One of the great joys about being part of the community of crime writers and readers is that one forms friendships, sometimes gradually and over many years, that are enormously rewarding. I first came across that fine novelist of psychological suspense Margaret Yorke in person in the 1990s, though I’d been reading her books avidly for a long time before that. But it’s only in recent times that I have come to know her better, and discover what a fascinating conversationalist she is.
I talked with Margaret recently at a Detection Club dinner, and, on learning that I’d be coming down to Oxford this past week-end, she invited me to have lunch at her home, which is only half an hour away from the city of dreaming spires. Needless to say, it was an invitation I accepted with alacrity.
I found that Margaret lives in a village that has the classic prettiness of the kind of English village beloved of Golden Age writers – and it did not really come as a surprise when she told me that some episodes of Midsomer Murders are filmed there. Margaret’s own cottage is delightful – low beams, a lovely garden and oodles of character. And it’s packed, of course, with books.
Margaret’s novels are crammed with insight into the way that people behave, and the forces that sometimes propel them into crime. When talking to her, it’s easy to see how her abiding interest in human motivation informed her fiction, and gave it the strength and credibility that earned her such a high reputation, and ultimately the CWA Diamond Dagger. Spending around three hours at the home of such a distinguished writer (who is also, incidentally, someone who cooks a very good lunch) and learning more about her life and experiences as an author – she even showed me her very first rejection slip! - was not just a pleasure; it was a privilege