Author Archives: Joey
Author Archives: Joey
Deborah Crombie is an American author, widely known for being the creator of the Duncan Kincaid/Gemma James mystery series. Crombie was raised in Richardson, Texas, but has also lived in the United Kingdom. She has however written almost all of her Duncan Kincaid British detective books while living in Texas.
The first novel was published in 1993, titled A Share in Death, in which we got an introduction to the characters for the first time. Since then, she has released 18 books, all of which have received global recognition. The latest novel, The Garden of Lamentations, was released in 2017 much to the joy of her fan following around the globe.
Let’s take a brief look at the life and career of this renowned author from Texas, who went from being a biologist to a world famous literary figure.
Deborah Crombie was born in Dallas, Texas, and was the second child of Marie and Charlie Darden. Her maternal grandmother was a retired teacher, who taught her to read proficiently at the tender age of four. Her educational career didn’t go as planned because she dropped out of high school at the age of 16. Later on, she did resume her studies and graduated from Austin College in Sherman, Texas with a degree in biology.
The future author’s career began working for newspapers and advertising agencies during which she managed to find the time to attend the Rice University Publishing Program.
It was after completing university that she made a trip to England, which cemented a lifelong love for Britain. She got married to Peter Crombie, a Scot, and immigrated to the UK to live in Edinburgh, Scotland, and then in Chester, England. After spending a few years in the Great Britain, she returned to live in Dallas once again.
The inspiration for her first detective novel about superintendent Duncan Kincaid/Gemma James came after a trip to Yorkshire. A Share in Death was published in 1993, which gave the author Macavity and Agatha nominations for the title of First Best Novel 1993. Her journey to becoming a bestselling author began there, and she hasn’t looked back since.
Crombie novels are published in North America, Germany, Japan, Czechoslovakia, France, Greece, Romania, Spain, Turkey, and the United Kingdom, and a few other countries. Many of her novels have received critical acclaim and are especially popular in Germany.
Deborah Crombie has been producing the Duncan Kincaid/Gemma James series for many years now, infusing both suspense and mystery that keeps the readers intrigued. She has a mastery over writing detective novels, which has earned her the attention of an international audience.
Since the books are based in England, the author travels to Britain frequently to keep up with the ongoing events as well as do authentic research on the material. In the books, Superintendent Duncan Kincaid works for the famous Scotland Yard and his partner Sgt Gemma James is also based in London.
I have been a long time admirer of hers, particularly when it come to the details she goes into describing the locations. Part of her research entails her staying in the area where she intends to stage her next novel, walking, driving and photographing around the neighborhoods, even to the extent of taking pictures where she feels is an appropriate spot for the murder to take place. ****
Even though their character traits and methods of investigation are constantly clashing, they work together out of mutual respect. They have no problem putting aside their egos and always focus on getting the work done. The back stories of these characters can be as interesting as the plots and mysteries that unveil in the novels.
As we learned from the first book, A Share in Death, Superintendent Duncan Kincaid has been involved in the force for some time and admits to seeing more than he should have. He is a resourceful officer who has an eye for extreme detail and the ability to look through even the most complicated cases. Despite his success in the police world, he has become somewhat cynical over the years because of the things he has seen on duty. Gemma James, his new assistant, also extremely intelligent in matters of investigation is a sergeant from London whose character is a stark contrast from Kincaid’s. She is optimistic with an upbeat mannerism.
Both of their skills complement one another, and they go on to solve many mysteries over the years. The rest of the police force orbit mostly around these two main protagonists as they go about doing their job. There are other much smaller recurring characters that return to play minor and significant roles in the overall story arc.
Since her first novel in 1993, Crombie has been the recipient of many accolades and awards. Her fifth novel, Dreaming of the Bones (1997), was awarded the New York Times Notable Book for the year. It also got her the nomination for the 1997 Edgar Award for Best Novel by Mystery Writers of America.
