"Kirkus Star Review". February 1st, 2011

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

In 1958, David Swain, protesting his innocence right up until the verdict, receives a life sentence for murdering Ethan Mendel, the new lover of his ex, Katya Osman, at Blackwater Hall, her family home. Two years later, Katya, an emotional mess, accuses her companion Jana Claes of trying to kill her with a tranquilizing injection. Jana and her husband Franz are indispensable to Katya's wealthy father Titus, the only person who seems able to calm her. He's poised to marry the elegant Vanessa, another contributor to Katya's fragile mental state, who's equally unpopular with the territorial Franz and Jana. Meanwhile, David has fallen under the spell of his prison cellmate Eddie Earle, a career criminal with a soft spot for the young man and a daring escape plan. David can barely believe his good fortune. After the duo gains freedom with barely a hitch, Tolkien takes David all the way to Katya's bedroom door, which he opens slowly as he remembers an ominous couplet of children's verse. Then the perspective shifts to Detective Inspector Trave, called unexpectedly to the mansion to investigate a murder, just as he was a scant few years ago. David, still at large, is clearly the likeliest suspect, but the veteran Trave sees other possibilities. 

A thick web of family tensions and psychological dysfunction with a whodunit chaser, Tolkien's third novel (The Inheritance, 2010, etc.) is elegantly written, with Masterpiece Theatre pacing and embellishments.

"Philidelphia Inquirer" - Reviewed 17th April 2011 by Frank Wilson

With an easily recognizable surname, a formidable Oxford education, and a successful career as a London barrister, the grandson of the author of Lord of the Rings is bound to create a stir with this his debut novel. Sir Peter Richardson has it all: a country house, a promising career in government as the British minister for defence, and a young, bright and very ambitious personal assistant, Greta Grahame.Sir Peter's fatel flawis that he neglects his wife and young son, Thomas, while focusing on his job and his personal assistant. Greta is from the working class, and Lady Anne resents her as much as Greta envies Lady Anne's finery, social postition, and husband. Soon, there is a break-in at House of the Four Winds. and the intruders kill Lady Anne while Thomas watches from a nearby hiding place. Meanwhile, Greta seizes the opportunity to become the next Lady Richardson. Still grieving for his mother and certain of Greta's involvement in her death, Thomas convinces the police to pursue the case and does a bit of sleuthing on his own. Tolkien's skill as a storyteller is worthy of notice in this taut, well-paced legal thriller. The excellent courtroom drama and well-drawn, believable characters make this a good choice for popular fiction collections.

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"Richmond Times Dispatch. Reviewed March 27th 2011 by Jay Strafford.

Some people just can't leave bad enough alone, and convict David Swain is one of them. 

As Simon Tolkien's "The King of Diamonds" (336 pages, Minotaur Books, $28.99) opens in 1960, Swain is serving a life sentence in England after having been convicted of murdering Ethan Mendel, the lover of Swain's former girlfriend, Katya Osman. He's angry, he wants revenge, and he's enticed into escaping with his cellmate, Eddie Earle. Soon, he's discovered, gun in hand, standing over Katya's body. When he's captured, he's put on trial for his life. 

But he has one possible ally in Detective Inspector William Trave, who helped convict him in the Mendel case but now wonders whether the evidence against Swain is too tidy. Trave sets his sight on Katya's rich uncle, diamond dealer Titus Osman, in whose house Katya met death. The other inhabitants of the manor house are Titus' late wife's brother and sister, Franz and Jana Claes. But is Trave acting out of good motives or because his estranged wife, Vanessa, has become involved with Titus? 

"The King of Diamonds" is the third suspense novel produced by Tolkien, the grandson of J.R.R. Tolkien, and although it's not as much of a whodunit as last year's "The Inheritance," it's compulsively readable. As Tolkien lays out a story that's grounded in diamond-dealing and the Holocaust, the tension builds with inexorable strength. And Tolkien's nuanced portrait of the Traves is a compassionate study in the travails of marriage. 

Crafted with cunning and imbued with menace, "The King of Diamonds" adds luster to Tolkien's growing reputation as a brilliant star in the thriller firmament.

Though Final Witness takes place in modern times, the story and its characters could easily be transferred to other time periods.

Those obsessed with hobbits and elves will find no satiation here. But those who appreciate a classic crime novel will be satisfied.

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"Bookreporter.com". Reviewed 28th March 2011 by Ray Palen.

