Category Archives for "Featured Authors"
Domenica de Rosa, better known as Elly Griffiths, is a globally acclaimed British crime-fiction novelist. She’s most widely recognized for her Ruth Galloway and Edgar Stephens mystery novel series. Born and raised in England Griffiths diverted from being an editorial director for children’s books to writing some of the most captivating crime-thriller novels of the present generation.
Griffiths’ Ruth Galloway novels are inspired by the myths and legends surrounding the Norfolk coast and from her husband who gave up his city job to work as an archeologist. Her novels have a unique style that blends English folklore with modern day science which makes for a highly engaging read for crime-fiction enthusiasts.
Today, we take a brief look into the life and career of Elly Griffiths.
Elly Griffiths is a woman with a unique flair to her personality, and her life has been an interesting one. She was born on 17th August 1963 in London. As claimed by the author herself, Elly Griffiths is not only her pen-name, but also her alter-ego which she adopted right when she got into writing crime fiction novels.
Griffiths spent the first five years of her life in London, after which her family moved to Brighton, an English seaside resort town on the south coast (now part of the city of Brighton and Hove). Being around the picturesque English coast provided her with a great deal of inspiration in writing her novels and most of her mystery novels are based in and around the quaint coastal areas of England.
She went to a local state school and wrote her first book at the tender age of 11. It was a murder mystery set in the village of Rottingdean, a place where she still resides. By the time she entered secondary school, Griffiths was writing fan fiction episodes of Starsky and Hutch.
Here, Elly talks about her writing and also discusses one of her novels, “Woman In Blue“.
She always had a flair for writing literature and knew from early on in her life that writing was the career she was destined for.
Upon leaving school, Elle studied English at King’s College in London and started her first job in a library immediately after graduating. She then moved on to writing for a magazine and finally joined HarperCollins as a Publicity Assistant.
Elle loved working in publishing thanks to her love for literature, and quickly became the Editorial Director for children’s books at the company. The job made it hard for her to devote time towards writing and it was only in 1998 when on maternity leave that she went on to publish her first novel titled “The Italian Quarter.”
The most intriguing fact about the Ruth Galloway series is that Elle drew inspiration for the entire plot of the first novel “The Crossing Places” from her husband who quit his day job to become an archaeologist. The Ruth Galloway series had its inception following an interesting incident which occurred when Elle, along with her family, was on holiday in Norfolk.
As they were walking along the Titchwell Marsh, her husband narrated a story of a prehistoric man who considered the marsh to be sacred. Folklore had it that the marsh was a ‘bridge to the afterlife,’ it was neither land nor sea, neither life nor death. Somehow, this story inspired Elle to begin the Ruth Galloway series, the first novel of which was released in 2009.
The Ruth Galloway Series is undoubtedly one of the finest works of crime-fiction in recent times thanks to a touch of eerie mysticism blended carefully into an incredibly captivating plot. The protagonist of the novels, Ruth Galloway, is a forensic archaeologist who teaches at the University of North Norfolk.
She resides in a remote seaside cottage near King’s Lynn in Norfolk. She is called upon by the DCI, Harry Nelson when the bones of a child are discovered near a prehistoric site on the north Norfolk salt marshes.
Ruth’s makes use of her adept intuition and expertise in the field to investigate the crime but finds herself in danger from a vicious murderer just as she gets close to uncovering the truth.
The Ruth Galloway series has exceptionally well-constructed plots combined with beautifully detailed imagery depicting the eerily beautiful English coast.
It’s a refreshing read and definitely a treat for fans of crime fiction, especially those who enjoy elements of mysticism and mythology in the plot.
This is the newer series written by Elly Griffiths, with five police procedural novels released at the time of writing. Set during the 1950’s in Brighton, the home town of the author, it brings together DI Edgar Stephens and stage magician Max Mephisto who make for a very diverse and unlikely pair of crime fighters.
The first book in the series, The Zig-Zag Girl, investigates a murder that reminds Stephens of a magic trick that he had seen, resulting in him enlisting the help of Max, a wartime colleague and friend who served with him in a special operations army unit in World War II that incorporated the use of magic trickery against the enemy. Max is now a full-time stage musician and actor and is reluctant to leave his burgeoning career to help solve a mystery but it turns out that the first victim is a former assistant to his act, so any reluctance is put aside.
This starts the pair on the road to solving mysteries together, a detective along with a master of trickery.
As with the Ruth Galloway novels, the author knows the locales intimately, using real street names and locations, something that always makes for a better read in my eyes.
Elle Griffiths is a phenomenal writer whose books have sold hundreds of thousands of copies worldwide. She is also the recipient of the Mary Higgins Clark Award and the prestigious CWA Dagger in the Library Award, an award dedicated to writers of crime fiction.
Apart from the awards, her work has been praised by numerous forums and personalities worldwide. A few of which include the likes of Louise Penny, The Wall Street Journal and the Associated Press.
Griffiths currently enjoys a peaceful life near Brighton, England, where she lives along with her husband, two children, and a cat. She enjoys socializing with other like-minded people at different festivals and exhibitions. She writes two books a year, one for each of the two mystery series to her name.
Stuart MacBride is a Scottish writer, widely known for his bestselling Logan McRae and Ash Henderson detective novels. He gained worldwide recognition for his crime-thriller novels set in the city of Aberdeen, featuring Detective Logan McRae as he goes around solving a spate of dark and mysterious crimes.
Stuart MacBride started his writing career in 2005 with the first Logan McRae novel titled “Cold Granite.” He received the Barry Award for the Best First Novel the following year, and since then, Stuart has authored fifteen novels belonging to his most popular Logan McRae series along with several other short-stories and some standalone books..
Born in Dumbarton and raised in Aberdeen, Stuart MacBride went from scrubbing toilets to being a bestselling author whose novels have received acclamation worldwide!
