OF INNOCENCE (Lloyd and Hill #9)
Macmillan, London/Fawcett (Ballantine Books), NY (1998)
My fourteenth novel, published Macmillan,
London/Fawcett (Ballantine Books), NY 1998. Hardback, paperback,
More than half of Bartonshire, it seemed, had entertained
murderous thoughts at some time or another about bullying
farmer Bernard Bailey. Which might have explained why
his property was protected by more security devices than
All, sadly, to no avail.
After six months of highly publicised
death threats, Bernard’s bloodied corpse is discovered in his
isolated farmhouse – launching DCI Lloyd and DI
Judy Hill into the most unusual murder enquiry of their
For as the evidence is sifted,
the question for once isn’t ‘Who stood to gain from the death?’ but ‘Why
didn’t they do it sooner?’
Did this one work the way you wanted it to?
On the whole, yes. Most people seem to like it. But,
much like Record of Sin, it all depends on how you
feel about Rachel, the central character. Once again,
I merely offer her as a person for you to meet – whether
you like or loathe her depends on you. If you like
her, the book works. But she does seem to produce very
strong reactions! And the odd thing is that those who
dislike her imagine things about her that I never wrote.
One reviewer said that we were
being asked to believe that men had given up fortunes
for her – who? When?
I never knew that! And a reader on Amazon said that since
she mixed with the rich and famous she might have learned
to speak properly. Rich? I don’t think so. She
married someone who hoped to be rich, if she gave him
a son, but he actually had creditors circling like vultures.
And to the best of my knowledge, she never knew anyone
famous at all. Perhaps she led a secret life that I knew
nothing about. (I’m still working on how mixing
with the rich and famous improves one’s grammar.)
That same reader said that Rachel was a slut, as if this
might come as news to me. Of course she is! Does that
mean she isn’t allowed to be the central character
in a novel?
Do you object to criticism?
Only when people are criticising me for something they
made up themselves. Or when they give a wrong impression.
One magazine reviewer said that Rachel being able to
hear in her bedroom what was being said downstairs
by means of the old-fashioned chimney breast was difficult
to credit. Perhaps it is, but it’s entirely possible,
and anyway the plot in no way depended on that quirk
of architecture. It was merely a slightly more interesting
way of having her overhear a conversation than listening
at a keyhole. But I truly don’t mind constructive
criticism – I very often agree with it.
Is there ever a clash of cultures?
Yes. Sometimes this is obvious, as with using a peculiarly
British milieu, and having to try to make it comprehensible
to Americans and others. But on other occasions, you
can’t legislate against it. The aforementioned
Amazon reader says, for instance, that she knew early
on she wouldn’t like Picture of Innocence, because
Curtis Law was surprised to find that the dealer from
whom he was buying black market prescription drugs
was carrying a gun. But in Britain, we don’t
have a gun-culture. Dealing in Class C drugs has a
maximum sentence of five years; possession of a firearm
for the purposes of causing fear of violence has a
maximum sentence of ten years. As the Americans would
say – do the math. Curtis had every right to
be surprised. It was on seeing the gun that he realised
that it was an even bigger set-up than he had imagined,
run by out-and-out gangsters with a lot more at stake
than stolen prescription drugs. She would still have
hated the novel even if she had known that, of course,
but perhaps not quite so soon!