The loving crime writer

The odd title for this post was inspired by the book Motives for murder, written by members of the Detection Club as a sort of 80th birthday Festschrift for the crime writer, and long time member of the Detection Club, Peter Lovesey, author of the Sergeant Cribb and Peter Diamond novels among many others. Though crime writing may be seen as a bit of a grim occupation, what shines out in this collection of 20 contributions from his fellow writers is the love that is felt for Peter Lovesey, who sounds like an all-round good guy.

There's a sonnet from Simon Brett, and my first ever flash-fiction read from Ruth Dudley Edwards - a sort of prose haiku - very good it was too. Most of the writers I'd never heard of, some like Anne Cleeves and Catherine Aird I most definitely wanted to read more of afterwards. They're a stunningly good collection ranging from the espionage of Aird to a decidedly chilly tale, even if it was set in the heat of the Middle East, by Cleeves. There is an addition to the Holmes canon by David Stuart Davies, and a clever tale by Marjorie Eccles - The Suffragette's tale - whose ending took me completely by surprise.

All the stories are quite short, each is prefaced by a dedication to Peter Lovesey from their respective authors, with a little note to follow with further information about the author. There is a smashing article by Lovesey himself on the Detection Club during the 1970s, which also includes some shocking news about their famous skull, Eric.

There's also a fascinating preface by Len Deighton about the Detection Club and modes of writing. It was highly entertaining for me to read this having recently had a conversation with a writer, who was feeling rather daunted by the sheer amount that some authors seem to be able to write in a year. Len Deighton, I was pleased to note, took at least 12 months to produce a book, while Eric Ambler found word processing all too much, and was happy to write away slowly and methodically on his old electric typewriter. There's hope for the slowcoaches among us yet!

From historical crime to the psychological thriller, espionage and some very black humour, murders planned and unplanned, there's something for every crime afficionado in this little volume. I was unfamiliar with most of the authors, but wanted to read more of them all after reading Motives for Murder. It was great fun, and a hugely enjoyable read.


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