Let us take a brief look into the life and career of this eminent murder-mystery genius!
Stuart MacBride was born on 27th February 1969 in the Scottish town of Dumbarton, which is a short ride away from the bustling city of Glasgow. The first two years of his life were spent there, after which, his family moved up to Aberdeen where Stuart spent most of his life.
Stuart’s early life saw him struggle a lot with academics owing to a complete inability to spell and an outrageously volatile attention span. Nevertheless, he managed a mediocre academic life while living in a small suburb, seven miles west of Aberdeen.
University was something Stuart never saw eye to eye with and hence, failed to graduate from the Heriot-Watt University at Edinburgh where he was studying Architecture. Having faced his fair share of troubles in the city, Stuart aborted his course and went off to work on the offshore rigs.
Working offshore came with its share of struggles but provided him with a good income, most of which he blew in the pubs and clubs of Aberdeen. Immediately following his days as an offshore worker, Stuart began a career in graphic designing and quickly became a studio manager for a nationwide marketing company.
After this, Stuart would go on to change his professions numerous times, from being a professional actor to a web designer and programmer. It was during his days of working in IT that Stuart authored his first book “Cold Granite” featuring Detective Logan McRae which finally gave him the big break.
The Logan McRae Series by Stuart MacBride is a fine specimen of the dark crime-thriller genre that ingrains elements of dark humor which makes it a very refreshing read. The protagonist of the novel is Detective Sergeant Logan McRae who, along with his team, works for the Aberdeen Police Department in hunting down criminals accused of some eerily dark crimes.
Set in the city of Aberdeen, the Logan McRae Series has elements of sly humor blended within a dark and ghastly subject matter. This is a classic dark-humor style mystery series that is best enjoyed by people with a taste for such novels.
The detective has a strikingly riveting personality with an incredible eye for detail. Nonetheless, he does find himself in some frustrating situations quite often as he investigates crimes. The author brings to life some exceptionally captivating characters through this series that are entirely loveable, but come with their share of flaws.
One of the most interesting of all is that of Detective Inspector (DI) Roberta Steel, Logan’s immediate boss. She is a heavy-drinking, foul-mouthed lesbian with the heart of a lion. With a story as dark as night, a character such as hers serves as a welcome refresher to the readers thanks to her sly wit.
Stuart MacBride is an author that has seen the peaks of success through his marvelous works in the crime-thriller genre. His very first book, “Cold Granite” fetched him Barry Award for the Best Debut Novel in 2006. There has been no looking back for him since then.
Around 2.5 million copies of his books have sold worldwide apart from them being translated to 18 different languages. Throughout his career, he has won several awards and accolades, including the prestigious ITV Crime-Thriller Award in 2008 for the Breakthrough Author of the year.
MacBride received an honorary doctorate from Dundee University in 2015 owing to his wonderful contributions to the world of literature.
Stuart MacBride currently resides in northeastern Scotland along with his wife Fiona and their cat Grendel. Apart from producing the Logan McRae novels, he has been writing another series, the Oldcastle novels and numerous short stories.
He has also written the highly acclaimed “Skeleton Bob” story series which appeals to both adults and children, with the proceeds going to the seemingly bizarre, but critically important and worthy, “Million For A Morgue” campaign. This was set up with crime book authors to raise money for a state of the art morgue to built at The Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification at The University of Dundee,.which specialises in forensics related to human identification. This has helped in solving crimes against people, including using their hand identification techniques to catch paedophiles whose hands can be seen in video footage..
Anne Perry is an internationally acclaimed English novelist who is widely recognized for her bestselling Thomas Pitt and William Monk detective novels. Born in London, Perry’s life itself makes for a story that wouldn’t seem out of place in a crime fiction novel. With a massive list of titles to her credit, Perry is hailed to be one of the finest writers of the historical crime fiction genre of this generation. Perry’s novels have sold over 26 Million copies worldwide, with her Victorian Age novels featuring Thomas Pitt and William Monk being bestsellers. Her sheer volume of work is incredible enough on it’s own and when combined with the quality of her work, she stands out from the crowd. Today, we will take a small tour of Perry’s rather intriguing life.
The early life of Anne Perry had been one that had seen several unpleasant events, some of which are rather dark in nature. She was born in Blackheath, London on 28th October 1938 and was the daughter of a well-known physicist, Dr. Henry Rainsford Hulme. Early in her life, Perry was diagnosed with tuberculosis and was sent to the Caribbean, and later to South Africa, in hopes that a warmer climate would prove to be a cure for her ailment. In 1948, Perry, along with her family, moved to a private island off the coast of New Zealand where Perry enjoyed a life of luxury and independence.
By the time she turned ten, Perry had missed nearly three years of school. But thanks to her mother who taught her to read and write at an early age, Perry had been able to catch up and swiftly grew fond of literature. Unfortunately for Perry, bad times seemed to catch up with her yet again as she fell ill once again at the tender age of thirteen. This left her parents with no choice but to take her out of school and as a result, Perry never received any further formal education.
The darkest phase of her life came at the age of fifteen when she, along with her best friend Pauline Parker, murdered Parker’s mother, Honorah Reiper. The duo committed the crime on 22nd June 1954 in a park in Christchurch where they battered to death Honorah Reiper with a brick wrapped in stockings. The supposed reason behind the ghastly act was the fact that Anne’s parents were in the process of separation and she was to be taken to South Africa to live with some relatives. The two teenage best friends who were deeply engaged with each other did not want to be separated and hoped the murder would somehow stop their separation.
There was, and continued to be for many years, a lot of speculation raised on her relationship with Pauline Parker, the daughter of her victim. In those times, it was considered a controversial subject.
