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DCI Monika Paniatowski
Discover a brilliantly twisty mystery series set in the 1970s — when it was tough to be a woman in a man’s world.

Dark murders take this pioneering woman DCI and her team to their limits as they unravel personalities and relationships and thus identify the murderers.
Monika first appeared in the Woodend series, as Chief Inspector Charlie Woodend's sergeant (The Golden Mile to Murder, 2001). When he retired, she became DCI and in The Dead Hand of History we see her tackling her first case without her mentor, but with her right-hand man and friend Colin Beresford.
In later books we see her team develop and expand with the additions of DC Crane and DS Meadows, both 
of whom have unusual pasts and interests, which they draw on to assist the team. 

And now, we are delighted to announce the launch of

The Final Beat of the Drum 

And THRILLED that...

Kirkus Reviews has awarded this novel a Starred      Review:

"Spencer gives Monika Paniatowski the send-off she richly deserves"

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1st Monika Novel

The Dead Hand of History


2nd Monika Novel

The Ring of Death

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3rd Monika Novel

Echoes of the Dead

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5th Monika Novel

Lambs to the Slaughter

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6th Monika Novel

A Walk with the Dead

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7th Monika Novel

Death's Dark Shadow

8th Monika Novel

Supping with the Devil


15th Monika Novel

The Final Beat of the Drum

Dead hand

Box Set of Detective Monika Books 1-4


FOUR full-length novels  but

STILL just 99c | 99p!

Unbelievable Value

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The 1st novel in the DCI Monika Paniatowski Series:
The Dead Hand of History


It will be no easy task to fill the shoes of a local legend like DCI Charlie Woodend, the newly-promoted Monika Paniatowski tells herself - particularly when he's still a very real presence in Whitebridge - but given a little time, she thinks she can grow into them.


Yet time is the one thing she does not have. On her first day in the new job, a severed female hand is discovered on the riverbank. And worse follows, as a second hand - belonging to the first victim's reputed lover - is sent to a journalist.


The obvious suspect is Stan Szymborska, Jenny's war-hero husband, though Paniatowski refuses to arrest him. But is it the lack of evidence which is holding her back, or is it the fact that he is not only the most attractive man she has met in a long time, but also a fellow Pole?


And will she give in to her insecurities and ask Woodend for his help as he prepares to leave for a new life in Spain?


Review by Kirkus Reviews:

Monika carries the torch nobly as Spencer’s franchise keeps its edge.



Ring of Death
The 2nd novel in the DCI Monika Paniatowski Series:
The Ring of Death


A naked body out on the wild and windswept Lancashire moors.

He’s been dumped here, but he was never supposed to stay hidden.

Whoever killed him went to great lengths to see to that. First, they slit his throat, then they left him on display. Posed on all fours.

Who would go to the trouble?

It’s up to Monika to find out, with the help of her team. Too bad they’re all still wet behind the ears or — in the case of DS Paul Cousins — fresh from psychiatric leave.

Worse still, Monika’s arch enemy is in town and watching her every move.

Then a second naked body turns up, arranged in exactly the same way.

Monika realizes that, whatever the killer’s twisted message, he won’t stop until he’s understood.

Review  by Kirkus Reviews:

Paniatowski continues to prove herself a worthy successor to Charlie Woodend as Spencer delivers another first-rate whodunit.




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The 3rd novel in the DCI Monika Paniatowski Series:
Echoes of the Dead


Twenty-two years ago, Fred Howerd snatched an innocent teen girl from her home. He held her captive then strangled her — by his own admission.

Now he’s saying his confession was a lie, forced out of him by two bent coppers.

He calls a priest to his deathbed, desperate to set the record straight.

Detective Monika Paniatowski knows it can’t be true. The detective who put Howerd away is her mentor, Charlie Woodend — the only man she’s ever truly trusted.

He wouldn’t send an innocent man to prison for life. Would he?

And if Fred Howerd didn’t strangle that girl, then who did?

According to a sinister anonymous caller, there’s only one way to get to the truth — find who really killed a man named Brian Mottershead . . .

