful spirit the last time they met and swears she didn't just take off on her own.  Matt and Liz are disappointed in the result, but there's no further avenues of inquiry that they can follow.

Their focus turns to Liz's cousin Christie, who is coming to stay.  She's a researcher for a famous blind author and travels the world so that he can write with the knowledge of someone who has captured the environments first hand for him.  She's currently researching the folklore and beauty of the Fens for what may be his final book, as he has taken severely ill.  She ends up staying longer when his illness keeps him hospitalized, and is thus able to get to know the locals.  She becomes close to a few, but develops a severe dislike of the manipulative owner of the local book shop, Gina.  Gina is manipulative and controlling to everyone, especially Delphi, Jane, and Tom, a trio whom Christie quickly grows fond of.  Unfortunately, no one else seems to grasp how terrible Gina is because they are all incredibly naïve, apparently.

Except there are two other characters that do agree with Christie about Gina - Tom's mother, Margaret and her old friend, Ian, a vicar from London.  He's back home to be with his ill sister, Evelyn, and is staying with Pip and Dominic, owners of Stone House and friends to all of the other characters.  Evelyn is also best friends with Margaret and are you confused as all get out yet??  Margaret isn't shy about her dislike of Gina, especially because Tom grows continually more irritated and impatient with her, due to Gina's influence.  Ian attempts to keep Christie calm about her animosity because there's only so much you can do when people don't want to see what's right in front of them.

And lastly, Matt and Liz have been unofficially looking into a cold case murder of a young adult female from several years ago.  Matt's thrilled because he misses 'real' cases that aren't mere spousal infidelity - the bulk of their PI work.  Liz enjoys this case also, but worries that Matt misses detective work much more than she does, as she knows past injuries will keep her from ever returning to the force.  It soon emerges that this case might be relevant to the other drama around town which complicates everything.

So if you can keep it all straight, it's an engrossing story, but I do think we could have done without some of the subplots and characters.  If there hadn't been so many connections, this could almost have been broken up into more than one story.  The complete lack of awareness that Gina's acolytes showed was quite frustrating, especially because unlike a cult leader tends to be, she's not breathtakingly attractive or enthralling in the least.  Thank goodness for Margaret, she was by the far the most interesting and hilarious character.  Bring her back, please!
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