Posts in thrillers
Lessons from Lyall

It isn’t often one gets to read a thriller writer’s every novel, back to back.  But last year I volunteered to talk about an old favourite, Gavin Lyall, at an ‘Authors Remembered’ panel at CrimeFest 2019; given the probability that at least one person in the audience would have either a) known Lyall, or b) re-read his books obsessively every year, I thought I’d better brush up.  Would that most research were this much fun…

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Period and prejudice

One of the great pleasures of being a history buff is mining seams – themes, periods, countries – you love. One of the great handicaps of being a history buff is refusing to mine new ones. I’ve loved Bernard Cornwell’s novels for thirty years, but can’t get into his Arthurian or American civil war fiction – a rejection I can only ascribe to some kind of period prejudice; after all, he’s deploying the same ingredients as in the Sharpe and Uhtred novels, and is certainly applying the same enviable skill…

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Spook-y beginnings

When I was eight we went on a family holiday to Italy, and as a treat beforehand my parents let me and my brother choose a few books in the old Blackwells paperback bookshop on Broad Street in Oxford. I can’t remember what I got, but I do remember that among my parents’ booty was a clutch of Gavin Lyall thrillers…     

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