Wednesday, 24 October 2007


I have a prejudice in favour of crime novels where the culprit’s motivation is intriguing. Thinking about the motive for murder is my usual starting point when getting down to write a new book.

The motive in The Arsenic Labyrinth is one of my favourites. It was an elaboration of an idea that fascinated me and which I once tried out in an otherwise very different short story.

I’m always on the look-out for interesting motives in books by other writers. One of the most ingenious from the Golden Age is to be found in Death Walks in Eastrepps, by the now little-known Francis Beeding. He wrote the novel on which Hitchcock based, very loosely, that great movie Spellbound.

Among recent books I’ve read, the most memorable in terms of murderous motive must be Peter Lovesey’s The Secret Hangman. Lovesey is such a smooth writer that it’s easy to forget how accomplished he is. The latest entry in the Peter Diamond series is one of his best.

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