Trick of the Night by Joy Ellis

Title: Trick of the Night (DCI Matt Ballard #5)

Author: Joy Ellis

Published on: 16 June 2022

Genre: Mystery and Thrillers

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Rating: 4 out of 5.

Trick of the Night is the fifth book in Joy Ellis’ DCI Matt Ballard series.

Matt Ballard and his partner Liz may have retired from the police but it doesn’t mean they have a quiet life. After starting their private investigations business in the Fens, they have received a lot of requests to follow a cheating spouse. Though it seemed like a good job at the beginning, Liz and Matt are tired of it. They want something new and interesting, not stealthily following people and photographing them ‘in action.’

Photography student Toby has found a location for a perfect night-time shoot. When he returns to his students lodging and checks the photographs on his laptop, he sees a woman’s face at the window of an old building. He calls his flatmate Alex for help and they visit the place again but find nothing. When they return, Toby’s laptop is gone from his room and there is a note stuck to his door, warning him not to involve the police.

When Minty, an ex-thief turned Matt’s CI asks for a meeting, Matt’s curiosity is piqued. When they meet, Minty tells him of an incident that took place in the old market few days ago. A young man was chased by two goons. The young man slipped an envelope in Minty’s pocket before running away. Two days later, Minty saw in the papers that two young men were found dead in their students lodging. One of the dead man was the one who gave Minty the envelope.

Minty opened the envelope to find an SD card. The card contained photographs and when Minty threw the envelope in the bin, he found the envelope missing from the trash the next day. This made Minty suspicious. Then came a warning. So Minty thought it’s best to hand over the photographs to Matt.

Meanwhile, fifteen-year-old Kellie is worried about her little brother Simon. Her dad remained unapproachable soon after her mother’s death and Simon too seemed unable to process his grief. Simon was sent over to his late mother’s elder sister Jessie’s place. Simon’s dad felt it was the best decision. Simon hasn’t messaged for the past few days and Kellie is worried. Then she receives a postcard from her brother. He asks her to come and take him home.

When Kellie ditches classes and goes to the Fens to rescue her brother from dotty Aunt Jessie, she finds Jessie’s house locked. One of the neighbors sees Kellie and tells her Jessie has gone away. Kellie’s dad arrives at the Fens and they wonder if it is too early to involve the police.

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This is the second DCI Matt Ballard book I have read and I think it is time for me to catch up on the series. I have come to love Joy Ellis’ writing. Be it the character or the plot-to-story development, element of suspense and twists, Joy Ellis is one of the best authors out there.

Matt Ballard returns from his meeting with Minty and Liz introduces him to their new client – Alex’s mother. They said it was a case of carbon monoxide poisoning but Alex’s mother does not believe it. She tried telling the police that but they ignored it saying she was a grieving mother. So she’s come to Liz and Matt for help. It is quite a coincidence that Matt was approached by Minty with details about two young men – one of who might have been Alex.

David, Matt’s nephew failed his police exam and has come to stay with his uncle and aunt. He helps them in processing the photographs and other IT-related work. When Matt and Liz dig deeper into the case, David goes as undercover student and talks to Toby and Alex’s housemates, trying to find some information that might help the investigators move ahead.

There seems to be a simmering tension in the Fens. Nobody knows what it is – neither the police nor the bad guys. This was the best part of the story – the tension is at an all-time high and it is not until the end that things start to make sense. There are four side stories and plenty of characters. Although these side stories heightened the suspense, there were times when it felt like a drag. Too many names to remember and too many incidents to keep track of.

Having said that, the ending was quite interesting. I admit there were times when I wanted the story to end – I was losing track of who did what and where (sorry, cannot say much without giving away spoilers). A couple of twists at the end was unexpected and increased the engrossing factor by a notch.

I enjoyed reading Trick of the Night by Joy Ellis. Excellent storytelling. Well-portrayed characters and a mystery that keeps one guessing till the end.


I received an ARC from Joffe Books in exchange for an honest and unbiased opinion.

4 thoughts on “Trick of the Night by Joy Ellis

    1. 😁😁
      I just finished reading an espionage thriller set during the cold war. (My fav sub-genre). It’s called The Bucharest Dossier and the author is Willian Maz. This is his debut novel. I really loved the story – forsythe types.

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