Dreaming of the Bones ended up winning the Macavity Award for being the Best Novel, and later became one of the hundred best mysteries of the century as voted by the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association. Her subsequent books got worldwide acclaim, but the best honors came once again in 2009 when she won the Macavity Award for Where Memories Lie.
As far as other recognitions are concerned, Crombie has been a featured speaker at St Hilda’s College and Austin College, where she had a position on the President’s Advisory Council. In 2004, the Romantic Times nominated the author for Career Achievement Award in Mystery and Suspense series.
In 2003, the author was acknowledged by Austin College as a distinguished alumna who brought recognition to the institution. Crombie is also known to be an active member of the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy.
Currently, Deborah Crombie lives in McKinney, Texas, which is a historic town located north of Dallas. Even though she visits England several times a year, she lives in Texas with her current husband, Rick Wilson.
Accompanying them are several dogs and cats. She now takes a keen interest in brewing tea and preparing different cocktails. She also enjoys cooking, reading, birdwatching, gardening, and especially playing with her dogs.
And we hope that her happiness and successes keep coming for many more years.
*** Acknowledgements to Omnivoracious.com.
Reginald Charles Hill or “Reg” – as he was universally known – will always be remembered for his series of novels featuring Andy Dalziel (pronounced dee-ell) and Peter Pascoe. Hill was an English crime writer who made his debut into the world of mystery novels with the 1970s hit, A Clubbable Woman. It was in this novel that we were introduced to the infamous Dalziel and Pascoe combo.
The book was published by Collins Crime Club, and incidentally, throughout his extensive career, the author remained with the same publisher and the same agent. After a career that spanned four decades, he died at the age of 75, making the crime fiction genre lose a towering figure.
Let’s take a look at the universally celebrated life and career of this British author, who was known to be fiercely loyal as well.
The author was born on 3 April 1936, in Hartlepool, England. Back then, the author’s father was a professional footballer who played for Hartlepools United. Unlike the football stars of today, the players weren’t well compensated in the late 1930s. Young Reginald grew up with no interest in football and preferred rugby.
When Hill reached the age of three, his family moved from Hartlepool to Cumbria, where the future author spent the rest of his childhood. His mother was a fan of the Golden Age crime writers, and it is said that the author picked up his liking for the genre while dealing with his mother’s library books. Young Reginald was always making up stories and was sure that he would succeed as a writer someday.
Upon finishing grammar school, he did his obligatory two years of national service, after which he went on to he went on to graduate as a teacher from Oxford University. His teaching career took him to Essex in the early 60s before he moved back north, taking up a post at Doncaster College of Education. While teaching there, he found a great deal of inspiration for his novels, the first of which was published in 1970. He taught as a senior lecturer and finally retired in 1980 to devote himself to “full-time writing”.
Incredibly, during the 1970’s Hill published 18 novels plus several short stories. Not bad for a part-time writer!
Over the years, he wrote more than 30 novels apart from the 24 Dalziel and Pascoe series, and has been the recipient of many accolades and awards. He has written books under several different names and in several genres.
He was married to his wife, Pat, for 40 years, and lived together in Cumbria.
Detective Superintendent Andrew Dalziel and Detective Sergeant Peter Pascoe are the two original characters of a series of novels by a Reginald Hill. The plots of these British detective books are set in Yorkshire, England, and follows the intriguing adventures of these two detectives.
What was almost revolutionary at the time about the books was the fact that the parts of the stories are often presented in a non-chronological order.
The author introduces both the lead characters, having their own mannerisms and character traits. Whereas Dalziel is portrayed as fat, rude, bland, and insensitive, Pascoe is shown to be well educated, politically correct, polite and calm. In the first book, Dalziel and Pascoe investigate the mysterious murder of Marie Connon, wife of a high-profile rugby player and a small town femme fatale.
In the second book, An Advancement of Learning, the Dalziel and Pascoe duo investigates a dead body found on the Holm Coultram College. More murders follow soon after, forcing the detectives to rethink their approach. The two mismatched policeman pool their talents and go on to conduct a great investigation that is breathtaking on every twist and turn.
