Thursday, 30 May 2019

Anthony Price R.I.P.

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I was very sorry to learn, earlier today, of the death of Anthony Price, a crime writer of distinction, at the age of 91. Anthony was an interesting and unusual writer, not just in terms of the books that he wrote, but also as regards the arc of his career in the world of fiction. A journalist with the Oxford Times, of which he became editor, he stumbled into crime writing as a result of encouragement from Livia Gollancz, and all his novels were published by Gollancz.

He first book, The Labyrinth Makers (1970), won the CWA Silver Dagger, while Other Paths to Glory (1974) won a CWA Gold Dagger. I first came across his work as a teenager, and was impressed.

There were nineteen novels in all, and each of them featured Dr David Audley, sometimes in a central role, sometimes only in passing. Anthony Price combined mystery with espionage in a sophisticated way, and his books were widely appreciated by connoisseurs. There was a TV series featuring Terence Stamp as Audley, and other screen adaptations of his work, but they lacked the flavour of the books, and he felt that Stamp, although a fine actor, was miscast.

His final novel appeared in 1989, and he could never be persuaded to publish another, much to the regret of his fans. However, he remained a loyal member of the CWA and of the Detection Club. I never met him in person, but corresponded with him, and received a charming letter from him last year. I wish I'd been able to get to know him better.

On his excellent Existential Ennui blog, Nick Jones carried two very informative interviews with Anthony Price back in 2011,  and they are well worth reading


Mike Storey said...

Thank you for the link to the Existential Ennui interview with Anthony Price. His David Audley series is sui generis and not everyone's cup of tea to go by the baffled response from a number of people I've recommended it to ("Nothing happens, just clever people driving all over the place - England France, Italy - talking in riddles"). But I find it a heady mixture of military history, archaeology, treachery, and civil service politics [I speak from experience of the latter, tho' not in the intelligence services!]. Over the years I've probably read the series three times, and some individual books more often than that.
RIP a fine writer and, by the sounds of it, a charming man.

Martin Edwards said...

Thanks, Mike. A good analysis, and I must read more of AP's books.