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The Sholes Key (An Evans and Blackwell Mystery Book 1) [Kindle Edition]

Clarissa Draper
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (70 customer reviews)

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Book Description

All across London, single mothers are vanishing. Margaret Hill, mother of two, walks out of her house and is never seen again. A month later, Carrie-Anne Morgans takes her two-year-old son for a walk in the park and disappears, leaving him alone in his stroller. Lorna McCauley leaves her London flat in the early hours of the morning to buy medicine for her sick child and does not return.

Newly-promoted Detective Inspector Theophilus Blackwell is assigned the case of Lorna McCauley that first appears to be a simple case of mid-life crisis and child abandonment. Elsewhere in London, MI5 analyst, Sophia Evans, is working undercover to catch an animal rights group responsible for targeted bombings. As Sophia's case (and her personal life) fall to pieces, she receives a strange envelope in the mail. It contains a picture of Lorna McCauley's lifeless face along with a daunting code.

Now the police and MI5 are forced to work together to stop the murders, and Sophia must find her way into the terrifying mind of a serial killer.

"Draper does a good job of balancing the heavy with the light...." ~How Mysterious!

"The characters are complex and I still don’t have Sophia totally figured out, but that’s okay because it makes for interesting reading. She sometimes does the unexpected and puts her foot in it, which is something many of us can relate to." ~The Reader's Suite

"After reading the first page of this mystery, I was immediately hooked, and I devoured the rest! Author Clarissa Draper has penned a wonderfully engrossing read with a fantastic cast of characters and a tightly plotted storyline. With plenty of twists and turns along the way, the novel kept me entertained until the very end." ~Marsha Moore, author 24 Hours London

Editorial Reviews


I loved this book. I was hooked from the great prologue when we meet the killer. The characters are well drawn and thoroughly convincing, the writing is tight, the pacing is excellent, and the clever storyline kept me guessing right to the end. --British crime novelist Shirley Wells, Dead Calm

The Sholes Key is a no-business, take off running, kind of book. I don't think there is a single page wasted, a single word that is used incorrectly, and everything means something. You think a detail is extraneous and she comes back to it later and you think...damn, why didn't I see that? --Michael Offut, Slipstream

About the Author

Clarissa Draper was born and raised in Canada. She now lives in Mexico where she spends most of her time composing, planning, and writing code-based mysteries. Although she has written from an early age, she started writing full time in 2006 and is currently writing her third mystery in the Evans/Blackwell series.

Product Details

  • File Size: 701 KB
  • Print Length: 336 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: WiDo Publishing (April 25, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007XU212K
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #239,158 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
45 of 47 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sholes Key May 10, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Yesterday, having only just bought this book, I glanced at the first few pages - meaning to read it when I'd finished what I was in the middle of. I came up for breath three chapters later! My other books had to wait patiently as I dived back in.
What a ride! Clarissa has created such credible and interesting characters and a tightly wound, multi-layered plot featuring a spook, a detective, cryptic codes and several dead bodies.
Book one of the Evans and Blackwell mysteries, Sholes Key is set in present day London. As I read, it played out like a BBC series in my head and kept me guessing right up to the end.
I can't wait for the next book in the series.
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent story, well-written, chilling May 23, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
Crime fiction is one of my favorite genres, and this novel didn't disappoint me. I already knew that Clarissa Draper has a mind for crime details, and wasn't surprised the way she sustains the tension of the story through well-wrought characters and fascinating details of analysis and police investigation. The story is set in London where Sophia Evans, an analyst, is trying to decipher some cryptograms that is the key to stopping a serial killer. They all know he will strike again, and Sophia believes she might be his next target. With no time to lose, she has Detective Inspector Theophilis (Theo) Blackwell helping her. The characters are fascinating, the handling of multiple viewpoints excellent. The prologue is stunning, and sets the tone of the rest of the novel with its superb description and dialogue. Here is a brief example of the level of writing throughout the novel:

(The woman who is about to be murdered says) "I'm a good mother, I am. Taking care of Stevie alone is hard work. Never a break. Work and then home, no social life. I can't remember going to a movie above the rating of Universal." She laughed. "At least I have my books, eh?" She punched him in the arm. (The killer thinks) Why does she talk so much? Is she nervous? No need to feel nervous. Death isn't painful, only life is painful.

Superb description and dialogue propel the story forward. I was hooked from page one, and read obsessively as much as I could for two days. I was up until after midnight to get to the end. I highly recommend this book for lovers of crime fiction, and am so looking forward to this author's next Evans and Blackwell code-based mystery!
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Good Mystery Thriller That Kept Me Guessing May 30, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Loved the fast pace action and the characters. The clever code expert and the unhappy police inspector worked well together. Ms Draper kept throwing in a red-herring to keep me scratching my head. Scenes played out in my mind, and I felt frustrated when I had to put the book down.

A totally satisfying read.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition
Wow! My head is still spinning and I'm totally creeped out by all the secret watching and spying. This was a great read. Fast paced and intense. I'm glad there will be more books with Blackwell and Evans because they reminded me of Anne Perry's Charlotte and Thomas Pitt series--just modern London instead of Victorian London--and I ate those up.

