FLASHBACK: Bill James Interview

Originally run in Crimespree Magazine issue 3, Oct 2004

Crimespree Spotlight on Author Bill James

By Ruth Jordan

The special thing about crime fiction is that there is within the field something for everyone. As a crime fiction reader one of my great joys has been those moments when a book carries me away to the point where I feel everyone who reads within the genre owes it to themselves to read a certain book or author. Bill James is one of those special authors. With a singular voice and unique perspective of the crime fiction form he has been writing a series for the past twenty years that somehow remains just under the mainstream radar.

The fans of the Harpur and Iles series are everywhere. I’ve had conversations about the man’s books from New York to Las Vegas.

The converts are reverent. Once you start these books you do not stop. You hunt for the old titles. You watch with an eagle eye for new releases. A standard of excellence continues to be met and the quest for the next read continues.

YOU’D BETTER BELIEVE IT is the first title in the Harpur and Iles series. Word on the street is there’s going to be a robbery. The big boys from London have recruited local talent to hold up a Lloyd’s branch in Detective Harpur’s patch. It is the beginning and all is good. James fictional seaport town has never been identified and thankfully the many characters he draws, book after book, have never been defined. There is a wealth of humor within this series. There is an omnipresent sadness. Good and evil are never as black and white as the catechisms of our youth would have us believe and within the Harpur and Iles series we soon understand that our author is not afraid to look at a world where moral ambiguity is the norm.

The policemen are flawed. They can be petty. They’ve been corrupt. They have looked the other way when they shouldn’t and the have crossed the line to the other side more than once. The crooks have charmed and fumbled. They have seen goals realized and hopes dashed. Fortunes have risen and fallen. The dice have been tossed with only certain groups coming out ahead. As a reader you cheer both groups on. For within the corruptness there is also a humanity that is richly drawn by an author who understands the human psyche like few of his contemporaries. In twenty years of good versus evil and both sides compromising to try and keep the citizens of their community safe there has been grizzly murder done. Unthinkable acts occur frequently. With a lesser penman at the helm it would send the gentler of us away. It is James starkness and his ability to strip away the frills of fictional crime that make him a necessary read. Baldy written truths with no compromise. This is Bill James.

The author may strip away the frills of crime but he layers his story like no other scribe with his final word count. There is the personality of our individuals. We meet not only the cops and the robbers but also their family and loved ones. Every name added to a page is a character drawn with remarkable substance. There is a social consciousness and commentary in the Harpur and Iles series rarely matched and yet so subtly done it defies definition. James has explored all of the institutions of our society. Government and the judicial system have exposed their flaws. We’ve also seen the institution of marriage many frailties and carnations. Love is never a simple thing in James world and fidelity would seemingly be an impossible goal in our modern age. We are all flawed and blinded to a degree by what we bring to the party. This is reflected in Bill James work.

The best thing about this series? That’s easy. Every book is a well done police procedural. The man plays fair and tells a great story.

He has played with and manipulated the form in 21 Harpur and Iles novels. He has written 21 wonderful books within this series alone.

Earlier this summer a friend asked why I’d never interviewed anyone. My reply was, “if I can’t interview Bill James I don’t even want to start.” A few phone calls and e-mails later it is done, thanks to the good will of Mark Billingham and John Harvey and the courtesy of a man known to the mystery world as Bill James. I cannot suggest his work highly enough. Read just one.

Ruth: “The first question I have to ask you, is why do you use a pseudonym for your fiction?”

Bill: “I don’t for all my fiction. I have written straight, as to say non-crime novels. I started out writing straight novels. Then when I turned to crime as it were, the publisher said that people who read crime often read only crime and that they would be rather upset if they took a book which they thought was crime and it turned out to be something else. So they suggested that I have a pseudonym for my crime books.”

R: “I believe you used the two, right?”

B: “Three, actually.”

R: “Three? David Craig, Bill James and what’s the third one if people want to read those books?”

B: “Judith Jones.”

R: “OK! Well that’s, that’s new to me!”

B: “Yeah, they’re not published in America; Judith Jones.”

R: Alright, but we can probably still find them on Amazon UK, right?”

B: “Yeah.”

R: “I want to say, since we’re going to be speaking mainly of Harpur and Iles, Happy Birthday. Twenty years in the series!

When YOU’D BETTER BELIEVE IT came out in 1985 did you think you’d still be writing this series today?”