Over the years, Reginald Hill has released 24 Dalziel and Pascoe novels, the latest one being Midnight Fugue, published in 2009.
Reginald Hill has received several awards for his novels and short stories, among which the greatest is undoubtedly the prestigious Gold Dagger Award. Honored by the Crime Writers’ Association, he won the Gold Dagger for the Best Crime Novel of the Year for Bones and Silence. After winning, he was thrilled and confirmed that he had made the right career choice.
In 1995, Reginald was once again honored by the Crime Writers Association with a Cartier Diamond Dagger for his contribution towards the field of crime writing. In 1999, he was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. In the same year, he was given The Barry Award for Beulah Height. In 2011, he once again received The Barry Award for The Woodcutter.
Dalziel and Pascoe was also adapted for TV and aired on BBC One, starting from 16 March 1996. Warren Clarke starred as Dalziel and Colin Buchanan was cast as Pascoe. The plot is set mainly in the fictional town of Wetherton, located in Yorkshire, and follows the work of the two detectives who are forced to work as partners.
The first three series were taken from Hill’s novels; however, the subsequent stories, except Dialogues of the Dead, were written exclusively for TV. Hill was asked several times if he wished to be involved with the TV scripts but he repeatedly declined, claiming that he wouldn’t have been capable of tolerating interference from the production staff. He also pointed out that he was too busy anyway with his writing.
The show was produced by BBC Birmingham and was broadcast until 22 June 2007. It was eventually axed in 2008, due to falling ratings and viewing figures.
In the twilight years of his life, ‘Reg’ spent time in the company of his family while fighting against a brain tumor that eventually took his life in 2012. The world of crime fiction and English literature will always remember this legend and everything he stood for throughout the decades of his career.
Ruth Barbara Rendell was born on 17 February 1930 and was an English author of psychological murder mysteries. Her most notable creation, Chief Inspector Wexford, earned her global recognition by being the hero of many police procedurals. Some of these stories got adapted for TV in the late 1980s, which served to greatly increase the worldwide popularity of the series.
Rendell also branched out to a separate brand of crime fiction literature, under the name of Barbara Vine, and had the readers being placed inside the minds of the criminals as opposed to looking at the world from the viewpoint of the good guys.
The psychological murder mystery theme became so popular that she even wrote the third series of novels under the pen name Barbara Vine. She passed away peacefully on 2 May 2015 in London, England, leaving her fans grieving. Let’s take a look at this novelist’s illustrious career.
Ruth Rendell, born as Ruth Barbara Grasemann, was a native of South Woodford, Essex, which now falls under Greater London. Both of her parents were teachers; her father, Arthur Grasemann being English, and her mother, Ebba Kruse being from Sweden and brought up in Denmark.
Spending Christmas and other holidays in Scandinavia was a part of the Rendell family, and it was there she learned how to speak Swedish and Danish. She received her education at the County High School in Loughton, Essex, which is a town her family moved to when she was still a child.
After completing high school, she began writing for Chigwell Times, her local Essex paper. Despite being the feature writer, she was forced to resign after a controversy over the local sports club dinner, which apparently involved her faking a story as she didn’t attend as requested. Apparently, the big problem was that the speaker at the dinner collapsed and died during his speech; unfortunately for Ruth, she didn’t mention this sad event in her story. The author later met her husband, Don Rendell, while working as a news writer at another publication.
She got married at the age of 20, and in 1953, gave birth to a baby boy whom they named Simon. The couple ended up divorcing in 1975, but put aside their differences and got remarried just two years later. Don, her husband, passed away in 1999 after putting a tough fight with prostate cancer.
Her most prized creation, the character of Chief Inspector Reginald Wexford, made his first appearance in the author’s debut book, From Doon With Death, in 1964. Since then, the detective has been the protagonist in more than 23 books as well as a TV show adaptation starring George Baker.