Perry was convicted of the crime and faced five years in prison after which she changed her original name (Juliet Marion Hulme) to her current one and moved back to England. The Parker-Hulme murder case formed the basis of a Hollywood film, “Heavenly Creatures,” starring Kate Winslet and Melanie Lynskey. Surprisingly, it was only a few months after the film’s release that the word got out on Anne Perry’s past, most of which was hidden till then.
Her career as a writer didn’t actually begin until 1979 with the publication of her first novel “The Cater Street Hangman,” which introduced us to Detective Thomas Pitt. Following this book’s release she was on a rapid upward spiral.
Anne Perry is most widely celebrated for two of her bestselling Victorian England historical crime thrillers, the Thomas Pitt Series and the William Monk Series. Both of the two novel series feature one male and one female protagonist. The Thomas Pitt series is undoubtedly one of her finest works and deals with the detective Thomas Pitt aided by his wife, Charlotte, who is also well connected in society through family. Often with her relative’s help, they investigate mysterious crimes in the streets of Victorian London.
Set in the timeline between 1880s-1890s, Perry skillfully brings the setting to life through some fantastic use of imagery and wordplay and swiftly gets the readers engrossed in the well-crafted mysteries of Victorian England. The Thomas Pitt series features a total of thirty-two novels with Murder on the Serpentine being the latest installment to the series
The William Monk mystery series is set on a slightly earlier timeline compared to the Thomas Pitt novels, with its events occurring between the years 1850 to 1860. This series features the amnesiac William Monk matched with Hester Latterly, a Crimean war nurse as they put pieces together in uncovering some of the darkest mysteries of Victorian England. Monk’s partner, Hester Latterly plays a crucial role throughout the entire series, often proving to be a better detective than the protagonist.
Here, Anne Perry discusses her William Monk character
Both of these bestselling crime-fiction novel series feature captivating storylines combined with incredibly detailed character-centric themes. The Thomas Pitt and William Monk detective novels are one of the finest specimens of historical crime novels that are a definite must-read for readers who enjoy the crime-thriller genre!
Anne Perry has not been the recipient of many major accolades and awards which in my mind, and in those of far more intelligent people than I, is probably owing to a rather dark past in spite of her incredible talent as a writer. However, Perry did receive the prestigious Edgar Award in 2000 for her short story titled “Heroes.” She has also been the guest of honor at BoucherCON and Killer Nashville.
Much of Anne Perry’s adult life was spent in keeping away from her controversial and tragic past. Now, at the age of 79, Perry lives a secluded lifestyle in Scotland. She lives with three dogs and two cats in a restored stone barn in a tiny coastal village o\n Scotland’s north east coast. She is also rumored to be an avid listener of opera and loves to knit in her free time.
Her biography, The Search for Anne Perry, was released in 2012 and hoped to answer the questions of a vast number of curious minds that want to delve deep into the past of this mysterious writer.
He is a world-renowned crime fiction writer; The Times Magazine featured one of his novels in the Top 100 Most Notable Crime Novels of the Last Century. He is also a fine British gentleman who spent a number of years in the pulp fiction world (no, we do not mean Quentin Tarantino’s masterpiece). We are talking about none other than the great John Harvey himself.
In this article, we will talk about not only his award-winning Charlie Resnick novels but also his colorful life. We will also find out what John Harvey has in store for us in the foreseeable future. So, read along to know more about this wonderful British crime fiction writer.
John Harvey was born in London on the 21st of December 1938. He pursued his college education from St. Aloysius’ College in North London, which was a grammar school back in those days.He then went on to study at Goldsmiths College, University of London. Following which, he studied at Hatfield Polytechnic, now known as the University of Hertfordshire.
After Hatfield Polytechnic, Harvey went on to take a Masters Degree in American studies at the University of Nottingham. He even taught Film and Literature at the institute, albeit briefly.
After pursuing his Masters from the University of Nottingham, he spent 12 years teaching English and Drama in secondary schools. He began his teaching career in Heanor, which was a small mining town in the Amber Valley district of Derbyshire in the East Midlands of England.He then went on to teach in Andover, Hampshire. Following that, he taught in Stevenage, Hertfordshire.
It was not until 1975 that Harvey started his career as a professional writer. Although a lot of people might find it baffling, he has published more than 100 books since the dawn of this career, most of which were published under many different names.
In these early years as a writer, his aforementioned “pulp fiction” era, Harvey wrote so many paperback fiction novels, both for teenagers and adults, that at it’s peak, he was publishing at the rate of a book every month. It should be mentioned that apart from giving him an income, many of those novels received considerable acclaim and he used this experience to perfect his craft. Finally, in 1989, at the age of 50, he released his first Charlie Resnick novel – Lonely Hearts.
Harvey was also the editor of Slow Dancer magazine. He ran the Slow Dancer Press from 1977 until 1999 and was responsible for publishing poetry and short fiction, which included works by other writers such as Lucille Clifton, Lee Harwood, Kirsty Gunn and more. However, the mediocre reception of short fiction meant that the Slow Dancer Press had to shift to publishing books by crime writers, namely, Julie Smith, Neville Smith, Bill Moody and even Brian Thompson.
Harvey also published his poetry in many small magazines. The most notable pieces were, ‘Ghosts of a Chance’, released in 1992 and Bluer Than This, which came out in 1998.
As if that wasn’t enough, he also did a considerable amount of writing and adapting material for television.
It was the Charlie Resnick Novels that made John Harvey a legend in the world of crime fiction. And it all started in 1989, with the aforementioned, “Lonely Hearts”.
A total of 13 titles were released, and the final one in the series, which is aptly named, ‘Darkness, Darkness,’ came out in 2014.The 11th title in the series, however, was not a novel; it was a collection of 12 short stories which featured Charlie Resnick.
This series is centered around Detective Inspector Charlie Resnick. Resnick who was of Polish descent, was based in the city of Nottingham. A couple of his defining traits were the love for sandwiches and jazz music.