B: “Oh, no. I didn’t. I wrote it as a one off and there were quite a few re-writes and some difficulty in selling it at the beginning. I wasn’t altogether confident about it. And it didn’t get many notices here. It did get a couple but quite later on, months after publication. But while that was happening, I was writing the second one, which was THE LOLITA MAN. And that got enormous coverage, reviews. And that, I suppose, then prompted me into thinking I must stick with this for a while, at least. And so then I went on and wrote HALO PARADE. But I never even then would have thought, where are we up to now, the one that’s coming out at the end of this year called EASY STREET is the twenty-first, I think.”

R: “Yes, and everyone of them immensely readable, if I might just say.”

B: “Well, I have tried for that.”

R: “Your work is amazing. I reread some of the early ones when I knew I was going to speak with you this morning. Right from the very beginning your characters really are who they are and your series is fabulously structured. Booklist says that your series is “police procedure second to none.” Why did you choose police procedure having written straight fiction before hand?”

B: “Mainly because I wouldn’t have liked to write what I take to be the um, the other kind of crime novel which is what we call here the whodunit, the straight mystery. I don’t really like the formal shape of that. Where the thing moves with lots of digressions and false trails and all that towards page 320 when everything is neatly resolved.”

R: “When everybody meets in the library and.”

B: “Yeah.”

R: “And Aunt Trudy tells everybody who did it? (laughs)”

B: “Yes. I mean, people do, of course, vary that formula, but, that’s what it basically is and it doesn’t interest me very much, that.”

R: “A friend of ours, who’s a crime writer has rather stepped away from it at the moment because she says that ‘I just didn’t know how to make my character trip over another dead body,’ and I think that might be one of the constraints to the other form of fiction, as opposed to what you do.

You use a lot of dark humor in the books. Is that for your characters sake, the reader’s sake or your own?”

B: “I think that it was Len Deighton the spy writer, who said that he likes to get something on every page that makes the reader smile or possibly laugh. That it’s a continuous job. You’ve got to keep on making the book amusing page by page, not overall. And that’s one reason I like humor. The other reason is that it is subversive. That quite often the humor comes, if it’s from the police side, from upending order, really, on the face of it. And if it’s from the crooks side it’s because it makes them sound as if they aspire to be businessmen; serious, sometimes even moral people. And they talk at variance with how they are. And the humor of that usually works ok and suggests what I’m always trying to suggest. That we’re on the edge of chaos all the time.”

Undercover by Bill James

Undercover by Bill James

R: “Your series does that in spades. The social commentary in the Harpur and Iles series elevates it from police series to something rather stark and terrifying for the reader at moments. What have been your favorite social issues to explore?”

B: “Well, a lot of them are about drugs as a business and the one that’s coming out at the end of this year is about drugs as a business. Is it possible to keep that criminal when the law is so easily and often and on a large scale avoided. The difference between Iles and Harpur on this is

that Iles says, ‘Well, it’s here. We might as well make the best of it.’ And it’s Harpur who says, from a kind of pure standpoint, “It’s against the law. Therefore we must attempt to hit it.” I don’t know which one is the correct one of those, but I think that’s what a lot of the books are about. It’s about drugs as an industry.”

R: “What a business it is. The moving in and out of the big guys and the shifting power of the in town guys, both police and crooks, has been fascinating over the years.”

B: “The book that’s coming out this year is called EASY STREETS. It’s about, the slackening of the law on drugs about to happen or happening in Britain right now. I wondered what impact that would have on Iles’ business arrangements. That he tolerates drug dealing as long as people keep it peaceful and there is no blood on the sidewalk. But, if it becomes easier, then that kind of arrangement between him and the drug barons won’t be necessary any longer because he doesn’t have to turn the blind eye. The law is turning the blind eye. I wondered what kind of extra degree of chaos that would bring and that’s what EASY STREETS is about.”

R: ” EASY STREETS comes out on October 8 with Constable and Robinson, correct?”

B: “Yes. I don’t know about Norton. They have bought it.” (the U.S. release date is April 2005)

R: “OK, every reader has their own opinion about Harpur and Iles. Dissertations have been written about your two characters.”

B: “Have they? (laughs)”

R: “Pretty much. May Crime Spree know how you describe your two leads?”

