Troubador Shamus Dust

Excerpt from Shamus Dust

Released: 28/10/2019

ISBN: 9781838590437

eISBN: 9781838599867

Format: Paperback/eBook

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Shamus Dust

Hard Winter. Cold War. Cool Murder.

by

Two candles flaring at a Christmas crib. A nurse who steps inside a church to light them. A gunshot emptied in a man’s head in the creaking stillness before dawn, that the nurse says she didn’t hear.

It’s 1947 in the snowbound, war-scarred City of London, where Pandora’s Box just got opened in the ruins, City Police has a vice killing on its hands, and a spooked councilor hires a shamus to help spare his blushes. Like the Buddha says, everything is connected. So it all can be explained. But that’s a little cryptic when you happen to be the shamus, and you’re standing over a corpse.

"Elegant and spare but still cloaks itself in a terrific atmosphere. I liked the backstreet whores and the tipster barbers; the gold-leaf dining rooms and the tenement bedrooms. For me, it rang of Chandler - a grey-skied, British 'Big Sleep'." -ATLANTIC BOOKS

SHAMUS DUST was published 28 October and since then there's been a lot of media response. You can read interviews, guest posts, reviews and much more here: https://www.janetroger.com/media

You can find me on
Amazon.com https://www.amazon.com/Shamus-Dust-Hard-Winter-Murder/dp/1838590439/
Amazon.uk https://www.amazon.co.uk/Shamus-Dust-Hard-Winter-Murder/dp/1838590439
Webpage https://www.janetroger.com/media
Twitter @janetroger
Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/19371364.Janet_Roger

https://www.janetroger.com

Women Writers, Women's Books

Thrilling Detective

NB Magazine Interview

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In Reference to Murder

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Fully Booked

This is great - it’s elegant and spare but still cloaks itself in a terrific atmosphere. I liked the backstreet whores and the tipster barbers; the gold-leaf dining rooms and the tenement bedrooms. For me, it rang of Chandler - a grey-skied, British ‘Big Sleep’.

by Atlantic Books


A writer new to me but this was a highly impressive debut. Well written with lush descriptive prose, an original plot and an atmospheric description of post war London.

Hard to ask for much more - highly recommended.

by Greville


Really good debut novel. Everything is really well described. It was easy to immerse myself in post war London.

by Julie


An interesting story that has so many twists and turns it's a bit dizzying. Not another wannabe hardboiled tale, this story read very well and I found it compelling and very hard to put down.
Elegant, spare and well designed, everything is tied up and connected, and well worth the read!

by D


This is an author that I have not heard of, or read before. I found her style of writing very sophisticated and classic.

The books starts of in 1947, in the post war city of London, with a killing being investigated.

A book that you must read slowly and not rushed through. A very impressive debut for this author

by Rose


Shamus Dust is one of those unexpected surprises. When you open up this box, don't assume it's just another wannabe-Hardboiled tale. Set in post-war London with a third of the city bombed out ruins and folks still recovering from wartime separation, these dark gloomy streets are a treacherous warren of intrigue. Murder, corruption, scandal are here in force. And, it will take more than just ordinary wits to decipher what's up and who-done-it. Written in rich, thick prose that you could get lost in, this is a spectacular journey. Don't make the mistake of skimming anything, there's a lot on every page and all of it is important. Don't blink or you might miss something important. A very impressive debut indeed.

by Dave (Goodreads review)


Shamus Dust is one of those unexpected surprises. When you open up this box, don't assume it's just another wannabe-Hardboiled tale. Set in post-war London with a third of the city bombed out ruins and folks still recovering from wartime separation, these dark gloomy streets are a treacherous warren of intrigue. Murder, corruption, scandal are here in force. And, it will take more than just ordinary wits to decipher what's up and who-done-it. Written in rich, thick prose that you could get lost in, this is a spectacular journey. Don't make the mistake of skimming anything, there's a lot on every page and all of it is important. Don't blink or you might miss something important. A very impressive debut indeed.