Chief Inspector Wexford, also known simply as Reg, has been described as a sensitive and intelligent man. The author said that the character was based on herself and possessed traits that are very dear to her. From Doon With Death was her first Inspector Wexford novel, but not exactly her debut book.
Rendell in fact wrote two novels before From Doon With Death, but both remained unpublished. On October 2009, she released The Monster in the Box, which was rumored to be the detective’s last case. However, the rumors turned out to be false as we got to see Wexford at work in two more novels, The Vault and No Man’s Nightingale.
What separated this character from others in British detective books was the fact that Wexford didn’t have much of a troubled past. He has a placid wife and two daughters; Dora being the wife, Sheila and Sylvia being the daughters. He maintains a good relationship with his favorite daughter, Sheila, but not so much with Sylvia.
In his first skirmish as a detective, Inspector Wexford got to investigate the death of Margaret Parsons. After discovering a number of letters from the mysterious Doon, his attention turned towards the cause of her violent and passionate death, rather than the unexciting and old-fashioned life that Parsons lived.
It all began from there, and the world got to read about Inspector Wexford in 23 more wonderful novels.
The police procedurals starring Wexford were not the author’s sole claim to fame. She even wrote psychological crime novels that explored themes such as misperceived communication, romantic obsession, the humanity of criminals, and the impact of fate. Some of the popular books are A Judgment in Stone, Live Flesh, The Face of Trespass, and much more.
Rendell created a third brand of writing with the novel A Dark-Adapted Eye, which she released under her pseudonym Barbara Vine. Among the books released under the this category were A Fatal Inversion, King Solomons Carpet, and Asta’s Book. The author was noted for her ability to write elegant prose that delved deep into the human mind. This series however put the reader inside the head of the criminals, many of whom would be classified as psychopathic. While very original, it also served to unsettle many readers and although a lot of fans of her Wexford novels embraced this different style, a large segment basically couldn’t adapt. Despite this split, all her novels turned out to bestsellers.
She explored the psychological background of the main characters and often presented them in shades of gray.
Social issues such as domestic violence, some seemingly harmless crimes, and adultery got featured in the books the author released over the last 40 years. This brought some much-needed change into the crime thriller genre, both for English literature and her fans. As far as her awards go, the list is almost endless.
The most notable awards she got throughout a career are the Gold Dagger in 1976 for her fiction A Demon in My View, Mystery Writers of America Edgar Award in 1979 and 1980, Martin Beck Award, and the latest one, Lost Man Booker prize in 2010. There is at least a couple dozen more awards and nominations that we can speak of.
In the 1996 Birthday Honors, she was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire, as well as a life peer as Baroness Rendell of Babergh. In 1998, she sat in the House of Lords on behalf of the Labor Party; later on, she was also named in a list of the biggest financial donors to the party’s interests.
She was the one responsible for introducing the Bill that would later become the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003.
From being a globally acclaimed writer to bringing social changes to the world, Ruth Rendell did it all! On 2 May, 2015 the world of English literature lost one of its most precious gems as the author passed away, aged 85. The world will not forget Ruth Rendell and her contributions to literature.
Susan Elizabeth George is a bestselling American author of a series of crime novels featuring Detective Inspector Thomas Lynley. The plots of these books are set in Great Britain, and follow the adventures of Inspector Lynley and his unconventional partner, Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers.
Born on 26 February 1949, the best-selling author has produced 20 books so far and has also earned the title of New York Times bestseller. Her British detective books have been translated into more than 30 languages and have also received a TV show adaptation by the BBC.
She’s earned many accolades over the years, making her one of the top mystery crime writers in the world. Let’s take a deeper look at her early life and her accomplishments so far.
Elizabeth George, the daughter of Anne George and Robert Edwin, was born in Warren, Ohio. Her mother worked as a nurse while her father was employed as a manager for a conveyor company. Her brother is named Robert George, who is also an author. It was when George was 18 months old that her family moved to San Francisco Bay Area.
She went to the University of California, Riverside, and majored in English. She also received a certificate in teaching from the University. Soon after finishing college, George started working at a public school, teaching English. In her spare time, she pursued a master’s degree in psychology and counseling.
