Thursday, 2 May 2013

Susan Moody and Stephen Murray

You might think that, over the course of rather more than 1600 blog posts, I'd have discussed at great  length all of the crime writers whom I know and like, and probably I should have done. But I haven't, and a conversation at Windermere reminded me of this. So I thought that I'd start filling in some of the gaps, with particular reference to authors whose stories I've included in anthologies that I've edited over the years. .And I'm beginning with two people who share the same initials but whose literary styles are quite different.

I first came across Susan Moody as a writer when I bought a paperback copy of her first book, Penny Black in the mid 80s. At that time, I was casting around for ideas for a crime series of my own, and assessing what else was happening in the market. Suffice to say that I was impressed with the witty and zestful writing. Fast forward a few years, and I met Susan in person, at about the time when she was starting a new series, featuring Cassie Swann, a bridge expert. I can't play bridge (I'm afraid that I once went to evening classes to learn, and found the tutor incomprehensible), but even so the books struck me as successful.

I was impressed by the versatility Susan displayed in a number of short stories which appeared in high profile anthologies edited by the likes of Tim Heald, and Liza Cody and Michael Z. Lewin. She even turned the long-running 'Gold Blend' TV commercials into a novel, and literary versatility doesn't get much more striking than that!  With this in mind, when I was asked to put together an anthology for the CWA, Susan Moody was one of the first people I approached to contribute. The resulting story, 'Moving On', with its viewpoint shifts, certainly lived up to expectations, and helped to make Perfectly Criminal a book I was proud to have edited. In recent years, Susan has been less prolific, but she came up with another notable story for Guilty Consciences, my most recent anthology, 'Deck the Halls with Poison, Ivy'.

Stephen Murrary is a contemporary of mine, but he achieved publication as a novelist rather more quickly, and was already well-established by the time I met him. His series of books featuring Alec Stainton, a quiet but likeable cop, achieved considerable distinction, and Stephen too contributed to a couple of early Northern Blood anthologies. The Stainton series came to an end, but when he supplied another good short story, 'Landfall', to Crime on the Move, I thought it was a sign that Stephen's crime novels would be hitting the bookshelves again before long. It hasn't happened yet, but I live in hope.

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