The series has a very gritty, realistic view of life and references many aspects, particularly the social problems of contemporary Britain. In this interview, courtesy of The Guardian newspaper, he comments on how this has found it’s way into, and is a major feature of his writing.
Here John Harvey discusses his writing at the time of “Darkness Darkness” being released:
In 1998, Harvey came out with “Last Rites”, which most people thought was the final title in the series. However, after a long break of ten years, “Cold in Hand” was released in 2008. And that was followed by “Darkness, Darkness” in 2014. It is interesting to note that the final novel was not the last of Charlie Resnick. In fact, he was featured more recently in the newer crime fiction series – Frank Elder.
The fame and popularity of Charlie Resnick was not just limited to the novels. In fact, on 31 March 1992, BBC came out with the Inspector Resnick TV show. There were two seasons produced and the first one was an adaption of the novel Lonely Hearts. The second season came out in 1993 and was based on the novel – Rough Treatment. Harvey himself wrote the screenplay for both seasons.
The character of Detective Inspector Resnick was played by famed two-time academy award nominee, Tom Wilkinson. You must be familiar with his roles in ‘Michael Clayton’, ‘In the Bedroom’ and ‘Batman Begins’.
Although only the first two novels were adapted for television, many of his novels were played on the radio.
John Harvey won quite a few awards in his lifetime. And it all began with the first novel in the Charlie Resnick series. In 1989, The Times named ‘Lonely Hearts’ as one of the 100 Best Crime Novels of the Last Century.
In 1992, Harvey won the Bronze medal at New York Festivals for his work on the ‘Resnick: Lonely Hearts’ TV show.
More recently in 2004, the first novel of his new series – Frank Elder, won him the British Crime Writers’ Association Silver Dagger as well as the US Barry Award. Later in 2007, he was awarded with the prestigious CWA Cartier Diamond Dagger for his lifetime’s achievement in the field of crime writing.
Following his success as an author, he was awarded honorary degrees by his former institutions. In 2009, Harvey received an Honorary Degree, Doctor of Letters from the University of Nottingham. Then in 2013, received an Honorary Degree, Doctor of Letters from the University of Hertfordshire which was formerly known as Hatfield Polytechnic. Interestingly, Harvey has yet another educational certificate. He took a history of Art certificate course from Birkbeck College, University of London, which he completed with distinction in 2012.
John Harvey is now settled in London with his partner and teenage daughter. He is currently working on the fourth and final novel in the Frank Elder series – Body and Soul, which is due on 19 April 2018.
Of all the British mystery thrillers and crime fiction writers, it is hard to imagine anyone more accomplished and famous than Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Known around the world for his Sherlock Holmes series, this Scottish author towers and triumphs over most when it comes to detective mysteries.
As a master storyteller, he wrote more than 60 Sherlock Holmes mystery novels and short stories, which redefined – and perhaps reinvented the crime-fiction, detective-mystery genre. Mr. Doyle’s work has captivated readers around the world, dazzled critics, and shook up the very foundation of crime writing.
He has been a recipient of countless awards and accolades, lived an illustrious life, and been a source of inspiration for numerous budding authors around the world. Today, we’re going to discuss the life and works of this celebrated author and the character that launched him to greatness.
The world-class writer was born on 22 May 1859, as Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle, in Edinburgh, Scotland. Born into an affluent family, he was introduced to the beauty of literature early on in life. Charles Altamont Doyle, his father, was a chronic drinker but Marie Foley, his mother, was well read and always supported young Arthur in practicing his interests.
While the father was a moderately succesful artist, his heavy drinking ensured that he had little to no accomplishments to speak of, while Doyle’s mother always enchanted her son with outlandish tales that sparked his imagination. The family couldn’t stay together due to the father’s drinking problem, and the young author was shipped off to England for education at the age of nine.
He started attending a Jesuit Preparatory School at Hodder Place, Stonyhurst, Lancashire from 1868 to 1870. He then went on to Stonyhurst College for further education for the next five years. He was the type of boy that didn’t respond well to heavy handed discipline and would often show defiance in the face of it. Back then, corporal punishment was a norm, and Doyle often found the life as a student there to be brutal.
Stonyhurst did however prove to be an inspiration for several of the characters in the Sherlock Holmes books, including the name, although not the personality, of his famous detective, and his nemesis, Moriarty (please see the acknowledgement at the bottom of this article, along with a link).
However, he found solace in works of literature and eventually developed his own flair for storytelling. He even created a small fan base among younger students. One of his earliest works of fiction goes by the name of ‘The Haunted Grange of Goresthorpe,’ which he wrote after being enrolled at the University of Edinburgh medical school.
He qualified as a doctor and travelled a great deal while learning more about the field of medicine, including a period as a ship’s surgeon. He also attempted to set up practices in various parts of the UK but was not succesful in attracting a sufficient number of patients; he used this “slow time” in his life to return to writing fiction.
His first published piece was ‘The Mystery of Sasassa Valley,’ which was published, anonymously, in Chambers Edinburgh Journal on September 6, 1879. His first Sherlock Holmes publication happened eight years later as ‘A Study in Scarlet’ found its way inside of the Beeton’s Christmas Annual. This is the first time the world read about Sherlock Holmes and his trusty sidekick, Dr. John Watson.
The character of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson are so popular that even people who do not read books know about them. Sherlock Holmes is a fictional private detective, also known as consulting detective in the novels. His capabilities are proficiency with forensic science, keen observation, and outstanding logical reasoning.
Sherlock Holmes uses his skills while investigating the cases for clients that even include the infamous Scotland Yard. Most of the stories are narrated by his roommate and “partner in crime,” Dr. Watson, who almost always accompanies the detective during his investigations. They live together at 221B Baker Street, a famous address among Sherlock Holmes fans.
