Staying in with J. F. Burgess

A place of Reckoning cover

I’m delighted to be joining Love Books Group in commencing the blog tour for J. F. Burgess today, by staying in with the author and finding out all about his latest book. My thanks to Kelly for inviting me to participate.

Staying in with J. F. Burgess

Welcome to Linda’s Book Bag Jon. Thank you for agreeing to stay in with me. Tell me, which of your books have you brought along to share this evening and why have you chosen it?

A place of Reckoning cover

A Place of Reckoning. I chose this because it’s my latest crime novel and naturally I’m keen to spread the word about it. The book took around nine months to write and publish and I really enjoyed the process because the research I did for inspiration was fascinating.

The book shows the huge social divide between rich and poor in society, and poignantly reveals how, deep down, both ends of the class scale still suffer from family feuds and dysfunction. The rich and powerful can be equally as dangerous as the criminals in our society. Greed, power and the protection of reputations can lead supposedly respectable men to do desperate things.

The wealthy elite can hire the finest lawyers money can buy to represent them in court, as well as prestigious public relations firms to spin their criminality into acts of charity and goodwill. Such individuals are often shielded from prosecution by corporate law and their greedy allies who have similar interests. Street criminals cannot afford such luxuries and resort to murder, kidnap and other criminality.

When these two worlds collide, the consequences are deadly!

I bet they are. It must have been fascinating to delve into those worlds.

To ensure my facts were accurate I read and dissected a book written by a journalist who spends tons of time with various traveller communities, in both Ireland and the UK. A retired Crime Squad officer from Ireland contacted me to say he enjoyed the book immensely because the characters were similar to those in his daily investigations. So my research really paid off. Here’s what he had to say…

“I am a retired Crime Squad Officer in Ireland and your book and details are incredible and almost the same when I was serving. I could go on but I better not. Great book!”

How brilliant J.F. It must be incredibly gratifying to have that level of endorsement. So, what can we expect from an evening in with A Place of Reckoning?

In my opinion, the most powerful stories reflect how society is at any given point in time. Classic books that spring to mind are Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables (the Napoleonic Wars and the French Revolution), Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist (Victorian poverty and the Poor Laws) and Irvine Welsh’s cult classic Train Spotting (post-punk culture before the rave scene kicked off the second summer of love in the late 80s).

Bearing this in mind, A Place of Reckoning fits into the police procedural category, but it’s so much more that. In true Agatha Christie style, there are several unexpected, shocking twists, and a sense of unease that something isn’t right throughout, a burning undertow, connecting a deeply flawed rich family with dark secrets to historical crimes that could destroy them.

You are REALLY making me want to read A Place of Reckoning as soon as I can. I’m thrilled I have it on my TBR pile.

With any story I think it’s important to make the characters memorable and relatable. Readers love a fly on the wall look into the lives of others, especially those characters they can empathise with. I think that’s the whole reason crime dramas are hugely popular on TV these days: viewers, like readers, love to follow the protagonist’s journey and see how, with the help of a team, they can overcome what at first appears insurmountable.

Plotting intricate deceptions to engage readers’ thoughts and feelings adds to the intrigue and makes the whole journey more immersive and enjoyable whilst they try to solve the main mystery.

I think your readers will love how the story develops through creative plot structure and deceptive character psychology until the jaw-dropping finale my readers tell me they never saw coming.

Here are a few quotes from reader reviews:

 ‘Be ready to lose some sleep over this book. It has five stars for a reason… I wish I could give it ten.’ M Kapugi, Goodreads

‘What an amazing storytelling talent J.F.Burgess has!!! A Place of Reckoning is an utterly gripping psychological thriller: a real page-turner.’ Audrey Gibson, Goodreads

‘DI Blake and Lucy Stryker make a fantastic team to solve this dark mysterious case. It’s a crime thriller full of suspense which will grip you until the end… hugely enjoyable!’ Shiva Patel, Goodreads

In conclusion…

A Place of Reckoning is a chilling psychological murder mystery full of suspense and deadly twists, that shows believable characters and the everyday struggles they face in an ever-changing world ruled by deviously corrupt and dangerous people.

