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James Melville / Hampton Charles Books In Order

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Publication Order of Tetsuo Otani Books

as James Melville
The wages of Zen (1979)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Chrysanthemum Chain (1980)Description / Buy at Amazon
A Sort of Samurai (1981)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Ninth Netsuke (1982)Description / Buy at Amazon
Sayonara, Sweet Amaryllis (1983)Description / Buy at Amazon
Death of a Daimyo (1984)Description / Buy at Amazon
Go Gently, Gaijin (1986)Description / Buy at Amazon
Kimono for a Corpse (1987)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Reluctant Ronin (1988)Description / Buy at Amazon
A Haiku for Hanae (1989)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Bogus Buddha (1990)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Body Wore Brocade (1992)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Death Ceremony (1993)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Lazenby Books

as James Melville
Diplomatic Baggage (1995)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Reluctant Spy (1995)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Miss Seeton Books

Miss Seeton by Appointment (1990)Description / Buy at Amazon
Advantage Miss Seeton (1990)Description / Buy at Amazon
Miss Seeton at the Helm (1990)Description / Buy at Amazon

A classic author of historical titles and detective fiction, the English novelist Roy Peter Martin would come to write a large number of novels during his lifetime. Going under a variety of different pseudonyms, he would come to make a strong legacy for himself that was quite unlike any other. This would progress throughout the years, as he would create a total of thirteen detective novels, many of them being set within Japan. Over much of his life he would focus on Japan and Japanese culture, with this coming to into much of his work, such as a ‘Japanese Cooking’ book which he wrote with his second wife Joan Martin. This would then come to shape much of his career over the duration of his life, allowing it to inspire and influence a large proportion of his material.

Using the pen-names of both James Melville and Hampton Charles, these would be names that would come synonymous with him and his work. The name of Hampton Charles would be used to create his much loved ‘Miss Seeton’ series, whilst the James Melville pseudonym would become integrated with his ‘Otani’ franchise.

Early and Personal Life

Born in London on the 5th of January 1931, Roy Peter Martin would live a long and fruitful life, creating a strong backlog of work over the course of his writing career. Going on to study philosophy at the Birbeck College, he would begin to find his voice and style as a writer and author. This would also come to provide him with a lot of the material which he would write about, influencing both him and his career. It would also lead to his passion for history, specifically that of Japanese history, focusing on them and their culture, which would become the basis for many of his books. He would serve in the Royal Air Force, before going on to Royal Festival Hall, followed by becoming a diplomat in Japan for the British Council there, leading to him becoming the writer he is known as to this day.

Writing Career

In 1979 Roy Peter Martin would go under the pen-name of James Melville, and write his first novel titled ‘The Wages of Zen’. This would also be the first in his ‘Otani’ series of novels, which would feature the Superintendent Tetsuo Otani, with the series set in his district of Kobe. Making a name for himself as an author writing from a historical perspective, he would come to create a number of novels during his lifetime. He would also come to write three novels of the Miss Seeton series, which would be a franchise written alongside many other authors. Creating non-fiction work and stand-alone novels too, he would come to be known for writing about Japanese history as well.

The Ninth Netsuke

Published through the Fawcett publishing label, this would originally be released in 1982, marking another case file for Superintendent Tetsuo Otani. Following on from the previous four novels, this would be the fourth title in the ongoing and much loved ‘Tetsuo Otani’ series of novels. Giving the reader more of what they have now come to expect from the series, it manages to set itself apart at the same time.

Following the conventions of the mystery detective novel, this manages to maintain its own voice, giving its lead character his own distinctive personality. Published under the pen-name of James Melville, as with all of Martin’s other Otani novels, this manages to create a rich and textured ambiance. Keeping the reader constantly guessing throughout, it’s set within Kobe, Japan, as Martin draws from his own time spent there. This allows for the story to become extremely well realized, letting it essentially speak for itself, as the world comes to life off of the page.

Discovered in the ‘Sweet Harmony Room’ of the Fantasia Hotel, Cleo Ventura has been murdered after meeting her final client there. With rooms that book by the hour, Superintendent Tetsuo Otani must investigate the scene of the crime, as he aims to get to the bottom of the mystery. Finding a small ivory statue there he takes it as evidence, only to discover that it’s a Netsuke that’s part of a set of nine. Leading to a national scandal, he must get to the bottom of the conspiracy, with the other eight being instrumental in learning the truth behind Cleo’s death. Will he get to the bottom of the mystery once and for all? Who killed Cleo Ventura and why? What is the secret behind the ninth Netsuke?

Miss Seeton at the Helm

Initially released through the Farrago publishing label, this would come out again in 2016 on the 28th of July to much acclaim, originally being released in 1990. It would mark the eighth title in the Miss Seeton series overall, and the third title to be written by Martin under his Hampton Charles moniker. Fitting it into the long-running series arc, he manages to make this a worthy addition to the franchise, with it being his final entry into the series.

Working as a cozy set of novels, they follow Miss Seeton, as she works as a sketch artist, typically helping Inspector Delphick to solve crimes. Accompanied by his assistant Bob Ranger, they all manage to get to the bottom of any and every case going. Focusing on Miss Seeton herself, she is the central point for the series, with a strong character arc ever since her first inception in 1968 by author and actor Heron Carvic.

With the award of a luxury cruise between Venice and the Greek Islands, Miss Seeton is congratulated for her services to Scotland Yard. It is on the cruise though that she finds herself amidst a group of warring art experts, as one of them ends up dead under mysterious circumstances. On board the ship Eurydice, Miss Seeton also has her friends Lady Emily Coveldon and Sir George to help her along the way. Soon heading into stormier waters, it is up to Miss Seeton to make sure that everyone finds their way back home safely, and that justice is done. Can she find the culprit before it’s too late? Will she discover the truth behind what happened? What will happen with Miss Seeton at the helm?

Book Series In Order » Authors » James Melville / Hampton Charles

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