MURDERS OF MRS AUSTIN AND MRS BEALE (Lloyd and Hill #4)
Macmillan, London/St Martin's Press, NY (1991)
My eighth novel, published Macmillan,
Press, NY 1991. Hardback, paperback, large print.
Question: Which one is the odd one out?
An ex-call girl wife of a wealthy
crook who has kept one step ahead of the law, a struggling
to Stansfield’s prospective Conservative party
candidate, or the telephone line which links them?
Answer: The telephone line. It
A double murder investigation
brings Chief Inspector Lloyd and the newly-promoted
Inspector Judy Hill together
again as colleagues. But the case is a severe test of
both Judy’s professionalism and Lloyd’s ego,
and soon threatens their more private relationship…
Why the mouthful of a title?
I couldn’t think what to call it, and mentioned
this to my niece, then aged ten. ‘What’s
it about?’ she asked. ‘It’s about someone
called Mrs Austin and someone called Mrs Beale who have
both been murdered.’ ‘Call it The Murders
of Mrs Austin and Mrs Beale,’ she said. I related
this to my editor, who said that was exactly what she
was going to call it.
How did the plot come about?
Necessity. I had promoted Judy and put her in charge
of the CID in another division, but I needed to have
her and Lloyd working together. A murder in his division
that was in some way connected with one in hers was
called for. And as the plot evolved, it became quite
natural for it to be a live phone-line that connected
Which character came first this time?
Lennie. All I knew about her to start with was that she
was an artist, didn’t like being called Eleanor,
and that she lived in the pre-war part of Stansfield
with a husband whom she had married for reasons other
than love. Stansfield, of course, is based on Corby,
where I live. Corby was originally a village which
dated back to Elizabethan times, and when Stewarts
and Lloyds came in the thirties, it expanded into a
small town, with ‘Lloyds’ houses being
built to accommodate the influx of workers. Then, in
the fifties, it became part of the New Towns programme,
and turned into a much larger town, mostly built in
the sixties and seventies. The three ‘ages’ of
Corby are reflected in the fictional Stansfield. Then
Beale appeared, as someone who wanted to buy her paintings,
and the plot evolved from there.
This one was a bit like A Perfect Match – no one
seemed to find anything to complain about. I haven’t
seen a bad, or even a critical review of it – which
isn’t to say that there aren’t any, just
that I haven’t come across one. It’s very
satisfying when you please that many people with one
book. I felt it worked pretty much the way I wanted it
to work, which is also a very good feeling.