The year is 1888 and Jack the Ripper terrorises the East End of London; all the victims are found in Whitechapel – but Scotland Yard has to look into another suspicious death, that of Edmund Gurney in Brighton. Foremost amongst the Yard’s top men is young Inspector Sholto Lestrade. It is to his lot that a number of unsolved cases fall – cases that include the murder of a former Whitechapel prostitue, and that of Gurney.
Teenage girls are being picked up on the seafront, and two of them are found dead. DI Jacquie Carpenter-Maxwell has barely set foot on her old patch before she is up to her jet-lagged neck in somebody else’s tragedy.
There comes a time in every teacher's life when he must face his nemesis - the Ofsted Inspection. On the third day, with the atmosphere at Leighford High decidedly fraught, one of the Inspectors is found stabbed to death. Events move quickly, and the Head is arrested on suspicion of the murder. But Peter Maxwell, Head of Sixth Form, cannot help but notice that Sally Meninger, the Ofsted Humanities expert, is not as distraught at her colleague's death as one might expect....
Peter Maxwell didn't want to attend the GNVQ course. He didn't want to get mixed up in murder either - but perhaps it was all part of death's rich tapestry. And while a disparate gathering of teachers was breaking ice upstairs at the Carnforth Centre, someone else was in the basement - breaking skulls. But what the killer couldn't have foreseen was that one of the victims was an old flame of Maxwell's. So now it was personal. And when 'Mad Max' takes something personally, he doesn't get madder - he gets results.
With girlfriend DS Jacquie Carpenter back at work, and baby Nolan rapidly growing into a feisty toddler, Peter "Mad Max" Maxwell, Head of Sixth Form at Leightford High, hires an au pair. But one afternoon Max returns home to find that the exotic Juanita seems to have disappeared into thin air. Meanwhile, two walkers are surprised and disturbed when their Border collie digs up an arm on Dead Man's Point.
The wings that retired Superintendent Lestrade comes on are those of a de Haviland Hercules. The archaeologist Howard Carter has made the discovery of the century in the Valley of the Kings, but all around him men are dying. Lord Carnarvon, careless with his razor, falls prey to a mosquito bite. Alain le Clerk leaves the tomb in a hurry to die alone in the desert. Aaron G String, the railway magnate, blows his brains out yards from the tomb's entrance.
England in 1920 is a land fit for heroes. So why is one of those heroes found dead in a dingy London hotel? And why does his war record show that he has been missing for three years? The deceased is the fiancé of Inspector Lestrade's daughter, and she sets out to find his murderer. As always with Lestrade, one murder has a habit of leading to another. How can a woman killed in an air raid in 1917 be found with a bullet through her head three years later?
The end of civilisation, as Peter Maxwell knows it, is just around the corner. It comes in the form of Fiona Braymarr, the new superhead. She is a new broom, and she sweeps good people along the way. And the odd thing about her? She has no past. And within days of her arrival, two local women have no future; one is found dead in a car showroom, the other is stabbed at the foot of her own stairs. Two murders so closely linked in time and space must surely be connected.
July 1586. Sir Francis Walsingham has dispatched Kit Marlowe to the English College, the school for exiled priests in Rheims, where he suspects the Catholic traitor Matthew Baxter is hiding, the only one of the Babington plotters to have escaped the spymaster's net. Infiltrating the college undercover, Marlowe learns that the community has been rocked by a series of unexplained and violent deaths.
July 1585. Desperate to escape Sir Francis Walsingham's clutches and pursue his chosen career as a professional playwright, the young Christopher Marlowe abandons his Cambridge studies to join Lord Strange's men, a group of travelling players.
Lestrade had never been arrested before, although he had often had his collar felt by unsuspecting constables. But now a woman has died in his arms in a London pea-souper, and he is not only arrested but facing the drop. Millicent Millichip, in the wrong place at the right time, is neither the first nor only in a series of murders by someone so cunning that all the brains of the Yard can’t catch them - and this despite the calling card left helpfully at every scene.
Recovering from a broken leg after his ignominious fall from the
Titanic, Lestrade should have had a peaceful time convalescing. But an attempt on the life of his future father-in-law makes him realise that a policeman is never really off duty. What is particularly puzzling is the arrival of a letter which simply reads, "Four for the Gospel Makers", and it isn’t the first Lestrade has been sent. So begins one of Sholto Lestrade’s most mystifying cases, encompassing both the present and the past.
Lestrade’s detectives at Scotland Yard have promised him that 1910 is going to be a peaceful year. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work out that way. His daughter, Emma, brings him news of a tragic boating accident and he is soon up to his neck in a series of vicious murders. On top of all this, Lestrade is roped in to help with the coronation of George V and Inspector Walter Dew needs help with the disappearance of a certain Belle Crippen.
The papers call it suicide. The deceased’s father doesn’t. And when Superintendent Lestrade investigates the death by duelling pistol of Anstruther Fitzgibbon, his suspicions are immediately aroused. One of Britain’s leading athletes, Fitzgibbon is the first victim in a series of murders which threatens to extinguish the torch of the Olympic Games in London, in that glorious summer of 1908.
The madness begins when Captain Orange and his three nieces are killed in a carriage accident. The only clues? A tall man seen near the Captain's house, and a broken mirror found in the Captain's breast pocket. Next, Janet Calthorp of King's College, London, tumbles to her death as she makes her way to her lover's bedroom, the victim of a tripwire. The clue? A broken mirror found in said lover's boudoir.
Murder is afoot among the footmen of Britain's Royal Household: a servant girl, Amy Macpherson, has been brutally slaughtered. And so our hero, Sholto Lestrade of Scotland Yard, is once again on the trail of mystery. As he tries to untangle a villainous web of conspiracy, the superintendent must venture north to Scotland. His investigations take him from Balmoral Castle to the Isle of Skye to the North British Hotel, where he narrowly escapes an inferno in Room 13. The intrepid investigator contends with the most baffling clues he has yet encountered.
November, 1583. Desperate not to let the Protestant Low Countries fall into the hands of the Catholic Spain, the Queen’s spymaster, Francis Walsingham, orders Cambridge scholar and novice spy, Christopher Marlowe, to assist the beleaguered Dutch leader, William the Silent, whose court is a hotbed of intrigue and treachery. However, travelling in disguise as part of a troupe of Egyptian players, Marlowe encounters trouble even before he reaches Dutch shores.
Inspector Lestrade is called upon to investigate the brutal death of Ralph Childers, MP. It is but the first in a series of perplexing murders that lead Lestrade around the country. The connection between the victims appears to be politics. Is someone trying to destroy the Government? It would seem so, particularly when a bomb is found in the Palace of Westminster. During his investigations Lestrade encounters some old and some new faces.
At Leighford High, Peter “Mad Max” Maxwell is temporarily promoted to Head of History when his colleague is chosen for an American exchange. His counterpart is Hector Gold, who is accompanied by his eccentric family including his in-laws, Jeff and Alana O’Malley.
Having had his retirement snatched from him by malfunctioning technology, Peter “Mad Max” Maxwell finds himself facing yet another year at Leighford High School. His wife, Jacquie, is further annoyed when a family holiday quickly becomes an impromptu Year Seven trip to the Isle of Wight. The situation takes another turn for the worse when the wife of Tom Medlicott, the new Head of Art, goes missing.