by Dave


A fast paced novel, Shamus a American PI living and working in London and it's Christmas 1947. The story starts early on Christmas morning when a nurse "Miss Greer" on getting ready to work goes via St Barttholomew Churchs to light 2 candles on her way to work but it's the light that went out in the door way that she will remember the midst, and the fact it was one of her neighbours lying shot dead but she had lite her candles.
So our hero Shamus Newman has a call from a councillor to step in and help him there are secrets (but when aren't there) that would be very embarrassing if revealed. The dead man but only lived next to the nurse but enjoyed taking photos of men, the sort that today may not bat a eye lid however it was far from legal in the 1940s . Mind today I feel safe to say the wife may not have the same response as Joe Public and would today may still see red if the other half was with another make it female.. however that may not be the reason that the body count doesn't remain at 1 for long and the missing people giving the City Police a headache as well as Newman. .

So Newman does have a great sense of timing and is sat next to who appears to be victim number two as she is murdered but missed the killer all the same. Yes our hero has his faults or weaknesses as he finds does the stand in for the Forensic Medical Examiner Dr Swinford, a lady whom proves more helpful to Newman than perhaps is adviced but our hero has to have some good breaks. And a Lady Doctor at this time in history still needed friends and respect she duly deserved.

It's the 40s and a style a PI from across the pond will understand or associates with that era, well it's the style of the book with a good mix of London elites to add to the spice. The characters are quirky which you want (or I do anyway) fire this type of novel one that would have been hard to sell back then but now things are different, and this book is both entertaining and gripping and I think you may well love it I did and the ending a strike if genius from Janet our other hero the author.

by Dave W


I thoroughly enjoyed this very well written murder mystery set in 1947 London. The atmosphere and sense of place was spot on; the characters were well described and mostly interesting; the plotting is spot on. I did not know what 'shamus' was but the dictionary on kindle told me and explained one reason for the Americanisation of the spelling and choice of nouns. That is the one negative about this book for me as, for me, books set in London in 1947 should use English words and English spelling for a more authentic fee. Especially as Newman had been in London long enough to call the transport system 'underground' rather than subway. Excellent book despite this which took longer to read than expected for the page count; but highly recommended and gets one of my rare five stars.

by Sharyn


Really enjoyable and well written. I could almost taste the smoke in the air. Beautifully describes London during the blitz and keeps you reading rightup to the end.

by Sara


What a wonderful book. I only wish I had saved it to read on Christmas Eve as it starts on Christmas Day, 1947 London. Janet has such a beautiful descriptive way of writing that you feel like you're in an old Humphrey Bogart movie from the first page.

Thoroughly enjoyed the storyline, the atmosphere, and the characters.

Highly recommend.

by Patricia


“Lately, I’d lost the gift. As simple as that. Had reacquainted with nights when sleep stands in shrouds and shifts its weight in corner shadows, unreachable. You hear the rustle of its skirts, wait long hours on the small, brittle rumours of first light, and know that when they finally arrive they will be the sounds that fluting angels make.”

Every so often a book comes along that is so beautifully written and so haunting that a reviewer has to dig deep to even begin to do it justice. Shamus Dust by Janet Roger is one such. The author seems, as they say, to have come from nowhere. No previous books. No hobnobbing on social media. So who is Janet Roger? On her website she says:

“Janet Roger was apprehended for the first time at age three, on the lam from a strange new part of town. The desk sergeant looked stern, but found her a candy bar in his pocket anyway. Big mistake. He should have taken away her shoelaces. She’s been on the run ever since.”

