At Martin Edwards' blog, he mentions that three fine crime writers were all born in 1936: Peter Lovesey, Reginald Hill, and Robert Barnard. I have read several books by Lovesey, and plan to read more. Reginald Hill is definitely one of my favorite authors, although I still have many of his books to read. But it is Robert Barnard that I want to discuss here. (Link to Edwards' post)
I have mentioned in earlier posts that I have long been a fan of Robert Barnard. His books are quirky, often have interesting twists, and are generally considered in the cozy sub-genre. So they have bite but they are not violent or gritty. If you haven't given this author I try, I highly recommend that you do.
Barnard was honored with the 2003 Cartier Diamond Dagger Award, presented for a lifetime of achievement. A few other of the authors so honored are: Eric Ambler (the first recipient in 1986), P. D. James, John Le Carre, Ed McBain, Reginald Hill, Peter Lovesey, Lawrence Block, and Andrew Taylor.
This is a summary from the page for the award at the Crime Writer's Association site.
"He is a writer of great versatility, from the light and satirical tone of his earlier books to the more psychological preoccupations of recent ones, such as A Fatal Attachment. Under the name of Bernard Bastable he has also written novels featuring Mozart as a detective, and is the author of many short stories. He has created several detectives, including Perry Trethowan and Charlie Peace.
Robert Barnard says he writes only to entertain. He regards Agatha Christie as his ideal crime writer and has published an appreciation of her work, A Talent to Deceive."An interesting article about Barnard's use of Yorkshire as a setting was published in Mystery Readers Journal in the Winter 1995-1996 issue. It is available online here.
I did not realize that so many of his books were set in that area. Both the book I recently read (and reviewed), Political Suicide, and the book I am reading right now, A Fall from Grace, are set in villages in Yorkshire.
Books I have but have not read yet:
The Skeleton in the Grass (1987) at Letters from a Hill Farm. This one is a historical mystery.
A review of Dying Flames (2005) with some very nice words for Barnard's work in general, at Reading the Leaves.
Roberta Rood at Books to the Ceiling reviews A Stranger in the Family, a recent novel that I don't have yet. She also includes links to reviews of other Barnard books she has read.
A brief review of A Talent to Deceive: An Appreciation of Agatha Christie, at MarysLibrary.
Mystery Mile talks about Barnard's versatility and uniqueness in Thoughts on Barnard. He is not everyone's cup of tea, but definitely worth a try.