Discover a brilliantly twisty mystery series set in the 1970s — when it was tough to be a woman in a man’s world.

Fans of Rachel McLean, Angela Marsons, Jodie Lawrance, D.S. Butler, Lynda La Plante, Rebecca Bradley and Caro Ramsay will devour this thrilling crime series.


Chosen as one of the best 12 Mysteries published in 2001 in the 2011 Best of Fiction awarded by Kirkus Review, which gave it a Starred Review:


"Shifting seamlessly between past and present versions of the case, Spencer produces a tour de force readers won't quickly forget."

Echoes of the Dead
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The 4th novel in the DCI Monika Paniatowski Series:


DCI Monika Paniatowski has a bitter personal history with Chief Superintendent Kershaw, but that is not the only reason she doesn t want the investigation into the sudden disappearance of his wife, Elaine, landing on her desk.


A young prostitute, Grace Meade, has also disappeared, and yet all resources are being channelled into Elaine's case alone.


Monika determines to spend time finding Grace, but when a heavily mutilated body is discovered on the moors, it begins to look as if she has made the wrong decision.


Booklist Review:

Spencer’s deft writing and skilled plotting combine with an intriguing mix of all-too-human characters and a shocker ending to make for another outstanding entry in this excellent series.

— Emily Melton



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The 5th novel in the DCI Monika Paniatowski Series:
Lambs to the Slaughter


A brutal murder. A sinister conspiracy. A race against time to uncover the truth

Tensions run high in a Lancashire mining village.

Retired miners, Len Hopkins and Tommy Sanders, used to be mates. One dark evening, they come to blows in the pub. All because they can’t agree on an upcoming strike.

Next morning, Len is found bludgeoned to death in his outside lavatory, leaving every finger pointing at Tommy. The villagers all say he’s guilty. That he attacked Len in a moment of rage.

But Detective Monika Paniatowski’s not so sure. Her instincts tell her there’s more to this case than meets the eye. In an atmosphere where mistrust hangs thick as coal dust, the truth can be hard to find.

When Monika’s daughter disappears, the case suddenly turns personal.

And it’s her daughter’s life on the line should she fail . . .


Publisher's Weekly Review:  Spencer expertly mixes political intrigue, lust, greed, and long-held secrets against a backdrop of bleak mining life.


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The 6th novel in the DCI Monika Paniatowski Series:
A Walk with the Dead


Detective Monika is at a fancy wedding. She spots a distressed teenage girl, alone and miserable in an ugly pink dress.

She looks like she’s the same age as Monika’s daughter, and Monika is concerned. She wants to go over. Speak to the girl.

She never gets the chance.

Next morning,the girl’s battered body is found in a park. Strangled.

Monika won’t rest until she takes the ruthless killer off the streets. But neither her boss nor her right-hand man think she can handle the chase. They say she’s letting her emotions cloud her judgement.

Can she prove them wrong — before more innocent girls die?



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The 7th novel in the DCI Monika Paniatowski Series:
Death's Dark Shadow


​A victim without a name. A killer without a motive. A detective facing her darkest hour.

When divers pull a body from the waters of a murky canal, everyone looks to Detective Monika for answers.

Who is the dead woman?

Her head’s been caved in. Her pockets emptied. Her limbs weighted down with bricks. She’s not just been dumped. She’s been sunk.

But no one in town even knows the victim’s name. Who would go to the trouble?

Monika is determined to find out. But when she uncovers a link between the dead woman and her own daughter, there’s a disturbing new twist in the trail.

With her family in danger, can Monika stop the ruthless killer before they strike again?


"Dark, gripping. . .Spencer at her very best. A must-read" (Booklist Starred Review)



The 8th novel in the DCI Monika Paniatowski Series:
Supping with the Devil


Monika Paniatowski's boss is trying to destroy her career, but the dead end case he assigns her turns out to be something else entirely . . .

DCI Monika Paniatowski recognises her latest assignment as advisor to the Earl of Ridley's rock festival for what it really is - an attempt by the chief constable to destroy her career.


