Gethin Grey (Last Resorts Legal)

Created by John Lincoln
Pseudonym of John Williams

GETHIN GREY is a husband, a father, and a gambler, but it doesn’t take long in his debut, Fade to Grey (2019), to realize that the odds aren’t in his favour.

The hapless founder of the Cardiff-based Last Resorts Legals, it’s obvious he’s a far cry from legal brilliance of his father, a prominent (and disapproving) retired judge.

As it is, he’s a bit of a bumbler when it comes to investigation, his marriage to Cat is falling apart, he hasn’t got a clue when it comes to his teenage daughter Hattie, and his gambling is, predictably, getting out of hand.

Fortunately, the rest of the scrappy Last Resorts team seem to have their shit together, at least. The struggling firm’s  mission–to help the wrongfully convicted criminals gain their freedom—may be admirable, but it’s a good thing the impulsive train wreck that is Grey is aided by two more than capable women: his rock-steady office manager Bex, an aspiring torch-singer,  and Lee, a much-tattooed and dreadlocked investigator whose instincts are more trustworthy than those of her boss.

By the time of book’s sequel, Grey in the Dark (2023) arrives, it’s clear Grey’s domestic situation hasn’t improved, but that’s once again balanced by some sharp and stylish writing in the hard-boiled vein, some muscular characterization (Grey grows on you), some top-notch plotting, a delightfully seedy take on South Wales and Cardiff that’s full of dark shadows and darker secrets, and more than enough rough action to keep things pop-pop-popping.


John Lincoln is the not-so-secret pen name of John Williams, the novelist, biographer and crime fiction reviewer for the London Mail on Sunday. Back in his twenties, he wrote a book called Into The Badlands (1991), a stone-cold classic (and a huge favourite of mine) about American crime fiction which detailed the author’s two-month wander through the States where he ended up chatting with just about EVERYONE, it seemed, including Elmore Leonard, James Ellroy, Sara Paretsky, James Crumley, Eugene Izzi, Andrew Vachss, Joe Gores and James Lee Burke. A return visit was documented in a sequel, Back to the Badlands (2007), which revisited many of the same writers (plus some new ones) to discover how much America–and its crime fiction—had changed in the ensuing years. Other works by Williams include true crime (Bloody Valentine), the Cardiff Trilogy of novels and biographies of Michael X., Shirley Bassey and Eartha Kitt.


  • “A terrific ride through the mean streets of Cardiff”
    — Mick Herron on Fade to Grey
  • “There may be no shortage of literary thrillers on the market, but there are few which ground themselves so firmly within a Welsh setting and make it front and centre to the plot If intrigue and mystery are what you’re looking for, there’s plenty to find in Grey in the Dark. The book takes us on a whistlestop tour of a darker version of South Wales, where money talks and there is an undercurrent of sex and danger that wouldn’t feel out of place in a tale of mafia dealings. At times it does feel like a stretch, but, set that aside and there’s more than enough intrigue here to keep the plot spinning and twisting until the end.”
    –Emma Schofield (Wales Arts Review) on Grey in the Dark


Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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