We’ve featured a few fantastic female authors recently, so in the interest of balance, let Bloomsbury Reader present H.R.F Keating, King of crime writing and author of such fabulous title as Zen There Was Murder, Death and the Visiting Firemen and The Dog It Was That Died.
In his police procedural Is Skin Deep, Is Fatal from 1965, a police superintendent investigates the gassing of a nightclub tart, and although the narrative features a plot clue that virtually pokes you in the eye with a stick, it’s a terrific snapshot of the flyblown Soho nightlife that was still untouched by any sign of swinging London. This is a world where secretaries know more than wives, everyone makes smutty remarks and hints at sex, but no one manages to live out their fantasies. When faced with a gaggle of beauty queens at a murder site, Keating’s cop “brought order like a sedulous botanist in a wild garden”. As with so many senior authors, Keating’s language is rich and succinct. With virtually no technology to call upon, his officers of the law carried out their work the old-fashioned way, by getting to know the neighbourhood and keeping tabs on potential troublemakers. Keating has a natural ear for dialogue, and plenty of banter moves the action forward at a decent pace.
~ Christopher Fowler, The Independent
Henry Reymond Fitzwalter Keating, known as “Harry” to friends and family, was born in St Leonard’s-on-Sea, Sussex and typed out his first story at the age of eight. He was educated at Merchant Taylor’s School in London and later at Trinity College, Dublin. In 1956 he moved to London to work as a journalist on the Daily Telegraph newspaper. He was the crime books reviewer for The Times newspaper for fifteen years. He was Chairman of the Crime Writers’ Association (CWA) (1970–71), Chairman of the Society of Authors (1983–84) and President of the Detection Club (1985–2000). He was also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.
He received the George N. Dove Award in 1995 and in 1996 the CWA awarded him the Cartier Diamond Dagger for outstanding services to crime literature. He also wrote screenplays, was a reviewer and wrote a biography of Dame Agatha Christie entitled Agatha Christie: First Lady of Crime.
In 1988 in America he won an Edgar Alan Poe award, and was recently given a lifetime achievement award by the US organisation ‘Malice Domestic.’
He died in March 2011 at 84 years old.
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