Tuesday 17 April 2018

Roderic Jeffries R.I.P.

I've just been told that the crime writer Roderic Jeffries, who also wrote as Jeffrey Ashford and Peter Alding, died last year at the age of 90. He'd been living in Mallorca for over forty years, which perhaps explains not only why I've never come across him in person but also why his books have tended, in recent years, to be rather overlooked.

Jeffries was a prolific crime writer, as was his father, Bruce Graeme (whose real name was Graham Montague Jeffries). Graeme, a leading light in the Crime Writers' Association during its formative years, and a good friend of the CWA founder John Creasey, wrote a wide range of mysteries, but was best known as the creator of Blackshirt, a Robin Hood type of character, and Roderic wrote a number of Blackshirt novels himself in the Fifties and Sixties, as Roderic Graeme.

Roderic spent a few years in the legal profession, practising as a barrister, and this gave him material for some of his early crime novels from 1960 onwards. Many of his books appeared under the legendary Collins Crime Club imprint, which, like the Gollancz yellow dustjacket, was in the Sixties and for many years before a brand associated with reliable writers who were library favourites (not to mention stars such as Reginald Hill and Robert Barnard, both of whom were ten years younger than Roderic). More recently, his work has been published by Severn House, a company which has filled the gap left by the disappearance of the Crime Club and Gollancz imprints very effectively.

Mistakenly in Mallorca, which appeared in 1974, introduced Inspector Enrique Alvarez, who became a very long-running series character indeed. The only interview I've come across featuring Roderic is to be found here on the blog of J. Sydney Jones.

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