My novels

Author Katharine Johnson

At first sight my books might not appear to have much in common and it’s quite hard to decide what genre they fall into but they are most often described as psychological suspense. They all involve a crime but they aren’t police procedurals or blood-and-guts serial killer thrillers. They’re all stories about ordinary people who may be flawed but not evil and through a bad decision find themselves in a nightmarish situation. As Emily says in The Suspects “We aren’t bad people – we just made a bad choice.”

The Suspects

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Here’s the blurb:

Shallow Grave meets The Secret History in this quirky psychological thriller

When you’re bound together by secrets and lies who do you trust? 

Bristol, 1988.

Five young graduates on the threshold of their careers buy a house together in order to get a foot on the property ladder before prices spiral out of their reach. But it soon becomes the house share from hell.

After their New Year’s Eve party, they discover a body – and it’s clear they’ll be the first suspects. As each of them has a good reason from their past not to trust the police, they come up with a solution – one which forces them into a life of secrets and lies.

But can they trust each other?

You can buy it here:

https://mybook.to/thesuspects

What people are saying about The Suspects

“Unputdownable!” – Read, Write, Inspire

“A real sleep stealer” – It’s All About the Books

“A nail-biter” – DDs book reviews

“Full to bursting with chilling twists and turns” – Chez Maximka

“Compelling, gripping and kept me guessing all the way through. Terrifyingly real” – Jessica R

“Brilliantly twisted!” Sam Harper, Amazon customer

“The Suspects dives into the minds of the key players and plays with the reader with every turn and twist. A hell of a psychological thriller.” – In de Boekenkast book reviews

“An incredibly clever, well-written page-turner that kept me reading well into the early hours of the morning! There are so many twists, and so many secrets that you’ll be left reeling.” – Jan’s Book Buzz

“Exceedingly, well written page turner that had me hooked in from the first page and frantically turning the pages eager to know the truth. Once I started reading this twisty thriller, I honestly didn’t want to put it down. There was secrets, lies, deception and betrayals and the story kept me guessing throughout. Worth far more than five stars, this book is definitely going to be one of my favourite reads of this year.” – Nicki’s Life of
Crime book reviews

“Like any Agatha Christie novel, who did it and why is so impossible to guess. The twists and turns help me blame everyone at least once or twice. Can I give this six stars?” – SJ Hall

“One hell of a well crafted story full of suspense, twists and turns and OMG moments where I found myself screaming at my kindle”  Shell Baker

“A truly compelling story that I couldn’t put down.”- Book 55

“Johnson is a master at depicting flawed and guilt-ridden characters and putting them in high stress situations that bring out the absolute worst in themselves and in the people around them” – Helen MK

A just-one-more-chapter book” – Lytton Grey, Goodreads

“Each page is like a strip tease revealing more and delving deeper into each character, their lives and personalities – an absolutely fabulous read.” – Suzanna, The Book Club review

Top quality writing, intriguing story – this book has it all.” – Bertyboy123

“An all-round cracking read” – Booking Good Read reviews

“A brilliant psychological thriller and murder mystery” – Donna’s Book Blog

“I was totally transfixed by this book” – Mai’s Musings

“A dark, twisty story that spins dangerously towards its climax” – Writing From the Heart”

“The dynamic between the characters is fascinating. I can tell the author lived and breathed them as she was writing.” –  Portable Magic

“Fantastic!” – Kerry, Goodreads

Each chapter left me wanting more. Such a wonderful read!” – Jolene, Goodreads

“I read this in one sitting because it was just so fabulous” – Bookmark That

“Johnson makes everything the characters do seem rational” – Jessica’s Reading Room

“What happens is a slow unravelling of all their lives as suspicions are raised and trust erodes. A masterful handling of such a subject, I loved every page and could hardly turn them fast enough, this book keeping me up long into the night. Looking forward to the next one from Johnson.” – India, Goodreads

