The Word Association

Mary-Jane Riley

Mary-Jane Riley Mary-Jane wrote her first story on her newly acquired blue Petite typewriter. She was eight. It was about a gang of children who had adventures on mysterious islands, but she soon realised Enid Blyton had cornered that particular market. So she wrote about the Wild West instead. When she grew up she had to earn a living, and became a BBC radio talk show presenter and journalist. She has covered many life-affirming stories, but also some of the darkest events of the past two decades.

Then, in true journalistic style, she decided not to let the facts get in the way of a good story and got creative. She wrote for women’s magazines and small presses. She formed WriteOutLoud with two writer friends to help charities get their message across using their life stories. Now she is writing psychological suspense, drawing on her experiences in journalism. She has three grown-up children and lives in Suffolk with a golden retriever and her television journalist husband.

Latest book: DARK WATERS

Mary-Jane Riley - Dark Waters DARK WATERS is the third crime thriller in the series featuring journalist Alex Devlin. It begins with a macabre discovery on board a pleasure cruiser on the beautiful Norfolk Broads – the decomposing bodies of two elderly men. It appears the dead men did not know each other and police suspect an internet suicide pact.

Alex’s search for the truth reveals a darker story. She finds a connection between the two men and possible links to other unexplained deaths.

As she investigates further, the stakes rise and her own family becomes embroiled in the mystery. Her inquiries lead her to the University of Cambridge. Could the roots of the puzzle lie there with a tragedy that unfolded amongst a group of carefree students many years before?

Long-buried secrets come to the surface and Alex’s life and the lives of her family are on the line. As the past and the present collide, Alex questions everything she thinks she knows about those she loves.

Published by Harper Collins/Killer Reads March 2018


It took fifteen years for journalist Alex Devlin to find out the truth about what really happened when her four-year-old niece and nephew were abducted. Now her old friend Catriona Devonshire needs help.

Catriona's seventeen-year-old daughter Elena was found dead at the bottom of a cliff near her exclusive boarding school in North Norfolk. The death has been ruled a suicide, but Catriona is not convinced.

When Alex arrives at Hallow’s Edge to investigate, she quickly finds that life at the boarding school was not as idyllic as the bucolic setting might suggest, and uncovers a culture of drug-taking, bullying and tension between the school and village.

Set against the crumbling cliffs of the North Norfolk coast, no one is quite who they seem to be, and several people might have had reason to want Elena to fall.

Harper Collins/Killer Reads 2016,

Goldmann Verlag, Germany 2018


If you had the chance to talk face-to-face with the one who tore your family apart, would you take it?

Alex Devlin’s life changed forever when her sister’s two small children were snatched from the garden. A local man was convicted of murder, his mistress, Jackie Wood, jailed as an accessory. Fifteen years on and the Court of Appeal quashes Wood’s conviction. Alex, now a successful journalist, sets out to find the truth of Wood’s involvement.

Years before, police officer Kate Todd found one of the children’s bodies. She, too, has her own reasons to delve back into the original murder investigation.

Soon the horrifying secrets of the day the children went missing test both women to the limit and make them question all the people they trust.

Set against the bleak winter landscape of the Suffolk coast, THE BAD THINGS asks if we ever really know what is in the hearts of those closest to us.

HarperCollins/Killer Reads August 2015

Goldmann Verlag September 2016