Jessica in 2009


My novels aren’t autobiographical but they are set in the world I know and places I have lived in (Cornwall, Edinburgh, Leicester (which I called Ferriby) and London) or visited, such as Egypt or the Isles of Scilly. Some books have domestic settings, some archaeological, and some books combine mystery plots with with political themes or historical sections. There’s no running hero or heroine, except for the six books featuring the archaeologist Tamara Hoyland, first encountered in Funeral Sites and my latest book, The Stroke of Death. Other characters reappear, including Professor Thea Crawford and the psychiatrist Dr Fidelis Berlin, first met in A Private Inquiry. You can catch up with her in The Voice From The Grave, and Dead Woman Walking.

Jessica in 1990


I’m also a journalist, broadcaster and author of non-fiction. I have contributed features, columns, think-pieces, travel articles and book reviews to many magazines and newspapers including the Daily and Sunday Telegraph, Daily Mail, Guardian, The Western Morning News, House & Garden, The Oldie, Standpoint etc. I am the crime fiction reviewer for The Literary Review.

I was born in London, my parents Jewish (though non-practising) refugees from Nazi Germany. During the war, my big brother and I, aged 4 and 2, were sent as evacuees to Canada and America, returning to London in 1943. I went to St.Paul’s Girls’ School, before studying Archaeology at Newnham College, Cambridge and Law at Leicester University. My husband, the archaeologist Professor Charles Thomas, and I had two sons, two daughters and 11 grandchildren. We lived in Edinburgh, Leicester and for 45 years in Cornwall. After Charles died in 2016, I moved back to London.

Jessica in 2000

NON-FICTION BOOKS: The story of the overseas evacuation of children in WW2 is told in my book Out of Harm’s Way. Growing up in the forties and fifties, and what life was like before the liberating reforms that began in the late 1960s, is described in The Fifties Mystique. In Deadlier Than The Male, I discussed the question: why are respectable English women so good at crime? Charles and I collected works of art throughout our married lives and celebrated our Golden Wedding by producing together a book about Godrevy Lighthouse in Cornwall, illustrated with pictures from our own collection.

Godrevy Light by Charles Thomas and Jessica Mann was published in 2009.

As JESSICA THOMAS, I have been a Planning Inspector, chaired public committees, served on Employment Tribunals and on many NHS committees.