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.