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August 7, 2017

Inspector Wexford Books In Order

Author: Ruth Rendell

 

From Doon With Death (1964)
A New Lease of Death (1967)
Wolf to the Slaughter (1967)
The Best Man to Die (1969)
A Guilty Thing Surprised (1970)
No More Dying Then (1971)
Murder Being Once Done (1972)
Some Lie and Some Die (1973)
Shake Hands Forever (1975)
A Sleeping Life (1979)
Putting on by Cunning (1981)
The Speaker of Mandarin (1983)
An Unkindness of Ravens (1985)
The Veiled One (1988)
Kissing the Gunner’s Daughter (1991)
Simisola (1994)
Road Rage (1997)
Harm Done (1999)
The Babes in the Wood (2002)
End in Tears (2005)
Not in the Flesh (2007)
The Monster in the Box (2009)
The Vault (2011)
No Man’s Nightingale (2013)

 

Check out the Inspector Wexford books here

August 7, 2017

Inspector Lynley Books in Order

tower-bridge-london-elizabeth-george-lynley

Author: Elizabeth George

 

A Great Deliverance (1988)

Payment in Blood (1989)

Well-Schooled in Murder (1990)

A Suitable Vengeance (1991)

For the Sake of Elena (1992)

Missing Joseph (1992)

Playing for the Ashes (1993)

In the Presence of the Enemy (1996)

Deception on His Mind (1997)

In Pursuit of the Proper Sinner (1999)

A Traitor to Memory (2001)

A Place of Hiding (2003)

With No One as Witness (2005)

What Came Before He Shot Her (2006)

Careless in Red (2008)

This Body of Death (2010)

Believing the Lie (2012)

Just One Evil Act (2013)

A Banquet of Consequences (2015)

The Punishment She Deserves (2018)

 

Check out the Inspector Lynley books here

August 7, 2017

Inspector Rebus Books In Order

edinburgh rebus

Author : Ian Rankin

Knots and Crosses (1987)

Hide and Seek (1991)

Tooth and Nail (1992)

Strip Jack (1992)

The Black Book (1993)

Mortal Causes (1994)

Let It Bleed(1995)

Black and Blue(1997)

The Hanging Garden(1998)

Dead Souls(1999)

Set in Darkness(2000)

The Falls(2001)

Resurrection Man(2002)

A Question of Blood(2003)

Fleshmarket Alley(2004)

The Naming of the Dead(2006)

Exit Music(2007)

Standing in Another Man’s Grave(2012)

Saints of the Shadow Bible(2014)

Even Dogs in the Wild(2016)

Rather Be The Devil(2017)

In A House Of Lies (2018)

Check out the Rebus books here from Amazon

August 7, 2017

Deals On The Kindle Paperwhite

For readers of detective books this year they can be incredibly rewarding thanks to the offers available on Kindle.

Why Kindle and why the Kindle Paperwhite?

That’s what I used to ask before I, admittedly reluctantly, got dragged into this century and purchased my first Kindle. The model I have chosen is the Kindle Paperwhite.

First, the wonders of modern technology mean that the Paperwhite has what is called a built-in front light, as opposed (obviously) to being back-lit. Those evil back-lit tablets shine in your eyes, where as this Paperwhite will not. Just try it for a minute and you will notice the difference. This means adios amigos to a lot of eyestrain.

The screen’s brightness is fully adjustable to read in any light.


As mentioned elsewhere, you can sit on a beach in beautiful bright sunshine and be able to read the Kindle as though it was a paperback – no glare as you find on regular tablets.

Kindle Paperwhite also has a great list of fonts to choose from, including one called Bookerly, which was exclusively designed to enhance the reading experience on digital screens.

Set your own preferred font size also.

Flip around your books but still save your place

Kindle offers something called “Page Flip” which helps find charts, pictures and even sections from other parts of the book that you may have tagged to look up later. You can quickly swipe to these other pages and Page Flip will automatically save the page you’re reading by pinning it to the side of your screen so you’ll never lose your place.

Export your favorite parts of the book

Ever read a book and thought, “I should copy this bit so I can use it to impress my friends, work colleagues, use in a presentation etc.?  This Kindle allows you to easily export notes and highlights from a book to your e-mail. Receive your notes both in either PDF format, so you can print it, and in a format that you open in your favorite spreadsheet app.

Lightweight

Weighing less than a paperback, hold Kindle in one hand and your drink in the other.

Instantly look things up while you read

Ever been reading something but you don’t understand the meaning of a word, or where in the world a certain place is? I have and I usually would skim over it. But not any more! Introducing “Smart Lookup”. This allows you to instantly lookup the meaning of a word, or obtain information about a name or place using The Oxford American Dictionary and Wikipedia – just press, learn, go back to reading.

“Time To Read” – know how long to finish that chapter

As long as they don’t tell you the ending!  Some people find this useful – “Time to Read” is based on your reading speed, and figures out how much time it will take to finish the book, or even a chapter. It continuously updates itself as your reading speed changes – quite remarkable but simple, when you think about it.

Instantly translate sections or words

Tap any word or highlight a section to instantly translate, using Bing Translator, into Spanish, German, French, Japanese, and other languages..

