Anderson, James 1936-
ANDERSON, James 1936-
PERSONAL: Born 1936, in England. Education: Reading University, B.A.
ADDRESSES: Agent—Al Zuckerman, Writers House, Inc., 21 West 26th St., New York, NY 10010.
CAREER: Writer. Has worked as a salesman, copywriter, and journalist.
crime novels, except as noted
Assassin, Constable (London, England), 1969, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1970.
The Alpha List, Constable (London, England), 1972, Walker (New York, NY), 1973.
The Abolition of Death, Constable (London, England), 1974, Walker (New York, NY), 1975.
The Affair of the Blood-stained Egg Cosy, Constable (London, England), 1975, McKay (New York, NY), 1977, reprinted, Poisoned Pen Press (Scottsdale, AZ), 1998.
Appearance of Evil, Constable (London, England), 1977.
Angel of Death, Constable (London, England), 1978.
Assault and Matrimony, Muller (London, England), 1980, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1981.
Auriol, Muller (London, England), 1982.
The Affair of the Mutilated Mink Coat, Avon (New York, NY), 1982, Poisoned Pen Press (Scottsdale, AZ), 1999.
The Murder of Sherlock Holmes, Avon (New York, NY), 1985.
Hooray for Homicide, Avon (New York, NY), 1985.
Lovers and Other Killers, Avon (New York, NY), 1986.
Additional Evidence, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1988.
The Animals' Christmas (juvenile play), New Playwrights' Network (Cheshire, Altrincham, England), 1996.
The Affair of the Thirty-nine Cufflinks, Poisoned Pen Press (Scottsdale, AZ), 2003.
ADAPTATIONS: Assault and Matrimony was adapted as a television movie.
SIDELIGHTS: Best known in the United States as the author of the novel Assault and Matrimony, British writer James Anderson has written crime fiction ranging from 1930s style parlor-room mysteries to political thrillers and police procedurals. Some of these, such as Assault and Matrimony, are humorous tales told tongue-in-cheek, while at other times Anderson writes in a much more serious tone of voice.
In The Affair of the Blood-stained Egg Cosy Anderson produced a classic tale recalling the Golden Age of the mystery novel. It is set in the 1930s, as the earl and countess of Burford invite a number of guests to their country home, Alderly. Meanwhile, the earl's brother simultaneously entertains a few diplomats who discreetly conduct a little business. The mix also includes a Texas millionaire, a young woman of genteel birth but no money, an exotic but mysterious European baroness, and a jewel thief. Anderson plays out all the clichés in this Golden Age mystery. At the opening of a sequel, The Affair of the Mutilated Mink Coat, the earl and countess of Burford allude to the disastrous events in the earlier book by commenting on their bad luck in hosting large house parties. Resigned to smaller parties, the aristocratic couple prepare themselves for what they expect to be a tame gathering that includes a film idol and producer scouting for a location for a film, a cousin and her husband who are recently arrived from Australia, and the countess's daughter and the two beaus from whom she hopes to make a final choice. Inspector Wilkins appears in both novels and occasionally takes the unusual stance of asking helpful suspects if they could keep their information to themselves and save him a lot of bother.
In sharp contrast to such "cozies" are Anderson's three political thrillers, two of which follow the pursuits of Mikael Petros. In Assassin Petros, a man who spent twelve years in the military before resigning and drifting for three years, is facing execution in a fictitious European country. Only days before his execution he is offered the chance to live if he will assassinate the leader of a neighboring country. After Petros agrees, to ensure his compliance he is injected with a poison that will prove fatal unless he receives an antidote in twelve weeks. Since Petros does not know what poison was used, he must meet the deadline set by his captors. In The Abolition of Death Petros is living safely outside his native land, having served a sentence for the assassination, but he still feels condemned by all those around him. He is given a chance to redeem himself by carrying out a secret mission for his adopted country that involves a scientist in Europe who has learned how to stop the aging process and is about to hand over this knowledge to a dictator. In these two novels Anderson occasionally suggests he is poised for a leap into science fiction, but he adheres instead to the form of a political thriller. Appearance of Evil, another thriller by Anderson, follows embittered librarian Matt Greenwood, who feels compelled to leave his job at a small U.S. college to travel to England to stop a murder he is certain is inevitable.
Anderson has also turned his pen to the police procedural. In Additional Evidence Stephen Grant, a literary agent, is arrested for the murder of his mistress, Linda Matthews. Stephen's wife, Alison, sets out to prove his innocence. She joins forces with Linda's brother, who happens to be a detective chief inspector with Scotland Yard. The novel teeters between hardnosed investigation and comedy, particularly in the interplay between Inspector Bidwell and Sergeant Primrose, then settles down into a police procedural. Angel of Death is about George Roussos, a rich Greek shipping magnate with an aristocratic British wife, his second, a spoiled teenage daughter being raised by her fanatical grandmother, and an enemy who is threatening to kidnap the daughter. The Alpha List, which mixes police procedural and straight detection, begins with Inspector Palmer tracking down a blackmailer who added a new twist to his criminal job description.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Publishers Weekly, November 17, 2003, review of The Affair of the Thirty-nine Cufflinks, p. 48.*