Thursday, 17 July 2008

Frances Fyfield

I’ve mentioned how pleased I was to see Frances Fyfield win the CWA Duncan Lawrie Dagger for best crime novel of the year. I’ve followed her career with interest right from the start. I first came across her name when I read a review of her debut novel, A Question of Guilt, by Julian Symons. Symons, ever the task-master, was slightly equivocal, but he recognised the distinctive quality of Frances’ writing and I bought and enjoyed the book when it came out in paperback.

Frances is, like me, a solicitor and she used to work for the Crown Prosecution Service, which gave her a wonderful insight into the processes of the criminal law, although she has never been a writer of conventional police procedurals. Her characters Helen West and Sarah Fortune both draw upon her knowledge of legal life. For some years, she reviewed crime fiction for The New Law Journal, and on two or three occasions she covered my early Harry Devlin novels with both generosity and genuine insight. She was one of the very first reviewers who really ‘got’ what I was trying to do with my novels.

Some time after that, we met for the first time, when I was asked to interview her for the Shots on the Page convention that ran in Nottingham in the mid-90s. She proved to be an excellent interviewee – even though she is undoubtedly a private person – and we have bumped into each other from time to time during the intervening years. She gave up lawyering some years ago, to focus on her writing, which has gone from strength to strength. Her books have been televised on several occasions and she has been short-listed for the Gold Dagger several times. Now, at last, she has won it, and I’m really pleased for her. Frances Fyfield, both under that name and her real name Frances Hegarty, is a writer of genuine distinction. Check out, for instance, The Playroom, as by Hegarty.

I’m heading off later this week to the Harrogate Crime Festival and I hope to see Frances again there. Whilst I’m away, I’ve scheduled a daily ration of reviews of books and films.


Kerrie said...

Was there a shortlist announced for the Theakston's Old Peculier Martin?
The long list was very long. I thought a short list was to be announced in June, but can't find one.

Martin Edwards said...

Kerrie, you've probably caught up with this now - but just in case not, Stef Penney won the prize.

Karen (Euro Crime) said...

Here's the shortlist. I was pleased to see that the sole female representative won :-).