The characters were distinctive and believable. I felt for Blackwell and his loss and worried over Sophia's need to see the good in certain people. Draper unfolded the mystery at a perfect pace, but kept all the most important things a mystery until the end. Loved it!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Thrilling Mystery June 22, 2012
I enjoyed this mystery/thriller, which takes place in London. Sophia Evans, an MI 5 decoding specialist, is assigned to work undercover to find a key to a code that will help catch an animal rights group, responsible for bombings, before they set off another bomb. The other main character, Detective Inspector Theophilus Blackwell, is working on a case of a mother who has disappeared. The police don't know if this is a case of child abandonment or if the woman has been abducted. Events bring Sophia and Theo together to solve both the animal rights bombing case and catch what turns out to be a serial killer on the loose in London.

Clarissa Draper is excellent in setting the stage for murder. You know someone is about to get it and the suspense the author creates is chilling. I was also unsure until the end about the man Sophia was assigned to cover. Was he involved in the bombings or was Sophia correct in her hopes that there would be a future for the two of them? She had become unprofessionally way too close to him. It was also interesting to read about Sophia's attempts to solve codes and to learn about Mr. Sholes, the inventor of the QWERTY typewriter keyboard, still in use today.

I have only a couple of minor issues with The Sholes Key. All through the book, I had no real sense that this was taking place in London. The atmosphere of the city and its people was not there for me and there were a few instances where the English was more Canadian than British. However, this did not affect my enjoyment of the book and, I'm sure, will not be noticed by most people this side of the Atlantic. I am looking forward to the next installment in the Evans/Blackwell series.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition
The Sholes Key is a real page turner. It's a book that reminds me of Whispers by Dean Koontz. I don't know if any of you read any Dean Koontz, but it has that same edge-of-your-seat thrill that I expect from one of his novels.

The Sholes Key takes place in London, and Clarissa immerses us in action pretty much from page one. Furthermore, I got so into the story that I actually felt like I was in Britain. The dialogue carries the accents that you'd expect to hear when visiting there from America. As a fan of James Bond movies, I really liked this. When I finished, I was so impressed with the book that I did a little research. I guess that this is a book that's part of a larger series, however, it easily stands on its own. I'm definitely going to pick up the others.

The Sholes Key is a cerebral read. Now as a reader, you might ask why would I say that? One of Clarissa's characters, Sophia, is a genius code-breaker. And the kind of code that she has to break in this novel is similar in difficulty to the stuff you see in Dan Brown's Davinci Code. And if she fails, the stakes are quite high. You see, there's a monstrous serial killer on the loose, and he's strangling and mutilating women. And just for your information, this book gets gory. If you don't like gore, you probably will be grossed out by the book. But it's written so well that you might want to chance it in order to read a thrilling novel.

As far as the mystery in the book goes, Clarissa is an incredible plotter, using numbers and codes, and hints to provide just enough information, that you feel compelled to try and figure out the puzzle. But when you can't (because it's hard) she does give you an answer at the end.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great mystery
Haven't read a really good British mystery in a while. This one was amazing! I thought the characters (except for the killer of course) were very relatable. Sophie was my favorite! Read more
Published 2 months ago by Kate Nestor
4.0 out of 5 stars Well written
I loved the suspense, even though some parts I wished had turned out differently. The characters are engaging and likeable. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Patti
4.0 out of 5 stars I was entertained by a different kind of heroine: a beautiful and...
I was entertained by a different kind of heroine: a beautiful and brainy cryptanalyst-mathematician. Inspector Blackwell doesn't stand out though. Read more
Published 5 months ago by ahammerquilts
4.0 out of 5 stars Taut thriller
Well done bit if work that, while working through a routine serial killer plot, neatly layers in some deep emotional turmoil in the lead characters. Read more
Published 5 months ago by J. Wilson
3.0 out of 5 stars interesting
I did like the book. It was interesting & intriguing. I felt for Sophia. She was really cool. Very good read.
Published 6 months ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Great edge-of-your-seat, mystery/suspense spy-thriller story.
There are lots of puzzles, twists and turns in this edge-of-your-seat, mystery/suspense spy-thriller story. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Michelle Wallace
5.0 out of 5 stars Very interesting read
Enjoyed this book a lot kept your attention and so well written. You will enjoy reading this book. Give it a try. Darn good book

Penny Garrison
Published 9 months ago by Penny Garrison
4.0 out of 5 stars Pretty good read.
Good book and really grabbed me with twists towards the end of the book. Enjoyed it. Will read more in this series.
Published 11 months ago by VIRGINIA CROWFOOT
5.0 out of 5 stars great story!
We'll told story and character development! Had a hard time putting this one down! Looking forward to reading more of this series.
Published 13 months ago by Drew P. Griffin
5.0 out of 5 stars Solid read
Enjoyable mystery with aspects of suspense. It took my mind off real world stress and allowed me to enter another realm.
Published 13 months ago by Pastor Kaos
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More About the Author

Clarissa Draper, a Canadian currently living in Mexico, spends most of her time composing, planning, and writing code-based mysteries. Although she has written from an early age, she started writing full time in 2006, and is currently writing her third mystery in the Draper/Blackwell series.


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