 Kindle Unlimited

With Kindle Unlimited, you can read as much as you want, choosing from over 1 million titles and thousands of audiobooks. Freely explore new authors, books, and genres on any device for just $9.99 a month. Try Kindle Unlimited free for 30 days.

Kindle – Unlimited 30 Day Free Trial

Direct Instant Download

As long as you have a network connection, you can choose your book, download it (usually takes less than a minute, and start reading. You do not require a computer for this.

Kindle MatchBook

For thousands of qualifying books, your past, present, and future print-edition purchases allow you to buy the Kindle edition of the same book for $2.99 or less. Learn More.

Sample before you buy

Not sure if you want to get a certain book? Download and read a sample for free before you decide to buy.

Customize to your language

Kindle can be used in English, Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Russian, Dutch, and Simplified Chinese. You choose the language that works for you.

Remember that dictionary lookup thing we told you about earlier? Well, that works in these other languages too.

Read books in other language “scripts”

As long as the book is available in your favorite language, Kindle can supply.

You can read books and documents in Japanese, Chinese (Simplified and Traditional), Korean, Cyrillic, and Greek scripts.

Free access is also available to several international dictionaries.

Never lose a book

Your Kindle library is backed up free of charge in the cloud. No need to stress yourself out about losing books anymore.

If you delete it you can get it back

If you delete your book from your device, have to replace it, you can always download it again at no charge.

Carry and read personal documents

You can email your personal or business documents straight to your Kindle device. These can be PDFs, Word documents, etc.which you can then read in Kindle format.  I personally prefer to use it just for books but there are always people that can’t get away from the other stuff.

August 7, 2017

Ian Rankin – Rebus

When it comes to detective novels, very few authors can match the talent and finesse of Ian Rankin. The Scottish author, best known for his British detective books, has earned many accolades from fans and critics alike. Even though Rankin is widely known as a crime writer, he did not set out to be one in his early days. His Inspector John Rebus has been gracing our imagination since 1987, and for me, he is the best author of detective fiction today.

I have long been a fan of Mr. Rankin’s work and my admiration of him was taken to the highest level when he regained the TV rights to his books after the TV companies left us to suffer some moronic decisions, mainly that they gave each novel a mere two hours of airtime, but their stupidity reached new heights when they then decided to condense that into a paltry single hour!

Apparently the series is returning to TV, but this time with Ian Rankin’s blessing and we can expect that each novel will receive the airtime it deserves.

About Ian Rankin’s early life

Born in Cardended, Fife, on 28 April 1960, to a grocery shop owner father and a school canteen manager mother, Ian Rankin was educated at Beath High School, Cowdenbeath.

Rankin’s English teacher played a pivotal role in pushing the promising author towards his destiny, and in due course he graduated from the University of Edinburgh with English literature as a major in 1982. He then spent the next three years experimenting with novels when he was supposed to be focusing on getting a Ph.D. in Scottish literature. He also worked on a doctorate on Muriel Spark (a Scottish novelist) but did not end up finishing it.

In between the time after completing university and before tasting success with his Rebus novels, Rankin did many odd jobs to make a living. He worked as a grape picker, a journalist for a popular magazine, and even as a taxman.

After marrying his university sweetheart in 1986, he lived in London for a short while, followed by a brief time in France, before returning to Edinburgh.

The Rebus novels – Rankin’s claim to fame

Check out the Rebus books here from Amazon

As mentioned before, the author did not set out to be a crime novel writer.  He followed in the footsteps of his idols, Muriel Spark and Robert Louis Stevenson, both being Scottish novelists. It was Allan Massie (another Scottish novelist) who motivated him to write further.

His first Rebus novel (Knots and Crosses) was published in 1987, and since then the books have been translated into more than 22 languages and are bestsellers in many parts of the world. Rankin wrote those novels in third person omniscient style, with the primary focus being on Rebus. The point of view occasionally shifted to other major and minor characters as well.

Here, Rankin discusses his latest novel, “Rather Be The Devil”.

 

As a genre, the stories belong to the police procedural detective fiction category, and the sometimes dark nature of the books has led them to be named as “Tartan Noir.’

The investigations paint a stark, uncompromising portrait of Scotland that is often characterized by poverty, corruption, and organized crime. To solve the mysteries, Rebus has to deal with internal police office politics and unfair treatment meted out by his superiors. Rebus also has his personal issues, which further complicate the ongoing investigations.

The character has a mysterious past, is known to be a hard drinker and at times a loner who is often reluctant to let women get too close to him; he also considers detective work as his chief purpose in life. Rebus doesn’t get along well with many of his colleagues and has a tendency to ignore his superiors. He also has a knack for bending the rules in his favor when it comes to matters of investigation.

Click here to see the Inspector Rebus books in chronological order.

 

Critical acclaim and other works

Rankin has received bountiful critical acclaim for his original plots, dozens of distinctive characters, and excellent locations. “I set out to write novels which would explore contemporary Edinburgh and take the reader into the heart of the city, where few tourists go,” said Rankin in an interview.

