There are few people that can genuinely say that they love their job, but I am one of them. I never know what wonderful delight will appear in my mailbox. A case in point is Mark Evan Walker’s new book The Case Of The Blood Red Stars.

I first encountered Mark because of his outstanding art work in the award winning Runt Farm children’s books. Which incidentally would make a great Christmas present for any young reader. Reviews here and here.

Mark Evan Walker has spread his wings, yes his great illustration skills are still in play, but with Blood Red Stars he also flexes his writing muscles. Aimed at the Young Adult audience this is the first of a planned series of books under the Kelly Riggs Mystery umbrella.

His setting is London in the 1930’s, a world that consisted of the have’s and have not’s. His protagonist is detective Kelly Riggs, a debonair figure, loved by law abiding citizens and feared by those intent on a life of crime.

What makes Mark’s style unique and appealing is his use of historical and science fact with just a small dose of science fiction, or maybe just slightly stretching of the truth. There is a saying, the devil is in the details, and boy is this author good at them! As I read Blood Red Stars, time and time again I was transported back to my childhood in England. Minutiae that I had forgotten decades ago suddenly exploded back to life!

What is not to love about Bovril and Dinky cars? While no Dinky Cars were involved in this illustration, I think it sums up the remarkable skill of Mark Walker. In a single illustration he has encapsulated not just London, but the entire city in the 1930’s. As I said, the devil is in the detail. Old folks like me are drawn to what is not drawn. The edges are as much fun as the focal point.

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Kelly Riggs and his team from Scotland Yard become involved in a very strange case that starts one November afternoon in St James Square. This was a popular spot to take a stroll in, street busker’s played, and pick pockets plied their trade.

This afternoon was a little different, rarely did violence enter the world of the 1930’s street thief. The key to success was stealth and speed, not brute force and blood. On this day though the rules changed. The straight laced somewhat dour librarian known as Miss Chillgrass is knocked to the ground by a mysterious black clad woman. A widow in mourning?

Although there were many people in St James Square, only a young nanny, Brendalynn Welles and her two young charges, Michael and Jenny Prescott witness the event.

Kelly Riggs is used to strange cases, but this is one that even he has trouble with. Why would a woman in mourning possibly attack a harmless librarian? Kelly Riggs only has one clue, as the assailant bent over the unconscious Miss Chillgrass young Jenny had seen a glimpse of something red.

With little to go on, Kelly Riggs must wait for the Librarian to become conscious. Maybe she has the answers, or at least some clues. The next day bodes ill for Kelly Riggs, the Black Widow has struck again, Miss Chillglass will never answer any question again.

Can the great detective Kelly Riggs solve the mystery?

I think it would be unfair to reveal any more of the plot. That is for the reader to discover.

The Case Of The Blood Red Stars is a very entertaining book. While it certainly is aimed at the teenage audience, I have to say that an Old Codgers like myself  can enjoy it a great deal.

Mark Evan Walker also includes a taster of his next book Death At The Edge Of The World.

This is an author that has some great potential. His writing as as wonderful as his illustrations.

I also recommend that you check out his web site

Simon Barrett

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