It is said that Holmes career span as a detective spans for 23 years, with physician John Watson acting has as his assistant for close to 17. They were roommates till 1887, after which Watson got married and became roommates again after his wife’s untimely death. The owner of the residence is Mrs. Hudson.
Without going much into detective Holmes past life, let us discuss his character traits. Dr. Watson describes his friend as a “Bohemian” in both habit and lifestyle. He also says that Holmes is an eccentric who does not have any regard for modern standards of hygiene or tidiness.
The detective is usually cold and dispassionate in life, but during investigations, he hardly ever fails to get excited. He is a man that sees crime solving as an exact science and follows a stringent method in carrying out the duties. However, Watson often disapproves of his willingness to bend the rules in order to solve a mystery.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle became a favorite among crime mystery lovers in a very short time, garnering acclaim from fans and critics alike. He won many awards – in fact, he won so many awards for his contribution towards literature that it’s impossible to note them all here. However, the most notable ones are the following:
It is estimated that over 60 million copies of ‘The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes’ have sold from 1887 to mid-2014, and have been translated into more than 60 languages. And those are the stats for just 1/9 books out there. Even Guinness World Records lists Holmes as the most portrayed character in history!
There have been numerous plays, movies, and TV adaptations throughout the years. The most recent being ‘Sherlock’ airing on BBC, and starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman playing the role of Sherlock and Dr. Watson respectively which is set in modern times. I’m not a fan but many millions obviously are.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle married Louisa Hawkins in 1885, but their union was short-lived as she died of tuberculosis in the year 1906, leaving behind two children. He then got married to Jean Elizabeth Leckie in 1907 and fathered three more children. It is said that Mr. Doyle fell in love with her while his first wife was alive.
The author got deeply involved in the study of the occult later in life and pursued it with the same zeal as he did with writing. He supported Christian spiritualism and was a member of The Ghost Club Organization, a club of sorts that believed in the existence of the supernatural. Mr. Doyle suffered from angina pectoris and eventually succumbed to a heart attack at the age of 71.
A gargantuan figure in the world of literature had passed, leaving all his fans mourning. A statue in his honor was built in Crowborough, where he lived for close to 23 years.
You may have read many critically acclaimed detective novels, but it’s likely that you haven’t come across many characters like Richard Jury. Authored by Martha Grimes, who at the time of writing is now 86 years of age, the Richard Jury series of novels are often referred to as “cozy crime fiction.” But what does the term even mean?
Well, cozy crime fiction implies that the stories are mostly light-hearted, relaxing reads that are meant to be enjoyed over the weekend. However, Grimes has written every book in such a way that it becomes impossible to put down once you have read a few lines.
The plot contains the perfect mix of humor and violence to make the books stand out from the likes of novels published by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie, etc. Most of the events taking place in the novels are based in quaint villages and are riddled with numerous quirky characters that are unforgettable.
There is plenty to talk about with this author and her lifetime worth of accomplishments, which we shall now briefly touch upon in this article.
About Martha Grimes and her early life
Martha Grimes can be counted among the top detective fiction authors to come out of America. Born on May 2, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, she spent most of her childhood in western Maryland along with her brother. Her father was William Dermit Grimes, city Solicitor of Pittsburgh; her mother was Jude Dunnington, owner of Mountain Lake hotel in western Maryland.
Not much is known about the hobbies and interests of her younger years, but she did earn B.A. and M.A. degrees from the University of Maryland. She later went on to teach in some prestigious institutes like Montgomery College, Frostburg State University, and the University of Iowa. She never prioritized writing at the peak of her professional career and was only partly content with teaching.
She made a name for herself by writing stories that fall into the category of “literary mystery,” which emphasizes a lot on characters and less on violence, even though many of the victims come to a a rather messy end.. Even though it took nearly 60 years for her to come into the spotlight, she bagged massive recognition for her series of Richard Jury novels. She named each of her novels after fictional pubs.
For those who are just starting to read the series and are doing it out of order, things can appear to be a lot out of place. Of course, readers also agree that most of Grimes’ work is a bit of an acquired taste.
Her first book ever published was in 1981, titled The Man with a Load of Mischief. Only 3,000 copies were printed, and they all sold out faster than expected. Since then, the author has published a book or two every year for the last 25 years.
Here the author describes how she goes about writing her books even though she often doesn’t really have a plot in mind at the outset.
About the best-selling Richard Jury novels.
Richard Jury is the lead character in the series of mystery books written by Martha Grimes. He is introduced as a Chief Inspector, who later goes on to become a Superintendent. The detective is almost always assisted by his friend, Melrose Plant, who hails from a lineage of British aristocrats, who he met in the first Jury novel, set in the fictional village of Long Piddleton, Northamptonshire. His other “sidekick” is Alfred Wiggins, the sergeant he can always count on.
Jury is moody and melancholic in nature, which is perhaps because of growing up as an orphan to some extent. He lived a hard life; he lost his father in combat during the Second World War, and the mother died in the German bombing of London when Jury was only four years old. Even though his uncle took him in, the experience of living as a family came to an abrupt end when the uncle also died.
The detective is portrayed to be handsome and kind-hearted, making him attractive to women of all sorts. However, like most detective leading characters with troubled pasts, he too struggles with succeeding in romantic relationships. Jury is sometimes portrayed to be such a womanizer, that he even becomes an object of envy by his friend, Plant, who is somewhat more cultured.
None of the two men are particularly successful in maintaining relationships, and perhaps that is one of the few binds that hold them together. The novels are set in the recent past, and according to The Dirty Duck, published in 1984, Jury was then aged 43. Miss Grimes opted to keep both the lead characters under 50 by often slowing down the time passed between novels. Perhaps she never thought this series would be such a success!
As touched on above, I recommend that you read these books in order if at all possible.You will find that some characters appear and disappear and it can be a little confusing, but each book does stand on it’s own merit, so don’t let that stop you.
