Sunday, 3 May 2009

At the Zoo





Combining the life of a (very) full-time partner in a law firm with a writing career presents various challenges and can feel rather exhausting at times. But there are compensations, and these include the chance to do a wide range of fun things. The past week, for instance, has been utterly hectic, but full of pleasures. These included a visit to the House of Lords (about which, more soon) and lunch at the state of the art training facilities at Liverpool Football Club's site at Melwood.

And on Wednesday, I had an enjoyable time combining business with pleasure at Chester Zoo. I’ve been professionally associated with the Zoo for over fifteen years, something which is all the more gratifying as I remember visits there when I was a small boy. Today the Zoo is one of the world’s best. In terms of audited statistics, it’s the UK’s second most visited tourist attraction, after the Tower of London (not all attractions have audited statistics, but even so, this is a striking achievement) and the Zoo’s staff play an increasingly important role in the worldwide struggle for better conservation and biodiversity. The work done in various parts of the globe in preventing the disappearance of rare species, and the promotion of animal care in societies that are financially poor yet rich in potential is largely unsung, but admirable. It is a truly magical place.

Lunch with the Director, and a video presentation of the Zoo’s ambitions plans for the future was followed by a guided tour. It’s a number of years since my last visit, and I was impressed by the changes, as well as the projects intended to establish the Zoo as a tourist portal for the north west of England – an area I love.

And needless to say, my visit prompted a few ideas about a short crime story set in a zoo. It might be a project to undertake while I await editorial feedback on The Serpent Pool. There must be examples of other zoo-based mysteries, but I can’t call them to mind. Any suggestions?

11 comments:

Sunnie Gill said...

Natural History by Neil Cross takes place in a primate sanctuary. Does that count?

If the author's name seems familiar it's because Cross is one of the leading scriptwriters for the televisions series Spooks

Martin Edwards said...

Thanks, Sunnie. I don't know that book, but will investigate! I've seen a few episodes of Spooks - belatedly - and found them very good.

Bernadette in Australia said...

The Anteater of Death is set in a zoo, with a zoo keeper as the protaganist. It's by Betty White, was released last year and I have it sitting over there on my stupidly large TBR pile.

There's also a series of kids books (aimed a 8-12 yr olds) set in a zoo where a family live in the zoo and the children solve crimes. It's an Australian series and i can't for the life of me remember the author but my American nieces loved it and used to beg me to send the next book,

Cathy said...

Betty Webb has written a "zoo mystery" called Anteater of Death.

Dorte H said...

I am sure I have watched a film which begins with someone shooting wildly in a zoo. Perhaps a Scandinavian thriller? It might be by Henning Mankell, but I am not at all certain.

Paul Beech said...

You could be the originator of a new crime fiction category – Zoo Noir! But the killer beast should not be anything so obvious as a big cat, a croc or a hippo. Something beautiful and inoffensive-seeming might be just as lethal to someone with a dicky heart who’s been suitably pre-programmed through hypnotic suggestion or subliminal trickery. Those flamingos, for instance…

So – the Serpent Pool is under the editorial knife at last. A jittery time, no doubt! Bob Westall once told me about his battles with editors. He only got away with about five eighths of what he’d written, he said. He had one outstanding editor, his first, Marnie Hodgkin at Macmillan, a former crime writer married to a Cambridge don. She fanned the flames of his creativity and spurred him on to excel. Later editors were more concerned with the business side.

Hope your editor is another Marnie.

Enjoy the bank hol.

Paul

Martin Edwards said...

Bernadette and Cathy, thanks - another book I wasn't aware of.
Dorte - it certainly sounds Mankellish, but I haven't read that one.
Paul - Zoo Noir is definitely a good term!

Julia Buckley said...

What beautiful photos, Martin!

Eric Mayer said...

Anne Littlewood's Night Kill is the first in a series of mysteries set at a Northwest Zoo.

I edited the docent newsletter for the Rochester New York zoo for a few years and always thought a zoo would make a great mystery setting.

Martin Edwards said...

Thanks, Julia.
Eric, again I'm afraid I don't know Ann Littlewood's work. But I'm grateful for the tip.

Pyzahn said...

If you are ever in the flatlands, come see our zoo. It is spectacular! We also have a world class botanical garden. St. Louis gets a hohum rap, but it is really a wonderful city with great culture and attractions. Good food, too!