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Summary

An original, intelligent and twisty thriller set in rural Wiltshire. A dead body in a crop circle sends a coded message. Can DI Silas Hart uncover the chilling truth before it's too late?

It isn't unusual for crop circles to appear overnight on Hackpen Hill. In this part of Wiltshire, where golden wheat fields stretch for miles, the locals have gotten used to discovering strange mathematical patterns stamped into the earth.

But this time, it's different. Not only because this particular design of dramatic spiralling hexagons has never been seen before. But because of the dead body positioned precisely in the centre of the circle. DI Silas Hart, of Swindon Police, is at a loss.

Only Jim, a scientist at secretive government laboratory Porton Down, knows the chilling truth about the man on Hackpen Hill. And he wants Bella, a trainee journalist on her first ever story, to tell the world. But Silas has other ideas - and a boss intent on a cover up.

As Bella and Jim race against time, dark forces conspire against them, leading them to confront the reality of their own past and a world in which nothing is as it seems.

©2021 J.S. Monroe (P)2021 W F Howes

Critic reviews

"Full of unpredictable twists." (The Times)

"A tightly coiled and crafted plot." (Daily Mail

"The most ingenious thriller you will read this year." (M.J. Arlidge)

What listeners say about The Man on Hackpen Hill

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Gripping

A cleverly woven and well researched story. Compulsive and captivating listening with many twists and turns and a lurking sense of dread. A little scary at times but a thoroughly enjoyable and gripping listen.

2 people found this helpful

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Lovingly local with little niggles

This is a book that has clearly had thought and planning put into it and the characterisation was good. The pitch and tone of the voices are good too.
However, if you are going to locate a novel in a very particular area, then narrators should at least do their rehearsals. I chose this book partly for familiarity with the setting and to hear Calne pronounced as ‘Cal-nay’ was jarring. I know it’s a personal preference thing, but the male narrator also persistently and increasingly for me, irritatingly pronounces says not as ‘ses’, but over-emphasised as it is spelt, which made me cringe and not look forward to hearing him. Except for once, when visiting the zombie victim in hospital, which was almost as intrusive!
There was also the phrase that was pronounced:
‘Cumberous in his style of dress’. Given the definition of cumbrous (cumbrous:
kŭm′brəs
adjective: Cumbersome: rendering action or motion difficult or toilsome; serving to obstruct or hinder; burdensome; clogging. Giving trouble; vexatious.’)
This makes the phrase nonsensical. It seems to be an example of uncommon word seemingly included for the sake of it - but misused, and that should have been edited out. Also ‘carcigenic’ for carcinogenic. If a narrator doesn’t know a word, it would be great if effort were made to assure herself it’s read correctly.

Flashlight? Really? In the UK, we have torches. Also, ‘saddle stone’ instead of staddle stone.. Detail matters!

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  • Al
  • 18-03-22

Let down by crummy narration

The excellent Jon Stock, writing here as J S Monroe, has been very let down by the appalling narration. The characters of Bella and Silas are particularly badly read, or performed, if you can call it that. It sounds amateurish. I have given up and will read the book. J S Monroe deserves much better.