The King of Diamonds by Simon Tolkien

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A sophisticated mystery layered with dark secrets from the past, and slow-burning suspense

It’s 1960, and David Swain is two years into his life sentence for murdering the lover of his ex-girlfriend, Katya Osman. In the dead of night, David escapes from prison, and that same night Katya is found murdered in her uncle’s home, Blackwater Hall.

Inspector Trave of the Oxford Police, last seen in The Inheritance, heads the manhunt for David, whom he first brought to justice two years earlier. But Trave’s suspicions lead him to Katya’s uncle Titus Osman, a rich diamond dealer, and his sinister brother-in-law, Franz Claes, who has gone to great lengths to hide his former ties with the Nazis. However, Trave’s motives are suspect - Osman is having an affair with Trave’s estranged wife, Vanessa, and a newcomer to the Oxford Police, Inspector Macrae, is eager to exploit Trave's weaknesses to further his own ambition.  Caught up in his superiors’ rivalry, Trave's young assistant, Adam Clayton, finds himself uncertain who is right and which side to choose. Once David is captured and put on trial for his life, Trave is willing to risk everything that is dear to him—professionally and personally—to pursue his obsessive belief in Osman’s guilt.

In this expertly crafted follow-up to his acclaimed novel The Inheritance, Simon Tolkien has once again written a gripping and nuanced thriller laced with historical detail, treachery, and his signature writing style—a uniquely suspenseful blend that the Los Angeles Times called “half Christie and half Grisham.”   

The King of Diamonds is a Kirkus Reviews Best of 2011 Mysteries title.


About Simon Tolkien

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Simon Tolkien was a successful barrister in London, specializing in criminal justice, before moving to California with his wife and two children.  His first novel, Final Witness, was published in 2002 to widespread acclaim and his second, The Inheritance, received equally positive reviews when it came out in 2009. He is the grandson of J.R.R.Tolkien. Visit him online at
Published March 15, 2011 by Minotaur Books. 336 pages
Genres: History, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction, Crime. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The King of Diamonds

Kirkus Reviews

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A prisoner escapes on the very night that his ex-girlfriend is murdered. Could it possibly be a coincidence?

Mar 01 2011 | Read Full Review of The King of Diamonds

Publishers Weekly

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J.R.R. Tolkien's grandson continues to burnish his credentials as a solid writer in his own right with his second suspense novel featuring Oxford Det. Insp. William Trave (after The Inheritance). In 1

Jan 03 2011 | Read Full Review of The King of Diamonds

Book Reporter

At the same time, David and Eddie successfully break out of prison, and David heads directly to Blackwater Hall in an effort to confront Katya and her family to clear his good name.

Mar 28 2011 | Read Full Review of The King of Diamonds

Mysterious Reviews

Review: Oxfordshire Detective Inspector William Trave still has reservations about the guilt of a man convicted two years ago for murder, largely on evidence he himself provided, even though the man, who recently escaped from prison, is now implicated in another murder in The King of Diamonds, th...

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That the former Mrs Trave would like to become the new wife of diamond merchant Titus Osman, which promises the chatelainage of Blackwater Hall and its acres of beautiful Oxfordshire countryside, must be agony for anyone who still loves her, it must be more painful still if that lover thought tha...

Mar 01 2012 | Read Full Review of The King of Diamonds

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