B: “Well, lets take Iles first since, I suppose, he’s the more complicated of the two. He’s basically a good cop. But very basically. He never takes money; he’s not bent in that sense. He’s ruthless in what he does. Sometimes acts in the way the criminals act in order to catch the criminals. Perhaps the most obvious example of them all is in HALO PARADE where there is a strong suspicion that he actually kills two people who have murdered an under cover cop but who get off at the trial because Harpur has juggled the evidence and it comes to light. The two men are then found garroted and I think one assumes Iles has carried out what he thinks the court couldn’t carry out. Now, obviously that is a terrible offense and defies the court. And says, ‘The courts say one thing and I say something else and I will do it.’ That is the kind of person he is I think. He’ s also, I think . he’s weak really. He’s unattractive to his wife, who has an affair both with Harpur and one of the other cops, Francis Garland. And he knows this and it drives him berserk. The constant outbursts against Harpur. He isn’t altogether a properly developed person. Someone said the he is on the verge of madness and I wouldn’t argue too much against that. The other point about him is that he is a man that exists only within the police system. He mocks and attacks the Chief Constable Lane for what Iles considers his narrow kind of beliefs. But, he does need Lane to be there, or somebody to be there. He can’t operate where he is entirely in control. He has to have a boss. He’s never going to get promoted to Chief Constable.”

You know, they televised the book called PROTECTION over here on BBC and they left out the Chief Constable so that Iles comes over as the most senior officer on view and behaving in the way that he does and I think that frightened people. The viewers thought that the whole system had gone haywire. There was no point of reference which said OK, he’s a strong character and he’s a strong man but there is somebody who represents order in the system above him. Containing him, to some degree. Now, as for Harpur, I think in a minor way, he also represents the proper side of policing most of the time. Although he will take short cuts, Iles constantly mocks him really, for being too conventional and too timid. But, he is the one quite often who gets things put right, who actually runs the place behind Iles’ back to some extent. He neutralizes Iles. And appears to work his own way and actually does work his own way sometimes and succeeds where Iles methods might not.”

R: “ I think as far back as THE LOLITA MAN, Harpur tends to use the criminals more to find out what’s going on in the crimes.”

B: “Yeah,”

R: “Although Iles does have his famous arrangement. In the Harpur and Iles series, often from book to book, you allow criminals to take center stage. Are they as easy coming to the page for you?”

B: “Oh, yes. Much easier! Yeah, I like Panicking Ralph, for instance. Very easy character to write. Somebody asked me, in an interview in France, was I Harpur. ‘Oh, no! I’m Panicking Ralph!’ I understand people who get scared, which he does. I understand people who have crazy kind of ambitions. You know, he wants to turn his rather seedy club, The Monty, into something like the Athenaeum in London, which is preposterous. But, we all have those ambitions and they are in some ways poignant and in some ways comical. So that I can get a far number of laughs out of Ralph and similarly out of the other big dealer, Mansel Shale, who pretends to a kind of social style. Mind you, they both do that. Panicking Ralph lived in a manor house and Mansel Shale lived in a converted rectory. And likes to think that by living in a rectory he’s got connections to the Church of England, you know. Those are very good comic starting points.”

R: “The character of Panicking Ralph has certainly evolved since the first time we saw him as he seems to almost trip into more and more power as the series evolves.”

B: “Yeah.”

R: “Despite himself. And he’s been a real pleasure to read all the way along. I also really, really enjoy Jack Lamb at the beginning of the series…..”

B: “Oh, yes. Jack Lamb, yes.”

R: ” I feel GOSPEL is a brilliant book. I noticed he’s used less and less since. Is that because you fully explored his character at this point making him ineffectual to you as a writing tool?”

B: “He’s in THE GIRL WITH THE LONG BACK, isn’t he? He’s quite prominent there. He’s the one that shoots people up the hill, isn’t he, in the beginning? No, a lot of my books are about informants. I’m quite fascinated by informants, ever since I read THE FRIENDS OF EDDIE COYLE (George V. Higgins).”

R: “Great book!”

B: “Which is a wonderful book about how do you make a stool pigeon into a hero? It’s a phenomenal piece of writing, that. It has always fascinated me so Lamb will move in and out of the books. I hadn’t really realized that he’d been put on the back burner a bit lately but no, no, he’s very much in my mind for any future book.”

R: “You have so many characters to work with. The women in the series are very real. I feel you do women better than most crime writers. They’re strong at times and at times disassociated either by their relationships, or the actual plot of a particular book. Do you have any favorite women


B: “Well I quite liked Megan, his (Colin Harpur’s) wife, but she gets bumped off about half way through in ROSES, ROSES. She was always sensible and moral and clear-eyed. She’s a bit upstage, a bit snooty, she’s bookish, which he hates. And so do the children. But I thought she was a reasonably credible and decent character who found herself in a situation that she wasn’t really made for. She’s not like a cops wife, I don’t think. She should be married to a professor or something like that.