The locations span throughout Scotland and give the readers an insight into business districts, council estates, dying mining towns, nightclubs, prisons, and the infamous pubs and streets of Edinburgh. Some of these locations are fictional, but they have been inspired by real places as admitted by Rankin. The author also received praise for interlinking plots in different books.

In addition to the Rebus novels, Ian Rankin has also written a stand-alone novel like Open Doors, Dark Entries – a graphic novel, and Dark Road, which is a play collaborating with Mark Thomson, the artistic director of the Royal Lyceum Theatre. This play premiered in Edinburgh, in September 2013.

His main series of crime novels, Rebus, also got a TV show adaptation that ran from 2000 to 2004. The TV show starred Ken Scott, Claire Price, Jennifer Black, and was based on the life and investigations of John Rebus.

There is even a tour company in Edinburgh that gives tourists an insight into the fascinating locations of the Rebus Novels. You can find more details at www.rebustours.com.

Awards and accolades

Mr. Rankin’s accolades span across three decades, starting from the time he was elected as a Hawthornded Fellow in 1988. He also won the Chandler-Fulbright Award later in 1991 and is also the recipient of four Crime Writer’s Association Dagger Awards, which includes the honorable Diamond Dagger in the year 2005.

Rankin also won the Edgar Award, which is a celebrated award in the USA, for Resurrection Men. The accomplishments don’t end here because he also won the Palle Rosenkrantz Prize of Denmark, Germany’s Deutscher Krimipreis, and the prestigious French Grand Prix du Roman as well.

Ian Rankin also received honorary degrees from the universities of Abertay, Hall, St Andrew’s and Edinburgh, as well as from The Open University. In 2002, Ian Rankin presented his own TV series named Evil Thoughts on Channel 4. He has been a frequent contributor to BBC2’s Newsnight Review and starred in Ranking on the Staircase in 2005.

The author has also received an OBE for his contribution towards English literature, which he opted to receive in his hometown of Edinburgh. In 2011, a group of Scottish book sculptures was deposited as gifts around Edinburgh’s cultural institutions.

Many of the sculptures made reference to Rankin’s genius work, with the eleventh sculpture being a personal gift to the maestro himself.

August 7, 2017

Agatha Christie – Poirot & Miss Marple

Agatha Christie (full name: Agatha Mary Clarissa Christie) was a crime novelist from England, playwright, and storyteller widely known for detective novels and collections of short stories. A total of 66 novels and 14 stories revolve around the fictional characters, detective Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple.

Fans of the murder mystery and crime thriller genre are no strangers to Christie’s contribution towards literature. In fact, she is considered to be among the world’s most prominent writers of all time. She not only wrote novels, but also wrote The Mousetrap, which is the world’s longest-running murder mystery play having opened in 1952.

She has even authored six romantic stories under the pen name Marie Westmacott and has been the recipient of many prestigious awards, which includes the title of Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire. She passed away on 12 January 1967 at the age of 85, but the legacy lives on through her works.

Agatha Christie and her early life

Torquay, Devon

The author was born on September 15, 1890 in Torquay, Devon, into a well-off upper middle-class household. Her mother, named Clara Boehmer, was an English woman, while her father, Frederick Alva Miller, was an American who went to Switzerland on the insistence of his parents to further his education. He later became a stockbroker. 

The author had quite an unusual upbringing, even for those days, as her parents decided they would homeschool her. Despite the strange decision of her mother that she should not learn to read until she was eight, young Agatha taught herself to read by the age of five. It is said that she got her creativity from the children’s storybooks she read as a child. Some say that the author even played with her imaginary friends, stuffed animals, and began writing poems as a child. Christie stated that she had a very happy childhood, being surrounded by independent women.

Their life was good, until her father passed away on November 1901, aged only 55.

By the age of 18, Agatha had begun writing short stories, but in 1910 her mother’s poor health led to them moving to the warmer climate of Cairo, where they spent a few months.

In 1912, Agatha Christie met a qualified aviator named Archie Christie, who had applied to be a part of Royal Flying Corps. Their love affair quickly transpired to something more serious, and the couple got married on Christmas Eve 2014 while Archie was home on leave from the horrors of World War 1 in mainland Europe. Things settled down for Agatha in 1918 when her husband was posted to the War Office in London until the war ended.

Early writing career

Christie had a liking for detective novels since her younger days and enjoyed reading Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes series and Wilkie Collins’ The Moonstone as well as The Woman in White. She wrote her first detective novel in 1919, titled The Mysterious Affair at Styles. It was in this novel she introduced the famous detective, Hercule Poirot.

Christie’s inspiration for her most famous character came from Belgian war refugees who were living in Torquay. Despite having a good story, her debut novel was rejected by several publishing companies. Eventually the Bodley Head publishing company decided to give her the “big break,” provided she changed the plot’s ending.

The Secret Adversary (1922) was Christie’s second novel, in which we read about a fresh detective couple, Tommy, and Tuppence. She didn’t make much money from it. The third novel, titled Murder on the Links (1923), again featured Hercule Poirot. Soon after, she wrote a couple of short stories that were commissioned by The Sketch magazine.

Even though Christie was yet to find her place in the literary world, she enjoyed the good life touring the world with her husband.