Awards and honors
35 years ago, Martha Grimes was a single mother battling alcohol addiction. It wasn’t until her late 40s that she entertained the thought of becoming a published author. And now, at 86 years of age, she’s going strong as ever. After winning the Nero Award for the Jury series in 1983, she won the Grand Master Award at the Edgar’s in 2012.
Her books have been published in over 17 countries and have sold over 10 million copies in the US alone. However, Richard Jury is not the only series of novels she is renowned for; her Emma Graham series featuring a 12-year-old girl detective is also widely known. She is arguably most popular in Germany, where there is a show airing that’s based on the Jury novels.
Despite only having started writing after hitting 50, and the first time she was featured on a bestseller’s list was at the age of 56. Ms. Grimes’ life tale is nothing short of an incredible story itself and how she turned her life around is a source of inspiration for many fans and admirers.
Today Martha Grimes now shifts between homes in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and Washington DC. Her last Richard Jury novel was published in 2014 and it isn’t known when the next book will be released.
She has been very active with charity work, and has donated a lot of her royalties to organizations that give shelter and protection to animals that had suffered abuse.
Peter James is one of the most flamboyant crime fiction writers of the 21st century, and true crime fiction aficionados must already be familiar with his work. If you are among the few who have not come across his work, then you should immediately get on with it, once you are done reading this article.
Peter James was born on 22nd August 1968 in Brighton, East Sussex, England. His mother Cornelia James was the Glovemaker to Her Majesty the Queen Elizabeth II, and she ran the business with his father who was a chartered accountant. Fun fact, another famous writer’s father was also a Glovemaker for the British royal family, and his name just happens to be William Shakespeare.
James attended Charterhouse School, after which he went to Ravensbourne Film School. Interestingly, his humble beginnings can be traced back to his film school where he worked as Orson Welles’ house cleaner. For those of you who are not familiar with Orson Welles, he was a legendary film director, writer, actor and more. He is most well-known for directing Citizen Kane, for which he also won an Oscar.
Following his time at Ravensbourne, Peter James went on to spend several years in North America, where he worked as a screenwriter and film producer. James started out his work in Canada as a gofer. After a short stint as a gofer, he then went on to become a writer on the children’s television series Polka Dot Door.
Before James began his work on the highly acclaimed Roy Grace novels, he created a huge controversy in 1994 when Penguin published his novel, Host, in print format as well as on floppy disks. It was the world’s first electronic novel, but the mainstream media did not take too kindly to it. Many newspapers across the world were infuriated by this as they thought Peter James was trying to destroy the novel.
However, a wise man once said that all publicity is good publicity, and that is especially true in this case. In fact, in 1996, James became the media spokesperson for what was soon to become the digital publishing age. He was even invited as a keynote speaker at the UCLA conference alongside Steve Jobs and the CEO of Time Warner, to shed some light on this topic.
Since then, Peter James has written a total of 35 novels, out of which 13 are from the highly popular Roy Grace series. The first novel from the series, “Dead Simple”, was released in May 2005 and ever since then, James has consistently published a Roy Grace novel every year. Interestingly, his novels have always come out in either the month of May or June.
Here, in this 2012 interview at the Sydney Writer’s Festival, Peter James talks about his latest book at the time, and his writing.
This international best-selling crime thriller series has sold over 18 million copies around the entire world. Moreover, James’ Roy Grace novels have given him 11 back-to-back UK Sunday Times number ones, as well as number ones in various countries, including Germany, Canada, Russia, and France. On top of that, he is also a New York Times bestseller. If that was not enough, then the fact that his Roy Grace novels were translated into 37 different languages should definitely impress anyone.
Now, let us talk a bit about Detective Superintendent Roy Grace and the dawn of his story. As described by James himself, Roy Grace is a unique detective, who is based in the city of Brighton, England which was notoriously famous for being inhabited by first division criminals.
Detective Roy Grace keeps an open mind to all the different methods of police work, after suffering the mysterious disappearance of his wife, Sandy. While he is solving a case, he is always on the lookout for clues that will lead him to his wife; this is a recurring theme in his books. Another prominent aspect of his novels is that there are generally two seemingly totally separate storylines that James expertly brings together in the later stages.
Up until 2017, Peter James has been shortlisted for a total of 44 awards, out of which he has won quite a few. That is impressive when you consider the fact that it is more than the number of novels he wrote. While we cannot list all his awards for the sake of this article, we will list a few of them.
In the year of 2012, Peter James received the “US Barry Award, Best British Crime Novel of 2011”, for his thrilling Roy Grace novel, “Dead Man’s Grip”. He also won the “Sainsbury’s eBook of the Year”, in the year of 2014 for yet another Roy Grace novel, “Want You Dead”. Apart from winning awards for his novels, has also received awards such as “The 2013 Argus Outstanding Contribution To Sussex Award”. He was even awarded the “Sussex Police – Outstanding Public Service Award 2012” for his support of the Sussex Police force.
Nowadays, Peter James splits his time between his country home in Brighton, Sussex and his apartment in Notting Hill, London. He shares a deep interest and love for criminology, science, animals and fast cars. In fact, he has confessed to being a true “petrol head”.
He has owned several fast cars, including a Bentley Continental GT Speed, an AMG Mercedes, a Brabus Mercedes, two stunningly beautiful Jaguar E-Types, a 1987 Mercedes 500SL, and four Aston Martins among others.
Moreover, his love for cars does not just end with his incredible collection. He holds an international racing license and has competed in quite a few racing events. Currently, Peter James races three cars, namely, his 1965 BMW 1800 Ti, a 1958 Austin A35 and finally, his 1958 Fiat Abarth Evocation. He also managed to rank in the top 10 along with his co-driver, Steve Soper, in the St Mary’s Trophy at the Goodwood Revival racing event of 2013.