I quite like Denise. (laughs) Not everybody does, particularly women of a certain age don’t like her. I suppose because Harpur is sort of switched to her even while Megan is alive. And she’s young and everything and I suppose some women of a certain age resent that as if it’s an indication that all men should get out there and get after something younger.”

(Both laugh)

R: “Well, as a woman of a certain age myself, I’ve got to tell you I really like Denise. I think she’s exactly the right character to create a certain balance for Harpur in his personal life. I also like her relationship with the girls at this point. It’s a great relationship”

B: “Yeah, the girls like her.”

R: “We watch Jill and Hazel evolve from girls who are playing down the street when Harpur comes home from work to very opinionated, strong-willed young women and it’s been a hard journey for them. Their mother was killed rather horrifically. ROSES, ROSES is perhaps the darkest of the hard-boiled novels in my opinion. It hasn’t been easy journey for them but what it’s done is given me a future to hope for in the books aside from that basically Harpur and Iles are both working toward trying to maintain law and order. But they allow you see the future. Was that your intention as you developed the two characters?”

B: ” Yes, to some extent, yes they are the future and they are not naive people despite their age so that you feel that they will be able to cope with the future as well as having quite strong moral values. I mean the technique of the books is to give qualities to people which are a surprise in them. Harpur and Iles work, if they do work, as fiction characters because they are very high ranking cops. They’re not sergeants and constables, they are very high-ranking cops who don’t always play by the book. So that there is kind of a shock element in that. Children, sometimes, they offend readers by talking more adult than adults do; reproaching Harpur for his immorality and so on. So that part of the technique is a simple one. It is to upend expectations in the reader by conferring in some of the characters qualities in which you wouldn’t necessarily expect them to have. I like the girls very much. Some people absolutely hate them.”

R: “Well, I like them very much. There’s got to be someone there to call Harpur on this stuff.”

B: “I have heard them described as like a Greek chorus. You know, in the play, which actually comes in and sounds off with the moral points.”

R: “And to a certain extent they are but I really do feel that they are just phenomenal women in their own right. You could have a branch off series!”

(Both laugh)

“You’re not too busy!”

B: “I might do, I might do.

R: “What is your personal favorite within the Harpur and Iles series?”

B: “My personal favorite, I think, is THE LOLITA MAN. Not so much for it’s content, although I do like the structure of it. I like the diary and all that sort of thing. The way that it’s quite uncompromising, the way it’s presented. You know that one chapter will end then you go into this diary and the reader has to have their wits about them to know what’s happening. And I think that that worked and made me reasonably competent in structuring the book. The other element is that it is the book that really made people, I mean reviewers, take notice and in some senses it is, although it’s the second book, it’s really the start of the series.”

R: “I concur. And the use of the diary in THE LOLITA MAN builds the readers suspense as well.”

B: “Yes.”

R: “And really kept me involved in the book.”

B: “Yes, yes, you can feel this girl letting herself in for terrible trouble.”

R: “Which book would you suggest for first time Bill James readers?”

B: “Well, I’d like to think they start with number one now, I suppose.”

R: “Ah, you’re a purist in your series reading!”

B: “Well, I’m thinking in these terms. The French got onto the series and published ROSES, ROSES first and it was reasonably successful. They then found themselves wanting to do the whole series, which they are doing. But, it meant going back to the first one and the critics noticed that. You know, things that should have happened in the first book out in France, like Megan being killed. Well, then she turns up in the second book that is published and they were a bit bemused by that. So if people start at the beginning, it’s chronologically convenient. I think I like the funnier books the best .I quite like the book ASTRIDE A GRAVE, which I think is quite funny. I like ROSES, ROSES, but it is quite dark. Yes, I think ASTRIDE A GRAVE and THE LOLITA MAN, really. People could start with either of those.”

R: “Or, at the beginning.”

B: “Ideally, at the beginning.”

B: “If YOU’D BETTER BELIVE IT is still available.”

R: ” I know that I bought a couple of copies at a bookstore last year and they didn’t have to special order it.”

B: “Oh, good! Is it a British version?”

R: “Foul Play Press. OK, can we talk a little bit about the writing process?”

B: “OK.”

R: “Did your journalistic background give you an advantage when you started writing fiction?”