About the Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple novels

The author’s debut book, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, introduced Hercule Poirot, an ex-Belgian police officer distinguished by his odd -shaped head and a large curly mustache. The detective became a steady character who appeared in 34 novels and 54 short stories.

Miss Marple, on the other hand, was introduced in The Thirteen Problems, a book of short stories based on the author’s grandmother and her friends. Marple appeared in a total 20 short storybooks and 12 novels. Even though this character was strikingly different from Hercule Poirot, she bore some resemblance as well.

Check out the Poirot books here.

The primary factor of distinction can be attributed to the fact that Hercule Poirot was portrayed as a flat character, whereas Miss Marple undergoes a change from an overly curious young lady to someone mature that cares about her village. Another significant difference is Poirot’s affiliation with the police that gives him access to evidence and backup.

Miss Marple, on the other hand, can only count on the goodwill of people to come in aid of her investigation. She has no ties to the police and has to rely on the patronage of her influential friends. She also heavily relies on gossips, rumors, and stray events that seem to be connected to the original mystery.

Check out the Miss Marple books here

As a consequence, the style of both of the detective’s investigations and how the plots unfold in the stories are different. Their characteristics are also in contrast, which is evident from the fact that Hercule Poirot is highly confident and often praises himself and his ability to solve crimes. Jane Marple, on the other hand, is somewhat timid and modest.

Even though both the characters might be different in many ways, they are also somewhat similar. For instance, both characters like to live a solitary life and neither of them are married. In one of the stories, Poirot admits that he once loved an English girl but their affair never lead to anything.

They appeared in many stories and novels, but Curtain and Sleeping Murder were two unique ones that she wrote while the Second World War was raging on. These novels were intended to be the final cases of the two detectives, Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple respectively. The author sealed these books in a bank vault and they were released 30 years later.

Agatha Christie finally published these two novels when the movie version of The Murder on The Orient Express was enjoying its success. The author realized that it might not be possible for her to write anymore and it would be only fitting that her fans got to enjoy the finale of the Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot sagas, which she had built up over the years.

See this list of the Hercule Poirot books in chronological order.

Honors and Awards

Without a shadow of the doubt, Christie is the world’s bestselling mystery writer, also often hailed as “the Queen of Crime.” She’s considered as a master of plotting, suspense, and unforgettable characters. She had earned many accolades throughout the years, and some more after passing away.

The Guinness Book of World Records hails Agatha Christie as the bestselling novelist of all time, having roughly sold 2 billion copies. The author’s estate remarks that her works rank third in terms of the most widely published books in the world. Believe it or not, Christie has sold the highest number of books, after the Bible and the works of Shakespeare.

Half of her sales are English language publications while the other half is the translations into various languages. As per data supplied by Index Translationum (UNESCO’s database book of translations), she is currently the most translated author, having her works translated into more than 103 languages.

Christie’s novel, “And Then There Were None”, has sold over 100 million copies so far, making it the world’s best-selling mystery book of all time and it also ranks as the 7th best selling book of all time. Agatha Christie was also among the very few British cultural icons were chosen to appear in the famous artwork of the “Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” album cover, released by The Beatles.

The world continues to honor this author by adapting her writings into theatrical and TV shows.

Later life

Despite going through a failed marriage, speculations of a loss of mental sanity, and many other difficulties, Agatha Christie came out as a winner. She got remarried in 1932 to Sir Max Mallowan and lived happily until her death in 1976. The author’s last public appearance was at the opening of the film version of “The Murder on the Orient Express”, in 1974.

After an extraordinarily successful career and life, she died peacefully on 12 January 1976. She is buried in the churchyard of St Mary’s, Cholsey, which is now an attraction site of sorts near Wallingford, South Oxfordshire.

Poirot On DVD

This site is generally focused on books but every now and then I make an exception and include other media where warranted. In this case, it is not only warranted but in my opinion, this should be required viewing.

I am talking about the most famous of the many adaptations of her works which is the “Agatha Christie’s Poirot” series, starring David Suchet in the title role, which ranks as my favourite TV series of all time.

Here is a short clip from one of the episodes – enjoy!

 

There were 70 episodes in total and covered the entire collection of Poirot novels and short stories. I will post an article dedicated to this series later.

August 7, 2017

Peter Lovesey – Inspector Diamond

peter lovesey-peter diamondPeter Lovesey is an author who needs no introduction to aficionados of mystery and crime fiction novels. Popular around the world for his police proceedurals set in both the Victorian era, and in the present day, this author got much acclaim due to his most famous characters, Sergeant Cribb, and Peter Diamond, who is a modern day police detective in Bath.

Among British detective book authors, Peter Lovesey holds a special place in the hearts of many crime fiction novel lovers due to his humble personality and many literary contributions. Over the years, the author has received a multitude of accolades from fans and critics alike.

But Detective Peter Diamond is not his only popular series; he has also written a score of other non-fiction and fiction, some under the pen name of Peter Lear. Let’s take a look at the illustrious life and career of Peter Lovesey.

About Peter Lovesey’s early life

Peter (Harmer) Lovesey was born in 1936 in Middlesex, England, and went to Hampton Grammar School. After finishing school, he attended Reading University to study Fine Art but soon ended up switching to English. Other subjects such as History and Latin didn’t interest him much, so he put his focus on English.