Because when the powerful are pointing the finger, you’d better watch your back…

I’m absolutely intrigued by the insight you’ve given us into A Place of Reckoning. It sounds dramatic and absorbing.  

What else have you brought along and why?

I’ve brought along the inspiration and ideas behind the DI Tom Blake crime series.

I’d like to provide some context and background to what influenced me to create DI Tom Blake.

Readers can gain further insight here.

I’ve taken a look. Brilliant. What about setting too?


There is a strong sense of place in my books. Stoke-on-Trent is my hometown and since the 1980s it’s gone through some very tough times with the loss of all its industrial jobs in the mines and steel industry. Famous pottery firms, such as Royal Doulton, collectively shed another thirty thousand jobs in the 90s. This, combined with ten years of austerity and major local government cuts, has led to a major rise in crime. This is reflected in Cops Like Us, a BBC2 documentary following the Hanley police who inspired my books. Those officers even used the same dilapidated 1960s station before moving into the fire station next door.

Staffordshire Constabulary is one of the most cut forces in the UK, with a loss of over 560 officers. Because mental health charities have had their funding cut by local government, Hanley’s officers are left to cope with issues caused by unemployment and addiction. Officers now find themselves dealing with non-police related problems, such as suicides and mental ill health, on top of tackling crime and the rising addiction to a street drug called Monkey Dust, which causes users to become violently unpredictable and gain extreme strength. It’s inspiring to see what a wonderful job the Constabulary’s depleted ranks do in the face of such complex challenges.

All this real crime and post-industrial dereliction has helped and inspired me to develop DI Tom Blake, his team and the crimes they investigate. That’s not to say other locations don’t feature in my books. We go to Miami, Ibiza and Turkey in first book!

This has been so interesting J.F.. Thank you very much indeed for affording us a glimpse into A Place of Reckoning. I think it sounds fabulous:

A Place of Reckoning


Three women. Two bodies. One deadly secret.

Pottery tycoon Charles Lancaster knows who kidnapped his wife.

He’s sure it was the brutally dangerous ex bare-knuckle fighter, Patrick Dunne. Patrick promised to avenge his son who died in a tragic accident in one of Charles’ factories. It’s an open and shut case…

 …until a headless body turns up in a remote Peak District pool, its back tattooed with a cryptic Tarot card. As Detective Inspector Tom Blake and FBI profiler Lucy Stryker dig into the mystery, they unearth long-buried secrets about an historic conspiracy and a clandestine cult. But with a sadistic killer on the loose, and everyone hiding things, it’s not just the victim’s life that hangs in the balance. Will anyone get out alive?

Because when the powerful are pointing the finger, you’d better watch your back…

A Place of Reckoning is available for purchase here.

About J. F Burgess


J. F. Burgess grew up in Stoke-on-Trent and spent many years doing less than ideal jobs in and around the Potteries five towns, before finally taking the plunge and quitting work to follow his creative side. As a keen horse-racing fan, he started off in 2007 self-publishing betting how-to manuals. This is his main business, but his real passion is for crime fiction, both reading and writing.

Inspired by authors such as Mel Sherratt, Peter James, Val McDermid, James Oswald, Kate Ellis, Martina Cole and Ian Rankin, and in need of a new challenge, J. F. Burgess decided to try his hand at writing crime fiction.

After months of hard slog and sheer determination, he finished his first novel: The Killer Shadow Thieves. This is the first in a planned series of gritty crime fiction books set in Stoke on Trent, involving charismatic DI Tom Blake and his larger-than-life sidekick DS Jon Murphy.

The follow-up, The Deadly Legacy, is a cult serial killer thriller, with a 200-year-old secret at the heart of a plot full of unexpected twists, which push the relationships of a rich pottery family into life-threatening conflicts.

J. F. Burgess writes tense, gripping, crime fiction mysteries with a twist – or urban crossbreed, as he calls it. His thrillers take you deep inside the criminal mind.

J.F. Burgess lives with my wife and family in Stoke-on-Trent, England.

For more information, visit J.F. Burgess’ website, find him on Facebook, or follow him on Twitter @burgess1012.

There’s more with these other bloggers too:

tour poster

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