“I’ve never had a house share and after reading this I wouldn’t want to! Brilliantly written story, well plotted – you never knew where the characters were heading next. Enjoyed the 1980s setting which added originality. Highly recommended.” – Rosie T, Amazon customer

Smart and sharp, this sophisticated suspense is an entertaining and addictive read.” – Megan, Amazon customer

“The author cleverly keeps us guessing as the narrator’s suspicions – and those of the reader – fall alternately on one or other, and sometimes several, of the main characters.
There are twists and turns aplenty in this exciting story. Very well written and full of drama and suspense, it had me totally gripped until all is revealed at the end.” – V McGivney, Goodreads

“It was well written, fast paced and I can honestly say it was a breath of fresh air as it was different from other psychological thrillers I have read.” – R Simons, Goodreads

“The author does a great job in re-creating the late 80s background to this Shallow Grave-type plot. The main characters have individual flaws and secrets that gradually come out during the plot. It’s almost Christie-esque, since the characters cannot get away from the main house where everything goes wrong, just like a country-house setting for many of AC’s whodunnits. Well paced and will keep you guessing.

Bristol reviews

It’s especially lovely to see reviews from people who know the town in which the story is set:

“An absolutely fantastic psychological thriller. I’m so impressed with the level of psychological knowledge Johnson has used to convey her protagonist. The characters felt so alive – until they stared dying of course – that I felt I knew them, had lived with them, and shared their house as well as their story. I had no idea where the plot was leading me and was pleasantly surprised several times and never could have guessed the ending. The writing was flawless, and the style perfectly paced. The theme of friendship and how our pasts are shaped by the choices we make, both good and bad, was articulated with clarity and believable. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, based in my birth city of Bristol. You’ll love it too.”

Louise Mullins, author of Love You Gone and Buried Sins

“I loved this book. I can envisage the places as it’s where I live, which drew me into the story more as I walked in their footsteps.” – Travel to Recovery book blog

“The Suspects had me gripped from the first page. It is well written, and weaves a tale of intrigue and suspense throughout. I loved that it is set in Bristol as I lived there for over twenty-years and recognise many of the places mentioned. I must have changed my mind about four times as to who the baddie was, and this is the mark of a good thriller.” – Amanda James, author of Dark Deception

“I’ve ignored my own life for the past 48 hours, gobbling up this unputdownable psychological thriller. Bristol, the late eighties (and all the wonderful music and mayhem nostalgia that goes with it), a cast of contrasting characters, and the situation from hell. The Suspects recounts the tale of a group of naive twenty-something professionals starting out in their career and desperate to get on the property ladder. It’s actually worryingly easy to forgive them their mistakes, something which begs the question: what would YOU, the reader, do in their shoes? Drama to the last! I will never complain about the irksome behaviour of my own (also Bristol-based!) housemates again…” – Isabella May

“A great psychological thriller, set in a city I am familiar with (Bristol) in an era when I was also house sharing. The flawed characters are complex though also very realistic. You can imagine their lives falling apart through the discovery of a body, and the plot just gets better throughout.” – MRSHUMPHREYJNR, Amazon customer

As a Bristolian I loved reading this book. I also have lived in lots of house shares over the years and there is usually a story to tell after each let especially when you don’t know the occupants well or at all!
I really enjoyed it and would recommend it” – Sue, Amazon customer.

The Secret

The Secret is the second book in the Villa Leonida series. It’s a standalone so you don’t have to have read The Silence before reading this one but if you have you’ll recognise a few characters and make a connection with the secret in The Silence.

Love, lies and betrayal in wartime Italy.

Two girls growing up in Mussolini’s Italy share a secret that has devastating consequences. Against a backdrop of fear, poverty and confusion during the Second World War, friendship is tested and loyalties are divided until a chance encounter changes everything.

Their lives diverge when beautiful, daring Martina marries and moves into Villa Leonida, the most prestigious house in their Tuscan mountain village, while plain, studious Irena trains to be a teacher.