During this time in the university, he was helped by two English tutors, John Wayne and Frank Kermode, who saw the potential within Lovesey through his essays. He graduated from Reading with honors in 1958. However, Lovesey’s biggest achievement in university, by his own admission, was finding his future wife.

After graduating, he did three years of national service in the Royal Air Force “as a pilot officer who piloted nothing and as a flying officer who didn’t fly.” He signed up for an extra year in the National Service where he taught RAF boy entrees. The three years he spent in service gave him training and qualifications necessary to get better pay.

Leaving the air force also gave him enough money to get married to Jacqueline (Jax) Lewis, and also an edge in kicking off his career. Peter Lovesey’s teaching career lasted 14 years, starting in 1961 as a lecturer in English at Thurrock Technical College located in Essex.

The author then went on to become the Head of the General Education Department at Hammersmith College for Further Education in London. It was only in 1975 that he quit teaching and focused his time and effort in being a full-time writer. The second chapter of his journey began from there.

About Detective Peter Diamond novels

The Peter Diamond series is without doubt one of the finest creations in the crime fiction genre. The series is led by an English superintendent, Peter Diamond, who is as notorious among his colleagues as he is among his suspects. Peter is overweight, usually wears a brown trilby over his bald head, complemented by a silver fringe.

Check out the Inspector Diamond Books here

Diamond has an intense dislike for computers and scientific methods; most of his colleagues find him to be highly opinionated and even overbearing. Regardless of the follies, he is known to be an excellent detective who has a track record of solving multiple murder cases.

Peter firmly believes that the old methods – interviews and knocking on doors are always better than relying on other techniques. Even though the detective tries to stay away from technology as much as possible, he has many times reluctantly admitted the use of forensic evidence when no other method seemed feasible.

His trusty assistant, John Wigfull is young and often gets the task of handling computers and other technology. Diamond, being the ex-Met cop that he is, has experience in working in the rougher parts of London. For him, Bath is too middle-class, too genteel, and has very little to offer in terms of variety.

Diamond’s rough policing methods often land him in trouble with his superiors. In one novel, he even resigns due to conflict of interest but thankfully comes back to work officially later. Eventually, he settles into the CID team but fails to lose his abrasive methods. Peter Diamond is aware that his city has facades that only a few people can see through.

The City of Bath

Underneath the charming buildings, the elegant, sweeping crescents, and the numerous historic sites with a history going back almost 2,000 years, lie many untold secrets and more mysteries than anyone could ever solve.**

Click here to see the Inspector Diamond books in chronological order.

Critical acclaim and other awards

Peter Lovesey was born to be a crime fiction novelist. He won a competition with his very first crime fiction novel titled Wobble to Death. The book put him at center stage very early in his writing career, and he hasn’t looked back since. He has numerous award-winning books and has been a nominee for nearly all the prizes in crime writer guilds throughout the world.

Lovesey also served as the chairman of the Crime Writers’ Association and has received Lifetime Achievement Awards in both the UK and the US. He also won other awards, which includes the prestigious Gold and Silver Daggers presented by the British Crime Writer’s Association.

The Cartier Diamond Dagger was awarded for his lifetime achievement. In addition, he also got the French Grand Prix de Litterature Policiere, and got first place on the 50th anniversary of the short story contest held by Mystery Writers of America. Some rumors even speculate that a TV series based on Peter Diamond’s adventures is also in the making.

 

Current life

 

A recent publication by U.K.’s Detection Club (a group consisting of British mystery writers), Motives for Murder, was dedicated to Mr. Lovesey’s 80th birthday. In 2019, this world-renowned author will also be recognized by the Bouchercon Convention for lifetime achievement.

The author now lives near Chichester. When asked if he was given a chance to live anywhere, where would he live, Lovesey answered that “it would either be with his daughter Kathy in Greenwich Connecticut, or Shrewsbury, England, where his only son resides with his wife, Jacqui.”

He further added that when it comes to choices of living, people tend to matter more than places. As for his infamous character, Peter Diamond, he would 

**Acknowledgements for some of the information on this page to the blog of J. Sydney Jones.

August 7, 2017

P D James – Adam Dalgleish

Phyllis Dorothy James, also known as P.D. James was an English crime writer who rose to fame due to her infamous novel series starring police Commander Adam Dalgliesh. The fictional character is the central figure in 14 mystery novels, the first being “Cover Her Face,” which was released in 1962.

P.D. James also released other fiction and non-fiction stories that earned her global recognition and acclaim from both fans and critics. She was awarded the title of Baroness James of Holland Park among many others that she earned in her celebrated career.

She was born on 3 August 1920, and passed away nine decades later on 27 November 2014, leaving a void in the hearts of her fans and the literary world. Let’s take a look at the life of this renowned author in more details.

About P.D. James and her early life

The author was born in Oxford on 3 August 1922 to a Tax Inspector father, Sidney James. She received education at the British School in Ludlow, and later at Cambridge High School for Girls. Mainly due to a lack of money young Phyllis had to quit school at the age of 16 and start working. Sadly her mother suffered from mental illness and was eventually consigned to a mental institution.

