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Princes Gate (DCI Frank Merlin, #1)
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Princes Gate (DCI Frank Merlin #1)

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  320 Ratings  ·  53 Reviews
Princes Gate is the first in a new series of crime thrillers that involve DCI Frank Merlin. These atmospheric books are set in wartime London mixing historical and fictional characters and featuring a charismatic and intriguing half-Spanish detective. When a brilliant emigre scientist is killed by a hit and run driver and a young woman's body is washed up in the Thames, Me ...more
Paperback, 308 pages
Published June 1st 2011 by Troubador Publishing
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It didn’t take much to rouse my interest in Mark Ellis’ Princes Gate. A mystery set in wartime London involving Joseph Kennedy, the Foreign Office and potential peace settlements with Hitler sounded absolutely fascinating and I couldn’t wait to get started. Looking back, I can’t say that enthusiasm misplaced as the book has a lot of wonderful things going for it, but I’m not sure it’s quite the enthralling thriller its jacke
Aug 13, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviews
When a brilliant émigré scientist is killed by a hit and run driver and a young woman's body is washed up in the Thames, Merlin and his team must investigate. The woman is an employee of the American Embassy, whose Ambassador at this time is Joseph Kennedy. DCI Merlin's investigation of diplomats at the Embassy ruffles feathers at the Foreign Office - the American Ambassador is a well-known supporter of appeasement and many powerful and influential Britons favour the pursuit of a negotiated peac ...more
May 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This was a well-written murder mystery set in 1940 London, as the city is preparing for war with Germany. The story had well-developed characters, and as an added bonus, supporting cast includes several real-life characters that played a major role in the lead-up to WWII: Ambassador Joseph Kennedy, Sr., who was a leader of the appeasement crowd trying desperately to keep America out of the war, even to the point of working against President Roosevelt.

The story itself was very good, a basic polic
Jun 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
Princes Gate is a new series set in London during the "phoney war," that period between Sept., 1939 and May, 1940. Poland had been attacked, and the Germans were in the process of occupying the country. Britain and France declared war on Germany, but no significant offensive took place. On May 10, Germany occupied Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg, and that was the end of the
phoney war.

After Poland's demise, blackout measure were put in effect (and it would be 6 years before lights were
Dolf Patijn
Apr 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
London during the so-called phoney war in February 1940.
Chief Inspector Frank Merlin and his team are trying to solve a lethal hit and run case and a few murders involving American embassy staff and British foreign embassy employees.

Mark Ellis wrote a nicely paced whodunnit, which is to be the first in a series of novels about Frank Merlin. The atmosphere of wartime London before the bombings is palpable.
It is hard to imagine that this is Ellis' first novel. The characters are believable and so
Jim Mullin
This book, a mystery/thriller set in the time just before the outbreak of WW 2 is a good read. For me it was particularly interesting to read about crime solving with rational thinking vs all the high tech tools available to present day law enforcement. I recommend this book.
Aug 19, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: review-copies
Historical detective story set in London just before WWII, was ok but there were some things which jarred and brought me out of the story, rating 3.5, proper review pending.
Wesley Britton
Aug 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

First published on June 1st 2011 by Matador Books, then as a Kindle edition on September 3rd 2015 by London Wall Publishing, then as a paperback in November 2016 by the same publisher, Princes Gate is gaining renewed attention as Merlin at War, the third volume in the Frank Merlin mysteries, is scheduled for publication this October. (The second novel, Stalin’s Gold, was also reissued by London Wall in Nov. 2016.)

Throughout this series, DCI (Detective Chief Investigator) Frank Merlin of Scotland
Brittany Hood
Aug 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, 2017
I've read quite the variety of detective novels in my day, but this one has definitely been a bit different.

Detective Frank Merlin is stuck in the police force at Scotland Yard, when he really wants to be in service for his beloved England on the battlefield of WWII. But crime does not stop in war, and with Scotland Yard low on man power, Merlin is forced to stay.

A young woman, in the employ of the American Embassy, has been found murdered in the river. Merlin and Sargent Sam Bridges begin quest
entertaining enough for a long flight
Judith Gurney
Jul 22, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Princes Gate is an engrossing and atmospheric tale, set in 1940, told with economy of style and hugely cinematic in its descriptions of place as well as character. There's definitely a movie here-hope it gets made. Frank Merlin our hero is an engaging man; an English unmarried Maigret if you like, living in dingy war-worn London-- the no man's land which the characters inhabit. Merlin slowly pulls them into his orbit. as he says on
P62 (a page some reviewers reportedly turn to see if they want to

Read all my reviews on

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review, thank you!

