Wednesday 18 September 2019



I’m dead, for all intents and purposes. Nobody knows I’m alive… 

Ben Bracken is on the run for his life. Keeping a low profile from the agencies seeking to silence him, he finds refuge in the quiet town of Horning. Working in a boat yard and lodging with an older couple, Eric and Dot, Ben uses this time to plan. He needs to escape, and realising his only chance will reveal his whereabouts to some unsavoury characters, he plans every detail. Little does he know, even that won’t be enough…

Just before he walks away, murder strikes the quiet town. Ben cannot leave until he is sure that he has not brought any further trouble to the townsfolk. Will he be able to exact revenge? One thing is certain, there is a lot more going on in the town of Horning than meets the eye…

The Penny Black is action packed from beginning to end, keeping you guessing right the way through.

The Penny Black is the third in author Robert Parker's Ben Bracken series after A Wanted Man and Morte Point . Bracken is laying low in a small Norfolk village, after the fallout from the climactic events in the last book. He very much remains a person of interest to Her Majesty's Government.

Horning is the perfect place to regroup, reassess and plot his next move - false papers and most likely permanent exile out of the country. Village life has it's advantages - an unassuming job, a welcoming elderly couple as landlords, some local hostelries and respect for the stranger in their midst.

So far, so good but you know it's not going to last. A trip to the bank raises a red flag and alerts the authorities to Bracken's sort of whereabouts and a puzzling conversation with his document provider raises questions about Horning's apparent sleepiness.

Man on the run, village life, black ops pursuit, a confrontation, a watery grave - almost, recuperation, a romantic interlude, a sickening murder, delinquent youth, a drug operation, a criminal bigwig and nemesis, grief and anger, history lessons, an unlikely ally, a helicopter, ordinance and heavy gunfire, humongous egos and a few scores getting settled.

I quite liked the lower key setting and more localised conflict in this one, as opposed to the international dynamics of the previous book. Bracken almost manages to pass off as an ordinary Joe doing ordinary things.... trips to the pub, fishing outings, friendly meals and conversations, before the boy scout, Dudley Do-right part of his brain takes over and he again becomes a man on a mission. Sometimes he's his own worst enemy, sometimes circumstances dictates his course of action. Either way, he's an interesting guy to spend some time with.

4 from 5

Robert Parker has also written a standalone country noir type novel - Crook's Hollow

Read - September, 2019
Published - 2019
Page count - 226
Source - review copy from author
Format - paperback


  1. This does sound as though it's got a good sense of place and local culture, Col. And that 'ordinary guy on the run' premise can work really well. Glad you enjoyed it.

    1. I quite liked the setting, as it is familiar to me from family holidays, Margot. Lots to like with "a man on the run" saga.

  2. Nothing I like better than a good philatelic thriller . . .

    1. Ha - you'll be needing to read some of the Keller stories from Lawrence Block. He gets into stamp collecting. Here it's a pub in the village where events climax.