SJT Riley


...a series of retro-detective novels set in the early 1950s, featuring ROBERT LYNNFORD, star crime-reporter for The London Herald, a fictional newspaper.

1950, the 2nd half of the twentieth century has fallen into place, and our characters are already at work. Change is in the air. A young British princess will soon become Queen Elizabeth II. Rationing will end, and new schools and homes are being built. Still, loss and destruction from the War haunt people’s minds, austerity tightens their belts, and worse, the Cold War is setting in. Acceleration and change of pace! The country’s newspaper’s are beating loud and fast. London’s Fleet Street printing presses are turning with gusto, stamping out headlines that echo the nation’s hopes and fears. String-tied, bundled copies of next day’s papers tumble out of passing vans, falling hard on street corners and outside newspaper shops.


In nearby Fountain Street, a fictional street in the City of London, home of The London Herald, its editor, Paul Kombinski knows a thing or two about what makes a good journalist, and Robert Lynnford ticks all the boxes. The editor asks only one thing of him, to keep the newspaper’s printing presses rolling, and so more stories from Lynnford, if you please!

The rub for The London Herald’s editor is that, whilst Lynnford doesn’t need to work to make a living, if the columns of The London Herald are to be filled and its sales guaranteed, the editor does need Lynnford to keep working. Luckily for Paul Kombinski, Lynnford has a flair and a hunger for a good story, and always turns up trumps, but not without a little help from his friends: Victoria Beaumont, widow and socialite, who has taken Lynnford under her wing; Stephan Maxwell, The London Herald’s sports writer, and colleague with whom Lynnford shares an office; Jack Worth, a messenger boy at The London Herald, who aspires, one day, to be a reporter like Lynnford; Mrs Tunn, and a host of others!


Why the early 1950s? This was the era of my parents and the Lynnford novels are a homage to them, their world and its values. They give an insight into life in early 1950s Britain. Important (and perhaps forgotten) social trends, of course – including starting work at fifteen, the learnt thrift of years of rationing, the wearing of hats and formal dress - but also the more mundane, everyday things - such as hopping on and off the open platforms of red London buses, making calls from public telephone boxes and reading printed newspapers – and how people spoke and behaved. And for further verisimilitude, the stories themselves are supported by factual references to current political, social, and economic events, many of them made to run in tandem with each story’s timeline.

Why cast Lynnford as a journalist? With circulation figures of national daily newspapers in 1950 equalling almost 150% of British households – and 200% for Sunday titles, newspapers were very important in the early 1950s and everyone had access to them. Who better then, than an independent journalist to observe, investigate and report the truth, free from the imperatives of the police and officialdom?


Some words about Lynnford’s creator: International civil servant and lawyer, and now novelist and publisher, SJT Riley was born in South West England, at the close of the 1950s, and grew up, during the 1960s and 70s, in the North West of England. In the year the Berlin Wall fell, he embarked on a thirty-year-something career in democratic reform in the aftermath of the Cold War, working with national officials from all across the European continent, from Lisbon to Sarajevo and beyond.

Disclaimer: All characters, places and events in the Lynnford series, other than those clearly in the public domain, are fictitious, and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.