One of the highlights of my Saturday at Crimefest was the chance to appear on a panel moderated, with his customary wit, by Len Tyler. We were talking about detective duos, and fellow panellists were Helen Smith, whom I'd never had the pleasure of meeting before, Dorothy Cannell, who had been a member of our pub quiz team, and fellow Northern lawyer Neil White. Neil and I have a favourite shared trivia question: which character in his books used to work for me? The answer is Laura McGarritty/ The real life Laura's husband Duncan is a great friend of Neil's and was for many years a work colleague of mine, as was Laura. Neil used Laura's name for the female lead character in his first series of books.
Dorothy came up with an intriguing idea during the panel - she said she regarded characters in her books as employees who had to interview well to be included, and were subject to being dismissed every now and then if they didn't perform. There has to be an article worth writing to examine that metaphor. The panel was very enjoyable, and also rather relaxing, since I must say I find it easier being a panel member rather than a moderator.
Nev Fountain hosted an excellent session on Sherlock with Mark Gatiss, Steven Moffat, and Sue Vertue, and I enjoyed Nev's company when I found myself sitting with him and his partner Nicola, a very successful actor and also a songwriter, at the gala dinner. Among the award winners were the admirable Ruth Dudley Edwards and Barry Forshaw. Barry won the H.R.F. Keating award for best crime reference book of the past five years,which was presented by Sheila Mitchell, Harry's widow.
I had a hand in setting up the award, though since I'd contributed essays to two of the books on a fabulous shortlist which also included fine books by P.D. James, John Curran and others, I decided it wasn't right for me to vote. Anyway, it was so hard to choose. But Barry's encyclopaedia on British Crime Writing was a worthy winner, I must say. The quality of the shortlist shows how strong writing about the genre has become in the UK in recent years, a development which is enormously pleasing.
Sunday saw an enjoyable interview with Robert Goddard, and then the annual Mastermind quiz, which was won by Peter Guttridge. One of the questions for Peter was about the legal subject in which I specialise. His answer was corporate law, and although this is not now the case, he was closer than he realised. I did start out my legal career combining employment law with corporate work. In fact my first published book was Understanding Computer Contracts. There has to be another quiz question there...
All in all, a marvellous four days. Adrian Muller and his fellow organisers did a great job as usual, and I feel that Crimefest is getting better each year. As ever it was good to see old friends, and meet a host of delightful people for the first time, including Helen, Dorothy. Nev, Nicola, Jeff Siger, James Wills, Alexandra Benedict, Xavier-Marie Bonnot, Quentin Bates, as well as a good many others. I've already booked for next year.