Friday, 20 November 2009

Forgotten Book - Victims

One of the more successful British crime writers of the 1980s was B.M. Gill. She was a CWA Gold Dagger winner, yet her name is seldom mentioned today, and I think her 1981 title Victims is an eminently suitable entry for Patti Abbott’s series of Forgotten Books. She was a novelist who eschewed personal publicity, and this may account for the undeserved neglect of her work.

B.M. Gill was the pseudonym used by Barbara Margaret Trimble, who also wrote as Margaret Blake. Born in 1921, she began her crime writing career with a thriller, Target Westminster, which I haven’t read and which wasn’t conspicuously successful, but she found her feet with a sound psychological suspense novel set in a school and called Death Drop.

Victims followed. It introduces DCI Tom Maybridge, a likeable cop who returned in some of Gill’s later books. The focus of the story is on the apparent persecution of a neurosurgeon called Paul McKendrick. Three people who are associated with him are murdered – but is McKendrick the principal target?

Victims reads well to this day. It offers a good combination of detection and psychological suspense, and it’s not surprising that Gill’s writing sometimes prompted comparisons with P.D.James. She proceeded to win the CWA Gold Dagger for The Twelfth Juror, while Seminar for Murder (in which Maybridge attends a crime fiction seminar) is very enjoyable.

Unfortunately, her last crime novel, The Fifth Rapunzel, appeared as long ago as 1991, and since then, she has completely blipped off the radar. A fellow admirer tried to find out from her publishers some time ago what had happened to her, but answer came there none. All I can say is that B.M.Gill’s career may have been relatively short, but it demonstrated real accomplishment.


Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

I haven't heard of BM Gill, which is surprising, considering her accomplishments. Definitely qualifies as a forgotten book/author! I'll go find "Victims."

Mystery Writing is Murder

Margot Kinberg said...

Thanks for introducing me to Gill. I'd heard the name before, but never much about her and certainly not much about her work. I'm going to have to start looking around and seeing if I can find some of her books; it sounds as though she's really worth reading.

David Cranmer said...

I can always count on your blog to highlight an author or series I am unfamiliar with. Thanks.

Leigh Russell said...

There's a lesson - and a sadness - in learning that this author was a Gold Dagger award winner. I'm ashamed to say I'd never heard of B.M.Gill until now.

Evan Lewis said...

Nice review. Still another author that's new to me.

R. T. said...

I shall have to check with our libraries for Gill, though I do not hold out too much hope; American libraries, for understandable reasons, tend to "recycle" older titles (making room for newer releases), and the lesser known (especially non-American) authors tend to be difficult to find over here. Still, I appreciate your great reminders about superb authors that have been unjustifiably neglected.

Martin Edwards said...

Thanks for these comments. I'm not surprised that Gill's name is unfamiliar, yet for a time in Britain, her books were prominent in the shops. Several are very good, although (from distant memory) I was less impressed with the last couple.

Joyce said...

We live in New Zealand and came across 'Seminar for Murder' and having just re-read it with great enjoyment it made me research the author. I am so glad I found this site and it has allowed me to find other titles to search for plus another amazing writer's books to read. We have a great bookshop here in Auckland called 'Hard to
Find books' and I will use their services. Thank you again for doing this 'blog'