Her work career started in a tax office, which lasted for three years. Later she found a job as a role of assistant stage manager for a theater group. In 1941, she married Ernest Connor Bantry White, who was an Army doctor by profession. Later they had two daughters, Jane and Clare.

Unfortunately, after returning home from the Second World War, her husband struggled with mental illness, in particular schizophrenia. With her husband in a psychiatric institution much of the time, James had no choice but to provide for the whole family. James later took up hospital administration and worked for a hospital board in London from 1949 to 1968.

Her husband passed away in 1964, leaving her the only one to take care of the daughters. She took up writing as a hobby in the mid-1950s but was only able to release her first novel in 1962. That first novel, Cover Her Face, put her in the spotlight and she went on to write many other mystery novels based on the backdrop of UK bureaucracies.

After her husband had died, she also took a position as a civil servant within the criminal section of the home office. She worked for the government till 1979, after which she finally retired to concentrate on her writing career.

About Adam Dalgliesh

Adam Dalgliesh is a fictional character who made his first appearance in the novel Cover Her Face. He also appears in two Cordelia Gray novels that James wrote later in her career. In the first novel, we get to see Dalgliesh in the role of a Detective Chief Inspector but gets promoted later on.

Check Out The Dalgliesh Books Here From Amazon

Adam Dalgliesh is a prime example of “the gentleman detective” image that was a rage back then in the British detective fiction category.

The Detective Chief Inspector eventually acquires the rank of Commander at New Scotland Yard, London, which is a prestigious position. Dalgliesh is presented as an intensely private person who likes to keep to himself for the most part. 

He had several works of poetry published in his name. He lives in a flat that looks over the Thames, in the city of London. In the earlier novels, the Detective drives a Cooper Bristol and later changes to a Jaguar. As far as physical appearance is concerned, he is described as tall, dark, and handsome in some books.

The Norfolk Coast – the setting for several Dalgliesh books.

Dalgliesh’s father was a rector in a Norfolk country parish, but his only family relation was Jane Dalgliesh, his aunt. After his aunt dies, Dalgliesh inherits a converted windmill that is located on the coast of Norfolk, among other things. He is also a widower, who had lost his wife during childbirth before any of the novels take place.

The Detective has been reluctant to commit to anyone else since his wife’s death, but later on, has the occasional relationship with the common problems associated with police work, i.e. inconvenient interruptions of time off, cancellation of trips, dedication to his work, etc. He does eventually get it right though.

Click here for a list of the Dalgliesh books in chronological order.

The author was very religious and aspects of this show up now and then in the books, although never in a “preachy way”. The references to Dalgliesh’s father being a former rector are fairly common but her knowledge of religious workings were very prominent in the magnificent novel, Death In Holy Orders. James also became quite active in helping promote Christianity in the Anglican tradition, and she was a patron of the Prayer Book Society.

 

P.D. James – Awards and Accolades

P.D. James was a world renowned author who received countless accolades throughout her career. The first one came in 1971 when she became a runner-up for the best novel award given by Mystery Writers of America, for Shroud for a Nightingale. In 1972, she received the Macallan Silver Dagger for fiction by Crime Writers Association for the same book.

In 1973, she again became a runner-up for the best novel award for An Unsuitable Job for a Woman. She received many awards thereafter, with the latest being 2010 Nick Clarke Award while working as a guest editor of Today radio program in which she interviewed the director-general of the BBC, Mark Thomson.

In the 1980s, many of James’ mystery novels were adapted for TV and played on the ITV network in the UK. These productions were also consequently broadcast in other countries, especially in the USA. The TV show adaptation starred Roy Marsden who played the role of Adam Dalgliesh.

Her novel, The Children of Men, published in 1992 got a feature film by the (almost) same title which was released in 2006. Children of Men (the movie) starred Clive Owen, Michael Caine, and Julianne Moore; it was directed by Alfonso Cuaron. Even though the book was heavily adapted from the novel and was, in many parts, considerably different, James was still very pleased with the outcome.

Honorary Awards

In 1983, James received the Order Of The British Empire (OBE), in recognition of her services to literature. In 1991, James was further honored by her country with the title of Baroness James of Holland Park, after which she sat in the House of Lords as a member of the Conservative party.  In 2008, James became an inductee into the International Crime Writing Hall of Fame at the inaugural ITV3 Crime Thriller Awards.

Death

On 27 November 2014, P.D. James passed away at the age of 94, at her home in Oxford. Today, she is survived by her two daughters, five grandchildren, and numerous great-grandchildren.

August 7, 2017

Charles Todd – Inspector Rutledge

rutledg- charles todd

For mystery and crime fiction lovers,  the mother and son writing team of Caroline and Charles Todd, using the pen name Charles Todd, are a duo with no equal. Despite the fact that they write British mystery books, they are actually Americans who live on the east coast of the United States. The authors are globally renowned for their series of novels based on post-World War I England.

The books follow the investigations of Inspector Ian Rutledge, who is trying to make a career in Scotland Yard. Being a veteran of the European campaigns, he suffers from shell shock and has to continually deal with the voice of a young dead soldier inside of his head.