Make of that what you will, but she goes on to admit that she is a huge Raymond Chandler fan:
“But what really got under my skin was Marlowe’s voice guiding me around the next street corner, and beyond it into a stale apartment block or a down and low bar. He invited me in to look over his shoulder, let me see the highs and the lows, talked me through them and then put me in the seat beside him to drive me home.”
So, what exactly is Shamus Dust? Tribute? Homage? Pastiche? ‘Nod in the direction of..’? ‘Strongly influenced by ..’? Pick your own description, but I know that if I were listening to this as an audio book, narrated in a smoky, world-weary American accent, I could be listening to the master himself. The phrase ‘Often imitated, never bettered’ is an advertising cliché and, of course, Janet Roger doesn’t better Chandler, but she runs him pretty damn close with a taut and poetic style that never fails to shimmer on the page.
Newman – he’s so self-contained that we never learn his Christian name – fled to to Britain during the Depression, had a ‘good war’ fighting Hitler, and now scratches a living as a PI in a shattered post-war London. It is late December 1947, and the cruelties of a bitter winter are almost as debilitating as Luftwaffe bombs. Newman is hired by a prominent city politician to minimise the reputational damage when a tenant in one of his properties is murdered.

Big mistake. Councillor Drake underestimates Newman’s intelligence and natural scepticism. Our man uncovers a homosexual vice ring, a cabal of opportunists who stand to make millions by rebuilding a shattered city, and an archaeological discovery which could halt their reconstruction bonanza.
There are more murders. The weather worsens. The clock ticks relentlessly towards 1948 as a battered but implacable Newman defies both the conspirators and corrupt coppers to see justice done. Along the way, he is helped – and entranced – by a young doctor, but she seems elusive and beyond his reach. As he goes about his grim business, however, he views London with eyes which may be weary, but still have laughter in them:

“..two paintings in the centre of each of the blank walls, one gray on white, the other white on gray to ring the changes. They might have been Picassos from his plumbing period, or a layout for steam pipes in an igloo; either way, they gave the room the all-round charm of an automated milking parlor.”
“At the street corner there was record store closed for lunch, with a sign over that read, Old Time Favourites, Swing, Hot Jazz, Popular, Classical, Opera and Foreign. The rest it was leaving to the opposition.”

By the end, Newman has played a game of chess in which his board has had most of the key pieces knocked off it by a succession of opponents not necessarily cleverer than he, but certainly with more power and fewer scruples. He survives the endgame – Janet Roger creates a divine metaphor in the final three pages – and his darkness is lifted by an extraordinary act of compassion and generosity to a fellow pawn in the cruel game. I started with Newman’s voice. Let him have the final say as he raises a glass to his lost doctor.

“Waiters ghosted. The company men were long gone. My table was cleared excpt for the glass in my hand. I held it up to the light, turned it round through a hundred shades of red, and wished the doctor all the good luck in the world. Then drank and set the empty glass on its side and called Alekhine over for the check.”

by David Prestige (Fully Booked)


A most complex and interesting story set in the ruins of London at the end of WWII. An American left over from the war sets himself up as a PI and obtains a commission from a City Councillor to investigate the murder of a tenant of a property that he owns. It turns out that the victim was operating a sleazy racket that also involved blackmail. As the investigation unfolds more people are murdered and gradually treachery, corruption and fraud is unearthed that involves people in high places. A bit difficult to read as it jumps a bit and is written somewhat in the style of Raymond Chandler. However it’s a real page turner exciting and full of surprises giving a most satisfying read

by William


Set in London in the aftermath of the second world war, Shamus Dust is a masterly historical thriller/police procedural. Janet Roger is utterly convincing in her depiction of a bombed-out London, still on rations, with shortages the norm, but with the opportunities of re-building and re-growth exciting the attention of some very unsavoury characters. An excellent book, and an author worth following.

by Sarah


Set in London, 1947. This is a murder mystery in a classic, noir style. A proper whodunnit very reminiscent of Sam Spade et al.

In this tale there have been several murders and PI Newman is tasked with finding the killer. But the story is so much more than just that, there’s a vice ring, corruption at every turn, more murders and even an archeological discovery which could put paid to plans, by a wealthy cabal, to rebuild a damaged London.

Beautifully written and highly descriptive, it is so atmospheric you can almost smell the smoky air……a book to take your time over and savour.

