The Rawlings Mysteries

Death on the Rocks

Death on the Rocks

Apothecary John Rawlings is intrigued when a letter arrives asking him to investigate an impostor claiming to be the long-lost step-son of a wealthy Bristol merchant in possession of his dead wife's diamond inheritance.

John Rawlings' father, Sir Gabriel Kent joins him on the trip to take the healing waters at Hotwell where they socialize with the creme of Bristol society. But Rawlings is compelled to try and solve the mystery and so he must trawl through the underbelly of eighteenth-century society to unearth the sordid secrets at the heart of the investigation.

Death on the Rocks was published by Severn House Publishers on 19th December 2013; it is available for order from Amazon or from any bookshop (ISBN: 978-0-7278-8354-4).

Now also available in a Kindle edition.


Death at the Wedding Feast

Death at the Wedding Feast

Apothecary John Rawlings has travelled to Devon to be by the side of his mistress, Elizabeth di Lorenzi, who is due to give birth to their child. Leaving his shop, and his new carbonated water business in good hands, John is presented with a surprise on his arrival at Sidmouth Bay. While Elizabeth is recuperating, he learns that Lady Sidmouth's daughter, Miranda, is to marry the elderly Earl of St Austell, who is fifty-four years her senior and has a cruel reputation. As the wedding day approaches, John feels increasingly uneasy, and before too long his worst forebodings are realized ...

Find out more in Death at the Wedding Feast, which was published by Severn House in August 2011 in the UK, and in December in the US);


Death and the Black Pyramid

Death and the Black Pyramid

Apothecary John Rawlings has been summoned to Devon by Elizabeth di Lorenzi, his beautiful but unpredictable mistress. Leaving his young daughter Rose in the good care of her grand-father Sir Gabriel Kent, Rawlings sets off for Exeter on board the stagecoach. His fellow-passengers are a motley crew, and include a large and talkative German lady; Cuthbert Simms, a dance-master; and Jack Beef, the so-called 'Black Pyramid', a bare-knuckle fighter.

Before the journey's end a man has been found brutally murdered at the Half Moon Inn, and Rawlings is once again drawn, somewhat reluctantly, into a complex and dangerous intrigue.

Use the links below to order Death and the Black Pyramid from Amazon, or order it from any library or bookshop, quoting the ISBN:

Death and the Black Pyramid is also available as an ISIS Soundings audio book, read by Michael Tudor Barnes, in a variety of formats: Order the audio edition direct from the publisher or download from Amazon.

Death in Hellfire

Death in Hellfire

When John Rawlings is asked to investigate a secret club and some shady goings-on, he is intrigued. The disreputable Sir Francis Dashwood is believed to be involved, as well as some illustrious members of the British aristocracy. In disguise and accompanied by the ungainly Sam Swann, John befriends Sir Francis and gains access to his home and family, including someone from John's past, someone whose exceptional beauty still hypnotises him. However, evil lurks in hidden corners of Sir Francis's opulent home and there seems to be a sinister element behind the infamous Hellfire Club's debaucheries. Is John putting himself and Sam in danger by trying to find out the truth?

Use the links below to order Death in Hellfire from Amazon, or order it from any bookshop, quoting the ISBN.

Death and the Cornish Fiddler - paperback edition

Death and the Cornish Fiddler

The eleventh mystery featuring apothecary John Rawlings is Death and the Cornish Fiddler.

The spring of 1765 brings a welcome sense of recovery to the recently widowed Apothecary, but his tentative peace of mind does not last for long: a young child disappears in strange circumstances at the Helstone Floral (Furry) Dance, and a seemingly omnipresent blind musician is never far away. While this mysterious figure intrigues John Rawlings, the case of the missing child alarms him: he feels he must do all in his power to attempt to rescue the young life.

The Apothecary is just about to give up the child for lost when a beautiful woman - a known courtesan -dies one night, apparently of natural causes. But a minute examination reveals that she was smothered, and the hunt is on to find which of her many lovers was responsible. Accompanied by one of them, the feckless Tim Painter, John travels to Redruth and there stumbles across a coven who practise the black arts. Recognising some of its members as attending the Furry Dance, he returns to Helstone, this time to find his own daughter in deadly peril...

Death and the Cornish Fiddler

In this tense and dramatic book, John Rawlings questions whether his love for Elizabeth di Lorenzi is one that can ever be fully reciprocated, or if he must come to terms with living once more as a single man.

Death and the Cornish Fiddler was first published in hardback in 2006 by Allison & Busby: use the links to order it from Amazon UK, or ask your local bookshop for it, quoting the ISBN:


Death in the Setting Sun

Death in the Setting Sun

John Rawlings has never been happier. His apothecary business is doing well and he is blissfully content with his charming wife and adorable little daughter. Little does he know that his settled life is soon to be tragically shaken off course...