Yet it soon becomes apparent that matters are not as simple as they appear. Why, for instance, did the earl choose to employ the notorious Devil's Disciples motorcycle gang to provide the security for the festival?

And to what lengths will his mother, the dowager countess, go to destroy it? But it is when the half-naked body of a tabloid journalist is discovered in the middle of Whitebridge that things really start to hot up.


"A thrill ride that's not easily forgotten" (Publisher's Weekly Starred Review)



The 9th novel in the DCI Monika Paniatowski Series:
Best Served Cold


On the night the Whitebridge Players staged their last ever performance, the idealistic young actors in the company resolved that twenty years on they would return to the same theatre and stage the same play.


But two decades later, old resentments have grown and new jealousies have germinated, and it is a very different company that returns to re-enact the Spanish Tragedy. The cast members all have their axes to grind - and some have clear targets for those axes . . .


It is in this world - where normal rules and standards have no meaning - that DCI Monika Paniatowski finds herself, once a tragedy within the Tragedy has occurred.


But how can she uncover the killer's motive when everyone seemed to want the victim dead? And how can she decide who is telling the truth - when all these people lie for a living?


Satisfying, with plenty of twists and Spencer’s usual skilled plotting and craftsmanship, this strong series entry will appeal to fans of British procedurals. (Booklist Review by Emily Melton)



Best served
The 10th novel in the DCI Monika Paniatowski Series:
Thicker Than Water


​DCI Monika Paniatowski investigates a case that could be the making - or, more likely, breaking - of her career.


DCI Monika Paniatowski has only been back from maternity leave for three days when she is called in to investigate a nightmare of a case. Not only is the murder victim a mother of three small children, but her husband is a wealthy politician.


Monika knows that if she can't make a quick arrest her career is on the line. It's lucky, then, that within minutes of meeting Councillor Danbury, she has a bruised face - and a prime suspect. But then the case takes a nasty twist, and suddenly the investigation is national news. Monika's sure she has the right man - but how to prove it?


Particularly when she's under pressure from her superiors to arrest anyone other than Councillor Danbury, president of the golf club and friend of her chief constable...


Kirkus Reviews: "It’s good to have Monika back, doing what she does best.."

Thicker than Water has been awarded the coveted Star         by Kirkus Reviews.


Booklist: "Spencer’s newish series featuring DCI Monika Paniatowski just gets better and better.


A gripping read for those who like British police procedurals with tough, smart heroines.." 

Emily Melton Copyright © American Library Association


Death in Disguise
Sally Spencer Author
The 11th book  in the DCI Monika Paniatowski Series:
Death in Disguise


DCI Monika Paniatowski investigates the killing of an American guest - and uncovers a link to a 50-year-old murder.

When the body of an American woman is found in the Prince Alfred suite at the Royal Victoria Hotel, DCI Monika Paniatowski is faced with one of the most baffling cases of her career. The woman who called herself Mary Edwards had been a guest at the hotel for the past two weeks, having paid cash in advance. But who was she really - and what was she doing in a small town like Whitebridge? If Monika could discover why the dead woman had come to Lancashire, she would be one step closer to catching her killer.

The investigation takes an intriguing twist when Monika learns of a possible link to a fifty-year-old murder - but the only person who could tell her why it's relevant is lying in a coma.

(Available now in Hardback, and coming to Kindle on Aug 1)


“Spencer’s well-crafted 11th mystery makes for a successful puzzle” (Publishers Weekly)
"A gripping plot, twists aplenty, good pacing, and the tough yet vulnerable Monika make this an engrossing read" (Booklist)
“Even a routine procedural isn't quite so routine in Spencer's deft hands” (Kirkus Reviews)


Sally Spencer Author
The 12th book  in the DCI Monika Paniatowski Series:
The Hidden


As the members of DCI Monika Paniatowski's team investigate a death that seems to be linked to an attack on the DCI, Monika Paniatowski knows exactly who the killer is - but there's no way she can tell anyone else!

DCI Paniatowski's team are increasingly convinced that the girl found dead in the woods is the victim of a ritual killing, carried out by a secret society which has been established in the very heart of Whitebridge.