But neither marriage nor life at Villa Leonida are as Martina imagined. And as other people’s lives take on a new purpose, Irena finds herself left behind.

Decades later, a tragedy at the villa coincides with the discovery of an abandoned baby, whose identity threatens to re-open old wounds and explode the secret

The paperback costs £6.99, the ebook £1.99

To buy click here:

mybook.to/thesecretjohnson

If you’d like to buy a signed copy direct from me for the same price please email me katy@espressomedia.net.

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What people are saying about The Secret:

If I could have given it 6 stars, I would have. I know Italy well and have studied that period of the war for my own writing, and this is one of the many reasons I appreciated this story.” – Angela Petch, author of The Tuscan Secret

Mind-blowing!” – Booklover, Goodreads

“A gripping and compelling story, which I highly recommend” – Vanessa Couchman, author of The Corsican Widow

“Each word is a masterful brushstroke that does its job to keep the momentum flowing. This is a lovely, often poignant saga that I thoroughly enjoyed. Katharine Johnson’s characters are interesting and complex, and her careful research is evident on every page of this well-crafted prose. An easy 5 stars.” – Pamela Allegretto, author of Bridge of Sighs and Dreams

“Such a thrilling book” – Val Penny, author of The Edinburgh Crime Mysteries series

“Perfect from start to finish” – Lizzie, Goodreads

“With a cast of fascinating characters and a unique storyline, The Secret is a book not to be missed” – Heidi, Goodreads

A compelling read of love, loss , heartbreak and betrayal” – Cristina, Goodreads

“I want to mention how beautifully descriptive Katharine’s writing is, as she transported me to Tuscany and the little village of Santa Zita. Where everyone knows everyone and secrets are rife” – Dashfan

Gripped right to the very end” – Cathy, Goodreads

“I love the images of Italy this book conjures up, the narrow streets in a town in the mountains of Tuscany, the people, food and culture, combined with the intrigue of a decades-old mystery.
I love the author’s writing, and her way of describing the real Italy, not the tourist version. Having read her previous book, The Silence, I highly recommend this series.”- Helen Pryke, author of The Lost Girls and the Innocenti series

“The writing is beautiful, and amazingly vivid. I could see and smell and hear everything that was described, and felt like I was actually in a bustling Italian town, whatever time period the book was currently in.” – Rosie, Goodreads

“Wow…I could end the review there. This book is beautiful. Katharine Johnson brings us to the village of Santa Zita in the Tuscan mountains. I felt almost as if I was there, in this tight-knit community. I am in awe of the imagery that each word provoked” – Jessica Belmont

Brilliant story-telling…It is not a love story although there is love. It is not simply a war story. It’s a story about us humans and our strengths and weaknesses. I can see this being made into a film” – Sandria, Goodreads

“A gripping, poignant story and descriptive writing make for a compelling read” – Greta, Goodreads

Beautifully written, enthralling follow-up to The Silence” – Catherine, Goodreads

The Silence

A psychological suspense/coming of age novel set in Tuscany published in June 2017 by Crooked Cat Books

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GP Abby Fenton has it all – a rewarding career, a loving husband, two adorable children and an enviable lifestyle. But she also has a secret that could destroy everything. When human remains are discovered in the grounds of an idyllic Tuscan villa she is forced to confront her hitherto repressed memories and relive the summer she spent at the villa as a teenager – a summer that ended in tragedy. The closer she gets to the truth the closer she comes to losing her sanity. But with the reappearance of someone else who was at the villa in 1992 she realises her secret is no longer safe – and that person’s silence comes at a price

Paperback £7.99, eBook £1.99. You can buy the book here:  The Silence

Why I wrote it

I wrote the book I wanted to read. I love stories about an outsider coming into a dysfunctional group and the effect they have on each other, stories based on a secret that threatens to break, and coming of age stories where a decision a young person makes changes the course of their life.

