psychological thriller :: crime story :: horror story :: murder mystery :: mystery thriller
READER reviews
  • This is a pacey, scarey thriller with engaging characters that I really cared about. Can't wait for J.A's next one.

    - Irene - Dublin
  • Ellen Hunt is the latest psychopath on the block. It is her twisted obsession for Steven that fuels this story and when he fails to reciprocate she sets out to punish him in the cruellest way possible. Gripping and gory - a must for any psychological thriller fan.

    - Suzie - Spain
  • A thoroughly gripping and entertaining read. The style is very self-assured for a debut novel and I look forward to reading more from this author.

    - Lola - London
  • The object of her desire, Steven, is unfortunate enough to catch Ellen’s eye when he takes a room in her mother’s house. We follow the story from murder of female rivals to kidnap of Steven’s child and the havoc wrought by the jealous Ellen to an ending which I won’t reveal. J A Campion writes beautifully and I can truthfully say a star is born.

    - John Coxam - Maine USA


Having been considered by top crime agent Gregory & Co., Lovesick is currently undergoing revision with Lisanne Radiche, Gregory & Co’s founder.

Live Radio Interview

Last Thursday I was interviewed by my local radio. It was a nerve-wracking experience as I have never done anything like it before. My two fears were that I would, a) dry up. Or b) have a coughing fit. I managed to avoid either, luckily and you can hear me discussing Lovesick and the chilling inspiration behind it, here on the live podcast.

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22 September 2012

Endings are tricky things. Recently I have read two hyped-to-the-heavens psychological thrillers by a couple of very successful newcomers only to reach such ludicrous, laugh out loud dénouements that I vowed never to read another book by these particular authors again. Their hurried, bolt-on conclusions which were completely out of sync with the rest of the book, spoilt what had been until then a rewarding read. Tideline, an impressive debut novel from Penny Hancock succeeds where so many authors fail. Her ending flows like the river she writes so evocatively about. What went before was pretty damned good too.

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The Birdhurst Rise Poisoner (1 of 4)

Yesterday I visited South Croydon. It was disappointing to discover that the Victorian villa where in 1928-29, three members of a close, suburban family died in agony from arsenic poisoning had been destroyed, replaced by a ugly block of modern flats.

The Birdhurst Rise Poisonings still remains one of the most fascinating crimes of the 20th century.

Between 1928-29 three members of a close, suburban family died in agony from arsenic poisoning. Police found no real motive for the crime and no solid evidence to bring the killer to justice.

It is hard to imagine now that the tough, multicultural town we know today was once a gentle London suburb, inhabited by solid, middle-class families whose values and fortunes formed the fabric of the country. If you visit this southern part of Croydon, evidence does still exist in the remaining Victorian villas, lining the leafy streets. (Sadly, most of these once elegant, imposing homes are now somewhat shabby and turned into multi occupational dwellings.)

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The Birdhurst Rise Poisoner: The Second Victim (2 of 4)

Following the death of her husband, Edmund, Grace Duff moved from South Park Hill Road, where brother Tom and his family also lived, to 59 Birdhurst Rise, to be nearer to her mother.  Sisters, brother and mother were all living within a stone’s throw of each other in the respectable enclave of South Croydon.  In this atmosphere of middle-class gentility, the family, it was said, were exceptionally close.

Vera Sidney was still living at home with her mother, Violet, as she approached her fortieth birthday.  The inheritance from her father ensured she could enjoy an independent life whilst providing companionship for Violet and supervising the running of the house.  Vera was a no-nonsense kind of woman who drove her own car and enjoyed long walks and games of golf at the nearby Croham Hurst Club. Rarely did she make a fuss about being ill but in January 1929 she began to feel run-down.  Feelings of fatigue and depression persisted through the month and on Sunday 10th February she felt so unwell she remained at home all day, something she could not recall ever having done before.

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The Birdhurst Rise Poisoner: The Final Victim (3 of 4)

Violet Sidney had enjoyed a particularly close and loving relationship with Vera and her daughter’s death devastated her.
‘Oh, how I miss my darling Vera,’ she is quoted as saying, ‘how heartbroken I feel without her. All joy is gone out of life for me.’
Both Tom and Grace feared their mother would give up the will to live during the days after Vera’s death.

