Introducing: T.J. Cooke

TJ_CookeHello, All,

If you’ve been kind enough to read this blog in the past, then you may remember that I had a feature for a while called Introducing…. The purpose of that feature was to spotlight authors who may not get a lot of recognition, but who write solid crime fiction. It’s not easy getting one’s name ‘out there’ if you’re an author, and this is my effort to do my part as you might say.

I was lax about Introducing… this past year, so now is the time to remedy that. This month I’d like you all to ‘meet’ Devon-based T.J. Cooke. Cooke’s had a very interesting career as a legal executive and advisor to the BBC’s Eastenders. He’s also done copywriting, freelance writing, journalism and of course, writing novels.

Kisss and Tell CoverThus far Cooke’s had two novels published. In the first, Kiss and Tell, London attorney Jill Shadow gets a new client Bella Kiss. Bella’s been arrested at Heathrow for smuggling drugs into the U.K. She admits to having the drugs, but won’t say who paid or coerced her into bringing them in. Still, it’s obvious that she’s terrified of someone. So despite Bella’s uncooperative attitude, Shadow decides to do what she can to help. She begins to ask questions that lead her into a much more complicated case than it seems on the surface. Then there’s a murder. That murder turns out to be related to an earlier death. And it’s soon clear that some very ruthless people don’t want Shadow to find out the truth about Bella. Shadow is going to have to do what she can to keep herself and her daughter Hannah safe until the people behind the drugs ring are caught.

Cooke has also written Defending Elton. That’s the story of the murder of an enigmatic young woman named Sarena Gunasekera. She was stabbed and her body found at the bottom of a cliff at Beachy Head near Eastbourne. Some of the evidence points to a troubled young man named Elton Spears. Not wpid-DefendingEltonKindleCovonly is there physical evidence against him but also, he has a history of inappropriate (‘though hitherto nonviolent) behaviour towards women. Solicitor Jim Harwood knows Spears and has worked with him before. Since Spears can’t assist much in his case, Harwood and barrister Harry Douglas will have to do the work in finding out the truth about this murder.

In both of these novels Cooke gives readers a look at the British legal system from several different perspectives. He also raises some interesting larger questions about how the legal system fits into the larger society, and how it does (or doesn’t) serve certain people.



Want to know more about T.J. Cooke? His website is here.


Want to know more about Kiss and Tell? It’s right here (US) and here (UK).


Want to know more about Defending Elton? Check it out here (US) and here (UK).


Filed under T.J. Cooke

24 responses to “Introducing: T.J. Cooke

  1. These do sound interesting, Margot. I will keep them in mind for when I can buy some books. They are reasonably priced in both formats.

  2. Nice post Margot, thanks for the info. My mission this year is to read more classic cosy crime. Particular those classics I should have read and haven’t I’m starting with ‘Strangers On A Train’ by Patricia Highsmith. I’m hoping to get it read by the 19th so I can do a post to coincide with her birthday but I’m not too hopeful since I need to order it lol 😀

    • D.S. – Thanks for the kind words. I think it’s really a good idea to get familiar with classic crime. That’s the basis for today’s crime novels really. And Strangers on a Tran is a great place to start. Such a great psychological thriller.

      • Thank you. I know you’re very well read so any suggestions are definitely welcome. I have tended to read more modern crime fiction and then I spent a long time reading Christie, Tey and Conan Doyle. I feel it’s time to get the ones that I don’t realise I’ve know of, if that makes sense.

        • D.S. – It makes complete sense. There’s never of course enough time to read everything one wants to read, but it’s good to try to catch up bit on some of the authors.

  3. Thanks Margot – always interested in legal mysteries!

  4. Great idea to push some writers forward, and this author and these books sound great. I’ll look forward to future entries too.

    • Thanks, Moira. There really are some fine authors out there who don’t get much recognition, and I’m always happy to spread the word about them. I hope that if you get the chance to read Cooke’s work, you’ll like it.

  5. Great feature, Margot – I don’t think I was around when you were doing it before. The books look interesting, especially ‘Defending Elton’. It’s so hard for authors to break through – it often seems to be a matter of luck more than skill.

    • FictionFan – Thanks; I hope you’ll like the feature. I agree completely that it’s hard to get the word out for a lot of authors. Unless you have phenomenal luck or timing, it’s a lot of thankless work.
      I hope you’ll like Cooke’s work. I’m far from an expert on the British legal system, but the novels have a strong air of authenticity when Cooke discusses cases.

  6. Col

    Another new author to check out then…….what are you doing to me?

  7. interesting that ‘writerdsnelson’ mentions Patricia Highsmith. When I read ‘Defending Elton’ the lead character, lawyer Jim Harwood, reminded me of her deeply layered protagonist Tom Ripley, and another reviewer for commented in similar tones. I then read Cooke’s other novel ‘Kiss and Tell’, with another lawyer lead, this time female and quite opposite to Jim. Cooke will surely come to the attention of some major players in crime fiction publishing, as these are most accomplished pieces of work – and both hugely entertaining

    • Stella – I’m glad enjoyed both novels. There are definitely shades of Ripley in Harwood. And you’re right that Jill Shadow is quite a different kind of protagonist to Harwood. It takes talent to create such different characters and have both be well-developed and interesting characters.

  8. Nice feature, Margot. I don’t know this author, but I’ll put him on my list–I do like legal mysteries. Sounds like his background really helped him write the books, too.

    • Elizabeth – Thanks – glad you enjoy the feature. What’s interesting too is that both of these novels involve more than just the legal aspects of the story. They’ve got several solid plot threads. I hope that if you get the chance to read Cooke’s work, you’ll enjoy it.

  9. I really enjoyed ‘Defending Elton’ and feel the author deserves more visibility and recognition. This is a lovely feature, Margot, thank you for drawing our attention to emerging authors as well!

    • Marina Sofia – Oh, I’m so glad you like this feature. There are so many authors out there with talent but without a huge press entourage if you know what I mean. It’s also really good to hear that you enjoyed Defending Elton. It’s a strong read with some interesting characters and solid plot twists.

  10. I’ll look out for these books for later in the year when I’ll be back buying books – a self-imposed ban until April! Thanks for the information.

  11. A really great idea, Margot. I’m checking out his website now.

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