B: “Yes. Well, at the very simplest level, just putting words onto paper is an unnatural act. Getting something onto a piece of paper used to be terribly difficult for me. Well, journalism soon kicks that out of you. You’ve got to get it onto to paper and you’ve got to get it onto paper quickly. Writing doesn’t become or ceases to be something strange to you. In that sense it’s good training. I would regard as my main journalist job, The Daily Mirror in London, which is a tabloid paper where you have to write very tersely. You can’t have long winded sentences and you can’t use difficult words, really. The essential is to communicate fast to those that might be strap hanging in the underground train and can’t be bothered with literary flourishes. I think that that has possibly tightened up the way I write.”

R: “The writing is tight. Do you write every day, do you have a set schedule? With as many books as you write, I don’t know where you find the time.”

B: “I do write every day, yes. And I mean every day. I tend to write in the mornings and then in the night up till about ten o’clock, when I go down to have a drink. I’m not a very fast writer except towards the end of a book when I can see how it’s going to go. I write reasonably fast then, which will explain, possibly, the output.”

R: “It’s incredible. And everything should be read. I know you don’t use the Internet, so I have to ask. are you writing with a quill pen?”

B: “Because I don’t have email, you mean. No, I have been converted to the word processor. I can manage that.”

R: “I had to ask. Do you read crime fiction?”

B: “Not a great deal.”

R: “No?”

B: “I’ll tell you why. I used to say I don’t read it because I’m afraid of pinching the plot. But, I thought about it and that’s not really true because I would never pinch the plots because the plots are not like my plots. What I’m afraid of is absorbing somebody else’s tone or voice and becoming afraid of doing what some would regard as quite outrageous things in the way that I organize a book. I don’t really want to get inhibited by the rules of the genre as it were. And you could absorb those without being aware of it.”

R: “Well, your books remain very unique so if that’s what you’ve got to do, that’s great.”

B: “I’m not sure if that’s the way to sell a lot, mind you. Readers rather like a tone of voice that they recognize unless they’re really very adventurous, as obviously you would be. But, I think it does take a certain amount of tolerance in the reader to say ‘this is not going to be like such and such, and such and such.’ I do read Elmore Leonard because I, well, really because he makes me laugh so much.”

R: “You’ve often been compared to Elmore Leonard, as well.”

B: “Well, I wouldn’t fight with that!”

R: “Since you are referred to as “the crime writers crime writer,” do you have any suggestions for the aspiring writers starting out today?”

B: “Do it your own way. I would say. Forget about the models in the libraries and bookshops already and do it the way you want to! That does not, however, guarantee big sales. I mean if people are in it for selling in huge amounts then possibly they have to be a bit more sensible or respectful of the traditions than I could be bothered with.”

R: “Yeah, the number of success stories among people that really keep to their own path is, it’s small.”

B: ” By success, I don’t mean somebody that always puts out good books, really good books. I mean somebody who is then able to get more money and get every book made into a movie. Elmore Leonard has somehow managed to do both of those things.” Who wrote THE FRIENDS OF EDDIE COYLE? Was it George Higgins? I don’t think he sold in great numbers.”

R: “No, but everybody who enjoys the genre knows his work and that’s something that I wanted to talk to you about, if you don’t mind. Does it frustrate you that you don’t have a bigger audience in the U.S. when the audience you have, well.. We’re like a cult.”

B: “Yeah, well it does a bit because um, in this, it’s, it’s. how can I put it without sounding falsely modest? It’s important to sell a lot in this genre, it is a popular genre. It ought to be. If one is not doing that then you’re not quite living up to what you ought to be doing. But, on the other hand, I can’t change, and I wouldn’t change, the way I write. I just hope that if I stick at it, eventually it will catch on. That people will find them easier and more intelligible then some people apparently do at present.”

R: ” I don’t understand it! When I give people your books, people are converted. Maybe the interview will help!”

B: “Yes, maybe it will!”

R: “I have some questions here because it is hard to get a hold you. Crime Spree readers want to know. Music? The last five cd’s you listened to?

B :Louis Armstrong’s Hot Five 1929

Bix Beiderbecke Jazz Me Blues

Sidney Bechet Running Wild

Madame Butterfly Puccini

The Trojans Hector Berlioz wonderful loud music in that!

“Harpur hates jazz. I thought one of the best jokes I ever cooked up was the one about Bessie Smith singing. well, you know she sang a lot of socially aware numbers about poor blacks and so on and he says, Oh, God! Another one of these woke up this morning and bedbugs had ate my man.”

R: “Do you have any other hobbies you’d like to share with our readers?”

B: “I walk a lot. Mostly coastal path walking. I’m coming on to be a bit of a, well I wouldn’t say, connoisseur, but an enthusiast for wine. I just won a prize in France for best European Crime novel in 2004.”