In 1997, she established the Elizabeth George Foundation that provides artistic grants to unpublished poets, fiction writers, and emerging talents. In 2004, she went on to receive an honorary doctorate from Cal State University on the subject of humane letters. Northwest Institute of Literary Arts later awarded her an honorary Masters in fine arts in 2010.
The author’s writing is equal parts twisted as it is eloquent, and by her own admission, she wouldn’t prefer it to be anything else. From an early age, George has been fascinated with the darker side of human nature and all the complex emotions people are capable of feeling. All her mysteries give the readers a glimpse into the psychology of murderers and criminals.
It was in 1988 when Elizabeth George published her first novel, titled A Great Deliverance. This was the book that introduced detective Thomas Lynley and Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers along with their quirks. This book went on to win the Anthony and Agatha awards, in addition to the LeGrande-prix-de-Litterature Policiere, which is a prestigious French award.
In the debut novel, A Great Deliverance (1988), Detective Thomas Lynley and his partner are called to investigate the brutal murder and decapitation of a man in the Yorkshire countryside. This is the case where the detectives start working together for the first time, despite not seeing eye-to-eye on many things.
The first novel takes us deep into their investigation and how the detectives come across a series of scandals, secrets, and lies that wouldn’t normally be common in a small town in Yorkshire. The series thrives with character clashes on many aspects such as class, personality, and gender.
Whereas Thomas Lynley is a suave male coming from a bloodline of the nobles, Havers is a somewhat often untidy woman, belonging from a working-class background. The first novel received great critical acclaim and became highly popular among fans of mystery crime lovers as well. After its success, the second book – Payment in Blood was published in 1998.
In the second novel, we see the detectives investigating a murder that took place on a sprawling estate. The pressure is on them to keep the investigation away from the press and solve it as soon as possible. In this book, the duo must investigate a town of starlets and other “powers that be” to solve the crime.
Whereas Lynley prefers a more delicate approach, Havers wants to go all in! Due to their clash of personalities and investigation tactics, Havers splits from her partner and decides she would investigate the case on her own. The story continues to get darker from there.
Ms. George’s use of the English language makes the stories flow beautifully and, for me, her superior writing skills put her in the class of the late P.D. James. Along with being a great writer, George shows that wonderful attention to detail that is so essential for a top novel. She travels from her home in the US to Britain frequently while planning and writing her books, visiting the exact locations, taking photographs and meeting with the locals, using her London apartment as a base.
Elizabeth George’s novels have not only earned her a worldwide fan following but have also wowed audiences through its TV show adaptation. The television series ran for six seasons and was produced by BBC television on the characters of the Detective Inspector Thomas Lynley and his partner, Detective Sergeant Barbara Havers.
Nathaniel Parker played the role of Lynley while Sharon Small took up the role of Barbara Havers. Even though the characters and plots in the series were often significantly altered, it gave the audience a new chance to discover the lives of their two favorite detectives and their evolving relationship with one another.
The first two seasons have been taken directly from the Elizabeth George novels, though the plots and characters have been dramatically changed to suit the tastes of the television audience. The later seasons, however, were all original stories specifically created for TV. After premiering on 12th March 2001, the series enchanted the audience for six seasons.
Elizabeth George became a household name in those six years, earning the affection and admiration of people in both the UK and the US. Unfortunately, BBC had to cancel the series due to low ratings on August 2007. It was a good six years run for the TV show, which put the author in the limelight in a way that she probably didn’t imagine before.
If you thought Elizabeth George is only renowned for the Inspector Lynley series; then you are wrong. She has also authored a young adult series set titled The Edge of Water. She is also the writer of the Write Away, a longtime bestselling creative writing book that has sold thousands of copies so far.
She has also written and edited other works of fiction and non-fiction over the years, with the latest being The Best American Mystery Stories, published in 2016. She is now fully devoted to managing her foundation, which is involved in scouting for emerging talent and providing the support they need to make it big in the literary world.