An evening out at an illustrious theatre party at Gunnersbury House, hosted by Princess Amelia, ends in tragedy when a guest is discovered murdered. Suspicion falls upon John Rawlings when he is found crouched over the inert figure.

Despite his protestations of innocence, many at the scene, including the royally powerful Princess Amelia, believe John is the murderer and he is forced to go into hiding. John and his closest friends desperately try to delve through the layers of deception to uncover the truth, whilst struggling to come to terms with their own grief. Countless adventures teach him it is not always easy to tell friend from foe and there are far more late night dealings at Gunnersbury House than he at first expects.

But somewhere the vicious figure of the murderer is lurking and it is up to John to determine their identity before they strike again...

"Witty, inquisitive, charming and humane... The author cannot write new volumes as quickly as I want to read them... Long may this series continue!"

Steven Saylor

Death in the Setting Sun was published in 2004: order this book from Amazon:

Death in the Valley of Shadows

Death in the Valley of Shadows

Working in his shop one early afternoon, Apothecary John Rawlings is taken aback when a middle-aged stranger rushes in through the door looking panic-stricken.

The man is not seeking a cure for a terrible ailment, however, but a place to hide. John agrees and a moment or two later a formidable woman comes to the counter enquiring if the Apothecary has seen anyone answering the description of the stranger he has in his back room. Honouring his promise to the man, John sends her on her way and, intrigued, goes to question the fellow.

It transpires that the man's name is Aidan Fenchurch and he is being pursued by Mrs. Ariadne Bussell, a former lover who is reluctant to give up the chase. So reluctant, in fact, that she has been shadowing him for years.

Feeling sympathy for Aidan, John agrees to do him a good turn but is shocked when a few days later the man is found dead. Suspicious, Sir John Fielding sends the Flying Runners to arrest Mrs Bussell, who is taken ill in the coach before she can be thoroughly questioned. The Apothecary recognises the signs of fatal poisoning.

As the victims begin to pile up John Rawlings embarks on a journey that leads him to the Surrey countryside in search of answers.

Order Death in the Valley of Shadows (first published in 2003) from Amazon:

Death at St James's Palace

Death at St James's Palace

1761, London. Famous magistrate John Fielding - "the Blind Beak" to the mob - is to be honoured with a knighthood.

Founder of the Runners, London's metropolitan police force, John Fielding is one of several important members of the community who gather at St James's Palace for the investiture. As the invited audience eagerly crane for a first glimpse of the new queen - widely rumoured to be the ugliest the country has ever seen - a terrible accident occurs when one of the crowd, a nobleman George Goward, tumbles down the great staircase to his death.

Of all the assembled gathering, not one person saw him begin to fall. Even those standing closest to Goward had their eyes fixed on the royal entrance; his wife, the portly Lady Mary Goward, Jack Morocco, known to some as the Black Buck, the notorious Elizabeth Chaudligh, a lady infamous in certain circles for her talents in the bedroom.

Only one person witnessed anything untoward - John Fielding, a blind man. A whispered sentence, an exhalation of breath - these are the only clues available to suggest the fall was no accident.

Apothecary John Rawlings, accompanying his friend Fielding to the ceremony, sets out to investigate, and - despite the fact that his wife Emilia is expecting their first baby - is soon drawn into a very intriguing mystery. And it seems that children might in fact be the key to unlocking the puzzle...

Death at St James Palace was first published in 2002. Order this book from Amazon:

Reviews of Death at St James' Palace

"A winning Georgian historical"

Publishers Weekly

"A masterly Georgian historical with a keen sense of time and place, fully fledged characters, and comfortable prose. Strongly recommended"

Library Journal

"Told with an infectious enthusiasm and a sly wit, Lake vivifies the period through her portrayal of the courtly, ever-witty John Rawlings"


Death in the West Wind

Death in the West Wind

Devon, April 1759...

Newlyweds John Rawlings and Emilia are spending their honeymoon touring the mysterious county of Devon. The gruesome discovery of a young girl's body, badly beaten and bruised and draped over the figurehead of a schooner draws the Apothecary into the investigation. He recognises the dead girl as Juliana van Guylder, and when her brother, Richard, goes missing too John realises that, honeymoon or no, he is deeply involved in something rather sinister.

Soon the Flying Runners are on the scene, but although they know the identity of the dead girl, they are still no further towards finding her killer. And where does the violent gang that has been terrorising Exeter, the mysterious Society of Angels, fit in to all this?

John Rawlings is determined to solve this case...even if it means putting himself in danger.

Death in the West Wind was first published in 2001. It is the seventh novel in Deryn Lake's highly acclaimed Georgian mystery series featuring sleuthing apothecary, John Rawlings. Other characters featured include John Fielding, the Blind Beak of London who founded the Runners (later to become the Bow Street Runners) and his assistant, Joe Jago.

Earlier books in this series