James McKenna has lived in Penela near Coimbra for the last 15 years and in parallel to writing gripping crime fiction novels he has “a vineyard which produces about 1,500 litres a year, most of which is for family and friends consumption.”

James thinks that Coimbra is a fantastic place to live, and he loves being in Portugal “the weather is beautiful, the people are kind and friendly and we live in a rural place where the landscape around where we live is absolutely gorgeous full of mountains and forest, olive groves and vineyards so no I couldn’t ask for a better place.”

Prior to becoming an author, James was in the Independent Parachute Squadron in which he told me he learnt a great deal with them. Following this, “I was a builder and I had various companies, including an electronic and physical protection company which gave insider knowledge for my crime thrillers”. He added that he had “a nephew high ranking in the police force who gave me a lot of information for my books, nothing about any of the operations he was doing, but the terminology.”

Latest novel

The Black Rose Conspiracy is McKenna’s latest novel in which he told me “I have often wondered about the mafia and the criminal connections amongst our MPs as some of them behave in the oddest ways at times. There is no reason why a mafia organisation particularly the world groups can’t infiltrate politics. I know there are organisations that dig them out and the Black Rose Conspiracy is really about that.”

He shared a synopsis of his latest crime thriller novel The Black Rose Conspiracy: “How safe are the British Parliament and Civil Service from Mafia control? Sean Fagan from the Combined Agency Task Force investigates dark dealings. The Democratic Justice Party, DJP, Britain’s latest and most popular political force, stand for women’s rights and equality along with proper funding for the police and NHS. Backing from the media and public is widespread but Alice Sibree, Head of MI5, becomes suspicious of their financial supporters. Fagan and Victoria Lawless discover the DJP is given money from two world Mafia organisations looking for control of UK politics and finances. Also, twenty billion pounds stolen by a dead Mafia king from his own banks. In result, murder, kidnapping and criminal manipulation threaten the structure of British politics.”

James described his novel as “having many twists and turns and littered with double crossings” making it real page turner. “The protagonist Sean Fagan is the one investigating all these ongoings and he is of Irish connection, ex special forces and has been trying to be recruited into Unit 14 who are an unrecognised government agency given the dirty jobs of the world.” There are also two strong female figures, a crime reporter and a cunning freelance agent as well as some romance in the novel for good measure.

Additionally, James has ventured into writing fantasy novels for young adults aged 12 plus with The Mind Traveller series where main character Rosie delves into the unchartered universe of Mind Space and fights dark angels. “Mind space is where time future slips to time past through time present, it’s a place of transition where all time must exist yet does not exist except in our minds.”

In terms of the future, James hopes to write short stories and has a new science fiction novel called “Nubilean Angels” as well as a new crime fiction novel called “Field Of Shadows” due for release start of autumn. He also gave a word of warning to readers stating that his books are dark in places and that some contain graphic details.

The Black Rose Conspiracy has great reviews and is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle and additionally, The Unseen and The Uncounted are available as audiobooks read by actor Tony Fisk. For more information, please see www.crimefiction-jamesmckenna.co.uk.


Following undertaking her university degree in English with American Literature in the UK, Cristina da Costa Brookes moved back to Portugal to pursue a career in Journalism, where she has worked at The Portugal News for 3 years. Cristina’s passion lies with Arts & Culture as well as sharing all important community-related news.

Cristina da Costa Brookes