Monday 6 March 2023

Christopher Fowler R.I.P.


High-calibre crime writing suffered a grievous loss with the death last week of Christopher Fowler. As is well-known, Chris had been suffering from cancer from some time. He and I have for many years shared a literary agent - first Mandy Little and then James Wills - and it was Mandy who first drew his work to my attention almost twenty years ago, sending me a book of his short stories, Demonized. He was a versatile writer, as accomplished an exponent of non-fiction (such as Film Freak) as he was of different forms of fiction. From then on, we corresponded intermittently, but much more regularly in recent years.

He was a Londoner who knew the city inside out and his love of London shone through in his Bryant and May mysteries. The series began in 2004 with Full Dark House - I was lucky enough to snaffle a first edition and was immediately impressed. In all, the series ran to twenty titles. It's great fun and GA fans might like to know that his enthusiasm for Edmund Crispin and The Moving Toyshop influenced The Victoria Vanishes.

I didn't get the chance to see Chris very often, but he was excellent company and I always enjoyed our occasional get-togethers and I had the pleasure of being there to cheer him when he won the CWA Dagger in the Library seven years ago. He contributed several short stories to anthologies that I edited and each was delightfully crafted and a joy to read. We also shared a great interest in obscure writers, which in Chris' case surfaced in many articles as well as in Invisible Ink and The Book of Forgotten Authors.

Chris had been unwell for some time prior to his election to membership of the Detection Club. However, he responded well to unlicensed, experimental treatment and was in wonderful form on the occasion of his initiation at the Ritz in October 2021. He, his fellow initiate Lynne Truss, his husband Pete, James Wills and I had a great couple of hours after the dinner, chatting in the bar until it was throwing-out time. I took the photo above of Lynne and Chris that night.

At the end of January, Chris sent me a very kind and unforgettably poignant email. He was housebound, but still able to do a little writing. He told me he'd completed his collection of my anthologies and added, in a memorable phrase, 'I hope we meet again in libraries yet undiscovered.' And he said he had three more books waiting to be published - excellent news for all his fans, who will miss him and his work a great deal.


Frances Brody said...

Thanks, Martin. Such a moving tribute to a wonderful writer. Passages in Christopher Fowlers books sometimes made laugh outloud and other times just say, What?!
Frances B.

Mike Campbell said...

Well said, Martin. I love the Bryant & May books. I first came across them in an interview with Chris in, I presume, the Independent on Sunday in about 2006. They sounded just up my street - witty and clever, but not comic (don't much like comic crime novels), in the spirit of, yes, Edmund Crispin, and Cyril Hare. That's what I hoped, and was delighted when I got a copy of Full Dark House from my local Borders bookshop to find that it was as enjoyable as I'd imagined - and even more delighted to find that they had the next two in the series in paperback as well, which I devoured just as eagerly. Got them all in hardback since then, pretty well on day of publication. And alongside the books, the Invisible Ink column was always looked forward to each Sunday (Chris was kind enough once to include my suggestion of Sarah Caufield, although I think somewhat reluctantly!). Such a sad loss.

Martin Edwards said...

Frances, Mike, well said.

Mike Campbell said...

Whoops - Sarah Caudwell, of course!