Liza Cody has just published a new novel, Gift or Theft, and this very welcome news prompts me to jot down a few thoughts about her writing. During the 1980s, when I was thinking about becoming a crime novelist (and I spent much of my spare time thinking of little else!), I read many different crime writers, from all sorts of periods and backgrounds. But I made a particular habit of reading the work of people of my generation or a little older, writers who were emerging at the time, to see what they were doing and how it related to the story ideas I was contemplating. I've often mentioned the likes of Peter Robinson, Ann Cleeves, and Ian Rankin, who came on to the scene at around the time I began to work on my first novel, All the Lonely People. But there were various others, including Frances Fyfield, Andrew Taylor, and Liza Cody.
Liza Cody came to my attention as a result of the success of her very first book, Dupe, which introduced the private eye Anna Lee and won the CWA John Creasey Memorial Dagger. During my mid-twenties, I bought very few books, since money was tight, but I did invest in the paperback of Dupe, and I was much impressed. The character of Anna and the evocation of the world she lived in struck me particularly. As did the taut writing style. No wasted words with Liza Cody. Her books are always very readable.
As a result, I kept reading, and I've followed Liza's career ever since. Later, I met her in person, and found her charming and encouraging. She's also a first rate short story writer. Every now and then, when trying to put an anthology together, I've begged Liza for a contribution, and she's obliged with some wonderful stories. She also made a very valuable contribution to Howdunit, not only with a terrific essay (recommended reading!), but also with other help.
And now Gift or Theft has landed on my doorstep. Liza doesn't publish novels very frequently, so it's quite an event. The story concerns Seema, 'a gardener and a dreamer' and it looks intriguing. I'm very much looking forward to reading the latest work of a richly talented novelist.