Val McDermid, Lee Child and other crime writers pay tribute to Dexter, who died at his Oxford home on Tuesday.
Colin Dexter, the author behind detective Inspector Morse and his adventures solving mysteries in Oxfordshire, has died at the age of 86, with the top names in crime writing lining up to pay tribute to a “a kind, generous man”.
Colin Dexter: ‘His was the sharpest mind and the biggest heart.’ Photograph: Eamonn McCabe for the Guardian
Dexter’s death at his home in Oxford was announced by his publisher Macmillan on Tuesday. Val McDermid, who was a good friend of Dexter, described him as “a lovely, lovely man” and not as grumpy as his creation – “though he did share Morse’s love of music”.
“Early on in my career I told him I was nervous about how to write police procedurals and he said, ‘Well, my dear, I had written five Morse novels before I had even set foot in a police station.’ He had great sense of humour,” McDermid told the Guardian.
Author Lee Child described Dexter as “revolutionary”. “He wrote a character without any concessions at all to likely popularity – Morse was bad tempered, cantankerous, esoteric and abstruse – and thereby showed us that integrity and authenticity work best,” Child said. “His literary descendants are everywhere. When our genre’s family tree is drawn, he’s the root of a huge portion of it.”
Author Peter James said “all of us who love crime fiction owe Colin Dexter a very great debt”.
Fiona Cummins, Jane Harper, Joseph Knox and Kristen Lepionka have been revealed as the four debut authors picked by crime writer Val McDermid for her influential “New Blood” panel at the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival.
McDermid has hosted the annual panel since 2004 and has included S J Watson, Stuart MacBride, Clare Mackintosh, Belinda Bauer and Dreda Say Mitchell among her past New Blood picks.
Fiona Cummins’ Rattle (Macmillan) is a serial killer tale set in London’s Blackheath; Jane Harper’s The Dry (Little, Brown) tells of a triple killing in a small Australian town; Joseph Knox’s Sirens (Doubleday) is the story of a teenage runaway; and Kristen Lepionka’s The Last Place You Look (Faber) has PI Roxane Weary seeking to prove the innocence of a man on death row.
The New Blood panel will take place on Saturday 22nd July at the Old Swan Hotel, Harrogate, during the 2017 Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival. Special guests for the festival, the 15th, will include Lee Child, Ian Rankin, Dennis Lehane, Brenda Blethyn, Peter May and Arne Dahl.
Six books are in contention for the annual award for excellence in science and health writing, including a trainee neurosurgeon’s posthumous memoir and books about the NHS, HIV/Aids and organ donorship.
The key thing about these books is that they draw people in to something they otherwise might find a bit scary to read about…
Spanning human origins, national health services, microbial life forms and death, the shortlist for the 2017 Wellcome Book prize has been hailed as one that will “shift perceptions” by chair Val McDermid.
Photograph: Thomas S.G. Farnetti | Wellcome Images
Announcing the six books in contention for the award, which pits fiction against non-fiction, McDermid told the Guardian: “The key thing about these books is that they draw people in to something they otherwise might find a bit scary to read about. There will be people who read one of the books on this list and it will change their lives.”