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I also wanted to write a story set over a long, hot summer so that as the temperature soars so does the tension between the characters.

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I’ve always been fascinated by old houses and the secrets they hold. I’ve lived in Italy and have had a house in Tuscany for many years which I escape to when I can and I felt this would be the perfect setting because a crime would be easy to cover up in some of these isolated mountain villages but with the trend among foreigners for restoring old Tuscan properties it was likely that it would be discovered at some point.

I love the multi-layered history of these villages and the way that breathtaking beauty sometimes masks a brutal history. Our house is very different from Villa Leonida – for one thing we haven’t found any skeletons there – but one was found at a house not far from us which gave me the idea for the story.

What readers have said about The Silence:

“An excellently-paced, disturbing novel that will leave you reeling“, Linda, Books Of All Kinds

A hook, line and sinker novel that completely put me under its spell”, Laura, Page Turner’s Nook

“A twisty, turny, thorny plot. This novel will keep you gripped” Laura Wilkinson, author of Skin Deep

“A real page turner” Vanessa Couchman, author of The House at Zaronza

“Everything I’d hoped it would be and more. The Tuscan setting is perfect for the story” Misti Nash

“Full of twists and turns that kept me turning the pages to see what would happen next. The description of Tuscany was amazing. I felt I was there and the sun was warming my skin.” Helen, Life of a Nerdish Mum blog

So riveting it should be made into a film” Isabella May

“I couldn’t put it down” Mrs BM Curry, Amazon

I don’t think I’ve ever been so hooked on a book! I had no idea how it was going to end and what twist was coming next”
Sarah, Trisarahtopsblog

“A perfect psychological thriller”
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“Mind blowing from start to finish with a brilliant end”
Beverley Hopper

Full of mystery, shocks and surprises. Keeps you hooked till the end”, Chaz Bookworm

I’m so grateful to everyone who has bought and read The Silence and especially those who have taken the trouble to leave a review. Reviews on Amazon really help authors as those with a higher number of reviews get seen by more people. 

Lies, Mistakes and Misunderstandings

My debut novel Lies, Mistakes and Misunderstandings was published by Crooked Cat in July 2016.

ISBN 9781911381297

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It’s 1931. Not much has gone right for Jack since he left Cambridge last year. His career has failed to take off, his girlfriend has ditched him for someone with better prospects and he’s now received an invitation to their wedding. He dreads having to go there alone surrounded by his high-achieving peers so when a beautiful girl he meets by chance offers to accompany him, he believes he has found the answer to his prayers. But by accepting her offer he finds himself drawn into a world of intrigue and murder…

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Why I wrote it

I’d been writing non-fiction for nearly three decades as a journalist and magazine editor but creative writing always used to be my guilty secret. A few years ago I made the decision there was little point writing if no one was ever going to read what I’d written, however bad it was, so I set out to brave the rejections. I wrote some short stories which have been published in magazines and then embarked on a novel that had been going round in my head for a decade, sparked by a true story my grandmother told me. Once I started writing, however, it took on a life of its own.

Lies, Mistakes and Misunderstandings is on sale in paperback £7.99 and eBook £1.99. You can buy it on this link: Lies

Some of the things readers have said about Lies Mistakes and Misunderstandings in five-star reviews:

“What a fantastic book. I sort of fell in love with Jack.”

“If you’re looking for an intriguing read you won’t want to put down this is the book for you!”

Sharp and intelligent prose that keeps you on the edge of your seat.”

Gripping from start to finish.”

A winner!

Loved it. Would definitely recommend it.”

“Intriguing mystery and vivid description with a great surprise ending.”

“Great debut – I look forward to the author’s next book!”

“A riveting and rewarding read”

“I couldn’t put it down, I was so engrossed

“Complex and intriguing. I want to read it again!”

“I don’t know why I didn’t read this book sooner! The plot is excellent” – Samantha, Goodreads