Tuesday 16 August 2016


This week 2 from Australian author William Marshall (not to be confused with the 13th Century 1st Earl of Pembroke) and not an author I’ve read just yet,

Marshall wrote a 16 book series – Yellowthread Street set in Hong King. These were published from the mid-70s until the late 90s.

Apparently there was a British TV series based on the books, but I’m not familiar with it.

The full series is…..
Yellowthread Street
1. Yellowthread Street (1975)
2. The Hatchet Man (1976)
3. Gelignite (1975)
5. Thin Air (1977)
5. Skulduggery (1979)
6. Sci-fi (1981)
7. Perfect End (1981)
8. War Machine (1982)
9. The Far Away Man (1984)
10. Roadshow (1985)
11. Head First (1986)
12. Frogmouth (1987)
13. Out of Nowhere (1988)
14. Inches (1994)
15. Nightmare Syndrome (1997)
16. To the End (1998)

Interspersed with these were another 8 novels, but To The End (1998) is his last published work.
According to information I can find on the internet, he’s still with us. Born 1944, he’s in his early 70s now.

The Hong Kong books evidently combine violence, suspense and slapstick humour in his twist on the police procedural.

The Hatchet Man (1976)

Postman Lawrence Shang was watching a film called The Axeman of Shanghai when his life abruptly ended. Carpet trader Edward Peng was enjoying The Last Picture Show. Death in both cases was instantaneous, caused by a small calibre handgun used at a range of two feet.

With their deaths begins a series of apparently motiveless murders in one cinema after another across the Hong Bay district of Hong Kong - and a nightmarish investigation for Harry Feiffer, Detective Chief Inspector, Royal Hong Kong Police Force, and his staff at the Yellowthread Police Station.

The Hatchet Man's next victim is a sailor off an American ship. Then a German is shot in an auction room. There's an unaccountable killing on a train near the Chinese border. And the crazy old Mrs Mortimer from the Old People's Home steps in front of a tram . . . And for Harry Feiffer, time is running out.

Full of real police procedure, suspense and fine irony, but with whole extra dimensions of the surreal and the poignant, the Yellowthread Street novels have no real compare. For those open to their charms, this series is a hidden masterpiece of crime fiction.

The Far Away Man (1984)

The Far Away Man (A Yellowthread Street).............................Mr. Mui's hysterical screams have no effect on the killer with the distant , lifeless eyes . 'I don't even know you!' the shopkeeper pleads , but the gunman shows no emotion . Calmly , silently , the Far Away Man raises his pistol and squeezes the trigger.....Police work is seldom routine in Yellowthread Street , in the seedy Hong Bay district of Hong Kong .....


  1. The Hong Kong setting intrigues me, Col. I'll be interested in what you think of these when you get to them.

    1. Margot - me too. I've only read the one book with a Hong Kong setting before - a spy thriller with China-UK HONG KONG handover undertones. The timing of the books are also pre-tech - so another bonus.

  2. I love the Yellowthread Street mysteries (think I've mentioned this in the past) and wish Marshall had continued writing them. Ah well.

    1. Glen, I think it was your enthusiasm encouraged me to try them.

  3. These are nice editions. I want to read more of these, but you know how that goes. Too many books.

    1. Too many books - I think I'll have that on my gravestone!

  4. Another new author and series. I like the pre-China setting and police procedural in Hong Kong. Look forward to your take on them, Col.

    1. Prashant, I'm intrigued by the setting, looking forward to starting this series one of these years!

  5. I read Yellowthread St many years ago, but never followed up. Perhaps one day..

    1. Moira, you're still one ahead of me then!