The death last Saturday of H.R.F. Keating has robbed us of a giant of the genre. Much has already been said by obituarists about his novels, featuring Inspector Ghote and others, which earned two CWA Gold Daggers, so I’d like to focus on other aspects of his career.
He was both imaginative and daring in his work. He wrote a long crime story in verse and dreamed up an unlikely but effective sleuth in the cleaner Mrs Craggs. His prose style was sometimes quirky, and very good at getting points across. And his work was full of ideas that gave clues to his considerable intellect.
Harry was not only a prolific reviewer, but an insightful commentator on the crime genre. He edited a book of excellent essays about Agatha Christie, a collection of stories honouring Julian Symons, two CWA anthologies, a study of crime writers past and present, and a first rate pot pourri called Who-Dun-It - as well as choosing 100 classics of the genre for a book that contained short and pithy accounts of why those particular stories would stand the test of time. He wrote with affection about the Golden Age in Murder Must Appetise.
I found him personally generous and kind. He provided a quote for the cover of The Devil in Disguise, and he and his wife Sheila Mitchell invited me to be their guest at the top table at Malice Domestic the night he received a lifetime achievement award. In latter years, we shared a publisher. Most recently, I enjoyed their company at Detection Club dinners. I shall miss him, but remember him with affection and admiration.