Carrying the surname "Tolkien" can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, if you show a knack for writing, you are joining a fine lineage started by the immortal J.R.R. Tolkien. On the other hand, the expectations may be way too high, making success a difficult leap. Thankfully, Simon Tolkien, J.R.R.'s grandson, has paved his own literary pathway. THE KING OF DIAMONDS represents another literary success for him. 

Tolkien's writing has been called a unique blend of Agatha Christie and John Grisham. That is another high bar to reach, but his writing backs up this statement. The prologue is set in London, circa 1958, and the action begins inside the famous courthouse known as the Old Bailey. The trial of David Swain is nearing its conclusion, and the judgment seems to be a foregone conclusion. David is accused of killing Ethan Mendel, his girlfriend's lover. Katya Osman has already produced a number of threatening letters that David sent to her, which is more than enough for the jury to quickly render a verdict of guilty with a sentence of life imprisonment. 

The novel quickly jumps forward two years to 1960. David's new bunkmate, Eddie Earle, has a penchant for prison breaks, and they begin to hatch a scheme. Meanwhile, Katya is living at Blackwater Hall, an estate belonging to her uncle, Titus. She's depressed most of the time and drug-addled, which makes her think strange things and become highly suspicious of those around her. This may be with good reason, as some of her fellow housemates include the eerie brother and sister duo of Franz and Jana Claes. 

Katya is growing more and more suspicious of her Uncle Titus for two reasons. First, he has been dating Vanessa, the soon-to-be ex-wife of Detective Inspector Trave, who still believes in the innocence of her former boyfriend, David. Secondly, Titus and Franz seem to be hiding some dark secret that she cannot quite put her finger on. Katya begins to believe more and more in David's innocence and feels that Franz may have had something to do with Ethan's murder. 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. Unfortunately, David never gets the chance to reunite with Katya as she is murdered in her own bedroom. Once again, an APB is put out on David, and he is now listed as the prime suspect in the slaying. 

Detective Inspector Trave works hard to prove David's innocence and seems to be the only person besides Katya who recognizes that something else is going on at Blackwater Hall. Regrettably, Trave is promptly taken off the case after questioning the residents for fear that his judgment may be tainted due to the fact that his wife left him for Titus. David is soon captured and sent back to prison awaiting a new trial. Trave is peremptorily suspended from duty due to his attempts to assist David. However, prior to Trave being given the sack, he travels to Antwerp to track the history of two brothers --- Ethan and Jacob. What Trave begins to unravel is a deadly secret that dates back to the Holocaust camps at Auschwitz. Even more sinister is the fact that Franz and Titus may be implicated in assisting the SS Guard under the leadership of infamous Nazi Adolf Eichmann. 

David is convicted yet again of murder - and this time is sentenced to hang for his crime. Can Trave race against the clock to clear David of not one but two murders that are both tied to Titus and Franz? Will he be able to uncover Katya's missing diary, which may tell the true story? Is it possible that Titus's fortune as a diamond merchant may have come from personal effects taken from the millions of Jews who were sent to their slaughter during the Holocaust? The answers may lie not only in Katya's mysterious diary but also with the one living person who can validate all of this: Jacob. The only issue is that Jacob is nowhere to be found, and time is running out for both David and Trave. 

The claim comparing Simon Tolkien to Dame Agatha Christie and John Grisham is not to be taken lightly. The ironic part is just how true this statement is. THE KING OF DIAMONDS combines a deeply-layered mystery with several interesting characters along with the intrigue of criminal trails and police chases. Set against very real historical context like the Holocaust and the hunt for Adolf Eichmann - who was not convicted of war crimes until 1962 - gives much credibility to a great read and a thoroughly engaging thriller.

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"Romantic Times Book Review" Reviewed March 2011 by Joyce Morgan.

In this British police procedural, we know almost from the start who the bad guys are, but we don’t know the how or why. Two murders occurring several years apart are the catalyst for a collection of conflicted, angst-ridden characters to convene to solve the mystery. The flaws and stumbles of the good characters are heart-wrenching; the actions and attitudes of the bad ones are cringe-worthy. 

It’s 1960 and Inspector Trave of the Oxford Police is having doubts about David Swain’s earlier conviction for murder. When Swain escapes from prison, another murder occurs at Blackwater Hall, site of the last murder and home of wealthy immigrant diamond dealer Titus Osman. Swain has motive and means and can be placed at the scene of both murders. But Trave is obsessed with the idea that Osman and his sinister brother-in-law are behind the murders and, with help, traces connections back to WWII Belgium and Antwerp Jews trying to escape the Nazis.