Patti Abbott’s Forgotten Books series is up and running after a one-week break, and my latest entry is Sunspot, a 1981 thriller by Desmond Lowden. I’ve never read anything else by Lowden, and I don’t know much about him except that he was primarily known as a screenwriter, and his most popular novel appears to be Bellman & True.
I picked this book up one lunchtime in a Liverpool bookshop (the premises were, sadly, later turned into a building society office) near my workplace, around 25 years ago. The synopsis on the back cover appealed to me, as did the fact that it’s a pretty slim volume – tempting, when time is short. And I certainly wasn’t disappointed by the book.
It’s a serial killer story, set in a West Country seaside resort. I have a lifelong liking for the seaside, and so I have an instinctive prejudice in favour of books set in resorts, whether or not out of season. This one benefits from Lowden’s application to the novel of screenwriting techniques. The scenes, and the chapters, are short and very snappy. I was definitely impressed.
Yet I never read anything else by this author. I suspect that, for Desmond Lowden, novels were just a side-line to his other writing activities. A quick internet search suggests that he hasn’t published a crime novel since his eighth appeared in 1990. But the man could write, and Sunspot sticks in my mind as a skilful example of the building of suspense.