R: “Wow! Fantastic!”

B: “That was with PROTECTION which has only just come out there, and they pay in wine which arrived yesterday. It is a very high quality claret and I think I’m going to develop something of a taste for it. I’m trying not to. I usually drink plonk. I’ve really tried to avoid developing a taste for this because it’s very expensive wine.”

R: ” I don’t know much about wine. I still buy mine at the gas station.”

B: “Well, so will I once this runs out.”

R: “The best day of your life so far?”

B: “Oh, I suppose the birth of my first child which was a long time ago.”

R: “Well, it can still be the best day of your life. My husband’s interviews always end with this question: what’s the one thing always in your refrigerator?”

B: “Smoked herring!”

R: “OK, I’m laughing because I think if it were in my refrigerator it would probably stay in there. But, my in-laws do like it. When we hang up what will you do with the rest of your day?”

B: “Today? No, I have another awful appointment with the dentist.”

R: “Uh oh!”

B: “So I’m going to lie down and sort of get myself in a fighting mood. I can mention one thing to you. There was an article in the Boston Globe, July 4th. On the face of it, it’s a review of THE GIRL WITH THE LONG BACK, but it links it with my interest with a British novelist called

Anthony Powell.”

R: ” I thought about asking you about that because your work on Dance (Powell’s A DANCE TO THE MUSIC OF TIME epic of 20th-century England is actually composed of 12 novels divided into four “movements,” although they can be read individually as separate works. The novels were originally published from the 1950s through the 1970s.) is so highly regarded I came to Powell’s work late actually, at the suggestion of a crime writer you may have heard of, Ian Rankin?”

B: “Oh, yes!”

R: “Would you like to speak about Anthony Powell?”

B: “Well, yes. People do find it strange, that writing the kinds of things I do, that I should be interested in somebody that is writing for the most part about the upper classes in the twentieth century, really. I just find him extremely funny. Very good on upper class men, as far as I judge it. Much funnier than Evelyn Waugh. And I can learn from him a bit about a society that I’m never going to get into.”

R: “He was a magnificent writer and I’m very glad that I took the time to read the books. And your work on him, which is published under the name Jim Tucker.”

B: ‘Yeah, that’s right, yes. Published by Columbia over there.”

R: “So we can both suggest that as reading to everyone that reads this? Did you want to talk about the spy novels at all? Having mentioned Len Deighton, is it a structure that you admired so you thought you’d dabble in it?”

B: “Well, when I was starting to write, it was the big days of THE SPY WHO CAME IN FROM THE COLD, Len Deighton’s IPCRESS FILE, and I think that everyone’s writing was touched a bit by that. And I wanted to have a go. I did discover after a few attempts at it, published attempts, that someone like John Le Carre, who’d actually worked in spying would be miles ahead of anybody who is imitating him. So I did set the books into the future. That is to say, into the nineteen oh, it seems crazy now, into the nineteen seventies which was ten years ahead of when I was writing. It did appeal to me but I gradually came to realize that these other people were unreachable and were far too good at it and so I turned slowly around to writing crime. But I have come back to it lately, to do some spy books about modern Britain. There’s one called SPLIT. It still fascinates me, that whole business about secrecy and deception, two-timing. I’m not sure that I’ll do any more of those.”

R: “But there are three that your American audience can currently get: SPLIT (2002), DOUBLE JEOPARDY (2002), MIDDLEMAN (2003), BETWEEN LIVES (2004).”

Colin Harpur, detective chief superintendent, and Desmond Iles, assistant chief constable in an English seaport, are featured in:

You’d Better Believe It (1985)

The Lolita Man (1986)

Halo Parade (1987)

Protection (1988)

APA Harpur and Iles

Come Clean (1989)Take (1990)

Club (1991)

Astride a Grave (1991)

Gospel (1992)

Roses, Roses (1993)

In Good Hands (1994)

The Detective is Dead (1995)

Top Banana (1996)

Lovely Mover (1999)

Eton Crop (1999)

Kill Me (2000)

Panicking Ralph (2001)

Pay Days (2001)

Naked at the Window (2002)

The Girl with the Long Back (2004)

Non-series books:

Split (2002)

Double Jeopardy (2002)

Middleman (2003)

Between Lives (2004)

Written as David Craig

Roy Rickman, Home Officer Administrator in London, England, is featured in:

The Alias Man (1968)

The Message Ends (1969)

Contact Lost (1970)

Split, Middleman and A Man’s Enemies are available from