Wednesday, 13 July 2016
Celebrating Sergeant Cluff
Yesterday saw a very enjoyable launch event at the Grove Bookshop in Ilkley of the latest British Library Crime Classic. The book we were celebrating was Sergeant Cluff Stands Firm, by Gil North, the first novel in North's Yorkshire-based series. September will see the publication of a second book in the series, The Methods of Sergeant Cluff.
I'd got in the mood for the event by touring round scenic spots in Yorkshire, including Skipton, which North fictionalised as Gunnarshaw, Cluff's base. Landscape plays an important part in the books, and I enjoyed visiting Malham Cove, climbing a long way up to the fantastic viewpoint on the Limestone Pavemetnt, and taking a look at lovely Malham Tarn.
The Gil North books represent something of a departure for the British Library, because they were published in the Sixties, rather than during the Golden Age of Murder between the wars (at least that's how I define the Golden Age,but really it's a concept that means different things to different people). But the Library takes the view that books that are more than 50 years old are certainly eligible to be considered as examples of Classic Crime, and that seems spot on to me..
I have a very, very distant memory of my father watching the Cluff TV series when I was a small boy. Yes, Cluff was a telly cop! He was played by Leslie Sands, well cast as the dour but compassionate Dalesman. The TV series was written by North, and enjoyed considerable popularity, but of course even TV fame is relatively transient. It's good to see these books - clearly influenced by Simenon in terms of style and approach - back in print.
Gil North was a pen-name for Geoffrey Horne, an interesting character about whom I learned a good deal from talking to his son Josh before writing my intros to the two books. I was sorry Josh was unable to attend the launch, but it was good to spend time with Rob Davies of the British Library, Peter Crangle, who represents the estate, and an enthusiastic audience including Catherine, alias that splendid blogger Juxtabook. We missed Lisa Shakespeare of Midas PR, who has been very busy n generating interest in Cluff, but I hope our paths cross before long. Perhaps at the Ilkley Literary Festival in October, to which I've been invited, and where I'll be talking about Cluff and Classic Crime (and a bit about my own books) in October. Really looking forward to it.