Margaret Yorke is a writer of crime novels most often categorised as ”cosy”, but as most of her extremely dedicated fan base would have agreed, there was always much more going on than mere bodies in libraries. Yes, the majority of her books were set in villages and country towns, but Yorke used her writing skills to invest in characters that which were all too easy to recognise from any walk of life. After a decade of writing non-crime novels, her only regular ‘investigator’, Dr Patrick Grant, appeared for the first time in the early 1970s in “Dead in the Morning”, and went on to appear in four more novels over the next few years. The author herself agrees that these novels were ‘of their time’, but the good news is that House of Stratus have had the foresight to bring them back into print in very striking paperback editions – the first time they have been available for over 20 years. [Link to full listing on Amazon here.]
They may well read as period pieces, being 40 years old, now, but they are nonetheless very neat crime novels, with Grant solving mysteries in various corners of Europe, from Austria to Greece, and back to Oxford again, where he is a University don. In my recollection, having read these books 30 years ago, they are neat puzzles in the ‘whodunit’ bracket, which I remember at the time feeling to be a modern take on Christie. After the five Grant novels, Yorke went on to produce another 25 or so standalone crime novels, the last appearing in 2001, and she always moved with the times when including or tackling social issues of the day within her writing. However, she was so adept at integrating these within the story, it was sometime in hindsight, once a book was finished, that the reader would have one of those “oh, yes…” moments!
These new editions of the Grant novels undoubtedly deserve a new audience, and House of Stratus have also released the five books in ebook form, in addition to the paperback editions, so they are available to a wider readership now than ever before. It is to be hoped that more of Yorke’s backlist will be released in due course, as they really are deserving of the next generation’s enjoyment.
Note: the cover pics are linked to the relevant PB pages on Amazon UK. Where the Amazon page does not provide a link to the Kindle ebook, a second pic follows.