Monika herself knows not only who the killer is, but also that he is stalking Louisa, her beloved daughter. But as she is one of the killer's victims too, and is lying in a coma - hearing everything, but unable to move or speak - there is nothing she can do about it!

(Available now in Hardback)


“Spencer’s skillful writing, clever plotting, and colorful characters, combined with her insights into what makes humans—and especially cops—tick, make this a crime novel to savor. "
    (Booklist STARRED      review)
The Hidden
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The 13th book  in the DCI Monika Paniatowski Series:
Dead End


He was going to have to terminate Monika, he decided. It was a pity, but there it was.


The body has lain buried for years, and has no face and no fingertips.


Monika Paniatowski's team have no real leads, but when they discuss the case at her hospital bedside - where she lies paralysed - Monika begins to see possible links with a case she closed four years earlier.


Are the two cases connected? Did the first murder make the second almost inevitable?


She doesn't know, but she does know that she is being watched by an old enemy who will kill her if he decides there is ever any chance of her sharing her thoughts and information with her team.


"Solid writing and a plot full of unexpected twists make this a good read, but it’s Paniatowski’s diverse, quirky, and talented team that elevates this one to beyond the rank and file of British procedurals."

(Booklist review by Emily Melton)

The 14th book  in the DCI Monika Paniatowski Series:


DCI Monika Paniatowski faces an old enemy – and makes a fatal mistake with the potential to poison her whole career.


Jordan Gough is an important man. He’s the town’s biggest benefactor. He is the proprietor of the Whitebridge Evening Telegraph. He owns the local football team.

He is also, DCI Monika Paniatowski thinks, as bent as a corkscrew – and if she had any evidence, she’d put him away like a shot. A single encounter with him as a young detective sergeant left an impression she’s never forgotten. And neither, she is certain, has he.

So when Jordan calls and demands to speak to Monika – and only Monika – she is on immediate high alert. He claims someone’s trying to kill him, but why has he destroyed the evidence? Why turn for help to an officer he hates?

Certain she’s the target of a twisted practical joke, Monika makes a terrible mistake – one that could destroy everything she holds dear.

The fourteenth DCI Monika Paniatowski mystery is a powerful and dark tale of revenge, secrets and lies, which grips you tight as it reveals twist after stunning twist.


"It’s always a pleasure when the prolific Spencer returns to her Paniatowski series, and this installment—with a cracking plot, barbed dialogue, and plenty of action—is a standout."

(Booklist review by Emily Melton)

"Read this one quickly, before someone spoils the surprise."

(Kirkus review)

The 15th book in the DCI Monika Paniatowski Series:
The Final Beat of the Drum

DCI Monika Paniatowski is forced to think the unthinkable: could a good friend and long-standing colleague be guilty of murder?


On the day of her official retirement from the Force, DCI Monika Paniatowski looks at the two men and one woman who are no longer her team and thinks: Whatever the future holds, I will always be proud of you. She raises a toast. And just like that, her career as a homicide detective is over.

Then, fifteen years later, Monika's former sergeant, Kate Meadows, makes a terrible mistake.

Monika doesn't hesitate when Kate turns to her for help. She owes her, and she can hardly let her old friend go down for a crime she didn't commit.

But as Monika gets deeper into the investigation, she's forced to ask herself the unthinkable: is Kate really innocent, or is she helping her old friend get away with murder?

Packed with twists that will make you gasp out loud, the fifteenth - and final - DCI Monika Paniatowski mystery is a stunning conclusion to the long-running series. If you haven't met Monika yet, you're in for a treat.


"Spencer gives Monika Paniatowski the send-off she richly deserves."

(Kirkus Starred          Review)

"Another fine entry in Spencer’s cleverly written, often violent, yet also surprisingly heartwarming series, this one will appeal to readers looking for a complex police procedural with plenty of human interest."

(Booklist review by Emily Melton)

"Spencer has made Paniatowski, originally a supporting player in another series, a memorable and complex creation in her own right. Fans of Lynda La Plante’s Jane Tennison will be pleased."

(Publishers Weekly review)

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