The Annex

KINDLE version available from Amazon here: The Annex
Barnes & Noble NOOK version h e r e.
The KOBO version can be found h e r e.
ALL OTHER E-VERSIONS available from Smashwords here
HARDBACKS still available from the publisher (Five Star) and internet bookshops.

When you reach a certain age you start to question a few of those comfortable fantasies that sustained you through the dark hours – that fantasy about winning a gorgeous young bride, for instance. Would it really be such a breeze? Do you think you’d be up to it, day in, day out – and how do you think the girl would react to being with you, old man, day in, day out?

Among the stock situations in those bloodthirsty Jacobean tragedies is the one about an old man cuckolded by a younger man more virile. Our sympathies are always with the fresh young hunk, and we spend most of the play cheering for him and the young adulteress. In the comedies he gets the girl; in the tragedies, everybody gets more than they bargained for. That’s certainly true of Thomas Middleton’s sexy Jacobean shocker, The Changeling which, incidentally, has one of the great plot twists of the Jacobean stage, just right for a modern noir story.

This is a long way from an academic, or even a faithful rewrite: James wasn’t writing to impress some college professor – he wrote a good hot story for today. In The Annex, we can’t say he follows the original plot meticulously – even if the original was dashed off by a writer as hot blooded as the 400-year-old Thomas Middleton.

Russell cut out some of the more old fashioned coincidences, he cut all the speeches, a good deal of the poetry and some of the minor characters, and concentrated instead on the gripping plot and the three main characters (middle aged husband, his young bride, and their wicked servant). Naturally he kept the saucy maid, the rival boyfriend and the awful secret – all from the original – and from the original play he kept the blood, the sex and above all Middleton’s outrageous sexual premise. We can say that in The Annex he serves it up at the same pounding speed as in the original Jacobean play. Just the thing to pep up a sultry summer evening.


‘The plot of this latest effort from one of Britain’s premiere crime novelists intentionally shadows the famous Jacobean drama of double-crosses, The Changeling, by Thomas Middleton. Even if readers aren’t familiar with the deformed servant who holds the fate of a beautiful woman with a dark secret in his hands, they will succumb to James’ adept characterization and his panache with plot. In this compelling update, a successful middle-aged architect is about to marry a woman half his age. He regards her as a “prize in the game of life”; she regards him as her entry into a finer world. Enter the chauffeur, repellent because of a disfiguring birthmark, who finds out the young beauty has a boyfriend just released from prison. When she begs him to dispose of the troublesome boyfriend, he acts in typically bloody Jacobean fashion, plunging the plot into a cauldron of ever darker secrets. – Psychological suspense that deepens with every page.’ Connie Fletcher in ‘Booklist’

“The ‘Godfather of British noir’ succeeds once again in this eminently readable, vividly portrayed, and highly suspenseful story.” Library Journal

“A taut, compelling noir with liberal dollops of sex and violence.” Publishers Weekly

Check the Kindle version here: The Annex

For more about Russell James, click here


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