Friday, 12 March 2010

Forgotten Book - Sudden Departures


Before the television presenter Jonathan Ross became famous due to his wit, mischievousness and massive salary, the same name was used by a former police superintendent called John Rossiter for a series of crime novels. My latest entry for Patti Abbott’s series of Forgotten Books is Sudden Departures, published in 1988, which introduced me to Ross’s work.

It’s a short, snappy novel, in which an anonymous note to the police, warning of a murder about to be committed, precedes the burning to death of Andrew Latimer in his exploded car. Latimer’s greedy wife has gone missing, and Detective Superintendent George Rogers (the series cop employed in the Jonathan Ross books) is also troubled by the behaviour of the dead man’s siblings. It emerges that Mrs Latimer’s first husband met a violent end, while another man, who knew her, is choked to death after a late night assignation with an unknown woman.

This was a good police story, the 15th to feature Rogers, benefiting from the author’s professional experience. Seven more Rogers novels were to follow, the last being published in 1997. Since then, it appears that this capable writer has been enjoying a well-earned retirement; Rossiter was born in 1916, but as far as I am aware he is still alive.

Ross/Rossiter is a good example of a ‘mid-list’ writer who never hit the heights, or won lots of awards, but wrote a good many entertaining novels which afforded many readers (especially library users) much pleasure. I’ve never come across any discussion of his work among crime fans, but I enjoyed Sudden Departures and I’d be happy to read more of the books he produced.

7 comments:

Margot Kinberg said...

Martin - Thanks for sharing this book. I have to confess that I'm not familiar with Jonathan Ross' work. I wish I were, as it sounds like an entertaining series. That's one thing I like very much about the Forgotten Books feature; I always learn about books that didn't "cross my radar" when they were first published...

Ann Elle Altman said...

What an interesting story. It's sad that there are so many of these forgotten books.

ann

Deb said...

I discovered Ross's books a few years ago in the mystery section of the library. I immediately set about reading all that the library had on the shelves (about ten). They are very interesting police procedurals--and, once in a while, Rogers has a brief fling with one of the females he meets in the course of an investigation.

Whenever I encounter an author like Ross, I wonder how many other unsung books are on the shelves, undiscovered. Patti's Forgotten Fridays have done a lot to revive awareness of and interest in a lot of these books and authors.

Martin Edwards said...

Many thanks, Margot and Ann.
Deb, you certainly know Ross better than I do, and I'm interested that you found him consistently enjoyable. I'm sure you are right about unsung books and authors.

Dean James said...

Count me in as another Ross reader, Martin. I've read quite a few of his books and found them consistently enjoyable. Though Roper might sometimes be renamed "Randy" rather than "George"....

Mary Williams said...

I wonder if any of you can help. My father was a village policeman and has recently died. My mother read all of Ross' books years ago and we are tring to track down one of them that had a Eulogy to a village policeman in it it as she would like to have it read at Dad's funeral next week, can any of you point me in the right direction?
Mary

Mary Williams said...

I wonder if any of you can help. My father was a village policeman and has recently died. My mother read all of Ross' books years ago and we are tring to track down one of them that had a Eulogy to a village policeman in it it as she would like to have it read at Dad's funeral next week, can any of you point me in the right direction?
Mary