Thank you to the publishers and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this for free. This is my honest and unbiased review.

by Lesley


I have read a multitude of crime fiction debuts over the years, and they rate anywhere from abysmal right through to astounding. I am pleased to inform that this is another of those rare gems to add to the "astonishing debuts" shelf; in fact, the most fitting terminology to describe this cracker of a book is a masterpiece. It is one of those books I know I will re-read, something I almost never do, purely because the detail Ms Roger's supplies throughout deserves more than the one glance. I also remember ruminating on whether I wanted to pick it up because it takes place at Christmas, and I am not a fan of anything to do with the Christmas season; boy, am I glad that I made the right decision as I would have seriously missed out otherwise.

The plot is a real complex, beautifully-wrought beast and grips from the get-go without any problems at all. The various interlinked plot threads are thought-through so incredibly that I was flabberghasdted by the intricacy and forethought illustrated here by a first-time author, however, at no point does she stray into making it too complicated; this is quite the feat if you ask me. I am not going to regurgitate the synopsis as I feel the one provided is sufficient and feel that many will appreciate the intended vagueness as it allows you to experience everything from when you start to read and proceed from there. It evokes the scents, sights and smells of the time and place it depicts, and although I loved many aspects this historical accuracy was one of my favourites.

This is a book that not only has the thrills and spills to keep your heart rate rising but the atmosphere of dreary 1940s London and the substance and writing to back it all up. This is a hard-boiled historical crime novel with subtlety and sophistication lacing its pages from beginning to end. A must-read for all crime fans who enjoy compulsively readable crime with the beauty of a lyrical, literary prose. Unreservedly recommended.

by Lou


Raymond Chandler has been reincarnated in the expressive prose of Shamus Dust.

On Christmas Day, a man is found dead on the porch of a church in post-WWII City of London. By all accounts, the victim, Raymond Jarrett, was up to no good. Pictures of young boys in compromising positions are found in his apartment. The apartment is owned by a government official who hires private eye, Newman, to figure out what happened and hush up any scandal.

While the mystery is good, it is the lush writing style that makes Shamus Dust stand out.

“In this mile-wide hub of empire and enterprise there are operators who rub against other operators with fewer scruples than they own themselves. When that happens and they get taken to the cleaners, it’s not a thing they advertise or mention to police. Not even to a high-class agency, on account of the embarrassment. So far, I don’t see what your embarrassment is. Without it the job wouldn’t be in my line.”

The author appears to have polished each sentence within the book to a high shine. This book needs to be slowly savored like a fine wine. It is also the type of book that will be even better the second time around. I highly recommend this literary noir. 5 stars!

by Diane


This is how you write a detective/murder mystery to impress me. A proper noir set in post-war London. Very atmospheric, vivid descriptions, I've enjoyed the occasional sarcasm, in other words: I loved almost every single page of it. Brilliant writing style, feeling like a classic of the genre. An array of interesting characters, portraying a large palette of human behaviors and morality. I truly rooted for the doc and the detective to get together(bonus points for the way their relationship ended). The only thing that annoyed me was this modern need to set everything to rights before ending a book. We could have done without know everything about every single character/situation.

by Catalina


A good, detailed story set in, in some ways, simpler times, yet at the same time giving a strong picture of post-war London and the intrigues and wrongs that came along at that time. Fans of Mick Fallon's Jackson Lamb will love the central character and fans of clever, descriptive and often very humorous language will relish the tone and style. A book to indulge in.

by Jackie


Ms Roger’s American shamus in a sooty, postwar London of trenchcoats and shadows evokes the ghost of Marlowe abroad. ‘Shamus Dust’ is a noir homage that reminds us the blackouts may have ended but the city’s darkness lingered on; it’s an evocative, haunting debut.

