sail-header-edge

20th Century Notts: 1994-1996

John Baird
Fri 2 Nov, 2018

In our penultimate instalment, we are introduced to the fiction of Julie Myerson and Robert Harris, and former Nottinghamshire Police officers throw the book at us.

1994

Sleepwalking by Julie Myerson (1994)

Sherwood born Julie Myerson grew up in and around Nottingham, attending the Girls’ High School. Her first novel, Sleepwalking, captures the inner thoughts of Susan, a woman stuck in a fledgling marriage that’s already reached its end days - only she’s pregnant with her husband's child. Confused and bereft after her father’s death, Susan is soon haunted by visions of a boy, seduced by a painter, and faced with the prospect of motherhood.

‘He’s gone, Susan’ – her voice cuts in and out, distorted by the car phone – ‘I’m sorry, I don’t know how you’re going to feel. It’s going to be a shock after all this time.’ (from Sleepwalking)

___________

After writing non-fiction Robert Harris turned his pen to best-selling thrillers, beginning with the publication of Fatherland in 1992, a detective story/alternate history set in Berlin. In 1994, Fatherland received a film adaptation, made by HBO, and starring Rutger Hauer and Miranda Richardson, the latter scooping a Golden Globe Award for her performance. Born in Nottingham, Robert Harris has working class roots and spent his childhood living on a council estate. “My father left school at 14, my mother at 13,” he explained. “My father was clever, and well read. He took a newspaper, always watched the news, discussed it all the time.” Robert’s writing ambition arose at an early age, partly inspired by his visit to the local printing plant where his father worked.

1995

American Tabloid by James Ellroy (1995)

Broadway’s crime festival Shots In The Dark spawned Britain’s first major crime writing festival, Shots On The Page. Many top authors were lured to Nottingham's festival including Sara Paretsky, James Crumley and Evan Hunter (AKA Ed McBain). Shots… paved the way for Nottingham to host the world’s premier crime festival - known as Bouchercon - in 1995, at which the American crime writer James Ellroy was the International Guest of Honour. Ellroy’s best novels include L.A. Confidential, The Black Dahlia and American Tabloid.

The first of Ellroy’s Underworld USA Trilogy, American Tabloid chronicles events surrounding three rogue law enforcement officers in the late 1950s and early 1960s. In the novel, the officers become entangled in the affairs of the FBI, the CIA, the mafia, and the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

Three shots tweaked his hatred. Four shots and up cut those hatreds all the way loose. Three shots said, You project danger. Four shots or more said, You’re ugly and you limp. (from American Tabloid)

__________

Alan Sillitoe's autobiography Life Without Armour hit the bookshelves in 1995. Covering Sillitoe’s formative years, we read of his time in poverty and life in the army, up to, and including, the writing and publication of his first books.

My father wielded the ultimate authority of the fist and the boot, tempered – if that is the word – by a fussiness which was only another form of self-indulgence, thus giving me an enduring disrespect for authority. (from Life Without Armour)

1996

A Public Body by Raymond Flynn (1996)

Author Raymond Flynn was a Notts police officer. He worked in the CID and headed up the fraud squad. Flynn used his 26 years of expertise gained in the force when writing his crime novels. This second career came after he retired and took a creative writing course. Following this endeavour Flynn made the finals of a short story competition and won a prestigious prize, leading to a contract with the publishers Hodder & Stoughton. A Public Body is his second crime novel. It follows D.I. Graham and an eccentric group of characters. Klondike Bill - aka Councillor William Lynch - is furious when he's passed over for Mayor in favour of his detested second wife Muriel. When she's found dead, and Klondike Bill is arrested for murder, D.I. Graham doubts all is as it seems.

I knew him all right: I tried not to show it, but, deep inside, I shuddered. William Lynch, Councillor William Lynch, if you wanted to be precise, piss artist extraordinaire, alias Klondike Bill, more accurately known in the Cell Block as Dirty Disgusting Bill. (from A Public Body)

__________

In 1978 Nigel McCrery applied to join the Nottinghamshire Constabulary because he “wanted to be middle class.” After working as a murder squad detective in Nottingham, McCrery became a writer of fiction, non-fiction and TV drama. His credits include Backup, Born and Bred, New Tricks, and Silent Witness, first broadcast in 1996. The BBC crime drama focuses on a team of forensic pathology experts as they investigate crimes. McCrery’s 2014 book, entitled Silent Witness, looks at the history of forensic science over the last two centuries. McCrery is a former pupil at George Spencer Academy in Stapleford. The school recently named their Learning and Inclusion Centre after him.

Be in the know. Subscribe to our newsletter

Keep bang up to date with what's new at Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature. Subscribe to our newsletter, and you'll hear all about the latest news, job opportunities and literary events.

subscribe

Search