Princes Gate is the first book in the Frank Merlin series.

I like books set in London, even better when it's in a historical setting. Set at the early days of World War Two the tension is palpable. When a servant of the American Embassy is found murdered, it's immediately clear this isn't going to be an easy in
Curt Fox
Jun 12, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads
Via Goodreads First Reads:

As Ellis' first novel, there's no surprise that it falls back on procedure and setting more so than character. No question, fleshing out the pertinent parties can be the most daunting challenge, and while that's likely the novel's thinnest point, it's by no means bereft of quality.
The book is subbed as a Frank Merlin novel, and there's enough promise here to convince me to keep an eye out for the next one involving the swarthy detective. Merlin's assoctiates are the st
Jun 11, 2014 rated it liked it
Set just before WWII, this book is about a murder of a woman who works at the American Embassy in London. The current ambassador thinks America should not support Britain in the war as they do not have the resources to win; he believes they should come to a truce, a settlement with Hitler. In general I found the characters well developed, enough background provided for me to get an overall idea about them. For example, from the behaviour, language and general attitude of Detective Chief Inspecto ...more
Ant Koplowitz
Jan 17, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2015
Princes Gate by Mark Ellis started with so much promise; I love wartime thrillers. It all started well, the death of an innocent secretary at the US embassy, shortly followed by the gruesome murder of a wide boy chauffeur. But then the story starts to sag, as though the author wasn't sure which way to go and what to do with his characters.

Lovers of the excellent television drama Foyle's War will be drawn to this book, but I think most people will be disappointed. The story doesn't seem to hang
Susan Johnston
Jul 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
Books about London are always enjoyable and a crime mystery set in London increases the pleasure. Put the story into London during the Phoney War between the declaration of hostilities and the Blitzkrieg and you have the makings of a story rife with potential.
Mr. Ellis has created an interesting hero, Frank Merlin, who is investigating two murders that have common threads- they all lead back to the American Embassy which, at the time, is headed by Joseph Kennedy, father of JFK.
Mr. Kennedy was a
Rob Kitchin
Aug 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
Princes Gate is the first in a war-time series featuring London-based DCI Frank Merlin, a widowed copper of Spanish descent. This first book is set during the ‘phoney war’ of early 1940, a time when many hoped that an agreement could be reach with Hitler rather than pursuing total war. Ellis taps into the political movements around such hopes as Merlin investigates two murders linked to the US embassy and Joseph Kennedy, a strong proponent of appeasement. Merlin is a likeable character, the stor ...more
Sue Law
I don't know why, but I re-read this because I couldn't remember reading it. As I got into it I started to remember. A solid police procedural, set in London in early 1940. A woman's body is recovered from the Thames a couple of days after a hit and run in Birdcage walk. The Met are short staffed as men leave to volunteer to fight in France, so DCI Merlin's team end up with both cases. The woman turns out to be a secretary at the US Ambassadors residence in Princes Gate, and diplomatic niceties ...more
I'd go more toward a 3.5/3.75 than a flat 3.0 but that is obviously not an option.

The later part of the novel was easier to move through than the first 2/3rds. The plot and various pieces would intrigue me but with so many new characters being introduced at once in several places, and then interchangeably referenced by their first or last names or titles, it was (at times) difficult to track who was who and the relationship between certain people. The seemingly dissociated story lines coming tog
Oct 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
Set in 1940, during the time many Britons still hoped Appeasement would work, the hero is Merlin, a detective who longs to enlist but whose boss refuses to let him go.

An emigre scientist is killed in a hit and run accident. Then a woman is murdered and thrown into the Thames.

There's nothing to connect them, even when the woman is found to be an employee of the American Embassy in London, whose absent ambassador is none other than Joseph Kennedy.

