The true story of the murder or Rachel Nickell by Robert Napper and the attempts by the police to put Colin Stagg in the frame.

(If you are based in Britain, click on the image on the left, or on the title, to buy The Wimbledon Common Murder: The Shocking Story of How an Innocent Man Nearly Got Sent down for Life! If you decide to join, please make this book your first purchase.)

To those who think that the British criminal justice system is superior to the American legal system – this book will serve as a rude awakening!

The shocking story of an innocent man who spent 13 months on remand and 14 years in limbo because of police shenanigans and the incompetence of a psychologist working with them. Colin Stagg spent thirteen months in jail awaiting trial for the murder of Rachel Nickell – a crime he did not commit. The case against him was weak from the outset, but was a classic example of the way in which facts can be misrepresented in the hands of professionals, be they lawyers, psychologists or police officers.

When the case against Stagg collapsed, his life was made a living hell by the tabloid press, portraying him as a man who had got away with murder. Police leaks, and a book by a psychologist who had assisted them, led to the ongoing perception that Stagg was a murderer. This nightmare carried on for fourteen years until a “cold case review” identified faults in the original investigation. This culminated in the identification of the real culprit – a man who had indeed slipped through the net and gone on to kill again…

(If you are based in the United States, click on the image on the right, or the title to buy The Wimbledon Common Murder: The Shocking Story of How an Innocent Man Nearly Got Sent down for Life!  If you decide to join, please make this book your first purchase.)


The prices of the Kindle editions of Mercy and No Way Out have been reduced to £0.99 – making them some of the most attractive bargains for summer reading. You can get to them by clicking on the links above. But they will only be held at this price for one month. In September they will go up to £1.99 – still a bargain, but why wait?

Just a brief recap on what they are about. Mercy introduces the lawyer Alex Sedaka, and his faithful sidekick Juanita, in a race against time to save a client on Death Row who is due to be executed in fifteen hours time! No Way Out has Alex pulling all the stops to defend a black man on a rape charge in a racially sensitive case in which nothing is quite as it seems.



“This will have you on the edge of your seat”


Readers will be interested to know that Mercy was not my original choice of title for my first book in the Alex Sedaka series, or indeed my choice at all.  I originally wanted to call it You think you know me pretty well.  Contra to  popular belief, I think that long titles do sell books, precisely because they are so memorable. Think The Curious Incident with the Dog in the Nighttime or The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society or indeed – my own personal favourite: And to my Nephew Albert, I Leave the Island What I won off Fatty Hagan in a Poker Game .

However, my publisher’s disagreed, and on this matter (like many others) they have the final say.  That may not be the case for writers like J K Rowling or Dan Brown, but it is for mid-list writers like me.  So I suggested Missing Evidence, a pun on the fact that (a) a person was missing and (b) certain evidence was overlooked – hence they were “missing” the evidence that was before their eyes.

However, my publishers didn’t like this either.  They decided after much discussion that because the book begins with the governor of California (no, not Arnold Schwarzenegger) offering clemency to a man on Death Row, they were going to call the book Mercy.  There were seven other books with this title, that I could find – some even in print – but the publishers assured me that this was no problem.  I tried to make it clear to them that I didn’t like the title.  But they assured me that they did, and that it had followed much discussion.

I would have preferred if I had been a party to those discussions, but I wasn’t invited to participate.  And when I was told the decision, it was made clear to me that it was a “done deal” – in other words, further comment by me would be useless.  I don’t know if their decision had anything to do with the fact that the imprint wanted to get it books into the supermarkets, where the majority of the customers are female (I know I am straying into dangerous territory here).  This also led to considerable problems coming up with a suitable cover design – and that’s a story and half!  But it is worthy of note that neither the German nor the Israeli publishers who acquired the rights are going to use the English title.  The German publisher has chosen the name 15 Stunden (which means “15 Hours”) and the Israeli publisher of the Hebrew edition is inclining towards The Race Against Time.

In fairness to the publishers part of their reasoning for rejecting my original title was that it was the first line to a song by Neil Sedaka (get it? Neil Sedaka/Alex Sedaka?).  Indeed, I was hoping to use the song (The Other Side of Me) at the beginning of the movie – yes I had big dreams in those days.  The idea was that the movie would end with another Neil Sedaka song: the poignant Our Last Song Together.  The second book was going to be called by the first line of Don McLean’s The Pride Parade and the third was going to be called by the first line of Simon and Garfunkel’s Sounds of Silence – to use the original title that us pedantic oldies persist in using.

Anyway, the publishers said that because I wanted to use first lines of songs as titles rather than the song titles themselves, it might be problematical from a copyright point of view.  The law is that titles are not copyright, but the songs themselves are.  And so using a line from a song as a book title might be a copyright violation.  I am not sure that they are right, but it was clear that they were determined.

They decided that instead they wanted to use terse, sharp one-word titles.  So quickly, albeit reluctantly, adapting to their idea, I suggested that we call the second book Violation or Guilty or Accused.  They rejected the first two, but very nearly  went with Accused,  However, when they discovered that a book by Mark Gimenez with the same title (and a remarkably similar cover design) was due to be published three months before mine, they decided to change the title as well as the cover design.

They decided to call it No Way Out.  So much for one word titles!