Thursday, 17 December 2015

Peter Dickinson R.I.P.

Peter Dickinson, who died yesterday on his 88tj birthday, has been a doyen of the crime writing world for decades. He was, for instance, elected to membership of the Detection Club as long ago as 1969. His literary achievements span a wide range, but I'm familiar with his crime stories, which achieved great distinction.

His first two crime novels, Skin Deep and A Pride of Heroes, both won the CWA Gold Dagger - a remarkable feat. These highly original stories introduced a cop called Jimmy Pibble, who became a series character, appearing in half a dozen novels. His stand-alone crime novels demonstrated the same inventiveness. I haven't read them all, but of those I do know, The Yellow Room Conspiracy (1992) is probably my favourite.

I heard Peter Dickinson speak about the genre once at a Bouchercon, and he was as erudite as you'd expect from an Eton and Cambridge man, but he was also extremely perceptive and interesting. The genre has lost a major talent.

9 comments:

John said...

Sad news. He has been one of my favorite writers of both crime and children's books for decades. Time to find a book in my Dickinson pile (yes I really have one devoted only to his books!) to read in his honor.

Martin Edwards said...

Great comment, John - I love the idea of a dedicated Peter Dickinson book pile!

Susan Oleksiw said...

I'm so sorry to hear this. I loved his Pibble series, and those led me to some of his YA novels. He had such a quirky imagination at times. He'll be missed. I'll follow John's example and find a new Dickinson to read.

Martin Edwards said...

Good to hear from you, Susan. By the way, your book on the British mystery has long been part of my library.

Sergio (Tipping My Fedora) said...

Sorry to hear it -- well, off to get one of his books right now - would be rude not to.

Jessica Mann said...

Meeting Peter when I first joined the CWA was a thrill, because I loved his books then - and still do, both the adult mysteries and the books for young people. He had the most original imagination, and some of the books are unforgettable and (by me at least)
infinitely re-readable. And yet, it seems, he would now qualify to be discussed on your "Forgotten Authors" panel!

Christine said...

Yes, truly original. The one in which Pibble has had a stroke and solves a murder largely from his hospital bed stands out in my memory.

Clothes In Books said...

I was sad to hear the news - a wonderful crime writer, incredibly clever.

Simon in Hong Kong said...

Very sorry to read this news. He was one of my favourite crime writers with an incredible ability to get inside the mind of a varied range of people and to work out how rather unusual groups of people would get along.

The news prompted me to read the one adult novel of his that had lain unread on my shelves - I guess I'd been put off by the negative vibes its delayed 2001 UK publication caused. The now rather tragically apt title Some Deaths Before Dying turns out to be another wonderful exploration of past secrets with a number of excellent female characters. It's not the fastest paced book you'll read and it's not a classic whodunnit nor a crime procedural nor really a thriller but it kept me in suspense and enjoying his narrative skills.

I'm going to back and re-read for the umpteenth time some of his mid period work like A Summer in the Twenties and Hindsight which I think are masterpieces.

PS This is my first post to your site Martin. I've enjoyed your posts and your critical study both of which have led me to discover some great unknown works.