Then another Embassy employee is killed, and Merlin
Mar 19, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ellis is a clever writer. His setting, during 'the Phoney War' shows Britain going about its business almost normally, but with the ever-present atmosphere of foreboding as appeasers and aggressors wrangle in diplomatic offices. It is cold, miserable and austere for most, juxtaposed with the high life being enjoyed by diplomats. Three murders, inter-connected need solving, and there are heavy connections to the US Embassy, where further subterfuge is going on. Ellis, somewhat bravely, uses the a ...more
Jun 19, 2014 rated it liked it
Princess Gate is a crime thriller set in England, London, beginning in the first years of World War II. There is even a section where men discuss whether they should keep up trade with Herr Hitler, which I thought was interesting.
The book begins when the body of a woman is found floating by the shore. She turns out to be work for the US Embassy. There are two other murders that seem to be connected to the US Embassy, it is Merlin’s job to work through and find the killer(s).
I’m not sure if it’
Jun 25, 2014 rated it liked it
I always like to read books set in London, from early 1900's back into the middle ages.
This book is dripping with fog and dampness. It completely captures the ambiance of the location.
This was the first book I have read from Mark Ellis, but you don't need to read books in order to be able to follow the characters or plot lines, and I always appreciate that.
I also appreciate the way the author addresses the sensitive issues in this story.
However, it just didn't quite come together for me in th
Mar 30, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Set in London in WWII, when the blackouts provided perfect opportunity for big increases in murders and rape (which they did), and there were fewer police to deal with them because everybody was in the military. I had never really thought about that. The murder novel was good, but middling. It was a bit like watching a British TV show. The murders being investigated happened to staff at the US Embassy, where Joe Kennedy was the ambassador at the time, and the novel correctly points to all Joe's ...more
Aug 09, 2014 rated it liked it
My problem in reading this book is that the plot revolves, to a great extent, around the involvement of old Joe Kennedy, who was then Ambassador to Britain, with the appeasement efforts of various parties in Europe and the States. He wanted desperately to keep America (and Britain) from fighting Hitler.
One of my all-time favorite books about this period, Citizens of London, is a non-fiction account of what happened during and shortly after this period; it is still fresh in my mind.
Princes Gate p
Manchester Military History Society (MMHS)
A tidy police procedural based in London at the start of World War 2.

The main character Inspector Merlin is very much in the "Foyles War" vein, but with Spanish origins he makes an unusual character.

The author captures well the feel of the period and it appears well researched, but did find some modern words and phrases jarring. For example the police talk of forensics, which sounds too modern a word, but I could well be wrong. Another scene describes the sounds of a police siren across the rive
Feb 05, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I found that this really dragged. It spent so much time kind of bumbling around with pieces of the story that didn't really matter all that much, then just sort of threw everything together at the end a bit too perfectly.

There was a lot more potential with the war time and espionage hints that never played out. Shame.
Jul 12, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads
Great build up of suspense, the ending was a tad disappointing however, like it conveniently wrapped up.
The writing itself is very easy to read which is both good and bad, for the time setting I felt like the English should have been more complex as it felt kid of colloquial. I may have felt like that as direct speech overpowered the text. Variations of speech, such as indirect discourse, could have shaken up the chunkyness of two people conversing to each other as well as descriptions of action
Oct 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Intriguing first novel by Mr Ellis

this book is a well crafted world war II time period murder mystery surrounding the American embassy employees. Frank Merlin is the main investigator in a case (ends up covering a few) that turns out to be a web of deceit, lies, accidents, and family honour. Initially, the book was a little slow to grasp, but the different characters were soon drawn together to complete the connections within the case. Needless to say, you are left wondering to the end. Very wel
Feb 01, 2013 added it
Shelves: mystery
Inspector Merlin trying to solve the murder of two young people that work for the American Embassy of Joseph Kennedy in the early days of WWII. You get the atmosphere of the London that waited for the Luftwaffe to bomb, a little about the isolationist attitude of Kennedy. There are actually 3 murders that at first seem to be unconnected but after some investigation and leg work it all comes together after a fashion. I liked the atmosphere of book and I think since this was his first his characte ...more
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Former barrister and businessman from Swansea. His first crime thriller, Princes Gate, set in WW2 London and featuring charismatic Scotland Yard detective Frank Merlin, was published in Summer 2011. Frank Merlin 2, Stalin's Gold, published March 1 2014. Merlin 3 Merlin At War being published in July 2017.
"Masterful" Bestselling historian Andrew Roberts' review of Stalin's Gold
"Ellis does a wonderf
More about Mark Ellis...

Other Books in the Series

DCI Frank Merlin (3 books)
  • Stalin's Gold (DCI Frank Merlin, #2)
  • Merlin at War (DCI Frank Merlin, #3)
“Lavrentiy Pavlovich Beria was not used to feeling intimidated. It was rather his job in life to intimidate others.” 1 likes
“He didn’t give a damn for the defeatist Kennedy, or indeed for that stuffed-shirt Chamberlain, whom Hitler had comprehensively hoodwinked. Nothing should stand in the way of a murder investigation, however lowly the victim. No doubt Joan’s fate would seem unimportant in the greater scheme of things whenever the Luftwaffe got round to bombing London, but that was nothing to him. It was his job to seek out the truth behind her death, regardless.” 0 likes
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