Monday, 12 November 2007

Grief Encounters

Stuart Pawson has been a colleague of mine in the Murder Squad collective of Northern crime writers since its inception in 2000, and his twelfth novel, with the excellent title Grief Encounters, has just been published. All the books feature the Yorkshire cop DI Charlie Priest, all have a distinctive, amusing and slightly off-beat flavour. The opening line of the new book is: ‘Johnny Mathis could go to hell.’ Well, it’s the first mention of Johnny Mathis I’ve come across for ages, but like Stuart I can remember the days when he was a fixture on the radio. I guess I liked him more than Stuart – a Bob Dylan fan - did.

Stuart’s unusual in having never published a novel outside his series. However, he’s contributed a couple of non-Charlie Priest stories to anthologies I’ve edited and one of them, ‘Les’s Story’, which appeared in I.D.: Crimes of Identity was short-listed last year for the CWA award for best short story of the year (the eventual winner was Bob Barnard, whose story appeared in the same book.) He is by nature a retiring (though very witty) chap but his reputation has grown steadily by word of mouth over the years and first editions of his early novels in fine condition now command high prices as collectors have started to seek them out.

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