OF A DANCER (Lloyd and Hill #3)
(US title: Gone to her Death) Macmillan, London
(1989)/St Martin's Press, NY (1990)
My sixth novel, published Macmillan,
London 1989/St Martin’s Press, NY as GONE TO HER
DEATH 1990. Hardback, paperback, large-print.
It was her husband who found
her, almost falling over the body in the darkness of
the school playing field
on a cold, wet St Valentine’s night.
The deputy headmaster’s wife had been murdered.
At the run-down private boarding school, Detective Chief
Inspector Lloyd and Sergeant Judy Hill find a multitude
of suspects. What they can’t find is the murder
But then it went missing two
months before the murder took place…didn’t
Why the change of title this time?
The US publishers had recently published a book with
the same title. This time I supplied the alternative
title! While trying to establish the availability of
my books for these pages, I read a reader’s review
on Amazon (I think) that said the title was confusing.
I don’t quite understand why, but I apologise
anyway, even though it wasn’t my fault – the
title change was forced on me!
What made you choose another traditional setting?
I suppose the success of Redemption/Murder at the Old
Vicarage was part of it, though I don’t remember
consciously thinking that. I went to see the film director
John Schlesinger give a talk at Oundle School (a very
prestigious private school in the UK, which we confusingly
call a public school) and the confines of a boarding
school appealed to me as a setting. Of course, I downgraded
the school considerably to a struggling, badly-run
version, as that gave me much more scope.
Do you always know exactly
going to happen in your novels?
No, indeed I don’t. I start with a character, almost
always, and then see if any basic plot idea can be used
with that character. Sometimes it’s someone I see
in the street, and I find myself giving him or her an
imaginary life, sometimes it’s a dream, as with
Record of Sin, and sometimes it seems to come out of
nowhere at all, as with Redemption. In this case, I can’t
remember what produced the character, but he isn’t
in the finished book, as I had to abandon that plot and
start again. But nothing ever goes to waste – I’ve
used bits and pieces of that abandoned plot in other
books! The character has also resurfaced in a way, with
a change of gender, but only as a minor character in
So did the new plot go smoothly?
No, because as I got towards the end, I began to realise
that the person I had down as the murderer simply wasn’t
one; the character that had evolved wouldn’t
have murdered anyone. But – after having a quick
panic – I looked through what I had written,
and I could see who the murderer really was. I barely
had to change anything at all to accommodate that major
change, because much of what I had written as evidence
of Person A’s guilt was able to be utilised as
both a red herring and a clue to Person B, so I think
my subconscious must have been heading that way anyway!