Even though the Ian Rutledge series is the author’s most famous work, the duo has also written a series on Bess Crawford, who was a nurse serving in World War I France.

About Charles Todd

Charles and Caroline Todd come from a family having a rich storytelling heritage. While Caroline has a BA in History and English literature and Masters in International Relations, Charles completed his BA in Communication Studies and business management. Charles also has a degree in culinary arts, meaning his cooking skills are as good as his writing.

Both Caroline and Charles grew up listening to their fathers and grandfathers reminisce about the old days. They spent many evenings listening to the tales of their seniors, which gave them the ability to write about past events flawlessly. An uncle of Charles who served as a flyer in World War I imbued a keen sense of interest in the Great War within him.

Charles took a keen interest in the rich history of Britain as a child and learned everything he could about the legends of King Arthur and William Wallace. His mother also encouraged him to read books by Winston Churchill and Nelson. Their family often visited England, which gave Charles the opportunity to spend quality time in the countryside and the quaint villages where, in my opinion is the “real Britain”. 

Charles also had a natural love for history that led him to study the causes that shaped the American Civil War, World War I and World War II. After pursuing a career in business consultancy, Charles developed an interest in understanding the experience of people living in troubled places. It was then that the author conceived the idea of Ian Rutledge.

Watch Caroline and Charles Todd discuss their characters, Ian Rutledge and the protagonist of their other mystery series, Nurse Bess Crawford

Caroline was always a voracious reader and was especially a fan of poetry that told stories. She said that Highwayman was one of her favorites from the early days. When she’s not writing, she is either gardening, painting, or busy traveling the world.

About Ian Rutledge Novels

Check out the Inspector Rutledge books here

The most notable works of fiction from Charles Todd is undoubtedly the series of novels on Inspector Ian Rutledge. He is a fictional character written by Caroline and Charles Todd, who have written a total of 19 novels to date that revolve around the cases of the Inspector. In the books, Rutledge is a World War I veteran suffering from PTSD.

While picking up the pieces of his career in Scotland Yard, Rutledge constantly battles with the memory of a fellow soldier whom he had to execute due to the order of his superiors. He regularly hears his voice, but cannot reveal this information to anyone due to the social stigma attached to mental issues that were prevalent in the 20th century. 

The story of the damned Inspector begins in June 1919, in a book named A Test of Wills, which is the author duo’s first Ian Rutledge novel. It is in this book that we get to learn about the character’s dark past, his internal demons, and the constant struggle to keep sanity. The story begins in Warwickshire where he investigates the murder of Colonel Harris. 

Click here for a list of the Inspector Rutledge books in chronological order.

There are six more books based on the same year – Wings of Fire, Search the Dark, Legacy of the Dead, Watchers of Time, A Fearsome Doubt, and A Cold Treachery. Even though these novels follow different stories, the themes relating to isolation, despair, tragedy, insanity, and personal struggle remain common. 

Six other books were based on the year 1920, and the stories here also follow mysterious plots that put Rutledge in front of many tough decisions and compromising choices. These British detective books also show the protagonist in his most vulnerable state, desperately battling the demons that he is chasing and the demons that chase him.

In book number 17 of the series. “A Fine Summer’s Day”, we are treated to a prequel, with the story taking place in 1914 around the start of the Great War. As ever the story is beautifully crafted and helps to set up the series but it is not necessary to read this book first.

Accolades and Accomplishments

Some of the Ian Rutledge novels won awards that brought international acclaim to the Charles Todd pair. A Test of Wills, which was the first in the series, got nominated for the John Creasey Award in the UK. It also got nominations for the Edgar Award and Dilys Award presented by the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association.

The Independent Mystery Booksellers Association also named A Test of Wills one among the hundred top mysteries of the 20th century. Wings of Fire received a nomination for a Dilys award as well, aside from being shortlisted for the first UK Ellis Peters Mystery Award.

The Legacy of the Dead received an Antony Award nomination. Other books like An Unmarked Grave and A Question of Honor won the award for Best Historical Novel. As you can see, the bestselling novels of Charles Todd received critical acclaim as well.

There are several wonderful American authors who write British Detective novels, such as Elizabeth George and Deborah Crombie, but for me the Charles Todd mother and son combo are the finest. It’s heartening to see that they show no sign of stopping and that a new novel, “The Gatekeeper” is due to be published in early 2018. Long may they continue.

 

August 7, 2017

Colin Dexter – Inspector Morse

If you are a true crime fiction aficionado, then Colin Dexter must be one of your beloved authors. Although he is most famously known for his Inspector Morse series of novels, he has written a few novellas and short stories as well.

Colin Dexter is a prime example of the quote – “It is never too late to start something new.” He began writing his first novel in 1972 and went on to become one of the most famous British crime fiction writers. In fact, the TV adaptation of his Inspector Morse series of novels ran for twelve seasons, spanning over a period of fourteen years!

Oxford – the setting for the Morse novels

In this article, we will not only cover his most popular novels, the Inspector Morse series, but also discover more about his inspirational life and career.