by Christopher Fowler, author of Bryant and May series


Shamus Dust surprised me. Not because I didn't expect to like it. I start every new book with at least the hope of liking it. But this one hooked me from the beginning and held on tight, page after page. I thought I had seen that this was a debut, but the more I read, the more convinced I became that this had to be the work of an author who had grown in her talent leading up to this wonderfully written story. But no, when I checked, Shamus Dust is a debut, and let me tell you, Janet Roger has set the bar quite high with this one. If you've ever enjoyed the rich atmosphere of a Bogart movie, you'll love this book because this author knows her business when it comes to creating atmosphere. The story is set in postwar London, and it's easy to picture from the vivid pictures Roger paints with her words. The whole story comes together perfectly, and I got to enjoy some terrific characters along the way. And here's the thing, this story is set a couple of decades before I was even born, but I still had no problem relating to these characters. They're that well-drawn. The whole thing simply transports you back to that time and place. This is one killer debut, one that I have no problem recommending to anyone who enjoys an atmospheric mystery.

by Rebecca


I liked this very much, the evocation of 40s 'noir' detective films had me listening to Humphrey Bogart as I read... The voice changed between the action sections and the descriptive pieces, which made for a bit of overkill on some of the descriptions, which were almost too deliberate in their 'noir' style. The book is a little overlong for me, I think it could have been happily tied up around three quarters of the way through, but overall extremely readable. Recommended.

by Lynne


Roger can write like a dirty, noir dream that thrashes in the small hours. Her London in the bleak, still-bombed-out winter of 1947 lacks any of the sunlight of Chander's California, but she takes her cue from him, although by way Phillip Kerr's Bernie Gunther and, perhaps more, Craig Russell's Lennox - a Canadian in postwar Glasgow. It's easy to see both of them in her work. But Roger gives her own hard-boiled masterclass, with plenty of the unexpected and enough action and drama to keep the blood pumping. A superb debut.

by Chris Nickson, Author


This book ended up being very intriguing and unique, and I enjoyed the narrator quite a bit with his witty humor.

by Carmen


Debut author Janet Roger uncannily channels the likes of hard boiled detective authors such as Raymond Chandler in this gritty post war historical crime novel set in 1947 in a desperately freezing, snowy and fog ridden London. The cool shamus in question is American PI Newman, called early on Christmas morning by a new client, a city grandee, Councilor Drake, that has him visiting the scene of the murder of Raymond Jarrett, a blackmailer and pimp, shot dead outside a church, living in a apartment rented out by Drake. His body is discovered by nurse, Estelle Greer, but DI McAlestor that Newman is supposed to meet is not there. So begins a complicated investigation for Newman in the bombed out wreckage of a gloomy ration book city, impoverished, colourless, with its powerful elites, and dirty, corrupt, brutal police officers, less interested in the truth and investigation, looking instead for convenient patsies as the bodies begin to pile up.

The small square mile of the City of London is looking to reconstruct and redevelop the financial heart of a Britain in the throes of losing its empire and its currency in crisis. Such projects offers opportunities for the already wealthy and racketeers to enrich themselves further and profiteer, a greed that does not look kindly on obstacles that stand in their way. Newman founds himself negotiating the powerful and influential, including his client, with their secrets and lies. The charismatic advising archaeologist to the city, Professor Garfield, is missing, a man with a penchant for young men, including his assistant, Henry Beaufort, a member of a influential aristocratic family. As Newman finds himself on the end of terrifying violence, he finds help from an unlikely source, the temporary medical examiner, Dr Kathryn Swinford, in his search for the truth.

Janet Roger engages in impeccable research in this atmospheric and moreish historical novel with its diverse skilfully depicted range of characters, its sharp and often witty dialogue, and lyrical prose. For a debut, this is astonishingly good, with all the requisite elements that comprise hard boiled detective fiction, all done with style and panache. It has the political intrigue, the glamorous dames, lies and sordid secrets, racketeers, a morally compromised police force and a PI that just will not give up, no matter the brutal beatings he undergoes or the financial carrots on offer. If you are a fan of hard boiled classic detective fiction, then this is an absolute must read. Many thanks to Troubadour Publishing for an ARC.

by Paromjit


Christmas 1947, and London is still recovering from the depredations of the war. Private Investigator Newman gets hired by a Councillor anxious to get to the bottom of an incident at one of his properties. This very soon leads to the discovery of a dead body in the nearby church, and Newman finds himself embroiled in a vice murder investigation. The only witness to this murder was a nurse who was in the church at the time, and Newman has plenty of reason to disbelieve her account.