Dr Elwell continued to visit Violet at 29 Birdhurst Rise and prescribed a tonic called Metatone. He made a routine call on the 5th March, just after Grace had visited and was pleased to note that Violet was making progress and that her pulse rate was stronger. Violet had lunch when the doctor left but was taken ill during pudding. When the housekeeper came to clear the table, Mrs Sidney complained of feeling sick. It was at this moment that Grace called in again and recalled later, that her mother ‘looked deathly white, just as if she were dead.’ Violet announced that she had been poisoned. The housekeeper stated that it was probably the tonic that the doctor had given her, whereupon Grace examined the bottle and called Dr Elwell. He was busy and so his partner, Dr Binning came instead. Just before he arrived, Violet was sick and had an attack of diarrhoea in her chair. As Grace put her mother to bed, Violet stated again, to the doctor this time, that she had been poisoned. Dr Binning examined the medicine bottle which had been standing on the sideboard and noted that it contained a ‘grainy sediment.’

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The Birdhurst Rise Poisoner: Four Inquests, Several Suspects and a Motive (4 of 4)

To establish the cause of death of Mrs Violet Sidney, Croydon coroner, Dr Henry Beecher Jackson ordered a post-mortem. Dr Robert Bronte, who had conducted the autopsy on Edmund Duff the year before, carried it out. Removing major organs he sent them to a laboratory for analysis.

The following day the police became involved. Detectives Fred Hedges and Reg Morrish of Croydon CID called at 29 Birdhurst Rise, along with an official of the coroner’s office. Tom Sidney was on hand as they conducted a thorough search of the house and removed several bottles.

Two days later the inquest on Mrs Sidney opened. After brief formalities but with no medical evidence yet available it was adjourned until the 4th April. On 11th March, Violet Sidney was buried alongside her daughter Vera, at Queen’s Road Cemetery, Croydon.

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Lovesick: Finding a Room Can Be Murder

Handsome cab driver Steven Finn is looking for a room. Blanche Hunt offers him one in her run-down mansion. Seduced by its faded grandeur Steven moves in believing his luck has finally taken a turn for the better. But that’s before he meets Ellen, Blanche’s lonely, delusional daughter. Before long Steven’s casual kindness ignites a dangerous obsession in Ellen and everyone in his life becomes a target for her deadly campaign of terror.

Lovesick :: Chilling & Gut-wrenching Thriller Book


Ellen Hunt, a lonely, delusional young girl, is driven to kill when Steven Finn, her mother’s handsome new lodger, moves into their sprawling Victorian mansion.

That Blanche Hunt is a cruel, neglectful mother and Ellen little more than her unpaid drudge soon becomes apparent to Steven, but not so apparent is that Ellen is also psychotic.

Steven’s looks and casual kindness soon ignite a dark, sexual obsession in Ellen, and driven by the fantasy that one day he will be hers, she sets out on a bloody killing spree, removing every obstacle that stands between her and her goal.

Lovesick is not all gore, there are many playful moments along the way and an eclectic mix of characters, providing both humour and pathos.

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What You Can Learn From a Boxer and a Labrador

We have all seen amusing examples of dog owners who bear a striking resemblance to their pets, but an interesting study of British dog owners recently revealed that dog owners not only subconsciously chose a breed with similar physical characteristics, they also choose a breed that mirrored their own personalities.

Psychologist Lance Workman interviewed 1,000 dog owners about their character traits and found that agreeable friendly types chose Labradors, Hounds, known for their even temperament, are chosen by ‘calm, consistent people’ and working dog owners scored higher on agreeableness and intelligence.

But Workman’s most surprising finding was that the owners of ‘handbag breeds,’ normally associated with airhead celebrities, came out on top for ‘intelligence, openness and creativity.’

Whatever physical and personality differences there may be between the many and varied breeds available these days, they all share common characteristics that put us humans to shame.

As a lesson for people who have trouble connecting with their emotions just watch the joyful display of unconditional love on the YouTube clip of a Boxer dog greeting his owner, a soldier who has just returned after eight months from the Afghanistan War.

For a lesson in loyalty check out the recent story of Maggie, a Labrador retriever, who risked her life in heavy traffic to guard the body of her companion, hit and killed by a car in southern California.

These two humbling and exemplary characteristics are often ones that we mere humans struggle to emulate.