Just like his passion for cars, he also has a deep love for animals. He has multiple dogs, hens, alpacas, emus and even Indian Runner Ducks. James’ love for a wide variety of things is almost synonymous with the character of Detective Superintendent Roy Grace.
He is very generous with devoting his time to charities and many philanthropic endeavors ranging from supporting the Sussex police, a local hospice, and helping people to read, among several worthy causes.
He continues to live out his life to the fullest, and for the sake of crime fiction aficionados, we hope that he keeps pumping out more exciting novels in the years to come.
When it comes to crime fiction detectives, no one is quirkier than Detective Inspector Jack Frost. It is safe to say that Frost is not like most other detectives you encountered before.
He was created by the renowned English crime fiction writer and radio dramatist, Rodney David (“RD”) Wingfield.
However, before the show came to fruition, Wingfield had been a staunch dramatist at BBC Radio, his hallmark being scripts with clever twists and unexpected plot developments. In this article, we will shed some light on the rather eccentric character of Detective Inspector Jack Frost and the man who created him, RD Wingfield.
Rodney David Wingfield was born on June 6, 1928, in Hackney, east London. He conducted his studies at the Coopers’ Company School, which was relocated from Bow to Frome, Somerset, during the time of the Second World War. After finishing his education at Coopers’ Company School, due to his poor eyesight, he was unable to carry out his services for the Armed Forces and was subsequently discharged from his National Service. In 1952, Wingfield got married to his wife Phyllis Patten and they remained together until her death in 2004. The couple also had a son named Phillip.
After the end of the Second World War, the future author took up various junior office posts in the East End of London before ending up at the Petrofina Oil Company at Epsom as a clerk in the sales department. It was then that the author began utilizing his spare time by writing radio plays. One such radio play, “Compensating Error”, was accepted by the BBC in 1968. The positive reception of “Compensating Error” paved the way for two more radio plays.
This prompted Wingfield to move on from his job and concentrate on his writing career. It was here that Detective Inspector Jack Frost made his first appearance.
Frost came into the scene in 1977 in the author s Radio 4 play “Three Days of Frost”. This play was conducted by Wingfield’s friend, the veteran actor Leslie Sands who also featured as Sergeant Fowler in Wingfield’s radio thriller “Outbreak of Fear”. It is also worth remembering that in those days, the radio audience for his plays ran into the millions.
Five years prior to that, in 1972, one of the editors at Macmillan Publishers had heard his latest radio thriller and was genuinely impressed by the play’s quality. Macmillan Publishers then invited the author to write a book, and that came to be the first novel in the Inspector Frost series, “Frost at Christmas”.
Surprisingly, this novel was rejected straight away. According to Macmillan Publishers, at nearly 250,000 words, the book was simply too long, and that was the primary cause of rejection. However, Wingfield’s agent was not so quick to give up on his novel. Although the book literally sat on her shelf collecting dust, it was finally published in Canada in 1984.
After the successful publication of “Frost at Christmas”, Wingfield, managed to publish “A Touch Of Frost” in 1987 and although the books had gained a lot of buzz in the late 1980s, it was only at the start of the 1990s, that Wingfield’s novels were finally published in his own country. The release of his novels in Britain led to an unprecedented level of success for the author.
It should be noted that Wingfield’s first love in writing was undoubtedly as a radio dramatist. In some 20 years he managed to write over 40 plays for BBC radio and only stopped for two reasons, the falling radio audiences due to other media coming onto the scene, and the fact that his book writing now took up his time. He didn’t like writing books as he found it to be arduous and time consuming but it was now paying his bills and then some.
Wingfield also was a very private man who didn’t like publicity, wasn’t interested in attending his book launches and avoided publishing parties like the plague.
Detective Inspector Jack Frost is one of the more interesting detective characters to grace the world of crime fiction. Most detective characters are rather eccentric, but none display the quirks of Inspector Jack Frost.
Frost is popularly described as an unconventional policeman, who has a soft spot for the underdogs and also has an instinct for moral justice. However, the really interesting bit about Frost is that he is sloppy, disorganized, seemingly allergic to paperwork of any kind and disrespectful. He is also described as a chain smoker, dark-humored and very crude to the point of being offensive. Frost feels he needs to be this way to deal with the things he sees in his job.In other words, he is quite a bit different to many famous detective characters.
The series is set in the fictional South Midlands town of Denton in the general region of Wiltshire and Oxfordshire, but unlike some series such as Morse or Rebus, the location doesn’t play a prominent part.
Surprisingly, a total of only ten novels were written on Inspector Frost, and only six of these were penned by Wingfield himself. The author wrote what turned out to be his last novel, “A Killing Frost” during the time he was diagnosed with cancer. The book was finally published in 2008 after Wingfield passed away.
The final four books were penned and released years after Wingfield’s death, with the approval of the Wingfield family.
The first of these novels, “First Frost,” which followed “A Killing Frost, was published in 2011 under the pseudonym of James Henry, with the approval of the Wingfield family. This was followed by three more novels, namely, “Fatal Frost”, “Morning Frost” and “Frost at Midnight”.
Although this site is primarily about books, there are instances where more than a passing mention of the TV series is warranted. “A Touch Of Frost” is definitely one of them.
Wingfield’s detective novels were so popular that they were later adapted for a TV show named “A Touch of Frost” which originally aired in 1992.
The release of the novels in his native Britain introduced Frost to a much wider audience. The famous and renowned actor, Sir David Jason, was looking for another project, apparently something along the lines of a detective show, which was very much the rage at the time. He read one of the novels while on vacation and was immediately hooked. Upon learning that the TV rights were available, a TV institution was born.