The Amazon Kindle Reader is an amazing way to read my British mystery books, but many people still don’t want to, or can’t afford to, pay out the money. As more and more titles are getting harder to find in hard copy, a download has become the only viable option for some titles.
Now, Amazon has come up with another way that you can enjoy those books without the cost of splashing out the cash on an E-reader. It’s the Free Kindle Reading App, one of the most popular apps to download onto your tablet, pc or smartphone.
Take your Kindle books with you
The Kindle app is available for most major smartphones, tablets and computers. That means you can buy a Kindle book once, and read it on any device with the Kindle app. You can also read that same Kindle book on a Kindle device if you own one.
Sync to the furthest read page
Sample Books Before Buying.
Easily shop for eBooks and read the first chapter for free before you decide to buy.
Read Free Books
Read thousands of free books including popular classics like The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Pride and Prejudice, and Treasure Island.
Store All Your Kindle Books On All Your Devices And Carry Your Kindle Books With You Everywhere
Once you buy a Kindle book, you can download your books on any device with the Kindle app and read them anytime and everywhere.
Adjust the text size, change the screen’s brightness, choose your background color, and read in either portrait or landscape mode.
Look Up Words
Tap and hold any word in a book to view the word’s definition with the built-in dictionary or use the Google or Wikipedia links to get more information.
Organize your books, docs, and magazines into categories with a few easy taps.
EXCLUSIVE – X-Ray for Books
Tap on any page as you read to access X-Ray, an easy way to uncover more from the books you love. Instantly find chapters and locations that mention ideas, characters, and important places, as well as background info, biographies and more from Shelfari and Wikipedia.
Amazon has reinvented the way that many of us buy products but for me, perhaps the biggest change has come in how we can read books. I’ve said many times before that I like to sit down with a good paperback and I still do prefer it, even though a Kindle Reader comes pretty close and has many advantages as I outlined here..
Some of the technological advances mentioned above truly have added another dimension to reading, especially when you think of the possibilities of reading what you want, when you want.
Have you tried reading an e-book?
Like it or not, technology keeps advancing and now even people like myself are learning to adapt. I still enjoy reading paperbacks but more and more bookstores are only stocking the very latest and fastest-moving titles.
I was recently in a very large chain’s store looking, as ever, for a few British Detective books to take with me on a hastily arranged vacation, and was very disappointed with the lack of selection available – maybe 4 or 5 Ian Rankin books, 5 Peter Robinson, 3 Ruth Rendell, many famous authors had even less!
I often order through Amazon (of which I am a great proponent as is obvious from my site) as they do have the best selection and I can usually wait the few days required for delivery. Now, thanks to a fellow passenger on my latest flight, I have discovered “e-reading”, bringing me to almost total “geekiness”.
I was amazed – here is why:-
My favourite method of enjoying these magnificent stories remains to sit down with a paperback in my favourite chair, but due to frequent travelling, I tend to do most of my reading on a plane – this at least makes flying more tolerable and pleasant.
As with so many people nowadays, time seems to be increasingly scarce. I make at least two lengthy car journeys a week of five hours each and, after becoming rather tired of listening to music, I tried something I never thought I would do – I downloaded an Audiobook.
I always felt this was sacrilegious! One Audiobook later and I was hooked! My previously boring car journeys are now something I actually look forward to, and the subject of this site, British Detective Books, are the perfect kind of stories to listen to and keep you tuned in.
I chose Audible because it had by far the best selection, was easy to sign up for and due to it being part of Amazon, is reliable, professional and downloads are easy. It also has a rather incredible return policy (yes, you can return an Audible book for a refund). I personally returned two books – one because it was so terrible that I gave up listening after about an hour, and the second because I realized that I had read the book previously. I’m sure that Audible, quite rightly, makes sure that this return policy is not abused, but my two refunds were hassle-free.
Whether driving, working out at the gym, walking or jogging, I always use these opportunities to listen to a great book.