Lloyd & Hill Books
- Unlucky For Some
- Births, Deaths and   Marriages/Death in the Family
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- Scene of Crime
- Picture of Innocence
- Plots and Errors
- A Shred of Evidence
- Verdict Unsafe
- The Other Woman
- Murder...Now and Then
- The Murders of Mrs.Austin and   Mrs.Beale
- Redemption/Murder at the Old   Vicarage
- Death of a Dancer/Gone to Her   Death
- A Perfect Match
Other Books
- Record of Sin
- An Evil Hour
- The Stalking Horse
- Murder Movie
Writing as Elizabeth Chaplin
- Hostage to Fortune
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- Translations
- Title Changes
- Lloyd & Hill interview
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BIRTHS, DEATHS & MARRIAGES (Lloyd and Hill #12)
Macmillan 2002, London

My seventeenth novel, published Macmillan 2002/Fawcett (Ballantine) as Death in the Family 2003. Hardback, paperback, large print, Soundings Audio Books (unabridged).

In an isolated cottage a woman has been bludgeoned to death; outside, a man has been crushed by a car, uttering the word ‘intruder’ before losing consciousness. This, and a row overheard that morning, is all Detective Chief Inspector Lloyd has to go on. Who is the dead woman? Where’s her handbag? If it was a burglary, why the extreme violence? Who was having the argument? If it was a domestic, why is the handbag missing? Who was the intruder? Was there an intruder?

Questions without answers, and Lloyd is short-handed. A baby has disappeared from Malworth, and Lloyd doesn’t yet know how deeply involved in that enquiry Judy Hill has become. Nor how profoundly it will affect both her and his own murder investigation…

Why the change of title this time?
I don’t think ‘births, deaths and marriages’ trips off the tongue in the US in the way it does here. I suggested the alternative title, unlike Murder at the Old Vicarage which was chosen by my then editor as an alternative to Redemption. But the funny thing is that once again it’s very nearly the same as a previous, well-known book. I have to confess that I didn’t know it, but there is a book, very well-known in America, called A Death in the Family, by James Agee. The last time there was a one-word difference between my book and a more famous book it sold better than usual, and it’s worked this time as well. I think my next one will be called Gone With the West Wind – how does that sound?

So this one sold better than usual, did it?
It only got into the New York Times hardback bestsellers list! All right, it was at number 35 of 35 for one week, but it was there. I don’t know if its overall sales figures will be any better than usual, but for that one week, it was a bestseller.

I’m not sure. Some people think it’s because it appealed to women more than my books usually do. And it is true that an unusually high proportion of my readers are male, given that crime fiction is apparently mainly read by women, and men traditionally read male writers, so there could be something in that.

So will you work on that from now on?
No, because I can’t. I write what I write – it might have woman appeal and it might not. I can only write what appeals to me, and despite being a woman, I think I have more in common with male tastes than female. Shopping till you drop sounds like some kind of mediaeval punishment to me. Shoes are for keeping your feet dry, and, if at all possible, comfortable. I don’t know what all that stuff in mysterious jars is, never mind fork out £800 a year on it, or whatever it is that the average woman is reckoned to spend on cosmetics.

Any unfair criticism?
The reader’s review, also on Amazon, where I was accused of keeping something vital back from the reader. I don’t do that – she just missed whatever it was. You have to keep your brain engaged if you want to read my books! Apart from that, no, I don’t think people were unfair.

So this one pleased everyone, did it?
Well – what do you think? No, it didn’t. A lot of people didn’t like the emphasis on domestic issues – the very thing that other people think made it popular! It’s a classic case of not being able to please all of the people all of the time. As far as I was concerned, it was natural for the novel to explore Judy’s feelings about motherhood and how these feelings were affected by the disappearance of the baby born on the same day, and her involvement was very much part of the plot. But I entirely understand those who prefer the police officers’ private lives to remain in the background; I just don’t think it was possible in this book. And, of course, when I do leave the Lloyd/Hill relationship in the background, people complain about that…

A reader on Amazon (who did enjoy the book) raised an issue that is faced by anyone who writes series novels, saying that it took her some time to sort out who the recurring characters were, as opposed to the incidental characters created for this novel, finding it difficult, as she said, to sort out the good guys from the bad guys. While I’m not convinced that it matters whether or not you know which of the characters appear throughout the series – that’s no guarantee in my books that they are ‘good guys’ – it obviously helps if you can get the back story and the relationships straight at the start.

A lot of novelists – particularly American novelists – have a standard way of indicating this, to the extent that it looks rather as though they have cut and pasted the information from previous books. This is a quick and efficient way of solving this problem, but not one that I could bring myself to use. I try to find different ways of introducing new readers to the back story without boring regular readers, and perhaps it doesn’t always work as I hope it will. I will try even harder in future. I think number thirteen’s method works quite well, but that remains to be seen!

So what is the thirteenth Lloyd and Hill going to be about?
Ah…you’ll have to wait and see. But it is finished, and with the publisher, so it shouldn’t be too long before you find out.

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