As Roger develops her plot, murders pile up and Newman's suspicions turn elsewhere. He in turn also attracts suspicion for his propensity to be in the vicinity whenever matters take a turn for the worse. The cops and the acting police pathologist both take a set against him, and there is also a collection of underworld figures wishing to do him harm.

Roger is clearly a fan of hardboiled detective fiction in the style of Chandler and Hammett, and she gives Newman a bit of the same attitude as Marlowe and Spade have, but it just seems less authentic in wintry London than in the big cities of the USA. She does capture the feel of London in the winter, and the post-war era, quite well and her plot has a depth and complexity that keeps the twists coming until almost the very end.

by Greg


This was such a long read but I enjoyed it. It was very atmospheric and I feel it summed up post war London well. It was a pleasant change to read a crime novel set before the days of DNA and technology.

by Angela


When I was asked to read and review this by the author, Janet Roger, I was intrigued by the premise of the story.

I found the incongruity of an American private investigator operating in a post-war London a little jarring initially, and as a result I struggled to get into the book, but I am so pleased I persevered because it was such an enjoyable venture into a traditional 1940s noir, filled with intrigue and deception, with a definite slow burn.

The mystery of who is committing the murders that keep occurring and seem connected increases in intensity throughout the book, and just as you think you have it worked out, it goes in a different direction.

The book is written exceptionally well, and there is an almost poetic use of prose throughout. I haven’t read anything set in this post-war era. and I found it an interesting insight into a world that was unknown to me. Shamus Dust is out now, and available on Amazon.

by Joanne


First of all, Shamus Dust is one of the best thrillers I have ever read. Janet Roger, the author, has a way with words that is perfect for writing thrillers. Before revealing the entire scene, Roger cleverly places hints about what is going to happen, and if you can put it together before the big reveal, you can’t help but feel impressed with yourself (which is Roger’s objective, I believe). It definitely gets your brain working, which I think all thriller lovers will definitely appreciate.

Now onto the plot. The plot has so many unexpected twists that I couldn’t help gasping out loud while I was reading it, much to the annoyance of my sister. However, it did engage her curiosity enough that Shamus Dust is now on her to-read list.

Next, I have nothing but praise for the characters. The amount of depth that was put into each character is unreal. Even minor characters were treated equally. For instance, there was one very minor character that stumbled upon a dead body (I won’t tell you who), but his shock was shown so well despite not being given any lines.

There’s only one thing that I have to point out about this book, and that’s the fact that it can only be read when you have the time to really sit down and actually read it. Each sentence is important and must be read carefully. Nothing can be skimmed, otherwise you’ll miss something important and find yourself having to go back.

Altogether, I have to end the review with high praise for Roger. You can tell that she put a lot of work into it and it definitely paid off. This is not a book to be missed!

by Goodreads review


Janet Roger

Janet Roger was apprehended for the first time at age three, on the lam from a strange new part of town. The desk sergeant looked stern, but found her a candy bar in his pocket anyway. Big mistake. He should have taken away her shoelaces. She's been on the run ever since.

As a teenager I'd read all of Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe stories - not so long after they were written as I'd like to think - and they knocked my socks off. He wrote about Los Angeles and its neon-lit boulevards, its sour, gritty downtown and gun-toting cops (a novelty to this young European) and made them exotic. But what really got under my skin was Marlowe's voice guiding me around the next street corner, and beyond it into a stale apartment block or a down and low bar. He invited me to look over his shoulder, let me see the highs and the lows, talked me through it and then put me in the seat beside him to drive me home. It was heady stuff, up to the point where the story began to seem incidental to the city, its moods and characters and speech patterns. What really mattered was a time, a place and the people you might run into there. I'd discovered a new kind of mystery writing and got hooked. I wasn't the only one. Pretty soon it just wasn't possible to take the Chandler out of anyone's idea of LA. By now you might have the same thought about Leon and Venice, Lehane and Boston, or Block and New York. And that's when you know they're getting under your skin too.



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