The Concrete Ceiling by Peter Rowlands


The Concrete Ceiling by Peter Rowlands

21st February 2022.

This is the fourth Mike Stanhope mystery, but the first I’ve read. It works fine as a standalone, but I enjoyed it so much, I’m going to read the first in the series next to see where it all began.

Mike’s a journalist, specialising in logistics. It hardly sounds like the most exciting life for an amateur sleuth, but trouble seems to find him. His private life may have something to do with this as there’s the woman who got away. And he’s invited to her engagement party.

This is where he meets her fiancé, Nick Hathaway, an estate agent with influence, charm and a secret agenda perhaps? Mike’s not sure if he’s regretting missed opportunities, envious or correct in his impressions. It’s only a fleeting concern as he has a bigger problem to resolve.

His efforts to promote his self-published novel after poor sales lead him to spend a large sum with a company that promises to get him plenty of readers. When the owner of the company is murdered, Mike finds himself the prime suspect.

This is only the start of his troubles as his investigations lead to Los Angeles and back to London in an effort to learn more about the victim. Mix in his work as a journalist, which leads him into the murky world of property speculation, and things become complicated as his private and professional lives intertwine, leading him into ever greater danger.

It’s a slow burn that builds into a twisting and intriguing tale with an exciting climax. There are still some twists left as Mike ties up the remaining loose ends. The story captured my interest from the start, mainly due to the upbeat narrative, punctuated with sharp, often self-deprecating humour, which made him an imminently likeable, but credible hero. He’s an ordinary bloke, trying to do his best while landing himself in all kinds of hot water.

If you enjoy ordinary people solving complex murders, give this a try.


Mike’s hand hovers over the mouse. He clicks Submit. Done! He knows he’s paid massively over the odds, but at least his bid to revive flagging sales of his self-published novel is under way. All he’s looking for is some way to break through the recognition barrier. He has no idea of the havoc he’s just unleashed.

The tangled course of Mike’s quest for explanations leads him in directions he never anticipated, and his efforts rebound on him in increasingly alarming ways. Soon his life is in turmoil, and his troubles are also affecting those around him. One thing quickly becomes clear: the lack of book sales is the very least of his problems.

Looming in the midst of Mike’s woes is the enigmatic Nick Hathaway. He oozes good will… but does he have a hidden agenda? Mike’s instinct is to interfere, but he’s unsure whether this will bring him closer to Samantha, the woman he’s fallen for in spite of himself, or merely alienate her. Meanwhile, what of his faltering relationship with his girlfriend Ashley?

This taut, fast-paced mystery thriller is the most compelling so far from author Peter Rowlands. Whether you read it as a stand-alone drama or as a new stage in the unfolding story of disaffected journalist Mike Stanhope, you’ll quickly become engrossed.

From a measured start, the intricately interwoven plot lines steadily gather urgency as the action ranges between London and Los Angeles. The succession of upsets and surprises will leave you breathless. Meanwhile, along the way the author weaves in some revealing and occasionally ironic insights into the struggles of the self-published writer.

The Concrete Ceiling by Peter Rowlands

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