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A.J. MacKenzie Books In Order

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Publication Order of Hardcastle & Chaytor Mysteries Books

The Body on the Doorstep (2016)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Body in the Ice (2017)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Body in the Boat (2018)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of The Hundred Years' War Books

A Flight of Arrows (2021)Description / Buy at Amazon
A Clash of Lions (2021)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Fallen Sword (2022)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of The Simon Merrivale Mysteries Books

By Treason We Perish (2023)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of War of 1812 Books

The Ballad of John MacLea (2019)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Hunt for the North Star (2019)Description / Buy at Amazon
Invasion (2019)Description / Buy at Amazon

AJ Mackenzie is the pen name used by Anglo-Canadian husband and wife Marilyn Livingstone and Morgen Witzel. The pair write management and non-fiction books under their names but write fiction books under AJ Mackenzie. According to the couple, writing as a husband and wife comes with its own share of problems; one of them is finding the ideal time to work together as each of them is always committed to other activities besides writing.

Marilyn Livingstone was born in Woodstock, and after living in the Toronto suburbs, she relocated to the West Coast, where she majored in history and met Morgen at the University of Victoria. On the other hand, Morgen Witzel was raised in northern British Columbia. Like his wife, he attended the University of Victoria and studied history. They moved to British Columbia, where Morgen began a career in writing and as a lecturer on business and management. He has written and co-authored 25 books and articles for several newspapers and journals.
One of Morgen’s books focused on the Indian business group Tata and resulted in him visiting the country several times, where an Indian business journalist dubbed him as an “intimidating bearded guru.” Morgen began reading historical novels very young and praises popular authors such as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle for transforming him into a historical writer. Among his influences are John Buchan, Rafael Sabatini, Lindsey Davis, and George MacDonald.

According to an interview published online, the pair admitted to having very busy schedules, Marylin is a school federation governor, a diocesan synod who helps running two choirs, while Morgen is a lecturer is also a member of the ethics committee for the local police force and a charity trustee dealing with alcohol and drug issues. Even though living in the same house, finding the ideal time to sit down and brainstorm together is not as easy as it seems.

The Body on the Doorstep is the first Romney Marsh mystery series book. The novel takes place on the Kent coast in 1796, and we meet Reverend Marcus as he’s interrupted at midnight by a dying man on his doorstep on the unprotected coastline of Kent. As he bends down to listen to the dying man’s final words, the Reverend narrowly misses a bullet by a whisker but is shocked by the man’s final words, “Tell… Peter…. Mark… Trace.” During an autopsy, a rifle bullet is retrieved from the man, and the reverend discovers that a customs officer named Curtis Miller was shot dead in a fight with smugglers less than two miles from his home. This intrigues Marcus as he cannot find out the real identity of the man killed at his doorstep and hence begins asking questions, and so does widowed Amelia Chaytor.

Used to being considered an equal by her dead husband, Mrs. Chaytor is just like the reverend, seeking answers to ease the pain of her loneliness. Amelia and the Reverend soon discover more than they had bargained for, with everyone in the local town seemingly having something to do with the black-market smuggling. For 39-year-old Reverend Marcus, this intricate puzzle keeps his mind occupied after being considered one of the best minds in the church of England and destined for great things in life.

Despite being a drunken sot and a thorn to his superior, Marcus is also a popular man as he turns a blind eye to the local smuggling activities in his little town. Having gotten a reputation for his liking for port, Marcus tries to curb his excesses while at the same time acting as an intoxicated buffoon, while at the same time aware that his investigations are attracting the attention of the shadowy figures lurking in the darkness, ready to block the path to the truth.

Both Marcus and Mrs. Amelia play their role in contributing to the amateur sleuthing. While the investigation of Miller is corrupted, they begin to get a glimpse of just how far the smuggling chain of command they have discovered goes. As Marcus is warned by his superiors not to tarnish his reputation as a man of the cloths, his behavior, and pursuit of the investigation while under the influence of alcohol remain undeterred.

AJ Mackenzie did a fantastic job crafting a cleverly convoluted plot packed with plenty of surprises. The pace is brisk while the inimitable Marcus and Amelia make a lively duo of amateur sleuths, and either cynical realism, witty banter, and genuine interest in seeing justice served makes them a compelling duo. Their ever-growing respect and liking for each other as the story progresses is well plotted, while their honesty helps flesh them out. The overall narrative is humorous and colorful, with a wide range of intriguing supporting characters, including Mrs. Kemp, artist JMW Turner, and two old ladies rumored to be witches or Sapphic lovers.

The Ballad of John MacLea is AJ Mackenzie’s first book in The War of 1812 Epics book series. It’s a book about a battle of lies, a ring of spies where only one man can alter the full course of the war. Meet Captain John MacLea, stationed with the British militia in Upper Canada at the end of 1812, who charts his path against a backdrop of murky allegiances and certain imminent danger.

MacLea, tasked with eliminating enemy spies and averting an elaborate espionage network, quickly uncovers that a traitor has planned a catastrophic plot within their ranks. Events escalate out of control, resulting in a dramatic confrontation aboard a hijacked American warship en route to Niagara Falls. Failure could mean losing the war; failure isn’t an option.

The Ballad of John MacLea is a well research and highly successful novel, a must-read for fans of Iain Gale, Adrian Goldsworthy and Bernard Cornwell. It is gripping, fascinating, and grounded in thorough historical research. The book tells of an interesting historical point with the events of a little-known battle in the United Kingdom. As usual, the AJ Mackenzie duo crafted a well-intriguing narrative with likable main and supporting characters.

Book Series In Order » Authors » A.J. MacKenzie

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