The show ran uninterrupted for over eighteen years, spanning fifteen seasons and forty-two episodes! Although the TV adaptation was a big success, Wingfield was not too thrilled about it. He even stated that he had never watched a single episode of his own show. However, his lukewarm reception of the TV adaptation was not because of David Jason’s portrayal of Frost. When asked to elaborate on the statement, Wingfield said: “He just isn’t my Frost.”
For the TV adaption, Frost’s character was “toned down” slightly by getting rid of the chain smoking and very slightly lightening up his moods, but generally it was felt by most readers that it was a good portrayal.
In 2002, Wingfield was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Despite his diagnosis, he continued writing what turned out to be his final novel, “A Killing Frost”. Soon after his diagnosis, his beloved wife of over fifty years, Phyllis Patten, passed away in 2004. Finally on 31 July 2007, the author passed away from cancer.
Following his death, Wingfield’s final novel, “A Killing Frost” was published on 7 April 2008.
Peter Robinson is an accomplished and highly acclaimed British-Canadian author known for the popular series of Inspector Alan Banks novels.
This series of crime novels is set in the fictional town of Eastvale, Yorkshire which is based on several towns in the county, principally Ripon and Richmond. The surrounding towns and villages used in the novels are also based on actual places with fictional names being substituted.
His first novel, titled Gallows View, which introduced DCI Alan Banks to the world was published in 1987 bringing the author immediate recognition and garnering much praise from readers and critics alike. It was shortlisted for several prestigious awards, including the Crime Writers of Canada best first novel award and the John Creasey award in the United Kingdom.
Since then, 30 years and counting, Peter Robinson and his books have gone from strength to strength.
In my very humble opinion, Peter Robinson is one of the finest crime writers of our time.
Peter Robinson was born in March 17, 1950 in Yorkshire, England. He completed his Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature at the University of Leeds before moving to Canada in 1974. There he obtained a Masters of Arts degree in English and Creative Writing, with the renowned American novelist Joyce -Carol Oates as his tutor, at the University of Windsor, Ontario. Afterwards, he successfully completed his Doctorate of Philosophy in English at York University in Toronto.
In a recent interview, Peter said he began his work out of passion for writing crime fiction, and by setting his books in his native Yorkshire, apart from it being an area he knew well, it helped him deal with homesickness. At the time he started working on his novels, Peter was still writing his PhD dissertation at York University during the day while writing his crime stories at night.
His first published novel, Gallows View, was in fact the second Inspector Banks book that Peter had written; what became the second of the series, A Dedicated Man, was actually the first novel he had penned. However, by the time that Peter finally managed to secure a book deal, he had these two novels ready and at his own suggestion, Gallows View was released first as he felt it had more going for it to grab the audience.
The main character in his novel is Alan Banks, who brings his crime solving skills to Eastvale, Yorkshire after serving as an Inspector with the London Metropolitan Police. He had become jaded with London life and the crime that surrounded it and, perhaps was seeking to live in a more “realistic world” by moving to Yorkshire. He was married, had two children and the usual problems of balancing police work and family life are laid out for all to see by the author as the series progresses.
Banks, as with so many fictional detectives, likes to solve crimes his own way and doesn’t respond well to senior authority unless it is someone he holds in high regard. His love life is often a disaster, usually of his own making and booze comes into it now and again. He comes across, as the British would say, like a real bloke. He also loves to listen to a wide variety of music, ranging from rock to jazz to classical and opera. This is a very personal touch from the author as it reflects his own tastes in music.
As great authors do, Robinson brings the character to life to the extent that even when he does something stupid or terrible, the reader sympathizes with Banks and cheers him on until he puts things right again. In many ways, Banks reminds me of Ian Rankin’s John Rebus character, who also was introduced to us in 1987. I can’t think of a finer tribute than that.
Since he started writing his DCI Alan Banks series in 1987, Peter Robinson has written 25 books, with the latest book titled “ Sleeping In The Ground” published in 2017. Although Robinson is popularly known for his work in the Inspector Banks series, he has also written other unrelated works. One such novel was “Caedmon’s Song” which he wrote in 1990. The book was later published in the US as “The First Cut” in 2004. In this book, it features the main character named Kristen, who was brutally attacked by a killer and serial rapist who came back for her, fearing she could identify the culprit.
He also published two collections of Inspector Banks novellas and short stories, “Not Safe After Dark” in 1998, and “The Price Of Love” in 2009.
Robinson’s novels have won awards in numerous countries around the world, including such prestigious awards as the Arthur Ellis Award (numerous times), The Macavity Award, The Anthony Award, Le Grand Prix de Littérature Policière (France), The Palle Rosenkrantz Award (Denmark), The Martin Beck Award (Sweden), Crime Writers Association (UK) Dagger in The Library Award, among others. He has also won awards in Canada, Germany, Australia, Brazil and Sweden.
To date, the Inspector Alan Banks series has been translated into 19 different languages.
Peter Robinson divides his time between his homes in Toronto and Richmond, Yorkshire. At the time of writing this, he is on an “Inspector Banks 30th Anniversary Tour” which makes me feel old as I remember Gallows View showing up in my local bookstore as a new release!
For more information on Peter’s tour and other interesting stuff, visit his website at http://www.inspectorbanks.com/
A Test of Wills (1996)
Wings of Fire (1998)
Search the Dark (1999)
Legacy of the Dead (2000)
Watchers of Time (2001)
A Fearsome Doubt (2002)
A Cold Treachery (2005)
A Long Shadow (2006)
A False Mirror (2007)
A Pale Horse (2008)
A Matter of Justice (2009)
The Red Door (2010)
The Kidnapping (2010)
A Lonely Death (2011)
The Confession (2011)
Proof of Guilt (2013)
Cold Comfort (2013)
Hunting Shadows (2014)
A Fine Summer’s Day (2015)
No Shred of Evidence (2016)
Racing the Devil (2017)
The Gatekeeper (2018)
The Black Ascot (2019)