About Colin Dexter’s Early Life

Born as Norman Colin Dexter was in Stamford, Lincolnshire, England, on 29 September 1930 to Alfred and Dorothy Dexter. He had two siblings, a brother, and a sister. His brother, John, was a fellow classicist and he taught Classics at The King’s School, Peterborough. His father, Alfred Dexter, ran a small garage and taxi company from his premises in Scotgate, Stamford.

Colin received his primary education from St. John’s Infants School and Bluecoat Junior School. From there, he gained a scholarship to Stamford School, which was a boy’s public school. At Stamford, one of his contemporaries was the England international cricket captain and England international rugby player Michael John Knight Smith, better known as M.J.K Smith or Mike Smith.

After leaving school, Colin went on to complete his national service with the Royal Corps of Signals and then read Classics at Christ’s College, Cambridge. He graduated from Christ’s College in 1953 and received his master’s degree in 1958.

In 1954, he started his teaching career in the East Midlands, where he became the assistant Classics master at Wyggeston School, Leicester. At Leicester, he also worked with the Christian Union School society. Surprisingly, that did not reflect his religious views as he later stated in an interview in 2000, that he shared identical views on politics and religion as his fictitious character Inspector Morse, who was portrayed as an atheist.

Colin Dexter got married in 1956 to Dorothy Cooper, with whom he had a daughter, Sally, and a son named Jeremy. Following his marriage, in 1957, he briefly worked at Loughborough Grammar School as a Classics teacher, before graduating to senior Classics teacher at Corby Grammar School, Northamptonshire, in 1959.

However, in 1966, he was forced to retire from Corby Grammar School due to the onset of deafness, a condition that was hereditary to some degree as his grandparents and father all suffered from it. Following this discovery, he knew he would have to change careers, so he took up the post of senior assistant secretary at the University Board of Oxford, where he was responsible for marking GCSE exam papers. He held this position for over twenty years before finally hanging up his red pen in 1988.

About the Inspector Morse Novels

Although Dexter wrote a few textbooks during his teaching days, it was in 1972, that he began his illustrious writing career. He started writing his first novel during a family holiday. In 1975, he published his first novel, Last Bus to Woodstock, which was also the first in the series of thirteen Inspector Morse novels.

For a period spanning almost twenty-five years, he wrote a series of thirteen Inspector Morse Novels, the last of which, The Remorseful Day, was published in 1999.

Check out the Inspector Morse books here

In the novels, Morse is portrayed as a quintessential white, middle-class English man, with a set of prejudices and assumptions to match. He solved the cases with his assistant Lewis, who is named after another rival clue-writer Mrs. B. Lewis. The spinoff TV show, Inspector Lewis, revolves around Morse’s assistant.

Inspector Morse is an extremely intelligent character. He is terribly fond of crossword puzzles and genuinely dislikes spelling and grammatical errors. In fact, he is quite the “Grammar Nazi” as he would manage to point out at least one mistake in every personal or private document that he received. He also claims that his approach to crime-solving is deductive and he uses his immense intuition and photographic memory to get to the killer.

The series is set in the historical university city of Oxford. The author manages to blend in the stunning architecture and constant sense of history that abounds in the city, to the point that they are co-stars of the show along with the elegant character of Morse. The surroundings, atmosphere and the detective are so beautifully brought together that for many of us, Morse is not the same without the city of Oxford, just as the city of Oxford is not the same without Morse.

Click here for a list of the Morse books in chronological order.

 

TV, DVD and beyond

His Inspector Morse novels were so popular that it spawned a world renowned TV show, starring John Thaw in the lead role for every episode, which ran for twelve seasons.

Here, enjoy a scene from an episode of this epic series.

 

In fact, it did not just end there; after the Inspector Morse TV show came to an end in 2000, a sequel named Inspector Lewis, starring Kevin Whately and Laurence Fox  began in 2006, and it aired until 2015. Following Inspector Lewis, a prequel show, Endeavour was released in 2012, and to date has been running for four seasons; the fifth season of Endeavour is due for release in 2018. All of the shows have well received by the TV audience and hold an impressive rating of 8.0 and above in IMDb.

 

 

 

Awards and Honors

Norman Colin Dexter will go down as one of the most decorated British crime fiction writers of all time. He has received several Crime Writers’ Association awards, which included two Silver Daggers for Service of All Dead in 1979 and The Dead of Jericho in 1981.

He also received two Gold Daggers for The Wench is Dead in 1989 and The Way Through the Woods in 1992. Dexter then went on to receive the coveted Cartier Diamond Dagger for lifetime achievement in 1997.

In 1980, he was elected a member of the by-invitation-only Detection Club. He was also awarded the Macavity Award in 1996, for his short story, Evans Tries an O-Level. Then in 2000, Dexter was honored with being appointed as an Officer of the Order of the British Empire for services to literature.

In 2001 he was awarded the Freedom of the City of Oxford, and in 2005, Dexter became a Fellow by Special Election of St Cross College, Oxford. Finally, in September 2011, the University of Lincoln awarded Dexter an honorary Doctor of Letters degree.

The final days

On 21 March 2017, Norman Colin Dexter peacefully passed away at the age of 86 in his home at Oxford. In the hearts of crime fiction aficionados, he will continue to live forever through his epic Inspector Morse novels and equally thrilling TV shows.