Friday, 11 June 2010

Forgotten Book - Three-Core Lead


I was sorry to learn – in the first instance, in an email from our mutual friend Margaret Yorke- that Clare Curzon had died, about three weeks ago. As a small tribute to her, therefore, my choice for today’s entry in Patti Abbot’s series of Forgotten Books is the first Clare Curzon novel I came across, Three-Core Lead.

This novel was first published in 1988, not long after I began reviewing crime fiction – a hobby which introduced me to many good writers. It features Detective Superintendent Mike Yeadings, of Thames Valley Serious Crime Squad. He had a passing acquaintance with a ‘spook’ called Howard Swaffham, whose obituary he reads. Swaffham died in Prague, and soon Yeadings receives a posthumous letter from him, which makes enigmatic reference to a ‘three-core lead’.

This is a solid mystery, of the type so often published under the imprint of the Collins Crime Club in the days when the late Elizabeth Walter was a distinguished editor there; she was a woman with a real love of the traditional-ish crime story, and published many reliable purveyors of whodunits, such as Anthea Fraser, Martin Russell and Clare Curzon, as well as higher-profile writers like Reginald Hill and Robert Barnard.

Some years after reading this book, I came to know Clare Curzon personally, as she regularly attended CWA conferences. She was a pleasant companion, and a highly professional writer, who produced a long series featuring Yeadings and was latterly published, like myself, by Allison & Busby (whose list features a number of former Collins Crime Club novelists.) Her real name was Eileen-Marie Duell-Buchanan (her late husband, who also attended CWA conferences regularly, was Jimmy Duell) and she also wrote as Rhona Petrie. She was 87 years old – but I gather that her latest book is due to appear in paperback in August, so clearly she was productive to the end. Three-Core Lead may not be a ground-breaking masterpiece, but it is a decent book, which should not be forgotten. And I am one of those who will remember Clare Curzon with affection.

7 comments:

Clarissa Draper said...

I love solid mysteries. It's sad that these books somehow get forgotten.

CD

Margot Kinberg said...

Martin - An excellent choice for Forgotten Books. Curzon really was a fine writer, and I am sorry to hear of her death.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Sorry to hear of her death.

Deb said...

I'm so sorry to hear of the death of Clare Curzon. The Yeadings mysteries are some of my favorite "comfort" readings; and I especially like the way she wove in some of Yeadings's personal life (including his daughter who has Down Syndrome) along with the lives of his subordinates. I'm glad there is at least still one of her books to be read. It's wonderful to know she was active until the end.

Dean James said...

I too first discovered Clare Curzon with Three-Core Lead, when it was published by the Doubleday Crime Club. I've read a number of the Mike Yeadings books, and I have a nice backlog of them waiting for me. I've enjoyed every one I've read thus far. Curzon is consistently excellent, in my experience. I'm sad she's no longer with us, but glad that there are so many good books left to read.

Martin Edwards said...

Thanks for these comments. Dean, it's quite a coincidence that was your first Clare Curzon too.

Evan Lewis said...

87. Yikes! Hope I'll still be able to read at that age.